Tiger Tours the Tables - artichoke joe's, lucky chances, oaks club, san francisco


san francisco, the city by the bay, is among the most beautiful cities in this fair country of ours. my college roommate has lived here since the late '70s, and i have visited here on many occasions. i've been to alcatraz, fisherman's wharf, ghiradelli square, napa and sonoma valleys, chinatown, and most of the other tourist stuff over the years. i've played poker here many times.

unlike places such as tunica, biloxi, albuquerque and tucson, where i've never played poker, i've spent more time in artichoke joe's than all other cardrooms outside of new jersey and nevada combined. i first played at joe's when all they had were draw lowball, draw high, and pan. there weren't any carpets on the floor, and in one of my earliest visits, one grizzled cowboy actually reached into his boot and pulled out a huge hunting knife, stuck it into the table, and shook his finger at me for outdrawing him. end of visit.

artichoke joe's is named for the original owner, who reputedly said that, if he lost a poker bet, he'd pay it off in artichokes. it's located in san bruno (hometown of suzanne sommers!), on the peninsula, a mile or two west of san francisco airport. you take route 101 to san bruno avenue, take a left *before the railroad tracks*, then cross the tracks, and another oblique left onto huntington avenue, and you're there. they've removed the old buckboard wagon from the parking lot, and have added another parking lot in the rear.

joe's has changed over the years, and up until recently, was the premier card club on the peninsula. they've remodeled the place several times, and the current rendition is the same as my last visit here, immediately after barge97 (trip report can be found through deja.com). it's my old standby, and i never miss a chance to drop by. supervisors ed and jeff actually remembered me, but dealer sam did not. boardman jim, who had worked at the place for at least 25 years, has recently left due to an extended disability.

i arrived at the room around midday on thursday, 11/18. they had two games of 3/6 hold 'em, and one of 6/12. i was told that they almost never get a draw game going anymore. the adjacent room for asian games is about half- filled. the restaurant/bar next to the room is the same, and the potstickers (chinese dumplings) were as good as i remembered them! :) the "player's menu" is cheap, and i just *love* those cute yellow $1 chips!

i play 3/6 for a while. blinds are 1 and 3, and there is a button charge of $3, which is dropped immediately. however, if the big blind has not been raised, the button can "call" without putting any more money in the pot. i get snapped off in the first two hands i play, once by a maniac on my left, and once by mr. aggressor on his left. but i get it all back very soon there- after, once i move to the left of the aggressor. they call down a 10/20 hold 'em game, and i move to the 6/12, where they use purple $2 chips. blinds are one chip and three chips, and the button charge of $3 is again live. i didn't play long enough to see which rule they use to make up missed blinds. but new players must post before eligible for a hand.

they call down a 3/6 stud game, and i jump. this game has a $1 ante, a $3 drop, a bring-in of $1; first raise to a total of $4. i had a ball at this game when i was last here, but today i can't do anything. clueless asian woman sits down to my right and is rolled up three times in two hours. she doesn't have enough room on the table for her chips. i am dealt (ac kc) jc, and raise. i'm re-raised by a queen behind me, and five people call the two bets. i make a pair of jacks on 4th street, and bet the full $6. they all call. i make a third jack in sight on 5th street, and only the woman to my right calls. i bet again on 6th and she calls. i check my unimproved trips on the river, and she throws her hand in. but before it touches the muck and before the dealer can scoop it up, she retrieves it, looks at it again and again, and finally realizes that she has made a runner-runner gutshot- gutshot straight to the ten. :::::sigh::::: at the next dealer change, she claps her hands and exclaims, "yes! this is my lucky dealer!" :::::sigh:::::

in the stud game, dealers do not call pairs. the only time a dealer will mention that a pair is on the board is when the dealer indicates who is first to act, e.g., "action's on the pair of queens" dealers do not call possible straights and flushes. players rearrange their upcards as a matter of course.

here's an interesting ruling: players 1, 2 and 3 are involved in a hand. player 3 was all-in by 6th street. dealer burns and delivers a river card to all three players. player 2 ignores his river card. he is high, and bets. player 1 mucks. dealer scoops up player 1's cards, and also (unknowingly) scoops up the river card of player 2. at the showdown, player 2 shows down a full house. but he's only got six cards! player 3 has a flush. what are we to do?

floor is called. dealer says that he thinks that he gave player 2 a river card. player 2 swears that he just left the card in front of him. player 3 claims that he never saw player 2's seventh card. somehow, i manage to keep my mouth shut. i want to see what happens. floor accepts the version of the dealer and player 2, and awards the pot to the best hand: player 2's full house. after the ruling, i speak with the floor, and tell him that i agreed with the ruling, but that all the participants left out one very important fact. these folks all know each other, and there was no funny business going on here. but, as the dealer was giving the all-in player his river card, the dealer said, "here you are, tony. don't say i never gave you anything." if this had happened where player 2 was not dealt a card, *everyone* would have noticed it. since, in the words of sherlock holmes, the dog didn't bark, a reasonable person would conclude that the dealer did, indeed, give player 2 a seventh card.

lucky chances is a newcomer to the bay area. it's in colma, a few miles south of san francisco. it's located on hillside, just off serramonte. there aren't any signs identifying the place, or even any signs directing drivers how to get there! but once you reach the place, you realize that you're there! there's not much parking in the area, and although i think that there's a below-ground parking structure, i couldn't find it.

