Saturday, November 13, 2004

"You're Not Wanted"

So I'm down to the final two events of the WPPA. Just the NLHE shootout, and the main event.

I missed most of the shootout due to free seats being given away for the main event in a $500 satellite. Hardly anyone showed up, maybe 25 or so, I can't remember now, but they were still giving away a free seat.

Both Glenn and I had won the $500 sat seats in a one table $60 sat. So we were almost freerolling. There were two paid seats, and one free one. Fourth and fifth place got the leftover cash. I busted out early, due to some crappy play by Terry Myers, but Glenn held on to get fourth, I think.

The details are getting fuzzy now, it's been well over a month. I might have some of the specifics incorrect, but I'm close.

Most of the details of the shootout can be found in an earlier post or on Poker Pages.

I was very impressed with Carlos' play. I was also impressed with Cecilia's good take on the HU situation.

At one point, I ran back from my super satellite and saw Carlos get crippled. That is the hand I wrote about where he was down to 4000 and said he would have to play well, in order to come back. Carlos said he actually had some thousands that I didn't see, and he wasn't quite as low as 4000, but more like 12. I couldn't see the high denominations at all when I counted his chips (they might have been out of my eyesight, and I was in a hurry). It did make for a more dramatic story, though!

I hate getting details wrong, but I just couldn't NOT play in the super, with that good of an overlay!

At any rate, Carlos won and I got to meet a very nice guy, who seems to have a super supportive wife, sort of like Glenn & me.

The next day was just satellites. We had two supers, with seven free seats given away altogether. Once again, we won our way in via one table sats. This time, Glenn busted out early in the noon sat, and I was the bubble.

In this satellite, I got to meet, and play against Marsha Wagonner. What a great lady! At one point, when we were both a little short, she offered me a $500 save for whomever didn't make it, assuming one of us wasn't. I felt that she had so much more experience than I did, and that I would be the dead weight in the deal, so I turned her down. People probably think I'm nuts for turning down that deal, but I am the type of person who never wants to feel like a burden on someone, and be remembered for that.

I was just barely hanging on when we were at the bubble. Asher Derei raised my BB, I saw 22 and pushed. Asher had QJ. The flop came T2x, the turn was an ace, the river a king, and just like that, six hours down the drain.

I couldn't play the next sat, starting at seven. I was just too exhausted. Glenn played instead, and got to the final 20 or so. Twelve seats were given away, I believe :(

So we didn't win our seat into the main event, but that was fine.

Once again, the horrible Orleans management was threatening to boot me from my room. For two weeks, all I heard was, "You'll have to leave your room tomorrow, we're all sold out." I got so sick of it. You'd think they would be grateful that I was working for them, for free, but instead, all I got was misery and piles of abuse heaped on my head at every moment.

Instead of fighting them, this time I said to Glenn, "These people can kiss my butt. Fine, they want me out of their freaking hotel so bad, I'll leave." We decided to check out.

On Friday, I went down to the tournament area and saw about fifty people milling about. Some were deciding whether or not they wanted to play.

I told Louis that I was once again being kicked out of my hotel room, and that I'd had enough. I was exhausted and battered, I needed to go home for a couple of days and decompress. Jeff, the executive producer for the GSN, was there and asked me to hold off for 30 minutes or so, that he might have a deal for me. I wondered what in the world he was talking about, but I found out sooner rather than later.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Bellagio to Foxwoods

On Saturday, October 30th, we drove up to Vegas at about noon, even though our plane didn't leave until 10:45pm. I needed to get some things at the store for the trip to Foxwoods. I also knew the Bellagio Stud games would be juicy on a Saturday night, so I figured we'd play some poker before driving to the airport.

First we swung by the Aladdin to see the new poker room, and say hi to my friend Dave who works as a dealer there. The Aladdin is tougher to get inside than Fort Knox. It literally took us about 30+ minutes to get from the entrance of the parking garage to the entrance of the poker room. That place is huge. I can't imagine playing there every day. It would be such a -EV experience just parking and navigating the casino!

