Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Where have all the fish gone?

The funny thing about fish is that most of them know they are fish. I mean, if you have played on line for any amount of time, you know what I am talking about. You flop top set and your opponent calls. You turn top full house, and your opponent calls your huge bet. The river comes and gives your opponent a one outer hitting quads. Bad beat. What is your next move? If you are anything like most of the players out there, you begin to berate your opponent for his fish like calls.

After years of playing, I have seen it all. I have had my quads beaten by quads, I have had my straight flush beaten by a bigger straight flush. I have had quad kings beaten by a Royal Flush. And all of that happened in live games. Online play is even more brutal. Online bad beats happen more because of two reasons. There are more fish, and the hands per hour are significantly higher. If you can’t get over those beats, you need to find another hobby, because no matter how good you are, you are going to find someone will make unbelievable calls and catch unbelievable outs to beat you. It will happen, over and over again.

What I really want to talk about today is belittling those fish for making those bad calls.
Why? Why would you get mad at him for calling? Because he hit a one outer on you? Get over it. That is poker. If he paid to get there and actually did hit it, good for him. In the long run, I want those fish calling all the way. Keep calling me, please!

We used to have a player that played with us every week. This player wasn’t very good, in fact, he was down right terrible: The quintessential big fish. Each week, this player would dump $300-$500 into the game - EVERY WEEK! On the rare occasion, this player would book a win. Well, that just meant that next week, the player had even more money to dump into the game. This player played religiously every week for years.

Then one night, Mr. Fish put a bad beat on a guy who’s ego barely fit into his cranium. I will admit that the beat was pretty bad. After calling all the way, when the river came, our Fish made a bet. We all knew he had made a big hand, but Mr. Ego couldn’t believe it, so he raised Mr. Fish. Mr. Fish re-raised - clearly indicating that he had the nuts. Mr. Ego called in disgust and turned over his full house. Mr. Fish turned over his gut shot straight flush to win the pot. Definitely a bad beat.

“You are a fucking idiot! Didn’t you know I had the full house? How the hell can you call with that fucking hand?” Mr. Ego yelled going on major tilt.

Mr. Fish usually played all night…or until he was out of money. So with this win, it was a guarantee that he would be playing all night. That is until Mr. Ego wouldn’t stop running his damn mouth. Mr. Fish, being quite offended, simply cashed out (a winner no less) and we haven’t seen him back in over a year.

Thanks Mr. Ego.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Police Bust Poker Game in South Texas

In Brownsville, police bust a poker game where the operators were charging patrons $5 an hour to play tournaments. The police say the operators were making between $5,000 and $10,000 a night. Some more police propaganda if you ask me. $5000 a night? Please. Do the math. $5000/$5=1000. If the operation was open say for 12 hours, 6pm to 6am, that means you need at least 83 people paying $5 for every one of those 12 hours or 166 people to make $10,000. Not likely, especially since there were only 11 patrons when the place was busted. Go here and here to read more about the bust.

This makes me angry. You see the news organizations have it both ways. I was watching TV last night and one of the local TV stations is using a gambling theme in their commercial to promote their sports coverage. The commercial dipicted the sports casters rolling dice, playing black jack, slot machines, and various other gambling references. No doubt that gambling is hot right now, but it is these same people who will blow a poker bust so far out of proportion that it is just sickening.

When the Austin Poker Club was raided a couple of years ago, the news put up file pictures of slot machines and rolling of dice as a way to "spurce up" the bust. In actuallity, all that was going on were a bunch of people sitting around a table playing cards. But you see this just doesn't give the sensationalism that they need. So they juice it up. "They were making tens of thousands of dollars!" IF that were true, do you really think that all of the casinos would have closed their poker rooms over the years? They only started re-opening them in the last year or two because of public demand, not because they make significant amounts of money. The only people making any decent money in poker are the poker players who are skilled. Am I saying game operators don't make money? NO, not at all. I am saying they aren't making $5000 a night.

5th Austin Home Game Robbery since Nov 2004

I learned Tuesday night that Austin’s 5th poker game was robbed Monday night, August 8, 2005. The robbery took place at an apartment in south Austin. My sources who were present at the time of the robbery say there were two black suspects who simply kicked in their dead bolted door, brandished a weapon and robbed the game. It is not known exactly how much cash they absconded, but it was at least several hundred dollars, including the buy-ins and various wallets. Apparently one player was not in the main room and fled out a window, called police, and tried to give chase to the suspects. The police arrived quickly, but the bandits had already made their get away. The police did pull over a suspect, but the description of his clothes did not match those given by the players and they were forced to release him without searching his vehicle because they did not have probable cause to do so.

