Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who The Hell Puts Mayonnaise on a Hot Dog?

A Really Crappy Day at the Bike, Part 2

READER WARNING:  This blog post, part 2 of the post I started here, may be offensive or too gross for some of you.  No, there will be no gratuitous mentions of female body parts, or descriptions of young ladies exposing generous amounts of boobage (damn it).  But if the scatological bothers you, you may want to skip this one.  At the very least, you don’t want to read this post while eating.  OTOH, if you like to read in the bathroom, this might just be the post for you.  

As I was saying, I started off the tournament running well.  And then….and then…..I started feeling some strange rumblings from my lower abdomen.

Uh oh. 

I tried to ignore them for awhile.  The rumblings went away.  But then returned.  It was clear I was suffering some form of gastric distress. Was it minor or was it about to become legendary?  Not so clear.

The second level had just begun and it was almost 40 minutes until the first break.  I didn’t think I could wait that long.  Besides, it was starting to feel like the 10 minute break wouldn’t be long enough to accomplish what I needed to accomplish.

As soon as I folded on the button, I headed to the nearest Men’s Room. There was only one stall open.  I looked inside and almost fainted.  It looked like the previous user was Bigfoot suffering some pretty bad gastric distress himself.  Not usable. 

So I went to the next nearest Men’s Room, conveniently located right near the Gift shop.  You know—that Gift Shop that no longer existed (as noted in part 1)?  Yeah, that one. You guessed it, the Men’s Room that used to be there was gone too. 

OK, I moved onward, to another Men’s Room, further away from tournament area, closer to the Event Center.  There was an open stall, and it looked clean.  Just as I was about to tend to nature’s urgent call, I noticed that there was no toilet paper there.  This would definitely be an issue.

It appeared I was getting nothing but bad beats, just not the kind that had anything to do with poker.

OK, so when I toured the Bike looking for where they had relocated the Gift shop to, I actually entered a part of the casino I was pretty unfamiliar with, far away from the poker area I normally play at.  I probably saw it the first time I went to the Bike and never again.  But I had to assume that this area had its own restrooms.  And it was actually pretty close to where the tournament was.  I found the Men’s Room and there were actually two janitors there, and it looked like they had just cleaned the place.  Sure enough, there were several stalls to choose from, all of which looked freshly cleaned.

I grabbed one and dropped trou.  I have to say, I didn’t really have a lot of time to spare.  But I’m glad to say I didn’t have it quite as bad as the Bigfoot had it.  Still, it was a bit more than unsettling.  I took my sweet time, hoping I could solve the problem in one, um, sitting.

And so I thought—or at least hoped—I had.  I washed my hands (quite thoroughly, I assure you), used the hand sanitizer they thoughtfully provided, went to open the door to the Men’s Room door—and suddenly had to do a 360 and make a beeline back to the stall I had just vacated.  Round 2.

Somehow, I finished up and left the Men’s Room without having to deal with a round 3.  I got back to my seat with the 2nd level still in progress.  And I was in quandary as to what to do.

I thought, well, I should probably hit that gift shop and get some Kaopectate or Imodium.  But I couldn’t do that because the gift shop was freaking closed due to the construction.  Another bad beat.

I wasn’t at all convinced I would be sitting at the table very long before having to run back to the throne.  I considered just getting the hell out of there and heading home, let my stack be blinded off.  The good thing was I was only in for $45, no big deal.  I was sure glad I hadn’t taken the add-on yet. 

And I was kind of wishing I was just playing cash, like usual.   No penalty for being away the table too long and of course, I could just cash out of the game and go home to recover without losing any money.

Another thought I had: Twice recently, at the poker table, I had been referred to as “Costanza” (see here).  My predicament did indeed seem somewhat Costanza-like.  I know they did episodes about Costanza having similar problems.  Holy shit (so-to-speak)!  Am I doomed to completely follow in Costanza’s footprints now?  At least George Steinbrenner can’t hire me.  But I'm scared to death someone's gonna need a marine biologist.

I decided to wait a little.  For one thing, if the gastric distress wasn’t over, I had no confidence I could make it home “in time.”  Without traffic, it’s about a 35 minute drive home.  With even semi-normal weekend traffic, it could easily be an hour.  That could definitely be a problem.

