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.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Easy Go, Easy Come

Marty DiBergi: "This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."
Nigel Tufnel: That's just nitpicking, isn't it?
"This Is Spinal Tap"

The new house is starting to feel like home, as we discover all the little idiosyncrasies of the house and the suburb. Over the weekend we tried the air conditioner for the first time – and it is bliss! If one thing in the house had to work, it would be the air conditioner. Life was good – the cricket was on the TV, the day was hot, the air conditioner was on and I was asleep on the couch.

Friday night home game was my worst ever, in that I was home by 1am because all my buy ins were gone. It was a shame, because I felt like I was playing well and I was enjoying the game. In the very first hand, I hit top pair and turned trips, but lost out to a flopped straight. That hurt a little, but not to worry. Later on, after getting back to a respectable chip position I got to see a multi-way pot from the small blind without a raise, so K9h was looking to the flop. The flop came QJT rainbow, and I checked waiting for a raise. I got a raise and two calls from across the table – drawing players that would do this with anything, and I thought I was in a good position to get someone who was behind to call a big bet, which would look like a protection of TPTK or maybe two pair. I was hoping to get something like KQ or QJ to call, so I made my big raise. In hindsight, the amount of the raise was too much and caused me to be pot committed but that was my intention at the time. One player in late position raised all-in, and it was a pittance for me to call, something like $15 into a $150 pot. He gave off every signal that he had a strong hand on that flop, but knowing this player that could have meant anything from the nuts to second pair with a back door flush. Unfortunately for me, it was the nuts and there went all my hard work. The limp preflop was what caught me really, and it was the first time in ages that I had hit anything on a flop, but that's poker.

I also had a prop bet going, that aces would be shown less than 6 times on the night. The bet was that aces would count if they were shown at showdown, or were shown before they were mucked. Out of the first 5 times aces were shown, only once was it at showdown so I was getting screwed there too. Once, the player with aces knew he was beaten, and was ready to muck them and then he showed them to me only before they were mucked. The other guy in the prop bet didn't see what happened, but I can't let that go and pretend it didn't happen so that was aces number 2 early on. If he showed any other player though, it wouldn't have counted unless they spoke up but that's the way it goes.

But I can't complain. I've had a good run lately and this probably brought about a bit of balance. I had a good weekend online though, winning in 4 out of 4 sessions and playing well. Most of the profit was from making other players pay for their draws and then calling a bluff when it missed. I like that.

I got deep in a tourny only to throw it away one from the bubble. It was a 5 table SNG and I made it to 8th before I made a bad read. UTG with 8000 raised to 1750 (blinds were 250/500). I had 7500 in chips and 88 on the button and just called – I could have pushed but wanted to see if the flop was dangerous first. Flop came 26J, which I figured was safe. Opponent bet out 3500 or something around that amount into the pot – which should have told me that he wasn't just putting in a continuation bet. That was a bet that should have told me he figured his hand was best. I had already decided that a jack high flop was good for me, and I was pushing all in. This bet amount should have changed my mind, but I didn't consider it and had already made my mind up. I pushed, he called with AJ. So I got a little unlucky on the flop, but really I should have known better and paid the price for it. If I hadn't been a buy-in up on the cash table at the same time, it might have annoyed me more.

So I ended the weekend about even, which isn't so bad. Going home early on Friday night was disappointing, but in the end it allowed me to be awake for a big Saturday shopping for baby crap. All is well in the end.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Moving On...

Larry Flynt: You don't want to quit me, I'm your dream client: I'm the most fun, I'm rich, and I'm always in trouble.
"The People vs Larry Flynt"

Well the big move is over, and looks like after a few computer dramas I am back up to speed and ready to go again. Long story short, had to format the hard drive and lost everything but at least the machine is working once again, and I can play some poker.

We've moved from a unit to a house, to make room for Little Ed who know has his own room, despite being 20 weeks shy of his birthday. Which means now the Distraction wants to fill it with baby crap. Here we go…

The new house set up is ok, but I've lost a study and now the computer sits just off the lounge room, where I am not safe from the Distraction's prying eyes. But we've been having good luck lately, so there is nothing to worry about there.

Having played a hand of poker in over a week due to the move, so hopefully by next post I'll have more hands to discuss and thoughts on the 52 little plastic friends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Keep Them Happy

Anthony 'Tony' Soprano Sr.: Sil, break it down for 'em. What two business have traditionally been recession-proof since time immemorial?
Silvio Dante: Certain aspects of show business and our thing.

Listen to enough people in poker circles, and when it comes to online poker there seems to be two sites in particular that people always say have the toughest competition – those being Full Tilt and PokerStars.

I for one, believe that if the other sites are so easy, then why aren't all the good players there taking care of the fish? But to a certain extent, it is probably true. I've played at many different sites around the place, and I have found some sites easy and some hard but I haven't really given them all enough time to warrant a decision. That's because there will always be enough bad players at the big rooms to accommodate the good. Hopefully I can find myself as one of the latter. But the reason Full Tilt and PokerStars seem to have so many good players if the service they provide attracts players who are serious about the game. Just the fact that Pokerstars withdrawals are instant at the levels I play is a major bonus – and it's not like it is a difficult thing for them. Any questions submitted to help is answer within a few hours in my experience. Even on one occasion where I was in the wrong – I tried to make a transfer to a withdrawal service here in Australia without playing the money, effectively making a neteller withdrawal through Pokerstars – the support told me this was not what the method was created for, but let it pass just this once as I was not to know. See, that's good service – let it slide without incident and warn me not to do it again.

There's something in that, about looking after your customers. In poker, the customers are the players willing to sit with you that you think you can take money from. Ever heard the term "Don't tap the glass?" Of course you have. Why do people still do it?

I had an occasion on the weekend where in my second hand after sitting down, I got lucky. I hit a river card to make my flush after pushing all-in on the turn on a semi-bluff. I didn't expect him to call, he did with just a pair and I hit my flush on the river for the win. I even posted a "sorry, guess I got lucky, didn't think you'd call" but he went off again. So I decided to give him a lesson, as he was proclaiming how he was going to felt me and how I was free money – I cashed out of the table straight away! I had other things to do anyway, so it wasn't a dent to my poker playing time.

While I was online the other night, I noticed one of my friends from the home game was online, so I decided to jump onto his table to see how things were. It was at a lower monetary level than what I wanted to play, but who cares when you're playing with friends?

What I didn't notice was it was also a limit table. Damn, this will be boring.

I couldn't help but win. I was hitting flushes, straights, quads (flopped quad nines on a A99 flop…sadly opponent didn't have an ace) and a straight flush even. All up – a profit of $4! Damn low level limit game! Stupid waste of good fortune! What can you do? If I hit those kind of hands at my usual table, I would have doubled my bank roll by the time I stood up. But I'll take it anyway, what other choice do I have?