I squeezed in a last minute binge in before I fled the defiled streets of Las Vegas for the plastic hills of Hollyweird. The last three places I played poker in Las Vegas were at Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock, and Planet Ho. At all three poker rooms, I encountered at least one Asian woman who played like a maniac. One rivered runner-runner quads on me. I tilted one with a junk hand and Michalski fell in love with the third one. Plus somewhere along the way, I managed to toss an $80 tip a Russian dealer named Svetlana after I won a high hand jackpot. These are among the random stories that went down post-WSOP.
Green Valley Ranch
As I waited for a 3-5 NL game, I sat down at a 4-8 limit table with a half kill. At mid-afternoon, the room looked empty with only five tables in play. I sat down at a nine-handed table filled with retired people, aside from myself, an overzealous kid from Minnesota to my left, and a cleavage-showing, bubbly housewife with a rock the size of a golf ball on her left ring finger.
The kid next to me talked shit the entire time and his stack fluctuated since he played every pot. He was the table captain and most of the weak-tight locals stayed out of his way. He had just moved from Minnesota and he said he was looking for dealing jobs. When I sat down he was bitching about a beat he took at the hands of the housewife. She was in her late 30s and looked like Agent 99 from Get Smart. She sipped a cranberry with rum drink and had a big stack. From the moment I sat down, she and the kid from Minnesota became my marks. The rest of the table didn't matter. if I was going to scoop a big pit, it was going to be against two loosest players at the table. They also happened to be the loudest as they dominated 90% of the conversation.
I got stuck early as I quickly got used to all the terrible players and suckouts. That's when I went to work. I looked to get into pots cheaply against the housewife (aka Agent 99) or the kid. I knew they played any two suited cards, any ace, and cold-called to any raise after the limped in with crap.
I tilted the kid when I raised from the button and he called from the small blind. The flop was 10-10-7. He bet and I raised with 6-6. He called. We both checked the turn when a Queen fell and the river was the 6. He bet. I raised. He three-bet and I raised. He called. I flipped over my pair of Sixes for a full house. He showed the 7h and tossed the other card at the dealer. He muttered something like "Nice catch."
"You're not in Minner-sowter anymore," I said as he dug into his jeans and pulled out $200 to rebuy.
After the third cranberry-rum cocktail, Agent 99 looked and sounded sloshed. That's when she began nipping out. Good lord. It got chilly quick in the poker room and you could hang a winter coat on the end of her nipples.
Anyway, the drunk chick kept dirty stacks which she'd occasionally knock over (with her hands but it's quite possible one of her nipples accidentally grazed a stack) when she picked up her cards or bet out at a pot. She began to bleed chips. I was ready to pounce. That's when I found Ks-Kc and she called my raise preflop. The flop was As-K-3 and we got into a raising war on the flop along with the Crazy Asian Lady (CAL) in short pants who played in her first hand since sitting down. I knew that Agent 99 called my raise with a weak ace and I hoped she would pay me off. The turn was the 9s. With two spades on the board and it was capped three-way. The river was the 6s. I got a sick feeling in my loins because I knew one of those two made a flush. I checked-called a bet from the CAL after she raised Agent 99 on the river. I tabled my black Kings knowing that a set was beat. CAL showed 7s-2s for the suited hammer. Agent 99 flipped 6-3o, She flopped bottom pair and thought her two pair was good on the river. I waited for an hour to flop a better hand than Agent 99 and the CAL swooped in and took that rather large pot away from me... on the first hand she played. Crazy Asian Lady 1, Pauly 0.
Two hands later, I flopped a flush with Ah-10h. Holding 4-4, CAL caught running 4s to scoop a monster pot since it was capped all the way to the river against a WWII vet who held Kh-Jh for a second-flush. Too bad we both lost to the CAL. Crazy Asian Lady 2, Pauly 0
Within a couple of orbits, the kid and Agent 99 went busto. I didn't get any of their chips. CAL went on a rush as she played close to twenty-three hands in a row. She vacuumed up chips from my marks as she built a monument of four columns of chips donated courtesy of the Minnesota kid's moving to Las Vegas money and the trophy wife who donked off her stack. Once CAL felted the dead money, she tightened up and shifted gears. She eventually left. Hitting and running. That was supposed to be my money she was racking up. No such luck.
