After a great meal at steakhouse overlooking the fountain, we headed to the poker room at the Bellagio and had one of my more interesting poker sessions. A bit past 9PM, we walked up to the podium and lucky for us the staff organized a new table. We all jockeyed for positions on the new Texas Hold’em table and I got into my favorite position on the table, seat 7. Its a good seat to survey the table and watch the action as it comes to you.
When I looked around the table, I saw some of the usual local rocks. But I immediately noticed a rather large person who seemed to make it obvious that he was there to have a good time. I would later learn that that he was a former member of the Russian wrestling team. The waiter took our drink orders and my large, Russian friend made sure to get his alcohol fix times 2 or 3. As the dealer spread the cards, we drew for high card and the winner, seat 1, got the button. The dealer shuffled up and we were ready for our first hand of the night.
After I got my 2 cards, I peeked underneath to see a pair of aces. I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement to get a first hand with pocket aces. My Russian friend in seat 4, also known as under the gun, came in for a raise. As the bet came around to me, I could not wait to get my raise into the pot. When it came back to the Russian, he re-raised. Another person caught in between us called the raise. Hmmm. Are there 6 aces in this deck? If you can’t go all in with aces pre-flop, what can you do it with? I went all in and the other two players called. We all leaned in to see the flop.
What could the other two players have? The player to my right flipped over a pair of aces. We turned to the Russian and he turns over King and Seven offsuit. Can you imagine what hit on the flop? Of course, a King and a Seven. Oh well, I had to buy more chips. It was the first and only time in my life which I lost my initial buy in on the very first hand. But I am not sure how I could have gotten away from that hand without losing my chips no matter how I played it.
Some players might have gone on tilt after a hand like that. But I knew that if my Russian friend continued to play like that, I would get my money back and then some. And sure enough, he caught a few lucky hands but his style of play caused other players at the table to play a bit out of character. This created large pots with good opportunities if you knew how to play the people. It didn’t take long for me to get my money back and go into winning territory.
Unfortunately, some of the players and the dealer did not seem to understand the situation. Our Russian friend was quite obviously tipsy and he broke some of the poker etiquette, rules of the game, in how he played his hands. He took his card off the table or showed them to his friend who was watching the game. Eventually the staff came over to warn the Russian and then eject him from the room. Or at least attempt to eject him from the room. I think if we could have had a vote among the players at the table, most of us would have wanted him to stay at the table. He was bleeding money to almost all of us. And he was a happy drunk til the staff tried to eject him from the table.
Eventually the staff got the Russian halfway out of the poker room. About halfway out of the room, he stopped and pulled his female companion behind because he felt that the staff was getting too close to her and threatening her. Let’s step back and visualize this scene. A big Russian guy is protecting a woman with one arm and holding her behind him. With his other arm he swings back and forth to fend off the Bellagio staff. Keep in mind, this is Vegas. So, most of these security folks are older and smaller people. Its not like they are bouncers at a nightclub. Nobody is really expecting such a confrontation at a poker room in the Bellagio. I imagined this is what it must have been like in the old days when puny humans surrounded an angry bear. Somebody was going to get hurt.
Somehow the staff managed to get the Russian’s arms behind his back and escort him to a back area of the casino. They need 3 people to hold his arms behind his back. The Russian is yelling out for help as they hustle him to the back. This sight reminded me of the movie “21” and I wondered if Laurence Fishburne was waiting in the back room with a hammer. After some time, we saw police officers escorting my Russian friend out towards the front of the casino, presumably to a jail cell for the night.
What a shame. He seemed like such a friendly drunk and he was giving away his money like there was no tomorrow. Some people who were sticklers for the rules or just didn’t like loud Russians ruined a potentially profitable evening for us. For many people who play poker enough, they will get heartbreaking losses like what I experienced. But its the people stories that we remember and something that online poker play does not replicate. I do hope to meet my Russian friend at the poker table again one day.