Monday, November 3, 2008

Can you hear the thunder?

I was in Santa Fe for three days this past weekend, and managed to play some poker Saturday night. I heard about the new Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino that opened in August, and decided to give it a try. It's New Mexico's largest and most expensive resort according to this. To get there, you drive about 20 miles north of Santa Fe on an Interstate-quality road.

The overpass has interesting decoration. Click to see.

This sign, seen from the highway, welcomes players to Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino. (Click to enlarge.)

The outside of the casino has a Southwest American theme.

As I approached the casino, the automatic-sliding doors opened, inviting me in. I was surprised -- no security! The casinos at Tunica all have a security person (or two of them) at the door. If a player looks young, he is carded (not a problem for me, ha). I asked for directions, and made my way back to the poker room and talked to Nik, the floorperson, who told me they had a list for the 1/3 NLHE and the 2/6 Limit game. I got on the list and he gave me a wireless pager like the ones you get when you are on a waiting list at a restaurant. At the time (a little before 5 p.m.), there were only two tables going. Before I left, however, it expanded to five -- three no limit and two limit.

As I waited, I checked things out. The poker room was new and quite nice. It had 10 flat-screen TVs and the chairs were the most comfortable that I've seen in a casino -- they had true lumbar support! I asked Nik if I could take a photo with my cell phone and was told no. I imagine if I had just gone ahead and taken one, nobody would have said anything. I also watched the game I would be playing in. It was pretty frisky, almost always with raises preflop, several callers and good-sized pots. Yum.

They called my name and I got my chips and settled in. My stack had dropped down a little when I looked at my hole cards and saw: A A. An early position guy raised to $15 and it folded around to me on the button. I raised to $40. The small blind folded and the big blind reraised to $75! The original bettor folded and it was on me. I had about $140 left. I decided that he wouldn't fold (else his bet didn't make sense), so I went ahead and moved all in. He called.

In a tournament you have to turn your cards over, but not in a cash game. I went ahead and showed my two cards anyway. The other guy looked at my hand and kept his face down. The flop was Q 10 5. Now he turned his cards over -- Q Q! I failed to improve, so instead of winning a $360 pot, it was "Rebuy!"

The rest of the night went a lot better than this. The game was loose. There were two players who were particularly aggressive. If there were limpers to them and either were in position, they would almost automatically raise to $25. The guy on my right did it and later showed Q 4. Two orbits later he did it again and this time showed big slick. Because you have no clue what asshats players like this have, I used to hate to play against them. Now, I just wait like a sniper in a tree in the jungle somewhere.

Twenty minutes later, there were some limpers to this same guy who was in the big blind. He raised to $20. I called as did one other. I had not seen him raise from out of position, so had no clue what he was doing. The flop was: J 9 4. The agressive guy bet $25, I raised to $65. The other guy folded back to Mr. Testosterone, who moved all in. I called, and he proudly turned over J 9 for top two. I showed 9 9 for a set. My hand held up and the sniper had claimed another victim.

I limped with 33 and the board was no help. Nobody bet, so I saw the turn for free. It was a 3 and an early guy bet. I called. He bet again on the river and I raised. He made a crying call and folded when I showed my set. Too bad, young man -- you gave me a free card to get there. Later, I won another big pot with a pair of 4s when another came on the flop. Again, I had position on the player who bet out, so just called on the flop, raised on the turn and took him to value city on the river. Poker is sweet when it goes like this. I played until around midnight and cashed out up a total of two buy-ins which was pretty sweet after getting stacked early on.

My overall evaluation of the Buffalo Thunder Casino is that it is new, nice, has a good poker room, and the dealers were competent. They made a few minor mistakes, but nothing I couldn't live with. The property has several places to eat that look pretty good and you could order food to eat at the poker table. The bottom line is that I would go there again next time instead of trying something new. Of course, a place always feels good when you book a winning session.

As I left, I took another photo of the welcome sign.

(Click to enlarge the image.)


  1. Sweet! Ah c'mon, become a ring player!

  2. Don't you just love hitting sets? Particularly at the lower levels where people just can't lay down a pair.

  3. CK, yes they play TPTK as the nuts.

    Bastin, I play in ring games once every two or three months online, but more often than that in person (where I can watch the players). Tournament play is a different skill set and I seem to do better there.

    Thx to both of you. A comment from a quality blogger is appreciated.