Category Archives: Gaming

Cold Decked and a Hot Shoe

After waffling back and forth deciding whether or not to go (and failing to convince Twoin to join us), Dawg, Chye and I finally decided to head down to The Borgata after work on Tuesday. Got down there at around 4:30, checked in, and immediately went to grab some of the always satisfying five-spice noodle soup at Noodles of the World. Their soup is delicious and isn’t too salty on the palate, but it does leave you feeling all thirsty, so I know it’s gotta be deceptively high in sodium. But the beef tendon in it is always so good, like what you’d only expect to find in a Chinatown eatery. It’s really such a nice way to eat relatively light before hitting the gaming tables.

Dawg wanted to play the 7pm $100+20 NL tourney so we went to go sign up for that first. We still had almost 2 hours to kill, so we went to scope out the blackjack tables. I was shocked at what I saw. Normally I’m always out there on the weekends when it’s crowded and $25 is the lowest minimum. Not so on Tuesday, even though it was the eve of July 4th. The tables were relatively empty, and they actually had several tables with $5 minimums! FIVE DOLLAR MINIMUMS! I didn’t even know The Borgata owned table placards for that level. All three of us bought in and started playing. Chye was all tired, so she quit after making a tidy and quick profit. Dawg and I kept playing because there was nothing else to do until the poker tourney. Glad we did, as I ended up catching a decent run of cards and cashed out when I had doubled my $500 buy-in.

The tourney began and I tried to get a feel for the players at the table, but I hadn’t entered a single pot yet when the two guys to my left knocked a couple players out and quickly became the big stacks. Wonderful. That made me tighten up my starting hand requirements and the result was that I only played maybe two hands the whole first hour. I didn’t really open up my play until we reached a level with antes, at which point I felt my table image was tight enough that the big stacks weren’t going to try any blatant re-raise steal attempts. I started nabbing the occasional pot, only bluffing once in a while, consistently from the big blind when there were nothing but tight limpers to me. I got hurt in one big pot with two pair and had to pay off a lady who had flopped the nut flush and just kept betting small enough to keep me on the hook all the way thru the river. Still, I had enough chips to work with and I was playing well. There were 120 players and they were paying the top 18 places. We got down to 3 tables, 7-handed each table, so I only needed to wait for 3 more players to get knocked out. I could have probably folded my way into the money, but I was a low-medium stack when I looked down at pocket Queens with a big-stack middle position raiser to my immediate right. If I had a bigger stack and 18th place paid more than 3x the buy-in, I might have considered a fold there, but in this rinky-dink tourney there was no way I was going to let my ladies go, not 7-handed. I moved in, and got called by the initial raiser who showed cowboys. His hand held up and that was that.

Oh well. Even worse than getting knocked out so close to the money was that it took 4.5 hours to do it, and by that point all the good restaurants had closed. Dammit! We ended up having to grab something at the Metropolitan. I ordered a steamed lobster which came out overcooked and with no tamale in the body cavity. Double Dammit!

After eating I was ready for some more blackjack. Unfortunately, so was the rest of New Jersey as there was not an empty blackjack seat in the house other than at the $100 minimum tables and up. Oh well, I could use a shower and a rest anyway, so I told Dawg I was going up to my room and that we should meet back at 2:30am.

The congestion at the tables had relieved considerably by the time I headed back downstairs, and I got in at a $15 minimum table, buying in with just the $500 in profit I had won earlier. I putzed around for a while not really counting cards nor varying my bets, happy to just chill out and enjoy my free drinks until Dawg came down. Then I started to wake up a little and made a little profit. Unfortunately just as the table got a little warm, the pit boss informed us that they were closing the table. I took my smallish $150 profit and bet more agressively on the last shoe, but ended up losing it all, so I left that table even for the session, still up $500 overall.

