Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hodge-podge post

I collected a bunch of mostly unrelated stories and observations today, so I'm throwing them together into a garbage-can post.

New chairs at Rio

One table at the Rio poker room has these new chairs. They've been there for a couple of months, but for some reason I've never played at that table. Until today. I was pleased to get a chance to try them out. They really are much more comfortable that the plain-Jane chairs that most of the Rio tables have. The padding is deep and the construction obviously solid, the better to accommodate the growing number of 300-400 pound poker players. The photo below is terrible, because I was just trying to capture the manufacturer's name printed across the back in order to be able to look it up later. You can see better photos at their web site, here. I believe that the Rio is using the "Barona" model, covered in a reasonably breathable black cloth, but I couldn't swear to that.

Cocktail waitress declines tip

LOL--I accidentally typed that headline as "Cocktail waitress declines top." In Vegas, that wouldn't exactly be earth-shattering news. Freudian slip?

Anyway, this happened a couple of weeks ago at the Rio, and I forgot to write about it at the time. Cocktail waitress came around to take orders. I asked for a bottle of water. When she returned, she didn't get it to me, and I was in a hand so didn't notice her until she was walking out of the room. It was another 20 minutes or so before she came back for another round of drink orders. I told her I'd still like a bottle of water. She was clearly embarrassed that she had forgotten, and apologized. It was no big deal, and I told her so. She had an extra bottle on her tray and gave it to me. As per my usual practice, I handed her a $1 chip. She declined it, saying, "No, I didn't get this to you when I was supposed to. You keep it." I reassured her that it was fine, and pressed the chip on her again. But she was very insistent, and wouldn't take it. I gave up.

I have never before seen or heard of a cocktail waitress declining a tip because she felt that she didn't deserve it. Quite a sense of personal integrity.

Best hand of the day

I bought in for $300 (the max). This is a recent experiment I've been trying, a departure from my habitual $100 starting buy-in. As I gain more experience with it, I'll put up a post about what prompted me to try it, and how it has gone. For now, I'll just say that it has made for much more profit than I would otherwise have had. Sooner or later, I'll get stacked for the whole amount and regret it, but obviously if the number of times I double up greatly exceeds the number of times that I lose more than I would have with a shorter buy-in, it's a worthwhile investment. We'll see.

So anyway, I had slipped down to about $225 when this hand came up. I was in middle position and limped in with the Mighty Deuce-Four offsuit. The guy on my left was, by my estimation, the most potentially tricky and dangerous player at the table. He raised to $15. He could do this with a wide range. He got a couple of other callers, so I decided to take my favorite hand into battle and see what would happen.

Flop: J-K-2 rainbow. Action checked to the bettor, and he put out $25. The others folded. I called. I wasn't so much counting on the 2-4 being good here, nor on making trips or two pair on the turn. I just wasn't convinced that he had hit this flop, and I wanted to see what he'd do next. He could easily have raised with a small or medium pair, and my flop call could slow him down, allowing me an opening to steal it. I thought this was especially so since there weren't many good draws present on that board. In other words, if he had a small or medium pair, he'd pretty much have to assume that I had either a jack or a king in order to be able to call.

But the turn was another deuce. This was ideal. If a 4 had come, I'd have to worry at least a little that he had K-J for a better two pair already. Of course, he could have a set of jacks or kings, but that's only a small part of his possible range, and not particularly likely. To make things even better, he's not going to put me on quads now, and other than 2-2 there isn't a hand with a deuce in it that he should consider in the range of hands with which I would have called him pre-flop.

My sense of him at this point was that he felt confident in his hand and would bet again if I let him, so I did. Sure enough, he pushed forward a stack of $50. I thought a while, then check-raised all-in for my last approximately $185. He called almost instantly, and had me covered.

I showed him the 2-4, and he groaned. "You've gotta be #$^&*! kidding me!" He showed his pocket aces. I was kind of hoping for an Allen Kessler, "Oh my god! What's wrong with you?" But I didn't get it. He was drawing to just one of the last two aces for the win, and that didn't happen.

He let loose a torrent of invective like I haven't heard directed my way in a LONG time. He pulled out a thesaurus in order to be sure he used every synonym of "idiot" in the book. He recounted the hand history: "You called $15 preflop from out of position, and then you thought bottom pair with a horrible kicker was good when I bet again?" Etc. I'll spare you the whole diatribe. It continued, on and off, either out loud to anybody who would listen or under his breath for a good ten minutes. I never uttered a word of explanation or justification or apology or sympathy--just stacked the chips while he ranted.

