After an early-morning wake up call from the prettiest woman in LA, to meet she and her husband for breakfast before they left town, I returned to my room and crawled into bed to try and get a bit more sleep. It would continue to elude me, but I did rest at least, watching movies until I felt it was a reasonable post-noon hour and then got up to hit the poker room.
I’m not sure if it’s market saturation or the holiday weekend, but never before had I not had to wait on a list to get in a game. Immediate seating was everywhere. I took the nine seat in a 1/2 NL game near the rail. I had told Eric earlier in the week that I wasn’t sure if I would play limit or NL during my trip. I’ve been back and forth between the two in my online play. Both have been good to me, but I still hold back a bit when it comes to playing NL cash games. I know I’m not the best at them. Still, I’m better than a lot of the people who play them, and I need to embrace that instead of fearing the monsters under the bed who I expect to jump up and take all my money when I least expect it. But I’m rusty. I haven’t played seriously in months. And when I have played, it’s been SnGs or MTTs – not cash games. I always watch my table and try to put people on hands, and I can’t tell you how many times this past weekend that the thought of a set never even occured to me. It was as if that hand wasn’t even on my mental ranking chart. But a big part of it, at least Vegas-wise, is that I’m playing severly under-bankrolled. When you’ve only got 3 buy-ins to play with for your entire trip, you’re pretty reluctant to push one of them in without holding the nuts. (Ooohh…foreshadowing).
I spent a few hours at that table, quickly figuring out who was solid and who was fishy. Luckily for me, the biggest fish of them all was sitting directly to my right. When I play these NL games at the MGM, my basic strategy is to sit back and nut-peddle. Trying to make moves and bluff people off pots just isn’t going to work, as most of the players will call you down if they have even a small part of the board, or hope that their cards will eventually match up with the board when the river comes. It’s not exciting, but it works, and it’s the strategy that has allowed me to pay for my trip and then some my last two times out. It really helps when people push into my aces, which fishy on my right did near the end of my session. I tried not to drool when he pulled a $500 chip out of his pocket to rebuy, and thought how if I was late for dinner with Bill and the Prof, they would certainly understand my reason.
During my game I had taken a break to get in touch with Bill about dinner. I didn’t have his number though, so I put in a call to Hank for it. Hank mentioned that there were plans to go to New York New York that night, and “meet up with your buddy”. “My buddy??”, I replied. “Yea, Phil“. I laughed, thinking yea right…how many times has that been promised to me?
I left my game around 5:30, and headed over to the Forum Shops to meet up with Bill and Prof. We had a great dinner at Boa, then put in a visit to the Caesar’s poker room so I could be the paranoid worrier again making sure everything was in place for our summer tourney. Visit over, Bill and I left Prof to Mother’s Day shopping while we walked over to Treasure Island, where the rest of the gang was.
We arrived to find several people in games, the rest watching Rick as he took 3rd in the nightly tourney. I sit down on a bench in the middle of the room, and Hank looks up from his table and asks me if I’m excited about getting to meet Phil. I roll my eyes and go back to my copy of Poker Player. Tournament over, we all head over to Nine Fine Irishmen at NYNY. Upon arrival there, the boys have to wait in line a bit while the girls get in first and free. I head over to the bar where I am soon joined by Hank’s wife Sofia and Kori’s (girl) friend Ryan. Ryan declines my offer of a beer, but Sofia accepts and we then head off in search of the boys. We find them on the patio, where we again have chair problems, but at least here standing is not a crime.
I’m sitting and chatting with Ryan and Sofia when a very familar face appears on the patio and walks over to our group. No, I do not turn fan girly and freak out. I continue my conversation, with one eye on the three people who I would expect to officially introduce me, as they shake hands with Phil, say hello, and congratulate him on something that I don’t quite make out what it is, but know instantly in that what-else-could-it-be kind of way. I continue chatting, as Phil joins the conversation with the group on the other end of our table, and no one ever mentions to him how the girl in the white shirt has been wanting to meet him for a year now, but they keep screwing it up. It’s obvious that I can never rely on these boys to play a game of “Have you met April?”, and I will have to do this myself.