Here is the interesting thing about this robbery. This game had been robbed previously this year when the game was at a different location in central Austin and it was known as “The Blue Room”. It had been running at this south location “temporarily” for about 6 weeks or so. But that isn’t the most interesting thing. No, even more interestingly, is the fact the game runner announced he is getting out of the business and moving back to Dallas. I am not saying this is the case, but what if I play the devil’s advocate and suggest that it’s possible the host had his own game robbed? Is it possible?

With so many games running, you can expect that more robberies will happen since most poker games are easy targets. The reason these games are easy targets is quite simple. Most game runners are “former players” who needed a way to increase their bank roll because they couldn’t do it by playing poker. They love poker so much, how can they consistently stay close to the game if they are not consistently winning? After all, eventually your bank roll will disappear with out winning. Solution: Start your own game. The game hosts only have dollar signs in their minds and security is the least of their priorities. In deed, so many games have popped up, because the game runners know that they can make money by simply having a table, some chairs, chips, cards, and dealer in the cheapest apartment possible to reduce the overhead. (The problem with this is that the apartments tend to be in areas that have a higher crime rate…that’s why they are so inexpensive!)

I feel if you are going to host a regularly run game, you ought to be worried about how to make the game safe for your patrons. A notion that is easily overlooked in this “get rich quick” attitude many game runners seem to have.

Well, if you want my advice, find a game where the operators have taken security very seriously. The problem is security means different things to different people. In some games, the game hosts have decided to have an armed security person at their games. This seems to be the prevalent solution in the many games I have been to lately. Why? The reason is simple. It is the least expensive solution for the game runner. He can have his buddy hang out all night with his gun and throw him a couple of Franklins and voila…security. Besides, many of the younger players think it is “cool” to have a guy walking around with a 9mm strapped to his hip and have whole heartedly embraced this solution. I personally think it gives players a false sense of security and will likely end up being a tragic ending if something does go down at a game where someone is packing heat.

I certainly hope that no such tragedy happens, but if it does, it will mean the end of live poker in Austin as we know it. Why? Because you can bet that the incident will get unparalleled press coverage. When that happens, there will be an outcry from the religious zealots that these games shouldn’t be running in the first place. Law enforcement will be forced to start cracking down on the multiple “Dens of Iniquity”, not because they in and of themselves are illegal, but rather to prevent them from being robbed by criminals looking for an easy score which will prevent such tragedies from happening again.

In the mean time, games that are still running will have a hard time making a table because the patrons will disappear in fear of either being robbed, or being busted by law enforcement. The game runners will find themselves in a precarious situation as the games that do make won’t make the kind of money that they currently do. How then can they pay rent, keep playing, and all the other things that they currently do with the kind of money they are used to? You know that they aren’t about to go get a job. Hell that would mean they would have to actually work for a living. “Oh, I know…let’s raise the rake. The players won’t know the difference.“ The sad truth is that most players won’t notice the difference. They will just start wondering why it is so hard to win anymore.

So how can you help prevent all of this from happening? Well you could just play on the internet or travel to a real casino in another state. OR, you could force your regular home game to start taking security seriously. How you ask? Tell the game runner you aren’t playing anymore until they do something or tell them you are playing somewhere else that provides better security. There are places in town that have some fairly stout security measures for their games, and I’m not talking about a guy with a gun.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Some ramblings from Vegas

During the Orleans Open $200 NL Re-buy Event, the woman pictured below was in the big blind when the button made a blind stealing raise pre-flop.

It was readily apparent that her choice of clothing was purposeful in trying to use every tool at her disposal to win, including distraction. While the photo is blurry (sorry, used my camera phone) you can immediately recognize her largest assets in this psychological war of poker. She smiled often, batted her eyes and made sure everyone got an eyeful. I have to admit, it was definitely a DISTRACTION.

When the button raised, this woman re-raised with such authority that the button decided to fold instead of playing heads up. After scooping the pot, the woman says with a chuckle,

“You can’t have my chips. Nope - not my chips. You can have my body - but you can’t have my chips.”

