Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back to the Grind

Friday evening, just minutes after filing my brief, I hit the road for the Horseshoe in Baltimore.  After checking in to the Hilton next to Camden Yards, I cabbed over to the Casino and grabbed a few Miller Lites whilst monkey mashing some sweet, sweep VP.   I was surprised to see several familiar faces working the VP bar -- several former bartenders from the Showboat.   After 20 minutes or so of button pushing, I was dealt a 4 4 2 4 . . .  James,  a former bartender from Spirit Bar at the Boat, was chatting with me and watching me play.  I promised him $30 if I hit the quad 4's with the kicker for $200.  Sure enough, I redrew to a 3 4 for the win.  

From there, I switched to some 10-handed play and was promptly dealt quad 7's . . .  up $350 on the evening, and time for dinner at Binions.  The usual - filet (medium rare), spinach and Jordon Cabernet.  

After dinner, around 10:30, it was time for some cards.  I was hoping to rebound from my last sessions two weeks ago, where I lost $400 with QQ as an overpair on Friday, and followed up with  3.5 hours of play Saturday and zero hands won . . . This session was the polar opposite of the last.  The table was passive and willing to donate.  I quickly built a stack:

Ultimately, I played until 4:30 am and cashed out $600 profit, before cabbing back to the hotel for  few hours sleep.

Five hours later, my phone rang.  My old law school roommate, "Gamblor," was in Maryland for the Jewish holidays and wanted to spend the afternoon grinding blackjack.  It was 10:00 am, and Gamblor was already at the table.  I quickly showered and drove over, and joined him at an empty $15 table.  Over the course of two hours, I added $200 to my weekend winnings.  Gamblor, for his part, and true to his nickname, pushed his stack, playing $100 hands, and turned $250 into $1,300.  I find I lack the stomach to push my bets that much . . . But the style works for him...

After lunch and a few drinks at the Diamond Lounge, we went back to the tables for another 2 hours.  I played $25 to $40 a hand and came away even.  Gamblor continued to play $50 to $100 a hand and lost all his winnings . . .  Black Jack is a game of runs . . . Seems to me you have to lock up your profits when you can . . . My style precludes me from ever winning big; but I often walk away with a few hundred in profit, which works for me . . .

At 5:00, Gamblor and I parted ways, and I hit the road for New Jersey.  I arrived at the Renaissance Newark Airport around 9:00, and crashed immediately, skipping dinner for some much needed rest.

Sunday, 8:30, the alarm went off.  Time for some J-E-T-S JETS, JETS, JETS football . . . I quickly packed and went out to the car.  It was then I realized I had a trunk full of warm beer.   And Jimmy, who was bringing the ice to the tailgate, has a history of showing up late.  Time to get creative.  I went back up to the room, found the plastic laundry bag in the closet and hit up the ice machine.  The only problem - the bag had several holes along the bottom (likely designed for ventilation) and the ice came out slushy.  I looked ridiculous holding a leaking laundry bag.  When I got off the elevator on ground floor, I couldn't decide whether to act casual or make a break for it.  I decided to play it cool.  So, like an idiot, there I am walking through the lobby of a reputable hotel with a plastic bag slung over my shoulder, water pouring out at an alarming pace.  A fine start to a Sunday morning . . .   

As for the game . . . well, it went about as well as expected.  At least the weather was nice . . .

The bright spot of losing is that we skip the post game victory steaks in the parking lot.  As a result, I was back home in D.C. by 8:30 . . . Another solid weekend in the books.

And now, back to the grind . . .  Monday and Tuesday have been 13 hour work days.  And the second half of the week looks no better.  I suspect I'll have to work this weekend as well.  But, being busy is good when you bill hourly . . .  Hopefully, I'll at least get an evening to hit the Shoe for a steak and some poker . . .

Monday, September 22, 2014

Patroling the Landscape

It's Monday.  I had kind of a rough weekend.  So, no better way to start the work-week than a 5:00 am alarm and an early trip to the office.  For lunch, I had a spinach salad with balsamic dressing.  Then, keeping the good times rolling, I went for an early afternoon appointment with the dermatologist for a yearly "mole patrol."  As part of the fun, the doc inspected my balls for moles while a hot assistant watched and took notes.  Not humiliating in the least. 

So, how's your day going? 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reality Behind the Perception

It's 1:30 pm Thursday afternoon.  Since Monday, I've been getting in to the office at 6:30am and leaving around 7:30pm. 

Tomorrow night, I have a friend coming in to town from Boston for the Red Sox series at The Yard.  Staying with me, which implicates certain hosting/entertainment obligations.  According to rumor and texts, he took off this morning for a leisurely, two-day, drive South, scheduled arrival tomorrow afternoon.  For my part, tomorrow morning I'll be getting up at 4:00 am to catch an early train to New York City for a 10:00 am meeting with a private equity client.  Then heading back to D.C. mid-afternoon.  I'm sure I'll be ready for an evening of debauchery when I get back home sometime late evening [this is sarcasm].  

