What’s wrong with STAX Coconut Creek poker? What isn’t?!

Coconut Creek service motto.

Wow, where do I start? Here, in no particular order, is what to expect if you play a tournament at the Seminole Coconut Creek Florida STAX poker venue:

No information about upcoming games, even biggish ones.

No one answers the phone. You’ll go to someone’s voicemail box.

Staff basically clueless. At a WPT event yesterday, my dealer offered me an add on and there are none at WPT events.

When I bought my ticket, they gave me one for the wrong day.

If you make a Day Two, no information posted. Obviously their tournament staff haven’t heard of this thing called the Internet or Twitter where most casinos post seat assignments, update, etc. And when you arrive there are 4 little sheets of paper posted on the wall where everyone is crowded around trying to see where they sit. I suggested that maybe next time they run two copies and post it on each side of the room.

No food, really ever, but definitely after midnight. There’s a deli but they only have one person taking orders, so during your ten minute break you must stand in line while people order burgers, etc., even if you just want a muffin out of the case. The manager said they were going as fast as they could, which is true, unless they took the bold step of hiring two people. This guy was standing right at the case with the muffin and I said, can’t you just hand me that muffin, I’ll give you $5 and we’re good, but no, had to get in the line. And when I did get up to the order person, she said she couldn’t reach the muffins. Well, can you get someone who can, I suggested, like maybe that guy just standing there. No can do, apparently their motto.

No info on the website about events. Go to the poker page and all you see is Best Poker Room in Florida.

I’m starting to think I imagined the 3 day event I played yesterday since there is no mention of it anywhere on this Internet gadget.

Palm Beach WSOP: one for one

Poker from a woman's point of view

Gave myself two tries to see what I could do at the WSOP Circuit Events at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. Played the $550 huge turnout game (Event #1) and a $345 (Event #4).  Terrific format if, like me, you prefer many levels with decent amount of time vs. big chip stack. Certainly both is better, but at that buy-in that’s a lot to ask.  Didn’t play my best game at the $550 which would have been the one to cross the money line since it had around 2,600 runners.  I thought about my mistakes, mostly format related, and did better next try, although not good enough coming in 32 with 45 cashing.

On the day of the $345, several games were running at once in addition to ours: the last day of the 1MM event, the second day of a previous $345, second day of HORSE, and satts for the ME.  I think the Palm Beach Kennel Club did a good job of juggling so much action keeping a good balance of order and fun. Harrison Gimbel was the favorite for first place in the $550 and lost a sick hand against another big stack.  I didn’t hear any whining about it at the game or on Twitter.  So many guys would be retelling that hand for a month.

I was at about 8 tables during the $345 and at least 70% of the players were really good. As usual, the young guys were killing it IMO, but not for the usual reasons of aggression, but of knowing when to keep the pot small, when to fold, and being very adept at determining just how much they could get away with. The older guys play with so much more ego, which ultimately makes them easier to beat. Since I play mainly at the Hard Rock and the Isle when in Florida, it was great to have so many people I didn’t recognize, and vice versa.

Might the center of the poker (or at least gambling) universe shift?

According the Spectrum Gaming Group, it’s entirely possible that Las Vegas isn’t going to be maintain its dominance in the casino business.   Spectrum’s  top trends for 2011 predict a shifting competitive landscape as more states embrace gambling in some form.  If you’re in Florida, things are looking interesting with big players like Genting, LV Sands and Wynn appreciating the potential.  I know we here in Florida have been hearing this for years, but things are looking more serious than ever. According to an article by Howard Stutz  from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Florida could out-revenue Las Vegas with three big casinos generating $4billion to $6billion in casing winnings a year. Florida is already on the poker map in that many big cashing high visible players like Mercier and Mizrachis are based here, but this could be good news for everyone who wishes there were more poker options with great format games and well run casinos.

A report From Florida’s biggest poker tournament.

Background:

Event One of the WPT at the Hollywood Hard Rock. 1,600 entrants, the biggest  field to date in Florida. $350 buy-in, 20K stacks. 4 Day One Events, 1 Day Two,Day Three if you’re lucky. Total prize pool: $480,000. 144 spots cash.

The short story:  Made the final table.

The longer version.I played Day One A, and ran into some extremely ugly hands i.e. my boat lost to quads, then soon the card that gave me a flush paired the board delivering a boat to someone else.  Also, I felt unfocused, which is unusual for me. I’ve never bought into a second Day One, but these bad outcomes, combined with me playing a less than optimal game led me to  buy in for the next day.  This was a high value game and I couldn’t miss it.

Floor person, Troy, indulges me by holding chips going in to Day Two

I reviewed my bad plays from Day One, vowed to correct the leaks within my power, and tried again.  I was super card dead for three levels, at one point having 5 8 in both blinds and the button all in a row. I was patient.   I steadily chipped up, lost a few big pots but remained tiltless and ended Day One with  slightly above the average 70K stack.

