Lost in Vegas

I don’t know what my exact win-loss is for this year anymore. I went to go play some poker one night and instead of keeping track, I just played. I ended up walking out of the casino that morning almost bust. I still had a voucher from the bubble craps machine in my pocket as I got into the car that would take me home. I didn’t really care because I had fun. I embraced the moment for what it was. 

It was funny how things seemed to work out in my favor. Usually, I would be working but I had the day off. I knew I would be taking full advantage of this as I clocked out. I didn’t even think about changing out of my suit as drove out of the parking garage and turned onto the street. I headed straight for Caesar’s Palace to play some poker. They still had a couple of $2/$5 games running and no waitlist. I planned on playing as late as I could. If anyone would complain about why I was home so late, my excuse would be that it was what I wanted to do on Father’s Day.

After a brief conversation with the valet, giving some directions to lost tourist in the casino, and checking my rewards; I was finally able to make my way to the poker room. The floor guy was both surprised and not surprised to see me. He knew that I had started working. My guess is that he figured I was busy and did not have the time to play as much. He complimented me on my suit and then immediately took a few jabs at me for coming to the casino in my suit. He convinced me to loosen my tie a little and sent me towards the back of the room where the $2/$5 game was.

As I prepared to settle in for a few hours to play poker I made some mental notes of the players that I saw. They didn’t seem that interested in socializing. That made me think that these guys had something more interesting at the table. Perhaps they were all grinders. There was a good chance they were all tournament players. Everyone at the table had at least two hundred big blinds. I pulled out my phone to start my session tracker. As I entered the data for my session there was a hand developing. I didn’t see the exact details, but I know the player to my left had raised preflop and was called by a couple of players. By the time they got to the turn, they were heads up. The player to my left made another bet and was called. The river came out and suddenly, the passive out of position player jammed into the player on my left. He tanked and cursed the poker gods as he finally put in the call and received the bad news.

Observing this interaction made me realize that I needed to reassess the table. My initial observation was not completely wrong, but this hand brought some new information to my attention. The player to my left seemed to be irritated, he was not happy, he begrudgingly counted his chips as if he was preparing mentally to buy in once he lost them. This player was on tilt! The rest of the table was not there to play poker, they were there waiting for their turn to take this man’s money. The player in seat five was not tired from hours of grinding, he was tired because it was past his normal bedtime. He had stayed for an opportunity to make more money. The player in seat nine was not a gambler, he just knew he had to give a little action so that he could get paid off when he had a hand. The player to my left had a big target on him.

As I sat there folding, I saw this player lose a few more buy-ins. Each time he pulled money out of his pockets, his billfold was thinner and thinner. After about an hour or two of folding I looked down at a decent hand to try and isolate in position from the button. I had pocket fives. The player on my left had started to just open shove, not even bothering to look at his cards. He once again jammed his money into the middle. The other players dutifully folded and it was my turn to decide if I was going to call or not. At best, I was ahead of him and hoping that none of his cards would hit. At worst, he already had a bigger pocket pair, and I would need to hit a five to win the hand. I tortured myself trying to convince myself to call but knowing I should just toss my hand into the muck. I decided to gamble. I knew that he could easily have a pocket pair just as likely as he was to have over cards, but he didn’t know what he had either.

The dealer double tapped the felt and burned one card from the top of the deck. The flop came out queen high with two spades. My opponent turned over one card; it was a jack of spades. This meant if his other hole card was spade, I didn’t want to see a third spade come out on the board. The dealer double tapped the felt again and burned another card from the top of the deck. The turn card was exposed, it was low, and red. Was this good?!?! Yes, it was a three and lower than my pair of fives. The dealer double tapped the felt for a third and final time. The last burn card was discarded from the top of the deck. The dealer carefully made sure not to expose the river card as he brought it over to its final resting place on the table. There was a brief pause and the dealer flipped over the river card as he placed it down in its place next to the community cards in the middle of the table. It was a middling card, it was a black six, it was a six of spades! This was not the card that I wanted to see! This could be the card that would cause me to lose the hand. I tabled my hand and showed that I had called with a low pocket pair. He nodded his head in acceptance of defeat as if he knew that fate would not allow him to win. He peeled his unknown hole card that had stayed face down the entire time. The look on his face quickly changed as he realized he had a chance to win. He turned over the queen of spades.

Bizzy’s 2023 Gains: -$2,195.56

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