A Week At The Lodge | After flying to Houston (cheaper airfare) and sleeping well at my hotel, I woke up a little before 10 a.m., opened my Facebook, and found the following post from The Lodge Poker Club:
“Tyler Nals will be here at 11 a.m.”
My hotel was 2 hours and 41 minutes from The Lodge Poker Club. It was 10:03 a.m.
A new meaning to LFG!
THE TRAVEL NAIL CLIPPER
I didn’t make it to The Lodge Poker Club by 11 a.m., but something else happened.
Some of you have read The Perfect Range. If that’s the case, then you might recall certain incidents that took place in my car. The following doesn’t involved a poppy bagel, but I had an almost three-hour drive from Houston to Round Rock, and a lot can happen in a car during that time frame.
Don’t get too excited. Nothing too crazy happened. Since there was no traffic and I was passing farms, tractors, trees, and cows, I needed something more than listening to a guy rap about having diamonds by the boatload, which I thought for months was diamonds by the bollo. I spent a great amount of time trying to figure out what the that meant. When I finally looked it up, this was the definition of bollo: A large single-edged knife used in the Philippines.
Do you see where my confusion stemmed from? Despite having a somewhat clearer mind by figuring out it was ‘boatload’ opposed to ‘bollo,’ I still needed to keep myself busy. So … I removed The Travel Nail Clipper to clip my fingernails while driving on an isolated road.
I didn’t want the people at The Lodge Poker Club to think I was a freak. However, looking back on it, maybe it would have been better if they saw me as a freak. After all, which is better…
Option One: “Tyler Nals is here. He seems pretty cool. He seems humble and engaging.”
Option Two: “Did you see that Tyler dude? What’s up with those long fingernails? What a freak! What do you think he does with those things? Where do you think he goes at night? Do you want to follow him and find out?”
Option Two would have made a much better story, so that’s my bad. I didn’t think of it at the time. I also should have went that route because The Travel Nail Clipper caused me a lot of stress.
Getting knocked out of a poker tournament and receiving multiple shots of Novocain in my gums don’t cause me stress, but The Travel Nail Clipper does. I’m not saying The Travel Nail Clipper always causes me stress. Travel nail clippers and I have had a fine relationship throughout my life, but we hit a speedbump on this day.
When I put The Travel Nail Clipper down in the middle console, it dropped into some kind of cup holder abyss. I don’t know why the hell a cup holder would have such a deep hole like that. Why? What were the Hyundai people thinking? And what were the Payless Rental Car people thinking by putting people in these kinds of situations?
Obviously, I dropped The Travel Nail Clipper, which I will now just refer to as The Nail Clipper, in that hole. I could say depression, but then I would come off as some pretentious literary writer. That ain’t me. So, I will just say hole. My only danger with ‘hole’ is that you’re a pervert because most people are secretly perverts. But if most people are secretly perverts, then they’re going to keep reading. Therefore, let’s stick with ‘hole.’
I stuck two of my fingers into that hole several times but no luck. Since that didn’t work, I tried three fingers. Despite doing everything I could and attempting every angle, this particular Hyundai just wasn’t feeling it. I ultimately decided to leave The Nail Clipper behind.
Once arriving in Round Rock, I was ready to play my first poker tournament, which usually provides a rush.
POKER TOURNAMENT #1
The Lodge Poker Club
Buy-in: $60 + $20 (seat fee) = $80
NOTE: I’m editing this one year later. For some reason, I didn’t record the starting stack. I’m going to assume 10k-12k.
I began this tournament by sitting in Seat 7 for one hour when I was supposed to sit in Seat 4. I do this from time to time: I accidentally count the seats backward and sit in the wrong spot. Usually not a good sign.
Seat 8 lost a hand to Seat 3 but folded the river to minimize his loss, then explained to Seat 3 that he checked the turn to represent a flush. His thinking makes sense in a generic sense, but he didn’t take into account who he was playing against.
Let’s get to the action…
Js 8c BTN.
Three spades on flop vs. two opponents.
I bet half the pot. Builds the pot in case I hit and I might get two folds. But if I get a caller and miss, it’s not a big investment.
I missed and CO bet out on river.
Tried flatting in position with 8c 4c against tight players.
BB also flatted and was very interested in this Flop: T99.
Should have never been involved in this hand. If I’m going to be involved in a hand like this, I’m going to raise to misdirect my opponents’ reads in case I hit so I can get paid.
I called a big bet on the river after checking with top pair on turn.
It was a check-call the whole way.
I had a bigger kicker, but it was a chop.
I raised 2.5x BB.
I bet 3/4 of the pot.
He bet half the pot.
I called. Kind of dumb since I knew he had a made hand and I wouldn’t be able to move him off that hand.
At first, I thought he said, “I have a seven,” but he was really saying the amount he was betting: 2,700.
I told him what I thought he said just to have some fun, then folded.
I put in a 5x BB raise after seeing three limpers.
Almost got away with it but CO and BTN called. So, I guess I didn’t really almost get away with it. And I guess they liked their hands for 1,500 more than for 300?
Flop: QJ4 (two spades)
I bet the pot.
BTN immediately bet 3k.
It didn’t take long to figure out that he bet without hesitation whenever he had a strong hand.
I showed the Q and folded.
He showed the J.
I said, “You would only show one if you had me beat.”
“True,” he said. “I had two pair.”
UTG +2 raises 4x BB.
