Writings from Truckin'


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hammer, can you hear me?

Time for a little Hammer contest, brought to you by Full Tilt, the jersey of which I'm wearing right now with nothing underneath.

Guess who says "Hammer" in this MP3 audio clip.

I've doctored the file to mask the person's true identity and have added music in the background.

First person who guesses correctly will win a trip into grubby's scary prize closet, containing a plethora of casino gifts. You can pick one of the following to add to your own closet: shower radio, beach bag, travel bag, multi-angling fan, salad serving bowl, set of two salad bowls, mystery gift from Sahara (gift-wrapped and unopened), Barber in a Box, flashlight with toolkit, hardware caddy with over 600 pieces, March Madness 2005 short-sleeved Polo shirt + matching visor, picnic cooler bag, duffel bag, set of two color-changing mugs, two-piece Fondini pen set, set of two Motorola Talkabout walkie-talkies, set of six small wine glasses, appetizer serving platter, ESPN Zone travel bag, or fruit bowl. More will be added on a weekly basis (unfortunately).

First person who guesses the composer of the music will also win one of the above prizes.

If you're the first person to guess both correctly, you get two of the prizes plus I'll buy you something with my Amazon gift certificate, up to $25.

If no one's guessed correctly by Dec. 7 (right before the next WPBT), a random winner will be drawn from all entries.

Send guesses (one per person, please) to: springcleaning@pokergrub.com.


Bellagio was the first cardroom I ever played live, so though I have a certain fondness for it and the 7-card-stud days of yore, I like it less and less the more I go.

Play is aggressive, which is fine. But surly dealers, tables without cupholders, and constantly being shoved by people walking behind me isn't my idea of a good time.

Wynn took the Bellagio design and transferred it to his casino, which is also why I tend not to play there. It's no fun being bumped in your swivel chair every minute as players, dealers, and cocktail waitresses try to squeeze by. Bellagio's poker room cocktail waitresses are also dressed the most unattractively out of all poker rooms in some kind of understated cheerleader sweater outfit as dated as a Hooters girl. That's one area Wynn vastly improved -- their poker cocktail waitresses are the best looking.

But boy howdy do I like Bellagio's strawberry juliuses (complete with fresh strawberry skewered into the glass rim), which no other casino comes close to. They also look like daquiris or margaritas, which helps in table image to have a nice alcohol-looking tropical drink in front of you.

The NL game was out of my league, with most players over $500 with a $200 buy-in and at least one person with $2000 running the table. Blinds were 2/5, which I like much more than 1/2, but flops weren't seen without a minimum 3x raise.

Earlier at a good NL Green Valley Ranch game, I lost my first buy-in ($200) to other people's lucky catches, primarily QQ vs. KJ and 10-10 vs. A10 (I made my standard $15 raise preflop each time), both their key cards rivering. My mistake was perhaps not pushing on the flop or turn (uncoordinated rags on both), but I thought betting the pot each time was enough at heads-up. I rebought $200 and after a few orbits raised $20 with my first AA of the night. One caller to a flop of A-5-6 (rainbow). I bet the pot, he calls. Turn is a Q. Now I push, hoping he has AK or AQ and interprets my all-in as a scared bluff. He covers me by about $20, says he has to leave soon anyway, and calls with 7-8. Instead, I was the one leaving soon. It consistently surprises me how NL really isn't any different from limit, because people still won't give up draws.

Again, perhaps I should have bet more on the flop and I'm doubting my plays here. I'm satisifed with how I played the hands (though dissatisfied with the end result, of course), but wondering if I'm simply in denial and if I could have done anything differently. If I had to do it again, I'd play the hands the same way. I do want to maximize my winnings, not waste premium hands, and not simply pick up $3 blinds and $2 limpers... or do I? I see some people raising all-in preflop, everyone folds, and then tabling AA or KK. Sure, a small win is better than a big loss, but certainly AA and KK are worth more than $3, eh?

After lackluster results at GVR, I mostly wanted to relax at Bellagio and watch the final table of the WPT on live closed circuit TV while sipping strawberry juliuses, so I sat in a 4/8 that was friendly, tourist-heavy, and bluff-aggressive.

As for cards, I was completely dead so it was good to have the WPT to watch and cheer for certain players. The blinds of 2/4 (most 4/8 tables in Vegas have 1/2 blinds) eroded my $200 buy-in over the course of four hours.

It was the first time I've sat at a table with more women than men at a 5:4 ratio. Play resembled how games are in the Los Angeles card barns. I noticed here more than other places, people were unafraid of flush possibilities. More often than not, they were correct that a caller or two did not have it. Many times they would even check-raise. I don't check-raise as often as I should because I'm afraid it'll be checked through.

One woman had at least two cell phones that kept ringing from her purse. She took about five calls every orbit, thanks to Bellagio's nonrule that you're able to talk on the phone at the table. I suspected she was operating an escort business, as she was taking names and numbers and speaking in different languages. Meanwhile, she won every pot she was involved in while on the phone.

She was probably on the Friends and Family plan, but she kept all the phones.

I should have asked for her provider, because my piddly Cingular plan gets zero bars at home and at Bellagio. Not good, if I'm going to set up my own escort massage service.

A guy who was in the WPT audience for 6 1/2 hours sat to my left and got AK, AK, KK, AA and AA within 15 minutes. All but the first AK held up.

