Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday morning at the V

Every once in a while you come across advice along these lines: "Go to bed early. Get up really early and head to one of the big poker rooms where there is always a game going. Get there at maybe 6:00 in the morning. The players left there will have been playing all night. They're exhausted, cranky, drunk, stuck, and otherwise playing badly, while you'll be fresh as a daisy. You'll clean up."

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, I've tried it three times before that I can recall--once each at MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and Rio--and never found either the types of players nor the profitability to be as advertised by that piece of wisdom.

But it has been many months since I tried it, and I don't think I've ever done it on a Sunday morning, when one might think that there is greatest potential for it to be true. So this morning when I found myself inexplicably wide awake at 5:30, I decided to give it another go, this time at the Venetian. Hope springs eternal.

The McDonald's drive-through (no, I will not spell it "drive-thru"!) provided me with the Sausage McMuffin, hash browns, and Coke that I needed for sustenance for this endeavor, and I was taking a seat in a game at 6:35.

Once again my expectations were dashed. I couldn't tell that even a single opponent was inebriated, falling asleep, or otherwise showing signs of desperation. In fact, if I had to guess, at least four from my initial table were so sharp that I would suspect them of being on the same page of the hymnal as I was, so to speak.

A couple of hours later, my starting stack was virtually unchanged, so I snagged a move to a table that looked and sounded livelier. I still didn't encounter anyone fitting the profile I had in mind, and it still took a long time before the money started rolling in. But around noon I hit my rush, and over the next two hours worked my way to a very nice $500 profit before heading home for a nap.

Along the way, there were some amusing and/or interesting things to tell you about.

How many casino employees does it take to change a light bulb?

Two, apparently.

I was intrigued to see a dangerous-looking vehicle slowly lumbering its way around the poker room, periodically elevating its operator to the ceiling for light-bulb-changing duties. A partner on the floor helped him steer clear of obstacles.

I had not noticed that a spotlight directly above our table was out, until the monstrosity came to rest right behind the nice young woman across the table from me.

First the machine went up:

Then it slowly extended sideways:

You can see that this young woman is a little alarmed. With good reason: That thing is extending so that the man will be perched directly over her head!

I couldn't easily get back far enough to capture the perspective properly, so instead I hit on the idea of taking three sequential vertical shots, and stitching them together digitally when I got home. Here is the result, with which I am quite pleased. (As always, you can click on it to see it much bigger.)

She was a bit unnerved by the situation, and I can't say that I blame her. But it all ended with nobody getting hurt.

Must be a really important message to get out

At one point the gentleman you see next to the young woman in the photo above pointed to somebody behind me and to my right, and said, "That guy is sending a text while he's tending to a nosebleed."

That sounded like it was worth a looksee. Sure enough, there was a young man standing between tables with a big wad of tissues pressed hard against one nostril with his right hand, his head tilted way back the way the old first aid manuals recommended (though it actually makes a lot more sense to lean forward, as your helpful medical hint of the day), and his cell phone held way up in the air in his left hand, pounding out a message to somebody with his thumb. I tried to snap a photo of this rather bizarre contortion, but he finished, put the phone away, and walked off before I could get him framed.

Quads FTW!

As I was walking past a table on my way to the restroom, a mighty collective cry/groan came from every player there simultaneously--the sure sign of some sick, sick beat having been delivered. So I paused long enough to see what had happened.

A flopped set of aces was trouncing a flopped set of deuces--until the case deuce hit the river. A true one-outer, which one does not see every day.

Nh, wp, sir!

Remedial course in hand-reading needed

Very early on at my first table, a guy who had just joined us ended up getting it all in on the turn with 5-3 versus his opponent's Q-Q, when the board was 5-3-4-8. The dealer put out another 5 on the river, and Mr. 5-3 smacked his hand on the table, shook his head, and said, "The effin' river!" He disgustedly started moving his stacks forward, quite clearly not to have them counted and matched in victory, but as if offering them up in sacrifice. He said to the dealer, still obviously upset at his unexpected "loss," "What do you need? All of them?"

To my surprise, nobody said anything--not the opponent, not the dealer, not any other player. I, too, wasn't inclined to point out the obvious to him. It was only when the dealer had matched the stacks and then pushed them to our hero instead of the other direction that his face turned first to puzzlement, then enormous relief.