He proceeded to go on Super Monkey Tilt and donk off the rest of his chips before storming away. I found it most satisfying and amusing.

I'm afraid he left still not grasping the fact that he was cold-decked. It wasn't his fault, it wasn't my fault. When you pit the two most powerful starting hands in poker against each other, somebody's going to get hurt. That's just the way it is.

All hail the Mighty Deuce-Four!

Another pokery license plate

After racking up a decent profit at the Rio, I felt I had a little mojo left in me, so I decided to head over to Imperial Palace and play there. On the way, there was a big traffic jam on Flamingo because of road construction. Two lanes over I spotted a California plate:

It's the blue BMW two lanes to the right. If you look at the photo full size, I think you can just barely make out what the plate says: "BIGSTAX"


Compare and contrast

The Rio game had been stocked with laggy Scandis and Crazians who presented a more formidable challenge that I usually find there. That was actually the main reason I left--I was steadily building my chips, but they were in more danger of me making a critical slip-up than usual, and I was getting tired. Not a good spot to be playing sub-optimally in.

The Imperial Palace table could not have been more different. It was mostly occupied by highly inexperienced tourists who didn't know how to tell when it was their turn or what the current action was. They were weak, passive, scared calling stations. One guy made bad bluffs a lot and was running through his bankroll.

I played for about another two and a half hours, and walked away winner, with a rate of about 14 big blinds/hour at Rio, and 30 at IP.

I realize that this is a basic, necessary skill for success, but I was pleased to be reminded that I have in my game sufficient range and flexibility to move from one extreme style of play to the other, adapt accordingly, and still profit. It's not often I get to test that range with such dramatic contrast in one day. Most $1-2 and $1-3 games around here are interchangeable, and it's pretty easy to develop a default approach to the game that works pretty well and doesn't require too much effort or adjustment on most days.

Glad to know that I still have a couple of gears that can be trotted out when they're called for--the "keep up with the crazy table" fast one, and the "never, ever bluff" one.

Hey, that face looks familiar...

Another story from a few weeks ago, which I forgot to relate at the time. The IP tables are huge and covered in cloth on which are depicted two attractive young women in skimpy, vaguely IP-ish outfits. I just assumed that they were models hired for the photo shoot.

Well, on this particular day, the cocktail waitress caught my attention. She looked extremely familiar--a face that I had seen very recently. It took a few seconds, but then it clicked. She was one of the models on the poker tables. The resemblance was so striking that I didn't have much doubt, but I asked anyway, and she confirmed it.

Kind of a strange sensation to have been looking at a face that you sort of assume you'll not have occasion to see in real life, then suddenly have its owner standing right next to you.

I'm not trying to turn into a comp whore or anything, but what's the deal?

Every time that Cardgrrl takes a trip to either Atlantic City or here, she seems to have the room comped for basically as long as she wants, along with at least some of the food, and the round-trip bus trip when it's A.C., all through Harrah's. This has puzzled me greatly--even intense sessions a few days at a time just can't add up to the number of hours I put in routinely. At least that's how it seems to me. (She wrote a post on this subject earlier this year here, and admits that it sort of puzzles her, too.) Sure, I get the $1/hour food comp credit, but that's it, as far as I know.

Last night we got chatting about this via Skype. She asked me about my points and status. I had no idea. I didn't even know one could check such things on the Harrah's web site. Turns out that I have a big mess of "rewards" points, but very few "tier" points, and it's the latter than translate into the generous room comps. Oh, and I have zero "offers" pending. Harrah's never contacts me by mail or email to offer me stuff. With Cardgrrl, her "offers" box has stuff they're wanting to give her all the time.

It's so unfair.

Frankly, I'm not sure what I'd do with room comps even if they were pushing them at me. But last night I was experiencing a sense of outrage over it anyway. Why does Harrah's throw everything at her, and nothing my way? Well, apparently Harrah's in A.C. has for a long time been giving "tier" credits for poker hours, while the Vegas properties don't--or didn't. Harrah's just recently changed this, I learned, and now one racks up "tier" points at 28/hour. (See, e.g., here and here.) Don't ask me about any other details. I still find the whole system baffling and opaque, and I had never even heard of "tier credits" until last night. (Well, that's probably not completely true. When Shamus and I went to the Wednesday Poker Group at Binion's in April, there were some news items, and something about new Harrah's credits was mentioned. I paid no attention at the time, but that was probably it.)

