We’re going back to the end of my summer trip for this one. It was a Saturday and I wanted to play cash at least one other place before settling in at MGM, where I was going to meet Prudence and her sister for a late dinner. I tried to get into a game at Aria, but this was when the WSOP was still going on and it was well nigh impossible to get into a cash game there at the time. So I walked over to Monte Carlo and was able to get a seat right away.
It had been over two years since I’d played there last, a session I wrote about here. And the good thing about this latest session was that I never saw a dealer try to foist a $2 chip on anyone. They used them just for the rake.
The session was frustrating because I was actually running well and couldn’t really get paid for my decent hands.
Early on I called $10 in late position with Ace-Jack off, it was five to a flop of A-Q-10 rainbow. I called a $30 c-bet and it was just heads up. Neither of us bet the rest of the way. I figured I’d just go for showdown value if I didn’t hit my gutshot, which I didn’t. My Ace was good.
Then I lost chips raising to $12 with Ace-King, two callers. I c-bet $20 on a blank board and then folded to a big turn bet with nothing.
I got pocket Aces. Someone raised to $11 in front of me, I made it $31 and didn’t get a call.
The very next hand I got the dreaded hand. Yep, pocket Aces and pocket Kings, back-to-back. There were some limpers so I made it $14. I had two callers and the flop came King-8-3, rainbow. I only bet $20 but didn’t get a call.
Opened to $10 with pocket Jacks and four of us saw a 10-high flop. My $30 c-bet was not called.
Very next hand I had pocket 3’s. Six limpers saw a flop of A-9-3, two clubs. I bet $10 and two players called. I bet $20 on a blank turn and no one called.
I raised to $12 with Ace-Jack off and had two callers. I bet $25 on a Jack high flop and took the pot.
See? I was running well and thought I should have made more money for my run. I started running cold and bleeding chips, and finally left after a couple of hours only up $25.
Over to MGM. The table was kind of interesting. The lady on my immediate right was one of the most unlikely looking poker players I had ever seen. Very well dressed, proper looking middle-aged woman. I may be being a bit generous with “middle-aged”—it’s hard to say. But she looked like she would prefer touring an art museum instead of playing poker, if you know what I mean.
She had been pretty friendly with a bunch of the guys (mostly young) at the table before I got there, apparently, and this was continuing when I got there. It was clear to me almost immediately that despite her appearance, she had spent a lot of time in poker rooms—she was a good, experienced player. She revealed that she usually never plays NLH; her game of choice is PLO. She said she comes to Vegas from 1000 miles away every two weeks to play PLO. She can play NLH where she lives but not PLO. She was only playing NLH at MGM this evening because she was waiting for a show.
So I asked her where she plays PLO since it couldn’t be MGM. She said she plays at Aria. I said, “You play 1/3 PLO at Aria?” “No,” she corrected. “2/5.” Wow. That’s a big game—much bigger than a 2/5 NLH game, I’m sure. Much, much bigger. Like I said, just by looking at her, you would definitely not peg her as a poker player, let alone someone who comes to Vegas twice a month to play a big PLO game. Looks can be deceiving.
Then she started asking some of the guys, who she had obviously been chatting with, what their names were. Finally someone asked what her name was. Well, I have to abandon my practice of assigning phony names, there would be no point to this story if I did that. So I have to reveal her real name—or at least the name she gave us at the table. “Bertha,” she said.
Bertha? Really? I haven’t heard of anyone named Bertha for a zillion years. Seriously, except in a movie or TV show from the 1950’s or earlier, when have you heard anyone named “Bertha”? My gut told me that no one under the age of 90 could possibly be named “Bertha” and this lady was nowhere close to that.
So I texted my pals Woody & LM and asked them, if I told them a woman was named Bertha, what was the absolute youngest age she could be? Woody didn’t respond but LM said 70. Ok, I think that’s too young but this lady was nowhere near 70 either.
Anyway, there were two other interesting characters at this table. Sitting on Bertha’s left (and thus, two from me) was a guy I’ll call “Clueless Guy” or CG for short. I’m calling him because he appeared to be clueless, about poker and other things. He had a think New York accent and took frequent breaks to smoke. He had never played poker in a live poker room before and this was his very first visit to Vegas. He had been living in L.A. for a year or two and his girlfriend from New York was flying in later in the evening. Now, he took great pride in telling us that she was to arrive at 10PM and that he had told her his flight from L.A. would arrive at 9PM—but it actually arrived at 5PM so he could get his gambling (and drinking) in before she hit town. He apparently had already lost a bundle in the pit before he sat down at the poker table.
He was a terrible player. He called almost everything. Later I noticed when facing a bet, he would tell you exactly what he had. “I’m on a draw, I dunno if I should go for it or fold.” Or even, “I have two pair, should I call?” He would do this before he acted, so if he called, you knew where you stood. I assure you, at no point was he ever not telling the truth.
Another thing he liked to do was bet his big pairs big—I mean really big. He’d either call preflop or make normal raises—and then all of a sudden put out a huge bet instead. I mean a couple of times, with just a limper or two in front of him, he’d bet like $40. One time the guy on his right said, “Why so much?” as he folded and CG showed pocket Kings. “I don’t want anyone catching an Ace.”
He kept buying in for $100 and rebuying, often. Twice, I saw him get up and go to the podium to buy more chips, so I told him that this wasn’t necessary, he could buy more chips from the dealer. He had no idea.
And apparently before I arrived he pissed off Bertha because he called her raise with 7-5 offsuit and cracked her Aces.
In other words, he was the kind of player you dream of having at your table.
He had bonded a bit with the guy on his right, who was in town for a bachelor party (not his own). Bachelor Party Guy (BPG) did something that really pissed me off, perhaps it shouldn’t have. Earlier, with BPG present, Bertha explained to CG what it meant to chop the blinds and why it was a good idea to do so. I think the second time the situation had come up, CG had actually figured it out and agreed to chop—but I’m not sure if it was with Bertha again or BPG.
Then, CG went on a smoke break and missed his big blind. And Bertha was also away from the table, so I had to post the big blind while BPG was the small blind. It folded to him. I had my cards (King-2 off) ready to muck and said, “You wanna chop?” He didn’t say anything….he just put $17 more on top of his $1 blind. Maybe he hadn’t heard me. “You don’t want to chop?” He just shook his head no. Fine. I pushed my two dollar chips to him and returned my cards to the dealer.
Yeah, I was pissed. I guess I’m always kind of pissed whenever someone doesn’t chop in that situation. I’ll chop anything, even Aces. I see no reason not to. If someone doesn’t want to do it, that’s fine I guess, but what the hell is he raising so big for? He’s betting $17 to win $2. How does that ever make sense? If he really wants to play, limp in (possibly dangerous, I know) or make a smaller raise that might entice me to play if I have a decent but not premium hand. I mean seriously, what am I calling with there? Note: This guy was not a maniac by any stretch of the imagination. He was a loose player, standard level of aggression. It wasn’t like I could put him on a really wide range there. With only two bucks at stake, I assume he’s got a big pair or a big Ace and why would I risk anything?
So I actually targeted him. I was committed to getting this guy’s chips—this guy specifically, more so than any other player—just because of what I considered a dick move that cost me a whole two bucks. I studied him intently, and pretty much ignored everyone else at the table. I almost never took my eye off, looking to see if I could pick up a tell.
I’d like to tell you that it worked, that I took all of his chips or a big pot off him, but the sad truth is, my grudge was not fulfilled. He left after not too long, before I ever got a chance get my revenge.
But he helped me get some chips from CG before he left. He raised to $10, CG called and I called with Queen-Jack offsuit in late position. I think there was another player or two. The flop was Queen high, but all spades. My Jack was a spade, but if a fourth spade hit the board, would that be big enough? Everyone checked. A low spade did indeed hit on the turn. BPG checked but CG bet $40. Actually, he wanted to bet more. He put the $40 out and then went back to his stack to grab more chips to add in. The dealer had to explain the “string bet” rule to him. There was a reason I called this guy “Clueless Guy.”
I just called, worried about a bigger spade, and BPG folded. Another low spade hit the turn. This time CG checked. I thought the Jack was probably good, but I decided to play it safe and just check behind. He was such a weird player that he could have checked-raised me big with a smaller spade and put me in a tough situation. But he showed a 9 of spades and I took the pot.
I limped in with pocket 5’s and someone raised to $15. He only had $25 behind. But when CG called it made sense for me to call, One other player came in and we saw a flop of King-5-2. The short stack shoved for his last $25, but CG folded. I called and the other guy folded so that closed the action. My set of 5’s held.
With Ace-King of clubs I raised to $10 and had two callers, one of whom was CG. The flop had one club, two hearts. I made a $20 c-bet and the other guy folded, and CG openly agonized about what to do. “Should I chase the draw or not?” So he basically told me that he had hearts. He finally called. The next card was a club, so I knew it couldn’t have helped him. Thus, with just a draw, I put out $40. He again said he was on draw but this time he folded. Poker is so much easier when your opponent tells you what he has.
Just as Prudence showed up and I was ready to leave the game to join her for dinner, I was dealt pocket Queens. I raised to $10 and only one player called. The flop was Jack-high and the other played donked out $10. He was pretty new to the table so I didn’t really have any kind of read on him. I made it $30 and he called. We both checked the turn and the river. The river happened to be a King. He showed King-Jack offsuit. Damn, I really should have kept betting.
