Sunday, February 5, 2017

Charles Town Side Trek

Several weeks ago I spent the weekend playing poker at Charles Town. I arrived Friday night and got into a game around 9:30.  My first hand dealt was KK.  I went heads up against . . . KK.  And lost to a flush.  The poker did not get much better over the course of the weekend.  But instead of making this blog a collection of bad beat stories, I'm going to focus on my Saturday afternoon trip to Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry is a small town located at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  It begins on the rivers' shores and extends up a steep hill, topped by Harper Cemetery.  Most of you will recall it as the historic locale of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the U.S. military arsenal in the late 1850's.  The small town's history and architecture remain largely preserved.  

After 4 or 5 coffees at the Hampton Inn in Charles Town, I set off to take a tour.  My plan was to park at the visitor's center at Harpers Ferry National Park.  And while there is shuttle service that takes visitors the 1.5 miles to the town center, I decided to hike/run it.

Leaving the visitor's center parking lot, I entered a trail into the woods, which winded downhill for 1/3 of a mile to a trail along side the Shenandoah River.

From there, it was just under a 2-mile run to historic Harpers Ferry

The town was lined with historic shops, houses and restaurants.

A walk up to the top of the town gives way to Harper Cemetery.

The trip back down winds past some ruins and provides some of the best views of the Potomac.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MLK Weekend and The Hotel at MGM National Harbor

MLK Weekend traditionally means one thing.  Well, I guess perhaps it means many things.  On a personal level, it generally means a holiday weekend trip to Vegas.  A time to cash NFL season totals tickets; grab a steak or two; play some poker; and spend too much time in the sports book watching the greatest weekend of the NFL season.  And, this year, I was set to maintain tradition.  I had used points on Southwest for flights and booked a comped Grand Tower Stay Well King at the MGM Grand.  And then, like, Wednesday morning, I got lazy.  While I'm always loathe spending a combed 9.5 hours on a plane for a three-day weekend and arriving back on the east coast at 11:00 pm and wired because of the time change, I generally do it.  Because, like, what's the other choice?  Now, however, there is another choice - MGM National Harbor.  Why fly when I can drive 20 minutes from my office?  So I logged on to my MLIFE Account and saw that room rates were $400 a night.  I thought about booking the nearby Westin.  But, on a lark, I called the MGM NH directly and, to my surprise, was able to get a comped room.  Done.
I checked in to the MGM NH at 4:45 Friday afternoon and was offered complimentary champagne during the process.  I was also upgraded to a "king suite."  It was more like a regular hotel room with a bathroom the size of, like, a regular hotel room.  It was huge. A prime example of unnecessary excess.  Overall, the room was really nice.

By the time I made it down to the casino, the $1/3 NL poker list was just south of 100.  And, since I had yet to eat, I decided against signing up.  Instead, I grabbed a cocktail at the Lobby Bar, which is a surprisingly quiet retreat from the buzz of the casino (relying on a private piano player to set the more relaxed ambiance), and then smashed the 100 Hand VP machine for an hour or so.  Ultimately, I decided to see if I could get in to the bar at Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse for dinner. 
Success.  It took me five trips to MGM NH to finally get in to Voltaggio Bros., but it was worth the wait.

To the surprise of no one, I went with the filet and cabernet . . . and the "Bloomsdale Spinach," which was insanely good. 

