Friday, June 29, 2007


My annual jaunt to Vegas and the WSOP is over. There's not that much to say as I didn't really hang out that much at the actual WSOP itself. There's a strange phenomenon of being less in touch with what's going on in the Amazon Room and the WSOP when you are actually in town. I played one event, the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo, and a couple of single table satellites (one of which I chopped with the Champ). The worst beat of my trip actually occurred before I got there with my flight being delayed for twenty four hours meaning I lost a whole day of my holiday.

Faces I ran into included John Duthie (he was on the same flight and the Champ and I cadged a lift off him in his high roller limo courtesy of the Bellagio), Ali Sarkeshik, Philip Marmostein (on my left in the PLO 8/b comp), Neil Channing, the Hendon Mob, Al Rappaport, Warren Wooldridge, DY, Andy Ward, Jon Shoreman (busy cracking away at the 300/600 Badugi and Deuce games and in the final of the Deuce to Seven Triple Draw w/rebuys as I write this), Carlo Citrone, Dave Barnes, Michael Greco and Roland De Wolfe.

The highlight of the trip was having it right off on a machine (Wild Taxi) with the Champ on my last night. At one point we had over 20,000 credits in the hod, but finally cashed out with a little over 15,000. As we were playing nickels this meant $750 - woo-hoo! Small beer compared with all the gambling and poker going on around us (in fact, that night Vicky had really had it off on the Blackjack; discretion won't let me write the number, but trust me, it was an amount similar to a decent tournament win) but as it was our biggest ever machine result the Champ and I were quite excited.

While we were playing we also experienced the machine railbird. A rather sour faced middle aged and (surprise surprise) over-weight woman hung around watching us play. When our total was around 7,000 credits she expressed surprise that we weren't going to cash out. It seemed like she wanted us to cash out so she could either try to borrow money or she knew that the machine was hot and wanted to play it herself. After hanging about for a few more minutes and realising that we weren't intending to stop she stomped off muttering to herself. Not long after her departure the Wild Taxi hit 20,000 credits. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think that woman knew the machine was ready to spew $. The Champ and I agreed that those machines are utterly addictive.

The Champ and I also had the pleasure of meeting top poker author Michael Craig (you know, The Professor, The Banker and the Suicide King). Of course, he was only interested in meeting her, I just happened to be there. He was a very nice guy and he gave us both a copy of his new book which is The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition. I've only skimmed a few parts of it so far, but I have to say it looks really good (and I'm not just saying that because he gave me a copy). In fact, Michael is living proof of his own book as the day we met him he had just come 7th in Event 40, the $1,500 Mixed Limit/No Limit Holdem at the WSOP.

As for poker, I certainly played a lot of it, pretty much all $2/$5 No Limit Holdem. I did intend to play a little bigger i.e. the $5/$10 game, but that particular game at the Wynn (where I stayed) is a lot tougher than the $2/$5. I was going to go to Bellagio to play their $5/$10 game as I heard it was a lot softer than the Wynn, but I never got around to it. In fact, this was the first visit to Vegas where I haven't gone to the Bellagio. DY was moaning that there were too many tryers and I have to admit that maybe the games at the Wynn weren't as good as last year or the year before, but I still played in at least two utterly blinding games, so maybe he got unlucky (although I suspect DY just wants all of his opponents to be playing for the first time ever without even having an idea of the rules - of course, then he'd complain that they were all unbluffable or something). Seeing as the Wynn is a nice and well run room it attracts its fair share of locals and pros, all of whom seemed very friendly and good to play with. I especially like the veteran players like Burt and Billy and Jackson - the latter two being Good Ol' Boys whose southern wit I particularly enjoyed.

The only memorable hand was one I wasn't in. Everyone folded to the button who made it $15. The small blind folded and the big blind called. Flop was J T 7. I can't remember the betting, but there was at least 3 or 4 bets and raises before the big blind finally stuck it all in after a long dwell up and a few speeches of the "You flop a straight on me buddy?" variety. The button was now forced to call after putting so much money in himself and allowing the pot to grow so big. Anyway, I figured it must be set over set or top two versus a set or a straight versus a set. Obviously I'm a complete idiot as the big blind had pocket Queens (fair enough) and the button made all that action with....7 9. Naturally the river was nice big fat 8 and the button won a very nice pot.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Love The Vic

So my girlfriend and baby went away for the last few days and what else is a guy with time on his hands to do but spend all that time down the Vic? The room is now all upstairs, but otherwise it's business as usual. There were some new dealers, but the core staff were still there - Joe, Caroline, Brian. Many familiar faces were there - Fred Carle ("Sweet"), Declan, Michael Arnold ("One seat here!"), Willie Tann, Trevor Cole, Ashley Alterman, Panni, Lawrence Windish, Lou K, The Champ (of course, it's now her second home basically), Andrew Georgiou (who wasn't wearing a scarf - it must be summer!), Pedro, The Bish, Costas, Martin Baader, Mick "The Clock" Cook, John Kabbaj, Janis and her mother, Peter Benson, David Binstock, Mr. Chu, Alan Abrahams, JQ, Rick Gladding, Mike Wilner, John Duthie and DY to name a few.

