This road trip has not turned out to be much about poker, but I have had a chance to determine what might or might not be good for future excursions.
The Bear River Hotel and Casino may offer limited action, but it is a beautiful lodge and conveniently located for Redwoods and Coastal tourism. I didn't even think about it and passed it, instead ending up on the insane switchbacks of northern Route 1 in the dead of night. Planning is everything.
I always chose to ignore the 101 Casino when I was in the north Bay Area, and today I discovered that was probably a good decision. It is small. I arrived in the morning, while the day staff were still putting together the house. A workshop was open, pulling the curtain on casino maintenance. Tables stripped of their felt. Carpentry tools. No illusions. However, inside, all illusion. Too many table games, and more staff than players.
Traffic ruined my plan to visit Pete's 881 Club, but not to finally see the Bay 101 in San Jose. This is a clean, big place to play poker. It's airy and comfortable the way the Oaks is, but less grimy. Two dining choices, in addition to table service. Most of all, a whole lot of games. Nothing bigger than $5, however, on a weekday afternoon.
Despite the pressure to move on, I decide to play some 2/3/5 no limit before traffic threatened again. As always, action is good and loose preflop in California. My first hand, the UTG and UTG1 limped in, and I instantly relaxed. Ain't no thing, just limpin'. In a funny moment, an overly chatty Indian kept on pressuring the guy he sucked out on to tell him what he had. It would have been inappropriate had it not been so earnest. Even the the victim started laughing with the rest of the table.
I started well, winning a pot then making a massive, almost questionable fold to an old guy who dared bet into a paired, flushing board. I can't just monkey it into a guy like that. Then I doubled him anyway when he coolered me preflop, an irony that always irritates me after I make a tough decision.
I was pretty sure my hour of play was going to be a disaster when I managed to use a scare card to bluff a nit who didn't like his hand after the turn card. He showed in disgust the best hand, and I decided to play one more orbit.
With my traffic deadline pressing, I opened my final hand, 88 from UTG, and picked up two tight players, one UTG2 and the other on the button. Flop came 955r, about as good for barreling as possible. I bet 2/3 pot on the flop, and only picked up the button.
Turn a complete blank, the 3 of blanks, and I decided he would fold a nine to a turn barrel. These type of guys, better than the field but just as predictable, just play so loose pre and so tight post I knew it was check mate for a nine. To my surprise, however, that's not what he folded. After some hesitation, my otherwise competent opponent lamented that he should have "defined the hand" pre, i.e., with a three bet, and folded what he hinted had to be TT/JJ.
I decided that since it was my last hand I would show, and turned over the eights. He winced and affirmed to a fellow 101 reg that he had folded the best hand. As for his regrets about the preflop action, he is second guessing himself. His flat is fine versus an UTG range, although I did open enough- even in the short time I was at the table- that he could have made a good read and raise preflop even against my position. However, I think he played it fine in a vacuum.
Well, I didn't win for my abbreviated, touristy recon session, thanks to old guy's preflop range flip with me, but I bailed out my investment.
All for next time. Thinking of a grand poker road trip through this endlessly beautiful state.