On my first full day in Vegas last month, I met The Trooper.
The Trooper does a great Vlog that you can find on YouTube right here. But if you haven’t heard of him, don’t click that link just yet. If you do, you’ll start watching all his videos and you’ll forget to come back here to read the rest of this post. You’ll be laughing too hard.
Do I have to explain what a Vlog is? Hopefully not, but if so, it’s just a blog that is done in video format instead of the written format, like this one.
Anyway, he’s been doing his Vlog for awhile now, and I only recently discovered it. Now, I wouldn’t miss an episode. The Trooper lives in Vegas and chronicles his efforts to grind his way through the Vegas poker world. He records his videos while driving to his destination, or walking through a casino to get to the poker room, or walking the streets of Vegas (the Strip and downtown). So you get a lot of flavor of Vegas along with his monologues. In addition to poker, he talks and sometimes rants about other things going on in his life, like his love of Starbucks, his plans to work out more, and his plans to eat less junk food. The videos have terrific production values—carefully selected music, great editing, etc.
But the reason to watch them is The Trooper himself. His enthusiasm, his attitude, his way with words (mostly the “f” one) are infectious. I dare you to watch one and not laugh. The Trooper has a great on-screen personality that comes through in all his work.
So, sometime before my last visit to Vegas, I discovered his videos and eventually started interacting with The Trooper on Twitter. One night, I noticed that he was tweeting about playing at the MGM, and he mentioned that some of the ladies passing by were a bit of a distraction. Who knew?
Actually, this was in the early evening, so I took the liberty of tweeting to him that he needed to wait for it to get closer to club-opening time and then he would really be distracted. In that context, I tweeted him the link to my infamous Slut Parade post (here), which he retweeted. A couple of tweeters who follow both of us chimed in, at least one suggesting he try to do a video with the Slut Parade in the background.
Then, a few days before my most recent trip, I saw on twitter, and later in his blog (here), that Nick met Trooper and even played poker with him. I figured if Trooper was willing to meet Nick, he’d surely be willing to meet me.
So when I saw him tweet out that he was eating and about to start a session, I asked him where he was playing. Planet Hollywood, he said, and I had a good excuse to stop working and head over there.
I figured I’d have no trouble recognizing Trooper from his videos, as long as he was wearing his baseball cap (which, I should point out, he always wears the proper way). When I got to the room, it didn’t take me long to identify him. I gave him a quick once over but didn’t say hello. I figured I would just try to get to his table and then introduce myself. But I thought I saw him noticing me looking around. I noted what number his table was, so I could ask for a transfer to it as soon as possible.
They sent me to a different table but within a few minutes I was called to Trooper’s table. Unfortunately, we were on opposite sides of the table, about as far away from each other as we could be. Trooper was definitely eyeing me as I took seat 8. I didn’t want to shout over the table, and honestly, I didn’t want to identify either one of us publically. So I tweeted to him that it was me who had just taken seat 8.
I hadn’t noticed that there was already a tweet waiting for me from him. It said, “I dunno why I notice things all around the poker room. But, never seeing you before, are you in seat 8?”
So when he saw my tweet, he tweeted back to look at the tweet he had just sent. He had identified me just from the way I was acting when I got to the poker room. I guess that’s a “tell.”
I tweeted back how impressive that was, and that his powers of observation are no doubt a key to his poker success.
So I was getting settled into my seat and putting my phone away now that we had established who and where we were. I happened to glance around, and I noticed a young woman at the table across from mine. She reminded me of some pictures I had seen from a woman I knew only from Twitter. If I was right, her name was Amanda and she had recently moved to Vegas from L.A. and had bounced around the country before that. I recall tweeting back and forth with her quite a bit when she made her first visit to Vegas a year earlier. I also recalled that she had tweeted comments back to me about some of my blog posts, so she was familiar with the blog. And thus, obviously, she was a woman of impeccable taste.
As I said, she had posted a bunch of pictures of herself on Twitter (and Instagram too) and I thought it might be her. I was far from certain though. With Trooper it was easy because not only had I seen him a lot on his videos, but I knew in advance that he was going to be at Planet Hollywood. I didn’t know that she was going to be there, all I knew was that she was now living in Vegas. I checked her Twitter feed to see if she might have tweeted a clue to her whereabouts but there was nothing there. So I decided to be discreet and send her a direct message on Twitter, asking her if she was playing at PH and facing Earl of Sandwich.
I kept looking over at her and eventually I saw her look at her phone and then she looked around, and DM’d me back to confirm that she was indeed there and asked me where I was. No doubt she was a little freaked out, and might have thought that she had a stalker. Then, I tweeted back some bad info. I said I was across from her and in seat 8, but failed to tell her it was the table across from her. She looked over at the woman in seat 8 at her game and looked confused. So rather than tweet back, I waited until I was out of a hand and went over to introduce myself. It was only then that I realized she was playing in a tournament, not a cash game, so I could neither invite her to join Trooper and me or stay and chat much with her other than to just say hello. It was a very brief visit but I’m sure I’ll run into her again, and am looking forward to that. You can find Amanda on Twitter here.
There were really only two hands worth talking about, one occurred early, the other one late. Down a few chips from original $200 buy-in, I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings. It was just my second session of this trip, and the first time I’d seen them since setting foot back in Nevada. I raised to $12 and had two callers. The flop was 6-6-3, rainbow. I bet $30. One player folded and the other one took his sweet time. I read his hesitancy as trying to decide between calling and folding, but of course, I’ve sometimes misread that and only later learn out the decision was between calling and raising. After quite a while, he called.
