Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Dangers of a BBJ

Last night I was at Harrah's and the BBJ was up to $120,000 and if it wasn't hit it today, it is much higher than that. It's so enticing to think about hitting that BBJ, getting about 60K (before taxes) if your aces full of queens loses to four of a kind.

But, really, how often does that happen? I've been playing poker for a little while and have logged a ton of table time. I have never had a royal flush and I have never seen a hand in any casino that would have resulted in winning the bad beat jackpot that is established by Harrah's. I am not saying it's not possible, obviously it happens, but to me the reward just isn't enough of the risk.

The dangers are few when the bad beat gets this high. Suddenly the room is packed with cheap skates, who are only going to call you with hands that can be a bad beat hand. You have to be wary of the 5-7 of diamonds calling your preflop raise. Or a bad pocket pair calling your $100 reraise preflop. That has happened. Playing at the Showboat when the bad beat was pretty high, a guy called with me with pocket 10s after I reraised him to $100. I bet the flop, he mucks and shows his tens and says, "i only called for the bad beat."

Of course, in that situation it worked. But that's not always the story. I have seen Kings get beat by 2-3 suited because the person was calling for the bad beat and flopped two pair. People end up playing out of character and that's not even the least of the problems when it comes to bad beats.

The clientele the bad beat brings is horrible. You would think that Harrah's was located next to the Taj Mahal based on the type of people that show up. There are cheaters, cheapos and people who think they know everything about poker.

My problem is that I enjoy playing at Harrahs and the Showboat, so I don't really want to play in a room that doesn't offer the BBJ, and it has nothing to do with the BBJ. I like the atmosphere, the games and - most of the time - the people that come into the rooms. They are usually pleasant with the occasional wigger.

It's not just the way other people play. Last night, as I played for 20 minutes (I really only sat down for 20 minutes) I played two hands that I normally wouldn't play in hopes of hitting something big. It wasn't for the bad beat, at least I thought so. As I think back, I played 5-7 diamonds and 7-8 hearts, in position and for close to the right odds, but not exactly.

I thought about it and decided last night was not the time to be playing. I shouldn't change my game. Although, sometimes I make a play that is out of character only to change my game up. These two calls were neither of those situations. It was me putting money into the pot and then hoping for the best. There was no reason or logic behind either call.

Bad beats are fun if you hit, but not fun while others are just fishing for the big score.

I won't even get on how cheap the players are that come for the bad beat are toward the dealers. But that's a whole different tirade.

(Sorry if there are any spelling or grammatical errors. I'm working while writing this and not really looking at the screen.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Big Upcoming Tournament in the Resort

Here's a list of the big upcoming tournaments. The special ones, not the daily tournaments in Atlantic City.

Trump Taj Mahal
April 26 (today): 50K Guaranteed. 7:15 pm. $300+$40.

May 4-6: $500,000 Guaranteed, deep stack tournament. $2,000+$150
June 9 and on: Borgata Summer Open

May 3: Ron Jaworski Celebrity Poker Tournament.

Jun 18: $150,000 Free Roll. You have to play 60 rated hours in the month of May to qualify.
As a side note, the bad beat at Bally's rewards everyone in the room, not just the table of the occurrence.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mohegan Sun Trip Report

I recently visited my folks and for some reason whenever I go home, they love, love, love, love to go to Mohegan Sun. Apparently, driving down to see their daughter in Atlantic City isn't enough. They need to take me another two hours north where there is no real poker room.

Mohegan Sun is in the process of building a poker room. The last time I was there, they said the spring of this year, I believe, however, the room still isn't there. Instead there are four Poker Pro machines. I walked over and looked at the machines and thought to myself, this could be interesting. I want to try it out just to say I did so.

I walked over to the cage (in a cranky mood, but that's another story) where it was marked Poker Pro. I tell the man behind the cage that I want to register for a game. Apparently, I have to have my name on the list before I put money into my account. I look back at the impatient people standing the 15-people deep line and back at the Poker Pro machines, where the players just look like zombies.

To me, it just wasn't worth it. Maybe, I shouldn't have much of an opinion, but I was watching the players at the tables and they looked like drones on any slot machine. The players seemed bored, uninterested, which is probably more of a reason for me to sit down. I just don't understand why the casino makes you run around to different areas to get everything done.