I assume they all asked where I have been because they all miss my brilliant repartee and company at the table rather than the ease with which they can win pots off me. There are also a few new stars who I won't name out of politeness and discretion. As usual everyone was bitching and moaning about their favourite cardroom. There are at least two new waitresses since I last paid a visit. The games are as good and as tough as ever. They seem to have a regular £100 no limit holdem game going which has a maximum sit down of £600. Why there is a cap on this and not one on the pot limit game I don't really understand. Yes yes I know that management don't want the punters to do their money too quickly, but if you think it can't go fast in the pot limit game then you better take up scrabble or something.

Everything is Holdem now - I briefly played in the pot limit Omaha game, but it kept fluctuating between full and five or four players with no real list. Twice I saw Murray Brown and Ray the Taxi Driver sitting around forlornly waiting for the Dealer's Choice game to start up, but that's another game that seems to have died. It's a shame really as at one time those were good games. It seems all the Omaha/DC players like Sirhan, Ali, Celim, the other Ali, Mason and Hyder and a few others have all been gobbled up by the Western. I hear that Hyder is barred which could be the reason that the Dealer's game isn't running at the moment. One of the dealers told me how much he hated dealing the Omaha because all the players were such "miserable bastards". Hold on, I resemble that comment. Joking aside, he might have had a point. You know the Omaha game is dead when even a stalwart Omaha player like Mike Wilner says that you just have to play Holdem now. Having said all that there was a blinding Omaha game on monday night that was still going strong when I left around 4am.

I witnessed an interesting incident between a pro and a star in the £250 plh game. On the turn the pro bet £500 and the star, who was quite vocal and animated, called. As he was calling it looked like he may have flashed his cards. I was standing nearby and saw nothing. I'm trying to say it looked accidental to me, but I could be wrong. The pro now protested that the star had exposed his hand to the player next to him and asked for a ruling which he got in his favour. The pro gave the star back his monkey, but took the rest of the pot. The star was quite upset and nearly left the game. I think it was poor form and bad for the game by the pro to get this ruling. I guess the pro could not have had much of a hand as he was unhappy at the star calling (for starters, why is the pro trying to bluff a star? Obviously a bad play against a known non-believer). The pro should have taken his lumps and not made a fuss. Plenty of opportunities to get the money back plus more from the star during the rest of the game.

Here's a hand I played from the £100 plh game. I limp utg with pocket 6s. The next player raises the pot and a load of us call. £75 in the pot. Flop comes Kc 6d Qc. The blinds check and I lead out for £50. Folded around to Alan Abrahams on the small blind who now raises up to £200. Sweet. Unusually I had Alan covered - I had about a Grand and he had £340 left. I raised again to £400. He called. Turn is the 4c. Great. I bet out of turn by mistake (basically I knew his last £140 was going in no matter what - there was about £900 out there) and he called. Last card was another rag club that didn't pair up the board and he wins with 8c 7c. Nice hand Alan. Oh well, I guess I was looking for action with my hand and I got it.

A great new development is that they now give comps for the restaurant to regular players. JQ and I had dinner at the pleasure of the Vic. I couldn't believe it. Also on sunday at around 5pm the waitresses bought around a load of free finger food, spring rolls and stuff like that, for all the players in the card room. WTF?!? The Vic are being nice to the poker players, wow. If they're really on the ball they'll introduce player's cards like in the States (I know they're doing this at the new Empire Casino in Leicester Square). I wonder how long it will take management to go in that direction? At least ten years after every other casino in the country no doubt. I can already hear Jeff Leigh's response.

I love the Vic and it's regulars. It's still the only cardroom in the British Isles where you are guaranteed a (legal) cash game from 2pm every day. Everybody moans constantly about how badly the room is run, but I don't see them going anywhere else. The Vic should count themselves lucky that all the new rooms springing up around London are run by people that don't understand poker - they all think it's about tournaments. Deano who was an excellent dealer at the Vic now runs the new room at the Empire. If anybody can give the Vic a run for it's money it should be him.