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Early Turns Late (WPBT Trip Report Pt 4)

Having lost the tournament on the near bubble (14th place with 9 spots officially paying), I took a walk around the sports book and considered my options. Poker. It had to be poker. I made some calls and found out that different people were scattered throughout the city. So, I went with what was easy: The Caesar’s 1/3 NLHE game. After all, I was right there.

I was seated at a game near the rail of the raised portion of the room. I took the only available seat, the 1 seat, and looked across the table at the 4 seat, an Asian guy, maybe in his mid-20s, with his Caucasian new bride sitting behind him. How did I know that they were newly wed? She was still wearing her veil and they both wore “Just Married” sweat suits. It was ridiculously cheesy and more than mildly trashy, but apparently it worked for them, since he was up several hundred dollars at least, based on his stack.

To his immediate left was Dan Michalski of Pokerati fame. Dan is an interesting guy. Pokerati is probably one of the premiere poker blogs out there and with good cause. But its clear that Dan is a humble guy and easy to get along with, which I suppose should not be a surprise, but is. At first, Dan and I (intentionally or not) acted like strangers, barely acknowledging each other. I don’t mind this at a poker table. If people knew that we knew each other, it would simply be more information from them. But eventually, it became clear that we knew each other, mostly because we kept getting into pots together where we would show no mercy and then joke about it immediately after.

The happy couple got up and I took his lucky seat, mostly glad to leave the shitty seat I was in. I was now immediately on Dan’s right, which probably was not an ideal position, but the 1 seat was cold-decking me, so I was happy for a change of scenery.

A new player sat to my immediate right. He was a clean-cut guy, Caucasian in his late 20s to mid 30s. He was from the North East, like me, and he had a pleasant demeanor, so we hit it off quick. I essentially made my buddy at the table. That’s a more important thing than some people realize. As you get to know your “buddy”, you can pick up more from their game; but more importantly, with familiarity breeds passivity, and that is something you can often exploit.

While chatting with my newfound friend, I overheard something in the distance. “Did you bet on the fight?” My ears perked up. I remembered hearing about a Manny Pacquiao fight that was recently announced, but I wasn’t sure what the overheard voices were discussing. I asked the table, “Does anyone know of any upcoming fights?” Someone mentioned the UFC, and I immediately knew that I had to speak with my height-challenged compadre.

I took a walk from the game. I was probably up about $50-100 by that time, just playing as solid poker as possible.

I found my midget friend, Iggy, who incidentally has a little website called “So, I heard there is a UFC fight tonight. Any picks on who you think is going to win? Just curious. I won’t hold you to anything.” He rifled through some names, Penn, Mir and Florian. They were all favorites, and Iggy thought they’d win their matches with relative ease. I thanked him and walked off, or more accurately ran to the sportsbook. “Three pick parlay on the UFC fights tongiht: Penn, Mir and Florian.” I got my ticket, $40 to win $116, and returned to the poker table.

The only major hand that I can recall was actually a misplayed but profitable one. I held 33 preflop and called the $3 blinds. Dan, immediately on my left, raised. I don’t have the exact raise amount, but it was probably $12 or $15. There were several callers and when it got back to me, I called as well.

We saw a beautiful 663 flop with two spades. I flopped a nearly unbeatable boat. An EP player bet $20, which was uncharacteristic for the player. I was happy to just call, hoping that someone would turn their nut flush and pay me off. Dan then raised to $60. A player in MP/LP called. He seemed like a fairly loose player, but definitely knowledgeable. He only had about $80+ though in front of him. It folded back to me (the original $20 bettor folded) and I re-raised all-in. I had at least $400 in front of me at the time. Dan folded his QQ (if he is to be believed; given the action, I believe him) and the player with $80+ called.

The turn was a 3; the river was a blank. I showed my Quad 3s and took down the pot. I also got a $100 bonus for my Quads.

In hindsight, I should have flat-called Dan’s raise to $60 or perhaps re-raised to $120, but not all-in. So, it was a misplayed hand overall, but a profitable one nonetheless.

I played for several more orbits before taking a walk to check on the final table of the blogger tournament. As an aside, by that time, everyone knew that Dan and I knew each other at the poker table. We were chatting about the blogger tournament and random bloggers would stop by to start a conversation.

I went back to the sportsbook and decided to check the fight times. According to the sheets I saw, the last fight was to start at 8pm, but it was already past 8 and all the book knew was that Florian had won his fight. I was officially 1 for 1 in my 3-fight parlay.

I was fairly starving at this point and I had reached my poker saturation. Excuse this, as I’ve said this before, but poker really feels like a “need.” As I had once heard, a “want” is something that cannot be satisfied, like money. You always want more money. A “need” is something that can be satisfied for a time, like hunger. You can eat, but only to a point, after which you must stop eating until you are eventually hungry again and the process repeats. Poker felt like food moreso than money. I had enough, and I think I was officially stuffed on poker.

