July 02, 2013

Two Kings Dead in Hit and Run at Aria

Last week, I managed to squeeze some poker into my busy vacation schedule of chaperoning drunks around Vegas. As I was taking advantage of an excellent Bellagio room rate, I wanted to keep my play focused on MGM Megalith rooms, so I strolled over to Aria one morning to check out the action.

With the WSOP in town, Aria's poker room was humming, with maybe ten tables running by 11:00 a.m. and long lists for $1/$3 and $2/$5 NLHE, as well as $1/$3 PLO. Not feeling up for the roller coaster of gamboooling that early in the day, I put my name on both the $1/$3 and $2/$5 NLHE lists, figuring I would play whichever game opened up first.

The floor soon opened a new $2/$5 NLHE table, so I vaulted to the top of that list. Shortly after, I was called for a spot at an established $2/$5 NLHE game. As I approached the table, it was pretty obvious this was a game that had run all night, with several players having wads of $100 bills and stacks of green and black chips in play. A glance around the table confirmed that this was not the game I was looking for; eight players, all in their 20s, all wearing hoodies and sunglasses. Yes, I had stumbled into a nest of WSOP pro-wannabes. So I pulled $400 out of my pocket and nodded when the floor asked me if I wanted to remain on the $1/$3 NLHE list.

Working on the assumption the table would play loose and aggressive, I vowed to play tight for an orbit or two to feel out the exploitable spots. It's good to have plans.

First hand, I was in the big blind. Action folded to hijack who raised to $15. Button thought and smooth called. Small blind called. I looked down to find 9h8h. Well, I would complete the action, and my cards were soooooted, so of course I called.

Flop was JhTh4d. Yahtzee!

I checked, assuming Hijack would c-bet, allowing me to check-raise with my monster draw and take down a nice first pot. Hijack did not disappoint, auto-betting $40. But then Button threw a monkey wrench into my plans, thinking a bit before raising to $110. Small blind insta-folded. Yikes! Here's where not knowing the table really makes poker tough. Was Button a tight player, raising with strong hands like sets, and top two pair? Or was Button betting top or second pair, or maybe a draw of his own, albeit bigger than mine, say the nut heart draw, KQ, or even something like AhQh? Or was Button just aggro-barreling with an underpair or air, leveraging a night of plays and reads of Hijack in an attempt to steal a pot?

After a bit of thought, I decided my draw was too strong to fold against two obviously aggro opponents. I pushed all-in, and was rather indifferent to whether either or both players called. Hijack snap-called, and Button nearly beat him into the pot, going all-in for maybe an additional $30. Hijack auto-called, and we were off to the races.

Just then the floor announced a new $1/$3 NLHE game starting at the table next to our table, and my name was called for the game. I watched as the board ran out. Turn—Qd. Donkey Kong! Well, unless I was up against AhKh ... Just so the board didn't pair, I had a shot. River—Qs. Ruh roh, Rooby!

I had a feeling I was beat somehow, somewhere. Still, I rolled my hand, and channeled my best Santa Claus drawl, announcing, "I have ... straight." My opponents stared at each other, and I started to feel a little better when Hijack asked the dealer, "Is there a side pot?" The dealer confirmed there was a side pot, and Hijack showed pocket Kings. Button looked disgusted, but mucked without showing. I suspect Button had JT for altos dos pairs and was counterfeited by the running Queens.

As the dealer broke down our stacks to figure out how much I had won, I strolled over to the new $1/$3 game and put down my player card to lock up a seat. I grabbed two racks on my way back to the table, just as the dealer was pushing me a ~$1,200 pot. I tossed the dealer three red chips, then racked up the rest of the pot. As the table stared at me, I politely said, "Good playing with you gents, but my game is starting." Then I headed over to my new table where I had a lucrative session before heading back to Bellagio.

And I didn't end up in a hole in the desert. Truly, I run good.


  1. Rob wasn't playing 2/5 that day was he?

  2. Great story. Surprised the K-K hand couldn't find a fold when it got back to him on the flop.

  3. Wasn't me, Neo! But obviously the guy doesn't read my blog or he would have known the dangers of the dreaded pocket kings.

    Great story, Grange. Sorry I missed you this time, you left Vegas just as I was arriving.

    So, did the guys say anything to you for the hit and run? And actually, considering the score you just made with those maniacs, I'm a little surprised you decided to leave then!


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