(Not Quite) Strip Poker
On Friday Night, after coming in second in an online tournament, I took the ACE Bus to the Excalibur Poker Room to participate in their weekend Strip Poker Tournament.
The buy-in was $40 with a $10 add-on, which of course everyone took. Since the add-on (usually) goes to the dealers, it's kind of an insult to them if you don't take these offerings.
Everyone started with a certain amount of chips, but I'm still not 100% clear exactly how much we theoretically started with. Yellow chips were $100 (I think), red chips were $50 (I think), and blue chips were $10 (I think), but they played the same as yellow=10, red=5, blue=1.
At one point, someone bet what appeared to be $6, and the dealer declared "raise to sixty". I am, of course, used to blue being $1 and red being $5.
I spoke up and said "isn't that six dollars?"
"No, you have to multiple by ten", he told me.
Seriously, I don't get it. The zeros were completely superfluous.
Within 5 minutes of the beginning of the tournament, I had tripled my money. I played the way I normally do. In general, I do not bluff. Bluffing is fools gold for people who watch poker too often on ESPN. I semi-bluff at times with a fair number of outs, but I never bet garbage. Most of the time, I sit back, wait for a premium hand, and then fire away.
I won two all-ins in this manner, and not only did I increase my own bankroll, I narrowed the field for myself and the rest of the table.
In a cash game, this would have been the point that I walked. I would have given the dealer a nice tip, cashed out, and headed home. Once you double or triple up, the rest of the table becomes wary of you and are less likely to pay you off, so why stick around? You also put all of your profits at risk for a lucky suck-out.
Unfortunately, this was a tournament and I had to keep going.
Of course, after these two monster hands, the rest of the table was, indeed, wary of me. Unless they had great hands themselves, if I bet, they folded. I quickly found myself unable to get paid off on hands, and by the time the field had been narrowed to ten players (about 50 minutes after game start) I had chipped back down to roughly double my starting bankroll. When the tables consolidated, I believe I had $250, I mean $2,500,000,000,000,000,000 in chips.
The next 30 minutes or so found it almost impossible to narrow the field further. Everytime a short stack made a move, they won, and the remaining players more or less took turns being the chip leader. I had an absolutely horrid run of cards where I swear I got 8-3o, 9-3o, 7-2o more times than mere chance would dictate.
We got a short break, and after we came back, the blinds had been raised to a point where strategy was no longer possible.
The blinds were 16/32, and most people had $100-$200 in chips. This meant that a single round of blinds cost $48, or approximately one quarter to one half of the average player's bankroll.
At this point, I had about $120 in chips, and I was next up for the big blind. I looked at my hole cards, and revealed Kh Qh.
Knowing that I was going to have to go all-in within the next few hands, I figured that statistically, these were the best cards I was likely to get. I pushed in, got called, and my opponent flipped over A-K. The flop brought an Ace, and it was all over but the crying.
I busted out 6th overall, two places out of the money.
This is a quibble I had with the tournament. With half of the field remaning, the blinds were simply too high to allow people to play against each other. The last table was little more than an all-in-fest where luck determined a solid 90% of the outcome. I would like to see the last ten people be able to play against each other a little longer.
With that being said, the payouts for this tournament are generous. The first four places get paid, and first place is guaranteed $500. 4th place on this night received $76. Given that only 20 people entered the tournament on Friday, I did some quick and dirty math in my head and realized that almost all of the entry fee for the Strip Poker tournament is paid back to the players ... if not all of it.
Unfortunately, the dealers were not the friendliest people on the planet. I was located on the end of the table, and I got scolded once for not pushing my chips far enough over the line because the dealer couldn't reach them. After that, I made a point to practically push them into the middle of the table so that I would not get yelled at.
Also, they were slightly impatient. We were given a 5 minute break, but after 3 minutes, the dealers re-started the game. I'm glad that I didn't have to take a whiz because I would not have been able to make it back in time. The lady immediately to my left missed a couple of hands because she had the audacity to go take a squirt.
Overall, however, it was an enjoyable game.
The Excalibur Strip Poker tournament is really a poker room twist on the "party pit" concept. Nobody actually gets naked, rather, there is a dancer between the poker tables who starts out fully clothed and slowly removes her outer clothing over the course of two hours until she is wearing an outfit similar to that of the girls dancing onstage in the blackjack pit.
The costume is basically ultra-short shorts, fishnets, and a bare midriff. Even though there is no nudity, the dancer is a nice change of scenery from the usual grotesque looking creatures that populate most Vegas poker rooms. If the Blackjack players get something decent to look at, why shouldn't we?
Even though the name "Strip Poker" promises a little more than it can deliver, I appreciate what the Excalibur is doing with the effort.
I can recommend this tournament for some decent low-roller action, and I will probably play it again in the future.
I'm not particularly proud of placing 6th, but $50 bought me a solid 90 minutes of playing time, and if my K-Q had held up toward the end, I would have no doubt made it into the money.
There's always next time.
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