So I just went back to playing, totally distracted, waiting to see if another episode was on its way.  And on top of that, I seem to have flushed all the rungood I was having down the toilet as well.  Suddenly I was card dead. 

Which was a damn shame, because right then I was just looking for a way to exit gracefully.  Shove all in, lose, and then I could leave the Bike guilt-free.  But I didn’t get hands that I could do that with without looking like the biggest donkey in the history of poker.  One thing I knew:  There was no way I was ever taking the add-on, I was going to make this unpleasant experience as cheap as possible.  Besides, the thought of being there to midnight or beyond wasn’t very enticing.  How many more visits to the Men’s Room would that entail?

Of course, the shove light strategy had some danger as well.  What if I got lucky and got a few double ups?  It’d be just my luck that we would be near the bubble, and have to run back to the Men’s Room, and then bubble by getting blinded out while away from the table.  Yeah, I actually did think of that possibility.

But suppose the crisis was over?  Wouldn’t that make a helluva a blog post?  “I survived gastric distress and scored big at the Quantum Reload.” 

I got some air during the first break, and honestly, seemed to be feeling better.  I wasn’t sure I was out of the woods, but I thought I might now just be ok.  But I still had no intention of taking the add-on.  Not only because I wasn’t sure about my situation, but also because, once you get past the first two levels, I think the add-on becomes a pretty bad value.

The third level started and I had about a stack of $9,250.  It was too much to just shove with, I had to play some poker to lose it.  Or win it.  Then, before much happened in the level, they came by and broke our table.  This totally confounded me.  There were people lined up to buy into the tournament, and our table was in fact full.  Why the heck would they break a full table?

Well, it seems that this is one of the features of the Quantum format.  They put players who buy into Session “B” (starting with level 3) into their own tables.  Same thing with players buying into Session “C” (level 5).  So they wanted players from Session “A” to fill the empty seats from other Session “A” tables, so they could have entire tables of Session “B” players together. 

I don’t get it, really.  Since it’s the same tournament, what would be the harm of putting players who bought into the tournament at the higher price point (and with more starting chips) at the same table as players who had been playing for some time and had bought in for less?  It makes it somewhat chaotic as they kept breaking full tables and filling them up with 10 brand new players.  And by chaotic I only mean the format, the rules.  I must say the personnel at the Bike were completely on top of what they were doing during all of this, very professional (they’ve done this before).  It just baffled me why they decide to do it this way.  I’m not sure how it benefits the players and is a lot of work for the staff to keep all this straight.

Anyway, the next two levels I was card dead, played aggressively a few hands when I could and won a few but lost more….but not enough to bust out.  By the next break, before level 5, my stomach seemed completely settled down and it appeared my intestinal problems were behind me (so-to-speak).  Trouble was my stack was down to $4,500, shove or fold mode.  And as I said, even though it appeared I was now feeling ok, at that point taking the add-on didn’t make economic sense to me.  I’m not sure how many hands I would have played differently if I wasn’t worried about my colon.  But probably there were some where it made a difference.

And now, I had another concern.  Was it possible I was going to hang on for two more levels?  I actually didn’t want to.  Again, I suppose I could have just taken off and let my unattended stack be blinded off.  But no, I couldn’t pull the trigger on that.  But seriously, I didn’t think I had very much equity, under any circumstances, with my chip stack. My chances of surviving and cashing were remote, though obviously not zero.

Part of me wanted to hang on at least long enough to see the prize pool.  There was no indication of it, and the way they do it at the Bike, there wouldn’t be until well after registration closed.  They had a lot of entrants, 390 for the first session, a couple of hundred at least for the second session and I think at least 100 for the third session.  I was curious to see what the pay structure would be like.

But part of me wanted to get out of there.  It would have been nice to have left in time to have had dinner at home.  Dinner, you ask?  With my intestinal issues?  Yeah.  They had been quiet for awhile, and because of medication I need to take both before and after dinner (as discussed here), and because I really can’t go long without food, I am going to eat dinner unless I’ve been recently projectile vomiting.  Fortunately, I had no issues with food coming up that way.  So if I busted out before the quickie 20-minute dinner break, I could go home, make myself some chicken noodle soup (the cure for everything anyway) and have a nice safe dinner.  If I was still around at the break, I’d be forced to eat something there at the Bike, whatever I could find.  Oh, and it would have to be fast.  Grrr.  Where was that damn snack bar they usually have in the tournament area when I needed it?

