I went scouting tonight to try to find some more players so we have a larger pool from which to draw. So I decide to give the Seattle Poker Open a try. Big Mistake. OK, actually it wasn't a mistake to try to find players there. Yes it was. No, it wasn't. Well the idea was sound but my goodness that is absolutely the worst tournament you could ever imagine. I drove straight home and showered off to try to remove the badness. But that didn't work so I doused myself in paint thinner and used a wire brush but that didn't work either. I fear that this is just a horrific experience that I will forever carry with me and I'm going to have post-traumatic stress from it. And just so I'm not the only one, let me share the experience with you guys.
I checked out the Seattle Poker Open website...if you are expecting me to link to it, you can forget it. And the calendar said that they are at Jillian's tonight, having been moved from 88 keys. That seemed odd and I guess counts as red flag #1 but I head down anyway. They have two tourneys on Mondays, a 6:30 and a 9:00. That would be red flag #2. I intentionally leave late so I can just sit and watch. I get down there and look around but don't see any tables anywhere. I check out the upstairs and downstairs. The game room is blocked off because they have an all you can eat video game special Monday nights. I check the score of the MNF game to see if Cutler is on pace to amass the 37 points necessary for my fantasy football league...but I digress. Finally end up asking the desk staff about it and I'm directed to the very back corner area, you know, the place with absolutely no lighting.
I see a cavalcade of players that you might expect from a bar league. Somehow these just don't seem like the players I see at the casinos. I ask for the person in charge and am pointed to the one guy who actually looks like he *could* be in charge. I ask about what is going on and he explains the league and the format. I ask if it's OK to just look around since I missed the beginning of the tourney and he says that it's fine. A couple minutes later another guy comes along and the TD seats him and only then does it occur to him that I could sit down too. Hmmm. I find it hard to resist poker even though I'm not sure that what I was doing qualifies as such.
The table tops look like upside down octagonal poker table tops that you can get at Target. I don't like those to begin with but at least the top side has some semblance of a playing surface. Playing off of vinyl is like having velcro cards because it is so difficult to pick them up and you can forget about sliding them around. Oh and the cards are paper of course. And what is the only thing worse than using two decks of crappy paper cards...wait for it...yes...playing with ONLY ONE DECK of crappy paper cards.
If I were dead I would be spinning in my grave. So with a bad playing surface and horrendous card conditions, what could possibly complete the trifecta of low rent equipment? How about bottom of the barrel chips? Of the three things I guess the chips at least come closest to getting a pass. They are cheap which I don't have a problem with but c'mon. Blue=25, Red=100, White=500, and Black=1000??? I wanted to cry. They were hot stamped with values and text that said "Seattle Poker Open" which I guess you have to since you are using non-standard color/denomination combos but that just drives home the point even more that someone consciously made the color/denomination decision. Excuse me, where's that barf bag?
So if a scathing review of the equipment weren't enough, how about the blinds? 15 minute rounds going from 25/50, 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 400/800, 800/1500, 1500/3000? Yep, nothing like a little logarithmic progression to find the best poker players. At least they cut over to 800/1500, 1500/3000 instead of making player put in 1600 and 3200. Not quite enough of a saving grace though. I am quietly dying inside.
The blinds alone are enough to make you cringe but throw in the fact that the pace is slooooooow due to using one deck and nobody being able to handle the cards well and it is a living hell. Add in some people taking a while to make decisions and that would explain how two levels went by before I got to deal once, at a SEVEN handed table! The shuffling was like Disneyland for an amateur magician. Everyone did Jasonland shuffling and anyone who wanted to give themselves a 10% EV+ boost could track cards. I wish Jillians were at the top of a 20 story building because jumping out the window at ground level just is not going to cut the mustard.
For all of the horrible conditions, the play actually wasn't that bad. People were playing short stacked strategy but that was because everyone was short stacked. I called a desperate looking short stack with 99 and he turned an Ace to take the hand. I got to see a free flop from the BB when my flat tire ran into a 245 flop and I decided that middle pair was good enough so I shoved and took down the pot. One player remarked that I must have hit my straight. Ummm...yeah...you keep thinking that. Another person remarked that one hand the player with Ad3d had the nuts on a paired board with three diamonds. At least player's knew or were willing to listen to someone when it was a split pot. One lady just could not accept the dead button rule even though it was to her advantage to keep blinds away as long as possible. Tables were not balanced when it got to a four handed and six handed table. Great. I made it to final table and shoved from the BB with AhQh and lost to aggro Asian gambler dude who smooth called with QQ UTG five handed. I wish I had put two and two together earlier but that hand would have played out the same regardless.
Went out fifth out of 30 players or so. Quite likely the most ungratifying final table I have ever been a part of. This tourney makes the Luxor look like the pinnacle of tournaments. Have I mentioned that this is a horrible bad awful "poker tournament" experience? I know I've kinda been beating around the bush but if you carefully read between the lines I think you can get the gist of how I felt about it. Excuse me, I need to go drive red hot foks through my eyeballs to try to purge myself of the horror.