Live Poker in Chicago (Really Indiana)

Last weekend I was up in Chicago for the finals of the Barclay’s Churchill Cup. Billymac covered most of the trip at his place, so you can get the full run down there–I’ll just concentrate on poker. On Friday, Billymac and I went over to Majestic Star Casino just across the Indiana border to play poker with our buddy Big Paul the Wrecking Ball. This was a very educational session of poker for me. I’ll get to the lessons later, after I give you the lowdown on playing poker at Majestic Star.

The Majestic Star has about 20 poker tables, and the room was surprisingly well populated for a Friday afternoon. It was a little run down–the felt on the tables was worn to almost nothing in some spots. That’s not a huge deal I guess, but everyone there was talking about the new poker room that was going to open up at Horseshoe (I think), so I’m surprised that they weren’t upgrading the room to try to make it as nice as possible while they still had the market cornered. The dealers were solid, and there was a good variety of games going on–1/2 no limit, 2/5 no limit, some higher stakes limit games, and even an Omaha game. I haven’t played any Omaha in a while, so I stuck with 1/2 NL.

I had a couple of beers and some coffee while I was there–pretty prompt service. The coffee was free, but the beer wasn’t. Not a big deal, just letting you know. We all played at different tables, and we were in agreement that there weren’t any bad players there, at least that we saw. My table had a few guys who were lose, but they were solid after the flop. There was one guy at my table who was really good and had everybody flustered at one time or another. I lost ~$60, but I can honestly say I’ve never had a run of cards as bad as I had during this session. I was dealt two pair the entire time–JJ and 55. I got K-8 off suit so many times I was considering going to the blackjack table instead. The session became an exercise in discipline, and that leads me to my lessons learned during this session.

Without good cards, it’s much tougher to win money at non-tourist poker rooms. Everybody there was local–local as in every day player local. They all knew the dealers by name, and several of them knew each other by name. The big topic of conversation was the new poker room that was going to open and which dealers were going to be working there. It sounds like Majestic Star is about to lose most of its good dealers and most of its regulars to this new room. It seems like local rooms are tough to crack because the level of play is pretty high and pretty steady. I’m sure a pro could have come in and jacked the place, but I’m no pro. Any local fish would get busted out of this room within a week or two and never come back, so you are stuck playing with guys who are essentially passing the same money around to each other all the time.

I was forced into playing tight by the cards that I was dealt, but being at a table with guys who were lose without being reckless post flop made it tough to pull off any moves, even with a tight image. I think this room is definitely beatable for me, but I’d be back to depending on luck, which I’d rather not have to do. The fact that the poker room at Majestic Star is open 24 hours puts you a little behind as well, because the max buy-in for 1/2 NL is $200. That means that you can’t sit down at a table with guys who’ve been playing for 15 hours with a $600 stack and stand up to them. I’m a firm believer that you are at a huge disadvantage at a NL table unless you can buy in to match the chip leader’s stack. A local room like the one I played at in Dania, Florida (which closes at midnight) is easier to beat because you can get there in the early afternoon and buy in at the max with everybody else. Then the guys who come in later are at a disadvantage to your larger stack.

As I said, it was an exercise in discipline, and I think I did pretty well to only drop $60 with the bad run of cards. It happens sometimes. I’d recommend Majestic Star just for the size and variety of the room, but it sounds like the new room opening up may be a little nicer once they get it going. Have fun!

And I Ain’t Lost Yet

Billymac just got back from Vegas, and it sounds like he did pretty well at the poker tables. I’ve known and loved Billymac for years, and this is one reason why…

I like no, I LOVE, taking money from punk-ass kids that show up to a poker room wearing a track-suit, pulled down hat, wrap around sunglasses, and listening to their iPhones at the table.

My favorite stunt to pull at Vegas poker tables is to sit down and immediately start talking. I like to play up the fact that I’m a stupid hick. It’s not much of a stretch, and I’ve preparing for that role my entire life. That kid with the iPhone and glasses Billymac mentioned almost always falls for it, and I can usually take them for a while.

Invariably, a couple of people at the table realize after a while that I’m a somewhat intelligent hick.

Poker South Florida Style

The day after Christmas Bear Toe and I drove up to Dania from Miami to check out the Dania Jai Alai and Poker Palace (or whatever it is called). Our buddy BGE lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and he said this was the place to play. The poker room there is a decent size–probably 20 tables, but most of them weren’t used while we were there.

They run a tournament at 3:00 pm daily, and I signed up for that. It’s a $5 entry, winner take all. 2000 units, 50/100 blinds starting out, with increases every 15 minutes. While I was waiting for the tourney I sat down at a cash table–$1/$2 no limit hold ’em with $100 MAX buy-in . After about 10 minutes at that table, I wished I hadn’t bothered with the tournament.

It seems like there were two types of players there, pretty good and pretty bad, and the split was about half and half. I noticed when the tournament started that the pretty good guys at my table didn’t play in it, and the pretty bad guys did. I decided to just push all in every chance I got to possibly double up and get back to the cash table. There were 60 player in the tournament, and I wasn’t about to sit there for 3 hours for a chance at only $300, especially when there was easy money bleeding into the cash games from guys getting put out of the tourney. If I could pile up chips early, fine. If not, fine too. I think I was the 8th or 9th person put out. I think the wise locals show up just to pick off guys as they are put out of the tourney.

