Thursday, August 17, 2017

Playin' with the cow pokes at the WinStar in Oklahoma

The outside of the WinStar in Thackerville, OK
Unless I write down a hand of particular significance, I usually go off memory when retelling the hand histories for this blog.  Therefore, I may get some details confused or cards mislabeled, but the overall essence of the hand retelling is, for the most part, accurate.  That said, earlier this week, I had business travel to Ft. Worth, Texas.  I arrived in Texas in the early evening, without enough time to go check in at work, but too much time to go to the hotel and call it a night.  Already knowing the time I was scheduled to arrive, I figured I would cross the border to OK to get a feel for the "local" poker scene.  The reason I put local in quotes is because the WinStar is about 1 hour from Fort Worth and 1 and a half hours from Dallas.  I digress.

Upon arrival, I tried to take a few pictures (as evidenced above), but was largely unsuccessful, as I was anxious to get seated & get in what would likely be my only time to play until next week.  Therefore, I tried a panoramic shot to get the true feel for the casino's varied architecture.  I was impressed that the architects went with a Vegas feel for the outside; if you can't see the picture, the architecture varies from London (Big Ben / Parliament) to Saxony (nondescript castle) to Roman colonnades and amphitheater, all the way over to Japanese pagoda(?).  Although the inside of the building was not nearly as meaningful of a presence as the outside, at least they're trying in the middle of nowhere in Thackerville!

Inside the poker room
I got myself situated and wait listed myself for the 2/5 & 1/3 games.  After briefly discussing the game layouts with a few dealers just starting their shift, I decided to stick with the 1/3, as they reported that the 1/3 games were very loose, but the 2/5 games were more on the "pro" "tight" side.  I'm always up for a loose game.  Of note, the casino spreads a 1/2 game as well, which did not seem particularly interesting.

The games definitely felt like 1/3 at the 'Shoe in Baltimore; very loose pre-flop calls somewhat home game, followed by check / folds and/or folds on the turn.  People were continually paying for draws and bottom pairs hoping to suck out.

There was one particularly memorable player - a late 70's farmer type - who would call any and every "reasonable" raise PF, only to fold on the flop as described above.  (I use quotes around reasonable because although he wouldn't call a $50 open, he had no problem throwing in $30 or $35).  If he hit his top pair, he'd either bet or raise, making him very easy to play against.  A few uninteresting hands with him are detailed as follows:
I open with KQ after a limper to $15.  He calls as do 3-4 others.  Flop comes K 5 2.  He ships $58.  I call as the only player and he flips over K9.  I hold and scoop.  He rebuys $200.
I open $35 (to try isolate him) with QQ from the BB after a ton of limps and he's the only caller.  Flop comes 6 2 3.  He checks and I bet $35 - he ships for $60 and I call; he hits a J on the turn for 2 pair (J6o) and scoops.  GG sir.
I isolate AQo for $35 and take down a blank flop with a cbet.  FWIW that happened numerous times, so I don't remember all the particulars.  On and on...

The two hands of the night were as follows:
  • I open to $17 after a limper with AJo.  Two callers - Mr. Farmer and a loose Asian guy with about $400 in front of him.  Flop comes A 9 5cc.  I cbet $45 with my TP OK kicker.  Mr. Farmer folds and Asian dude just calls.  Turn is an offsuit 2 and he checks over to me; I lead for $75 and he flats again.  River is an offsuit Q.  He checks again.  In retrospect, I think I can make a small value bet on the river here: $50-75, but I weigh that against the issue that too often if I bet 3 streets, my opponent is only calling when they have me beat.  The logic I'm balancing though is if they're calling $75 on the turn, they're calling a $75 or less bet on the river if they hold a worse Ace.  I don't know; I could go either way, but I need to think about it more closely when I'm in that situation since in this case, I pretty quickly checked through.  Perhaps I'm being results-oriented, but he shows ATo and I win a sizable pot.
  • The other hand of note was against another older guy who, to my knowledge, had not raised or been aggressive all night.  He sat down with $500+, coming from a 2/5 game, and was slowly bleeding away until this hand came up with him sitting on maybe $350.  It limps to me in the SB and I look down at QQ again.  Mr. Farmer is in the hand, so I again try what didn't work last time by raising to $35 - trying to isolate him.  This time, the other older guy wakes up and limp / raises to $100 flat by tossing in a $100 chip on an announced raise.  It folds back to me and I tank.  Does an old guy limp raise with anything but AA / KK?  Is it reasonable?  AK?  I eventually wind up folding after he tells me he'd show, but he only shows me an Ace.  Claims he had AK.  Not sure whether I believe him, but AA / KK / AK is a coin flip for a call (i.e. equal number of combos for AK as for AA & KK combined).  Oh well; tough spot for $35.
I wind up with an okay session, but I'm happy to report that the games are super easy there!  If you find yourself in the DFW area, definitely make WinStar a stop on your tour!

Post-script: A few short notes on quirky rules at the WinStar.
  1. When transferring from one game to another of the same stakes, you have an option of taking chips off the table.
  2. When facing a bet and another player announces all in, that all in bet must be double the bet being called in order for action to be reopened.  For example, if I raise to $10 in a 1/3 game, my raise is $7.  If another player goes all in for $18 total, betting is not reopened to me since the all in player's raise is not $20 or more, double the bet being faced.
  3. Betting lines are observed; moreover if you cross the betting line with a stack of chips, all of those chips are the bet.  In other words, you cannot take a stack of chips across the line and only bet a portion of them; the entire stack that you take across the line is the standing bet.
I didn't have an issue with any of those rules, but throughout the night, there were situations where they became important.


  1. Good thing you didn't run into Cdizzy or she might have taken your sockroll!

  2. if u went to winstar without meeting cdizzy, its not worth going

  3. Let's clarify on rule #1. When coming from a broken table of the same stakes, a player has the option of playing all of the chips he had on the broken table or he/she can opt to buy in for the $100 min to $300 max. However, if the player is simply transferring from another active table, they may only sit with up to the $300 max buy. Also, one can never bring more than the table max when switching stakes.

    Rule #2 depends more on the dealer. Occasionally you will find rules interpretation to be less than consistent from one dealer to another or one floor to another. This is a problem not isolated to just Winstar. Many of the dealers will recognize the raise in the cited example was $7 and a reraise / shove to 18 will re-open the betting.

    Want some real excitement at the "Big TeePee? play the 1-2-5 PLO game next time.

    1. I thought both were kinda weird rules; #1 allows for players to go south -- a big no no at every casino I've ever played. #2 I thought was a pretty universal rule. I've only seen those raising rules at limit games...

  4. Oh, and many people don't realize that the worlds largest casino (i.e. Winstar World) is nothing bu a tent with a fiberglass facade.

    1. I had no idea it was a tent inside; seemed like permanent walls... I didn't get a chance to check out the casino part of the building, but it was huge from the outside.

    2. Yes sir, it is huge. Just over 1 mile to walk from the poker room to the hotel lobby.


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