June 2006
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Leicester Gala

Leicester Gala is one of the better UK casino cardrooms I’ve played at.  It has a few quirks: most oddly the tables are all 8-seaters, so with house dealers that’s no more than seven players to a table.  Every game is dealer-dealt, which is excellent.  Even the £10 game on a Monday night has a house dealer – fantastic value.  Every tournament is a freezeout with a decent number of chips and 30 minute levels.

They also don’t allow cash games, so the side action is in the form of a seven-handed sit and go.  Unfortunately because the card room doesn’t make any money – let’s face it, how could it? – the dealers are called off to run blackjack and roulette and that jackpot stud poker carnival game as the tables break.  So last night (£20 tournament) after I was eliminated early I ended up hanging around for two hours to get in a sit-and-go.

Actually this is the first time I’d been eliminated early at Leicester – I’ve had reasonable success before.  The cards just weren’t going my way though.  I’d gathered a few small pots when I see AK with the under-the-gun player raising all-in for 500 chips.  Blinds are 100/200.  There’s still 5 players to act so I reraise to 1500 to isolate and he shows KQ.  The ace on the flop just helps to fill his straight and he doubles up. 

That player doesn’t last much longer and gets replaced by somebody celebrating his 19th birthday with free champagne.  I raise under-the-gun with KK and he reraises me the minimum from the big blind.  I move all-in, figuring the stacks aren’t deep enough to play the flop confidently and he calls with AJ.  The flopped ace leaves me with about 800 chips and the table breaks.

I’m all in first hand at the new table with 89o and it does the job.  Next hand I see A9 and do the same thing but get called by a donkey with K4s who hits 2 4s and sends me packing.

So after playing for less time than it took to drive there I decided to try a £20 sit-and-go.  These games have 10 minute levels so you can’t hang about.  Fortunately I didn’t need to, seeing AA very early on.  I called a small raise, feeling that the table was a bit frisky, and sure enough a player moves all in.  The original raiser calls and I rush to get my chips in to calls of "he’s just calling for value".

I’m delighted to see 88 and AT, and my hand holds up to eliminate two players!  The luck continues as I knock out player number 3 with the mighty KJ on the big blind.  Usually I’m not good enough to play KJ, but with a free play and flopping top pair against his, erm, total bluff I’m somewhat ahead.

Heads up I have a 3-1 chip lead, which is only about 8 big blinds by then.  I offer a deal, and he refuses – either he thinks he’s great or likes £100 coinflip – but the bad karma rule doesn’t work this time. 🙁

Key hand comes with my 9T in the big blind and a free play.  Flop is 788 and I move all in.  He instantly calls, asking if I have a 7.  I don’t really understand the question – a whole bunch of hands are beating his ace high, 4 kicker!  So in fact I’m slightly ahead here with 14 outs and 2 cards to come, but it doesn’t happen.  I’d be betting this hand almost always so I don’t think it’s awful to push in this situation with hardly any chips to play with.

Received £40 for my trouble though, which almost paid for the night, and I got to play some short-handed poker (albeit briefly) which is always good practice.

One thing to remember if you are planning on playing at Leicester is to get there early. Very early.  Registration opens at 6.30pm for an 8pm start.  The capacity is 56 players (8 tables of 7) and when I arrived at 7.20 I was number 46.  I’ve missed out a couple of times – the Monday £10 game tends to sell out before 7pm.

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