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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Okay...Sorry...The Conclusion to My Previous Post...and Other Stupid Shit!

It's 4am. I have returned to my hotel. The TV is on...and it's on Fox News. And what are they talking about? What else? This effing Bergdahl piece of shit. The only thing more completely fucked up about that shitbox...and his dad...is how Obama is trying to turn this into 'the Republicans trying to whip up controversy' all while openly discrediting the men and women who served with his dumb ass...and whom the majority have testified that the guy was a flake who went off seeking the Taliban and who was ashamed of being an American..and certainly a member of the US military. 

So the three of them are sitting on an outdoor set in Manhattan. It started with nobody behind them...then here wanders in a couple of people who...OH! Realize there is a TV show going on. Hey! Let's stand here so we can get on TV. These are some of the humans I consider to be right up there with moths. Oh! Light....a light!!!! Then the crowd gets a little bigger. They can't hear the show. Can't see the hosts...only their backs. But dammit...there is a good reason to stand there, looking stupid.  Isn't there? You've seen the newcasters out on the street doing a report....and some dipshit comes up behind and starts waving or mouthing something? These people? I have no use for them. 

My long time friend, who I played baseball with in NYC 20+ years ago...the same team that I played on with Chad Brown....lives in LA, and has a possible connection for LA Kings tickets. In the next few hours...I will get a message from him letting me know if there are tickets for me waiting at Will Call for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. If so...I will be spared another day of torture at the poker table. If not...well...bring the pain. More pain. 

The $1100 the other day...and how I went out in that...has been replaced as 'most frustrating punch out of the summer' by today's $600 tourney....flight B...after busting yesterday's flight A...when on the last hand before dinner break...I raised and got called with AKc...and flopped Qc-4-c-5h. The guy led into me...and I raised...he shipped, and I'm never folding. He had AQ off...and he held. 

So today...I woke up early. I went to the pool, swam some laps...came back to my room and did some pushups...took a nice long shower, and just generally had a really good feeling about today. Put all the bad run of the past 15 days in the rear-view mirror. Today was going to be the day. Time to end the skid...time to get off the schneid. Time to get the damn monkey off my back. Time to make a 5-figure score dammit!!!!

You know what really, truly sucks about being a tournament poker player? And this was something I was pondering as I was playing cash game for four hours after busting tonight...just sitting there and reliving all the hands over that 12 hours. Remembering all the various players, the stories, the ups and downs. The thing about a tourney is its a bit like a story, a book...even a movie. There are the opening credits...then you get to know the characters a little...then a lot. Some die early. Some rise to prominence. As time goes on...the plot thickens, a history among players develops. Tensions may rise among certain players. Alliances are sometimes formed. 

Unlike cash game...where players come and go....where all hands can win or lose, where a bad beat is met with a simple rebuy...a tourney comes with a finite number of chips. You don't get nine lives. You get one. Every move is critical. You plod along...showing patience, studying your opponents, learning their tells, filing away all their little nuances,  their betting patterns...all things that will hopefully help you get deeper and deeper. 

And in my case...on this summer trip...I have literally....in ten years of playing tournament poker...NEVER gotten deep SO many times in tourneys as I have this summer. And I have ONE freaking cash to show for it. ONE! I would bet my family that there is not ONE SINGLE player at the Venetian this year...or probably any other...who has played as many tourneys as I have...only to bust in Level 11, 12 (mainly) or 13....in the top 15% of the field...but missing the money. It's absurd. I'm not sure who I feel worse for...myself, my wife...or my backers. I mean...almost every day its the same thing. 1st break....good start, double the average. 2nd break...still a good stack. 3rd break....still above average. Dinner break...almost always above average. Still cruising in levels 8 and 9, even 10...then...the shit hits the fan. 

Its nothing I'm doing 'wrong' as some might think. It's just a horrible collection of circumstances that keep undoing me. Today...I literally saw Level 12 approach, looked down at 112k in chips with the average stack 72k..and I really considered sitting out Level 12. But I was super positive today, not even allowing myself to get engaged in a dispute with the absolutely idiotic waitress we  had. Nope...I started calling it 'No Conflict Friday.' So sitting out Level 12 would just be a defeatist thing to do. 

