Monday, September 04, 2006

Garthmeister J. vs Star City

Warning: Actual poker content ahead!

General Announcement: Will all those people who had "Less than 48 hours" in the "How long will it take Garth to go to Star City Casino?" pool please cash their tickets at the cashier's window?

On Saturday night I was supposed to be meeting up with an old friend of mine, but she had to cancel at the last moment. This left me at a bit of a loose end. I could either continue wandering around the city, or I could head to a bar and knock back a few beers... or I could head to Star City casino and see what was going on.

Despite the dire warnings from those more familiar with the Sydney poker scene I decided to wander over and check out the card room. Given that I was still a bit jet laggy I wasn't sure that I would play, but it couldn't hurt to look... could it?

I wandered onto the extremely garish Star City main floor, and was able to locate the card room fairly easily. Here is a rundown of the games they had running (but bear in mind I wasn't as shocked as I had been forewarned):

1/2 NLHE. $80 fixed buy-in, $5 charge per player per hour, 10% rake capped at $8.

5/5 NLHE. $200 fixed buy-in. $1 charge per player per hand.

5/10 LHE. I forget the rake structure.


I decided to railbird a few tables and see if I could get a feel for the type of play. The first hand I saw went down as follows: SB and BB post, and the entire table limps in. In fact, I think people at other tables might have been able to limp into this pot. The flop comes down Ace high, and is checked around. Turn is innocuous, and it is checked around. River is innocuous and it is checked around to a guy in LP who raises to $25 (about 2/3 of the pot). He gets called down by three people(!). The winning hand? The final caller with 89o, who paired his 8.

Oh. My. God.

A few hands later I saw another fun hand. Guy in EP raises it up to $25, and gets two callers. Flop comes down Jack high, EP raises to $100. Everyone proceeds to get all their chips into the middle. Pre-flop raiser shows QQ. MP caller shows JTo. LP shows AJo. QQ holds up for a $800 or so pot.

Oh. My. God.

At another table a little later I also watched a guy call a $75 river bet with K high and a gutshot draw that missed. At least he said "What a waste of money" as he threw his chips in... but what the hell are you doing? Even better was the fact that a couple of his friends were sweating him, yet neglected to say "What the fuck was that?" I guess they thought it was solid play.

Despite viewing all the carnage I decided I would get my feet wet. I put my name down on the (long) list for 5/5 NLHE. I made some offhand comment about the fact it would take forever to get called, but the floor person assured me it would take 30-45 minutes. Somewhat skeptical I shrugged my shoulders and left to watch some rugby (New Zealand vs South Africa). The one good thing about the operation is that they took your mobile phone number so they could send you a text message when your seat came open. Nice.

So, two hours later (of course) a seat is open. I take my $200 in chips and sit myself down in the 5 seat at a table that featured the guy who called off $75 with K-high, though strangely the guy who made the play is no longer there. I can't think why.

Looking around the table there is only one big stack, owned by an older guy... but it is humongous. My quick by-eye count puts it at around $1500 or so. That's a nice stack for a $200 buy-in game.

My game plan is simple: limp into pots when I can, but do not go crazy betting unless I nail a big hand. From what I have seen most pots are multi-way, so I need to be wary of going bonkers with anything less than a monster. But if I do hit a monster, I should get paid off.

Early on I take down a nice pot with QTs. After the flop I have a flush draw and an OESD, and the turn makes my flush when the Ace of hearts hits. I am feeling pretty relaxed, though I get a little skittish when another heart lands on the river and my river bet gets called... but my hand is good.

By the time my next hand of note comes down I have started to get a good feel for the table. The guy in the 1 seat appears to be a regular. He has just bought in, but seems to know what he is doing. The 2 seat is another regular, and the guy I fear most at the table. He has made quite a few solid plays and has a healthy $400 or so in front of him. The 3 seat is another regular, but he appears to be donator. The 4 seat is a quiet, tight player. The 5 seat is me. The 6 seat is very LAG-y, who is winning money off the 3 seat with large post-flop bets. The 7 seat is a ridiculous calling station who has won a few pots by chasing and getting lucky. The 8 seat is another donator, the 9 seat is an older guy who is also a bit cally. The 10 seat is the big stack at the table, and by big I mean humongous. My quick count puts him at around $1500 or so, which is pretty tidy for a $200 buy-in game. Strangely he also seems to be quite the calling station, so I am hard-pressed to figure out how he got his chips unless he has been really lucky or my read is off.

