It Was The Best of Times for ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล

After threatening for 2 years to attend the Extraordinary Southern California Rec.Gambling Outing and Tournament (ESCARGOT), I finally took the plunge headlong into the murky air of Bell Gardens, CA. Just as I thought when I returned from my first BARGE in 2001: What the heck took me so long?

Flew Air Canada on Wednesday night, Feb. 29. Flight unremarkable, other than trying to refrain from vomiting due to extended going-away party the night before with fellow rgp’er Murray Logan. I had pre-arranged a pickup by the Bicycle Casino’s Lincoln Town Car, and the driver called me as I was exiting the plane to arrange a meeting. Great service, which served to foreshadow the royal treatment I received from the staff of the Bike for my entire stay.

After dropping off my bags at the Ramada Limited across the street from the Bike (or, rather, the Ramada EXTREMELY Limited), I set out to find my roommate, Michael “Mickdog” Patterson. I first met Mickdog at BARGE 2001, and we’ve remained good friends ever since. Boy, I sure have *him* fooled.

Note to Bike ownership: The Ramada (extremely) Limited is crummy. If you are considering building a hotel on site, a la the Commerce, DO IT! Had I known what the Ramada was gonna be like, I would have stayed elsewhere, paying more money and requiring a rental car in the process. Even a Spartan, but clean, motel would be a vast improvement over the dump in which we stayed.

Went to the Welcome Center at the Bike to pick up my ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล badge and sundry other items. The s00per seekrit welcome gift turned out to be a shot glass, emblazoned with the Bike and ESCARGOT logos. The shot glass is blue. Cobalt blue. That’s right, folks, Russ Fox gave us cobalt blue glasses. Way kewl. The Bike’s art department’s hard work was evident throughout the package, it all looks great.

If you’re thinking of attending ESCARGOT, how’s this for encouragement: For your $30 registration fee, you get 6 meal coupons from the Bike (value: $36), a s00per kewl, s00per seekrit welcome gift, and a banquet dinner. And, at no extra charge, you get the undying love of the outstanding Bike staff. What’s not to like? You can’t go wrong. I love LA.

Over to the tournament area, where I meet Mickdog, Jerrod Ankenman, Beth Even, Shauna Madrigal, Russ Fox, and various other ESCAR-go’ers. Ron Cramer, who I met when he was working the Pot of Gold at the Reno Hilton in September 2002, was working the tourney. Nice to see Ron again, who remembered the st00pid Canadian from Reno.

Back to the welcome desk to get rid of my convention paraphernalia, where I run into Chic “Garnischmensch” Natkins, and we promptly get seated side-by-each in a rockin’ 6/12 HE game. Chic is on *fire*, steaming the locals by having the deck give him a concussion, playing all kinds of crap. Chic gained extra implied tilt odds by giggling whenever he dragged yet another pot with unsuited rags. I believe he took $500 or more out of that game, in about 2 hours. I made forty bucks by playing my cheesy premium hands; thanks for leaving some chips behind for me, Chic. Finally exhausted, I head back to the Extremely Limited at about 1:30 am. I love LA.

I should have slept late, but woke up at 6:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I let Mickdog keep snoring, and walked over to the Try ‘N Save to get some bottled water and beer for the room, went back and collected Mick, and we wandered over to the Bike, which was deader than Michael Jackson’s career. So, over to the IHOP for some comfort food. Suitably stuffed (but not mounted), we decide to go back to the Extremely Limited for a headsup $5 NLHE freezeout, where I summarily dispatched him two straight for a nice $10 profit. (Actually, they were good matches, and I needed to hit a 2-outer to beat him in the 2nd match.) I love LA.

Over to the Bike for the Nooner Stud/8. The Nooners are great value, low buy-ins and rebuys, and usually 50 or 60 runners. Of course, with the ESCARGOT army in town, that ballooned to 80. I have a nice soft table to start, with JP Massar on my right, and Mickdog on my left. (For those who don’t know these gentlemen, this is sarcasm.) The next 90 minutes serve to remind me, like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, that I suck at stud/8. Actually, I was quite card dead, and busted out in a rather unglorious 38th position. I hate LA.

Back to yet another rockin’ 6/12 HE game, where I spy Stevan “Goldiefish” Goldman at an adjacent table. After exchanging some barbs, Goldie, who knows a fish when he sees one, came over and sat to my immediate right. We had a ball, lots of tilt inducing banter and Michelobs.