66 vs. KK.
Facing all-in with two dead 2,800 calls in there and I was at 14.5k in chips.
Spiked a 6 on river to stay alive.
Raised 3.5x BB.
I bet out on a flop with three unders.
Both players folded.
Bet minimum on all streets.
Villain flatted on every street.
He called river and tabled Q-high flush.
My gut told me this was coming the whole time. It’s an energy you pick up after having been in these situations so many times. But you can only pick it up if you’re playing the people opposed to the technical side of the game. Two different worlds.
Tried something funky with 98o from BTN.
Result was more like cheesy disco than funk.
Folded A5o vs. tight player betting into me on this flop: AJQ.
He bet out bigger than usual after I had raised pre-flop.
When he bet, he looked away when I looked at him.
32.5k in chips on Level 10.
Paying 4 spots.
This made me wonder: Why don’t I play cash games?
NOTE: I have since switched back to cash games (mostly), and it’s SO much easier! Not easy, but definitely more profitable. It’s not even close. Playing primarily tournaments for years got me into trouble—after an incredible one-year run where I made a lot of money—and playing cash games has gotten me out of trouble.
AA. Won decent amount vs. two opponents.
Bet out 5k with 99 vs. four opponents on this flop: T83-rainbow.
They had all checked to me and I hadn’t seen one check-raise since I’d been there.
Bad read with two pair.
Thought it was bluff, but he had 3s full.
HJ bet 5k.
I jammed for 20.2k.
HJ folded (later said he had 86).
CO called with Ks Js.
He turned a straight, but I rivered Broadway.
So … one dude raised 5k from the HJ with 86 and then folded, and another dude called 10 BB with KJs. Cool with me.
After Seat 7 won a hand and knocked out two opponents, he stood from his seat, pretended to lasso a bull, and shouted: “Yee-haw!”
Bust Hand: 86.
I tossed in 10k after rivering trips vs. two opponents.
Seat 7 raised to 60k, which put me all-in.
There was a potential straight on the board, but he would have needed to have played the hand like a donkey to get there.
If this was today, I snap-fold because he was a donkey player, but I went through a roughly two-year stretch where Ego had the edge. This was because I felt like I needed to prove something. Fortunately, I have since crushed Ego, and it has led to WAY better results!
He slowly moved his cards forward, then very slowly flipped them over for a straight while singing the SportsCenter theme. I’ll let you form your own opinion on this character. I only saw him once while playing at The Lodge, and it seemed as though he wasn’t a crowd favorite as a person. On other hand, I got the impression that other players liked when he played poker at their table.
I didn’t put him on 87o (only hand that made a straight) because he called a 6x BB all-in raise from UTG +1.
Result: 19th of 34.
A Week At The Lodge Net: -$80
POKER TOURNAMENT #2
The Lodge Poker Club
Friday Night Freezeout
$80 Buy-In + $25 (seat fee) = $105
Dude went all-in on the river for 3.3k after I checked the turn.
I had 25k and called with the Q.
Turn and river were duds.
I convinced myself that he had a J.
I was wrong. He had two pair. He doubled up.
This table was filled with characters…
Blackhawk Bink Bandango
Low Brim Chill
I didn’t know what Bandango meant. It was just something that popped into my mind. After telling him his nickname from across the table, I looked it up. I’m not going to write what I found. If you’re curious, you can look it up on Urban Dictionary.
By the way, What do you like better: Wonton Soup or Power Naps?
A8o vs. A6s.
Flop: 6c 7s 8s
I bet out.
He called with a set of sixes.
Villain was not pleased.
As Js MP.
I raised 2.5x BB.
BB is good tight player who doesn’t mess around: Blackhawk Bink Bandango.
Flop: Qh 8d 7d
He bet 6k.
88 whiff after calling 5k bet and one other caller.
A on flop.
Interest from original raiser.
All-in with Kh Qh vs. Ah Ts and Jd Tc.
King on turn but fourth diamond on river.
Result: 24th of 54
Overall Net: -$185
POKER TOURNAMENT #3
The Lodge Poker Club
The Big One
$300 + $40 (seat fee) = $340
88 UTG +1.
Raise 3x BB.
Three callers but BTN raised 7.7x my bet.
I folded, as did everyone else.
It was someone’s anniversary at The Lodge Poker Club, so they brought in some cake and doughnuts. I try to stay in decent shape, but I usually can’t resist cake and doughnuts. I look at it this way: If I eat the cake and doughnuts, I’ll work harder at the gym, especially cardio.
I thought: What am I going to do about these doughnuts?
I’ll tell you what I did. I took the wrong freaking doughnut! As in the kind of doughnut I don’t like to eat. I don’t know what this kind of doughnut is called, but I will refer to it as the Imposter Cinnamon Doughnut, which I secretly chucked.
A few hours later, I went back for a Real Cinnamon Doughnut, but I didn’t want the entire doughnut at that time, and I didn’t want to keep half a doughnut on my lap, so I tore off half the doughnut and ate it, thinking that if I left the other half of the doughnut in the box, nobody would want to eat it because it looked half-eaten. That way I could come back for the other half later.
About 30 minutes later, one of the players, an animated middle-aged black dude, started shouting, “Who ate half a doughnut and put it back in the box?! I mean, come on, man! Who the hell does that? Who’s gonna eat half a doughnut and put it back?!”
