Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Royal Weekend

Perhaps I should stop playing poker on MLK Weekend.  For the second year in a row, things went bad.  

My weekend got off to a rocky start.  My plan was to head up to AC Friday night, and catch two of the three Rob Thomas shows at Music Box at Borgata.  However, Gary Loveman wanted to charge me $400+ to stay at Harrah's; and the Sheraton by the convention center was sold out Friday and Saturday.  So, ultimately, I played Saturday night at the Shoe.  The session went well.  First hand played I called $15 with 66 and went 6 to the flop, which produced a delightful 6 . . .  I raked a decent pot.  Second hand played, I raise 77 on the button, and get two callers.  Flop is QQ4.  It checks to me and I continue for $24, and get two callers.  Turn is a 7 . . .  It again checks to me, and I choose to bet it.  Hell, it seems like every time I double barrel with Ace-High, I get called down.  Why play the boat differently here.  Sadly, no caller.  Perhaps I should have checked to induce a river bluff?  Anyway  . . .  I also played AA twice.  The first time, they held.  The second time, I raised and got a call from the Asian on the big blind.  Flop was 35T . . .  Asian leads and I just call.  Turn blanks.  Asian checks, I bet, he calls.  River is a 6.  Asian leads for $75.  I fold.  He claims he was open ended on the flop (implying he rivered a straight).   The Grump?    Anyhow, I ultimately cashed out $280 profit after 2.5 hours.

The next morning, I took off early for AC.  A treacherous trip.   It was raining, and roads were icy.  I saw at least 10 bad wrecks. At one point, I-95 was totally shut down by a crash and I had to detour 30 miles on a smaller side road.  All went well, however, and I reached AC by 11:30.  Originally, I was going to grind 1000 tier points at Harrah's to take advantage of CET's bonus tier point promotion.  But, then I decided, "fuck Gary Loveman."  I went straight to Borgata instead.   I began the day playing 10-handed VP.  Break even after 2 hours.   Then, I went to a single-hand double double bonus machine, looking to crush some quad aces for $500.  It never happened.  However, this did:

My first Royal in about 8 years.  I hit one once before, at Charles Town back in the day; but it only paid $350.  This was my first full-pay Royal.  Delightful.

Around 6:00, I went to Bobby Flay for an early dinner - Filet and Cabernet.  Bobby made me realize how crappy the filets are at Binions at the Horseshoe.   From there, it was off to the Music Box for the Rob Thomas show.  He was excellent, as always, u see.  Before the show started, I texted TBC to see where he would be playing poker later that evening.  My phone was about to die and, unfortunately, it in fact shut down before I heard back from Tony.  

I should have called it a night after the show.  But I didn't.  Instead, I found a $1/2 seat at Borgata and bought in for $300.  I played decent TAG for 2 hours or so.  At one point, I was up $80 or so.  But I went on a cold streak and was back down to around $330 when disaster struck.  KK in position.  Tight asian, who is sitting on about $500, raises to $15.  I re-raise to 45.  He flats.  Flop JQ3.  He leads $50.  I raise without hesitation to $125.  He shoves.  Perhaps I should have slowed down.  But, candidly, I was somewhat under the influence of some Patron and Clubs from the show.  I didn't even go through the mental exercise of trying to put him on a range.  I Still had $160 behind. Yet, I spazz and insta-call.   He flips QJ.  Yuck.  

Tilting, I rebuy for another $300.  First hand with my fresh stack, I look down at JT.  Guy limps, I raise to $10, he calls.  Flop is something like 367.  He bets, and I float.  Turn is a delightful Jack.  He checks, I bet, he calls.  River blanks, I bet, and he check-raises big.  Fuck.  I fold, and he claims he "flopped it."  Down another $70.  And, now I'm REALLY steaming.  Time to walk.  Down $400 for the session.  13 hours played in 2015; down $600.

I woke up early this morning checked my sock.  Up $700 or so on the weekend.  But I was still fuming at the poker loss.  Need to regroup and turn it around.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Year's First Session -- Brought My Shovel Out Quickly

I spent Friday and Saturday playing poker, watching football, and drinking good wine, at the Horseshoe.  

Friday afternoon, while sitting in the office, I decided to book a room at the Westin near the casino, and spend two days grinding poker.  Later that night, I saw on twitter that Vook was going to be at the Shoe, with a few of his "Wizards," Friday/Saturday.  As I've never actually met Vook in person, I was looking forward to the weekend.

