Monday, May 17, 2010

Boulder Highway adventures

I mentioned recently that I've been trying to call Club Fortune and find a time when they're spreading a $1-$2 no-limit game, because I've never seen their new poker room, even though it has been open for months. After being told that this virtually never happens, however, I resolved to head out there sometime and put up with a low limit game, just so that I can report on the room. I decided that today was the day.

But on the long drive out there, I got interested in a news story on the radio and missed the turn. Before I knew it, I was at the point where Boulder Highway becomes limited-access, and there was no way to turn around for several miles. The first opportunity to head back north comes right at Railroad Pass.

Railroad Pass

I've been to this place once before, in December, 2007. I took a couple of pictures of its one lonely, unused poker table, and did a post about it titled, "The smallest poker room in Nevada."

I had not been planning to visit it again, but as long as I had accidentally ventured that far out (22 miles from my downtown apartment, right on the border between Henderson and Boulder City), I decided to peek in and see if the one table was still there.

It is not. I have no idea when they stopped trying, but there is definitely no poker room at Railroad Pass now. Which means that I can claim to have played in every currently operating poker room in the area. (Unless Speedway still has a table or two. I kind of doubt it, but I don't know for certain.)

Club Fortune

I headed back north on Boulder Highway and managed not to miss the turnoff this time. I quickly found the new poker room and got a seat:

Aesthetically, it's a fairly nice little room. The colors are tasteful. It's quiet and genuinely smoke-free. There is plenty of room around the tables, which are a nice tan felt. I wouldn't mind spending many hours there, if (1) it weren't so far away, and (2) they had a game at which I could make money.

In terms of game selection, well, you already know. They typically have either a $2-4 or $3-6 LHE game going evenings. I hear that they often have a stud game one night a week.

What kind of place is it? It's the kind of place where you can, and will, frequently hear the dealer announce, pre-flop, "All in for $2."

It's the kind of place where you can, and will, hear a good ol' boy say, while throwing in the chips for a crying call on the river, "I'm suckin' hind tit but I gotta call ya."

It's the kind of place that does one better on the annoying (but, thankfully, dying) practice of chopping $1 chips into half-dollar coins: They use quarters. (If you think it's slow waiting for some old geezer to gather up four $1 chips for a call, wait until he has accumulated that much in quarters, and wants to get rid of them by putting them in the pot.)

It's the kind of place where a player next to you will ask you to trade you a white chip for four of your quarters, saying he needs them to tip the cocktail waitress. It's the kind of place where he will not be kidding.

The play was typical $2-4 LHE, maybe a little worse than average. Let me tell you about a few hands.

1. My first hand at the table I was given pocket jacks in the cutoff. I raised. Eight callers. Flop KdQd7s. Checked around to me. I think it's pretty hopeless, but ya never know, so I bet anyway. Six callers. Jumping to the end of the story, I'll tell you that it was won by a guy who had 7d-9d. He rivered the flush. He had flopped a pair and a flush draw. Can't fault him for playing it, really, though he would have been better off betting than playing it passively. But passive play is a hallmark of this structure everywhere, so he's just doing what everybody else does.

2. A few hands later, I have Ks-Qs. I raise. I was already getting dirty looks. Apparently raising twice in one orbit is a significant faux pas, and makes one stand out. Five callers. Flop A45 with two diamonds. Once again, with perhaps more hope than sense, I bet when it was checked to me. Surprisingly, I had only one caller this time, the button. She obviously has either an ace or a diamond draw, right? Turn is 10d. Check-check. Hmmm. River: offsuit king. I check. She bets. I think most likely she has an ace, and checked the turn not for deception but because she feared I hit the flush. But she has me a little puzzled and curious now with this late bet, so I make the crying call. She has Q-10, no diamonds. I win, with considerable surprise. So play back what happened: She called on the flop with no pair and no draw. When she actually made a pair on the turn, she checked behind. Then when another overcard came on the river, she bet. Go ahead--you figure out her logic. I can't.

