Vegas 2012 with Paul Jackson

Vegas 2012 with Paul Jackson

Friday, 31 August 2012

I almost didn’t come to Vegas this year as I didn’t enjoy it much last year with all the stupid rules and insincerity of it all, but as usual, as it gets closer and closer, and the urge to be there becomes overwhelming.

Things didn’t start out too well when I arrived at McCarran Airport. Rather than tell an outright lie or opt for the truth (either of which would have worked out fine), I tried to understate how much cash I had with me to the nice customs man. Anyway, a 70-minute grilling later I was on my way to the Rio Hotel.

The Rio is not a very nice hotel (by Vegas standards) but it’s very convenient for the WSOP. I even ran bad in terms of my hotel room. When I was trying to get to sleep (it takes several days to adjust your sleep patterns), the woman in the next room seemed to be unable to talk in anything but an unnecessarily high volume. This was compounded by the fact I was then woken up by her screaming at 7am. I initially thought she was being assaulted. However, while there may well have been an offensive weapon involved, it turned out they were screams of pleasure. If it hadn’t been for all the talking she had been doing earlier, I would have been certain she was a prostitute, as 99% of the time in Vegas when a woman is making those kind of noises she is “on the clock” (and that is not a typo). Nor did I hear the door close soon after the noises had finished.

Normally listening to a woman moan (rather than complain) like that would not be entirely offensive but when your only concern is to get some sleep, it’s less than ideal. I was half of a mind, if I saw her, to ask her to keep the noise down, subject to the size of her boyfriend – that is assuming her partner was a male. Had it been another female then the noise would have been completely acceptable and my eagerness to object reduced.

My first event was the $2,500 pensioner game of Omaha / 7 Stud Hi Lo 8 or better, and although I initially started off showing more flair than the pensioners could handle, I eventually went out very near to the end of day 1. I’m sure that the pensioners made technical errors and sub-optimal plays – apparently that’s what it’s called when someone does something different to how you think it should be done – but in the end I just didn’t run well enough.

I then moved onto the $600 NLH deep stack at the Venetian and early on there was an old boy at the table playing every hand. He had a hat on that read “inside every old man there is a young man wondering what the fuck happened”. Any significant pot he won left his victim thinking much the same.

Again, I didn’t really get going, and the blinds started to catch up with me. Then I lost a big flip and ultimately got “online cold-decked”. In other words I hit top pair and decided not to fold it.

I went to play cash and started in a $2/$5 NLH game which had a couple of young English lads to my left, including one highly flairy player. In one hand I raised with JhKh. He min-3-bet me and I called and flopped the nuts and ended up winning a decent pot, after which I think he was doing the standard complaining about bad players calling 3-bets out of position (although I could be completely out of order here, as I did not actually hear what he said, but that was the impression I got).

I personally think there are no two cards that I am going to raise-fold to a min-3-bet when sitting 200 big blinds deep against a player who is likely to do anything to win the pot post-flop and would be quite easy to tap a lot of the time. I don’t think he was one of the many players who simply think the quality of your poker is directly proportional to level of aggression you show, regardless of the circumstances, as he seemed like a good, aggressive player. The two English lads left and the table became boringly nitty so I left too, winning about $1,500, and went to play the PLO hi-lo. The only games they had were $1/$2, which was fine, and at least the increased action would hopefully keep me awake.

Given that it was a pot limit $1/$2, game the opening raise was $15. When I asked how that was calculated, given that basic mathematics would suggest that with blinds in of $1+ $2 ,with an initial call of $2, and a pot raise of $5 (1+2+2), the opening pot raise should be $7 (call of 2 plus raise of 5). I was told that for ease of mathematics, the small blind was regarded as zero and the big blind of $2 was regarded as $5. This just about sums up the mathematical prowess of most Americans and it’s not surprising that they have now been overtaken by China as the most significant country on the planet.

It was very rowdy on the rail, from where I watched Craig McCorkell win the $3,000 NL Shoot-out event, and it could have been equally lively had JP Kelly run a little better in the $3,000 NL event where he was an unlucky tenth.