Saturday morning (or, perhaps more accurately, Saturday afternoon) I grabbed a seat at the poker table and tried to grind out a few hours.  It was an interesting table.  Two dealers from Maryland Live! and three $2/5 MDL! regs.  While the dealers played lose and reckless (with both eventually busting), the $2/5 players were largely TAG and not too difficult to play against.  I took my biggest hand of the day off one of them:
I'm in middle position (Hijack+1 if that is a thing?).  $2/5 Reg is two seats to my left (on the button, I believe).  After several limpers, Reg raises out of turn to $17.  Reg starts the hand with about $200; I'm sitting $330 or so.  I look down at AA.  First time I've had aces in the last 30 hours.  So, clearly, I'm about to lose my stack.  Just a question of how it all goes down.  I decide to limp the $3, with the intention of raising if there is a caller or two to the villain's raise.  But it limps back around to me to close out the action.  I decide to flat.  I had not three-bet all day, and I figured that that line (limp $3 after the out of turn raise, and then raise) would SCREAM Aces or Kings.  I wanted to keep my range open, particularly against this $2/5 player.
Flop comes out K 6 x.  I check; reg checks back.
Turn is a 6.  I lead for $35, and reg calls.
River is an A.  I bet $50; reg jams; I snap.
Reg tables KK.
Clean living.  I ended the session with a modest $150 win.
At 4:00, I was off to Tap Sports Bar to sweat some NFL bets along with the 43 Fan Duel lineups I had set.  Then, around 6:30, the Poker Meister showed up, and we grabbed a quick dinner at the food court while he waited for his name to come off the list.  More accurately, PM grabbed dinner, while I grabbed a Bud Lite.  You can't maintain the figure of a young Thai boy by eating actual food . . .
Sunday I again awoke around noon, with intentions of playing poker until the 4:45 NFL game.  I began the day by sneaking into the poker room to help myself to the free coffee set up (pro tip . . .), and then decided to smash some slots.  And this happened:

Flush with cash, I scrapped the idea of playing poker and spent the rest of the afternoon mashing buttons and accruing tier credits, with the hope of keeping the comped rooms coming . . .

 Before I knew it, it was 1:30 am, and I had sat through two full NFL games and consumed enough booze to kill a small Thai boy.  Yet, I was still standing. And then I made the last of a series of bad decisions.  Walking by the poker room, I noticed there was open seating for the $1/3 game.  Poker?  At nearly 2:00 am?  Why, sure.
I bought in for my standard $300 (even though the max is $500).  After folding a few hands, I looked down at AJ off and decide to raise to $17.  Two callers.  Flop J88.  I bet $30 (or so . . . candidly, given the circumstances, my recollection of these hands may be something short of "precise" . . .).  One call.  Turn is an A.  Nice.  I bet some amount of chips, and villain, who's short-stacked, shoves.  I snap and he tables 88 for quads.  Ugh.
No more than 5 hands (but no less than 2 hands) later, I again look down at AJ and again open to $17.  One call.  Flop is ATx . . . I bet, and get called.  Turn is a J.  I bet, get raised, and somehow, all my chips are in the middle when villain flips over TT.  That's right.  AJ top two versus quads and a set.  All within my first 5 minutes at the table.  Even given my intoxicated state, I'm able to appreciate the fact that, perhaps, just perhaps, sitting down to play was a poor idea.... Nevertheless, I rebuy for $200 and soldier on....

 . . . Often times, when I'm at the table and involved in a hand, with nothing, I'll think about taking a line that seems good in theory; but I'll lack the guts to implement the move.  Not so Saturday night.  After my rebuy, I got involved in another hand with the villain from the set of tens.  He has a big stack (including a couple hundred of my chips).  I find K(s) Q(s) and open to $17 after villain's limp.  He calls and we see a J-high rainbow flop.  I bet $25 or so and he calls.  Turn blanks.  I check.  Villian bets $40 or so. I raise to $165 (or thereabout).  I think my line makes sense for a hand like JJ-AA.  He tanks, and eventually folds top pair.  He asks to see my hand.  I oblige.  Credit to Miller Lite . . .  

Shortly thereafter, I think I was able to capitalize on the bluff.  I limp in to a pot with A(d) 8(d).  Flop is x(d) x(d) x.  It checks to me and I bet $15.  Villain calls.  x(d).  I bet $30.  Villain calls.  River is a non-diamond Broadway card  which puts three-to-a-straight on the board.  I bet $100-- about pot size.  Villain tanks and pays me off.

