Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Turkey of a Thanksgiving


I really should have gone with my initial instinct.  But I decided to take a shot and ended up having a pretty pathetic Thanksgiving experience this year.

I didn't have a family Thanksgiving to go to, the rest of my family had something else to do, something I always opt out of, and I'm fine with that. But that meant that I was on my own, and I thought about playing some poker.  When I was at PC Ventura the Saturday before, I had noticed that they were serving a complimentary, traditional Thanksgiving dinner to all their players on Turkey Day.  So that was an option.

I'm not really big on most of the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Oh I like turkey and mashed potatoes of course, but the rest—stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc, I don't care for.  That said, I didn't have a Thanksgiving meal last year.  I was recovering from my triple by-pass and couldn't drive. I think I spent the weekend watching movies.  I dunno, maybe I had a turkey sandwich?  So the thought of having a turkey dinner while doing something I love to do—play poker—certainly had its appeal.

On the other hand, I kind of suspected that going to a local L.A. card room on Thanksgiving would be somewhat depressing.  I figured the players would mostly consist of lonely people who had no family or friends to gather with and it would just be kind of sad.

Now I've been in Vegas for Thanksgiving and it's fine. But Vegas is different.  If you're there on the holiday, it's a trip, it's a vacation—it's a destination.  For whatever reason, you've chosen to go to Vegas for the holiday. Maybe it's because it's the only time you can get four days off in a row?  Whatever.  At least the people you run into in the casino will likely be happy to be there.  Sure there will be some locals in all the poker rooms, and maybe they will be missing family, but they figure to be in the minority. 

But a poker room in L.A.?  That's going to be all locals.  All people who left their homes—not their hotel rooms—to visit the poker room.  They don't have a family Thanksgiving to go to, but they couldn't go anywhere else, either. It's gotta be totally different than the Vegas vibe.

Well, I made a last minute decision when I woke up Thursday morning to give the poker room a shot.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Thus, I made the trek out to Ventura.  As soon as I turned into the parking lot, I kind of knew it was a mistake.  The parking lot was deserted.  Seriously, I couldn't believe how few cars there were there. I actually wondered if there were going to be any games going on at all.

Well I walked in and it was depressing as hell.  Yes, there were games going on.  Three, to be exact.  There were two 1/2 games and one 2/3 games.  That was it.  In the other room, there a few people playing table games.  And remember, this is a card room only, there are no slot machines on the premises.  I saw a few dealers in street clothes waiting to be sent home.  I saw another dealer playing at one of the 2/3 games.  And I felt bad for everyone I saw.

I wanted to leave, but I had just driven an hour to get there and that would have been silly.  So I got on the list for the lone 2/3 game—there were actually 4 or 5 names in front of me.  I assumed the list would get longer and they'd start a new game.  That was a bad miscalculation.  I should have opted for the 1/2 game.  Big mistake.

It actually took almost half an hour for me to get called to the game, while the waiting list kept shrinking instead of growing.

Actually, no one I saw really looked sad or miserable, they seemed fine.  But I tell you, it was just sad to see the place so damn empty.  I wondered why they even bothered to open?  I mean dragging a few employees into work on a nice family holiday for such a pathetic turnout seemed cruel.  I always feel bad for folks who have to work holidays, but it was even worse because they were so idle.  At least if they were busy, it might seem like it was worth it to be away from their families.  This was definitely not worth it.

Now, in Vegas, I've played in small rooms where there was only one table going.  It's sometimes sad, but it's not too bad because there's always a busy casino right outside the room, you can hear people walking by, you can hear the slot machines (or at least you could back in the days when they used coins).  But this was just way, way, way too quiet.  Just like I suspected it would be—just sad.

Well, I finally got called to the 2/3 game and bought in.  As soon as I could, I ordered my complimentary turkey dinner.  It was fine, but it couldn't possibly have been worth the drive to get it when you add in how depressing the place was.  Oh, and when the waitress asked if I wanted pumpkin or apple pie, I said neither (the only kind of pie I like is chocolate cream or better yet, chocolate silk).  So the off-duty dealer I had recognized said he would take my pumpkin pie.  I said fine.  "It will be my next tip to you."  Then I said, "in exchange for the pie, you gotta give me one fold when I want it."