He looked around the room with a serious expression. “Where’s Jason? Tell him to go to the tapes so we can see who did this! Just nasty, man!”
I laughed under my breath. And his reaction was good news because he just Doughnut Blocked everyone in the room. After hearing this speech about how nasty it was, nobody was going to dare eat the other half of that doughnut, which meant I could eat it later.
During the next break, I went straight for the doughnut box to eat the other half of that Real Cinnamon Doughnut, but it was gone!
I thought: Jason … go to the tapes!
Limped with no action to me. AT gets me (and you) into a lot of trouble. I wanted to see how the blinds acted prior to investing. I know this seems ass-backward, but I have to travel down the path that I truly believe gives me the best chance of winning, not the path that most people take (and lose).
BB raised 4x BB.
SB shoved for 34 BB.
Seat 3: “All you can do in this game is try to get it in ahead.”
I thought: Or don’t get it unless you’re sure.
Sorry … Pop’ems sighting.
Qc Jc BB.
Raised 3x BB with three limpers to me.
One caller from UTG +2.
Flop: A87 (all spades).
Villain paused and bet out.
UTG +1 raised 4x BB.
Player in MP calls.
I bet half the pot.
They both folded.
Four limpers to me.
I raised to 2,200 on 400 BB.
Flop: Jc 6c 6h
Villain bet 10k.
I jammed for 10.2k on top.
AK UTG +1.
I raised 2.6x BB.
Flop: A82 (two hearts/I didn’t have a heart)
SB bet into me.
I raised 2.5x his bet.
He had A7.
I raised 2.6x BB.
SB jammed for 16.3K.
I thought about it because he’s a good player. I knew he wouldn’t do that with an overpair. Figured it was AK, but I still folded. I didn’t want to gamble 1/3 of my stack at that stage in the tournament.
Missed two bets.
9c 5c BTN.
Two limpers prior to my action.
SB raised to 3k.
Flop: 9h 5h 2d
SB tabled Ad Js.
My hand held.
I’m not sure what that dude was thinking, but I guess he was in the mood to drive into a brick wall.
Ts 8s (again).
Same result as before vs. same player.
Two A on board.
Villain bet 6k on river.
9c 9s CO.
I raised 2.5x BB.
Flop: 8s 7s 2d
BB bet out.
BB thought for a long time, then bet 5k.
BB had Q2, which wasn’t good enough.
If he had bet more on the river, I would have folded. His bet was about 25% of the pot. This combined with his mannerisms told me that he wanted to take it down but at a cheap price in case I had air.
I raised 2.5x the BB.
BTN raised 4.5x my raise.
Other two players went at it and got it all-in.
BTN tabled AA.
BB tabled KQ.
BB misplayed his hand but won. He should have seen that his opponent wouldn’t put that raise in with anything weaker than KQ.
JT BB hooked me up vs. weak Q from SB.
Flopped two pair.
He hung around.
I had told him prior to flop that I hadn’t looked at my cards yet (true) and would take a walk.
BTN went all-in for 18k.
I had 78.
SB went all-in for another 5.8k.
BTN tabled Ts 3s.
SB tabled AQo.
Flop: Kc Qc 7c
I didn’t get there.
CO raised 5.5x BB.
He had the biggest stack at table and liked to call.
I jammed to make it look weak.
He thought for a brief second and folded.
My overbet didn’t work. It usually doesn’t work, but the amount of chips I accumulate when it works more than makes up for the times it’s ineffective. There has been a study done on this, but I don’t want to give too much away.
I raised 2.5x BB.
HJ jammed for about 30k, which was half my stack. I thought about it but folded. He claimed he had KK. The days of calling off half my stack with AT mid-tourney are long gone. I work too hard for a stack to throw half of it away on a reckless gamble.
BTN and SB limped.
I raised 10k from BB.
They both called.
SB bet 7k.
SB called with A8 and said, “Good hand.”
My hand somehow held despite him saying, “Good hand.”
Folded to 3x BB raise.
Below average stack. Didn’t want to play it vs. bigger stack. Extremely rare fold for me in this spot. Something told me to fold. 14 players remaining (top 8 paid) had something to do with it.
I don’t remember the specifics of the pre-flop betting. I do know that I raised pre-flop and there were two all-ins behind me. I folded because I figured I was behind at least one of them. They both had AK. I would have flopped a set and rivered a full house. One click off.
CO raised 3x BB, who was the tightest player at the table.
NOTE: As I’m typing this, I’m surprised I folded there. Must have been a reason. Best I can think of is that I knew I was behind and unlikely to get paid if I hit.
Seat 2 = Douche.
He didn’t want to do a Bubble Save. He had average stack. Instead of using cash, they take the Bubble Save money directly from payouts. At first I thought this was bad, but it can be good in situations where it brings your winnings below $5,000, which will keep you away from taxes.
The guy who presented the Bubble Save idea explained that $423 would be taken off of 1st Place but that 1st Place would still be winning $7k. There would be $200 and change taken off 2nd Place. There would be $100 taken off 3rd Place. And there would be $22 taken off 4th Place.
Seat 2 might have been the Undercover Poker Superhero. I think he thought he was getting ripped off somehow, but that wasn’t the case at all. What he didn’t realize was that we had all been playing for seven hours and didn’t want it to be a waste of time. That kind of deal isn’t about the money. It’s about not being a dick. Even if I have the biggest stack at the table, I will do a Bubble Save. I suggested the other players use cash for the Bubble Save and not include Seat 2. They all agreed.
