Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:16 am Posts: 451 Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Ironman of Poker 2009: “Make it FOUR!”
Feb. 26, 10:40am: Santa’s wife officially calls the Ironmen “a bunch of little girls” after showing I show her an email where two of the participants could not sleep the night before the big event. Like kids at Christmas, we were ready for the fourth annual IMOP to begin.
Feb. 26, 3:45pm: I received a text message from Grange who has once again gone out for a day’s head start on the main IMOP crew. Text reads: “I was just called a f*cking s*ck a$$ b!tch mother*cker. Is that a compliment?” It would only be moments later that security at Planet Hollywood would be called to escort the gentleman out of the casino after Grange takes all of his chips with complete and utter trash. This was apparently followed by another near throw down after a dispute between two players over tipping. Grange later told us the trouble all started when a drunk Coast Guard kid sat down, played like a maniac (preflop raises to $50, flop bets of $100 pretty much every other hand), ran his stack up to $3K, then lost it all plus another $3K, in the process tilting half the table with terrible suckouts and bad beats. At one point, just after Sahara arrived to meet up with Grange for dinner, the kid mounts a comeback and says, “Back from the dead! I be a zombie, eating brains and sh*t!”
Clearly, it was Ironman time. Let’s meet this year’s participants (names changed as part of the international witness protection program):
”Grange”: Two time and reigning champion. Wearer of ugly shirts and even uglier jackets. Famous quote: “There are a lot of better places to get it in bad.”
”DIA” (short for “Diamonds in A$$”—reflecting his rather tight playing style): Surprisingly witty for a bean counter. This year’s upset winner of “Wow—he’s drunk!”. Famous quote: “I don’t care about sticking Santa with the bill. I just don’t want to overpay.”
”Lucky”: One of two original Ironman participants, inaugural winner, and wearer of wet pants at IMOP III. The little guy (distantly related to the O’Shea’s leprechaun) actually was prop bet (by Grange) to say, “They’re always after me lucky charms!” when he would rake large pots. He also frequently did one mean robot dance to the horror of onlookers.
”Sahara”: Lucky’s brother who has been given the nickname of his (least) favorite locale in Vegas; despite his best efforts, he actually responds to the nickname. Took a good deal of ribbing for missing last year’s IMOP competition. Rarely leaves his dungeon lair for live casino play, instead specializing in online donkaments. Best known for a shirt selection so—hip? garish? synthetic?—that random strangers assume (incorrectly) that he is the token gay guy in the event.
”Malibu Barbie”: With the most reckless of our compatriots not able to make the trip this year, Barbie singlehandedly took over the “Crazy Bahstahd” title with a series of tilt-inducing antics that may not be rivaled. Famous quote: “I put the Russian Nazi on Barbie-Tilt!”.
”Santa”: Yours truly, the other original IMOP participant, Julie the cruise director, and writer of IMOP rules, yet strangely, never a winner of the event. Wearer of the “white trash tuxedo” and aspiring stand-in for an off-off-off-Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever.
Among this year’s events:
• Signature hand: Back by popular demand. Everybody draws a card from a pile of 2,3,4 and a card from a pile of 6,7,8 and that becomes their signature hold ‘em hand. You get points for each time you win a pot holding your signature hand, but you must table it even if you win by bluffing. This has served to set many a player on tilt when they see that someone put in a $200 bluff holding 6/3 off suit.
• “Make it four!”: In honor of the fourth annual event, each time an Ironman raises to four preflop and wins the pot, you get points. This set the stage for a few interesting hands …
• Prop bets: A prop betting sheet was sent out to all participants ahead of time. Among the bets available were “Who will have the most free drinks?”, “Who will have the fewest hours of sleep?”, “Who will go bust the most”, “Will Santa drink a beer”, and “Will Lucky have something spilled on him?”.
Feb. 26, 8:00pm: The Cedar Rapids contingent descends upon the airport. In a clear flaunting of the TSA rules, Barbie dutifully pulls his 2 ounce bottles out of his carry-on and puts them in the clear plastic bags. Shampoo? No. Toothpaste? No. Captain Morgan and Jack Daniels? YES! TSA just looks at them and lets him through. We proceed to sit in the terminal and suck them down. Low rent ballas fo sho!
