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The Death of the Palace Red Chip Games and My First 30/60 Trip to La Center

December 21, 2019

It finally happened.

Last night at 4 PM there were only five names on the list for 15/30 at Palace and we didn’t even bother trying to start it. Flea was one of the names and really was the only one pushing to start the game 5-handed but, as some of you may remember, once upon a time Radio Mike and myself started a 3-handed game with Flea and he quit us after winning about $800 in 20 minutes. I’ll never start a short-handed game with him again. I don’t think he’d be willing to lose more than a few hundred playing short and even when he was running good he decided to lock a win up rather than push his luck. I just don’t see any upside there.

I could see the writing on the wall for about a month now. The game has had rough starts for about six weeks and two of the last three sessions barely made it to four hours before breaking for the night. Even when it fills up and gets a big list, it seems like the vast majority of the people waiting never actually sit in the game. With the rough starts and little traffic later in the night to keep the game strong, this game just doesn’t have legs anymore.

When I look around the room at the 8/16 games, I usually can spot about 12-15 players that have played in the 15/30 – some of them regularly – and they just aren’t playing it anymore. I went through my Blog Nicknames and counted 53 players, including myself, that used to play 15/30 at least somewhat regularly – and these are just the people I gave nicknames to. I broke those 53 players into four categories when it comes to their current 15/30 status. Here’s what the results look like:

Regulars – 6 (11.3%, and this number includes Ducky who has basically said he’s done coming and Mighty Mouse who never starts the game)
Semi-Regulars – 7 (13.2%)
Rarely Play – 6 (11.3%)
Never Play – 34 (64.2%)

I mean, shit, 75% of the players I used to play with so often I gave them special names basically never play 15/30 anymore. Even guys like Taz and Cobra that used to be staples have completely disappeared. This is supposed to be the busiest time of the year for poker and this game is still crumbling. I’m in disbelief honestly. By March of 2020, 15/30 probably won’t even be offered anymore. Looking through my session history, this game was going 3-4 times a week from winter of 2017 to spring of 2018 and was still going twice a week as recently as spring of this year. It honestly boggles my mind how something can just dry up like that.

I suppose I’m a bit indifferent about the death of the game right now. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not exactly crushing 15/30 this year. My win rate currently sits at 0.35 BB/hr in 2019. For what it’s worth, since July 19th I’ve been running at -$23.28/hr and have lost about $3400 in 15/30 during that span. Prior to that extended downswing, I was at a respectable $31.80/hr for the year and 1.62 BB/hr lifetime. Even with the downswing factored in, my lifetime win rate in this game is still 1.28 BB/hr, so I guess I should be more upset that it’s dying, but it’s just not the same game it used to be.

15/30 isn’t the only red chip game that’s dead at Palace. I’m shocked they still put up a board for PLO on Wednesdays. I don’t think that game has started in over a month. I haven’t played in almost three months. That’s another game that really dried up and I couldn’t deny the fact that it just didn’t seem super profitable anymore. It also didn’t help when Global Poker decided to block Washington state players and I could no longer get regular PLO reps in online.

The 10/20 Omaha 8 or Better game is dead also. There was a chance for that to be a thing, but they alienated outside players by catering to their 4/8 regulars and not starting a second game when they had a bunch of new faces in the building. Two weeks of that and the new faces stopped showing up. I personally quit playing that game because they are dropping $3 a hand for promotions with garbage payouts (in addition to $3 for rake). Why play a split pot game for slightly larger stakes when I can play Hold’em where the drop is basically the same and the promo payouts are SUBSTANTIALLY larger? I really enjoy playing games other than Hold’em but Sunday has become the best day to play at Palace now and Omaha is not the game you want to be in.

So I guess I’m an 8/16 player again? Barf. Not like I have a ton of options without making a serious drive. Fortune’s 20/40 games are about as dead as the Palace games. I’m a fan of the 20/40 Mix at Red Dragon, but it’s such a brutal commute and the game seems to start way too late. I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and start playing some no limit or start traveling a lot more. Both of those things are going to be more of a focus in 2020.

In light of all this, I finally decided to make a trip to La Center, Washington to check out the 30/60 game I’ve heard about at Last Frontier. Sandman told me that he’s played in it and gave it an unfavorable review, saying the game isn’t great and that it seems to break around 5 or 6 PM (with a noon start) a lot of the time. Considering this is a four hour commute for me, that news is pretty alarming, but it’s not like I have options around here and I had to go check it out for myself.

I made the trip this past Wednesday and I think I was like 5th or 6th on the list when I called in, but I actually ended up starting the game. I wasn’t happy to immediately recognize rodeo, a Two Plus Two LHE crusher that plays reasonably high stakes. I also recognized at least two other faces, although I don’t know too much about them. Considering there looked to be three pros in the game, I didn’t think the game was too bad and watching rodeo absolutely demolish the rest of the table, I realized that a) I may not be playing the most profitable style of limit Hold’em and b) when you know how to exploit the regulars in your game at an elite level, the fact that the game is not “great” doesn’t matter too much.

It really was a sight to behold. Rodeo was doing things I wouldn’t even consider doing. I’m sure his style creates some pretty severe variance, but he’s someone that I have no doubt is better than me and when you see someone like that doing things you don’t do, it’s time to start reconsidering your approach. He wrecked the game for at least +$5k in six hours or so and was obviously running well, but I was still extremely impressed with how he was doing it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Last Frontier in La Center. First off, they let me walk right in with my backpack without hassling me. I ate my own snacks and drank from my own water bottle and no one said anything about it. I thought the players and staff were pretty friendly and even the more serious players at the table had easygoing table presences.

Also, there’s a nice park across the street to walk around during breaks:

When I’m playing on the road in a game that’s brand new to me, I start off playing extremely tight, but I also had rodeo on my immediate left and when I saw what he was doing and how well he navigated after the flop, I knew I was going to stay playing really tight all day long. When a really good player is on your left, playing a lot of hands, 3-betting with every suited connector, bluffing a lot and being really sticky, he will make your life hell if you want to widen your range. So for my first four hours, I played very few hands. I was card dead, in addition to having a horrible seat. I won a couple of nice pots with AK suited and AA and flopped a flush with QT suited. The only ugly hand I lost was a 3-bet 4-way pot with TT when one of my opponents showed up with KQ on 974K5 so I was up about $600 after four hours or so.

I came back from a break and posted in the cutoff and was happy to see two jacks when it folded to me. I raised it up and rodeo 3-bet on the button and I called. I got a J94 flop and K4 runout and rodeo called me down after I check-raised the flop and that was the only pot of significance that I won from him. I was definitely hoping for some more action in this spot considering this is a situation where my range should be far weaker than usual, but my image up to this point was super nitty and I suppose I should be happy to be even get to showdown.

Of course I was aware of this image and I found at least one spot to exploit it. I defended a cutoff open with KTo in a 3-way pot and check-called a bet on J33. The turn was a queen and when my opponent bet, I figured a check-raise from me would have a lot of credibility, plus this is likely a wide range spot for him, so I figured to have a high rate of success with a bluff here and he did end up folding.

I had a spot where I picked up AA folded to me on the button and the big blind defended against my open. The flop was K33 and I got check-raised, so I called and when he fired out again on the turn, I jacked him up and was a little perplexed when he responded with a 3-bet. The turn was a ten and I’m sure he’d be pretty happy holding KT here, but I didn’t really think this was the type of player that would 3-bet me with a hand like KQ, so I guess I’m just calling down at this point? The river is jack and I call his bet, hoping for some sort of spazz, but he has the 83 of clubs.

I think I peaked somewhere around +$1500 and later in the night, as the game got shorter, I found myself in an extremely profitable situation. Eventually, I was playing 4-handed with one solid player, a very loose-passive player, and an unhinged, spewy maniac. It was approaching 8 PM and I had a two hour drive home ahead of me, so I was ready to call it a day, but I couldn’t pass up this spot and unfortunately the maniac mostly got the best of me.

