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Friday, May 31, 2013

Report from Vegas...

Well I'm three days in and you haters will rejoice in knowing that I'm oh for three so far. Also lost a little bit in cash game...all of that hinging on one HUGE pot where I finally trapped the table psycho with a flop of 5-3-5, two diamonds...me holding Ad5c. But...as things seem to always go...the psycho pulled a rabbit out of his ass...as he held 10-7...of diamonds...and after betting out 100 on the flop...and me min-raising him to 200...he shoved all in...and caught a diamond on the river. Yes, it was annoying. More annoying was my wallet falling out of my back pocket, which I discovered when the taxi dropped me off at my hotel. Oh. Great. Good news. Called Venetian and they found it, and turned it into lost and found. Whew!

The weather has been marvelous. So much so that I am taking the afternoon off and catching some time at the pool and soaking in some desert sun...which I badly feel I need. My hair...as long as its been since I was in my early 20's...is free of the humidity out here...and not curly. I feel like Keith Urban...though my wife and a couple of her friends tell me I look awful, even stupid. I don't care. Carley likes pulling it...and last night, walking back to my hotel...with a breeze blowing...I actually felt the wind blowing my hair. It felt delightful. So ya know what? I don't care how bad it looks. 

I had a thought the other day. Everywhere you look out here there are tattoo parlors. And I don't think I go anywhere where you see more people with tattoos. I have NEVER had a tattoo in my life. I hate needles. But for some reason...I kind of have a desire to get a very low-profile, even hidden from public view...a tattoo to honor my daughter. Something really special. It's just a thought.

My flight out here was typically screwed up. Of all the airports I fly into and out of...I've never had more problems than I have at Gulfport/Biloxi. Its as though they take joy in dicking people around. From closing the gate early, to losing and/or damaging luggage, it never seems to end. And the TSA presence is such a joke. I have never counted fewer than NINE TSA agents in their tiny area... and this trip was no different, as there were TEN. It reminded me of that funny scene of the Keystone Cops in those silent movies...all running around really fast, getting nowhere fast and doing nothing slow. Or a bunch of monkeys fighting over a coconut.

All this happened after I missed my early morning flight. Oh I arrived in what should be plenty of time...40 minutes before my flight. But absent was the person at the ticket counter. Why? Oh...because they love to close the gate WAY before the flight leaves. And then they just vanish. So you are left standing there...asking someone, anyone for help...and they just look at you and shrug. Can't check your baggage...you can't fly. So it costs me $50 to change my flight to that evening. I arrive an hour and 15 minutes early. Check my bags. Go through TSA...which took 15-20 minutes as they decided they needed to scan, re-scan, then pilfer through my carry on.  Get to the gate at 6:15...for a 6:45 flight. Three minutes later...the guy gives the final boarding call. Huh? I look at the clock. Half an hour before departure? WTF? Guy asks me if I'm on the flight. "Yes, I am...do I not have 20 minutes or so to board? I really don't like standing in the jetway with all the other passengers."

"You have a couple minutes." And a couple minutes later...was ordered to get on the plane. Weird. Why say the flight leaves at 6:45 if you are going to close the gate at 6:25? This, in my opinion, is really fucked up. So as I'm about to board...the baggage lady at the end of the jet way grabs my carry on. Whoa! No you don't! First...I had a very short layover in Atlanta...like 30 minutes...which means taking that train to your other terminal and hoping like hell they don't leave before the posted time there! So checking my carry on bag? And risking the wait associated with waiting for it in ATL? Not worth it. Plus all the valuable shit I have in that bag? Secondly, I have two carry-ons...one that is border line too big for some overhead bins...and one that is MUCH smaller and fits in all of them. I know this for a fact. Yet...there are always these fuckers who TELL YOU that your bag won't fit...and that you HAVE to check it.

"Listen...I KNOW my bag fits. I have flown on this plane a LOT of times. I do not WANT to check this bag...I have a VERY small window to make my connection in Atlanta and can't risk it. Please let me keep my bag." Then the bitchy flight attendant got involved and ordered me to check it 'OR ELSE.' Well you know how much these assholes in the airlines industry have gotten in the past ten years. They have the quickest trigger finger when it comes to finding reasons to have people kicked off the plane. So I finally relented and let them take my bag. 

