Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kudos to Victoria Coren!!

Found this interesting blog written by well-known English professional poker player, Victoria Coren about a young chap (England's term) who played in the $1000 Ladies No Limit tournament, and totally made an ass out of himself. One of the better blogs I've read in a long time. Point is....if your going to crash a party no one wants you to be in, don't spike the punch too...

As if this writing, this asshole is still in the ladies tournament. He's gonna face a lot of hate and scrutiny once this blog gets out....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Let's start this blog with a short clip from one of the best movies I've ever seen....BOYZ IN THE HOOD! ICE CUBE was surprising very good in this movie. I think it was his first movie role:

Today, I'm at work, eating lunch, and at the table next to me a group about 10 people were sitting and standing around playing dominoes! Actually 4 were playing and 6 are watching. I think they work in the Linen/uniform department. This domino game goes on every day between 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM, and I've always noticed this game, but today was the first time I really took note of it. The one thing I noticed about this game is how happy everyone is. This group, as I said before, it usually 10 people, who rotate after every game so that everyone gets to play. The game is raucous and loud, and good-natured needling going on. There are times when this game gather's 20 people who just want to see what's going on...The happiness these people show is definately palpable -- you just can't help but smile when you see these guys truly enjoy themselves away from the hustle and bustle of a workday.

DOMINOES: Also known as Bones, Cards, Tiles, Tickets, Stones, or Spinners

I LOVE PLAYING DOMINOES!!! When I was in the Air Force, I played it wherever I was stationed. The first time was with a group of airman when first joined in our dorm rooms. We would play throughout the night, time would fly, beers were flowing, it was an awesome time! I remember when I was working for the Security Forces Squadron in Nellis AFB, NV, I used to fix computers and each time I was on a call....I would always see a group of airmen playing dominoes, wishing i could stay to play a game....damn I miss times like that.

I also remember in high school. Lunch time was always domino day! A group of students, one of which, played in the NFL for short time, would always get as many games in the 30 minutes as possible. It got to the point where everyone was bringing their own domino sets to school. I remember one guy had an elaborate set...I think he said it was made from ivory tusks of elephants worth 200 bucks, not sure if I believed him (Teenagers always exaggerate). Funny cause soon it became a race to see who had the best domino

Now, I rarely play dominoes. I have a set sitting in my game closet, and occasionally, my wife and I will pull out the "bones" and get a game in...but today has really got me thinking, maybe there's an Apple App where I can people from all over the world. Heck, maybe Zynga (Makers of Words and Scramble For Friends) has developed a domino game...

Guess it's time to look for one :)

Best of Vegas

Monday, June 25, 2012

SNAP CALL...WHAT????!!!!!

I really hate playing poker awfully!!
I really hate playing poker like a donk!!
I really hate playing poker when I self-destruct!

And that's exactly what happened one hot summer downtown Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Grand Series Poker tournament this past Saturday..

Played the $125 No Limit tournament at the Golden Nugget with 151 players, and despite the high juice/rake and less than average dealers, this is the one of the best structured tournaments during the summer.  I've played this tournament ever since they started running a few years back. Unfortunately, I'm drawn  the goose-egg, haven't cashed once in 3 years, but I continue to go back because I like banging my head against a brick wall over and over!

So I came roaring out of the gate, dropping 3K from a starting stack of 12, during the first level. I ran what I call the "No Peek Bluff". Basically, when I'm the BB blind, I'll call a small raise from the button or cutoff, then play the hand blindly...I check raised a 9 5 2 board and bet the turn and river when a 2 and 4 fell. On the river I was raised....I finally had to look my cards and saw I only had 8 7 off...and played "Hollywood" before mucking my 8 No Peek bluff usually works out for me...but not this time..I guess this should have been a sign of what was to come...

Fortunately, my table was full of weak-passive fish where I was able to rebuild my stack to a little above starting stack using positional raises and bets. By the first break, I was back up to 11K. After the break, I won a small pots, then doubled up a short stack when my KK was no match for my opponent's Q10 hearts, when he nailed a flush on the turn...oh well...

My table broke and got moved to a table full of big stacks, and had a run of bad cards and bad flops and by the second break I was down to 7500....

My wife, who had busted from the Binions Classic $160 tourney, came to sweat me and gave me some words of encouragement. Few hands after the break, I peeked and saw one ace and shoved my 7K stack in the middle...The guy next to me calls....He turns over AJ Clubs...I squeeze my other card as I turn it over and see the beautiful ACE OF SPADES...WOOHOO Pocket aces....I had to fade a flush draw but managed to double up.

His brought my stack size to about 17K or about 20 BB, so I wasn't out of the woods yet, but at least I acquired a little fold equity so at least I had a 3-bet all in my arsenal just in case I wanted to come over the top of an aggressive player.

Few orbits went by with dead cards...I did call a raise from the BB with 6-4 hearts after four callers hoping to flop a big draw, two pair, or something where I could shove my stack in....Unfortunately, I didn't flop anything so it was check/fold with that....

Then this hand comes up..with the blinds 400-800 100 ante...Four people limp into the pot. I'm in the small blind with 10-8 offsuit, and complete the bet out a 15K stack..BB checks and we see the flop 6 handed...flop comes 10 4 2 rainbow. I lead 2000...Everyone folds to the button, who has me way covered, calls...So we're heads up....turn is a 5...I lead for 4500....Button peers at my stack, then have an awkward eye-contact...and says ALL IN!!! I knew I was beaten at that point...With just 9600 left...the pot was near 10K, and mathematically, it was correct to call, but I had a gut feeling I was beaten.  At this point, I think tournament survival and putting my money in at a another spot was the optimal decision, and reluctantly folded my top pair...