Feb. 27, 1:00am: Kick off cocktails at Planet Hollywood. Thanks to late flights we did not have time to do our normal event , but we did stick Barbie and Lucky with the tab since they did not pay their penalty time playing 2/4 limit hold ‘em after donking out of tourneys in last year’s event (IMOP Rules require the first Ironman to bust out of a sanctioned tourney to grind 2/4 limit for one hour). We drew for our signature hands, turned in our prop betting sheets and paid the entry fee. The first two tasteless shirts of the trip had been brought out. I had lost an earlier prop bet to Grange and was made to wear a shirt that said, “I Pound Beers for Jesus”. Grange had on an interesting shirt of his own -- a horse with a noose around its neck. You figure it out (Sahara is still puzzled).
Feb. 27, 2:00am: The P-Ho tournament proved to be small (~20 runners) but spirited. I managed to donk out early after flopping a smaller set than my competitor. Barbie, by comparison, busted out moments later by overplaying his signature hand of 6/3 off and bluffed himself right out of the tournament. Interestingly, one of the prop bets was “Will Barbie get felted overplaying his signature hand?”— 4 of the 5 Ironmen bet that he would. Ship it!
Sahara wound up winning the tournament, which was rather shocking since it wasn’t on the internet. A fairly crazy cash game ensued with all six Ironmen sitting at the same table with a few unsuspecting foreigners (if Belgium declares war in the next month or so, we are definitely not responsible!). After about an hour’s worth of us raising to “four” (or, “make it FO’!” as we kept saying), one of the guys asked if we were on a trip together. When we told him about the trip and some of our dumb games, another piped in with, “So that’s why you’re doing that stupid sh*t!”. Good times.
A Swedish guy who thought he was Patrik Antonius’ cousin joined the table, drawn to the Ironman chum. Swede-boy clearly thought he was going to make a fortune off us yahoos. Instead, we took turns taking small bites out of his $1,200 stack by calling his continual raises with premium cards (like 3/5s) and catching two pairs and straights to start him tilting. Barbie finished him off by tabling one monster bluff, then waiting as the Swede personally came after him and ended up taking all of his stacks of kroners, plus another re-buy before Swede-boy tilted off into the night. Next year we may need to bring along an ambassador to defuse these international incidents.
We finished off the session with Barbie booking a monster win. Sahara, his vampire blood being overly sensitive to the Vegas sun, skulked back to the Bellagio to get in a nap before one of his “real” tournaments at the Wynn. The rest of the crew headed down to Paris at about 9:00am to have the “Breakfast of Champions” hosted by Grange. Some of us were falling asleep in our eggs, but we managed to get out of there in good shape. A few went to play cash games at Bellagio and the rest headed up for a nap.
Feb. 27, 1:00pm: Barbie and I headed down to Venetian to play some cash games and partake of their high end liquors. We wound up at the same table in time for me to watch Barbie pull this gem:
After “making it four”, Barbie continuation over-bets the pot, three people fold, and he proudly tables his 6/3 off suit proclaiming “Sweet ! I get points for ‘make it four’ AND signature hand!” Problem was, although three people had folded, there were four players in the pot with him. So, the guy who didn’t fold calls the bet! The turn gives Barbie a gutshot draw and he checks (with cards laying on the table and everyone laughing at him). Other guy bets $15 and Barbie shrugs and calls. He finally lays down when his draw doesn’t come home, but at least the table is gunning for him …
Grange stayed and ground some 2/5 at Bellagio. He got some laughs from the table with his paint-splotched t-shirt that read, “I Just Killed a Clown”. One of the amused players stopped laughing 30 minutes later as Grange played 52s against his AA … and flopped a straight! Suddenly-not-so-amused guy stood up, threw his cards at Grange, and stormed away after blurting out, “You ARE a f*cking clown!” Thankfully, he was not a foreigner.
