From a pool party in Summerlin to sushi to Wynn, it was a great Father’s Day.
My latest poker adventure was to the Wynn Poker Room (which is actually in Encore) for a session of $1-3NL. The goal was simple: turn $220 into $1,000. The execution was awful.
The litany of reasons:
Not aggressive enough with A-K against a pre flop raiser on a K-Q-10 flop. Raiser bet into me on the flop and the turn, and I called both times. River was an Ace, which sucked for my hand. Raiser bet into me $100. I was hoping for him to have A-Q. Unfortunately, he had J-10 offsuit and rivered a straight.
Played too many hands, and a few suited hands out of position.
Got A-A twice in the small blind. Raised to $15 and only won $4 each time.
Missed set mining about five times with small pairs in raised pots.
I lost the original $220 in about two hours and rebought for $300 more. I dusted that off in about two more hours and went into my pocket for another $280. I am never in a game for $800 but I knew there were two or three poor players in the game and I had a shot to get my money back. In addition, I had started getting my money in good (A-Q vs 10-9 and J-J vs Q-10) and still lost. I knew if I kept getting my money in good I could get my money back.
The upswing started almost immediately after the third buy-in.
J-J vs. ??. I called a preflop raise of $12 with J-J in the small blind. Flop was 8-7-3 rainbow. I bet $20 into raiser. He called. Turn was 9. I bet $30. He called. River was 10. I bet $30. He called. When I showed J-J he said I was dominated all the way to the river. I shrugged and dragged the pot.
Q-Q vs. ??. I called a raise of $12 with Q-Q from the small blind against the tightest, slowest player at the table. Flop was 10-7-10. I bet $20 into raiser. He raised to $70. I called. Turn was a Q (full house!). I checked. He bet $92 of his remaining $200 into me. I Hollywooded for about 45 seconds and acted like I was just going to call the $92. I raised to $192 and he disgustedly mucked his hand.
8-9 spades vs. ??. Flop was A-J-2 with one spade. Check-Check. Turn was a 7 of spades. Bet of $25 into me. I called with a flush and straight draw. River was a rainbow 10. Unless the player was betting with K-Q into me (unlikely) I was in great shape. Player checked. I bet $55. No call. Another pot.
I ran my stack up to $733. It was not quite the $800 I was in the game for but I had to go. I had been playing for 8 1/2 hours and it was after 4AM. I had to pick up my son at 10AM for a full day of activities and I needed to get a little sleep.
It was a $67 loss — and losses always suck — but I was happy with my read of the table and my perseverance in the game.
I finally get a day off. Jace and I head to Summerlin for a pool party.
As a hinted to last week, I am making a move in the poker world.
Thursday was my final day at the Mandalay Bay poker room. After almost 3 1/2 years I needed a change.
Frankly, I grew tired of wearing a suit and tie four days per week and managing people. I have been a manager of people every year of my life since I was 24 years old. Most of that time I have worn suits to jobs in college athletics, professional hockey, television and the casino industry. My plan when I moved to Las Vegas seven years ago was to never wear a suit to work again. Yet, due to circumstances — typically better pay or better insurance for my young son — I took the suit and tie job and sucked it up. No more.
I am going to be a worker bee for a little while as I follow a plan to build and empire for Jace and myself.
I went out with some style. Jace and I stopped by a Krispy Kreme and picked up three dozen donuts for the staff. Since I was the only person on the staff to work all three shifts (day, swing and into graveyard) every week I thought it was important to thank the entire staff there. We dropped off the donuts around 10:30AM and then had the day to ourselves before I had to work at 6PM as a dealer.
The 3+years at Mandalay Bay were great. The room is rarely super busy so you have time to monitors the players and the dealers. It is a lot of standing (usually 7 1/2 hours out of each 8 hour shift), but I also cherished the interaction with the regular guests. There was a lot of time to talk about poker, sports gambling, horse racing or just what was going on around Las Vegas.
I won’t miss the paperwork. Nevada gaming and each individual casino requires a certain amount of paperwork and signatures each day. Mandalay Bay poker takes it to the extreme nth level. You have to be meticulous every single day, and there was no such thing as a day where you did it all correctly. That is what I grew tired of dealing with. I take quite a bit of pride in how hard I work and how much pride I have in doing my job correctly. Unfortunately, I loved Mandalay Bay a whole lot more than Mandalay Bay loved me. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and I am glad I spent time there.
Now its on to Caesar’s Palace, where I got a job as a temporary dealer during the busy summer months. Caesar’s has a new room they built three years ago. A good number of the locals I used to deal to have migrated there over the past three years. I am looking forward to the new challenge of dealing center Strip and seeing if I can prove myself worthy of a permanent position. The new job starts Sunday and I am ready to go.
