Poker buddies Slink, Ezzy and I took the bus on Sunday for a day at Turning Stone. We could not have picked a better day for bus travel rather than driving. Although much of the precipitation luckily did not come in the form of snow, there were patches of slush and perhaps some ice. On the way up we passed a few cars off the road and in one case that involved a tractor trailer truck and a car, the car appeared almost totally crushed. Later we learned the driver had died.
Here is how the storm was reported locally:
A nor'easter dumped a slushy mix of rain and snow on the Capital Region Sunday, causing sporadic power outages and scores of car accidents as power lines snapped under the strain of ice and wind and cars slid off slick roadways.
More than 2,000 National Grid customers were without power Sunday evening, and several car accidents caused injuries. A two-car collision on the Crescent Bridge in Colonie sent two people to the hospital with what officers described as serious injuries.
The National Weather Service calls for more snow and sleet today that will change to rain tonight. And they warned to be on the alert for flooding around the region.
For $19 the bus left Albany at 9 AM. from behind the WalMarts at Crossgates Commons. The Foxwoods bus is usually a little late, but this bus was a little early. We left the casino at 6PM. The trip is about 2 hours.
I did not much like the movies on the bus and Ezzy ended up a bit isolated but otherwise it was a great trip. Slink and I had the usual 2 hour talk about life, religion, old age, retirement, marriage, and of course, poker. Since we were not really playing against one another as much this time, we shared a bit of our strategy.
Well, Slink shared his. I just lied.
One thing he made me consider was whether I put too much money on low pocket pairs. Slink was a bit skeptical about Helmuth including 7-7 as one of his best hands to call/raise pre flop and felt anything under pocket jacks was dangerous.
For $19, in addition to the bus ride, we received a bonus package. Included in the bonus was $25 of free play which we used in $5 increments on the craps table. We did not do well. Most of the losses were on my roll when I talked the others into betting along with me on the Pass Line, instead of doing the "Don’t,"and then hit craps and sevened out enough to deplete quite a few free bets. I became an unpopular roller.
Also included was $5 toward food, three matchplays for $2 Keno and a $2 bonus on a $5 pull tab. Ezzy won a couple dollars on the Keno. I don’t think anyone else won on these. I gave my pulltab away. I would like a sense of the odds on pull tabs. Keno is considered to be 25% house advantage and unplayable with real money, but when you get a 50% advantage coupon it now becomes a player advantage bet.
We waited a while for our table, but then started together on a new table. While we waited, the drinks were free at the little bar. That is more comfortable than most poker rooms. There is no alcohol at Turning Stone. My kinda place. I waited longer because I did not decide in the beginning to be available to play $2-$4. After watching the game, however, I found it was a nice tight game and may play it the next time as I can see how there might be a longer wait on some days.
Play at the 4-8 in the beginning hour and a half was tough. I got good cards and won pots, but these were good players, and I could not see where I was winning much money. Often they folded when I bet. Perhaps I should have gone in with smoking guns. pushed hard until caught with stealing pots or betting trash, and then switched to Mr tight, but I suppose my last losing session on Foxwoods made me a bit gun shy for Greg style aggression. So many of my low pocket pairs developed into trips that I threw out what Slink had told me on the bus. He probably was lying anyway.
I know he wished I had believed him when I played my pair of pocket 8’s and out flopped the other two 8’s. Slink was to my left. I checked the quad flop and he bet. The guy after him called. I called. On the turn, I checked and Slink bet, the guy called, and I raised. Both debated, but both decided to see the river. On the river I bet and Slink called. The other guy debated a long while and folded. I was so grateful to Slink for betting up my quads. He told me he was more than glad to be able to do it, and if I got them again I should just discreetly tell him, and he would be glad to reraise even if we were head to head. Unlike his attitude on the craps table, at poker, Slink is more concerned about building pots for his poker buddies than actually winning anything. What a guy!
I did seem to cause players to fold whenever I bet. Perhaps it was the slow play of the 8’s. Coming as one of my first good hands, it may have actually cost me money in later play. I especially hated it that when I made river bets, people went bye-bye. You expect most players to reluctantly see river bets even if they suspect that you have the best hand, just to keep you honest. These guys would have let me lie. I just did not lie enough. Sorry, Greg, I hope you are not too disappointed in your student. Becoming a born again tilt aggressive convert is just very hard for me. I too easily back slide into conservatism and sensible play. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there is it.
