One Night in the Hard Rock Poker Lounge

Last Saturday night, while in Las Vegas, Mr. F and I headed of to Hard Rock to check out the still-fairly-new Poker Lounge. The 18-table room features nice, if loud, decor, nice poker tables, comfortable chairs, and ample space for getting to, and reclining at, your seat. The room was spreading 1-2 NLHE, 2-5 NLHE, and the final table of a Vince Neal's charity tournament. I did not observe other games, but that isn't to say they didn't exist.

The table depicted in this post shows the nice purple felt that was featured on the lowest limit tables. The $2/5 tables, on the other hand, had very busy purple felt, covered in promotions, and reminiscent of a NASCAR driver's jumpsuit (but prettier). Often the cards and chips would become camouflaged in the design.

Room highlights:
First of all, the dealers were hot. Pretty much all of the dealers were attractive females. Distracting, but nice. They were not great dealers in the technical sense, but most of the male players were willing to let things slide. Once I caught a dealer shipping a pot to the incorrect recipient. I pointed this out, Mr. F corroborated the oversight, the floor came to oversee, and the rightful winner was awarded the pot.

Second, the limits are nice. The $2/5 table has a maximum buy-in of $2000. Like it.

Finally, a unique, if un-kosher, twist on the rules - the Hard Rock Straddle (Alright! Nrrr nrr!) The room allows the button to post a straddle of two times the big blind. The action proceeds in the typical fashion pre-flop, starting with the player to the left of the big blind having the first action. Then, action proceeds around the table, SKIPS the button, moves to the blinds, and then the button has last action pre-flop. There's an exception. If there are two raises prior to the action reaching the button, he then proceeds in order (before the blinds) with his $10 committed to the pot. This clearly generates action, and seems to be a gigantic advantage for the button. I do not appreciate the inconsistency of the progress ased upon the number of raises pre-flop. Beyond that, I'm not sure how I feel about this bastardization of rules.

Highlight Hand of the Night:
Early on I got a bunch of speculative hands, and played them passively. I saw a bunch of flops, very few turns, and even less rivers. I blew off a good chunk of my initial buy-in, and then added on. I had moved seats, and was out of position against a fairly new joiner to the table. After my early run of passive play and missed draws, I had tightened up consideralby, and perceived that my opponent in this hand labeled me as an A, B, C player.

I had 8s 5s in early position - a pet hand of mine, and know in my regular games as "Suited Bears" (as in the '85 Super Bowl Chicago Bears).

I raised to $25 up front and got 4 callers. With $127 in the pot, the flop came Js 9h 6s. Not exactly 'gin', but with 8-high, what did I expect. It was actually reasonably good, I had a four-flush and a gut-shot straight draw. I decided to feel out the field, and set up a play on later streets. I ventured out with a $40 bet. The new joiner smooth called. Mr. F also "flatted", and the other players folded. Both my opponents were fairly tricky players, as I perceived them, so their calling range here is fairly broad.

There was $247 in the pot when the turn came with the 5d. Certainly that card was unlikely to help my opponents, and now gave me a pair to add to my draws. Despite improving (ehem), I decided to check, and evaluate the response. I considered that calling, folding to, or check-raising a bet were all possibilities, depending on the action. The player behind me, either sensing weakness, protecting a big hand, or both, et out nearly the size of the pot $220. Mr. F folded, and I went into the tank.

I felt fairly confident that my opponent had a made hand. I thought it could be a strong Jack (A-J), but was more likely to be two pair. I actually thought he put me on an overpair, based on our short history, and his strength in the hand. My read was that he was most likely "trapping me" with J9. If that was the case, making two pair wouldn't help me - an 8 on the river was no good. Cards I was looking for included the last 2 fives, any of the 4 sevens, or the 8 remaining spades (not recounting the 7s). That made 14 outs, or gave me 29.5% equity in the pot. (Add 3 8s against an AJ, and my equity goes up almost to 39%).

Clearly I wasn't quite getting pot odds, but a call balooned the pot to $687, and I had another $430 or so behind. If I hit my 5 or 7, I was pretty certain that I'd get a big bet on the river. If I made my flush, I was less likely to get paid, but realistically, I thought he wouldn't give me much credit for a flush draw, and might pay me there as well.

I called.

The river was a nice, shiny 4s, giving me a flush. I paused, glanced at my opponent, and dramatically announced "all in". My opponent tanked (great sign), and after about 45 seconds made a crying call. I announced "flush", he gave me a concessionary nod, and I flipped over my cards. He blinked thrice in rapid succession, and I scooped in a huge pot.

Highlight Event:
The final table of the charity tournament was playing behind us. Without warning, two players jumped to their feet, and one yelled something incoherent at the other. Seconds later, a hippie-looking 40-something had pinned his over-sized opponent on the floor and landed 8 or 10 punches to the guy's ear before tablemates and on-lookers could seperate the two. It took another 3 or 4 minutes before Hard Rock security made it to the table. Both players were kicked out, but one was allowed back into the room later. I was told it was to "collect his chips", but as they were tournament chips, not cash equivalent, that didn't make much sense to me.

Mr F and I combined for a number of one-liners after things cooled down. The winner - "Boy was he disappointed to learn that the Bad Beat had just been paid out."

The real punchline? All the players at the table were actually co-workers.