Yesterday I made my first visit of the year to The Bike in historic Bell Gardens, CA. It is historic for being home to The Bike, which I believe to be the second largest poker room in the U.S. The last time I went there, it was to check out the status of the remodeling project (see here) after they opened their hotel. This time, I went to see their new system of poker room management which was recently installed by my employer, PokerAtlas. It is called TableCaptain and you can read about it here. And if you want to see it in action without taking a trip to The Bike, just look at Bike’s page on PokerAtlas (here).
As you will observe, you can see all the live cash games going and also the tournament clocks for all the tourneys going on. If you click on the waiting list, you can even see the names of the players waiting for a game. Now, this great software is handled by a totally different side of the business than I am associated with it. So I only know about it from my colleagues. Until yesterday, I had never seen it in action at all. But I knew my colleagues have been working their tails off, day and night, getting the second largest poker room in the U.S. up and running with it.
Now that they have (mostly) completed the task, I just had to go down to the Bike and see it for myself. Oh, and also get a little poker session in while I was there, of course.
And it was really cool. I was impressed that my old Bike player’s card, issued to me over 10 years ago, still worked and did not have to be replaced. I was clocked in immediately when I sat down. And here’s something neat: my picture actually appeared on the screen next to the dealer, along with my name. I imagine there might be some players who won’t like that, since the camera that took all those pics many, many years ago was probably not the best. And some folks might have older pics than mine! My picture has me with darker hair and a moustache I got rid of last decade. And aside from unflattering pics, I suppose some folks might prefer more anonymity. But the good news is the pic appears very, very small on the screen!
I was only there a few minutes when the guy next to me asked the dealer how much time he had accumulated that day. And the dealer told him. Hmm….the dealer can’t tell you that using some other system you might be thinking of. That comes in handy for several reasons. The Bike offers cash back for playing (but you have to play way longer than I ever would in a month to qualify). Also, you get either free or discounted meals for playing so many hours. In the game I was playing (2/3 NL), you need to play three hours (in a day) to get a free meal.
All the cash and tournament info for a room using TableCaptain that you see on the website is also available using the PokerAtlas phone app, of course.
When I first sat down, it appeared like this game was going to well exceed Bike’s reputation for wild games. First hand I was in, a guy raised to $18, got a call, and then someone raised to $102. The raiser called. The flop was Ace-high and the three-bettor shoved (another $200 or so). The other guy folded without showing.
Next hand was similar, a $16 raise, another re-raise, so I folded my Ace-4 of spades. More betting on the flop where I would have flopped a gutshot and a back-door flush draw. On the turn, where both players got it all in, I would have caught my wheel. As it was, the guy who was the bigger aggressor (and shoved the turn) had a pair of Queens and rivered his set. The other guy had pocket 9’s, unimproved.
It did get a little calmer after that.
I limped in with 9-8 offsuit, one call and then the big blind made it $8, I called but the other guy folded. The flop was 9-7-x and I called $10. The turn was an 8 and I called $20. He checked a blank river and I bet $30, but didn’t get a call.
With pocket Jacks I raised to $15, only had one call. The flop was King-Queen-x, but my c-bet of $25 took it down.
I opened to $15 with Ace-Jack and had one caller. The flop was Ace-high, I bet $25 and he called. But he didn’t call my $50 turn bet on a blank.
With pocket 6’s in late position, I opened to $15. One hand earlier I had raised to $15 with a suited Ace and gotten two callers—and had to fold to a donk bet when I missed. This time, with the sixes, I was three-bet to $30 by the most active player at the table. It folded back to me and I called. The flop was 10-9-9 and we both checked. The turn was a 7 and we both checked. The river was a Queen and he still didn’t bet. I showed my pocket 6’s. The other player was on my immediate left and although he didn’t show, I saw him look at his cards and it was either Ace-King or maybe Ace-Jack. I’ll bet he was shocked as hell that I raised with those 6’s and even called his three-bet with them. And I’ll bet he was pissed he didn’t c-bet. I was thinking I might get a few more calls now having showed the table how I played a low pair. And winning the pot was nice too.
Despite these hands, I was still down to about $280 (from $300) when I got—wait for it—the dreaded pocket Kings. Now, rather than tell you how well that went, I’m gonna show you. On a previous trip to the Bike, (see here), I met Steve Miller, one of the folks behind the nifty ShareMyPair app. And yesterday, Steve was finishing up his session at the Bike and he recognized me and came by to say hello, And despite the fact that we here are only the seventh most awesome poker blog in the universe, he had some incredibly nice things to say about what passes for poker content here. Thanks, Steve, you really made my day.
And running into Steve got me thinking about his app again, so I decided to give it a try with my favorite hand. I’m embedding the video below. But I believe due to the limitations of my blogger software, it might not fit right. I hope it doesn’t block out any text and that you can view it. If not, a link to see the video on the SMP site is here.
Hopefully you can all see it. Basically, I opened to $17 with the dreaded hand. What I couldn’t figure out how to tell the app was that the guy in the cut-off was posting a missed blind, so he was already in for $3. That’s the reason for betting $17. I had already decided my standard 2/3 opening to $12 was no good; I was opening to $15. I was only called by four players. The rainbow flop made a flopped straight possible. Anyone think I shouldn’t have bet there? I’m open to suggestions. Once the board paired there were so many ways I could be beaten I didn’t see the point of continuing. It was, after all, Kings. Anyone disagree? The guy behind me was the aggro at the table. He wouldn’t have folded any draw he had. Of course, he flopped the straight so….Short stack got ridiculously lucky with the flopped two pair and boating up. Lucky for the guy with the straight the other guy was short-stacked.
Once again, done in by the dreaded hand. I only noted one more hand after that. In the big blind I had King-9, no one raised. There were many limpers. The flop was King-10-8, I checked/called $10. A second King on the turn and I checked, thinking about a check-raise. But he didn’t bet. A blank hit the river, I bet $30 and didn’t get a call.
There was one really noteworthy thing I witnessed that I’ve never seen before in a cash game. In the past, I’ve complained, no doubt more than once, about all the walkers at the Bike. Check out this post, for example. It’s one of the things that drove me away from there. It seems that half the table would be made up of players who would play a few orbits, then miss a few orbits, then come back, play an orbit, and disappear for two or more orbits yet again. Drove me crazy. You seldom had two consecutive orbits that were nine-handed.
Last time I was there, I noticed that instead of tossing players “missed big blind” buttons when they were away, they were throwing a card that said, “Missed 1.” I think I might have seen one time a card turned over when it happened twice in a row and then it said, “Missed 2.” I never really knew what that meant.
But yesterday I found out. The player next to me took off for a long time. He got the card and next orbit they turned it over so it showed “Missed 2.” He was still gone when the big blind would have been his again. And so the dealer asked another player to take $3 off his stack! And yes, they put that money in the pot (but still had the regular small and big blinds). They actually penalized the guy—monetarily that is—for missing his blinds so often. And indeed, they took the small blind from him next time. And they did it again for one more orbit until he returned. It was a whole new definition of “stealing blinds.”
Of course, that’s the standard in a tournament. But I’d never seen that in a cash game before. Has anyone else seen that? Honestly, as much as I complain about walkers, I’m not all that sure I like it. But I definitely see the virtues. The walkers yesterday were mostly non-existent. Sure, players took a quick bathroom (or, unfortunately, a cigarette) break. But it was fully 9-handed most of the day. And I like that very much. Let me know what you think.
I ended up losing about half my buy-in for the day. And of course, it was the damn Kings that did the most damage. When will I learn to just throw them away?