So being back down to 9600, I go two orbits without picking up a hand..Finally picked up AK when my stack dwindled to 7100...and shoved over a Early position raise...He had AQ...AK hold up and a I double again. Then I lose a couple of small pots. Then our table breaks..My stack shunk to around 9K...

I had no such luck in my next table...Again the cards are horrific and with my stack down to 7 K, I double up twice against the same player with A6 vs. JJ, and AQ vs. 1010...At the dinner break, I have 41k and feeling confident I could go deep. At the dinner break, there were 44 players left and 18 gets paid.

My wife and I have dinner at the Aloha Specialties at the California Hotel/Casino never tasted so awesome. My wife and I discuss a few poker strategy and I knew if I just played my game I could get to the money (Unless I hit a bad beat or a melt down...Foreshadow alert!!!) When we get back I count my chip stack again and see I have 26 BB left...Plenty of time to work my stack and try to put myself in a position to win this tournament...


THEN DISASTER STRIKES in the most vicious way. I, Ron Baltazar, known at balt999 in the blogosphere world...SELF DESTRUCTED ON THE FIRST HAND AFTER THE BREAK..DETAILS ARE HERE....

I post my SB and Ante....It's folded to the cutoff and tosses a 5000 chip without saying raise, so the dealer rightly says it's only a call...I clarify to the dealer  it's a just a call, and the dealer confirms it was. I, now peek down and see QJ offsuit..I complete my SB...The BB (A loose player) with a monster stack check his option...Let's take his SELF DESTRUCTION STEP MY STEP Shall we???

STEP 1) Flop comes Q 9 9 rainbow...I check...(First mistake, I should have led this flop) Big blind bets 6K...Cutoff player folds...I call

STEP 2) Turn is a 8...I check again...(Again I should have led the turn)...BB annouces ALL IN.

STEP 3) Before the Big blind finishes saying ALL IN...I SNAP CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT????

STEP 4) Big blind turns over KQ and the river bricks out and just like that I'm out of the tournament!!!

STEP 5) I gather my stuff and make a quick exit out of the Golden Nugget feeling as if I was just punched in the stomach!!!

I walk towards the California Hotel/Casino to get my car from valet, I think about how quickly I was out of the tournament totally ignoring the smell of dried piss from the alley swimming with the hot Vegas Air....

The 20 minute drive home was the longest drive I ever had..I turned off the radio and drove silently as I went over my bust-out hand. I can't believe I inexplicably snap called without thinking about the hand through. I take pride in taking my time when I have to make a tough poker decision. If I would have thought about the hand for 5 seconds, I guarantee you I would have mucked my hand. When the BB goes all in, he wasn't doing that on a bluff. I had 40K and it would have dented his stack significantly. In addition, I played with his guy for a hour and didn't see him bluff once...let alone make a ALL IN BLUFF!!!! All this factors pointed to mucking my QJ...

I beat myself about this hand all night....I was pretty quiet the rest of the night...laying on my bed staring blankly at ESPN not comprehending what I was watching...I kept going over the QJ hand until I fell asleep that night...

Patience has never been my best trait unless I'm playing it's ironic I wasn't patience when I was about to make a tough poker decision....

This Brain-Fart, as I told everyone, had me re-examining my poker game, and I came to this's not the poker that holding me back from having success. I know the math, understand the metagame aspect, know the game theory behind no limit. It's the mental aspect I need to work on. How to take my time to make decisions, how to keep my ego in check in tournaments, and to think things through.

I'm going to do my best to consciously be aware of my mental state of mind when I'm playing poker and make the proper adjustments to improve my poker game. I have to stop thinking poker tournaments are a sprint instead of a marathon...if I do that I think the results will come.

Will I learn...I hope so...

Patience is a virtue!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


There is more good than bad in being a poker dealer. Unfortunately all you hear is the bad things a poker dealer does.

"Her burn and turn cost me 300 bucks"

"His river card cost me 1000 bucks."

Today I wanted to give you a short, and funny anecdote about a young man and his tip:

So I'm dealing a typical Ballys $1-$2 game when this hand came up...Young man, looking a young Leonardo DiCaprio, accented with a fedora similar to the one Michael Jackson wore in his "Smooth Criminal" video (Google it is you want to know what it looks like), goes all in for his last 85 bucks or so and gets called and wins the pot...I think he flopped a set of 9's. After tossing me a few bucks from the pot we had this dialogue,

"Thanks Dealer, I needed that. Do you smoke cigars?" The young man says.

"Not really, but I know a few people that due" I said.

"Here," the young man digs into his backpack and pull out this...

"Is that your business" I ask.

"Yeah, I sell Cigars and cigarettes in Florida..been doing it for a couple of years. Hey,  it's a $35 tip!" He smirks."

I laugh, take the cigar, "Thanks buddy."

Anyway, just something interesting that happens, which is cool since most of the time as a poker dealer and same thing and routine happen everyday!!

I'm really appreciative of this cigar, even though I don't smoke. I've never been tip anything other than chips before...I'm not sure what I'll do with it (I'm sure I have friends who wouldn't mind having it." I might just keep it as a souvenir as the most unique tip I ever got.

IF any of you smoke cigar and are interesting and checking out his guy's line of cigars and cigarettes, drop him a e-mail. I don't get a dime for advertising for him...just wanted to do it out of the goodness of my heart :)