The name Boys II Men used to conjure up images of super dope orange blazers, stone washed jeans and middle school dances (his hands on her hips, her hands on his shoulders) at the War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.
Now, instead of talking about that East Coast swing the iconic R&B group brought to our Midwestern suburb when we were preteens, we’re talking about the $2/$5 game at the Mirage that they frequent. The Boys II Men are doing a run of weekend dates at the Mirage and, once they wrap up on stage, are often found winding down in that property’s poker room.
I’d played with Shawn and Nathan previously at the Aria. Shawn is more reserved in both his personality and his play; he doesn’t splash around a ton but is by no means tight. Nathan, however, loves action and loves talking. He’s likable right away and with a ton of charisma. He also doesn’t like folding hands. I once had a video on my phone where the action in our 2/5 game at the Aria folded around to the small blind, which happened to be occupied by Jon “PearlJammer” Turner. Jon asked the big blind, which happened to be occupied by Nathan, if instead of chopping, he just wanted to go all in blind. Jon had Nathan covered, equating to about $1200 effective. Unwilling to decline any action, Nathan accepted and they ran it out. I am sitting here cursing myself as I cannot find the video anywhere in my archives, but I will say that one of the players’ 2-5 offsuit ended up being victorious that hand.
Water Runs Dry
I headed to the Mirage on a Saturday night and parked myself in the 2/5 game around 5pm. My buddy Adam told me the B2M guys would most likely be around as he had been playing in their game lately. I went through a swingy few hours of poker in the meantime, going up around $600 before returning the majority of my profit to various players in the game. At 10pm, Shawn and Nathan made their way to the table, two ladies in tow. Nathan’s lady had a rose, and I secretly wondered if Shawn’s lady was jealous carrying only her handbag.
The Mirage poker room allows for an unlimited straddle under the gun, which Nathan is a pretty big fan of. A couple of orbits after his arrival he had a $20 straddle on when the action folded to me and I looked at AsKd. I made it 55 to go and everyone folded except for Nathan who made the call. The flop came JcTc7s and he checked. I’m likely to make a c-bet with two overs plus gutshot, but with the flop being so connected and all over his preflop calling range, plus Nathan’s propensity to not give up easy, I checked back. The turn brought the Ac and he lead out for 70. Not wanting to bloat the pot with one pair I smooth called, and the Jd made its way to the river. Undeterred, Nathan lead out for 125 and without much hesitation I called right away.
“You got the flush?” Nathan asked, which is not exactly a good sign for a top pair hand, if that’s all he’s worried about. Sure enough, he rolled over the 9h8h for the flopped nuts and a pot of decent size was added to the Boys II Men war chest. Apparently my purchase of Cooleyhighharmoney back in ’91 will go unthanked.
Despite my contributions to the R&B retirement fund, I’ve been feeling comfortable in the 2/5NL games around Vegas lately. The lineups, while not quite as beginner-filled as 1/2 and 1/3 games, are certainly nothing to fear. Occasionally you will find yourself in a game mostly full of pros but it’s pretty simple to request a table change or simply move to a different property.
With March Madness now in full swing, as well as a newly-remodeled sportsbook unveiled at the Mirage, I headed back to Volcano land for the opening weekend of college basketball’s main event. By 6:30pm I was in the 8 seat at one of the Mirage’s 19 poker tables playing 2/5 in a particularly noisy poker room setting. By 10:30, I was up… $5.
Poker is nothing if not the ultimate test of patience. My biggest leak these days is boredom, which results in forcing the action in unfavorable spots, rather than letting the game come to me naturally. Playing for slightly bigger stakes, every mistake is magnified and more costly. Determined not to simply give it away like I have done an unknown number of times previously, I waited for an opportunity to present itself.
I had moved to the 4 seat in order to have better position on a couple of action players. The gentleman in the 1 seat, who had arrived with a beer in hand, “accidentally” made a minraise to 10 while attempting to limp in. A good player on my right kicked it up a little more with a reraise to 30 and I looked down at pocket threes. With ample implied odds and a stack of around $600 I made the call, as did the original raiser. The flop was finally a favorable one: Kc4c3d. The 1 seat checked and the aggressor fired at the pot for 65. Not wanting to overrep my hand, and being the “gatekeeper” so to speak in last position, I flat called, as did the initial raiser in seat 1.
All I had to do was make four 10’s in this one pull of a video poker game, and the Mirage would award me the equivalent of the median US household yearly income in one day.
The turn brought the 5d and Mr. Cerveza in the 1 seat checked. This time the player next to me, after some thought, decided on a check. With multiple draws now available, but still looking for action with my set, I slid out a bet of 155. Mr. C once again made the call, and the player on my right, after some more thought, folded.
The river brought a 3rd diamond, but filled me up: the 4d. Mr. C took little time in acting on what he considered to be a great bluff card and sent his remaining 350 into the middle, and I took even less time dropping the chips across the betting line with my full house. His Q5cc failed to fully materialize and I was well into the black.
It wouldn’t be long before my early session patience would result in finding another opportunity. After working my stack above the 1.5k mark I looked down at 10 10 and made a standard opening raise to 20. Two players with position on me plus the big blind made the call and we were off to the flop 4 ways. And what a flop it was: AdTdTh.
The big blind checked and with a hammerlock on the hand, I checked as well. The player to my left checked and the youngster on the button cooperated with my plans by making a bet of 70. The big blind folded and I called, leaving the two of us heads up. The turn brought the 7d and I thought my action may have been killed with three to a flush now on board, especially after we both checked this street. The river reopened the door, however, as it was the Ah. I looked over at my opponent’s remaining chipstack and seeing a little less than 300 there, I bet two hundred dollar bills.
It’s a pretty dumb bet because if he doesn’t have an ace he cannot call and has no fold equity to re-bluff with; if he does have an ace he may get lazy and just flat call rather than raise, knowing I won’t call unless I’m at least chopping. Betting the full 300, or checking, is better than betting less than all of his chips. Despite this, I couldn’t complain too much when my opponent snap called with aces full, sending another nice pot in my direction.
To add more excitement to my run of great cards, the Mirage poker room runs a promotion where if you make four of a kind or better, you get one pull on their video poker machine. If you make the same hand as the one in your live game (in this case, four 10’s), you win the progressive jackpot amount, which currently sits at $51,000. It’s quite unlikely, but certainly not impossible. All I had to do was make four 10’s in this one pull of a video poker game, and the Mirage would award me the equivalent of the median US household yearly income in one day.