Friday, May 04, 2007

The Ninth Raise

By Pauly

Flashback. Five weeks ago in March, just a couple of hours before my flight to NYC and about 18 hours before my flight to Madrid, Derek and I stood in the sports book at Red Rock and couldn't believe the carnage. After a hot start we both ended up in the crapper during our March Madness trip with Senor. Our weekend of gambling resembled the scourged battlefield of Gettysburg.

Flashback. 48 hours ago, I was stuck about 4.5K on NBA games and drowning in hopelessness. My recent sports betting blizzard reminded me of the devastation of March Madness. I couldn't hit a bet to save my life as I sunk deeper and deeper into despair as I chased the loss by betting on baseball. I lost two big NBA playoff games by 1.5 points combined. In poker terms, that's like getting sucked out by a one and two outer.

Then a couple of hours ago, I stood in the sports book at Red Rock and cashed the bet that official got me unstuck for the trip. If you've been stuck a large sum of money and miraculously pulled even, those moments seem more exhilarating than any big wins that you've experienced. The rush itself was worth the price of a few losing bets.

I broke even, but man that was one hell of a ride.

I found myself swimming in a pool of luck and stormed back, winning four bets in a row. I mustered up the testicular fortitude to bet big on two games on Wednesday night. They both hit and then I bet somewhat small on Thursday night to quell the inner action junkie, which is about the size of Gary Coleman and lives inside of me and dictates the gambling aspects of my life. It's like something out of a Philip K. Dick short story.

After the Warriors and Jazz locked up victories, I erased the entire deficit and finally turned a $500 profit. That was good enough to cover my losses at craps and poker. After two weeks in Las Vegas, I was finally unstuck. In December, I left Las Vegas stuck thanks to my foul calamities at the Pai Gow tables at the IP. In March, I left Vegas a loser once again. That time the culprit was college basketball. I was determined to end my losing steak and leave Las Vegas a winner.

There was a premiere of Lucky You at Red Rock Casino and I skipped it. All the biggest names in poker were at the screening such as Doyle Brunson, Jen Harman, Mike Matusow, Scotty Nguyen, Erick Lindgren with a hot piece of ass at his side -- so much so that Scotty Nguyen walked up and said, "Dammmmmn!"

Change100 went to the screening with Shecky, Jen Leo, and BJ while I headed to the poker room to play with Addict and Snake from Wicked Chops Poker. I didn't like the players at the 8/16 game (all local rocks) and I sat down at 4/8 while I waited for the bigger game to get looser players. I was down about $50 early until I caught a rush. That was in between the two NBA games that I wagered on. After the Utah victory, I was unstuck betting on sports and had an instant boost of energy. That's when things got a little crazy.

I tilted the table when I scooped a pot with 10h-8h. The crazy Asian guy (CAG) in Seat 8 had been raising 50% of the pots he played and played 90% of every dealt hand. There were six people in the pot ahead of me and I just called two bets. The flop was Qh-8x-3h. CAG bet, two players called, and I raised. They all called. The turn was a blank and everyone check-called my bet. The river was 4h and everyone check-called my river bet. I figured I was beat as I flipped over my cards. Both players mucked as the dealer pushed me the first of several big pots.

I could hear whispers from the locals on the far side of the table as I stacked up their chips. They pegged me for a lucky river rat which was fine. Then it got interesting when I found Js-10s and had to call three bets preflop. With my eyes on the plasma screens with the hoops game on, I flopped a flush draw and gutshot on a board of A-Q-x. I missed my flush, but the river was a King. I beat a WWII vet with A-Q and he was steaming especially when I raised him on the river.

"Chasing a gutshot?" he barked.

"Yeah and a flush too."

"Keep chasing, kid."

Then it got uglier. I won the next hand and it was a kill pot. The stakes were raised to 6-12 and I found Jd-4d. There was a raise from the WWII vet and a sweet old lady in Seat 1 re-raised to $18. I called. Five-way pot including CAG. The flop was A-J-4. I waited to the turn to raise and of course I got action with CAG and the old lady who both check-called me on the river. When I tabled Jd-4d, the old lady flipped up Big Slick and berated me for calling three bets with my hand.

"Hey, it was a kill pot. I defended my blinds."

She quickly ordered a pint of Fat Tire. She was going to drown that bad beat in beer as I stacked up all of her chips. I barely had any room to function at my end and the dealer asked if he could color me up from $1 chips to $5. I declined. I wanted everyone at the table to see their chips sitting in front of me.

That's when I found Kh-Kd. I knew that I was either going to win a monster pot and get paid off or I was going to lose a big pot. Of course I raised and the pot was six-handed. The flop was K-10-6. The CAG checked, I bet, and he check-raised, and everyone got out of the way. I re-raised him back. He re-raised again and I asked the dealer what was the cap. The dealer said since it was heads-up, we had unlimited raises so I re-raised again. That was the fifth raise. CAG re-raised back and I checked my cards to make sure I had top set. I raised him back and CAG re-raised me and I re-raised him once again. On the ninth raise CAG decided to just call. He finally believed that I had a better hand.

The turn was a blank and he check-called my bet. The river was another blank and he check-called my bet. I tabled my red Kings as CAG picked up his cards, showed both his neighbors and mucked. I put him on 6-6 but I never saw his cards. I stacked up chips on top of my chips. I had a fortress in front of me and left the table to cash in my winning ticket for the Golden State game. That ticket got me unstuck for the trip and after the pot with a set of Kings, I was close to wiping out my poker loses.

Overall, it was a good trip despite the long work hours. I was pleased with the quality of my work with Poker News. Change100 and I found an apartment to live in for two months this summer that's super close to the Rio. Then on Thursday morning I was offered a lucrative job to cover the WSOP... my highest paying writing job ever... which I have accepted and will write about the logistics at another time.

Nothing in life can compare to riding a lucky streak during your last two days in Las Vegas. I'm happy to leave this town with a new apartment, a new job, and up a couple of dollars after departing the last two times under a gloomy cloud of loses. I have to return in 23 days to start prepping for the WSOP and although I'm looking forward for three weeks of rest and relaxation, I'm eagerly anticipating my return.

When you lose in Las Vegas, you hate everything in this suicidal town. When you win, you can't wait to come back and slay those Sin City demons once again.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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