And, to top it off, we had a pre-mediation call with a mediator this morning, who requested the parties up the previously agreed upon briefing schedule, due to some sort of approaching Jewish holiday.  As a result, I now find myself with a deadline of next Friday for a brief I have yet to begin, a draft of which will be due to the client by Wednesday.  When this brief will get drafted is, at the moment, a mystery. 

I'd love nothing more than to spend this weekend working.  Seriously . . . .  However, this looks to be an impossibility at the moment.  Unless I just decide to be a really, really (like, really) bad host.  In the words of Lightning, "FML" . . .

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hostility in Mississippi

Last night, the $1/3 with Mississippi Straddle was a whole different world.  The game was crazier than the old Charles Town at its finest.  By the time I got seated at around 10:00 pm, many at the table had already built huge stacks. And, possibly as a result, $15 straddles were common.  No.  Strike that.  They were nearly mandatory.  And, when a hand went unstraddled, there was a $15 to $18 opening raise.  And there were callers.  Lots.  Like 4 to 5 every hand. $200-plus pre flop pots half the orbit.  Frankly, I was lost.

I tightened up my range, looking for a spot to exploit.  It never came.  I had crap all night.  I played 3 hours, and won zero hands.

Early on, I had AQ in early position and opened to $15.  I got 5 callers.  The flop was 7 J T.  I needed a K.  I chose not to continue given my position in the hand and my perception of the field.  Of course, someone wasted no time in betting out $50 or so and got two calls.  I was done.

Two hours in, I got on a run of A-rag.  Seven hands in a row. Seriously.  Seven in a row.  I played none of them.  It seemed to me to be bad poker to get involved in a hand for the going rate with A-rag. Of course, in hindsight,  I would have won a few of those hands.  Big pots, where people bet into A-high boards with hands like 99 . . . or flopped middle pair.  The most painful - I folded A4 diamonds in early position, and saw the third diamond hit the turn.  Some kid ultimately dragged a $200-plus pot with K 2 diamonds.  Pretty painful to watch.  But, of course, for me to have gotten to the turn, I would have had to play for $23 pre flop, and then called $70 or so on the flop with my draw.

After several hours of folding hands and watching in horror as people won monster pots with often-times mediocre holdings, I looked down at TT . . . in the big blind.  Of course.    4 people limp for $3 and the small blind (a fairly tight player) raises to $12.  I three-bet to $35.  Small blind calls.  Flop is A Q 4.  Perfect.  He shoves his last $125 or so.  Another $35 in the hole.

A little while later, I look down at 44 in position.   After a $17 raise and 5 callers, I join the party.   Of course, no 4 on the flop.  Instead, the guy next to me wins $300 or so with . . . . his set of 3's.  FML.  

At that point, I was done.  I was down $95, and I could feel myself about to start pushing things.  I didn't want to leave busto. So I walked.

I'm not sure I'm ready to handle this type of game.  What's the strategy?  Was I playing the table correctly?  Did I just have a bad run of cards?  The guy next to me hit 3 or 4 sets while I sat there, and built his $300 to $1,100 or so.  Old guy on the other side of me built a $1,500 stack.   I won no hands.  Frustrating weekend of poker.

Aside:  Earlier in the day, I was enjoying a frosty beer and mashing a Sex in the City Machine (SHUT UP!!!!).   Some dude in a suit walks up behind me and I hear:  "Mr. Peters?"  Um.  Crap. What the hell did I do?  Turns out, he introduces himself as Richard, a VIP host, and he wants to know if I need anything.  Nice.  But also a little freaky.  Goes to show you that Big Brother (ehhm . . . Gary Loveman) is always watching you in his casino.  This host obviously found me based on my players card being active in the machine.   While it's nice to now have a host, I hate knowing my play is always being so closely followed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where's The Exit?

Friday night at The Shoe proved painful.   I played a 4 hour session that, ultimately, put a nice dent in my sweet, sweet roll.  

It was an action table from the get-go.  The $1/3 plays bigger than $1/2 to begin with.  And, with the option of the Mississippi Straddle -- 2x to 5x the big blind from any position at the table (other than the blinds), the game gets lively.  Last night, a $6 straddle seemed almost mandatory.   

I had very few hands big hands; and when I got a rare monster, it bit me.  An hour or so in, I spiked a set of Kings on the flop, and got rivered by broadway.  Good times.  I got QQ, three bet, got called in three spots, and had to lay down the hand after a 4 K A flop.  I added another $100 to my sweet, sweet stack, and immediately looked down at AK.  After a $6 bet, I three-bet to $18 and get called by the table boss and the original raiser.  The flop is 644.  Mr. 6 checks to me, and I bet $35.  Boss raises to $90 . . . and Mr. 6 check-raises to $150 or so.  Um.  Ok.  I fold and the boss jams . . . just crazy.

So, 4 hours in, I found myself sitting on $240 or so, when I look down at QQ again.   I open to $13 from the cutoff.  Young kid (sitting on $300+) calls from the button, and Jonah Hill (don't think it was real him), who has about $200, calls from the big blind.   

