Monday, November 24, 2008

Tripping the Limit at the Holland Casino

I had been neglecting my non-poker friends of late between playing and dealing left, right and centre! The trip to the 'Dam with two of my most neglected friends was my idea, with the aim of surprising another mutual friend of ours who is currently studying for his MA over there. There was a few conditions including "no poker!" Ha!

In line with the recession, we had to travel on a tight budget, finding a cute 'Boatel' in the Oosterdok to stay in (floating hotel) offering B&B for the unbelievable price of €294 was a steal for a 3 bed cabin for 4 nights. At first I was worried about the cold, damp etc. But we had no reason to fear, the boat was lovely and warm! The rooms are tiny and the individual showers-cum-toilet wet-rooms were shared with plenty of hot water. The breakfast, a simple buffet style but delicious, good value for the price! I would recommend it to anyone looking for a clean, safe, basic accommodation. All weekend I felt we were the oldest ones staying there among the students til a couple of 40-something women in bright pajamas and big jewellery greeted us on Monday morning!

Poor Hilda picked up an viral infection a few days before the trip and the Doctor refused to allow her travel... Our mutual friend had his partner over for the weekend so his available time to spend with us was limited (teach us to try to surprise him like that!) and Vean developed a strange pain in her back that got just grew steadily worse as the day progressed, all she was fit for by 10pm was bed!

We managed to fit in some sightseeing, a couple of museums and several good quality (and damn good value) meals. And shopping of course! Not as much as I would've liked... but I digress.

What else can a nice girl do in this city at night, bar go to the Casino?! LOL!

On Friday night I arrived in the Casino at 11pm, it was wet and stormy, I had grabbed a taxi that from my tourist map seemed to take the scenic route to the place! The entrance €5 fee was a surprise, considering the perks we have in the card rooms in Ireland... There's no complimentary food or drink provided. The place is huge, spread out over 3/4 floors with several nooks and cranies. It took me ages to find the poker rooms tucked in the back, the room was surprisingly small compared to the rest of the establishment.

With three €1/2 limit (€40 buy-in) tables going strong; one €2/5 limit (€100 buy-in); one Omaha €10/10 with a minimum €1k buy-in(!) And the only no-limit table was €2/5 with €250 minimum buy-in. There were waiting lists 8-12 names deep for the limit tables... I was 8th one one and 11th on another! Talking to the female TD, I discovered they were short of dealers (they change shifts every 40mins) and couldn't open the extra 4 empty tables. Reluctantly I put my name down for the no-limit too balking at the minimum buy-in, and was 4th on the list(!) The lists taking ages to shift with several people standing around waiting to be called.

I went on a walk-about, the place seemed totally overrun by slot-machines. Counting 3 blackjack tables, I wandered over to see if a spot was free, and was amazed to see blackjack played a little differently! The actual game was the same but people were laying 4-5-6 bets per 'lane' and even betting that a 'pair' (better odds than a blackjack hand!) will come out! Unlike here, you can only have one prime spot on each of the lanes (an elongated blackjack betting spot in front of the dealer) 'lane' is the wrong word but in this case it seemed appropriate. In Ireland, no one else can bet on the same cards as you, in Holland they can: The player with the main spot at the top of the 'lane' decides the action - to hit, double, split or fold. The remaining bets on the lane behind the prime bet are at the mercy of that player's actions! But they win when the prime spot wins! There's a smaller 'lane' to the right of the main for betting on pairs. You had to keep a sharp eye on your bets, I watch a few squabbles break out over some of the bets, scary stuff!

