Saturday, July 22, 2017

DC Getting a New Poker Room!

That's right, you heard it here first.  The Washington DC metro area will be getting a brand new poker room!  

I played a 4 hour session today at the MGM National Harbor poker room and got the news straight from the horse's mouth.  In this case, the metaphorical horse was a dealer.  It would be irrational for him to make up a story like this.  You might say, "Ace, are you sure you heard it right?"  I'm here to tell you that I was in seat 1 and heard all that was said.

You might ask, "And where will this new poker room be?"  The answer: the room will be one floor above the current MGM National Harbor poker room.  The current poker room is going away.  How could a very busy, 39 table, poker room that is considered the cream of the crop in the DC metro area be going away?

The main reason is to add more tables.  The new MGM poker room will have 57 (plus or minus 2) tables, making it the biggest poker room in the area.

This is great news.  And on top of all that, it will be away from the annoying and loud slot machines that are right next to the current room.

Closing Fall 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Miami Weekend

DC temperatures have been reaching mid 90s daily.  The lady and I decided to head to the beach for the weekend.  She was unable to go to Mexico City because of work, so we booked a short weekend trip to Miami.

We left DCA Saturday morning.  A friend picked us up from the airport and we all went to Versailles, a well known Cuban restaurant, for lunch.  After lunch we were dropped off at our hotel on South Beach.  By early afternoon, we were catching some sun rays and swimming in the warm ocean.

People watching was also fun.




After the beach, we went to an outdoor bar on Ocean Drive and had two cocktails for ONLY $48!  What a steal, not.



In the evening, we went to Bunbury restaurant with our friend and her boyfriend.  Bunbury's empanadas each have a different filling and they were all delicious.  Afterwards we headed over to Lagniappe house/wine bar.  We had some drinks in the garden until a typical Miami rain shower made everyone run for the canapĂ© covering the outdoor bar.

Sunday we started the day with another trip to the beach.  Cooling off in the water while small fish swim around you is as good as it gets.  At one point, few silver fish with yellow tails jumped above the water.



In the afternoon we went to downtown Miami for a stroll around the Bayside Marketplace.  It's an interesting place with a lot of bars, restaurants and people walking around the marina.

In the evening, we joined our friends at the Lido Bar at the Standard Hotel in Miami Beach.  The atmosphere was good but the view was even better.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Knock, Knock

Who is there?
Losing.
Losing who?
Losing Streak!

My play at the MGM has been mediocre.  Because of my decisions, not only is Lady Luck not knocking on my poker door but she has left the building.

Here are several examples of how I chased Lady Luck away.

Hand 1:



I could have played it differently by checking the flop.  I thought a healthy flop bet would get him out.  Once he called, I slowed down on the turn.  Unfortunately, the river was the worst card for me and my shove was just as bad.  I put him on a king.  Of course he is not going to call the river bet with just a king!

Hand 2:



It's unfortunate that he caught one of his three outs on the flop.  I did not think he had AA, KK, or QQ since he only called flop and checked turn.  He debated folding on the river.  He even said, "I think I'm beat." But he called and my bluff failed miserably.

If you think that was bad, here is something more dumb.  I'm in seat 1 and the old lady in seat 5 is terrible.  I just watched her call a big river bet (and lose) with the fourth best pair!  She rebought and I made a mental note that she sucks.

Hand 3:



Here I am saying how bad the old lady was but my play was even worse!  What hand will I get her to fold on the river?  Only draws.  If she has pocket deuces, she is calling!  This is an example of me trying to represent a big pocket pair and thinking that I can outplay her without having a pair.  Wrong!

Let's end the post with a hand where I actually got it in as a favorite.

Hand 4:




Looking back at the hand, if I raise pre-flop to $30 and he called, on the flop I move all-in for $45 and maybe he folds.

I need to look for better spots with made hands and leave bluffing to the professionals.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Independence Day Weekend

I spent five days in Mexico City over the Independence Day weekend.  The overall trip was a success.  There were few minor issues but I'm glad I went.  Instead of writing a detailed trip report, I thought I'd let the photos do the talking.  Enjoy.

National Palace

Metropolitan Cathedral

Palace of Fine Arts

Paseo de la Reforma and the Angel of Independence

Chapultepec Castle



Chapultepec Castle Garden

Old Playing Cards

Street Performers

Pyramid of the Moon


Soumaya Museum




Bicycle Festival

View from the Monument to the Revolution

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Greetings from Mexico City!

