Friday, December 14, 2007

Two of Many

"That's the beauty of a 10:30 arrival," Otis said as we walked through a nearly vacant cab line outside McCarran. I was expecting a long line wrapped through the roped off area outside baggage claim, but nobody was there. "And, not checking our bags," he continued. I was foolish to expect anything different from a man who has spent over six weeks in this city. He knows his shit.

"Where to?" asked the cabbie.

Neither of us were enthusiastic about the answer, but to be honest, free hotel rooms in Vegas are still free no matter their reputation. And while our response certainly didn't harbor any subtle hints of luxury, it more than made up for it in nostalgia. Almost exactly three years prior, we broke our blogger gathering cherry together in one of the most memorable trips I'd ever taken. Was it foolish to try to recapture old glory? Maybe. But without at least a try, there would only be failure.

"Excalibur." This was Otis' FARCE (Free Ass Room Courtesy Excalibur), and I was certainly excited to be a part of it. Three straight trips to Vegas, three straight free hotel rooms. I think this time, I'd even get to sleep in a bed.


Dr. Jeff's arrival preceded us by a day, so there was no need to even check in. We convened at our room and relaxed for a few minutes while Otis took care of some work-related, semi tilt-inducing odds 'n ends. Once complete, our plan was hatched. Lunch at Planet Hollywood's PF Chang's and then off to Caesar's Palace for some cash games until the 3pm tourney.

The weather was crisp, but December in Vegas is deceptive. The sun can shine brightly enough during the day to make it seem like a welcoming warmth was graced upon your body for having the courage and discipline to venture outside of the casino walls. But at night, a chill fills the air such that any thoughts of enjoying an evening stroll are quickly dashed against the dry might of the desert breeze. Our walk to Planet Hollywood was a middle ground of sorts, the energy of our brisk pace countering the chill in the surrounding atmosphere.


There is no ride, like the dirty ride. It's a tradition morphed into requirement. If I'm about to play cards with Otis, then the pre-drink of choice is the Grey Goose dirty martini. Born in G-Vegas underground games, fine-tuned at home games, and finally perfected in Vegas proper, we toasted to our upcoming successes.

Dr. Jeff joined us with a Beefeaters replica. Clean. But he's a doctor.


The Caesar's poker room is one of the nicer ones in Vegas. The games are not overly juicy with tourists playing Ace rag out of position, but that's fine with me. The 1/3 game lets you buy in for $500 and the 2/5 game is uncapped. If you have skill, you have ammunition with which to use it. I walked near the table that held many memories for me, the table at which G-Rob and I busted several crazy Norwegians. This time, the table was quieter, filled with mid-morning players whose likelihood of pushing all in blind for $500 was non-existent.

Otis, Dr. Jeff and I sat down at a brand new table with six other players and the green flag signaling the beginning of our trip was waved. Shuffle up and deal.


The older gentlemen in seat 9 led the flop for $25. The board read 569 with two hearts. I was in position and had raised pre-flop with pocket Jacks. Folded to me, I had to let the gentlemen know that I did not simply have two overcards. I made it $75. Without much hesitation, he moved all in.

I hadn't even played ten hands yet at the table and now I'm facing a huge decision for all my chips. I believe my raise was effective in communicating the strength of my hand, but the older gentlemen either ignored it or felt that it didn't matter. After a few minutes in the tank, I folded.

"Only because it's so early in my trip, I folding," I said as I tabled my over pair face up.

"Well, since it's so early in your trip, I'll show you my hand too." He tabled 78 for the flopped nuts.

"Thank you sir, for that. Perhaps I can repay you in kind some time." I was sincere. He didn't have to show me his hand, he could have made me wonder. I made a good fold I guess and while I felt good about not losing my stack, I felt like this would potentially be harbinger of things to come.

"I hate running into the nuts."


Everyone's interpretation of the nuts is different. The strict interpretation is the best possible hand at the time given the texture of the board. Pre-flop, it's easy. Pocket Aces. They're the nuts. But like I said, everyone's interpretation is different.

Mid-way through the 3pm tourney, we'd migrated to crapshoot mode. The blinds were 200/400/50 and it was only level 4. My starting stack of 2500 had nearly doubled to 4700, but even that was to be steadily eaten away by the 1050 chips required to play an orbit. I know the Harrington requirements pretty well. My M was less than 5. It was then that I found AKd and was first to act. Easy play, easy result. I push, everyone folds, my stack is now 5700, an above average one at that with around 25 players left.

On the very next hand I found pocket tens. Again, easy decision. I push. But not everyone folds. The man who would go on to win the tourney found two cards that must have appeared to be the nuts. He found a way to call off 95% of his chips with KQ. Off suit. Ugh.

Now, to be fair, this person was quite a gentlemen. I liked him and after he flopped his Queen, I genuinely wished him luck the rest of the way. If he could use my chips to win the damn thing, then that would be great. I hate his call of course, but what can you do.

The nuts is the nuts.


John G. Hartness said...

Wasn't that donkey my buddy Jim? Cause I'm pretty sure he took down the Caesar's 3PM tourney on Thursday. If he looked familiar, it's because you've played him at my house before.

Anonymous said...

A poker post. I like it! (inside joke)