Everything had gone right up til then. I sat down at 50/100 (yes, almost on time!) and on my first hand...picked up AA. Swear. Two black aces! I love it! Raise to 250. The pest (he would become a major pest) on my left re-raised to 750. Okay okay...guy is thinking 'who is this jagoff who just shows up and starts raising? I'll show his ass!' Wrong, you  frog (he was French Canadian)...you're getting re-raised. Made it 1700. He folded. Boooo!!! I'm now 2 for 12 with aces this trip. And I never got them again all day. I did however get KK three times...and won with them every time.

I even managed to beat AQ with AK for a change. Raised, again at a new table...I was moved FIVE times today....and this dork with mirrored glasses on the button reraises me a substantial amount. Pretty sure he had that same 'who the fuck is this jerk..coming in here raising!???' complex. I had about 60k at the time, and just grabbed 25k and raised him all in. No sweat. He snap calls with AQ. Idiot. I managed to fade the queen for a change. Bye bye donkey. Now I had a monster stack. 

Got moved to yet another table...and it was soft. I had the most chips. I got little action on my raises...or on my post flop bets....and I just kept adding to my stack. Then they brought a new player who had a decent stack. He then lucked into a huge pot, two-outing this guy...and became the only player who had me covered. He then got super aggressive after that. I just sat back taking it easy...knowing that 110k was plenty...that it would get me to Day 2...that I would definitely make the money...and could then get after a deep run. That was certainly the plan.

I get 66 at 1200/2400. I raise to 5100. It folds around to this guy in the BB. He eyeballs me and my stack...then raises to 12,500. Almost a min raise. I decide to call. Had a good feeling about my sixes. The flop comes J-9-2. Boo! But he checks. Hell,  okay...I check. Turn...BINGO! Six!!!! And I started getting excited. He bets out 17,500. Thank you! I just flat. And on the river...an ace. He bets 37,000. Oh god! What are  the odds this guy has friggin aces? More likely, I thought...he had AJ. I had 61k total...and as long as there was a hand that could beat me..it didn't make sense to go all in. I simply called. He turns over AA. I buried my head on the table's bumper and just cringed. Not again....look up and see 4 minutes left in Level 12. Fucking Level 12...again. Shit. On the other hand..I had 32k left...as opposed to zero if I had  raised him on the turn...which would have led to him putting me all in, me snap calling...and me getting rivered to bust me. So  at least I had a shot....

My hopes didn't last long. Tried raising  with KJ suited only to  get raised all in by this  old guy who looked like the worlds most interesting man. I folded..leaving me with 25k. With 22k in the BB...the same guy who crippled me with the aces...raises my big blind. I look down at an ace...my pulse quickens...and the other card...KING! Yes! I shove all in. He calls,  turns over 77...and I feel pretty confident. The flop comes 2-3-5. Wow! More outs! Come  on dealer! Turn is a jack. Ugh....come on man....ace, king or a four...COME ON!!!!! River is a brick...7 or something. And I was out.  And just wanted to puke. 

And as I mentioned...I slithered over to a cash table...only to get owned by some of the goofiest players I've ever seen in a 1/2 game. The most hilarious was the guy who spoke no English...and had zero idea of the rules. Kept taking his cards off the table. Kept betting out of turn. Dude would check out...about every time he was in the big blind and everyone limped. He would bet ten...someone might raise to 25. And it  would confuse him. He would put out ten more...then another ten...then fifty....before the dealer would stop and correct him. His beast of a wife who was wearing what looked like either a bath robe or a dress or something in between...kept coming back demanding more money for the slots...and he would try to hand her money off the table...before being told by the dealer, and other players...that this doesn't fly. It was hilarious, and every new player who came along was like..."is this guy for real?" And we would have to tell them..."Yes...it is VERY much for real." 

