Thursday, July 29, 2010

I checked out the "new" Empress Casino poker room last night. Well, it's new to me - I haven't been there since the fire. Wow, has it really been over a year? March 2009. *counts on fingers* Yup.

I've been watching a lot of episodes of The Big Game, and last night I was jonesing for some live poker, and I felt lucky. I had no luck finding an accomplice for my evening debauchery, but that has never stopped me before. That familiar adrenaline-fueled tingle jump started my heart as I pulled onto the casino grounds. Oh, how sweet it is!

I was quickly lost. The parking lot was no longer the parking lot. I missed the entrance for the parking garage (what?! There's a parking garage?!) and had to loop back around. Then, I drove around the parking garage looking for the casino entrance. Ahh, there it is!

I walked to the building and... oh boy, lost again. Elevators! OK... now what? Mazes of hallways! OK... wow, the old atrium is gone (presumably to be built back up into something even more spectacular someday). OK, walking through the maze... Then, up ahead, I spied something familiar - the big ol' hallway leading to the entrance to the boat (well, I guess it's technically a barge... but we call them all boats).

I entered the casino floor and noticed some things had been rearranged. Also, the carpeting was new, and the place smelled better than ever (probably because it had never been smoked in since the post-fire remodeling). Fresh air! Shiny things! New carpet! I walked along the left corridor towards the poker room - or, what used to be the poker room. What?! It's gone! And... there's a giant buffet back there! I want cards, not chicken wings! Gah!

I lapped back around the other side, looking for the poker room. No luck. I noticed that all of the other table games were gone, and it started to make sense. The slots took over the main level, and the table games must be downstairs. I had to hurry - I was going to lose my spot on the poker room board if I didn't find the place soon!

I took the escalator downstairs, and breathed a sigh of relief - there it was, around the corner to the right. The new and improved poker room. Bigger (maybe 5 or 6 tables now instead of 3?). Nicer - lots of TV's and more space between the tables. Centrally located - the deli is right there across from the poker room. Awesome :)

Oh - and they give comp points to poker players now! 50 cents an hour. Better than the previous comps (i.e. a big ol' goose egg!)

I was in for another surprise, though, as I sat down with my buy-in. They no longer spread the $5/10 limit game. Now, I was never really in love with that game. I played a heck of a lot of it, but mostly because Empress is 15 minutes from my house, whereas the Indiana boats spreading the $1/2 NL games are 45 minutes from my house (on a good day - an hour+ on a bad day). I do enjoy limit hold'em, but that's more because I'm a chicken and love math. I find that on my good days, I'm much better at no-limit (though on my bad days, I'm pretty bad).

Anyway, all 3 tables that were running were $1/2 NL hold'em, and according to the guy next to me, that's just about all they run there anymore. Limit never runs, and the $500 max NL sometimes runs. That's just fine with me - $1/2 NL is my game, and bonus - it's a $200 max buy-in (whereas the IN boats are $100 max /edit - thanks, Laoch! Looks like both Majestic and the Horseshoe in IN have $200 max buy-in's on their 1/2 NL games now).

I treaded water at the feeder table for a couple hours. Up $40, down $40, and back and forth. It seems like the main goal in a feeder table scenario is to get away from the feeder table with at least your original buy-in intact. I had a particularly disappointing experience with JJ that had me down half a stack at one point, and then the magic hit.

Two hands in a row. First, I flopped the nut flush in diamonds beautiful diamonds. I had a crazy guy betting into me on the flop, which I smooth called. The turn came a blank. He checked, and I checked behind. On the river, he shoved all in.

Money. Too bad he only had like $60 left. I called, scooped a sweet pot, and woke up the Asian guy two to my right who proceeded to recap the entire hand, praising my stealth ninja check on the turn. I'd rather not have the whole table clued in to any notion that I might know what I'm doing, but I won't lie - I enjoyed the compliment.

The crazy guy rebought for $100 and the next hand was dealt. I looked down at 55. I'll take it. It was a limped pot until the crazy guy raised to $10. 3 people called, and so did I, and so did the 2 guys after me. 6 to the flop.

It came: 55x.

I had plenty of time to wait for my action, and I needed it, because I was counting the dots on the first two cards just to be sure I was seeing them correctly. Did I seriously just flop quads? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Check check check all the way around to the crazy guy. He pushed all in. Fold fold fold ME! CALL! Fold fold.

'dem's quads, bitches!

Just as I was stacking my new found glory, the brush came up and announced my move to the main game. Gah! Just as things were heating up!

I spent a couple hours on the main game, mostly folding. Picked up a couple small pots, and left when the action started to get really drunk and shove-happy. I know, I know - that's when you most want to be at the table: when the donks are making idiot moves. But I was happy to skate with my winnings and check out.

As I drove home reflecting on the session, I pondered the usual - things I need to improve in my game. I noticed one thing in particular that I have fixed in my online game but apparently not in my live game. I am reluctant to bet out in a live game, particularly when I have nothing but there are loose chips in the pot and nobody is vying to get them. Online, I've learned to steal blinds and bet after those stray pots. It often works. Last night, though, I wasn't doing that. There weren't many chances to steal blinds (as most pots went 4 or 5 way to the flop), but there were plenty of situations where I was in late position and it checked around to me on the flop or turn, with nobody showing any strength.

In my head, I assume most players on these low-limit games are calling stations - and they are. But when somebody finally did throw in a bet at these checked pots, they usually took it down.

That somebody needs to be me more often.

One dealer noted that Thursday nights are the best night in the poker room. I wonder what my evening holds....


  1. Laoch of Chicago said...
    Good trip report although the Majestic Star and the Horseshoe poker rooms in Indiana both have 200 max buy ins for the 1/2 games.
    Shelly said...
    Thanks, Laoch! It has been too long since I made it over there, obviously! :) I'll update the post!
    Memphis MOJO said...
    I'm glad you posted a comment over at Waffles' - it led me here, nice blog.

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