Thursday, March 5, 2015

A live hand history including a live read - what would you do?

I was having a decent session at Maryland Live last Friday - I was up approximately $200 from various incremental wins; no hands of particular note - make the nuts, get paid kinds of hands.  The table had 3 huge fish at my right, a current or retired (not sure) police officer who will be at the center of this post, and 2 other very splashy players.  The police officer and I have been amicable - he's a tourist and is looking to have a good time, as evident from his play.  He's talkative, sharing stories, and the whole table is involved with the ongoing conversations.

The police office (PO henceforth) had built up a sizable stack by continually raising / betting - purely aggressive.  I also had  lost a decent chunk to him in an earlier hand - perhaps $100 or so - on a set over set situation where he limp / called a raise blind (he wound up with JJ vs. my 99), while I overall broke even on the hand when the original opener shoved his AA on the Q J 9 flop.  PO had built his stack up to $400 but was probably in for about $200 of that stack.  Emboldened by his success of bullying the table, he started raising all in on many rivers, making massively oversized bets which were rarely called.  On occasion, he'd take to calling PF raises dark, only looking at his cards when the betting on the flop & turn became significant.  I was watching this unfold until I finally found a hand from UTG+1:

I'm dealt KK with a $400 stack at a 1/2 game from UTG+1, facing an UTG limper.  I opt to raise to $15.  It folds around to PO in the SB, who instantly 3bets to $45.  It should be noted that I hadn't seen him 3bet any prior hands - if nothing else, this was out of character.  UTG folded the action to me, where I began carefully considering my options: I could raise to $75-100, but am I prepared to fold to a 5bet shove for $400?  If I'm playing a 100BB stack, this is simplified - I feel comfortable getting 100BB in PF with KK; if I'm dominated by AA, so be it, but it's a lot less costly than 2 buy ins, and a lot less of a mistake (moreso a cooler than anything else).  200BB becomes less of a cooler and more of a bad play IMO.  My other consideration is if I 4bet to $75-100, he's most likely folding his worse hands and raising AA, QQ.  Perhaps I'm giving him too much credit; he may also be 3betting / raising AK, QQ, JJ and flatting all of his pocket pairs.  But the main thought I had is I don't want him folding his bluffs and I want him to continue with the hand with all weaker cards.  He's been aggro and winning a disproportionate amount of pots due to aggression - I don't want to shut him down before he can get more money in the middle.  Therefore, I opt to flat call his raise to $45.  After calling, he tells me he checks in the dark (WTF???).  The only conclusion I can draw by his check in the dark is that in his simple mind, he's repping AA and doesn't care what the flop is?  I digress.

Anyway, as scripted (why do KK's always get an A on the flop!??!?!), the flop comes A T 8 - 2 clubs.  Outside of that stupid Ace, not a bad flop for a 3bet PF with KK - no Q, J.  If I was crushed before the hand with AA, now it doesn't even matter, but I'm not too happy about the board - I'm trying for pot control.  I decide to check through the flop.

Here's where the hand deviates from the standard:  Going into the turn, PO tells me he hasn't looked at his cards - that he 3bet the PF dark. The turn is dealt - a non-club 2 I think.  He picks up his cards to look at them, and then leads out for $60 into the $90 pot.  I think for a moment, then call given his check in the dark, his talkativeness, etc.  If he looked at his cards, he has to have AK, AA perhaps AQ?  If not, the chances of him holding 2 random cards where one is an Ace is not all that likely given the Ace on the flop.

The river is a beauty - a non-club Ace.  To me, this is an awesome card, because there are now only 2 Aces in the deck - making his story far less credible.  He verbalizes all in - $300 - a quick instant bet.  Now I'm caught, because logic dictates he doesn't have an Ace, but his bet is certainly trying to represent that he has the Ace.  There are two tangential arguments here: If he did look at his cards, he's saying he has quad Aces or AK.  If he didn't look at his cards, he has 2 random cards, and the likelihood of either being an Ace... or either being a flopped set is somewhat outside the realm - particularly given the 2 Aces on the board.  Moreover, this move falls in line with his prior moves; he's been shoving / over shoving a lot of rivers like this, making the other players very uncomfortable with calling those large bets - in fact, no one had called the bets to this point.  I took a while in deciding, and was probably 60/40 in favor of calling, but 60/40 for a 150BB call is not great...

I told the table that I was sorry for taking so long - then I flipped over my hand to show the table why I had such a hard time deciding on my action.  FWIW, I'm pretty sure the fish at the table looked at me like a fish, and the better players understood my predicament.  I told the table I didn't want them thinking I was showboating - but what I was really trying to get was a read on the PO.  I got it - his reaction was almost instant: he first made the real face of horror / shock but quickly turned it around to the sympathetic look of confidence, nodding his head in acknowledgement that my decision was a tough one.  It was all the additional information I needed.  Standing up, I made the call and waited - he flipped 76o for a complete bluff / busted gutshot draw and I scooped.  I think he had $5 in remaining chips which he threw to me as well, saying it was a great call on my part, patting me on the back, etc.  He made an unceremonious exit after that, and I found myself up $600+ for the day :-).  FWIW, I flipped the dealer a red bird of my own and his remaining chips.

Monday, March 2, 2015

In criticism of the straddle rule

TBC, who many of you may be familiar with, was asking about my opinions on the live straddle in the comment section from a prior post.  As I was writing my response, I realized that I've always disliked the straddle rule, but never truly laid out my thoughts as to why I dislike the rule.  Therefore, I figured I capture my thoughts in a post.

There are 2 types of straddles that I'm familiar with: the UTG straddle and the Mississippi straddle.  It serves that I should explain the differences between the two, and how, in fact, a straddle in poker terms, is defined.
  • A straddle is an optional blind bet, where the player, acting as a an additional blind (next to the small blind & big blind), places a bet double or greater than the big blind amount.  It is in effect a blind raise, but action begins with the player immediately to the left of the straddler and closes with the straddler who may check (facing limps around the board), raise, or fold (given a prior raise).
  • The standard straddle rule allows fro the straddler to place a straddle from the UTG position, forcing UTG+1 to act first.  Action will close with the UTG position - the small & big blinds can call the straddle bet or fold prior to action closing with the straddler.
  • The Mississippi straddle allows the straddler to place a straddle from any position, save for the small & big blinds.  Therefore, one could straddle from the UTG position as above, or straddle from the BTN which forces the first action on the small blind.