On one hand, before we were 4-handed, there were two limpers and the maniac raised from the small blind. I defended in the big with 66 and got the 876 flop. The maniac and I capped the flop and I was prepared to do more raising on the turn, but when it was a 5 and he still bet, I somehow talked myself out of putting in the raise. My hand is obviously doing extremely well against someone that can have any two cards and I’m certain he’d be punting bets here with overpairs, but I’d already seen enough to know that 9x and 4x hands were in his range here and ultimately decided to just call down. I didn’t fill up on the river and this guy did end up having the T9 offsuit and flopped the nuts.

The maniac was creating a high variance situation 4-handed and I wasn’t flopping well and was in danger of turning $1500 into a nearly breakeven session before rivering a one card flush with KQ to somewhat save things from going completely off the rails. The game broke a short while later and I finished at +$1051.

Overall, I was pretty happy with my experience and I’ll definitely be going back. The game broke just after 8 though, so I can see how it could break even earlier on some days and if I’m going to make this trip, it’s going to have to be at least a two day event. I’ve heard the 20/40 games on Tuesdays are really good, so in the future I’ll be driving there on Tuesdays, playing 20/40 all day, staying the night somewhere, playing 30/60 on Wednesdays, and then driving back. I expect this to be a pretty regular part of my routine going forward in 2020. I’ve also heard the 20/40 games are really good on Fridays, so I might stretch my stays to Saturday some of the time.

I also made an appearance at Fortune this month with the intention of playing some 20/40. I know they generally only get one game now and have had a hard time starting it lately, but I figured if I went there on a Thursday it would pop off pretty early. It was my first time going to Fortune to play 20/40 since May. The last two times I’d been there, I just popped in to play some 4/8 with a friend of mine that doesn’t play much poker.

I had to endure almost three hours of 1/3 NL before the 20/40 game finally started just after 5 PM. I knew I was leaving at 9 PM to see Queen & Slim, but I couldn’t wait to get out of that NL game so I took a seat even though I had a hard stop time and would only be able to play about 3.5 hours.

I only have one interesting note from this session: I got to pull off the extremely rare feat of check-raising every single street. I know I’ve done this before in my poker playing days, but it wouldn’t shock me if it’s been over a decade since it last happened. I didn’t even realize I did it until Bulletproof said something after the hand: “did you just check-raise every street?”

I can’t even really brag about it though. Here’s how it happened: it folds to the cutoff, he opens, and I defend in the big with the 54 of spades. The flop is Q73 with two hearts and a spade. This is a wide range spot for the cutoff and I have a weak draw, so I’m looking to bluff here by check-raising. When he responds with a 3-bet, I’m going to take one off and fold if I don’t improve most of the time, but the turn is the ace of spades and I feel like I’m in another good bluffing spot. If he has a queen, a flush draw, or a medium pocket pair and decides to bet the turn, he’s not going to love it when I raise and may fold a queen some of the time and will probably fold medium pairs a good amount of the time. If he calls, I’m going to have to bet most rivers and hope he missed a draw or might finally fold a queen or worse. In addition, I picked up a double gutter and a flush draw, so I have plenty of equity when he does stick around. He ends up tanking for such a long time that I think it’s going to get through and I’m extremely shocked when he comes out of it with another 3-bet. Ouch! Geez, I guess I’m just going to have to get there. My plan is to lead spades, but check-raise my straight cards and the river is the lovely 6 of diamonds, allowing me to do just that. I think if he’s at the top of his range here, I should get four big bets from him on the river, but he just calls and I win a very fun pot. I feel like pulling off the triple check-raise is a little less cool when you have seven high on two of those streets and get 3-bet both times, but what are you gonna do?

I’m having a decent December so far as I look towards the finish line of 2019. I had decent trips to La Center and Fortune that have actually had a huge impact on my overall results. In 86 hours at Palace this month, I’m running at a middling $9.70/hr and I’m having yet another shitty month in online mix games (more on that in my 2019 results post). I’m currently at +$1600 for the month and with holidays dominating the last ten days of December, I probably won’t get a ton of volume in before the new year. Sadly, this has been an above average month for me lately up to this point, so I guess I have to look on the bright side… but really 2020 can’t get here soon enough.

One comment

  1. […] way is because of what has happened to the poker scene where I live. I talked about it a bit in my last post, but I’ll recap here: my game of preference is mid-stakes (15/30 – 40/80) Limit […]



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