So I'm standing...with about 5 other passengers...and putting my small shoulder bag, my sweatshirt and a pillow in the overhead when 'The Bitch' starts hollering at everyone to sit down, that they need to get get this plane in the air! I look at the time. 6:30. I say to her..."Excuse me ma'am, the flight is scheduled to leave at 6:45...15 minutes from now...why are we being rushed so bad?"

She babbled incoherently some response that made no sense.  But the one thing she said that I DID understand made me realizing we had a little scene developing here that was reminiscent of the one in 'The Bridemaids' and I better switch it into super mellow Monkey Mode in a hurry. So when she says, "Are you going to be okay for the next hour? Or are we going to have a problem?" I slowly nodded to her that I would be fine...and calmly sat down...seething.

Then while doing her little speech on the intercom bumbled that badly as well, mispronouncing numerous words, stopping in mid sentence a bunch of times...claiming 'she lost her place' on the card. Rolling her eyes...as if she couldn't be more annoyed at having to do the passenger safety speech. She was a nightmare. The difference in her performance, and the crew on the flight from Atlanta to Las Vegas was night and day. Tell me this. Why....on one leg...is the form of payment accepted for goodies and drinks CASH ONLY...but then on the next leg...same airline...the only accepted form is DEBIT CARD ONLY? Can someone explain that to me? And answer me this: On the flight from Atlanta to Vegas...they break it to us that the WiFi will be unavailable for the flight due to technical issues. At what point does the airline owes us some kind of refund? I mean...they lose your damn luggage...and they give you a $50 voucher for toiletries. Oh boy. But almost all of us now, when booking our flights, choose the flights that include WiFi on them. I sure know I do...and will pay a little extra for that flight. So, having paid that extra amount, then being deprived of it...do they NOT owe us a refund? Pisses me off.

Well we get to Atlanta...and thanks to them leaving GPT/BIL earlier than posted...my carry on bag taking 20 damn minutes to come up from the baggage hold didn't cause me to miss my connecting flight...which was two terminals over...and which, when I got there was in final boarding call. If I haven't mentioned it lately...and I know I have...I will reiterate it again...I HATE FLYING COMMERCIAL AIRLINES!!!! When and if this oil land of our family's in North Dakota every starts producing on a grand scale...I swear to god...I am taking a lease on a private jet and never flying commercial again as long as I and the rest of my family live!!!!

First tourney I played...$400 Omaha 8 or Better. Drew a really tough table...which to me is fine, you seem to avoid some of the donk play when that happens. But as some of the good players were knocked out, they were replaced by 'those guys.' One of my investors came to see me, and pay for his shares...and while there watched me go on a monster heater...to where I took the chiplead at the table. We were also into the later stages, where the blinds start to mean something and everyone isn't playing every hand. Well...I would get into a hand with KKA4...five way action...and flopped K-2-10. Rainbow. What possessed the guy to call with 3-5-Q-8 to even play this hand, I have no idea. I guess cuz his 5-8 were suited. :).  I bet the flop. He calls...and two others. Turn is a jack....of diamonds...putting two of those out there now. Only hand I can see beating me is AQ but its hard to put someone on that...calling a bet with a gutshot, in OMAHA. I was right. No one had AQ. But this guy now decides...even though there has no been a bet...and ME raising...to call with his 8-high flush draw (and no possible low hand)..and getting called by the other guy...now making for the biggest pot of the tourney to this point...we were now at 400/800. The river is a nine. I was glad to see there wasn't a low out there...but now I'm looking at the board...and as this guy bets...I start wondering if he has the straight. I have to pay him off. Yep...gutterballed me. Shit. Huge pot. Other way. Instead of having a massive table chiplead I fell to below the average of 12k. 

It only got worse. Same dealer. It's weird how things can be going so smooth all tourney...and ONE dealer shows up and just ruins you. I know it's not their 'fault' and all that. But it's happened to most of us, and I know most of you can relate. And it just pisses you off. Well, this guy did, in fact ruin me. Two consecutive river beats in a row...one where I had flopped a set, turned a boat..only to lose to a bigger boat on the river (holding an overpair...then bink!) It was really disheartening...as I already had 8 hours invested and was excited about starting the trip on a positive note. I busted around 8 and played cash for several hours then returned to my hotel. Minus one wallet.