The first half of 2017 is in the books.  In those six months the lady and I moved in together, then we got engaged, my nephew was born, and I played some golf and poker sporadically.  As for vacation and travel, there were only a few short trips to places I've visited before...until now.

My buddy suggested doing a trip to Mexico City few months ago.  His friend and her family live here.  At first, I was hesitant but since he speaks Spanish and we would be hanging out with locals, I agreed to go.

The flight was uneventful.  First thing I noticed after getting out of the airport was the traffic and chaos driving.  I'm not sure if the drivers are bad or the sheer amount of cars are to blame.  Let's move on to some positive things.

Yesterday we went to Teotihuacan, an ancient city located 25 miles northeast of Mexico City.  I'll write a more detailed post about the day trip and some road bumps along the way.  Walking the site and climbing the pyramids was a wonderful experience.

Pyramid of the Sun

Can you find me?
Dinner was in the upscale district of Polanco.  I tried Escamoles, a dish native to Central Mexico that was considered a delicacy by the Aztecs.  You might ask what is it and the answer would be...ant eggs and larvae aka insect caviar!  It tasted OK but the main dish, grilled octopus, was delicious.

Dinner (stock photo)
Since I'm writing this on my phone, that's all for now.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Treading Water

I've been treading water for the last month or two.  I haven't played that much.  I've had a winning session at all three local poker rooms.  I've also had losing sessions at MD Live and at the MGM.  In my experience, it only takes a few hands to decide if a session ends with a win or a loss.  Let's take a look at some hands.

The first hand, we'll call it the Poker Meister because in a recent post, his opponent beat him with 8,2.
Hand 1:


This hand was very frustrating for three reasons.  One, earlier, I was involved in a hand with the same player.  I flopped a queen-high straight but on the river he caught up and we chopped.  Two, I flopped it but he caught one of his three outs on the turn.  Three, after we both checked the river, I said, "You have an eight, don't you?"  He replied that he did.  Then he turned his cards over and the dealer had to tell him that he had rivered a flush.

Hand 2:


This hand happened not too long after Hand 1 above.  Hitting top pair on the flop with a flush draw is about as good as it gets.  I think he called because I was short stacked and he liked his hand.

Hand 3:


I was surprised at the number of players in the hand.  I wasn't sure if betting bigger or controlling the pot was smarter.  I definitively thought at least one person was on a club flush draw.  Once I nailed the river, I wasn't sure how big of a bet would get called.  Maybe I could have bet more?

Hand 4:



I wanted to include this hand because my river bet didn't get called.  I didn't think the river would have raised any flags for the opponent.  Maybe he was on a draw.  I was left wondering what sizing would have work if he had a jack.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Even-Steven

Played a short session after work.  Haven't had a chance to play much poker in June.  Let's get to some hands.

The first hand did not involve me but it was kind of funny.  A short stack moved all-in on the flop of 6,6,2.  Seat 9 thought about it and called with 8,8.  The turn was a 4 and the river a 5.  Seat 2 flipped over 3,3 and won with a six-high straight.


I am in seat 3 with two towers of red birds in front of me.  There is a high hand promo going on.  The high hand on the board is quad jacks.

I bet $11 pre-flop with A,J in mid position and get one caller.  The flop is K,K,3 and I lead out of $14.  A guy with a blue Orioles hat, in seat 6, calls.  The turn is a J and I check.  He bets $25.  Does he really have a king?  Wouldn't K,x want to see the river in hopes of hitting the fourth king and qualify for the HH promo?  Both hole cards have to play.  Only K,2 would be dead on the turn.  I don't think J,x would bet the turn.  I call and the river is a 4.  I check and he bets $55.  What would you do?



Just a few hands later, I get dealt 2,2.  Four of us see the flop for $2 each.  The flop is 2,4,5.  I bet $7 and only the blue Orioles hat guy calls.  The turn is a 9 and I bet $10.  He makes it $35.  I look at his stack and he has less than $50 left.  I raise to $100 and he is all-in for $82.  What did I put him on?  Maybe A5, 66, 77, or 45.  Now that I think of it, A3 makes sense also.  But, au contraire, he flips over 3,6.

