With this post I run the risk of being thought vain. But, after all, every post is always all about me--what I've been doing, thinking, reading, or whatever. It's kind of the nature of personal blogging. This is not really any different. For my own purposes, I just wanted to compile links to what other people wrote about my Day 1 experience, and if any readers find them interesting or amusing, well, fine, but please don't feel obligated to follow every one. Unless you're one of my stalkers, of course, in which case you pretty much have to.
Saturday, July 09, 2011
Friday, July 08, 2011
Even on my usual table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
He's got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball
But barely. 8325 chips left, after having started with 30,000. When we restart Monday noon for Day 2, that will be one of the shortest stacks around (average will be something like 40,000), and enough for just one move. It's looking grim, but it's not completely a hopeless situation. Stranger things have happened than a rebound from being that low--like, for instance, getting one's name drawn from a bucket containing 300 of them.
Thursday, July 07, 2011
I played at the Rio again this evening. In a hand in which I wasn't involved, the final board was 5-5-J-K-2. At showdown, Player A had J-Q. Player B had J-9.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Back in April I told you about my first attempt at playing pot-limit Omaha live--specifically the "Pokerati" game at the Palms, which alternates one round of no-limit hold'em and one round of PLO, each with $1/2 blinds. It was not exactly a raging success. But it was OK, because I'm learning, and losing some money is the price of achieving competence at a new version of poker. One just has to be careful to put limits on the losses along the way.
I've been a reader/user of AllVegasPoker.com since I moved here five years ago. The site's forum readers formed the first core of my readers when I decided to start my own blog rather than posting my random pokery thoughts and stories there. But AVP got rather neglected over the past couple of years. Room reviews were stale, details weren't current, tournament schedules weren't updated, etc.
So tomorrow it begins.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Monday, July 04, 2011
John Vorhaus, in Card Player magazine column, June 29, 2011 (vol. 24, #13), page 36.
Friday I sat down for an interview with Glenn of the Missing Flops blog/vlog. I've known Glenn for quite a while, so I was a lot more comfortable in this video than I was being interviewed by a TV guy standing up in the middle of a hallway at the Rio--and it shows. Most of you haven't ever met me in person, but this clip is, I think, a very accurate reflection of how I look and sound in real life. I don't cringe at all sharing this one with you, because this is the relaxed, honest-to-goodness me.
Video with a brief text introduction here.
Doyle Brunson has been frustrated at the World Series of Poker this year. Saturday he Tweeted, "@PokerLawyer Thanks, you might be watching my last tournament. If I don't play well (up to my standards), I may retire from tournament poker." A few hours ago, he busted out of the $50,000 "Players Championship" event and wrote, "Busted... Total nightmare... Goodbye WSOP." That was followed shortly thereafter by, "No main event for me. maybe the DOJ will stake me."
Pokerati then asked him, "will this be your first main event to miss ever?" Kevmath responded, "sure he missed some after jack binion left and becky took over?"
Dana Smith interviewed Doyle in 1998. The transcript is reprinted in The Championship Table at the World Series of Poker by Smith, McEvoy, and Wheeler (2nd edition, Cardoza, 2004), pages 48-55. The introduction to the interview says, "Brunson created some waves this year (1998) at the World Series of Poker when, after a 20-year hiatus from tournament competition, he made a triumphant return to the arena where he previously had won so many battles, including back-to-back victories in the championship event in '76 and '77."
The interview includes this Q&A on page 53:
You don't usually play the small events at the Series, but this year you did. What made you decide to play them?
One reason was that some guys had passed me by and I wanted to keep my name towards the top of the list. Another reason was that they were putting out these lists (odds sheets) with the favorites on them--and they didn't even have me in the top eight! I have nothing against women poker players, but they had a few women in front of me. "I'm gonna have to do something about that," I said. So, instead of playing in the side games, I played in the tournaments for the first time in 20 years.Now, neither this claim from Brunson nor the one from Smith introducing the interview can be taken literally--a complete absence from all tournaments or even from just the WSOP--because the records show that Doyle cashed 13 times, including three bracelets, in the 20 years prior to his "return" in 1998 (i.e., 1978-1997). These cashes included three Main Event final tables. Furthermore, they included not just the Main Event (as might be suggested by Smith's distinction about the "small events"); he cashed in stud, deuce, ace-to-five draw, PLO, and Chinese, as well as no-limit hold'em.
