Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yeah--We're Runnin' A Little Bit Hot Tonight...

I can barely see the road from the heat comin' on...

Ok kiddies... Y'all ain't never gonna believe the story I'm about to tell, but it's the god's-honest truth.

I don't know if all of you are familiar with common poker slang, but the one I'm hearing an awful lot lately, from my peers, is that I'm 'on a heater', or that 'I'm running hot'.

I dunno if that's true or not. I like to think that I finally figured out how to beat the local 4-8 game, that's all. Now, nobody around here remembers the other night when I dumped $240 into the game as I got rivered over and over again--that was a night when the statistical variance raised it's ugly head, and had I not been there entertaining a gal, I would've gotten up long before I lost over two hundred bucks. Actually, had she not been there, I'm guessing I probably would've played better, not being distracted like I was. But that's neither here nor there.

So yeah, I gave a little bit back, but overall, I'm *way* up these past two months--I've done much better than I would've ever expected. Granted, I've written about a few hands that have been extremely lucky for me, but please don't get the idea that those are typical. Most of my nights are spent grinding away, raking in small-to-medium sized pots, avoiding the big showdowns, and slowly building my stacks. That's how you make money playing poker--those big pots are lots of fun and interesting to read about, but most of my night is spent folding the majority of my hands and then picking my spots, trying to squeeze any extra bets out of my opponents when I've got the goods. What y'all read about are basically the highlights and the memorable hands.

But the bottom line is--regardless of what I've been reporting--I'm still consistently padding my bankroll almost every night. I don't know if that qualifies to be a 'heater'.

Call it a streak, call it a heater, call it whatever you want. But I took Thursday and Friday night off--I was just too tired to go out and play, and also, I'm doing my own personal boycott of the poker room I work in.

When I got to work on Friday, there was a memo posted saying that employees were no longer eligible for the daily high-hand jackpots--you know, those random straight flushes that I've hit twice for big payoffs. I imagine somebody probably complained because the staff was winning them, so the boss decided to take us out of the mix. (And although most of my co-workers also play in there on their time off, everyone was calling it the 'Mikey Rule').

One one hand, I can totally see the logic to it--you don't want to piss off the customers--they should be winning those jackpots, but on the other hand, I put more money down the rake-hole in that room than just about anyone (as of Friday, I had logged the eighth-most hours of all the players in the room for the month), and the rake is what pays for those jackpots.

I don't harbor a grudge or disagree with the new rule at all--I completely support everything my boss is doing to make that room better and more lucrative for us, so maybe 'boycott' isn't the right word. But I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me, either, so I've decided to just play elsewhere for awhile.

So now, my favorite place to play is the new M Resort. I could go on and on about how much I dig the place, but y'all already know that it's my new favorite joint in all of Vegas. And although their poker room is much busier and *much* nicer than the one I work in, the level of play is about the same--there are some very good players in there, and late at night, there are a lot of very bad players in there, too, and that's why I go there to play. It's a positive expectation game for me now. Whenever I go out to play cards, and I can reasonably expect to make money--it's quite a refreshing revelation, when you just know you can beat the game. A year ago, I didn't feel this way, but now, I'm pretty confident that each night I'm gonna come home with more than I left with.

Anyhow, that brings me to Saturday.

After two days away from the game, I was starting to get the itch. I had to go down to the casino anyways during the day--my buddy James had sent me a text message on what to bet for the Nascar race that night (we took Jeff Gordon over Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart over Carl Edwards, and Martin Truex over Ryan Newman). So I hustled down to the sports book and put fifty bucks down on that parlay, which would pay me $300 when it hit.

After my business was done in the sports book, I stuck my nose into the poker room for just a bit, but it didn't look good at all. No action whatsoever. I wanted to play, but that wasn't the game to get into. So, I just kept walking and headed back out to my truck.

It was a beautiful Vegas day outside, and I was pretty hungry, so instead of coming back home, I hopped back on the freeway and headed over to Grimaldi's. It had been far too long since I'd been there. I got my usual, a pepperoni and mushroom with a couple of Peroni drafts, and sat next to the bar enjoying the beautiful weather while I watched the Indians annihilate the Yankees. Good times!

While there, I played a little bit of phone tag with T-Rev--he'd just rolled into town, and the plan was to get together later in the day.

Of course I couldn't finish my pie, but a box of leftovers are always fun to take home, so I paid my tab and headed back to the ranch. I puttered around the house for a bit, unable to concentrate on getting anything done and eventually dozed off. A couple of hours later, T-Rev called again, and we made plans to meet up at The Mirage about an hour later.

