Changes come to The Cardroom

By Randall Rapp

We’ve made a few changes here at The Cardroom … hope you’ve noticed them. After nine years as the NorCal Poker News we’re expanding our coverage to include more casino news, events, and amenities.

In addition, come January, we will be unveiling a brand new website with more content and regular updates. We’ve also begun participating in Twitter and Instagram discussions and will soon get ramped up on Facebook too.

It’s all part of our plan to give you more and better information about what is going on at your favorite casinos. Poker will always be our main focus, but in the future you’ll find more general casino news, events, dining, etc.

If you like something or want more of something else, let us know on Twitter or Instagram (both are @norcalcardroom), send us an email at, or you can go “analog” and send a note to The Cardroom at P.O. Box 25251, Fresno, CA 93729. We’d love to hear your feedback and/or have you join us on the social media platforms!

Lucky Chances Casino

I left early for the Thursday morning tournament at Lucky Chances which was a good thing. I managed to miss my exit and take a small tour of Brisbane and the southern end of San Francisco before I got myself properly turned around to go back.

I got there just in time to plunk down my $200 entry fee and have a short chat with tournament director Jimmy Manansala before the clock signaled starting time.

Your humble Ambassador has done fairly well in Lucky Chances tournaments in the past, so I was looking forward to a continuation of my good fortune.

Things got off to a slow start as I hardly had a hand worth playing for the first two levels. Then when I finally got a couple of big hands they were brought down by bigger hands and suckouts. I headed into the break with about half my 10,000 starting stack.

My prospects were looking up when I doubled up early in round four. A while later the pot had been raised followed by a call. I looked down at pocket jacks. Knowing that the initial raiser had been doing so fairly light and the caller was super short stacked I went all-in.

The raiser tanked for a few minutes, wondering out loud if he wanted to put all his chips in on a coin flip. He finally called and so did the short stack. When we turned over our hands he saw that he was in terrible shape holding pocket eights. It was no coin flip. I had him crushed.

I don’t remember what the short stack had … something like A-10. It didn’t really matter as long as the jacks held up and I beat the other guy for the side pot. The flop was a soul crusher as it contained two eights. He had flopped quads, had me covered (just barely) and I was out.

A bit later I was telling my sad tale to three-time POY Rellie Sigua who rightfully reminded me that the only proper response to the situation was “on to the next one.”

With several hours at my disposal before I needed to move on I sat in their $1/1/2 no-limit game. For the first hour or two it was the usual up and down. Then I ordered a great fish and chips lunch at the table and, refortified, things took a nice upswing.

After winning a big pot with K-K I had a nice stack in front of me. A while later I looked down at A-Q and called a fairly big pre-flop raise. The flop was A-Q-7 and I was more than happy to call a big bet. The turn was a blank and I happily called another big bet. When the river turned out to be another ace I had the nuts and went all-in after a big bet. My opponent tanked for a few minutes then called saying, “If you got it, you got it.”

“I got it,” I responded, turning over my full house. She unhappily showed her flopped set of sevens. I must admit I thought I was ahead the whole way, but had enough doubt not to raise until the river. Neither of us was folding though, so it all would have came out the same in the end.

When it was time to go I had enough to pay for my lunch and my tournament buy-in, plus a few dollars on top to plump the bankroll a bit. Not a bad start to the trip.

Bay 101 Casino
San Jose

The next morning I made it to the Bay 101 nice and early with no freeway miscues and only mildly congested traffic for a Friday morning in the South Bay. After another nice tournament director visit (with Brian Gudim) I paid my $180 buy-in and waited for the tournament to start.

My history at Bay 101 tournaments is quite different than Lucky Chances. I ­hadn’t played a whole lot of tournaments there, but every last one of them had gone badly. Unfortunately, this one was no different.

Once again I came off as the tightest player at the table as I received no playable hands for the first couple levels. When I finally open-raised a pot with A-K I got two callers, flopped absolutely nothing, but continuation bet anyway. When this was followed by a re-raise and a call I had to quietly fold, having given up a goodly chunk of my chips.

When the break came I once again had about half a stack. A few hands in the player to my right raised pre-flop and I looked down at pocket eights. I figured those suckers owed me a big pot so I shoved all-in (the only two options being that or fold).

Everyone folded to the guy who opened and, sitting on a huge stack and holding A-K, he naturally called. You know the story … king on the flop and no eights to be seen through the river. Damn. Where are those two eights on the flop when I need them?

Out of the tournament early once again, and with several hours to fill, I sat down in a $6/12 game. It was still before noon so breakfast seemed like a sound decision. I ordered my favorite Bay 101 breakfast, their corned beef hash and eggs. It was just the ticket as I settled in to the battle of bad beats and suckouts that is limit Hold’em.

Lo and behold my big hands were holding up for the most part and I was the beneficiary of some timely river cards. None of the hands were all that memorable on their own, but the sum total, when the time came to beat the Friday afternoon traffic out of town, was that I had once again paid for my tournament debacle, a meal, and padded the bankroll just a bit more.

Livermore Casino

Beating the traffic meant I arrived at the Livermore Casino around 3:00 p.m. My plan was to play in their evening tournament at 7 o’clock before heading home. With hours to fill until then, I signed up for everything they had going—$4/8 limit, $3–$200 spread-limit, and Omaha Hi-Low.

I got a seat right away in the $4/8 must-move game and was ahead just a little when my turn came to move to the main game. Then something changed. Maybe the stars aligned or some such, but suddenly my big hands were holding up and I was winning big pots,

There’s often one guy in a game like this who has a mountain of chips several levels high and I have often wondered when it was my turn to be him. Well this was the day.

I went several hours without suffering a bad beat and the pots were often quite large. When I got called for spread-limit and Omaha I passed. Things were going to well right were I was. When tournament time came I let that go too for the same reason. Meanwhile my chip castle was working on its third level and I decided to stick around for a while longer.

Jealous (but good natured) taunts were coming from some of the regulars, but I assured them that, while I might not play there often, I had left behind plenty of buy-ins on previous occasions.

When I started on my fourth level of chips I realized it was getting late and I had a long drive ahead of me so I had to dismantle the tower and begin to color up my chips. It was as if by doing so the magic spell was broken. A huge pot had developed on a half-kill, so we were playing $6/12. I had pocket aces and bet or raised every chance I got. By the turn there were three sixes on the board, so unless someone had the fourth one I should be in fine shape. The river was a queen and I bet after two checks in front of me. After two calls the player on my right check-raised. This couldn’t be good. I called only to see him table his pocket queens to scoop what may have been the biggest pot of the night.

Losing that monster pot on a two-outer was definitely a signal. On my last hand I had A-J on a jack-high flop only to lose to K-4 on the river when a king showed up. That was that. I thanked my hosts and the other players and began the long drive home.