All things being equal, there is no inherent advantage to a straddle since all positions / players have the same equal opportunity based on the straddle rules - i.e. straddle is open to all players who opt to do it.  The inherent purpose of a straddle is to add action to the game; i.e. it forces any callers to call for >=2x BB, adding money to the pot, in turn making the pot worth more to fight over.

--- Opinion ---

Generally, I believe that the standard straddle is a waste - you're buying closing action for 2xBB (or more, which is a greater waste) for the PF round.  Thereafter, you're going to have to work from presumably terrible position as the UTG - save for the exception of if all positions fold and the blinds are the only callers.  That said, since the pots are double where they would normally be sized, I think the person employing the straddle should be raising with increased regularity (greater range) over the non-straddled hands - and in my myopic data points, the straddlers usually do.  There are a few thoughts that I have with regard to increasing the raising frequency from the straddle's position:
  • The raise should be sized much larger than a normal raise; after all the pots are double as larger, perhaps a double-sized raise is in order.  For example, in a 1/2 game with a $4 straddle, if there are 4 limpers, the pot is ~$16-20, where it would normally be $8-10 without the straddle.  Therefore, a straddler's raise should be in the range of $25-30, whereby the non-straddle's raise sizing should be in the range of $12-15.  That's a healthy difference, as most players know that set mining becomes less and less profitable the more north of 10% full stacks they go (i.e. given a full $200 stack, $25-30 is about 15% effective stacks).
  • Again, given my myopic data points, I've seen a ton of raising out of the straddle positions, and given a large enough raise, the straddler usually folds out the action and scoops a decent pot.  In other words, players at low stakes live poker tend to overestimate the value of limping a straddle pot, and tend to fold to the "unexpected" resistance / raise.  A 2BB mistake for each player adds up to a lot of money for the straddler to use to his advantage when he scoops.
  • Following on the point above, if a known straddler regularly raises, then the non-straddling players should consider limping their big hands with the expectation to limp / raise.  They could do this with bluffs as well, since the straddler is unlikely to be strong given his past history.
That said, I believe standard straddles have their time & place to wield as a tool to your advantage. For example, if you find yourself at a table full of tight / passive players, a straddle could serve to open up the game.  Players get frustrated throwing in a straddle limp only to get raised off their limped hands.  Frustration generally leads to poor play.

Personally, I tend to approach straddle hands with a sharper eye.  I tighten my range, realizing that the limping range should be smaller and be able to withstand a healthy raise.  I should have a purpose for calling with the expectation that not only the straddler may raise, but also any other position may raise.  Therefore, I tend to drop the "dominated hands" out of my range (KT, QT, etc.) for fear of the pending raise.

FWIW, only once have I tried the limp / re-raise move - it did indeed work - but it definitely got my heart rate up (I had KQ if I recall correctly, and I'm not sure whether it wound up with me shoving a blank flop as a bluff).  It's definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I would try it again when an opportunity presents itself, i.e. a habitual straddler always raising on the closing action.

Another point about straddles, it doubles the stakes of the table. Essentially, it makes the BB 2x or more. Therefore, if there's a straddle, each player must "limp" the new BB size (or raise in increments of the new BB size) - reducing full stacks (originally 100 BB) to 50 BB. Realizing that fact, you're not playing nearly as deep as you were prior to the straddle - and it makes the table a lot more costly to play. I believe a professional's advantage lies the deeper the stacks are - the straddle shifts the advantage more in favor of the worse players. Look, it comes down to this: I sit down at a 1/2 or 1/3 table and want to play those stakes. If it's going up to a 1 / 3 / 6 table, then I may as well switch over to 2/5.

Most of the above applies to the standard straddle, but can be applied to the Mississippi straddle.  However, it should be pointed out that for the Mississippi straddle, the clear advantage is straddling the BTN and other late positions.  As a smart player, you need to do the same to even the advantage out.  In other words, a BTN straddle takes away the PF advantage of blinds acting last, forcing them to put dead money in the pot and act immediately to complete the dead money or fold with terrible position from that point forward.  If you're losing your BB ability to act last, then you need to gain that ability back by straddling the BTN yourself.

FWIW, when the Mississippi straddle is allowed where I'm playing, unless others are opting for it, I generally try to avoid the topic altogether.  I feel like if I start doing it (something I'd like to do - straddle the BTN & CO), then I'm encouraging others to do it.  All of a sudden, the price of poker just went up and I'm playing a 1 / 3 / 6 or 1 / 2 / 4 game with 50BB stacks when I should just play 2/5.  I don't think I've ever standard straddled - I don't think I've ever played in a game that tight where I feel it warranted - and if I were in that kind of game, I'd get up & change tables!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meh-interesting hand and Baltimore Horseshoe recap

Image grabbed from Caesar's website:
As the Poker Barrister, Pete P. Peters, talked about on his blog, he & I met up for the first time [ever] to play a little poker.  It turns out that he lives less than 5 miles from me, but it's only taken about 4 years and ~40 miles from our respective houses to meet up and introduce ourselves in person.  Pete (PPP henceforth) convinced me to put the additional ~10 miles in to go up to Baltimore to play instead of stopping at Maryland Live! - a decision which I was very happy about in retrospect.

I arrived at the 'shoe on Friday at 10pm - ahead of PPP who was finishing up his supper at a fancy restaurant (because he's, you know, a very fancy man).  I put my and PPP's names down on the list (it was around 5 deep but the poker room was packed) and got my lay of the land.  The place is very bright in comparison to MDL - lots of bright decor, tons of overhead lighting, and overall glitzy.  I was surprised at how big the place is - right next to the M&T Stadium (where the NFL Ravens play) and down the street from Camden Yards (where the MLB Orioles play).  Parking was a snap - I parked on the 3rd floor in the parking garage and walked literally right into the casino.  With the additional 10 miles of driving, it was probably exactly equal in time spent door to door as compared with MDL.

Anyway, the big difference at Horseshoe is the table stakes - it's a 1/3 spread instead of 1/2 - with a Mississippi straddle (which is a straddle open to all positions).  I both love & hate the Mississippi straddle - I hate when it's done to me, but love when I can impose it on others.  I've always found the standard UTG straddle to be mox nix; simply an action creation tool.  However, the button / cutoff straddle is somewhat of a game changer; acting last for each street really allows the user to impose a world of hurt to all those who call out of position.

