That's right, Vienna, Austria. As I've stated in previous posts I'm in the Army currently stationed in Germany. And as such, I try to broaden my international experience when I can. I had also found a few years ago that the Concord Card Casino in Vienna was the largest poker room in Europe. I can now say that it is definitely the biggest I've come across. And my friend already had plans for the weekend, so I had decided to check off the last of my top 3 cities to see in Europe. And yes, I checked Bellagio for this report because I had to check at least one and Europe wasn't an option.
I left Bavaria around 9:00 Friday morning. I had wanted to leave the day before, but I just couldn't get away from work. Good thing though, I hadn't even packed until Thursday night! I got into Vienna around 3:45 Friday afternoon to the Westbahnhof. I didn't know if it was a central train station, I had just made a good guess as it was about a 10 minute cab ride to my hotel. I got to my cheap hotel in the middle of a side neighborhood, and at first I was thinking this place was a mistake. Very plane, very small, no TV or radio in the room and barely a wooden box for a bed. Oh well, I wasn't planning on spending much time there.
I went off into the city to go exploring making my way past the Rauthaus, Stephandom, The Hofburg and all the great shops of downtown. When I got the end I found a cab and asked him to take me to the Concord Casino. We drove right there, but before we got there the dirver asked me if I was looking for women. I looked over and said "not right now." As we pulled into the parking lot of the Concord I could see a sign for Goldentime Sauna Club right next door, basically a German-style bath/whore house. I laughed at the irony of that next to the casino and headed in to play some cards.
And it was no lie, this was by far the biggest poker room I've come across in Europe. about 20-30 tables for cash games, another 40-50 for tournaments, and even an electronic hold'em table that had a couple people wanting to try out. There was a 15,000 Euro tournament for a 46 Euro buy-in about to go on, so I put my name on the list and playes in the 1/2 Euro game while I waited for my spot.
Not much happened at this table. I only played a couple hands before my number got called. I raised preflop with an AQc, got one caller but he folded on the flop even though I missed. Then I limped from the button with a K3h with about four other people. The flop came 234 rainbow. If checked around to the guy to my right who bet 7, I called and everyone else folded. the turn was a 2d, and we both checked. The river brought another 3 filling my boat. He bet 10 so I raised to 40. He called and mucked. I went to the tournament right after.
I found my table with my 1,500 waiting for me. my first hand I found KQ in middle position. As I was new to the table I limped for 50, as did about five other people. The flop came Ks10c6h. It checked to me so I bet 250. It folded to the SB who raised to 500. it folded back to me so I pushed all in for another 1,000. He sat for about 20 second and called, showing 10s7h. He didn't improve and I doubles up. Then a couple hands later I raise to 250 UTG with two black jacks. The only caller was the SB. The first card in the flop was an Ace, so I thought "well, that's it for me on this one." Then another Ace, and then the Jack of hearts! BAM!!!!! the SB checks to me so I bet 300. He calls, so I know he's got an Ace. The turn bright a red five, and he pushed all in. I insta-call and he shows A8 off. I turn over my Jacks full and take the pot when he doesn't improve. He had me covered, but by only about a thousand. Just before the break I got mixed up and lot about half my stack when an early position raises to 350 (blinds 50/100) and I see AK offsuit. I reraise to 950 and the original raiser calls. I miss the flop of 569 and stupidly push all in. He calls with 85, makes an 8 on the turn and I hand over half my stack. About 20 minutes after the break I try to steal a couple blinds but get busted when I make a move with 67 against AJ preflop. Neither one of us hit, and I'm done.
So I head back to the cash game. There isn't any 1/2 NL seats available, so I sit in the 3/6 limit table and spend about the next six hours there. And this was your average 3/6 table, a bunch of young kids trying out poker, and a bunch of old farts who call all the way with everything. My luck was in this table that night though, and I managed to eak out a 240 Euro profit on that table. I called it a night around 3:30 that morning, althouh found sometime to eat on the streets near my hotel and crashed around 5:00.
Saturday I woke up around 11:30 and walked around downtown a little. Then I went back to the train station and bought my ticket for Bratislava. The train didn't leave for about fourty five minutes, so I walked around and found a rave going on across the street. I only stayed for about 20 minutes, but damn, that would have been a fun party to go back to! As it happens I got back at a different train station and never made my way back.
I got into Bratislave around 4:30 and only had about three and a half hours to spend before heading back to Vienna. So I checked out the sites: The presidential Palace, Hrad Castle, The main bridge (not sure on the name) and downtown. And man, was Euro Trip wrong, Bratislava is an awsome city! I also played a little blackjack in The Hotel Carlton downtown. I was playing three hands at 100 crowns a hand, which is funny because that's just over 3 Euro a hand. Oh well, a few beers later and I'm back on the train.
I get back to Vienna around 11:00 to the Sudbahnhof and grab a cab to the Concord. I decied to try out the limit tables again, and it was a similar story with a similar crowd as last time. Only this time lady luck was a bitch! I would flop a set only to get chased by runner runner flushed that would get there with a 93d. I spent two bills on that table, being pissed off most the time before going over to the no-limit table. That was a mistake, because I was nod in a good mood from that limit table. I bought in for 200 but didn't last 20 minutes. I called it a night around 4:00 and got to bed around 6:00.
Sunday was my big day. I woke up around 12:45 and walked around Vienna more, taking some really cool pictures all along the way. I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant overlooking one of the main shopping streets. I got to the Concord around 5:30 that afternoon, after pulling 300 Euros out of the ATM. I figured I would buy-in for 200 and if I lost that I would call it an early night, get some dinner and pack for my train Monday. I got in the 1/2 NL table for 200, and decided to play really selectively. I found a European edition of Bluff magazine so that kept me preoccupied for a little while.
