Monday, December 20, 2021

Brief First Impressions: Talking Stick Resort's Change From $3/300 Spread Limit to $2/3 No Limit

About a week ago, the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort made two significant changes to its poker games. Games there for years had been spread limit games were changed into No Limit games. I have now played three times at the $2/3 NL game after having played numerous times in the old $3/300 spread limit game. Following is some basic information and my impressions (so far) of how the change has affected the lowest level No Limit game: $2/3.

A quick primer on $3/300 spread limit: The buy in max was $600. Blinds were $2 and $3. One of the small blind dollars was taken pre-flop, so even if there was a chop of the blinds, the small blind received only $1 back. The limit on a raise was $300, and the number of raises was capped at three, at least at the start of the hand.

The most significant change is the buy in amount. It has decreased from $600 to $300. The games played much bigger in the spread game since players tended to buy in for $500-600. If you were to buy in for less, as I often did initially to feel out the table, you were one of the small stacks. Small stackers, oftentimes some of the regulars, would buy in for $100 or so, looking to jam as soon as they could and hopefully go on from there. In my opinion, the games tended to be a bit wilder. They have seemed more sedate with smaller stacks at the table. With the larger buy in, it was not unusual to see several thousands of dollars on the table at any one time. With no limit, my observation has been that tables tend to have three or so big stacks out of the seven players. The other players seem to either be nursing shorter stacks, hoping to get their chance, or become rotating spots where players lose their stack, leave, and are then replaced.

I don't know if this has anything to do with the new rules and different games, but it seemed to me that I was hearing a lot more chatter at the tables, and not in a good way. Talking Stick currently requires everyone to wear a mask and the poker tables there still have plexiglass and are limited to seven players. 

I'm not sure what some of the more aggressive and better bankrolled players who used to play $3/300 spread are doing. I have noticed many still playing the $2/3 NL game, and the others might have moved to a bigger game or have been sitting out.

As for me, under the new system, I have three sessions -- two with slim profits and one (last night) with a good profit. Maybe because of the play being smaller, a player like me who tends not to be too wild or hyper-aggressive likes the feel a bit more. Of course, if I get skunked in a session or two, I'll probably be crying for the old spread limit game.

Regardless, the Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort continues to be a classy, well-run place. Although I have enjoyed playing at the other rooms in town (Lone Butte and Desert Diamond), the Stick is still the gold standard for poker in the greater Phoenix area. If you are visiting from out of town and have limited town, this is the room you should visit.

Thanks for reading. 

A Little Royalty - For The 6th Time!

 Ahhh ... the illusive Royal Flush. The odds of hitting one are 649,739 to 1. Last night was a night for statistical aberration. My name was called for an open seat at $2/3 NL Hold em at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. I went to table and was confused. One player told me that a player left and another was taking his seat after playing his button, I patiently waited when there was a bit of a stir at the table. It turned out that the player who was playing his button rivered a Royal Flush using both his hole cards. Since there was a football promotion in progress, he only received $100 for the Royal. He then decided to keep his seat (6 in a table of 7), and I sat down in the open seat, seat 2. I got on Twitter and started some fun discussion about missing out on the Royal.

After an hour or two of play and with a stack that was only moderately going up and down, I decided to take the seat immediately on the dealer's right -- seat 7. I was able to chip up a bit and contemplated heading home, but I decided to stay. This was a fortunate decision, as several hands later I rivered a diamond Royal Flush! Although I was fortunate to have had several when I started playing poker, it had been a long nine years since my last. The odds of two players sitting next to each other both hitting Royal Flushes using both hole cards in a span of 3 1/2 hours? Absolutely astronomical!

My six Royal Flushes, in order:

1) October 14, 2006  True Poker (online)

2) October 2, 2008  Bodog Poker (online)

3) June 20, 2009  Bally's,  Las Vegas, NV

4) December 10, 2009  Bally's,  Las Vegas, NV

5) December 12, 2012  Venetian,  Las Vegas, NV

6) December 19, 2021  Talking Stick,  Scottsdale, AZ

If you play poker and have ever had one or several, you know that the feeling in getting one is indescribable. If you play poker regularly, you know that there are times when you get close, but then ... I feel pretty fortunate to have gotten this many. However, the wait of nine years since the last one was sure a long time. I certainly hope the next one is just around the corner -- maybe in a year or so!

Do you have any good Royal Flush stories?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 03, 2021

My Year of Concerts

When COVID-19 became a reality early in 2020, one of the unfortunate fallouts was the cancellation of concert tours throughout the world. As things have gotten better in 2021, so many bands and musical groups have again hit the live performance trail. One of the nice things about my move to Phoenix has been the great number of concert venues and the number of performers who have their shows only 45 minutes or so away. Being somewhat newly retired and not getting any younger, I decided to have a year when I would go to lots of concerts. The ones I have attended in my year are, so far:

Aug 14, 2021: Cheap Trick, The Showroom at Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

Aug 27, 2021: Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, The Showroom at Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

Sep 26, 2021: KISS, Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ

Oct 24, 2021: John Fogerty, The Pool, Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

Nov 6, 2021: The Rolling Stones, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV 

I have already purchased tickets to a few other shows so far:

Dec 5, 2021: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ

Jan 29, 2022: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, ASU Gammage, Tempe, AZ

June 7, 2022: Chicago and Brian Wilson with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ

I have already passed up some great shows for one reason or another and will almost certainly be adding more in over the next several months. However, I have already seen three concerts off my "concert bucket list" (Herman's Hermits, John Fogerty and The Rolling Stones) and will be seeing another (Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons) in January. The only other one that I can think of that might be on the list would be America, although I had seen and met former member the late Dan Peek at a small concert at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL almost 40 years ago.

For my readers: Any bands, groups, or singers on your concert bucket list?

Thanks for reading!