May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, interlude the first

June 6, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 6, 2018

As previously stated, I hoped that the magic from my golden hour at the cash table on Tuesday afternoon would carry over to that evening’s tournament. The format was once again a grinder, which incorporates elements of cash play into a three-hour event.

The run-up to this event was a bit unusual. After visiting my favorite local purveyor of tea, the Crimson Lion Hookah Lounge Cafe around the corner from the Wilkes University campus, I drove back from downtown Wilkes-Barre and parked near the racetrack.

Most of the tournaments at the pokerpalooza are staged in the casino’s ballroom, which for our gathering is stocked with portable poker tables and temporary poker dealers.

(The latter characterization is no exaggeration. Although all of the staff who handle cards at our events have passed a course on how to deal poker, they spend 51 weeks a year running blackjack and other games. Many of these activities don’t involve cards. Nor do they require casino employees to divide pots that have to be chopped because two or more players wind up with the same hand or to split unequal pots that involve at least one all-in with three or more participants. This can lead to no small amount of chaos, depending on how much the dealer bumbles things and how irritated and impatient the players become.)

However, all four of the pokerpalooza’s grinders were staged in the regular poker room, which is nestled beneath the racetrack’s spectator stands. So after parking, I walked over to the poker room and registered for the 10 p.m. grinder.

Having done that around 9:20 p.m., or perhaps a bit later, I headed to the party — or, at least, where the party had been the year before. Once I discovered that the entrance to the casino’s comedy club was locked, I recalled that the event was actually taking place in the ballroom, part of which had been sectioned off and partially converted back to, well, a ballroom.

So I briskly walked over to and through the main casino to the meeting center, where, somewhat to my disappointment, I found that no one was checking or taking party tickets.

I’m not the most sociable fellow, but I had a very solid reason for attending this gathering: I knew that I’d be able to grab some free dinner there.

And that’s what I did, picking up plates of food and (urbanely!) stuffing my face in between gawking at people’s get-ups and chatting with the folks at the table I’d selected as my home base for hit-and-run-and-chew food raids. As the time crept toward 10 p.m., I pocketed a few last dessert items and (gracefully!) walk-sprinted back to the poker room.

There, I found a huge crowd surrounding the podium. I joined a line, not sure if it consisted of people who were trying to register for the grinder or players who had already done so and were attempting to claim their seats.

It seemed that the casino’s shortage of capable poker dealers, and a limit on available tables in the poker room, was preventing a lot of folks from participating in the grinder.

After about five minutes of waiting, a few people ahead of me had put their names on the waiting list, while others had gotten in line behind me. I tried but failed to catch the attention of any of the supervisors, but since they were extremely busy I just pressed myself up against the counter and hoped I would get a chance to play.

Eventually, one of the supervisors turned towards the microphone and said, “I’m going to call M.M. one last time.”

I piped up. “That’s me!” I told the supervisor, who was standing a foot or so away from me. Another supervisor confirmed my assertion, saying he remembered my face from when he’d put me on the list for the grinders.

As I was led to the table, I silently praised my foresight in registering for the event before getting some dinner. Perhaps this would be a good omen…?

To be continued


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