Going back to the Poker area, they were opening a new €2/5 limit table and I was called... assuming this was pot limit, I was gobsmacked that limit was same as the online limit games! Each bet could only be last plus 1 BB, unless after the turn when it's 2xBB. After two hands, I wasn't impressed with the standard of the limit game, when I heard my name being called for the no-limit table I immediately jumped up and made my way over to the €2/5 no-limit table and paid the minimum €250. Baaaaad move! Looking around I knew, I had landed among the sharks - my €250 stack was pathetic compared to €800+++ stacks! Vowing to play tight I folded for a few hands watching my players: the 'standard' first raise was €50, re-raise €100/150(!) General play was super-aggro loose with suited connectors and low pairs equally valued as AK or QJo! Value table if you have the funds! Finding AKo, I called an UTG's €50 bet in MP; button raised to €150 and the action folded back to me - I shoved my stack (decimated to €220 at this point) and he folded after a dwell. Next hand I got AQ suited and raised to €50, two callers, flop read 5,7,K. We all checked, the turn showed a Q, action checked to me and I bet €100. Both players called. River 8 giving the flush, action went check, check, I smelled a stinky rat suspecting a slow-played king or possible straight or flush and elected to check behind too. Was so glad I did! One player won holding K8 off, the other showed K2suited! FFS call a raise with them! I mucked my hand in disgust. A few hands later I lost €200 with KK calling a shortie's AIPF A9 - A on river - and my last few chips went in the middle when I checked with Kh10h in BB with 6 limpers, to shoved with the Kx10x5h flop, and got 4 callers(!) But lost to one player holding 55 for trips... meh! I probably should have shoved instead of checking the blind, but I doubt if that had made a difference...

Getting up after that awful session, the TD called me for the €1/2 limit table (my name was still on the list!) it was only 12:30, and I wasn't in the mood to go home either! The TD egged me stay and play "Naw, use girl power!" she urged "Go! Play! Show them your girl power!" So over I went, sat down and put €50 on the table... what fun it turned out to be! Compared to the solemn no-limit banter-free table the €1/2 table was full of craic, the garbled English used by the various French, German, Dutch, Italian and British players was so funny (Oh yes, English only at these tables!!!) and the game was enjoyable! I eventually got up with €150 at 2:45am... walking past the blackjack tables (which were still open) looking for the cash desk, I decided to sit down to play with €20 both my 'neighbours' immediately placed a bet on my 'lane' as I doubled or split they added the extra bet, giving me hugs when I won (cos they did too!) Left at 3am with €30 extra from the BJ and made my way home in the fast falling snow.

By Saturday night the weather had gotten worse it was still snowing but it wasn't settling, after shopping most of the day getting wet and cold, I elected to stay on the boat with Vean, drinking beer and playing Yatzee... Could've made money on that, I could! ;-D But Vean wasn't biting! I tried to teach her poker... difficult to do without chips.

The Anne Frank house was on the agenda for Sunday, followed by late 'all-you-can-eat-in-an-hour' buffet lunch in Chinatown for €8:50... Afterwards Vean wanted to go back to the boat and gave me her blessing to go on to the casino! Shane brought me over on the tram (only 4 stops - confirming my suspicion I had been ripped-off by the taxi driver on Friday night!) Once inside, I made a bee-line for the €1/2 limit tables, and got a place immediately.

The Sunday table had different faces, here play was more mental than before... couple of the players kept raising and re-raising in EVERY hand with any two! Putting €60 down I rode a roller-coaster ride over the next few hours getting as low as €12 at one point, and as high as €230... finally getting up with €195 at the end! I had AA no less than 4 times (a record for me!) and only once were they cracked; I even manged a lovely bluff! Holding K9 on an AA44 board I kept raising and got two players to fold on the turn! LOL! One cute Italian was right behind me and saw the cards, started braying with laughter begging me to 'Show! Show! Show!'
I cheekily busted one of the looser 'raaaaaaiiiiise'ing players' who was holding a good hand for once(!) He had KK while I was holding a pathetic 85 suited (my most memorable hand of the night!) I just didn't 'believe' the raise and flopped a beautiful 467 straight to win a €130 pot! LOL!

Counting back - including my €5 entrance fees on both nights, I broke even, I'm not complaining! Just paid for my taxis and drinks...