Fortunately, there was no more drama, and I was actually able to win back all but $130 of my losses before the table broke at 5:00 am and I decided to get a few hours sleep before checking out of the hotel and calling an end to the weekend. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Measuring the Past Eight Years

So  . . .  Sentiment on social media seems to be that our country is far worse off now than it was eight years ago when President Obama took office.  Of course, it's likely impossible to accurately measure the status of our nation.  What's the metric?  What factors would one consider?  Isn't the issue dependent on one's unique perspective and values?  I don't expect anyone to be able to provide an "answer" to this issue . . .
As you all likely know, I've been told I live in a liberal bubble (and am otherwise, based on prior comments, apparently an asshole, a hypocrite, an idiot, and a poor poker player).  Admittedly, I don't see what many other people see when it comes to our country.  But I want to understand.  Or at least try to understand . . . 
Accordingly, I'm asking you to provide some insight.  Feel free to post in the comments how or why the country is worse off now than it was eight years ago.  What are the issues?  Where have we fallen off?  What's important to you and where have we gone wrong with respect to your priorities.  And, if you want to delve further in your response, how was President Obama a factor in what is, or has gone, wrong?  
Please know that I am not trolling.  If there is one thing I've learned for sure over the past year or so it's that I (and many others like me) truly don't understand the sentiment in this country.  This, in turn, is a sincere attempt to try and shed some light on the disconnect.  I simply want to understand the issues that are important to people.  [I know before I even write this that I'm likely asking FAR too much, but . . .] . . . Please keep this civil; please avoid personal attacks; keep the comments a judgment-free zone . . .  Simply put -- what are your issues with this country?  Where have things gone wrong?
 . . . . And GO:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Results

2016 is a wrap.  It turns out, I spent less time in casinos last year than usual.   This was due largely to moving and also to having a pain-in-the-ass client for much of the year that prevented me from getting away many weekends.  It follows that I played less poker than in a typical year too.  Less than 150 hours, in fact.  My results for the small sample were quite marginal.  A $900 down-swing when the MGM National Harbor opened in December did not help.  

Next weekend I'll start grinding 2017.  My goal is modest: to get back above 200 hours . . .


Thursday, January 5, 2017

No; It's Not the Same

Anyone who has read recent blog posts, follows me on Twitter, or has my trust and knows my actual identify on Facebook (shockingly, my parents did not name me Pete Peter Peters) is familiar with my feelings towards the president elect.  I'm critical . . . to say the least.  I find offense by many of Trump's words.  Not personally; and not in the statements he makes; but by the fact that his conduct is, apparently, deemed acceptable to many. 
In response to my criticism, people frequently contend that this is simply the other side of the Obama coin.  In other words, Republicans have complained about Obama for years; and, now, Democrats are lashing out over Trump.  "It's the same thing."  I disagree.
I've yet to take issue with any of the new administration's proposed policies (to the extent anyone really knows what they are at this point).  True enough, I'm sure I'll have disagreements; but this is not about that.   When it comes to policy, I have my beliefs; but I'm not conceited enough to believe I'm always (or, even often) right.  More importantly, I understand that people come from different backgrounds, live in different situations, and certainly don't view issues the same way I do.  Circumstances color perspective on many things.  I enjoy my "liberal bubble;"  I tend to think most things are right inside of it; and I have little desire to live beyond its borders.  But I'm cognizant that others are not in my situation and live, perhaps, drastically different lifestyles with different priorities and different perspectives on what our society should be and look like.  I, for instance, disagree with Trump that The Affordable Care Act must be dismantled.  Do I think there are problems with "Obama Care?"  Sure.  Do I think changes should be made to the program?  Perhaps.  Am I willing to pay high[er] premiums so that others can have health care coverage? Yes.  But I recognize that others are situated differently, and I understand that others believe differently.  And I respect peoples' differing opinions on this and other matters.      
My criticism of Trump is not that.  It's simply about decency.  It's about setting an example.  It's about leading in a manner that we -- all of us -- can be proud of. 
To slightly digress . . . the legal profession is generally a miserable thing.  It's often, by nature, an adversarial setting.  Perhaps largely as a result, lawyers often behave atrociously to one another.  Conduct that would be deemed unacceptable in many settings often seems encouraged in the law.  It's gotten to the point that many jurisdictions require lawyers to take a course on professional civility as a requirement of joining the bar.  Think about that.  Grown adults are forced to endure lecture on how to treat other adults.  The lesson of these courses is that you can be an effective advocate while still treating opposing counsel and clients with respect and civility.  In short, you don't need to be a dick . . .
This is the lesson that Donald Trump seems to have missed.  It's as if Trump looks for opportunities to demean; to offend; to personally attack; to trigger conflict.  Trump talks about bringing people together; yet his words are designed to divide.  