Yesterday...I played the noon $400 NL...which was the second of two flights...the first coming on Wednesday and getting 180 players. We got 251 yesterday. The first hand I played was aces. And I lost a third of my stack. Folding to the guy's river shove after calling a flop and turn bet and a board of 10-10-5-Q-9. Felt like either KJ....K10...or a stone bluff...and I just didn't feel like being out 15 minutes after sitting down. Who knows? After the way the day would go from there...I kind of wish I had made the call and hoped it was good.

I had a table that was very irritating. One young kid...in his ridiculous glasses that were two sizes too big for his face, and two shades too dark to see anything...pulling them down anytime someone re-raised him to see how much it was. He became that kid I hated. He was a twerp. Had these long bony fingers...this sharp Ichabod Crane-like nose, and these beady little eyes, to go along with dorky hair cut like a smashed down brillo pad. (I know I know...who am I to talk about hair right now!) He was a pest. Raising my button EVERY single time he had the option to do so. He was raising with a lot of really crap hands. Getting lucky a lot. And of course...had a lot of chips. The whole end of his table was aggressive as hell...and my cards all day were total shit. Which...with their aggressiveness, made for a toxic combination. I mean, I like to use my super tight image to at least pick up some blinds once in awhile when I'm card dead and blinding off my stack. But these dicks made it hard as they were constantly 3 and 4-betting behind me when I'm looking at hands like Q-J, A-9 or small pairs like 5's or 6's. You know the drill. I chose instead to be patient...knowing that once I got into the 500/1000 and up levels I could catch up really quick with a few decent hands and avoiding bad luck.

Screw that. A new player at the table...a total buffoon...in an ill-fitting track suit and like the troll next to him, ridiculously over-sized and over-darkened shades...raised under the gun with A5 off for 2200. I shoved all in for 5300 with AK. It folded back to him. He snap called. And the dealer rewarded his excellent play with a five on the flop that held. And I was out...75th of 251 players...after a very torturous afternoon. Just in time for the 7pm tourney.

Very first hand of the tourney...I get...shocker...AK! But, astonishingly...after raising and getting called...I won the hand..and a decent pot. Nice start. Couple hands later I win with JJ. It was a $300 Survivor tourney...with each winner getting $2500...rewarding 10% of the field. Winning this would be nice...and get us back up over our starting number of $7500. Well, I had a couple hands blow up in my face...first, calling a 250 raise (at 50/100) in the BB with El Diablo suited. (K10c) Flop comes Q-9-5, two clubs. Nice. I check, he bets 500. I raise to 1100. He just calls. Hmmm. Turn is a king. Whoa. Top pair. Flush draw. Straight draw. How am I going to lose THIS hand? I bet 1500. He just calls again. Hmmm...okayyyyyy. River is a total brick, unless my king is good. I decide to check and see what he does. He bets another 1500. I can't really fold. I call. He has two aces. Ouch! Nice hand sir......

A short while later...I limp with Js10s...and there is this old...yes...we will call him an OMRG....who has been over-jamming constantly, and I will say it, the structure on this tourney was, uh...really speedy. Starting stack 12k. Blinds 30 minutes. But 50/100.....100/200....150/300...yeah...but level three you are already at just 40 BB's. Speedy. So geezer got down to 7k and decided it was shovefest time. Well he raises to 1200. Two others call...noticing what a fish he appeared to be and wanting to take a shot at him. Well, I did too, so I called. Check out THIS flop!!!

As-Qs-8d  Yahtzee! Royal Flush draw. Two straight draws. Second nut flush draw. Looking for the King of spades...or just the king. Or a nine. Or any spade. 15 outs....by my count. I'm planning to check raise him...but when he bombs out a c-bet of 2500 and I now have 6200 in my stack it kind of takes away that move....knowing he obviously will never fold...so I shove. He does call and turns over the mighty A-10 offsuit. I would miss 15 outs twice...and be down to 300 chips. Fabulous.

