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Monday, September 15, 2008

A little poker overseas

Before I get into countless stories of my trip I thought I'd share one that was actually poker related.

After a week of traveling around England I arrived in London for just 1 day before heading off to Paris. That evening I headed down to the Leicester Square area of town to check out one of the many casinos. I chose to take a look at The Casino at The Empire. A rather fancy place filled to the brim with Asian gamblers. Very few slots, a moderate amount of your every day table games, and a poker room.

Face to Face is their poker room and I had to check it out. I had arrived late in the evening and there were only 2 cash games going as well as the final table to one of their nightly tournaments. Put my name on the list and got the lowdown on the games. They had 2 options. Both games going were 1/2 NL but only one of them had a dealer. The other was self deal and had a lower rake. The rake? 6 pounds collected every hour from all players sitting at the table. The dealer table cost 8 pounds an hour and had a much longer list to get through in order to play. Max buyin of 250 pounds.(still not sure how to make the funky pound symbol with my keyboard) 20 minutes later I was able to sit down at the self dealt table.

9 players. I was not forced to post out of position. And a table captain willing to battle it out with all takers interested in the job. Honestly I was happy he was on top of things as the game was generally a mess of incorrect bets, people dealing before all the action was finished and a drunken Asian lady who played every hand.

I choose to play tight and didn't really have many memorable hands for the evening. QQ with an ace high flop and two raisers was the only premium hand and an easy fold. The action was all on 2 Isreali brothers who were fast and furious into any raised pot. I was the only American in the room and the rest were either British or other worldly travelers from Japan, Spain and one hilarious guy from Australia.

Some interesting things were going on that evening. Tipping in Europe is a mixed bag. It's normally not expected in most situations. But at this casino they had just changed the rules to allow dealer tipping, THAT DAY. Of course at the self dealt table no one was tipping the other players as that could get weird. But when I was moved to the dealer table very few knew of the rule until Helen, the crazy Asian gambler, brought it up time and time again. 'Tip the dealer!' she would shout with a drunken slur. Almost noone tipped. Seeing how I won very few pots that night, neither did I. But Helen was on a rampage to get people to tip. When she would win a pot, her tip was usually close to 50% of her winnings. And on the last hand she played when she went all in with her last 40 pounds with 10-3 and was called by A-10, she almost got violent when the winner wouldn't tip her entire 40 pound bet to the dealer. 'Why do you think I went all in with 10-3?' she shouted over and over. We were all greatful when she finally left the room and there was finally some peace and quiet.

Most of the evening I was just chatting up the others at the table. A few knew where or what Iowa was. And most also played online. But after losing more than 100 pounds of my initial buy in I decided to call it a night.

I would be back in this room though toward the end of my trip. But that is a story for another day. Let me just throw out a teaser that it was for a tournament. And Helen was seated directly to my left all freaking night.

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