Today was just the latest example:
Then, several minutes later:

Does this seem like a guy who is trying to foster a collaborative environment between the White House and Congress?  Does name calling foster the type of environment that brings opposing sides together?  I'd assume that the vast majority of people reading this would not treat another person in this manner, let alone a colleague.  This behavior is reminiscent of a grade-schooler hurling insults at a classmate.  If a lawyer walked in to court and referred to the opposing party as "Crooked [xxxx]" . . . or to opposing counsel as "head clown," there would be immediate consequences.  For obvious reason.  That's simply not appropriate behavior; and it's not the way professionals are expected to treat each other. 
So, why is it OK for Trump to engage in this type of conduct on a near-daily basis?  If anything, shouldn't our President be held to an even higher standard of decorum than the average person (or dime-a-dozen lawyers)?
And, as for Trump's supporters . . . You may be dissatisfied with the past 8 years; you may believe Obama was the worst president ever; you may believe that Trump's policies will Make America Great Again.  That's fine; and I can respect that.  But, don't we all deserve more?  Don't we deserve a president who both has ideas and will represent us graciously and in a manner that we can all be proud of?    People may believe Obama was a terrible president.  I'm not here to debate that belief.  But I would, however, submit that President Obama was, and is, a charismatic leader who governed with respect and dignity.  And that is the difference.   

Monday, December 19, 2016

Who Am I? And How Did I Get Here?

I second straight weekend of poker at MGM National Harbor is in the books.  Although I won a few hands this time around, the results were just as bad as last weekend.   In total, I've played 15 hours of $1/3, and am down just shy of $900.  My confidence is pretty much shot at the moment.  By the end of my Saturday session, for the first time during this stretch, I actually felt like I was playing bad poker.  I'll get to that in a moment . . . but first . . .
This weekend, I decided to stay at the Westin National Harbor.  It was actually my first time ever visiting National Harbor.  The area is currently about a five-by-five square block "entertainment" district, right on the Potomac River, in an area called Oxon Hill, Maryland.   Oxon Hill is a historically depressed area of Prince George's County, just over the D.C. border.  National Harbor began some years ago with the opening of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.  Shops, restaurants, additional hotels, and condos followed.  Then came new row homes at the back-end of the neighborhood . . . a Tanger Outlet Center and, of course, MGM Casino.  While the development is still relatively small, it's certainly a fun place to spend a weekend.  There are plenty of dining and bar options.  Friday night, I found an Oyster House, and had beers and fresh oysters.  Saturday night, I actually left the MGM to come back to National Harbor for a steak at a joint called Bond 45, and then found cheap beer two blocks away to watch Saturday Night Football on a big screen.  The National Harbor Circulator is a shuttle bus, run by Reston Limo's, which operates between 11:00 am and 4:00 am, making several stops in National Harbor, the Outlets and the MGM.  It's $5 for an all-day pass, and makes it easy and convenient to spend the weekend at one of the numerous NH hotels, with access to both the casino and the numerous entertainment and dining options in the neighborhood.  The entire area feels very connected, making it, perhaps, a more fun option for a gambling weekend than Atlantic City.

