Vegas Day Two: First Tournament, Long Walks, Batman and Streetscum
After a decent night's rest, yesterday morning I sought out a Starbucks and like most things on the strip, just because you can see it doesn't mean it's close by. Add in 108 degree heat and a quick walk devolves into something else. Everybody talks about dry heat, but 100+ degrees is 100+ degrees. When you are on foot it's so hot part of you hopes the asphalt doesn't melt and slowly absorb you. It's always a guantlet just going a city block trying to stave off the ever present horde of flier hander-outers. If you walk outside every half block you'll feel the cold tractor beam pull of streetside casinos as their wide open doors offer promise of a much cooler place.
Those smart casinos blast their AC on to the strip. No amount of neon can compare to the efficacy of drawing in customers as a well positioned air flow. I almost wonder if the casinos hire the guys on the strip with the handouts to chase the tourists inside too. Maybe the strip clubs aren't paying them. Perhaps, it's another in the carefully cheorographed maneuvers to get you to gamble more often. People always ask why would you build Vegas in the middle of a desert but why wouldn't you? Keep the people indoors in your casino with sweltering heat an invading army of central Americans peddling strip club fliers and you'll make more money.
Yesterday, would be a day of walking; to Starbucks, late night to Wallgreens, and then just back and forth through the massive sprawling poker complex at the Rio. When I got to the Rio to register for the 2pm I discovered a line that ran the length of one of the massive poker rooms. The World Series was gigantic before but the last few years it's become a self-contained mall of poker. The convention area of the Rio which used to feel like a warehouse hosting poker tournaments now almost feels like a permanent construct. If you look closely you can see how temporary everything is, but they've gotten so much better at concealing it, that you almost believe this month long tournament is there all year.
After asking the right people some questions we find out there is a shorter line somewhere else. I buy in for the $235 and the $1500 for Saturday and immediately regret it. What if I played the $235 all night. Ugh. Turned out I worried about nothing. The tournament started well. I sat down and promptly won my first pot. I raised with AK (one heart) and guy in a Batman hat, Batman shirt, and golden reflective sunglasses called me from a blind. Let's call him.... Spiderman. He's was about 50 and his garb, demeanor and playing style screamed rube.
Flop comes all low cards and Batman bets. I decide to float him (Mike says I use too many poker terms and it's like reading Greek... so when I remember I'll try to define them: To float means to call a bet, with nothing, with the intention of stealing the pot later in the hand, or improving your hand on a later street and winning the pot). I float a lot in position and against players I feel I have an edge on.
The turn pairs the board and puts three hearts on it. He fires again. Does he already have a flush? He doesn't have a full house does he? Neither is probable but also not impossible. I contemplate raising, then decide I now have enough of a draw with two overs and a flush draw to call. I can bluff on the river if I miss and my story would make sense like I had him all the way or I can just hit my card.
River is a heart. He checks and I make one of three mistakes I'd make on the day. I check behind instead of getting value for my king high flush. and betting it. Bad players are never checking a made hand on the river to induce a worse one to bet. Never. It was early so I played it a little cautiously. He turn over middle pair like it was the nuts and I show my flush. He immediately starts bitching. "Had him on the flop, had him on the turn. Just calls.... Doesn't bet the river." I console myself with the fact that he wouldn't have called but he's ... Batman so maybe he would have.
Batman pulled up his mask (his massive tinted shades) and I see Bruce Wayne's eyes. He had the damaged look of desperation that every tourist and many locals seem to have. Those locals to me look like one time tourists that could never escape the city. I think of the melting asphalt pulling them in like quicksand. I almost hate to prey on those guys but I have to, that's poker. Of course the prey fights back, and Batman would get me later.
These Vegas locals are scattered through the streets, with the same vacant eyes. Gambling addicts, meth heads, and bums with that deranged delusional look. Just as the neon and the shows at the casinos take your eyes upward, they flitter in and out through the crowds, brushing up against you and slinking away. Last night on another long walk, Mike and I hit a Walgreens for some supplies and then walked through the casinos to soak up the AC and avoid the street people.
I just got this feeling somebody was getting a little too close and had been walking up on a me for a little too long. I glance over my shoulder and I see this scummy looking dude. Living in New Orleans I'm cognizant of keeping my hand on my wallet in public places especially when I have big pockets like the shorts I was wearing.