Aside from the off-duty dealer, who I had never seen play before, I didn't recognize any of the players.  Actually I think one of the players was a reg who usually plays a bigger game.  I was card dead, but honestly, it was too quiet for me to concentrate—I was distracted by the lack of noise, if that makes any sense.  So I called $15 with 6-5 of spades from the cut-off, mostly because I hadn't played many hands until that point.  It was three-way.  The flop was 7-3-2, the 7 and the deuce were spades.  It checked around.  The turn was the 10 of spades. I called $15 and there were still three of us.  The river was the Ace of clubs.  I called $30, as did the other guy.  They each had an Ace.  The preflop raiser had Ace-10 and his Ace was the spade.  So my baby flush was good.

It was a nice pot, and put me up almost $100.

Now the guy who had raised there was on my immediate right and was a bit of a maniac.  I saw him go through a few buy-ins (never more that $100 at a time after his initial $200 buy-in). So I knew he was a loose player.  A while later I got pocket Queens in the big blind. There were many limpers.  When it came to that guy on my right, he hesitated awhile before finally completing.  I added $20 to my $3 blind.  There were two calls and then that guy on my right shoved—for $91.

Well, I was certain I was ahead of him.  There was just no way this guy was limp/re-raising with Kings or Aces or even Ace-King.  He would have raised initially with hands like those.  And no way would he have hoped to spring the limp/re-raise knowing the only guy left to act was someone who hadn't made an aggressive move all day.  I had his range crushed.

One of the two players who called my initial raise was a short-stack but the other one was the off-duty dealer.  He had almost as big a stack as I had.  So I decided to shove to isolate.  The off-duty dealer tanked for a bit and then folded, telling the actual dealer, "I want to see both hands."  What?  This is the thanks I get for giving him my pie?  And he made it pretty clear why he wanted that, he even said, "I want to see how they play."

Wow.  The fact that he—a dealer at this very establishment—said that, and said it so that the actual dealer could hear it, told me a lot.  I guess they think it's ok for players to ask to see hands just to "see how they play."  That is not what the rule is for.  I've discussed that recently (here). The dealer should know better.  But I guess maybe the whole poker room should know better.

It pissed me off, although I know he really wasn't that concerned with my play.  He's dealt to me enough to know I had a premium hand there.  He really wanted to see what the maniac was doing.  Actually, I wanted to see that too—but it's not a legitimate use of the rule.

Anyway, the short stack called for less, no one showed and the flop was 10-9-8.  The river was a King, which I didn't like.  I didn't think he had Ace-King but King-Jack or King-rag was certainly within his range. The river was a Queen, giving me a set but also putting four to a straight on the board.  Sure enough, the maniac turned over Ace-Jack to take it (the short stack didn't show).  Grrr. 

That put me in the red and the maniac proceeded to lose all my chips and another buy-in to other players.  I never got another hand to play.  Suddenly the table thinned out.  One by one, we were playing more and more short-handed.  There was no list.  When we got down to five players, I'd had enough.  I picked up and left. There were still two 1/2 games going but really, it was too depressing to hang around. It was a rather unpleasant Thanksgiving.  Oh and that "free" turkey dinner?  It ended up costing me $50, not counting the gas I used getting there and back.

Lesson learned.


  1. Yup, the I wanna see both their hands move was a dick move. You did have options though. Such as forcing your cards into the muck, or tearing your two cards into pieces and saying FU as you toss the piece into the air or even stuffing them down the front of you shorts and asking the clown how badly he wants to see them. Lots of options....

    1. Heh heh. All good suggestions, Lester. Unfortunately, I am pretty much committed to NOT getting banned from any poker rooms, unlike a certain infamous fellow poker blogger I could mention.

      But I do appreciate your insight!