Both PPP & I were called for open seats with 10 minutes (different tables), and before I even sat down to play my first hand, I witnessed a tattooed middle-aged "tough guy" (i.e. muscular, crew cut hair, tshirt, etc.) get it all in on the flop with K2 vs. 86 against a camouflaged country guy on a K 8 8 board only to suckout with a K on the river and scoop a $600 pot.  Wow!  Good table!  I sat down (didn't need to post) and was dealt AJo in late position.  I open raised to $15 (no limpers) and got 2 callers, an older foreign man on the BTN (had an accent but was wearing a Delaware Park sweatshirt, so a local) and the BB.  Flop came down 2 2 8 or some such uncoordinated blank board.  A cbet of $30 took it down and I was +$30 to start the night.

Within the next 15 hands, a player busted in spectacular fashion (there were 2 all ins within the 5-6 hands - again, good table!) and I texted PPP to come join me, throwing my card as a marker to lock up the newly vacated seat.  No sooner than PPP sits down, I'm dealt QTo in the SB.  I complete my option with 4 other players and the flop comes Q 7 2 (monotone).  Over the years, QT has been my bane of existence in the live poker setting, always being bested; every time I put money in with QT (either with a PF raise, or hitting top pair), I inevitably get slaughtered by the river.  However, with this hand and this table from what I've seen so far, I'm definitely betting my top pair.  Undoubtedly someone will come along with a random 6 or 2, and I want to get value.  I open for $15 and get called in 2 spots; ~$60 pot (immediately to my left middle aged guy & tough guy on my immediate right, the BTN).

Turn is 5 (putting 2 clubs on the board) and I lead for $45.  Middle aged guy to my left (who turns out to be a competent player) snap folds and tough guy raises to $100 in a very confident manner.  I stop & think for awhile...  given my prior 15(!!!!!) hands that I have on him, I've worked up an image of him in my mind that he's loose / aggressive, and doesn't seem all that intelligent.  He clearly doesn't value hands properly - TP is good enough to go all in, and more importantly he's PF raised a few of the 15 hands (an off-normal amount of times to be believable).  He's not exhibiting any classic signs of a monster tell (i.e. labored breathing) but he's put on an air of confidence.

My thoughts at this point are the following:
  • He didn't raise PF; not that I can exclude AQ / KQ / QJ / 77 / 22 / 55 but it's somewhat less likely because he didn't raise PF.  He could show up with a wonky 2 pair hand like 2 suited cards (what really had me stuck was a Q 5, but given that I had a Q, and the Q was not a club, that leaves only 1 precise combo of Q 5 possible - which is still not out of the realm of possibilities).
  • I'm probably ahead here, and if I am indeed ahead, I'm ahead by a lot - if he has a second or third pair, then I'm in a 88/12 situation, and if he shows up with a worse Q, I'm in a 94/6 situation.
  • Is there a point in raising all-in?  If I raise all-in, it'll close out all of his bluffs, and though he's likely to call with worse Q's, he could have better Q's (2 pair combos).  In other words, I feel like there's many better hands he calls with but far less is he calling with worse hands.
Given the above, I opt to just flat his raise with the plan of check / calling all rivers.

My patience is somewhat rewarded with the Tc, putting a Q 7c 2 5c Tc backdoor flush possibility, giving me far more confidence in my hand, but completing 1 original draw (89).  Executing to plan, I check and he puts out $200 which I snap (I had $17 behind from the prior first win, but kinda lost my head and forgot about it).  I wait patiently for him to show and he tells me it was just a bluff... he tells me he thought since I was new to the table he could bluff me... I still waited for him to show and he shows Ks3s for complete air.  I show my Queens up and scoop a nice ~double up for my first 20 minutes at the table.

Our showdown set the table up in arms for a bit - he had apparently been doing this type of thing all night and had been getting the better of everyone (as I had seen in the hand when I first joined the table).  They couldn't believe that he bluffed off 3 stacks, they couldn't believe that I called him down with Q's as a new player, and they were just astounded at the whole run of the hand.  I chuckled a bit inside, owing it all to the player who lost the trips to the suckout Kings full.  I feel like the old Budweiser Real Men of Genius commercials - Thanks camo guy, this one's for you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When they give away their hand...

As I was playing yesterday I had an interesting hand happen - well you not might find it interesting but I found interesting myself:

I had been playing for about four hours when I found myself looking down at JJ and facing a raise of $15 from a very tight player. I contemplated three betting but after thinking about it I decided to flat in position on the cut off. 2 factors are at play here: he rarely raises and therefore I'm likely to be behind his range, or I'm 50/50 with an AK / AQ. Otherwise, I'm ahead of him and don't want him folding. In other words I don't want to put a ton of money in where I don't know whether I'm at in the hand. One other player came along - a fairly loose bad player.

The flop came all under blanks; 2 5 8 rainbow. It checks to the original raiser who immediately lead for $30. This is a fairly safe board; he's leading 2/3 pot... somewhat reasonable, but if he has AA, he's probably wanting value on a board that connected with very few hands of the 2 remaining players. KK / QQ, I understand - but this feels like an automatic c-bet. Therefore, I think for a moment and decide to flat once again.

The bad player surprisingly decided to check raise all in for $76 total. This has the original player in the tank. After much contemplation tight player flat calls & here is the title of the story - he gave his hand away - no aa kk qq - he's got a marginal overpaid that he doesn't want to fold. A tight player who's confident in his hand is always shoving / snap calling / whatever but a tell like thinking for a while and just flatting - that's a good indicator of weakness. Add to his data points the fact that I just flatted his c-bet - it just wreaks of weakness.

He has $120 or so behind and I opt to shove which puts him into the tank once again. Eventually, he calls and shows TT. The check raiser mucks and I win a decent pot with JJ!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A little playtime yesterday...

I decided to degen it up yesterday by taking the day off and go play a little poker.  My wife is away until Tuesday, so I have to get the kids off to school and back again - I have about 4-5 hours in between to get some time in.  The table was surprisingly loose for a 10am table - these were mostly regs, but some of the regs were pretty woeful to say the least.  I'm not going to get into the regs and surprising play, but there were many many profitable spots including calling down 2nd and 3rd pairs a ton for crazy prices...