In fact, looking at that record, it's hard to understand what either Smith or Brunson himself meant by characterizing that period as a 20-year hiatus from the Series. I can't easily answer exactly how many times Doyle has sat out the Main Event, but it is likely a good number of them in the 20-year stretch following his 1977 championship, if there is anything at all to be believed about his own words in this 1998 interview.
I forgot to mention something from my Golden Nugget tournament the other day. At one seat I noticed fingernail (or maybe toenail; it was hard to tell) clippings on the carpet all around the chair.
What kind of pig uses the occasion of a poker tournament to trim his nails? And, having made that decision, what kind of pig then thinks, "I'll just leave these remnants here for somebody else to pick up later"?
Posted by Rakewell at 8:25 AM
Ugh. I'm dreading sharing this, but I guess I must, in order to keep a more or less complete documentation. I just saw the brief interview I did last Wednesday with KSNV's "Sports Night in Las Vegas." I know I'm awkward and dorky, but there's nothing worse than seeing the videotaped evidence of just how awkward and dorky as it's broadcast to billions of homes all over the planet. OK, maybe not billions, but you get the idea. I didn't feel nervous doing the interview, but I come across as having more tics than Paul Magriel. I look more nervous than Russ Hamilton injected with truth serum.
Sorry for the horrible technical quality here. They don't consistently put these shows up online, so my only way of conveying it to you was to record it playing back on my TV, meaning that both the video and audio quality are awful. If I ever learn of it being available more directly (and without me flagrantly infringing on the station's copyrights), I'll post something about it.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Thomas Hobbes apparently foresaw my day at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. Less than two hours in, I was waylayed by two hands in rapid succession.
First, I had 4-5 offsuit in the big blind. Blinds were 75/150 (Level 2), and I had a stack of about 13,000 (starting stack was 12,000), small blind had quite a bit less. Everybody folded, and he limped. Flop was 4-5-6 with two clubs. SB checked. I bet 250 with my bottom two pair. He raised all in, total of 7050, a completely ridiculous overbet. He did it instantly and forcefully. The unmistakable message was, "Go away, give me the pot." I thought this was completely defensive, trying to shut out any straight draws and flush draws with a weak made hand. If he had a really strong hand--flopped set or straight--I think he would try to extract more value than this, try to make me pay too much for a draw. I just didn't believe that he had my two pair beat. So after thinking a bit, I called. I was right: he had 8-8. He had to hit an 8 for a set, a 7 for a straight, a 6 for a higher two pair, or some weird runner-runner combination. Turn was the 9 of spades, eliminating the backdoor clubs threat. But the river was a 7, making his gutshot straight. Ick. That knocked me down to 5900 chips.
Just a few hands later, with blinds up to 100/200, I had As-Kd offsuit in early position. I raised to 600 after one limper. Young woman on the button called. Blinds and limper folded. Flop was Kh-Jc-4h. I bet 1200 into the 1700 pot. She raised to 4000. I had 4100 left. This was a difficult spot. Having watched her play for about 90 minutes, I didn't think she was bad enough to have called my early-position raise with any down cards that would have flopped her two pair. The possible exception was a suited K-J, but one king in my hand and one on the board made that much less likely. With K-K or J-J she almost surely would have reraised pre-flop. 4-4 was obviously a possibility, but I thought that most of her range consisted of (1) things like Jh-10h for a pair and a flush draw, or Qh-10h for combined straight and flush draws; and (2) another A-K. I was OK with taking my hand against those.
But she had what was for me the worst part of her range: the 4-4 for a flopped set. I would need to catch two running cards to make a straight or full house to win, and that didn't happen. I was one of the first players out.
Like I said, nasty, brutish, and short. Poker is like that some days. OK, a lot of days.
Before we got to the nasty and brutish, however, there were a couple of highlights. I continued my experiment with finding spots in which to raise rather than just call. Two were noteworthy, I think.
With blinds at 50/100, it folded to me in the cutoff with Ah-Jh. I opened for 275. The big blind reraised to 700. My usual reaction is to either fold or call. This time, though, I decided that there was a good chance that he was just reading me for a blind steal with any two cards, because that's certainly what it looked like. I decided to test his resolve, and four-bet him to 2100. It took him only about three seconds to throw his cards away. I guess I was right.