The rest of the day was pretty productive. My chip stack was swinging, but not too wildly and always trending up. As I built it, I’d open up a little and give guys action, hoping they’d stick around. By 10:30 I’d built it up to ~$700. Not bad for buying in at $100. My mistake was not leaving at that point. The poker room closed at 12:00, and people started getting really crazy as closing drew near. It worked out well for Bear Toe who won the final pot of the night (everyone involved pushed all-in) for about $500. I got caught with middle pair post flop countless times and was a little to liberal in giving other guys action.

I ended up leaving with $575 and a newly learned lesson courtesy of one of the pretty good players. It only cost me $65 for him to show me a big gaping hole in my game–pretty cheap!

Overall, a decent poker room. There wasn’t really any variety of games. A 7 card stud game was going on when we got there, but it ended and everything went to $1/$2 NL hold ’em. The dealers were fine on the whole. A couple were excellent, and one in particular was horrible. There were a couple of rules that some players had a problem with, but I didn’t think they were too out of line. For instance, if you show cards before the showdown your hand is automatically mucked. The service was not all that great, but I wasn’t there to drink and eat, so that wasn’t a big deal either.

I can’t wait to go back next year with a little knowledge going in!

Isn’t This Rich?

And by rich I mean the lobbies that are successful in getting governors to propose prison time and heavy fines for online gamblers and poker players in the same bill that makes the way for licensing for casinos.

Patrick’s casino legislation, which has been introduced at the State House but is not expected to get a hearing until next year, would license three casinos in three regions of the state. Casino developers would bid on the licenses, and Patrick expects they would attract 10-year licensing fees of $200 million to $300 million for each casino.

Oh, never mind. It’s the State that will get rich. My bad. Don’t you wish you could use the legal system to set up a monopoly for yourself and your buddies?

I don’t.

Thanks to Reason for pointing this one out.

Cigarette Smuggling Surveillance Starts in Tennessee

From the KNS:

Starting today, state Department of Revenue agents will begin stopping Tennessee motorists spotted buying large quantities of cigarettes in border states, then charging them with a crime and, in some cases, seizing their cars.

I can go so many different directions with this one…

Do I make the comparison to the Dukes of Hazzard with revenuers, crooked local authorities, and free wheeling Robin Hood types whose lawless behavior we cheer on?

Do I draw a conclusion that more state authorities in Tennessee are trying to get into pulling people over so they can take advantage of the fringe benefits that have become associated with traffic stops in our state? (That one is for all of you who voted for it in the last poll).

Or do I say nothing, since I don’t consume cigarettes?

First they came for the smokers, and I didn’t speak up because I don’t smoke.

Then they came for the Sunday beer sales, and I didn’t speak up because I’m usually too hung over to drink on Sundays.

And when they came for the people who play home poker games, there was no one who was interested in playing poker on Sundays, the only day I have time to play, left to speak for me.

10,000 Reasons Not To Have More Money

I came upon this story by way of Reason. I’m no fan of the ACLU, mostly because they are very selective about which civil liberties they choose to defend, but I have to be cheering for them in this case, where a truck driver was forced to turn over $23,700 for no other reason than he had an amount of cash greater than $10,000. No drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no probable cause.

DEA agents told Prieto he would receive a notice of federal proceedings to permanently forfeit the money within 30 days and that to get it back, he’d have to prove it was his and did not come from illegal drug sales.

Wasn’t the whole issue of search and seizure addressed a while back? At least that’s what I remember from my learnin’ in public schools.

The lawsuit said Prieto does not like banks and customarily carries his savings as cash.

That’s great and all, but the fact is, he doesn’t have to explain it. According to the Houston Chronicle article, he was actually nice enough to tell the police that he had the money and give them permission to search his vehicle. He could just as easily refused to allow them to search without any probable cause. That’s what I would do.

“The government took Mr. Prieto’s money as surely as if he had been robbed on a street corner at night,” Simonson said. “In fact, being robbed might have been better. At least then the police would have treated him as the victim of a crime instead of as a perpetrator.”

The scary part is, I’ve transported over $10k in cash (obtained legally, btw) on at least two occasions. Good thing I didn’t have a break light out. I’ll definitely be watching my back if my dreams of winning a big poker tournament ever come to fruition. It would suck to have it confiscated before I was able to pay the outrageous taxes on my winnings.

Poker Police Strike Again

Reason tells us about raids in Georgia, North Carolina, and some especially dangerous card sharks in Dallas.

I don’t get to play as much poker as I would like, but luckily, I’ve never been involved in a home game that was broken up by a S.W.A.T. team.  I’d like to believe that this is mainly due to the fact that our state and local law enforcement realize it would be a stupid waste of time.

However, I fear that home poker games will be next on their list, as soon as they can rid us of the social scurge that is cock fighting.