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Skalie’s Diary …- By Jon “Skalie” Kalmar (UK Sponsored Pro)

Day 10 – Friday 12th of June

Had a lie in today and watched Grand Torino with Clint Eastwood.

Awesome, at 199 years old Clint is still the man, the best film I have seen for some time. On the telly afterwards was Legend staring Tom Cruise and directed by Ridley Scott. How either of them became the Hollywood giants they are today after making that dross is beyond me.

For months now my back has been a major problem. Years of bad posture sat on my couch or around a poker table has taken its toll. In April I stumbled across a gadget in Vegas. A kinda tenz machine for your back. You put these jelly pads on and a little machine sends small electric shocks though it. It has been a godsend and frankly I struggle to play an hour without it. I had a major panic yesterday when my little godsend of a gadget broke. It still worked but the socket to plug the charger into was goosed and when the charge ran out, so was I. Nothing else for it, today I needed to buy a new one. The only place I knew I could buy one was a shop at the strip near the MGM. This was miles from anywhere a taxi could drop me off. With this in mind, I thought I would play as long as possible and then go and get it. I had already decided no tournaments today just cash.

The tables at the Venetian were busy so I decided to try the Bellagio. When I got there they were incredibly busy. Sod it! I will walk to the MGM and get my gadget. Now a walk from the taxi drop at the MGM to the strip means walking almost the entire length of the casino. It is probably about as far as walking from the Bellagio to the MGM. The place is enormous. If you stop there and leave anything in your room you simply buy another rather than walk back. Once, I was on the phone to Kila a little drunk, got out of the lift at the wrong floor and it wasn’t till I walked all the way to the end of the corridor that I realised. I was gutted, knackered and drunk. I very nearly decided to sleep outside of whoever’s room it was. No exaggerating it must have been close to a half-mile diversion.

The day had been a hot one and the walk seemed unappealing. Me and sunshine don’t mix. I am milk bottle white and prefer it to the pillarbox red the sun sends me. I get sun stroke picking post cards. I swap seats on a bus when it turns a corner.

I decided to play the $1000 at the Bellagio instead. Well, what a great decision that was. Having joined late the blinds were 100/200 and I was on the big blind with 10 jack of diamonds. Someone raised to 600 and a Russian guy had called on the button. I decided to see the flop and was thrilled to see Jh 9d 8d. Top pair, up and down straight and a back door flush. I was ready to gamble with this and indeed got the Russian to push all in. I was less than please to see him flip the Q 10 of hearts for the nuts straight and redraw to the flush, as if the nuts was not enough.

On around 4500 I soon got moved to a new table and found QQ under the gun. I limp in, hoping for a raise and the double up I craved. Five more players limped too and I was beginning to regret my move. However, the big blind obliged and bet 1000. I gave it a little Hollywood and eventually pushed all my chips in, trying to look like a mid pair. I was hoping to get action but trying to give off an image of someone who was happy to take it down. I needn’t have worried, the big blind had pocket kings and I was again faced with the trip to the MGM albeit with a less bulky pocket to hinder my walk.

I found the shop and bought my prize. A huge weight felt like it was lifted from my shoulders, so feeling a little cheerier I decided to play some cash while I was there. I put my name down for the 5/10 NL game and played 2/5 NL while waiting for the game to start. It never did and I eventually gave up and returned to the Palazzo 700 bucks up. I wanted to drop my back machine in the room before I left it somewhere. (This typically being something I would do)

In the room I was met by a bitterly disappointed Strummer, he had played the $1500 FL event today and was mumbling incoherently about the many fish at the Rio.

To cheer him up we had dinner at the French restaurant in the Venetian. Finally found a restaurant that sells chateaubriand. I have to say it was fantastic.

Day 11 – Friday 12th of June

The problem with running bad is you get scared. You are so sure you will get out drawn and it affects your play and your reads. This was a perfect example of how you do the wrong thing.

With KJ diamonds I raise to $40 and get 4 callers. When the flop comes A Q 5 rainbow I was first to act and check. The guy to my left makes it 120 and 2 others make the call. I decided to call knowing if the 10 comes I can check and am guaranteed action. The turn was the 10 of diamonds meaning I have the nut straight and the nut flush draw. I check and the better makes it 200 to go. To my disappointment the others get out of the way. Knowing my hand is disguised I make it 600 and try to give the impression I am making a move. However, my opponent had been racking his chips ready to leave prior to the start of the hand and was in no mood to gamble and passed. Oh well, I was now a few hundred bucks up but more importantly I had won a tasty hand and I was feeling confident.