My best chance to get the bust-out that would send me home to dinner was when I had pocket 5’s and no one raised in front of me.  My stack was about $4,500 so it was a pretty easy decision.  I had shoved a bunch of times by then and never gotten a call, picking up some blinds and antes.  But this time a guy with a pretty big stack called.  We were heads up and he showed pocket 6’s.  Out the door, right?  Nope, I flopped a set.  He didn’t.  I doubled up.

That gave me enough chips to play with, and trying to be aggressive, I raised first in whenever I could.  A few times I wasn’t called but other times I was—or was raised.  Then with only one move, I shoved a few times and didn’t get calls.  Bottom line, I lasted through level 6, but with just enough chips where all I could do was shove if I had something playable.  I wouldn’t even have an “M” of 5 when the 7th level started.

Damn.  I had taken my premeal drugs when it appeared I might be stuck there for dinner.  As soon as I realized we were on the last hand before break, I raced to the Deli across the casino.  There were only 2 or 3 people in front of me, not bad. I had never eaten there before, but the food they serve in the casino while you play is quite good.  I looked over the menu.  I wanted to order a hot dog because I wanted something fast, and I thought that was just enough food so that I could take my post-meal drugs on a not empty stomach, but wouldn’t be too much food if my stomach wasn’t 100%.  Although honestly, although I wasn’t hungry, my stomach did not feel at all queasy at this point.  And yes, I know that a hot dog wasn’t ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers, or something like that.

I didn’t see hot dogs on the menu.  I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t have them.  So when I got to the counter, I asked if they had hot dogs.  “Yes….but we prepare them in the back, and it takes a good 10 minutes.”

Wait, what?  No, that can’t be right.  Places that sell hot dogs have them ready on a grill, and it takes all of 10 seconds to grab one and stick it in a bun and hand it to you.  That’s why I wanted to have one, more for speed than anything else.  But he confirmed it would take that long. 

In hindsight, I should have just stuck with that, and if it meant I missed a few hands before getting it and bringing it back to the tournament, so be it.  But instead I tried to find something else that I could get served really fast. 

I noticed pizza on the menu.  “How about pizza, you have a slice of pizza ready?”  Yeah, I know…even worse for me than the dog.  But I was desperate.  “We have pizza, but we make it to order, a whole pizza.  Takes about 15 minutes.”

Seriously?  I saw sandwiches on the menu.  “How about a sandwich, how long does that take?”  “Made to order, about 10 minutes.”

This was turning into a Monty Python routine.  “Do you have anything that can be served really fast?”  He said yes, and pointed to the Taco Bar.

As all my loyal readers know, I don’t like Mexican food (see here).  So, more because I was now really pissed off, and not because it made any sense, I just left in disgust.  I felt I had wasted so much time enacting the Cheese Shop sketch I didn’t have time to wait for a 10-minute hot dog.  

I raced back to the tournament area and considered my options.  I figured I had no choice but to order food service at the table. My concern was, by the time they brought it, I likely would have busted out.  And so a) how would they find me and b) where would I eat it?  There were no empty tables anywhere in that poker room.  But I figured I’d somehow manage.  I would order a hot dog and just find a place to eat it.

I got back to the tournament area and saw no sign of a server to call over.  I returned to my seat to count my chips, figuring one would come by sooner or later.  And then, I noticed a big crowd at the front of the room, and I saw people eating and carrying food.  I went over to investigate.

It seems that a mobile food cart had been brought into the tournament area at the break.  WTF???  Now they tell me?  Are you kidding me?

I saw that among the items on the cart: hot dogs.  Unfortunately, there was a long line, moving slowly.  I got into it and waited.  I figured I’d get back to my seat after the tournament started and lose some antes, perhaps even some blinds.  But it seemed like the best option.

I finally got to the front.  I had seen the lady put several hot dogs into buns for people.  I was going to live!  There was also a guy manning the cart and when he asked me what I wanted, I said, “Hot dog, mustard only.” 

“We’re all out of hot dogs.”


