Tiger Tours the Tables - oaks club; sky city, pueblo acoma, new mexico; station casino, st. charles, missouri

hiya, folks!

it's been a while since i posted a report - i've been busy, you see. i have a few things to tell you! :)

first - i want to thank all of you for your warm comments about these reports. a large part of my professional career involves writing. and i've written something almost every day of my adult life. so, reporting my experiences is not a chore for me - the tough part is to make it entertaining. here goes!

part 1 - friday 11/26 - the end of the trip after a wonderful thanksgiving, neal, dan and i celebrated the post-thanks- giving period with a brunch of dim sum at "abc seafood" in foster city, where they live. then it was time for one more poker session.

i'd been salivating all week at the thought of another session of the screwy 9/18 7-card stud game at the oaks club in emeryville. i got to the club at about 3:30pm, and was thrilled to learn that there already were five names on the interest list for the game, which generally doesn't get started until about 7pm. sure enough, they get it cranked up around 4:30. i see two or three of the usual suspects from last week, together with a few players i hadn't seen before. my favorite seat, #8, was taken by a man i had watched for a while at the 4/8 stud game. i'd describe him as a "bully" - very aggressive, big stack of chips, almost always willing to bet whenever it was checked to him - but he managed to pull cards as if he knew that they were going to be there. ok. i'll take #1 and play right behind him.

phil is on my left, in #2. he is a friend of bill chen's and had played in the game last week. i didn't know the asian gentlemen in #3 and #4, but peter, the asian gentleman in #5 was in the game last week. ernst-dieter martin took #6, and the big fish was in #7. phil told me that peter's nickname was "hawk." it seems that this soft-spoken handsome man need do nothing to have every pretty woman within two blocks come up to him and greet him. nice guy to have around, huh?

the game, as i suspected, is pretty wild. wyatt, the bully in #8, is in at least half the pots. he's splashing chips around, betting and raising at every chance. i'd label him a maniac, but he's got a lot more poker smarts than the average maniac. dunno what to do with him.

within a few hours, i'm stuck $300. then things start to change. wyatt raises my bet on fifth street (i've got two split pair, kings and sevens), and i three-bet him, since i'm convinced that he's pushing a small pair with an ace overcard. i make a seven on 6th street, and another seven on the river (improving my sevens full to quads). he actually raises me on the river, and i three-bet him again! :)

i'm the low card with jacks in the hole, and open for a full bet. scott, the guy in #4 and wyatt call. i bet the hand all the way (high cards keep falling on them, but they're split between the two), make a running pair of tens on 5th and 6th, and my two pair is good. :)

a little old lady from pasadena (or somewhere else) replaces dieter, and i greet her by cracking her wheel with a full house on the river. welcome to the game, lady. :)

then i'm rolled up with queens, in last position. four people, including wyatt, who is showing a 10, have limped in and i have the highest card. i raise, and get three callers. on 4th street, two rags fall, wyatt gets a jack, and i get a nine. i bet, and they all stay. on 5th street, nothing of apparent help happens. i'm high with a king, and only wyatt (who's caught a five) calls. he pairs his five on 6th street, and check-raises me. i make it three bets, and he calls. he checks blind on the river. i look at a five, and bet my three unimproved queens. he says, "ooh! i caught a queen!" and raises me. i pay it off. he started with a slick in the hole and a ten in the door; caught a jack on 4th street, and made the case queen on the river to complete his gutshot broadway. ::::sigh:::: he was drawing to exactly one card and got there - and i didn't improve. "nice hand, sir!"

by this time, the players have loosened up considerably, and i've managed to mention my trip. scott, the guy in #4, tells me that he lurks at rgp, and even remembers my screenname! :) he's lived in the bay area all his adult life, and (surprise!) is in he computer industry. scott wears a handle-bar mustache and a baseball cap with the letter "m" on it. and it takes him a few minutes to remember that the "m" stands for the memphis red sox!! but then he tells me all about the oaks club chips!! :)

yes, they're all those dratted speed chips! but the colors!! the $1 chips are simply green. but the $2 chips are gray with black highlights. these colors just happen to be the team colors of the oakland raiders! the $3 chips used for the screwy 9/18 games are teal with white highlights. these colors just happen to be the team colors of the sharks! and the $5 chips are yellow with green highlights, which just happen to be the colors of the oakland a's!! how 'bout that? thanks, scott!

around 10:30 or so, i get a couple racks. i'm up $277, i'm tired, and i plan to leave early saturday to head back east. i declare the trip to be over, book the win, and say goodbye to yet another set of new friends (including wyatt!). i'm outta here!

part 2 - (hey! part 1 was "the end of the trip"!! how could there be a "part 2"???) saturday 11/27

although i had toyed with the thought of passing through reno/lake tahoe, colorado, and chicago on the way home, cooler heads prevailed (they pointed out the serious hazards of crossing the rockies in the winter!). i'll do the southern route. i wanted to be on the road by 10:30 am, and actually started the car at 10:31. south to bakersfield, barstow and needles. there is nothing between bakersfield and needles except barstow, which means that there is nothing between bakersfield and needles. };)

i make needles by 8:30 pm, and have checked in and eaten dinner by 9:30. laughlin, nevada, is only 20 miles away, but i'm not going to get involved in a poker game, get stuck, and only get a few hours of sleep before i hit the road again tomorrow, which is sunday.

