Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Razz at Binion's

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Glenn and I arrived in Vegas at about 4pm on Friday afternoon, May 14, 2004. We tried to beat the traffic, and succeeded!

I wanted to play in a Razz satellite (or two, or three, lol). The satellite is an eight player, one table sat. Each player buys in for $215 and receives 1000 in tournament chips. Structure starts at a $5 ante, 10 bring-in, 25 complete, and 25/50 limits. Levels last 15 minutes each.

Believe it or not, there is a LOT of play in this satellite. Razz is primarily played head's up past 3rd street, if fourth is seen at all. It is also not a game where "the clock" is needed very often, lol, as decisions are elementary and not usually mulled over. I would say that in this satellite we would play at least two times as many hands as others, if not three.

When I approached the satellite area, I was told that three Razz sats were already being played, and it might be a while before another was started.

I sweated the final three players of one of the Razz sats. Some of the players in the sat area remembered me from other visits to Binion's and waved or smiled. When this sat ended, the TD said another would begin on a distant table as soon as a dealer became available. He waved me over to the distant table. I was soon joined by an elderly gentleman, and a WCP whom I'd played against in one of my Stud 8 sats. We started chatting a bit, only to be launched out of our seats suddenly when the TD decided to open the Razz satellite at a completely different table, after we had been waiting well over an hour!

We rushed over, only to find out that it was already sold out. Luckily, some friends of the WCP knew that we had been waiting forever, and were kind enough to give us, and the elderly gentleman, their seats. During all of this, the TD was actually rude enough to lie about sending us to the other table. The three of us just stood there with our mouth's agape. I guess I have been lucky, up to this point, because the evening TD, Doug, is much more competent and professional.

I had to take the one seat, but we were on a decent sized table, so that was okay. I was stunned to find out that a few people had never played Razz, and really didn't know how to play. Bonus!

The dealer couldn't see the structure card, so I read it to the table during the tournament.

I quickly took the lead, raising every pot I was involved in. I didn't limp. I tried following Sklansky's book for a high ante structure.

The table was very easy. I felt that the WCP in the seven seat (who has won a Razz bracelet in the past. Peter Brownstein, I believe) and an older man in the five seat were the only really strong competition. The elderly man I'd talked to at the other table was simply too passive, as were some other players.

Fortunately, I was able to eliminate the man in the five seat. Now I was left with the elderly man, and the WCP in the seven. I had many more chips than either of them. I kept pushing my hands, and I was getting way more than my fair share. I finally took out the WCP when we both started with the exact same starting hand, including the same doorcard! I caught a tad better than him and that was that. The elderly man had been so passive that he was left with one 100 chip and two 25's. He was out on the very next hand, when he was the bring-in and I put him all-in.

I won the tournament with basically no effort whatsoever. Just one of those lucky days. I was catching very, very well. I just couldn't miss. I barely ever paired or bricked up. I just caught, then caught some more. Yes, some of it had to do with starting with only premium hands, then pushing them hard. Some of it had to do with my super-aggression versus the lack of aggression that most of the participants showed. I did play a good game, but I got very lucky, as well!

Here I had prepared to play up to three satellites, and then not even beat myself up if I didn't win one. Yet in less than two hours, I had won my Razz seat, and had nothing more to do!!

I sauntered up to the tournament area to look around. Up there I found Kent Young from the WPDG and we talked a bit. He told us about a little party going on in the Full Tilt Poker suite and asked if we wanted to come. We took the elevator up. Andy Bloch was there, Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, along with a few people I didn't recognize at all.

If there is one thing that Full Tilt needs badly, it is a PR person. The owners of the new site were clearly uncomfortable and not in their element. They had no one doing the meet & greet, and seemed like they would rather be anywhere but in that suite, touting their new poker room. Andy Bloch seemed the least uncomfortable, so since I had played against him in the Stud 8 event, I took that opportunity to chat. We talked a bit about the quad fives, and he told me that he busted out not long after our original table broke. He is very pleasant to talk to, and if Kent and Glenn hadn't been so hungry, I would have tried to break the ice with Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, both who seemed so ill at ease I felt sorry for them. The one bright star was when John Juanda busted out of the final Stud table, and came up to the suite. He was very outgoing and made everyone comfortable. I think the suite relaxed after he made his appearance.

Kent wanted to buy us dinner. Kent is one of the nicest guys I have met in the poker community. We went over to Main Street Station and had dinner.

Since we hadn't planned on staying overnight unless the miraculous happened, we didn't have a room. Well, the miraculous did happen, and on the first attempt, so Glenn and I were now needing a room to stay overnight. The Golden Gate, our old standby, was sold out, so we had to call the visitors bureau. Yipes, we had to choose between two Budget Inn dumps downtown. We chose the one closest to the Horseshoe, and settled in early.

On Saturday we got to the tournament area more than an hour before starting time. I bought in with my lammers, and got assigned table 101. Table 101 is in the "small" tourney area, and right by the rail. I unfortunately got seat one again. I haven't had a decent seat in any of these events so far. Even worse, seat one directly faced the railbirds. Bah!