It works this way in money Atlantic City casinos, but there are plenty of places where you can buy in at the table. Also, if you go broke, you have to get back up and go to the cage and re-supply your account as opposed to just buying chips from the dealer.

It seems like too much of a hassle for me. I honestly couldn't imagine myself sitting at the poker table for four hours trying to make money off of these people who really didn't seem as though they wanted to play.

My other complaint about the tables was that it was right in the middle of the gaming floor. It was loud, smoke-filled and didn't offer much movement. Another reason not to play.

I read in a Roy West stud book that if you ever have a reason not to play a certain, then don't. You are probably better off. I felt this way about playing poker at Mohegan, where the only games spread were $1-$2 NL and $3-$6 limit.

Perhaps I can talk my parents into taking me to Foxwood next time, where I can sit down and play some real stud.m

Friday, April 11, 2008

24 Indicted in Borgata Sports Betting Ring

This is a news story from The Star Ledger:

Indictments charge 24 in Borgata sports-betting case
by Rick Hepp
Thursday April 10, 2008, 5:22 PM

Two dozen people were indicted today on charges they took part in a sports betting ring run by a reputed Philadelphia mob associate and accepted more than $60 million in illegal wagers on two internet sites and the floor of an Atlantic City casino.

The ring was shut down last November following a 20-month State Police investigation that began with a tip that bets on college and professional football and basketball were being taken on the poker room floor of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

Further investigaiton by the State Police and state Division of Criminal Justice also found the ring was accepting bets at and The Attorney General's Office announced the grand jury indictment today.

Prosecutors said the ring was run by Andrew Micali, 32, of Ventnor and Jack M. Buscemi Jr., 50, of Mullica Hill. Micali has been identified by law enforcement officials and news accounts as an associate of the Bruno crime family, a Philadelphia-based mob organization that has seen its hold over Atlantic City crime wither in the past few decades with increased enforcement.

Other alleged ring leaders include:
- Vincent Procopio, 42, of Philadelphia, charged with acting as Micali's right-hand man; he is identified as a reputed soldier of the Bruno family;
- Anthony Nicodemo, 36, of Philadelphia, who allegedly exercised leadership authority over the ring;
- Joseph Wishnick, 43, of Brigantine, a former Borgata poker room supervisor;
- and Jeffrey Ebert, 45, of Ventnor, a former Tropicana poker room supervisor.

All were indicted by a state grand jury today on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and promoting gambling. Micali is charged with promoting gambling, money laundering and criminal usury. The remaining defendants face similar charges.

"Mr. Micali sought to attract high rollers by setting up shop in the Borgata poker room. He also attracted the attention of the New Jersey State Police," Attorney General Anne Milgram said. "With cooperation from the Borgata, our detectives worked skillfully to uncover the massive scope of this criminal enterprise and build the case we presented to the state grand jury."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What We Know About the Taj Killing

Most of this was taken from I changed some things if I know them to be different. Also if there are any updates today I am just going to put them in this thread.

Arthur Prince is playing in a $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em game, and Vicente Perez is on the waiting list

-Arthur Prince loses all of his chips in a hand

-Prince stands up, telling everyone at the table that he is going to get more money from the ATM, and to hold his spot

-the dealer apparently doesn't hear Prince say this, and assumes that Prince is leaving the game. The dealer announces after a short while that a seat is open

-Vicente Perez takes a seat at the table-Prince comes back to reclaim his seat and finds Perez occupying it-Prince and Perez get into an argument. Other players at the table claim that they heard Prince say that he was coming back, while the dealer claims to have never heard this

-after ten minutes or so, Perez gets up from his seat and heads to the valet area outside. He has the dealer hold his spot.

-Prince becomes even more enraged because not only does he feel that Perez unjustly scooped his spot at the table, but now Perez isn't even using it

-Prince follows Perez outside and the argument continues. The argument escalates into violence. Apparently Prince starts beating Perez with either a cane or an umbrella. Some published reports have Prince beating Perez with an umbrella; other reports have Prince beating Perez with Perez's own walking cane.

