Showing posts with label Jugweed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jugweed. Show all posts

Kansas City Harrah's Here I Come!

January 25, 2011

Well I might take a train,
I might take a plane, but if I have to walk
I'm gonna get there just the same.
I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.
They got a crazy way of loving there
And I'm gonna get me some.

—"Kansas City" by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller

This past weekend, buddy Jugweed and I journeyed into the wilds of Missouri to play some poker in Kansas City. Although KC is basically Jugweed's second home (as Kansas native and KU grad), let's just say that a Husker fan and a Jayhawk fan driving a car with Iowa plates through Missouri is generally a poor idea. Nonetheless, despite some sketchy weather, we arrived at Harrah's—North Kansas City in just over two and a half hours. Check-in was friendly, with the front desk clerk looking over my Total Rewards history and giving me a 50% discount on the room rate I had booked on the Total Rewards website. I'm fairly sure that the comp was in part because this was my first trip to that particular casino, yet it was certainly unexpected and greatly appreciated.

The hotel is very nice, with a sweet-looking conference area where I wouldn't mind spending some time for a CLE seminar or corporate retreat. The rooms were rather small, but were good quality, on a par with Holiday Inn Express, and perfect for a couple of guys who were just crashing for a few hours after a marathon poker binge (we stayed in a basic "deluxe" room, but I presume the "premium" rooms and suites are a little swankier).

We took a spin around the casino, which was clean, classy, and nicely decked out, but nothing spectacular—it would fit right in on the Vegas Strip as another Monte Carlo-esque mid-tier property. We then headed to restaurant row by the casino entrance for dinner, selecting Mike & Charlie's Italian Restaurant. We both had chicken spiedini for dinner—Garozzo sauce for Jugweed, Gabriella sauce for me—and cinnamon banana bread pudding for dessert. Tasty meal at a decent price.

Starvation averted, we headed to the poker room. The poker room has 14 tables, and all were full by 8:00 p.m. Friday night. There were several big games running—50/100, 10/20, and 5/10 NLHE, and 20/40 LHE—along with several tables each of 1/2 and 2/5 NLHE and 3/6 LHE. Intriguingly, a sign on the wall indicated that the room has discontinued all Omaha games "for lack of interest", allowing the room to roll the Omaha bad beat funds into the Hold 'Em bad beat jackpot. The room is off the second floor of the casino, but plenty of slot sounds and some tobacco smoke drifts into the room. Floors were good at starting games and seating players. Altogether a nice poker room.

Jugweed and I were seated at the same 1/2 NLHE table with almost no wait. One downside to the room is that the 1/2 NL buy-in is $60-$200, so the money in play is generally less than usual for 1/2 NL, and the effective stacks are likewise smaller. Still, the action turned out to be pretty good, with plenty of fishy play on display. During the first 10-15 hands at the table, one guy who I dubbed the "expert" tried to run over the table with big bets. On four or five occasions, the expert made a river bet, was called, and immediately said, "You're good" and mucked after being shown top or second pair.

I immediately targeted the expert, and tried to get into pots where he seemed to be raising light. I didn't win any monster pots, but the expert gave me at least $400 with bad bluffs and worse hero calls of my value bets. Gawd bless! In a bit of irony, the expert started button-straddling, and woke up with Aces twice in an hour. I joked with him that I needed to button straddle so I could get Aces. Instead, twice on the button I found Kings, and both times they held up for decent pots (including a payoff by the expert with top pair no kicker). I also managed to stack Jugweed once, when I made a rather sketchy turn call with a flush draw that hit, then pushed the river where Jugweed made a rough crying call with top pair. Altogether, I managed to turn a profit of ~$650 in about eight hours of play. Not too shabby for my first session in this room!