Exiting the casino (very swish with ticketed cloakrooms, huge bathrooms, full bar and dining service; and best of all - electronic deck shufflers on all tables) the police presence outside made it feel very safe the taxi rank is 150m away - a taxi after midnight to any point within the Centraal area is €15 regardless of distance travelled. Beware the Casino closes at 3am; just bring your chips, cards and duty-paid-but-cheaper-than-Ireland drinks for a post-poker party!

Never mind the coffee shops - if you fancy a 'space cake' experience - just go straight to the Holland Casino and trip-away on their wild limit tables!!!

(Don't I look Iorish enough?!!!!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rolling along...

Ray will laugh when he reads this! I took down the DPN's Bell game at 10:30pm last night...

DPN had barely filled 2 tables, when I arrived fashionably late at 8:30pm. I was so sure Graham would turn me away, but my pre-reg'ed stack was still on the table, minus whatever had already been blinded away. And the rest of the players were happy to let me in - more value for the pot!

Less than 2 hours later I was HU with Ciara the chipleader, with a well jarred Tony and his moody sidekick Tommy egging us on to split the prize... but neither of us would agree. Less than 5 mins later, I had narrowed her lead considerably from 3-1 to 1-1 and knocked her out to take the €330 first place. Not bad return on €60 for barely 2 hours playing!

In our final hand, I limped in with 76o, Ciara checked her BB; board showed 975 rainbow. Ciara checked... I pushed, Ciara looked at me for a minute then said 'yeah... okay, I call!' showing J9. Graham the dealer dealt the turn (J) and the Tommy/Tony duo started prancing around Ciara; patting her back and shouting their congratulations... Graham just looked at me mouthing "sorry" as he burnt for the final card; "just give me 7 or 8 please, Graham!" I retorted. The good man did as he was told, and put a lovely 7 on the river! Cue the "aaaaawwwwww"s from the prancing duo, as Ciara (ever the good sport) shook my hand.

I had been dealing for most of the weekend: Dublin 100 and the Bruce Poker Launch. The atmosphere in the Green Isle for the main event game on Saturday was very subdued compare to the livey buzz of Friday night. Several players were taking advantage of their hangover/drink-induced bravado with questionable play on some of the tables and getting lucky delivering sick beats to players holding the better hands pre-flop against low pairs-turned-sets/low flush draws or calling with gut-shots and hitting the straights. As we got down to 60/70 players the game improved considerably, I left just before they got down to 3 tables, had my eye on the luck-box Pat Mitchell (who had his name pulled for the Vegas raffle twice!) to take it down but he bombed out.

In contrast the Dublin 100 game in the Carlton exhibited a much higher standard of play, an nice unexpected number (49 in total) turned up to play considering the freeroll and two set of Championship Tickets on offer in the Green Isle, definitely no donks here!

With 25 minutes to the start, there was only 4 names registered, I offered to play instead and Stephen was happy to let me register. When I opened my wallet - I hadn't enough to pay and drove off to the nearest ATM. When I got back at 12:55pm, the numbers had swelled to 47 - Stephen just looked at me apologetically. I just winked at him and went straight over to the the dealers seat on the 5th table. Well done to Ray for taking it down - he played a sterling game all day. Kept crediting me for dealing him all his 'lovely hands' but I'm pretty sure he was bluffing half the time!!!

After dealing all weekend - I was itching to play! My favourite Bell deepstack was on at 7:30pm but Stephen wasn't letting me go til the final table started at 8pm... as I ran out the door, Ray called out "I bet ya off to the Bell?" I shouted back: "Dunno if Graham will let me play now... it's very late!"

LOL! I made it in the nick of time!

Big ups to Graham for keeping my place open so long!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Out there in the Bewilderness...

The poker gods have deserted me, since my last win I've not cashed in ONE game!

After going deep in several online tournaments, and cashing in the early levels just before the FT; I decided to try and satellite my way into one of the biggest online tournaments, namely the 250k... but not one ticket did I win. Might as well have brought in direct for all my efforts(!) THEN I fell in with the idea of playing the main event at the Bruce Poker Launch; I played no less than 5 satellites for tickets only to bomb out early in them all!

