Monday, May 30, 2011

Bally's high

(If you don't get the title of this post, you're too young, so see here.)

I was back at Bally's tonight, for the third day in a row. I don't play there often (primarily because the excessive noise there gets on my nerves), but a confluence of factors made me decide to make it my default room at least for the holiday weekend:

1) Somebody whose judgment on such things I trust had told me that, for whatever reason, the place had burgeoned in profitability the last couple of weeks.

2) There's a pool tournament going on there this week, and experience tells me that pool players as a group make excellent poker opponents; they seem to have far more confidence than skill, which makes for a juicy combination.

3) The club royal flush jackpot is now over $11,000.

4) I've been kind of neglecting Harrah's properties this year, and want to put a little effort into rebuilding my comps bank and tier points.

5) I can get to Bally's the back way, without having to drive on either I-15 or Las Vegas Boulevard, which on a big holiday weekend like this can mean a major time saving.

6) Several denizens of VegasPokerNow forums, some from out of town, were making Bally's their room of choice for this weekend, and it was nice to be able to chat with them.

7) Friday had been very profitable, and Saturday only failed to be because of bad beats and coolers. Today I wanted to get back in the saddle, rather than have a lingering bad memory of that last session.

So back I went. I played for about four hours, and left up substantially, so it was all good. Well, all except one thing: that's three days in a row I haven't hit a club royal flush, and today I even formally invoked my "ONE TIME" to get it, to no avail. It's so rigged.

A few interesting and/or amusing things happened to relate to you.

1. This little guy stopped by to play for a while:

What--you've never heard of dogs playing poker?

I sent this photo out over Twitter, and Shamus quipped, "Ruff table." I replied that it really wasn't, because he only played K-9. Besides, he always got his money a dog.


Actually, I'm pretty sure it's the same pooch I've written about having seen at Aria. I have a vague recollection that somebody told me the owner is diabetic and the dog is trained to detect by scent when his blood sugar gets dangerously low, but now I can't recall where or when or from whom I heard that.

2. As I was cashing out, Paul Magriel ("X-22") had just done the same ahead of me. I hadn't even noticed that he had been in the room. After he got his money, he stood at a table next to the cashier for quite a while, his back to the room. I couldn't tell what he was doing, but his green-and-white checkered boxer shorts were hanging prominently outside of his trousers and on top of the back of his shirt, which I thought was funny enough to take a picture of. Click to see it in full-sized glory.

Yesterday the cleavage shot and today this. I know--I'm a horrible human being. I admit it.

3. I made a mistake unlike any I've ever made before. Since it's the kind of tale I tell on others, it's only fair to turn the Stupid Spotlight on myself when I do something worthy of it.

I had A-K and raised to $12. A short stack in the small blind was the only caller. The flop was 9-J-Q with two clubs. My opponent put out two red chips in what I thought was a conspicuously weak, tentative manner. It left him only about $30 behind.

Normally I would either just fold and be done with it or call and hope to hit one of my overcards on the turn. With him having a stack that small, I would usually judge a raise to have essentially zero fold equity, even though I had a squeaky clean/tight table image. After all, nearly half of the stack he started the hand with was now in the pot. You can't expect a guy to fold after leading out betting in such a circumstance. But something told me that this was different, that he wasn't feeling pot-committed, even though he probably should be, mathematically speaking. I sensed that his bet was saying, "I've got a little piece of that, and I'm hoping you have nothing, because I'm not very confident of this situation."

On the basis of that read, I calmly pushed out two of my $50 stacks, so that he would have no doubt that I was gunning for all of his chips, and hopefully feel intimidated by it. He got a pained look on his face and asked, "Why so much, man?" He thought for maybe 30 seconds, and just when I thought he was going to fold, he shook his head, resignedly said "All right," and put in his last chips.

I showed my cards. He turned over 9-10 offsuit--bottom pair and a straight draw. At least I had the reward of knowing that my read of his body language and bet size had been correct. I misjudged that he would fold a weak hand, but I was pleased that I hadn't been misled by somebody feigning weakness when he actually held a monster.

