Saturday, May 21, 2011

Guess the casino, #864

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Bellagio

Veloster (no poker content)

As I was on my way to the MGM Grand at about 6:00 last night, I saw an unusual car in traffic, southbound on Maryland Parkway. It had a Hyundai badge on it, but no model name. It also carried a Michigan manufacturer's license plate. This was clearly a pre-release specimen being driven as part of final testing.

The car is the Veloster, due for release sometime this summer as a 2012 model. I had seen pictures of it in Car and Driver magazine four years ago as a concept car, then a year ago in a "coming soon" feature, then again in January when it was officially unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. It had crossed my mind that this was another possible candidate for purchase when my old Honda finally dies and has to be replaced. It looks like the Veloster will be both sporty and economical, and I kind of like its styling. (See here for a better picture, including the back door on the passenger side with hidden handle.)

This is the first time I've ever spotted a pre-release manufacturer's test car driving around the streets of Vegas. It felt like a bit of an automotive coup.

Playing with a honey badger

MGM Grand tonight. Two seats to my left was a rather clumsy bully of a player. It was easy to predict what he would do in most hands. He would straddle, and if he got several callers, he'd put in a prohibitive raise to take the limpers' money. He floated blatantly. He was not particularly skilled in these things. The fact that I could usually predict his moves in advance meant that he was being much too obvious and repetitive, not mixing it up. He was like the crazy nastyass honey badger, attacking everything, not caring if he got stung by a thousand bees or bitten by a cobra, as long as it got him a few chips.

Since he was to my left and was usually going to have position on me, I had to adapt accordingly. After an hour or so, the perfect situation finally came up. I raised to $15 after several limpers with a suited A-Q. He called from the button. I had been playing mostly straightforwardly, continuation-betting frequently, but not firing second barrels without good strength. I was sure that he was a good enough player to have noticed that pattern, and I suspected that he was planning to use it against me here.

The flop was A-6-5 rainbow. I bet $25. He called. This was exactly the scenario I had hoped for. Against most opponents I would bet again on the turn, because that's the obvious, straightforward, and usually most profitable thing to do. But against this particular guy, I thought he'd find an easy fold if I fired again, and the only way to get his chips was to feign weakness and let him pounce. No matter what came on the turn, my plan was to check, anticipating that he would bet with any two cards to steal the pot, and I would either flat-call or check-raise, depending on the board texture and whether I judged that his bet had him pot-committed. If he concluded that I had raised with any pocket pair 10s to kings and hated the flopped ace, he absolutely would represent having an ace every time.

Turn was a 3. As planned, I checked. He did better than I had hoped--he instashoved. It was $95 to call, which I did gladly. He didn't show, so neither did I.

River: 4, completing no flushes. He just sat there, apparently waiting for me to show. No way, dude. You bet, I called. After about ten seconds of inaction, the dealer addressed him: "He called you, sir." The guy finally turned over his hand: 7-7. Gutterball straight draw had hit.

So I got the combination obscene suckout plus sickening slowroll. And yes, he knew perfectly well what fifth street had wrought. He was simply maximizing his own sense of drama. Honey badger doesn't give a shit.

It will come as no surprise that he continued his shenanigans with renewed vigor after his double-up, nor that the rest of the table adjusted to his transparent tactics, and he gave away all the chips over the course of about three big hands--all bluffs that got called very thinly. He slinked away from the table to sleep off the cobra poison.

You may think I just used my blog to tell a bad-beat story. I beg to differ. It was a badger-beat story.

(Somebody sent me the link to that honey badger video a couple of months ago. It made me laugh, and I knew right away I needed to find a way to use it in a blog post. This is how long it took me to work it in.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guess the casino, #863

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Sam's Town

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another chunk of money I might not see again

Back in January I wrote a post detailing my troubles trying to empty my DoylesRoom online poker account. I finally got the right e-wallet account set up and submitted the request. Then nothing happened. I never got anything, never heard anything. And frankly, I basically forgot about it. Yes, I should have followed up, but I didn't.