I cashed out after playing another orbit and decided to send out some text messages. Peaker was at MGM playing poker, so I told him I’d meet him after stopping at the IP. I also texted Kat, who was supposed to be at the IP, but I don’t think we got back in touch. I may have texted Schaubs as well, but I don’t recall.

I walked back to the IP and decided to use some of my well-earned comp dollars at their burger joint. I ordered a philly cheesesteak, which I had had shortly after arriving at the IP on Friday. It was actually pretty decent for what it was. I returned to my room and sat down on the bed for a moment. I was just so exhausted. I considered my options and decided to relax before heading to the MGM. I had to be up around 8am the next morning for my flight home.

After a while, I realized that I was not getting out of bed. I was busy refreshing my ipod Touch to get updates on the UFC fight. Frank Mir had won as well. 2 for 2, with only the BJ Penn fight left. I texted Peaker, thanked him for a good trip and apologized for being such a puss. About 3 minutes later, I got a text. I thought it’d be Peaker giving me shit or, more likely, saying goodbye. It wasn’t. It was Schaubs.

I called Schaubs and he mentioned that he was coming to the IP to hang with Pauly for some late night in depth discussions of the horticulture situation in Southern California in Pauly’s hotel room. I like horticulture as much as the next guy, so I agreed to meet up. But first, I had to take care of some business. Some news had just come in. Penn had won. 3 for 3 on my parlay picks, thanks to my diminutive friend. “I’m heading to the Caesars sportsbook. Call me when you get here.”

I walked over solo, happy to collect my moneys. I also took some time to admire all of the hot chicks in the Pussy Cat Dolls section of Caesars. Each dealer was a hot chick wearing a skimpy outfit. Behind them were two chicks dancing in go go cages wearing lingerie. Amazingly, the entire group of girls (dealers and dancers) had made a costume change in the brief time between leaving Caesars and returning. That takes commitment.

I collected my money and was outside the casino when I got a text from Schaubs. He also won a sports bet at Caesars, so I decided to wait for him there, sitting outside in the brisk air. He arrived a short while later and I got another pass of the Pussy Cat Dolls gambling area. “Las Vegas is filled with hot girls whose only marketable skill is that they have nice tits. It’s a magical place.” Schaubs didn’t argue. I continued, “Just think of all those neglectful parents.”

We returned to the IP and hung at the Geisha Bar with a large crew. The One Man Party, AlCantHang, was there, just off of his 2nd place loss to Astin in the Blogger Tourney. I was shocked for three reasons: (1) AlCantHang is a partier, so I expected more party and less poker winnings. (2) Astin was a super shortstack with me when were were down to 18 or less players. God damn that man! I was just glad to hear that a friend won. (3) Even with 2nd place money, Al was pissed. I was shocked. I expected him to be celebrating, but he really seemed irked that he didn’t win. I think I bought him a shot to ease his pain. From the look in his eyes, though, he didn’t need my drink to deaden the senses.

Eventually, Pauly, Schaubs and I headed upstairs. Over our horticulture appreciation, I had the exact same conversation with Pauly as I had the night before. I mean, it was new to me, since I didn’t remember much of the last night, but I’m pretty sure Pauly thought he was watching a rerun.

I was still exhausted and I considered calling it a night, but Schaubs had yet to ever play Pai Gow. We hit the casino floor, both of us well shitfaced now, and stumbled our way to a Pai Gow table with two empty seats side by side. A third seat opened up just as CK arrived, so she joined us. It was around 12am.

Schaubs did something I had never before done: make a plan. He suggested a stop-loss and also a hard end time. Both seemed to make sense. We bought in for $200 apiece, but agreed only to play with $100 as our stoploss. (Quick casino tip: If you only plan to play for a certain sum and you have self control, always buy in for more. The casino notices how much you buy in for and considers that when they work out your comp dollars. The More You Know… du-dee du dee!). We also agreed to walk at 12:30, which was essentially 30 minutes.

An odd thing happened on the way to 12:30. CK kept chopping. Schaubs got like 5 Pai Gows to start (i.e., no pair hands, which is pretty bad). And I was on a tear. I have a simple strategy:

1. No Fortune Bonus.

2. Start with an amount, usually the table minimum.

3. If I win, add an extra $5. If I push, don’t change the bet size. If I lose, go back to the initial bet. If you keep winning, keep adding those $5.

12:30 came around and Schaubs was down maybe $50, CK was near even, and I was up $60 or so. That’s when Schaubs, the Commissioner of our Pai Gow rules, added an amendment. “Ok. At 12:30, we can both play for two losses. Not back to back. Two losses total. If I lose a hand, win 3 and then lose 1, I’m out.” Ok, I thought. It caps losses and we were having fun, drinking more heavily then ever, because in Pai Gow, a push is a win, but only if booze is involved.

