Annual 2015 WSOP Tunica Trip Recap

For the fourth year in-a-row, a contingent of players from our local “home game” group made the annual trek to Tunica, MS to play in one (or more) WSOP Circuit events.

I struggled with the title for this blog, finally settling on the generic “Annual 2015 WSOP Tunica Trip Recap” instead of some of these alternatives: “How to play like a Donk”, “The Most Bizarre Tournament (because of my play) I’ve ever played in”, and “How to almost get banned from WSOP tournaments for Life” – more on this later.

Anyway, for various reasons, we had a much smaller group than normal make the trip this year. Our “core group” only consisted of six players: Choo, the twins – Derrick & Erick, Brad, Paul, and myself. We did run across quite a few other players that we know, including: Maurice, Eddie, Chase & Mike and their group from Clarksville, Scott and his son Levi, and several other players from our local area.  In the past couple of years, we’ve had 15-20 people make the trip.

Our crew headed to Tunica about midday on Thursday so we could play in the Horseshoe’s Thursday night $70 Bounty tournament, which is always a nice way to warm-up for the WSOP tourneys.  But, to our dismay, when we arrived at the ‘Shoe, we found out they had suspended their regular tournaments while the WSOP Circuit was in town.  So, a few of us played in the WSOP $65 Satellites and $135 Tournaments.

In a Thursday night $135 tournament, Derrick and Erick began play at the same table; however, they didn’t play together very long, as Derrick knocked Erick out the fourth hand when he had T-T and Erick had 4-4. They “got it all-in” on the flop of A-T-4, and Derrick’s set-over-set sent Erick looking for another game.  Derrick eventually finished in fourth place out of 148 players, for a $1,320 payout.

Choo and I opted to play 4/8 Omaha Hi/Lo in The Horseshoe poker room instead of WSOP tourneys. My second hand I turned the nut flush for the high hand and had A-2 for nut low hand to scoop about a $130 pot. As other players busted out of the WSOP games, the cash games in the poker room became much busier.  At one point I think there were about 38-40 cash game tables going, with about a two hour waiting list.

On Friday, our group-of-six played in the noon $365 WSOP Tournament. we each put in $20 for a Last-Man-Standing side pot. Five of us began the tournament out 12:00 noon, but Erick decided to spend the first couple of rounds in his room barfing (it remains to be seen if he was still recovering from being knocked-out by his brother the night before, or if it was something he ate).  Choo was the first one out, about an hour-and-a-half into the tourney. Erick should have probably stayed in his room (or should I say bathroom), as he was out about 45 minutes later. Derrick was next out around 4:15, and then Paul shortly followed by Brad, busted; with both lasting almost until the 6:45 dinner break.

So, at the dinner break, I was the last-man-standing in our group, and was $120 richer (hopefully – if these deadbeats will pay off ;) ). By-the-way, for players in the WSOP tournaments, they offer discounted buffet tickets and front-of-the line privileges.  I know you’re not supposed to eat a heavy meal while playing, but it was Seafood Buffet night!

Just after dinner break, the blinds were 800/1600 with 200 antes. My stack was exactly 26,100. There were 90 players left, and 45 places would be paid. I had been “card dead” for awhile, but had been patient. About an hour later, and still having been card dead, I finally picked up 8-8, and shoved. With no callers, I got the blinds and antes. The very next hand, I was dealt Q-Q, and shoved again; and again didn’t have any callers. Then, in three-out-of-four of the next hands I had: 8-8, 7-7, and A-A. I didn’t shove with these hands, but folded the Seven’s after the flop, and doubled-up with the Aces when I raised and a player with 9-9 went all in and I called.  He spiked a 9 on the River, but it gave me a straight.

Author’s Update on 2/2: I had an “eagle eye” reader point out [correctly] that a 9 on the River would not have given me a straight. I apparently got the hand slightly mixed up. I do recall that he hit a 9 giving him a set, so I thought I had lost the hand. But, the dealer and a couple of players pointed-out at the end of the hand that I had a straight. Maybe the 9 was actually on the Turn and a 10 was on the River.

So, now for an explanation of my alternative titles for this blog: After reading my explanations, you’ll probably be trying to determine how to get me to play in your home game, since fish are almost always welcome. But, I promise I’m not as much of an idiot/donk as it sounds (close, but still not as bad) – at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Here goes:

1) After a few rounds, I was in a hand with A-4, in the Big Blind, I think. After some betting preflop and on the flop, with one other player and myself in the hand, it was checked down. The board was A-K-5-5-x. He showed A-Q and I mucked, thinking I lost. An instant after my cards hit the muck, I realized it was a chop – but, too late. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want the other players to realize how bad I was.

2) I was UTG with Q-J, both spades, and a player two seats to my left and one player on the right saw a Ten high flop with two spades. First to act, I bet, the first player to my left called, and player on my right, who was short-stacked shoved all in. His bet wasn’t much more, so I insta-called. When I called, the all-in player flipped his cards over, and not paying attention like I should have, I flipped my cards over also. Since there was still a player left to act, the tournament director was called. The TD’s ruling was what I knew it should be – our hands were still live, and the remaining player could fold, call, or raise. Knowing what our cards were, he shoved all-in, which would have put me all-in. So, I folded, he turned up a ten high, no spades. When the board was dealt out and third spade came on the turn, and I would have won the hand. I asked the player later if he would have shoved if he had not seen our hands, and he said “probably not”. I had about 50,000 chips at the beginning of the hand, and would have won about 20,000 in that hand. Additionally, I was given a one round “sit out” penalty for exposing my cards.

