Dealer Splash and other half-truths


Got free room at the Palms, just in time for them to close down their Poker Room. Where is poker going? Going to be centralized at the Venetian, the Bellagio, the Aria and the Golden Nugget eventually maybe. Well, the Palms is the worst place to stay for my playing style – go to bed at 1000 PM and wake at 400 AM to catch players who are either (a) drunk, (b) fatigued from playing too long or (c) maniacs. Saw plenty of the a-b-c’s, but could not sleep from 1000 PM to 400 AM because the Pool Party/Ghost Bar kept people up all night. Hip Hop is rhythmic, but the volume level was somewhere between city traffic and a blender. No sleep at the Palms excepts for a nap at 100 PM the next afternoon. And yes, I’ll blame the Palms for my tournament loss.

Music accompaniment if you’d like:

Early morning Saturday, playing in a 1-3 NL game at the Rio. Now there’s a tournament being announced, with a “guaranteed $500 pay out”. Well, I need to run in an hour, so am not going to stick around for it. But then the half hour goes by and there’s no tournament – even though 4 people signed up for it. What’s with the guarantee? It wasn’t mine to fuss, but that sounds like false advertising to me at least.

So, there’s a little Dealer Splash technique I use sometimes when (a) there’s too many limpers pre-flop and (b) I’m on the button. At 1-3 at the Rio, there’s the blinds and then 5 more players limping in at 3 apiece. I have King-10 offsuit but am on the dealer button. So I figure with 18 in the pot, if I go 2-3 times the pot amount with any hand that has some equity (not 7-2 but maybe a hand in the top 30 or so) I should be able to buy it. The only risk is that Small Blind or Big Blind have AA or KK and reraise me out. If I’m called, it’s still good news because the continuation bet often wins in this situation as the Dealer button (me) bets ¾ of the pot and people figure I’ve got the high pair in the hole. So it’s the Dealer button splash and seems to work for me. And I did it here, big bet of 45 on top of the 5 x 3 bets and everyone folds. The key is the blinds of course. If one of them sticks, the other guys might stick around for straight or flush draws. But the blinds look kind of timid to me and the folding gets contagious with the limpers and I collect the limpers’ money.

Dealer Splash - like everything else in life this probably has a name that everyone knows and I'm making believe that I'm inventing something here. The ego can be large at times... apologies for faking this one over but I'm not going to do the internet search to find the real technique's name.

The next hand – and this kind of hand following the Dealer Splash doesn’t happen but once in ten years – and I’m dealt pocket Aces. Everyone already has me tagged as a maniac (maybe right). So sure enough, about 3-4 limpers to me and instead of 45, I back off to 35 on top of the 3 each of them have in there. The new dealer folds, as do the blinds and then the Under The Gun guy, Rex Chapman
calls. Yes, he calls a bet 11.7 times his own. Everyone else folds. I put him on Ace-King, a hand that is both tough to re-raise with and yet impossible to fold. The flop is Queen – 9 -7. I’m a little concerned about a straight, but he wouldn’t have called with 10-8 or 8-6, so we both check. I really really want him to catch his King. The 4th street is a 2 of nothing. So nobody hits. Rex makes a 1/3 bet, 30 into a 82 pot. I re-raise, figuring maybe he actually had Ace-Queen and has high pair/high kicked. He then goes all-in which is only about 20 more. I now know that I’m trailing, maybe trips of something, but the extra 20 into a 300 pot is fair odds for a 7 % chance of winning. I maybe have 4 % chance, but Rex could be desperate/crazy too (3 % chance of this I figure) and I call.

Well, the river is another blank and Rex has trip 7’s. There is NO WAY anyone should call a bet 11x with pair of 7’s pre-flop. The best scores against me are when I put someone on the wrong hand. If I could stay open to the fact that the A-A that doesn’t hit goes from an 80 % favorite to a 50 % favorite by the river, I might have the guts to fold. Rex’s all-in was only another 20, but no one makes that move of a net 110 bet without having the nuts. It’s only the last 20 in a huge loss, but I had no drawing potential, just hopin’ for another Ace. I never used to think about having the guts to fold, but I do now. It just never seemed like a gutsy move, folding – you never get to see how well it worked out, you never get the feeling of exhilaration that a typical gutsy, risky move gives you. But I’m learning to not self-loath a good fold now and again.