“Do you have pizza?”  I thought I had seen someone walking around with a slice of pizza.

“No pizza.  We have tamales though.  You want a tamale?”

Number one on my list of Mexican food I don’t eat….tamales!  I’ve already linked to that post.

“Nothing else?”

“Not now, but they are bringing us more hot dogs, it will just be a couple of minutes.”

I moved to the side and waited for a god damn hot dog.

The lady there hadn’t heard this, she was helping someone else.  Seeing me, she said, “Do you want a tamale?”

I can’t believe I didn’t scream.  I said, “No I’m waiting for a hot dog.  I just want a hot dog with mustard only.”

A few minutes later, some hot dogs miraculously appeared.  Note, more tamales were brought first, even though they weren’t out of those.  The guy suddenly had a hot dog on a bun on a plate he showed me and asked, “What else do you want on it?”  OK, he was busy as hell, I forgive him for forgetting that I said I wanted a hot dog with mustard only about five times.

“Just mustard.”

Just mustard?  Well, it’s already got mayonnaise on it.”

Mayonnaise?  Mayonnaise?  Are you freaking kidding me?  Who the hell puts mayonnaise on a hot dog?  Is that even legal?  I tell you, if it is, the first Presidential candidate that campaigns on a platform of making it illegal to put mayo on a hot dog will have my vote, I assure you of that.

I said to him, “I’m Jewish.  What kind of a schlemiel puts mayonnaise on a god damn hot dog?  If I punched you for putting mayonnaise on my hot dog, no jury of Jews would ever convict me.  They’d give me a medal.”  Note: If you don’t get that joke, you’re not Jewish.

No, I didn’t really say that.  I just said, “Who puts mayonnaise on a hot dog?” (and without asking first, I might have added).  I think he saw the look of an insane man in my eyes, and got nervous. 

“No problem, I’ll give you another one.”  And he pulled out a new dog and a new bun, and then said, “Just mustard, right?”  Yeah, I think the fact that I wanted mustard should have been pretty obvious by this point.  So he squeezed some mustard on my dog and handed it to me.  It was only the bland, boring yellow mustard and not the spicy brown stuff, but I was just thrilled to get something approaching edible. 

I managed to get back to my seat, dog (with mustard) in hand, before the first hand of the next level was dealt.  A true miracle.  I ate the damn dog while playing the first few hands.  And I must say, it didn’t look or taste like any hot dog I’ve had before.  It was plumper for one thing, and had some kind of ridges around it.  Maybe from the grill, I dunno.  But it sure wasn’t an all beef, Kosher hot dog, I can assure you of that.  It might be due to the circumstances, but it was one of the worst hot dogs I’ve ever had.  But it was edible and it got enough food inside me so I could take a damn pill, and that’s all I wanted.

I had $5900 in chips.  Around the third or fourth hand of the level, as I was about to eat the last bite of that hot dog, I looked down at Ace-Jack of spades.  The guy with the biggest stack at the table raised to $2,500.  He had been fairly aggressive with his big stack and I didn’t assume he necessarily had a big hand.  However, he had gotten that big stack from just knocking people out left and right.  Everyone who had busted in the past level or so had busted to him.  We were joking that he’d be killing it if this was a bounty tournament.  Never the less, I knew this was my chance.  Even the antes were costing me, and the blinds weren’t far away.  I felt this was likely my best chance get a double up.  I wasn’t betting there for fold equity.  With the size of his stack, the amount of his bet, and the size of my stack, I knew he would call and he did.

I was right that he was raising light.  He showed Queen-6.  But of course, it was sooooted (hearts).  And of course, there was a Queen on the flop.  A Jack on the turn gave me a couple of more outs, but the river bricked and I was done.  I hadn’t even had time to take my post dinner medicine, that’s how soon after the break I busted.  Would have been so much better to have busted before the dinner break.  Another bad beat.

You know what another bad beat was?  Because of the gastric distress, I didn’t play my normal game, I didn’t really get a chance to properly evaluate the Quantum Reload set up and offer my opinion of it, which was actually the whole point of playing in it.  So that sucked.

