Vegas Day 3 and 4: Karma, Coolers, Bad Beats and Jerks in Suits

You know what they say about Karma... yeah.

I'm not a big believer in luck or superstition or Karma for that matter, but I do believe in doing the right thing.  When I don't it hangs over my head and maybe even clouds my judgment.  I've seen some weird coincidents in my short life.

Recently, I played a tournament series at Coushatta in backwoods Louisiana and on walking into the door on my first day a random black cat walked across my path.  How is a random black cat in a casino parking lot?   I whiffed the three day tournament for the most part.  Coincidence, surely.

Anyway, two nights ago, Mike and played some Pai Gow at Bill's, again for some free beers and a little bit of unwinding.  I don't really gamble so we played the cheapest game possible.  On our first hand Mike didn't play the sucker bet and hit 9 high Pai Gow ($250 to 1 and would have paid $1250 on the five dollars he had hit the wager).  I said Mike these things run in streaks put the $5 up.  He didn't and hit 10 high Pai Gow two hands later (75 to 1 or $375).  So we played the sucker bets.

Luckily, we hit a few, Jack high (60 to 1), Queen high, King high and Ace high Pai Gows, and had a good night, and got paid to have our two beers.  Then on one hand I had three tens on the bottom and two Jacks up top.  The dealer had a flush on the bottom and rags up top.  She went to pay me for hitting trips based on the bonus, and I said wait I have a full house (because even though I split the tens and Jacks it still counts as a full house for the bonus).  She said oh yeah, sorry then paid me for the full house and paid my bet on the hand ($9.50).

I didn't really think about it, but like the majority of Pai Gow hands and why it's a great game to kill time in a casino or unwind, I actually pushed.  Her flush beat my trips on the bottom and my pair beat her two rags up top.  She just gave me credit for the full house on the bottom and decided it beat her flush.  I did not immediately say anything, but it nagged at me.  Even honest people cheat and steal when it's a small amount.

There are great rationalizations for keeping the $9.50.  A couple are the casino makes huge profits and is pretty unscrouplous in screwing over the customers.  It's inconsequential and speaking up may only get the dealer in trouble for making a mistake.  They've probably made mistakes against my favor is another.  All that being said, the right thing to do is give the money back.

I'm pretty good about doing the right thing in life.  I think most of us are, but as this article mentions even honest people can rationalize stealing small amounts of money.  Virtue is often times a lack of temptation.  The true measure of a person is being honest even when it doesn't really matter.

So, after I left I this inconsequential $9.50 started to weigh on me.  In the moment I just focused on the next Pai Gow hand.  But that night I decided I'd at least offer it back the next morning.  Then we had to change hotels and all that had me almost running late for the 1k.  I got to the Rio with little time for the tournament and just didn't get back over to Bill's.

In a way, I had built up my own little taste of bad karma.  Coincidence or not, I ran EXTREMELY bad  in a lot of ways after not saying anything about $9.50.

It actually started when I was at the Pai Gow table.  I had one hand where I had a pair of queens up top and a huge Ace high flush on bottom.  Dealer turned over quads and a pair of aces up.  When she saw my hand she stopped and stared and said something you never want to hear in a casino spoken by an employee when you lose spoken, "I've never seen that lose before.  That's a bad beat."

I don't know much about Pai Gow but it seemed unlucky, and when she said that I said, oh that's a really bad beat.

The bad luck continued early the next day after breakfast.  We passed the Sportsbook at Bally's before the Euros Championship, and decided to take a small prop bet on the action.  Fernando Torres to score for $15.  It had been announced he wasn't starting.  Sure enough he gets in and scores.  Sweet... right?  We'll come back to this, but here's a case of even when I thought I was winning I wasn't.

You aren't coming to this blog for Pai Gow stories but for poker stories.  Though no one wants to read a slew of bad beats and coolers.

The 1500:

I was killing my starting table.  I ran good and played well.  I had a terrible player on my left, okay he wasn't terrible he was an average old dude that played like an open book.  To give you an idea of his game, I had an unexpected first in poker he folded his big blind to me when I called from the small with 10-2.  Notice I didn't say raise... I wrote call... and he folded.  The dealer heckled him about that as I jokingly assured him that was a great fold.  He assured me there was no way he could win the hand I said you are probably right.  After

After that, I never once thought about not raising him or at a minimum completing against him for the rest of the day when it was unopened to me.  I got low on chips coming in second best a time or two.  One time I lost the minimum in a bad spot.  This dude that had a strange frog in his voice when he talked wearing all kinds of poker gear had been chirping for the first few levels.  I barely understood him but must have been nodding at all the correct moments cause he thought we were having a conversation.  