I raise straight after with A 4 of spades and the flop is A K 4. My only caller is a clown at the other end of the table desperate to outplay me. Knowing this, I bet out $80 and as expected, he calls. The turn is the 3 of spades giving me the nut flush draw too. Again I bet out and straight away he re-raises to 600. I move all-in and it’s about 600 more for him to call, which he does. The river missed my flush and I announce 2 pair hoping it’s still enough, it was. I can only assume he decided to trap with AQ or had made a draw on the turn himself. Maybe KQ of spades?

I have taken down the biggest cash pot of my trip thus far. Sheeeeeeshhhhhh

Momentum flowing, I soon raise with 10 j clubs. The 2 to my right both call and the next guy re-raises to 170. I ask what he has and he said 1300 more. This guy was aggressive pre-flop but often lost his bottle there after so I call but to my disappointment so do the others. The flop comes 9 high with 2 hearts. I think about representing a mid pair, maybe 10’s or jacks but I know that both of these hands may check the flop so I check hoping they check behind, they do. The turn brings a third heart I realise the only way to take it down is a bet. I push out 300 representing the mid pair or made flush and they all quickly fold…lovely.

It’s amazing at times but when I have momentum and confidence I seem to be able to bully almost any table. People who have been sticking it to me all day seem to lie down at times and leave me too it. This was one of those times. No one seemed to want to play a pot against me until a kid sat to my right with around $7k. (At this time I was sat on about $6k.)

I had straddled to $20 and everyone passed to him in the big blinds. With 97 spades I make it 90 to go and he calls. When the flop comes 8 4 3 (2 clubs) he checks to me. I bet 120 and he re-raises to 330. Now I am sure he is at it. This is not a flop for a raising hand and he knows it. Considering he is deep stacked, a $330 raise here is hardly committing.

Confident he doesn’t want to get too jiggy with me I re-re-raise to $800 and he immediately passes saying nice hand. I show him only to make it known I mean business and he should think twice before bluffing me again. The clown moves a seat to my left, immediately one becomes available, clever little sod.

Now in 11 days, I have, to my recollection not flopped a set. This must be close to a mathematical impossibility but there you are. I finally get one when I raise with AA, unfortunately my opponent had a mid pair and the ace was enough to scare him away regardless. (grrrrrrr)

At one point I was $4k up but a few coolers (the deepstacked kid now to my left slow played KK and rivered the set when I had 2 pair, sigh) and I was happy with $2.5k profit. Easily my best cash session of the trip.

My very last hand I get AA and say “OK, may as well raise it last hand and all that”

Now with the action I had been giving I was certain of at least 2 callers, but alas they all folded to me. Better than getting em cracked I suppose!

Day 11 – Saturday 13th of June

There is running bad and running bad. Sometimes nothing goes right.

Me and Strum decide to play the $500 “Deepstack” (lol) at the Venetian. If we get knocked out we will stay here all day and play cash. Obviously Strummer insisted we eat first therefore we joined the tournament about an hour after the start during level 2.
Now I paid first and he’s directly behind me. It’s reasonable to say that the other way round he’d have my seat and me his. He gets to sit next to Lucy Liu’s good looking super model sister and I get the Yeti’s ugly fat brother. No kidding, I am no slim line chappy myself and sometimes I forget to shave, but this guy was what I could only describe as the love child of Chewbacca and Jabba the Hut. To make things worse, I have about 6 inches of space to squeeze into between him and the next guy.

Card dead again –  but I stay patient and I am thrilled when the table eventually breaks… for more than one reason. It’s very easy to be patient when you quite literally pick up nothing to get involved with. With the blinds at 200//400 I am down to 11k and am excited to pick up pocket aces. Under the gun raises to 1200 and I am greedy to double up so flat call hoping for a squeeze behind. No problem, the guy 2 seats down makes it 4k. Folded back to me I push all in and he makes the call with pocket queens. For once, the queen didn’t come on the river. In fact, I need not have waited that long – it was straight out on the flop and the one hand I had, and in fact the only hand I played, was my last.

*******Warning poker content*******Warning poker content *******Warning poker content *******

I moved to the cash table and sat on the 5/10 NL game with $3k. One guy had a pile of cash with what must have been close to $40k. (At the Venetian any game of 5/10 or above has no max buy in). Normally anyone sitting in with this much money tries to push everyone about. Keeping pressure on, hoping to get lucky once, and get the lot. (Surprisingly, this guy was not Scandinavian although normally he would be) In fact, he seemed to be playing quite steady. However it didn’t stop him scaring everyone else who joined the table into leaving so evenetually I asked for a move.