Right now Aladdin is only spreading Hold'em, and only at low limits. So we shrugged and headed off to the Bellagio, where we were promised 3-4 hours waiting time.

There were about four people or so in front of me on the 20/40 list, but none of them were budging. The 40/80 was playing a shorthanded must-move, which was pretty tough. The main game, however, looked softer. I decided to wait around.

I railbirded the 4000/8000 game for a while. Ted Forrest was in the one seat, but I never got to talk to him. Whenever he was taking a break, I was in the middle of a hand or in another conversation. Sam Farha, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein and some other high limit players were in the game.

The 20/40 game was juicy until the drunk guy left. The drunk guy didn't even play that badly, but he made everyone else tilt and play hands they would normally never play. Once the drunk guy left, players clamped down again. Three Asians got into the game, and made it even worse, trying to "outplay" each other like a bunch of hyenas.

Richard Ziskind kept telling me that the 40/80 was good, so when my name came up, I moved. I'd made only about $50 at the 20/40, treading water for a couple of hours.

The 40/80 was good, believe it or not. Just a few contributors, but they made all of the difference in the world. I made most of my money in one hand. I started with hidden tens and smooth called a tight player who completed. I caught another ten on fifth when he caught three sixes. I tried to get him to check-raise me three times, but he got scared on the river and simply called when I bet. I made about $400 in the 40/80 game. I was shocked that it was softer than 20/40. Miracles never cease.

We ended up leaving early due to an error on Glenn's part. He came rushing up to me telling me that the plane was leaving at 10pm, not 10:45 like I'd said. He showed me the print-out. Since I was busy at the time, I didn't really bother to look at it. Apparently, neither had he. It said BOARDING TIME 10pm. So we sat around the airport for a couple of hours.

About a half hour before boarding, John Cernuto walked up. I figured he was going to Foxwoods, too. We started chatting a bit. He told us he'd upgraded to first class, so we said our goodbyes at the gate, knowing we'd meet up again in Detroit.

Midnight came and went. Glenn said happy birthday, but it didn't feel like Halloween quite yet. The plane really sucked. The seats were cramped and I remembered why I hated flying so much. The pilot told us that we were going to have a massive layover in Detroit because daylight savings time was ending. That turned out to be a vast understatement. We were stuck in Detroit, in the middle of the night, with nothing open, for about 3 hours or more. Finally, some shops did start opening right before boarding. I bought Glenn a bagel with a stamp saying "freshly baked." It had mold growing on it in three different spots.

That sort of sums up Detroit in a nutshell. The employees were incredibly rude, and the airport was totally run down, with mold growing all over it, lol.

We upgraded to first class for the last leg of the trip, since it was only $35. The seats were much more comfortable, but the plane was still a mess. I can see why the flight was only $89! I got up to go to the bathroom and used the magazine rack to balance myself. The rim of the rack must not have been grounded, because I got a low level shock when I touched it. Hehe, lovely.

After about 24 hours of being awake, we finally landed in Providence, Rhode Island. Wow, what a nice airport they have! What a change from Detroit.

John asked us where we were staying, and I told him that we couldn't get rooms at Foxwoods, we had to stay at the Budget Inn on such short notice. He said FW had sent a limo to pick him up, and he would share it with us if we were going to FW.

John turned out to be a really great guy. I didn't get to know him well during the WPPA, but I did get to find out more about him when we were sharing these flights. Some day I hope to do a story on John. He surprised me at every turn, by his humble generosity and kindness.

I somehow screwed up on the car rental. When I booked it online, it asked me the date, so I said the 30th, since that is when our flight left. Duh, we wouldn't be arriving til the 31st, it was a red-eye. So Dollar canceled our reservation, and we ended up having to pay about $15 more per day. Bah. I was too tired to argue.