I really liked the turn, which was a King. I put out $45 and this time my opponent snap called. It was odd how fast he called after hesitating on the flop. Did he like the King that much? Really? Did he have Ace-King or King-Queen? Would he have really called the flop with that?
I don’t remember the river, it didn’t seem important. I probably would have shoved the river no matter what, based on my remaining stack and the size of the pot, but the way he snap called the turn convinced me he was going to call any river bet I could make. My shove was around $105-$115 and he had me covered. He tanked for a while and then disappointingly folded.
I sort of just ran in place with my winnings for awhile. I basically got nothing to play. The table started thinning out. And then, I called a raise to $10 with Ace-6 of hearts (note: I’m pretty much always calling a “reasonable”, single raise with any hand I would raise with myself, and A-6 sooooted is such a hand). It was three or four handed. The flop had two hearts, so I called the preflop raiser’s $20 bet and it was heads up. The turn was a blank and I called a $30 bet. The river was a 4 of hearts, giving me the nut flush but pairing the board.
The guy led out for $60. I guess I got a little spooked by the board being paired, as I decided to just play it safe and just call. Note: There were some hands towards the end of my previous trip—some I’ve yet to discuss—where I got burned value betting the river. I think I haven’t gotten some of those nightmares out of my mind. He said he had nothing, and flipped over King-Queen. He really did have nothing, there wasn’t even a good draw for him. He triple barreled with air. Obviously I took down the pot, and obviously if I had raised his river bet he wouldn’t have called. But yes, I know that’s not the way to look at it, and I probably should have raised.
With that, I had slightly over $200 profit in front of me. And the seat to my left opened up and Trooper moved over to it. We started what was a nearly 90-minute conversation. However, there was almost no more poker played there. A bunch of other players got up, and we were down to four-handed. We could have gone to another game, but we both kind of felt like moving on. I cashed out up $205 for 90-minutes of poker.
Trooper was unsure where he wanted to play, and I figured I had to take a food break pretty soon. His original tweet was about his pre-poker meal so I knew he wouldn’t be interested in eating.
But we were having a nice conversation, and as we exited Planet Hollywood, we just stood there on the strip and chatted on and on. It didn’t hurt that there were some good looking street performers right in front of us: A couple of lady “cops” who were wearing shirts tied bellow the bust and hot pants. They had rather large breasts which were generously displayed. Coming in, we had both seen a couple of ladies dressed as showgirls whose tops consisted only of pasties (with tassels). But they were presently nowhere to be found.
We talked on and on, mostly about our respective blogs. He really has grand plans to make his Vlog bigger and better and start making some serious money off of it. We talked about poker comps and how CET does them so much better than MGM Resorts. We also talked a lot about people we both know and/or follow both of our blogs—and about our encounters with them in poker rooms. One of my readers posted in the 2+2 forums asking him to video the Slut Parade. He said he tried but it is really too difficult to do it without getting into trouble.
Suddenly a guy on the sidewalk started playing his drums really, really loudly right next to us. This may have been the reason the lady cops left. And that may have been the reason the two of us finally started walking. He said he was thinking about playing at Bally’s, and since that’s where I had parked my car (The Planet Hollywood parking lot is my second least favorite poker room parking lot in Vegas, for the record—Flamingo is #1), we walked together. Along the way, Trooper pointed out a few landmarks (coffee places, food places, etc) that had been featured in his Vlogs.
When we got to Bally’s poker room we hung out at the rail while they were starting their weekly freeroll. He recognized a couple of players and I was surprised that no one was familiar to me. He told me a great story. I dunno if he’s told this on his Vlog but I haven’t seen it, so without his permission, I’ll relay it here. I hope he doesn’t mind.
Back about 7 years ago, playing at the now-defunct Sunset Station poker room, he hit the big bad beat jackpot that Stations was running. He said he was down to his last $140 (I assume until his next payday) and flopped a set of 7’s. He and his opponent got it all in as the other guy had a set of 9’s. Ouch. He was not a happy Trooper, to say the least. Both hands were now face up.
The turn was the case 7, and everyone, not just the Trooper, got excited. He was happy he had hit his miracle one-outer of course, but everyone at the table was now aware that hitting the bad beat jackpot was an actual possibility. The excitement woke up the dealer, who, according to Trooper, hadn’t really been paying attention until then.
Trooper was on the dealer’s right, so he was last to see the river card. He didn’t need to see it. He heard the screams from the players on the other side of the table as they all saw that case 9 in the dealer’s hand before he put down on the board. The whole poker room erupted.
In fact, Trooper’s buddy was in the Men’s Room at the time, and he heard the commotion from there. Trooper and his pal had an agreement that if either one of them hit it, they would give the other one some of the winnings, so Trooper paid his buddy.
Trooper got $45K for his losing hand, the winning hand was worth $30K and all the players at all Stations poker rooms got a table share, which turned out to be more than $1K. Oddly enough, both Trooper and the winner got a table share too.
I finally said goodbye to Trooper after one of the most interesting conversations I can remember. He really is a good guy, and I have to say in person he’s pretty much the same guy he is on his videos. Except somewhat less hyper, I guess. But he is quite the talker, I have to say. Not a quiet person. Except at the poker table that is. Until he moved next to me, he didn’t seem to be talking at all. We didn’t play long enough for me to get a good feel for his game, but the results he talks about on his videos are impressive.
OK, that’s my meeting with The Trooper. No go click that link at the begging of this post and check out his videos. You will laugh, I assure you.
Oh, and since this post is going up on Easter Sunday, I found a couple of pics of Easter “bunnies” that I rather like. I trust The Trooper will approve.