My new table was much better but I struggled to catch a hand and even worse, respect! Eventually I raise with AQ and get 2 callers. The flop of QQT was lovely. I bet out hoping for someone to get jiggy and I wasn’t to be let down. The 1st guy looked at his cards and considered a pass before calling. I checked the turn and he bet $120. Now I am sure he was on nothing and simply didn’t believe me. If all I do is flat call he will no doubt bluff the river. With this in mind, I raise to $300 and he runs for the hills.

Day 12 – Sunday 14th of June

As well as having a bad back and a sprained ankle from falling of a curb getting in a taxi (no I wasn’t drunk), I have had tooth ache since the start of the week. Today my worse fears were confirmed and it had developed into an abscess. Alright, maybe not my worst fears – they are being attacked by a polar bear or living to see complete nuclear holocaust.

Still, I have had an abscess before and they are no fun believe me. In fact, the last time I had one I had a bust up foot then too, what are the odds? I go the Pharmacy in the attempt to buy antibiotics but to no avail – I must see a dentist and get a prescription. Typically, it’s Sunday (what are the odds?) and none are open so instead I get the address of a doctor and try my luck there.

For just a $162 one has agreed to see me and it was just a $20 cab fare away.

Now obviously I get a cab from outside my hotel and when asked by the bell boy (In this case a girl, first time ever I have seen a girl do this job. What are the odds?) where am I going? I innocently say the medical centre.

“Oh I see”
I explain “I er, er I er, just have tooth ache”
“You too, hey happens allllllllll the time, don’t worry must be 100 cabs a day go there.”

The forms you are required to fill in are ridiculous. The first page is all about your insurance and financial situation. Are you working? what do you do? income etc. They get their priorities right. The next page is your medical history. History of strokes, cancer, have you had an eye test lately? have you fallen lately? Sores in your mouth? (well kinda yeah!). The best one was how many years you went to school? What! How can being under-educated affect your health and what business is it of theirs?

I explain “I er, er I er, just have tooth ache”
“Just fill in the damn form sir”
“Yes miss”

After a short wait I am escorted to a room where I am weighed, have my temperature taken and also my blood pressure.

I explain “I er, er I er, just have tooth ache”
Further questions include “Have you ever had pins and needles in your legs?”

I sit in the examination room and wait for the doctor. It was obviously busy cos I could hear the conversation between the doctors and nurses through the door. Apparently, there is somewhere where they are doing a new coffee flavoured shake and it was much better than McDonalds!!!
I wonder if all this fuss is simply to give me my money’s worth. I then look at the draws in the bed I was just sitting on. They were labelled “Vaginal speculum” and “Anal scope”. Gulp!

Another label at the top said “Stirrup position. Pull to extend, lift for lateral adjustment”

At that point the door opens and I explain “I er, er I er, just have tooth ache”

She takes a look and after insisting I go see a dentist as soon as possible she agrees to give me a course of antibiotics. I say thanks and hurry away before they decide to check me out for anything else.

I return to the pharmacy and wait expectantly for my tablets. The anxiety of waiting for them to tell me the cost was similar to playing a big hand of poker. I have to say I was immensely relieved when he said $37 and it actually felt like I had won a big hand.

I played poker for around 6 hours and again never flopped one set despite having been dealt over 20 pairs, none I might add were better than jacks. I was happy to call it a night early $400 up as this paid for the doctor, tablets and taxis.

While writing this I am getting ready to play the $2000 WSOP event at the Rio. No hoping to do well, no doing my best. After watching JP Kelly win a bracelet early this week I want one (not to wear of course, I ain’t a poof) and this one will do for now.

No bad beats, no coolers and most of all no bad moves. I have used up all my bad luck and today it will turn I am sure of it. Today my share of flopping sets will balance out for the trip and I will finish the day on a monster stack. This time I will win the bracelet.

Day 13 – Monday 15th of June

Today is the $2000 NLHE at the Rio. I’m feeling very confident and ready for a result. With 6000 chips, there is a little play with but not much. I do nothing special but by the break I get my stack up to around 10k. I have never been at a table where so much raising and re-raising went on. Everyone seems to have forgotten how to play flops nowadays and it amazes me how much people are ready to risk before getting any real clues of their opponents hand. Especially considering that we were not exactly deepstacked.

