Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poker at Seneca Niagara

I dropped Elizabeth at her friend's house in Rochester and went up to Seneca Niagara to play some poker.  I have so many relatives and friends in Buffalo that I had not seen the Falls in many years.  This time I was determined to gamble there for longer than a few hours.  My nephew Chris said he could meet me and play as well.  That was just great.

I had played there before and liked it, so I know I would like it this time.
It had taken me a while to find a hotel that was not reviewed with great negatives and talk of grime, bed bugs, unwashed sheets, naked women found waiting in the room after returning from supper.  No kidding.  I discuss the details of that booking here:
Settled in at the Swiss cottage Inn it was an easy drive to the casino, just under 4 miles.  the only odd thing was that the GPS took me there via the Robert Moses highway, a major highway, but back on a winding path through Niagara Falls that might be a bit sketchy early in the morning but proved no problem.
On one of those rides home, I stopped at a Dairy Queen for a late night treat.  We have no DQ at home, so I like to enjoy a blizzard when I am in any DQ neighborhood.  I missed the drive through and went into the parking lot, so I parked, thinking I might go inside.  That was closed.  Only the drive-thru was open. I walked up to the window where I saw another fellow get food and asked if I could walk thru the drive- thru.  The fellow said he would have to ask the manager.  I thought that was pretty funny as I had mostly been joking.  When the manager came back, he told me that some of the girls were a bit unsure of serving people at that window and I realized I had missed the ordering window.  He apologized.  I just thought it was funny.   However, it did clue me into the fact that as quiet as this neighborhood was at ten thirty at night, it too might be a bit sketchy.
The girl asked me if I wanted a bag, but I said no, that I was just going to eat it here.  She gave me a look that was the second clue this might not be a bad idea. Still, it was an absolutely pleasant evening and there were little tables and I did not want to get ice cream in Elizabeth's car.  So I was weighing all that against the neighborhood when I glanced across the street in a school parking lot and saw two police cars pulled up the way they do when they don't want to work but just want to visit a while, and then I knew I was fine eating right with my own protective force there across the street.
It was good too.  French silk with bits of heath bar crunch.

But on to the gambling.
I loved this room. I only had one odd experience when both folks on the floor insisted that the they had not broken a 3-6 game that night when I had just come from a broken game.  I was trying to lobby them to put me first in a 2-4 seat, but they said that since I moved from a 3-6, I had to go on the list.  Of course, there was no 3-6 at 2 AM.  It did not take long and I was seated.
Everyone else was just great.  Some remembered my name after my first visit.

I played with my nephew on Friday into Saturday morning(4am) and Saturday into Friday morning(5:30 am).  Games went all night.  On Sunday the 2-4 broke early.  There was still a 3-6 but one of the girls on that table was snotty to me, and I was just to tired to deal with her attitude, so I moved to the 2-4.

That 3-6  table had filled with all 30 somethings who were regulars and friends, so it was not a great game for me to be in anyway.  One woman, Ophelia, I had played with at the Flamingo in Vegas. They were all very friendly except the smart mouth.

The 3-6 is played with a kill that pushes it to a 5-10.  The kill is triggered by any hand that is $60 or more.  The winner of the $60 plus hand  puts $5 on the red kill button, but acts in normal position.
I liked it.   At no time would I be pushing money from a small pot I won into a large pot I would not win. That happens in the Golden Nugget kill which is triggered by someone winning two in a row.  Also, many of the players who sat down to play were not ready for this game.  They would join thinking it was 3-6 and not much different than 2-4.  They would get killed.  At a 5-10 the players know what they are about to play.  Here it was a surprise.  So they were at a disadvantage and often playing the 5-10 with scared money.
I had a fine time playing the game.  I played some on the 2-4 and did not do as well there.  Also, I did not like that 2-4 game because a $3 rake is taken after the flop, no matter how much money is in the pot.  If the players are tight and the pots are small, then the house wins.  No one can overcome a 33% rake.
My nephew Chris, however, did very well on this 2-4 game.  He did not do well on the 3-6.  He tried it when his bankroll was up, partly at my urging, but he did not do well, and I was sorry I encouraged him.

Chris and I took one walk through the casino; however, I find that I am less interested in being in the slots and the smoke now and just like finding the poker room.  I did check a few VP pay tables and they were unplayable  7-5  Bonus Poker.   9-6 Double Bonus poker.
Added to the low pay tables is the lack of the kind of comps Vegas offers me.  Why would I play DEB 9-6 DB when in a few weeks I can play DB 10-7 at the Four Queens in downtown Vegas?  The Four Queens has given me three free nights, $50 in food, and $60 in freeplay on top of cashback.  So playing there is good odds and an investment.
It was a mistake for us to make this casino business a monopoly of government and reduce competition.  The Russians and East Germany taught us that products produced by companies with a special dispensation from the government do not allow for competition to sort out the better product.  We follow that path in casinos.  When the government gets its Tony Soprano taste of the action, there is no need to give the gambler an even break.

In the end I lost big.  Most of it was trying no-limit for a few hours when I first arrived and just getting bled of my bankroll.  I am not doing that again.  I just can't play that game in casinos.
At home I can win against the regulars.  I did two days after my Niagara Falls trip.  I won $144.
And I don't like the often abrasive and even abusive talk in no limit.  I go to engage strangers in a pleasant interaction, not to listen to the arrogance of small minded and emotionally unstable people who act out in ways that would put them in a principal's office were they in high school, or perhaps more appropriately would put them in time out were they children.
I played a hand or two of junk after a long time of tossing.  One was 5-8 of hearts, and I even foolishly saw a raise to play it.
It rivered a flush.
I felt  my opponent was not very strong, so I just bet $25 on the river. Well, he hemmed and hawed and talked and wondered and watched me.  Finally, in his arrogant way, he announced he knew I had the pair of Aces, but he would, "Pay me off."
I never saw his cards.
I showed the flush, and I could see he was surprised it was even an option, and he stood up to see the hearts were really there.