I don't improve and after all that, I'm even-steven.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Poker at the Horseshoe

I finally got a chance to play at the Horseshoe poker room in Baltimore, MD.  The Horseshoe opened almost three years ago and this was my first poker session there.  I played in a tournament two years ago but not in the poker room.  The tournament was held in a big convention hall on the ground floor.


In my opinion, out of the three poker rooms located near I-295, the Shoe looks the best when you walk in.  The MD Live poker room lighting could be better and the MGM poker room entrance is right on the casino floor.  Local poker players and bloggers TPM (blog) and PPP (blog) have played many sessions there.  Even the travelling poker player TBC (blog) has played more times at the Shoe than me.

I decided to make the trip after work and see if a change of scenery brings back Lady Luck.


I got my chips and picked up the Ante Up magazine at the podium.  I was sent to a table right away.  I chose the only open seat, 4.

Front and center: another blogger
It didn't take me long to realize that seat 5 was the table captain.  He said he was waiting for a $2/$5 seat to open up.  He was in almost every pot and rarely did he make it to showdown without raising big on one of the streets.  It was unfortunate that I was immediately to his right.  I tried limping several hands but his $15 to $30 pre-flop bets/raises made me fold quickly.

The Shoe allows straddling from any position aka Mississippi Straddle.  Maybe I wouldn't mind it if seat 5 wasn't using it so often.  The way the game played and seat 5 having position on me, I didn't like it.  Let's get to some hand summaries.

Less than two orbits in, I'm UTG+1 and get dealt A,10.  I don't have much on my opponents.  UTG leads out for $12 and I call.  Seat 10 makes the call as well.  The flop is 10,4,4 and seat 3 bets $25.  I call and seat 10 raises it to $65.  Seat 3 calls and I'm sitting there trying to justify a call.  What would you do?



The table was not tight to say the least.  Seat 5 opens for $10 and gets three callers.  He gets it all-in on the flop with 7,7 versus seat 7 who has K,Q and rivers a straight.  Seat 5 rebuys before the chips get pushed to seat 7.  Table captain was playing aggressively and it cost him another buy-in.  He kept showing the second best hand.



I bet $10 pre-flop with 10,9 in the cutt-off.  Seat 5 called.  The flop was 7 high with one club.  I checked the flop and the turn which was also a club.  Surprisingly, he checked back.  The river was a 9 and I bet $25.  He decided to look me up.  I showed and he mucked.  

In seat 4, I get dealt 5,6 in the BB.  Seat 5 bets $10 and I call.  We are both about $200 behind.  We check the 5,4,10 flop.  I lead out for $15 on the 7 turn and he calls.  The river is a 5 and I bet $25.  He moves all-in for about $130.  I'm in a pickle.  What would you do?

Update:

Thank you all for the comments.  I learn a lot from experienced players and their approach to poker.  In this hand, you might say that I made several errors.  I won't disagree.  My thoughts, when it came to my opponent in seat 5, were that he likes to play many hands and is aggressive.  I liked my suited connectors and wanted to see the flop against seat 5 since I close out the action pre-flop.  

I check the flop and he checks it too.  Him checking the flop gave me info that I thought was valuable.  I would expect an overpair or a set to bet in order to charge straight and flush draws.  The pot was $21 and I bet $15 on the turn.  I think the bet helps me keep him guessing.  If he has a flush, unless it's ace (or maybe king) high, I'd expect just a call.  And if he has an overpair, he would want to see the river.  

When the 5 comes on the river, I bet $25.  If he has an overpair, he might call the small bet.  I don't think a straight would raise.  No way he has a 5 in his hand.  What hand with a 5 would he raise UTG pre-flop.  When he moves all-in, my thoughts were that either he has a flush or he's beat.  Yes,  he could have a full house but that's unlikely.

I made the decision that I wanted to see his flush.  If he has it, I'm ready to say nice hand, sir.  I call and he doesn't seem to like it.  He slowly turns over his cards and I see the A and a black queen.  I feel discouraged for a millisecond.  I look closer and see that it's the queen of spades!

His played made some sense.  He raised pre-flop to $10 with A,Q.  The flop wasn't that good and he checked.  He called the turn after he improved to the nut flush draw.  The 5 on the river looked like a blank.  He probably put me on a 10 or even a straight.  His thinking might have been that he can represent the nut flush and make me fold my hand by raising the river.