I checked into the hotel around 7:30, and made the 10 minute drive to downtown Baltimore.  I ran my free play through the sweet, sweet VP machine, grabbed the seared ahi and a few glasses of cabernet at Binions Steakhouse, and then met Vook and one of the Wizards in the poker room.  Vook's table was full when I checked in, so I took a seat at another table and put in a table change.  My original table was soft and passive; but I had zero playable hands and was not able to take advantage.  After thirty minutes or so, I got a table change.

The new table was, perhaps, the toughest $1/3 table I've played at. I was clearly the lone soft spot. Not a good feeling.  I got a seat next to Vook.  First things first -- Vook turned out to be a great guy and an even greater poker player.  He is the real deal.  I mean, if you follow his blog, you already know this.  I got to spend 5 hours or so sitting next to him and talking strategy.  If I had this opportunity regularly, I suspect I would not suck at the game as much as I do.  [As an aside, my apologies to Vook.  This weekend was P3-Lite.  Vegas kicked my ass last week, and, even before I knew he was going to be in town, I had vowed to take it easy all weekend.  Thusly, aside from a few glasses of wine and two miller lites, I abstained from debauchery, including the Patron shots that were flowing among the wizards all night.  After some of the stories on this blog, I'm pretty sure Vook was anticipating more.  What can I say?  I brought the weak sauce].

As for the poker . . . well, it sort of sucked.  The entire weekend really made me re-focus on the idea of position.  I found myself in a bunch of tough spots (tough for me, at least), and most were due largely to playing hands out of position.  I lost $165 Friday night, and $182 Saturday.  The losses were due, largely, to a few hands.

The first hand went down Friday night.  The player to my right had built up a decent stack.  I was sitting on about $230 or so, and had been playing tight, given how outclassed I knew I was.  Vook was too my left.  Player to my right announces, "this is my last hand," and proceeds to straddle to $12 or so (might have been the max $15).  I look down at JJ and raise to $35.  One caller along with Villain.  Flop comes out A 6 x and I'm first to act.  I check, and it checks around.  The turn blanks, and I lead for $45 or so.  Player in middle position drops out, by Villain calls.  River blanks.  Now, I  feel like I am beat.  But Not certain enough to just give up on the hand with JJ against a straddler, who gave the "last hand" speech.  But, what the hell do I do here?  Obviously, two options - lead or check-call.  My thinking was this -- if I check, my line looks super fishy -- raise, check, bet, check?  I assume if I check, Villain is betting anything, including air.  I only have about $150 left, and would not be surprised to see him shove.  I'll have no clue where I stand on the hand.  I decide to bet out and put some pressure on him and bet $85.  He instantly attempts to put out a min-raise.  Unfortunately, for him, he is $5 short, and his play is deemed a call.  We flip and he shows the ace-6 for two pair.

Saturday, the following day, I ran into more trouble out of position.  On one hand, I called an $8 straddle with AQ.  Guy on my left (an old regular) flats.  Flop is A T x.  I lead for $20; he calls.  Turn blanks.  I check, and he bets $40.  I call.  River blanks and I lead for $65.  He calls . . . with AK.  Ouch.  Afterwards, he says, "I was trying to take it easy on you."  Um.  You BET the turn after my check!  He says, "yes, but I was going to check the river."  Um.  Thanks for telling me!!! Speak up next time, sir!

Later, I call a small raise with KQ and end up three ways to the flop against a solid, middle aged, regular.  I'm out of position relative to regular.  Raiser checks to me on a K52 flop.  I lead, and reg calls.  Turn is a 5.  I lead . . . reg calls.  River blanks.  There are no draws on the board.  If there were, this would be a spot I'd often check-call, hoping to pick off a bluff, or a person trying to value bet a worse hand, or someone thinking perhaps I was drawing.  I also hate betting my one pair, here.  I opt to check, and solid reg makes a 3/4 size bet.  Fuck.  What hand would he take this line with?  I had been playing tight.  He has to give me a King, right?  I fold; he mucks and scoops.

30 minutes later, I get involved in another hand with the regular.  This time I have position on him  I also have . . . KQ again.  Once again, we both call a small raise, and go three handed to a K x 7 flop.  Once again, original raiser checks.  This time, Reg leads for $20.  I just call.  Raiser calls too.  Once again, the turn pairs the board with another 7.  It checks around to me, and I check back.  River blanks.  It again checks to me, and I bet $65.  Raiser folds.  Regular thinks, and min-raises me.  Really? After folding my King to him last time, I cut out $65 and call.  He flips A7 for trips and a pretty well-played hand.   [After some small talk, he claims he had me beat both hands.... who knows].