One interesting thing I noticed about the room was the use of these devices:

Basically, these are plastic chip stackers, used by the dealers to collect $1 tips. When $10 is reached (or $5 at the end of their down), the dealer will convert the $1 chips into $5 chips and put those into their personal toke box. I like this arrangement, as it noticeably extends the time between bank fills by keeping more $1 chips in play. An identical chip rack on the opposite side of the dealer is used to collect and color up $1 jackpot drop chips (or so it appeared).  Just an interesting innovation I had never previously observed.

As 3:00 a.m. approached, tables started breaking and the action tightened up significantly. Jugweed and I stayed until our table went to five-handed, then we took off, allowing the other three players to fill open seats at other tables. Channeling our inner Cloutier / Ivey, Jugweed and I headed downstairs to cash out our poker chips and check out the craps tables. Several games were in action, so we wandered up to a table with room for us both at my favorite spot, the corner by the dealer. I had two hot rolls, a lady had two good rolls, and Jugweed contributed a solid roll as well, letting me walk away with an extra $1,200 profit, and leaving behind some very happy dealers who I put on the hardways and the line (with shoes) during my rolls. As I've always said, the three best words in the English language are "off and on".*

One interesting item of note is that the craps tables in use had the traditional yo (11) and craps (2, 3, 12) numbers on the layout along with the traditional "point" numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10). Under this version of the game, a yo on the come out roll is no longer an automatic winner, and the craps numbers are no longer automatic losers. This was a first for me, and it took a few rolls to adjust to the odds offered by the new bets offered on this game layout. Based on a little research, it appears this version of craps is referred to as "crapless craps", since the craps rolls are no longer automatic losing numbers, and there is no "don't pass" line. Although avoiding three automatic losing rolls while giving up only one automatic winning roll seems superficially advantageous, the ever-helpful Wizard of Odds demonstrates that the crapless version of the game has a significantly higher house edge than does the regular game of craps. In fact, the crapless version of the game offers essentially the same house odds as double-zero roulette—poor. But, with a few hot rolls and a focus on the better odds bets, the game is still a fun diversion.

After a good night's sleep, Jugweed and I drove downtown for lunch at Bo Lings, a Chinese restaurant located near the Plaza by the KC Board of Trade. Saturday lunch is a dim sum affair, and we had a dozen or so amazing dishes. As an aside, Jugweed's wife is of Chinese ancestry, with parents who actually grew up in Taiwan. Jugweed's wife and mother-in-law cook awesome Chinese food, and they wholeheartedly endorse the food at Bo Lings. I can certainly understand why, as I enjoyed all the food. Favorites included the chive balls, "shark fins" (dumplings with shrimp and pork filling), and shrimp claws. Stop by if you get a chance!

Roughly one-third of our lunch at Bo Lings.

After lunch, Jugweed and I stopped by the Ameristar casino to check out the poker action. This casino is incredibly elegant and classy, with decor befitting it's Mississippi riverboat heritage—think dark wood, colored skylights, and chandeliers, along with a replica train in the front restaurant area. The poker room is upstairs, and has at least 20 tables. There were four tables of players in a noon tournament, and three 1/2 NLHE cash games underway. I went to a table where I was seated next to Oscar the Grouch. Jugweed was sent to another table, where he was seated next to Danny Tims, a Bellator MMA fighter. Yup, that's how I run in player selection.

When life gives you lemons, make vodka lemonade. Oscar the Grouch was an old fella, who whined non-stop about how the dealers gave him bad cards, or dealt bad flops, or let opponents hit draws. If someone raised his blinds, or raised after he limped, he'd muck and mutter rather loudly, "F*ck off!" The Grouch cost me $75 late in the session, when he called a $95 all-in on a board of Q-8-5 rainbow with ... KJ offsuit. The Grouch's call gave me odds to call with my 76 for the open-ended straight draw, and we both blanked out to let the original bettor win with Q9 offsuit. Oh yeah, the table was that soft! The good thing was that the Grouch was out of cash and tilted off into that good night ... errr, afternoon.

