Saturday, November 16, 2013

Turning Stone when the bad beat was over $260,000 and even Aces full of Kings qualified

I am not a great lover of bad beat bonus awards.  I think I could play for the rest of my life and not hit one.  I get tired of hearing it, hand after hand, as if cheering the dealer will make it happen.  The repetition bores me.

I especially don't like what CET did.  They increased the bonus rake to $2, and then spread the bad beat hit across all the CET poker rooms in Vegas.  To do this they had to drop high hand awards, cracked Aces awards, and the easy freerolls that even tourists can join.  That change, the erosion of hourly comp value by the huge increase in buffet prices, and the end of really cheap/free room offers at The Quad after renovation and resort fees drove up prices has pushed me right out of the CET game.

Two Vegas trips ago, I arrived when it had just been hit.  If high quads must then be beat, and they are raking $2 out of each pot, I am in a losing spiral. 
The same thing happened in Atlantic City.  It was hit at 2 AM the first night I arrived.  The next day, I just went to the Taj instead.

The high hand bonus pays have the same odds of being hit every day.  That seems a better deal for those of us who don't play poker every single day.

I don't like the Turning Stone game.  It is fine for no limit players, but limit players find it especially hard to overcome the rake.  If pots are small, the house might be raking 25% of the pot rather than the 10% advertised.  At the flop they take $1, at ten they take $1 and at $12 they take the bad beat $1.  And small pots can be common if at a table with local rocks. And we pay $2 for a card and permission to play.   The card must be visible for the bad beat to be paid.  It adds another level of rules and paranoi to the game.  The dealer too must check.  Recently a dealer was fired because a bad beat winner did not have a card, and a law suit has started because he got slipped a card after the win.  All that just to milk us a bit more.

I also don't like it that the tables are often not full tables, and the players are rarely the inexperienced loose players that limit games need to build pots and overcome even a 10% rake.

However, when the bad beat is this high, table selection changes radically  and so the attraction of the 2-4 game.   With such a high bad beat payout the limit games attract no limit players and newbies. Not all tables have many of these folks, but I find if I keep moving, and especially if I try to move to a table as it opens, my table selection improves.  One of the mistakes I was making at low limit is not moving enough.   I'd get $100 ahead and then find I lose it in the later part of the game.  This makes sense because the players now know how I play, and the poor players have lost bankroll, and I am more weary.

Turning Stone normally has trouble (during the week) having two tables of 2-4;  during the high bad beat times, they sometimes have 5 tables.  This makes a table change easy.  Because of the long wait on lists, it is usual that a new game won't start completely full.   Some of those who signed up are doing other things.  So when a new game opens, I just ask at the desk, and they move me from my full table to the beginning table just as they are starting it up.

I did not expect to carve out a day to play at Turning Stone in the middle of all we are doing to get ready for Thanksgiving, for migrating to Florida over the winter, for a river cruise in Portugal, and so any Christmas things we do must be done this week.
But my sons and wife bought me a new rowboat for my October birthday, and the marina where I expected to make the arrangements is half way between my home and the casino.  So I fitted up the details on the boat and drifted up for some poker.  Just a little bit.  10 hours.

In the beginning the tables were full of local rocks and mine was not full.  I could grind out a few dollars if I were lucky, most of it from one loose regular who still has me confused.  He played with reckless abandon, and yet everyone there knew him. 
So strange. 
But around 3 the table got down to 5 very good players and there was no sense that it would build back up again.  So, I trusted my gut and left with my $56 profit.  I played $20 of it on a really low pay table (8-5 Double Double Bonus machine. 
I hit nothing. 
In fact, I never got short paid because I never hit a flush or a full house.  Playing just a few dollars and quitting if a quad is hit is a decent strategy.  The poor pay table can only grind me down if I keep playing. 
So I took my now $36 profit and headed to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, The Savoy in Rome.

It was in between the lunch and dinner crowd and I was all alone in this relaxed and interestingly decorated dining room.  Linen was on the table.   A nice chianti (Glen Ellen Concannon) can be had for $5 a glass.  Background music is lounge like jazzy.  I asked the name of  femal vocalist on CD, but they did not know. 
Sinatra came next.  It is restaurant eating the way I remember it in the 50's. 
The place is decorated with everything from a large photo of Alex Haley to a gallery of generals and colonels who ate here when the air base was still open. 
Here is another traveler's review that shows that painting.

Here is a video that gives a flavor of the place.  But when I went this time, there were no people until later in the meal.

Ten dollar specials right now included a baked chicken and I had that.

