Off The Mark
I got into town about 11 on Thursday night after a leisurely shot thru the desert. Al called for a dial-a-shot during the journey and asked me if I was near a bar. "No," I said. "But I'm just outside of BAR-stow." I slay me.
He said folks were headed to the MGM as soon as they got a nice drunk on in his penthouse suite. I upped the cruise control to 95.
Check-in was painless, but in my haste, I forgot to request a room on a low floor. Since I am both mildly claustrophobic and acrophobic, I generally try to avoid high places and long elevator rides. Naturally, the ONE TIME I forget, I get the 18th floor (of 19) in a hotel where the elevators stop on EVERY FLOOR in both directions. But, aside from the faint smell of chili dogs in my room, I have no complaints with the IP.
I hustled over to the MGM, first verifying with The Princess that this was indeed where all the cool kids were hanging out. I spied a few faces, all of them in serious poker action. I hovered behind The Rooster while he was in a hand at an NL table, checking it down. "That's power poker," I whispered as he raked the pot with his pocket 8s.
According to the Minnesota Chapter, G-Vegas was over at Excalibur, so drizz, Chad and I headed over there, stopping at Sherwood Forest for birthday shots of tequila before taking a seat at a 1/3 NL table with BadBlood, CJ and, over there in the 4s, confident smirk on his face, The Mark.
I have read with great interest and fascination the write-ups of the various G-Vegas home games. They seem a lot like Murderer's Row, raucous but serious, drunken but literate, action-packed but still played at a high level. So I knew The Mark. And I had a good idea what I was in for. He did not take long to authenticate his reputation.
Second hand I'm dealt is AQo and I raise to 10. The Mark comes over the top for 20 more. I can't lay down--show weakness--this early, so I call, figuring I'm behind. But the flop comes Q-high with two spades. "Wanna check it down?" asks The Mark, stridently. "Nope," I say, and bet 50. "Okay," he calls. Turn is the third spade and I sigh and check. The Mark barely hesitates before shoving in enough to put me all in. "You can't call that," he says.
I can't. Two hands. Eighty bucks to The Mark. I tighten it up after that, not wanting to get myself into an all-out pissing match, which is not at all my style. The way to counteract aggressiveness is to trap and I eventually got my chance.
In the meantime, everyone at the table is buying shots for drizz. We're catching up and it's plain that The Mark is a great guy. He's needling me a little, good-naturedly, and I come right back at him in the same spirit. Goddamn I missed you guys. At some point, we're joined by Otis and Dr. Chako, the former responsible for the only hand I (obviously) played poorly all weekend, the latter tripled up in short order with a serious run of big pockets.
I was treading water, basically, folding and talking and laughing, when I picked up queens. I raised and The Mark called. The flop brought me a set and I underbet the pot. The Mark, sensing blood in the water, pushed me all in. I called before he even got his chips out. "Wanna see 'em?" I said. "They're pretty," tossing the ladies face up. The Mark had outs (a gutshot, I believe), but he missed 'em and I was back near even.
I have found recently that the underbet is an awesome force against aggressive players. You don't want to do it too often, especially when there are obvious draws on the board or if your hand is vulnerable, because you'll give folks odds to call and make their hand. But in the right spots, it's a weapon.
I had a similar hand/situation on the Sunday MGM tourney. I had let a villain bet me out of a couple pots earlier. He was pretty aggressive in position. Then I got AQo in the BB and called his CO raise. Flop came Q-high and I bet 600 into a 2200 pot. (Pauly happened to be standing behind me at that moment and later told me his first thought was, "What a pussy bet"). The villain did as planned and shoved his remaining 3K into the pot with...uh...unimproved AJ. Thank you, sir.
ANYWAY, where was I? Oh, fucking Otis. He raised and I re-raised with Queens. He called and bet out nearly the pot on an Axx flop. I folded my queens face up. He showed me his tens. As I said, only bad hand I (obviously) played all weekend. But, then again, Otis is better than I am. I lost another substantial pot in there somewhere. I wouldn't remember it at all if it wasn't for the fact I know I was down to $40 and re-bought for another hundy. Soon enough, I picked up KK UTG and limped.
Yes, you heard that right, I limped. Blood helped me out by raising to 15 and I smooth called. Flop was ragged with a 9 and two spades and again I underbet the pot (becoming rather predictable, isn't it?). Blood pushed--he had about $70--and I called. He showed A9 of spades for 14 outs twice which is exactly the kind of mess one can get in when slowplaying Kings. But as a microcosm of the way the cards treated Blood all weekend, none of his outs materialized and I was back up to a respectable stack.