Seat 9 on tilt. A lot of call/folding. He was doomed.
UTG +2 min-raised.
I jammed from MP.
Villain tanked-called with 22.
Seat 4 had more than half the chips at the table.
Seat 9 (about Seat 4): “How do you stop him?”
Not involved in the following hand.
AQ vs. 44.
We needed 44 to win to get in the money.
Board Runout: 75752
AQ wins with two-pair with an A.
My phone died at this point. Results below…
Result: 8th of 73
Overall Net: +$384
HOTEL & FOOD REVIEWS
Hey, I gotta keep readers guessing. And what can keep a reader more on the edge of their seat than hotel and food reviews? Don’t shake your head. Do you really think these are going to be your average hotel and food reviews? They start out that way, but they don’t continue that way. Most important, if and when you visit the Round Rock area, you will know where to eat and where not to eat.
I’m going to begin with Houston (where I landed) and chronologically work my way forward. Then we’ll get back to poker. Think of this as halftime at a football game, when you go to the concession stand. A stretch? Just work with me here, okay? Much appreciated!
Of course, you can skip this part if you’re only interested in the poker.
My Yelp Reviews during my A Week At The Lodge poker trip…
Comfort Inn & Suites | Houston, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
Reasonably priced and clean with friendly service. I didn’t eat the breakfast so I don’t know much about that. However, I do know it’s a good location if you want to be near the airport. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s a solid place to say, which says a lot considering some of the other options in the area.
Review Of My Review: Boring & Standard. Blah!
Euro Bakery & Greek Restaurant Cafe | Houston, TX
Rating: 5 Stars
Found this place by doing a search on Yelp because I didn’t know the area. It had a 4.5 rating so I went with it, even though it’s a 15-minute drive from my hotel. The atmosphere is friendly in an odd setup, including a staircase that might lead to where the family lives, but friendly service is way more important. The food would determine everything.
The Chicken Panini was excellent! When I was done eating, I was ready for more. The fries were also very good. There were only 15 fries (I counted), but one of them was really big, so let’s go with 15.5, and we could round that up to 16. I also don’t mind the 16 fries because the prices here are excellent.
Response From Owner: Much appreciated!
Subway | Giddings, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
Love the area, the people are friendly, and the restaurant is clean. Even the bathrooms are clean. And in case you’re interested in a $50 lawnmower or seeing a grandpa in his pajamas, there is a Wal-Mart behind this Subway. The sandwich was good, but I don’t think people in Texas understand the concept of a tiny bit of mayo. The sandwich was still very fresh, but the chocolate chip cookie was not, which is the reason for the four stars.
Overall, recommended, but be careful with the mayo, skip the cookie, and watch out for PJ Grandpas when leaving the parking lot.
Sprouts Farmers Market | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
I was on the hunt for Petey’s Bing. I hate not having my Bing Bongs (no bong involved, but that’s what I call them sometimes). I did a Google search for ‘Petey’s Bing’ and it took me to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. When I didn’t see any Bings in the refrigerated section, I asked an employee if they had them. He was ho-hum, just doing his job. I guess the customer service in Round Rock kind of sucks, but the lady at the front desk of the hotel was nice so there is at least one exception.
What this dude didn’t know was that I used to write about Sprouts Farmer’s Market when I was a finance writer and I showed it more love than any other writer. Then again, he wouldn’t care. Cashier smiled, so that’s cool.
Overall, a clean store with a lot of organic food and drink.
Note: They only sell the Blackberry and Apple Bing here, which is bizarre because Cherry and Raspberry are more popular, especially the Cherry. I have seen many places that only sell Cherry Bing. This is the first time I’ve seen a place sell other flavors but not Cherry. And, by the way, always remember there is a ‘p’ in Raspberry.
Corner Bakery Cafe | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 3 Stars
I found this place by accident when I was on the hunt for Petey’s Bing drinks (caffeinated morning beverage of choice). When I searched for the Bings online, I was directed to Sprout’s Farmer’s Market. Sprouts only had two of four flavors, but two is better than none.
After exiting Sprouts, I scanned the shopping center for food. At first, all I saw was a sit-down Chinese restaurant, a nail salon, and an Asian massage place. I wondered if the people cooking wonton soup were the same people making people happy.
When I scanned the parking lot more, I noticed Corner Bakery Café and ventured inside. Very clean atmosphere and friendly service. I ordered me a chicken sandwich, but it was a mess. Nasty sauce, tomatoes not fresh, blah chicken (might have come from the Blah Chicken Farm).
Only giving three stars because of the great service.
Anytime Fitness #1 | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 5 Stars
The instant I walked through the door, the trainer watching the gym said hello. That’s excellent customer service. After my workout, we had a great conversation about HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) vs. cardio for burning fat.
I’m on the cardio side. He agreed but said sprinting was more effective. I usually run uphill on the treadmill for a long time. It’s tough to find a mountain where you can keep running uphill no matter the weather. I think what we forgot to discuss was that some of it depends on the person’s metabolism and diet.
The music was lower than most AFs, but some people in there wanted it low. No big deal. This place is clean, spacious, and with a lot of equipment. The bathrooms are also beautiful! ?
