ESCARGOT: Crassus goes to California (long report)

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James Weber

Feb 14, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/14/00
[My first attempt at a TR--little poker content]

What an interesting couple of days! Decided to attend ESCARGOT on the
basis that first, I would get to reacquaint myself with some of the
great people I had met at BARGE, on RGP, on IRC, and maybe meet some new
people. Second, I had never been to California let alone the Los
Angeles area, so figured it would be a way to have an adventure. The bad
reputation that Los Angeles/Compton had slightly concerned me. But
having been born and lived 40+ years in the Detroit metropolitan area
before I moved to Las Vegas, L.A. shouldn't surprise me. The freeways
are a whole other story.

Preparing the best I could for the road trip, with Street Atlas USA
directions in hand, I left Wednesday noon driving for the coast. All was
uneventful although I did seem to catch the rush hour(s) when I got into
the southern Calif. area (bumper to bumper traffic at 70+ mph?). I
didn't get lost till I was in sight of Crystal Park :) No biggie
though; I just kept driving around till I found the correct road.

I check in and go to the poker room with that first time 'I wonder if
I'll know anyone here' feeling. That quickly dispelled as NewJane spots
me and yells out "Hey Crassus!" and the first of several days of
introductions, handshakes, hugs began.

Pete Secor(Foldem) asks if I'm interested in going to Naja's to meet up
with Mike Hunter and drink a few brews. Sure, I'd like to, and have a
car but, have no idea where the place is or how to get there. Beth
knows how to get there but her car is too small. We leave CP around
8:00 with Beth driving Foldem, Kathy (sorry never did get your last
name), and me to Redondo Beach in my car. I begin to pay more attention
when Beth tries to signal a lane change using the cruise control stick.

We get close to the place but no one knows exactly where Naja's is
located. The Portofino Yacht Club is nice looking but they ain't got no
77 types of beers so we pressed on till we found the place around 9:00.
Mike said he'd be there at 6:00...and he was still there! Naja's is a
interesting looking bar with an open front right on the waterfront
boardwalk. First time I have seen the Pacific Ocean. Yep, looks wet :)
Good beer--food is ok. After a couple of hours we decide to return to
Crystal Park with me driving.
I call it a night.

Go down to the poker room around 11:00 in search of food. Not serving
breakfast at the buffet so I settle for spicy cashew chicken with hot
peppers. ouch.

End up going to Hollywood Park with NewJane and Updock. Jane points at
the wall along the freeway and says it's the first time she has ever
seen graffiti. Fargo, North Dakota must be a nice boring place to
live. We get into a 6-12 HE game that is just starting. A couple of
old looking rocks types, a couple of Asians, and us. Trouble starts
real quick when the 'Man' sitting to the left of Jane has a problem with
the Asian guy sitting on the other side of him talking to a friend(not
playing) in non-english. "Floor!" The friend leaves. Awhile later Jane
and UpDock say something to each other about the hand in progress in
which they have both folded. The Man goes nuts. Once again the floor
person is called over to advise Jane not to do this. This put Jane in a
mood which she just keeps needling The Man for the next few hands. He
racks up and leaves :) Yea! Goot work Jane! The winning hands were
pretty normal. Nothing I haven't seen before.

Back at Crystal Park I decide it's time for me to experience first hand
this type of game played in California that they call 'no foldem
holdem'. Played for several hours in 6-12 and made a rack quickly
realize some of the locals will play almost every hand and raising will
not make them go away. It's hard to know if my hand with hold up until
the showdown. There is no guessing what two cards the other player may
have. Game breaks at around 3:30a.m. and I call it a night up $200. Saw
Patri playing in the 'big game' during the course of the evening; almost
didn't recognize him. His hair was...normal!? What's up with that?

I wake up around 2:00p.m.-- too rushed to make the Limit HE Tourney at
HP but go there to watch. Find NewJane in the tourney. Go to the deli
to buy her something to eat and grab something for myself. I think it
was at the start of one of the breaks that Jae (Poker Newbie) speculates
that it would be so neat if she won the tourney. Little did she know
her hope would be fulfilled. Congratulations Jae! I see the makings of
a 'tourney junkie':) I decided not to play in any ring games since at
this point I'm still kinda of confused with these 'any two cards can
win' games. Just wandered around the room 'star' watching. Noticed a
young, happy looking guy playing in a larger 7 card stud game. Looked
out of place playing with these old grizzled types. Got to meet the new
bird that Phyllis Caro was introducing / acclimating. Had a chance to
introduce myself to Linda Johnson and talk with her a bit.

It's getting close 8:00p.m. so it's off to the Movies. David James,
with about 20% of his voice left, nervously explains about what we are
about to see is NOT the finished product. I recognize him...the young
guy I saw in the stud game :) The Big Blind has potential but it was
definitely a rough cut that we viewed. It needs to be brought together
other than a series of vignettes which I'm sure David can accomplish
through proper editing. Some interesting characters were portrayed in
the movie. This helped me get a possible insight on the low limit type
player I was seeing in the ring games. Got to meet Mike Caro and Max
Shapiro for the first time. I drive back to Crystal Park along with
Foldem and Kathy. We get turned around on the freeways but make it back
in spite of having to read the directions in reverse.