3) Unfortunately, those two things weren’t the worst things that I did. Here it is: After being moved, and we were down to six tables. Just seconds before a break, in round 15, sitting in seat 3, I look down and have A-Q. With about 60K in chips, and the blinds at 1200/2400 with a 400 ante, I bet about 6800, the action folded to seat 7 (I think) and with a short-stack of about 11K more, he shoved. The TD had just announced we would be chipping-up blacks (100s) at break. Everyone left the table for break except the all-in player, dealer, another player buying up blacks, and myself. When we turned our cards up (I waited until told to do so by the dealer this time), he had 9-9. A Queen came on the turn, and I won the hand. The dealer pushed the pot to me, and told me to go through it and retrieve all of the black chips. So I spread it out, got the black chips, stacked them and left for break. The player in the seat to my left returned from break at the same time as me. He looked down at the table and exclaimed: “Where’s my chips?”. The dealer, looking stunned said: “What?”. The player said: ” I had a little over 20,000 chips before break, and they’re gone – I know I didn’t bust out while on break!”. The dealer called the tournament director over, and we tried to recall the action that had occurred prior to the break. The TD said since I now had over 100,000 chips, it looked like his chips were in my stack. They stopped the tournament clock for what seemed like forever, but was probably about 15-20 minutes to review the film footage captured by the overhead cameras. While they were reviewing the camera footage, I was going over-and-over in my mind how I could have raked in his chips, and could not for-the-life-of-me picture it. I was thinking that if I had, they might kick me out of the tournament and possibly ban me from future events.

When the TD came back, he stated that the player’s missing chips were, in fact, in my stack and I owed the player 25,700 chips! I commented to him that I had not done it on purpose, and he nonchalantly said they could tell it was not on purpose when they reviewed the film. Crisis averted, and play continued.

A few hours into the tournament, I noticed a player that looked very familiar at another table. The first time I played a WSOP event, a $235 event in 2011, a player was moved to our table where several players commented that he looked a lot like Ben Affleck, the actor – he said he had heard that before. Anyway, in that 2011 event he doubled me up when he miscalculated my chips and called my all-in. Eventually, we both made the final table, and Kevin (his actual name) and I seem to reconnect most years at the WSOP. In this year’s event, he eventually made the final table, and finished 7th when he was knocked-out when his Aces were cracked by Twos. Since he lives relatively close to me, maybe one day I can talk him into joining us for some of our home games.

Just a quick side note: During breaks in the tournament, I was texting a friend, Randy, and our group of players updates. Randy was relaying information to some other people in our group who had made the trip this year. They were replying with encouragement. Having their support while making a deep run was much more important than most people realize!

I was not involved in anymore controversies after that, and we eventually got down to two tables. Around 2 am Saturday morning, I was knocked-out in 16th place out of 393 players, and cashed for $1,356. My last hand, I had A-T, both hearts in the BB with about 130K, the blinds were 4,000/8,000 and 1000 ante. A lady on my left, in the UTG seat limped, everyone folded to about seat 7, where an older gentleman with a very large stack, and who had been playing pretty aggressive, just limped. Everyone else folded and I checked, not wanting to raise with A-T out of position. The flop was K-J-6, all Hearts – I had flopped the Nut Flush! I checked, the lady min bet 8,000, and seat 7 raised to about 25K; while trying to conceal my excitement, I just called. The turn was a 6, pairing the board. I wanted to know where I was at, so I bet about 25K, UTG folded, and seat 7 raised to about 50K. Knowing he could have a Full House, or Q-x of Hearts, here are my thoughts: he had been very aggressive and had been raising when in position a lot on the flop, and could be bluffing, I wasn’t just calling. I was already deep-in-the-money and the next few places just gradually increased in payout. I would need to win hands like this to make the final table. So, I raised all in, he insta-called with a K-6, so he did have the Full House – Sixes Full.

On Saturday, some of the guys played some more WSOP Satellites and $135 tourneys, and I think Paul played the Noon $365. Choo and I went back to the Omaha Hi/Lo cash game, where I slowly lost all of my Omaha winnings from Thursday night, plus a little more.

Sunday, we all (except for Choo, who had to get in a little more card playing) met for breakfast. Then, everyone dispersed and gradually headed home. I had told Choo, who rode with me, we’d leave at 11:00 am. About 10:30, since I didn’t really have enough time to play poker, I sat down at a $5 Blackjack table and promptly lost 10 out of 11 hands (one was a push). I went and checked out, drug Choo away from the poker table and headed home.

Later the next week, I found out that another player I’ve played with a few times, Brian, played in the Tuesday $365 event. He made it to play heads-up for the ring. Unfortunately, his opponent was catching all kinds of good cards, and Brian finished second.

Well, there’s probably several more stories from Tunica I could write about, but I’m tired of writing, and if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably tired of reading. Hopefully, it won’t be another two years before a post another blog entry!

Thanks for reading!!

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Can Dolly Parton beat Anna Kournikova?

I got the idea for this blog from a friend when he told me that his wife was reading one of my previous posts, and that she was “cracking up” at some of the poker lingo I used.

Since poker has such a colorful language, I thought I’d write a blog about a couple of mythical hands, while using real players from our home games, and using as many poker nicknames, acronyms, sayings, jargon, abbreviations, etc. as humanly possible.  In order to include as much poker language as possible, I think it will take at least a couple of hands.

Let’s set the scenario:  Table 1, early in a NLHE freeze-out tournament, blinds are 100/200 and starting chip stacks were 20,000.

Pre-flop, Walter (a LAG), is UTG, and limps.  Chris, next to act, peeks at Dolly Parton, and in an unusual move for a nit in early position with this hand, also flats.  Then Jerry calls, and Erick, with fishhooks, pops it for 3x.  Paul, sitting on the big stack tosses in 600; James in the hijack seat, three-bets to 1,200 with Cowboys, and Kyle (whose widely regarded as a fish), in the cut-off, comes along.  The Hero, on the button, is excited to look down and see Anna Kournikova (and let’s be honest here, who wouldn’t be), except it’s this Anna Kournikova: rather than this Anna Kournikova: and decides to call, rather than four-bet.  Meanwhile, Randy (who has a dirty stack – as usual) in the small-blind, calls, and Kenny, in the big-blind, feels he’s priced-in, so he completes. Walter, Chris, Jerry, Erick, and Paul all call, making it a family pot.

