Monday, November 26, 2007

Star City Casino

Jay: You know, sometimes I wish I did a little more with my life instead of hanging out in front of places selling weed and shit. Like, maybe be an animal doctor. Why not me? I like seals and shit. Or maybe an astronaut. Yeah... be the first motherfucker to see a new galaxy, or find a new alien lifeform... and fuck it. People would be like, "There he goes. Homeboy fucked a Martian once."
"Clerks II"

I had my second experience at the Sydney Star City Casino over the weekend, and I did much better than last time and have a few observations about the poker tables at the Star.

Firstly, I rocked up at 5.30pm, having left work slightly early to get there hoping to get onto a table early as the wait for a seat gets damn long very quickly on a Friday night. I figured 5.30pm should be early enough to beat everyone else knocking off from work and get on within an hour or so. For the $80NL level, they had 4 tables running and when I signed up at the brush, I was 63rd on the list. That's just stupid. I know the idea is to have the players waiting around in the hope that they will spend their time playing blackjack, or craps, or whatever other tables games where the house can expect to make much more, but having 40 seats open for 100 players is just too much. There was no less than 8 spare tables in the poker area, and surely they could have opened up 1 or 2 by this stage to accommodate the large list. Out of protest, I refused to play any games and waited by watching the big screens – didn't matter what was on, but I got maybe 10 minutes of Euro league basketball in which was ok. In the end, it wasn't until 8.30pm that I got a table, and that was because they had finally opened more tables. Don't know how big the list was by then, but I was pretty disappointed that it took me this long.

When I did finally get to sit down, I doubled up the first hand I played which is always nice, and then I never looked back. Without realising it I was playing very tight, but I was getting paid off when I had a hand so really didn't see a need to change it up. I got a lucky river card once despite having both opponents dominated pre-flop (KJ vs JT and JT, JT on the flop and I rivered a straight.) and only suffered one beat on the night with AA vs JJ all in pre flop – four card flush came on the river. It was a solid night.

Most importantly, it was fun. The table was laughing it up, enjoying the back and forth action without taking it too seriously except for one or two players every now and then. There was one player who was either Canadian or American (the first I think, but can't be sure) who was pretty weird. He never seemed to be paying attention, and then when it was his turn to act he would ask for everything to be replayed for him – who raised what, when, how much they had left, what was in the pot, how many people called and how many were left to call – which is fine, you are allowed to ask if you missed something, but he was doing this every hand and the table was starting to get annoyed with it. That, and he was abusing one of the rules of the poker room.

As far as I know, Star City is one of the only or very few poker rooms that allow you to go south. You are permitted to chip down at the end of any hand to the original buy in. I can understand that, if you are up say 10 buy ins and the next largest on the table is only 3, you might want to book a small win and yet keep your chip lead on the table. I don't do it, but can understand if someone else wants to. Problem was, this player would chip up or chip down after every single hand. If he lost five dollars, he would chip back up to the $80 mark. If he won $8, it would go into his pocket. He would do this every hand, and it would take him 5-6 minutes to do it as well which started to piss the dealer off. And then all the other little explanations he had to do, including the obligatory string bet correction, made the dealer and the table more annoyed. But anyway, each to their own.

With maybe one exception, the dealers at Star City were all awesome. Quick and efficient in their dealing and chip handling, and they even indulged the players with a bit of banter when it was called for. The first dealer was a little annoyed by what was happening and as such he wasn't a picture of sunshine and happiness, but I could totally understand that. All the others had some fun with the table, as they should because it was a fun table. Even the pit bosses would have a joke when they came around. One particular was talking to us about a player who just left, obviously drunk when I spilled my lemonade. He threatened to cut me off on the lemonades next time he came around to the table.

I questioned one dealer about how long the deal at a table before they are moved, because I had a prop bet on that table six would be a male dealer at midnight. I made the bet with my usual prop betting friend who was seated to my left before we got to the casino so we couldn't see the ratio of male to female dealers. The ratio was well in my favour, maybe 15 male dealers to 3-4 female. At 10.30pm a female dealer moved onto table 6, but I was informed that they would only sit for an hour before they got moved. As the time got closer, there was nobody tapping on her shoulder for her to be moved, and as the casino clock rolled over to 0.00am, she was still seated and I lost about the 6th prop bet in a row. Then at 0.02am, she was replaced by a male dealer. Another bad beat! Of well, there goes another $10 in the prop betting stakes – side note, at the stroke of midnight me and my prop betting friend were involved in a hand. He flopped two pair, I had an open ended straight that got there on the turn. I won a big pot that more than covered the prop bet. I'll take that any day.

There was one player who was having a shocker of a day, maybe only three buy ins but it was the way they went that was bad. He ran into aces twice (once was by me, vs AJ on a jack high flop), and then lost to some bad beat when he bet $45 of his remaining $46 by accident. With his final dollar, he went all-in blind from middle position and was in for a main pot of $4. There was some action on the side pot that was bet out on the flop and on player picked it up with just king high – then they showed for the remaining two cards and the $4 main pot. The dude who was all-in for a dollar got up threw his cards in – he was dealt the rockets! He was saying he didn't even want the side pot but they played it out anyway…and he lost to runner-runner flush! Some days, it just isn't your day to play poker. Seemed like a reasonable player too.

At the end of the day, after buying a few drinks and what not I was up just under $200 for the night, and my prop betting friend caught a late run to be up over $500. While the 3 hour wait should not have been, everything else was fantastic. I really enjoyed playing even though I spent most of the night folding away. It was a fun table, and once I got over the wait to play everything was fantastic. Including getting free parking. While they still charge the $5 time charge every hour, I think they may have changed it to every two hours, or at least that was all they seemed to be charging be it either by design or by accident. That seemed a lot fairer to me anyway.


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