Monday, February 05, 2007

First Visit To The Dome

Seth Davis: I had a very strong work ethic. The problem was my ethics in work.
"Boiler Room"

Yet again this past weekend we had trouble getting enough players together for a home cash game, so we had to cast our eyes further in order to scratch our itch. We heading towards the city to the "Poker Dome", a RSL that has turned one level into a 7 days a week poker room. The story as told to me was the place was going bust when they put in the poker like every other pub in Sydney. Then some bright spark thought that instead of running like everyone else, they will run SNG's all day and take 10% juice. Now 10% juice may be high, but when there is no competition for them it in this area then it starts to look pretty attractive. I went on a Friday and Saturday night, which I am going to assume are the bigger nights, and all 20+ tables were full around 9pm. They were churning out $20 tables, and had the odd $50 and $100 moving as well.

Small stakes as it may be, but I think this is smart. It is all about appealing to the masses, not the pros. It's the wanna-be pros they want. They pay 6x buy in for first and 3x for second. While the caliber of player varies as much as it does anywhere else, for any poker player it is an enjoyable experience. They take the poker seriously, and have done their absolute best to set the place up to be a poker room. And that is what is most impressive – it is a poker room, not a pub playing some poker.

After I had a rough run (more later), I went for a walk through the other levels of the building to see what else was going on. On the main bar level, there was about 6 people playing the pokies, and I think about 5 of them were poker players taking a break.

Apparently the law doesn't allow them to have dealers or cash games, but with dealers it would probably be not profitable at the lower limits (which would kill the business) and well while cash games are the preferred game, I think the casino owns that exclusively and you have to make do with what is available.

So I rocked up with a buddy on Friday night to see what it was like. I stuck to just the $20 games to get a feel for it, to play at a dollar level I was comfortable with, and because there was always a $20 table opening up.

In my first game I got some cards early, and made the chip lead before the first orbit was out. I raised nearly every hand, if it hasn't every hand. Then when I had JJ I had a shorter stack call for all his chips. Heads up, and he has 83c. Yep, both of them come up on the flop and there goes my chip lead and I am back in the pack.

After that hand, I don't think I got to play another hand until I was eventually knocked out in 4th with 83o on the big blind. Such is life.

For the rest of the night, I went 3rd, 4th, 4th. Every time I got chips early only to loose half of them to a beat or coin flip, and then get blinded out. In my last game, I was down to 700 chips (start with 2000) when I had KQo on the big blind. There were 5 other limpers for 100 chips, and I thought it would be best to push here pre-flop to try to get 1 caller – 2 at the most. Well, the train was running on time and everyone came on board. I was the smallest stack and a few others had me slightly out-chipped, but it was pretty much half the table all-in pre-flop. The board comes King high, and my hand held up. Yes, 6 ways a pair of kings with a queen kicker was good to move from 700 in chips to 4200. The hands a remember that called were 66 from UTG, K5h from middle position and AQo from the small blind. I think the other two players mucked their cards but I couldn't believe it and I actually think that hand put me on tilt a bit even though I won it.

What else annoyed me about this particular table was the girl sitting 2 seats to my left. She was young and attractive, with cleavage spilling out and giggling all the way. This wasn't what annoyed me though, as I figured out pretty quickly that she knew what she was doing when it came to poker and I considered everything else a bit of an act (the constant giggling and lines like "I like it here, there's so many guys"). But this didn't annoy me. That fact that the act worked on the drunks sitting at the table is what annoyed me more. The same people that would call an all-in with K5 earlier were now folding strong aces because they didn't want to knock the girl out. Good job champ, she'll totally want to sleep with you know.

Speaking with my buddy about it later, he ht the nail on the head as to why this annoyed me so much – I could see the angle, but had not figured out how to use it to my advantage. Alas, we shall have to wait until next time. The Vietnamese guy sitting next to me was pretty funny though, talking about her to his friend right in front of her. I think he might have been a little annoyed with the act too. I mean, it's a freaking $20 table for Christs sake. Anyways, when I was knocked out in 4 th, it was the drunk, the giggling girl and the Vietnamese guy still in there so what do I know?