The Flop is Q-8-6, rainbow.  First-to-act, Randy, checks his suited connectors, 2-3.  Kenny, holding T-T, with an over card on the board, also checks.  Walter checks, and Chris, with a gut-shot, also checks.  Jerry, Erick (who was warned earlier for soft playing his brother), and Paul all check to the raiser.  James, with the over pair, puts out a C-bet of 3,000.  With two overs, I call.  Randy’s cards hit the muck, and Kenny calls.  Walter, our most frequent Bubble Boy, folds.  Chris, with a gut-shot, calls.  Jerry folds, and Erick gives up his fishhooks.  Paul, the only remaining player to not add-on, also folds.

The Turn is a King.  Kenny and Chris check.  With a wet board and not wanting to give anyone a free card, James bets the pot with his set.  Not knowing that James hit his set, I call with top pair and top kicker.  Chris goes in the tank for about five minutes, but eventually calls.

Chris sucks-out on the River, when a 7 hits the board.  He checks his straight, and James bets what he thinks is a value bet of about half-the-pot.  I’m pot-committed and call.  Then, Chris check-raises, with a pot-size bet.  James, thinking Chris is bluffing, shoves.  I lay-down my pair, and Chris insta-calls; and slow rolls James.  James sees the bad news and realizes he’s been felted, and heads to the rail.

Omaha is a game that was invented by a Sadist and is played by Masochists. — Shane Smith

Meanwhile, a mixed PLO/PL8, $1/$2 Cash game with a $5 bring-in, consisting of players already busted-out of the tournament (there was a lot of early action and loose play) is going on at another table.

In this hand, they’re playing Hi-Lo, and Derrick, under-the-gun, opens with $5.  Next to act, Kevin, has a coordinated hand of Q-J-T-9, double-suited, and pots it.  Doc, who’s on tilt, smooth calls with rags.  Todd (a rock) has been on a cooler, and folds.  Kent, who’s steaming because he busted out of the tournament earlier in the night when Andre hit a 2-outer after making a donkey call, is warned after splashing the pot with a call.  Michael, in the hijack seat, has been bleeding chips, and decides to sit-out the hand.  Zack, a calling-station who’s been on a heater after the deck hit him in the head, also comes along with trash.

Choo, on the button, smooth calls with two weak Bullets.  Brad, who busted and re-bought, peeks at his hole-cards, and seeing quad fours, insta-folds.  Andre, who lost a coin flip to get knocked out of the tournament, is in the BB, and tanks.  After Kevin calls the clock on him (even though there isn’t a clock in cash games), Andre decides to call light.

The Flop is all paint, King of Spades -Queen of Spades – Jack of Hearts.

Action is on Andre, and he checks.  Derrick, holding K-K-7-7, tries to protect his top set with a pot-size bet.  Kevin, with all kinds of outs, angle-shoots by cutting-out enough chips to re-pop it, but stops just short of the betting line, and only calls.  Doc has flopped air, and mucks.  Kent catches part of the flop, but is short-stacked and out-of-position, so he decides to fold.  Zack, unaware of his well known tell given off by the manner in which he eats Oreos when he misses the flop; cracks an Oreo open, slowly eats the inside filling, and then bluffs at the pot by re-potting it.Even though he’s a slight dog, Choo, with the nut flush draw, jams.  Andre, with an outstanding low hand of A-2-3-4, folds like a chair.  Derrick calls.  Kevin is priced-in, so he calls.  Zack gives up on the bluff, and folds.

The Turn is the 7 of spades, putting three-to-a-flush on the board.  Derrick misreads his hand, thinking he has a boat, and creates a side-pot with another pot-size bet.  Kevin has turned the second nut flush and smooth calls.  Choo, sitting on the nut flush with A-2 spades, watches since he’s all-in.

The River is an insignificant card, and Derrick, thinking he is trapping, checks.  Kevin checks, and shows his flush.  Derrick tables his cards and states he has a full-house.  Then suddenly realizes his mistake, and that he actually needed the board to pair.  Choo with the nut flush, wins the main pot, with Kevin taking the side-pot.  Luckily for Andre, there wasn’t a possible low after the flop, or he would have been quartered!

So, did Dolly beat Anna?

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Last Night’s Tournament Summary

A few people have asked me to email a summary of the winners from last night’s game.  But, since I haven’t written a blog post in over a month, I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to put something current on this site.  So, here I sit, after 3 hours sleep, and looking at slabs of granite all day, (which I don’t even want to discuss), preparing to tell you about what you missed if you weren’t at The Boblagio in the wee hours this morning.

We had a good-size group of 21 players (the attendance is usually down somewhat during the summer due to vacations and such) registered for the tourney.  Several of our “regulars” were out-of-town, and we had a couple of new, first-time at The Boblagio players, including my neighbor, Jack.  I think Jack decided to play because the cars from my game block his driveway and he can’t go anywhere else, so he decided to just walk across the street and join us.

Kevin set the tone early,  just as the cards were “in-the-air”, by requesting applause for me hosting the game, and then [good-naturally] requesting applause for Choo’s donation to the prize fund.  He was still holding a grudge against Choo for knocking him out previously at Choo’s game when Choo had Quads to Kevin’s Full-House (I think it was a Full House, or it could have been a Flush).

It didn’t take long for the action to pick-up.  Zack, who had been tweeting “smack” to a few of the other players throughout the week, busted-out early when Choo held the Nut-Club Flush.  Luckily for Zack, well – not ex-Zachtly, we had one optional re-buy.  Zack figured his luck would turn-around, so he bought back in.  He was wrong! A short-time later, Zack busted-out again, and was the first player to hit-the-rail.  He thought about hanging around for the cash game, but decided to go home and play video games and tweet some more.  Walter followed Zack to the rail, but decided to stay and watch the Olympics until the cash game started.

The game progressed as usual, with players being eliminated one-by-one.  With 16 players remaining, we consolidated to two tables.  And, when we were down to 10 players, the final table was set.  I had somehow managed to limp to the final table, albeit with a short stack.

There was an unfortunate mishap that I truly felt bad about.  The table folded around to me, seated somewhere around the button or cut-off seat and I shoved all-in.  Bruce was one seat to my left, and he thought about calling, but folded.  The last player to act was Kenny, who had been collecting the antes for the table.  When he went to look at his cards to decide whether to call, he didn’t have any; they had inadvertently gotten mixed into the muck.  So, I won the hand uncontested.