As a PS, on my way home, freeway traffic, normally light on a Saturday evening, came to a complete stop for at least five minutes not once, but twice.  Once near downtown L.A., so not really surprising, although when we got moving again I could see no apparent reason for the stoppage.  The second time was much closer to my house, where there is never usually any traffic.  This stoppage was longer but I was able to discover the reason for it, there was a major accident, with cops, fire engines, tow trucks, flairs and two lanes closed.

And so ended a really crappy day filled with bad beats—but not the poker kind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Taking a Quantum Leap

A Really Crappy Day at The Bike, Part 1

This past Saturday I played at the Bike, in exquisite Bell Gardens, CA.  And all the things that bother me when playing there were out in full force, re-enforced by some new things that were unique to this day.  But dear reader, I did it all for you—remember that.

For awhile now, I’d been thinking about giving the “Quantum Reload” tournament they run at the Bike a whirl.  You can see the unusual structure here.  You can read my pal (and former fellow Ante Up Ambassador) Dave Palm’s take on it here.  Dave’s write up is a few years old and I believe the tournament has gone thru a few iterations and changes since then.  By the way, the Tournament Director for the Bike has copyrighted the format and would like to sell it to other poker rooms.  I don’t think anyone else is running it now, but if I’m wrong, please let me know.  You can see him promoting it here.

The key feature is that there are three different entry points to a single tournament, with three different buy-in amounts.  It’s like a tournament where you can buy-in for six levels, except that every two levels, the amount of the buy-in jumps—but so does the chipstack you start with.  The add-ons jump too.  You can re-enter a subsequent session but not the same one you busted from.   You could enter until the start of level 7 for $145 (if you took both the add-on and the $5 bonus for the staff), but you’d be starting with a tournament “M” of exactly 10.

When I first heard of this format, I didn’t really understand it and just dismissed this as too weird and too complicated.  I mean, I honestly didn’t quite understand it and the weirdness of it made me not want to try to figure it out.  I figured, just ignore it and play normal tournaments, or cash.

But every now and then, while at the Bike, or perhaps working for PokerAtlas or Ante Up, I’d think about it and wonder if maybe I should give it a look-see one time.  They run them daily but the Saturday one—the one I would most likely play—has a $30K guarantee.  For a tournament that has a buy-in as small as $40 (though obviously, could be more), that’s quite a handsome figure.  I started giving it more and more thought.

Another factor I considered was, if I played, I could almost surely get a blog post out of it.  Perhaps a two or three parter about how I had a huge four-digit cash after 10 hours of poker.  Or, a Robvegaspoker rant about how it is pure evil and should be made illegal after a five minute bustout.  Or more likely, something in between.  Not that I’m running out of material, mind you.  But if I can come up with something a little different to write about, while still doing something I enjoy (ie, playing poker), why not try something new? The price of admission was cheap enough.  I mean, I’m not about to buy my way into the main event of the WSOP at $10K just to get a different kind of blog post.  But $40 (ok, $75, to be more realistic) seemed reasonable.  I could easily pay that to play in a regular tournament and not be assured of anything to write about if it didn’t go well. 

So as this past weekend approached, I decided to give this Quantum Reload thing a try.

There was a problem.  I had an appointment at 10AM Saturday morning in a part of town that is closer to the Bike than where I live—a considerable amount closer.  The business would be done by 10:30 or so, but it would make no sense to go back home and then leave from my house to the Bike an hour or two later to make the tournament’s 2PM starting time. And I had nothing to do anywhere near either the appointment or the Bike to kill the time.

Now, I might have decided to hold off trying the Quantum Reload a one week, right?  Play in it the next Saturday when I could sleep late and get to the Bike on my own terms at 2PM.  But that wouldn’t work.  You see, this Friday, the WSOP circuit comes to the Bike.  All their regular tournaments are cancelled for a month.  So it was this week or wait at least a month to give this thing a try.

OK, new plan.  Head for the Bike immediately after my business was finished.  Play 2-2½ hours of cash before the tournament. That way I could actually get a free lunch.  This plan was flexible. If the cash game was real juicy and I was doing well, I could decide to skip the tournament and keep playing cash.  If the cash game really sucked, I could leave as soon as I’d gotten my free lunch and just hang out waiting for the tournament to start.  I knew there was a chance that, if I played deep into the tournament, this would be a really, really long day for me but I was willing to take my chances.

