12 January 2006

Bicycle Poker Room Review

I've just gotten back from the Bicycle. The fog outside is so think (pea-soup fog) that couldn't see the steering wheel as I was driving. The Bicycle is a very active poker room. When you first go in, you immediately forget the grandeur of Bellagio or Borgata and think of bingo halls or casinos like Casino Arizona. Meaning that this is just hard core. It has to rival Casino Arizona as a home for lower limit as they had a ton of various smaller games. They also had an area for Mexican Poker, which I didn't check out. They have a loyalty program and come around hourly to scan the card. They were spreading various buy-in maximums for NLHE ($100, 200, 500), although they didn't have any limit available at $10/20 or 15/30. The chips are the sort of magnetized version. I don't particularly like them.

I did play in the $40 NLHE 7:00 tourney with unlimited re-buy's in the first hour. I had one add-on and that was it. I was able to win a few early pots and got the eye of some of the regulars, limping with AA then betting the flop, and raising/re-reasing with JJ vs KQo. I played really well, folding either marginal hands or hands I wanted to avoid, coming over the top a few times (one veteran I re-raised pre-flop said he laid down his QQ, when I had re-raised with ATs). I believe there were 85 players or so, and the top 18 paid. I worked hard to stay focused and perform as I had been taught. I made a great call of an all-in with A7o when I had the guy on undercards (and not a ton more chips). I also played fairly aggressively as we approached the money. I wanted to be sure I stayed focused during the tourney. When we reached the final table, the blinds were $2000/4000 with a 300 ante, so there was$9000 in the pot prior to starting betting. I picked up the blinds and antes a few times when we were closing in on the money.

I was knocked out in 8th along with another caller knocked in 9th. I was in the bb and only had another $4200 to call the button's all-in. Both of us stayed in, the button calling with AJ. I'm about to fall asleep, but I really played my best, so that's all I can ask for.

I just typed some more about the tourney, but it got lost and I need to head to breakfast and LA traffic. The blind structure was such that at the end it was a crapshoot vs cowardly waiting exercise, so I'm OK with my first tourney cash of $240. Bicycle was +$300 for the trip, so I'll take it. I'm off to the airport and Shanghai where I'll post next.

POSTSCRIPT: Korean Air Lounge I've checked in and have a couple of hours to play I mean to wait before I board. A few more observations from the Bicycle:
  • The Bell Gardens/Downey area is a Pepsi stronghold, which is no good for me.
  • Saw Chris Karagulleyan, winner of Legends of Poker WPT Season 1 (the guy in the suit that blinked all the time).
  • The Bicycle uses plastic cards. More and more casinos are headed this way, but I'm still not used to the feel of the cards. It is more difficult to slide them back and forth, and they have a plasticky (sic) feel.
  • The magnetic chips I'm not that big a fan of. They seem slightly magnetized and are a bit cumbersome to handle.
  • I haven't played in enough re-buy tourneys to really understand what I'm supposed to do. I played really strongly in the beginning, accumulating 2800 in chips, when there was a final add-on and folks could buy up to 1500 in chips, virtually wiping out all of the work I had done. I'm reading Erick Lindgren's new book regarding tourney play, and he briefly touches on the value of chips in re-buys. I need to both practice and get a better plan.
  • I've thought a bit about the end game last night. I still think I played my best, but there were a couple of hands that I've thought hard about. One was a raiser in early position when we were down to two tables. I had around 8500 in chips, the raise was for around 3000, the pot should have been something like 2700, and I had A7o. I made the call earlier when we were four tables with the same hand and the raise was something like 1200 and I had chips. I think these are some of the situations where you have to push your edges.
  • I've also been reading Dan Harrington's second book where he uses the value M to equal your chips divided by the pot. When you are in the <5>
  • Tourneys sure take a long time with minimal payout unless you can get in the top three. It was nice playing my best through the entire tourney, really every hand. That was a major breakthrough. Several times I mucked marginal to good hands that I normally would have lost chips to: 99 in early position, QJo, etc. That was some major encouragement and gets me excited about playing in tourneys. Playing my best was a step forward, as well as better evaluation of players (able to raise out the looser players, attack players going on tilt, able to evaluate when to make a stand, etc.
My beautiful bride just called on my cell, so I'm off. I'll check in when I get in Shanghai.


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