-Perez has a knife on him and proceeds to pull it out and stab Prince in the cheek. The knife hits an artery and blood is gushing everywhere. Prince is pronounced dead at the AtlantiCare Medical Center about an hour and a half later

-an investigation into the event is currently taking place, and Perez is being held on a $500,000 bond

Update: Perez appeared in court and mostly answered questions about his rights. I am interested in seeing where this is going because if all the above is correct, then it seems as though Prince was defending himself. Honestly, I am really bothered by this.

I know poker is tough especially when you are losing. However, that's now reason to lose your cool. You can't go nutso on someone because you suck at poker or took a bad beat. Really, it's just money and, you're at the Taj, there are a million seats available.

Today, someone cut me (not that kind of cut) on a line that I was waiting for 20 minutes. I didn't knife the guy, I stood there and politely walked in front of him when he got to the head of the line.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Latest Info on Stabbing at the Taj

A little more has come out about the stabbing over a poker seat at the Taj. People I have talked to said it was an argument over a seat. Quite obviously the dumbest thing I have ever heard happening in a poker room.

I'm serious.

The guy who was killed was Arthur Price, 61, from Berkeley in Toms River. What the hell is wrong with people when you have to settle your arguments with violence. Settle it at the poker table. Take the other guy's money. But fighting in front of the poker room in the valet area is just idiotic. Price was stabbed about four to five times. Twice in the stomach and once in the back. His cheek was also cut.

This was a quote from the Asbury Park Press:

"He was just a very nice man,'' said Ida Imbimbo, a next-door neighbor. "This is the first I'm hearing about it. The police were at their house the other day, but no one was home. He was just someone who was nice to talk to. I can't imagine him in a fight.''

Of course, he was a nice guy. They are all nice. But he also went out side to fight with someone. Awesome.

Frankly, I am not surprised. In the years I have been playing poker, I have never gone to the Taj by myself. I have heard way too many stories about people getting and beat up in the bathrooms. I was told on my first visit to the Taj to never use the bathroom that are to right of the poker room near the arena. Those who have played at the Taj know what I am talking about.

Although, there was a woman on Fox News who was shocked because she said there was no place safe anywhere. Apparently, she has never been to the Taj before that. The boardwalk casinos are full of slime and filth. Not that the marina is any different. However, there is so much trash that comes off the Boardwalk.

One Person's Story

Whenever you play in a big tournament for the first time, there could be many different scenarios that arise that you make you scratch your head. You think it would be simple as just sitting down and pushing all in until you double up about three times.

However, tournaments are not that easy. From the moment you walk into the casino to the time you get busted out (or hopefully win) there is so much going on that it could be overwhelming.

Poker is supposed to be fun, so don't let the aggravation of pre-tournament antics get you off your game before you start playing. Once you start playing, the poker takes over and you never have to think about waiting around for hours. I don't have a good story to tell, but take it from Mark Matthews, who wrote this in Dec. at a WSOP event at Harrah's.

Here's the link and here's the story.

[I wrote this over lunch in early December, as an email to a few poker friends. They seemed to like the story, so I thought I'd post it here with a few additional edits.]

On December 8th I went to Atlantic City to participate in the 1st day of the December WSOP circuit events at Harrah's. I had some pretty good success for a first time try!

Getting into the Tourn
These are the WSOP official Circuit events… Harrah’s bought the WSOP tourney, and have been taking it to their casinos around the country. First day event... $300+40 buyin. Start time at 12pm. I get there around 10:15am… they had already sold out the first 704 seats. Then it was wait for “alternate” spot which means they fill in from alt list before consolidating tables.

So I decide to hang out in line and see where this goes. Was constantly thinking about bailing, because if you get your shot too late in the levels the buy-ins will gobble up your chips and its not worth it. Was also very frustrated with myself because I was actually up much earlier in the morning and instead of driving right to AC (about 50 miles from home) I found myself wasting time on stupid tasks around the house.

But I digress.

So I stood in line for about 2 ½ hours total before I got to the register and secured my spot. I was the 150th alternate! In the end there were 901 players total.

After the first 2 levels was a break, and players started dropping like flies… and I finally got a seat a table about 10 mins into the 3rd level. (45 min levels. Breaks every 2)

Tourn was split into 2 rooms… When I finally get my shot I was sent to the “real” poker room downstairs. Looking at the table my late start didn’t handicap me at all as there was not one super-stacked player. I hit a few decent hands… including early on having my pocket jacks turn into a flopped full-house that I got decent chips back for. Not too much significant unique play of note at the table, except for the guy to my right who starts playing "push all-in to steal blinds and antes", and gets caught after the 4th time…. Come on.. how many times ya gonna get away with that?