Day Two was a roller coaster. I played at lots of different tables vs. many of the best players in Florida. I adapted to every table as necessary. Then, as happens in riveting games, I looked around at 2 a.m. and noticed that not only were there very few tables left, but a rail forming.  The late evening turned into an atmosphere of both a boxing match and a golf tournament.   Various sweaters went nuts (mine included) when their player took a big one…then, during major pots, you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes it seemed like no one was breathing, then it was chaos.   At 3 a.m. the game was stopped with a 2 p.m restart the next day, Monday.  The top stack had 3,690,000 and the bottom had 800,000.  I had 1,490,000 so was in the middle, 11th of the 18 left. I hoped I could sleep.

When I arrived at the following afternoon, I was surprised that there were spectators.  The game was a take no prisoners one from the first hand. Big stacks were shoving pre flop and bigger ones calling, frequently lite IMO. At one point 56, AQ and TT were all in.  It was an intense super-charged fight fueled by a steep payout structure. I felt there would be at least a 4 way chop.

After playing 22 hours of what I thought was pretty good poker, I made a terrible fold that cost me a much bigger payout. The right move would have been a three bet shove, yet I folded. I suspect my opponent had the same hand as I did, but with two kings on the flop, it would have been a difficult call for him, and I had him covered.  Poker is an unforgiving game. I see it like  race car driving in several ways; always looking for an open spot to speed through; but also, take your eye off the road or make one miscalculation, and you’re dead.  During the entire game, I sucked out twice, once when I cracked aces, and once when I was out-kicked and hit my kicker.  More importantly, my good hands held up and as always, many pots ended without a showdown. I’d say not getting unlucky is the best luck one can hope for.

It was super-fun to final table at the biggest turnout game so far in Florida.  If you want to back me in some bigger games, I’m listening.

Florida State Poker Championship

Day One B was yesterday at the Isle and drew close to 300 players, me being one of them. 58 would move on.  I was at one of the tables set up just for the event outside of the poker room. Most of the players at my table had played the first Day One. We started with 17k chips with levels that escalated later, but started at 20 minutes. I was extremely unlucky for the first three levels losing with both pocket aces and AK on a K hi flop. When I finally got a table change to a better table in all ways, including some aggressive players which I like, I had just 6K.  I started to get some cards, and built my stack to 52K after a few run-goods.  Then, for 4 orbits, I was totally card dead, with a 3 in almost every hand. To make matters worse, one guy was consistently getting hit with the deck when his first AQ flopped QQx, his second AQ flopped AQx and his third just a Q, when I happened to have pocket nines. Like an idiot, I manged to lose the max, 11K. I was starting to reevaluate my “this is a game of skill” theory.  I was hustling just to keep up. Amazingly I ended up bagging my meager chips, but I’m not a quitter.  With some poker god who loves me, one triple up and I could have a chance.  Sunday is Day Two. First place is around 90K.  Last year Matusow won this event with my buddy Nigel Murray taking 3rd.

Final results of 104 cashers.

Nigel, on left, bags again

Hate it when I fold quads.

While I prefer MTT tournaments, decided to try some low stakes cash this long weekend just to brush up on whatever skill I have.  When I start playing in 2005 I played only cash, usually 2/5, and did pretty well with a 3:1 ratio of winning sessions.  Then once I cashed in a a tournament, I focused on those since there were no cash games yet in Florida and I had to go to AC or LV.  Played at Mardi Gras Saturday and Sunday.  Gulfstream is also close to me but I hate everything about it: the players, the floor, and the environment. No action at Dania. The Hard Rock is crazy on a holiday weekend, and I was too lazy to drive the short 20 minutes to the Isle where the action is good and the dealers can generally figure out a side pot.

On Saturday I was given the gift of quads (3 on the board, one in my hand), and bet my sole opponent out of the hand not thinking my single pocket card qualified for a high hand. I put him on a boat and thought he’d pay me off, but he folded and the pot didn’t meet the minimum $20 requirement for a payout. I’m not very tilty, but I don’t get quads much when there’s a liberal $500 high hand bonus, so I was pretty bummed.  The next day, there was only one 2/5 table going, and I took a 1/2. The table was super tight where I’d either lose a big pot or win a small one, and I was about to leave when the whole table changed….four people left and were replaced by my favorite type of players, one bully “buy the pot” older guy, one bully “bet pre, then shove the turn with anything” guy, and a calling station.  I decided to shove my first good hand with the small money I had left, then reload if that didn’t work out.  I shoved the button on the 7 high flop with A2 when I hit the deuce. Three limpers folded and one lady called with her 7.  I made a small rebuy and decided to wait for a good opportunity against one of the three action guys i.e. either good position, or a hand.  When my button pair of 77 hit a set on the A67 two suited card flop, I rr a $38 all in to $85 and the bully player said he’d gamble.  The turn made the flush which I could see he didn’t like, but the river 9 gave his 58 a straight.  I think I played it right, but had enough pain for the night.

Grinder charity event at Mardi Gras.

Made a last minute decision to try a charity event for the Hillel School sponsored by the Mizrachi’s being held at Mardi Gras.  Buy-in was $200 and it sounded like fun.  When I arrived, it looked pretty quiet, but as it turned out, the action for the moment was upstairs where a terrific buffet was underway.  After dinner, we all went downstairs to the poker room and chaos ensued.  There were 210 party-goers and poker just happened to be being played. Finally, everyone was seated. Well, kind of.

  THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT NOT EVERYONE KNOWS:

  • You can’t just sit anywhere and changing seats to be near friends isn’t cool.
  • Poker is a game where you act after the person on your right has acted.
  •  The $25 chips are still the green ones, just like when we started the game. They will remain so all night. The blacks are still $100.
  • A flush is not just when the two cards in your hand are suited
  • Posting blinds is not optional. We all do it twice in each round. You too.

I was ready to call it an evening before the first break when I started to chip up.  Like playing drunks, it’s hard to put people on a hand who don’t themselves know if they have one (everyone would turn over their hand and wait for the dealer to tell them if they won). And a nice lady who took your credit card earlier was nearby to give you a reload in case your hand wasn’t the best.  I did some math and think it was a very profitable event and I was pleased to be part of this successful fun effort.  I was also lucky enough to come in 3rd and actually, when it got down to about 4 tables, the remaining players pretty much knew what made a flush, including some Mizrachis.

What’s up with run of cashes.

I’ve had an unusual percentage of  tournament cashes lately, most recently 6th at the Hard Rock’s 25k Guarantee Friday game (210 players).  Could it be that poker is actually a game of skill!?  I don’t think it’s just that I happen to be getting better cards, or that I’m on a lucky streak. I think it’s that I’m playing better.  At the end of the year, I listed all of my leaks and vowed to fix them one at a time, and I think it’s paying off. Generally when I leave a game, I can think of many things I did wrong, and usually it was in the hand just before the hand that knocked me out.  This time, I really think I played optimally, that is to the best of my current ability. Over the course of our poker lives, I think we all have a similar distribution of good and bad cards, lucky suckouts and bad beats.  It’s how we play them, and I’m seeing that pay off in 7 cashes in the past month.

And to my left, Mike the Mouth.

Get out your headsets

Played the second Day One (of three) at the Isle of Capri yesterday, and imagine my surprise to arrive at my table to find Mike Matusow, Chino Rheem and two Mizrachis. Was this the table from hell? Was I the only non-pro?  As it turned out, Matusow was seat 10 and I was in 9…the other guys were just hanging with Mike, but seated at other tables.  I really wanted to be focused for this event, The Florida State Poker Championship, and the chaos wasn’t helping.  I generally have the table figured out and am relaxed and in sync within one round, but with all of the attention to our table, people taking pictures, asking for autographs, etc., it was difficult.

There’s definitely a reason Matusow is called the Mouth.  He pretty much took over the table talk-wise, and at first I tried to resist, headserts blaring some 50 Cent, whatever I could do to manage the mayhem, but finaly had to go with the flow. Matusow is in town to give a seminar today on deepstack play, and I really felt like I got a private coaching session. As often happens with table neighbors, Mike shared his every thought, many privately with me. I appreciated his tips regarding my game and was super-impressed with the way he breaks down a hand. His managed control of betting had an influence on our table and got people in line with the blinds, so rather than betting $700 pre on a 50 BB level, people were making it a more reasonable $150, maybe $200.  Mike said the biggest mistake he saw at the table was players not understanding bet sizing. The two guys who were willing shovers were quickly gone which was crazy at a format this good.

 

I didn’t play my usual game, but one of the great things about poker is, it’s never the same. One must constantly adapt, and this was a really different table for me.  I probably wasn’t aggressive enough, folded to three bets too much, and in my defense, hit very few hands. That said, I made it to Day Two (tomorrow), although not with a very good stack, although many of the other players who made it until the 10 p.m. cutoff were in the same boat.  We’re starting tomorrow at the 800 BB level, and I’ve come back from short stacks to cash before. Hopefully tomorrow will be one of those days.

 

Small cash at Hard Rock tournament.

I think my 4 handed online addiction on Stars is paying off. In that game since you’re always the small or big blind, the gun or the button, you learn a lot about each position and also get lots of action. Most hands are pretty playable 4 handed so you have lots of opportunities to make mistakes and capitalize on opportunities. I definitely think my hand-reading skills have improved, although it’s weird how even when you’re pretty sure what someone has, you can still make a bad play. That’s a leak I’m working on.

For some reason, the weakest floor person at the Hard Rock seems to be the one in charge of the final table during these guaranteed games. After you’ve played eight or nine hours to make a final, you want someone who can run the game competently and who can be at the minimum, pleasant.  During a table move I lost a 5K chip. I went back to my old table and everyone helped look for it, and I brought it to the attention of the person running the last tables, but finally gave up.  In about 10 minutes, everyone from my old table was shouting…..”we found your chip, it was under the whatever”, and the TD got it but said she couldn’t give it to me. Needless to say, craziness ensued.  Finally she threw the chip on the table at my new spot, and I think I forgot to say “thank you”.

With cash games on the way, I hope the rooms here improve by educating their dealers on the right and consistent policies, and by having staff who can professionally run the games. And a little of the Vegas customer service wouldn’t hurt.

Coming in 12th out of 159 (17 paid due to the guarantee), wasn’t what I hoped for after 8 hours.