I sat down at a 1-2 NL table at Red Rock and tilted one dude when I bluffed him with A-Q. The guy looked like Kevin Johnson (former point guard from the Phoenix Suns). He just walked off the golf course and went right to the tables. I sat down in mid-conversation. Actually, he was delivering a tear-jearking soliloquy about his demise. Like a tragic character in one of Shakespeare's plays, he had it all and then lost in. He was running bad ever since he had a big score in LA in February. He blew through his bankroll during an ugly run that began in March and would not stop. He took on a partner during the WSOP and only cashed once. He told us that his fiancee left him for someone she met in bible study. He owed his backer over 20K. And at that moment, he was down to last couple of hundred dollars donking around the 1-2 game at a local's casino.
The guy radiated loser vibes. He was broke, complaining about it, and an easy target. Whenever he limped, the sharpshooters at the table quickly raised him. They were putting him to the test. Sure they listened to his recent woes with a sympathetic ear as his reenacted bad beat after bad beat that cost him his bankroll. But they also knew he was vulnerable and exploited him every moment. Another lesson learned... never reveal how bad you are running at the tables. You just make yourself a bigger target. The locals can smell fear and some pay their rent on players embattled during a losing streak.
I found A-Q in MP and raised to 12 against two other limpers. Kevin Johnson raised to 30 from the small blind. The limpers folded and I called. Heads up. The flop was 7-7-3 and he shook his head. Everyone at the table knew he missed the flop. He emphatically checked. I said, "Check."
The turn was a red 10. He checked. I bet the pot. He folded and started a Hellmuthian tirade. The dealer pushed me the pot. I mucked my cards.
"I can't believe you called me with A-7. I can't win with Ace-King," he said.
As soon as I head him mention Big Slick, I quickly snatched my mucked cards from the dealer as she was about to pull them in for a scramble. I showed A-Q. If he really had A-K, that would put him even more on tilt. That showboating made him more angry. He eventually busted out two hands later when he open-shoved with 8-8 and ran into a guy with Kings. He stormed off and I switched tables.
I sat down at a new game... 4/8 limit with a half kill. I took Seat 3. A figidity Asian lady in Seat 1 sat down. Over the next hour, she would buy in for $100 at a time and piss through $500. She played almost every pot. I overheard her tell the dealer that she only had an hour left to play before she had to go pick up her three kids at the baby sitter.
I busted CAL when I flopped a straight with 6d-4d. She had A-4 and the board was 5-3-2. We were heads up on the river and with unlimited raises, I took the last of her chips. She cursed at me in her native tongue as she whipped a $100 bill out of her purse and slammed it on the felt. She threw the Ace of clubs at the dealers chest and threw the Four of hearts so hard at the middle of the table that it skipped off a chip and flew into the dealer's chin. Crazy Asian Ladies 2, Pauly 1.
My flight from NYC arrived around 11pm and by Midnight I was drinking at the Palms with Benjo and Ed. They were telling me about their weekend in LA and I told them about my quick trip to NYC. We sat down at a Pai Gow table. The pit boss had just changed the table minimum to $25 instead of $10. There were two other players betting $10 since they were seated before the limits were jacked up. I started out at $25 a hand and got a little crazy after betting $100 after a while. I only ended up stuck $90 by the time we got bored of Pai Gow.
Benjo had grown tired of the pits so I suggested bowling at the Gold Coast. They had a late night special... $5.50 got you three games, free shoe rental, and a free drink at the bar. What a deal. The only bad thing was that they only comped you a domestic beer instead of an import. I have not had MGD in a bowling alley in some time. Although I'm not an avid bowling, I'm a fan of drinking excessively and hurling 12-15 pound objects at white pins with rednecks. Bowling was one of the few classes during college where I got an A. I had it scheduled after my southern politics class. A friend of mine (who hailed from the rough and tumbled streets of G-Vegas) was in both classes with me. We'd listen to Widespread Panic bootlegs in his car and blaze up on the way to the bowling alley. I'm convinced that's how I got an A.
Anyway, I bowled a 120 and a 130 during my first two games. Benjo wanted to wager on the last game. His average was 110. Mine was 115. I offered him a handicap of 20 pins and he eventually accepted the bet. He started out ahead over the first two frames but then went cold. I picked up a strike and never looked back. I ended up with my best game of 166. Benjo asked for a buyout after the 5th frame. I let him off the hook on the 6th. Ed thought I threw the first two games on purpose to shark Benjo. I didn't. I just got better as it got closer to dawn.