i'm almost through arizona, about 30 miles from the border, along interstate route 40. suddenly, i'm aware that there is *no* westbound traffic. then i see a helicopter taking off, about a mile or two east of where i am. and when i get to the place, i realize that this was a med-evac 'copter. i see one of those suburban assault vehicles (sometimes known as sport utility vehicles), wheels up and in the air, perpendicular across the freeway. some 20 yards east of the assault vehicle, the front bumper of a passenger car can be seen; the rest of it is apparently in the adjacent ditch. there's at least six state trooper vehicles, and all westbound traffic was halted about a quarter-mile east of the accident site. there's a line of traffic at least five miles long. i don't stop to distribute my business cards (i'm not licensed to practice law in arizona), but head east.

i'm about 30 miles west of albuquerque. i'm cruising along route 40 with a jazz cd on the music machine. suddenly, i see a huge neon sign for a casino. and *just* before i reach the exit ramp, i see the neon sign flash "poker room"!!! ****screech**** and i make the ramp with millimeters to spare.

part 3 - sky city, acoma pueblo, new mexico

sky city is a relatively new casino. i had passed several billboards for the place as i sped along, each of which featured a picture of one kind of semi- or another, with the legend "the place for big rigs!" let's check it out!

the poker room is off in a separate room in a corner, so there's very little noise from the casino. they've got 5 tables, and spread 1-5 stud and 3/6 hold 'em. they offer bad beat jackpots and run a small buy-in hold 'em tourney on wednesdays. ivan chong, thickset pony-tailed room manager, might be asian, or he might be a native american, or he might be something else, and he turns out to be a terrific guy! he makes a point to tell me that he is *not* related to tommy chong, of cheech and chong fame.

ivan tells me that, as amazing as it may seem, most of his clientele are truck drivers, particularly local drivers who ply their trade between central new mexico and the west coast. he invites me to sit at the hold 'em game, and notes that, of the nine players there, six of them are truckers! :) the room is bright, and they've got new ceramic chips. :) the room is so new that the three tv screens in the room are not yet connected! cash plays here, and dealers keep their own tips. the rake is 10% to a maximum of $3, and they take an extra dollar for the jackpot. in one hand, i limp in and call a raise from the big blind. i've got an ace-nine offsuit. flop comes down ace jack ace rainbow. i raise the blind's bet and he calls. the turn is the fourth ace. he bets and i stare at him. i've read the thread here about quads, and i want to get as much money as i can out of this pot. i figure that, if i raise, i'll lose him. so i shrug two or three times, and finally make what looks like a crying call. the river is no help, and he bets; it's his turn to stare when i raise. yeah, he had the jack, and paid me off. :)

and then the dealer tells me that the room offers high hand bonuses! besides the pot, i've just won a t-shirt! all right! :)

game breaks soon thereafter, and i'm back on the road to albuquerque, and a quick session at sandia casino.

next day, i make oklahoma city, and the day after, i get to st. louis.

part 4 - station casino (redux)

i enjoyed myself here 'way back in the second week of november! when i walk into the cardroom around 7:30 pm on november 30, i find a seat open at the 4/8 hold 'em game to the left of my old buddy bob riley. i had mis-guessed bob's age the last time i wrote about him, and we both had a good laugh about that. sitting between us is bob's new lady friend, miss b. he's a widower and she's a widow and they make a very lovely couple. miss b is learning to play hold 'em, and she's got one very good teacher. bob wins a couple stacks of reds every day at the 20/40, and then relaxes for a few hours at the 4/8. we trade a few hands, and a few laughs, and then they insist upon taking me to dinner at "pio's" in st. charles! :) all three of us cash out winners, and dinner is delightful! and i book another small win after dinner! :)

on wednesday, december 1, i've got some domestic stuff to do. i get a laundry done; i get a fed ex package from home; i do some paperwork; and i have the car serviced. and then i go back to the poker room! :)

i greet vito casucci, who has just been promoted to poker room manager! wtg vito! the room will soon be moved "dockside" (off the boat and into that section of the casino located on the dock), and the ventilation of the room will get a much-needed improvement! :) but they're also going to lose two or three tables. :(

i put my name on a few lists, and greet some of the many people i played with when i was last here. then this lout named "joe," whom i mentioned in an earlier report, accosts me at the side of the poker room to tell me that he took exception to my remarks about him. this neanderthal actually threatened me with physical harm. he admitted that he was an asshole - in fact, he proudly proclaimed that he was the biggest asshole in the room - but denied being an anti-semite. yeahrightsure. too bad, joe. the truth hurts, doesn't it? go slither back under your rock.

i soon get seated at the 4/8 hold 'em game, and ol' bob riley (fresh from yet another win at the 20/40) is doing it again. i book a $72 win and cash out as bob gathers in another big pot....

i hope to be home in a few days, and i'll wrap it all up with a final report, which will include a "best and worst" list!

stay tuned!