Monday, April 26, 2010

Terrible's is--you guessed it--terrible

Yesterday after I busted out of the blogger invitational freeroll event, I felt like I should go out and play, but didn't really feel in my best form. I pondered a bit where I could go that wouldn't be too taxing on the ol' brain cells. It finally dawned on me that I had not yet been to the newest poker room in town, at Terrible's Hotel and Casino.

The room opened in January, I think. The reasons I haven't been there before are pretty simple: they rarely run no-limit games, and I was pretty sure it was going to be an awful room. But I feel duty-bound to try every poker room in the area at least once. I was reasonably confident they'd have a game of some sort going on a Sunday evening.

It took me quite a while to find the poker "room." It consists of just two tables in the gaming pit, adjacent to blackjack tables. I actually walked right past it a couple of times before noticing it. There are no signs anywhere. It's not even given the standard token roping-off treatment.

They had one table in action, predictably a $2-4 limit hold'em game. I have, for the most part, sworn off of this structure. I'm pretty sure that it's unbeatable in the long term. I used to willingly play it while waiting for a no-limit seat, but no more. Instead I now habitually stick a crossword puzzle in my pocket and work on it while waiting. It's better than losing money before I start the real poker, which was the norm when trying to play $2-4.

But today was an exception, since I knew I might never get a chance to play NLHE here. So I gritted my teeth and dived in.

Should you, for whatever reason, decide to play poker at Terrible's, here's what you can expect, based on my experience there:

  • Hard, uncomfortable, wobbly chairs.
  • Cigarette smoke. Players technically can't smoke at the table, but all they have to do is get up and stand right behind their chairs. They are allowed to keep playing a hand from this position, so applying any sort of "no smoking" label to the situation is a farce.
  • Casino noise--not surprising, given the location right in the middle of everything.
  • Smokers coughing up a lung or two while they play.
  • Talking about the hand going on freely--speculation about what other players have, announcements of what somebody folded, discussion of what cards would be good ones to have given the board, etc.
  • Dealers making no effort whatsoever to curb the above.
  • Players who never learn to push their chips forward to within reach of the dealers (the tables seem larger than average), no matter now many times they are asked.
  • Players who take forever agonizing over $2 and $4 decisions.
  • Showdowns in which nobody is willing to reveal his or her cards first. (Confidential to the guy in Seat 1: When you play every friggin' hand, you are not giving away any information about your range by always holding out until the other guy shows first. Moron.)
  • A need for the dealer to tell players what the action is to them, every time.
  • Play going in order being the exception rather than the rule.
  • People who can't master the difficult concept of how much each bet is, and always bet $4 when it should be $2, and vice-versa.
  • Flashing cards to other players, openly and deliberately, with, again, dealers not bothering with even the gentlest reprimand.
  • People who make $4 bets by making four trips to their stacks, retriving one blue chip each time.
  • Typical $2-4 play: average 7-8 to the flop, 5 to the river, etc. Pot going to the worst starting hand is the norm.
  • No autoshufflers.
  • No comps (as far as I know).
  • Splashing chips into the pot.
  • Dealers who roll the deck, don't notice (or don't care about) cards that flash when pitched, can't figure out missed blinds situations, join in the conversation about the hand in progress, and various other assorted dealer sins of omission and commission.

It is, in short, a torture chamber for anybody who takes poker seriously. Because my sole purpose in trying the place out was to be able to report on it here, I frequently felt reminded of the lyric from "The Man of La Mancha": I was willing to march into poker hell for this heavenly cause.

OK, I can be a bit overdramatic at times.

I was rewarded for my courageous adventure with a win: $63 in an hour and ten minutes (all I could stand), which is something of a miracle.

It was still not quite the hellhole that the El Cortez was; probably nothing else ever will be. But leaving aside that special case, I would rank Terrible's right alongside such worthless places as Arizona Charlie's--Decatur, Club Fortune, Jokers Wild, and Poker Palace. They are all poker rooms that, as far as I'm concerned, have no reason to exist, no redeeming social value.

That said, I suppose I should point out the one feature that distinguished Terrible's from the other places with which I just lumped it: It appeared that no more than two of the players were locals. The rest were clearly out-of-town tourists. And they were having a good time, for the most part. As a result, there wasn't the nasty, surly, nitty, miserable miasma that emanates from a bunch of retired locals, all of whom know and hate each other, just putting in their freeroll requirement hours, or trying to chase a jackpot. So it's got that going for it, which is nice.

But that one small advantage over the other worst joints in town is nowhere near enough to make me want to go back. If I could call once in a while to try to find a time when they have a NLHE game going, I might return one more time to sample that, just for thoroughness. But there is no telephone, no podium or desk, no centralized place from which things are run, so I doubt that I could ever get a quick and reliable answer about what games are being spread via a phone call. That means that it is most likely that I'll never be back there again.

And that prospect that does not trouble me one little bit.


Anonymous said...

This could be a review for every card room in Florida, well except the good part about local, surly nits not ruining the game....

Freight Train said...

Ha, Ha...
"As a result, there wasn't the nasty, surly, nitty, miserable miasma that emanates from a bunch of retired locals, all of whom know and hate each other..."
That's great. So true.
'miserable miasma' - love the alliteration.

Mark T said...

I'm surprised to see Club Fortune on your "awful" list. While I agree Poker Palace and Joker's Wild are wastes of space (and didn't even know AC-D had poker), I thought Club Fortune was quite pleasant. Some bad play, but some decent young college-age players who think they're great, as well. Mostly well-run.

I heard their poker tables used to be awful but they renovated; I wouldn't know, having been there only since the renovation (I guess). I found the whole visit to be quite fun and very pleasant.

They only run games in the late afternoons through the night (no games in the mornings or early afternoons). Or at least, they did when I was last there in November.

Might be worth a revisit?