This guy was supposed to  save my session. No such luck. He had this habit of just putting 20 out there...with anything. So we all started calling him. Anytime I would hit a flop...he would check...and I never got anything out of him. It was so frustrating. All he did was beat me. Our table was made up of mostly clowns...total clowns...and all they did was make me look like a super clown. And as they finally posted the payouts for the tourney...and I just sat there looking at the numbers..mainly the one  on top....$85,000...I'm thinking to myself...I'm a river card away from bagging well over 200k...and playing for a five figure score tomorrow, and have been deep in 9 of 12 tourneys I've played the last two weeks...and I can't for the life of me beat these fucking morons.  Think maybe that is a little frustrating!!?!??

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Today is the running of the 146th Belmont Stakes...and once again...we have a horse who has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown...and is one win away from achieving something that hasn't been done since I was 11. Since Affirmed followed Seattle Slew...and Secretariat a few years before that all in winning the Triple Crown. Will California Chrome make it happen? I hope so. I have run a pool for all three legs of the Triple Crown. No idea how many entries we will end up getting in this last one...but the interest in this race has to be an all-time high I would think.

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BAD TIMES AT VENETIAN FOR POKER TOURNAMENT PLAYERS in 2014

I dropped a hint in my last post that I was going to address the effect that 'bottom line economics' are having on tournament poker..specifically this summer's events at the Venetian, which has long been my favorite venue in poker. 

Well, here is the skinny. In year's past...they have always had spillover seating...or satellite seating. Whatever you want to call it..they had about 40-50 extra tables. What this meant...was that you would get fields of 500-800...and no one had to wait to get in. They would run a noon tourney...a 3 or 4pm tourney...and then a 7pm tourney. They would also run SNG's all day and night in a separate, dedicated SNG area...or as I liked to call it...Sit N Go Land. And while all that was going on...they had a bustling cash room always full.

Recently, the Venetian got new management at the top. I had a long chat with a couple of the tournament supervisors...and came away feeling really, really bad for all of them. Why? Because they are the point men, the lightening rod for all the negative feedback this summer that has been pouring from the players. And it's not their fault one bit. The poker room is basically treated as a separate entity in the casino. That over flow area? They were required to pay for that. This summer, they weren't even given the option. Maybe play in the Sands Convention area? Nope...Hewlett-Packard made that impossible for leasing out the entire Convention center for a whole week. 

On top of all that...management has put an emphasis on the rake being collected in cash games as opposed to the rake that is being charged for tourneys...which by the way...is steep. On a $400 buy in....$60 is held out. Ouch! 

So what has occurred is that they have a very limited number of tables to work with. Alternates have become a standard thing for every tourney. Then...in the late tourney...they are limited to FIVE tables. Yeah...five! If you don't register early...you are basically screwed. For the Omaha tourney this week...I showed up on time...only to find that I was going to be about the 75th alternate. Huh? Wow. Omaha players by nature  are some pretty feisty folks...and they were ready to stage a riot.

As for SNG's? They have been non-existent. Oh...they have a banner up...touting a certain area to be the SNG area...but anyone who knows anything about how SNG's flourish know that the way to run SNG's is to have dealers at an empty table...with 10 stacks in front of them...a sign saying what the SNG is...and seat cards there to be chosen from. You set it up like that...and they fill up quickly. But simply put a 'sign up sheet' for those interested? Sorry...that has never worked and will never work. But I think that too was by design...I don't think they really have any interest in staging them...because they don't have the tables for them. 

The grumbling among players has been pretty much all the same sentiment....why are we standing here waiting for up to two hours to play? Why can't they close a few cash tables...and reopen them later after the tables in the tourney break...which they always do in a pretty reasonable amount of time...especially as bad as most of these ghouls play poker? Why? Well...because management doesn't want those cash games getting shut down.

I know there was a huge movement by some people in the poker industry to boycott Venetian because of the views of their owner, Sheldon Adelson. Has the boycott had an effect? I would say no. Oh there is, I'm sure, a lot of people not playing there because of that boycott...but not enough to make a noticeable difference. And frankly, anyone boycotting the Venetian, is just helping keep the number of alternates down. 

