Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

North China is No More: a poker and restaurant travelogue

My plan for tonight was to play the half-Hold'em half-Omaha tournament at Artichoke Joe's. But, I actually showed some responsibility and stayed at work until the thing I was working on was done. I managed to arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time, but they were sold out and taking names for alternates, and I was 4th on that list. (This was somewhat annoying as every previous time they had been trying to fill the last seat or two well into the tournament.) I did stick around and railbird for a bit, but the Omaha showdowns were just making me depressed and I didn't see anybody bust and not take a rebuy.

So I wasn't going to eat there (though the food is decent) and decided I wanted Chinese. I got on 101 and headed south, vaguely headed toward Jing Jing. But when the San Mateo bridge exit came up and traffic didn't look too bad, I decided to take a small road trip and head over to Fremont to see if North China was still around, then back by way of San Jose (and one of the cardrooms there), avoiding paying toll to take the bridge back over the bay.

North China was our good Chinese place while we were living in Hayward. Eddie made good stuff for us. But there was never anybody in the restaurant at dinner time.

When I got there, the sign had been changed to read "China Dragon" and they had a Grand Opening banner. This did not bode well. The decor and furniture had been left in place but the menu was completely different, and there was no sign of Eddie. And there was still nobody there at dinner time; after the first ten minutes or so I had the place to myself (though it was admittedly a somewhat late dinner by this point, around 8:30ish.)

The food was unimpressive. I ordered the Kung Pao Triple (beef, chicken, and shrimp) but got Kung Pao Chicken. It was not very spicy and had too many water chestnuts. Their hot and sour soup was unimpressive as well, and only came in the big $7.50 bowl, not a more affordable cup or single serving bowl.

So I was sad. No Five Flavor Prawn for me.

I decided I was in the mood to play some Omaha and headed for Bay 101. When I got there the table had just broken for the second time that night. But, the 4/8 Stud Hi game was going, so I got a seat at 3/6 Hold'em and put my name on the list.

It was pretty boring. I got two mid pairs, TT in the big blind and JJ UTG. Both held up to win respectable pots. With the former I just called the raise, bet out the 996 flop, and called the raise from the player two to my left, who was a LAG (although a fairly successful one.) I had decided to stop + go and so I bet out again on the turn, a low rag; he called and we saw the river heads-up. It was an ace, putting three clubs on the board. I checked and he obligingly bet his busted straight draw for me.

The JJ hand was also an overpair until the river, but fortunately all the aces had folded by the time it fell. I probably should have value-bet since I was up against a Q9 (top pair on the flop, he raised from my right and I three bet to put pressure on the LAG, who folded to my turn bet.)

I played three 'speculative' hands: A6s, 35s, and T8s, the latter two from the button. One of the blinds raised both times. That'll teach me.

I also played one out-and-out steal with K8 from the button. It was not a particularly good steal, since the player to my left had virtually no calling standards (and was prone to odd bets later in the hand) and the LAG, of course, three-bet me. But I flopped top pair, raised the SB's flop bet, called his turn bet when the LAG folded, and bet the river when checked to, taking the pot down without showdown. I ended up $74 despite playing just 6 or so hands in a couple of hours.

Finally my spot on the Stud table opened up. The rake on this game is a ridiculous $5 on 3rd street at a full table, taken from the $1 antes. The other players seemed to be regulars who knew each other. I had split kings early and bet them most of the way, getting a fold on 6th. A bit later I had buried kings but got away from them when a T paired his board on 6th and my K's were dead.

I didn't manage to compete a flush, though three times I ended up chasing with a gutshot + flush draw. The last time I was drawing dead on 6th; I probably could have figured this out if I'd thought more about the betting. (A 7 hit a Q and started betting, then paired 5's on 5th and 6th.) Another flush starter, QT5, made two pair instead which was good enough to win, and I bet it the whole way.

I did, however, break my rolled-up hands losing streak by getting KKK in early position. I raised after a limper and got reraised by a 3 up. Two players between us called (I think the BI and the limper) and I decided to fastplay and made it three bets. He capped.

On 4th I caught a suited Q while the other raiser paired his 3. The other players had 4d3d (so I know quads aren't in the picture) and something like J8. When the paired threes made it a full bet, I happily continued raising it up, and the 43 board was all in.

On 5th the 334 went all in as well for 2 or 3 more big bets and the only other player with money left had J87, not really what I wanted to see. My boat cards were still pretty live, and the straight draw wasn't jamming, so I kept the accelerator on.

On 6th only the initial reraiser's board looked threatening, because he paired his 4 again. I thought it was most likely that he had AA underneath, he wouldn't cap with (3x)3 and he couldn't have (33)3. I bet and the J87x called.

On the river I hadn't boated up and just checked and showed my hand. The J87 had been drawing to a gutshot with QTJ8 (I had one of his 9's) and paid lots for the privilege. The 3d4d?? had I don't recall seeing, I think he mucked. And the final opponent did in fact have aces in the hole and hadn't caught a boat so I took a $200-250 pot.

Despite this I ended up only $42 at Stud, a net of $116 for the night. My high point was about $160 up (total) but I didn't quit immediately after the rolled-up kings.
Tags: hold'em, poker, stud, travel
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