So what could go wrong?  Short answer: Everything.

I got to the Bike a bit after 11.  Once inside, I noticed a few things were different.   Late last year, the Bike started a major improvement project.  They are building a hotel on the property. Last time I was there, the only major change had been to close one of the entrances and to move the valet parking.  This time there was a lot of changes.

The first thing I noticed was that the gift shop was completely gone.  This is always my first stop because I want to see if they have the new issue of Ante Up.  And usually it’s my last stop as I’ll pick up a soda for the drive home.  It had disappeared completely, replaced by a construction wall.  I looked around to see where they had moved it.  I was sure there was no way they could not have a little shop like this, selling drinks, candy, snacks, magazines, newspapers, drugs, poker books and even Bike memorabilia.  But I was wrong.  I toured the whole friggin’ casino and such a place no longer existed.  I did find where they had moved to magazine rack to at least, but the new issue of Ante Up wasn’t there.

I got into a cash game (2/3 NL as usual, $300 buy-in, the max) and was able to order my lunch almost immediately. It was while I was eating that the most significant hand of the cash game occurred.  In middle position, I had pocket Jacks, several limpers.  I guess because I was distracted by my lunch, I didn’t raise enough, only to $15.  Should have been at least $20 or $25.  Five of us saw a flop of 10-8-5, two clubs (I didn’t have the Jack of clubs).  I bet $50, one guy called, a player who liked to play a lot of hands but always had the goods when he showed—usually a crappy starting hand that he got lucky with.  The turn was the worst card I could possibly have seen—the Ace of clubs.  Ugh. There was no so many ways I could be beat.

I checked and the villain went all-in for about $170.  He could have easily flopped a crummy two pair.  He could have easily played two crummy clubs and caught a flush.  I could have easily folded to his bet—and I did. 

It was after I was done with lunch that I started remembering things that bother me about playing there. I pushed my food tray out of the way and salvaged the two Diet Cokes and the two bottles of water the waitress had brought me, and put them on one of the smaller beverage trays they have (no cup holders at the Bike, you’re not supposed to keep any drinks on the poker table).  The food servers always bring you a couple of bottles of water with your meal, whether you ask for them or not.  I sometimes drink the water while there, but usually I take the bottles home with me (where I actually drink bottled water, and I buy the exact size they give you at the Bike).  I sure don’t feel guilty about taking those bottles of water to go when I think about the rake at the Bike (see here).

The guy to my immediate right had been a total non-entity to this point.  He nursed a short stack the whole day, rarely played a hand.  At one point I saw him drinking out of a bottle of water.  I turned to grab a sip of my soda and noticed one of my bottles of water was gone.  My neighbor finished a few gulps of water and returned the bottle to the tray between us, in the spot where my water had been.  He had just helped himself to my bottle of water.

Seriously, dude, seriously?  Just help yourself to someone else’s drink?  I should point that he could have easily asked a waitress for a bottle of water or two and he could have gotten it for free. Of course, he might have been felt obligated to tip, which I suppose is the point.  I had tipped my server generously for my meal and felt that I had tipped her for the water in addition to everything else.

I recognized the guy who took the seat to this thief’s right.  He was the old bastard I complained about in this post here, the guy who stopped playing as soon as he ordered a meal and then never played a hand even when he was finished eating before picking up.  I see him every time I play there. 

Based on the conversation they were having—and the fact that they looked somewhat alike—I began to think that my water-thief and the old bastard were related. Cousins, brothers, whatever.  Maybe not.  But at one point I saw something I don’t think I’ve seen before, and I wondered if this should have been allowed.  Water thief had posted his $2 small blind and had nothing but four or five $5 chips left.  No one raised, so water thief needed another buck to complete his bet.  Instead of putting in one of his $5 chips, he asked his neighbor, the old bastard, who had folded, for a dollar chip.  And he gave it to him!  Is that allowed?  It’s only a buck I know, but I don’t think that’s right.  I have seen players throw small amounts of chips back and forth from time to time, but never have I seen anyone given a chip while facing a bet that he used to bet with.  The dealer said nothing.  I was shocked.  What do you think?  Can this be ok?

