Almost Heaven

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007, 3:45 pm

After watching my Nittany Lions flop around in Bloomington before disposing of Indiana, I asked myself, "So, whaddya want to do now?" I already knew the answer to that question, but I was comfortable on my couch and getting me in motion was gonna take some doing. "Let’s go play some poker," I said aloud, and that was enough to overcome inertia and get me out the door. With West Virginia opening their first two poker rooms this past Friday, I was in easy driving distance of poker for the first time. And what kind of poker blogger would I be if I didn’t visit on the opening weekend?

So I printed out directions from Google Maps and headed west. Well, west-ish. See, in Google’s opinion the fastest route to Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort was via the Turnpike, rather than out Route 22-30. The distance traveled would be a bit more, but I’d be zipping along instead of battling lights and potential traffic tie-ups on the Parkway. Thing is, as I followed the directions every change of road told me to take the exit heading TOWARD Pittsburgh. Which is where I was coming from. It was all rather counterinutitive but, after leaving Pennsylvania for Ohio and THEN crossing into West Virginia, I arrived at Mountaineer about 90 minutes after I left home. Which was longer than I expected the trip would take, but whaddya gonna do.

It’s a big room, 37 tables spaced far enough apart that you almost feel like there’s no one else around you. The decor features the usual dark carpeting and light wood accents…I thought it looked pretty nice:

I brought my camera with me so I could write a few articles about the new room and I chatted with Tamara Pettit, who is Mountaineer’s Director of Public Relations. I took a few photos, wandered around a bit to see all that there was to see, and then I stuck my camera back in my car and returned to play some serious, serious poker.

Well, maybe not so serious. There was a fairly long waiting list for $1/2 No Limit, so I bit the bullet and took a seat at a $3/6 Limit table. I’m trying to move toward playing live No-Limit, in large part because my Limit game stinks. And I want to win oodles of cash. But, what the heck, let’s have some fun!

My table was relaxed and friendly, though there were a few players who were a bit too intense for a $3/6 game. I won a few hands early and was up nearly sixty bucks before I started a bad, bad run. I kept getting clobbered on the river and before I knew it my stack was whittled down to around $10. I bought in for another forty…and after I failed to hit yet another flush I was down to my last two dollars. Embarassing to say the least.

I would’ve called it a night, but I’d applied for one of their frequent player cards and they needed my driver’s license to process it. I went to the cage and bought another $40 in chips, frantically chasing my losses. But this ended up being the best forty dollar investment I’ve ever made. A dude didn’t raise with pocket Aces and I hit a big blind special with K-3, making two pair on the turn and taking down a nice pot. I then won an even nicer pot when I flopped a straight draw, picked up a flush draw on the turn, and made the flush on the river. Those two pots helped turn a $140 loss into a more-manageable sixty-buck deficit. Factor in tips and tokes and drinks (beer isn’t free, though their absolutely delicious cappuccino is) and I was only down around $40. Not bad, considering how bad I ran and, as I said, how much I suck at Limit. Played a bit too tight, I know that for a fact.

When I left at 11:30 the place was packed. Just about every table was in use, and the waiting list for $1/2 NL was about 15 players long. The biggest game they had while I was there was $10/20 NL, and they had Stud and Omaha games going as well. They even had a $3/6 Omaha Hi-Lo game going, which I almost thought about jumping into. I can’t imagine there are THAT many good Hi-Lo players in the Tri-State area.

I had a few quibbles with the room. The poker area is non-smoking, but there were scores of people hanging out along the rail who were smoking and that rather defeated the purpose. The bathroom right by the poker area only has three stalls, which ain’t gonna be enough, not with how many people are gonna be playing there. And some of the dealers were a bit shaky, which I guess was to be expected on their first full day of work. The tables have built-in automatic shufflers, which I like because it speeds the game up so much.

I also had a quibble with Google Maps as I headed home. Just as during my drive there I had to keep turning TOWARD Pittsburgh,on the return trip  I was now turning AWAY from Pittsburgh.. That can’t be right, right? I made it home around 1AM, around 90 minutes again, so the next time I head down there (which might be tomorrow) I’ll try a different route and see how it works out. And see if I can play a little No-Limit.

Actually, I played some last night when I got home from volleyball and won a very, very satisfying hand. I was at a short-handed table and this nut was playing just about every hand and constantly re-raising all-in to take down tiny pots. I mean, I bet $2 into a $3 pot, and he’s pushing for fifty bucks. OK, fine. I’m dealt KK, I raise, he calls, the flop comes six-high, and after I bet he pushes. I call…and the damn board ends up coming a straight. We chop the pot, and he reveals that he had the massive Q-6 for top pair. Barf.

He kept this nonsense up until he had nearly $90 in front of him. I was tired, wanted to go to bed, but I was fixin’ to play a big pot with him. I got my chance when I held A-J and the flop came Jack-high with two hearts. He checked, I bet, and he set me all-in for $55. The way he’d been playing, no way did he have a set. And if he did, oh well, fools get lucky too. "What the hell" I typed, and I called. The turn was a third heart–which made my own sink–but the river was another heart and as I held the Jack of hearts, I thought I might be good. Turns out I was good all-along–he had K-J. And justice was served. Funny, they say that revenge is a dish best served cold…turns out justice is the same way. That’s pretty deep, huh?

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3 Responses to “Almost Heaven”

  1. Ben Says:

    I’m taking the roulette blackjack course at Mountaineer and drive there daily. It takes me about 50 minutes to get there from Greentree so those directions were completely screwed up. You should not have to go near the turnpike, rather head towards the airport and take 22/30 west to Weirton, then take Rt 2 North until you get to Mountaineer. Wheeling is about the same amount of time, but it is a little further away in mileage.

  2. cheer_dad Says:

    Gene,

    Glad to hear you made it to WV to check out the poker room at Mountaineer. I made it to Wheeling on Saturday, actually more like Sunday. I busted out early from my own home tournament here in Parkersburg, and along with a couple of my fellow losing buddies, we headed to Wheeling, and arrived just before MIDNIGHT. The room was packed and around 94 names on the waiting list for 1/2 NLHE. The low level limit games weren’t much smaller on the waiting list front either. But what the hell, we waited and less than an hour later we sat down. I had a bad run myself, and dropped a little over $100. Had two sets cracked…and having a 3 way split on an Ace high straight sucked, but not as bad as the 2-way split on my (errr our) full house Kings full of 2’s! Some days I don’t mind losing…but sheesh I can’t even WIN right! Anyway…we had a blast, and look forward to returning real soon. I was impressed with how well the staff was handling things despite the chaos of the weekend. Maybe I’ll bump into you some day.

    Regards,

    cheer_dad

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