The Brit rail signature action appears to be the “shoe bomb” and I would have thought that such a quality, creative group of young poker players could think up something a little more interesting than drinking alcohol from a shoe. I guess it is fair to say that when you’re drunk there are limited activities you can perform adequately, and so drinking from a shoe is a task that almost anyone could have a reasonable attempt at completing. I think, however, that they are all overlooking the possibility of a subsequent wet sock. We didn’t do that sort of thing when I was young.

It was a much more respectful rail for the old-timer Neil Channing and it was sick to see Neil finish second. He just didn’t run well when it mattered. He had his opponent dead twice, both mentally and chip-wise, and both times his opponent found a cooler hand to get back into it. Four-hundred thousand dollars for second may have softened the blow a little.

I had the misfortune to watch England’s dismal display in the European Championships against Italy at the Wynn and was even more unfortunate to have to listen to Americans with broad New York accents suddenly develop Italian accents every time Italy nearly scored.

Most, if not all of these individuals have never been anywhere near Italy and are unlikely even to know where Italy is. Indeed, if I had asked them if they were going to the local derby between Italy and New Zealand they would have simply made some excuse about work commitments.

After the game I went to the Venetian to play some $1/$2 PLO cash which was very much like picking money off the floor, although I suffered a minor but temporary set back when I had an experience that could give rise to new poker phrase.

I’d straddled for $10 and had 4-5-5-J in an un-raised pot. The flop is 4h5hKs and a very poor but well-stacked player immediately to my right, who was very easy to assess in terms of hand strength, bet the pot and I 3-bet him. The others folded and he called, which meant that the main make-up of his hand was a draw and I certainly had the best hand at this point. The turn was an off-suit queen. He checked and I bet

the pot (about $200) and he called. The river was a horrible non-pairing heart and he did some great Hollywood for about two minutes and then bet $400. I folded before his bet hit the felt.

He then, quite genuinely, started talking to me – as if he was talking to his mate but really talking to himself, like poker players sometimes do, especially when it’s about a bad beat – and was telling me how badly he had played his hand and that he should have got it all in on the turn.

I said, “Yes, when you had the worst hand,” and he asked what I meant and I confirmed I had a set, so he was effectively drawing to about seven outs. He continued that, despite this, he should have got it all-in (we were both sitting about $1,400 deep) because he was “in such good shape”. I call this a “mug-rub”.

I was sitting there thinking I just wanted to win $500 this session so I could focus on playing right, rather than getting frustrated and trying to get involved with sub-standard hands because the players were all so bad. It can be a huge leak for players to get frustrated when they think they’re not winning as much as they should be – you can get overeager and start gambling to try to win more, so I thought I should have a massage after that hand to maintain focus.

Unfortunately, although there were plenty of female massage options walking around the poker room, there were none that fulfilled my strict receiving-massage policy. I refuse to receive a massage from any woman that is either young enough to be daughter or old enough to be my mother, or from one I think I might lose to in a fight (brunettes with large breasts is preferable but not a deal-breaker).

Although the good thing about Vegas is the breasts. They are everywhere, mostly big, always on view, and although they’re often like most of the people that work here, false, the city is an undulating sea of visible boobies. But I digress.

My next WSOP event was the $1500 PLO8 event and it started quite badly. After 45 minutes a player sat down at a stack that had, up until then, been unattended.

First hand, he was under-the-gun and pot-raised before the hands were dealt. On a flop of 9-9-4, which had four callers pre-flop, he bet the pot without looking at his cards, got one caller and then potted again on the turn, still without looking. His opponent folded – a less than optimal play, in my opinion.

Next hand, he raised pre-flop blind when it was folded round to the small blind. Next one, he’s in the small blind, a player raises, gets one caller and then this flairy old boy also calls. As the dealer is about to deal the flop he says, “I check-raise dark.” Sure enough, after the flop he checks, the pre-flop raiser bets, he check-raises and gets it all-in with a bag of spanners but flukes a split pot.