An amazing thing happened outside of the tournament room. I was just walking around, and noticed people gathering at the two tables used for selling poker books. Everyone was asking, "Where is the Razz book? Do you have a book on Razz?" It seemed to almost be Greek! No one asks about Razz! The bookseller said they SOLD OUT of the Razz book, due to such demand, but they were bringing over a boxful of them. What??? Okay, it's snowing in Hell now :)

When my table was finally assembled, I groaned to see myself, along with seven world class players. Just my luck! No, truly I knew that this event was not going to bring people who just were playing for fun, lol, so I expected a truly tough table. I was in the one seat. A bracelet winner with an excellent reputation was in the two (I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name). Anthony Cousineau was in the three. John Bonetti was in the four. Another face, but name that escapes me was in the five. Nick Frangos was in six. Howard Lederer was in the seven, and another big name was in the eight. His name is escaping me now, too. Darren? Jeez, I'm getting old.

It wasn't a line-up I liked at all, but I figured something along this vein, so I wasn't surprised.

I tried to joke around a little with Bonetti, asking him not to get in any fights while I was at the table. He responded well, joked around with me, asked me some questions. I was hoping to head off any unpleasantness right at the pass.

I got off to a good start, catching some cards early. Play was tight and aggressive. Stealing the antes on third was the most common play. Things were fine for the first hour. I think I built myself up to about 1700.

One of the ESPN cameras came over to film Howard. I guess someone got the bright idea that they would film one of only seven women entered into this event, and before I knew it, they had the monster camera right in my face. Jeez, louise! I didn't even fill out the form! I put my head down, so that they were filming the top of my head. Not all the way to the rail, like the Unibomber or anything, but just looking straight down until they moved on. I kept saying to myself, "why me, why me?" I think they got the hint and left. Luckily, I hadn't been involved in any pots during that time.

Then hour two began, and hour two wasn't so great. Suddenly, these tight, bright players became chasers. They were chasing with high doorcards. They were chasing when they caught two bricks in a row and most of the cards they needed were dead. They were just chasing, period. I was sent into a tizzy. I hadn't expected this!

I had a couple of excellent Razz starting hands outdrawn on the river. Really, really painful. I was surprised at the way the play at my table had deteriorated. I couldn't switch gears fast enough to compete. It seemed like from that second river beat on, I was playing a short stack.

To make matters worse, John Bonetti started getting abusive and loud over almost every hand he was involved in which didn't win. It didn't matter if he started out with the best of it, or the worst of it, he was getting very worked up if he didn't win every hand. He was abusive to the dealers and the other players. Glenn was appalled even from the rail, and told the floorman, Jody, about his behavior many times. The floormen at the series had been very soft, to date, and Bonetti had been able to get by with many instances of abuse. When I'd played in the Stud 8 tourney the week before, he had gotten into an almost physical confrontation with a young player and Chris Ferguson. Both players were on their feet, and violence would have broken out had things not been stopped by the floor. Bonetti was using extremely foul language, and very loudly.

Not only was he NOT escorted to the door by security, but he wasn't even given a penalty. Most of us were shocked. I remember Andy Bloch protesting very strenuously about Bonetti getting pooh-poohed time and again.

The same thing happened in this instance. At one point, Bonetti became so abusive to the dealer that he was calling her a MFer about every other sentence, and throwing his cards, forcefully, at her chest. I told her that she should call the floor, and not tolerate his abuse. She stunned me by saying that it was MY responsibility to protect her. She said if she called the floor, she would be fired, but that the players should protect her when another player was abusive. I looked at her in amazement, and said nothing else.

During our first break, I told Linda Thompson and Jan Fisher the story. Mike Sexton also overheard. As soon as I said John, they rolled their eyes and immediately said, "Bonetti!" They called Mike O'Malley over and he said he would take care of it immediately. He must have done something, because I saw Jody talking to John, and for the rest of the tournament, he was a "changed" man. I wasn't sorry to see him busted out not long after.

With the chasing going on, I got very tight and soon took another beat which left me with almost nothing. I was dealt pair after pair (all high pairs) for the next few hands, then I was the bring-in with only 35 chips left, lol. I chucked my 35 in without checking my cards. It was passed to Howard, who called. We were head's up. Most of the table had folded low doorcards, so I was surprised to be HU.

I turned over KQJ, haha! Howard had a three card seven. Ouch! Ted Forrest had been moved to the table behind ours, and we had exchanged "hi's." Ted came over to sweat the hand. During the play, he said that I was actually a favorite to win the hand. He pointed out that almost everyone had folded low doorcards, indicating they had paint in the hole. I had all paint as well. Howard probably needed HIGH cards to win the hand, and since he was getting low cards, he was pairing up. Ted's prediction came true. I got middle and high cards, no pairs. Howard got 3 pair, all low. I won the hand and kept laughing at the absurdity of the cards I was being dealt. I was on a horrible run.