Subway | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 1 Star
It’s extremely rare that I leave a one-star review, but this was some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. Let’s forget about the uneven cutoff paper signs all over the place, and let’s overlook the dirty floor and messy food containers. Instead, let’s focus on service.
There was a lady in front of me who ordered a tuna sandwich. There were two workers: a guy and a gal. When the lady in front of me ordered a tuna sandwich, the guy went to the back room without saying anything. We waited and the customer looked at me and asked me what was going on with her eyes (not verbally).
After a few minutes, the gal behind the register said, “It’s going to be about five minutes for him to make the tuna.”
I waited another 30 seconds, but I guess I was invisible. The gal behind the register didn’t come over to help or anything. She just stood there.
I hate to do this, but my reviews have to be honest. In my opinion, this place is poorly managed. Do not attend. There are two other Subways in Round Rock.
Jimmy John’s | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 3 Stars
The people working here didn’t seem happy. They made the sandwich quickly, which was in Jimmy John’s style, but it was just okay. To me, it didn’t taste as fresh as other JJ locations. What really stood out was the dude who handed me the sandwich. When he did, I said, “Thanks.” He looked pissed off and turned away without saying anything.
I was going to give this two stars based on bad service, but the guy mopping the floor said, “Have a good day” on my way out.
Overall, not recommended.
Anytime Fitness #2 | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
I arrived at lunchtime on a Friday and there were two people here, a mother and her son. I went to the back to do some squeezers (for pecs). I didn’t have much time because I had to get to a poker tournament. After three sets of dumbbell flys, three sets of cable flys, and two sets of squats, I headed for the treadmill. I tried every button on that thing but couldn’t get it to work.
The mother of the child was on another treadmill. I asked her quickly if she knew what button to press to start the treadmill. She was happy to help, but I felt a little bad that she had to step off the treadmill and put two dumbbells down.
She walked over and simply tapped the screen with her finger. That’s how you start the machine. I felt like a dumbass and apologized, but she was cool with it. She then went back to her workout.
The four stars isn’t because I felt like a dumbass. It’s because the energy level was low and soft rock was playing in the background. Time After Time is a good song, but not when you’re trying to hit your personal best on cable flys.
Response From Owner: Thank you so much for your review. The reason for the soft rock playing in the background is due to the fact that unfortunately we will be permanently closing tomorrow, so we decided to change the mood over the past week. But thanks for visiting and for the pictures. Soon this page will be removed.
OH-HO Chinese BBQ and Asian Cuisine | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
I went on a Friday night and there were only two other tables being used, which concerned me a little, but the truth is that nothing in this town has a lot of people because everything is so spread out.
The service was friendly, and my wonton soup arrived pretty fast. The crunchy green stuff was too crunchy for me and it was all over the place. The wontons were solid. The Chicken Lo Mein arrived after I ate only three of eight wontons. It wasn’t crowded, so I didn’t understand this, but maybe they were playing dominos or strip poker in the back and wanted to get back to it before someone changed their mind.
Overall, this place is the epitome of a 4. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s solid. I would recommend giving it a shot if you’re in the area.
Home Slice Pizza | Austin, TX
Rating: 5 Stars
I drove 30 minutes from Round Rock to wait 20 minutes for pizza so I could eat the pizza in the car for 30 minutes on the way back to my hotel. This was probably the most enjoyable 20-minute wait for pizza I’ve ever had. I did absolutely nothing, but this is an iconic location in Austin and it was a Saturday night, so the energy level was high—but not too high. It wasn’t so crowded where you couldn’t move, and it wasn’t empty where there was no energy.
Great vibe here. Service is also superb.
Pizza was good, but it wasn’t amazing. Maybe I’m spoiled with pizza as a native New Yorker. It was solid though. Definitely recommended for the overall experience.
The Salt Lick BBQ | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 5 Stars
By far the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I wrote about this place on my Facebook Friends Page and some people brought up other BBQ places, especially Hard Eight BBQ outside of Dallas. Listen to me. I have been to both. Those folks are homers. Hard Eight is cool, but the food there can’t hold a candle to Salt Lick. The atmosphere and service are also much better here. You can make an entire day out of it.
Getting to the food, below is what I ordered and my thoughts…
Brisket: Awesome (best brisket I’ve ever had aside from homemade)
Turkey: Awesome (same thing)
Side Salad: Excellent!
Pickles: Solid (better than most)
Pinthouse Pizza | Round Rock, TX
Rating: 4 Stars
I needed a place to eat to celebrate a poker tournament win and prior to playing in a different poker tournament. The first one was Texas Hold’em. The second one was PLO. I didn’t cash in the PLO tournament due to the worst call of my life. Maybe it was the pizza. Nah! It wasn’t the pizza. The pizza was aight. I wouldn’t go back for the service though.
When I walked in, I was greeted by no one. I took my own seat on a long bench but no waiter showed up. So … I went to the takeout counter, which is apparently where you order your food. I ordered a personal pizza.
I asked the guy behind the counter a few questions about how this place works. He eventually talked to me like I was a 3rd grader having trouble understanding a concept. He never asked if I wanted a drink either.
I’m big on customer service. That’s why this should really be a 3, but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt since it wasn’t peak hours.
Response From Owner: Thanks for the visit and congratulations on the poker win! We appreciate your words regarding the pie but are sorry to hear about your experience with our staff!
Regarding our concept, we are a counter service, beer hall inspired brew pub! We allow for food ordering from both the bar and our front of house counter to allow for ease of ordering. We have done our best to provide signage near all three entrances to explain how the ordering process works and apologize if we missed the mark on communicating that. We absolutely do not want our guests to feel spoken down to by any team member and I have forwarded this to our management team for review.
We appreciate your visit and leaving the review as we utilize feedback like this to continue to improve the brewpub experience. We hope to have you back in soon and thank you again for bringing this to our attention.
Pink’s Pizza | Houston, TX (IAH Airport)
Rating: 3 Stars
A strange experience. I didn’t like the pizza much at first bite, but I’m not sure if it was in my head because I knew I was eating at an airport. I might have been experiencing subconscious daymares about the pizza place at the American Airlines terminal in Charlotte, which might be the worst food in the United States. I eventually fell into the airport pizza zone and ate two overpriced slices.
I was still hungry, so I went to the bagel place in the same food court. I basically had a pizza bagel but with the pizza and bagel being separate. I guess I would recommend this place if you’re hungry and want a pizza bagel minus the bagel.
Einstein Bros Bagels | Houston, TX (IAH Airport)
Rating: 3 Stars
This is the second half of my pizza bagel experience. It’s the pizza bagel minus the pizza. The people here were friendly despite working in a busy airport. As far as the bagel goes, it was very Einstein-ish. It’s a bagel chain, which means no personal love goes into it. All bagels are just a number when being baked.
If you’re hungry and in Terminal C of the IAH Airport in Houston and you don’t want to spend too much, go to Einstein Bagels. You won’t love it, but you won’t hate it.
I didn’t leave a Yelp review for Best Western in Round Rock, which is where I stayed the entire time when playing at The Lodge Poker Club. The Best Western is less than two miles from The Lodge Poker Club and right off the service road. It was the perfect location and very comfortable (the a/c worked well). I also posted the following on Facebook pertaining to their breakfast…
Just had the best continental breakfast of my life: Cheerios with milk, apple, banana, and two toasted bagels with butter. Much love to Best Western!
POKER TOURNAMENT #4
The Lodge Poker Club
The Showdown – Freezeout
$400 Buy-In + $20 (seat fee) = $420
I raised 2.5x BB.
SB and another player in MP called.
Flop: 7s 4s 2d
Player in MP jammed.
Player in MP tabled 22 for a set.
SB tabled AA.
If the player in Small Blind had raised my pre-flop raise, the player in Middle Position probably would have folded. I will sometimes limp with AA, but only if I think a player behind me will raise and I can take the dead money pre-flop or go heads-up post-flop. In my opinion, the player in the Small Blind made an error here.
Kc Kd UTG +2.
I raised 5x the BB.
I raised this much because of the way the table was playing. I wouldn’t have been able to isolate with a 3x BB raise. Despite the massive raise, I still got four callers. They like to call in these parts.
Flop: Ah 9h 8h
Everyone checked behind me.
Player behind me bet 5k.
BTN raised to 10k.
Player behind me folded.
BTN showed a flopped flush.
I bet half the pot.
I folded A6 to table Bully Chip Leader on this flop: AT6.
He seemed too comfortable and all his movements were natural and confident. He beat another player with AT. I would have lost all my chips if I had called.
Sharon: “Does anyone want tacos?”
No takers despite the tacos in her bag only being one hour old.
Qd Jd vs. Bully Chip Leader.
Bully Chip Leader raised to 1,600 on 600 BB with position.
Flop: Qh Tc 2d
Bully bet 7k.
Tank and rewind situation. He raised to 1,600 pre-flop on 600 BB. Most players won’t raise less than 3x BB with an A. If it’s a big A, that’s the reason for the bigger raise. If it’s A-rag, it’s a defensive raise. If it’s Ax-suited, they usually flat (sometimes min-raise). The Ax-suited is a little different because it can be 3x BB or bigger if it’s an open-raise from late position.
I didn’t put him on an A, which is why I called.
He said, “Good call” and tabled 33.
I know most people would say I played this hand strangely, but my game is to evaluate situations based on information, not gamble. This is what leads to a lot of deep runs. However, I will not hesitate to gamble when necessary.
AKo all-in vs. 88.
Villain hit straight on turn.
Down to 12.5k.
This was the crusher. I busted a few hands later.
Did nothing wrong in this tournament. The AK vs. 88 hand was a big chunk of my stack. She hesitated prior to shoving, so I knew it was a race at worst. I was hoping she had AQ or AJ, but I could live with middle pair.
Result: 21st of 40
Overall Net: -$36
POKER TOURNAMENT #5
The Lodge Poker Club
$60 Buy-In + $20 (seat fee) = $80
As soon as I sat down, I said, “Hey, how’s it going?” to the guy to my right. No response.
Since there was no luck to my right, I turned to the guy to my left and said, “Hey, how’s it going?” No response.
I looked at the dealer to see if he would say hello. Nothing.
I said aloud, “Friendly table. I tried saying hello to everyone and nobody said a damn thing.”
“Hey!” Most of the people replied in unison. “Hello!”
Except the guy to my right.
Ah Th MP.
Flopped nut flush draw and gut-shot.
Villain checked out of turn.
Villain checked out of turn again.
Villain checked out of turn a third time.
It seemed like an accident, but I couldn’t be sure. I asked the dealer what was going on. Dealer didn’t say shit. The player checking out of turn genuinely apologized and said he didn’t realize he was checking out of turn. Despite being almost 100% certain this was an accident, I didn’t want to fire in the event it was an angle.
