Saturday, July 2, 2011

Of Twitters, Pokers Heroes, and Living the Dream: Day 3 - Vegas

If you're paying attention, you know that today is actually Day 4, but I didn't recap yesterday. Good catch if you even noticed that.  If not, slacker.

I'm sitting on the 18th floor of the Imperial Palace. I turned the A/C off and am just chilling. Lots to hear, even from the top floor of this "palace" and right now it's "Come on Ride the Train" from the speakers and the revelers at the pool below, over which my balcony looks. Maybe I should've had second thoughts about this trip when upon my arrival I stepped out onto the balcony, saw a beautiful, shiny new quarter sparkling in the corner, stepped over to pick it up, only to realize it's glued to the cigarette strewn concrete. Touche, IP, touche.

The trip's been a lot of fun so far. Frustrating from a poker perspective, as I have been unsuccessful in everything save my cash games. Today is a day to regroup and rest up. I was up til 4 yesterday unwinding from the Ladies Event and a Rio DeepStack (neither of which I cashed but I am proud to say I ran 1bb up to 25bb before busting the latter in a 20 bbs shove from SB w/ 9T against BU min-raise with As), not to mention coming down from the high of meeting some of my poker favorites.

What can you say about Doyle Brunson? First off, that grin. It's beautiful and so is he. Besides the fact that he is *the* poker great (and did it the hard way on the sometimes scary back roads in the early days to today's flashing lights of Vegas and all across the world), I think what makes me adore him so much is that he's very much like those Texas men I grew up with in my small West Texas home town.

Back when my grandad was making his way in the world, the big gamble was oil. I think wildcatters would make the best gamblers because they take on huge risks when drilling for that black gold. While my grandad was never a poker player, I would venture to say he had his own sort of gambler's heart, starting his own company at a very early age - and with five kids at home, one with special needs, and all needing shoes and to be fed - and running it successfully for a lifetime, until his untimely death in 2000.  Like Doyle, he was very successful at his chosen profession and also very devoted to his family.  Without a doubt, meeting this man, who is the Godfather of Poker, is a poker player's dream and I'm doubly excited that I got to hug his neck. What an honor and I'll never forget it.

During my forays to the Rio, I've seen Joe Hachem, Karina Jett, Andy Black, Kathy Liebert, Vanessa Selbst, Fossilman, Maria Ho, Jen Tilly, Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, John Kim, Kara Scott, Mel Judah, Jen Harmon, Liv Boeree, and Elky. I know it's dorky, but when you see these guys on tv and you're busting your butt trying to emulate them, work on your game, and be a player, it's very cool to be walking among them (funny aside - saw Mario Ho while washing my hands in the restroom. 1. She's *tall*! 2. She's gorgeous 3. I congratulated her on her deep runs and told her, "You're a beast! Nice work!" She laughed and said, "thanks" - cool).

I guess the "newness" wears off after awhile. Personally, I don't think I'd ever feel "comfortable" in that crowd unless and until I could prove that I could compete, which I guess only happens with results. (By the way, note on both Liv Boeree and Kara Scott - you think they're gorgeous when you see them on TV or in print...magnify that times 100 and it still probably doesn't fully capture them appropriately. Says a lot, don't you think?)

The Twitter crew also totally rocks and grabbing a drink with them at the end of a day at the Hooker Bar has been fun. You know how you have one friend in your life who is the go-to guy? The one you can turn to with a difficult issue, whether it's a broken down car at 3:00 in the morning or a broken heart? @AlCantHang seems like that kind of guy. Plus, he let me take a pic of his SoCo. Now I need to buy him one.

The Rio and/or the Hooker bar is also where I finally met @WriterJen, @PokerVixen, @ftrainpoker, @pokergrump, @two_isles, @alexpokerguy, @KevMath (for a nano-second), @ckbwop, @WhoJedi, and @MarieLizette. I know it's not already obvious or anything, but I love Twitter. Never would've met *any* of these neat people without it.


Now, a little talk about the poker game. The first night, I played a 6pm Rio DeepStack. I was tired and had a drink at the Hooker bar before playing. I should've just chilled out either at the bar or in the room, but I didn't.  I wasn't horrified with my play but I misplayed one hand by getting away from my game plan. I'm opening pots, being aggressive. Another quite aggressive player smooth calls from the BU. I cbet, he calls with top pair, A kicker. I'm representing big hand and also barrel the turn, which gives him two pair, which he just smooth calls. River pairs board, giving him full of course he raises all-in to my foolish river bet. That was pretty much the end of my stack and that tourney. Just poor play.

Venetion DS Extravaganza

The next day was the VDE.  I was really looking forward to this tourney. Lots of young guys in line, all looking the internet grinder part. I know they're super experienced and my edge is likely small in this field, but the structure's great and I wanted to play my game as I've been working on it with my coach. Unfortunately, though (and *way* too early), I mixed it up with the overly aggressive pro who finally woke up with a hand (Ks vs my AJ) when I finally entered a pot and decided to be the one to take a stand against him. All I can say is that he truly almost folded on the turn, but he didn't and I didn't one-out him.  It was way too early for any of that, plus, I miss-bet the turn. Meant to make it $3500, which was way too much it on its own, but didn't announce, so it became $5500. Made two of those kind of betting mistakes, but this one cost me.  Can't even say "GG" because I was truly horrified by my play.