Players were nice enough but not very interesting. Some were not at all personable. Others tried to distract with banter. Quite a few knew one another and probably played there together often. This is not a good thing.
But then the game got good. There was a one o’clock expensive tournament and many of the players at our table left to play in it. Replacing them were some more regular players who were a bit loser and did not fold every time I made a bet on the river.
There were few other memorable or dramatic hands. I was never behind and quit ahead $245 when it was time for diner, but lost back $29 after supper. $3 in lost Keno bets left me ahead $213 for the day. Slink lost around $100 due mainly to second best pots. Ezzy lost at poker but got it back at craps and left ahead $10.
Ezzy and I had diner and a good talk together at the buffet. He even let me show him my favorite hand of the winter. I carry the cards with me, so I can use them as visual aides to demonstrate that hand and tell the story.
I was impressed with that buffet. It has changed for the better since the old days. It is a bit pricey, but the senior citizen special at 3:30 PM is $14 and change. You can’t use a coupon with the special, however. So I used my $5 food coupon for some maple walnut fudge at the candy shop which I brought home for a rare treat.
The buffet included a nice prime rib and very good ham. Some breakfast foods were still out and the bacon was crisp. One spot had skewers and you could dip fruit in melted chocolate. This is as good as a medium priced buffet in Vegas. The evening price is $22, but before 4PM the crowds are low and the price is still the lunch $16 before discounts.
Also, my main complaint at Turning Stone has been solved. I hated having just 30 minutes to grab food, especially when lines might be that long, and then coming back to wait over again for a seat. Win or lose I like that relaxing buffet break even when I don’t have delightful company like Ezzy. company. A fellow player taught me the ropes. Cash out and go to the room manager in the back. Tell him the table number and that you are going to eat. He writes down your name and the time. You then have a held place in line for seats for an hour and a half. When you get back from diner, you tell him again and your name goes on the TOP of the waiting list. It worked great. I did not feel rushed, and I ended back on the same table right away.
You do have to pay particular attention, however, to the way coupons work or are ignored. Ezzy had a coupon. I had a senior discount. I tried to pay for both on one charge and they would not give me the senior price. It had to be charged separately. No coupon can be used with a senior price special either. It was all a maze meant to entrap the frugal into losing any advantage.
I was lucky Ezzy was still talking to me when we shared the buffet. On the bus on the way out we all had agreed that if we were head to head in a hand with just us we would check each other down regardless of hand strength. But when I ended up head to head with Ezzy and caught my inside straight draw on the river to beat his trip kings, I bet anyway. You just can’t trust us poker players, can you?
Well, Ezzy is a true gentleman. He did not hold that against me one bit. Next trip I’ll see if I can interest him in some watches or perhaps share with him a great investment deal I just got on e-mail from Nigeria.
Slink was a lot kinder to his old buddy Ezzy. On our last trip, after Bill lost at poker and went to play craps, Slink stalked Bill and made one “dark side” bet to purposely spoil a good roll. Luckily Slink left Ezzy alone on the craps table. As a result he won. Which just goes to prove how craps can be easily won if those Hell inspired dark side bettors can be restrained from their evil ways. Still, I know you have watched many movies and are aware that although Jason may appear to be in the pond for a while, there will come a time when he will be back, dripping with evil and bringing from the “dark side” to the craps table the most callous carnage imaginable. Aptly named, Slink is such a creature. Beware!!!!!
We all had a great time and will go again. The bus trip is just half the time as it is to Foxwoods and very comfortable. Slink got me to look at the bus deals for overnights to Turning Stone . This really appeals to me because I would rather play poker later in the afternoon and into the evening when the looser players arrive. I could take a nap midday and play late into the night if I had a room there. I wasn’t really aware of how much Bonus is offered for overnights. On August 28-30 (Tues - Thursday) for example,
each person pays $189 but gets $105 in free play and $24 for food, as well as two nights and three days in the casino. That brings the cost per room down to $25 a night. Almost like Vegas, except it requires double occupancy. I expect that the keno matchplays and pull tabs are also included. And the time is very efficient. The bus drops you early and picks you up late, so you get a good bit of time there. The problem for me is that it can only be booked with double occupancy.
There is a similar deal over one night in October and similar bonus savings.
We had another nice talk and ride back to Albany. All were glad not to be driving in this gunk and I was especially glad to see that the roads up my way were just a little slushy in spots and not difficult to navigate. What terrible weather for April!
I have made 10 poker bus trips over the winter and am very sorry I did not try it sooner. My score is plus $1490. This is a great retirement hobby.