The Mark had been doing a lot of folding (so you know his cards were shit) and was itching for more action. He persuaded the floor to spread an O8 game--a no-limit O8 game--which was my cue to rack up (down $60) and head to the craps table.
But first, one more thing happened during the session. Pauly and Derek showed, straight from the airport, and greeted everyone at the table. As they walked away to further introductions, the guy on my left said to me, "So, you guys are all bloggers?" Stunned, I could only muster a "Huh?"
"That was Dr. Pauly, wasn't it?" he said. Heh. Sonofagun is world-wide. Spotted by a random guy--Matt from Lima, Ohio. Matt turned out to be a nice guy and darn good player, though perhaps he had some insight into the manner of blogger play as he'd sit back and snap off our donkey aggression with big pockets. I figure he was up about $300-$400 when the game broke.
I couldn't get anyone to roll dice with me, though I did have visits from Otis, Dr. Jeff, Bill and Mike. In retrospect, I think it was less to see how I was doin' than to get a closer look at the two smokin' Texas blondes on my right. That's okay. No offense taken. The table was cold from the outset and I'd run my $200 into about $40 when I got the dice. I rolled a couple points and a passable amount of numbers to get me back in fighting shape. Then this bookish Asian kid went off on a 30-minute throwing jag that netted me close to a couple hundred. I walked away after that, up $75 after dealer tokes.
I heard the unmistakable rumble of a Pai Gow session and followed the bruhaha to find Otis, CJ, Princess, April, drizz and Gamecock. Otis tried to goad me into playing, but I never win at Pai Gow. But when I took a a $25 prop bet off him (I bet Heather's hand would beat his), I sat down. Least I could do. I dropped a few bets ($50 worth), but had fun anyway, especially seeing the glee in Otis's face when holding a Salty Dog. Alas, it was now past 6 in the ayem, meaning I'd passed the 24-hours without sleep barrier and I trudged off into the night, exhausted and chuckling to myself.
Made a brief stop at the IP where Murderer's Row had comandeered a blackjack table in the Champagne Pit. I never exactly found out what that was supposed to mean, but it's nothing like the Champagne Room, I've been assured. Despite a great desire to pull up a seat, my brain stem was in the process of shutting down, so I was forced to demure.
It was my idea to get a bunch of bloggers to play the noon tourney at the Aladdin on Friday morning. Were this not the case, there is no way I would have left bed to get there in time. When I woke after four hours of sleep (yes, I set my alarm), my head was sheathed in a skull cap of pain. Every square fucking inch throbbed. I fumbled my way into the bathroom in search of water and extra strength Excedrin.
I perked up a bit when I got downstairs because of one of my favorite occurances during these blogger get-togethers: random sightings. I saw Al standing in the taxi line, headed for the O8 tourney at The Orleans. After he'd gone, Iggy, Chilly and StB literally fell out of a cab, finally making it home (at 11:30 a.m.) from the Excalibur. Iggy hung out and smoked with me while I waited in line. I was pleased to get a chance to talk at length with him over the course of the weekend, something I missed out on the first time. He doesn't like to hear it, but I am not lucky enough to experience these weekends if it wasn't for Iggy. And for that, I am eminently and forver grateful.
I hopped in a cab, but it was hijacked by three thugs before we could get moving. Yes, Blood, CJ and The Mark piled in, also headed to the Aladdin for the tourney. Here we go again.
Bloggers (and their brethren) comprised nearly 10% of the field of 93 as us four were joined by Dr. Jeff, Otis, Gamecock, fhwrdh (who brought along his lovely wife facty who was every bit as wonderful as I long suspected), Poker Nerd and Whiskeytown. I played well, finishing 14th. Down to three tables, The Mark and I--the only two bloggerati remaining--were briefly seated together (him on my immediate right, where I like him) and made a last longer bet that never materialized since we were eliminated at roughly the same time on different tables and didn't have accurate chip counts. I finished either 14th or 15th, just off the 9 that got paid and was pretty happy with my performance. Though the guy that busted me (I lost a race) also took out an entire family (Jeff and Otis) on a single hand. A highlight was watching The Mark make a boat and pull some extra chips out of author and WPBT attendee Michael Craig, who nevertheless out-lasted both of us.
While most of the early bust-outs got into a cash game, I again demured. Though my head had stopped being so pissed off at me, I was going on 20 hours without food and the IP called for nap time. I'm glad I listened or I might missed Friday night, which you may or may not have heard about already.
Next: The WPBT...or How F-Train Crushed My Soul AND This Big Blind is Brought to You Courtesy of G-Rob