There were 2 hands in question that I'll share today:

2nd or 3rd hand against a brand new player, I'm dealt TT in position and raise $15 against 2 limpers.  Get called in both spots.

Flop comes QQ5 rainbow - it checks to me.  I check through thinking that only a Q is going to call in this spot, so why bet.  Turn is an 8 and new player leads for $35.  I flat and the other player folds.

River is a blank.  He insta-shoves on me (~$125 effective).  I have showdown value here - what to do, what to do?  Knowing nothing about this player, I fold.

Thoughts?  Unknown player?  Checks flop out of position, leads turn and shoves river?

A bunch of hands later, I see him betting & raising a TON of hands.  He's getting away with it on small pots, where he's raising unreasonably large on mostly blank flops, but his raises seem out of whack; it appears that he's trying to win the pots outright and buy people off hands rather than get value for anything.  He's clearly fishy, and I'm thinking I made a bad lay down there...  I think I have to lay down there though given the strength he's shown and the lack of knowledge.

I get retribution from him (and then some) when the following hand arises:
I limp QJo in the HJ position (he's to my right so I continually have position on him).  It limps to a 4 way flop:

Q 6 2 (2 diamonds).  BB leads for $8, folds around to fish and he raises to $20.  I think for a minute and raise to $40.  BB folds and fish calls.

Turn is a blank and fish checks.  I think about how to maximize value here - I bet $75 and he insta-calls.

River is another blank and he checks again.  I think I can eek out some value here - perhaps $50 or so, but my thought is that he's calling better hands and folding draws, so why bet here?  I guess I shouldn't think when I'm dealing with a fish, and only act strong.  However, I [perhaps weakly] check through and wait for him to show.  He shows K6o, and I win a sizable pot for a pair of Queens, J kicker.  There were many eye rolls and dropped jaws when he showed mid pair after calling $115!  This guy would go on to bust through his starting stack, but he's apparently well known to do this kind of bad play.  QJ is such a check / call get-to-showdown-cheaply type of hand 99% of the time, but I got nice value for it on this go-around against this kind of player...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friday night play time!

This is becoming a regular thing: posting after each session...  Based on the volume of posts, it shows how little I get to play these days.  However, I was able to get in a Friday night session, given the holidays & how tired my wife was after all the Thanksgiving events.  She went to bed early, I got to stay out until 3am - sounds like an equitable trade!  Anyway, what started out as a not-so-nice session turned into a decent win for the night:

I was card dead for most of the session, save for my JJ (non-clubs) in the SB.  After about 6 limpers, I bump it to $17 to go - and get called by 2 players - the only good player at the table (yuck) and a terribad player.  Flop comes all clubs: 5 6 8, and I put in $35.  The good player bumps it to $85 and I sit & think.  The pattern at this table was to limp premiums by the bad players (i.e. I saw AA v KK on a limped pot) but this player was a good player...  There isn't much he could be limp / calling with that includes all clubs other than suited connectors, but I doubt he's first in with SC's.  For some reason, I kept on thinking about him showing TT with the Tc, but in retrospect, I didn't consider all the factors above.  The other consideration that came to my mind was a set, but I felt that he would just call to see what happens on the turn - a point I shouldn't discount as heavily as I did.  Regardless, I made the call to see 5 5 for a flopped bottom set, and found myself down a buy in about 2 hours into my session.

I rebought, and slowly bled down another $100 to find myself down $300 for the session before things started to turn around:

I was able to get value twice for a turned two pair - once with A2 on a Q T 2 board.  Limped pot and I'm in the BB, I call a flop bet of $10 as does another player.  Turn is an A, I check and see the original bettor put out $15 on the turn - called by the other player.  I think about blowing up the pot and opt to check / raise on the smaller side to keep them both interested, plus given the concern about earlier limping of big hands, AQ crosses my mind.  I check / raise to $45 and original bettor snaps while the other player folds.  Turn is a blank and I bet $80 or so and he tanks before eventually calling.  He tells me he had two pair as well.

I can't remember the other turned 2 pair hand, but I started with mid pair and made 2 pair on the turn, value betting around $90 by the river and getting paid off.

I do recall one hand that I made a particularly good play: Limped pot and I'm in the BB with T9o.  Flop comes 6 9 T - 2 diamonds.  I lead for $15 into the ~$15 pot, called by the bad player to my left, folds around to the Asian dude wearing a beanie and headphones...  dude could care less about anything but taking money from everyone at the table - showed no interest in any conversation or anything else.  He pops it to $85 and I think & muck.  My thought is that he's been very very very quiet and very very very tight, he's got to show up with a set or flopped straight.  Bad player to my left just calls once again.  At this point, I leave my seat to go talk about the hand with the good player outlined above - we had been fairly chatty since I sat down, and I respected his play.  I whispered what the action was and asked what he would do in my spot...  As I returned to my seat, I told him, "I so want to see this hand go to showdown!"  Turn is a blank and it gets checked to Mr. Cool.  He bombs for $120 with $20 effective behind and bad player again calls.  Before calling though, bad player to my left says - "I'm calling since you want to see this hand to showdown."  River is a J and Mr. Cool bets - and gets snapped for his remaining stack by the guy to my left.  Mr. Cool shows 7 8 for the flopped nuts, and guy to my left shows Qd8d, a gutted straight on the river.  This drives Mr. Cool insane - what a terrible call, that I shouldn't be talking in the hand, etc. etc.  Now, he was right in the fact that I should not have said anything in the hand, but I do not believe my talking influenced any action.  Point made, sir, though.  He didn't let it drop though, so I started needling him quite a bit throughout the rest of the night - pointing out numerous times that the whole table was having a grand 'ole time while he's sitting there with his headphones and couldn't care less about pandering to his "customers."  (I actually didn't say anything like that, but certainly alluded to the fact that everyone except ONE person was having a great time at an epic table.

Anyway, over time, given enough needling, he responded to my jabs by calling me a 5 year old, a bully, and a little bitch.  Me being me, I wouldn't let those comments drop either, and the rest of the table let him hear it too.  As luck would have it, we got into a heads up conflict where I got the better of him:

8d6d in the SB on a limped pot - about 5 ways.  We see a flop of 6xQdTd.  I lead for $15 with my multi-way draw and he flats.  Turn is the Ad and I check my flush, knowing that he's going to look to extract his "revenge."  Without fail, he bets $45 and "I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I'm really thinkin' about is Vegas and the fuckin' Mirage."  So I call after my preponderance...  River is a blank and I check once again, full on expecting that sweet sweet revenge bet to come - and it does, without fail, but disappointingly to the amount of $45 again.  I snap raise him as quick as I can to $100 but that stops him dead in his track.  He's too good to call a c/r river, and I'd imagine he was bluffing the turn and river regardless.  So he folds with a very unhappy look on his face, and I put on my shit-eating grin.  Getting the better of a dude like this is fun!  It makes the whole session worthwhile.

