Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The St. Louis poker scene

The Kampises are getting settled into St. Louis, having moved our belongings to our Lindenwood Park rental home last Thursday.

We're enjoying city life -- having a large park 100 feet from our house, being able to walk a couple of blocks to a decent restaurant, receiving mail at our door.

It's also quite nice to have a selection of poker rooms within 30 minutes driving distance. While my attendance is bound to be much more sporadic now that my wife and son are with me, I got a good feel for the St. Louis poker scene during my first three weeks of "bachelordom." (I also turned a nice four-figure profit in that time.)

There are four casinos with poker rooms in the general area -- River City and Lumiere Place are along the Mississippi River in St. Louis proper while Harrah's and Ameristar are along the Missouri River in the St. Charles area.

Harrah's easily has the most action of the four, not that surprising given the company's reputation for poker. In fact, Harrah's sometimes has as many games going as the other three combined (information easily obtained by the Bravo Poker mobile phone app as all four use the Bravo system).

There's usually several 1-2 NLHE games going, as well as a 3-6 LHE. The game du jour here is a 1-2-5 PLO game that runs around the clock, sometimes with two tables. On Thursday they rotate PLO and PLO8. (That's the one game I got squished in up here when I flopped middle set and got stacked by top set.) There's a 20-40 LHE game that runs one day of the week -- Wednesday maybe? Harrah's also has daily tournaments with buy-ins of $60 to $160 that draw three to four tables of players.

On the other side of the river is Ameristar, which has a nice but usually dead room. There's normally one 3-6 LHE game and one or two 1-2 NLHE games. A 5-10 L08 with a half kill normally runs Friday and Saturday nights and may be the softest game in the area.

I've only played once in St. Louis city limits -- at Lumiere Place a few blocks north of the arch -- but the action was crazy. The biggest game there is 1-3 NLHE, but straddling is allowed from any position, and players can straddle for $15 if they want (and do, not so infrequently). I played a long late-night session and cashed out a $25 winner after getting up $200 or so. I felt like I should have won a grand, but the cards just didn't work out for me despite the donk action.

I have not played at River City yet, but according to the handy Bravo app the action is one or two 1-3 NLHE tables and a 3-6 LHE (otherwise known as the "who cares" game.) This is a stop for Heartland Poker Tour in late September, however, so I plan to darken its doors soon.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

St. Louis & beyond

Wow, has it really been nearly 40 days since my last post?

Well, since May 1 I worked out of a hotel in St. Charles for two weeks, went back home to visit the family, moved into our rental house in St. Louis and lived for about a week there before flying to Providence for a conference with my new job.

And yes, in St. Louis with no family around I did find my way to the poker rooms there quite frequently. I'll share much more on the area poker scene and the quirky Missouri casinos laws with you in future posts.

Did I hear there is a thing called going on?

Finally, my streak will end this summer. Each of the last two years -- maybe three -- I would say I'm not going to Vegas in the summer, but I would start some other project that would find me with reason to go. Not this time. I've got a great new job, and I just won't have the time.

By the way, you can visit Missouri Watchdog here to see what I've been up to. It's a pretty fun gig as I get to choose what I cover, and once you dig in any state you can find issues relating to everything from open records to extravagant industry subsidies.

While I will miss the WSOP for the first time in nine years, I made my first visit to Foxwoods in seven years Thursday night. The place is as big as I remember, and what's odd about the resort are the floor to ceiling windows with views of the Connecticut woods outside. Clocks and windows are two things you just don't see in casinos.

I have followed the WSOP a bit from afar, and dispensing advice to those I know who plan to go this summer. I was happy to see Andy Bloch finally get his first well-deserved bracelet. I know some point at him in the FTP scandal, but I like to think he was ignorant of the malfeasance. Andy's a nice guy who I don't think would intentionally cheat anyone.

For more poker discussion as I bid you adieu, visit here.