The turn was an 8, which made his straight. He smacked his hands together triumphantly and yelled, "Yeah!" I had time only to register that a 10 on the river would put a straight on the board and we would chop it, and as soon as that thought had passed through my age-enfeebled brain, BOOM--the dealer dropped a 10.

The other guy let out a moan of disappointment. I figured he was mad because he had lost half of the pot. But then I got confused because the dealer picked up the other guy's chips and put them in front of me.

I protested: "We have the same hand, playing the board--it's a chop."

The dealer and several other players all at once pointed out my oversight: I now had an ace-high straight--the nuts. I had been so focused on seeing the queen-high straight on the board that I had completely forgotten that my king and ace meshed with those cards rather nicely. In fact, I had the rare seven-card straight!

I confess to feeling rather foolish that (1) I thought I was playing the board when I held the nuts, and (2) I had actually tried to tell the dealer that he was making a mistake in giving me the pot.

See what terrible things happen to your mental capacity after you turn 50?

4. My last big hand was a rather pleasing one, so I'll end with it. I had 8h-10h in the big blind. Nobody raised, so I got to see a free flop. It was a nice one: Jc-9h-2h, giving me both a flush draw and an open-ended straight draw. I bet $10, about the size of the pot. One very passive player in middle position called. A 60-something guy one off the button raised to $30. He had been at the table for nearly an hour, during which time he had played very few hands and I couldn't recall ever seeing him raise two opponents like this.

I decided that my draw was good enough to merit a call. I didn't like it when the other guy called behind, because I thought that meant that his most likely hand was a better flush draw. I secretly wished to make my straight and not my flush.

I guess once in a while the poker gods decide to throw me a bone, because the dealer turned an offsuit 7, giving me the stone cold nuts. Even better, it was thoroughly disguised. The raiser would probably put me on a flush draw, which had missed, and he might bet big to dissuade further drawing. On the basis of that reasoning I checked, as did the other guy. Sure enough, here came the raiser again, this time with a $75 bet. He was now unquestionably pot-committed, having only another $50 or so behind, so I dropped the hammer and moved all-in. The other player thought a while, but then folded.

As predicted, the older guy instantly called. I was greatly surprised to learn that this ultra-tight player had only A-J offsuit--top pair/top kicker. Given how long he had gone without showing this kind of aggression, I had assumed that here he must have flopped two pair or a set. He was actually drawing dead on the turn. The irrelevant river was an offsuit queen. I'll take that money now, please.

Four to five hours is typically the longest I can play and keep my A-game going. After completing that orbit, it had been 4 1/4 hours, I was up a goodly amount, and I was feeling pleased with my play (excepting the one lapse into momentary stupidity), and so decided it would be a fine time to call it quits for the day.

As the post title suggests, I left on a Bally's high.


Memphis MOJO said...

They let animals in there? Bally's is really going to the dogs.

The Neophyte said...

Well done sir. I found Ballys to be a good place to play but not in my favor as all the draws hit against me. Glad someone else was able to remove some cash from the room.

lightning36 said...

Less than three weeks until I splash my chips once again at Bally's. Still my favorite room by far.

It will be interesting to see what the NWO in online poker will do to WSOP entries and cash games this summer.

Michael said...

Hmmmmm. the dog looks like a dog that used to frequent the Barona Casino in San Diego. when I asked about the "service" dog element I was also told that the dog could detect when the owner was supposedly going to be suffering some ill effects. I don't recall specifically.

but, the story I heard was that the owner pulled a practical joke of some sort on another player at the table and as a result of the practical joke (due to opening up the casino to liability I guess?) he was banned from the casino.

There are several other casinos here in San diego that he could go to but maybe he ended up moving to Vegas? I'd have to see a photo of the owner to be sure.

Rakewell said...

Michael: Follow the "Aria" link in the post to see the owner, though not a great photo.