I later had JJ once and KK twice.  I raised all three, and couldn't get a single caller.  Some days . . .

Around 8:30, I was tilting pretty bad, and decided to just call it quits.

Not the start I was hoping for for 2015 . . .

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 - Moving Forward

Time for a little (like, just a touch) of reflection on the year that ended.

2014 was, like this blog in many ways, simply . . . "meh" . . . 

Work was . . . uninspiring.  Oddly, 2014 was the worst billable-hour year of my career; and, yet, the best year compensation-wise I've ever had, due largely to a strong start to 2014, and also, settling a large contingency case.  But, to say the past few months have been slow would be an understatement.    Moreover, as you already know if you read this blog, intellectually . . . (and, perhaps, "spiritually"), I've had my issues with the work.  People always say that if you do something you love, it doesn't even feel like work.  Well, that works fine, I'm sure, for ballers and rock stars . . .  But what about the rest of us?  Sure, I'm well aware there are MANY people that have normal jobs and love their work.  But, I suspect there is, generally speaking, an inverse relationship between (a) love of job and (b) the Benjamin's.  I'm not sure I'm ready yet to work a job I love 50 hours a week, only to find myself washing down the Cajun Steak N' Shrimp with a glass of house wine at Appleby's on a Friday night.    We all make life choices and, for the moment at least, I've made mine.  But, frankly, I'm not sure what 2015 will hold.  I would not be surprised if I'm blogging from another office (or, perhaps no office) next year this time.

2014 was a year I was sort of pre-occupied with Health.  Mine was, well, status quo, I guess, which is a good thing.  But both my parents struggled a bit. My mom had a couple of mini-strokes; and my dad suffered from a "lung infection" that caused severe weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, et cetera, and took nearly a year, including 2 weeks seeing specialists at a hospital in Denver, to diagnose.  Neither is very old -- mid 60's.  I'm thankful they are both alive.  Many people lack such luxury.  Nevertheless, it's tough seeing them grow older and to face the fact that they won't be around for ever.

It has also made me focus more on my own situation.  P3's diabetes is still well controlled.  It's been 2.5 years since I've eaten sugar.  And, for the most part, I'm still very good about avoiding starchy/grainy carbs.   Really, the only time I fall off the wagon is with the occasional late-night burger . . . or sushi (rice is evil) . . . or the even less frequent times I'll forgo a vegetable and choose some sort of potato option at a steak house.    That said, the past two weeks have been rough.  I had sushi twice at Borgata (I mean, how can you NOT eat at Izakaya if you are in Atlantic City), risotto at Craftsteak, and the potato au gratin at Stripsteak (along with some of Michael Mina's complimentary fries).  Perhaps the worst I've eaten in any two week period since August 2012.  So, for 2015, I find myself with renewed vigor to keep my diet even cleaner.

And, in a related note, I've been happy with my Workouts in 2014.  I ran a total of 587 miles and, in October, joined a new gym.  For 2015, I'd like to hit 600 miles on the trails, and drastically increase my lifting.  

As for the Women in P3's life . . . well, at the moment, there still are none.  I started out 2014 in, what I guess I'd call, a "relationship."  She was a cool chick.  Liked sports . . . like to drink (I mean, the giant clit / micro penis thing threw me at first, but I eventually got use to it . . . just kidding . . . or, am I?).  Nevertheless, after a relatively short time, I got tired of making weekend plans with her, and started missing the freedom to do whatever the f*ck I wanted at the drop of a hat.  I started resenting the fact that I had to spend Friday evening at some shitty happy hour with her, when I could be down at Harrah's feeding my sweet, sweet video poker addiction.  And so, it came to an end.  And there's really been nothing since.

And, frankly, I don't mind not being in a relationship.  I can't say I'm looking for one in 2015.  Of course, the thought of growing old and dying alone is somewhat sobering.  And the prospect of getting pity invites to holidays from friends sort of sucks . . . . as does being known as the "creepy old uncle" to my nieces . . . Well, actually I'm OK with that last one . . .  But, what is the alternative?  Spending 30 years in an agonizing relationship so I have someone there in the end to sign off on the doctors pulling the plug?  Well, in any event, perhaps I'll make some progress on figuring out this semi-philosophical dilemma in 2015. 