The next night was Benjo's last night in Las Vegas before he flew home to France. He had been in Las Vegas for a month too long and was eager to get home. I met him, Ed, and Michalski down at Planet Ho for some donkoliciousness. It happened to be a busy night at the karaoke bar next door. Drunken tourist after drunken tourist stumbled up onto stage and spewed out their unmelodic versions of random cover songs. I felt bad for the dealers in the poker room right next door who had to sit through that torture night after night.
I was seated at a 1-2 NL table with a gaggle of frat boys. It was one of the rare moments when I was the oldest player at the table. Two factions of friends sat at opposing ends of the tables. They both drank heavily and played way too many pots. It seemed like a fun game and the worst player at the table had the biggest stack. He became the focus of my attention.
Michalski sat down in Seat 2. I was across from him in Seat 4. We chatted for a bit and I ordered a beer from the waitress while he asked for a McCallum's. She told him that they couldn't comp him that, but he could get Dewer's. He agreed. A Russian woman named Svetlana sat down to deal. She spoke in a thick Russian accent and reminded me of one of the evil female agents from the Bond flick From Russia with Love.
On the first hand, she dealt me two black Queens. Michalski opened for a raise. I re-raised. Four callers including Michalski. The flop was Qh-10x-2x. Michalski bet and I raised. He called and everyone folded. The turn was the Qd. Michalski checked. I hoped that he would put me on a bluff, so I overbet the pot. He counted out the chips and thought for a few moments before he folded. He told me he had J-8 and almost called. I flipped over my Queens to show him my quads.
Planet Ho had a high hand jackpot. I had no idea. Quad Queens paid $188. When the dealer pushed me the pot, I tipped her $5 and looked at the big board in front of the room that listed the bonus hands and payouts. A few hands later, the floor manager walked over and made me sign some paperwork. He gave me $188 in casino chips and made me put them in my pocket because I had more than $200 at the table in my stack. Before I put the chips in my pocket, I picked out three green $25 chips. I tossed them to Svetlana.
"That's the biggest tip I've ever seen," said one of the frat boys.
"Oh my God!" shouted Svetlana the dealer. "Thank you!"
"That was for stomaching all those bad drunks singing horrible karaoke," I joked. "And for good karma."
Of course, the karma didn't fall my way. I made a move with As-10s. The flop was Queen high with two spades. I check-raised all in after four players limped in. The worst player at the table with a decent size stack called with Q-10. His hand held up as I pulled out some chips out of my pocket and rebought for $200.
Michalski had pushed me off a couple of pots. He's a cagey player who plays any two cards. He made me fold my pocket Queens with an Ace on the board. During that time, Benjo was quietly reading a Chuck Klosterman book at his NL table.
I felted Michalski with Ad-Qx. He opened for a raise. I re-raised and we were three-handed with one of the blinds. The flop was Qd-Jd-10x. Everyone checked to me and I et the pot. The big blind folded. Michalski moved all in and I called. He flipped over 9d-5d. He missed all of his draws.
Michalski bluffed me out of another pot. I had 3d-2d and raised in MP. I got two callers including Michalski. The other player was all in and there was a side pot of $2.The flop was 5-4-4. Michalski and I both checked. The turn was the 8. He checked. I bet the pot and he called. The turn was the 2. He bet about 1/2 the pot and I folded. He flipped over As-7s for a complete bluff. I folded the better hand. We both lost the main pot.
After I flopped Quads, the table loosened up even more. A young Asian woman wearing Lisa Lobe glasses sat down at the far end of the table. She straddled a pot and we noticed she was almost in every hand. When the seat in between Michalski and I opened up, she asked the dealer for a change. He let her move next to us and she said she was happy because we looked like we were having a good time at our end.
"My end is too boring," she explained. "I'm here to gamble."
Michalski admitted later, "I think I have fallen in love with the Crazy Asian Lady. There's something about her..."
We straddled each others blinds and got a couple of big pots going. Sadly, none of us won any of them. The last big hand I played was a losing effort to the CAL. I held Kd-10d and caught an enticing flop of Qd-Jd-4x. I couldn't get her off the hand on the turn with a big bet that she just called. I missed all of my outs a her set of Js held up. Crazy Asian Ladies 3, Pauly 1.
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