My first outing and I felt very un-satisfied. 4 tables and 4 good showings, but no money to speak of. I needed more and if it were not for the Distraction spending our entire download limit this month, I would have gone straight home and hopped on Full Tilt to soothe the thirst. My buddy had a very different night, finishing 1 st, 2nd, 1st and then second. Not a bad effort at all, and he was unlucky heads up in the 2 second places.

This meant a return trip the following night, both of us in tow again. I needed to play, and even said my first table or two would go quickly because of the need. I wasn't far off the mark.

On the first table, I never played a hand. Never had anything worth playing, eventually blinded out and went all in with 45o with a five on the board. Lost to A5, but I knew I could have done no better.

The way the room works is you buy a ticket at the bar, then when they call a table you sit down and hand over your ticket. I knew I would play 3 or 4 in the night, so rather then line up with the unwashed masses later on, I thought I might buy two at a time. Seems like good planning to me.

At the first table I sit down and get ready to ply my trade. UTG I get dealt KK, so I come out betting for 300 (blinds 25/50) which might be a bit much but it will do. I saw everyone fold and expected the big blind to do the same. Instead, he raised it to 1600. Wow, this means one of two things – either he has Aces or he is an idiot. Since I had never seen this guy before in my life, and because my opinion of the average poker player was low, I went for the later and was wrong. First hand, KK vs AA and I am going home.

So I used the second ticket, and last 3 hands longer. First hand I play, limp with 3 others from late position with 88. Flop comes J83, two hearts. First player checks, second bets 200, third calls. I think I should raise so that flush drawers will need to pay for it or go away. I make it 700 and then the first player goes all-in over the top. The other two fold and I have to call for the remaining 1200 of my chips. Of course he has JJ, and my one out does not come.

2 tables, four hands, $40. Just like that. That makes your confidence take a hit. In review though, I should have folded the KK and the 88 – well, I don't think I could have gotten away from it. I definitely would not have checked with JJ on that board, but then again I was walking out without any chips so again what do I know?

My buddy was still going on one table while all this was happening, so I thought it would be best to take a break and vowed not to return to the fray until he had finished his game. I couldn't bare to be knocked out four times while he was on the same table. And I will never buy two tickets together for myself again.

He did well, finishing second and then we sat down for the fourth game of the night. After some playing around, I got some novice player to call off all his chips in two hands with nothing, so that was nice. Maybe he had somewhere to go, who knows? Anyways, I get heads up (yah, my first cash in my 8 th game!) and I make an all-in call with a OESD, which hits. The other player knows what he is doing, and a nice guy so I tell him I owe him a beer. Later on he declares all-in before the cards are even dealt - when I have about 70% of the chips. I get dealt pocket tens, so it's an easy call to see him roll over his blind hand – 73o. Yep, the flop comes 7 and a 3, and I get no more help. He relieves me of my offer to buy him a drink. Can't remember how, but I lost but I was just happy to finally cash in that game.

The final game was a funny one, with my buddy getting a big chip lead early. Down to 6, he calls an All-in from the short stack with A9 vs A4. The board deals out an ace and no 4, so the other player gets up to leave and the player behind me goes to muck the board cards. Before I could even think about it I grab the cards and flip them back over and call the player back. The board was A262T. The ten on the river made it a split pot, and it seems I was the only one to spot it.

Here is the thing – everyone, including the player who was "knocked out" was happy with him leaving, believing he had been knocked out. I made the call that it was a split without thinking, and I know it is to my disadvantage to do it. Not only that, but the person it affects adversely the most is my good buddy who would have won the big pot and had half the chips on the table. But I believe every player at the table has an obligation to speak out on these things if they see them. If I stayed silent, that's as good as cheating. Nobody at the table complained, and all seemed happy with it.

Until that same player hit the luckiest run of cards I've ever seen. He was half way out the door before I called him back, now he was getting dealt an Ace every hand. He was either winning the hands or chopping them. When down to five I called an all-in now being the small stack with AKo. He had A5o and hit the five on the door. You'd think I'd have some karma coming to me after my display of fine sportsmanship moments earlier, but apparently not so. My buddy got knocked out in a very similar way a few hands after by the same guy.

Fuck karma.

9 games, 1 second and a net loss of $140 on the weekend. I hope I will do better next time, but in the end I still enjoyed it and it went a little way to scratching the itch.

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