Back at Crystal Park I once again get into a 6-12 HE game at about
11:30pm. A couple of RGPer's are here at the other end of the table. A
local takes the seat to my right-- recognizes another local (Asian) at
the table and says "He'll play anything and he'll win, he always does".
He was right. The Asian guy left up four racks within about an hour.
The table is now short of players. JP Massar joins the game. This now
makes 4 out of six players at the table that are RGPers. I'm sensing an
-EV situation for me here.

Another guy sitting to my left will play any two cards and is in almost
every hand to see the flop and the turn. If I have folded, when the flop
is dealt or on the turn card, he flashes me his cards with the look of
'I wonder if this will hold up--should I call the bet'. I look at his
cards. See two low gaped unsuited cards, not a pair with the board, no
flush draw, no gutshot str8, nothing whatsoever?!? I am getting real
confused here but what do I care. He keeps buying more chips! Must be
the L.A. traffic that causes people to play cards like that. When one
risks there life driving, what's a few dollars at a card table. Yea,
that's the ticket. There's got to be some kind of rational explanation
for this kind of play. I know collusion is wrong but I find myself
wishing I could somehow signal the RGPers at the other end of the table
to bet or raise. Shortly after this guy leaves the game breaks and I
call it a night down about $200. Laid in bed tossing and turning trying
to figure out how to win money playing any two cards...

Get up even later...2:30 p.m.
Having never been to the California card rooms, decide I'm going to play
tourist today and go visit a couple of the big rooms in the area. Good
directions from the concierge at Crystal Park and I'm off. Being
Saturday the freeway traffic is much more reasonable. Checked out the
Bike and Commerce. Walked around. Stopped and watched a couple of
Super Pan games. Don't understand this game but one thing is for
sure...there's ALOT of action at them tables. These places are packed.
I reflect on this wondering why Las Vegas has problems keeping poker
rooms going while these places in California can have so many players.

Back at Crystal Park I once again jump in to the foray. 6-12 HE with
Dieter already in the game sitting to my right. Nothing much is
happening other than there are ONCE AGAIN some amazingly bad preflop
cards are taking down the pots. And to make matters worse it appears to
be the same few players the are consistently doing this.
I start wondering if I have a tell. I could. It wouldn't surprise me but
then again, no one seems to be paying that much attention. Dieter
mentions he got up $200 two hours ago and then nothing for two hours.
Oops. He begins to start playing back at a couple of this 'lucky'
players with poor results. Couple of the 'Lucky' players leave and
NewJane and Updock take their seats. Jane wins a couple of pots quick
and she behaved herself not WooHooing once. She leaves having to catch
a flight home in the morning; Updock stays and is experiencing what
Dieter and I have already--you're gonna get beat on the river by trash.

An example of what I'm talking about... I have AhQh in a middle position
there is a single blind and one caller ahead of me. Raising will not
make anyone fold but I raise. One player behind me and the blind call.
Flop come AcJh7h. First player bets. At this point I'm thinking Top
pair--flush draw I'm ok. I raise, two players call-- Blind folded. Turn
is 5d. It's checked to me I bet, the player behind me calls the other
folds. I'm thinking 'heads up---I'm in good shape' The river is a 2d.
Would have preferred a flush but... I bet the other player calls and is
holding 5s2h to win the pot with two pair :( My brain is working very
hard at this point trying to get a insight to these games. Hmmm, to
much thinking. I'm on vacation sorta so...I'll have some beer and Grand
Marnier. Take a walk and watch Paul Phillips get beat by Jae in the PL

Change tables. Now sitting kind of in between Mike Hunter and Max
(didn't get your last name). Same type of game with the same kind of
results. If I remember correctly Max got felted; Alan Bostick came in
the game and left shortly after. I'm at this point getting tired
(3:00ish) certainly confused and probably playing a little too loose and
still losing. Game breaks around 4:30 and I'm stuck real goot. Go up to
room and tilt for several hours... no sleep.

11:00a.m. It was my plan on Saturday to check out of the room noon
Sunday leaving my bags with the desk and play till about 4:00 p.m. then
drive back. But with no sleep, still quasi rattled from playing the
night before, and the fact it's raining, I decide to call it a trip and
drive back to Las Vegas where people know how to play Texas Hold-Em like
they are suppose to.

You may have noticed that I did not play in any of the ESCARGOT
tourneys. Too late for the HP Limit tourney; I don't know Omaha or Stud
very well at all so I passed playing in the HOE; and I didn't understand
the mechanics of the Head to Head match so I passed on that one also.

All-in-all I had a good time. It's always fun to hang out with RGPers.
Just wish I didn't lose. Lessons in California 'No FoldEm HoldEm' can
cost money. I'm not sure if the trip taught me anything other than
'there are river rats in the California'. Maybe I'll learn to play
Omaha Hi/Lo. That way I won't know what's happening to me. Yea, that's
the ticket! Gonna have to win alot real quick if I'm going to attend
ATLARGE. Well, at least there always will BARGE to look forward to:)


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