With the blinds at 75/150 I call a raise in position with 67 of hearts. After my call my opponent checks his cards, I know it’s not a pair and I know he is not suited. Of course this may be a ploy but unlikely. The flop comes 4 8 J and he checks to me. I bet out 900 and he thinks then calls. The turn is a 3 of diamonds putting three to the flush out. Now he decides to bet out 1300. Firstly I am not sure a made flush bets here, as it is most likely to be the nut flush if he has it. Besides, he checked his cards earlier before the flop. He doesn’t need to do this with suited cards. I know he has to give me respect for betting out with a flush draw and I make it 3000. He quickly folds.

Now I rarely show my cards in this situation however Men the Master had just sat down at the other end and I know he’s paying attention. I decided to show my hand hoping it will get me action later down the line. (Unfortunately he got knocked out before my chance)

We were joined by a kid sat 2 to my left who constantly squeezed or tried to bet everyone off their hands. Knowing this, I needed to close him down, I can’t have someone getting too busy on my left.  The blinds are 100/200 and I limp on the button with Q8 of hearts and I expect him to raise from the big blind. He doesn’t disappoint making it 800. I call and the flop is K 6 2 rainbow. He bets out 1200 and I call. If he shows any weakness on the turn I will pounce. The turn is a 2 and I stand up to look over the dealer to see exactly what he does next but more importantly so he knows I am watching. He fiddles with his chips and changes his mind on his bet several times before betting 2600. Got him! I make it 6000 and he gives it the Hollywood dwell before eventually passing. Again, I show this time to make him and everyone else think before trying to make moves on me and tell him I was sure I was good. He protests I wasn’t but I still don’t believe him :o)

Despite not putting a single foot wrong, I was still unable to accumulate chips. It’s ok making these moves but you cant get away with them all day, eventually you need to hit something and get action. On around 20k I raise to 1800 with the blinds on 300/600 and the guy from the above hand moves all in. Again, I stand and look down on him, he cowers and I am sure he didn’t want a call. It was 8400 more and I make the call, I was right he had AJ. The flop can K 10 3 but a Q on the turn and queen on the river meant I was gonna need to play short stack for a while.

Eventually it is folded to me on the button and I make 2500 to go with the blinds at 400/800 the small blind thinks and re-raises to 5600. I am not passing and push my last 9k in the middle. He sighs and makes the calling flipping 78 of clubs. Nice move against someone who is never gonna pass eh! Flop comes 8 2 A 9 J and my boast about taking this one down were premature.

I congratulated him on an awesome move and will have to settle for winning tomorrows 1500 instead.

I cannot play better and feel more confident. If I can play for 9 hours and get this close to the money with no cards and no luck then when things do change who knows what will happen.

On the main feature table John Duthie was just finishing off his semi final in the 10k heads up event. He was looking in awesome form with incredible focus. John may have had people criticize his style for some time but I assure you no one will have an easy time against him heads up. I really do hope he brings home the bracelet tomorrow.

Add that to the fact Roland De Wolf won a bracelet yesterday – shares in the Wynn casino shot up 20 points. I am sure I even saw Steve Wynn wander to the Rio card room floor at one point to cheer John on.

Another notable performance is Jeff (JaffaCake) Kimber going well in the $2.5k PLO. Eleven left and he is well above average. The Brits could get 5 bracelets in one week. JP, Roland, John, Jeff and me :o)

Set Watch

I am starting a new section of my blog called set watch. I have been in Vegas 13 days now and have flopped only 1 set. That was Aces against pocket 10’s, MARVELOUS!

Here are how all my pairs faired today

JJ – Flop is K 9 8. I bet out and am forced to pass to a heavy re-raise
99 – Flop J T 3 is checked down I win a small pot
99 – Flop 10 4 2. I raise pre-flop and bet flop to take it down
KK – No call of course
22 – I limp. Guy next to me raises and Men the Master moves all in. I pass the other guy calls with queens. Men has AK. Flop is J 7 10 turn a 2 (still not flopped though) river a jack. Doh!
QQ –Flop of 6 3 2 I bet out he folds
AA – I get jiggy and flat call a raise. Flop of 2 3 7 checked to me, I bet and they fold.
JJ – No call
88 – Vs AJ see above, we know how that ended, sigh!

Very next hand I get 66 and limp in under the gun hoping to push all in to a raise. I still have enough to make someone pass and it has to look strong in this situation. The next guy makes it 2300. Someone else moves all in for 15k. The button thinks forever then passes, obviously I pass. All three of them had AK. The board come A 9 3 8 6 nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Come back tomorrow for more stories in my quest to flop a set.