I've been so busy lately that I haven't gotten my poker fix. Every weekend, I've done something since back in August. Oh sure, I've played online, but that's not the same. Last night, I headed to the Gold Strike Casino (see image above) to
They have started a new tournament on the third Saturday night of each month. The Gold Strike promises a certain prize pool ($5000), no matter how many players show up. In fact, they had 70 who paid the $110 to enter ($100 to prize pool, $10 toke to the dealers). First place was $1960, second a little more than half that. When we reached the final table, about half had good-sized stacks and about half were hanging on. Ten places were paid, but the lower positions weren't much more that getting your buy-in back.
The blinds and antes are usually the killer, but because I had a healthy stack, they were my friend. Slowly, the short stacks busted out. A few times they doubled up, but when you have a small stack, even a double-up doesn't help that much -- you still have a short stack. With four of us left, we each had about equal stacks, so agreed on a chop of $1021. We'd started at 7 p.m. and it was 12:30 a.m. and the chop for second-place money sounded good.
During the tournament, I realized how much I had missed live poker. Tournaments are exciting when the adrenaline flows -- it's fun.
Early on I had ♥7 ♦7 and limped in. Maybe I should raise, but I was in early position and didn't want to create a large pot when out of position. The flop was amazing for me: ♦10 ♣10 ♠7 -- I'd flopped a boat. Unfortunately the turn was the ♠8 giving a guy to my left a bigger boat (he had pocket 8s). I bet right into him on fourth street and the river and was lucky not to lose more money than I did.
Later, when I was short stacked, ♠3 ♣3 saved me. I limped in, got two callers, and the big blind moved all in. Something didn't smell right, so I moved in, too and the two limpers folded. The BB was caught with his hand in the cookie jar when he turned over ♥Q ♣9, but he still had two overcards. The board bricked out, however, and I was back in business.
The tables at the Gold Strike have automatic shufflers. I think they are great. They speed up the game and you get a more true shuffle. Most dealers don't riffle the cards as many times as they are supposed to. Also, the shuffler counts the cards. I've been in casinos when a deal is played out and there are 53 cards. I've seen this twice, and both times there were two ace of spades!
The shuffler at our table failed. Here's what happened. The dealer dealt 2-4-5 on the flop. Everyone checked. He burned and put out the turn: a 3 (sorry, I don't remember the suits). The dealer then called for the floor. Notice that anyone with an Ace has a wheel. In fact, one lady had A-6, so she had a higher straight, although not the nuts (someone could have had 6-7). We were all curious why the dealer had called for the Tournament Director. It turns out, that the next two cards in the deck were "boxed." This means they were turned face up -- the automatic shuffler had failed.
What do you think the ruling should be?
I suspected they would take the top card and use it for the burn card. Then put the second one back in the deck and reshuffle the remaining cards. Nope, that's not what happened. They declared the deal null and void and redealt it.
Another odd situation: There were three players in a hand. The flop was ♣A ♣Q ♠10. The first guy to act, moved all in. It folded to the button who had ♣K ♣9. He called, but the first guy (who was all in) thought everyone folded, so he tossed his cards to the dealer who mucked them. He claimed later he had Q-J, so not sure why he went all in, but that's another story.
The Tournament Director had gone to the bathroom and left another in charge. They called him on his cell phone to come take this ruling ("I wasn't touching this one," the other guy who was filling in said.) The TD ruled that the guy's hand was dead, even though they could identify which two cards in the muck were his. But, he didn't make him put any money in the pot (even though he'd declared all in). I guess the first guy had been punished enough by losing his rights to the deal. The second guy got a pot in which he was on a flush draw. Neither was happy, but neither was mad. I'm not sure what the tournament rules are, but I'm glad I'm not a TD and have to make rulings -- usually someone won't like it.
Above: We started with $10,000 in chips -- look at how high the blinds are during Level 15.
Photos by MOJO and taken with my P&S.