ESCARGOT Golden Moment Number One:

Grumpy old lady sits down and promptly gets a set cracked by a rivered straight. Immediately asks for a deck change. Dealer informs her that the deck was changed three hands prior, and she’ll have to wait for the round to finish. GOB calls for the floor. Floor backs up the dealer, and she mutters something and sulks. The first hand allowable, she asks for, and receives, a deck change. First hand with the new deck, she gets two pair cracked by a rivered flush. Much loud bitching ensues. Goldie then says:

“Hey, sweetheart, how’s that deck change working out for ya?”

I promptly spit a mouthful of beer on the floor. Grumpy old lady promptly racks up and leaves. Goldie, you’re a gem. I love LA.

On to the 1st ESCARGOT exclusive event, the 1/2 Pot Limit Omaha 1/2 Pot Limit Holdem event. I love this format, as pot limit is my favorite form of poker. Our tournaments, I’m told, are normally held in a private banquet room, but this being Chinese New Year, the banquet room is otherwise engaged. So they’ve moved us over beyond the pit games in a rather cramped area. No matter, the mood is light, and I’m having a blast.

I manage to keep an average stack through the first break. At various times, I’m playing with Patti Beadles, Mickdog, “Allknight” Adam Bachrach, Chuck Humphrey, Beth Even, “Mad” Mary Massey, Pete Stephenson, Rick Nebiolo, Kirk Oshiro, and Russ Fox. Another weak field. Sheesh. I manage to last quite a while, before Adam busts me out 13th, 4 from the dough. He’s playing *very* tough; I learned a lot by watching his play. I’m not surprised to learn later that he won the damned thing, beating Peter “ADB foldem” Secor for the title. I was disappointed not to make the money, but reasoned that 13th in this field ain’t too bad. Some consolation, at least I got busted by the eventual winner. Also, I win $5 last longer bets with Ron “Happy Raiser” Nutt, Ed “Pizzaman” Pizzarello, and Mickdog, losing only to foldem. I only semi-hate LA.

ESCARGOT Golden Moment Number Two:

Sometime near the 2nd break, the Chinese New Year celebration begins, with the traditional two dragons and loud drums and cymbals. Very loud drums and cymbals. I mean, really fookin’ loud. As the dragons snake their way through the casino, much to the delight of the Chinese gamb00lers, it gets even louder. And, of course, the parade stops and continues drumming and crashing *right next to our tournament area*. Did I mention they were really loud? And it went on for, like fifteen minutes. I found it quite entertaining, but we *were* trying to play cards, and it was tilting some of our group quite badly. One player (I don’t want to mention any names, but her initials are Beth Even) was literally shaking with rage. I now know how I can get an edge in these tournaments: I just have to show up wearing a dragon costume.

Over to the poker room, I drunkenly jump into a 4/8 HE game, and do everything I can to make it a fun place to be. First thing I do is buy a round for the table. Second thing I do is drag a freakin’ monster pot when I post behind the button and flop two pair to my KJo. They love me here. I meet a beautiful and talented prop named Tricia, and a local named Hector. I talk Hector into playing “beer pots”: the first of the two of us to win a pot buys the next round. Much laughter. The table gets a little testy when Hector gets into it with another player, so I cash out, up $120. I love LA.

Much too drunk (and stupid) to go to bed, I move to an 8/16 HE game that looks pretty good. I try the “start the party” routine, but no go, everybody’s pissed for some reason. I’m down about $80 when the table begins to break, but I manage to talk the two biggest fish at the table to play shorthanded “for the jackpot”, which was topped out at $45,000. Incredibly, they buy it. We play four handed, with the fourth player, Pearl, not a bad player. It was the juiciest situation I’d be in all weekend.

How much did I lose, you say? 😉 About $400. Note to self: Learn how to play shorthanded where *nobody* will lay down a hand to any amount of pressure. I stumble back to the Extremely Limited in a grumpy state. I hate LA.

End of part one. Stay tuned for highlights from next week’s episode:

One word: suckouts (or is that two words?)

Head Hunting!

The Wonderful Wizard of ADB Oz

Know when to hold ’em, know when to beat ADB foldem

Hee. Hee. Fookin’ Hee. And I’m not laughing.

And much, much more!