By Randall Rapp
During a recent trip to Lucky Chances Casino (more on that later), I had the pleasure of meeting up with Ted Simmen of Magalia (that’s a bit north and east of Chico and just north of Paradise for those of you, like me, who never heard of it before). Ted likes to drive California sampling the various casinos and he always keeps a copy of The Cardroom at his side to help find places he hasn’t been to yet.
That’s just what we had in mind when we invented the Northern California poker news out of thin air over five years ago. So when you’re on the road and looking for a little poker action, keep The Cardroom close at hand just like Ted. He’s our kind of guy!
The Livermore Casino
Back in November Mrs. A and I found ourselves in the area and decided to drop in for the morning tournament at the Livermore Casino. They sell this one out pretty quickly, so even arriving a half hour early put us on the alternate list. We sat down and enjoyed their breakfast special for only $2.99—great food and a great value.
Eventually we got into the action. Mrs. A went first and played well, making a deep run. I was next in and had something happen to me that was truly a first: I was out on the first hand after I sat down!
Two or three limpers were in front of me and I looked down at A-J, so I raised to about four times the big blind. Everyone folded except the guy on my right who called. The flop was ace-high with a couple of rags and my opponent—who had about two or three times the starting stack— shoved. So there I sat with top pair, big kicker and scratched my head.
I was pretty certain my hand was best and this was a great opportunity to double up early. I called and the villain turned over A-5 for top pair, crappy kicker. He had two outs. Obviously you know how this story ends—5 on the river and I’m one and done. The poker gods can be so cruel.
The Aviator Casino
On the day after Thanksgiving I made the drive down to Delano and The Aviator Casino to check out their first Super Deep Stack Tournament. The buy-in was $120, starting chips stacks were 20,000, and levels were 40 minutes long. Now that’s my kind of tournament—lots of play and no need to rush with any two decent cards.
Still, it seemed many approached the event like it was a short-stack super turbo. In other words, the chips were flying. This can be a good thing for the patient tournament player; you just have to avoid the land mines. However, when there are so many mines on the field it can be easier said than done. Eventually my solid hand ran into one of those “what were you doing staying in there” hands and I had to call it a day.
It was a great tournament though, and they did it again on the day after Christmas. They also have monthly deep stack tournaments planned for the future. I only hope I get a chance to make it back to Delano soon to try again.
Rogelio’s Poker Room
I made the drive up to Isleton on Dec. 11 to play in the first ever Heavyweight Championship of Poker title belt event which was held at Rogelio’s. I had a great time playing and made it to final table, coming in eighth place just short of the money.
But the real story was the incredible hospitality put on by our hosts: Rogelio, Mewha “Diane” and Ning Garcia. Everyone was treated like a champion, plus we were each given a $25 gift certificate good for some of their great food and/or a cash game buy-in after the tournament.
Rogelio was gracious, Ning did a great job running the event, and Diane doubled as hostess and dealer.
It was a great start to what I hope will be many more WHPC events.
Lucky Chances Casino
As part of my trip to Colma to crown Rellie Sigua as our Northern California Poker Tournament Player of the Year, I took the opportunity to play in the Monday morning tournament at Lucky Chances. I had run into some bad luck after deep runs in my other experiences there and felt I was due for a score. Boy was I!
I got right off to a great start and it wasn’t too long before I had more than twice my starting stack. Despite the usual assortment of bad beats and drawing hands that don’t come through, I managed to withstand the downs and capitalize on the ups. When we got down to the final table I was sitting comfortably as one of the chip leaders.
Some of the short stacks managed to double up and become forces to be reckoned with, while others fell by the wayside. After about six hours of play we were down to four and agreed upon a chop. Being the chip leader I was officially awarded first place, but realistically it was a three-way tie with fourth place taking a little less due to his much smaller stack. I might not have taken the whole $3,500 guarantee for first place, but half that much made for a pretty good return on a $65 investment.
Now I was right in the heart of bad Bay Area traffic time, so I decided to stick around, have something to eat, and play in their $6/12 game. The good news was that the food was superb (I had their prime rib special) and I got to play with Rellie’s mom and meet Ted Simmen; the bad news was that I must have used up all my good cards during the tournament because nothing was going right at $6/12.
So I left Lucky Chances having given some of my winnings back, but all-in-all the day’s events made for a pleasant drive home.