He tabled AQ (no pair) and won the hand.
I attacked on every street, but it ran out four clubs and one of my opponents bet 10k on the river.
UTG +1 raised 5x BB.
Five callers to me.
I jammed right off the bat. This is an overbet strategy.
Big Daddy (not original raiser) tank-called.
I was feeling a little frisky and raised 4x BB—much respect to Mr. Disney.
I open-jammed again.
Four opponents in hand. Everyone folded except the last player to act, who called.
He flopped a set of sixes.
And that is why you don’t raise pre-flop with 63o.
Fuck you, Mr. Disney. LOL. Still love you though!
Down to 5 BBs.
No-look open-jam time.
I told him I didn’t look yet (true) and found K5o.
Villain tabled K6o, which held.
I don’t even know a Nancy, but it’s the name I scream in my mind when things are going poorly. It reminds me of a movie where Nancy is a housekeeper that helps clean up messes, even though I never saw a movie like that.
Result: Not sure but not ITM
Overall Net: -$116
POKER TOURNAMENT #6
The Lodge Poker Club
$50 Buy-In + $20 (seat fee) = $70
Note: This is a high rake, but there is much better value in the higher buy-in tournaments at The Lodge Poker Club.
I once mentioned on Facebook that I would prefer to say, ‘Chipolte’ than ‘Chipotle.’ It takes too much effort to say the ‘t’ before the ‘l’ and doesn’t feel natural to me. The dealer got into a debate with me about this. He was a little upset that I wouldn’t make the extra effort.
Since we were bantering in a friendly way, I told him he didn’t like my pronunciation because he was Mexican. He told me Chipotle wasn’t Mexican and claimed it was Spanish. I looked it up and the results told me Chipotle was indeed Mexican.
The rest of the table didn’t want to get involved because the conversation was too ‘politically incorrect,’ but being ‘politically incorrect’ is also a good way to break the ice with someone as long as it’s done right.
The next ‘incident’ at this table was only a few minutes later. Someone mentioned that there was a female soccer game on one of the televisions. Another player happened to mention that he couldn’t stand watching female soccer games because they all liked women. The only female at the table replied by saying his comment was stereotypical. I added, “You can still flip ‘em.”
I was joking and not speaking from experience, but all the players laughed. I’m not sure why though. I was just stating a fact. I would assume that if a male is genuinely friendly to a lesbian while sending out certain signals, the female would see that not all men are the way she thinks. I would then assume this would lead to an imaginary wall coming down. Once that wall comes down, anything is possible. However, this is all hypothetical.
Someone at the table asked when I was leaving.
“Today,” I said.
“Thank God,” Chipotle Dealer replied.
We ran Level 1 twice at 100/200 due to a computer glitch. One player didn’t like this, but I have learned that complaining about errors in poker tournaments only gets you aggravated and leads to negative energy. I let it go and rolled with it.
I raised 3x BB.
T8o CO (next orbit).
I raised 3x the BB.
Three players called.
I bet out on a gut-shot on the flop.
The player to my left called.
I hit the miracle card on the turn and bet 3k into a 2.1k pot.
The player to my left called.
The river could have given him the nut straight.
I checked with the intention of a check-call.
He checked behind and tabled KK.
If he had raised pre-flop, I would have folded.
I told the players at my table about my experience at The Salt Lick, which was a BBQ place I loved so much that I went there twice within two days. They tried to throw Hard Eight at me, which is a BBQ place in Dallas, but I’ve been there. Hard Eight is good, but in my opinion, The Salt Lick is much better. You already know this from the reviews above, which I just realized as I’m typing this.
Disclaimer: The Salt Lick is not paying me any money to advertise for them, but they should give me a free slice of turkey the next time I’m there.
I check-raised turn with straight vs. overpair. This worked out well.
Four people limped behind me, which wasn’t the plan.
Limp-raising is an old trick in Mid-Major poker tournaments, but it’s not an old trick here.
I bet half the pot.
Everyone folded except SB.
I put her on a weak J because she flatted from the SB, but it was unlikely she had J4 or J3 because she would have folded pre-flop.
Qc Qd MP.
Chuck raised 3.5x BB from UTG.
Chuck doesn’t mess around. A raise from that position was a red flag.
I flatted from BTN.
SB also called.
Flop: Jh 5h 2h
I checked (something was up).
SB bet 3/4 of the pot (that’s the one).
SB snap-called and tabled a flush.
Chuck tabled AA (no hearts).
SB won the hand.
After my opponent went all-in with AT and I called with AQ, she said, “He’s gonna get the whole thing.” She hit a T on the river. Minor hit to my stack.
AQ vs. JT on the very next hand against the same opponent. Once again, she jammed and I called, but my hand held this time.
She rebought and sat in the same seat. At The Lodge Poker Club, you can come back to the same seat (rebuy opposed to reentry).
Tight player raised all-in and another player called.
I’m not sure why I’m telling you about this hand since nothing really happened, but it was in my notes.
Some players here will limp from MP with A8o. I witnessed it several times. That’s a fold or a raise. Calling is your worst option with that hand in that position (imo).
Sharon went all-in and Bandana Man (original raiser) attempted to re-raise because there was a third player in the hand, but the dealer explained that he could only call. I whispered to Sharon, “At least you know what you’re up against.”
