Fat Gringo Poker - Part One

Reports & Blogs by rlloydevans about MGM Grand Posted

If it is February it again is time for Fat Gringo and Seymour the Seagull to escape from their pokerless land in Ecuador. We swept out of the jungles of Guayaquil riding American Airlines – upgraded to 1st Class since our miles balance gave us the option. Business Class, Business Class oh my! How it makes a 15 hour odyssey so much more comfortable.
Before we begin the hideous details of poker – a few notes about Seymour and me.
I have been playing poker for decades – first in the army - and then got serious about it in the cardrooms of SoCal. I was a steady loser until about 2004 when the light turned on and I became a steady winner in low limit Texas Holdem. I flirted for a time with the thought of going pro – pre Moneymaker - but decided the lifestyle was too unpredictable. My wife and I started to go to Las Vegas regularly in 2003 and even though we now live in Ecuador we vacation at least once a year in Vegas. The last few years our vacations have not coincided, so we have taken separate trips. I generally come to stay 2-3 weeks, writing research and poker sharing my time.
Seaymour the Seagull is an Ecuadorian, a figurine made of tagua nut which I use as a card protector and my alter ego. I’ve developed a little schtick where Seaymour is actually the player and I am his assistant, since his wings won’t allow him to handle chips. The conversations can be fun, and people either think I’m funny, drunk or mildly insane.
When we come to the USA we generally go to a conference and this year is no difference as I have a few days in San Francisco. Conference winding down on Saturday I sneak away to spend some time on the felt. I hoped the BART to Colma and sat at a 2-1-1 No Limit Game at Lucky Chances. First of all, I think LC is probably the cleanest poker room I’ve been to in California. It seems to be dominated by Asians, who generally were anywhere from 5/9 to 7/9 of the players.
The structure was odd to me. It had a standard SB and BB but the BTN also posted $1, with a buy-in of $40-$200. To open limp or call was $4. A straddle was possible for every position except the button, although here the straddle was called a kill pot. There was a $4 rake and $1 JP drop. The rake was made on any action and the BTN blind became the JP. Finally, the players were experienced but wretched. I only ran across two players who had a kitchen sink knowledge of anything like pot odds or position.
I was ready to do battle. I reached into my pocket to bring out Seymour and –
Seymour was in pieces.
OMG Seymour! Are you alright? No he wasn’t. His tail was severed and his head beside himself. Oh no! Live poker without Seymour? How could I go on! I squared my shoulders, bought in for $200, determined to win one for “Da Bird.”
I quickly saw that no fancy play was going to get it. I had to hit a hand. In some cases when there were several limps of $4 ahead of me I might raise to take down a small pot, otherwise it was call a bit more broadly than I normally would and play fast if I hit a good hand, while taking advantage of players when they underbet and failed to protect their hand against draws.
I quickly ran my stack up to $350, mostly when my AcTc rivered a flush against a player who underbet his turned straight. Then I watched while it slowly eroded back to around $250. About that time there was a significant change to the character of the table, with a much younger crowd replacing the 40-50-somethings of earlier. These younger guys were buying in short handed but playing weaker cards more aggressively. One fun series came when a yakky young guy (YYG) had been betting aggressively with a fairly small stack of around $80. I forced YYG to fold on a T high Turn when I had AT and I fibbed to say I had 72. Two hands later I had KK with a flop of 9K9, turn 3 river 9 and YYG called AI against my flopped Boat/2nd nuts. My last 30 minutes I went on a bit of a rush and around 4:30 – after 5.5 hours of play – I cashed out for a profit of $257.
I caught the BART again back to Chinatown and watched the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. It was fun but the same cold rain that had cursed my entire stay at San Francisco was falling. My blood isn’t up to too much of the cold drizzle after 5 years along the Equator so I called it after an hour and went to warm up in my Hotel.
Seymour! OMG Seymour! Where’s the glue?
Poker –
Lucky Chances +$257

Miracle glue and Seymour was back to rights on Sunday morning – sort of. We decided on a return engagement so that I could bring Seymour out into the light and it was onto the BART and to the Lucky Chances.
Even a couple of faces at the table were similar, but together Seymour and I were out of sync. We started too aggressive, as if continuing the role from the day before. Within about 20 minutes we raised AI on a naked bluff against a calling station on a low, highly coordinated board when we figured V had AK. Of course V called with AK and won, felting us, then of course beginning a lecture of how it was easy to call a flop of 378 rainbow with his overcards. Yeah.
Rebuy and we started playing better. Unfortunately Calling Station racked up and left and we shed a few tears for our chips that were gone. Still there were lots of targets on board so we screwed down to play better.
An hour later we were slipping along +/- $220. UTG raised to 12 (standard raise in this game this day) and he had me covered. I look to see 55 and I’m thinking that I don’t have odds to call but then I notice BB fingering his chips the way he normally did when he planned to call. I decide it is worth the game and I call. BB does indeed call.
J52 Rainbow.
BB bets $12 and UTG raises to $40.
I can tell BB can’t wait to get out of the hand. I figure UTG might have JJ but he was much more likely to have AA-QQ in this case. With his play I also believe anything like 22 is not at all likely and he would not have betted that way to make some sort of draw in play, so I really like my odds at the moment.
I’m either raising or calling. I figure with the earlier hand when I raised AI with air I’ll have more action if I bet now so I pushed.
UTG debated awhile and then called.
I show my 55 for set and he turns over AA for his two-outer set-over-set. The chips are pushed towards him, I’m felted for the second time, and Seymour has been knocked over and is laying on his side, a pitiful display of defeat.
One felting for stupidity, and one felting to bad luck. I decide to leave since I know I am about to go on serious tilt and leave down $400.
I head back to San Francisco. It is a Sunday and the day is beautiful so I walk from the Montgmoery BART station to the Embarcadero, strolling on the boardwalk, stopping by at Neptune’s on Pier 39 and having a delicious stuffed salmon. Then on to Fisherman’s Wharf and do a one-hour boat tour of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I end up finally at my hotel room, walked out, tired, but happier.
Poker –
Lucky Chances -$400