I raked in the chips as he got up and left.  I played for a bit longer and then cashed out double my starting stack.  It felt good to call and be right but I could have easily lost.


I took some photos of the casino.





Sunday, June 4, 2017

Saturday Night Live Poker

I checked the waiting list for $1/$3 at 7 pm and there wasn't one!  I was seated in the MGM poker room before 8 pm.  I was in seat 5 to start out.

I open to $7 with A,7.  Seat 2, in the SB, makes it $15.  I call and seat 8 calls.  The flop is A,7,8 rainbow.  SB leads out for $5 and I make it $10.  The lady calls and SB makes it $25.  Only I call.  The turn is a 3.  He bets $25, I make it $50, and he is all-in for $7 more.  I call and the river is a blank.  He shows A,K.  I win and am up to $322.

I move to seat 10 in order to get on the right side of a big stack who likes to raise pre-flop.  I open to $12 with 10,10 and get three callers.  The flop is 6,8,3.  I bet $20 and get one caller.  Turn is A and he leads out for $20.  I call and the river is a 10.  He bets $20 and I raise to $80.  He folds.

Approaching midnight, I'm sitting on $395 and am getting ready to call it a night.  I look down at 8,8 and open to $15.  Seat 2, big stack, makes it $30.  Only I call.  The flop is 8,9,A and I check.  He bets $25 and I call.  The turn is a J.  I check and he bets $100.  

What do we know about the villain:  He replaced the guy I stacked from the A,7 hand.  He was involved in a three-way all-in hand on the flop, holding A,A, and the flop was 6,10,5.  All three players had over $500.  He won a $1500 pot.


In another hand, I was UTG with A,Q and bet $10.  He raised to $30 and the SB called.  I folded, he ended up having 10,10 vs her A,K.

Back to the hand.  I move all-in and he makes the call.  River is a 6 and I turn over 8,8.  He turns over A,A.

How could I have played it differently?  Maybe I can just call the turn?  If I check the river (or lead out) and he bets (or raises), can I fold a set?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Potomac Shores Golf

Since the engagement story is out of the way, we now return to the regularly scheduled blog about poker and golf.  I guess the title gave it away, another golf adventure.

This time, we head 30 miles south of Washington DC to a Jack Nicklaus designed course.  I was invited to a corporate golf tournament with a four-man scramble format hosted by a law firm.  During peak times the price of a round can exceed $100.  My money was no good there.  Everything was taken care of!

There was one catch, the weather forecast didn't look good as we gathered on the practice green.  Rain with temperatures in the 50s.



Some of the lawyers didn't showed up.  I can't blame them.  This was a round for golf lovers only.  My team ended up being composed of three golfers: one lady, one gentleman, and myself.  I was the best player on our team since the other two people only play few times per year.  Nevertheless, our spirits were high.

We got a par on the 1st, a bogey on the 2nd, and a birdied on the 3rd hole (pictured below).



We couldn't save pars on the 4th and 7th holes.



We wrapped up the front nine +3.  The most memorable hole was the par 5 10th.  I hit a great drive down the middle.  Then, I hit a mid iron straight down the hill.


There are two giant trees in the middle of the fairway.  I managed to land behind them.  I still had a shot but it would not be lined up with the flag.



I managed to sneak the ball around the tree and onto the green.  My two partners missed their putts.  I hit my putt and it went in for another birdie!


We did not do well until the last hole.  To be more precise, we were +5 on holes 11 thru 17.  But on the 18th, we hit good drives and second shots.  We had an eight foot putt for a birdie.  My two teammates missed their putts.  The putting line looked like it was downhill with a right to left break.  I barely tapped it but it curled and trickled into the cup for a birdie!

Overall, I give the course an 8 out of 10.  On average, the distances between the holes were very long.  And the elevation changes on the course make it almost unwalkable.

I was very happy to get out there rain or shine.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Queen of Hearts: Part 2

...continued

Everything was going well.  For Valentine's Day, they went to dinner to the Georgetown Waterfront.  The dinner was pricey but enjoyable.  Ace had a fun time coming up with zingers about couples seated around the restaurant where the men appeared to be twice as old as their female companions.

The DC winter was mild but by March, it was time to welcome back spring.  The couple booked a trip to see her family and spend some time at the beach.  Ace decided that this trip would be a good opportunity to pop the question.