As for the poker . . . well, my run-bad continued Friday night.  It was an action table, with one loose cannon who managed to turn a $300 rebuy into a $3,000 stack.  This kid sat down initially in the 8 seat, bought in for $300, and dumped his stack on the first hand played when he hit a pair of 9's on a 68952 board.  He bet flop, got re-raised on the turn, and re-raised all in on the river against an older gentlemen who, SHOCKINGLY, had a 7 in his hand.  The kid took a seat change to the 1 seat, directly to my right, and rebought.  From then on, he could not miss a hand over the course of the next 3 or 4 hours...
As for P3 . . . he won zero hands the first three hours, before scoring some chips off a triple-barrel bluff.  It was my second triple-barrel of the night.  The first was on my first hand played, when I raised 9 T spades to 15, caught nothing on a 7 high flop, and bet three streets, only to be chased down by a guy hold a small ace when an ace hit the river...
Over the course of the session, I was dealt AQ five times, and caught neither an ace nor a queen on any of the occasions.  I had no premium pocket pairs.  I lost AJ to A5 on an A59 flop.  Still, four hours in, I was only down about $200.  Yet, I had that feeling of dread; like, that when I finally got dealt a hand, it would end up crushing me.  And, sure enough, premonition came to life on the final hand of the night...
After two limps, maniac luck box raises to $17 from the button.  He's sitting on ... well . . . he has me covered (prolly $2,800 or so).  I look down at JJ in the small blind.  I debate raising.  But, perhaps given the way I'd been running, I opt to just call.  We go three to the flop.  All undercards - 9 high (9 5 2, I believe).  Maniac leads for like $35.  I flat, figuring I can just let him hand himself.  Turn is a 6. I check, and he checks back.  River is an 8, making the board. 9 5 2 6 8.  I check again, and villain over bets $150.  The kid has made several bluffs like this before.  I snap call.  he tables  7 2 off, and, just like that, I'm down $400+ for the session.  It's past 1:00 am.  I'm done.  I wish everyone good luck and head back to the hotel . . .
I got an early afternoon start on Saturday, taking a $1/3 seat after a short twenty-minute wait.  I actually manage to win a few hands, and am up just under $100 two hours or so in to my session.  Then, this hand happens:
I call $3 with 77 in late position, and we go 4 to the flop:  5 Q 8.  Middle position bets $10, gets a call from seat ten, an older gentlemen who has barely played a hand in 3 hours.  Marginal spot, but I decide to call and see a turn.  Turn is a beautiful 7.  Middle position bets $20, old buy calls, and I raise to $65.  Old guy calls.  River is a 6, making the final board 5 Q 8 7 6.  This time, old guy leads out for $45.  Any 4 . . . any 9 has me beat.  Pre flop, he checked is option, so harder to put him on any sort of range.  It's only $45 . . . but, still.  This is an older, VERY tight player, who called my raise on the turn, and then lead with a "valuey"-type bet on the river.  He's got to be expecting a call from me, right?  Why am I ever raising the turn and folding to a $45 river bet?  Well, I'm convinced this guy hit the straight.  And, rather than waste $45 to see the flip side of his hole cards, I fold . . .  And, when he mucks, I'm pretty sure I see a Queen.  This puts me on insta-tilt.   Did he take that line with top pair?  Did he have Queens-up?  Or did he have Q 9 or Q4?   In the moment, I'm convinced I made an awful fold for $45....
A few hands later, I look down at 99 and open the action to $17.  I get one call -- from the maniac on my left.  This guy is a dream player.  He plays almost every hand, has dumped at least $800 the past two hours, and keeps telling the table he has another $1,500 in his pocket and is not going anywhere until he "gets his money back."  He starts the hand with slightly under $200.  We go heads up to a Queen-high flop.  I lead out for $35.  And, lag-tard jams $150+ on top.  Are you kidding me?!?!  I tank.  I'm tempted to make the call.  This guy has simply spilled money to the entire table the past few hours (of course, I was like the only guy at the table who did NOT "owe" him money).  It's hard to put this particular player on a queen.  And I've seen him stack off several times prior with medium pocket pairs.... There is a good chance my 99 is good.  Yet, for some reason - shattered confidence, perhaps --  I make a fold.  ATM shows a Queen... It's only 6:00 pm.  But I recognize I'm far removed from my A game (which, in reality, may be like a B or C game to begin with . . .).  I call it a night, down a mere $60... Best session yet at MGM.
In sum, it's been a fairly brutal 15 hours of poker the past two weeks.  I've definitely been running bad.  But I'm not sure if poor play is compounding the results.  But, shooters keep on shooting, right?  I'll be up in Atlantic City at the Borgata for four days after Christmas; and then heading back to MGM for NYE weekend.  I feel like I need to reset my game.  Tighten up a bit; get on some sort of a run.  Things can only get better, right?                      