We were paying four places, and I was still in, but still short-stacked, when we were down to five players.  Bruce had returned to our game after a long hiatus, and was also one of the final five. His chip stack dwindled after losing a couple of hands.  I was pretty much card dead, but managed to win enough pots to stay alive, and hoped to just outlast Bruce, Chris W., and a couple of other players to back-into the money.  Bruce eventually became the “Bubble Boy”, and my diabolical plan of “getting lucky” had worked!

The usual bad beats and suck-outs occurred.  I remember one particular hand where I was once again all-in with A-7; and was called by Doc, who had A-Q.  I spiked a 7 on the flop, and it held-up.  Kenny took some bad beats, but was able to locate his cards for the remainder of the night, and ended-up being eliminated in fourth place.  I was still the short stack with three players remaining, and continued to hang-on.  Derek B., who had been traveling a lot, was also able to return to The Boblagio after a long absence, and finished in 3rd place.

When we began heads-up play, Doc held about a 2:1 (or better) chip lead, with 165,000 chips in play.  The blinds were pretty high, around 1,500/3,000, or so, plus antes of 500, and I shoved several hands in a row, and Doc folded each time.  I actually had a hand a couple of times. ;-)

As almost always happens with heads-up play, a very significant hand was dealt.  Todd had left the cash game and was dealing for us.  Doc raised me all-in, and I called with my pocket 9′s.  Doc turned over 7′s, and I was in good shape to double up.  A 7 came on the flop to give Doc a set, and it appeared that I was about to be eliminated.  Doc got greedy :) and was asking Todd for another 7 on the turn.  However, he rolled-over a 9, and an insignificant card on the river; and we swapped chip stack sizes.  A short-time later, Doc shoved all-in with an Ace-Kicker, and I called with what turned out to be an Ace-Bigger Kicker. These chips ended-up on my side of the table:

My hand had held up, and I had “lucked” my way from final table short-stack to winner; thus ending my “cashless” streak at The Boblagio at five tournaments.

For those people unable to make it out to the game last night, we received a one-time sponsorship from Fool Tilt Poker, and the payouts were:

1st Place – $100,000
2nd Place – $50,000
3rd Place – $25,000
4th Place – $10,000

A few players have mentioned that they enjoyed the HO tournament I once held.  So, I think my next tournament will be a “HO” (Hold’em/Omaha) Mixed Tourney.  I hope to see EVERYONE there; who knows, maybe we’ll have another sponsor. ;)

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Rabbit Hunting

When I was much younger, I loved rabbit hunting.  There were a couple of ways to do it.  If we didn’t have dogs, which was most of the time, three or four of my friends and I would form a line about 10-20 yards apart, and walk through a field, usually consisting of tall weeds, briars, and other thorny bushes.  The goal was to cause a rabbit to jump, and then we would try to shoot it as it zigzagged and basically ran in an erratic fashion.  Rabbits will often “sit-tight”, and since they blend in with their cover, you will often walk right past them.  So, it’s a good practice to stop often while walking a field; and, something about that makes them nervous, and they will often take-off, sometimes right out from almost under your feet – which scares the bejesus out-of-you, making it even harder to shoot the little gray bullets.

Occasionally, we would be fortunate enough to hunt with someone who had rabbit dogs – usually beagles.  I love hearing beagles when they’re on the trail of a rabbit!  If you’ve never rabbit hunted, then you may not know that when they are “jumped”, they will run in a wide circle, eventually ending up back at the same location from where they began, unless your dogs are too fast, causing the rabbit to run in a hole.  So, hunting with dogs is a whole lot less exercise; since once the rabbit jumps, you just wait for it to circle back-around, and try to shoot the fury blur when it runs by.

At this point, you’re probably thinking: “Hey, I thought this was a blog about poker!” and, you would be correct.  Sorry!  I got side-tracked.  It’s just the topic caused me to reminisce about “the good ole’ days” and rabbit hunting. 

Now, as for rabbit hunting in poker – I HATE it.

If you’re not a regular poker player, then: 1) why are you reading this blog (just kidding), and 2) in case you don’t know what rabbit hunting in poker is, I’ll try to explain it, and why I hate it.

During a poker hand, if everyone, except one player, folds before the board has been completely dealt (the flop, turn, and river), then the hand is over, and the pot is awarded to the lone remaining player.  But sometimes, a player has faced a difficult decision about whether to fold or not.  For example, he (or she) might have an Ace and another card of the same suit (let’s say spades), in their hand, and there are two spades on the board.  And, they’re pretty sure they’re behind in the hand at this point.  Let’s say the flop and turn have been dealt, so there are four cards on the board with one remaining to be dealt.  The player’s opponent has raised, causing the player with the Ace-of-spades to be all-in if they call.  So, one of the remaining nine spades must come for the player to win the hand.  After much deliberation the player folds and the pot is awarded to the other player.

Here’s where “rabbit hunting” comes into play.  Curiosity “gets-the-best” of the player who has given-up and folded, and he/she/we want to see if a spade would have come on the river.  So, we ask the dealer to rabbit hunt, and deal the last card as-if the hand were still live.  Rabbit hunting is expressly prohibited in tournaments, since there is a clock, and it wastes time.  However, in cash games, players will often justify requesting it since there isn’t a clock.  I have even seen rabbit hunting on TV in high stakes games like Poker After Dark, which only serves to encourage it.

I “get” that people are curious, but personally, I really don’t understand why people request it.  If, in my example, you would have hit your flush (which is about a 20% chance), does that mean that next time in a similar situation, you should call?  If a spade isn’t dealt in the rabbit hunt, do you feel better that you made a good decision in the first place?  What if you had fewer outs, like two or four, and when rabbit hunting, one of those outs “comes”.  Does that mean the next time you have two or four outs that you should call because you “would have” hit last time?  Have you gained insight into the future by what “would have happened” in the past?