Just as soon as I hung up the phone, Mamasan called, and we talked for a few minutes. I was still tired and out of it, but there was no reason to keep yawning and feel unable to get moving. But I had a severe case of bed-paralysis going on. I just couldn't get it into gear. I think it was a case of too much sleep by then.

Once I hung up the phone from her call, I was getting dressed and the phone rang again. This time it was work, and they were telling me that the 6:00 pm dealer had called in sick and that it was highly likely that I'd be needed within the next two hours, so I should hang tight and wait for a phone call. Grrr....

So I called T-Rev back, postponed our plans until Sunday, and kicked my shoes back off. I turned on the Nascar race and waited for the phone to ring.

But the bed-paralysis got me again, and I was asleep before I knew it. Work never called me back, which was ok with me, and I noticed about halfway through the race that we were kicking ass on our bets once again. All three of our drivers were doing much better than their opponents.

I should've stayed asleep, because at that point, I was hoping for a quick end to the race. Those of you who were watching, however, saw the ridiculous incident that killed my parlay card. Jeff Gordon had a single lugnut come loose which tore up his fender and put him back in the pits, giving Kyle Busch an opportunity to pass him up. Gordon never came back to challenge him, and for the want of a nail, my kingdom was lost...


I got a few text messages from James, and he was swearing up a blue streak, too. I guess he had more money on the race than I did, as I got a message that said That f*cking lugnut cost me a thousand bucks! It's true--our other drivers came through for us, but Gordon's tire messed up the whole deal.

Anyhow, I was out fifty bucks, and apparently, I wasn't going to make it back from working that night, either--I never got the callback.

I hung around the house until ten pm or so, and by that time, I was good and wide awake, the evil pillow releasing me from it's clutches. I was ready to play some cards, too.

So I pointed my dirty little truck in the direction of the M, and had the idea in my head that two days off was enough. I needed to keep my edge and get back on the winning track.

The M was hopping when I got there--just ridiculous crowds on a Saturday night. No sign of a recession there, and by the time I got to the poker room, all 12 tables were full and the waiting list was pretty deep. I put my name on it, then took a seat nearby in the sports book, chillin' in one of their big leather swivel chairs, watching SportsCenter highlights on the big screen.

I think I only had to wait about 20 minutes or so to get a table, so I bought in and grabbed my seat. Of course, crazy-ass Sara was at my table again, already pissing off the dealers and floorpeople with her constant seat changes and requests to change tables, and refusing to post her blinds whenever she moved. I swear, if she gets tossed out of the M, she ain't gonna have anyplace left to play in this town.

I saw a few familiar faces there, too--players I knew from my casino--and a couple of them asked me if I was out slummin' that night. If hanging out in the swank digs of the M is slummin', then yeah, I'm all for it!

But it was a fun table--there was a good combination of solid players (me and two other guys), a couple of average players, and a few complete fish. I ordered a coffee with Baileys & Kahlua from the smokin' hot Russian waitress and settled in for a long night of getting my poker mojo back.

The first couple of hands I was involved in were winners, so I was off to a good start. But it was truly a grind for a few hours--I never could get anything going. I won some small pots, but lost a few showdowns on the river, again. As I recall, I only ran one successful bluff during the first four hours I was at the table.

My goal, as always, was to make $150 in profit for the night, but I was stuck at being up between $80 and $100--I couldn't seem to get that last fifty bucks. Sometime after 3:00 am, I had $199 stacked in front of me, giving me not-quite-a-hundie in profits, so I told myself that if I could get over the hundred-dollar hump before my blinds come around again, I'll call it a night and be happy with doubling up.

Of course, I didn't quite make it by the time my big blind came around, so I told myself I stay around one more orbit, trying to get over the hump.

As it turned out, somebody had won two pots in a row, so there was a Kill Pot when it was my big blind, meaning that the stakes went up to $6-$12 for that hand. It also meant that limping in to see a flop would cost me an extra buck.

But when the cards came out, I looked down and saw an 8-9 of hearts, one of those middle suited connector hands that you like to see flops with. Besides, there were already four other people in the pot. Of course, after I tossed out my extra dollar to limp in, the guy on the Kill button raised it to $9 to go. Everyone else called, so I reluctantly tossed in another six bucks.

But the flop hit me, sorta. It was 5-7-Jack, and the Seven and the Jack were both hearts, giving me four to the straight flush. I checked, of course, hoping for a free card, but the guy on my left bet, and the 'killer' raised. Ugh--another $12 to see the turn, and I had to hope it was the Ten of Hearts, just in case somebody else had a bigger flush draw. But I called, as did the guy on my left.