It wasn’t until about 1:10 that Schaubs had finally lost two hands. He had made back most of his money, but now that he was done, as per our rules, that was it for him. I could keep playing, though, since I still had “one life”. CK had moved on when we added our extension. The dealer was changing decks, which she saw as a bad omen. She was right, too. Her replacement player was losing steadily. Good for CK.

“Hey, I have an idea,” this time it was me with the suggestion. “We can share my 1 life. If either of us lose, we both leave.” Schaubs one-upped me, “And if we win three in a row, we can get a new life!” This was the most complicated problem gambling rationale ever, but it made sorta sense. I even offered, “And I will pay your losses. I wouldn’t even be playing if not for you.” Ironically, that meant my exposure was tiny. After all, Schaubs was only down $20 or so at this point and could only lose one more hand before he had to quit. I was up over $100, so I could afford to make that offer.

Sure enough, we then both went on tears, earning two “free lifes” before we lost three hands between the two of us and decided to stop adding rules. We packed up around 2:30, after intending to stay only until 12:30. I was up over $200 and Schaubs was up a few bucks too. That made it a +$300 Pai Gow run on my trip. So, look for my new blog High On Pai Gow.

I finally decided I needed some sleep, so I made my way to the Geisha Bar to say my goodnights. That’s an impossible task in this group. Just when I thought I was in the clear, I’d get into another conversation with a random blogger. This is not a complaint. Quite the opposite. It was awesome getting to chat with everyone.

A couple of highlights of that last minute Geisha Bar stop: I met BloodyP for the first time. He pulled the old, “Do you know who I am?” Now, I’ve always pictured BloodyP as a skinny tweaker, probably in a tattered, blood and snot stained shirt, with disheveled hair. Instead, he looked like a normal guy. A bit…too normal.

I also got into a conversation with Iggy. He had no idea I was actually going to use all of his picks for a parlay bet, and was pretty happy to see I had made some loot off of his well-seasoned brain. Now, I don’t know if it was the booze or what, but it was actually kinda flattering all the nice things Iggy had to say. It was like a freakin’ mutual admiration society. Ironically, Iggy is one of those characters in the bloggoverse who can come off as a bit intimidating, if for no other reason than his appropriate nickname as the Blogfather, not to mention those tiny midget hands. Tiny hands always unnerve me. But I probably feel more comfortable around him than most. He’s just such a generous guy, and even though he hates the Jews, he doesn’t seem to mind me much, probably because I’m a self-hating Jew.

The last notable conversation (that I can remember) was with Carter. Now, Carter, I have to admit that (a) I’m not sure if we ever met before…I feel like we have, but I’ve met other Carters and other guys who look like you in this group, but I’m terrible with names, faces and memory in general, so please take no offense. And (b) I don’t read your blog regularly, so if you see this, hit me up with a comment or email with your blog site.

The memorable part about my conversation with Carter was simply the fact that he had such nice things to say about the blog. I’ve been on the other side of the coin on this one many times. There are some blogs that you read and you can really get to know the writer to the extent that you feel that on some level, you know them. And you do. People write more honestly than they’d ever talk to a stranger or even some close friends and family members. It gets to the point that sometimes, you just want to introduce yourself to a fellow blogger because meeting them is like meeting someone you already know; and its also like meeting a celebrity in a way. Ironically, on the very same trip, I had failed to work up the “courage” to speak with PokerGrump during the Blogger Tournament. I wasn’t sure if it was him, and even if it was, I wasn’t sure what to say. Well, Carter just wanted to say hi, and I was more than glad to chat. If I remember correctly, he may be in the NY area soon, so that’s another reason for you to hit me up with an email or comment.

I finally decided I had enough and returned upstairs. I packed up to make my morning easier and hit the sack.

My next morning and flight back were uneventful. I watched football on the JetBlue TVs, but my three team NFL parlay (timed intentionally with my flight) was lost in the second game, so instead, I just enjoyed football for the sake of football (and my pickem league).

This was probably the most fulfilling WPBT trip I have had. It really is one big family reunion, and whereas I used to feel like a newbie and then an outside looking in (neither of which were true, but that’s just how I felt), now I just feel like one of the family. I admit that I could’ve used more time in Vegas and maybe spent some more time with various people, but these trips have got to be played by ear.

Thanks to everyone for a great trip. That includes wifey Kim. There aren’t many women who would encourage their husbands to spend a weekend (their birthday weekend no less) in a city known for debauchery with a bunch of Invisible Internet Friends. She’s the real prize in all of this, even if you all will never ever get to meet her.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:03 AM,


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