About 5 years ago, back before every dentist in the world played Texas hold-em by bluffing at a thousand pots, we used to talk about poker while playing frisbee golf in the park. Otis and Luckbox played for very small stakes, I hadn't met BadBlood yet, and I wasn't willing to risk more than about $5 at any game of chance.
My how times change.
These days Otis, Blood, the Mark and I cruise the G-Vegas poker tour looking for just the right stakes and the perfect group of fools. Monday used to be a good game at Gucci Rick's, but it broke up. Now, Monday is a $5/$10NL game at the Spring Hotel. We prefer the Wednesday or Friday $1/$2NL game, because the action is just as fast and the rake is less cruel.
We used to play a dealer's choice game on odd Thursday's, with me or Blood hosting $100NL in between. Sadly, most of the players there went broke too, or we so afraid of the buyin that they stopped playing. We spend Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Mauling instead.
Now the Mauling, which Blood calls the Gaelic game, is shutting down too.
THE WINTER COMES
Right about the time the leaves sprung full, I was in a perfect poker storm. There were so many games, with so many terrible players, my bankroll grew by 5 buyins a night, playing several nights a week. But, even at the Spring Hotel the worst players have either improved or gone broke. It's still a beatable game but I have to pay attention now.
The Mauling was even better for a time. They play with better chips, they have an attractive waitstaff, and sometimes even the dealer we like from the Spring Hotel deals games there too.
Like most underground games, it has the perfect setup. It's just a house, rented for poker, off the road, not too far from town. The host sits at a wooden bar just inside the door, there are tables in 3 rooms. It had a jackpot, it pays 80% of the pool for a straight flush, using both hole cards, to the 10 or higher.
It's also a good 15 minutes closer to my house, which is nice.
The players come from essentially the same pool as the Spring Hotel. Actually, I'd say most of the better players from the Spring make their way here. Some of the donks are there too. The prime difference is the booze. This is the drunken game.
I'd estimate the number of jaeger bombs per player per hour at about 5. Naturally, Otis and Blood and Mark and I remain relatively sober.
A few weeks ago the four of us started a fun tradition, meeting at a lame chain restaurant for drinks and eats before we all crash the game at once. It helps that the Mauling has enough tables to keep us from beating each other all night. Last Tuesday, Otis and I went alone. It will be the last time.
The host lost the lease on his little poker house. He's out by now. He says he's looking for another place. My guess is the Spring Hotel will be hopping in the meantime.
Funny how poker games come and go. At last Mark and Otis and Blood and I will always find SOMEWHERE to play.
What worries me is the decline in active players. There are a lot fewer than before. Even with the jackpot at more than $3K on Tuesday, and even with the game about to disappear for a while, the Mauling had just two tables going that night.
When I left at 1AM they were consolidating down to one.
The Spring Hotel is usually pretty stacked on Wednesday but on Friday at 11PM, once the wife went to bed, I realized it was too late to head down. The damn game hasn't sustained much late night action lately.
It's pretty damn depressing really.
Still, there are other games to play. Games where we haven't bankrupted the donkeys yet. Hopefully THAT is only a matter of time.
Otherwise I'll be forced to move again. This time not because of my career, but because of a hobby that, at times, pays even better.
C'est la vie.
The Mauling is dead.
Long live the Mauling.