By the end of the night, I found myself up $300 instead of in the hole $300, a swing of $600, or 3 buy ins.  The takeaway from the night is this: when you're at a bad table and find yourself in the hole for some money, keep your head up.  Your skill will win out over their poor play - just get the hours in and the rest will take care of itself.  Also, have a point to getting under people's skin.  I was just biding my time for when I could take advantage of the dude's hatred for me...  and I was able to successfully pull it off without forcing anything.  I guess the key is distilled down to one word: patience.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Poker Sunday!

This past Sunday, I had the rare occasion to get some hours in at the Maryland Live! tables...  I never get the chance to play because my wife has so many things scheduled for our family to do on the weekend.  However, by the course of the family business we own, I had deliveries to make on the way up to the poker room, and later in the day, had pick ups to make in the reverse order.  It didn't make sense for me to drop off & come home - and rinse & repeat - so I stayed out there.  Besides, who am I to complain about free time to play some live poker!?!?!?

Anyway, the tables were super soft - filled with guys who believe they know what they're doing, but are just acting like aggromaniacs.  I was surprised at some of the play - my general rule on 65+ male poker players is that they're going to be tight / passive.  I saw one such guy 3-bet KQo and get it in on the turn on a Q high board against a flopped 2 pair.  I saw another guy get it in two different times PF with 44 and AK...  not the kind of play I would expect...

Regardless, I think the tables are consistently easier during the weekend as opposed to the weekdays.  I didn't hit many hands, but those hands that I did hit, I hit hard:

AJo I raise $12 first in.  I get about 4 callers and we see a J high flop with 2 hearts.  I lead for $30 and get a terribad caller - he's been so transparent; i.e. calls when behind, bets when he has top pair.  I immediately put him on a draw.  Turn is a non-heart Q.  I bet $65 and he snaps it like he owns the place.  River is a non-heart blank and I opt to check here...  He has about $80 (effective) behind, and I've seen him try to bluff rivers where it doesn't make sense (he's a bet when he thinks he's ahead, check when he's drawing kinda guy).  He's always going to bet his air and his value on the river, but he's never calling his air on the river, so why not try for a check here when I'm going to be good so often?  I check and as hoped, he fires his last $80 into the pot, which I snap off.  He shows 9h2h for the busted draw.

AJo again, I raise into 3 limpers to $15.  I get calls in 3 spots, $60 to the flop.  J 2 5 rainbow; BB leads for $30, I call as does a terribad player.  Turn is a blank, BB leads for $60.  I call, same terribad player calls.  River is another blank and it's checked to me.  There's a ton of money in the pot already - $320 - and I have ~$200 (effective) behind - bet or not to bet?  I think I miss value here but I check and it checks through.  BB doesn't show and terribad player has JT.  Nicely sized pot but I perhaps missed value on the river with my TPTK.  I think too many players are gun shy betting into the river with a single pair hand, but I felt that I'm against 2 other players with a lot of money in the pot already...  It's probably 25% bet, 75% check situation with expectation to call whatever terribad player bets on the river (he's been prone to turn hands into bluffs when checked to on the river).

JsJx, I call an EP raise from a tight player - $15 - as do 3 other players.  $75 in the pot and the flop is 3s 4s 9.  It's checked to me and I lead for $45, only the original raiser calls after contemplating for a LOOONG time.  At this point, I feel like I'm way behind...  I'm 99% certain he's not on any sort of draw; he has QQ+, TT is very unlikely.  Turn is 2s and we check through. I turn a backdoor spade draw, though I'm not sure my Js is good here.  The river definitely bails me out though when the Jc shows it's beautiful face.  It's checked to me once again (BTW, we're playing about $400 deep to start the hand - he has $800+), and I think about how much value I can get out of my top set now that I know I'm ahead of his QQ+.  The check on the turn is what will definitely get him to call a sizable river bet, but I don't want him thinking I checked for deception on my turned spade draw.  The bet has to be awkward - so I settle on $90, which is sizable but not over-the-top.  $90 into $165 is doable.  He thinks for a good long while before finally making the call - he doesn't show but 15 hands later tells me he had KK.

Last hand of note, 7 hands later, 55 in middle position - fairly standard flopped set action.  I limp in and see an A 8s 5s board.  I lead for $15 and get a caller from a semi-solid player in the BB.  Turn is 2 and I lead for $45.  Call.  River is another 2 & I push out $100 (he has $130 total behind but I felt like a $130 bet was too large to call for a limped pot).  He somewhat quickly calls and is shown the bad news.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I got a chance to play!

Been a LOOOONNNNNGGGGG time since my last post!  I decided to take last Friday off & head up to Maryland Live! for a bit of the pokers.  I was pleased with the result, although it felt like an up & down session for the majority of the day.  In my last hour, I was able to pick off a bluff with an overpair for most of my profit:

Raise $15 from the BTN after 3-4 limpers with T T.  One caller and we see a pretty blank flop:

8 6 2 - 2 clubs.  I cbet $20 and the seemingly noob flats.  I had seen him bet and bet big to get people off their hands in the past (including me - K high board & I have AA, K turn and he open shoves $200 which I fold).  Turn is another 2.  I'm never putting him on a 2x here, but he leads for $60 and I think and flat.  River is a complete blank and he shoves $160 remaining.  I sit & contemplate... eventually talking myself into calling.  He shows AK & I scoop.  Whhheeeee!!!!  Easy game.

Anyway, I've been busy with school, work, family, etc.  There's been little to no time for poker in my life right now.  Oh well...  I did get a new baby:

It's a Porsche Boxster S!  I've always wanted a Boxster ever since they came out in 1997 - and finally found the one I wanted!  I had been looking for around 6 months prior to finding this one...  This car just completes my eccentric driveway of cars; I now have a:
Toyota Sienna (for the kiddies to be comfortable)
Nissan Leaf (for the commute back & forth to work)
Porsche Boxster (for the weekends)


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sometimes you gotta give 'em enough rope...