Artie Cobb took John Bonetti's place. A much welcomed replacement! Sam Grizzle took the place of the young WCP in seat six. Sam watched me go all-in twice more after the Howard debacle. Everyone was still talking about it, and I couldn't stop laughing, both out loud and to myself. Sam couldn't believe I'd made a comeback from 35 chips to over 800. He was very pleasant, unlike his reputation, and wanted to engage me in conversation. He had a hard time believing that I'd been dealt so many high pairs in a row. I didn't try to convince him, I really didn't care. The whole thing was absurd, which is what is so great and funny about poker.

Howard was doing very well. He picked up the chip lead in one key hand, and never lost it. He speculated quite a bit more, playing much more loose than I'd imagined. But I guess that is a key to being a WC tourney player. It seems that the very best players do that quite a bit. At any rate, he ended up placing third in the Razz tournament, so he is onto something :)

I had a great three card six, and raised the pot on third. Two other players had good enough lows to stay in. I got my eight on fifth, but never bettered it, and one of the players got a seven on seventh. So I finished about 100th out of 195.

As I was leaving, the player in the two seat suddenly started shaking my hand. He exclaimed over and over again how well he thought I did. He kept saying, "Such solid play, such solid play!" I thanked him and told him it was a pleasure being at the same table with him. I wish I could remember his name, since he is one of the top players.

I was definitely not disappointed in this trip. I thought that things went well from beginning to end. Watching Bonetti did make me sad. The fact that this type of abuse is still being tolerated, and the reaction of the dealer were both amazing to me. It is too bad that it is now 2004, and poker rooms are still allowing men to behave like spoiled, little babies. I have heard about the floor being extremely soft in the series, and can definitely testify to the truth of that rumor. The fact that the dealer was so used to being abused that she had a victim's mentality, was even more sad.

I probably enjoy poker a lot more than most people who read my stories think I do. I don't usually talk about the overwhelming joy that I experience while playing. I have described it so much in the past, and figure it's pretty evident. I think I'm wrong there, because I get a lot of feedback from readers who think that I am not enjoying myself, doing the one thing I want to do most. So I guess I'll have to say it sometimes. I LOVE poker. I love to play, I love the game.

When I talk about disturbing things that happen while I'm playing, it is just to report the truth. It doesn't spoil my love of the game, or make me want to quit. It is just there, the good, the bad, the ugly. It is part of the game (unfortunately).

The same thing goes for issues that have nothing to do with poker on my site. I made a promise to myself and my husband that I wasn't going to post about other issues. Sure, if they had something to do with my play, I had to post it (about the biopsy, etc.). But if they are just completely off subject, no matter how much I want to say something, I'm not. It isn't that I don't have an opinion, it is that I started this site as a POKER journal, not a journal about everything in my life. Not a subjective site about anything and everything under the sun. I try to stick to poker, period. I think I have been pretty successful there.

Luckily, my life is a very, very good one. So sticking to poker has been pretty easy. Straying off into politics is not something I want to do here. So I won't. I will say, that I am happy with the way the United States is being run. I am happy here, and I think this is a good country. If I didn't, I'd move. If I had any problems whatsoever with this country, in general, I would leave. I think that if people truly believe that their own president is murdering citizens, they should find a different country to live in. I have lived in Mexico before. I loved it. I love Mexico and Mexicans. Like us, they are not perfect, but I had no problem in that country whatsoever. If someone is truly unhappy here, I think they should leave. I support the United States and if I ever felt that I was living in place that is committing genocide, I would leave. So instead of griping out the state of affairs in a POKER journal, why don't these people just leave? Um, then they'd have nothing to gripe about, lol, and what would they do then? LOL, I think some people live for controversy and cannot stand it if they aren't embroiled in some kind of hell. Too bad. I'm happy. I wish they were.

The Razz tournament will be my last series event. I have no desire to play Hold'em. I don't think I'm anywhere close to a favorite in any of these events, nor to I feel any need to play them. The interest is just not there, even if I were to get in via a satellite and freeroll. Maybe I have played too much HE in the last two years. Beat's me, I just know that it isn't my game.

Some of the feedback I have been getting concerns taking a deeper look at my game. I know that it may shock you all (gasp), but I feel that everyone needs to analyze his or her game ALL the time. That is the only way to go. I think if someone says that they have "finished" perfecting their game, and don't need to pick it apart anymore, they are doomed. I am constantly picking apart my game, from stem to stern.

I have a long, long way to go. I do not feel that I am a world class player, nor even close. I feel that I am still very much a beginner. True, I have a lot of tourneys under my belt, but I do not have the experience or talent to hang with the big boys yet. Not by a long shot. That is why I'm only playing big tourneys when I can freeroll them.

Glenn and I have decided to go to LA to play in the California State tournament. They have four Stud events, so I'm going to see if I can do any good there. Glenn will be in poker heaven with 200 tables to choose from. His cash game has gotten very good. He is excited, and has never been to LA before, so we should have an interesting time, to say the least.

Hope you enjoyed, and play well!