Feb. 27, 7:00pm: The Sahara tournament is an annual tradition, and this year would be no exception as we headed to the smoky palace. Grange was trying his hardest to get me to punk Sahara (the player) by abandoning Sahara by his lonesome at Sahara (the casino), but I wasn’t having it. As it turns out, joke was on me as Sahara blew US off to play at that dumpy Wynn place. Given that this was NASCAR weekend, I tried to wear clothing that would help me fit in for this tournament—a white wife-beater style t-shirt, camouflage hunting jeans, orange sunglasses, and a John Deere hat. I felt right at home in the Sahara, and even had a lengthy chat with another player about tractors. The tournament was rather uneventful as none of the Ironmen was able to so much as cash. Lucky was the last bustout, and when he was eliminated, the rest of us were grinding away at cash games and decided that we’d had enough culture for one evening. They couldn’t find us a cab to easily accommodate the five of us, so we wound up having to have little Lucky lay across the other guys in the back seat. The highlight of that cab ride was Lucky doing the horizontal version of his famous robot dance. Now DIA can say he got a lap dance in Vegas …
Feb. 27, 11:00pm: Given that most of us had consumed nothing but cocktails for the last 14 hours, we decided to get some food and went to the Café Lux at Venetian. As usual, six guys wound up ordering food for about 20 and we left more than we ate. Grange and I headed to TI to grind away while the rest of the guys went on back to the B.
Grange and I ended up sitting at a table with some of the zaniest players we’d seen. Early on I got AA and raised to $16—and got 7 callers! Next time I got them, I raised to $45—and got four callers! After taking some flak for my outfit (still in my white trash tuxedo from the Sahara tourney) and getting massively bluffed off a hand by Grange, I decided I had better get out of there before I gave my chips away. I wandered back up the strip to the B and went to bed around 3:00am.
Feb. 28, 5:00am: I awake from my nap to the sound of my buzzing phone and a text message from Grange, who is still playing at TI and getting ready to head to Caesar’s for cash games before the 9:00am tournament the Ironmen would be playing. I arrive there to find Grange already seated with a few young guys from New Jersey on a bachelor party weekend; Grange had become one of their best buds in under 5 minutes flat by flipping them an enormous amount of sarcasm. According to Grange, the conversation for the first hour or so revolved around where the youngsters could find some “daytime boobies”. The kiddies were fascinated by the concept of topless pools, but suffered a boobie bad beat when their iPhone research revealed that: a) the topless pools were all closed for winter, and b) none of the pools were at their hotel. I proceed to sit in the game, looking like the grizzled old guy, and promptly pull out half a dozen scoresheets, pens, and other assorted stuff to update the IMOP scoring, as well as to score a degenerate series of prop bets Grange and I had made on the World Golf Match Play championship (as usual, Grange crushed me). It’s easy to play poker when you are looking for reasons to fold so you can go back to administrative duty.
The other Ironmen started showing up just before tournament time and we were on. Grange , out of his mind without much sleep, was the first one out of the tournament in the first orbit when his K4o was “snapped off” by AA. I ended up being bubble boy, but not without getting my money in as a massive underdog to kings three straight times and winning all three hands. Lucky ended up third and notched a cash for some IMOP points.
Feb. 28, High Noon: Everyone went their opposite ways from there as DIA and I went to see if the fish were biting at MGM while the others ground it out at either the Wynn or the Venetian. One exception was Barbie who, after donking out of the Caesar’s tournament, decided to play in the 1/3NL game there. As luck would have it, he would again find himself in the middle of a controversy by tabling his cards a little early. Barbie raises with trash (shock!). There’s about $100 in the pot when the river comes out and the drunken opponent makes it $100. Barbie raises to $300 and the guy stews for quite awhile and stands up before verbally declaring that he folds, but doesn’t actually muck his cards. The dealer begins to collect the pot and Barbie of course can’t resist sticking it in the guy’s eye and tables … bottom pair. The guy is stunned, looks at the board, looks at Barbie’s hand, and then says, “I call”. LOL. A couple of people at the table confirm that the guy had verbally folded, although another little helper says, “I’m not sure what he said.” The guy goes ballistic and ends up having to be escorted out by security. Score another one for Barbie-tilt. Just for good measure, about 15 minutes later, he ends up sucking out quad deuces against a guy who flopped the nut flush. Amazing he’s not buried in the desert.
