Friday, January 16, 2009

Poker in the Dominican Republic

For those who don't know, I travel a lot.  I travel for my job and I travel a good bit during my time off.  One thing I do when traveling is to check out the poker in the area.  It is really surprising how many places around the country and world that live poker is available.  Some of the oddest I've come across it are Milwaukee, Budapest, Florida dog tracks, and Seattle (Seattle is just odd).  I've probably played poker in 25 or more casinos outside of Las Vegas over the years.

My last vacation happened to be at a resort in the Dominican Republic.  We found out on arrival that it had its own casino (Make that "My wife found out...").  A quick lap showed that the casino had exactly one poker table.  Both Dr. K and I knew right away that I was going to have to try it out.

I returned after Dr. K's bedtime to try my luck.  This was, without a doubt, one of the worst organized poker games that I've ever played in, EVER!  Most home games are better organized that this.  I knew I was in for an experience as soon as I sat down.  To start with, the chips were the wrong colors.  The $1 chips were red and the $5 chips with blue.  Well, that's really not a part of the poor organization, but it was a reminder that I wasn't anywhere near Kansas. 

The big blind had just passed by seat when I sat down and put my money on the table.  The dealer asked by if I wanted to play.  I said "OK".  She gave me chips, I posted $5 (it was a $2/5 NLH game) and I got cards.  Those who play a lot know the problem here. One is never allowed to enter a game between the blinds and the button.  I guess that is now "almost never."

Unfortunately, I got into a head-up battle with the big blind where I lost a lot by turning a low straight and my opponent rivered a gut shot for a bigger straight.  I announced "straight after he called my river bet.  He silently turned over his cards and the dealer started to push the pot my way.  We both had to read the board for her to get the chips to the real winner.  She would make that mistake several more times before her 30 minutes was up. 

She also did not know the concept of matching the stacks.  Each chip had to be counted and placed in it's own stack.  This got especially bad at the end of every hand when she would count down the pot and then remove the rake from the pot.  That's right, the rake was taken after the hand was over.  The rake in this game was 5% with no max. another oddity.

The casino was very bad about allowing non-players to sit in the vacant seats around the table.  This had three bad effects.  The first was that those players kept getting dealt in which slowed down the already tortoise like pace. The second was that many potential players did realize that there were seats available.  I like to have many players and lots of money on the table, so I had to point out to potential players which seats were available.  The third bad situation here is that the guy sitting beside me, who was not playing, was sitting and leaning up on the table closer to my chips that I was.  His arm was literally 3 inches from my chips.  I also noticed that the poker table appeared to have no eye-in-the-sky.  If he had grabbed a chip, I probably would not have had any recourse.  I made him sit back and all was cool.

I won't even go into the string betting that was just rampant except to say that a certain blind-nazi I know would possibly been arrested for justifiably assaulting other players.  There was one interesting case where a player bet and he was asked how much more he had and he pushed it out so the requesting player could see his stacks.  The dealer pushed the stack into the bet assuming the player had gone all-in.  It took us a while to explain to the dealer what had happened.  Her English not so goot.

The worst situation came up in a big hand near the end of the night.  I was showing down a hand holding q10 on a Q 6 3 2 9 board.  There was about $120 in the pot as we are ready to show.  My only opponent grabs his cards and then notices that he has 3 cards.  I hated that, but his hand is dead at that point, right?  Not necessarily in this game.  No, the dealer starts to split the pot and return all money.  Of course I calmly stated (ok, probably shrieked) "NO!".  Luckily, the other guy was a good player and knew the rule and agreed with me that I won the hand.  He showed that his was playing JJ and I showed that I beat his pineapple hand with my hold 'em hand anyway.  That was a nice pot that got me up for that session. 

The other interesting development was a hand where I called an extream-aggro player's post flop all-in with air on a 7 high board (I think it was 7 6 2).  He had a 7 in his hand and I had AQ.  I spiked a Q on the river to talk a $150 pot.  I never get in that situation to suck out like that, but he asked for the action and represented a big hand pre-flop and I'd seen him do with with air, so that happens.  Still maybe a bad play.  Don't care.

At the end of the trip I came out ahead by $260, so I can enjoy the oddities of poker in the DR with fond memories.


goooooood girl said...

your blog is so good......

Anonymous said...

As the aforementioned blind-nazi I have to comment... how you didn't get up from that game in 5 minutes is a testament to your composure. I would have been livid.
Last year I had the miss-fortune of playing in Puerto Rico, also one table, in the middle of the Casino. The game was not as disorganized, but they had some bizarre policies, and I just about lost it.
Glad you profited though.
-A the Bold