It's been a few months since my last post - I haven't had much of an update to bring you, so I've been radio silent.  I'm presently fully engaged with my new gig, working an absurd amount of hours just to keep my head above water.  The new role has been very challenging, and I’m very happy I pursued it – if nothing else, from a career perspective, I’ll come out far ahead because I’ve moved from a front line management position to a mid-level management of managers.  I’ve had to work with personnel problems and issues, hiring, interviewing and coordinating new employees, maneuvering with upper management including corporate oversight, all the while ensuring program success.  It’s been fun, without a doubt, but it leaves me with little time to play poker even though by all rites, I should have more free time available than when I’m back in DC with my family.

I’ve been typically playing on the weekends while here – putting in a Saturday or Sunday session good for about 6-8 hours, which is nice.  I’ve always had a hunch that weekend sessions would be far more profitable than weekdays / after work sessions, but never had a chance to really prove that theorem out with hard data.  Given the time I’ve had to play since being out here, I can say with some authority that yes, indeed, weekends are far more profitable than weekdays (though it’s not a true apples to apples comparison since I’m playing weekends out in Blackhawk as compared to weekdays / after work sessions in Charles Town, WV or Maryland Live! Casino.  Regardless, I digress; the crux of this post is to not regale you with tales of what is a good day to play, or how to spend your free time – I wanted to write about a hand that I played this past Tuesday night (first weekday session up at Blackhawk).  It has to deal with checking the river to induce, and the fact that I’ve noticed more bet bet bet than bet bet check – I feel as though in the right situation, a check call is warranted when you feel your opponent is on a draw rather than going for 3 straight streets of value.  See below:

I had been around for a few orbits and was showing myself as a fairly reasonable player.  The old man to my left was joking with me that I played like an old man; a “rock” was his exact wording…  Fine – believe as you may though I am rarely rocking it up by just calling in a hand; I’m usually raising / folding or betting and am the general aggressor at the table, but I’m not going to try to disprove his image of me.  So we’re set up that I’m in the SB and look down at Ac2c; an appetizing hand to limp but not generally a raising hand.  After seeing the kid to my left limp his button (my prior comment to the aforementioned old man to my left was “Chop?” before seeing the button limp) – I opted to raise as a punishment.  I chose $16 to really hammer it home that in my mind, it’s bullshit that this kid is limping his button to block our chop.  Old man folds his cards, as old men are wont to do when facing a decent raise – and kid gets sticky and calls.

As an aside, I never understood the whole limp / call a large raise idea…  Unless you feel like I’m blowing smoke up your bunghole, you have to drop that hand – particularly as it works its way around to heads up.  There’s simply no real value to your hand unless you slow played (and continue to slow play) a monster PF hand.  This kid is the type to be coming in for a raise on the BTN with AJ+ and most pairs, so he’s clearly weak – and calling $16 further solidifies my read of weakness.

Anyway, the flop comes 2s7sJs – mostly an airball to all hands not holding 2 spades.  It’s fairly unlikely he’s limp / calling 2 spades – particularly premium spades here – so I’m not all that concerned by a flopped flush, and I’m semi-concerned for a Jx hand –JT, QJ, but that’s no reason to not continuation bet – there are tons of blank spades that will call along to try to get a 4 flush board.  I’m fairly certain that my bottom pair deuces is the best hand here at this point, and I want a spade draw to pay.  I bet $20 on the flop and he quickly calls – another dead giveaway…  He can flop the flush here and just flat, but a monster non-flush hand has to raise here, in addition to his quick call almost always pointing to a draw (when a player quickly calls, that’s a common tell to a drawing hand).

$75 in the pot going into the turn 9x.  I’m pretty sure that misses his hand; at this point he’s on a definitive As, Ks – type hand, and more likely a KsTx or KsQx hand.  He can show KsJx and Ks9, but his AsJx is out of the question (he limped PF) and As9x would have likely folded to my raise.  He’s now halved his equity  at this point in the hand, and I’m very confident my deuces are good – I bet $40 into the $75 pot – again, snap call.  This solidifies my drawing assumption – most made flushes are raising the turn here given that I’ve put a bunch of money in the pot already and $40 is a “sizeable” turn bet – notwithstanding pot size.
Anyway, $155 in the pot and the river is the 5x, making a board of 2s7sJs9x5x.  At this point, I’m getting no more value by betting the hand.  I’m only getting called by better and only folding out worse hands – and I do have showdown value.  Besides, my hand has showdown value.  From my out of position SB, why not just check and see what he does?  I can opt to call or fold to a potential river bet, allowing him to hang himself (see title line) based on how I read the situation.  Moreover, my bet sizing is questionable on the river; I have to bet pretty big to keep in line with my pattern, or make a small “suck me” bet of like $20 – both feel like throwing money away regardless.  Therefore, I opt to check – and true to form, he bets $50 – a shockingly small bet for the pot size and the action I’ve given.  One additional thought is that he’s called 2 streets and now all of a sudden wants to take control?  What can he possibly be betting here for value and not checking through for safety?  I snap him off and wait for him to show: busted flush draw with KsQx.  I show my Ac2c and he’s mystified.  Bad enough I called his bluff, but I called with the lowest pair.  It was a nice pot for A2.

In retrospect, as I’m writing this post, I’ve been doing this type of move more and more often – both online and live.  I’ve found that I’m getting around a 50% success rate in this kind of check / call out of position rivers – which is awesome because it’s pure profit; these are mostly hands that are folding to a bet, but feel they have a chance to fold out the best hand on the river and therefore take a chance on the river.  Think about the above the next time you find yourself out of position, against a guy clearly on a draw, where you’re never getting any more money committed to the pot unless he’s betting it.  Obviously, use the reverse when you’re the one with no showdown value but have bet two streets – sometimes you need to force the issue rather than let the stupid pairing 3’s on the river counterfeit your Ace high hand…

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An update and a hand history

I’ve been very busy with the new job – so far, it’s been way more responsibility than I ever imagined prior to taking the job.  I’ve had to hire a new team of ~30 people, work personnel conflicts and issues, learn the new program’s processes and procedures, and ensure my new team is doing the same, all the while learning my predecessor’s roles and responsibilities.  I’m truly busy from before 7:30 I the morning until at least 5:00 at night.  The pattern has been that I go back to the hotel, go to the gym, get some dinner, take a soak in the hotel hot tub and go to sleep.  Rinse & repeat, save for the weekends, where, if I’m not heading home or somewhere with my family, I have free time to go & explore Denver or get in a solid day of poker up at Blackhawk.  It’s a funny thing; I started out thinking that the “single” life would enable me to have more free time, but somehow my free time is fully consumed.