We moved to another table where the action was uneven and they were about to close that table too, so Dawg made the move to a new table that was going to remain open the rest of the morning. I played out the shoe and finished even before joining Dawg at the new table. This is when things got hot. The dealer was this Indian (dot not feathers) dude who seemed rather inexperienced and dealt slowly, but had a very friendly demeanour and seemed sincerely happy whenever he dealt us a winning hand. Genuinely happy, with an absolutely delighted expression on his face whenever he busted his own hand or counted out chips to pay us out. Not as delighted as my own expression of course, but delighted nonetheless. We played a few mediocre shoes, pretty much neutral, maybe slightly positive until Hing cut one deck and suddenly the shoe got warm. I went from my $500 to about $850 in that one shoe. We got the cut card to Hing again for the next shuffle, and this time the shoe went from warm to blazingly white hot. It was an incredible stretch. I started with a $30 bet, a level I start just about every shoe with. As I started winning hand after hand, I just kept incrementally pressing. Nothing outrageous because I had no intention of giving back my profit, just gentle presses along the way like I usually do. My strategy is always that if I lose a hand or if too many ten cards come out in a wave I would drop back down a bit for the next hand. But for this shoe, this was my progression: $30 to $45 to $50 to $70 to $80 to $100 to $130 to $150 to $180 to $220 to $280 to $320. Notice something about that? At no point in this shoe did I lose a hand! At worst I would push, but I had no losses for the whole shoe! But I did get scared on a whopper of a hand when I bet $320 and got dealt 8’s against a dealer 6. Automatic split for me, so I put my extra $320 out and waited for my turn to act. Meanwhile the clown to my right decides that he needs to hit his 14 against the dealer 6. The whole table tries to convince him not to do it. Finally after much delay we just tell him to do whatever he wants. He hits it and busts. My turn. The first 8 gets dealt… another freakin 8! Out comes another $320 for the re-split. I now have $960 on the table, which is enough to make me nervous even though it’s all house money at this point. I don’t even recall what my hands ended up being, all I remember was wondering if this magical shoe could hold up for me even after the boneheaded hit on my right. And guess what? It did! The dealer busted like he was supposed to and I finished out the shoe without losing a single hand! I cashed out immediately for $3,700(!) as there was no way it could get better than that and I wanted to end on the highest note possible. Fantastic.


This was the weekend we turned the clocks ahead, about a month earlier than years past. Normally I’ll feel a little tired after losing an hour, but this weekend was so packed with fun stuff and lack of sleep that I’m way more exhausted than usual.

Friday I took a half day and headed down to The Borgata with the whole gang, eight of us in total. Twoin, Kat and I made our way down early and grabbed dinner at Specchio because we were jonesing for their agnolotti with foie gras cognac cream sauce. We started with a couple of unremarkable apps- a cold seafood app and a plate of braseola. I ordered an Italian syrah, the only one in our price range, which also turned out to be rather unremarkable. Then came the agnolotti which seemed a bit toned down from the first time we had tried it. Had the food police come and ordered them to reduce the richness? I’m not sure, but maybe. It was still very rich, but lacked the depth and foie gras flavor I remembered it used to have. Oh well, fortunately I also ordered the lamb chops which were awesome. Perfectly charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside and was the one dish that paired admirably with the wine.

We skipped dessert and headed to the blackjack tables. I played for a few hours and the others finally showed up and split up between the poker room, blackjack and the craps tables. I busted out after about 3 hours thanks in large part to a hand where I re-split 8’s four times against a dealer 6 and the dealer drawing to a 21. Doh. I went to find the others and came across Kat and Esth at the craps table. Tried that too, and had no luck there either, so since I had blown what I came with, I decided I’d just kill time in the slowest possible way- $1/$2 no-limit. I ended up playing there for almost 8 hours and only playing 2 big pots, both of which I lost. First one I tried to price out the flush draw on the turn but the guy called anyway and caught the river flush. The second one I flopped a set of 9’s, check-raised the guy to my left who called on a board of 96Q, two clubs. The turn came K of diamonds, I lead out with $100 to price out the flush again, and he immediately moves all-in over the top. I figured him for 10 J of clubs and after a long while of deliberating, I folded. Rog said he caught a glimpse of his hole cards and saw a 9 and a red Ace, but I don’t see how the guy could have called the flop bet with that. Regardless, there was no way I could have called his all-in since I figured to need the board to pair in order to win. C’est la vie.

Fortunately a couple of the others fared better than I did. Gar chopped a sit n’ go and Esth cleaned up at the roulette and craps tables (her first ever in a casino too!). Even Rick hit on a slot machine! Good stuff. The winners treated for a giant breakfast at the Metropolitan and then we hit the blackjack tables for one last session. We got lucky and caught a good couple of shoes at the handicap accessible table. In 45 minutes, I recovered half of what I lost the night before and we all headed home on a high note.

I had to take care of a server reboot at 7p in order to get a patch installed (for the daylight savings time change), but the plan was to meet back up with everyone at 9p for dinner at Gama. Everyone barely had anytime for even a nap, and I was running on only 3 and a half hours of sleep myself. But the food was really good at Gama and the watermelon soju was flowing freely. Also tried some light Korean rice wine which was really pleasant. And all of it came to only $30 per person. Good deal.