Then he went ballistic.   I suppose that he did not have much money to play with, and he'd lost a good bit of it with my playing junk. I suppose that he was also embarrassed that his reading of the situation was so far off the mark.
Three hands later I had K-10 (two pair) and he called me with 9-6 diamonds until the river gave him a flush.
Rather than having a bit of chagrin for playing parallel junk to mine, he yelled at and about me again, justifying his choice by my earlier choice.
Having said nothing the first time, I had had enough and I went right back in his face, and not in a friendly way.
"What I think you are doing is trying to manipulate my play, so I don't play junk.  I can tell you that ain't gonna happen."
"And while I understood your surprise and upset at losing to me, I don't understand how you can yell at me when I play junk, and then yell at me again when you play junk."
"And I'm tired of you being in my face about all of it."
And it toned him down a bit.

Soon he was out of money and left.
The rest of the table had a good time with all of it.
They liked the argument. And that is one of the draws of no limit poker, the constant bickering.
I don't care for it.

I better liked the old Greek from Cyprus I met at the 2-4 who was not a very good player but told me great stories.  One was of being in a Bahamas casino playing blackjack when bandits came in with AK-47 rifles and robbed all the tables of chips.  He said he was not scared because he knew they were not after him and he described the entire scene, told of people rolling along the floor and of all the chips left on the floor after the quick robbery. They escaped by boat and were never caught.
He should have been scarred.  Recently that happened in Mexico and a lot of people died.

At that table also was Tony, a Polish fellow who was taciturn most of the time, but had a good time when he played with players he knew.  I liked him.  He beat me just by a hair often.
On Friday, I played with mostly Canadians who came over because limit games were not played in the Canadian Niagara Falls casinos.
I sat between a husband and wife, Brian and Janice, and they bantered the way I do with Elizabeth, laughing and having a fine time.  I also sat next to a cute blond girl, so attractive in a plain and fresh sort of way, with a girl next door look.  She was very personable to me and it felt just great.
She and her sister also bantered with the table and it was all like Vegas.   Her sister looked like a famous comedian named Amy something, and once Janice remarked on it, we all would tell the girl  to write down almost every bantering joke, for her act.  She had been quiet along side her super friendly sister, but with this new attention, she got into the game of it.
They told me about Brantford, Canada.  Everyone agreed that was the place to look for limit games. All kinds.  One dealer said it was the best in a circumference of 300 miles.  I am reading some mixed reviews, but the games look interesting.  There are lots of high stakes limit games, but there is  a 2-5 game that was reported on the internet as very loose.

They even have a pineapple game.
There are some camping areas there too.  So now I have another sort of trip to plan.

The Seneca Niagara casino serves some drinks free.  I had some whiskey.  I had Captain Jack rum. But not much of anything as I was driving.  I wanted Sambuca on the rocks in my coffee, but I would had to pay for the Sambucca.  However,  Irish Cream was free.  It was fine.
Water came in those three swallow bottles, but if I remembered I would ask for two.  Next trip I'll bring my own water bottle and fill it at the cold fountain near the bathroom.  I'll have plenty then and not be thirsty a minute after the waitress leaves.
There was one obnoxious woman named Kathy, drunk, who kept asking the same questions and telling the same stories over and over. She drove us crazy. She was really sort of hitting on a young Pakistani young man who had such a beautiful face.  She would not let him alone, and he was too polite to back her off.  Once she offered him a high five but took his hand when he returned the gesture.  There is always one.
On a prior table where my nephew played, she had driven them crazy as well.  Then she had gone out for a smoke and come back a half hour later to find a broken table and her chips locked up.  Well, she had no idea what to do.  She told us that story at least six times, each time almost outraged that such a thing could happen.
Kathy played very bad poker but caught on the river.

At one point they gave away a jacket per table and then gave away hats to anyone who wanted one.  I was happy to have one.  I could have swapped my card protectors for the jacket the fellow at my table won, but he did not hear me offer and later he only talked to Chris and not to me.

I don't remember hands the way I once could, but here are a few:

3-6   A woman has 10-J and so do I, but mine are suited spades.
The turn card gives us both a straight but two of those cards are spades.
We start to bet and raise. Soon I am sure she has 10-J and I keep tossing out $12 quickly until she gets it and quits.
But no spade comes.  The nine would have given me a straight flush.  As it is, we split the pot.

2-4    My K-K flops K-Q-Q.  I slow play and a fellow bets into me. I call.  I raise the turn and he stays with me and calls my river bet.  Tony, the Polish guy who has taken three pots from me by just a hair, laughs out loud, "I bet you wish that I was in that hand?" I agree.

3-6    I am the blind holding 9-6.  Flop is 6, I bet and am called.  Turn is 9.  I bet and am called.  River is another 9. I bet.  No callers.  Too bad.

2-4    A-A - I did not get this hand very much.  I had only one opponent, but I lost to a flopped set of nines.

So, I'll be back to Niagara Falls casino whenever it works that Elizabeth visits her friend again, and I can go on the same gas.  Next time I'll make a profit.

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