the room is divided down the middle by a center walkway. on one side is poker and on the other is asian games. there are about 25 poker tables, most of which were in action by early thursday evening. they spread stud at 2/4 and 3/6 (with an interest list for 6/12 that never got going), hold 'em at 2/4, 3/6, 6/12 and 9/18. omaha/8 is offered at 4/8. the high-limit area had signup lists for 20/40, 40/80, 60/120, and 80/160. the room has high ceilings and is well-lit.

each poker club out here has its own color coding for chip denominations. at lucky chances, $1 is gray; $2 is green; $3 is yellow; $5 is red; $10 is blue; $20 is white. dealers keep their own tips, and carry little metal boxes with them, which they insert into a table opening which otherwise might be used to hold a drop for a jackpot. the room has bad beat giveaways and a full schedule of tourneys.

i noted one remarkable thing about seating control at lucky chances. an absent player gets a "missed blind" button. when the blinds come around again, the floor is notified, and there is an announcement on the public address system, "lobbying player in seat 8, table 10. your time has expired. please return to your table!" there is a second announcement two or three minutes later. and two or three minutes after that, the floor picks up the player's chips. all right!

at 6/12 hold 'em, there is a $3 button charge, which does count towards the first bet. they use the forward moving button rule, and they also use the "buy the button" rule for a player who wishes to re-enter the game in the little blind. when a betting round starts with at least three players, there will be a cap on the betting, no matter when the third player drops out. floorman rick, who used to work at artichoke joe's, told me that the new lucky chances rulebook, which will be distributed to any interested player, will be out "any day now."

i am seated at a 6/12 hold 'em game. i'm in seat 10, right behind the button. another new player is seated in seat 5. we both post. one fold; one limper; new player raises. one caller to me; i've got a presto. i call; so do the blinds; so does the first limper. flop is k 7 5 rainbow. it's checked all the way to me, and i bet. all call. turn is an offsuit nine. all check and i bet again. only the original raiser and the player between us call. the river is a six. original raiser bets and i call him. he shows down (::::sigh::::) a three-four offsuit to win the pot. "nice hand, sir. well played!"

it got worse after that. the only hands i played were absolute top rank premium starting hands. kk; aq suited; aj offsuit; kk (again); aq offsuit; kq suited. every time, i got at least six callers. and every time, i got no help on the flop. :::::sigh::::: people were calling and raising with just about any two cards. i got clobbered before i stood up and booked it.


the oaks club is located in emeryville, just north of oakland. this club has not changed since my last visit two years ago. they've got about 25-30 tables of stud, hold 'em and omaha at various limits. they also offer pai gow and pan. the gaming area is in the center of the room, sunken about 4-5 feet below the surrounding walkway. people on the rail can look down and see the action at about half the tables in the room. the boardman is set up in a corner, at rail level, and he can oversee all that is happening in the room. however, the signup board can't be seen by players and is not projected anywhere, so you can't see how far down you are on the lists, or if there is any funny stuff going on. dealers change on the 1/4 hour, and you pay time charge on the 1/2 hour. dealers keep their own tips.

i'm called for 4/8 stud. as i am getting settled, the man to my right looks at me and says, "hey! i remember you! don't you have some kind of poker web page?" wow! i'm impressed. i played with this guy once, in august 1997, and i was wearing my "rec.gambling.poker" baseball cap. i remember the hand, too. we were playing 6/12 stud; i had just sat down, and i was the bring-in with pocket sixes. he raised with an ace. i make runner-runner sixes for quads to beat his aces full. you bet he remembered me! ;)

the time charge for 4/8 stud is $4. after a while, they call down one of those screwy 9/18 stud games. i was first on the list, and ran to lock up a seat. i'm told that this is the highest-limit stud game in the bay area, and i want to play! :) they use teal-colored $3 chips for this game, and the time charge is $5. after an hour or so in the game, during which time one dealer had asked me about my "barge99" chips (she and another player said that they recognized my reference to the poker newsgroup), a man taps me on the shoulder and says, "you're tiger! i remember you from atlarge! presto!" it's ernst-dieter martin, and he wins a tropicana jacket!! wtg dieter!!

dieter is soon seated in the 9/18 stud game, and he points out rgp'er alan bostick. i tap alan on the shoulder and the conversation goes like this: "does the word "presto" mean anything to you?" "well, yes." "and what does it mean to you?" "it means that irwin's here!" "well, not quite." "what does it mean, then?" "it means that tiger's here!" we grin and shake hands. a few minutes later, alan comes over to our stud game and presents me with an oaks club rulebook! all right!! wtg alan!!

an hour or two later, a large, exuberant, bespectacled gentleman of chinese extraction bounds up to our stud table. he tells dieter, "this job thing sucks!" it's bill chen (who, it turns out, is really a red-neck born in alabama!) and he's quite ticked off that the stud game is already in progress and he's without a seat. but bill gets into our game within 45 minutes or so. he looks like a maniac; raises like a maniac; plays like a maniac; but he stacks chips just like a pro! ;) bill is quite enamored of my method of betting six chips. rather than put two little stacks of three chips adjacent to each other on the betting surface, i pick up six chips; separate them in my hand into two groups of three, and throw them out lengthwise in front of me in two adjacent rows of three. one row is slightly ahead of the other. bill spends the rest of the night trying to imitate this procedure!

our game is terrific! everyone knows each other (except this east-coaster, of course), and the laughter never stops! dieter, alan and bill are all great guys, and we have a blast! and i won all the money, too! :D

although i had planned to play in today's stud tourney at lucky chances, i just didn't get out of bed in time to make the 10:30 start. oh, well.

i'll be in the bay area for at least another few days! i hope to meet more of you!!

stay tuned!