Over the past week, I have been reminded to revisit the issue by two events. First, Doyle Brunson announced that he has terminated his relationship with DoylesRoom. They are legally entitled to continue using his name, but he is asking them not to. Second, reports are surfacing that the designated payment processor, QuickTender/UseMyWallet, is having problems getting funds into the United States, and some are saying that transferred funds may have been frozen/seized by some as-yet-unannounced federal prosecutorial action. (See here and here, for example.)

I wanted to look at my DoylesRoom account and see if they still showed me having money there. This turned out to be harder than I anticipated. As I had heard would happen, shortly after my January post DoylesRoom moved off of Cake and to a different network. Customers were assured that their accounts would remain intact. I never fired up the client software after the move. Then in February I had my horrendous computer crash that required wiping the hard drive, reinstalling the system software, etc. I had to manually restore applications. I didn't bother with DoylesRoom at the time. This week I tried it. While I could easily download and install the client software, it wouldn't recognize me as a former player. I.e., despite using the same email address, same street address, etc., it showed no trace of knowing that I had already been a DoylesRoom player before. It wouldn't let me use my old screen name, saying that it was already in use. Since it would only accept me as a new account, my balance is obviously zero.

So I emailed customer support, explaining this problem, and also that I never received the cashout requested back in January. That was on Sunday at 6:54 p.m. Almost four days have passed since then. Nothing. Not even an automated "We'll get back to you" response.

I've got a bad feeling about this one.

Project for peace

My brother has started this project for peace and reconciliation: 9/11/11. One of the things that bleeding-heart, save-the-world liberals (like him) and cold-hearted, save-yourselves libertarians (like me) share is a deep antipathy to the use of violence, both conventional war and terrorism, to resolve international conflicts, so I'm happy to give his new site a little attention here.

Guess the casino, #862

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Sam's Town

In pursuit of trivia

Every Wednesday night I see Tweets from a group of casual friends of mine about a bar trivia thing they're doing. Cardgrrl is always telling me I need to socialize more, so I decided this might be a worthwhile thing to try.

The event is run by Vegas Pub Quiz. I showed up tonight at McFadden's inside the Rio, expecting just to watch; I had envisioned a kind of College Bowl thing, with teams up on the stand pushing buzzers with lightning reflexes, and wanted to scope it out before humiliating myself. To my surprise, it's much more casual. Teams just sit at their bar tables filling out paper worksheets as the questions are read. As a result, it was no problem for me to pretend to be part of the team (they don't have formal rosters or anything) and toss in an answer here and there when I knew one.

I suppose with a little thought, I might have realized it wouldn't move fast. After all, the bar's goal is to keep people there longer than they would otherwise stay. So what should have been about 30 minutes' worth of questions was stretched out to a little over two hours.

But it was fun. The core of the team was Katie, Chris, Bob, and David. Bob's housemate Cheryl was there, too, though I had not known her previously. All contributed, and there were many questions for which more than one person knew the answer, but I think there's little doubt that Katie was the anchor, with the strongest distribution of weird bits of knowledge.

And we won! I think there were 80 questions in all, and we pulled out a squeaker with 64 points; second place had 63. I counted four instances in which I seemed to be the only one who knew an answer:

1. Capital of Australia.
2. "Ode to a Grecian Urn" poet.
3. State with physician-assisted suicide law upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006.
4. Hard substance underneath tooth enamel.

(Answers are at the end of the post.)

Of course, I messed up a couple, too. I apparently persuaded the group that one answer was sarsaparilla when the judges were looking for "root beer." "Popular Chicago department store founded in 1893" had both Katie and me vacillating between Marshall Field's and Sears. I finally pushed for the former, but it was the latter. I also dissuaded the group from going with "John Wayne Gacy" as the answer to a question about a serial killer's last words before execution, on the grounds that I thought he had been murdered in prison. Wrong. Oh well. Even if I shoulder full blame for those, I still contributed a net one point. Good enough for the margin of victory!

The prize was a $100 McFadden's certificate. It's entirely possible that I'll show up again next week and have a bite to eat on the house, and try to contribute a few more bits of arcana. My thanks to the gang for welcoming me so openly.

