LAS VEGAS–Funny how being in Las Vegas has put me so out of touch with all the poker news. I think there are some big tournaments going on, online poker execs in the courts, business deals shaking down, but I’ve got little to report other than poker being played. Still, it’s been kinda interesting to see who you run into at the tables around this town:
The first notable I ran into was OREL HERSHEISER, who apparently just moved here to Las Vegas and sat to my left in a 1/2 NLH game at RED ROCK — fresh after being denied selection into the baseball HALL OF FAME. I tried to play the not-knowing-who-he-is thing — “You lost a vote? Were you running for city council or congress or something?” — but he would end up busting me out when I tried to run a little STOP-N-GO. As I pushed all-in, he asked, “How much money do you have?”
“Um, I’m all-in. About $140 more,” I said, pointing to my stacks.
“No, I mean other money. Because we can make a little side-bet away from the table,” he said, upon showing me THE NUTS.
Red Rock seems to be the OFF-STRIP place to be. On my second post-WSOP outing there, I ran into GARY THOMPSON — World Series of Poker media master and tournament overlord. He was wearing comfortable jeans, loafers, and a button-down shirt while playing 2/5 NLH. With about $800 in front of him, he said he was “down a couple hundred.” But it wouldn’t take long for him to grow his stacks, and a few hours later, he had moved up to the 5/10 game and had what looked to be about $2k.
On that same day, I saw A GUY I BUSTED at the Rio. He was a good player who went with the whole BLACK HOODIE and SUNGLASSES kinda thing, while saying almost nothing and acting with stoic (but angry) CHRIS FERGUSON-like motions. He was playing 1/2 NLH and nursing about $200.
Over at THE VENETIAN in the 2/5 game, I found myself up against a WSOP Dealer — SHAI the ISRAELI GUY. He was sick when I pushed all-in and convinced him to fold his top-pair-top-kicker that would turn into TOP BOAT … only to see the guy who took down the pot from me win with KING-HIGH. A couple hours later I was playing a goofy hand with K-6 offsuit in late position, the flop came K-7-K … he checks, I bet, he raises big, I call. Turn is a 6, he pushes all-in, I call … at which point he shows his POCKET 7s. The table cheers for a FOURTH SEVEN, but it doesn’t come and I send him to the ATM.
One table over, KARINA JETT’S MOTHER was playing — beyond her typical quiet game, she was practically falling asleep at the table (at 3 AM) while nursing about $400. She may not remember this, but she won a $15 PROP BET from me once over a RULES DISPUTE. (My bad … I thought I knew stuff.)
Back at RED ROCK a couple days later, I ran into ABRAHAM, and he really deserves his own post, because he tilted the table unlike anything I had ever seen — and even managed to invoke mockery from a cute young girl who wasn’t playing. Basically imagine the worst personality and poker characteristics of ME, TIM ROGERS and EON MARSHALL all wrapped up into an obnoxious kid who graduated from high school in 2003 and is well aware that he looks like STU UNGAR. Then give him a lot of chips. (His behavior and play was so table-altering it had me interrupting TOM SCHNEIDER’S vacation in ST. THOMAS for some emergency coaching … who advised me well until I played back without paying attention to a guy to my left who had pocket kings.)
I really wanted to KILL THIS KID, or at least make him cry. And so did everyone else — especially the old (presumably) gay man who he busted by calling a $260 raise pre-flop with 2-3 suited only to flop two threes. But he can’t be all that bad, because without provoking from me, he at one point shouted, “THE HAMMER!” with glee. Hey kid, if you are reading this, what I told you at the table after you “bluffed” me with pocket-5s and then taunted (it took me a good five minutes to lay down Ace-high) still applies: “I look forward to seeing you get your education.” Punk-ass. Like seriously, you had at least two of us at the table contemplating how one might go about rolling you in the parking lot.
One of the cool things about Red Rock is that when you need to shake off a bad beat or just step away from
a dipshit the table to refocus, you can go BOWL A GAME 24 hours a day — for $3 +$3.50 for shoes. That seems like positive EV.
The picture above is from a day I didn’t actually play poker … but I did walk through the poker room just for funsies after bowling, and whom should I run into but NOLAN DALLA, longtime Dallas poker expat and WSOP media guru, legendary sports handicapper, and Stu Ungar biographer. He was wearing CARGO SHORTS, a frumpled shirt, and seemed pleasantly drinky while playing 5/10 NLH with a couple old friends from POKERSTARS.
“I’m stuck $800 but having a great time!” he screamed upon embracing me with a BEAR HUG. “Isn’t this a great casino!?! Hey everybody, it’s Dan from Pokerati!”
“Oh, right …” Nolan said. “Didn’t mean to blow your cover.”
I also ran into STEVE HALL one night at Red Rock, too. He was playing PENNY VIDEO SLOTS. He had a big hit of some sort of crazy picture combinations that won him about $60.
And then to top it all off, I went to CAESAR’S PALACE with DON JONES (of Rounder Club fame), LEIGH & BRIAN from the Poker Atlas , DOCTOR STEVE, and former Absolute Poker marketing chick JEN TIDWELL to play in their 50-player-max $65 tourney. We all had 10 percent of each other, which proved irrelevant as our top player would bubble.
I was the first to bust out (of the tournament) and would take a seat playing some 2/5. Of all the poker tables in Las Vegas … what are the chances that DAN BALLENGER (aka HONG KONG SUE, father of SON OF SUE) would get seated at my table? It would take more than a full orbit before he realized he was sitting with a fellow BATFACE. He bought in for $500 and cashed out a couple hours later for a little less than that. HKS got most of those chips from me … calling a $100 bluff with second-pair-no-kicker (what was I THINKING!?!) … and then bluffing me out of a $400+ pot on the river, getting me to lay down aces. He mucked at the time, but told me as he left that he pushed all-in for his remaining $135 with an underpair. Wish I hadn’t asked, because it had me semi-tilting for a good 30 minutes or more. I know he was just trying to be nice, but still …
Then JASON from JACKIE’S (in Dallas) and “RICKY ZILEM” showed up. They were just walking through checking out the action. Fancy running into these guys here. Chris/Ricky, said, “I did what nobody does when they first land in Vegas and took a nap.”
Small world. Good times.