From managing to dealing to playing I spend between 40-60 hours per week around poker tables. Poker is the second greatest passion of my life, a solid runner-up to raising my young son. Being around poker, and being a new parent in the past two years, I have found that what I observe around poker and what I observe from my toddler son are mutually-beneficial life lessons.
Be Patient — Having a 19-month old son as a single father takes patience. And more patience. And even more patience. He likes to open and close cupboard doors. He likes to slam every other door in the house. Tupperware is his favorite toy, despite his plethora of actual toys. Anything he can push, he pushes. The bigger the object, the better. He drinks a lot of water so he needs his diaper changed often. All of this has led me to being a much more patient person. I have to understand that what my son is doing any given moment makes sense to him even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Otherwise I would go crazy over my son’s daily crazy (but alway cute) antics.
I have carried that patience over to my poker career. When I play, I am throwing away more starting hands than ever. I am planning ahead on my places and games to play. I know that if I have a losing session I can bounce right back the next time and having a winning session. When I deal, I understand that every player isn’t paying attention all the time and I can gently ease them along to keep the game going.
Be Kind — Poker players, generally, are selfish. The game is set up as nine players trying to take your money, and you trying to take nine other players’ money. Players get guarded and defensive. It can lead to some unkind moments. A couple of weeks ago a self-important poker player was at my table. When asked to square up the table — that is sit correctly in front of his cupholder so all the player’s had ample room at the table — he decided to throw a petulant little fit, berate the dealer and the supervisor, threaten the supervisor that he would tell “thousands” of people of his injustice and leave the poker room. This is not being kind. Kindness dictates that when you are politely asked to square up at a poker table you simply do it. In fact, a kind person would never have to be asked to square up because they would not selfishly be sitting in a way that compromises the comfort of the players around them. When you are playing poker you don’t want the other players to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable players pick up their money and leave the table.
Kindess is something I work on with my son every day. He is a perpetually happy kid who loves to have fun. However, he can have his unkind moments. He loves his dog very much, but he is often unkind to his dog unintentionally. He thinks it is funny that when he pulls his dog’s tail his dog whips around. It makes my son laugh, but it hurts the dog’s feelings. We work daily on petting our dog, not being mean to him.
Be Generous — My son loves to share. He shares his lunch with his dog when I am not looking and with me when I call him on it. He hands me toys and the TV remote. He gives high-fives to the guy who bags our groceries and waves hello to perfect strangers. He is generous with his belongings and his feelings. It is something I am proud of and I encourage in him daily.
The ugliest trait I see at poker tables — and I see it daily — is a lack of generosity. Poker dealers work for tips. They don’t ask for much. In fact, most poker dealers would be very happy if they received $1 from every pot they dealt. Even if a pot is $200, a poker dealer would be happy to receive $1. Most poker dealers average 23-30 hands dealt per hour. In an eight-hour shift, a poker dealer might deal a total of five hours. Any dealer I know would be thrilled if they made $150 a night in tips on top of their minimum wage (the IRS takes most or all of the minimum wage in tip compliance). There is nothing worse than a “stiff” at a poker table. It is especially frustrating when the same player who wouldn’t give a dealer $1 from a $300 pot will hand the cocktail waitress a $5 chip for a free drink.
Being generous is just about the most karmic thing a person can do. Being generous leads to that generosity coming back to ten-fold.
Every day I am with my son and around poker, the life lessons keep coming.
After a 6-month hiatus where playing poker was an after thought to
I was ready to get my 2015 off to a good start and play a little more poker. Since I am no longer working graveyard my sleep situation has normalized, as has my mental state.
My first attempt was last night. I am definitely rusty. Time off can lead to the biggest leak in poker — playing too many hands. I am definitely falling in that trap, though I managed to make a $180 profit when I got my money in terribly and rivered a straight.
Villian (Big Blind): 2-3o
Me: 6-7 diamonds
Flop: 4c, 5h, 6s
BB checked, next player bet $20. I called $20. BB checked raised to $55. First raiser called, I called. Turn was an Ace of spades. BB shoved. I only had $60 left, the pot was $170. So my last $60 could get earn me a pot of $290.
The problem with the call is I’m beat by the straight (which he had), any Ace, two pair, a set and a slew of other hands. I made the crying call anyway, and rivered a 3 for a high straight.
Tonight I tried again, and still showed some rust. On an extremely loose table (there were seven straight all-ins to open the new game) I misplayed A-A badly from the small blind. Later, I misread a player when I was holding two pair against his higher two pair. I quickly fell back $200. But I decided to stay and grind. The stay was worth it. I worked a straight flush draw into a rivered straight for a nice pot. I hit a runner-runner trips to win a small $50 pot from the big blind. I ended up carving out a $42 profit.
So my 2015 total is $222. Not retirement money, but a step in the right direction.