As a bonus, after leaving the bar, I went for a short session at the poker room, and had the rare treat of doubling my buy-in on the very first hand I was dealt. I had 7-7 against my opponent's K-Q, and he unwisely slow-played when the flop came Q-Q-6. It was checked five ways. Turn was a 2, and he bet $6 into a roughly $30 pot; I was the only caller. River was my gin card--a third 7. He checked, I bet $25, he check-raised to $60. I shoved, correctly reading him for having a queen he wouldn't fold, and he called.

Perhaps it has happened other times, but offhand I can recall just one other time that I doubled up on the first hand after sitting down at the table. That was at the Venetian. My chips hadn't even arrived when I won. When the chip runner came back, he was puzzled to see me sitting behind a stack. He asked if somebody else had already brought them for me. Nope--I won 'em on credit!

It's a nice way to start a session, that's for sure.


1. Canberra.
2. Keats.
3. Oregon.
4. Dentin.

(Hat tip to Cardgrrl for suggestion of post title.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guess the casino, #861

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Palms

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guess the casino, #860

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: M Resort

Getting grabby

I'm watching the NBC Heads-Up Championship from yesterday. They go to a profile of Andrew Robl, part of which is about two seconds of the shot you see above.

As it cut away, I was left with a strange impression--what was that I was seeing in the background?

I went back and looked again. Sure enough, it wasn't my libidinous imagination at work. There really is a guy with his hands planted firmly on the butt of a young woman. Click the screenshot for the full-size image, and you'll see what I mean.

Which just raises all sorts of questions. Where was this shot? Who are those people? What were they doing there? Why are they in the shot? Is there some connection between them and Robl? Did other viewers notice this, or is it just my weird Rain Man tendencies at work again? Did the NBC people know this was there when they aired it? After all, surely they must have taken enough B-roll for purposes of this piece that they didn't have to use this exact shot.

Good riddance, Sahara

Grange95 just put up a blog post with this title, which I liked enough to steal borrow. The sincerest form of flattery, you know.

I have done 15 prior posts with the Sahara label. Few if any of them have anything good to say about the place, except that it has always served as a reliable money-maker when I can take enough anti-nausea medication to be able to stand being there for a session. As I recently noted, the Sahara is 2nd or 3rd on my list of profitable poker rooms, when counting those that I have been to a minimum of ten times. But I always hated being there. It was smoky, noisy, full of annoying players whose bad habits were ignored by staff, and it had the worst dealers in town.

I wrote about the awful playing environment here. I wrote about the awful dealers here and here and here. I wrote about the awful players here. The only good Sahara story in my archives is that of one of the most horrendously bad beats I've ever inflicted, told here.

Almost four years ago I wrote about the Sahara poker room, "I really detest the place. I've never--not even once--had what I would consider an enjoyable time there." That remains true today, the day that wretched old casino closed its doors for the last time.

Erik Seidel knows

They should have put the "100%" graphic next to Seidel's cards as soon as he was dealt the Mighty Deuce-Four.

Interestingly, Seidel took a little while (maybe ten seconds) to call Selbst's bluff check-raise. When the hand was over, she asked if he had been contemplating a reraise. Clearly he wasn't. She seemed genuinely shocked that he would take any time at all to choose between a call and a fold in that spot. My guess is that Seidel has had third-nut hands beaten a whole lot more times than Selbst has, and hence plays them more cautiously than is her inclination.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guess the casino, #859

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Golden Nugget

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Entry fee?

I was thinking about entering a play-money tournament this evening on PokerStars. When I looked at the registration page, I noticed something odd about the buy-in: It was 500+30 points.

I certainly understand why online poker sites have a separate buy-in and entry fee for real-money games: The buy-in goes into the prize pool, and the entry fee is what the site keeps as its price for running the game. But when it's all fake money, why do they bother having a separate "entry fee" that is not put into the prize pool?

I have scratched my head for about ten minutes now trying to figure this out, and it's about to start bleeding, so instead of continuing I'm posting the question here.