I've read, there is a danger to that, as it also draws attention to dirtbag thieves that you have something to protect. I'm not about to get pick-pocketed so after a couple more steps I decide to stop. I turn on a dime like I saw something that caught my eye and come face to face with the dude behind me. He stops startled, looking like I caught him with his hand in the cookie jar and
Mike who was unaware of what I was doing immediately does a double take at the dude's reaction. Eye to eye I thought I was looking a midget Ryan Leaf.
The harried scumbag, wide-eyed and likely drug addled, quickly does a stumbling half turn and almost runs down a row of slots. He then angrily looks back over his shoulder at us as though we were the ones creeping up on him. Desperation is a dangerous thing on the tables and off.
Batman shared that vacant, angry, desperate look as I had him muttering to himself. The next time I get involved in a hand with him I got Kings and again he calls from the blind. Flop comes A high. We both check. Turn is garbage he bets a smallish weak bet and I call. River he checks. I had given him credit for an weak Ace but the check confused me.
I was still mad about giving Batman a freebie by not betting the previous hand. My second mistake on the day... instead of betting an amount to get a weak ace to fold, I tried to go to value town and assumed he had some sort of middle pair. I made a small bet and he stewed and called with ... Ace Jack.
Then I ran into three big overpairs QQ, QQ, KK which they showed to me when there was some action and I correctly folded top pair. I suspect there were two other spots where I had to lay down that I was up against similar holdings. By now I had chip down a bit. I got to two thirds my starting stack. It's a rentry tournament with a huge field so I told myself as we went into the last level before the first break (the last chance to renter if you bust) that I was getting back to 15k one way or another.
When we got down to ten minutes in the level I was going to start shoving against any sign of weakness. Hopefully, I'd double or no biggie if I busted. Better to have a full stack for another $235 then to be handicapped with a half stack. The best laid plans...
Under ten minutes I shove and take a raise, a call and blinds and antes. Then they break us. I get my chips together and look at my seat card for my new table. Oops, dumb-ass gave me a seat card for the table I was at. He's nowhere to be found to move me to a correct spot. Me and the dealer start calling for the floor and I watch precious seconds tick off the clock. Finally he shows up and then just arbitrarily seats me at the very next table, the next to break. I watch an incredibly long hand finish. Tick, tick, tick. I shove on my first hand and take some blinds and antes. Then he breaks us.
My new table is across the room and there is maybe two minutes on the clock. I've chipped up a bit but not as much as I want. Having the get out of jail card with the rentry I'm ready to get it. I walk/run through the masses, and grab my seat. At my new table I push and take blinds and antes. The next hand I'm under the gun with a weak ace. With the strategy I was employing I don't like shoving a weak ace. The type of hands that would call my over shove AK, AQ, AA, KK, QQ crush that. So I'd rather two cards I'm confident will be live. I look at the clock and decide I'll have one more hand to shove.
I fold. I was fully intent of shoving from big blind with any two and hoping there would be plenty of action before it got to me. Then I watch the hand take inexorably long and we don't get another hand in before break. Of course, waiting to the very last minute, I don't double up, I'm not rebuying, and now the entire field basically has beaten me to the rest room. So, I take the long walk to an alterantive bathroom at the front of the Rio.
We get back from break, and I keep picking up pots. I get back to over starting stack pushing at the right times. My third mistake occurred right as I was generating momentum when I got QQ. I bet a tough looking dude in the small blind called. Flop came AKx. We both check. He bets the turn. This feels familiar. He just looks weak and I've seen him stab at pots so I call. The river is a brick (a card that probably has no effect on the hand doesn't put a straight, a flush, or full house on the board and low enough to unlikely make his hand). He checks. I should bet here, but cautious of my last Batman hand, I check behind thinking QQ may be good. He says I just got a king and turns over King rag. Ugh..
Back to the drawing board. I eventually get in it with two overs vs. pocket fours. The guy with pocket fours has been unbeatable at the table and after getting it in bad and getting there in several way too massive pots, I have a feeling my time is up. I flop a pair. He turns a four and I start the long, lonely walk back.