The casino was very crowded. A dealer told that me it crowds up on Tuesdays as there is a good drawing. It was hard walking between machines and the VP banks were full except just around supper time.
The drawing is interesting because the TV screens in the poker room allow all of us to participate in that too. For us it is a great bonus because we play longer hours and will see more drawings. None of our rake goes to fund that drawing as far as I know. There is a bad beat and some awards for straight flushes.
The 2-4 list was longer than what would show on the screen, so I added my name to the 1-2 no limit figuring on moving later when I was called for the 2-4. Even that was a good wait.
Once I was on the no limit, I was content so I did not move. I seemed to be playing well. Pots were small, but people were pretty tight. No one bluffed or pushed. The entire time I played, I was the only one to make an all-in bet of any size.
My play was good except for the occasional temptation to chase. I caught two of those chases and that made me more than the small post when I had the winning. Both catches made the table mad. In one a fellow had the king high heart flush on the turn and bet $30. I had trip deuces and it would have been prudent to fold since any other set had me beat as did the hearts. I put the fellow on hearts figuring he would not be a set into three hearts with another yet to come. The river brought a jack and filled me up. The fellow bet and I went all in. He called as he was committed. That was the only all-in bet at that table in the four hours I played although I did see some bets that were very strong.
The loser got really annoyed. When the table gets mad at me, I know that I am doing something right. In fact, that fellow with the heart flush went on tilt after that hand and lost all his bankroll. Unfortunately, I did not have the cards to win it for the short while he was tilting.
On the other hand, I don't think I really played that way as a planned strategy to put my opponents off balance. I think I was just tempted to give it a try. In no limit a steady diet of that attitude is deadly.
Whatever, it worked to my great advantage here. I could have stolen more hands had I had the right cards for stealing and certainly I was a good deal less predictable. That is what annoys players. They try to keep their opponents predictable.
That fellow also tried to start a post hand discussion like this, " If I'd shown you the flush, would you have called that turn bet?"
I answered that I thought "if" questions were impossible to answer.
"Who knows what I might do? It depends on how I feel." That elicited the appropriate sneer. After a hand or two, for later such discussions, I got out my new card protecting fish, a carved bone fish I picked up here in Florida at an Indian Pow-Wow. The next time someone asked me why I played a certain way, I said that I merely listened to what the fish told me to do, that when "fishing" for cards, my fish would know what exactly was coming. That way I could avoid giving away any true information.
A second fishing play of mine was worse. I had an inside straight draw after the flop and called a woman betting a pair of aces. I caught. I checked the turn looking to trap and she checked her pair. I bet $20 on the river and she called me. Playing for an inside straight with one or two opponents is pretty lame.
I had some very lucky hands. I flopped some straights and had pocket kings and aces and ace king often, although no ace-king lasted very long at all. I started to tire around supper time and the players started to dwindle so I quit up about $140.
One guy got mad at me when I checked a flopped straight in early position and then raised his $5 bet and one call to $20 to force both players out. It only got me a small pot again, but I think it was a good play. This guy had moved his seat to one where he could see less in order to get to the left of me, so I suspect it was annoying when his plan backfired and I let him encourage the table to bet before I raised.
I don't really know how to play flopped straights. I think I over bet them often.
I walked around, waiting to see if my name was called on the promotional drawing. By swiping my card once I was in drawings every hour. The one drawn had just 3 minutes to claim the money prize which might be as much as $1000. I did not get called but some fellow named Herschel did win and two hours later his name was called a second time. He was not there to claim the second prize. Pretty tight odds to hit that twice in one day.
I had eaten at Fred's Buffet in Bartow for lunch so I wanted just a light supper. The food court had one station that offered a small bowl of mixed veggies for under $2. So that was my frugal supper. This trip I also brought with me an insulated coffee cup that held two casino cups. This was very helpful for coffee as at one point we had four dealers before we saw a waitress. It was also great at supper because I just filled it with water from the cooled water fountain.
I like the buffet at Tampa Hard Rock, but two buffets in the same day is too much for my diet. Fred's is a better choice, More veggies and less tempting bits.
I got back at suppertime and signed up for a 2-4 table as I was too tired for no limit. I did very well, doubling my buy in until two good players joined, one sitting two seats to my left and killing me with raises. My hardest loss was when this fellows trip jacks with ace kicker went full on the river and beat my sixes full of jacks that had ruled until then. The rest of players were too loose and would pay me if they had a pair.
I doubled my sixty dollar buy in and then lost it all back as well as over 40 more to the good guys and my loose play. I went to the bathroom, had a long talk with myself, bought in for another $20 and was able to grind back to a profit in large part because I was playing tight but my table image was of a loose player so even the good guys paid me off.
Long shot wins here was 3-4 that went to two pair and an Ace of Diamonds that saw a river bring 4 diamonds. I was paid for the diamonds by a kid who had none. The poor play was very poor and I was constantly surprised to win when I expected to lose. Check raising was a great tool also.
At the end of the day I was up $179 for the day even after losing $5 on a Howling Wolf slot and $5 on low pay table video poker, played while waiting for a poker seat. I was one card short of a royal once in my play. I played a double double bonus with an 8-5 pay table. Terrible, but better than the slots here as all I saw required huge max bets to be eligible for the big win. Playing short coin must be a bad bet in those. I just did that as a lark. Normally, I just won't play the bad machines at all figuring over the course of my life I'll lose more than I win.