At one time in the early play I was about 18k. and lost 8k to a guy all-in who proceeded to eat up the table after that... he takes the next 4 hands from the table and is over 60k in the blink of an eye.

With 15 mins to go in the 4th level, my table is moved back upstairs (they want the real poker room free for cash games). My 4,000 start was now around 11,000.

After losing 5 mins to move upstairs, with the remaining 10 mins in the level, I win several hands in a row… including pocket aces that held up against pocket kings, knocking the guy out taking his 10k. In ten mins I went from 11k to close to 40k.

Goofy Side Story #1
The guy from earlier is still with me to my left… and he decides to have one of the complimentary massage professionals come over to loosen him up… “1/2 hour please”. I think this is insane... a half hour? After about 10 mins she starts pounding on the guy's back… he has his head down in a towel and his arms taking up twice as much space as he should… the temporary folding poker table is rocking like the boat on Gilligan’s island with every one of her smashes to his back… I was waiting for her to grab another chair and do an “Andre the Giant” from the top of the turnbuckle onto this guy’s shoulders…… I’m just trying to play frickin poker!!!! This guy knew half the dealers.. so he must be very comfortable and could keep focus.. but this is crazy. The table is polite… we don’t say anything too him… and its finally back to normal.

Goofy Side Story #2
A few dealers were pretty bad. You can tell the regulars dealers from people they pulled in from agencies. 64 tables going... and Harrah's apparently has a rule that they can't use their own dealers from Casinos under the same company (according to dealers in the tourn). Saw many mis-deals... bad counting of chips... not being able to count... The craziest story.. was a guy at my final table telling us a dealer twice in 3 hands dealt the FLOP without dealing cards to players!!! (The dealer had been dealing without getting the antes from the table... which is a no-no... When corrected by a player.. the dealer screws up twice because he was apparently used to dealing the flop after grabbing the antes.)

Blinds are getting bigger… and so are antes. I win just enough hands to keep me around 35k. Everyone is basically in that range until I get moved… sit down across from a 23yr old guy with about 60k in chips… and in my 30 mins sitting with him (before getting moved again..) he gets up close to 100k. When I leave later, the 2 chip leaders are him and another guy at 140k plus.
Anyway… my final table move… end up at a table next to the “featured table”. I can throw a paper ball at the final table. About 150 in the room (from 902) and only 3 women left. I know this because I sit next to one of them… decent player but she didn’t have enough chips to continue long.

So I have 35k… and I am still right in line with everyone at my table.

They announce the payouts. Paying top 90. Winner gets $67,000. Payouts start at around $350, and every 10 players or so bounces up another $70. You really need to hit top 20 or higher for real cash. When they get down to 91 players, they start playing “hand by hand”. Every table starts hands at same time to make sure they know the bubble-person. Play was slow, and players were tight. After the bubble is determined normal play starts again. At this point, all electronics.. radios.. Ipods.. had to be taken off.

Blinds are getting up there… 1500-3000, 400 ante.. and then 2000-4000, 500 ante. I don’t catch anything too exciting… float around 30,000 chips then start dipping lower… about 27k

Goofy Side Story #3
Guy across the table… friendly guy… he slightly out chips me. This guy proudly tells our part of the table that if he wins it all this would be his second time in the spotlight… the first being when he made “a movie you don’t tell mom about” with one of the 3 models that were part of the Spuds McKenzie Budweiser promotion in the 80s. Umm… In other venues I can be a fan of hearing about the oddities that other member's of our society bring into their lives... but I am feeling good about my chances of moving up in the tournament ranks so I'm not interested in his shot at an IMDB entry, and I'm now getting concerned about the germ content on the playing cards. I also don't think the young woman next to me cared either and I was expecting her to say “who is Spuds McKenzie?”. Thankfully, no one asks for details and the story fades.

Actually, he was probably the closest brush with a celebrity I had the whole day.