IP Cash Game/WSOP Ladies Event

The Ladies Event was an over-night sleep on it decision. The fact that levels were 60 minutes long helped me make my decision. Plus, I had regrouped after the VDE with a great session at IP's 1/2 game. During that game I nearly doubled my buy-in before heading to bed for the night. One notable hand was BB (Ks, which were well disguised because he was a very aggressive player, opening many pots and 3 and 4 betting people) versus my MP raise (KQo)). The hand is set up though by several earlier hands in which I'd shown the nuts, plus one hand where I 4 bet and called a 5bet shove (we both had Ks - I called the shove even knowing he might've had As b/c this guy was playing 72o and 73o type hands, regularly). What's notable is that after I raise from MP with the KQo and get two callers, BB raises big. He's done this before. My thought process was, I can't just call, I either raise or fold; and, if I raise, I have to fold if he shoves, so I don't want to go crazy with this raise. I raise, but just a little more than a min-raise. He tanks forever and tries to ask me questions and get me to talk. I just look at his cards and don't speak. He folds, turning over the Ks and I rake the pot. I should feel fortunate because the only way I win that pot is because he is a thinking player. I was lucky, but I think I tried to put myself in a position to win. Fortunately it turned out that way.

I bring that hand up because I'm reflecting on it after my Ladies Event. I was in a zone and felt like I was playing great. I loved my table, on which were some good players and a few calling stations. I know there was one foreign pro (who, my GOD, was a super model or something and speaks three languages), and Rebecca McAdam, from Ireland (who is also a freaking super model). With no antes, I didn't get crazy and just played pretty ABC. After the first break I had about 350 more chips than what we started with, which was still fine shape. I took a small hit in a bvb battle when SB 3x PFR w/ Js and I had 6s and just called. She flopped a set and checked to me. I bet 1/2 pot and she called. Turn, possible straight and we check/check. River blanks and she bets a little more than 1/2 pot. Her line made sense after the fact, but I was puzzled at all the checks and thought I might be good. I took a hit, but felt (maybe wrongly) that at least I had done some pot control by not getting overly crazy. For me, that's a good thing, aggro-ballistic that I am.

I'd seen her (always the SB to my BB, she was directly on my right) make some interesting plays, flat calling with position, but also from the blinds, with a wide range of hands, AJ, KJ, QT, etc. So, the crippling hand went down like this...a little history helps sets this up I think: in the previous half-hour after the break, I got a good run of hands and raised 4 hands in a row, folds around every time. This, and a Qs > Js all-in, helped me nearly double my stack.

Finally, I'm in the SB. Good player in MP 2.5 PFR, folds to BU who smooth calls, which, as I indicated, I'd seen her do before with hands like AJ, etc. There's 1050 in the pot. I look down at Ks and make it 2000 to go. Given all the aggression I've shown this level, MP tanks but eventually folds. As she's thinking, I am getting a feeling about the lady on my right. I'm thinking she loves her hand. I don't know if it's because she's leaned up in her seat, gotten incredibly still, or what. I initially thought she was going to fold. But when action's to her, she moves her chips all-in. Mistakes - I didn't listen to my instincts and I didn't follow my game plan, which includes taking time to make decisions.

I wish I would've taken more time to think through this play and played like the guy who laid his Ks down in the cash game. He's a thinking player. I wanted her chips and was willing to gamble. But I didn't ask myself any questions - why would she smooth call/shove, which I'd never seen her do, especially since she and I were the big stacks at the table? While I did briefly think about it, I got married to the thought that she was just trying to rein me in b/c I was being so aggressive and I fell in love with the idea that here was my chance to bust her. Why didn't I take more time to ponder what my stack would be if I called, even if I was ahead, and got sucked out on? Why didn't I think about how early it was in the tournament and how, if I had showed my hand and folded, even if wrong, what a message that would send to the table?

She played it, and me, perfectly and won nearly all my chips. And, once again, I learned a tough lesson. GG (or maybe not so much), me.

The song blaring through my windows from below now is Celebration, and people sound like they're having a good time. It's time for me to get out there and do the same...Next.


  1. Ooh, dear, the dreaded backraise shove! And she had the Aces? Just sick. :(

  2. Nice report. It sounds like you are having an interesting experience. Vegas sure is both invigorating and exhausting.

    As to poker, I know one of my weaknesses is the tendency to act too quickly and not take the proper amount of time to think things through. Stoxpoker, a noted limit holdem player, who was later involved in a notorious soft play internet scandal, said something in one of videos at I agreed with, but have trouble getting myself to do. He thought it was good to have a script for each decision point in the hand. Thus there are some questions you always ask yourself pre-flop, then again on the flop, turn and river. He said for him by forcing himself to make these scripts routine he eventually integrated them.

    I think taking that extra time leads to better decisions. Good fortune to you for the rest of your trip.

  3. I have enjoyed reading about your exploits in Las Vegas. Just curious where you grew up and live in West Texas.

  4. It was great to finally meet you in person!

  5. nice post and pity I missed ya at Vegas ... but plz use a different pic for Liv Boeree lol ... AP is no more for quite some time already

  6. Zed - tell the truth - you're really concerned about her shirt?

    Yeah. I didn't think so.

  7. Conan - I know, right? It hurt...I wish I could've laid it down. =(

    Loach - I kept your comment up on my email and referred to often during play. Thank you.

    CK - you're pretty much the bomb. I'm so glad I got to meet you. =)

  8. Well I could care less what it does say on her shirt, that is correct ;) Hope to see you around next time when I am at Vegas, had to go back to Germany before the Main Event started :(

  9. Ha ha, Zed! =)

    Hey, are you the Swede I met at the IP and Binions?

  10. Unfortunately not, didn't see you around at the Rio's and I was mostly at the Bally's or downtown - we had some email and twitter exchange before regarding stories about Black Friday etc.


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