The second example happened when I had 10c-10d, blinds still at 75/150. The guy on my right open-raised to 500. I called, as did the player on my left, who had just recently joined the tournament as a late registration. Flop was 7-6-2 with two diamonds. Original raiser bet 1200. My usual play here would be to just call, waiting to see what the third player will do, as well as finding out whether the guy leading will bet again on the turn, to help me sort out if he has a bigger pocket pair versus unpaired big cards. But in accordance with my desire to try an extra ounce of aggression, I decided instead to raise, making it 3000. If either one came back over the top, I could safely conclude that he had a higher pair or a set. A flat-call from the player on my left would be plenty alarming, too. But they both folded. Pot to me.
So even though this tournament didn't turn out to be the test of my endurance as I had hoped and planned (they play until 2:00 a.m. after starting at noon), I both played reasonably well and got a couple more instances of being rewarded for selective stepping up the aggression beyond my usual zone of comfort and safety--before getting hit with a combination of a bad beat and a cold deck. So I got that going for me, which is nice.
One incident from today's Golden Nugget tournament deserves retelling.
I had the table maniac on my immediate left, which was a serious pain in the neck. In the hand in question, I limped in with 10-10. He shoved from the button. His range there was very large, and I thought my 10s were in pretty good shape. But it was hard to estimate his stack, because he had accumulated an enormous number of the two smallest-denomination chips. He really liked them, for some reason, and would put in his blinds and antes with larger chips apparently just for the purpose of getting yet more small chips as change. I don't know if he has some sort of fetish for them, or likes having huge stacks as some sort of visual intimidation, or what.
Anyway, I estimated his stacks to total somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000, and that was a range that I was willing to call. So I did. He had K-9 offsuit, so I was definitely right in my judgment that he was shoving very light there, and I was definitely right to call. Sadly, he got lucky and binked a king to take the pot.
Then the dealer had to count out his voluminous stacks so we could get the pot exactly right. When she got down to the 25-denomination chips, she messed it up. She assembled stacks of 10 chips and said, "500," then put those together and said, "1000." There were several stacks of 20 chips each of these. Like I said, he was cornering the market on the cheap chips.
Even though three people were telling the dealer that she was counting wrong, when she went back, she made the exact same mistake again. She concluded that the total was 17,000 and change. (I don't remember her exact number.) At that point I had lost all confidence in her, and said, "Would you please call the floor to redo the count?"
She gave me the nastiest look I've seen in a long time and spat back, "I can count!" Uh, I beg to differ with you, ma'am. You have proven that, in fact, you cannot count, at least not correctly. But I didn't say that. I just repeated, with more emphasis, "Please call the floor." I intended my voice to convey that I knew perfectly well that when a player makes this request she is obligated to comply, and that if she did not do so, I would call the floor myself and hang on to my chips until help arrived. Apparently she got this message, and put in the call.
While we were waiting, she took another stab at it. This time the maniac was simultaneously trying to count them, and they completely got in each other's way, moving chip stacks this way and that, messing up each other's count. I just made sure that they didn't mix any of my stacks in with his until it got sorted out.
The floor guy came. I don't know his name, but I've seen him at the G.N. for years now, and he's very good at his job. In fact, he's the same one who last year bailed out another dealer who didn't know how to count, in a story I related here. When he arrived, I said, "It's an all-in and call. We need his stacks counted. The dealer got it wrong the first time, and I'd like to have an independent count, please."
The dealer glared at me again, and shot back, "I did not get it wrong!" But floor guy wasn't listening. He was already counting. Just as he had done in the previous incident, he was an absolute wizard. He flew through the stacks expertly, verbalizing the amount of each stack and his running total. It took him less than 30 seconds, and when he was done, nobody doubted that he had the number right.
It was 12,325, a far cry from the 17,000+ that the dealer had counted. I had started that hand with about 56,000 (tournament average was then only about 22,000), so it hurt but wasn't fatal. But a 5,000-chip mistake was not a tiny rounding error; it was HUGE. Some at the table were getting irritated that this took so long to sort out, but it wasn't my fault. I am resolute that I did the right thing by calling for backup, and not accepting the dealer's assertion that she had things under control. She was causing the problem; I was getting it resolved. I'm not going to give away 10% of my stack unnecessarily.