So, did I mention the table was soft? Once again, players overplayed top pair like it was the immortal nuts, made bad bluffs, and called down light. I won $610 in roughly two hours of play. In one big pot, I doubled up for over $250 when I played Jc8c on the button, flopped top two pair, and got called on all three streets by Q5 sooooted who caught a Queen on the turn. How kind. I then parlayed that stack into a bust of the table bully for just over $400, when I played KhQd on the button for a raise. We went to the flop heads up, which was all low cards with three hearts. He checked, I c-bet, he raised, and I called. The turn brought the Jack of hearts, giving me the second nut flush. Bully led out, and I called, confident he would bet the river. The river brought a second trey, pairing the board. Bully checked, and I value bet $75. Bully pushed over the top for about $130 more. I snap-called, reading him for a bully move with a smaller flush. Bully proudly declared "Queen high!" and rolled the Queen of hearts. I rolled my hand and scooped a monsterpotten. Thank you, come again! Bully stomped off to rebuy chips while the rest of the table debated how they thought I misplayed the hand. The free poker lessons were greatly appreciated, gents!

Altogether it was a fun and profitable trip. I can't wait for my next trip to Kansas City. Kansas City poker rooms, here I come!

* "Off and on" is the dealer call for when you are playing—and winning—a continuous come bet after the pass line point is set. For example, the point is 8. You place a come bet, and a 6 is hit. You keep playing the come bet, and if a 6 is hit, the dealer will say "off and on" to indicate that your established come bet is being paid (coming off) and your new come bet is being placed on the same number (coming on); instead of actually taking the bet down and putting the identical bet up, the dealer merely leaves both bets in place and pays you your winnings. When you have the table set (all point numbers covered by come bets—and odds, natch—on the board), any number rolled other than a 7 or craps pays you handsomely (or any number other than a 7 in the crapless version of the game). So, a continuous string of dealer "off and on" calls is a wonderful thing.

Take the red pill! ... There's more to see ...

How Phil Galfond Got His Nickname
—A Poker "Just So Story"

October 03, 2010

Last night, the sig other (the infamous "Jack") and I enjoyed a fun evening with our good friends, Mr. & Mrs. Jugweed.  A combination of delicious brisket chili, a few Dark 'N Stormys, a little prosecco, and a Hawkeye victory over Joe PA St. made for a perfect start to the October portion of the college football season.  At one point in the evening, Jugweed and I started talking about the recent WSOP Main Event coverage on ESPN.  As the talk turned to the significant coverage of online poker wunderkind Phil Galfond, Jugweed pointed out, "You know, Jack gave Phil Galfond his nickname."

Now, for those readers who have never met Jack, let's just say he enjoys the party side of the Vegas experience.  Gambling doesn't much interest him, other than running an occasional $20 through a Wheel of Fortune slot while enjoying a smoke and a free drink.  No, Jack is one of those tourists who bought into the whole "What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas" marketing campaign—hanging at the pool during the day, wandering from bar to bar on the Strip at night, generally having a fun, booze-fueled vacation getaway.

On one of our early couples' trips to Vegas, Jack and the Jugweeds had spent the day sunning and boozing at the TI pool.  So after a late dinner (with drinks), and the Harrah's piano bar (with more drinks), I managed to pour Jack into bed shortly after midnight, then headed down to the TI poker room for a lucrative late night poker session.  Around 5:00 am, I called it a night and headed up to the room where I discovered ... no Jack.  This was vaguely alarming, in a "Is my poker bankroll big enough for bail?" sort of way.  After calling his cell phone several times, he finally answered:

Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  I woke up and wanted to have a drink.
Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  I don't know.
Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  In a bar.
Me:  Where?
Jack:  On the Strip.

With that helpful information established, I finally had Jack pass the phone to someone sober who told me he was at Bill's Gamblin' Hall O' Apostrophes'.  I walked up the Strip to retrieve Jack.  As we walked—or in Jack's case, stumbled—back to TI, a limousine pulls up along side us in front of the Venetian, leading Jack to declare:

"I want a limo!  I'm too pretty to walk!"