After dinner, everyone was too pooped to party except for me, Gar, Esth and Twoin so the four of us went to Decibel for some sake. Gar had some kind of special hot sake with a piece of dried salted fish at the bottom and which they ignited when serving. I tried it and really liked the fishy taste. It made the sake taste almost like soup. We killed off a bottle of daiginjo sake and snacked on some edamame and lychee and then called it a night…

Well, they called it a night anyway. I headed over to Punch and Judy’s to hang with the High Life for a couple hours until she got off work. She was headed to a birthday party afterwards but by that point I was pretty exhausted so I bagged and went home. With the time change, I think it was almost 5am by the time I actually went to bed.

Sunday was a recovery day, just sitting around on the sofa and watching the last episodes of the K-drama Stairway to Heaven. It turned out to be a pretty good drama despite my initial annoyance with so many of the blatant similarities with Winter Sonata (same lead actress, a car accident, a person thought to be dead, half-brother/half-sister issues, residual damage from the accident, etc). But just on the merits of the performances of the two leads alone, this drama was a winner. It also featured a caucasian actor in a very cool role as Director Jang, the loyal corporate right hand man who takes care of everything; kind of a Mr. Wolf type character. All the hero would have to do is say “Director Jang, please take care of this” and people would get busted out of jail, people who were hiding would be found, whole weddings would get arranged, and in general shit just got done! I wish I had a Director Jang type working for me. That way I could make him take care of business… so that I can go back to sleep.

Tazza- The High Rollers

Went to see the Korean flick Tazza- The High Rollers at The ImaginAsian theater yesterday. Tazza apparently means professional gambler in Korean, so you knew this was going to be precisely the kind of movie our 211 poker crew wasn’t going to miss. The movie was a huge box office smash in Korea last year, which is hardly surprising since it is a movie about gambling after all. It was a long film, over two hours, but filled with interesting characters, scheming, dismemberment, sledge hammers, peeing into buckets at the card table and of course a couple of gratuitous nude scenes. Nice.

When we were planning to see the movie, Dawg asked where we’d all go to eat afterwards and suggested K-town to make it an all-Korean night. And I said sure, we should round out the full authentic Korean experience by going to K-town for dinner, follow it up with karaoke, and then go home to beat our wives. hahaha… Without skipping a beat, Dawg replied “Since you’re not married what will you be going home to beat?”

Well, we did in fact hit Seoul Garden after the movie. We had 11 people so they had to split us into two different tables. So long as we had a Korean at our table to order the food, we were good to go. We got Mikey at our table while Gar and Esth were at the other. Mikey ordered and within minutes every inch of our table was covered with plates of food, glasses of beer and of course shots of soju. We discussed whether you get better service in K-town if you’re actually Korean. The consensus was that yeah, there’s probably preferential treatment to some degree. Dawg pointed out that in Chinatown, the only thing he gets for being Chinese is extra napkins hahaha. The food was once again terrific at Seoul Garden, and for $14 for the combo of a bowl of tofu jigae and a plate of kalbi, it’s a heck of a bargain too. This being the second time I’ve had the seafood tofu jigae, I can now definitively declare Seoul Garden’s version to be superior to So Kong Dong’s in Fort Lee. Seoul Garden has more seafood in theirs and the seafood is plumper. Really excellent and perfect for a cold winter night.

After dinner, naturally Rog suggested the obvious- a little poker to round out the evening, perhaps? We stopped by pinkberry for some frozen yogurt because, well, Kat always goes there everytime we’re in the hood. It was too cold for me to want any but a few of us got some cups to go and we all headed over to Rog’s. For the 2nd night in a row I got bad beat to get knocked out. Friday night it was Rog calling my all-in and catching runner runner full house, and last night it was Mikey showing me down preflop with AJ to my AQ and catching a J on the board. Oh well. Today is the super bowl over at Gar’s and we’ll have two tables going, so hopefully my luck will change. The last couple weeks have been pretty rough, from work related nonsense to getting knocked out of dart league playoffs in the first round, to losing 3 games in one night of 8-ball league (there have been whole seasons where I wouldn’t lose 3 games), to catching no cards for 5 hours at the Borgata Winter Open. Even with stoopid stuff I seem to be having no luck lately. Patreesha recommended a Korean drama to me so I bought it off of ebay and had been watching about an episode a day until I got to a really pivotal point in the plot… and then the next disc wouldn’t play! Arrrggghhh! Will nothing go right?! But you know what? Hanging out with my peeps the last two nights already has me feeling better. Bad beats at poker notwithstanding, I do feel like these past two weeks have been an aberration and things are about to get better across the board. I just hope that “across the board” also includes the flops at Gar’s later today! 🙂

[ Edit 2/5/07 1:10am ] – Well, it didn’t turn out too bad, got knocked out first from the final table of the main event, but did manage to win the tourney at “the losers table”. Let’s consider that a 1 game winning streak, shall we?