I had turned my $200 buy-in into $325 when I was ready to cash out. Although I was planning on playing some more after my dinner break, I didn’t want to tie up my seat in that game for as long as my break would take on a busy Saturday night. They do allow over an hour away from the table before they pick up but even that might not be long enough. And I just think it’s rude to tie up a seat without playing for that long. So I took my chips to the podium to cash out.
Now my buddy Stan had the honor of cashing me out, and it turned out he had timed it to take his lunch break right then so he could join Prudence and her sister for dinner. So his last official act before taking his break was cashing me out. And as he was giving me my money, I told him to put on the list as a “phone-in” so I wouldn’t have to wait too long when I was done with socializing to get back into a game. And so Stan said to me, “OK, but you know you’re gonna have to come in with the $325, right?” Stan knew I always buy in for $200. I said, “Well, it’ll probably be an hour before I’m back, so that won’t matter, right?” And he said, “Come on, you know this. You have to be out of the game for at least two hours before you can come back in for the minimum.” I honestly thought it was an hour. But it didn’t make much of a difference to me, it was only $125 more than my usual buy-in, and I really had no interest in rat-holing anyway. I told him that was fine.
Stan left our table at the eatery before the rest of us as he had to get back to work. Prudence and her sister wanted to check out the Slut Parade. so we walked past the ladies lining up. It was still pretty early so there wasn’t a big crowd, and oddly enough, the crowd consisted of a higher percentage of guys than usual. This wasn’t so bad for the Prudence and her sister, but in actuality, I think Prudence was more interested in having her sister see just how scantily the girls were clad. Although they did find some nice looking gentlemen who caught their attention, Prudence did express disappointment at what turned out to be more of a “sausage-fest.”
They took off and I returned to the poker room. I was at the top of the list and there was an open seat. This time Stan didn’t even ask me how many chips I wanted. He had a rack with exactly $325 in chips already prepared for me! It was pretty funny. I gave him the same $325 in bills he had given me an hour earlier but I had a question for him. “How will the dealer know it’s ok to come to the table with $325?” After all, the max buy-in for the 1/2 game is $300. He said, “Because I’m gonna tell him.” And then, sure enough, Stan left his post and went over to the table he was sending me too, and I saw him whisper in the dealer’s ear that I had to come in with $325 because that’s what I cashed out with less than two hours before.
There was a maniac at this new table. He had a big stack and he liked to bet big. Actually, he was all over the map. He wasn’t afraid to fold (pre or post flop), and he would limp in as well. But often he would make pretty big preflop raises ($20-$30) and also would sometimes make even bigger three-bets. Like if someone raised to $8, he’d make it $50 even if no one else was in the pot.
As such, when I got Ace-9 of spades, a hand I would normally raise with, I just limped in and hoped the maniac wouldn’t make it too costly to see the flop. But someone made it $10 in front of him and the maniac just called. The flop came Ace-5-5. The preflop raiser checked, then tried to bet. It was kind of weird. He definitely made a motion that everyone read as a check, and the guy behind him checked, then that first guy started reaching for chips. The dealer of course told him he couldn’t do that. He denied checking—he said he was motioning to the player next to him to post his small blind. What? Since we were already at the flop, that made no sense. He finally gave up trying to bet and it was checked around. The turn was an 8 and this time he bet $20. I called and we were heads up. The river was a 10. This time he bet $60. That seemed like a lot to call there. I almost folded. I hadn’t had enough experience with the guy to get any read. But I made the call. As soon as I did, he just mucked his cards. Nice.
Then I got pocket Aces and raised to $10. This time I would have loved for the maniac to three-bet, but of course, he folded. Two others called. The flop was low (8-high, I think) and a player donked out $20. I made it $50. He called and then checked in the dark on the turn, which was a 2. I checked behind. The river was a 7 and paired the board. He shoved the rest of his chips--$98. Did he have a 7? I tanked and finally decided to call. He showed pocket 10’s and my Aces were good. That was a nice pot.
The very next hand, I had pocket Queens and I called $10. Three of us saw the flop, including the maniac, who was not the preflop raiser. The flop was Ace high and I called $20 from the preflop raise. It was still three-ways. The last two streets were checked around though and my Queens were good.
I was pretty much card dead after that. But it wasn’t really a long session and when I left after the midnight drawing (didn’t get called), I was able to rack up $615 ($415 profit). So when Stan saw all my chips I was cashing out, he was happy to claim credit for my big win because he wouldn’t let me rat-hole (which I wasn’t planning on doing anyway). I just laughed and said that the extra chips didn’t make any difference at all, but he still claimed credit.
OK, whatever. It was a pretty decent night of poker.
OK, whatever. It was a pretty decent night of poker.