Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part I

Technically, I'm still on it... since I remain in Wisconsin's Northwoods as I type. You know it's time for a vacation when the thought of turning on the laptop brings a bit of revulsion, but turn it on this morning I did, and I'm banging away on te keys bright and early. This post has a little bit of poker in it, but not too much.

I headed out from my apartment not long after the WSOP final table concluded last Thursday morning. I'd been up for about 24 hours straight when Yang caught that six to fill his straight and win the title, and I'd been monitoring it both through the PokerNews reports, which I'd been editing a bit in a post-publishing sense, and a live web feed of the action as it was being broadcast on ESPN pay-per-view. Second straight year I've stumbled onto a link of that nature roughly half way through the final. I was rooting for Rahme to win it all, though that didn't happen.

Anyhow, I said my nitey-nites to Jonno in the chat, rolled over on the couch, exhausted, and napped for about two hours. Then I forced myself up, showered, changed, and headed up to a storage unit I still have near Milwaukee. There I fetched some extra fishing gear, and from there I boogied further north, stopping in Wausau to say hi to my folks, then pushing on to where I am at the moment, in the woods not far from Harshaw, just east of the Tomahawk River. By the time I made it up it was night again, and my first day of vacation was already in the books. You know that sick, head-spinning feeling you get when you're way over-tired and you finally succumb to the bed? That's how I was.

Thursday the 19th, then, was the first day I actually did vacation-y things, and believe it or not, it included some poker. On Thursdays there is a small tournament at the Lake of the Torches casino in Lac du Flambeau; that casino's unintentionally funny poker operation was mentioned once before in one of my posts.

I had an ulterior motive, too, since the PokerNews site often serves up casino reviews. Despite the fact that I'd ripped the amateurish nature of the Flambeau casino operation earlier, I wanted to give them a second chance, to see if they'd somehow work their way up to a baseline of professionalism, and I could find a way to include them.


I played the 40-person Thursday-afternoon tourney, and watched as the tourney director (the casino's poker room manager) used a convoluted system to move players from one table to another, in a manner so time consuming it kept a table in play far longer than it should have, and through a system that I don't think I can explain. Supposedly, according to the locals, she was breaking the tables in a way designed to keep players from having to catch the blinds twice in rapid succession, rather than just dealing out vacated seat cards from the other tables. (Which would have been fine, had she not allowed players to dawdle for several hands to skip their next blinds anyway.)

Oh, and she broke down Table 3 first, instead of Table 4, as per the pre-tourney schedule. You'd think that with only four tables, you could get stuff like that right.

But though the tournament organization was shoddy, it paled compared to the bad decision rendered by the dealer at my table in a confusing moment. The dealer, a young, overweight guy whose name was Jason or Jeremy or something like that, allowed this to transpire.

The small blind was dead, and there was only a big blind of 400 in chips. It was folded around to the cutoff who said raise, and threw in 1,000. The big blind folded. The button, a sunglasses-wearing, tool wannabe --- he simply wasn't good enough to be a tool proper --- announced "Call," and threw in another 400, leaving himself 200 short. He had another 6,000 or so behind, so that wasn't a problem.

The dealer correctly told him the big blind that he owed another 200, at which point the big blind said, "It was for 1,000? Then I want to fold." And he reached out and grabbed all of his chips, including his posted blind, and pulled them back into his own stack, then tossed his cards into the mark.

The dealer did nothing, but started to reach for the muck to begin a new shuffle. I was shocked, and from my seat said, "Wait, you can't do that!" And the dealer looked at me like I didn't know what I was doing. I explained that the big blind announced 'call' and was obligated to pay for that call, even though he mucked his cards.

And the dealer -still- got it wrong, and instead ordered the big blind to pay just the 400 of the original blind to the cutoff raiser, and not the entire 1,000. And the tourney went on. This yahoo was qualified to deal a tournament exactly how, I wondered?

I bounced out a short time later, in about 17th out of 40, when I tried to steal from the button and ended up flopping a huge draw, which subsequently didn't connect. So be it; the guy I tried to steal from was one of the big stacks, who appeared to be one of only about three people I saw that actually knew how to play. He flopped a set against my steal attempt, and when I had 15 outs twice, the chips were gonna go in. So that part of it was fine.

But as a whole, the tournament was interesting and frustrating... and so very, very amateurish. I had looked forward to seeing if the venue was usable for a proper review-type piece, but now I'm torn on the whole topic.

More from vacation later.

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