Grange and Lucky head to the Wynn after a crowd of about 5000 NASCAR fans blocked their path from P-Ho to MGM. Upon arrival, Lucky tried to get his name on the list. The manager asked for his last initial. Lucky said, “T”. The manager, apparently hard of hearing, asks, “’T’ as in ‘tall’?” Grange, ever helpful, says, “No, he’s definitely not tall.” Lucky vows revenge by attempting to score more money from Grange’s leprechaun prop bet. Once seated, Grange has this classic hand go down:
I was in the BB, there was a raise and three callers, so I call with 4d5d. The flop is 6-7-8 rainbow—Donkey Kong! I bet, a lady goes all-in for $150, I call. Lady says, “I flopped a set.” I say, “I flopped the straight” and proudly table my … 3d4d?!? Hmmm, that doesn’t seem to have the distance …
IMOP-induced exhaustion/intoxication can sure wreak havoc on the poker skilz! …
Stay tuned true believers! Part Deux is coming soon to a theater near you!
Last edited by Santa Claus on Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:16 am Posts: 451 Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Ironman of Poker 2009: “Make it FOUR!”—Part Deux
We now rejoin our trip report, already in progress …
Feb. 28, 9:00pm: After grinding all afternoon at random cash games, it is finally time for the offical IMOP Dinner, this year held at Samba in the Mirage. This event always marks the wearing of the ugly jackets. Grange has won this contest three years running, and sadly he would run away with this one too. Some good efforts were put in with Lucky wearing a purple-velvety number with a tie that had kids all over it and a lapel pin that said something about “saving the children”, Sahara had a very nice pale blue western stitched number, and I managed to find a 1979 vintage full on white suit with the texture of burlap (Jack Nicklaus signature no less). However, Grange managed to find a royal blue/pale blue/khaki paisley (giant paisleys, mind you) number. It was so garish that it was almost hip; he actually got numerous compliments on that eyesore! [NOTE: Grange will post pictures of the jackets in the comments].
The Samba dinner was outstanding. Everyone opted for the all-you-can-eat-meat and they just kept bringing out these swords of beef, chicken, ribs, wings, sausage and other assorted flame grilled delicacies. We were pretty much acting like cavemen while eating all of this. That is when DIA (having had more than his share of the pitchers of caipirinhas) came up with this beauty of a prop bet we like to call the “Meat Tank”. Details to follow soon, but let’s just say Barbie never backs down from a good prop bet!
Feb. 28, 11:00pm: For those who have read the IMOP 2008 trip report (Part 1, Part B, and Part III (w/ IMOP dinner)), we duplicated our new tradition of showing up in our ugly jacket regalia at TI for a nice (lol) game of 1/3NL. As Sahara accurately observed, everyone in the room was lining up to get on our table. As he also observed, one by one they kept busting out and leaving the table shaking their heads in bewilderment. Sahara, DIA, and I went on massive rushes and took our $300 buy-ins to over a grand each fairly quickly. Grange prop bet drunken DIA—normally so tight he squeaks—to straddle to $15. DIA took the prop bet and actually straddled, then raised to $45 with 8/9 suited and took a big bite out of Lucky’s stack. He then managed to felt Barbie playing a similar holding and started Barbie toward a path of self destruction.
However, Barbie was not so tilted that he couldn’t pull off the Meat Tank. After getting tangled up in a hand with Sahara, Barbie pushes all-in … and promptly reaches into his jacket and pulls out … a grilled pork rib left over from dinner!! To the horror of the non-Ironmen at the table as well as the dealer and the floor, Barbie begins to eat the rib and is making faces that cannot be duplicated. For those wondering, that rib had been in his jacket for about 2 hours at that point. Little bits of meat were flying everywhere, and at one point Barbie asks, “Do I have to swallow?”, which produced tears from everyone within earshot. In fact, I don’t even remember what happened in the hand. I just remember Barbie finally taking off the jacket and tossing it in a nearby garbage can (more on that later…).