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Tale of Woe

I played a 6 hour session at MGM NH Saturday night.  It did not go well.  If you follow me on Twitter at @PetePPeters, you likely know this from my post-session Twitter-Tilt-Barrage.  I bought in for a total of $700, and cashed out $272.  I was rivered repeatedly; showed down second best multiple times; missed every draw I chased; "hit" the draws I folded; called with the worst; and folded the best.  Without further ado, and more for my venting benefit than your entertainment, I provide the highlights.
  • Open AK to $15 and get 2 calls.   Flop is 5 A Q.  I bet, get one call.  Turn blanks.  I bet, he calls.  River is a 6.  I bet, he calls.  I show TPTK.  He stares at the board for a solid 5 seconds or so before slow rolling Q6 off-suit.  Off to a flying start.  Immediately add on for $200 (in for $500).
  • Flop top pair and a gut shot. I bet flop and turn before rivering the straight.  Villain leads, I raise, he calls.  We chop.  Top pair would have been good. 
  • Call raise in position with Q 9 spades.  Flop top pair on a Q J 2 board.  Check call flop bet.  Turn is a 9.  Check call.  River blanks.  Check call.  My two-pair loses to QJ.
  • Call a small raise 5 ways with A(d) 4(d).  Flop 3(d) (6)(d) (5)(h).  Open-ended straight draw, A-high flush draw, back door straight flush draw.  Not bad.  I call a flop bet.  Turn blanks.  I check-raise.  He calls.  I miss the river.  He checks, I fire.  He calls with 5 6 off. 
At this point, I'm becoming frustrated; but still having fun.  Beer is helping my disposition.
  • I raise AQ to $17.  5 callers (why not . . .).   Flop is 4 Q T.  I lead for $50.  And get two calls.  I check the turn.  Guy bets in the range of $100 and gets a call.  I fold.  Winner tables 44.  Ok. Pretty standard.  But . . .
  • Very next hand I call a raise with 9 T in position, and flop an up-and-down straight draw multi-way.  A smallish flop bet prices me in and I make the call.  Turn misses.  I'm again priced in by some joker and call.  River blanks.
Add on another $200.  In for $700.
  • Shortly thereafter, I raise KK.  Flop is Q 6 2.  I bet and get action.  Turn x.  I bet and get called.  River is a Q.  Villain leads big.  I fold.  Pretty certain I got chased down with a Q.
  • Open with Q T clubs.  I once again flop an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw.  I bet $25, its raised to $65, and then re-raised to $225.  FML.  I fold my HUGE draw.  I mean, I have not hit one yet, am already down $400, and would have to commit my remaining $300 on this hand.  Other guy calls . . . turn blanks . . . club on the river.  A flopped set beats two pair and my winning flush is in the muck.
  • Play KJ and lose to K9 on a K9x flop.
At this point, I'm properly titled.  Beer has turned from friend of my emotional state to arch enemy.  I send the following text to Lightning and Rob:
Lightning, being the good friend he is, provides his usual excellent advice.  I play on . . .
After a few additional minor losing hands, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back: 
  • I open AA to $17 from early position and get two calls.  Flop is Q(c) 8(x) 9(c).  I bet $35.  Both players call, of course.  Turn is a 7.  I check (pot control and shitty board).  Villain 1, a typical Crasian-Asian, bets $100.  I'm prepared to call this bet given his table image.  But, then, old guy next to me -- solid player -- CALLS the $100.  I feel like I'm nearly always beat.  I recall the AQ hand above which played out similarly, and where my top pair was crushed by a set of 4's.  Thusly, I fold.  These two fine gentlemen decide to check down the blank on the river.  Crasian tables Q J and old man mutter an "I missed."   
At this point, I grab my remaining $200+ and, for the first time in years, abruptly mutter something about performing a sex act on the game of poker, and storm off from the table. 
Later that night, while enjoying a beer at Tap Sports Bar, I felt sort of bad about my reaction.  I should have handled it better.  This is, after all, my new local poker room.  Reputation is important.  I should have casually gotten up, offered the table a "Nice playing with you all . . ." and wished everyone good luck -- my standard departure routine. But 6 hours of getting kicked in the nuts got the better of me.  I vowed to do better next time the poker gods decide to take a steaming one on my head.