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Turning Stone Trip Report

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  • Turning Stone Trip Report

    Let me preface this by saying I wish I had been able to make Tunica - but family obligations prevailed.

    Recently I attended my in-laws' family reunion in the Adirondacks in NY. It was a beautiful setting, in a rustic hunting/fishing cabin on the Black River. I actually like my in-laws – and it was great to see them all again. And being from Texas, the cool nights were great. But after a few days of 21 people, one bathroom, non-potable water, and 10 kids under the age of 10 who took it upon themselves to replay scenes from "Lord of the Flies" – I was ready for a little quality time at Turning Stone Casino – a handy 30 minute drive away.

    My husband knows how to play poker via Wilson Software, but has never played online or in a casino – and thinks that all gambling is boring. After our first trip to the WPO in Tunica a few years back, he declared "you are on your own when it comes to poker." But for some reason he decided he was going to play. This made me nervous. On the drive down I schooled him on string bets, protecting cards, blind and betting structures, rebuys and add-ons.

    The tournament we were to play was a $25 Limit Hold'em with $5 unlimited rebuys and a $5 add-on. The casino also kicked in $500 to the prize pool. For $25 you got 300T. The rebuys got you 500T and the $5 add-on got you 1000T. Needless to say, there was no incentive for playing tight. In fact the strategy, it seemed from fellow players, was to play and possibly lose with garbage to get you to a higher chip count for bargain prices. The tournament was capped at 108 players. The tourney director told me that since the WPT, they are always filled to capacity. Turning Stone has about 15+ tables, is well lit and has pretty comfy chairs – but was freezing the day we were there – one reason I always bring a sweater to the poker room.

    As I took my seat, the woman next to me, a fairly successful regular, said she had never seen so many women play – we counted 9. I would say that 75% of the crowd was made up of local/regulars – all talking about how their previous tourneys had gone. This was no highbrow Bellagio crowd, or the retired rock Orleans crowd, or even the Luxor newbie tourist crowd. My fellow players were definitely rock 'em sock 'em, blue collar, fun-loving upstaters who knew their way around the felt.

    You can rebuy after the first hand if you have 300T or less. After the first hand there was a Greek chorus of 98 voices (mine included) yelling "rebuy" – and the madness began. This was suck-out poker at its finest. I decide to lay low and play fairly decent starters – but hands like AK find little love in this environment. I have to rebuy again when my AQ flops two pair – and gets beat by TWO runner runner flush draws. My husband recounted that at his table there was one guy who played any suited starter and stayed in for any possible flush draw– he called him "Frankie Five Flushes." In the rebuy period I would guess that my table averaged 5 rebuys per player – some players in the 9-10 range. My neighbor confessed to playing the 84o, just to rebuy. I decided to stay at 2 and do the add-on and take my chances. Occasionally I looked over at my husband – he still had chips, wasn't crying and didn't look like he was gonna murder anyone – I took that as a good sign. At one point I signaled him, using my hands to show how big my stack was – which was rather pitiful at the time. I guess the guys at his table ribbed him asking if that's really how small it was. So I was able to embarrass him – which was also a plus.

    After the rebuy period, during the break, my husband and I compare notes. Neither of us is in great position. But he actually has more chips than I do, getting the opportunity to slow play quads. At first I was nervous that he wouldn't do well and have a lousy time. Now I had to sweat that he might actually last longer than me – and I would never hear the end of it. The last thing I need is to have him second-guessing my ability – and possibly questioning the sanity of my future poker "investments." At the break I explain that now that the rebuy period is over, things will tighten up. The blinds are escalating quickly and just one or two bad hands can cripple a player. In this type of tourney – the first period is primarily predicated on fueling the prize pool. The second period is when real play begins. And we're off.

    The players tighten up – and those players that fail to make the adjustment find their suck-out stacks from the rebuy period fast depleting. Within a few hands, "player down" is a common mantra. I see "Frankie Five Flushes" take the rail. But some suck-outs continue – it is poker after all. My lady friend loses a big pot with AA, when a K5o makes a second pair on the river. As a final table regular – she's steaming and short stacked. After a round or two, I raise with AQ in early position and get called only by the sb (Mr. K5o). Flop is a pretty nice Q85 – 2 clubs. Sb checks, I bet, he calls. The turn is a 6 – of clubs. SB checks again – I bet (I'm pretty from his previous play, this guy would have bet the flush or str8 if he had it), he calls. The river is a 4h. He bets. To call will put me all-in. I announce to the table that I am laying down the AQ – and that I know my opponent has pocket 7s – one of which is the 7c. They look at me like I am on drugs. I fold and my opponent shows his black 7s. The table congratulates me on my lay-down. But I am really crippled now. 400T with a 300T BB headed my way. UTG+1 I get the ladies. I raise all-in. Only the BB keeps me honest and Siegfried and Roy hold up. With about 60 players left I see the hubby bust – not bad for his first time. A few hands after the blinds I raise (all-in again) with AA. They hold up against two callers and I come off life support.

    The blinds are merciless, and even though I catch an occasional break, I am never in good position. With 30 players left I pop AJs all-in from mid-position and get two callers. I catch the top pair with the J on the flop – but one player makes a str8 (Q9o) by the river – and I'm out.

    I didn't make the money – but I had a pretty good time, considering the crap shoot structure. The tourney was well run and the dealers were great. The fact that Turning Stone has yet to win approval for the sale of alcohol will always keep it in my second tier. But all in all, a good room and a good time.

  • #2
    Amy:
    Another sterling trip report!! A pleasure to read.
    You should really consider taking up writing...and no, the dissertation doesn't count!

    -Bart

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