Well...I go on a bit of a miracle heater...and have that 300 chips up to 8900 at 200/400 when this guy...who is REALLY aggressive, and who was the same guy who rivered that diamond on me in the cash game the night before...raises at cutoff against my small blind. I look at 10-10...and decide to play it coy. I call. BB folds. Flop comes A-10-3. Sweet. I check...he lifts up his glasses to count my chips or just try to make me nervous like some players do. Between you and I? When another player gives out that classic line:

"How much you playing there?"  It tells me right away that they have air...and are trying to intimidate you. It has stood the test of time and proven itself to be a valid theory. He doesn't ask this..but he's one of those guys who likes to motion with his hands to get the other player to lift up and back away from their stack to give a clear view of their stack. I hate those idiots. There are times I wish they would give us all a dry erase board and require us to keep our chip count updated and written on this board. That way..it would be just like playing online where you always know exactly how many chips the other player has. And it would take that stupid 'move' out of the game.

So....he eyeballs my chips and says those two magic words I was hoping he would say.

"I'm all in!"

Yeah...I call. He had AK. You can almost predict whats coming right? Turn is a queen...and that uncomfortable squirming in the seat starts....and then watching the dealer...staring at the last card...as it comes out...upside down and not visible...then almost like in slow motion....flipping over to first reveal the bright colors of a face card...causing the initial jolt of shock...then the finishing move when you see that it is the Broadway-completing Jack of clubs. Eyes close...breath is exhaled...chair is pushed back...goodbye and good lucks are issued...and I disappeared into the night...walking back to my hotel. Oh and three.

In conclusion...poker is a very difficult way to make a living. And it's been further complicated by the fact that players are all getting better...to a point where they have evolved over the past few years to a point that the playing field is really pretty level now. Which makes it SO much harder to win. The dead money, the total sucktards...are fewer and farther between. Really, all you can do, is play solid, try to get inside the top 15% of the field...and hope things just break your way...either through getting great cards, or just hitting every damn flop...or god forbid, having a table that folds to all your bluffs! I walk around and talk to so many different players, players all with differing styles of play...and they almost all agree with this line of thinking. That it's just TOUGHER now than it was 2 and 3 years ago. 

A lot of players...and a lot of money...are going to be coming to this town in the next month and a half. The big winners are going to be the casinos, and a shockingly small percentage of those players. To be one of those players? Well, that is why we are here, isn't it? But it's tough...brutally tough some days...and the hours and hours you commit to chasing that goal is tiresome. Which makes taking an occasional day off to clear your head of all that pain you've been enduring. So I'm hoping 3 or 4 hours out at the pool will help to get my batteries recharged today in time for the tourney at 4pm. Tomorrow is the first of two flights in a weekend $400 NL tourney...which I suspect will draw close to 1000 players total. Be a good one to run good in.

Does it suck to not be able to play at WSOP? Mmmm yes and no. Yes, because I miss a lot of my buddies who I know are over there. Yes, because it sucks to be forbidden to go ANYWHERE...especially when you didn't do anything to deserve it. It's just irritating, and frustrating. But no, in the way it relates to my poker bankroll and the type of games I like to play. As for SNG's? The WSOP sng's have horrible structures...while Venetians are fantastic. And when it comes to tourneys...the only tourney I would be playing over there would probably be their 2pm Deepstack tourney...that draws HUGE fields and has a better structure. But the bracelet events? Those buy ins are way too high for my budget...and I'm not down with those miniscule starting stacks. The only bracelet event I would ever just HAVE to play...is the Main Event...which is the greatest structure in the biggest tourney in the world. Missing that...will sting. But overall, I'm very happy and content to be out here...fully backed...and playing in good tourneys with good fields. And I do wish TONS OF LUCK to all my friends and blog readers who are playing in the WSOP events. I would love to see one of them win a bracelet and a truck load of money.

Okay...that's it for today. That was probably more than I planned to write...and I actually left out quite a bit. But I will leave that for later. One thing about Vegas...you KNOW there is NEVER going to be a shortage of things to write about when you're out here!!!

MONKEY

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