Most of my hands contained a 2 or a 3. My final hand was KK and I suppose ironic enough that I lost to 23s. I still can't bring myself to play 23, suited or not, even though in low-limit games there's a value in playing any suited cards.

Called roommate Pauly to see if he was still haunting the Fontana, but he was already back at the apartment. I headed back but made a pitstop at Ellis Island, drowning my beats in the $4.95 steak sirloin special (they were out of baked potatoes).


On Saturday, met up with Carla and Lisa at Mandalay Bay. Lisa's still learning, so we sat at 2/4. Talk about a killer game -- if I thought the beats were bad at 4/8, they're even worse at 2/4. Loose-passive, with at least seven players to a flop and rarely anyone but Carla and me doing the preflop raising which became value bets because no one dropped.

I won one hand early on, then lost every hand thereafter. AK twice, 10-10 twice, QQ, KK all fell. Some I was able to escape on the flop. Every time I'd fold or muck, a guy who seemed to be after me said to his neighbor, "I knew he didn't have anything."

Played loose as a moose but couldn't get even those hands to hold up. Suited and unsuited connectors, suited gaps like J8s and any suited A or K (I can't bear to play Q2s). Nothing hit, not even a possible draw, as I mostly missed flops completely.

My penultimate hand was K4o in the blind (one blind in 2/4 at Mandalay). K-4-8 flop. 4 turn. 8 river. After I'm raised and then reraised, I let it go. Two brothers from Israel went after each other with about 10 reraises. One flipped Q8. The other flipped K8.

My final hand was QQ, which lost to the guy who always called me. He had A6 and got his Ace.

I wasn't too upset because I expected bad play, but I was hoping for a bit more luck and maybe another winning hand. One guy made quad 8s on the turn for a $164 high hand jackpot and didn't tip the dealer. I tried to help the dealer by being extra loud in congratulations to the player and in loudly asking the dealer how much people tend to tip on jackpots. But the player didn't pick up on the hints, so I dropped it.

I did enjoy seeing AA and KK cracked by Q3o (I had neither the AA nor KK).

Carla also lost her buy-in.

Lisa, on the other hand, won $6.50. The best part was watching men fawn all over her. She came to the table dressed up for a Saturday night, with glossy lips, low-cut top, and sassy shoes. The dealer kept asking for her phone number, and I finally said I'd give him a hint since he didn't get a jackpot tip: it starts with 702 (the area code for all of Las Vegas).

After his down, he returned and slid her his business card. Tenacious, that dealer. I should've told him 702-386-5397.


Sunday was Excalibur day. Pauly and I joined a fun 2/6 table, intent on spinning the wheel. Four people spun with quads or cracked Aces. A white chip was passed around that had a smiley face sticker on it. Pauly used it to cap his stack, and I laughed whenever I saw it.

An easily tiltable guy to my right was new to poker but not new to the attitude. He had the WPT image down and when he suffered a beat, he pitched a fit and said, "What were you calling? That was the worst play I've ever seen." The guy who put the beat on him offered to give him lessons and asked him how long he'd been playing poker. He said three years and that he was 21.

I always lie whenever asked this question at the table. I usually say I'm just learning or I saw it on TV last week and wanted to try. I'll also say I'm 18 years old. It doesn't do any good to be perceived as a tight player unless I can use that to an advantage (which generally only works against other tight players). I also won't say that I'm a local, saying I'm from DC when asked. It doesn't get anywhere near the lies I tell at strip clubs, which are all completely false, but that's more a creative outlet.

Unlike the last time we played, this time was for real. No prop betting on the color of the wheel spins, no banter, no tilting players with obnoxious behavior. I overheard a guy two seats to my left say that I'm a good player, that I don't make loose calls. Which meant it was time to mix up my play, bluffing a $6 raise on limpers and using my image to get them to fold.

I began to play it up a little, tipping the dealer in advance for a good hand. Then tipping again for a wheel spin.

After Pauly left, a guy replaced him and after 10 minutes his wife came running into the room, excited that she'd won $45,000 in slots. I can't even count to 45,000. Shortly after that, the guy's Aces were cracked and he spun the wheel for $70.

To my left was an old local who called everything past the flop. He'd hold his cards in a way that the whole side of the table couldn't help but see them, and I was amazed what he played. Any pair he'd call down (he beat Pauly with 22 and a runner full house to Pauly's flopped straight). Any overcard he'd call to the river. A few times he'd be check-raised and debate whether to laydown 82o with a 2 on the flop. He was down to his last few dollars and had AA cracked, which netted him $120 on the wheel spin. People cheered for him, more because that meant he'd stick around.

The table broke at 3-handed, and I moved to a rollicking 2/10 table (2/2 blinds) where every hand was raised to the max of $10 thanks to three people from San Diego who were bantering it up. Finally got pocket Aces and while I'd slowplay them on 2/6, at 2/10 it wasn't worth it. Someone flopped a straight and I had to call him down in order to spin. The wheel resulted in $40, which was $10 less than my share of the pot. But better than nothing.

As long as San Diego was there, I was committed to playing as long as my ass didn't go numb. Finally left at 6 a.m. when the table broke and I could feel my ass again.

These 2/6 and 2/10 games are probably the best things going in Vegas, and the only unstructured limit games around. Coupled with the double wheel spins, Excalibur's become my poker room of choice.

That's my weekend and I'm sticking to it.