3. I have A-J offsuit in the small blind. There are, I dunno, about 30 limpers ahead of me. I raise. I think one of them folds. Flop is a lovely A-A-2. Two hearts, of which I have zero. For a second I consider slow-playing, going for the check-raise. But I quickly rule that out, since even in a family pot, this crowd could easily check it all the way around, and if they're all going to be as inclined to keep calling as history has shown, I'd like to let them. So I bet. Not only do I get callers, I get raised, and reraised. It was the only time the entire hour I played that a betting round got capped--five ways! My head was reeling. What the hell was going on? How many aces are there in this deck anyway? I can guess that one of these knuckleheads has the case ace, one or two have a flush draw. But what about the others? Did somebody luck into a boat with 2-2? I am completely at a loss to understand what is going on.

Turn is an offsuit 9. I don't know where I am in the hand, but I bet out anyway. Three callers this time.

River is a king, putting a third heart out there, which I hate. I give up and check, because surely at least one of these people just made his or her hand. But to my amazement, the action is checked all around. Seriously, now--WTF? Why would somebody with a full house have checked? Why would somebody with a flush have checked? It all made no sense whatsoever.

I show my hand first. The big blind slams his A-10 down on the table face up, uttering an unpleasantry in the process. The others quietly muck. So no flush, no full house. What in the world were those people calling with? What caused them to cap the betting on the flop, then let one bet stand on the turn, and check the river around? I still have no idea. It's one of the most bizarre, inexplicable hands I've ever played.

4. The final board is 6-10-6-10-2. On the river, Player A bets, Player B raises, Player A calls. Player B shows, not too surprisingly, suited 10-9. Player A lets out a sigh of relief and flips over his 6-6.

Monsters under the bed, sir?

5. Final board: K-3-8-2-9, no flush possible. There is a bet and call. Bettor shows 2-3 offsuit, bottom two pair. Caller flashes Q-10 offsuit before mucking.

Nice call, sir. Way to keep him honest.

I played my requisite hour, then said good-night and went on my way. Next stop:

Jokers Wild

Again, this is a place that I scratched off of my list of rooms to play in about a year after I moved here. It was so bad I thought I'd likely never return. I wrote two stories from my one hour in that particular patch of poker purgatory, here and here.

My main purpose in stopping was to snap a few photos for the "Guess the casino" series. (This constitutes fair warning for those of you who play along.) I had not yet hatched that idea when I first visited. I did stop by the poker room. They had a one-table tournament going, no cash game, so I didn't have to ever consider whether to subject myself to another stretch of locals $2-4 LHE.

Eastside Cannery

I gave a friendly wave as I drove by. I might have stopped to check out the poker action, but decided I had better things to do than to spend a night in jail for trespassing, so I kept driving.

Boulder Station

There are now just three poker rooms in the city that allow cigarette smoking right at the table: Boulder Station, Texas Station, and Arizona Charlies--Decatur. Boulder has a distinct advantage over the others: It consistently has a no-limit hold'em game, at least in the evenings and on weekend days. The others do not. It also has worse-than-average players. My friend "Las Vegas Michael" frequently Tweets about his big scores there, tilting the local rocks when he cracks their big pairs. So I reluctantly try to hit it once or twice a year, just to keep it in the rotation. And as long as I was in the neighborhood, I decided tonight would be such an occasion. (Upon getting home, I see that it has been just over a year since my last time there, a visit that featured one memorably wild hand.)

Alas, no such stories to relate tonight. It was one of the tightest, nittiest $1-2 games I've played in a long time. Raise and take it, win $3, over and over again--or a continuation bet and win maybe $10. I ended up with a little extra pocket change by the time I left, and a serum nicotine level that will probably be off the charts for a while. Good Lord do these people smoke! The guy next to me went through seven cigarettes in the two hours I played. Ugh.

The only remarkable thing that happened during my time at the table was that the power went out. That is a first for me in a casino, despite the number of hours I've logged in them over the last four years. In fact, it happened twice, a few minutes apart. The lights flickered, and the cable or satellite feeds on the TVs went out, but otherwise not much happened. The backup generators apparently kick in extremely rapidly. The staff had to reset computers and their connections to the other Stations poker rooms (for the combined-property bad-beat jackpot), but that was about it.

The greatest thing about Boulder Station is that its poker room is the only one out of the 60 in the valley that is right next to a Dairy Queen. Just about everything is made better if one is eating a Snickers Blizzard while doing it, and that includes playing poker. Nom nom nom.

Then I went home. The end.


Michael said...

Really enjoyed the post and the updates on the other rooms. Definitely some bizarre action at Club Fortune.

Pete said...

FYI. Speedway casino is now Lucky Club and has no poker tables