The best hand/moment occurred at the Golden Nugget. It was the witching hour of 6:30 AM, no one around the downtown area and I’m at the one of the only 2 tables active at this hour. He’s got a faded Victor Cruz/Giants jersey, but the guy’s a likely Vietnam vet, big black dude with the gentlest James Earl Jones kind of voice. Looks sort of like George Hendrick back in the day -
So here’s how the hand goes. Each of these players are like characters from a novel. People at the Golden Nugget at 630 AM have a personality and they tell you about it. But I’ll refrain in the interest of the story.

• 1-2 No Limit. I’m on the little blind. I’m dealt Ace-9 suited clubs.
• Folds around until Hot Shot, young guy, maybe Sean May like in his way:
who’s been raising with authority all morning, seems to get dealt Ace-King on every other hand. He raises to 12.
• 4 people call the 12 bet, including George Hendrick. The bet is to me for 11 more. Mine’s a drawing hand – a flush possible 6 % of the time. I could also pair up the Ace and get some equity. I bet 11 into a 60 pot. 5 of us for a 72 pot.
• The turn comes Q-clubs, 5-clubs, 3-Diamonds.
• Checks come around to Sean May. He bets 40 into the 72 pot. George calls. I pause for a long time. Then I line up a whole Lot of chips counting carefully. I say: “Raise” and go his 40 plus another 80.
• The room gets really quiet. And it was a noisy room – lots of table talk. Unlike other joints, the people at the Nugget at 630 AM do listen when the cards are talking. Bunch of former dealers, people who have lived at or near downtown half of their lives.
• People pause. People fold. Even Sean May folds. But ol’ George holds. He’s verbalizing on just what I might have – trip Queens. A luck two pair? Anyhow, he calls.
• The next card is blank: 8-spades. I then go all-in: 60 into a 350 pot. I figure why not – there’s some chance George folds. Surprisingly, George spends a lot of time thinking about it (why – it’s only 15 % more…)– then calls almost reluctantly.
• The river comes. Another blank. It’s a deuce of spades. I’m out of cash. Everyone is good natured here. I say: “Well, let me bet the 0 that I’ve got here.” George says “Well, that’s about all that I can call.” I turn over the missed flush – “On a draw there, George, any pair will do. I’m at Ace High…”
• George turns over – “King-10 clubs.” No pair, same club flush draw that I was on, only second best on this day where an Ace takes it. “Dude, how could you?”, I ask. Willie: “Thought I was going to pull out the flush on your trips or whatever the heck you had.” “Well, I would have done the same thing.” But ol’ George is down a bit, calling himself the biggest donkey in the group with some near silent muttering of his own.
• Talk around the table….”I folded Kings” says one guy. Another guy says, “There goes my Ace King for nothing”.
• I rake $500 on this one hand, $200 of it my own. Biggest single hand of my life. Ace-High wins.

Typical trip for me – the best hand is a failed flush draw where I re-raise 3 times the leader. The worst hand is pocket Aces where I raise 11 times the Big Blind.

The dumbest thing I do is enter the Aria tournament. There’s about 55 people who all know what they’re doing and I’m just in the mix. A minor leaguer pitching to Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutcheon. I need to stick with the cash game. But what is interesting is that the sleep deprivation cost me here. After 4 grueling hours where I went from 10,000 to 15,000, the blinds are up to around 200-400. So, here comes the hand I’ve been describing as the Dealer Splash. Five people have called the 400. And I’m dealt King-6 Diamonds on the button. A voice inside of me says “late in the tournament… play it conservative…. wait for a good heads up hand”. So I fold.

Then, the small blind raises to 2,0000 and the big blind calls. All others fold. The flop comes out…
King ----- King ----- King

I would have had 4 Kings. The two players left, are –
The aforementioned Miguel Cabrera
Here’s a tight player that happens to be the chip leader, when he trips up his pocket 10-10 against another guy’s A-A.

