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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - Poker at Sea – The Tournament

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Last month we were lucky enough to take a vacation to Alaska. Our chosen mode of travel was by cruise ship for seven days, then a five day land tour. If you plan a trip of your own to Alaska, cruising is a wonderful way to go, but if you want to see Denali National Park or anything away from the coast, you have to add a land tour either pre or post-cruise.

Before we left I had done some research and knew that being online at sea is outrageously expensive. If you want to take your laptop and play poker, be prepared to spend about $1.50 a minute for the privilege! I knew I wasn’t going to miss playing poker bad enough to pay that, so I prepared myself to take a nice long poker vacation too.

This wasn’t the first cruise I had been on, but the last one was somewhere around 18 years ago, way before the internet or internet poker was even heard of, unlike today where you can take themed cruises which include the poker cruises. And to make booking a poker cruise easier, there is even a travel agent that specializes in poker cruises. This sounds great to me, but wouldn’t have thrilled the other three people I travelled with. None of them gamble, play poker or drink. And yes, knowing this did make me wonder just how much fun I was going to have on this little adventure.

All cruise ships of course have casinos. Some are bigger than others, but they all offer the same “take your money” games of Black Jack, Craps, Caribbean Stud and slots. The one thing I couldn’t find out before we left was if the casino would even be open once we hit Alaskan waters. The laws used to be that a ship has to be in international waters to open the casino, but this was before most states allowed some type of gambling. Either way, open or closed, I was prepared, because other than maybe a little Black Jack or slots, I had no intention of hanging out much in the casino. Some people may think they can “win” their cruise that way but not me, I know better.

When we boarded the ship and made it to our stateroom, the first thing I did was unpack. Why is it that when you are packing you convince yourself you need all that stuff? Then when you unpack it, you ask yourself “what in the hell did I bring so many clothes for?” The typical vacationers lament – at least for women.  

After that chore and stowing the suitcases, it was time to relax and open the complimentary bottle of champagne. I took my bubbly and the ships daily activity sheet out to our veranda to enjoy the 70 degree weather in Vancouver and read what fun could be had on the ship our first day. Of course my eyes stopped when to my total surprise I saw “Texas Hold’em Tournament” 10 p.m. – Casino.

If a slight breeze had popped up it would have blown me out of my chair I was so surprised. Never in my wildest dreams did I dare to think I could do two things I loved at once – cruise AND play poker! Man this had just turned into a dream come true vacation! Of course I couldn’t wait to get to the casino and find out the details, but it was closed until we left port which is standard cruise ship procedure. We didn’t sail until 5:30 and we had dinner at 6, so I planned to hot foot it to the casino right after dinner to get the scoop on the poker. The daily activity sheet also said a 5/10 Hold’em game would start after the tournament at 11:15 p.m., which was really music to my ears! Give me a ring game over a tournament any day!

After dinner and some wine, I made my way to the casino. Since I had not been able to resist a couple of those umbrella drinks when we boarded, then champagne in my room and wine with dinner – first stop was the casino bar of course. With drink in hand I found the pit boss (called a casino host at sea), and asked about the tournament and he showed me where it would be, a Pokermate table, no dealer, all automated.  The buy-in was $60 and six people were already signed-up so I had him add me to the list. I had over an hour to wait so I played around on the slots and of course and had more wine. After all, this was my first real vacation in 10 years and I was damn well going to enjoy it!

When game time rolled around I went to the table and was told where to insert my cash, $65 which included the houses $5, something the casino host failed mentioned before.  Who cares? Hell it is poker! I have wine, am in a great mood and about to play with real live people for the first time in ages – let the fun begin!

My opponents consisted of:

1.    Bud Guy- He was also out to have fun and drink all the beer he could.
2.    Mr. Baseball cap - Dead serious like this was the final table at the WSOP and he never talked or smiled.
3.    Swifty- He was out of the game so fast I don’t even remember him.
4.    Mr. Canada- Fun guy, also in the “how much can I drink” contest.
5.    Me – Hoping to have a great time and being table captain by yakking to everyone.
6.    Ms. Utah Snob – Totally unfriendly, acted like we were privileged because she was there gracing us with her presence and she was special, because she was from Utah.

That was it, six of us at a table for eight. This was my first problem with the tournament, too high of a buy-in for only six players. Even if the table was full, I wouldn’t have thought it was anywhere close to a good investment. Basically it was a 1 table 6 max. Sit n’ Go on an automated table. I don’t play 1 table SnGs and if I did - it wouldn’t be for more than a few dollars. If I am going to invest $65 in a tournament, I want to have a shot at winning a nice chunk of cash, not just $180 which was 1st place according to the payout structure of 50% 30% and 20%.  

I was the bubble babe, busting out 4th when Mr. Canada called in the SB with a 6-5 off suit. I had bumped it up hoping to win it there. Not that I liked my K-4 of hearts, I just hoped if he had worse he would pitch it, he did have worse – but he didn’t muck it. The flop came K-6-8 rainbow and I bet ½ my stack and he called. A 5 on the turn sealed my fate when he checked and I went all-in and he called of course. Oh well, back to the bar!

Next up – what I learned from the players….

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