So the players I am worried about are mostly on my right, and there is only one huge stack to be wary of. I like my table.

I manage to take down a decent pot with ATs when I hit TPTK, bet out on the turn when it creates straight and flush draws, and check behind on the scary river (though it makes me two pair).

I like my table even better when a few hands later I limp in from LP with a pair of 6s. I hit a set on the flop and have the 8 seat donator betting into me after an Ace high rainbow flop. I just call his large post-flop bet, and get the calling station in the 7 seat to come along for the ride. The turn is a blank, and the 8 seat goes all-in. Again I just call, and have the 7 seat also call. River is another blank, and I bet out $60 into the huge pot (I probably could have bet more here), and the calling station, of course, calls. My set of 6s beats both players (they both have two pair), and I have chipped up nicely.

A little later comes a huge hand. I am UTG and look down and see AcAh. I raise to 5xBB, getting two callers - the huge stack in the 10 seat, and the regular in the 1 seat, who is also on the button. The flop comes down Tc-8c-4s. I bet out $75 into the $85 pot, knowing fully that if the 10 seat has hit the flop at all he is probably going to call. True to form the 10 seat calls. I begin thinking that it is going to take a big bet on the turn to take this pot down without seeing the river, and begin thinking through my options. While I am doing this the 1 seat is taking his time, stacking and re-stacking his chips. Eventually he pushes all-in, making it another $100 to me with the pot now being about $400 or so. I have about $600 behind.

I am out of position with an over-pair, against a guy who seems to know what he is doing who has gone all-in, and a guy who has me covered yet to act. I do not like my position here. If the humongous stack was not in the hand I would insta-call the seat, even though he may have a set. I still feel the humoungous stack is on some kind of draw, I am just not sure how big it is (considering I have the Ace of clubs). There is a straight draw out there, a flush draw out there, a real chance someone has a set, or even a crazy two-pair. The thing is, I still think my hand might be good.

I agonise for a few minutes... and finally fold. The 1 seat and the 10 seat decide to show. The 10 seat has K7 of clubs, while the 1 seat shows... JsJh.


The turn and river are blanks, and the 1 seat rakes the pot.

I have been thinking over this hand quite a bit. I could have raised more pre-flop, which may have forced JJ to either fold or re-raise all-in (I am not sure if K7s would have gone away). I could have also raised more post-flop... again I am not sure if K7s would have folded, but it may have forced me to get my chips in.

Of course I could have still got my chips in the way the hand played out... I guess another option was to be passive as hell and just call the 1 seat's all-in. I could then and bet large if no club or straight card came on the turn, but I just don't like that play.

I have mentioned before that NLHE cash games and I had been through a trial separation. If I had got all my chips in there behind, it may have become a fully fledged divorce. At the end of the day I think my play was OK (especially considering my biggest NLHE flaw is getting over-committed with an overpair), but I would love to hear anyone's thoughts.

I decide to hang it up after playing for a couple of hours, finishing up $450 for the session. I am not sure if I will be back to take another shot at the crazy action before I leave Sydney - it depends on how everything else shakes out. In the meantime I'll have to continue meeting friends and getting drunk. Can't complain about that.

* * * * * *

If you're interested, I've thrown some more photos up at Flickr. Here is the first set, while this is the second set.


  • Last year Mrs DP and I spent some time at Star City. I scouted out the games, and saw all sorts of crazy action at the tables. The wife saw me drooling, but wouldn't let me sit - she thought it would be a better idea to do touristy things. Now I really wish I had found time to sneak off to the casino...

    By Blogger Donkeypuncher, at 9:58 PM  

  • That rake is brutal.

    Your question on the AA hand isn't really one of he correct play, it more a question of your tolerance for variance. Given the situation and the weak play at the table, not risking taking a huge hit is prudent. Thin edges are for games against those of equal ability.

    A bigger raise preflop is possible, but should only work once as then next time you raise 7x everyone will know your on AA or KK and lay down. If you make that play then you have to raise 7x with 98s too.

    You have to figure that the average winning hand in this loose game is 2 pair. You need that to get it in on the flop, IMO.

    By Blogger Chilly, at 10:39 PM  

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