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.


  1. D---- borderline F. but Jenn looks sooooooo cute in that sweater. didnt think she had those big ole tttays. i would save that water too. DROUGHT BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCHES!!!!!!! plus the CRV too. also here is an idea change the title from " crappy whatever" to "girls pouring water over their big hooters and Bike casino sucked today"

    1. Borderline F? I'm crushed. I mean you said Jenn looks soooooo cute AND she has big ole tittays, that's gotta be better than D. Yeesh.

      I remember reading when Friends starting that Jenn had to lose a bunch of weight in order to get better roles. I guess this must have been before she ditched the Taco Bell, Mountain Dew and Deep Fried Oreos.

    2. tru ,sir Jenn looks great but the dude is topless .now if the dude was wear a shirt/gown then solid C

    3. Looks like two Ds to me....

    4. @anger: The thing is, I found him with Jen not having his shirt off. I went with the bare-chested version of him so I could make the joke about the wrong one being bare-chested. Is a man's chest really that nightmarish for you?

      @Greg Double Di's???

    5. not nitemarish, sir. i understand . u have female and Mets Fans to cater too.

  2. This particular episode of Quantum Leap was very good, for those of you who actually watched the show.

    1. Thanks for the tip NerveEnding. Do you remember seeing star potential in Jennifer?

    2. "thx 4 the tip"????????? ok i get the pic, now

  3. i am thinking a guest post with the Trooper is coming in the future

    1. I was kind of thinking the same thing. Seems logical.

    2. I LIKE IT !!!!!!!!! bcuz i wont here an bs excuses about no Boobies pic. i am sure there a hot chicks wearing storm trooper helmets or Iron Maiden t-shirts

    3. Hmm...the Storm Trooper Slut Parade.....

  4. Despite all the kidding I have given you the past few years regarding the length of your posts, I will say that this post, albeit lengthy, was one of your best. Please DO NOT sell out and post boobie pictures just to satisfy the lower rung of your readers.

    Just said this to see if angerisagift would die from thinking you might never post boobie pictures again!

    1. 911: caller , what is yr emergency?
      me: i think i am having a heart attack or something bcuz Rob (i am sure u read his blog/articles in Ante Up mag . it is to poker publication. what Beaver Hunt is to adult magazines) has started posting male dudes instead of hot chicks on his blog.
      911: i understand, sir. just KCCO . help is on the way
      me: ty. u have a sexy voice. do u partake in the MJ?? or like bacon?
      911: ty but we cant partake in that but i love bacon and oveweight( ok ok obese) stoners that like the Raiders,Mtn Dew,firearms,str8 to video movies with from A list actors and sheeeeeeeit
      me: really??
      911: no, this is yr roomies wife. u cockdialed me. just remember to put out the fire in the firepit and take out the garbage bcuz thurs in garbage pick up

    2. @Lighning, thanks very much for the kudos. Now, I hate to tell you this but part 2 is actually a little bit longer! And a certain commenter will be happy to learn that there is a boobie pic in it. Speaking of...

      @anger: Wow, your comment is almost as long as some of my posts! Very funny tho! Come back tonite for boobies!

    3. @rob u r starting to influence me LOL that is y i am concerned about the pics, u see. i dont want to start watching Brokeback mtn or the rape scene from American History X on a loop

  5. I've never read so much play-by-play about drinks... :) Going straight to Part II - brother said he was laughing non-stop reading it...