As you have already guessed, he quickly explained to us that he misread the situation and thought that the river 5 had counterfeited his two pair, giving his opponent a bigger two pair. Uh, no--not quite.

Annals of bad timing

One of the first big pots I won was with A-10 and a 10-high flop. But I was being called at every point by a player that was both tight and potentially tricky. It was not an ideal situation. In fact, it was a kind of marginal spot for playing a big pot. But sometimes these things develop a life of their own and you just have to roll with it.

Anyway, I'm concentrating as intensely as I know how on figuring out what this guy is calling me with, when, out of nowhere, the dealer points to my card protector and asks me, "Is that a silver dollar?"

Dude, we have 30 minutes to sit side by side, and you pick NOW to ask me that??? WTF?

I give him a monotonic "yes" without looking his way.

The guy does not take hints well. He followed it up with, "Is it one of the new ones?" I don't know exactly what he has in mind by "new ones," but I don't care, either. I just want him to shut up and leave me alone. So I give him another "yes," in what I hope is a maximally dismissive tone. That, fortunately, ended his quizzing.

I wrote about a similar situation at the Hilton three years ago, and I don't remember it having happened since then, so it's pretty rare. It's highly annoying, and unbelievably unprofessional. I wanted to choke him.

Maybe the thing to do is wait until he is sorting out a four-way all-in situation with two side pots, and just start chanting random numbers loudly in his ear while he's counting. See if he finds it distracting when somebody disrupts his concentration just when he needs it most.

I won the hand, by the way, when my opponent finally check-folded to my river bet.

Orange Man

For a while there was a big South Pacific (Tongan or Samoan, I'm guessing) man on my immediate right. He pulled two oranges out of a bag and proceeded to pull them apart and eat them with his bare hands--hands which were, by the way, visibly filthy before he started. Of course he didn't sit out of the game while this was going on, so all the cards and chips he handled got sticky as a result.

Then, to cap off his ickiness, he disregarded the big bowl of pre-packaged hand wipes that the Venetian has generously provided--even though we were at the table right next to the front desk, and it would have been no more than five steps from his chair to fetch one. Instead, he licked his fingers free of the residue.

People are such disgusting pigs. No wonder online poker is so popular--it entails a whole lot less involuntary sharing of germs and bodily fluids.

Right in the gut

Orange Man was later replaced by a really quiet guy, but one who wore his emotions on his sleeve. He just did so very quietly.

I got into a hand with him in which I was pretty well convinced that he had flopped trip 10s and was slow-playing them, milking me. The flop was checked. He bet fairly small on the turn, which had given me a gutshot straight draw. I decided to call, trying to hit my four-outer, because I had seen this guy seriously overplay single-pair hands, and I thought that if I was right that he had trips, he would readily stack off to me if I hit, and he would never guess what I had done. Of course, there was some small risk that he would hit his kicker for a full house, or that he had already done so, but I was willing to chance it.

Ding! Nine on the river completed my completely disguised straight. I thought I was going to have to raise him to get him all in, but he did the work for me by open-shoving, and all I had to do was call. Nice hand, sir, but king-ten no good.

The fun part, though, was how he spent the next ten minutes muttering under his breath about how stupid I was and how badly I played. I really don't think he was intending me to hear these little comments. They were very, very soft and seemed to be just his whispered verbalization of an internal dialogue. That is, I don't think he was trying to needle me. I think he would be surprised to learn that I had been able to pick up what he was saying. That made it pretty easy to be amused by his overreaction, rather than irritated by it.

So a very short time after the muttering had finally ended, and I picked up yet another gutshot draw against the same guy, I couldn't resist the temptation to go for it again, with the payoff being to put him on Super Monkey Tilt and hope that he would spew, spew, spew.

I had 3-4 offsuit in the big blind, with no raise. Flop A-2-x. The mutterer, in the small blind, bet about $8, which is when I realized that I had to try to hit a miracle again, just on general principle. I called. The other pre-flop limpers went out.

Turn was my 5. The heavens did open and choirs of angels did sing. He bet. I raised.

Sadly, he was on to my tricks now. He uttered a couple of mild oaths and said, "I just know he's got 3-4." He fussed for a while, but then finally folded A-K face up.

Tsk tsk tsk! Trying to get sneaky with that hand can bite you!