And then there’s this other guy, the most entertaining piece of work I’ve seen out there. He looks like Mike D’Antoni
and while he’s a really good player, always seems to reraise at the right point. Has a mannerism and ability to put players on hands like Daniel Nagreanu, says things after a hand that he’s not involved with like, “oh, you’re rolling the 2 pair, she’s got the flush draw and this guy over here, why he’s rubbing his hands on a account of he’s got the pocket Kings which aren’t worth a damn anymore after that flop. Ha-ha-ha.” Everything he says, whether positive, negative, funny or serious is met with a little Ha-ha-ha afterwards.

D’Antoni’s really friendly to start with, showing hands instead of mucking – showing what he has bluffed us on. Every hand, he is a threat to re-raise you to 3-4 times what you started. Every hand and he was there for the flop. I truly believe he can just read people well enough that he could afford to call every hand pre-flop, use the heat sensing/BS sensing gift of his and just fold or re-raise appropriately.

I bluffed him out on one hand which I felt good about (“had you pegged for the 2-pair, partner that you just hit on 4th street” but no, D’Antoni I actually only had an Ace-5 and no pair at all). But as the game goes on he looks like he’s being overcome by a migraine. He’s got a wife or girlfriend
standing behind the rails that he’s constantly looking for reassurance from. Points to his chips and shrugs his shoulders towards her. But between hands, his head is between his hands as he seems to be trying to cool his brain down. At the break, he actually hugs for about a minute in a row at the break. It almost seemed like the sensors were getting worn down.

Anyhow, on this particular hand against Cabrera, there’s a K-K-K on the flop. Both players check. Then, an Ace hits. Miguel bets 10,000 into the 9,000 pot. D’Antoni raises to 40,000. Miguel has him covered, but is in for a long pause. I figure both have a full house. But there’s table talk and I don’t know- people are pretty confident that D’Antoni has A-K in the hole. I know that this is impossible because I had the King, but we’re all waiting as Miguel continues to internally debate. He actually starts to move his cards in. Then he pulls them back again. To D’Antoni’s credit, he doesn’t melt down, but he is on edge clearly. Finally Miguel calls and he’s got POCKET ACES. The second best hand to Kings. D’Antoni turns over 10-Queen nothing. What a bluff. I think D’Antoni really had him. Miguel was fresh off cracking Aces and D’Antoni probably read some of the “Imposter’s Guilt” off of this guy and just read an opportunity to bluff him off the Aces.

It’s times like these I realize I don’t belong at the Big Boy table. I think there’s card readers and mathematical freaks of nature and I’m just looking for a good time. I would have folded Aces here. And I would not have been able to raise all-in with 10-Queen nothing.


  1. Great trip report. Love all the pics! Lol. Thanks for writing. Sounds like some interesting poker hands too! On that 11x hand vs 77, seems like people in those games don't really pay attention the the numbers. They just want to see flops regardless. But isn't that a good thing when they miss? Just such a when they get there.

  2. LOLOL great one! you should write poker comedy for this site ;)

  3. Good report.

  4. You tell the story well, Biffo. It's nice to hear someone going through the same internal messages that I often hear from myself. I have gone to the Aria a half dozen times now with an eyeball on the tournament and I could never drag myself out of the cash game. How did your tourney day end?

  5. @Chance I had 11,000 chips of the 10,000 chip staring amount, but the blinds were like 500-1000. I was dealt Q-J suited and raised on the button to 3,000. Was raised to 6,000 by Henry Kissinger. Figured, I was trailing, but the limpers had the pot size at 8,000 for my added 3,000. Got a favorable flop of J-10-3. Before I could act, Kissenger put me all-in. with 5,000 to go in 18,000 pot. Easy call, with high pair, decent kicker. Lost when Ace appeared on the 5th street.

    I try to live the life of The Golden Rule and I wanted to leave the lucky Kissinger with a good message. Hey - it wasn't his fault being aggressive. I'm often playing the same way, as I did v. Mr. George Hendrick. So I said, "Do good things with those chips now, you hear? You go ahead and win this thing!" At least that's what I would want to hear if I sucked out. Hey, it's a game after all.

  6. @biffo99 Forgot to say that Kissinger had Ace-10 offsuit.