Aside from the time-wasting argument, I think the biggest reason to NOT rabbit hunt, is that it can damage the player who won the hand, possibly exposing a bluff.  I’ll try to explain.  First, everyone knows that bluffing is a big part of the game; as Dan Harrington says in his book Harrington on Cash Games:In poker, if you never bluff, you can’t win“.  In a different example than the previous one, let’s say there’s three-to-a-flush (spades again) on the board, and we have a King-high spade flush.  Our opponent has bet, portraying that they have the Ace high flush, putting us all-in if we call.  The stakes are too high, so we fold, but ask the dealer to rabbit hunt; the dealer obliges, and the Ace-of-Spades is dealt, exposing our opponent’s bluff.  We didn’t pay to see our opponent’s card, but we got free information. How is that good for the game?

Playing the “What-if” game is pretty much useless in life.  What-if I had asked the cute blond cheerleader to the prom in high school – well, maybe that’s not a good example; so, let’s forget that one.  How about – What if I was born rich, or I was born with the genetics to be 6′-11″, and 275 lbs., or I was 6′-5″ with a cannon for an arm?  Ridiculous?  Yes!  But, in my humble opinion, no more ridiculous that folding, and then seeing what card(s) would-have been dealt! 

I could go on-and-on, ranting endlessly about my dislike for rabbit hunting (in poker, that is), but I think I’ve made my point.  Let’s all lobby our congressmen to allow online poker and ban rabbit hunting in poker.

Now, does anyone own some beagles?

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Poker, Ferrets, and Snakes

Ferret

 A couple of nights ago, I played in a Cash Game at Matt’s (aka Aquaman’s), and had one of the worst nights I’ve had at the poker table – ever (I only won 2 or 3 small pots in four hours).  To add insult-to-injury, when I was dealt a playable hand; like when I hit a flush when my 5-6 of diamonds saw three diamonds on the board, I lost to a full house on the river.  And, when I finally got a pocket pair (Queens), I was felted when David, who arrived late and was playing his first hand of the night, flopped a King to go with his Ace-King.  However, it will be a game that I remember for a very long time, and NOT because of the cold deck.  Rather, it was a particular discussion that took place that makes it so memorable. You just never know what you’re going to hear at the poker table.  I’ll try to relate the story as accurately as possible, but I submit the disclaimer that my memory isn’t what it once was. :)     

One of our group’s most regular players is “Doc”, a very successful and experienced chiropractor.  As a matter-of-fact, not long ago, he was telling a few of us that he has performed over a half-million procedures!  Doc is also a very tough opponent “on the felt”; and, has been known to bluff on occasion.  However, I have no reason to believe that the story I’m about to relate is anything but the truth.    

The conversation began innocently enough with a general discussion about Doc’s practice; like where it’s located, and the fact that his daughter recently joined the practice.  I don’t recall exactly what, why, or who mentioned it (although it might have been Zack – maybe someone who was there can correct me if I’m wrong), but someone asked Doc if he had ever performed a chiropractic procedure on a ferret.  Doc gave a wry smile, paused, and then replied: “Yes, I have”.  Everyone was somewhat stunned, and someone asked for details.  So, Doc explained that one of his regular patients brought their pet ferret in because it had been attacked by a dog, and it’s back (I think), was messed up.  So, he performed an adjustment on the ferret (and healed it, I suppose).    

 Now, it gets even more interesting.  After a couple of minutes, someone jokingly asked: “Have you ever performed a procedure on a snake”?  I have no idea why they asked that, but they did.  Doc again sat back, smiled, and after a short pause replied: “Well, yes I have”.  Everyone at the table was even more stunned.  Without hesitation, he then explained the circumstances.  Another one of his regular patients had a pregnant Boa Constrictor (I think it was a Boa, or it could have been a Python), and had pre-sold the soon-to-be baby snakes to prospective customers.  Unfortunately, the expectant mama Boa had struck at something or someone and hit the glass wall of her “home”, thereby dislocating her jaw.  Suffering, and unable to eat, she was becoming weaker-and-weaker.   So, the desperate owner sought-out Doc to see if he could help.  He performed an adjustment on her to repair her injured jaw.  Several questions from the players ensued, for example, when asked if he had to sedate the snake, Doc said that she was in such a weakened state from her injury that it wasn’t necessary.  He didn’t say, but I assume that she made a full recovery, and delivered successfully.   

Boa Constrictor Skull: 

 

I thought I’d share this story, because it demonstrates yet another reason to gather around the poker table – you just never know what will occur!    

I’m not making this up; there were other witnesses there: Choo, Zack, Andre, Tariq, and Jason, among others.  In conclusion, was Doc just having fun and “bluffing” us?  Only he knows for sure. ;)

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Pocket Aces

Pocket Aces [Bullets, Pocket Rockets, American Airlines, Weapons of Mass Destruction, or whatever name you want to call them] remind me of a first date with a beautiful woman, present wife excluded.  When you first see them, you’re really excited and have high expectations, but then you often suffer a big disappointment.  Who doesn’t get excited (hopefully not giving off any tells :) ), when we look at our hole cards and see AA.  And, doesn’t it seem that more often-than-not we suffer a huge letdown later when we realize that she (I mean they) were just a big tease?  Phil Helmuth has been quoted as saying he can “dodge bullets” – but then again, who can’t?

If you read my WSOP Tunica blog, you may remember that the one hand that haunts me the most is the one where I eventually folded pocket Aces after loosing a sizable portion of my chips to what I suspected was at least three Queens.  Not long ago, I was playing in a local cash game, where after being up and down, I was about even for the night.  I announced that I was playing my last hand for the night, then jokingly asked the dealer to give me a good hand.  He did, in fact, deal me pocket Aces, which eventually lost a sizeable portion of my buy-in to 5-6 suited.

According to my Poker Odds app, AA vs a “random hand(s)” preflop, are: an 84.9% favorite against one player, 73.4% favorite against two players, 63.5% to win against three players, 55.8% favorite when played against four players, and so on.  AA vs 22 (where the Aces and Twos are the same suit), are a 83.0% favorite to win.  If they’re different suits, the Aces are an 81.4% favorite.  It doesn’t matter much what the lower pair is; for example, Aces against Kings (same suits), are 82.3% favorite, Aces vs Tens (same suits) are 81.1% to win.  And, against suited connectors, like QJ, Aces are 81.4% favorites.  Again, it doesn’t really matter much what the two suited connectors are; AA vs 78 is about a 78% favorite.  And, statistically, you will get pocket Aces once every 220 hands.