Now, Jack has a long-running obsession with limos in Vegas.  Perhaps his favorite Vegas drunken game—other than pinching strangers and security guards who don't wear green on St. Paddy's Day—is to run up to tourists outside Strip casinos, point to a random person getting out of a limo, and scream in his best celebrity stalker voice:

"Oh my god!  It's Beyoncé!"
"Oh my god!  It's Mariah Carey!"
"Oh my god!  It's Britney Spears!"

There have been dozens of these faux-celeb sightings in Vegas, which never cease to amuse Jack, annoy me, and alarm the poor tourists sucked into the hilarity.  In any event, this brings us full circle to the "Just So Story" of "How Phil Galfond Got His Nickname".

Once upon a time, back in the good ol' days when online poker was a veritable Garden of Eden filled with juicy games, easy deposits, and great rakeback deals, a scruffy kid was playing in a WPT event at the Bellagio.  The Kid happened to wind up at the featured table with poker legends Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon, and Phil Hellmuth.  After winning a couple of pots each off Ivey, Gordon, and Hellmuth, the Kid started talking some smack:

The Kid:  "Looks like I'm the best Phil when it comes to tournament poker."
Ivey:  "Care to make it interesting?"
The Kid:  "Sure.  What you got in mind?"
Ivey:  "If any of you Phils bust me, I pay you a million dollars.  If I bust any of you, I get to pick the online poker nickname that you have to use for the rest of your life."
Hellmuth:  "I'm out.  Nobody would insure that bet."
Gordon:  "Why can't I get a table with a bunch of celebrity players?"
The Kid:  "You got a bet!"

Later that same orbit, the Kid raises in early position, and Ivey calls on the button.  The flop comes down Ad-4d-5d.  The Kid bets.  Ivey raises.  The Kid chatters a bit, does a little Hollywooding, then pushes all-in.  Ivey turns around to pay his massage girl for another hour, then calls. 

The Kid proudly rolls over AcAs for top set.

Ivey quietly tables 6d-3d for the rather unsuspected flush.

The Kid stands up and screams, "One time!"

Phil Gordon looks puzzled:  "What the hell does that mean?"

Phil Hellmuth mutters, "He means it's the one time he's had a real hand all day.  Idiot."

The dealer peels off the turn card:  the case Ace, giving the Kid quads.

The Kid starts whooping it up, running around the rail, giving high fives to his friends.  "One meeellion dollars!  It's bottle service tonight, boys!" 

Gordon breathlessly murmurs, "Wow! Wow!  Wow!  The Kid was only 32% to win on the flop.  Very unlucky card for Ivey."

Hellmuth lectures the table, "That's why you don't play 6-3.  Only donkeys play 6-3.  I bet Phil there can't even spell 'donkey'."

The dealer puts out the river:  the deuce of diamonds.  A straight flush for Ivey!

The crowd erupts!  The Kid sinks to his knees, head in hands.  Suddenly, a tourist stumbling down the hall, wearing an Iowa t-shirt, and sipping an oversized Fat Tuesday Hurricane slushie points at the Kid and blurts out, "Oh my god!  It's Clay Aiken!  It's Clay Aiken!"

Ivey smirks.

And that, dear children, is how Phil Galfond got his nickname.

Phil Galfond with his 2008 WSOP bracelet for $5K PLO.
(image via Wikipedia).

Galfond's celebrity twin, Clay Aiken.
(image via Wikipedia).

Take the red pill! ... There's more to see ...

Donkey Hunting with Jugweed

January 24, 2010

Good bud Jugweed (@Jugweed on Twitter) got a spouse pass for poker, so after he watched the Kansas Jayfaux beat the ISU CyClowns, we rolled over to the Meadows ATM for a long session. I got right into a 1/2 NLHE game filled with several regular nits. Eh. Anyway, I posted in, there was a small raise, couple of callers, and I look down to find a Diamond Grump. I know, I know, sometimes I just run-good; it’s a blessing and a curse. Anyway, I flop a deuce, turn a four, and scoop a $115 pot from some d-bag who overplayed his AK after flopping TPTK. Hilarity ensued. “To do list … #3. Establish tight image.” Check.