King me

At Hooters last night, I had two kings in my hand, and found another two of them on the flop (along with a queen). That pretty much gave me most of 'em--along with a small pot and a $100 bonus.

Too much sensitivity training?

Last night I played for several hours at Hooters. For most of that time, I had on my right a rather odd duck. He was, shall we say, sensitive.

I first became aware of this when the player to his right--a generally obnoxious pig, to be sure--sneezed directly into his own hands about a dozen times. Mr. Sensitive asked him to go wash his hands before continuing to play. Pig derisively refused. Mr. Sensitive then went to ask the floor guy to make Pig go wash his hands. I could overhear only bits of that conversation, but floor guy said something about that not being a rule that he could enforce. Mr. Sensitive returned, all huffy that his ideas about proper poker-table hygiene were being ignored.

Hey, I'm with him about how gross poker players are. But it's just silly to single out one particular instance of such filth for special attention, while pretending that everything else is all pristine. Almost four years ago I wrote in some detail about how disgusting poker chips, cards, and players are: Getting one guy to wash his hands one time hardly makes a dent in the load of germs involved, so it doesn't make much sense to get all bent out of shape about it.

The second episode involved me more directly. I had been pretty chatty on Twitter. I was also trying to figure out how to get my new Android phone to do various things, without a lot of success, partly because I had only spotty 3G signal coverage. So, yeah, I had had the thing out and was playing with it a lot more than I usually do. But I never slowed down the game, never failed to notice when it was my turn, and always put it away as soon as I got involved in a hand.

Anyway, after a couple of hours of this, Mr. Sensitive asked me, "What is it you're doing with that?" I told him I was chatting on Twitter with a bunch of friends. He said, kind of snippily, "Well, I'm finding it very distracting."

Mind you, we were in end seats, rotated far enough away from each other that he couldn't see anything on the screen, and the phone was on mute and not emitting even the slightest peep. The thing could have been off with me just pretending to be fiddling with it, and he couldn't have known the difference. This was not a case of something visual on the screen or audible in the air that was bothering him. No, it was just the fact that I was doing something other than watching the poker game--or maybe he had some paranoia that I was writing about him. (I wasn't then, though I am now!)

Again he tried to enlist the floor guy, but the floor guy told him that I wasn't breaking any rules, and cell phones were allowed as long as players didn't slow down the game. In fact, Hooters is the only poker room I know of that actually has a sign posted on the wall prominently announcing "Cell phones OK." (See photo of it here, though they have removed the "Smoking OK" sign since I took that picture.)

As soon as a seat opened up on the far end of the table, he spoke up for it and moved far away from me. I can't know for sure if it was because I was bothering him, but I suspect so.

Can you believe how easily annoyed some people are???

Having skin in the game

You probably think the biggest news in the poker world in the last 24 hours has something to do with the suspicious ongoing delays in payouts from Full Tilt, or maybe the goings-on at the WPT Championship at the Bellagio, especially the controversy over alleged cheater Ali Tekintamgac being allowed to play, and other players being prohibited from talking about the accusations.


The biggest poker news of the past 24 hours is that we learned the status of the foreskin of two of the games most prominent players. In case you missed it, here are the relevant Twitter posts:

TexDolly Doyle Brunson
Enjoyed playing with @RealKidPoker....had someone to talk to. Even about who got "snipped." :-)

RealKidPoker Daniel Negreanu
@TexDolly "same team" no snip crew! Can't imagine if I ever have a son that I'd let the doc snip his pecker.

In retrospect, this is clearly what Bluff magazine's Jessica Welman had been referring to with this earlier Tweet:

jesswelman jesswelman
Never in my life did I think my job would entail listening to @realkidpoker and seven other guys discuss circumcision.

To which I had cheekily responded:

PokerGrump Poker Grump
@jesswelman You didn't read the fine print in the contract, obv.

Guess the casino, #858

To reveal the hidden answer, use your mouse to highlight the space immediately after the word "Answer" below.

Answer: Sahara, where the Beatles stayed in 1964 while playing at the Convention Center, and which is going to close tomorrow.