In about 30 minutes I had gone up to 250, then back to 200 with the following hand came up. I had 89d on the button and limped with two other people and the blinds. The flop was Ad7d4c. It checked to me so I bet 10, everyone folded except one guy who called. The turn was a 7s. The guy checks to me so I bet 20. He thinks for a minute and raises to 55. Now, here's where I get dumb. I think for a while and come to the conclusion he's trying to make a move; so admittedly and stupidly I push all in. He calls and I missed my flush while he shows 10d7h. I just feel like a complete idiot, as I should and the dealer counts out our chips. I have him covered by 14 Euros, so that's what I get back.
But here's the turn in our hero's story. The very next hand I get ACs and push in. Only the guy who just took my stack calls. I misse everything but flash my Ace-high and he says good enough. So now I've got about 29. Then a few hands later before I get to the blinds I limp with 10h8h and there are no raises. The flop comes Qs10d9h. The BB best 5 and I push in for another 22. He calls. The turn is a 9s and the river gives me the 10c. I show him, sheepishly and I'm up to about 54. Then a few hands later I'm in late position with KQ off. The flop is 10 j 3, rainbow. One guy in early position bets 10, one guy calls as so I, and everyone else folded. The turn brings a nothing, and all three of us check. The river is the Ace of diamonds, giving no one a flush. The early position kid bets 14. The middle guy folded and I raise to 40, showing him that I only have about 8 left. He calls, I show him the nut-straight and I'm over 100 now.
And then I go on a good heater. I get QQ in late position with the kid to my right raising to 12. I reraise to 30 and he calls. The flop is 10 high, he bets 20 and I push all in. He thinks for a few minutes, finally calls and shows JJ. Two hands later I get JJ in late position and raise to 13. The BB raises me to 35 and I call. The flop is 8 high, and the BB slowly counts out his chips and goes all in for about 45. I call, and nail a Jack on the turn! I show my set and he flashes Aces and buys in again. Later on I see 99 in middle position and raise to 9. The SB calls and the flop comes 445. He checks, so I bet 15. He raises me to 40. Now this seemed a little weird, because when we was betting he didn't seem at all interested in the flop, o nly his hand. I call and see the turn bring another 5. I looks at me and throws in his 100 chip, and is all in. I think for a minute and decided to call. The river brings a K, and he shows me 77. I show 99 and take it down.
There are way too many hands to tlak about that night, so I'll talk about another coupld and call it good. My table breaks around midnight, and the five of us remaining all go to different tables. At this point I have just under 800 in my stack. I check out the guys at this table and see their definitely better than 90% of the people I was dealing with at the other table. On one hand I get J8d in the SB and see a flop without a raise. The flop comes Jh3c10S, so I bet 10. One guy in middle position calls and everyone else folds. The turn bring Js. I think I'm pretty good, but want to see what he's thinking, so I check. He checks right behind me. The river is the beautiful 8s, filling me up. I bet 30 and he almost immidiately raises me to 60. I count out the chips, think for a minute and raise to 120. He looks at me weird, and I'm positive he doesn't have J10, the only hand that would beat me. He finally calls and I show Jacks full, taking the pot and leaving him with about 80 Euros.
Later on an old couple sits down in very nice clothes. Her in a black shirt and jacket, him in a very nice black suite. On their first hand he raises to 20 from UTG. This was really weird, as no one in my previous 9 hours had done that big of a raise as an opening bet. I'm in the SB with K5s. Okay, this is definitely less than a premium hand, but I wanted to play with this guy. We take the flop two-handed and I see a Qs3d8s, so I've got the second-nut draw. I check and he bets another 20. Now, I was drawing all the way. But on a side note I think his bet was trying to establish him as table Captain, and I had over 1,200 Euros at this point, so I wanted to be the bully. I called his 20 and we see some irrelavant red card on the turn. I check and he bets 30. I call and we find the 6s giving me my flush. I bet 30, and he shoves in his remaining 30 to show me his Aces. I show my flush and he buys in for another 100.
Later on I get pocket AcAh UTG, so I raise to 8. I get three caller including the BB and the flop comes 3dAs9h. The BB checks, and I bet 20. The guy I had boated Jacks full against earlier looks at me hard, and I'm doing my damndes to look scared. He calls, as does an older, scragly looking Turk (I think) in the cut-off. The turn is a 7d. I bet 55, and the jacks-full guy looks like he wants to raise, but folds. The Turk calls and the river bring Qh. I bet 80 and he calls pretty quickly, so I show my set of Aces and he mucks.
Like I said, there are way, way more hands that go through my head when I think of that night. From 14 Euros, I had my stack as high as 1,800. I ended up cashing out just over 1,400 after loosing a few big hands and deciding it was time to call it a night rather than try and stretch it out until 8:00 a.m. like I had planned. That's a pretty good comeback if I had ever seen one. I had a lot of luck getting there, but I'll take it.
For anyone traveling through Europe I definitely recommend the Concord in Vienna as a stop. They do allow smoking inside, and at any given table at least 1/3 of the people are lighting up. But if you can deal with the smoke, you'll find a good time. And if not there, you can always take yourself nextdoor to the sauna club. I was told a good time will run you about 140 Euros (the cab driver was awfully chatty about the place).
I don't think I'll be back in Vienna until later this year, if at all. But, when I'm out of the Army and traveling around Europe, I'll definitely be back!