Following hand, he’s on the button and he again pot-raises from the button before any cards are dealt. A couple of players limp and I limp with a monstrous A-A-2-5 double-suited. His pre-flop, out-of-turn raise now goes, the two limpers call and I re-raise the pot. He then re-raises the pot, again without looking at his cards. The others fold and I get it in but his 5-6-9-J “held” to scoop me and take two thirds of my starting stack, although he did point out that because he had three diamonds in his hand he deserved to hit the flush, an opinion with which I did not disagree as I was very happy with his play.

He then called the floor to establish if our table would be breaking any time soon and, when told that it wouldn’t, went off to continue playing in the last 28 players of the $50,000 Players Championship, a min-cash in which was worth more than fourth place in this 978 runner “bowl” $1,500 event. He then kept returning at every 20-minute break in the $50,000 event and lumped his stack in at every opportunity, ending up as one of the chip leaders after four hours, having been at the table for about 35 minutes, during which time he had mostly not looked at his cards until his stack was in the pot.

There are a few players that play the $10 re-buy PLO8 tournament daily on Poker Encore in a similar style, which is probably the closest they will ever get to +EV plays.

I ended up with a great stack going into day 2 and the day started well. Then I had a pivotal hand which seemed to totally change the way I was running, after which I literally did not take another chip out of any pot I played.

There was an Italian pro immediately to my left who was very aggressive and we had tangled several times. It’s folded to me in the small blind and I make up the blind with A-6-T-K with one suit and the intention to limp re-raise if he raises, as he would do with a very wide range of hands. Also, he only has about 60% of my stack so I was in a decent position to bully him. He checks behind and so we see a flop, which is A-T-3. I have flopped top two-pair and I check to re-raise, expecting him to bet, because a check is the only thing that’s usually required to induce a bet from this player.

He duly bets the pot, I re-raise and he moves all-in. I call, not liking it that much as he may have the same hand or the same with a low draw. The only made hand I thought I could be losing to was a set of threes, and he turns over a set of aces. I don’t really want to think about this game much more as I lost every hand I played after that, though at least I cashed for $2,700.

My next game was the $600 PLO event at the Venetian and I started well, middled poorly and finally had a shot to get an above-average stack when I check-raised on the flop with top set only to get called by a bare nut-flush-draw. When the turn bricked, my pot sized all-in bet was called by an American who was rewarded for his mathematical prowess.

One player was clearly running well when performing a feat I have literally never seen before in 30 years of live and online poker. He gets it all-in for a huge chip-leading pot against two opponents holding the nuts on a JhTs8s flop. He has JsJc7s6d. The turn is Jd to give him a winning quads and the river is 9s to give him a straight flush as well.

At this point, I feel I have to pass comment on the chap who had a heated exchange in the Ladies Event. I wasn’t there but I understand that when Vicky Coren expressed her justified displeasure at him entering the event, he suggested she should not “get her knickers in a twist” which, unsurprisingly, did not help calm down the situation.

He was man enough to call the floor and get Vicky a penalty and after she was knocked out and gave him some more justified abuse. He was big enough to call the floor again and try to get her another penalty, even though she was already out.

I think that ladies events should be promoted, as they encourage more women to get into poker and it’s often the only opportunity for a poker widow to enjoy a meaningful game without the intensity (I appreciate this does not apply to all participants) of a testosterone-filled, penis-envious and ego-fuelled environment.

My personal view is that any male who wants to infringe on that must be a wanker who needs a good slap, especially if he tries to justify his actions by referring to human or civil rights.

Having said all that, it was a little bit funny that the chap in question, Brandon Uhl, eventually cashed and was knocked out, appropriately for a cocksucker, in 69th place.

My last event was the $600 HORSE at The Venetian and I ran well and played pretty good (always easier when you run well) and I got to the last three players with a big chip lead. I seemed an absolute certainty to be top two but ran so bad it’s not something I want to discuss in detail, as it hurts my head. I finished third, winning about $10,000, so I can hardly bemoan my luck, and all in all it was a profitable trip.

By the way, girlfriend, Anna, recently achieved an impressive First in her degree in Fine Art, and that degree required her to read numerous feminist books on art theory which had a profound effect on her thinking, so I hope you all appreciate the price I am paying to write these mildly sexist articles for your amusement.

Tags: Paul Jackson, Las Vegas, WSOP, Vicky Coren, Bradon Uhl, Neil Channing