Awhile back, Andre’, one of The Boblagio’s regular players, sent the email below to a couple of us, asking our opinion about how he played his pocket Aces.  Would you have played them the same, or played them differently in this situation?  The game was $1/$2 (I think):

Guys, I wanted your opinion on this scenario that busted me out last night:
 
-  I have $155 in chips.
-  I sit two places to the left of the big blind.
-  I am dealt ace of diamonds and ace of clubs.
-  button straddles for $5.
-  callers are:  big blind, me and 3 people behind me. 
-  question #1:  is it a mistake not to raise the straddle?  I think it goes either way……
-  when the option returns to the button, he raises to $12.
-  the big blind calls.  he has about $180, just slightly covering me.
-  I raise the bet to $36 (3x).  good pot and i’m happy to take it down and i assume someone on a draw will fold and i’m happy to flip a coin with another pocket pair holder.
-  question #2:  is this a strong enough bet?  i think so…….
-  the big blind calls my bet.
-  at this point, i’m thinking my opponent has a pocket pair or perhaps ace king, maybe ace king suited.
-  flop comes as follow:  2h, 4h and 9c.
-  after a minute of thinking my opponent goes all in.  i have about $125 left, he has about $140 left.
-  i am thinking he wouldn’t overplay two pair or trips, so i put him on kings or queens.  i eliminated a flush draw from consideration but left room for ace/king of hearts.
-  i call the all-in bet.
-  my opponenent shows 5h and 7h.  no kidding.  he called the $5 straddle, the $12 raise and my $36 re-raise with a flush draw and loose shot straight draw. 
Actually, he called preflop, before a flush or straight draw was on the board.
-  question #3:  was he really pot committed at that point and had to make the all-in bet?  i don’t believe so.  wouldn’t any decent player have thought i was strong with my betting?  
-  you can guess the rest. 
- the turn comes and its a 6h. 
- i’m done;  and to add insult to injury, the river is the other black ace.
-  i really wanted to ask my opponent some of those questions, but i wisely left before i could make an idiot of myself. 
 
what do you think?  i think i played it just fine and got unlucky.  perhaps i could have bet the straddle but i don’t believe that would have changed the outcome much. 

 
Here’s what I think is an excellent and well thought-out response from Randy, one of our other regular players:

Ok like I said, I really like these discussions. This is how I get better.
Lets put ourselves in his shoes. After you made the $36.00 bet, the pot
would have been about $70.00. So he would have to call and additional
$24.00 (he already had $12.00 in the pot).

So from his perspective his pot odds are ($24/($24+$70.00) or 25%. Now we
calculate the pre flop percentage of your hand versus his hand.

Ad-Ac vs. 5h-7h, With this scenario you are a 78% favorite. So from his
view, his call was not that bad. I am sure with the amount of your
re-raise, he put you on a big pair.

However, he did not know if you had a heart as one of your cards. So let’s
do the math and assume you had an Ah instead of Ad. You are a 79% percent
favorite.

Let’s do the math if you have Ah-Kh. You are a 63% favorite.

So in summary his call seemed to be a donk play and it was to some degree
but not the degree I thought it was.

Let’s take a look after the flop:
You AdAc. Him 5h-7h on a flop of 2h-4h-9c. You are a 61% favorite.
You Ad-Ah. Him 5h-7h on a flop of 2h-4h-9c. You are a 66% favorite.
You Ah-Kh. Him 5h-7h on a flop of 2h-4h-9c. You are a 80% favorite. 

So in summary any way you slice, you were ahead and got caught. However,
his play was not as bad as I initially thought. I don’t think you played it
wrong at all…In a game with a bunch of donks…you might want to bet a
little more pre-flop

On your question about flat calling the straddle with Aces. Given how
aggressive the player on the button was, I think it was an excellent play.
He did actually what you wanted; he three bet…giving you an opportunity to
four bet…good job.

So, in conclusion, despite usually being at least a 3 to 1 favorite, as I stated in the beginning, why do Aces seem to disappoint us so often?

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Bubble Boy

There was an episode in the Seinfeld TV series once about a “bubble boy”; a boy who had an immune deficiency disease.  But, that’s not the kind of bubble boy I’m referring to here.  Rather, it’s the dreaded poker “Bubble Boy”; otherwise known as the last person to get knocked-out of a poker tournament, and not cash.  But, most of you reading this know that already.

I chose this as a topic to write about because I have a slightly different viewpoint about being the “Bubble Boy” than most players I know.  Admittedly, it can be frustrating to play poker for hours, or in the case of the WSOP Main Event – for days, and have your tournament end just one position short of “the money”.  The 2011 WSOP Main Event “Bubble Boy” was Reza Kashani, but as a consolation prize, he was given a seat in the 2012 Main Event.  I suppose that if anyone plays enough tournament poker, they will eventually be the “Bubble Boy”.  Even the great Phil Ivey has been a “Bubble Boy”, finishing in 55th place in the 2012 LA Poker Classic.

One of the regular players at The Boblagio was the “Bubble Boy” three times in-a-row.  Not coincidently, he does not like to play tournaments, preferring “cash” games instead.  I personally don’t recall being the “Bubble Boy” in a live game myself, although I’m pretty certain I have been. 

My feelings about being the “Bubble Boy” are different than most, primarily because it doesn’t really bother me that much.  Of course, if I ever have the good fortune to play in the Main Event, and were to survive to the point of getting knocked-out one place out of the money, you can be certain that would I would be pretty upset.  But, in a home game, I’m playing for the pure enjoyment of the game, and to be able to play for several hours and not cash does not disappoint me.  My parents played Bridge a lot when I was young (which I also learned to play), and they usually played about the same length of time that our home poker tournaments last (about 6-7 hours); and they didn’t play for money.  However, they enjoyed the game immensely.  So, for me, poker is similar to the Bridge card games that my parents played - sure, I do like to win (who doesn’t?), but I enjoy the socializing, strategy, analytical aspects of the game, and trying to outwit my opponents.  Any cash that I might win is just “gravy”.