There were a few chuckles from around the table and then right as the table was quietly viewing the next hand as it was dealt to them, a small player of Asian decent said quite calmly:

“You can have all of my chips if I can have your body.”

I nearly fell out of my chair as did the rest of the table. You just can’t find that kind of entertainment when playing on line.

While playing early one morning at the Bellagio, a fight broke out at the table behind ours. Apparently on player told the other player to “Go fuck yourself”. The offended player stood up. The offender (a regular in the Bellagio room – actually, he is regularly barred from the Bellagio poker room I was told) having seen the other player stand up, stood up quickly and rushed at him. They had locked horns when about 6 guys jumped up to separate them. A flurry of superlatives was echoed as we just sat and watched the show. Security showed up almost instantaneously (you have to love the eyes in the sky) and they separated the two players. In the end, both players were removed, their chips picked up. Our table kind of sat and reflected on the episode asking each other and the other table what had happened.

I was playing 15/30 in another session, when I checked raised my 10/10 from early position on a K10 4 flop. The better re-raised me to which I took a moment to think and then re-popped him. I then hear this 24-ish year old say to his buddy in the seat next to him, “Fucking tourists. They see the WPT on TV, read a couple of books, play a little on line, and think they are professionals.” He then folded and the pot was awarded to me. I wanted to tell him, “I was playing poker while 1000 feet under the world’s oceans when you were still wearing your Underoos, watching Sesame Street, and learning why the letter A and the number 4 are not the same even though they do both have points on top." But what came out was, “You got me.” This happy individual then proceeded to display his male dominance by over betting his hands or overcalling out of position. I think he re-bought twice and then stood up declaring that he was moving to another game. Too bad, I kind of liked playing with that guy.

Even with the recent insurgence of players into the world of poker, I still think it is a relatively small circle as I run into people I know or have played with over the years when ever I go to a casino. Aside from the Austin players I ran into, I sat down at a table with a guy who I immediately recognized, but couldn’t remember from where. We played for probably an hour before I finally confessed to him that I definitely remember playing with him but could not figure out where. Turns out, I knew him from when he used to be a dealer/player at The New Phoenix and The Last Frontier in La Center, Washington, nearly 10 years ago.

The Luxor
We stayed at the Luxor for a couple of nights. I won’t be staying there again. You would think being the world’s 4th largest Hotel (a distinction they like to ensure you are aware of) they would have a better idea of customer service. Here are some things that I disliked:

Valet parking.
If you are out of the hotel at another casino and get back late, forget about Valet parking. They only have 800 spots and regularly have 10,000 guests. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the problem here. Self parking is a hike, so you may want to hail a cab to get back to the hotel entrance.

Unless you are an “invited guest”, plan on camping out at the registration booth for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

If you want to go return to the Luxor from Excalibur, you must ride the Tram to Mandalay Bay first, then change trams to go back to Luxor.

Poker Room:
They spread 1/2, 2/4, and 4/8 Limt and a $50 buy-in NL game. I didn’t play here. In fact, I didn’t gamble a single dollar at this casino.

Food Court:
We bought a chicken wrap, a Philly cheese steak sandwich, with two orders of fries and an order of bite sized hot dogs, two soft drinks, total $29.00.
We ate at the Mexican Restaurant. The service was absolutely awful from our main waitress. However, the person who brings water was very good as she was far more attentive to our needs. You will find when you travel with a baby, you have a lot of needs!

We reserved a King, we received a room with Two Queens.
The rooms are somewhat run down, showing signs of age and abuse. This wasn’t just our room, I know this because we saw three different rooms, one in each tower and one in the pyramid.
The beds were very uncomfortable. They were lumpy and extra firm.
Cell phone reception is almost non-existent in this casino/hotel.
The room smelled moldy.
Don’t even think about asking for a late check out.
There is no refrigerator in the room, but you can request one for an extra daily charge. ($15/day) Traveler’s secret: Tell them you are diabetic or you need to store breast milk if you have a baby, they’ll waive the fee.
When our crib was delivered, the person delivering it made us feel we had put her through a huge inconvenience in the way she told us that this room had also requested a Fridge and she had to go get that now.
When our bags showed up, they weren’t our bags.
For our $400 we had a beautiful view of the North Valet Entrance.

