Spent Friday and Saturday at the Taj for the two Click2Asia poker tourneys. Busted out in the middle of the pack for both tourneys due to mildly impatient play. I say mildly only because had I not committed my stack when I did, I probably would have lasted only a few more hands before I would have been blinded and anted to death anyhow. But who knows, maybe those extra few hands would have presented me with a monster, so I have to look at it as if there was some room for improvement in my play. In any event, a couple of observations about the weekend… First, the Click2Asia tourneys are structured so that luck has a pretty big part in the outcome. Blinds increase very quickly and in mind blowing increments. There was a T25 ante by the end of the first hour. Typically the tourneys draw a lot of inexperienced players so there are a lot of players in every pot preflop. This is exactly the opposite of what you want. If you know the blinds are going to ramp up quickly, you’d like to play more aggressively and see more flops, but on the other hand, at a loose table, the optimum strategy is to tighten up. So basically, you have to resign yourself to making a move with your best hands and praying they hold up and get paid off. Tough to have your hands hold up when there’s always two or more people playing drawing hands against you.
As for the Taj itself, I was surprised by the range of skill in the dealers. There were two dealers who were excellent, and everyone else seemed clueless. One guy was laughably bad, trying to make up for his poor chip handling skills by dealing faster. Unfortunately his dexterity and hand eye coordination weren’t up to the task. He had multiple misdeals and at one point managed to nearly take out the eye of the player next to him when he was hurriedly trying to complete his shuffle and ended up losing control of the plastic cut card which went flying to his right. Other dealers were not hearing call vs. raise declarations, awarding pots to the wrong players and other miscellaneous goof ups. Good thing everybody at the table was honest or else a lot of fights could easily have broken out. Other problems at the Taj included dealers not showing up until half an hour after the tourney was scheduled to start, dealers not being equipped with dealer cards, pencils, and on day two, the dealer didn’t even have chips or cards. Laughably bad, but surprisingly, the vibe of the crowd was good enough that it was still an enjoyable time.
Which leads me to another realization. All my life I’ve always avoided the Asian scene because for the most part I’ve always looked at these groups of Asians that move in packs as a bit unseemly and almost embarrassed by how insular they keep themselves. That’s just not the way I grew up. But I think now that I’m older, I’m a little more tolerant of it all and I realize that even though they are still kind of clique-y, there’s good and bad people in the mix regardless, just like any other group. It didn’t bother me as much as it would have in years past seeing the crowd of Asians standing, sitting and squatting near the entrance to the Taj, smoking up storm and speaking all too loudly in their native tongues. This weekend I tried to appreciate the individuals within the groups rather than just being turned off by the groups themselves, and I had a surprisingly good time. Pleasant banter at the tables I played at along with chit chat with some of the cuties made it fun for all. It helped that we had some real bad poker players at some of our tables so we all had a ball making fun of them. I was actually pretty impressed by the play of some of the ladies in the tourney too. Sharp players who knew the math and knew when to go into academy award mode in order to milk the table for max chips when they had the nuts. It was a fun weekend and I’ll definitely go back for future Click2Asia tourneys, but it will be more for the fun of that casual relaxed poker scene than hopes of actually doing well in the tourney. That will all come down to dumb luck.