Auckland, New Zealand
Our hotel in Auckland is located only a couple of blocks away from Sky City Casino. Change100 suggested we take a peek. We had nothing specific planned and my mood was slightly sour since we left Queenstown. I had fallen in love with the sleepy little ski town also known as the adventure capital of the world. After toiling for two and a half weeks covering the Aussie Millions inside the Crown Casino in Melbourne, I relished the last two weeks outdoors basking in the sun and enjoying the southern hemisphere's summer in the hippie/surf beachy resort town of Byron Bay, Australia and the bucolic enclave of Queenstown, New Zealand.
There was a casino (also called the Sky City Casino) in Queenstown and although we were tempted to go inside and find the poker room, we avoided it and opted to play Chinese Poker instead while sitting outside in front of the local bars. We also got our gambling fix by prop betting on miniature golf, which we played every day (and twice one day on two instances).
We reluctantly left Queenstown and the luscious south island of New Zealand and headed to the north island and Auckland to finish up our holiday before we fly back to Hollyweird. When we discovered that our hotel was so close to the casino, we decided to investigate the scene.
The Sky City casino reminded me of the Star City Casino in Sydney. Heck, I've been to casinos all over the planet and no matter where you go, you'll always find a geriatric zombie glued to a slot machine, pissing away the last of her spare change while she awaits her turn to dive into the unknown depths of the afterlife. I ignored the pits an the -EV games. There was no Pai Gow, so we headed for the poker room.
The poker room was located at the second floor and we found it completely empty. A huge sign that said, "The Poker Zone" hung on the back wall but the area which held six tables was deserted. Another sign near the front desk showed the times that the poker room were open. On weekdays, the poker room started up at 5:30pm and sign ups for the wait list began at 5pm. It was only 4pm so we left and decided to return at 6pm.
When we returned, there was only a 1/2 NL game running and I got on the wait list for 1/2 NL and 2/5 NL. There was an interest list for 5/10 NL and not one limit table. I signed up and gave them my mobile phone number. They texted me when they opened up a new 2/5 NL table. Change100 sat down at a newly opened 1/2 NL table.
There's no time charge at the NL tables at Sky City, but the rake is rape. They take out 10% up to $15. Unreal. I thought that the Star City Casino in Sydney was bad rake-wise, but that was ridiculous.
I had the big blind in the first hand. Old Kiwi in Seat 6 raised to $25. Action was folded to me and I peeled back my cards. I found two Jacks and tossed out four more red chips. The flop was Q-7-3 rainbow. I checked. Old Kiwi bet $35. I thought that was odd and considered a check-raise to find out where I was in the hand. I have no idea why I just called. The turn was another Queen. I fired out a bet about 2/3 of the pot and Old Kiwi moved all in. I tanked for about four minutes.
"I can't believe I'm going to go broke on the first hand," I said aloud. "Do you want me to call?"
The old guy sat and breathed heavily. If he had flopped a set and turned a boat (or turned trips) he would have not moved all in. I put him on A-K. My gut told me that I was ahead and I called. I tabled my Jacks and he did not show his hand. The King of clubs spiked on the river and I almost shit a brick.
"Show me your Big Slick," I said as I slid my hand in my pocket ready to rebuy.
The Old Kiwi flipped over a pair of tens. My Jacks were good and I doubled up on the first hand.
Since I had been talking during the hand, the rest of the table knew I was American. It appeared that everyone else at the table were locals and knew each other.
"The Yank sniffed out your shit," the guy next to me said.
Then he said a phrase that I cringe whenever I hear it..."You're not that blogger are you?"
As I raked in the pot, I sighed. There I was in a random casino in New Zealand, and a fan of the Tao of Poker was sitting to my left. I told him that I was who he thought I was.
"You guys better not play like a retard," he announced to the rest of the table. "Otherwise Dr. Pauly will write about how bad you play on his blog."
Luckily no one else was a reader (or at least they didn't admit that).
On the second hand, I found Kd-Qd in the small blind. I called a $15 raise from the cut off. The big blind called. The flop was Q-4-3. I fired out $30. The big blind min-raised and the original raiser folded. I called. The turn was a blank, and we both checked. The river was a King. I bet $100 and he called with 4-3. I showed my bigger two pair and won the pot. That's when I got the nickname, "The Lucky Yank."
A couple of orbits later, I felted two players on the same hand. Crazy Asian in Seat 1 raised $15. An androgynous person (who was a dead ringer for Pat from Saturday Night Live... you know that infamous recurring sketch, "A lot of people say, what's that? It's Pat!") called. I found Ks-Qs in late position and called. The flop was K-Q-9 rainbow. Crazy Asian bet $40. Pat called. I re-raised to $220. Crazy Asian moved all in for about $140 more. Pat called off the remainder of his/her stack worth about $100. I tabled my cards and they did not show theirs. The board ran out 5c on the turn and the 8h on the river. Pat insta-mucked and the Crazy Asian showed the Kc and mucked his other card. I dragged the pot. I was up three buy-ins in twenty-five minutes.
An orbit later, the Crazy Asian in Seat 1 got revenge. He limped. I raised with As-10s from the cutoff and he called. The flop was A-Q-J. He check-called a $40 bet. The turn was another Ace. I bet $100 and he called. The river was a low card (3 or 4... I can't recall). He checked. I bet $100 and he check-min-raised me. Wow, that's a play I see Scandis do all the time. I put him on a full house, but for $100 more I had to call and see just in case he was bluffing. Usually, when you get check-raised on the river (especially a min-raise) you're fucked. I pulled out a stack of red chips and he quickly showed his K-10o. He flopped the joint and I walked right into it. That Ace on the turn spelled my doom. I should have gotten away from that hand.
I played another hour and won one medium sized pot with Js-6s. I was up 2.5 buy-ins and decided to take the money and run, even though everyone at my table was super friendly and having a good time. I went to the bar and drank a beer and waited for Change100. She quit within an hour and we both walked away winners.
"I have never had a losing session in the Southern Hemisphere," she remarked as we walked out of the casino and headed across the street to a liquor store. We decided to celebrate our nice run in New Zealand, as she bought a nice bottle of wine.
P.S. While I was writing this post, a PokerStars commercial came on New Zealand TV. It starred Isabelle Mercier with Princess Leia hair kick boxing. I had never seen that one before.
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