Sunday, January 28, 2018

Five Minutes Too Late

I've played less than ten hours of poker this year.  I wasn't going to write a poker post but then this happened.

I was in seat 6 from the first hand the table opened up.  In seat 4 was a big black guy (BBG).  I'd say 6'3" and north of 250 lbs.  He was loose and had seen plenty of flops.  My stack was down a bit after my top pair ran into trips.  The BBG stepped away from the table and then came back.  Not too long after, he got into a hand and had to rebuy.

I was UTG and looked down at K-K.  I bet $13 and seat 8 called and the BBG in the SB also called.  The flop was J-7-7.  The BBG checked, I led out for $30.  Seat 8 folded but the BBG called.  The turn was a 9.  He checked and I bet $50.  He called.  The river was a 7 and he checked.  I threw in my last $50.  He called and showed 7-8 for quads.  OK, kind of a standard hand.  I didn't put him on a 7 and that's that.

Five minutes later things got interesting.  A female floor supervisor walked past me and stopped next to the BBG.  She tapped him on the shoulder.  I noticed a big security guard standing to her right.  At this point the whole table was at a standstill.  She handed the BBG a rack and told him to rack up.  Then, I realized that behind me, to my left, there were another two giant security guards.

The BBG racked up his chips without saying anything and got up.  One security guard lead the way.  The floor lady walked next to the BBG and the other two guards follow behind.  As they were exiting the poker room, I saw another MGM employee walking behind them with a sniffer dog!

Few players at the table tried to put the pieces together.  Some thought that he might have been spotted taking drugs.  Others suggested that maybe he was selling them.  Several players said that they had noticed the BBG return to the table earlier with a rack of chips.  He didn't put them in play but after coming back he did rebuy with cash.  So did he steal someone's chips?  Seems dumb to sit down few feet away from the scene of the crime.

I don't know if they took him to the security office or to the cashier.  I was pretty annoyed with the timing of the whole fiasco.  The BBG sat there for about 20 to 30 minutes after he came back to the table.  If security came looking for him sooner, I wouldn't have lost my stack.  But, unfortunately, they were five minutes too late.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bonehead Fold

I wasn't planning on writing a poker post but after what happened, I thought I'd share the story.

It's about 7 pm and I just sat down in seat 10.  The table had about six players but we filled up quickly.  I'm in the big blind and the dealer starts dealing the cards.  I look down at A-K.  After the dealer deals the last card, which went to seat 8, seat 9 starts to tell the dealer that his second card is in front of seat 8.  I look over and I see three cards in front of seat 8.

Seat 9 reaches over and grabs one of the cards in front of seat 8.  To me, it looked like he took the middle card.  The female dealer shrugs, which I interpret as a sign that she does not know which of the three cards in front of seat 8 belongs to seat 9.  She says, "Alright" and turns to her left and starts collecting cards.  I shake my head.

She continues collecting cards and by the time she reaches seat 6, I flip my cards face up and move them into the muck.  Suddenly, seat 6 calls.  Wait, what!  Seat 7 folds, seat 8 folds, and seat 9 calls!  I'm completely lost.  One of the other players asks the dealer what am I doing.  She says that I am folding face up from the big blind.

I'm confused.  I speak up and say, "Wait, isn't the hand dead because seat 8 got three cards and you couldn't tell which card belonged to seat 9?"  Immediately, seat 9 speaks up and says that he watched the cards being dealt and saw which card belonged to him.  I don't understand why he didn't speak up as soon as his second card was dealt to seat 8.  The dealer agreed with seat 9.  Seat 6 speaks up and says it's all good and wants to see the flop.

At this point, there is not much that I can do.  I realize that I made a mistake.  I'm still not sure if the hand should have been allowed to go on.  I have seen plenty of cases where the dealer gives a third card to a player by mistake that was intended for the adjacent player.  Usually, as soon as the dealer throws a card to the wrong player, the dealer immediately says something to let the players know which card belongs to which player.  Or, a player speaks up right away to alert the dealer that he/she is missing a card.

But in this case, the dealer did nothing and said nothing.  She continued to deal the second card to all the players.  After all the cards were dealt, seat 9 spoke up to say that he was missing his second card.  What do you think?

The flop was K-Q-10.  The turn was a blank and the river a J.  Seat 9 won a small pot with Q-9.  All I could do was sit there and think about my bonehead fold.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mission Impossible

I was bored out of my mind.  After nine years of waiting to see the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs, the day had finally arrived.  The only problem, the kickoff was at 4:30 pm.  The time was moving as fast as an 80 year old on a crosswalk.  There were several pregame shows but after a while it got repetitive.  The temperature outside was well below freezing, so I wasn't going anywhere.

Finally, 4:30 rolled around.  Excitement was in the air as the ABC cameras showed the Kansas City fans barbecuing outside the stadium.  The Chiefs were also ready to go.  In the first quarter they completely controlled the game.  They scored two touchdowns and the Titans looks lifeless.

In the second quarter the Titans defense woke up.  There wasn't much offense from either team.  With three minutes until halftime, it was still 14-0.  The Titans managed to put a drive together and were on the Chiefs 22 yard line.  On 2nd and 4, instead of running the ball, keeping the clock running, and trying to pick up a first down, the Titans threw an incomplete pass into the end zone.  On 3rd and 4, Mariota got sacked and fumbled the ball.  BUT, the referee blew the whistle and ruled the quarterback's forward progress had stopped.  And on 4th and 13, Tennessee kicked a 49 yard field goal to get on the scoreboard.

Kansas City got the ball back with 2 minutes to go and on the first play Tennessee sacked Smith.  On second and long, Smith completed a pass to tight end Kelce.  Kelce got hit in the helmet and sustained a game ending injury.  But the Chiefs seemed to be just fine.  They drove down the field and score a touchdown as the second quarter ended.  

Halftime Score: Kansas City 21, Tennessee 3

It felt like mission impossible for the Titans.  They had only scored three points.  The offense didn't look good.  The coaching didn't look good.  And when the defense needed a stop before halftime, they couldn't get it.  The only hope I had was that the Titans were receiving the ball to start the second half.

Tennessee came out in the 3rd quarter with a commanding eight and a half minute drive.  They moved the ball down to the Chiefs six yard line and were facing a 3rd down.  Mariota scrambled around trying to find an open receiver.  In the end, he threw a ball towards Davis but a defender deflected the ball back.  The ball floated backwards towards Mariota who caught it and scored a touchdown!  Check out the highlights video because words can't describe how amazing (lucky) this play was.

The third quarter ended with the Chiefs leading 21-10.  There was hope going into the fourth quarter as the Titans had the ball again.  They couldn't afford a mistake.  On the second play of the fourth quarter, Tennessee's running back, Henry eluded all the defenders and ran for a 35 yard touchdown!  The two point conversion was unsuccessful and the score was 21-16.

Tennessee's defense stepped up and/or the Kansas City's offense was ineffective without Kelce.  Either way, Titans got the ball back with 11 minutes to go.  They put together another solid drive that ended with Mariota throwing a 22 yard touchdown pass to Decker!  On the two point conversion, Mariota was stripped and the Chiefs returned the ball for a 2 point score!  BUT, the referee ruled that the QB's forward progress had stopped and no score would count.  Tennessee held the lead for the first time, 22-21 with 6 minutes to go.

It was nerve-racking knowing that the Chiefs only needed a field goal to win the game.  Three weeks earlier Tennessee had the lead with less than one minute to go but couldn't stop San Francisco from kicking a game winning field goal.

Kansas City came out and started to move the ball.  The Chiefs got down to the Titans 45 yard line and had a fourth and long.  Luckily the pass was incomplete.  Tennessee got the ball back and right after the two minute warning disaster struck.

Mariota handed off the ball to Henry who didn't get far.  Before the play was blown dead, Kansas City's Peters stripped the ball and Johnson picked it up and returned it for a touchdown!  Wow, I went from feeling great to miserable in 5 seconds.  BUT, the video replay showed that Henry was down before the ball came out!  And, instantly I was on top of the world again!  That's sports for you.

Tennessee managed to get one more first down thanks to Mariota throwing a crucial block.  That was it, the Tennessee Titans had won!

As for the Titans chances against the Patriots this coming up Saturday, that's Mission Impossible 2.

Game Highlights

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Nine Year Drought

The Titans arrived to Tennessee in 1997 and so did I.  I've been a fan ever since.  I moved to DC a decade ago and the first chance I got to see them play here was in October, 2008. They played in Baltimore versus the Ravens.  The Titans came to town with a perfect 4-0 record.  We were led by Kerry Collins or as we liked to jokingly call him, the drunk.  It was a defensive battle but the Titans pulled out a 13-10 victory and I walked out of the stadium with a grin.

The Titans would go on to win their next five games to reach 10-0.  As a fan, it was as good as it gets.  Ten games, ten wins.  Generally, one could say that sports fans either live in the past or are waiting for the future.  When our teams are bad, we reminisce about the glory days.  And when they are very good, we wait for the playoffs and dream about championships.

Brett Favre ended the Titans run at perfection.  Not Brett Favre the legendary Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning quarterback but Brett Favre the New York Jets QB.  The most memorable thing he did in New York was send inappropriate text messages to a female sideline reporter.

As for Tennessee, they finished the year with the best record in the NFL, 13-3.  They were the number one seed and got a first round bye.  Baltimore made the playoffs as the 6th seed.  They easily won their wild card game against the Miami Dolphins.  Out of all the teams, the Ravens have always been a thorn in the Titans' side.  In 2001, they upset the number one seeded Tennessee in the second round and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Fast forward to January of 2009 and the Ravens came to Nashville with a very good defense and a rookie QB, Joe Flacco.  It was another hard fought defensive battle.  The Ravens managed to shut down the Titans by forcing three turnovers.  They won the game 13-10 and took away Tennessee's dream of returning to the Super Bowl.

You would think that the Titans would bounce back quickly.  They have not.  Last year the Titans would have had a chance to play for the division and a playoff stop in week 17 if the Cincinnati Bengals could defeat the Houston Texas in week 16.  In that game, with five seconds to go, the Bengals missed a game winning 43 yard field goal and put an end to the Titans chances.  It's been nine full years since Tennessee made the playoffs.

But this year is different.  On the last day of 2017, the Titans escaped with a 15-10 victory against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.  And with that win, they earned a playoff spot!  They will travel to Kansas City in the state of Missouri (go figure) to take on the Chiefs.

The nine year playoff drought has finally ended.  There is snow on the ground in DC and it is very cold.  But for us Titans fans, things are just heating up!

Go Titans!