We found the Budget Inn after about 45 minutes of driving south on I-95 towards Foxwoods. It was only one exit before the FW exit, bonus. I'd heard it was a dump, but I didn't think it was bad at all. It was clean and quiet. The bed was comfortable and there was a microwave and coffee maker in the room. I've stayed in much worse "dumps" than the Budget Inn. The only thing I didn't like about the BI, is that it was owned and operated by Eastern Indians, and they didn't speak English. It was the funniest thing. Whenever we would call the lobby, the conversation went like this: "Hi, we'd like a wake-up call at 8am." Pause, pause..."No English." Hang up. "Hi, is there a problem with the telephone, our laptop won't dial up to the Internet?" Pause..."No English." Hang up. Jeez, you'd think people would learn how to speak English before opening a business in the United States, lol. It was actually so hilarious that we joked about it endlessly. The players at Foxwoods seemed to find our antics with the Budget Inn funny as well, and it broke the tension in some tourneys.

We checked into the hotel and collapsed. We were so tired, it was about 10am local Eastern time. We shut the shades and went to sleep for about six hours or so, exhausted and not yet ready to take on Foxwoods.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Birthday Win

Well, I'm back in Arizona. Some readers seem confused about where I actually live. I live outside of Kingman, which is in the extreme northwest of Arizona. I am only about 90 miles southeast of Vegas and 25 miles east of Laughlin, Nevada. Phoenix is farther for me than Vegas, about four hours southeast.

So now that I've given my geography lesson for the year, I'll write about playing yesterday in Laughlin. I'll backtrack to Foxwoods later, right now I feel like writing about Laughlin.

We decided to celebrate my birthday yesterday, on November 10th, since my real birthday (Halloween) had been spent on airplanes, in deserted airports and sleeping the day away once we actually got to Connecticut.

Glenn bought me a digital camera, which is something I've never had before. I'm not a big picture taker, but I thought it would be neat to have one, so it was on my list of gifts. Naturally I forgot to bring it to Laughlin yesterday!

We had planned to go out to dinner, but then I got an e-mail from Dan, the poker room manager at the River Palms, about an A-5 Lowball Draw game going on. It was only 3/6, but I had a feeling Dan was trying to tell me to get to the cardroom, it was "that" juicy.

The best restaurants around here are in Laughlin anyway, so I figured we'd run by the Palms, play some Lowball, play the NLHE tourney, then get the grub.

Sure enough, it was a good game. Players calling raises, then drawing three, stuff like that. Naturally I couldn't get anything going on, I kept pairing up my perfect draws (A345 drew a trey). Glenn did well, though, and we had a fun time. One guy from Gardena said he hadn't played Lowball in 20 years. He was tickled pink that someone was spreading it. Seems like it's going to be a staple at the Palms, whenever they can get it going. Ditto for Razz, they have been spreading it about twice per week, and it seems to take hold and keep going for 12+ hours at a stretch.

We actually arrived at the Palms way too early. I'd forgotten that they went back to standard time, whereas Arizona never changes. So instead of waiting an hour for the tourney, I had to wait two.

I got a table filled with Marines celebrating the birth date of Marine-dom. They were so nervous, young or old. I'm not sure if there was a party going on at the Palms or what, but they were out in droves. Arafat died while we were playing the tournament, and many of them seemed glad about that.

I tried to remember that this was a $25 tourney, not $1500. I kept reminding myself to remember to adjust, not to get fancy, but naturally I made some errors along the way.

Bluffing was definitely out. I bet my gutshot when it was checked around to me, and got four callers, even though I bet the pot, lol.

I went all-in five times in fifteen minutes. I think that is a record for me. I lost all five, and in every instance save one, I was leading. Hehe, I'd forgotten about monkey poker.

My first all-in was when I limped in on the button with 97s during the first level. About seven players saw every flop at this table, so I was getting a pretty good price. Two nines flopped as well as one of my suit. It was checked to me, and I bet the pot. I got three callers, I believe. I was all-in by the river, but only got one caller, a guy on my right who limped in with 94o and turned a full house. Rebuy!

