Thursday, September 23, 2004

Looking For STUDS in Arizona

I had a really fun two days this week.

In my never-ending quest to find more Stud tournaments, Glenn and I traveled to Prescott, Arizona to play at Yavapai Casino.

They advertised a Thursday night Stud tourney on their website, and we had some business in Prescott, so we figured we'd make a two day trip out of it.

We arrived at the casino about 5:30pm on Wednesday. The whole casino was maybe the size of a medium house, lol. It was cute though, adobe style with six poker tables in the very back, separated from the rest of the casino.

The poker tables were very old and worn. I doubt they had even changed the felt since the cardroom opened.

There was one 3/6 HE game being played. The floorman told us that he could put us on the list for other games, but he doubted any of them would get started. Every game they offered (save 1-4 Stud) came with a full kill (bonus). They advertised:

1-4 Stud
1-3-3-6-6 Stud 8
6/12 HE
3/6 Omaha 8

I was interested in the Stud 8, but he said he didn't look for a game to go that day. We put our name on the interest list anyway, which already had two other names. Before long, we got it going.

The Stud 8 had the most interesting structure I've seen. I wanted to laugh many times, but the whole thing was simply so hilarious that I felt like I was in a fantasy world the whole two days.

There was no ante. They assured me that they didn't need one, and they turned out to be right ;)

The bring-in was the low card. The minimum bring-in amount was $1.00. He could bet up to $3.00. Anyone else could call the $1.00, or raise to $3.00 on the first round. On fourth and fifth street, the bets were 1-3. On sixth and seventh they were 1-6. If a player scooped a pot, bets were doubled. So that made the game: 2-6-6-12-12. Confused yet? It took me an hour or so to figure it out. I still made the smaller bet sometimes when it was a kill pot, by mistake, but by the second day, I had it down pat.

To say that the game was soft is a vast understatement. Almost every player came in for the $1.00. I was the only player continually betting the largest amount on every street.

I was given infinite odds to draw out on my opponents, yet I charged them the maximum price to draw out on me. This created a win-win situation, and I soon found myself up about $250, lol.

I was amazed at how badly the players played their low draws. They just kept drawing to the second or third best low. I would jam them in between myself and the best high hand, and they would never give up. They would call with a rough eight, even when it was clear I had a six. They had no knowledge of the value of their hands. They also drew to the second best high hand, continuing to the river with second or third highest pair. Sure, there were a few suck-outs, but there was no way I could lose in this game. Since they were checking or betting just $1.00 throughout the hand, on every round, I started opening up my hand selection and playing very speculative hands. I was able to dump them easily and early, or jam them later, knowing I'd get paid off by the guy who didn't bother to protect his made hand in the first place.

I think I only won one pot uncontested, and that was over a five hour time period within the two days that we played, lol. They just hated to fold a hand. It was awesome.

One of the things I liked quite a lot about Yavapai, is that they seemed to have no bias against female players. I felt absolutely comfortable playing there against almost all men, there were no rude comments made about my sex, nor my playing ability.

To give the players a further boost, I have to say that bad beat whining simply did not exist. They were polite no matter what was shown on seventh. I guess, since they played so passively, they were used to getting outdrawn a lot. I never saw one instance of raised voices or grumpiness in that cardroom.

Naturally, Yavapai is an Indian casino. So there were some weird rules. Glenn took a dollar out of his pocket to give to the cocktail waitress and got yelled at because it was in the middle of a hand and could "void the bad beat jackpot." I'm not sure why tipping a waitress with real cash would void anything, but I've heard this same thing before at Indian casinos. Glenn was also forced to take off his headphones during play. I'm not sure why this rule exists, but there ya go.

The rake was atrocious, naturally. For those of you who have played in an Indian casino, you know what I'm talking about. As soon as the bring-in would put his dollar into the pot and get a caller, boom, down it would go for the BBJ drop. As soon as there were seven additional dollars in the pot, two of them would go into the rake. Yipes! 30% rake, baby!

That is why I built the biggest pots that I could. There was no way I could beat that rake with the tiny little $10 pots they tried to build.

Even given the horrible rake structure, this game was easily beatable.

One pot I remember is when I made trip eights. One opponent was showing three diamonds and a pair of sevens. He also had A37 on board for a low draw, so I figured he could scoop it if I didn't fill. Another showed jacks and treys on board. The last was the bring-in and he ended up making 222. I had to stop jamming when their boards developed so threateningly. In the end though, my three eights held up and I scooped a pretty big pot. It helped that it was on a kill and I was able to bet: 6-6-6-12-12.

The poker room doesn't really offer a good rate at its hotel, but the town of Prescott is pretty large (I was told over 100,000 people live in the Prescott Valley) and we had no trouble finding a cut-rate hotel room. I am cheap, and happen to think that the Golden Gate in downtown Vegas is a pretty decent place, but maybe most of you wouldn't have gone for the $29.95 room at the Apache Inn, lol. We made the best of it, it was close to Yavapai, and all we really wanted was a place to crash anyway.

I knew that the tournament structure for the Stud game was atrocious in advance, so I did the best thing I could to get extra chips. The cardroom boasted that if we signed up 24 hours in advance, we got 100 extra chips. If we started any Stud game the day of the tourney, we got 100 extra chips. For every hour we played in said Stud game, we got an extra 250 chips. This added up to quite a bit, and I intended to get as many as possible. So we showed up at the cardroom at about 11:30am on Thursday.

Unfortunately, no game got going until about 2:30pm, but I still made quite a bit of money, and accumulated more tourney chips in the process (700). The "optional" add-on was really mandatory, given the structure, so I called for it as soon as we started the first hand ($25 for 1500 in chips).

I immediately took control of my table, as the players were mega-passive, just like the cash game, and seemed to have no idea what impact the structure was going to have on them in a very short time.

I was lucky that a smaller full house jammed my larger one in the early levels. I got his chips and he had to rebuy (the add-on could be used as one rebuy, if desired).

Later, my aces won unimproved on sixth.

I was up to about 5000 in chips, and the chip lead of the tourney, when an aggressive guy on my right decided to steal with a jack showing. I had queens and reraised. We kept raising and reraising until he was all-in...with nothing! He literally had jack high. He said, "I was just trying to steal the antes." Well, he made jack's up, I never improved my queens, and suddenly I was down to 3000 again.

Our tourney went from 22 down to the final table in no time at all. You can imagine with that kind of structure how quickly things went.

I managed to hang on, but I never regained the chip lead. Finally, we were down to the bubble, six of us left. I had the shortest in chips, but the second shortest decided to make a run for it with an ace up. He had nothing, and a pair of fives held up by the chip lead, so I was in the money.

On the very next hand, I went all-in with A35. The same chip lead called me, with an ace, and ended up making aces up. I only made a pair of sevens, so IGHN. Sixth place paid $66, hehe.

Although this tourney was a complete crapshoot, it was still lots of fun, and simply hilarious. The cardroom adds $125 for each table that they get, and the juice is only $5, so it is worth it to play, if you live in the area.

I am not so crazy about all of the weird rules they have at Indian casinos, and the rake is atrocious, but the staff was friendly, for the most part, and we had a good time.

The month of Stud is almost over, but I am counting the WPPA events, since they start in September and end in early October. Glenn and I will be at the Orleans on Monday morning, and I will most likely be there throughout the duration of the WPPA. I just got the final okay on the tourney reporting, so look for me at the final table (this might be the only final table you'll ever see me at, in a big event, lol). I hope to meet some of you there. Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself to me, no matter how "unapproachable" I look, as I have often heard. My bark is worse than my bite, haha!

Felicia :)