Writings from Truckin'


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Monday, November 14, 2005

Playing artichoke suited

Don't forget to tune in to PBS's "American Experiences" documentary "Las Vegas: An Unconventional History" premiering tonight and tomorrow at 9 p.m.

This is the officially sanctioned documentary by the city, which basically means there is no mob.


Took the free Microsoft seminar launching Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, which was worth the day spent and not just because they give you retail versions of the two products for free on the way out. The speakers were Ron Mardix, who was a new Microsoft hire by three weeks and seemed in awe of his new position. He was nice enough but too self-deprecating, taking too much time to explain how he was hired, apologizing upfront about a last-minute switch, and making excuses about his manager and the second speaker who was late. He spent enough time on this and his hackneyed jokes that he had to gloss over questions as he ran late in the presentation.

The second speaker was Anand Iyer who has his own blog called Artificial Ignorance and who I thought gave an excellent presentation, fielding questions with ease and speaking casually and informatively with a dry wit. He also seemed to be one of the key developers (including Internet Explorer 7.0, which the DVD contained a beta of and which he said to backtime your computer date by 30 days before installing, because he had set it to expire if installed after a certain date.)

The movie theater was filled with 400 tech geeks and maybe four women, two of whom were men with long hair.

Many were employed by casinos, and if I knew anything about this software or the IT field at all, it would've been a great place to network.

No lunch was provided, but a coupon was handed out for a free popcorn and soda, which I didn't use because the lines were too long.


Carla bought me dinner at King's Fish House at The District at Green Valley Ranch, which has my hands-down vote for the best collection of restaurants in all of Henderson, Nevada. There are still a few I haven't visited and like a good movie (I still haven't seen Jaws), I'm savoring the others for a rainy day.

For starters, we shared a delicious grilled artichoke and edamame.

I was skeptical about the char-grilled 'choke, never a big fan because of the work involved to get to the meat. (And because, ahem, I naively thought you were supposed to eat the skin near the meat.)

But this one turned me around. It was carved into quarters with the choke removed, smothered in melted butter and garlic, and served hot with a basil mayo dip. Just peel a leaf, dip lingeringly into the sauce, and skin off the meat with your teeth. My tastebuds melted.

For entrees, she had the fresh rock fish (their specialty), and I had the coconut curry shrimp (with pineapple and rice).


We talked poker, specifically the two-day WPT Boot Camp that she attended at the Mirage. She said Clonie Gowen and others provided much advice (one of the people is responsible for selecting the WPT hands to televise). After the first day, sit-and-gos were spread for the 56 students with the instructors walking around and watching how people played. After the second day, a multi-table tourney ran with the winner getting a free seat into the WSOP.

Two tips that I didn't know previously that show poker is about playing the player:
  • Pros raise on a random event. Not what cards are dealt, but something trivial such as the arrival of the cocktail waitress or a new dealer or a certain minute on the hour. No matter your position, no matter your cards, no matter if there was a raise behind you. Raise with that hand.
  • Daniel Negreanu always raises UTG (I would think pros would adjust their play expecting this), then outplays post-flop.

Many of the concepts I already know, but there's one in particular that I keep resisting because it goes against what I know in limit: limping with Ax suited and limping with small pocket pairs in late position.

In early position, I fold these (including small pairs 55 and below) but in late position with many limpers, I always limp along. My logic is the odds are good to limp in to flop or drop. If I hit the set, I want to keep people in. If I raise preflop, I may get out some of the people that I want in if I hit.

I tend to drop anything A10 and below. AJ, I'll come in with a raise if it's folded to me, but I won't call a raise. AQ, I'll raise or call a raise. AK, I'll raise or reraise.

These are full tables. In shorthanded games, I'm liable to raise with any Ace or overcards.

Depending how the table is and how many people are playing small Aces, I may loosen up and play hands like A10 and A9 in late, but it's rare. Unless hitting the flop with two pair or trips or top pair (with Ace kicker), that kicker is just not going to be strong enough. I'd much rather play connectors than low or medium Aces.

Whether cards are suited doesn't factor into whether I play a hand. The small percentage advantage is inconsequential. I won't call a raise with any two suited unless I would normally call that raise with those cards offsuit.

This is both no-limit and limit, though I'm often tempted to play any two suited in limit when I see others drag huge pots. But in the long run, it isn't worth limping with hands like K6s, Q8s, etc., or even hands like 45s, 56s, 79s.

But Axs I will limp with, even A2s.

The proper play in no-limit is to raise or fold, as is the proper play in all hands.

I always thought with a sea of limpers, odds would dictate limping along from the button and the small blind with a variety of hands. Including Axs.

That's how I play in limit, even in no-limit.

But according to WPT Boot Camp and no-limit in particular, they still say fold. Or raise. Anything to narrow the field. With limpers, you have no idea what you're up against. Raise and you're generally safe from scary paired or draw flops.

This reminds me of problems I encounter in screenplays. If something isn't working in the third act, look to the first act.

In poker, if you're having trouble getting people off draws like I constantly do, look to preflop.

And there, it's either raise to get potential draw cards out, or fold.

Something so simple as that, but it makes sense.

After dinner, we headed to the casino to try out our new strategy -- never limp, just fold, raise, or reraise.

I'll post about that next time (what a tease).