For some reason I could not call for a spot on the list at Turning Stone, and when I got back to the poker room, I was on the list for a third table. 
These were good players. 
One said he used to run the room there at Turning Stone and told about the issues they had with collusion on no limit games, especially by folks coming out of Syracuse for some reason. 
Limit games rarely are good venues for collusion.  If they are, you will see a lot of capping the pot preflop.  Here there are hardly any raises preflop.  So we really don't have to worry as much.

Raises are especially rare during the quest for the bad beat.  Folks don't want to push out hands that might beat them, especially those suited connectors or one gaps. 

I don't play that way. 
I play poker.  However, I like it that I am the only one who raises preflop. 
Generally, I don't raise midway anyway.  I might raise on the button on $2 betting rounds if I have suited connectors and passive callers.  I might raise to build a pot, to see a free card, and to disguise my hand.  I might raise pocket Aces or Kings in early or middle position.  I don't raise A-K anymore in limit. I think I lose as much by announcing I have a good hand as I gain in building the pot.

I did not raise much this day.  The games were loose enough and folks hitting the flop would not wait for my continuation bet, (when I just check for a free card) but bet out in front of me when they caught on the flop.  So I would get fewer free cards than I would with a full table of passive callers.

A woman got table sympathy when she flopped trips and I called her with open ended on the way to Broadway.  The turn gave me an Ace, and I raised her.  The river kept me in with the nut, and I bet.  She called. 
The generally whispered scuttle was wasn't I a jerk for playing the open ended straight.

I switched tables not so much for that, but also just to start with new folks who had not seen me play and had new money. 
That was a great move.  A
s the poor playing folks lost and moved on, they were replaced with other poor playing folks.  And there was plenty of friendly banter and joking. 
I liked it. 
I enjoy the poker, but even more I enjoy good humor and good stories.

The tight, good player next to me was a dairy farmer.  That day he had transported some meat cows for someone else across the Saint Lawrence River.  The wind had been up and it had been a bit of a rough ride.  But the cattle managed it well.  It was a great story!  I told him about Vegas in December when the cowboys come to town.

I got great cards.  My favorite hand was one in the big blind when I held 3-7 offsuit and it flopped 4-5-6. 
I got plenty of action.  So much I feared the river would kill me. 
Two people were all in, so there were three pots.  On the river a 3 came, and I had to split the main pot with a woman who went all in with 7-2 (and no where near the blind.)  I was happy she had not been in all along.  She was not happy.

There was a no limit player who showed up with his red chips, talking about not liking this game because he could not push anyone off a hand, and clearly not in tune with limit poker.  He said that it was at that table where the bad beat would be hit, not at no limit tables.  So, he said he had his hundred to give it a go. 
For a no limit player $100 is nothing.  One bet.  I like that.  I can grind those guys down.

And he played like money did not matter, but could not get aggressive reraises from anyone to make it a maniac table.  He lost. 
He put me often on hands he was certain I had and I shook my head yes, but he was rarely even close.  I did have to not try to push him.  No river bets with busted flushes or straights.  He was not folding Ace high on the river.
When I left, his banter was not about a hundred anymore.  It was now two hundred.
At one point the old good player next to me asked me what the guy had meant by a comment that he was ahead, when the old guy had it on the turn. 
"He doesn't know what he is talking about, " I told my neighbor on the quiet.
And then I added, "But don't tell him."

So many times I've been in limit games where bad players are chastised for what they say or how they play.  Sometimes the criticism is so sharp, the bad players gets up and leaves. 
A poker table is not a classroom.  Teaching need not occur except through experience.
Pleasantly agreeing with idiots is often an winning poker strategy.

The closest we got to the bad beat was one fellow had quad kings and his opponent had Ace-Queen with an Ace and two fours on the board.  Had he held pocket Aces, we would have all been big winners.  He looked pretty disappointed.  He was a young fellow, perhaps not used to much poker.

One regular I've seen often was in a state of almost terminal depression.  He lost and left.  It seems a few weeks ago he had held a small quad and been beaten, but at that time it was not large enough to qualify for the bad beat.  So he was both frustrated with the game this night and carried all that sorrowful baggage with him as well. 
He did not interact much with the table banter. 
He annoyed us by too often folding his hand face up and so changing the game for those of us still playing.
He did not appear to be having fun.  He reminded me of those animals that pump well water.  Strapped onto long pole they walk over and over in a circular route and just walk around and around, over and over.

I was tired enough to go home about 9AM, my usual time with the over 2 hour drive to do to get home, but the game was still hopping, so I stayed a while longer. 
Then the players dwindled to six with the poorer players going home, and that was my cue to leave.  I went home with my $183 profit for the day and in bed by 1 AM. 
To win over $200 at 2-4 limit is pretty amazing. But that is what can happen when you get good table selection and minds are focused on the pie in the sky instead of the picnic basket right there on the blanket in the field.


No comments: