Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Worst Clock Call I've Ever Suffered.

I've played live poker for about 35 years now and in all that time I've had the clock called on me three times.

The previous two were about 2 & 4 years ago respectively and the third was at the Gala Birmingham last Sunday which I will give details of shortly.

Of the twice before, the first was justified as the blinds were big and the guy who called the clock was a short stack and anxious to get the game moving. I had genuine cause to think but fully understood his viewpoint.

The second was not. Firstly it was called by the dealer and not any of the players, secondly I'd been in the tank for only about a minute and it was for all my chips. It was the last hand before the break and she (the dealer) just wanted to go for a cigarette and a coffee, I thought she was bang out of order and told her so.

Anyway for my part I feel that 99% of my decisions are taken in a very timely manner. I don't waste time for the sake of it and if it's just an open fold my cards hit the muck ASAP as I want to keep the game moving. My introduction to Casino poker was many years ago at the Rainbow casino in Birmingham where they had some great cash games. They charged by the hour not a rake, so no one ever Hollywood tank folded as it just cost us all money.

As a result of watching too much poker on TV, players these days do seem to think that they have to agonise over even the easiest decision.

I'm sure they think it makes them look better players if they tank fold. On occasions when I've been caught with my fingers in the till I dwell a bit to try to disguise the fact that I have zip, but to be honest I don't even bother to do that all the time.

In all my years of playing I can only ever remember calling the clock on somebody once. Though literally hundreds of times I've asked the dealer loudly "Who's bet is it?" or "What times the next break?" or "What time does this tourney usually finish?"etc as a less than subtle reminder to the player that it's been a while.

I used to play with a guy who used to say "I had a shave before I came out tonight, if you don't hurry up mate I'm gonna need another one".

Anyway to Sunday. I was playing at the Gala in Birmingham which not so long ago had a poker make over. They have moved the cardroom so it is now in a much bigger and better place upstairs. They are giving guarantees for all comps and things are a huge improvement from when I previously played there.

The standard of play though is even worse than before. Though I wouldn't go as far as Phil Helmuth and say the standard is so bad that "If it wasn't for luck I'd win every time". I would say I most definitely fancy my chances over 90% of the field.

There is no casino with a worse standard of play this this if you take the average player. That said I've been 4 times (inc Sunday) and I've been crushed each time.

So Sunday we are 15k starting stack and a 30 minute clock for the 1st 4 levels, then it reduces to 20 minutes for the remainder.

At level 2 I find myself in a horrible spot, largely of my own making. In a 7 way pot I have K,J in the bb and on a flop of J,J,9 lead out for 450 into the pot of 700. (there are always at least 5 or 6 players to every flop regardless of whether the pot has been opened for a raise)

I get 3 callers! How many Jacks are there in the deck?

Anyway I don't like so many callers and when the turn is an 8 I'm not really thrilled about that either as some straight draws just got there. I know they all can't have a Jack so guess at least one was on a straight draw.

I check and the young guy to my immediate left fires a pot sized bet and gets 2 callers so I call as well. On reflection this was not the best call I've ever made. In my heart I knew I needed to hit a K on the river to definitely be good and I didn't fancy my odds.

The river is a 10 and it's a club which makes 3 clubs in the middle. Now I'm just beating that well known stately home, "Sod Hall".

I check the guy bets 5k into what by this time is a pretty big pot. The other 2 players get out the way and it's back to me.

I start by thinking it's an auto fold, the kid hasn't got out of line at all so far and has been one of the tighter players at the table.

As he is directly to my left I turn and give him a look, he genuinely looked nervous. He is only a young guy and looked inexperienced so I was fairly sure he wasn't deliberately trying to look nervous.

So I start thinking maybe this isn't a fold after all. I ask him a question along the lines of "what have you got?"