Regardless, live poker out here is an utter joke.  The games are so soft it’s unbelievable.  Sit on the nuts and they’ll pay you off without fail.  People love to slow play, making drawing hands super profitable.  The bet sizing for most players is so laughably bad that I find myself facing true immediate odds compared to the pot, and frequently not even needing to worry or think about implied odds.  The room is regularly busy, with more than enough fish and tourists to keep my bankroll sated.  I’ve seen so many people just call or limp their KK / AA hands, and check / call to the end when their hands are clearly dead.  I’ve seen players pay me astronomical prices for their flush draws or their straight draws when they’re so way behind in their draws.  Lastly, the rewards structure in the poker room (Ameristar) is pretty decent: they give you your choice of $1 / hr in comps to be used for slots, $2 / hr in comps for food, or $0.50 / hr in rakeback.  Your choice – and you can decide to cash out at any point.

In the online front, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a moment to sit down and get a good online poker session in.  I was able to sit down for a good 3 hours last night, sitting in my new favorite online room, Seals with Clubs.  I was afraid that it had been so long since I’d last played a hand there, the games may have dried up and I would forget how to be aggressive.  My fears were not realized, because the fish were really fishy and my aggression still remains.  I’m still able to pick off blind steals, squeeze with air, and generally produce 3bets in the 8%+ range.  It’s a cool feeling to see the regs avoiding big pots with me out of fear, and the fish trying to pay big bets in the hopes of hitting a miracle.  On one table, all of the players were starting to get pretty deep; 200+BB.

I was sitting on 300+BB when I was dealt TT.  A laggy nemesis was trying to 3bet me on quite a few tables (he was to my left and trying to defend his blinds / BTN); we’d gotten into a few pissing contests and we were roughly even as far as who blinks first – perhaps he was 20-30 BB up on me (I’m not keeping track because I’m more thinking in metagame parameters that he’ll blow up sooner or later).  He’s sitting on about 300BB when I raise his BTN from the HJ for ~3x – no limpers and it’s a steal position from his perspective.  As expected, he opts to 3bet me 3x to 9BB.  Not one to be dissuaded from a little aggression, I 4bet him to 22BB and he cold calls in position.  Flop comes 9 6 2 rainbow and I lead for 30BB.  He shoves over for 250BB; is it wrong to call here?  What do you do?  Do you fold?  This is such a polarizing bet to value / air, but what can he show up with in this spot?  JJ?  QQ?  I felt like given the action that he’s not 5 betting me (probably a fold PF), he’s going to show up with so much air.  The problem is that we’re so deep at this point, a 250BB call if I’m way behind is a HUGE mistake.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Quality poker time up in Black Hawk, CO

I know... I know...  Things have been incredibly slow around here for the past couple months - and they've been even slower lately, since I've been so inundated with work.

Quick update on the work front:  Things are going very well.  I love the new role I've taken within the company, but the 10-fold increase in responsibility just leaves me with time to work work work rather than play.  I effectively work from 7:30 to around 5 (boo-hoo, I know), get back to the hotel, go work out, eat dinner, and have time to catch up on work emails that I missed throughout the day / watch a show & go to bed.  The pattern marginally sucks because I'm away from my family and working so much, but it's only another 3 months until I'm back at home and things will revert back to normal - and I actually enjoy doing the work, which makes a world of difference in the happiness scale.  In the meantime, though, I need to learn everything I can in order to successfully migrate my team from CO to Maryland.


Over the weekend, my coworker and I drove up to Black Hawk to play a little poker.  He's a beginner, so we were going over pot odds vs. implied odds vs. real odds and the rule of 2x and 4x for calculating outs, in addition to other poker fundamentals.  I did not play at the same table as him (purposely), so I couldn't really evaluate his play, but I think he enjoyed himself.  I think the conversation on the drive up was eye-opening to him; I doubt he realized that there's so much more to poker than just playing your hands.

Anyway, I wound up spending a solid 7 hours up there - one of my longer sessions on the year.  I was card dead for the majority of the night - I decided to track which hands (folded or un-folded) would have been winners by pulling $1 chips out of my stack and keeping a separate count.  In the 7 hours of play, I wound up with about 15 winning hands.  I suppose I shouldn't do that; it only winds up with negative thoughts going through my head - but oh well.  I maximized most of those 15 hands, because I came out to the positive.  I do have one hand of note to share, and it's a somewhat interesting hand - no doubt controversial:

Ground rule - at Blackhawk, the fixed max bet is $100, so the 1/2 NL game is really a 1/2 $2-$100 spread limit game with uncapped buy in.

I'm sitting on around $350, and villain has me covered easily.  He moved from a 2/5 game - he's a solid, yet unimaginative ABC player.  He's always betting the nuts - or what he perceives as the nuts, and check / calling when he's drawing.  He can fold hands.

I limp UTG+1 with A7cc and the BTN, a tight 60-ish gentleman bumps it to $10 - the BB (villain) calls, I come along, as does one other to my left.  $40 in the pot PF.

Flop comes: 3 4 6 - two spades.  It checks to the original raiser who leads for $15.  BB calls, I call and other dude folds.  $85 in the pot.

Turn is a beautiful off suit 5.  BB immediately loads up for $35 - a "large-ish" bet from him.  I consider raising but I squarely put BB on an 7.  I don't think he ever bluffs in this spot, with 3 way action and him being first to act.  If I raise here, it pushes out the original raiser with near certainty, and sets the hand up for a chop - something I'd rather avoid if possible, since it looks like we're chopping anyway.  Therefore, I call, but to my chagrin, original raiser folds quickly.  $155 in the pot.

River is a very interesting Ks, completing the flush.  Now, I've never raised, never shown any aggression.  To all observers, I could easily be on a flush draw, and I'm keenly aware of this fact.  I look at the villain who immediately checks.  I waste no time in max betting $100, and he thinks and thinks - says to me that he never calls for a chop before mucking his hand.  I show him the 7c which drives him up the wall.

