Hit the road for fine poker

May 29, 2006 3:15 AM

Carol, I love to drive about this wonderful country of ours with you and our daughter Oklahoma Sarah.

And I love to visit small and large poker rooms where we can meet old friends and make new ones as we play a little poker and participate in their tournament promotions.

This past week we decided to go up to our Thousand Pines ranch in the high country of Northern Arizona.

Most of the time we take the new beltway (I-215) that kind of circles Las Vegas, then we cross over the Boulder Dam (I know it’s now called Hoover Dam, but it will always be Boulder Dam to me).

I am a retired civil engineer and love to visit Boulder Dam (one of the seven wonders of the world), in part because I spent one year learning how to design foundations for dams. So I marvel each time I get the chance to see this wonderful manmade work of art.

Now they are building a bypass with a long span cable bridge (like the Golden Gate) over the Colorado River. This bridge is scheduled for completion in 2008 — I can hardly wait. It will he high above the river with the dam below it.

But on our recent trip we turned south on Highway 95 before we reached the town of Boulder and headed to Laughlin.

I have to be really careful when I drive Carol’s little car; it wants to go fast and before I realized it we were in beautiful downtown Searchlight. So, we stopped at the Nugget Casino, the home of the 10 cent cup of coffee.

I arranged for a table and asked Carol to order breakfast for me — after 60 years of marriage she kind of knows what I like for breakfast.

Of course, I went over to the poker table but sadly they did not have a game yet. They told me that I would need to come back on the weekend, when the miners came down out of the mountains. That’s when they’d have a really wild poker game.

So I drifted over to the blackjack tables and played a few hands, long enough to win enough to pay for our breakfast and a tank of gas.

We arrived at the Colorado Belle in Laughlin, where my friend James Vincent is the director of poker operations.

I have played many times in the Colorado Belle poker room and, believe it or not, the action is really good and the pots are sometimes large enough to burn up a wet mule.

There are a lot of retired folks who play poker at the Belle; they drive in their RVs and stay for a nice long visit.

I don’t really like to play high limit poker anymore, just a friendly little game with nice folks where I can win enough to pay for a tank of gas. Nevertheless, friends like Jim make sure that everything is first class for us while we stay at their property.

But sometimes folks will say to me, "Why aren’t you playing with the big boys in the big games?"

I like to tell them, "Well, I enjoy playing with a better class of people like you folks, and here at the Colorado Belle I have a lot of old dealer friends and get to meet a lot of new folks."

Then I go on to explain that the professional high limit players are all business when they play and they’re very serious! These professional players have to win to eat!

And often times they are playing way over their heads with everything that they can borrow, beg or steal on the table.

Personally, I like to joke a little and relax as I play poker with nice folks who are not making car payments.

On Tuesday night, Carol and I paid $30 to enter the no limit hold’em tournament. We received 1500 in chips but during the first 20 minutes you could re-buy for $10 and receive another 1,000 poker chips. Then in the next 20 minutes you could reload each time you were down to 2,000 chips for another 2,000 chips; then in the final 20 minutes you could have 4,000 chips in reloads.

Boy! All of the players took advantage of those low cost re-buys and some even had double and triple add-ons.

After a 15 minute break, all the reloads and add-ons were over and the final part of the no limit tournament began.

Carol was over at another table and fighting really hard to hang on and reach the final table, where I was the chip leader with 80,000 in chips.

Jim, a poker player himself who really understands that it takes a lot of chips to play no limit hold em poker, wanted his players to enjoy themselves. So he served us complimentary fish and chips as we played.

The final table was paid, and Carol did hang on and went out 10th and received a big $198 as her money prize.

When it got down to four of us, a split of the money was suggested and I agreed, so by the chip count method I finished in one of my favorite tournament poker spots — second place.

I did not win as much as I won last week at Tom and Susie’s big tournament at Binion’s, where

Oklahoma Sarah and I both finished at the final table. But I could buy another tank of gas!

Tune in next time for the rest of our low limit poker tour.

Poker Tip of the Week

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Oklahoma Johnny says, "A day without poker is like a day without sunshine!"

Until next time remember to stay lucky.