At this point it had been my turn to act for about 20-30 seconds, when the lady in seat 1 calls the clock on me. (I'm in seat 4 so right opposite her)

Now they have a terrible way of dealing with the clock at the Gala which differs to other places I play at. Normally when the clock is called the dealer does not actually have the authority to start the clock ticking and has to call the floor.

Only when the TD gets over to the table does he/she start the clock ticking. This generally gives the player enough time to think and often the player has called or folded prior to the TD arriving.

Not at the Gala they just insta start the clock. Sadly though they insta called the clock without telling me! The 1st I know about this is when the dealer announces 50 seconds remaining! I ask why the floor hasn't been called she says words to the effect of "tough luck, I've started it"

Anyway to my right is a guy I know quite well and the only decent player at the table and at the other end of the table is an ex-Broadway casino dealer who I also know. They both say to seat 1 words to the effect of "you can't call a clock on him that fast he's only been thinking for a short while".

The woman fights her corner by saying "well people have called the clock on me loads of times". This annoys me and I say "well I haven't".

At this point a full scale top of the voice row erupts on the table and there are about 6 or 7 players and the dealer shouting over one another! I'm not one of them BTW.

The dealer by this time has announced 30 seconds and they are still arguing and I literally can't hear myself think!

"FOR FUCKS SAKE" I shout over the top of all of them. This quietens them down and I say to the dealer "this isn't right how can I have just 60 seconds when they are all shouting. She calls for quiet but does not add any time on.

Again seat 1 pipes up with justification of why she called the clock. I immediately ask for the TD at this point and she calls for the floor but still says 20 seconds a few moments later. I ask if my clock can be paused due to the interruptions I've had and she says no.

I told seat 1 "I can't stop you from calling the clock on anyone but can you at least keep quiet after you've done it?"

Finally she put's a sock in it.

Although the floor has been called I realise that the TD is never gonna get to the table in time so I have to make a decision.

I look at the kid and say "You really don't want me to call do you?" He can't/won't answer. I pick up a 5k chip and hold it hovering over the line. He again looks genuinely nervous so as the dealer is giving it the "10,9,8,7" I make the call.

He had a straight which he'd hit on the turn with a 10,Q, ouch.

Not sure if he made a great or terrible value bet but I was really annoyed with myself for paying him off.

I have no idea what I was thinking calling him, just crazy. I think in some part I was annoyed about the clock call but that's no excuse.

I'm not sure what he was thinking when he bet a 1 card straight on that board and I don't think he knew either.

In some ways my read was good. I think after he bet he thought "Shit I wish I'd checked" and he wasn't acting nervous he was nervous.

999/1,000 I'm folding 3 Jacks on that board to these sort of players. It was painful for me, as self inflicted wounds usually are.

In some way I think by calling I was showing seat1 that I really had a decision to make and wasn't just posturing.

The young guy with the straight did say later that he didn't spot the 3 clubs till after he'd bet so was worried I had the flush! That didn't make me feel any better.

My mood was not great as you could imagine after playing so badly and the clock call on me just made it a whole lot worse. I ran bad after that and was KO'd about 20 minutes later when I flopped top pair and hit 2 pair on the turn only to run into a flopped set.

If I'd recovered from the "clock call" hand and stayed on the table a while longer I might have put my view across to the lady who called the clock when I'd calmed down a bit. But I didn't get the chance.

My main points are, a) she wasn't in the hand. b) we were at 50/100 blind level. c) she had over 80 bb's at the time. d) It was a circa 15k pot and about 1/3rd of my chips to call.

I feel I was justified in taking my time and the fact that I did call proved I was seriously considering making the call. I think we've all lost count of the number of tank folds we see but I actually did call it.

If the blinds had been 500/1000 during the 20 minute clock stages and she had 15 bb's or less then there would have been a much stronger case for her to call the clock. However trying to justify it by saying "well people have called the clock on me loads of times" was not really a good enough reason IMO.