Bustling Dinner, Uneventful Tourney

I took Tuesday off to play the $500+60 NL tourney at the Borgata, event #8 in their Winter Open. Decided I’d head down Monday night so I could get a good night’s sleep instead of dealing with the Tuesday morning traffic. I arrived at the Borgata around 9:15 and gave Men The Master a call to see if he or if he wanted to grab some dinner or if he was still in the $2500 event that was going on. Unfortunately he had busted out of the tourney early and was already back at his hotel (he wasn’t staying at the Borgata), so I decided to hit Old Homstead by myself.

I got a prime seat at corner of the counter facing the open kitchen; lots of cooking entertainment, perfect for a solo diner like me. While I had eaten at the Homestead many times and always loved it, this opportunity to see the kitchen and waitstaff hustle in high gear made me appreciate the place even more. The restaurant was fully packed, in part due to a couple of the other feature restaurants being closed on Mondays, so the kitchen was getting slammed with orders. Everyone in the kitchen was moving at light speed yet nobody seemed panicked or frustrated. The salad and shucking station were directly in front of me but I couldn’t see their hands at work because of the high counter between us. I could only see the look of concentration on their faces as they worked and like magic, every few seconds they would produce huge plates of beautifully arranged salads or oysters on the half shell and set them on the high counter in front and to the right of me. During one twenty minute stretch, the shucker was producing seafood towers back to back nonstop. He’d get them up onto the counter and within seconds a waiter was there to pick them up and shuttle them off to their proper tables. The waiters walked briskly and with purpose and there was a whole army of them, coming, going, taking angles to avoid oncoming traffic, all with giant trays or armloads of plated dishes. The expediter at the pass called out numbers, presumably table numbers, to the line cooks who worked in front of him but on the other side of the stainless steel counter that separated them. Only occasionally would a line cook calmly ask for a re-call if he didn’t hear something. Never nervous, just a calm “Repeat that please!” and “Thank you!”. I could see them rapidly plating gigantic perfectly cooked steaks and racks of lamb onto the shelf over the counter for the expediter to match up with the orders and organize for pickup by the waiters. At the far right end of their counter was a stack of plates and as the line cooks used them up and the stack ran low, it was the expediter’s job to replenish the stack because the freshly washed ones were on his side of the counter. Everyone seemed to communicate by punching stuff into a handheld device with keypad that sort of looked like a cross between a cordless phone and a walkie talkie. At one point the expediter stopped handling the tickets started addressing every waiter and floor staff coming by the kitchen, “The fish is now black bass! The fish is now black bass!”. Everyone who was addressed would repeat it back to acknowledge that they got it, and those that had those walkie talkie things punched something up into them. All this happened at the same crazy pace and the expediter was back on the pass again without skipping a beat. It was a frenetic ballet of controlled chaos and the pace never let up during the course of my entire meal. I was impressed…and tipped accordingly.

After dinner, I needed to put in several hours of table time at blackjack to earn the last of my requisite comp points to retain my Black Card status, so I ended up staying up until 3am before losing my $700 buy-in. I haven’t had a good blackjack session in a while so I figured I’d call it quits and go up and enjoy my room. Speaking of which, I never usually go to the casino midweek, but maybe I should start doing that more often. Why? Because this time when I went to check in for my comped room, they gave me a suite! It was huge!