Just a couple of hands later, I had kings. Trying to dissuade the battalion of limpers, I went all-in, to be called by the guy in the cut off, on my left, who had pocket fives. Yep, a five flopped. Rebuy!

A few hands later I had A9s. After paying the blinds, I only had about 300 in chips left, with blinds of 50/100. I went all-in when I flopped a nine (second pair) and the nut flush draw. A guy with Q9o stayed with me, along with two other loose-passive players. The flush never got there, but the queen on the river killed my nines. Good thing rebuys are only $10, lol. When asked if I was just going to keep rebuying all night, I laughed and said something about Daniel making 27 rebuys this year at the series, and about 500 rebuys down in Costa Rica. I don't think anyone knew who Negreanu is, but they were all shocked that someone could afford so many rebuys.

Okay, I was a dog with one all-in. Pocket tens vs. pocket jacks. The guy with the jacks was the same guy who had the fives earlier. When he saw my hand, he said, "Okay, now it's your turn to get lucky!" I replied that I wasn't counting on an 8:1 to save my bacon, and started in on some poker talk, which I cut off when I realized that he had no idea what I was talking about. Rebuy!

Some time went by, without a playable hand (thank God, because I sure couldn't win a pot). Towards the end of the rebuy period, the players started tightening up, due to the 150/300 blinds, and almost no starting chips (900, if the dealer's add-on was taken). I was in the BB. Only the SB limped in. He was the guy with the 94o from earlier, so I knew he could have anything. I saw A6s and pushed, being that I had virtually no chips (not even double the BB, I don't believe). He had A5o. I flopped two pair, but then the board paired jacks: A6JJx and we split the pot, lol.

Then things started to change. I was in the SB with KJo. I flopped nothing, ditto turn. Checked all around (they were passive, I can say that much for them). River king, I went all-in, called in one place by a guy with A5s who thought I was trying to buy it, I suppose.

In the BB, Q9s. Flopped top pair, all-in, called in three spots. One guy had a runner-runner flush draw. One guy had a straight draw, one guy had bottom pair. I love these guys. Queens held up. Suddenly I had some chips. Then I started steam rolling the Marines. Boom, boom, boom, my hands began holding up. The break came and I still took the add-on, although the value wasn't there for my chip count. I needed the ammunition against such calling stations. I knew the only way they would ever fold is if I bought them out with a monstrously oversized bet.

I had forgotten just how badly tournaments are run in small cardrooms. At one point, our table was down to six players while the other had nine. I was bellowing to get us a player. Fortunately, the other table lost a player during that hand, so it wasn't quite so horrible in the end. Some of the dealers acted like they had lost their minds since I'd been away. In one hand, the UTG player raised the BB from 600 to 700. Um, okay. And the funny thing is, the dealer allowed this. I'm sitting there about to act, and refuse to act until the guy takes away his 100 (he never said raise, he just pushed out 700). It took the dealer about 30 seconds to get the look of realization on his face that a player cannot raise a 600 blind to 700, lol. In the meantime, a player in between us had "called" the 700. I told him he could take back his 100.

Our tables combined shortly thereafter, when the blinds were 500/1000. I had about 15000 at this point, I believe.

Other players and dealers kept warning me about the Middle Eastern guy on the other table. How rude he was, how inconsiderate, how bossy. Oddly enough, I didn't have any trouble with him at all. Of course, I have always had good relationships with Middle Eastern people, and blunt, abrupt people make me feel more comfortable, since I share that trait with them. Sometimes the aware, more aggressive players simply have to take over decisions at the table. When you get a weak, passive dealer, combined with an absent or inexperienced floorman, you have no choice but to take over the control of the tournament. The Middle Eastern guy was simply trying to get things running well, more smoothly. I had heard he was rude to the dealers in situations where he was wrong, too, but when we were at the final table, he was right in every situation and felt the obligation to set the pace of the tournament. I certainly can't fault him for that, having been in that situation hundreds of times myself.