He spent few weeks learning about diamonds and engagement rings.  He talked to his brother who was already married.  He spoke to his married female friends also.  And he browsed the internet trying to understand the differences between all the varieties available.  Not to bore you with the details, he ended up getting a diamond stone with an 18K white gold ring. 

The QoH has a very busy work schedule so her departing flight was scheduled for Friday evening.  Ace was going to book his flights with points.  He had two options.  Either fly thru Atlanta with a 5 hour layover and arrive on the island at 10 pm or fly DC to Newark Friday morning and catch a connecting flight at noon from JFK.  He chose the second option because he would reach the island by 4 pm.  This gave him enough time to go see potential proposal locations.  He was set on having it near a beach/water.

Fast forward to that Friday, Ace made it to DCA by 7 am.  He had the ring in a box inside his carry-on bag because it was too big to fit in his pocket.  There were no issues going thru security.  After the gate attendant scanned his boarding pass, he headed towards the aircraft.  The plane was very small and before entering the aircraft, he had to check his carry-on as did all other passengers.  Only after he got to his seat did he remember that he left the ring in the bag!  To make the situation even more entertaining, outside the window he saw the United workers loading and moving the bags.



Before the plane left the gate, the pilot announced that everything was looking good and the plane should be landing 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  Ace was very happy to hear this because it gave him extra time to make it to JFK for the 12 pm flight.


The DCA to EWR flight was very short but 15 minutes before landing, the pilot made the announcement that due to airport traffic, the plane would have to circle above New Jersey.  Long story short, the plane landed at 9:20 am.  Then, Ace had to wait for his carry-on bag at the side of the aircraft.  Luckily, he got the bag back with the ring inside.

Because of New York commuter traffic, Ace decided to take the train to Penn Station and from there go to JFK.  He made it to Penn Station at 10:40 am.  He rushed to the street level to see if he can take an Uber to JFK.  The app did not work and kept asking to verify payment.  He wasted 15 minutes and then gave up.  It was 11 am.  Defeated, he stood at the corner of 7th and 33rd.  He looked up and soaked in his surroundings.  He snapped a photo of the Empire State Building before heading back underground.


He hopped on the subway heading to the Jamaica Station.  Ace is a huge fan of Seinfeld.  First thing that came to mind was the episode The Subway and also The Cigar Store Indian.

During the rest of the ride, he passed the time by thinking about his options now that he had missed his flight.  He thought, will there be another flight today?  At what time?  How much will it cost?  What if there are no other flights tonight or they are all full?  He hoped that the worst case scenario would not happen where there were no other flights on Friday AND a next day flight would cost over $100 extra.  He arrived at the Delta counter in Terminal 2 at 12:20 pm.

He approached the lady at the counter and told her his story.  She was very nice.  She typed all the info into the computer and waited to see all the available options.  To Ace, waiting on the computer felt like an eternity but, in reality, it was only a minute.  She looked up at him and said, "The next available flight is at 6:30 pm tonight and there are seven available seats.  The cost to rebook is $50." 

This was music to Ace's ears.  It was almost the best case scenario.  He accepted the option immediately and everything went smoothly.  He remembered to take the box out and keep it with him during the flight.

He landed an hour before the QoH that evening.  The next day was very hectic.  For starters, it was cloudy all day and rain seems inevitable.  This meant that Ace had to choose a location that was covered or was near an area that had a cover in case it started to rain.  He considered doing it Sunday afternoon but the forecast was not good.

He ended up choosing an outdoor corner deck of a resort that is right on the water.  The deck is near the resort pool and bar area and it has a glass railing.  The QoH had to stop by an event at 4 pm.  Ace used the opportunity to go with a friend and see the place and make sure everything was going as planned.


The hotel personnel had everything ready by 5:30 pm.  Ace texted the QoH to let her know to meet him at 6 pm.  The two places are in close proximity to one another and she made it over by 6:15 pm.  They ordered from the menu and had champagne.  The rain stayed away and it was a wonderful moment.


Finally, Ace got down on one knee and asked the lady to marry him.  She said...Yes!  After taking few pictures, they let their families and friends know.  QoH's brother and few friends arrived after an hour to celebrate with the newly engaged couple right by the ocean.

And that's the story behind Ace and the queen of his heart.