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!
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.