New Blood

By Pokerhunter

As I scan the map of Northern California looking for new areas to develop along the poker trail, it reminds me of the gigantic challenge in front of me: Find some new blood to keep the game going. I’ve been hunting for poker players the last six years so I know how difficult it can be. Tracking them isn’t easy because NorCal players are not only wily, they’re promiscuous. They like to fool around. Once I learned this specific tendency, the hunt became easier.

Most poker players I know are loyal to their whims. They want excitement, action, good food, drink, and multiple flat screens. If one place can’t provide them with those essentials, another place surely will. The best deal is the one that sounds good at the moment. Decisions about where to take the bankroll can be made in the time it takes for a pretty girl to smile, or the two seconds it takes to read a first-time players’ coupon.

I especially enjoy watching poker players group up at the local watering holes down the road and in between the card­rooms. These are generally good places to find out which way the wind is blowing. Once outside the confines of the cardroom, poker players love to compare and contrast the various venues at which they partake.

When they learn that Pokerhunter is in the house, the area around my barstool usually gets a little crowded. Like a deer hunter in a tree stand hanging over a baited trap, all I have to do is stand still and listen to get the scoop on every last detail of every last poker room in the north state.

Time and time again, I get congratulated on the fine job we do with the poker paper followed by a list of things that we’re missing and need to improve upon. It makes me sympathize with cardroom managers everywhere. Nonetheless, I gather these comments and suggestions like they’re gold nuggets. “My Precious!” as my buddy Gollum used to say. At the end of the day it’s nice to have the intel because it makes the rest of my hunt that much easier.

Near any of these established water holes, are the feeding zones—in this case, the good restaurants. Sometimes, they’re located under the same canopy. I encountered one of these hot zones just recently in downtown Sacramento called the Capitol Garage. This establishment is a first class bar and grill carefully camouflaged as an auto repair facility. The first time I saw it I checked my odometer to see if it was time for an oil change.

Upon closer inspection, I found that the steel-covered counters were not a place to order auto parts, but rather a vast assortment of carefully concocted beverages and good food. Because I was in the middle of a hunt I refrained from any alcoholic beverages, but I did enjoy the CG Burrito which was served promptly to my spot along the “parts counter.” Unlike many of the other burritos I’ve discovered along the trail, this particular one was stuffed with copious amounts of white chicken-breast meat. They were beginning to draw me in.

Because of the strategic location near the capitol building, it wasn’t long before I met a girl named Jazz who had been out beating the bushes for a local elected official. She was another hunter stopping for refreshment before heading back into the fray. It felt reassuring to meet a kindred spirit, especially one who wasn’t competing for the same game as myself. We compared a few notes, and agreed that Capitol Garage was a prime spot to rest and reload.

The thing I liked best about this place was made apparent to me about 30 seconds after I left. On my way out the door, Danny the bartender came racing by me and ran down the street holding a wallet in his hand. He moved faster than a deer spooked by the sound of a snapping twig. Apparently, someone had forgotten their wallet and he was not about to let them get away. After dodging a few cars without missing a step he finally caught up with the lucky patron and returned the wallet intact.

The most impressive part was the casual way in which he did it—like it was no big deal. Like it happens every day! What I saw was the personification of customer service displayed with a 40-yard dash worthy of a stopwatch. Attaboy, Danny!

Danny’s 40 Yard Dash” is now the new yardstick by which I measure customer service at a casino, restaurant, or bar. When a customer KNOWS that he’ll be taken care of he’s probably going to come back with a fresh bankroll on another day. There’s a lesson to be learned here—especially when examining the nature of the wily, promiscuous poker players located throughout the NorCal region.

Happy hunting!