Travel was ho-hum.  I took no real great trips.  Both my week long vacations revolved around Vegas.  My annual Mets trip with my NY crew was to Philly.  Yuck.  And, I only made it up to 3 Jets games, in part because, well, they sucked.  But also because Atlantic City has simply become unaffordable (even for a diamond player, known to donk off a grand or so on a video poker machine over the course of a Friday night/Saturday).  The bright spot was the many weekend trips I took down to South Florida.  I believe I spent no less than 6 weekends at the Diplomat, and at least two at the Westin in Fort Lauderdale.  Right now, it's 24 degrees in D.C., and I wish I were back down at the beach today! 

Also, my Labor Day weekend Vegas trip was one of the best ever.  I split my time between Signature and Bally's . . . spent a ton of time at the pools . . . and even came home up a ton.  But, most of all, it was fun hanging out and playing poker with folks like Rob, Coach, Alysa Chang and, yes, even Tony. 

As for 2015, I have high hopes.  The Mets trip looks to be a good one -- 3 days in Denver for the Rockies series . . . then a drive north-east to South Dakota to hike the Badlands . . . a day at Mt. Rushmore . . . and 4 days hiking Yellowstone.  I've been wanting to hike Yellowstone for years, and the time has come.  I'm also in the process of planning another 9 day stretch at Signature, hopefully some time during the WSOP . . .

And, finally, my Poker game was . . . underwhelming.  I can't even recall playing very many tournaments.  And, as for my cash game, all told I played 103 hours of $1/2 & $1/3, and finished a mere $78 in the black.  This was due largely to my drunken (but fun) MLK weekend trip to the MGM, during which I got crushed to the tune of -$935 over the course of three days.  It took some time to recover from that.  Plus, I guess I'm still not a very strong player.  This year, however, it is my goal to book the most cash hours I've ever played.  Having the Horseshoe so close by will help in this regard.  Really, it's just a matter of me motivating to play.

Anyhow . . . I hope all your years were fantastic.  Thanks for making this blog a very minor part of your 2014.  And now . . . onward and upward!


Monday, January 5, 2015

"Some People Just Can't Handle Vegas"

Vegas is all about pacing.  And moderation.  I practiced neither over the past 4 days.  As a result, it was a rough trip.  Sometimes I can handle Vegas.  Other times, Vegas handles me.  So now, I sit in my office, just trying to regain the will to live.  Next time, I'll do things differently.  I swear.

I left work around 2:00 Wednesday (New Years Eve) and drove out to Dulles in time for pre-flight libations before my 6:00 flight to Paradise.  The flight was rowdier than usual, and I was fairly well greased by the time we landed.  I made it to Signature by a little past 9:00; but, when I went to check in, the only room available was a handicap.  I hate handicap rooms.  Bad karma and all.  But, nothing could be done.  So I dropped my bags off and headed over to MGM to gambool.

The casino was utter madness.  People all over the place.  You could hardly navigate the floor.  And people were just hanging out near the machines, using them as drink-holders.  I couldn't even get on a video poker machine.  It was also nearly impossible to get a drink.  In short, Vegas on NYE just isn't my thing. 

I made my way over to the poker room, and found the King (Vegas Rob) holding court, as usual.  We chatted briefly, and I got to see Rob take down a small hand with a flopped pair of Jacks.  But I wasn't feeling poker.  In fact, I didn't play a single hand all trip.  So, it was off to monkey mash some 100 hand VP.  And have some cocktails.  By 2:00 am, I was fairly out of my mind.  And it was then that I realized I hadn't eaten since 1:00 east coast time.  So it was off to Nathan's before calling it a night.

The next morning, I was up early.  Like 6:30 am early.  Like 4 hours of restless sleep, early.  I can never sleep the first night or two in Vegas.  So, I went down to the lobby and put in a request for a room change.   Then I hopped a cab to the Westgate to cash my 2014 MLB Totals, and on to Bellagio to collect NFL futures.  In the end, I had so many hundreds, I could not close my wallet.  I scurried off down the strip towards the MGM, hoping not to get hit over the head . . . 