On one hand when it was limped to him in the small he raised.  I looked at A2 and mulled reraising but I got a read of strength from him, so just called and was going to play very cautiously in position if an ace hit.  One of the limpers came along.  Flop was A2x (rainbow board).  Sweet.

He checks, I check.  Late position fires out a bet.  Then Chirper puts down a raise.  I stew.  Big Ace?  Do I have him trapped here?  Something felt ugly.  I call.  Turn is a Jack.  He leads again.  I call and he goes into a spasm of disappointment, like I had kicked him in the groin.  Uh... Hollywood much.  This dude is very strong.  AJ just improved to a better two pair?  I'm hoping for a river two.

River is a 10.  He bets again after some deliberation.  I decide two pair is too strong to fold here as he could be just as putz-y with AK or AQ.  I call and shows pocket deuces for set. I lost the bare minimum I think with that flop and was very glad the case deuce didn't bounce on the river.

Still I lost a good chunk of stack.  I grinded and built my way back up.  Just as I got to 6k which was great for that point in the tournament me and the old man on my left would clashed twice and it would be my deathknell.  I raised from the SB with 103 when it was unopened to me (did I mention I was killing him in the blinds).

He called.  Flop came Ace high.  I knew he didn't have an ace.  I bet.  He looked at his cards and I spied the look of a flush draw.  We both checked the turn.  I did so, because I was stealing the river if no flush card hit.  River was another Ace--perfect, no way he hit one of his hole cards.  I bet he folded.

With that fresh in our mind, and him probably a little suspicious of larceny with the Aces out there and me checking the turn.. the cooler happens.  I get AQ on the button.  Pot is unopened so I of course raise my standard amount.  He and the big blind both call.

Flop comes A and two wheel cards 25 with a flush draw (I didn't have).  He leads for 1k.  Big blind folds I got about 5500 in my stack.  I think about popping him, but this guy has an ace 100% of the time to lead out.  I think I'm killing most of his hands.  Can't rule out two pair 100% though like A2, A5.  So I call for pot control.  This guy only bets when he has it but he tended to overvalue just a bare top pair.  So I'm hoping he has aj, a10 and slows down.

Turn is a 3.  Now A4 makes the wheel.  He fires out 2k.  I got 4500 behind.  Ugh.  I stew.  I run through the range of his hands.  More I think about it, I think he folds ace rag to my button raise.  So it's Ak, AJ, A10 or maybe A9.  Here's where I made a mistake.  I can't just call with 2500 left to fold the river.  If I call I gotta call it all, so in those spots better to shove.

I stew forever and say all in.  He insta-calls and I say, "That's bad" and he shows AK.  Many of my friends have told me that's a standard cooler.  I don't know I think vs. him I could just fold the turn.  After talking with Adam it's pretty clear since I had such a great table and was generating money without hands I had lost track of my strategy.  I didn't need to play guessing games.  I can fold winners and coin flips because there is value in simply staying in the tournament and staying at that table.  In retrospect, I don't think it's being results oriented to say it was a mistake.

So, that wasn't good.

Next Day (4):  The 1K

After the bad luck Pai Gow game the night before, I play the $1000 and immediately chip up.  Same thing, stealing pots with no hands.  I made a bad bluff once and got called and somehow held the winner.  That was weird.  Stunned he could call and not beat me on a double paired board.  He must have had an ace. I rivered what I thought  was a meaningless flush.  That was just a tease.

After doubling my starting stack and being in a very comfortable spot, I got Queens.  A young internet kid min-raised under the gun.  A short stack re-raised.  He had about 1.5k behind (very strong to not shove there).  A knucklehead called him with 2.5 to 3k behind.  I looked at queens.  I was worried the short stack was 3betting with better, but I decided the knucklehead might call if I put in a 4bet and I could freeroll vs. an overpair (ie, I had a better hand than the knucklehead and  what I won in the sidepot would at least break me even against what I lost to the short stack if I did lose).

So I four bet.  Short stack shoved, and knucklehead shoved too.  My reads were right AA and 99.  Okay, it turned out the sidepot was bigger than what I put into the Main Pot so I was freerolling pretty good.  Started out great as I hit top set.  Then both players with a heart went runner-runner flush to destroy my freeroll.

I got into a hand later with two of the good players at the table.  In late position I raised with suited QJ of diamonds.  Button, right after me calls and big blind calls too.  Flop is 87 of diamonds and a black deuce.  Big blind checks.  I check too and button leads.  Big bind raises and I go in the tank.