Maybe you haven’t heard, but Phil Gordon is a bit of a gambler. I declined his offer of a prop bet on the length of Chris’s marriage (but I would have taken the over!!!!), but when he was looking for someone to play Roshambo with, I shoved $20 into Ryan’s hand and told her to go for it. Ryan, having no idea who Phil was, jumps up and challenges him. And since as we know, Phil can’t beat a woman heads-up; Ryan wins. She happily returns to our end of the table, refunds my seed money, and pockets her profit. A few minutes go by and she tells Sofia and I that she feels bad for winning his money. (As you can no doubt tell, Ryan is not a gambler). Sofia and I laugh, and assure her that it’s OK – a $20 loss isn’t going to break him. We explain to her why, and I can tell from the look in Ryan’s eyes that Phil has suddenly gotten a lot hotter.
I make a comment to Sofia about a guy at the other end of the patio who has just stood up in all his shiny sparkly silver shirted glory. Sofia can’t see him from where she is, so we get up and move over to the other end of our group where she can catch a glimpse. And now, since I’m up, and near Phil, I approach him all on my own and strike up a conversation. And Phil Gordon? Nicest guy you will ever meet. Soon we’re all in a Roshambo tourney, for which I face Bill in the first round and lose. The final match came down to Rick and Chris, with Chris winning the first place prize. Since Rick was holding the prize money, he made Chris jump through a few hoops before he could get his hands on it. There is a video, but I was threatened to not show it without approval. So I’ll leave that to Chris, and now he has the perfect opening for his own weekend recap.
We hang out on the patio for a while, where more beers are consumed, and then decide to head over to the piano bar in NYNY. It’s Saturday night and the bar is of course near capacity, but when you’re in Vegas with Phil Gordon, you can pretty much get in wherever the hell he wants. We’re ushered to the front of the line and get in with no problems. Inside there is more drinking, singing along with the bar, and prop bets on exactly when that drunk girl standing on the piano bench will fall on her ass. I’m not sure about the boys, but at this point the girls are feeling pretty good. After a couple of hours there, we all head over to the MGM for some poker. Sofia and I bring up the rear, arms linked, semi-stumbling (though that was probably mostly me), having a discussion that, for both her and my benefit, I will not mention here.
We arrive at the MGM and Phil sets off getting a table set up for us. Apparently there is some resistence met, but since this is Phil fucking Gordon, it’s quickly overcome. We all grab seats at a table in the middle of the room, being joined by one tourist who simply saw Phil at a table and grabbed an open seat. He says his name is Ryan and it’s his birthday, which judging from the super CJ luckbox powers he’s got, I believed him.
I’ve been told I’m a fun drunk, and I suppose that’s true, since I seem to do a lot of laughing when I am. And when I look back in my cell phone the morning after and see the text messages I’ve sent, I even make my sober self giggle. I had texted Heather earlier in the night, while at NYNY, because that’s what best friends do when they find themselves hanging out with poker’s McDreamy. Being the degenerates we are, she too was out playing poker, so there was often a lag between our messages, but I know that at 2:37am I sent this one :
No, phil. Now playing drunk NL with him, and he totally outplayed me. But he blew me a kiss after so its totally ok, btw, i totally love you
She caught me on the phone a few minutes later as I ran back to my room for another dose of decongestant (cause those mix so well with alcohol). I remember giving her a recap of the night so far and her saying “Yea, you are drunk”. I will embrace that status, because not only is it fun to be so, but it also gives me a nice excuse for being a total wimp in my hand with Phil.
I have no idea what position I’m in, or who was acting first, or any of those other little details you need to fully understand a hand. I do know that I had AK offsuit, with the ace of clubs and king of spades. The flop is K-high, with two clubs and one spade. I don’t remember if I bet first and then was raised, or if Phil bet first. All I know is that he put me to the test and I failed miserably. Phil pushes all-in, and I fold. Why? Because I am a pussy, unwilling to risk my entire stack on TPTK and a runner-runner flush draw. Slightly on self-induced tilt, I tell Phil I no longer love him, because how dare he play poker well against me?? He then responds by blowing me kisses. And since I am after all a girl, that would then conclude the ten seconds I was unhappy with Phil Gordon.
Phil plays with us for a couple of hours, then takes off, leaving us with the occasional seat-filling tourist. We continue to play until the wee morning hours, having a good time, and denying Rick the chance to get us all kicked out like he wants to, only agreeing after the source of his ire has already left for the evening. (Next time, Rick). It would have been a fitting end to a night of memorable moments, a night that easily falls into the best times I’ve ever had. Vegas on its own is a good time, but Vegas with friends is unbeatable.