Compared to playing at the Tampa Downs this place is more crowded and more noisy with longer waits for tables. The food choices are better. Ocala poker rooms are even quieter still. Those were the most layed back and relaxed rooms I have ever played. I'll probably play again there this trip. The players were about the same as the Downs for the no limit but worse for the limit. Of course, the Downs can also mean players are distracted by betting horses, especially at the 2-4. I did not play no limit at Ocala. There the 2-4 players were as serious and skilled as players at a good $4-$8 other places.
For frugal players Ocala also has a 1-2 limit game. None of these games are left in Vegas.
My winning breaks a long series of losses, a tough losing streak over the past few months with few wins in between and nothing as large as this. I hope it means better luck ahead or better play or whatever brings the score in my favor.
Saturday I'll be back a the Tampa Downs as I pick up a buddy at the airport.
POSTSCRIPT NOTE: A guy on a board took issue with the selling of the promotion seat and ranted a bit. He claimed it spoiled the tournaments when people did that.
This is my response:
Perhaps that is why the dealers could arrange the sales.
I don't see it as exploitation by the middle men, but a service.
As you describe it, it is not like the guys are scalping and getting more for the seats than the original price.
The casino is taking raked money and redistributing it to attract and keep players. I doubt they care who gets the $350, but they don't want to have limited, local only awards, or if they do, I don't want to play there. If I am playing where my raked money is redistributed in such a way that when I can only come for the day I play, I lose when I win and have to throw away my $350 seat, then I feel cheated. That is exactly how I feel in Vegas where freerolls seats are given for so many hours of play. That promotion does not attract me. Tourist raked dollars are basically redistributed to the local's players. But in this case, at least it is a tournament that is offered totally free, so one could argue it did not come out of casino raked money but is their lost leader. I don't know if that is the case, but I don't like it and any other award, especially aces cracked will attract me away from that casino. For one thing, the local wise guys given the freeroll are then attracted to play often there, and will be the worst kind of competition while they are earning the last few hours of their qualifying play. I don't want to play with tight,old regulars,sitting and just playing blinds for two hours so they get to a freeroll.
That may be fine for Vegas casinos, but these horse tracks want to attract the tourist as well and to attract from all over Florida. I drive an hour and a half to two hours to play at Tampa Downs. I may or may not be available for that drive another day. Tourists who come to see the horses run and lose at the horses may come in to play a bit of poker before they head home. They may not be coming back on another day.
So it seems that arrangement is the best of all worlds.
The poker room awards me $350 value and so entices me to come to play for that promotion and to come back another day if I win.
If I can't return, they let me sell or give my ticket to another person so s/he can play and they get that person back gambling and kep me a happy winner and everyone is happy.
I suspect they don't lose a seat here. I suspect most of the players at a $350 tournament in retired and depressed Florida where you can play limit 1-2 (yes, I said limit) don't buy in. Perhaps just giving a few seats away in this way allows the horse track to offer the tournament and fill the seats.
But regardless, if somehow a middleman gets in the way of this, well, they have got to redistribute that raked money somehow, so the worst they have lost is one return visit from the winning player, and they have not risked pissing off someone who has won $350 in two rounds of risk (got high hand for hour and beat out others)
And perhaps even in this situation they have not lost anything at all. The middleman who sells the ticket also had to come back to the poker room to do as you describe.
However, my guess in layed back Tampa Bay Downs is that no such complicated thing happens. The dealer was connecting the winner to the buyer in this case. I suspect that the dealer knows a regular who will take the seat at a bargain price and he connects the ticket to the regular to be nice. Maybe he gets a tip if the regular wins.
Tampa Downs is not Atlantic City. Old retired guys greatly outnumber wise guys.
I am missing something in the chopped pot remarks. Whether the seat is a gift or cash buy in would have little bearing on the decision to chop. When down to a few people, players have to decide whether to risk losing everything or settle for a fair share. It depends more on the chip distribution and the respect for opponents and sometimes on whether they are just damn tired of playing and want to go have supper.
And I also suspect that the horse track might know a little bit about what they are doing with these promotions. If they did not like this arrangement, they would not have to stop giving away tickets as suggested. It would be very easy just to limit the ticket to the original player if they wanted to. As simple as showing an ID when you redeemed your voucher for the free seat.
They don't do that with these tickets or with food vouchers which are another often offered high hand prize.
Let's just think they might know their business.
The tracks here experiment all the time with various creative ways to give back raked money. They gave up the huge bad beat bonus. I am happy for that, but what I heard was that they did not want to be responsible for the volatility of that bet. They rake enough money to pay for it, but not if it is hit many times in a row before they have rakes enough. Smaller high hand awards work better. You know, like the argument for playing JOB instead of 10/7 DB on a small bankroll.
Vegas casinos are on an unlimited bankroll; these horse tracks are not.
The funniest promotion I saw was at Lucky's Dog Track. Here they gave tickets out every so often, for high hand, or just for keeping you seat for an hour. Two names were called every hour and those folks went to a table where they were blindfolded. On the table were chips and racks. When the whistle blew they scrambled to rack the chips and when the time was up, they got to keep all the chips they had racked and the winner of the contest got a bit more. It was very funny.
It had some of the regulars practicing racking chips blindfolded at home.