After his inevitable bust out at the feature table, Barbie moves to another 1/3NL table and re-buys. Grange was running cold and moved over to Barbie’s table to avoid the Ironman juggernaut, and to break up the “Chesterfield West” home game. Barbie is joking around with his new best friends, a couple of young guys from Georgia (let’s call them Bo and Luke Duke), and pretty much running over the table with his maniac play. Eventually, Barbie gets into a monster pot with Bo Duke. Barbie pushed all-in on the river, in a pot that was already over $300. It will cost Bo roughly $300 more to call, and he is clearly torn between calling what smells like a classic Barbie bluff, and giving away his whole stack on what is likely a marginal hand. Bo agonizes a bit, and Barbie gives him some good-natured needling. Finally, Bo Duke makes the following proposal: “How about we chop the pot, and you can kick me in the nuts?” WTF?!?! Even the pros running it twice ala’ High Stakes Poker don’t go to these extremes! Barbie jokingly considers the proposal, but finally declines. Turns out to be a poor choice as Bo eventually calls and Barbie shows a pure bluff. Hmm, if someone offers a chop and a clean nut-kick, and you’re bluffing, I think the +EV play is to take the offer …
March 1, 3:00am: One by one the Ironmen started racking up and heading for naps. Sahara, Barbie, and I decided we needed a late night Casino Royale craps experience. It was a strong one with all three of us booking modest profits, while swilling several more cocktails. At one point, I mention that I’m tired of my drink and need something different, to which Barbie shrieks, “Bring this man a Jaeger-coffee!”. Luckily we racked before they could bring that one …
March 1, High Noon : The last of our official IMOP tournaments would be the noon Venetian tournament. This is a great tournament with a nice structure. Lucky couldn’t make it as he was attending a work conference (WTF?), and Barbie and Grange went out early. At one point DIA, Sahara, and I were at the same table with two of the biggest luckboxes we had ever seen, but couldn’t seem to get in a hand with them. When we got down to three tables, DIA and Sahara ran out of time and busted out. I, on the other hand, seemed to get big hands and callers just in the nick of time on three different occasions, and made the final table after knocking out one of the luckboxes who finally came back to earth. Once at the final table, we chip-chopped and I wound up fifth. Ship it, HOLLA!
Little did I know that while I was on my way to glory, Barbie found himself in yet another odd situation. The “Russian Nazis” (who knew???) as he called them, were at his 1/2NL table at the Venetian. As the game went on and the cocktails started to flow, the “Nazis” started in on the state of our nation, and share among other thoughts that the homeless choose to be that way so they will get free health care by walking in to hospital ERs. They also felt that drugs should be legalized, and that if someone can’t handle it and OD’s, then just let them die. Uh, yikes …
Grange eventually joins Barbie’s table, where he found himself torn between getting free premium booze and treating his head cold. He finally opted for a series of hot green teas with honey … and Patron. Interesting new cocktail … Barbie took a pot from Grange when he flopped a straight against Grange’s two pair. On the river, Barbie made a value bet and Grange said, “You’re a jerk. I call.” Grange got his revenge later by repeatedly calling the clock on Barbie anytime he paused to think about calling a preflop raise (pure showboating—of course he’s going to call!).
March 1, 7:30pm: I went over to TI to catch up with Grange and Barbie, who were playing the headhunter tournament there. As I later learned, when Barbie walked into the room at TI, one of the staff there exclaimed happily, “Oh, sir, we found your jacket near the trash last night so we saved it for you.” As usual, the TI Poker Room staff brings a high level of customer service! Barbie, knowing the meaty contents of that jacket, told them to go ahead and keep the jacket, and make sure it actually got into the trash this time.
I had sat down in a 1/3NL game when an avalanche of texts from DIA—the normally squeaky tight, straight laced accountant—started coming in. Among them: “Where you @ homey? I’m getting my drink on!” and “U bought a ho didn’t you?” and “We’re down wit dat homes”. Tupac he ain’t. As it turns out, DIA was definitely getting his drink on because: a) he was chattering away non-stop at his table at the V, and b) he tipped a dealer $15 after winning a $3 pot!