It's cool when a plan comes together!  Anyone else at the table, and that bet is hopeless - "How can I fold my straight!??!?  It was good on the turn, even though the 3flush completed, it's got to be good on the river!!!" but this guy: "I'd rather fold and be wrong than call and be wrong."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick HH and Vegas recap

It's been a long time since I posted, so I figure I may as well get that monkey off my back with a recap of my Vegas extended weekend.  I arrived on Wednesday night, meeting my wife who I haven't seen in over 2 weeks.  (Quick recap: I'm in Denver for 4 months on business travel, and only get to go home once every 30 days.)  Anyway, we met at the hotel (she came in earlier in the week from DC), and went out to dinner as I was starving; it was an hour later in Denver time than in Vegas, and we were approaching the 8:00 hour in Vegas.  We walked around a bit and settled on a so-so family style Italian place in the Venetian or Caesars (can't remember which).  The "so-so" part was the sauce on the calamari marinara was watery and the angel hair was not drained adequately, while the steamed mussels were somewhat flavorless.   Oh well - lesson learned, but kinda expensive.

The next day, we went hiking up in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  It was an awesome hike; we were climbing huge rocks and boulders, and basically having a good time getting re-acquainted with each other after the 2 week hiatus.  As the day progressed, we realized we should have brought a picnic lunch, and got in the car to find food.  We opted for an awesome place called Krayvings - an all natural healthy place right down the block from Red Rock Casino.  The food was great, and the price was really terrific.

Afterwards, we headed over to Fremont Street to the old strip.  Neither of us had ever been there before, and it was an interesting experience, to say the least...  I doubt I'll be back to that area, though I can say I've been there.  We also visited the world famous Binions Casino - my wife took a picture of me in front of the Poker Hall of Fame display they have outside of the poker room.  It was cool being there, but the place had the feeling of death and despair - very much a has-been casino.  In fact, the last sentence mostly summarizes all of the Fremont walking area, unfortunately...  As it was getting late, we went for a decent dinner at the Michael Mina's Pub 1842 at the MGM Grand.  We both enjoyed our dinners, and for casino food, the price was quite reasonable.  After dinner, we went to the late show of Ka at the MGM Grand later that night.  The show was awesome, but I recommend going when you have more energy.  We had done so much during the day that we were both fighting to stay awake.

The next day, my wife was scheduled to return home, so we had limited time.  We drove out to the Hoover Dam, which was a pretty neat experience.  The drive took about an hour, but we had the opportunity to really see outside of Vegas, driving through Henderson and then Boulder City.  Interesting fact: Hoover Dam is split between Arizona and Nevada, and is considered a shared resource.  The building is magnificent, when you consider that it was built from 1931-1936, prior to computers and modern engineering techniques.  Very impressive stuff - coupled with the new bridge that was completed in 2010 (you can see the bridge in the background of the picture to the right.  We wound up going for Mexican food later that night at a place called Michoacan Mexican restaurant - the place was AWESOME with great tasting food and an awesome price.  If we lived in the local area, we would have taken home doggy bags, because the quantity of food was absolutely overwhelming.

Dropping my wife off at the airport later that night, I would have my first session of poker - the crux of this blog...  I wound up meeting up with RobVegasPoker of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog and Ante Up fame.  Rob was kind enough to put me on the waiting list as he arrived - he's like a celebrity at the casino we played.  I think all the dealers and desk workers knew him, and they knew I was his friend - so I guess I was almost famous :-).  We played together for an hour or two before he started feeling tired (he was playing in an earlier tournament in another casino prior to our meet up.  The hands were definitely hitting for him, and he wound up having a really nice session before we parted ways.  I would stay on at what would turn out to be an awesome table - filled with 1 drunk and a ton of semi-knowledgeable tourists.  Everyone at the table, though, was there to have a good time.  I certainly showed them that good time by running the conversation.  We started by talking about wives and ex-wives, but quickly moved into prostitution and the regular flow of half-naked club-goers streaming in and out of the club behind the poker room.  I was asking "innocent questions" about how much prostitutes cost, what the delta difference in pricing for geographic location may be, whether prostitutes charge more for being hot or being good at... well... prostituting...?  FYI - I put quotes around the "innocent questions" because I know full well that others at the table were pretending to not know about these sorts of things, though they were quick with certain answers...  Personally, I've never partaken in such activities but have always been curious about the economics behind the oldest profession in the world.

Anyway, I wound up having a killer session after starting off down $500 at a the 1/2 game.  This was my first time since the beginning of the year playing down, as I had solely been sticking to 2/5.  Quick semi-standard hand history: I call a mid-position raise to $12 with 3 3.  Flop comes 3 K K - 2 diamonds.  Belgian dude leads for $20 and I raise to $45.  He flats, all else fold (think there were 4 to the flop).  Turn puts out the 6d and I lead for $50.  He raises me all-in and I snap call.  He shows the Ace high flush and I scoop a nice $400+ pot.  Easy game.  I wound up quitting that game at 5am!  I am still exhausted as I type this post 2 days later.

Anyway, I tried to get in touch with Tony Big Charles of tbc's blog about grinding low stakes poker the next day, but was unable to roust him from his slumber.  I went for my In-N-Out fix and settled down at a 1/3 game in the Bellagio.  Interesting poker room - this must be a grinder's paradise; no bad beats or player pool drops, max rake is $4 on 1/3 and 2/5, and the room is as busy as any other on the strip.  I sat for a few hours before Tony finally decided to contact me.  With 4 hours before my flight, I decided to spend my last few hours in Vegas meeting up with the man, the myth and the legend.  I picked him up at a McDonalds, bought him lunch and got to hear about the ills of his world.  He's an interesting guy, with a lot of predisposed notions of the world - if you read his blog, you'll know what I mean.  However, I think he's a lost guy in need of someone to take him under their wing.  I think that if he had friends to help take care of him and oversee his daily activities, his life situation could be much improved.  Unfortunately, he won't apply (or possibly can't get) aid from the state, and I'm not that guy to be his caretaker since I'm here in Denver and DC.  Anyway, watching him, I understand from whence he comes.

All in all, it was an awesome trip!  I got to spend real quality time with my wife who I so dearly miss.  I miss my kids too, and didn't get to see them this trip.  It's been 7 years since I'd visited Vegas, and I hope to make it back next time in a shorter duration.