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Crapshoot #3

The Vic has a dice table.  Just the one tucked away in the corner, but nevertheless it’s the first I’ve seen in a UK casino, amid the gazillions of electronic roulette stations.  The roulette there has two video feeds from separate wheels and you can pick which one to bet on.  This gives punters a reason to play on two adjacent machines at the same time – for the multi-tabling professional.

Vij had come along on Saturday to watch me set fire to his 5% and clearly had the urge to lose more money after he’d seen me bust out of the poker.  Craps was going to be his game of choice, although he’d mostly forgotten how to bet - and how to keep the dice on the table!  So Vij concentrated on trying to shoot while I got to call the bets with his money.

The thing with craps is that it has to be a busy, rowdy table to be fun. Well, the two of us made it three (although that miserable bastard wouldn’t bet unless he was shooting) and at one point there were as many as five people standing around the table.  We didn’t quite reach critical mass to keep the game going and hi-fiving and shouting were unsurprisingly not present, but if there was even a little bit of a vibe I’d probably have wanted to stay longer.  The game wasn’t that bad at all.

They only allow single odds but with 50p and 20p chips in play you don’t get penalised for only betting the minimum.  Place the 6 and 8 for £3 each and you win £3.50 when it hits.  If you can still find a $3 craps game in Vegas (clue: it’s not on the Strip) you won’t get any change when you press a winning place bet to $6.

Without the change, there’d be no point taking odds on a £3 line bet for any number other than a 4 or 10, but a 6-5 true odds bet pays £1.20 for every pound behind the line.  The English denominations actually work out pretty well for the small-timers.  They definitely don’t let you bump up the bet to get a round payout – I tried! – and when I only put £2 down for 3-2, the dealers really didn’t know whether that was allowed.  To prevent all hell from breaking loose, just make sure your odds bet is the same amount as your line bet.

Frustratingly, hardways had the same £3 minimum as all the other bets, so there was no chance of a heroic parlay with loose change.  The odds were pretty good though (for sucker bets) giving 9.5-1 on the hard 6 and 8 and 7.5-1 on the hard 4 and 10.  The deliberately confusing 10-for-1 and 8-for-1 in Vegas actually mean a payoff of 9-1 and 7-1 respectively for a house edge of about 9% or 11% – one of the worst bets in the casino.  These adjustments halve the edge, and if only they had made it a quid minimum I’d play a hard six or eight with 4.5% juice all day long.

Crapshoot #2

I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t know how to adjust to the standard of play in the EPT satellites.  Particularly on Sunday, it seems I had a lot to learn.  The following mania all happened during level 2 (blinds 50/100).

The under-the-gun player raises to 350.  A frustrated Scandinavian calls and the next player re-raises to 900.  The re-raiser only has 700 left, so he’s going nowhere and I’m suspicious about why he hasn’t just moved all-in already.  I find pocket jacks in the cut-off.  It’s the best hand I got to see in either tournament, but with an UTG raiser who has me well covered, it’s not a good spot to gamble my stack so I fold.  UTG makes the powerplay of a smooth call.  Obviously he wants to take the flop 3-way, but the other guy dissapoints him.  Naturally with a pot of over 2000, the remaining 700 gets thrown in on a low flop.  We see the re-raiser’s pocket 9s hold up against UTG’s T8s.

Lessons learned: Pocket pairs are always raising hands.  Folding to a re-raise is weak.

I stayed out of the way for this one.  All folded to the button who raised to 350.  He had 98o, but the steal attempt is OK.  Big blind defends with J5, a little stubborn but in fact the best hand.  Soulscan successful.  When the flop comes J97, carnage ensues.  BB check-raises all-in with his monster top pair and the button decides it’s a great idea to not get pushed around, calling his last 4000 chips to win about 6000 with a gutshot and middle pair.  Seat open.

Lessons learned: Always defend your blind by calling out of position with garbage.  Folding a straight draw is weak.

That bustee had used up all his luck in an earlier hand when he had raised small preflop with pocket aces, followed by a massive all-in overbet on a 952 flop.  Just go ahead and tell everybody how strong you were before the flop and hope nobody caught up.  For sure you won’t get called now unless they got very lucky to outflop you.  But outflopped he was, by pocket 2s.  Then turn 5, river 5 put him back in front in the cruelest way possible.

Next, I limp after three others with 67s.  One more player calls and the short stack big blind moves all in.  I’m starting to get desparate and wonder if there’s any reason to call here after it’s folded back to me.  I decide it’s not even close - the pot odds aren’t good and the raiser has been quite tight.  In fact, in the land of the results-oriented, my 67 would have made a straight.  I know this because the player on the button called and also made the straight with 63o.  Pocket aces went home.

Lessons learned: Limp with any old shit if you have position.  Folding once you have put chips in the pot is weak.

I didn’t survive long into level 3.  In fact the levels were a complete trainwreck.  We were sent on a break at what I thought was the end of level 2, but when we got back it was still the same level.  "Another 2 minutes at this level", they announced.  About fifteen minutes later, the blinds actualy went up.

In level 3, blinds are 100/200.  The only reason there are still t25 chips in play is that antes kick in on level 4.  And to think I was worried that I might not be able to make an 8pm train home if I did well.

I was down to a thousand and change on my small blind and with 3 limpers already wanting to take a cheap look I completed with 78s.  The big blind pays no attention to the action so far and makes it 500 to go.  One of the limpers now decides to fold, but two do come along for the ride.  Having been unable to find any spots to gather chips so far and expecting to be called if I actually get chance to open-push in the next orbit, I decide I have to play this hand.  I could call and close the betting, then be the first to throw my chips at any flop that looks good, but I don’t fancy pulling a stop-and-go against three other players, and with less than 1/5th of the pot size left to bet.  By moving all-in here, I want to re-open the betting to allow the agreesor to isolate, and leave plenty of dead money in the pot to give a reasonable payoff if my second-best hand improves.  Not a superb situation to be in, but I’d run out of time and couldn’t expect to see much better.

In fact we take a flop four ways, and it doesn’t really surprise me – even though one of the callers has left himself with just 300 chips now.  Never mind.  I’m right back in the game if I get lucky here.  Flop: 89T with two spades – a pair and open ended straight draw.  Could be worse, until I see the other cards.  67 is loving his made straight and I can only split with him.  But we’re both actually drawing dead to QJ in spades – the current nuts with a flush draw to boot.

So there ends my EPT journey.  £660 for less than three hours of poker.  Next year, I think I’ll probably not bother.