Sat 29th Aug
Day 1 of my 8 day trip, and it sure feels good to be playing back in the Excalibur. I must say, I didn't think it would ever happen – not that I thought the e-tables would be a success – I just thought the Excalibur might give up on poker altogether.
Arrived at the hotel around 3.30pm, checked in, showered and changed, then headed to the poker room around 4.30pm. There were around 6 cash tables going for most of the evening (I think 3x 1-2NL and 3x 2-4 limit), plus they opened a 2-6 spread table around 9pm. And, of course, there was the 9pm 'strip poker' tournament.
Initial impressions were very good. The management of the room in general seems better than before, and tables have all been re-covered in new cloth. Some of the more memorable dealers of old were not in evidence, but there were plenty of memorable ones who were, and we had the honor of being dealt a down by Rosie. The wheelspin promotion is back in full force. But above all, it is a fun room. And the people who go there go there to have fun.
I got immediate seating on a 2-4 limit table. Drink service was very slow at first, but speeded up later (or maybe it was I that slowed down). This is probably the biggest downer about the session – if you are set up as a “fun” room, those drinks have got to keep coming. But no harm done, and after the first hour all was forgiven.
The general standard of play at first was surprisingly good, especially for the Excalibur. Everyone knew what they were doing, raising in the right places, folding when it was obvious they were beat. However, play became dominated by the guy in seat 10. He clearly hadn't played much live before - I saw the dealer take his hand at least once by accident when he was going to bet as he didn't ever protect his hand. He played very aggressively, and at first I thought he was just a smart player who was taking advantage of the general reasonably tight standard of play at the table (so unusual for 2-4 limit on the strip!), and he was slowly building his stack. After a while, though, people cottoned on to what he was doing, and started to raise him back. But here's the thing, every time someone raised him it turns out he really had it! He was playing absolute junk, hitting something good on the flop and then playing it out. And it wasn't like he was just outdrawing anyone either – he really had it from the flop. And I don't think I actually ever saw him bluff once!!! Of course his stack built quickly now, and though it took a dive towards the end he still walked away the best part of a 100 up. I am still not sure if he was an just incredibly lucky player or whether there was any skill behind it – the range of hands he was playing makes me suspect the former.
The standard of play at the table was dropping, and the fun increasing. I'd been playing for several hours, not seeing many cards, when the guy sitting to my right decides to play the straddle, and I'm first to act. I look down at my cards and see … two beautiful red aces. Now we've all been laughing and joking, and I'm sure he'll be thinking I'm taking a shot at him, so I raise to 6. Two callers plus the straddle completes to make four players to the flop. Flop comes down Q73 rainbow (or thereabouts) – straddle checks, I bet, two callers and straddle folds. Turn card is another 7. I'm not sure where I stand now, plus I'm wondering if I would be better settling for the cracked aces promotion, so I check, player bets, we both call. River is a deuce. I check, player bets, we both call. I show my pocket aces, it beats the guy holding a Q, but the other player tables … seven deuce for a full house! The straddle guy is mad: “what were they thinking, calling the pre-flop 6-bet with seven deuce ?????”. Me, I'm not too bothered … I get to spin the wheel so I'm not out of pocket and I'd like players to play like that against me all day.
In all the commotion the dealer has already dealt the next hand, so I'll wait a little before I spin that wheel. I look down to see … pocket aces again !!! Live poker is soooo rigged! I flat call pre-flop (lets see if I can get those babies cracked again), and the flop is AJ5 (or thereabouts). Doesn't look like I'm getting anything cracked this hand, so I bet up the pot on each street. River is another 5 to give me a full house. As I table my hand for the winner to the general amusement of the table (that's karma, man, says the straddle guy), the dealer says “spin the wheel!”. I'm like “what?”, but apparently you now get to spin the wheel for aces full too!!! So I win the pot, and get two consecutive wheelspins for 20 and 35. I made sure I took good care of the dealer!
There were a lot of fun guys at the table. Towards the end of the session this older guy with a strong Russian accent sat down. He was a nice guy, he was wearing a stars and stripes baseball cap to blend in(!), and he claimed he had defected to the US by flying a plane from Siberia to Alaska (who knows if its true). But … he would talk incessantly about his hand … other people's hands … and above all mostly about why they had played it all wrong. He was really annoying other players at the table who were quietly wondering if he was sent by the KGB to de-stablise the West: “Hey, this is 2-4 limit at the Excalibur, not the WSOP!”. He had a go at me when I attempted a bluff on the river, he folded and another player called and beat me. He would have won the hand had he not folded. “Why did you try to bluff the hand? No-one ever folds in 2-4 limit.”, he said. “Well, I got you to fold”, I replied.
I racked up and left a few hands later. I think the dealer thought it was because I was upset by Russian guy which I wasn't at all – it was 10.30pm and I had been up for over 24 hours and urgently needed some food and rest! Luck I had got the spins, because otherwise I would have had a shocking session: finished down $29 as it was. But it was a lot of fun, and I will play again.
Saturday 29th August
Excalibur, 2-4 limit, 4.30pm – 10.30pm (6hrs)
Time to be seated: immediate
Time to drinking first beer: 45 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 1 x Corona, 4 x Sam Adams, 3 x Bloody Mary, 1 x Margarita, 1 x Jack Daniels (Bloody Mary rating 6/10, Margarita Rating 5/10)
Room management: 8/10
Ease of competition: 5/10, rising to 7/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 7/10 (Rosie = 10/10)
Fun-ness of table: 8/10
OVERALL RATING: 8/10