Gargamel’s Travels: “Didn’t Come Here To Chop”

Estimated read time 109 min read

(Special post from Gargamel himself – P.)

Much of my disposable income goes to food and travel, but I prefer having a good time with other people’s money. On the outset of my vacation, I looked down at my boarding pass. It was labeled “TSAprecheck,” which was great since I didn’t pay for the status: running hot from the start. My girlfriend and I were headed for Europe and she previously paid for the designation for herself, yet it had showed up on my ticket as well. TSA pre check allows you to be in a shorter security line and not have to strip down and pull out laptops and liquids. I’ll never go back to the old method.

Time for poker.
Time for poker.

There would be a few opportunities to play poker on this trip, which was also great because I have tended to crush whenever I’ve been out of town.  My first stop was Barcelona and the Gran Casino. It’s located in the beachfront neighborhood of Barceloneta, with plenty of restaurants and clubs nearby. I arrived at the poker room on a Saturday night after 9 pm. I sat at 3/6 NL, which was the biggest holdem game running.

Our table was short handed and featured an aggro donk who twice triple barreled in bad spots. Due to game flow and image, he should’ve had value the second time around. We were bound to play a good pot together.

Later he opened to 20, got called, then I 3b to 80 with TT. He called, presumably to “outplay” me and take the pot away, like so many forum brainiacs. The flop came down 957cc. I bet 125 into 180 and he predictably made it 310. I shoved after some thought and he snap folded, which was refreshing since the rare time I get folds back home, they’re usually accompanied by what I like to call “prolonged constipation face.”

Classy Chips
Classy Chips

After amassing around 1200 euro profit and coloring up to 500 euro plaques, I decided to move to 1/2 dealers choice, which was in fact always 1/2 PLO. The 3rd hand I was dealt was AA4x with one suit. I got it all in pre against QJT8 or something and my opponent asked how many times I wanted to run it. I lifted one finger to indicate I wasn’t there to chop. My AA held against his flopped wrap and he took off. Soon after I raised QQ67 on the button and I flopped an open ender in a 4 way pot. I continued for 30 into 48 and got called in two spots with at least one of them likely having a spade draw. The turn gave me top set, but brought the flush. However, they checked to me and I took the free card. Thanks fellas! The river paired the board and my value bet got paid.

Next up was Monte Carlo and the greater French Riviera. We started with lunch in Nice, consisting of Chateaubriand for 2, flambeed in cognac table side. Poker in Nice (at least at Casino Ruhl) does not get rolling until around 9 pm so it was off to Cannes and Casino Barriere.

Le poker.
Le poker.

I arrived around 4 pm and there was a single 5/10 NL game going and a 5/5 PLO would soon follow. Between the wealth of the area and 5/10 being the entry level game, I had money on my mind and a gleam in my eye. Unfortunately I only slept one hour the night before and was not sharp. In a key hand, a player open limped, I raised 33 to 50, got called in two places then the guy in the blinds shoved his 265 for the third time in recent memory. I shoved as well, but didn’t notice that one of the field callers only had 300 and he called it off. The flop came down A22 and I figured one of them could have some crap like A7. Turn 6, and RIVER 3. I wanted to say “I love this game” in French.

Almost no English was spoken at the table with the exception of the fish

Eat your heart out, Smurfs.
Eat your heart out, Smurfs.

saying “one time” after yet another limp call. A player was thrown out after going off on his opponent who called with a gutshot, went runner runner flush and cracked top two. With a solid win in the books, it was time for a $200 taxi back to Monte Carlo because winners don’t have to wait around for trains.

Another villain on billboard.
Fellow villain on billboard outside Hippodrome.

Finally, we arrived in London for Valentines Day. We had dinner at Zuma, which included langoustine tempura and fatty tuna sashimi. The night was not over, however, and what could be more romantic than another winning session?

Safety instructions.
Safety instructions.

Our evening took us to the Hippodrome Casino. I think Persuadeo would enjoy its theatre-like design.I sat in the only game running, which was 1/2 NL 400 cap. It wasn’t long before I overlimped 98hh on the button and flopped a straight flush on JhTh7h. An old guy led into the five way field for half pot and I called. The turn was the 7d. He checked, I bet half pot and he folded. I flipped up my hand in case any high hand promotions were running.

Another player said I should’ve checked the turn. I said “I shouldn’t even be saying this, but I’m not from this country. When I flop a straight flush, I do not want to play a kid’s pot on the river. If he doesn’t have anything to pay me off, so be it”.

Silence ensued for a minute. Eventually, another player said he played a big pot of 800 pounds when he hit a straight flush. I told him my last straight flush netted me 61k. I won just about 100 bbs on this night, but even better, my girlfriend put a few bad beats on the slot machines and booked a four figure win.

Nice work if you can get it.
Nice work if you can get it.

Our return trip was on international business class with complementary use of the British Airways airport lounge at London Heathrow. I don’t drink much, but the free (and seemingly unlimited), self-serve top shelf liquor was pretty amazing. This is how to travel.

Where should I go next? Perhaps I’ll have to take on Macau.




Add yours
  1. 2

    Let’s be real. I run HOT when out of town, or at least not badly. Beyond that, playing poker when traveling forces you to focus since everyone is an unknown and there’s extra adrenaline due to new surroundings. Back home, it’s easy to get lulled into autopilot with the same regs in the same rooms.

    The general advice of having a value injected range still applies, unless proven otherwise by table dynamics. I have far more stories of people making ridiculous calls than folds.

  2. 3
    Village Kelda

    Few additional comments:

    1) “TSA Precheck” became his mantra for the entire trip. This line was stated in a voice somewhere in between Eric Cartman’s beloved “Respect My Authoritah!” and Jesse Pinkman’s “BITCHES!”. It was utilized in such instances as: cab lines, waiting in line for the London Eye (I had purchased a FastPass), not immediately obtaining tickets to The Leaning Tower of Pisa, and anything involving obtaining food or coffee.

    2) The Monte Carlo Casino had all the allure and mystery of Al Capone’s vaults… and the same reality. It was an opulent ghost town. As a slot player, I was quite disappointed that these were the exact same slots found at any dive on the Vegas strip. As an occasional table game player, I was sadden to find one barely-functioning blackjack game in the back.

    3) Persuadeo, as far as the flight portion of this trip is concerned, I recommend your readers find an incredibly tolerant other half who travels a lot for work and racks up enough miles that she doesn’t notice you booked business class on the way back…

  3. 4

    You’re right, Village Kelda. I do need a trip happy sugar momma who requires the soothing companionship that only a poker player can truly provide.

    And by the way, Slot play is as under-reported as it is popular… feel free to drop in with exciting stories from your strange world on the other side of the casino.

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