Owned the Stone, it's the new Foxwoods... WEEKLY COLUMN Part 1

Went back to the Stone as I mentioned in last week's column.

I'll also say this, and sorry to let out the secret for the three or four decent players there but... TURNING STONE IS THE SOFTEST POKER ROOM in the U.S. They mostly spread 1-2 games with max buy-ins of $100, $200, and $500. The $500 table looked pretty good but by the time I got in they all had 5-10 type money. I guess I could have bought in for $500 and kept rebuying but my wallet wasn't that thick (especially after last monday). My friend and I decided to sit down at the $200 table. After I ran a bluff, unsuccessfully, on a guy I was one buy-in deep.
I realized this table was mostly going to be showdown poker and tightened up. It was almost insufferable to listen to the strategy conversations going on at the table. These guys made me feel a competent player. I wonder if a top pro ever overheard me and my friends talking and would also want to take a nail gun to their stomach to just end drivel. When gutshot chases are shrugged off with, "I had to call I had a draw," and greeted with enthusiastic "Oh yeah," in unison you know you are in good place.

The table was populated by one semi decent player, three guys that couldn't possibly be old enough to get in a casino, a gregarious dude with a Top Dog tatoo and a belly to prove it, and by gregarious I mean a guy who talked my ear off and whose prattle was eroding the rest of my skull away, his buddy who thought moving all in with his huge hands and three dollar pots was a good strategy (over and over again), and three absolute nits afraid to mix it up and just were draining the stacks away.

My friend bubbled in the tournament and told me about the guy in the one seat. Late, with a big stack, a guy went all in, another guy went all in, and he had them both covered (easily) and threw away Kings face up. He would have been against A4 and kq. Course an A hit and he got reinforcement that his terrible decision was right. Yes, we busted him.

The kids looked like they rode shotgun in the family Camrys to get there and not because liked being passengers, but because they are too young to drive. Initially, I thought the Stone must have the worst security ever. Then one idiot starts chirping off about how it's his 18th birthday. Normally, I'd encourage his stupidity just for the fun of seeing him get kicked out but he was target number 1. I waited, hoping for the dealer to do nothing, and then three other kids announced they were 18. Too much money about to leave this dream table. Then an old guy says, "Good thing they let 18 year olds in."

One kid raises and another says, "Under the Gun... It's the new button." Everybody nodded in agreement. CCline said, "Pocket queens they are the new kings."

A seat opens and a kid sits down with a helmet. Kind of skateboarder style, with the straps to the chin but kind of bigger. His speech is stilted. I think of Special Ed on crank yankers. I read about a northeast casino that took some heat for allowing a special person play in their poker room and wondered if the Stone was that casino. CCline whispered, "Phil Helmet."

Then Phil shows the table his skull which is missing a chunk of bone as he is waiting for a plate to be put there. I think to myself, maybe he sat next to the gregarious Top Dog too long. And when I say think to myself, I mean as I ruminate in the few spare moments I have that Top Dog is wheezing a breath in between rambling run-on sentences. I especially enjoyed his retelling me the same story for the second time in under an hour. Turning fully away from him and low talking with CCline to my left does nothing to discourage him. He drones on in one ear as Phil Helmet reveals he was in a bad auto accident almost a year ago and has been in a helmet ever since. Poor guy has a balloon in his head he has to inflate twice a day to keep the skin from shrinking too much for when they can put the plate in his skull.

Out of nowhere the decent older player, who somehow missed the kid showing his head to the table, rips him, "I've seen a lot of things at a poker table, but, ha, ha, ha, never a helmet. What's the deal with that." The kid looks over and says, "I'm worried the ceiling is going to fall on my head." Dude rolls his eyes. Kid says, "Nice stack, I'm going to chop your stack it's on... old man."

More to come...

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