Only the top three paid, but these players were eliminating themselves (unnecessarily) like hotcakes, anyway. We went from ten to four in like 20 minutes. Maybe because the blinds went to 1000/2000, people saw their situations as more desperate than they actually were. Maybe they were trying to double up or get out of dodge. At any rate, I was glad to see them knocking themselves out with horrible starting hands over and over again. In one hand, a short stacked player CALLED an all-in with J3o, versus the first all-in's pocket jacks. Huh? Oh, well, I can only smile.

I lost about 1/3 of my stack when a guy on the button went all-in as a steal with 76s. I went over the top with AKo, but he got a seven.

Due to the overwhelmingly bad play, I soon got my chips back, and more. I would take a hit, then get my chip lead back. This happened over and over again for about an hour.

When we were down to five, we were in a situation where the chip counts were pretty close. The Middle Eastern guy brought up a five-way chop, but another guy wanted to play it out. Only a few hands later, I eliminated player five, a guy directly to my left, who seemed to be a newbie. I was constantly stealing his blinds, and finally he got fed up and called me with K5o when I had K7s (I was the SB, he was the BB).

Then I lost another hand to the guy on my right, the guy who had the 76s on the button. He had gotten short again, and went all-in when he was the SB with ATo. I was the BB and it was very little for me to call him. I called blind, only to turn over 76s, like his previous hand against me. Naturally I didn't get lucky, but he made the straight he didn't even need, and survived.

After this hand, the Middle Eastern guy brought up a chop again, but I suggested doing a save of $200 apiece, and playing out the rest. All parties agreed, since I was the chip lead, and we played on.

I would never have brought up this deal if the blinds hadn't been so huge. They had just gone up to 2500/5000, so I knew that a couple of beats, and I could be out, and out of the money! I figured $200 in my pocket was better than a $90 loss, lol.

I had one opportunity to eliminate both remaining players when we were down to three, but I passed. I definitely would have called one all-in with KJo while three handed, but I couldn't call two. Instead, the Middle Eastern guy took out the guy to my right.

When we were head's up, the Middle Eastern guy wanted to chop the remaining money with me, but I insisted upon playing it out. I felt that I was definitely the better player, plus I wanted to brush up on my HU play, since it had been a while and I needed the practice.

It didn't take me long to get the advantage. Pot after pot, I either bullied him into folding, or won the pot. He was making some really strange moves. Like one time I put him all-in with AKs and he CALLED with 82s (???). He got a deuce and doubled through. Another time I had J2o and the flop came with JJx. I checked, trying to induce him to bluff, and he bet about 15k. I check-raised all-in, leaving him with only about 15k, but he folded! That only left him with about six hands! Jeez, why did he bluff so much on that hand??? I had forgotten just how bad these new NLHE players are.

Not long afterwards, I took him out. I think I had KJo and he had some raggedy hand like J4o. He had no chips, so he finally just gave up. He kept making me progressively better offers with the additional prize money, but I held my ground and insisted on playing it out. He said he was tired and just wanted to go home. People hate playing me HU. I guess I make them uncomfortable.

So I couldn't get anything going on at Foxwoods, but I came back and won a $25 Laughlin tournament, lol. What a coup. I guess I know where I'm comfortable. It's one thing to be able to barely hang on with the top players, but it's another thing to feel comfortable, and make some moves on them. Basically, where I'm at right now, there is no way I can make fancy moves on world-class players. I have to be extremely patient and mix it up with the few fish that remain in the big tourneys (believe it or not, there are some). I try to get out of the way of the best players. If I am in a hand with them, I am raising, not calling. I can't outplay them, so I have to get them out of MY pot, lol. Fortunately, the best players are able to make laydowns to me when I go over the top of them. But more on the Foxwoods tourneys tomorrow. Right now, I've written all that I can.

We missed dinner altogether yesterday, so maybe we'll go out tonight. Maybe the Palms will have some Razz or Lowball going on. Who knows...until the next flop, I'm Felicia, over and out...