March 1, 10:00pm: Dos Caminos at the Palazzo was tonight’s dinner choice. We got seated in a mostly empty restaurant and attacked the chips, salsa and guacamole like a pack of starved dogs. After ordering came the little matter of settling up on who would be the winner of our “Daily Pick 6” college basketball competition. Basically, I concocted a parlay sheet with 6 picks each day for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Each guy threw in $5 per day and picked the games. You had to go 6 for 6 to win the pot or else it carried over. If the last day carried over, the idea was for us to play our favorite kitchen poker game of Kings and Little Ones (renamed Kings and Luckys by Grange). However, Grange forgot the cards and I was forced to come up with a different solution. I made each guy pick as many numbers (between 1 and 100) as he had total correct picks. Then, we had the waiter pick one number and whoever was closest won the pot. I’m happy to report that despite doing the worst in the picks and picking my numbers last, lucky number 13 was mine and I was winner, winner chicken dinner. Ship it, HOLLA!
Our waiter wanted to get in on the fun as well, so he prop bet us a round of Don Julio shots that we couldn’t figure out what football position he played in college. Not only did we guess that he was probably a quarterback, we also suspected he might have been a tight end. We were correct on both counts! Ship it, HOLLA and pass the tequila! The meal concluded with the usual drunken discussion of the bill. DIA, our accountant, is worthless in these matters without a spreadsheet. However, he still stared at the bill for several minutes to figure out his share; as he said so eloquently: “I don’t mind sticking Santa with the bill. I just don’t want to overpay.”
March 2, 1:00am: After finishing dinner we wandered back up the Strip. Grange and I wanted to slum it for awhile in one of the random smaller casinos, but had a hard time convincing some of the group (Sahara in particular) that it would be more fun to donk it up at the IP than sit in luxury at Bellagio. Pansies. Anyhow, Grange, DIA and I went to Bally’s to feed the fish, even though DIA and I were nearly passing out at the table. Surprisingly, super-dealer Rick remembered us from last year. Even more surprising, Grange was not tackled by a drunken Englishman, although Rick reminisced with us about the events from the prior year’s IMOP. DIA didn’t last long after breaking his Bally’s cherry with a series of horrific, yet completely foreseeable, bad beats and suck outs.
March 2, 3:00am: Finding ourselves to be feeding the Bally’s “sharks”, we packed up and headed back to Bellagio. I headed to bed, and Grange headed down to grind a few last hours of cards. Grange first found himself at DIA’s table, where the guy next to DIA literally passed out each and every hand, and had to be awoken for each action. Later, Grange moved to Barbie’s 2/5 table, where Barbie texted him to warn him that he was playing “tight” and had a “DIA-like image”. In fact, Grange actually observed Barbie fold 3 hands in a row on several occasions—preflop! Holy cow! Grange also got in one last sarcastic comment before heading out. He gets it all-in with a middle-aged lady who turns over her cards, sees she is behind, and blurts out, “Help me Jesus!” The river is harmless and Grange, while raking the pot, says, “Jesus must have been busy at the pot limit Omaha game.” The Church Lady makes a very un-Christian face and storms out of the room.
Even though we were at the end of the trip, there would, of course, be one final Barbie story. At 3:39am, I receive a text from him: “In an insane 2/5 game here…up $350 and channeling my inner DIA”. Things were going well when 30 minutes later I get this text: “Just doubled up to $900 with a set against AK top pair top kicker. Ship it! Holla!”. Sadly, but predictably it wouldn’t hold. In less than 5 minutes in back to back hands, Barbie’s stack was gone. He first got it all-in with AA against KK and a guy spikes a king. Very next hand, he pushes another overpair to the flop and the same guy now has AA which holds up and our man is on the felt … ouch! Tough way to end a trip.
March 2, 9:00am: By this time, both Grange and Sahara were on their flights back home after wading through hordes of NASCAR fans at the airport. After a short morning session at Bellagio, Lucky, DIA and I headed over to Todai for lunch and to tally the sheets to determine the IMOP winner. We tried to track Barbie down to join us, but he was trying desperately to get back to even by playing blackjack and skipped out. The three of us assembled piles of crumpled sheets, random notes and everything else and determined that I had actually won—but not by much.
By the time I sent out the official results to everyone the next day with the spreadsheet summarizing the detailed tallies, we had missed so much and there was so much confusion about who won what events, bets, etc., etc. that I had to redo the scoresheets FOUR different times. The good news is, I was still the winner and remotely tilted Barbie one last time as he came in second by just a few points!
Ship it! Holla! And we’ll see you next year for IMOP 2010—“High FIIIIIVEE!!!!”
Last edited by Santa Claus on Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.