I just returned from a trip to see family in the Seattle, Washington area.  While I was there I took the opportunity to check out the local poker activity and get in a game one night.

Washington state has some, shall we say, odd gambling laws.  One of them is that the maximum wager allowed is $40 for a single bet.  Because of this, there are no casinos that run no limit cash games governed under state law.  They all run fixed limit games, most of which are small stakes like 3-6 or 4-8… up to the highest limit of 20-40 due to this law. 

If you want no limit action, you have to go play on one of the Indian reservations.   They have their own set of laws on the reservations, and there, single bets are allowed up to $500, which facilitates no limit cash game action (technically it’s not “true” no limit, it’s spread limit from the minimum up to $500, but it plays basically like no limit).   There are 2 major Casinos on reservations in the Seattle area (at least that I found).   The biggest is Muckleshoot with a 34 table poker room, they are south of Seattle.  The other one is Tulalip with a 20 table poker room, which is north of Seattle.  Since I was staying in a north suburb of Seattle I chose Tulalip, which was about 30 minutes from my hotel, as Muckleshoot would have been over an hour from me to the south. 

On Sunday night Tulalip had a single 3-5nl game going (buy in 200-500) and several  1-3nl games  (buy in 50-200).   I put my name on the 3-5 list but was advised with 6 ahead of me I might have a long wait, and there was open seating in 1-3 so I opted to take a seat there while waiting for 3-5.  I’m not terribly keen on NL games with a max buy in less than 100 big blinds but it is what it is.  The first hand I witnessed looked promising.  The UTG player raised to 10 and got like 4 callers.  The flop came T75 and with $50 in the pot, the UTG player moved all in for ~ $300!  It folded to the player on my right who had about that much in front of him and announced “call”.   Wat?  You are not required to show your hands when all action is done like in a tournament, we waited for the turn and river cards, a ten and 2 to make the final board T75T2.  UTG now proudly turns over QQ.  No sooner did I finish the thought that queens couldn’t be good considering he bet 300 into a pot of 50 and got called, then the player on my right turned over 64 announcing that he has missed.  The player with the Q’s declared that the ten on the turn scared him as he was raking in the huge pot.  Funny, I’d have thought betting 6x the size of the pot and getting called would scare him, but he knew the place and I didn’t.  One thing I had learned on hand #1 though, it seems I came to the right place. LOL 

The rest of the session included more of the same.   Mr. QQ took his ~ $700 and felted, reloaded 200 more and felted that before leaving.   A girl in the 1 seat who was playing over aggressive in some pots bluffed off her entire stack…  She started the hand with ~ $300 I estimated, raising preflop to $10, and c-bet $20 on a board of J98 with 2 diamonds after receiving the typical 4-5 callers pre.  She got 1 caller who tagged along for the c-bet, a young Asian guy who covered her.  The turn was a Q and she bet $40, he called.  The river was a 4, and she moved all in for her last $230 or so.  He tanked for a bit and then called and she said “good call” and tabled Ad2d for a busted flush draw.  He had JT for the Q high straight.  The bluff made no sense, so I made a mental note of it.  She did the same thing with her reloaded stack too, bluffing it off on a big move.  She also later in the session showed down a monster which she slow played and made a small raise on the river with.  Backwards syndrome, easy to read and super easy to beat, as long as you have the stomach to call a big bet without a big hand, which I do when up against such an opponent.   I ended up never getting the chance against her, although I did win our confrontations for the most part there were no big bluffs against me.  I picked off a bluff from someone else with 2nd pair, and while she was over zealous with her bluffing she was not clueless and she was paying attention, so I think she determined I wasn’t a good target after seeing the 2nd pair call. 

My session was going well until that table broke and I got moved to my new table, shortly after which I got coolered in a big pot.   There was a $6 straddle and 4 callers to me, and I called on the button with 33.  The flop came J53.  A middle position player led out for $10 (into a pot of $42), got called by the player on my right, and I raised it to $50.  It folded back to MP who called $50, then the player on my right re-raised all in for $110.  I wasn’t particularly worried about this flat/back raise action from the guy to my right… since I had sat down about 3 orbits earlier I believe he had played every hand for a limp or call of a raise.  After seeing hands he showed down, he was super loose and super bad, so while he certainly could have a set of 5’s I think he would simply go with any jack and maybe even decide to make his stand with pairs below the jack like 88, as well as capable of calling pre with big pairs (saw him limp KK already).   So no problem there.  The MP guy also I rated as likely weak, betting s less than 1/4th the pot on the flop and calling my raise.  He had about $150 left and I didn’t rate him as being able to fold top pair (in general it seemed like most of these players thought top pair was the nuts), so I simply moved all in.  He called my shove and tabled pocket J’s for top set.    Oh well, that’s poker.

Over all the casino was nice, and the poker room was pretty good.   The daytime manager was friendly and efficient, and ran the room nicely imo.  The night shift manager wasn’t so good… he was keeping one table as his “main game” and actually took a player from my already not full table to fill a seat there, even though there was never a mention of a must move and when my first table broke down, I was given the choice of going to open seats and any of the other remaining tables (if I knew there was a “main game” that was going to be kept full, I wouldn’t have chosen the table that was going to be neglected all night).  The impression I got was that this manager simply didn’t care.  Maybe not accurate, maybe it’s how they do things, but it’s how the whole thing came off to me as a new player to the room.  The dealers were good… efficient, friendly, professional.  They also offer food service with a poker room menu that has reduced prices at a fair rate.   The day manager told me the food during the day is ok, but after midnight it’s great, so I waited until after midnight to order something (which was fine since I had dinner with family around 6pm).  I opted for a BLT sandwich on sourdough with a side salad, which cost $4 on the poker room reduced rate menu.  It was pretty good as BLT’s go.   They also have an interesting promotion that runs after midnight, any time the dealer flops trips (on the board, so a flop of 555 for example) all players dealt in the hand win $100.  This hit at another table while I was there but not mine.  Still, nice idea for a promo to keep players in the room during the late hours. 

When back in the area next I’ll probably make the trek to visit Muckleshoot, since I like visiting new casinos and adding a chip to my chip collection, but I would definitely play at Tulalip again as the dealers, the food, and certainly the action made it an overall good experience.