Just so I am not totally one sided, they did do some things correctly.
When I was able to Valet, I did get the same car I left.
They waived the fee for our Fridge so we could store Milk for our baby.
They charged my credit card for the correct full price.
The A/C worked well.
During the day when you are sleeping, the curtains did a great job blocking out the Sun that couldn’t reach our windows because it was blocked by the other tower.
The separate shower with hand held shower head was nice.
You can do an express check out, but then you can do that at all of them.

The Rio

Our stay was complimentary, yet there are a few things that are worth pointing out.
All of the rooms at the Rio are Suites.

If you check-in after midnight, you have to use the main registration regardless of total rewards status. The front desk was manned by only one or two people.

It is difficult to reach a person by phone after midnight. The room service button on the phone and the extension to room service did not work. This required us to call the operator and after being on hold for 15+minutes, they were able to connect us.

Expect to be woken by the phone ringing at 11am so they can find out when you want your room cleaned, regardless of the “Do not disturb” sign. Especially on the day of check out.
They only supplied one wash cloth, lots of towels, but only one wash cloth.

Each room has at least one refrigerator. This worked out well for keeping baby Milk from spoiling.
The windows are large, so the curtains don’t totally block out all of the sun if you are sleeping during the day.

Poker Room
I didn’t play at this poker room. I did go by several times. There was zero to 2 tables going at any one time.

Most of the blackjack tables are single deck games and had minimum bets of $25 or more.

Seafood Buffet
We ate at the Village Seafood Buffet. If you like seafood, you might want to check out this buffet. At $35, it’s a little pricey, but worth it, especially if you have comp dollars available.

The Wynn
I didn’t stay here but wanted to let you know that I did check it out. To me it is the Bellagio plus. The d├ęcor and painstaking attention to detail is easily noted.

Poker room
The poker room has some pluses and minuses in my opinion.

Very comfortable chairs. They are using swivel, castered chairs, which are more comfortable than the ones at Bellagio.
Cramped. Like almost all of the rooms, they have put too many tables in too small of a space.
Rail. The room is located just outside of the Ferrari shop, which creates a lot of Rail Birds. It can be very distracting as there is a lot of noise from kids screaming, people walking/talking, etc.
Computer screen. They use a computer program to keep track of players waiting for various games. This is similar or the same as used in a few other places I have been to, namely the Borgata in Atlantic City and Harrah’s in Kansas City.
All tables have shuffle machines.
All in all, I’d say the room is very comparable to Bellagio.

Klingons and the Collective
The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton is worth doing. We enjoyed it. If you are a Trekie, you will probably enjoy it that much more, but you don't have to be to have a good time. The actors are very serious in their roles, so try and play along. I'll have a photo or two to post when I get them developed. (sorry, SLR, not a digital camera)

We attended a family wedding at the Hyatt in Lake Las Vegas. This is a beautiful hotel and the resort area is breathtaking. If you are interested in getting away from the strip and want a nice place to stay, check it out.

Elvis stopped by to wish the newlywed couple his best wishes and cronned some love songs for them. Hopefully the photos will come out. He looks great for his age!

Gold Coast Casino Poker Room
The Gold Coast Casino has a tiny 6 table room, but has one of the best action low limit games in town. They spread a 4/8 with 1/2 kill that may be worth checking out. Apparently, there is so much action, the pots are bigger than a 10/20 game. I went over to check it out, but couldn't get on the table as it was full. I sat down into a feeder game for about 25 minutes when it broke leaving me stuck for $40. The players at the main table had all pitched their tents for the night, so I didn't see any point in hanging around after that.

More to come.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Quick and Dirty Update

OK readers, here is a very quick update from Candy Land. I will have a more detailed follow up when I return to Austin and I'll have a few photos to post as well.

Orleans Open.

Thursday, 148 entires, 323 $200 buyins/rebuys, Paid top 18, busted out 41st...KK beat by AQ.
Sunday, Only 209 entires ($1000 buyin)$202K prize pool. Paid top 27...busted out 101, AK beat by AQ. Yeah,AQ again.

Guess I can't fade the draws.

Played first cash game on Saturday (15/30 at Belagio)...cashed out up 23 big bets.
Played second session Monday morning (15/30 at Belagio) ...cashed out up 26 big bets.
Played third session Monday afternoon (15/30 at Wynn) ....no cash out, lost 16 big bets.

Austinites I have run into, Applied Math, Adel S., Leslie (our favorite dealer at Belagio), Big, and Will.

Stay tuned, more updates coming.