Then the old bastard ordered lunch, and right on cue, just like the time I’ve already written about, he immediately passed on the blind while waiting for his food.  More aggravation for yours truly.  Why can’t he at least play until they, you know, bring him his food?  But then something interesting happened.  Instead of the standard “missed big blind” button, the dealer placed a card in front of him that said, “Missed 1 time.”  I wondered if they were starting to keep track of this and were cracking down?

Perhaps so.  Because when he was about to miss the blind again the next orbit, the dealer turned over the card and it said “Missed 2 times.”  I should have asked what that was all about but didn’t.  Maybe they now had a “three strikes and you’re our rule”? Then, even stranger, the guy accepted the big blind anyway, and actually played while he was eating his damn lunch.  However, to further irritate me, he was so involved with his meal that the dealer practically had to pound the table to get his attention so he would look at his cards and act when it was on him.  Maybe we would have been better off if he had sat out totally.

But here’s the biggest irony.  We were short-handed for a short while, waiting for new players  or walkers to return.  And he complained about it and demanded that they either reduce the rake even further than their policy dictates, or he was going to sit out until more players showed.  Putz.  This guy is the poster-child for why games at the Bike so often play short-handed. Pot?  Kettle?

Then, the water thief pissed me off some more by yelling at the dealer for not putting the cards right in front of him.  The dealer was off by about half an inch.  He made such a big deal out of it, and it was so minor.  What a jerk.

There was another older guy at the other end of the table who twice got sucked out on by the guy who shoved against my Jacks.  One time he had Aces and the guy called a raise with King-4 and flopped two pair.  I don’t remember the other time, but the old guy just started cussing up a storm, “Can you f***ing believe it?  Can you f***ing believe it?  Plays that shit, calls a raise with that shit, and catches it?”  Stuff like that.  Look, I certainly understand your feelings, but show a little self control.  Act your age.  It was just unpleasant to be around such negativity.

While playing, I overheard an interesting bit of dialog from the table behind me.  I guy stood up and shouted, "Why do they even have Kings in the deck.  They should take the damn Kings out!  You can't win with pocket Kings."  Hey, you're preaching to choir, fella.

After some totally boring poker, I was down $90.  It was about half hour before the tournament and I just cashed out.  I honestly couldn’t wait to get away from that table.  If I had been committed to playing cash all day, I would have long ago asked for a table change.  But instead, I now had no reason not to play in the Quantum Reload tournament I’d really come for.

I needed some fresh air to cool off anyway, so I went out to my car and dropped my one remaining bottle of water.  Didn’t want anyone to steal that one.  Especially since, with no place to buy a bottle of soda, I probably would need it for the drive home.

The line for the tournament was quite long.  There was a friendly looking older fellow behind me and I asked if he had played in this tournament before, he said yes like he plays every week (if not every day). I asked him a whole bunch of questions about it.  Most players don’t take the add on right away but do so during the first two levels.  The bubble doesn’t usually break before 11-12 pm (ugh).  It ends around 2-3 in the morning depending on if or when they make a deal.  He knows of one time when it ended at 7:30 Sunday morning.  Yikes!

I was having second thoughts about possibly playing so long, but stayed in line and got my entry.  The line had moved so slowly that by the time I got my receipt it was damn near the 2PM starting time.  When I had scoped out this latest version of the Bike I noticed that the tournament was being held in the less preferred area.  They have an “Event Center” where they usually have them on the other side of the casino.  But it was closed.  I suspect they were gussying it up for the circuit event that started in less than a week.

So they had it on the other side of the casino in an area that’s not as nice.  Also, I was surprised and disappointed that they didn’t have a snack bar in the area.  They usually have a little snack bar in the tournament area (wherever they have them).  I was sort of counting on that because I was gonna need some dinner if I lasted long enough.  Also surprising not to have one there because you couldn’t even buy some junky snacks at the gift shop right now! Now my options were limited to ordering food service at the poker table (not something I like to do in a tournament setting) or hitting the little deli they have—which is located right next to the Event Center far away from this current tournament area.   Another option?  Bust out early and eat at home. Note: If you looked at the structure sheet, you see they have a 20 minute break after level 6, enough time for a really fast dinner if you eat fast (and I do) and if you can get the food quickly (unknown).