Incidentally, the floor guy also had the dealer color up most of the maniac's small chips so that future hands wouldn't take so long to get right.
Lesson: Don't let dealers intimidate you into just accepting their counts when you have any reason to think there is an error. Get the floor over to verify the amount before you hand over your chips. It's your right.
David Chicotsky, in Poker Player Newspaper column, July 4, 2011 (vol. 15, #1), page 10.
It isn't hard to beat K-J with Q-J, as long as you take the lead by reraising before the flop.
[This column, which is worth reading in its entirety, was one of the proximal causes of me deciding to try the experiment described in the previous blog entry.]
After you play enough thousands of hands, you tend to develop a rote system: I raise with this, I fold that, I'll call in that kind of spot. I have my default plays like everybody else, and they work well enough.
I have, of course, been having lots of anticipatory thoughts about the Main Event coming up next week. One of them is an acknowledgement that my ordinary, daily game is fairly passive. I turn up the heat in spots, but I very rarely three-bet pre-flop, for example. I'm enough better at post-flop play than most opponents that I consider it an advantage not to risk turning it into a shove-fest. I play cautiously because for the most part I can wait for spots in which I know I'm a huge favorite before getting the big money in. The marginal spots, those where I'm purely guessing what another player is up to, I tend to pass on. I may be ahead, I may not be, but there's no point in reducing it to a guessing game when, with a little patience, I can get it in as a definitive favorite.
It's a serviceable strategy for cash games against the stereotypical impatient tourist, but it has problems when trying to translate it to tournaments, where patience cannot be infinite--even with two-hour blind levels.
So I decided today to try an experiment. I entered the Golden Nugget Grand series event ($135), which has the slowest structure of any low buy-in tournament in town: 40-minute levels, and Level 6 has a big blind that is just 3% of the starting stack (that's one arbitrary measure I use to judge tournament structures against each other), compared to 5% for Binion's Classic and 4% for Caesars Megastack. My goal was to play with one notch more aggression than my standard, comfort-zone tendency. I wasn't going to turn from a rock into a maniac. But I had in mind that about once each level I would find a spot in which I would raise where my usual play would be to call.
And I did it. To my great delight, every single one of them worked. For example, when the blinds were 100/200/25, and I was in the big blind with the rather awful 3-7 offsuit, six people ahead of me limped in. My knee-jerk reaction is to leave well enough alone, be glad to see a free flop, and hope for a miracle. But this time, in accordance with my goal, I picked this spot to raise. I bumped it up to 1000, and was rewarded with a cascade of folds, and a low-risk profit of 1650 chips.
In another spot, there was a standard 3x open raise from early position followed by a call from the button. In the big blind I had AcJc. I was a big stack at this point. Both opponents were left with about 10 big blinds behind. My standard move in this spot would be to just call, first because I don't want to play a huge pot from out of position, and second because either of them could easily have a hand that has me crushed--AK, AQ, QQ, or KK. But I screwed up my courage, recognized this as a potentially good spot for a squeeze play, and moved all in. The first guy took forever to fold, and looked like he was selling his only child into slavery as he did so. Second guy was quicker, but did the same thing. As I was pulling in the chips, they said that they had folded a suited AJ and an AT, respectively. They also both agreed that my bet looked like I must have AK. Sweet!
In other situations, I check-raised where my baseline play would have been to either check-fold or check-call, or I put in a light three-bet before the flop. Like I said, every single time this worked, and won me the pot without a further fight.
I know that I can't expect such perfect results all the time. But it has made me realize that I have probably not been taking sufficient advantage of the TAG table image I usually acquire. I really can get away with more steals and resteals than has been my pattern in the past. Of course, it would be easy to overdo it, but one extra move every 40 minutes or so (which is about what I did today) is not enough for anyone to begin to suspect larceny. It is, however, enough to make a meaningful difference in the rate of chip accumulation.
I didn't make the money (went out in about 35th place out of 126 entrants, top 13 sharing the cash). Nevertheless, I enjoyed this eye-opening experience so much that I am feeling deeply tempted to do it again tomorrow in one of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza events, which is an even slower structure than the Grand (though at a substantially higher buy-in, $350). Both Cardgrrl and Daniel Cates told me that they thought that would be a good practice event for me, given that I'm much more used to playing in shorter, hit-and-run sessions. I just might do it.