Monday, March 14, 2005

My Time in Vienna

Before getting into my Austrian poker trip report, I apologize for not being able to make it to the HORSE tourney last night. I did actually register, but had to un-register about 3 minutes beforehand. For you married folk out there, I got what's known as "the look" from Mrs. Blood. Without using words, I was told that it would be very disappointing to her if after having been gone for 9 days I logged onto FullTilt and played in a tournament. So daddy clicked the X.


After lunch in Graz on Friday, I bid my farewell to the folks who had to suffer through 4 days of BadBlood-led training and got on a train to Vienna. The language barrier for me in Austria was pretty significant, so it was no small task to actually buy a round-trip ticket, get on the correct train, and get off on the right stop. But I managed. Once at the train station, the trick would be to get from there to the Concord Card Casino where Otis was covering the Vienna leg of the EPT.

There was a line of taxis outside the station and I hesitantly made my way to the first one in line. I knocked on the window of the first taxi and the driver rolled down the window.

"Do you speak English?" I asked.

"No problemo." Great. Pretty sure that was Spanish.

I then said "Concord Card Casino?" in an inquisitive manner, hoping that the driver would recognize the name of the place and be able to get there.

The driver answered rather vehemently in German, the only word I could really recognize was "auto-boose." Autoboose? Does he mean I should take the bus? I looked over to my right and indeed there were a few people waiting in line at a bus stop. I just nodded my head to the cabbie, hoping he'd think I was understanding what he was saying, but in my head, all I was thinking was that I was now fucked. Royally.

I walked over to the line of people waiting for the bus and the disdain in their eyes told me not to even bother asking if they spoke any English. Luckily, another taxi drove into the area and I was able to communicate to him that I needed to get to the Concord Casino. He motioned for me to hop in and I did. A few Euros later and I was finally there.


I made my way inside and saw a flurry of activity. Even though it is named Concord Card Casino, poker is the only game in town. No -EV games like craps, blackjack and roulette to tempt my inner gambooler. I noticed the large LCD in the back said that the main EPT tourney was currently on break. As there were only about 35 people left, the tourney had condensed to only a few tables in the back. I found our intrepid blogger helping to perform a chip count with another tournament official. After finishing, I called over to Otis to alert him to my arrival. We exchanged our usual hugs and kisses and he helped get my name on the 3/6 waiting list.

It turns out that after 3/6, the games took a giant leap upwards in limits right to 10/20. There weren't any No Limit tables, which appears to be a European thing. There were several pot limit Omaha tables however; but with a 5Euro blind, my bankroll wasn't quite prepared for that. Otis told me he hoped that the tourney would end at a reasonable hour that night, they just needed to get to the final 8 and it would wrap up right then.


I passed the time waiting for my name to be called at the bar drinking some very fine Austrian beer. After a weeks worth of work and a 2.5 hour train ride behind me, few things could taste any better. There happened to be some very fine Austrian waitresses wandering around serving customers. My thoughts turned towards the brothel next door that Otis had mentioned, but I just didn't see myself going over there. I was certainly curious, but I wasn't going to pull the trigger so to speak. Nor would I have anyone else pulling the trigger. So to speak.

I finally heard my named called and bought in for 200E hoping that would last me the evening. It would be more than enough.


There are some universal truths to this universe. I don't pretend to know all of them, but there is one that is certain. Bad poker is bad poker in any language. What atrocious play. Let me give you just one example.

I'm dealt pocket K's in the BB. Three people call before the button raises it to 6E. I re-raise to 9E which gets a few odd looks. UTG folds and says he'd have paid 6E but not 9E to see the flop. The button caps and the SB and I call. The flop is Q-hi rainbow rags. The SB checks, I bet and the button and the SB call. The turn is a 2nd Q, a scare card for sure at this table. The SB checks again and I bet 6E. The button folds and the SB calls. If I were check-raised here, I'd be fearing he held a Q, but the check call told me he didn't. The river came and it was an A, yet another truly scary card. Upon seeing the A, the SB bet his 6E with a bit of force as his chips hit the table. I laughed to myself, knowing I was just outdrawn. I said to him "I'm only calling this bet so you can see what I have." As I called, he simply declared "You win." I was completely puzzled as I showed my pocket K's. He folded T,J and was drawing to an inside straight the whole time. Nice.

I won't go into to many more details, but suffice to say I managed to work my way up to a nice 200E profit at 3/6. I gave some of it back during the night as the hands that were not getting outdrawn before began to give way to the collective efforts of the Euro-fish at the table. Still, I ended up for my trip about 100E in total.


At about 2am on Friday, the EPT found its way down to 8 players and Otis was able to join me at a 3/6 table. We had a rollicking good time, playing some decent poker and some not-so-decent poker. Regardless, my quest was complete - I managed to track Otis down on another continent and play some poker with a fellow South Carolinian.

Otis was gracious enough to buy me a table massage from one of the fine ladies making her way through the cardroom. I wasn't sure what the proper way to flag down a massage lady in the cardroom was, so Otis took charge of the situation and got her to come over. This woman packed a powerful set of thumbs and elbows. She found stuff crackling and popping in my left shoulder that sent tingles down my entire body. I was in rough shape and she wasn't leaving until she had her way with my trapezious. I lost track of where I was, so I had to fold most hands dealt to me. My concentration was shot during the next twenty minutes of pain and pleasure and by the time she was done, I was a new man.

I may be losing track of the order of events, but I believe it wasn't soon after that Otis finally dropped the hammer in Europe. We all know that the hammer play is supremely dangerous in limit hold 'em. Nonetheless, Otis has mastered the play, even coercing the deck to provide a 7 on the river to give him trips, more than enough to take down a decent sized pot.


Otis and I didn't stop playing poker until 7am on Saturday morning. We were both ragged and decided breakfast at the hotel was a better idea than Otis rebuying. The hotel in which he was staying was quite nice and the free breakfast tasted even nicer. Rather than express any more manlove after breakfast, I took up sleeping quarters on the floor next to the bed. We awoke at 2pm on Saturday and made our way back to the casino for more action.

Many tables had closed up during our time away, so I had to wait until about 3:30pm to get back on a 3/6 table. In the meantime, Otis made preparations to begin his final table coverage. As my train back to Graz left at about 6pm, I didn't have much time. Nothing really eventful occurred in the couple of hours I managed to play - I broke just about even for the day.

Sadly, I had to leave just as the introductions were being done for the final table. I said my goodbyes to Otis and thanked him for everything, the massage, the hotel room, the food, the company, you name it. Those hours spent inside the casino were by far the best time I had on my European trip. I promised Otis I'd set up a home game once he got back as he would remain in Europe for another week covering the Monte Carlo event.


I sure am glad to be home. I'm still adjusting my body back to the Eastern Time Zone. Much thanks to the bloggers who were able to IM chat with me while I was over there: AlCantHang, Felicia, Maudie and TheFilmGeek. It was actually pretty lonely and you guys and gals made it feel a bit more like home.

No comments: