I went to Dusk Til Dawn last night for the £25+£5 Buy-In tournament, arriving in plenty of time for Kick Off at 730pm, to allow me time to become a member and get a bite to eat, before we started.
I found the place easy enough, just got on the Ring Road and kept heading South, I then saw the Showcase Cinema on the right hand side of the dual carriageway and followed directions at the next slip road to the 'Multiplex'. DTD is situated directly behind the Showcase cinema, and my first impression, as it stood on its own against the dusk skyline, was one of a very small Ceasers Palace, with its Romanesque columns adorning the entrance and the whitewashed exterior.
My enrolment took just 2 minutes, with my passport as proof of picture ID, I also ensured I adhered to the dress code of no trainers, or TShirts - apparently they are very strict on the no trainers bit.
My first impression was that it wasn't as big as I had expected, but this is a bit unfair as my only previous experience of card rooms are the ones in built within the massive Vegas Casinos, and actually the Poker Table coverage of this venue is total, no other Gaming Tables exist, and in that then this was (with exception of the Amazon Room which was set up specifically for the WSOP, and not usually a dedicated card room) the most Poker Tables I have seen in a single venue - all excellently laid out on a tiered style, and all dealer dealt.
I was given a brief tour of the venue by an Asian guy whose first name began with 'T', paid my tournament entry and made my way to the bar area. I had been driving around the area in vain for the previous 40 minutes trying to find a fast food outlet, but to no avail. not a MacDonalds for miles !! - can you believe it. I knew they did bar food at DTD, but there was no visible menu, so being wary of getting charged some fancy dan prices for Burgers and Chips, I opted to ask for Crisps, or Nuts - apparently they don't do Nuts or Crisps- bit ironic a Poker Venue were you can't even buy 'the Nuts' :) , so I sat down with a Pint of Fosters Shandy (reasonably priced at £2-55) and a 1/2 eaten packet of Wrigley's extra to stave of my hunger.
About half an hour passed and the tournament was called to the tables. My table and seat was indicated on large LCD Monitors with a seating plan on the following screen - all very impressive and a nice touch.
So to the tournament - starting with 3000 chips and 24 minute blinds, it gives enough room for post flop play in the first 3 or 4 levels - and the atmosphere is excellent - with no noisy slots or roulette wheels disturbing the background mutterings. I didn't want to come all this way and be out first hand, so I was going to pretty basic A-B poker, raising and never limping first in, playing big hands strongly and not doing to much unnecessary blind stealing , especially in the early levels.
There were 124 entrants and I was sat in Seat 4 on Table 27 for the initial shuffle up and deal. My worries that I may be faced by a table full of obnoxious bigots, was soon dispelled everyone on the starting table looked pretty normal and I soon found out that not everyone knew how to play poker. A few hands in and UTG +1, I pick up my first nice hand with QQ - raise 3*BB and get 3 callers !! - 1 in the CutOff, the Big Blind and Small Blind. The flop comes K58 not too bad a flop for me, but the K was a little bit of a concern - anyway SB,BB checked and I put in a continuation bet of 3/4 Pot - fold,fold around to a lady in the BB who called. I had seen her call bets on every street holding 2nd pair in an earlier hand, so didn't put her on a King - but thought it possible she could be playing a weak ace, so what comes out on the turn but a fooking Ace !!
....... Shit ...... what a great board for a pair of Queens with an Ace and King on show. Anyway to my surprise she checked !! - So wary of the check-raise I also checked - I think I gave her a bit too much credit here, but would another bet have got me anymore chips ?? Anyway the River Card was a Ten, which also gave a backdoor flush for anyone on a draw - luckily for me she checked again, I also checked the River and she turned over a pair of 9's !!
I then proceeded to go card dead for around a level, seeing a couple of cheap flops with 44, and 22 but hitting neither and losing 6*BB holding QJs when chasing a flush from the flop then folding to another big raise on the turn.
I then got moved tables - to seat 5 which is and ideal seat, although this table contained some very big stacks and this combined with another dry run of cards saw me just win one pot preflop when I rerasied all-in holding AK against another Shortstack - then the hand before first break with 65 left I was in the BB and looked down at Aces. 3 limper's before me including the Small Blind, I raised it to 5*BB and two of the limper's called. The flop came down 273 rainbow - great flop for me - the small blind checked, and I decided not to play it cute but play it strongly and be pleased to take the pot as it was - so I pushed all-in for a well below average total of around 3000 chips. First player folded, then much to my surprise the small blind started pondering ?? - my first instinct after I pushed had been 'hope he's not just checked Trips with a small PP there' - but after his first 10 seconds of thinking that notion had gone, he would have called far quicker
Anyway he now starts the speaking to me to get a clue bit
"Overplaying Ace King .... " - "Don't think you've hit that" ....
I just stare directly ahead saying nothing. By this time everyone else has gone for there break and hes still counting his chips, I felt like saying call the clock on this guy but decided to stay schtum. Anyway he eventually calls ...... as he called the preflop raise, and from his talk thinking I'm playing AK, I'm expecting him to have an overpair like 8's,9's or 10's or maybe A7 as TPTK.
But he turns over 74 !?! - the turn is a 6 giving him another 4 outs but the River is a blank in the form of a 10, so a nice end to the session.
I grab a piss and call the missus with the time left on break and then sit down again for the next level. We are now playing with Antes of 25 per hand and the blinds have raised again, I'm still under average chips and need to be making a good score again pretty soon. Card dead again for a few levels, plus 1 missed hand where I raised preflop with 44 and the flop brought AJQ and the BB (Tables Big Stack) led out for a pot sized bet.So pretty soon with the antes increasing to 50 per hand and the blinds raising, again I'm shortstacked, I look down at 57off in the CutOff and seeing no action before me push all in for around 4000 Chips, the Button and SB fold and then table big stack is in the Big Blind. Again I'm faced with the trying to get something out of me routine .... "Do you want a call" .... "I've got plenty of chips, to afford the call"... I again just stare directly ahead and say nothing. Anyway I get the result I want again, this time a fold - I was pretty pleased with that, it must mean that I have no obvious tells (to this level of player anyway).
The blinds and antes kept me alive for another couple of circuits then came my knockout hand, I was in the big blind just as the level raised to 800/400 with a 100 ante - so it was costing me 2100 a round, and with a stack of just 4200 i couldn't afford for the blinds to go through me again. So I looked down at my cards and saw 86s - not the greatest of hands, but I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. Anyway it folded around to the Button - and this guy was again well chipped up, although 2 hands earlier I had seen him play an awful hand when he min-raised every street until the river and then folded to a 3000 bet into a 20000 pot on the river. Anyway he bets 3200, which I immediately thought he's got no hand at all, and that's an obvious steal bet, the small blind was also struggling for chips, although not as desperate as me - he pondered and thought for a good while then threw his hand in the muck - I instantly pushed All-In, my only problem here was that I had probably waited a circuit too long as my 4200 wasn't enough to push him off even the worst off hands for 1000 more chips. So after humming and aaahing for a couple of minutes he called - my only hope was that his crap hand was either A- worse than mine or B- didn't have me dominated by holding an 8 or 6 with a bigger kicker.
I had to settle for scenario B, as he turned 94o - I don't know the exact odds but would hazard he was about 55/45 favorite with a fair chance of a split pot - but I didn't win the race and on a low board neither of us hit until a 4 came on the river. NH GG FO .
I finished a creditable 30th (I think, 31 left on board but a guy on another table busted out whilst my hand was in progress) - and made it down to the last 4 tables - top 12 were paid.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and don't think I came across anyone who I would have felt in awe against, and this level was well within my abilities. The buy-in for my budget is a little steep for it to be a regular occurrence, but I would hope to get there a couple more times this year - holidays and hours permitting !!
My only gripe, and its a minor one to say the least, is that they either promote their bar snacks more openly - or at least give us the chance to buy the some Nuts, even if we can't be dealt them on the tables
Congratulations to Rob,Simon Paul and all the staff (including my old workmate Donna) who have made this such a smashing venue, and nice atmosphere to lose money in :)