After being on her table for a while I can understand why people call the clock on her as she takes a lot of time even over a pre-flop call for 3x even at the lower levels.

I seriously had to bite my lip on one occasion shortly after when she was tanking for a 500 chip call pre-flop.

I had a degree of sympathy with her though as she did catch a lot of flack (not from me) due to the way she plays.

She is a MONUMENTAL calling station though she does take a lot of time over it sometimes.

Guys said to her a few times "how can you call with that?" type of comments and afterwards she says when one of those guys got caught bluffing bottom pair "see you think it's fine with hands like that for you but you tell me off for playing hands like that"

They were trying in vain to explain to her that betting is different to calling but she just didn't get it.

Mind you it's quite funny to hear these players giving anyone advice. I can promise you there was no one round that table who is going to be setting up a poker coaching academy any time soon.

On the positive side at least I had the good grace to not berate her. Though mainly it was because I was far too busy being annoyed with myself to worry about her.

Anyway I shall be going to the Gala again most definitely and I like to think that I'm big enough not to spite call the clock on her at the earliest opportunity!

Regarding the Gala it has some things I like and some I dislike.


Valet parking
Excellent poker room
Very good cardroom manager
Good dealers (one of whom is so pretty I've taken a photo of her, so I can show Santa what I want for Xmas)
Good schedule for my regular buy in level (£20- £40)
Anyone answers a mobile phone their cards are insta mucked
Sunday comp starts at a great time (see schedule below)
Plenty of valets on duty
Very good snack menu
The restaurant looks good though not tried it yet

Slight Negatives

No penalty or even a warning for folding out of turn
Insta clock call without TD intervention (Well I would say that)
Breaks are too far apart (2 hrs) and too long when you get one. The 1st break last's for 30 mins which is unnecessary.
Driving to it, (located right in Birmingham city centre) is a total nightmare.

The biggest negative is a subjective thing but I don't find it's as friendly (punters not staff) as other places I play. It is most definitely cliquey. I'm fairly long in the tooth and will not allow angle shooters to gang up on me but feel the place could be a little intimidating for less experienced players.

If my daughter ever wanted to go to a casino to play poker I would not take her there as my first, second or even third choice to be honest.

I genuinely enjoy playing at the G Coventry as a lot of the players there are really nice but I doubt I will ever come to love the Gala in the same way.

It's just such a shame that the G Cov only has a £15 buy in on a Friday and Saturday as it just seems a waste of time. It never makes £1,000 yet the Gala is guaranteeing £2,000 for their Thursday and Friday night comps and £1,500 for Saturday.

So even though I've done terribly badly there so far, with only myself to blame for some of it, I really do feel I will be playing there at least once or twice a month in future.

The poker room is on the top floor balcony area that housed the old restaurant and bar area. This photo is taken from there looking down on the non-skill games!

Gala Casino Birmingham Poker Schedule

8:30pm. £10 Unlimited Re-buy
90mins late entry/alternates
Double chips on add-on
£1000 Unconditional Guarantee 

8:30pm. £25 Deepstack Freeze-out
120mins late entry/alternates
15,000 chips
£1500 Unconditional Guarantee

8:30pm. £20 Deepstack freeze-out
120mins late entry/alternates/re-entry
12,000 chips
£1200 Unconditional Guarantee

8:30pm. £40 Megastack freeze-out
120mins late entry/alternates
18,000 chips
£2000 Unconditional Guarantee

8:30pm. £20 with one optional Re-Buy
120mins late entry/alternates
6,000 chips starting stack, 9,000 chips for re-buy
£2000 Unconditional Guarantee

8:30pm. £30 Deep stack Freeze-out
120mins late entry/alternates/re-entry
15,000 chips
£1500 Unconditional Guarantee 

5pm. £25 Deepstack Freeze-out
120mins late entry/alternates
15,000 chips
£1200 Unconditional Guarantee

For details of the casino visit the Midlands Poker Forum.

No comments: