A Tale of Some Poker

All rightie. So last night Scott and I went up to the Swinomish Casino (located near Anacortes, a little over an hour north of Seattle). Scott was doing his comedy thang, and just like last time he performed there, I accompanied to take part in the 7pm Hold’em tournament ($10 buy in, no rebuys). This time, since we knew from previous experience that the tourney takes less than two hours to complete, Scott played too. So then, for your enjoyment…

We decided to head out early and have dinner on the road. Traffic was heavyish through Everett, which it almost always is. We got to the casino at around 6:10pm, so we decided to just eat there. We went to the poker room first and signed up — out of 55 seats, there were less than 10 left. Last time I played this tourney (about 4 months ago), when I signed up a little after 6pm I was the third person on the list. So it’s good to see that the tourney is growing in popularity.

We cruised over to “The Salmon Cafe” and were seated. Our waitress came by to ask what we’d like, to which we responded, “um … menus?” She seemed surprised that the hostess hadn’t given them to us, and declared that she’d have to go to the front of the restaurant to get some. Mind you, this waitress was stumping around in a walking cast, so everything she did took twice as long as normal. Which wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that we needed to be quick-ish.

We ordered, and fortunately the waitress asked if we were playing the big bingo game. That gave us a chance to let her know that we were in the 7pm poker tournament, so that we were on a tight schedule. We finally ordered burgers and sat to wait. There was a buffet going on, with crab legs galore. A guy at the table next to us left his crab cracking pliers on the table and instead cracked the crab with his teeth. Sexy!

The waitress clomped out with our burgers, delivered mine, then looked long and hard at Scott’s. “I’m not sure this is right, let me go back and check,” she said. So away she went with his food, finally bringing it back a couple of minutes later. “It was right!” We had about 8 minutes to eat and pay, so we dug in. The burgers were pretty darned tasty, actually. And they gave me pickle chips instead of a big spear, which earned them points. We settled up, grabbed our jackets, and headed over to the “poker room” at around 2 minutes to 7.

Now when they say “poker room,” it’s not really a room. It’s just a corner of the casino with five tables. Though perhaps if poker does well enough there, they’ll put up some walls. We got there, and most of the tables were full — they pack us in 11 to a table for the tournaments (55 players total). I grabbed my seat (table 1, seat #2) and Scott found his (table 5, also seat #2). I could see him from where I sat, which was cool.

My table consisted almost entirely of old men (and by old men I mean 50 and above). There was also one young kid and one older lady who looked very uptight and high maintenance. I think the old coot to my right was flirting with me, while the two to my left were just loudmouthed boobs.

The game started about a minute after I sat down. We started out with $1000 in tournament chips: nine $100 pinks and four $25 greens. Play started at $50/$100, so the blinds were $25 and $50 (the blinds went up every 10 minutes). We drew for deal and began to play.

I caught one hand at the first level – A5 suited, flop came JK5, turn came another 5. Otherwise, I didn’t play a single hand the first level. Likewise the second level, I only played one hand, but it was the winner. My pockets were 8J diamonds. Flop came JJ5, so of course I bet. Three people called me, including the gruff guy to my left. The turn was a 3, so I bet again, and again all three called me. The river came … another Jack. Giving me four of a kind. I’m proud to say I didn’t make a sound or a move, and I tossed in my bet with the same speed as the others. And again, all three of them called me. I flipped over my cards, and the guy next to me groaned. He turned to his chucklehead buddy and started telling him about how excited he was to see that last Jack fall, because it gave him a full house (guy had A5). HA! Eat it, old man! It was a sizeable pot, over $2000, so that held me through the next dry streak.

The game would pause every now and again as players were shuffled between tables. We had a couple knocked out, and those seats were promptly filled. I kept an eye on Scott’s table, noting that he’d won a hand by the larger stack of chips in front of him. But I looked again a couple of hands after my four Jacks, and his seat was empty. He’d been knocked out after going all-in with pocket kings, and the caller caught a straight on the river. Tough beat, but it’s a seven card game and all that blah blah.

One by one the older folks got knocked out. I didn’t catch much for the rest of my time at table one. Finally we were all given seat assignments at one of the two remaining tables, so I moved over to table 3, seat #6. We were down to 20 players at two tables, and my stack wasn’t that tall. We were about 50 minutes into the tournament at that point. I noticed that the loudmouthed trash-talker who’d won the tournament last time I was there was at my table. And it was a pleasure to see him knocked out.

Blinds were coming around, and my stack was pretty short, and the cards just weren’t coming that powerfully. I was dealt an 89 of hearts and decided to push in. Two others called me, one of them also all-in. We all flipped our cards over. One guy had QK offsuit, the other Ax (can’t remember his other card, but it was something middling like a 7 or 8). Flop had two hearts. Turn didn’t help me, then the river gave me my fifth heart. I tripled up with a flush on the river, which left some people at the table grumbling. More players were knocked out, blinds went up, and once again I was dealt connected hearts, this time TJ. The guy next to me went all-in, had one other caller, and I pushed my still-short stack all-in as well. We flipped, and once again it was two face cards, Ax, and me. And once again, I caught my heart flush on the river. More grumbling ensued.

The game paused, and we all got up from my table and sat down over at table two, the final table. Ten of us were left out of the original 55, and I made my goal of beating my previous ranking of #11. I could be knocked out happily at that point. The bulk of the players at the final table were all young men. There was only one other woman, the high-maintenance lady from my first table. I asked the kid next to me where all the young men came from — he said he only came with one other buddy, but they all know each other since they’re all from the Mount Vernon area and went to school together.

A few hands were dealt which I threw away. Two players were knocked out, bringing us down to eight. I caught an AJ suited and went all-in. Two players called, both with taller stacks than mine. Flop came QK4 rainbow. I knew the only thing that could save me was a ten. I wasn’t involved in the betting, being all-in. I just got to sit there and watch the cards turn. The two other players both checked after the flop. The turn came 8, and both other players checked again. The river came, and it was a glorious ten. Both of them checked again, and I flipped over my cards showing my straight to the ace. Of course, more grumbling ensued because of my now historical tendencies to make a great hand on the river.

I asked Scott to find out where the money started. He reported back that the top five places were paid. I folded diligently as we whittled from 8 players down to 7 down to 6. It wasn’t that hard, because the cards weren’t that great. Finally, player number six was knocked out, leaving us at five. My stack was again the shortest at the table, since I hadn’t been knocking anyone out and the blinds were up to $2000/$4000. One of the tournament operators came over with one of those zippered plastic bank bags and the clipboard on which we’d all signed up.

The second hand as a five-player table gave me pocket 7s. I moved all-in and was called by one of the young men. I flipped my cards, he flipped his — he had pocket 8s. The table came A46, 2, K. Nothing to help either one of us, so his eights held up. I was knocked out of the tournament in 5th place, earning $33. Whew!

They paid me with a $20 bill, two red $5 chips and three white $1 chips. I kept one of the white $1 chips, cleaned it up at home, and it will be framed as part of my first real tournament winnings ever.

As far as Scott’s comedy show: usually the show is in the “Cabaret” space, which is a nice big separate room. However, the Cabaret was rented out for a private party last night, so the comedy show had to be in the “Starlite Lounge” in the corner of the casino. The bar was packed to capacity, but it was hard to hear Scott over the casino noises. He made the best of it, and had a very good show.

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