All my key hands ran bad... I put my hands up and admit to some stupid mistakes like slowplaying, under-raising when I should have pushed but with the standard of play I think the villians in question would still have called me anyway(!) The most memorable was re-raising all-in pre-flop with KK, initial raiser then called holding A3off(!) Board read K245x and I was gone... FFS(!) After spending €160 (approx) I had to call it quits... if it's not meant to be, it's bloody well not meant to be! Laura texted me this week asking me to deal at the launch on Saturday, so it looks like I'll be there after all, with the greenest face in the room earning the money back the hard way! Grrrr!

Went to Tallaght Poker Rooms last night with Susie Woosie - the Atari is a kip, but Ross and his staff are lovely! There's nothing that man will do to get the players in... He threw in a fine sweetener of a U93 (boxing match) Ticket for the winner (would have been a fine Christmas present for the brother) and €100 extra in the pot for every goal Liverpool scored in the Liverpool-v-Spurs match, when the final score showed 2-4 to Spurs the ever generous Ross exceeded his offer and threw an extra €300 into the prize-fund.

It was a good final table - the IDP was well represented with Susie, Justin and myself sitting comfortable... Justin Smyth (one of the deaf runner-ups at the recent IDP's Deepstack) is a true LAG at the best of times - he called Susiewoosie's AIPF holding 22 and hit his set on the flop to oust her Kings. Sick!

But $250k question is... did I cash? Noooooooooooo... I bubbled! After being whalloped by Justin in a couple of sick beats: holding 58 against a slowplayed 99 on a 3538x board (in my defense: I was in BB, had him covered and they were soooooted! :P) I shoved my remaining 10k a few hands later AK-v-66 and no Ace or King on the table to save me, ship the lot to Justin and I'm out in 5th place.

With the €15 scalps I earned - I sat in at the new blackjack table and spun it up to €50, got bored and put it on the cash table; got it all-in with QQ and lost to AK-spiked-K-on-river. Meh!

Should have ran when I had the chance!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Comeback Queen!

I knocked Susie Woosie off her 'Best Comeback' throne in the Bell tonight!!!

I was down to the proverbial 'chip and a chair' with 1k left on the final table, after making a stooooooooopid donk call (I'm too embarrassed to repeat the action here... it's that bad!) I so deserved to be knocked out! But, no the poker gods stood by me and helped that 1k run me all the way to 1st place for a cool €500!

There were 9 players left, with 5 places paid out, I was in BB with 1k. Blinds were 1/2k, going up to 1.5/3k in the next hand... action folded back to SB (newbie, who had came with his friend-same guy who benefited from my donk call) who shook my hand and said 'good luck' as he turned over K4 off. I replied "Thanks but I don't think you have me beaten..." turning over my favourite: QQ. No K on the board and my queens held, but I was still 2k playing into SB for 1.5k.

LAG in CO-1 raised to 6k; Newbie called, I looked down saw 2h3h, thought 'feck it...' and threw out my last 500 "ALL IN"... BB came along for the ride too. The flop showed Q 10 3 rainbow... my 8k side pot started to get eclipsed as the player in BB, LAG and Newbie all bet the flop heavily... Turn 2, putting a possible flush on the board, action saw more bets including one all-in but I was doing somersaults inside hoping the other players had nothing better than one high pair! River 7 and everyone checked(!) I threw down my two pair expecting it to be beaten... but no... none of the 3 had anything better than flush draws/straight draws(!) I was sitting on 8k, and we were down to 8 players!

Few hands later I was waiting for another spot to push, blinds had increased to 2/4k, when I got 55 and pushed for 8k... got 3 callers (Tweety, LAG and Newbie) flop came 864. I was mentally wishing for a 7 as the other 3 callers tripped over each other to take down the pot, raising and re-raising... of the three, Tweety really had me worried as the turn brought a Q . But my prayers were answered with the beautiful 7 on the river giving me a glory-saving straight to knock off Newbie's 2 pair (64 off BTW!), Tweety's AQ and LAG's A8!

