Golden Moment at the Golden Nugget

Richard Ellis is loving the main event. He’s playing day 1c and at dinner break is up 8k from the starting stack of 30k. He has styled his hair in a special mohawk today, just in case he gets a star at his table and the TV cameras attend. Hellmuth is currently playing on the TV table, where the cameras seem continually focussed on him whether he’s in the hand or not. The Rio is crowded but numbers are down on last year. I say fine, easier to make the money. Also this means that tables are playing nine-handed rather than ten.

I leave the Rio and repair to my hotel room for the obligatory early night before day 1d begins tomorrow. The last few days have been filled with three tournaments, one cash, one fine dinner, several cash game sessions, one show, one long walk in the sun, ten minutes of black jack and ten minutes on slot machines. The balance sheet for these activities is quite in the red, but only if you measure in $$$. 🙂

I experienced perhaps the sweetest poker moment of the trip during a long, long deepstack tournament at the Golden Nugget, dowtown. I spent three or four hours sat next to a weird guy called Josh who wore the full shades, hockey jersey and serious demeanour of a wannabe poker pro. He even quoted Hellmuth’s “if it wasn’t for luck, i’d win every tournament” statement, without any apparent irony.

Josh liked to play many pots. Helpfully he would limp marginal hands and raise real ones. He went on an absolute heater and was sat on a big stack. Josh hated losing a hand, and would usually mutter something dark under his breath when the chips were pushed away from him. When a black guy won a pot off him, I heard him say “we’ll see who’s still here in a couple of hours, and who’s swinging from trees”.

A couple of hours later I suddenly had some chips after flopping two pair in a three-way pot. For a while I had been nursing a short stack, waiting for spots, shoving over Josh’s raises a number of times, each time holding a strong-premium hand. Each time I shoved him he got a little more wound up, saying things like “ridiculous overbet” and “next time I’m calling you, buddy”.

He had many uncomplimentary things to say about the other players and also the dealers. He clearly thought he was the best player in the room. When I busted him just before the dinner break, all the other players gathered round to congratulate me. We agreed that he had issues.

With blinds at 600/1200 + 200 ante, we both have about 50k. UTG limps and he raises to 3600. As everyone is getting up to go to dinner, I look down at QQ. Now wtf do I do? I don’t want to raise then fold to a shove, I don’t really want to raise and have to fold post flop. I don’t want to just call and play a multi-way pot. There’s 8600 in there. I’m going to shove and be happy when everyone folds. Also, who knows? Perhaps this will be the hand that Josh finally blows up and calls with a hand that I dominate.

He did blow up and call off 40 big blinds with 66. Nice hand. What a sweet moment. After grinding and struggling for hours, with three tables left, I have one of the big stacks and the satisfaction of besting an odious chump.

Unfortunately I could not capture the first prize of $8,000 and finished 7th. Still, a result. An hilarious situation occurred around the bubble when the issue of a saver was brought up. I said no, there are already too many places being paid. I got so much abuse from the other players for not agreeing to a saver. There were shouts of ‘jackass’ from the other table. The tournament director did not help in the way he handled it, canvassing the saver proposition amongst the players then grabbing the microphone. “OK guys everyone has agreed to taking $480 off the top… but we have one player in seat number 3 on table 24 who does not agree”. The abuse continued. One player at my table asked my name. He wanted to write up this incident in his blog. He was surprised, other Englishmen he had met had been very cordial. With me it was all business.

The catcalls from the neighbouring table got so bad I had to go over and ask them what the problem was. They shut up after that. Probably not because they were scared of me but because they could see it was all going too far.

After I cashed we headed over to Binion’s Horseshoe to play some PLO/PLO8. For what could be better than a twelve-hour poker session? …That’s right, a fifteen-hour poker session. I wondered why I was sitting at such a tough game, playing hi-lo with people who knew what they were doing. Then I realised the reason why the tough players were sitting in this game. There was a huge fish from Montana sitting in seat 5. The guy in seat 2 was calling his buddy on the phone telling him to get down here straight away. This fish was as close to free money as it gets. His plays led me to question the moral certitude of sitting in such game. However, he was sound of body and mind and seemed sober.

“I don’t like hi-lo… I don’t see why people can’t just play cards… they always have to complicate it.” (shakes his head) “I’m from a little town in Montana. We play in a bar. Seven card stud only. If you ask to play anything else, they throw you out.”

He continued the conversation as he bet the full pot. He liked to bet the pot, on every street, with any hand. He held a pair of sevens in his hand, with two other irrelevant cards, when the board showed flushes, straights and lows. He bet the flop, got called, bet the turn, got called, then bet the river, and only paused a few seconds before calling the $400 re-raise. With a pair of sevens. The other guy held the nuts. Nut-nut.

“See? Thats why I don’t like hi-lo.”

Unfortunately none of this sweet sugar was poured my way during the hour or two this donator was sat at the table.

Week one in Vegas I’ve had a bit of a sh*t time at the cash games really, failing to win any big pots or really get any momentum going.

Home to bed.

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