But maybe there are other factors at work. Maybe the system is tweaked to offer rooms and other stuff more liberally to those coming from out of town than for locals. Maybe women get more than men. I don't pretend to know.

I just know that I have my butt in a Harrah's chair a helluva lot, and they have never seemed to notice or care.

Cardgrrl suggested that I try an experiment of dropping $20 or so in a Harrah's slot machine, and see if that primed the pump, so to speak, suggesting to them that I might be a more lucrative customer than I have appeared to be in the past.

So I decided to try it tonight on my way out of IP. I spotted the bank of four "Star Trek" slots. I thought that might be fun. It wasn't. I found it to be just like the "Sopranos" slot machine was when I stuck a dollar in it in December, 2007: completely perplexing. I had no way to judge whether it was better to request 1 line, or 5, or 10, or even 25. It was not at all obvious what combinations of things would win. There was a bunch of stuff thrown up on the screen about bonuses, but it was all gibberish to me. I just threw a $20 bill in, hit "max credits per line," and let it go. It took only about 5 spins for me to be down to zero credits. Nothing interesting whatsoever had happened, except that at one point it said I had made some sort of bonus (see picture below). It wasn't clear to me what, if anything, I was supposed to do about it. I never got to whatever point it is that causes the machine to play cute little clips from the original Star Trek series. It was all just completely stupid and pointless. I cannot understand why people sit at these machines for hours upon hours, draining both their bank accounts and their souls.

But anyway, maybe a switch has now been thrown in the Harrah's computer system that says, "Oooo, this guy gives us money," and the offers will start coming in the mail and/or electronically. We shall see.


genomeboy said...


I'm glad to see you buying in full. When we played together, I thought that you had the obvious skill to play from that type of stack. And, from my reading of 2+2 strategy forums, and other pokery type material, if you have an edge, which you obv do, you could use the bigger stack to your advantage more.

Frankly, I also thought your short stack made you look weak at the table. Maybe that is the impression you are going for, but I would think that a strong image would make more $$ in the long run with the exception of the occasional tricky play, such as the one you displayed in this post.

Anyway, overall an enjoyable post.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - thats no bonus. You need to get three of them.

Harrahs Total Rewards are a great way to pay for food too. Anything you can get in the casino you can pay using reward credits, not 'tier'credits. The rate is usually 1000/$10, but, you usually get a discount on the item or food when you use your Harrahs card to pay.

Be sure they have your email address also and you'll soon be getting offers for special events such as poker tourneys, gift giveaways, etc.

For the life of me I know of no reason anybody ever pays for a room in Vegas. Throw $100 through a penny machine once in awhile and you will get all the rooms you ever need. (not that you ever need a room)

Good Luck

bastinptc said...

I believe I have mentioned this before, perhaps when CG first wrote about comps. My mother plays the penny slots at Harrah's in St. Louis. Blows through a 20 dollar bill and then enjoys her two nights of free dinners and her free room. The offers are monthly. It does seem strange.

If you do start getting the offers, you can use the comped rooms for out of town visitors.

Arthric said...

Grump, nice play on the 2-4. Most nits at his level honestly dont understand what deep stack poker is all about, and you played the implied odds there to a tee. With the way you played the hand out, it should have at least occurred to him that you were sitting on two pair or better (very reasonable to take the line you did with a set of twos or KJs on that rainbow flop) and had the good sense to not hand you the rest on the turn.

Unknown said...

Great story about the might deuce-four!

I was in an online tournament a while ago with something like 800 in the starting field. I was really card-dead and had become shortstacked. So when THREE players ahead of me went all-in, I looked down at 9-2 off, my tiny stack, and thought "what the hell" and called the bet. The other players had things like AA, QQ and AK. I made two pairs and QUADRUPLED up. :)

I am NOT saying this was a great play, as yours was, but I am saying that it left some VERY angry players that said some very nasty things. :)

Turns out I got to second place in the tournament.

Unknown said...

Grump -
I had the exact problem concerning comps. I like to go to local casino here (Mohegan Sun) once in a while (once a month or so). Anyway, my girlfriend and I go together and play essentially the same games (slots and poker), yet she gets all these free comps like rooms, food, free slot play, etc.. Well, I went to players club booth one day to ask and they said that its because I didn't have my email on my profile. I changed that and the comps started to arrive.