Borgata 901

After a little soak in the tub (the bathroom was enormous too) I went to bed and woke up refreshed and ready to play some poker. I headed down to the tourney area which was the Events Center instead of the regular poker room because this was the Winter Open. I found Men and chatted with him for a bit before finding my way to my table. Then the grind began. The table showed some promise as there was an agressive guy in seat 3, a rock in seat 5, myself in seat 7 and a textbook player in seat 10. I figured I could get chips from Mr. Aggressor if I could just catch some cards because I knew he would overbet into me. I figured I could push The Rock off some hands if I could get into some heads up pots with him. And I figured to steal some blinds from Mr. Textbook. Three potential targets at a table is usually good enough for me, but this was not my day. I literally never caught a hand while Mr. Aggressor was in a pot. Anytime I had anything playable, he had already folded before the action got around to me. The Rock turned out to be so tight in his starting hand requirements he only played a couple hands per hour. The only hand I had a chance to play with him, I only got $600 from him- with blinds at 100/200, he raised to 600 from early position which meant he had AQ, AK, or pockets of Jacks or better, but since I had AA myself in middle position and needed to isolate, I decided to reraise to 1600. He took forever deliberating and finally showed QQ and mucked it. Pretty tight for so early in the tourney. Oh well. And as for my aspirations of stealing blinds from Mr. Texty, that was foiled as seats 8 and 9 were onto me and took turns re-raising my steal attempts before the action could even reach him. So basically all three options failed to yield anything and with Mr. Aggressor pushing the preflop action hard, I didn’t have the chips to call and see any flops so I had to just wait and pray for some cards. Those cards never came and after about 5+ hours and the blinds eating away at me, I took a stand with pocket 7’s and ran into pocket 10’s and my tourney was over. C’est la vie.

Last weekend

Haven’t had a speck of time to write lately, so let me just scrawl out a few of the highlights from last weekend. Friday night I joined a bunch of my co-workers for after-work drinks at Gama on St. Marks. I totally dug the vibe, with a cool little bar area up front, a full restaurant in the back, and reasonably priced drinks including flavored martinis like watermelon soju. Nice to be able to go out for drinks in the city and still be able to get a beer for just $4! I didn’t try the food although I heard it was great. Will have to go back soon to check out that side of things. I hung out there for a while expecting Rog to text me when round 1 of 211 poker was down to three players. I texted him and Gar to find out what the deal was at 9:30… still 7 players left! Waa daa? Ok, so I still had a little time to kill, so I walked over to Chiyono and grabbed a quick bite. Had the salmon rice, the still awesomely delicious fried oysters and finished it off with that delicate sesame pudding again.

Comfortably sated, I headed over to Rog’s for some poker. They were still playing and it took a while longer for them to wrap up. I don’t think we started playing round 2 until 11:30 and when we did play, it ended up being a marathon tourney as well. Ricky ended up winning at around 3:30am and then treated us all to falafel at Mamouns. We went to the one on St. Marks, just a few doors down from where I had been earlier that night. The falafel really hit the spot at that hour and the super hot sauce woke me up enough to make the drive back home.

Saturday I slept in, did some laundry and then headed to Dawg and Chye’s banquet in Chinatown. Yeah, their actual wedding was down in D.C., but this was the party for the NY crowd. When we were last at Goblin Market, much to my amusement, Vicky High Life convinced Dawg and Chye to let her come to the banquet as my +1. Always a riot, she did not disappoint as a last minute date for this event. The banquet, much like their actual wedding ceremony down in D.C., whizzed right by. If you blinked, you missed it, because the food was being served at a lightning fast rate, three courses on the table at a time with a fourth one constantly on deck to replace one the tabled dishes. There must have been a Chinatown tour bus to Atlantic City warming up out back or something because the restaurant staff sure seemed to be in a hurry. Well, except for those that we saw coming out of the kitchen eating some of their wedding cake! Hahahaha. We chinks can be ridiculously brazen like that.

After the speedy banquet, we headed over to Sing Sing in the LES for karaoke. We got a room which was a bit of a tight squeeze for the large crew we had, but it was cool. The High Life even got me to do a Journey duet with her; how funny and awesome is that? We hung out there a couple hours and then decided to go to a dive bar, anyplace not too crowded, so Gar remembered the little Irish pub he and I went to last month which was just a couple blocks away. I wasn’t drinking cause I had to drive and Vicky was ready to call it a night too, until… Dawg started talking his usual smack and challenged her to Irish car bombs. It was a laughably big mistake for Dawg, since The High Life can drink like you read about. We all headed over to the pub and everyone but me did their car bombs and of course Vicky smoked everyone. Actually one guy whose name I forget was very fast too, but I still think the Vickster edged him by a split second. Nobody else came close. Ok time to leave, right? Nope, Hing challenged Vicky to a rematch. Hahaha, oh man, the second time was even more of a blowout than the first. She was done at least three seconds faster than Hing. We said our goodbyes to everybody while Hing was still ranting about how Vicky is just more of a sprinter and he’s a marathon runner when it comes to drinking; speed versus endurance. Good times!