If they had the snack bar I would have been able to walk up to it and get a soda.  Now I had to try to flag down a server (whose main job is to bring food) and ask for one.  Figuring that might take some time (the tournament area was packed), I got some water out of one of the several water coolers they have in the area (they also have self serve coffee available, but as a soda drinker, I’m screwed).

There happened to be one of those drink trays right between my seat and the fellow on my right.  There was an empty cup in the tray’s cup holder farthest from me but the one near me was empty.  I put my cup in the empty slot and got up to try to find a structure sheet.  When I returned and went to reach for my water, the damn tray—with my water—was gone!  Yeah, for the second time in the day, someone had stolen my water.  In this case, I think it was more that someone wanted the tray and assumed because one of the cups was empty, the other one—which was full to the top with water—wasn’t needed either.  Unbelievable.

Just then, a waitress brought a bottle of water to the guy to my right that he ordered….and charged him $1 for it!  Seriously?  Last time I played in a tournament—or played a cash game smaller  than 2/3 where they charge for food—it was free, just like the soda.  WTF?  Anyway, I asked the server for a soda and wondered if I would get charged a buck—or more—for it.  But when she brought it, she didn’t charge me.  So they charge a buck for a bottle of water but the soda is free?  Now that’s just plain weird.  Anyway, the waitress had rounded up another tray that the guy next to me and I could share.

I wasn’t sure if I was gonna take the add-on right away or wait (I did take the $5 dealer bonus for $1K in chips).  I remembered something MOJO said in a comment on one of my old posts. In that situation, he sees what other folks are doing.  If they take the add-on right away, he takes it too.  Otherwise, he waits. I didn’t see anyone at my table take the add-one right away, So I didn’t either, which turned out to be a good decision, for reasons that I couldn’t have imagined at the time.

Early in the first level I raised with to $350 with King-Jack of hearts.  Two players called.  The flop was Queen-10-x, rainbow, and a guy donked out $1K.  I called, it was heads up.  A brick on the turn but it was the second club.  We both checked.  The Ace of clubs gave me the nut straight but there were now three clubs on the board.  He led out for $1,800.  This guy had been pretty active already even though it was early and I couldn’t put him on a runner-runner flush.  I made it $4K and he folded.

I lost a few chips calling small raises on the flop and turn chasing a flush when I had Queen-4 of diamonds in the small blind.  And won some chips when my pocket Queens held against a guy chasing a straight.  Also when I rivered a wheel with Jack-4 off in the big blind.

In other words, I was running well to start the tournament.  

And I’ll leave part 1 there, as the things were about to go from bad to worse in a very personal way.  Part 2 can be found here, it’s not for squeamish.  In the meantime, let me explain the pic above.  The title of this chapter is of course based on the old TV show, Quantum Leap. I figured I’d find a pic from the show, with star Scott Bakula and some (in)appropriately dressed female guest star.  But I had a helluva time finding anything close to what I was looking for.  The best I could come up with this shot of a pre-Friends Jennifer Anniston guest starring with Bakula on the show.  If you ask me, the wrong one of them has their shirt off.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Vegas’ Treasure Island Has Some Big Poker Changes

My latest Ante Up column is online and can be found here.

Note: As I think I mentioned, they have changed the format of the magazine.  My content is now merged with other content about the "West Poker Scene."  So the column you see has a lot of stuff I didn't have anything to do with.  That's the way it will be going forward.  My contribution won't always be the lead.  But everything about Vegas is written by me. 

Also, they were experimenting with separating the news and the tournament info.  So you will see that there is Vegas tournament info on bottom that is also written by me (look under "tournaments").  However, after trying it for this issue, they are going go back to having the tournament info combined with the news, so it will be more like what you were used to (but still combining the regions into one column).

In the actual print magazine, the news column and the tournaments column appear on two different pages.

And also, as I mentioned in the popular post here, I did a profile of Dominick Muzio for the magazine.  That is also featured in the current issued.  You can see the text of it at the end of the column I linked to.

The online version doesn't include the picture of Dominick I sent in for it.  You can see it in the print version, of if you want to see how it looks in the magazine, just open up the PDF version of the magazine (here) and go to page 10.  And yes, it was my idea to have a picture of Dom on stage, performing his music.

I didn't see the issue at the Bike yesterday but it should be hitting poker rooms any day now.