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A Rainy Night in San Francisco and Omaha Hi/Lo (or not)

I’m in San Francisco, and it’s been raining every day and night for the last several days.  So, a couple of nights ago, I decided to forego my nightly battle with the elements to eat dinner, and just “stay in”.  After the complimentary “Wine Hour” in the hotel’s lobby, I decided to go back to my room, put my PJ’s on, and play some online poker.

As many of you that play online know, “free poker” sucks, since some donkey goes all-in almost every hand.  So, I logged onto one of the online sites that still allows U.S. players to play for real money.  The site is not near as good as PokerStars; players don’t even have names or IDs, just a number (like Player 1), but it’s better than play money poker.  I decided I would work-on my Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo game, and joined a “high stakes” ;) , 2-cent/5-cent table, and bought in for $3.00.  I played pretty well, and after an hour-or-so, had more than doubled my stack (too bad it wasn’t $2/$5).

Then a very puzzling thing happened, and it took me a while to determine exactly what had happened; because, if you’ve ever played Omaha (especially H/L) online, then you know the end-of-the-hand happens very fast.  It seems the computer can “figure out” the high-hand winner, the low-hand winner, and any side pots much faster than we can in our ”live” home games.  Anyway, I was holding A-2, with a possible low on the board (and I wasn’t counterfeited), so I had been building the pot throughout the hand.  On the River, I bet and was re-raised all-in.  Thinking I was probably going to get half of the pot (I didn’t think “being quartered” was a possibility because of how the hand had been played – and in the end, I was correct) I called.  As the computer awarded the various pots, the “puzzling” part occurred; no chips came my way, and I was busted.

I clicked-on the link that displays the last hand, to verify that I did indeed have the nut low – and I did.  Thinking the computer software had somehow “screwed up” (it happens, you know), I was preparing an email to their customer support to credit my account.  Then, I noticed something in the top left-hand corner of my screen.  That is when I realized that I had been playing Omaha (High only) for the entire night.  Mystery solved, except for the fact that I doubled my buy-in not knowing what game I was playing. :)  And, as I’m writing this, it just dawned on me, this is also similar to our home games, where we’re usually playing dealer’s choice, but almost everyone is calling Omaha Hi/Lo, and then a player (usually Randy), will call Omaha High only, and someone doesn’t hear him.

I just realized, it’s almost time for Complimentary Wine Hour, so I’ve got to go.  Maybe I’ll play against you online later tonight, although I have no idea what game I’ll be playing.

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WSOP Tunica 2012 Recap

Poker was the main excuse, (I mean reason) for our Tunica trip.  Certainly, there was a lot of poker playing going on; however, there were numerous other activities that made it a memorable trip.  At least 16 people from our local home games traveled to Tunica; some arriving on Thursday, some on Friday, and others arrived on Saturday.  Most of us played in at least one WSOP event; several played in cash games at Harrah’s, Horseshoe, or The Gold Strike.

Walter, Chris, and I were the first in our group to arrive at Harrah’s on Thursday evening.  After checking-in, and stuffing myself at Paula Deen’s buffet, I headed to the Harrah’s poker room to play some $1/$3 Hold’em.  The poker room was overflowing, primarily because the WSOP was in town, and the wait for a seat was about half-an-hour.  When I finally got a seat, it was at a table outside of the poker room.  Nothing spectacular happened in my first casino cash game.  Eventually, some players left our table and when it broke, I moved to a table inside the poker room.  I was down, and then up; eventually ending up exactly even after 2 1/2 hours of play.  The most exciting occurrence of the evening was that Chris Moneymaker showed up in the poker room, and was playing at the table next to Chris W., and me after I moved.  I believe that Matt A. played at the same table as Moneymaker a couple of days later.

I originally intended to play in Event #2, beginning on Saturday, but learned that several players in our group were going to play in 1B on Friday.  I got to the registration desk about 10:15 Thursday night, 15 minutes after it closed.  Even though the sign at the desk stated it opened on Friday morning at 9:o0, the security guard, and the person behind the desk said they would open at 8:00 am.  They lied!  To beat the crowd, the next morning, after about three hours sleep, I got to the registration area a little before 8:00, along with others who had been told the same thing (like Zack), and the registration desk didn’t open until about 8:55.

I did eventually get registered, and later took my seat at table #43 – seat 4, just a little before noon on Friday.  Seat 5 was empty for a while, and then Jen (and, the reason I know her name was Jen is because almost every dealer called her “Jen”), sat down.  If you’ve played poker in casinos, then you know poker players don’t always smell very good, often because they’ve been playing for hours-on-end, and haven’t had the time to attend to personal hygiene.  This was NOT the case with Jen – she smelled really good.  She also informed the table that she had just had a baby six weeks earlier.  And, it was quite obvious she was nursing her baby, if you know what I mean. ;)

Anyway, I had a strange run of hands during the second blind level.  We began with 10,000 in chips.  With the blinds at 50-100, I was dealt pocket Aces in early position, and bet about 400, and had one or two callers.  The flop came Q-x-x, and I bet about 1,000; and had one caller, a young guy in a red hoodie.  The turn was another Queen, and I bet about 2,000; and the caller re-raised me all-in.  This is the one hand in the tournament that I’ve replayed over-and-over in my mind, trying to decide if I made the right play.  Did he bluff me, or did he have a Queen?  I’ll never know, because I laid-down my Aces, and he didn’t show.  The very next hand, I picked-up pocket Queens.  I bet out about 400-500, and the same guy in the red hoodie called.  The flop was K-J-x;  both the King & Jack were clubs.  I continuation bet again, to see where I was, and “red hoodie” again raised me all-in.  Once again, I folded, and this time he showed A-K.  Finally, just a couple of hands later, I was dealt A-K.  After another series of bets and calls, I was re-raised to almost all-in with a K-Q on the board.  I called, and my pair of Kings held-up, winning some chips back.