With 32k I couldn't afford to get too comfortable... 7 players left and blinds on 3/6k and raising every 15 mins, Tweety pushed in MP with QQ for 13k, the LAG called (quell surprise!) as everyone else folded. I was in BB with Q10 suited, seeing it cost me 7k more to call... I felt I had a good shot knowing Tweety's tight range but with the LAG in the pot (it's hard to put him on a hand) I choose to call vowing to push if a Q or 10 appeared on the Board. We checked down to the river on a dry K high board, the LAG turned over K4off to win the pot and knock Tweety out. I was down to 19k, as we entered the bubble...

I sat tight folding for an entire orbit, losing 9k on the blinds; was UTG facing 4/8k blinds when I found 99... I shoved my remaining 10k over and got called by Newbie with K10 off and my pair held to give me a life-saving 14k extra chips to tie me over the next set of blinds. I managed to hold on to my BB but folded the SB... we lost the LAG into 6th place and I felt I could loosen up.

Susie Woosie was short-stacked on 8k (hardly surprising, as she was determined to fold her way pass the bubble!) pushed into my BB (blinds 5k/10k); Newbie who was in SB, was joint chipleader with his friend decided to fold(!) I checked my BB showing J8off, as Susie tabled her 55, board came out AKAxK and I had won with the 'better kicker' (ouch!) poor Susie Woosie was out in 5th place... Sorry Susie!

After this - I went card dead. On the final table I had smelt something fishy between Newbie and his friend, who was joint chipleader when it got to 4 hand... one would raise, the other re-raise and 1st raiser would fold their cards face up showing A8o, KQs; etc. Cards Harrington recommends playing with when down to 4/5 handed! They just wouldn't get into a pot with each other as myself and Phil folded... Phil ended up practically blinded out into 4th place. Sensing defeat, I was down to 8k in BB sitting on Q4, but the flop came out Qx4xx and I was up to 24k!

Next hand I was in SB, finding QJ suited I pushed, both guys called, board came out JJ3 and I was back in the game with 72k covering the Newbie's 68k, and just under the chipleader on 100k (approx)...

Next hand I found Jd6d on Button... I called the blind for 16k; Newbie checked the BB as his friend called in SB.

Flop came out QdKd2d

SD checked... Newbie checked... wanting to capitalise on this lovely flush board - I checked behind.

Turn 7h

Play went check, check... I threw out 20k; call... call...(!)

River 10h

SB said "all-in" ; Then Newbie announced "all-in" and I nearly wet myself thinking one of them had the Ace high flush! But I stopped and started going thru the hand in my head... realising something not right here; I'm not getting pushed off this pot when I am probably holding the better hand and shoved my stack over. Newbie showed 72; his friend had AQoff and my flush took it down to make me chipleader and Newbie was out in 3rd place!

Newbie's friend turned to me... "wanna split?" but I didn't hear him. Susie who was railing the game signed over to me 'don't ya dare split!!!' I signed back 'no way... I've got 4-1 lead!' 'He's just asked if you would split...' 'Oh did he?' turning to him: "sorry, no deal!"

Annoyed he shoved all-in; then with each hand dealt he continued to ask for a split, when I refused he then shoved all-in. Winning the pot/blinds each time til my chip-lead was down to 2-1... I finally got a hand worth calling a possible all-in threat from him. Finding Js8s in BB; I insta-called his now-predictable shoved... He had A4 off; but Board came out 63759 with the river bringing the one card to carry me home! At first Dealer declared other guy had the straight til I corrected him that I had the higher straight!

GG! WP! Pity about the crapshootiness at the end, good night...

It's been a nice end to a rather profitable week: Bringing home over €500 profit from the Fitz cash tables on Sunday (after crashing out from the FO which I never got going in...) and folding my way into 5th place as the shortest stack in Hartstown for €100; I finally hit the 1k profit challenge that I had set myself for October... with tonight's win, albeit 2 days late!