The problem with my overflowing wallet was short lived.  Around 10:00 am, I got my monkey mash on.  First, the 100 hand machine.  Torched a few bills.  Then, single hand double, double bonus.  Lit up a few more.  It was clearly time for a break.  Fortunately, the New Years Bowl Games started early, giving me another outlet to lose money.  I started with a bet on Baylor -3, which worked out brilliantly, until the Bears decided to blow a 20 point 4th quarter lead by, among other things, missing a field goal, getting a field goal blocked, and taking an offensive face mask personal foul penalty on a play that would have sealed the game.  

The Baylor debacle lead me to start drinking early. Yes, I'm blaming Art Briles.  Then, early afternoon (at least I think it was), I met up with Mr. Ben, who turned out to be a hell of a good guy.  We talked a bit before grabbing a few adult beverages at Tap.  Around 3 or 4, Ben took off to get ready for a concert at the Garden Arena.  I won't say who he went to see, but, it sounds like Rustin Cinderbrake . . . He blamed it on his wife; but I'm pretty sure it was all his idea.  In fact, I suspect the show was his primary purpose on making this particular trip to the States.  The "Suit n Tie" tattoo on his forearm was a dead giveaway.

So, now its early evening.  And, once again, I realize that I haven't eaten yet.  I decide to hold out a few more hours and then hit up Craftsteak for an early filet.  Prolly a mistake.  Because, by the time I hit dinner around half time of the Ohio State game, I am out of my mind.  This tweet, from about 2:00 PM, summed it up:

tonight has the makings of a day that spins out of control... I predict black jack at the ex cal at 4:00 am

The filet and two glasses of Cabernet at Craftsteak do not help.   And, afterwards, I followed through on my prediction of black jack at the Excalibur.  I bought in for $400, and, after playing for several hours, cashed out even.  3:30 am.  Down a solid $700.  Time to call it a night.

Next day.  Friday morning.  This tweet summed up my feelings:

          The Poker Barrister@PetePPeters Jan 2
If someone says "there's no such thing as too much fun," they are lying... Ugh

It was a painful start to Friday.  I bet two more bowl games, which, for the second straight day, I split.  I spent most of the day playing video poker.  The game was not kind.  I couldn't count the number of times I was dealt 3 of a Kind, only to whiff on the quads.  I was down a quick $800 when I decided to walk over to Mandalay Bay to watch the Oklahoma State game.  Fortunately, while there, I hit quad aces with a kicker for $500, and made back a bit of my losses. 

After a quick dinner at Public House at Luxor, and a few Guinness at Nine Fine Irishmen, I headed back over to the Excalibur to try and get lucky at the black jack pit.  I bought in for $400 and lost it all in 20 minutes.  Back in the hole for the day.  Down about $1,400 for the trip.  Solid.

Saturday was NFL Wildcard day.  The night before, I got a text from my buddy Zeen.  He wanted to me place a couple of bets for him - Arizona +5.5 and Pitt -3.  I told him I would oblige, but that I liked the opposite sides on both games.  So, Saturday morning, what do I do?  I play the UNDER 38 in the Carolina game, and follow it up with $250 on Pitt -3.  Sometimes, I just cant get out of my own way.  Oh; and I also lost another $600 or so on VP.

This tweet from early Saturday evening summed up my feelings:

The Poker Barrister@PetePPeters Jan 3
Fuck this town. I'm done. Time for a bottle of Cab and a filet at Michael Mina Strip Steak

So, I shut down the gambooling for the night; grabbed a steak and some wine, and ended up catching an Irish duo called the Black Donnelly's over at RiRa before calling it a night.

I awoke Sunday morning down about $2,400 . . . not counting the room, which was not comped (and, not cheap on NYE), or the several dinners at Craftsteak and Strip Steak, and the numerous glasses of Cabernet.  I briefly considered this:

The Poker Barrister@PetePPeters Jan 4
Time running out. Almost time for a $900 hand of Dealer's Angel

But, ultimately, I decided that would be dumb as fuck . . .

My flight was not until 4:30, which gave me some additional time to mash.  Fortunately, I ended up running a bit better (does Vegas purposely loosen up the machines on Sunday so that all the people about to flee town leave feeling better about themselves?), and made back $250 or so.  Ultimately, it was a rather non-descript trip.  No great stories . . . no great wins . . . too much booze . . . too much time spent hung over.  I finished a little over $2,000 in the hole.  But, on the positive side, I ended up with 78,000 MLIFE points.  And, I mean, isn't that what it's all about?