The turn was my miracle card--the Ten of Hearts, giving me the straight flush! Bam!!!

I was first to act, so I checked. The guy on my left bet out $12, the 'killer' just called, fearing the flush, and I just called, sitting on the stone-cold unbeatable nuts. The pot was huge already, no need to scare anyone out of it.

The river paired the board with another five, which I was hoping gave one of my opponents a full-house, or even better, a four of a kind. So I bet out, and the guy on my left raised me. The other player thought for a second, gave a disgusted look as he peeked at his hole cards one more time, then threw them in the muck.

Time for Mikey to get paid! So I re-raised. My opponent didn't hesitate for a moment, and re-raised me back.

I couldn't believe my luck, so I popped him again. He then re-raised all-in. He was out of chips. Of course I called, and he turned over pocket Sevens for a Full-House, but then I showed the 8-9 of Hearts for the Straight Flush!


The dealer yelled out HIGH HAND ON NINE!, which brought the floorman over, and as soon as he verified it, she pushed me a monster pot. My opponent, cursing his sorry luck, not only went broke, but had a very angry girlfriend to contend with after that, too.

I had no idea what the jackpot payout was for the Jack-high straight flush, but the floorman said he'd find out and come back to tell me. The electronic sign which listed them all had suddenly stopped working, but the dealer told me that it would be at least $250. Nice!

I spent a few minutes stacking up the chips from that huge pot, and when it was all said and done, I had $299 in front of me--basically, the pot was almost $200 itself--I'd won over a hundred bucks on the hand, not including the as-yet-undetermined amount of the jackpot.

It didn't take long for them to get the paperwork together, and when they finally brought my winnings over, I found out that I scored a $441 bonus for the hand.


I tipped the dealer forty bucks, put the extra single on my stack to give me an even $300 in white chips, and kept the $400 separate. I *knew* my night wasn't going to get any better than that, so I grabbed some racks and announced that I was finished. You should've seen the mad scramble to get my seat!

While standing in line for the poker cashier, I tipped another one of the dealers ten bucks, plus ten for the floorman who did the paperwork and delivered the chips, so I cashed out for $680. Not bad for a hundred-dollar buy-in!

Wow. I just couldn't believe my luck.

That's three big straight flushes in three weeks, and all three paid me a nice jackpot. The weird thing is, I've only had three four-of-a-kinds in the last month, too, and those are much more common.

So yeah, I guess I *am* running a little bit hot right now.

I was keyed up at that point, as you might imagine. While I didn't want to play cards anymore, I wasn't ready to go directly home and back to bed, either.

But my gal Audrey works in a 24-hour joint down on the Strip, and she told me to come visit her sometime this week, so I figured it was the perfect time.

I made my way to the casino she works at, ditched the truck and headed towards the restaurant. At 4:30 am on a Sunday morning, the place was packed. A seat for one would be a half-hour wait!

That kinda sucked, but I had nothing else to do, so I wandered the casino a bit, playing a solo round of Spot the Hooker, before I eventually found one of them ten-cent triple play machines like they have over at Sierra Gold. I sat down and put in a twenty-spot, and I managed to make that last for almost a half hour.

Just as I was walking back up to the restaurant, the pager in my pocket started going off--Perfect timing!

Audrey came over to the table and I said You won't believe what just happened to me!

She could tell by the grin on my face that I'd had a good night, so she asked What did you hit???

So I gave her the rundown of my evening, and of course she was happy for me. We chatted for a bit, but the restaurant was crazy-busy, so she couldn't linger too much. But she gave me some recommendations before I ordered.

I ended up getting some calamari for an appy, and for dinner, I got some beef tips sauteed in a mushroom wine sauce, served over garlic mashed potatoes, and topped with french-fried onion strings. Oh man, talk about comfort food!

It was all pretty damn good, and by the time I was halfway through with my meal, the restaurant had started to mellow out some as the sun started to come up. So Audrey was able to come by and visit a bit while I ate, which made my evening that much more enjoyable.

The tab was only about $25, but I gave her fifty and told her to keep it--gotta spread the love around. We said goodbye and made some tentative plans for Tuesday night, and I headed for home.

I'm still not very tired, but I know I'll need to get some sleep at some point--I've gotta hook up with T-Rev later this afternoon, and I'm also scheduled to do a graveyard shift tonight. So I'm guessing that you probably won't hear from me again until sometime tomorrow.

Until then, y'all be cool and Get the feel for the wheel and keep the movin' parts clean...


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