Where I have a major problem, is that while I respect the casino's desire to make as much money as possible, in ways they have determined is the way to run their operation? I think they need to respect, to some degree, the tournament poker players...who have been loyal customers to Venetian, some of us for an entire decade since they started running these tournaments. They need to realize that summer is the time of year when the tournament players descend upon Vegas. They have all of July through May to put their emphasis on the cash games. For two months out of the year...they should be making a concerted effort to accommodate the tourney players.

The end result for the players...is that the prize pools are  severely affected. Who wants to play a tournament where they cap the number of players? The only reason some of the tourneys have gotten some decent numbers is because they are running multiple flights. The 5/6pm tourneys...they aren't getting more than 120 players. This just kills the value. You're going to pay $600 for some of those tourneys...and the return on investment just isn't going to justify paying that much. It really is a bad deal.

I encourage all of you who are pissed off about this, to not direct your anger to the floor staff,  the dealers and/or the tournament supervisors. I get the feeling that they all think it sucks...and wish they could have things like they used to be. But their hands are tied...and they have to keep that happy face on and keep saying all the right things. I hate it for them. 

In a time when poker rooms are disappearing all over the country...the Goldstrike in Tunica...once the Meca for tourneys in North Mississippi...the entire closure of Harrah's Tunica! Several casinos out here in Vegas that once had poker rooms no longer do. Casinos like Harrah's and Caesar's, who had dedicated rooms simply for poker..have been forced to give up those rooms and moved out to the pit area of the casino...and had their number of tables severely reduced. It's like poker has become a sideshow in a lot of these  places. Why? What the hell is going on!??? Is poker losing its popularity?

I think the simple answer is: No! Poker is not losing popularity at all. One problem is that there is a severe over-saturation of poker rooms across the country.  All these dog tracks, all these new casinos in every state...it's no longer safe to say that places like Vegas, Atlantic City and Mississippi are destinations to go and play poker. So the result has been places closing, or downsizing. And a lot of this has been done because the casino management has finally had enough with the poker rooms generating nowhere near enough income to justify the amount of space they take up in the casino. 

Did they just figure this out? Hell no. They always knew poker was a financial 'dog' for the casino. But poker was the shiny new toy in the closet. It was glamorous....it was all over the TV. Any casino that DIDN'T have a poker room in it was looked at as not being 'with it.' You simply had to have a poker room to keep up with everyone else. I mean...there were some casinos that had some really stupid poker rooms in them...Hooters Casino comes to mind. But dammit...poker was red hot...and you HAD to have one! Well...that shiny luster on poker has worn off. The glamour is gone. The number crunchers in accounting have finally made their pitch stick with the various Table Games Managers around the country...that poker needs to take a back seat to the real revenue producers...slot machines mainly.

Is poker going to die? No...I don't think it will die, per se. But the big casinos, and the big poker rooms...are going to start changing drastically. Hell...here at the Venetian...they moved in a bank of slot machines right into the poker room...presumably for players waiting to get on a table, giving them something to jam their money into, instead of just sitting around waiting on their table. Get that money...GET THAT MONEY...get it all!!!!

So  yeah...I'm saddened by what is going on at the Venetian right now. It sucks. And a lot of players are talking about it. One of the sentiments of course, is that why should they come and support Venetian, and overlook the controversial views of Sheldon Adelson...when once they get here they are forced to wait, and wait, and wait to get into the tourney? It's a question that is certainly tough to ignore or dismiss. 

I'm tired...it's been another very long, frustrating day. And if I don't score tickets to the Stanley Cup Game 2....I will push the reset button once again....head over to the Venetian at noon...post my $400....and start all over again on my quest to make a decent score and turn this lousy summer around.

MONKEY

2 comments:

Dbl_G said...

Wow that really sucks that's what the Venetian has come to. I remember the 800+ runner fields for a $360-400 & easily being able to win 15-20k in em. Sad bc Venetian has lost lots of great ppl along the way with all their changes over the last few years. GL Monkey on the rest of your summer, u will Bink something.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought! I have a friend who works at the Venetian, and his last paycheck bounced. No funds in payroll account. Go figure