Flop [pot: $40]  J 2 2 (rainbow) 

Jonah leads out for $20.  I re-raise to $60.  Kid calls.  Jonah calls.  Um.  Shit.

Heading to the turn, Hero has $165; Hill has about $120; Kid covers

Turn [pot: $220]  7

Jonah leads again for $40.  I tank.  I want to believe I'm up against AJ.  And, maybe if heads up, that might be realistic. But, doesn't somebody have a bigger overpair here?   But, if KK or AA, why no re-raise pre flop?  Jonah strikes me as a bad player.  And his bet sizing here isn't changing my mind.  And, I have no real read on the kid.  I want to shove; but I can't.  Probably because I know, deep in my head, that my QQ is no good.  So after tanking, I call the $40 . . . hoping that if I am beat, maybe I'll save at least a few chips.  Kid just calls too.  Really weird hand.  

River [Pot: $340]  2

Board Reads J 2 2 7 2

Jonah again leads for $40, leaving him like $40 behind.  So. F*cken.  Weird.

Now, I'm not folding to a $40 bet into a $380 pot.  And, yet, I can't find the trigger to jam. 

I call.

Kid jams.  Jonah stuffs his final $40 in the middle.  My remaining $85 follows.

Jonah:  KK
Kid: JJ

And, for the second time in a month, QQ, as an overpair to the board, costs me my stack.

So, where was my exit on this hand?  Is it an easy fold to Hill's $40 turn bet?  What am I beating at that point?  Am I ever against AJ and AK here?  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Horseshoe

Friday night, I made my first trip to the Horseshoe Baltimore.   In a word - Awesome.  Some great bars and restaurants.   Plenty of places to watch games.  Nice size.  And fantastic poker room.  Nice lightning and tables and plenty of space.  And, best of all, very little wait.

I arrived around 7:00 and took a lap before finding a spot in front of a bar top VP machine.   I slipped in a crisp hundred and dwindled down to $40 before hitting quads three times, including quad aces.  My heater continues.  I cashed out $350 and went exploring.  

I rode the escalator up to the second floor and found the Diamond lounge, poker room and several more restaurants.   After a quick Miler Lite in the lounge, I went back downstairs and had dinner at Binions.  Cabernet, crab cake and a filet:

The food was fantastic.

And after dinner, it was time to hit up the poker room.  It was 9:30.  On a Friday. Typical wait list at Maryland Live! at that hour - 2 hours, standard.  At the Shoe?  I waited 3 minutes before getting seated.  And the room looked great:

I played a 3.5 hour session and made $406.   I played only a handful of hands, but they were all big hands.  I think I only showed down once the whole night.

 A great evening.  Excited to have such a fantastic casino so close to home.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vegas - Post Mortem

Sitting at McCarran awaiting the flight back east.  Feeling banged up; but should survive.   It was a fun eight days (... for the most part).   Endured a couple of work-related aggravations, including yesterday, when I spent a good part of my last evening in Vegas in my room working.  Coach and I were actually hanging out at the sports book at the Quad when an email came in, to the effect of: "this cannot wait until Tuesday . . ."  Fun times.  And I'll be billing hours on the flight this afternoon.  I guess that's what you get when you take a week off to gambol.    

Anyway, the four days at Bally's was not quite as profitable as the stay at MGM.  However, with some decent poker sessions and some winning sports bets, I managed to rack up 3,000 tier points and maintain the $800 profit I left the south end of the strip with.  The sweet, sweet VP was not quite as sweet at the Caesars shops.  But I did have a couple of prime hands:

And built a few notable stacks off my $200 buy-ins:

And had some great meals, including Craftsteak, Ruths' Chris, Nobu and BLT Steak:

But most of all, this trip was about the people.  Frankly, I generally enjoy Vegas alone.  P3 can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.  And, this trip did have a lot of that.  But, this week, I also spent time with my fellow bloggers and readers.  It was great to meet Alysia at the MGM  . . . and Dave and "stalker" Eric at Venetian.  And it was nice to see Tony Bigcharles as well.  I wish Tony the best, but I'm less than confident that he will ultimately overcome the various issues that perpetually impede his success.  Tony, please believe that there is no magical gambling utopia where a man can consistently sit at a machine and grind profit.  And, if such place did exist, it would not for long. This is the reality.  You have had great success playing poker in Reno.  You should return.  Accept that it is work, and keep up the grind.  And remember - you will never be liked by everybody.  Accept this and ignore the haters.  In other words, don't feed the trolls!     

And finally, special thanks to both Rob and Coach for making this week special.  Rob, keep doing what you do.  I think I speak for many when I say I enjoy the frequent blog posts, the hand histories and the stories.  I'm jealous of the time you are able to spend out here in Paradise.  And Coach, best of luck with the poker and the plays.  I'll be looking forward to following your adventure in the desert.  Rest up - NFL is less than a week away!

As for P3 . . . you can expect much more poker content from him in the upcoming months.  I can hardly wait to start grinding hours at the Horseshoe.  I'm hoping to check it out this weekend for the first time.

And now, zoom . . . back to reality.