Nice little surprise bonus: At the dinner break (around 7pm) they give us a $10 food coupon to be used at any of the restaurants in the casino. There is a temporary food stand set-up in the tournament room, but I opt to catch up with a friend of mine and we end up at the new Harrah's Waterfront buffet. Price is $29 minus my $10 food credit... a very reasonable $19. This place is worthy of a blog post of its own, so to make it short... they have an AMAZING variety of very high quality food. Steaks to order. Crab Legs. Asian Food. Pasta. Desserts... I will be coming back with my family, probably in January and I hope to blog about the restaurant then.

Anyway…. on to my demise.... I am big blind. 4,000 + 500 ante already committed. I am dealt A-Q off. Table folds all the way around… till it gets to the position right of the button... to the previously mentioned Spuds McKenzie guy. He doubles the big-blind… 8,000. I think very quickly (one of my traits..) … consider just calling.. but I think he has high connectors, or low-mid pair… standard move for everyone in the tournament up to this point is to go all-in with high pairs... with my stack moving closer to the low side… I push all-in. He calls after 2 mins of thought.

He has Q-Q. (he didn't follow the rules, he should've pushed all in pre-flop!!) I have A-Q. I have straight option.. or mo’ Aces.

Flop comes Q-10-6… He "sets up"… I am toast.

I am out. 69th postion. I cash for $473…. 10 hours into the tourn… So I made a cool $13 per hour. Woo-hoo. Before taxes. weee. Subtract my $340 buy-in, and... ah, I don't even want to type it.

I beat myself up a little over my push all-in… but then realize if I had just called, the moment I see that Q on the flop (and my Ace kicker) I was pushing all in regardless…

So my fate was set regardless.

I am listed in the event winners...

And I now have a player profile page at the official World Series of Poker website.

Damn... I hope that doesn't count as my 15 minutes of fame.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tropicana's Bad Beat Jackpot

I got a phone call around 11 a.m. on Saturday informing me that there was a BBJ at the Tropicana. The difference from the other casinos around town is the BBJ is for tournaments only. It's a company-funded jackpot that starts at $500 and $2 is entered for every person that enters their tournaments.

It's thrilling I'm sure.

That's just my little update.

What The *%$# is Wrong With People

Last night sitting at Harrah's I heard the most disturbing story. Two men fought over a poker seat at the Taj Mahal. They decided to go outside to settle who is going to get the seat. One guy beat up the other. Then, the one that got messed up decided it was in his best interest to stab the other and kill him.

Awesome. Because I am sure it was worth a poker seat.

Although, the way I heard the story was that the man got his throat slit at the poker table.

Here is the write up that was in The Press of Atlantic City. There are some disturbing photos on The Press' website of the man who got stabbed. He was walking fine it seemed before he got into the ambulance. Although, now he is dead.:

An argument at a poker table Saturday at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort escalated into a stabbing in the parking garage, leaving one man dead and another in custody, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.
The incident took place at 2:46 p.m. Saturday, spokeswoman Madelaine Vitale said.

Vicente Perez, 57, of Georgia, began arguing with another man at a Taj poker table, Vitale said. They stepped out of the casino and into the valet parking area of the garage near the Virginia Avenue entrance, where the argument descended into violence.

The victim, whose identity was not released pending the notification of his family, was pronounced dead at 4:05 p.m. at AtlantiCare Medical Center in Atlantic City, Vitale said.

Perez was taken into the custody of the Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit, Vitale said, and was expected to be charged with aggravated manslaughter and two weapons charges, as the knife was recovered at the scene.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Textbook Poker

Since my last post, I've actually played poker twice. I had an itch, I kept on scratching. There is a good shot that I am going to play tonight as well.

In two sessions (at the Showboat and Harrahs), I can honestly say there are no hands that I am going to remember come next week. I really just played textbook poker. I raised with good hands, bet with strong hands and folded when I had nothing. I came out on top.

I think this is just a way for me to get back on track. Eventually, I will get back into trying to bluffs, but right now the people I have played against are so bad that it doesn't matter.

Atlantic City is a great place to play poker, I wonder why I wasn't in the mood all these months. Now, I just want to play everyday (probably until I lose again).

My current quest is to get MT to quit his job and play poker for a living. He is really the best player I know. He came out one night with me while I played cards and he won, but not a lot. I think, however, if I wasn't there he would have played longer and probably had a much better session.

I really think he is good enough to play for a living and he hates his job. I think it's a no brainer.
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