I get myself a crAAKKer moment when I snap KK with a junky little unsuited AA. But then I gave back some chips after getting run over by two boats. In the first tragic encounter, I turn the nut flush when the 7h hits the board, but it also paired the board. I smelled a rat and checked the turn and called a value bet on the river, finding out that the turn, indeed, had filled up a regular playing the Hammer. A little later Jugweed had moved to my table, and I turn trip 5s with my 65s, but discover Jugweed had turned Tens full of 5s. Sneaky little bastard. I do get a measure of revenge when I play AcQc for a raise, and get several callers, including Jugweed. Flop is AJT with one club. Jugweed bets out $30 from the BB, folds to me, and I raise to $130, threatening Jugweed’s stack. He thinks a long time, but finally open-mucks JT! I assure him it was a solid fold, and from my perspective, it was a great laydown.

My inner SVB finally kicked in when I raise OTB with As8s. Five of us see a flop of Ad7s6h. Checks to me, I bet, get two callers. Turn is a beautiful 5s. There is a lead out bet and a raise, so I push and get two callers. River is Ks, and I take down a monsterpotten, causing a gal with fake red hair to start whining about how I sucked out on her. Apparently, she had aces up. Hmmm, ever consider betting your hand?

Red-hair gal rebuys, and an hour or so later, we get involved in another big hand. I was in the CO with 7s5s, and called red-hair gal’s raise, along with half the table. I flopped a flush draw on a Q-high board, and three of us see the turn where I pair my 5. It seems pretty clear red-hair gal has paired the Q, but she checks it to the third player who goes all-in short. I call, and red-hair gal calls, with ~$100 still behind. River is a Js, giving me my flush. I think a moment, and figure red-hair gal might fold if I bet, but she may bet it herself if I let her. So I check, she moves in, and I call. Red-hair gal rolls over QJ, and erupts when she sees my flush. Hilarity ensued as red-hair gal whined about how I called her raise with “just” 75s, and how I was so lucky to always hit my draws. Hmmm, still not into betting your own hand?

Jugweed and I decide to hit up AJ’s Steakhouse to enjoy some of the donkey money. As I was racking up, I took a last hand, and cracked a guy’s Yaks with AQo. I cashed out for a nice palindromic profit of $797. After demolishing a couple of monster ribeyes, we returned to action. Jugweed took the only open 1/2 NLHE seat, and I took a seat at the 2/5 NLHE game. The 2/5 game had a lot of the usual degenerate suspects, but the game was playing rather passively as the big maniacs were absent. I took a decent pot down when I found AQs in MP, raise to $25, and get the usual four callers. An EP limper with a short stack pushed all-in for $125 total. I made the call, getting decent odds, and figuring his range was pretty wide as he had been on monkey tilt after losing a huge hand in the past orbit. Flop is AAQ. Donkey Kong! I say, “I’ll end the drama, that kind of hit me,” and roll my hand. Guy blurts out a couple of curse words, rolls his AK, and tilts off into the night.

Regrettably, my run-good didn’t last long. I lost a little when I had to abandon my AK after flopping TPTK. Then, I had 3s4s in the big blind, and call an extra $20 along with four other players. Flop is Ks5c2s for the monster draw. Guy leads out for $80, I make it $220, original raiser pushes for $1500, folds back to me, and I call my last $240. I go whiff-whiff and lose to a set of Ks. Eh.

The 2/5 game starts to play uber-nitty, so I moved over to Jugweed’s table. No big hands of note, but I did manage to pick up another $150 to partially offset my 2/5 loss. A little after midnight, Jugweed and I roll out, with a nice profit of ~$450 (post steak dinner) still in my pocket. Not a bad withdrawal from the Meadows ATM.

Take the red pill! ... There's more to see ...

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