Eventually, the table broke, and I was moved to a different table, where a couple of bizarre events occurred.  Soon after I arrived, a young twenty-something guy on my right bet 1,025, and a large, intimidating (sunglasses, beard, hat pulled-down over his eyes) black man “lit into” him for making an odd-sized bet.  The table was stunned, wondering why it was such a big deal.  A few hands later, another guy bet 575, just to add “fuel to the fire”, and the mood seemed to lighten-up; even the intimidating guy laughed.  A little later, another guy on the other end of the table got into a heated argument with the player on his left, who I learned later was pro Glenn Poole (who finished second to November “niner” John Dolan just a few days earlier at the Beau Rivage’s “Million Dollar Heater”), because Glenn’s friend was talking while the aggravated player was facing a big bet.  Glenn asked the dealer to call the “floor”, which he did.  After the floor came over and had left, the argument started again, which resulted in three “floor people” being called over and the offending player receiving a two round penalty.  I ran into one of the other players at our table the next morning and learned that he was Gene Dudek III, co-owner of gulfcoastpoker.net and Gulf Coast Poker magazine. 

There wasn’t much else exciting that happened at our table until I got pocket Tens shortly before the dinner break.  I had a little over 17,000 chips.  The blinds were 1,000/2,000 with a 400 ante.  A player with about 10K went all-in, and I called.  He show A-T, and I was ahead until an Ace came on the river; leaving me with about 7,500.  A couple of hands later, I was dealt Tens again, and shoved.  I had two callers; the first one had 7-7, and the other, who thought a long-time before saying “I probably shouldn’t call”, and then did, had Jacks.  The Jacks held-up, and my WSOP tournament was over, just in time to beat the rush for dinner.

I played $1/$3 Hold’em Cash at Harrah’s again on Saturday afternoon, with Matt F. on my left, and finished up $90; primarily due to one hand, where I called a $30 bet (that turned out to be a bluff) into about a $170 pot with K-K and a four-flush on the board, and neither of my Kings was the same suit as the four-flush.  Then, Andre, Thomas, and I played in a Deep Stack tournament late Saturday afternoon at The Horseshoe.  The shuttle bus from Harrah’s to The Horseshoe was packed, and a lady, about 70 years old, offered to sit on Thomas’s lap to make room for others.  That was about the highlight of our Horseshoe tournament, with Andre going out first, me next, and Thomas almost cashing – but didn’t.

Chris was the only one in our group that played in Event 1, to make it to Day 2.  He was the most successful, tournament-wise, in our group; making an amazing run and eventually finishing in 26th place out of 1,128 players.  During Day 2, he won some pots, playing hands like 5-5, and flopping 5-4-4, and lost some when his A-K lost to K-J.  When they were down to three tables, Zack, David, Walter, and I were “railing” him.  After he busted, we all headed to the bar to celebrate and tell bad beat stories.

Walter, who I swear is so “tight” that he squeaks when he walks, did not play in any WSOP events.  He did play in some cash games, where of course, be bought-in for the minimum amount, and proceeded to improve his chip stack by about 1,000%!  I guess you could say he “had the last laugh”.

Several other members of our group: Zack, Kenny, Erick, Derrick, Doc, David, Kevin, Matt A., and some other’s that I’m sure I’m leaving out, played in Event #2 on Saturday.  But, sadly, none made it to day 2. 

I have a Twitter account (@Boblagio), but had not used it very much prior to the Tunica trip.  Several players in our group tweeted a lot during the trip, and it was a great way to keep up with each other.  We were constantly crossing paths, in the poker rooms, in the restaurants, in the bar, on the shuttle bus, and so on.

Although my poker results were not what I had hoped for during the trip, it was still tremendous fun.  Just being there with a large group of friends and sharing our experiences made it a very memorable trip.  There are several more stories from the trip that I could relate, but this blog has gotten kind of wordy already – and, “what happens in Tunica, stays in Tunica”.  To sum it up, everyone from our group that I talked to seemed to have had a great time, and we hope to make it an annual event – possibly adding even more players from our local group next time.

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WSOP Tunica 2012 – Revised

First, I was going to play in a WSOP Circuit event in Tunica this year; then, I wasn’t going to Tunica because it’s on Super Bowl weekend.  But, after learning that there will be a large contingent of players from our local “Home Circuit” playing, I’ve once again (can you say wishy-washy?), changed my mind and decided to go.  After giving the matter further consideration, I realized that one-of-two scenarios can occur.  First, and most likely, :( I’ll be out of the WSOP event early enough to make it back home in time for the actual game, since there will probably be about 10 hours of pregame show before the actual telecast of the Super Bowl.  Or, if by chance I’m still in the tournament, which means I’m making a fairly deep-run, then I could care less about the football game.

Possibly an “omen” that I should play in the WSOP event is that the last remaining team that I cared about, Green Bay, is out of the playoffs; so, I really don’t care who wins now.  Additionally, it seems that every year the commercials are becoming more important than the game, so I can just record it and watch them at my leisure.

I even played in a local satellite at the Harris Cardroom for Event #2.  I had a bad day (hopefully got it out of my system), when my old nemesis, pocket Kings, got cracked twice, once by Jacks on-the-flop, and another time by a rivered flush.  That’s not counting my Queen’s getting out-flopped, having numerous pocket pairs and never able to hit a set, never connecting with my suited connectors, and so on.  After starting with 10,000 chips, I eventually picked-up A-Q with 1,900 left, went all-in and doubled up.  But just a couple of hands later shoved again with A-9, both diamonds, and was called by Chris H., who had A-J.  I out flopped him with a 9, and was optimistic about doubling up again until a Ten came on the river giving him a straight, and sending me to the rail in 7th place, out of 10.  Randy ”Full House” eventually took it down, and Chris H. (aka Chris “Any-Two-Cards”) took the consolation second prize.  Congratulations to both of them (grrrrr). :)

If you’re in Tunica on February 4th and 5th for the WSOP, say hi if you see me; I’ll probably have my orange “TheBoblagio.com” shirt on; although hopefully a couple of other players from my game may have a similar shirt on also.

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