I checked initially because I got the feeling the big blind hit something.  Both players were good enough to be posturing and stealing/restealing but for some reason I felt like I was screwed.  I folded.  Button shove and big blind insta called.  Button had 56.  Big Blind Ace of diamonds Two of diamonds.  Good fold Bill.  Button rivered a four.  Diamonds never came.

I folded more, and watched lots of pots go to showdown and i was comforted my garbage never won.  Slowly, I was crippled as I went card dead.  Blinds starting catching up to me after I made some folds that were accurate.  It was about the time to shove any two and maximize the tight equity I had built up at the table and steal some blinds when I got to about 15 big blinds.  Then they broke three tables at once including mine.  Bad beat.

When they were breaking my table a floor guy, who has butchered every decision I've seen him make comes over and kicks a coke into my leg, soaking my shoe.  Karma really is a....  He looked at the mess and stared at me like it was somehow my fault.  He's one of those guys much to his own personal impairment gets a little bit of power and gets off on lording it over people and generally treats his customers like school children.  A stark contrast to all the great floor guys on the circuit and at the Series.

At my new table, I won a couple of pots with shoves when I actually wanted to be called and then got whittled down again. Finally, playing seven handed I shoved with A10 next to the button, who woke up with AQ.

$235, $125, $125

I took some time off for a couple of hours.  With my head straight I late regged the $235 with everybody that busted the nooner.  The entire table was tilted and chips were spewing in every direction.  To give you an idea of the table, I thought about calling preflop shove and reshove with K10 and would have been right when 89 suited went up against 109 suited (8 ball hit of course but I would have made a straight).

Later I folded third pair when a kid shoved the turn and I put him on air and almost called.  He showed the bluff.

So, I get busted after flopping top two and betting to protect myself against weird straight draws with KJ.  A guy calls me and the turn puts a second diamond out there.  He shoves.  I call knowing in this sea of idiocracy my hand was good.  He had air before the turn but picked up gut-shot low straight draw and flush draws.  He hit.


Took some time off again.  Went to the room.  And thought about playing the 1500 (Vegas Day 5).  Since, I didn't put it in the package, I thought I should go play a couple of sit 'n goes and win my way in and give everybody in the package another big WSOP event to rail.  Went down and played two $125s.  Should have stayed in the room.

On the first one, I get crippled when knucklehead open shoves a straight draw in blinds vs. blinds when I flopped top pair.  He hit.  They did all day.  Any draw apparently got there against me.  Lol.  I still had chips.   Later same guy shoved into my AK and got there again with two unders.  Yuck.  Then I bowed out when I had to shove.

Undetered I went to my next sit 'n go.  With half the players gone I look at JJ in the small blind.  Big blind insta shoves when I complete to trap.  About to be big chipleader.  He has 82.  You know how this story ends.  I lose and get crippled.  I shove AQ and get called by Ace rag.  His rag makes a straight and I pack up for the day.

Good Karma Coming?

This morning I woke up with two things in mind.  Get over to Bill's and offer them that $9.50 back and then go collect on that Fernando Torres bet I won. The only thing I won all day.  At Bill's I call the floor over, and as I thought she would, she refused the money.  She said considering how many mistakes they make against my favor, that I should consider it a win but thanked me for doing it.  That's all I needed for a clear conscience.

So, I popped over to the Bally's sportsbook and said pay me money.  After the computer told them it was a push.  They said "No bet."  Um Fernando Torres scored.  No, he didn't or else the computer would have paid the bet.  Really, I'm pretty sure he scored, check the Internet.  He did... but the computer says he didn't.  I don't point out "a computer" also said he did.

That's strange.  The three sports books guys at Ballys then all stare at a computer for about ten minutes, occasionally clicking the keyboard like my son bangs on drum.  You'd think the math equation from Good Will Hunting was staring back at them as intently as they studied the screen.

Finally, an answer.  Torres didn't start so the bet was void.  Did it say that on the sheet, I didn't remember that?  They print out the sheet which looked different than the one I used the day before but it said all individual props are off if a player didn't start.  Okay, gotcha.  Then the biggest guy says out of nowhere, as I'm accepting and understanding the non-payout which make sense and I'm fine with, "It's not my job to do your research for you."

Believe me after his investigating a simple answer took twenty minutes to discover I'm not sure I'd want him researching anything.  So even when I won, I didn't, and I keep running into Vegas employees all about making my experience here as pleasurable as possible.

Good thing though is my bad day is out of the way. It only gets better.  Playing the $235 in mere minutes.  So wish me good luck.  Karma is on my side now.


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