Sunday, November 17, 2013

Travel Report: Season XII WPT bestbet Jacksonville Fall Poker Scramble, Days 1a & 1b -- With a Twist

“I know you guys have heard every bad beat story before.”

So began one of the players visiting our desk early on the first Day 1 flight of the World Poker Tour bestbet Jacksonville Poker Scramble. We looked up in unison, and he leaned forward to continue.

“But this one is different,” he insisted. “This one... has a twist!”

That visit came a few hours into the day on Friday. As it turned out the story he told us involving his first-hand elimination had a twist, all right -- a misread seat assignment meant he’d taken the wrong seat -- but we’d still heard it before. In fact, that same day I’d seen something similar happen early in the first level with the difference of only a few small surface details.

Influenced somewhat by that “seen it all before” feeling, I’ve decided to combine the first two days into a single travel report this morning, both of which featured Day 1 flights that went well as the 358 total entries for the $3,500 buy-in event played down to 124 players.

While the bad beat stories have turned out not to be unique, the bestbet casino has a layout unlike any I can remember seeing before.

From Monument Road which runs out in front of the place, the casino appears very much like a grocery story or shopping center, as though it were some local version of a Walmart (see the photo in the previous post). In fact I remember riding past it on Thursday night and when spotting the lowercase logo on the nondescript façade thinking vaguely that the place had something to do with the casino at which I’d be working -- like some local sponsor -- and not the casino itself.

Inside the layout is entirely open, with poker tables filling much of the space, a bar and grill plus other food options in the center, and a race book in the back. Every playing area is surrounded by televisions and monitors displaying tourney clocks and lists for games. At the end of the night yesterday we were standing near our desk and guessing just how many TV screens we could see with today’s NFL games in mind. Was in the dozens.

From all appearances it seems a very inviting place to play poker, and a popular one, too, with a lot of games and other tourneys running and a large contingent of locals filling the place. The staff has been great, helping us a lot while being especially hospitable. They’re taking care of the players, too, with lots of freebies and a Draft Kings-sponsored party last night over in one half of the room with food, drinks, and games that continued past the end of play so everyone could take part.

Ryan Eriquezzo leads to start today’s play after having hit a couple of big hands yesterday including one in which he and two other players turned flushes -- with his being the nuts -- and another in which he flopped a set versus Andy Frankenberger’s open-ended straight flush draw and saw his hand hold up. From our group of diners on Thursday neither Marvin Rettenmaier nor Aaron Massey made it to Day 2, but both Joe Kuether and Jake Schwartz did with stacks about half the average.

The poker world will probably give more attention to the final day of the third WPT Alpha8 event happening today a little further south of here in St. Kitts where there are 16 players left (from a 28-entry field) in the $100,000 buy-in event with the plan being to play down to a winner today. Which is fine, as the real drama here won’t be starting until later today when the money bubble bursts, then tomorrow when a smaller field plays down to a final table.

Check the WPT site for updates on both of those events and see if any twists do happen to arise.

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