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Joey Del Live at Star City!


Well the Aussie Millions is behind us for another year. Another 23-year old kid that nobody has ever heard of is now the hottest thing in poker. With any luck he was more lucky than skilful and we will see his newly acquired $2 million dollar cash bounty circulating back through the community (and hopefully on its way over to my poor ass) in the very near future.

As always happens at this time of year, (and in December when the PokerStars APPT Grand Final takes over Sydney, and in July when WSOP excitement reaches an all time high...ok, so it happens pretty much all year round), my interest in playing live poker increases whenever there is a big tournament happening.

A combination of other commitments, preference to online poker and the strong love affair that my couch and I possess, mean that I haven't played a live poker game in a good six months. So I did what every good gambler does, I let my addiction take over and headed off to the very exciting new poker room at Star City Casino in good old Sydney town.

As one would expect, walking into Star City it felt as if I had never left. All the same people, all the same conversations, all the same bad beat stories, all the same death threats in a language that certainly wasn't English...there is definitely no place on earth quite like a poker room.

It was 9:00am by the time I rocked up to the casino and there were only two games running - the $80-$100 buy-in game with blinds of $1/$2 or the $200 buy-in game with blinds of $5/$5. The lower buy-in table had a mixture of old Asian men, taxi drivers and a true blue Aussie 'pro' poker player (notice the pro being in inverted commas, because the guy was quite clearly not a pro but more like a douche bag). The $200 table was a mixture of young Lebanese men and young Asian men. About 90% of the noise in the room was coming from that table and it seemed at least 14 people were all in preflop every hand. This was quite clearly the table of choice.

I took my seat at the table and in unison all of the other players looked at me and licked their lips. This was going to be an eventful session. As I sat down I was a little unsure about what to expect. Had the players on the poker scene changed somewhat? Could people in casinos actually play poker or would I be seeing the massive and insane amount of gambling that I had seen so often in my previous years of playing at Star City and that I had grown to love.

It was at that precise moment I heard one of my fellow tablemates omit the following pearl of wisdom...“Bro, that's it. I swear to God from now on, I am calling every bet on every street no matter what the amount...”

Praise the baby Jesus it looks like nothing has changed in my absence. Now it is not unusual for someone to make a comment as unbelievably outlandish as the one above and then retract it as soon as they get a good hand so you could imagine my surprise when the following hand occurred.

Under the gun player raises to $25, and every player on the table (besides me) calls including our friend who has promised he will call any bet on any street. A few other players come from other tables to call and I think Ali Khalil called Star City and stated his intention to call, however he timed out before he could get off the plane from Melbourne.

The flop came out {6-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}. The initial raiser checked and the player next to him bet $20 (yes that's right, $20 into a pot of around $150). This bet seems to scare of a fair few players and only about 96 players, including our “call any bet” friend, make the call.

The play on the {9-Hearts} turn can't be remembered verbatim but it is more or less of the same standard of the previous streets. However by the time we get to the river there are just three players (including our friend) remaining. The river card is of course the {8-Hearts} meaning that basically any sort of weird and wonderful draw that a player may have held has now gotten there. The first player to speak goes all in for about $220 into a pot which by now must surely be in the millions. The second player thinks for a fair while and then calls and the action is on our friend now who has announced to the table that he will call any bet that anyone makes.

He announces to the table, “Bro, this is so sick,” and then makes the call. Yeah because it is only sick now. At no other point in this hand could the play have been regarded as being sick. Everything was perfectly normal up to this point.

The first player who went all in proudly turns over his {10-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} to show a rivered straight and by the look on his face, he must honestly believe that this will be the best hand on that board when two people have called him. The second player, the one who thought for an eternity before making the call then turns over a very respectable {a-Hearts}{8-Spades} for a powerful ace-high flush. However for me the real beauty of this hand comes from our initial friend, Mr “will call any bet on any street” he turns over his cards and turns over the one and only hand that he can show in this situation. He first turns over the {a-Clubs} and then flips over the {a-Spades} for the meaningless black pocket aces which are now good enough to award him 3rd place in the hand.

Now I am all for keeping your word in life but I am sorry if you have said that you will not raise at any stage and you get dealt pocket aces it is probably a good idea to bet. It is probably also a good idea to fold when the four card straight flush hits the board in a suit that you don't hold.

So as you can see by my morning at Star City, the live casino setting is probably worth visiting. Yes you should definitely keep the clear majority of your playing time at Full Tilt or Party Poker but don't forget the beauty of Star City, Crown, SKYCITY or Burswood around the country, as you get special people there, very special people, like my friend who was now fumbling through his pocket looking for money to gamble with.

The guy was obviously a tragic mess, determined to send himself broke through gambling. So you may be wondering what I did from this point, because what can you do in this situation? Well I did the only thing that I thought I could do. The only thing that felt right.

I took his telephone number and told him I would call him when we had our next home game.

Have a great week and good luck in anything you choose to do!

- Joey Del

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