Well, since I wasn't going to get to felt him again, I decided that I might as well as least try to maximize my tilt value. I acted hurt at his comment and said, "You think I would try to hit a gutshot against you?" Then I showed the 3-4 and grinned.

Since I normally play much more solidly than this, I think it's worthwhile to sow some seeds of doubt and fear among my opponents--let them know that I'm capable of being a little crazy now and then, to keep them ever wondering.

Watch me! Watch me!

Here's something that bugs me at least once every session. I've meant to blog about it a hundred times, and then always forget. But it happened several times again today, so it's finally on my mind while I'm conveniently at the computer.

It's this: What's up with people who won't take their turn unless the dealer is watching them?

You've all seen this: The dealer is busy handling a player switching seats, or swiping a player's card, or selling chips, or talking to the floor person about the schedule, or any of a hundred different things that can interrupt his attention to the action at hand. And everything just freezes. It's like the game goes into suspended animation, and nobody will take a turn.

I swear, it's as if most players have no clue how to tell when it's their turn unless the dealer is right there to cue them, or maybe they think they're not allowed to play unless the dealer is looking directly at them. It's not like the dealer is doing something so fascinating that everybody gets absorbed by his actions. People just stop, as if somebody had hit the "pause" button on the remote that controls the game. Then, when the dealer is done with whatever the task was, action resumes.

I always try to get the attention of the player whose turn it is to act, but it's usually futile. Their brains have for some reason completely tuned out, and there's nobody who can reach them until the dealer gives them the signal to continue. It reminds me of little kids who won't jump off the diving board into the pool until they're sure mommy is watching.

It annoys the hell out of me, but I've never been able to figure out what to do about it, other than roll my eyes at the stupidity and wait them out.

OK, kids, that's my report for today. The session was not even remotely like what I had envisioned when I set out, but I had a pretty good time, made good money, got some decent stories out of it, and still ended up with the rest of the day to myself. It's awfully hard to complain about that outcome.


Anonymous said...

i hate playing with people that eat sticky/greasy food at the table

--S said...

One thing that used to annoy me was a dealer who immediately made some gesture - a wave of the hand, a pointing, whatever - at the person who was first to act, with said gesture made almost before the dealer even has the flop completely out, etc.

I say used to because (especially in limit games), I find something along those lines is absolutely necessary to keep a game moving. If the dealer simply looks at the player who is first to act, action never starts because - just like you said - it seems players have no clue that it just might be their action and that is why the entire table is staring at them ;)

Anonymous said...

What's even more annoying is when players act while the dealer is not attentive and the players have to explain to the dealer what happened.

Online Casino said...

I agree with the comments.Couldn't have expressed my feelings better then this.

F-Train said...

630am generally too late to catch the drunks and exhausteds -- they've already left by that point. Tho I will say that Sat night / Sun morning there weren't as many drunks and exhausteds as usual (I was at V til 3am).

Zot95 said...

Two things:

1) I suppose you have a problem with "Miller Lite" too. ;)

2) At the time of the most recent NBA Finals, the Hustler Casino offered free Buffalo wings to all poker players during said NBA games. I couldn't even imagine what would have happened to the cards if say, 5 or so players from a table decided to partake. I made it a point not to find out. Worst case scenario right there.

WindBreak247 said...

With regard to "They're exhausted, cranky, drunk, stuck, and otherwise playing badly, while you'll be fresh as a daisy. You'll clean up."...In my limited experience, I tend to find games like this lethargically passive and *not* a good way to pick up chips. In my experience as one of the players pulling the all-nighter, yes you're exhausted, possibly cranky, not likely drunk, and whether or not you're stuck, you're playing not necessarily "badly", but you've been playing so long and are so lethargic, you're just waiting for the big hands that play themselves. All the action junkie in you is dried up, and you're more or less playing weak/tight and hoping to wake up w/AA against someone w/KK or QQ (or some similar such scenario). In my experience joining one of these games I've observed pretty much the same. The game doesn't get good until you start to see a little turnover and have some new action to kick the lethargy...assuming at that point the people that left didn't already take the big money off the table.

So if you're looking to scoop some blinds or a round of preflop raises & calls after a bland flop, you'd have some good opportunity, but if you're looking for tilty action, I don't think, generally, you're gonna find it.

HighOnPoker said...

Grump, I'm sure you've covered this somewhere, but I'm curious if you have preferred hours, and the reasons for your preference.