Saturday, September 02, 2006

The degenerate night-owl

How hard can it be to find a good 3/6 game? Harder than you'd expect, but well worth it.

I had to work until about 1:00 a.m. this morning, and when I left, I wanted to play poker. I wanted a $1/$2 game, and had to be at the airport by 5:30 a.m.

1:30 a.m.
The Western Gambling News claimed that PJ Pockets Casino in Federal Way offers a $1/$2 game, but my co-worker told me that they were mistaken -- they only offer $4/$8. I stopped in, and confirmed he was correct. Well, let's head closer to the airport.

2:15 a.m.
After circling around two closed casinos in Federal Way and Des Moines, I stopped in at Silver Dollar in SeaTac, and they, like PJ's, were also spreading a $4/$8 game. Skip it.

2:40 a.m.
Further up SR-99, I stopped in at Northstar Casino, which was spreading a $1-$8 spread (blinds of $1 and $2, bets anywhere between $2 and $8). This was a new concept to me, and not one that I wanted to try out. Onward and northward, I hoped to stumble across another casino on SR-99, or 509, or 1st Ave S. No luck, even after backtracking twice.

3:10 a.m.
I left the airport area, crossed under I-5, and drove the streets of Kent looking for a casino. I knew there was one down here, but couldn't find it, so then hit 167 and headed south to the Iron Horse.

3:40 a.m.
The Iron Horse casino closes at 4:00 a.m., so I didn't bother to check the limits. Time to head back up north and see if I can find the casino I knew I saw up there on my last IKEA trip. I get in the car, dig through the Western Gambling News, and find it: Treasure Casino. There's also an even better option, Cascade Bowling and Casino, which is open until 6:00. I fire up Google maps, find where it is, and head out.

4:10 a.m.
At the bowling alley/casino, the readerboard proudly and brightly proclaims that the casino is open until 6:00 a.m. The empty parking lot and darkened building tell a different story.

4:25 a.m.
I find Treasure Casino (in Kent, I was an exit too far south), but there's only a ragtag band of pai gow players. The floor-person was very nice, and suggested I check with Silver Dollar Renton, just up the road. I didn't even know it was there.

4:35 a.m.
I enter the Silver Dollar, see a table of five poker players, and watch a hand. Looks like $3/$6. I ask, and it's $3/$6 full kill (which means that if a player wins twice in a row, they have to ante $6). I've never played a full kill game, but time's getting short, so I sit down behind the button with $100. They don't make me post, and I fold my first two hands.

My next hand, UTG, is A J, so I call the $3. Four players (out of six) see the flop: J♠ 2 6. Beauty. I'm pretty sure I've got the best hand, and when the a $3 bet comes to me, I raise it, and the other three players call.

The turn is T. I'm getting the sense that this is a really loose table. It's checked to me, and I bet $6. C'mon, raise my nuts.

The guy two my left ("Mr. Loose"), who I later discover will play to the river with anything, raises to $12. The button calls, the big blind folds, and I raise to $18. The other two players call.

The river's a blank. I bet $6, Mr. Loose calls, and the button folds. "What kicker does your jack have?" asks Mr. Loose.

"An ace. Suited," I reply.

It takes me three more hands to stack up my chips. Before I'm even done, I get pocket threes, and hit a set on the flop. A similar sized pile of chips come my way.

5:15 a.m.
The guy to my right has bought $40 in chips twice in the last 15 minutes. The guy to his right has bought another $60. The guy to my left is gone. Mr. Loose hasn't lost much, mainly because he's been doing things like flopping two pair with 97o in middle position. I'm glad I'm playing tight. The big blind comes around to me, and I check my watch. Time to go.

With $220 in front of me, I ask the brush, "Could I get a couple of empty racks, please?" I don't think I've ever asked that before. It's a beautiful question.

Addendum: another great hand was when I was dealt pocket jacks, and Mr. Loose just wouldn't let it go, after the board came 278/7/5. He knew he was beat when he asked "how high is your pocket pair." Three cheers for players who can make great reads but are unable to keep from throwing money at the pot.

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