It’s transfer day and an early flight to LS Vegas. The shuttle from the hotel was early – supposed to pick me up at 5am and came by at 4:45, I had darted over to a local 7-11 to grab an apple fritter and a coffee and saw the shuttle pull up at the hotel half a block ahead of me! Security at the airport was a breeze since it was before the big morning rush hit. The flight from San Fran to Las Vegas was early – 7 am flight leaving at 6:50 since everyone had already boarded - and the flight on US Air was only about 10% full, but the bad beat was a $25 baggage charge. We did land early! Baggage was easy at this early hour on the President’s Holiday. Wow – what a way to go.
Then to start our Las Vegas end of the adventure it was off to the Rio for four comped days. I checked in but the room wasn’t ready, so I left my bags with the bell desk and headed to the poker room. One short handed table was operating at about 9am at 1-3NL, three players were gone doing whatever and I sat at the one open seat. Over the next half hour the three missing players slowly filtered back.
Wow, just wow. I’ve been to Vegas many times but have never played at the Rio and heard about the promotions. I’d heard comments about nittistic players during the day. These were Nits? These guys call down with anything. I have AK in position, raise to $12, two callers and get a flop of AJ4. Check I bet, call. Turn rag, checki I bet call. River rage, check I bet call and V turns over 74 for third pair.
Huh? Thank you very much!
In the end almost all of my chips simply came by making hands and value betting players swarming along with lower pair or thin draw. The one hand of note:
V (same V from previous hand) raises from MP. Two callers and I in SB see 44 and decide to call.
I check, V bets I call.
I check and V goes AI. I call and turn over one 4.
Then I turn over the other 4.
Quads are good.
Three hours later I was feeling a tad punchy from travel as well as hungry. I cashed out a cool $500+. I checked on my room and it was ready – nice roomy suite – simple but ample for my four days of business and poker. A trip to the buffet filled me up – good but compared to others in town I thought it was a tad over-priced.
I went to settle into my room and chill a bit, since I had a couple of appointments to take care of. Then I cabbed over to the MGM and sat down immediately at a 1-2 NL table for a $200 buy-in. There was one middle=aged guy who was spewing chips. He kept rebuying for the table minimum of $40 about six times in the hour I sat there. I took two hands off him. The first one was simple luck box. He raised from MP to $12 and I looked down at AKoff and pumped it to $30. Spew called. Flop is JT4rainbow. He checks and I decide to C-bet to $50. He immediately goes AI for $12 more. At the time I hadn’t realized he was so low on chips. Simple call for the extra $12 but I’m sure I’m beat. Of course he shows KK and I’m well behind. Turn blank but the river is a Q giving me Broadway and the pot. Some hands later I’m on the buttin with four limpers and I also limp with 55. We go to the flop seven handed. Flop is TTT. It limps to spewer who bets $15. I’m not convinced so I call and everyone else folds. Turn is a 5 giving me TTT555 – I wonder if I get extra credit? Spew bets $20 and I call. River is a 9 and he goes Ai for $18 more. He shows 33 so I win another moderate pot. After an hour I cash out up a bit over $100 and head over to Planet Hollywood.
Another short session here. The first 45 minutes was just fold-fold-fold-fold as I get nothing much of nothing. Finally in the last 15 minutes I get on a nice run – hitting some sets and value betting drawing hands with TP-type hands. I end up with a nice win of $178 after a little over an hour.
Then I had to break off to do my “job.” I interviewed the owner of PBR Rock Bar and sampled some great food – GET THE APPLE-CARAMEL CHEESECAKE!!!!!
Then it was over to the Saxe Theater to take in “Vegas, The Show.” Very entertaining, high energy and I had front row seats. Yee hah!
After that I went back to the RIO and spent a little time filling out my notes and chilling a bit. Then I headed back down to the Rio Poker Room for my final session of Monday.
Okay, maybe this was one session to many. When I sat down an old man, 85 years young and who had so much problems with his hands he needed assistance with his cheaps, well this Old Man (OM) was on one hilarious heater. My first hand I look to see 99 in a limped pot and decide to limp also. Flop is Q97 and I think I’m great with OM betting in front of me but at showdown he shows 8J for a river-river straight. Later I get AA and I lose to his Q7 that rivers into a boat. Later I win a big pot when my Trip Aces is called at the river by his K high (Call with K-high?????????)
I go down and rebuy an additional $100 and work my way up. When he eventually goes I am almost even. TO replace him sits a middle aged guy with an Eastern European Accent who says he is from Beverly Hills and would go AI on almost any draw. I hit a set of 9s again and his T7 rivers his gutshot straight for the win.
In the end, it was simply a brutal session and went to my room down $400 and thinking about what might have been.
Still, it was a dandy day overall and I plan to get some more sleep and be ready for what Tuesday brings.

Rio +$128
MGM +$106
Planet Hollywood +$178

In Part two we’ll continue our assault on Las Vegas.

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  1. I just LOVE reading these reports,,,simply awesome!!

  2. Glad you were able to nurse Seymour back to health and that he's again soaring across the felt. Looking forward to the next update!