“Ace-King at worst.”
The board ran out and Bandana Man tabled AKo.
She had A8.
8h 6h HJ.
It was checked all the way to the river.
I bet the pot.
I was called by a smaller straight (a good thing for me but a small pot).
Ah Qh UTG +1.
I raised 3.5x BB to isolate.
Elderly Woman: “I don’t like the way they flip the cards here.”
I raised 2.5x BB with an absent BB.
Whiffed on Q-high flop.
Villain checked behind me all the way through the river. If he had bet the river, I would have called.
My A-high was the winner vs. K-high. Neither of us wanted to battle since it was a small pot.
Chip Count: 49k.
Qd Td BTN.
Tight player raised to 2.4k from MP on 1.2k BB.
SB also called.
Flop: J65 (two spades)
SB bet out 4.5k.
Ac Kc MP.
I raised 3x BB.
Players to my right called.
BTN ended up winning hand with JJ.
Ah Qc UTG.
I raised 3.5x BB.
MP shoved for another 8 BB.
He tabled As Kd.
I hit a flush on the river.
I open-raised 3x BB.
Pretty sure I started with 15k in chips. I counted it three times. Someone sat down with 20k in chips, so I inquired. The dealer was certain I began with 20k, but he wasn’t the dealer when I sat down. I’m at least 90% sure I began with 15k in chips, but it’s cool. It happened for a reason. And there is a roughly 32% chance I was wrong. I didn’t make a scene. I let it go.
Dealers don’t always table cards here on all-ins with more than two players. Some people muck and you don’t know what they had. If that’s the policy, it’s cool! Not a big deal at all. I just want readers to know what to expect when they play here.
Opponent had the nuts.
15% hit to my stack.
5s 4s BTN.
I called after seeing four limpers.
Flop: Kc 7s 8s
All checks in 4k pot.
I bet 6k.
Dude called another player’s all-in on turn with flush draw for 28 BB.
Extremely rare to see pre-flop raise and all folds here. You usually need to double the average pre-flop raise if you want folds.
Folded A8o and A5o from MP.
Lady to my right about another player: “That guy is lucky. Very lucky!”
She might not understand the game.
Approximately 80% of the players here play their cards. The other 20% or so must do very well. Well, let’s make that 10% because the other 10% might let Ego in the door. That winning 10% is probably crushing.
Dealer: “Three players. Heads-up action.”
Another Dealer: “Two authors at our table. How lucky are we?”
Me: “Not very.”
He was saying it to be a dick. I took modest route. For the record, every dealer here is friendly/cool—except this one. He knows nothing about me. If he did know anything about me, he would never say that. I’m literally cool to every single person I meet. At least I try to be. I have a switch though. If I sense something is off with someone, I go ice cold. I’m never going to spend energy on drama.
Qc Tc BB.
I have no notes for this one. The only thing I know is that I didn’t bust on this hand.
Td 2d SB.
Flop: 2s Qh 2h
I knew Bandana Man had the Q.
I had Hippie Stretch on a flush draw.
Bandana Man bet.
Hippie Stretch called.
Once I called, I knew Hippie Stretch knew what I had, but if I raised, I would have let Bandana Man know what I had. I would rather the player with the Q not know what I had.
Bandana Man bet.
Hippie Stretch folded. He later said he knew where I was at once I called the flop, and that he also had a Q but with a weak kicker.
I didn’t have Bandana Man on a flush, but there was already 32k in the pot, so I went for the check-raise.
He checked behind and tabled AQ.
I definitely didn’t get full value here, which is my fault. Still nice pot for me though.
Everyone folded to SB, who min-raised.
I flatted (deceptive purposes).
She tabled Ac 4c (one club on the flop) and said, “Good hand.”
I didn’t react.
My hand held.
Qs 9s BB.
UTG raised 6x BB.
Hadn’t seen him play a hand yet.
I didn’t raise, but I would bet/raise flop no matter what.
Villain (and only opponent) checked flop.
Ah 7c CO.
No action to me.
Tear it apart if you want. My job is to navigate tournaments by taking routes I know well.
9 players remaining.
Dude was shocked he didn’t hit his open-ended straight draw vs. another player.
Short-stack went all-in from UTG +2 for 2 BB.
I raised to 28k on 6k BB.
Short-stack said, “This is the best hand I’ve seen in like two hours, so….”
He tabled Js Ts.
Dude called another player’s three-bet all-in on the river with a set when there were two potential straights out there. He lost.
7 players remaining.
QJo UTG +1.
Seat 3 three-bet and was in for 70k pre-flop.
Seat 4 raised all-in for another 20k on top.
Seat 3 folded.
I have no idea.
Ac Ts vs. As Kd.
Four spades (fourth spade on river).
He three-bet me all-in on river.
I said out loud that I knew he had a bigger flush but 125k in pot and 30k to call.
He had it.
Someone else got knocked out here, but I don’t have the notes because my phone died. I remember the hand right after my phone died though…
Sharon raised 3x BB.
I called because I had her covered easily, but I didn’t raise because I knew I was behind.
I check-raised all-in.
She called with AK.
My hand held.
4 players remaining.
2 players remaining.
I ended up playing heads-up vs. a TAG player. He had a slight chip lead.
I jammed pre-flop on these hands….
Jd 6d (again)
He folded on all of these.
He put me all-in twice on the flop when I had marginal hands, but he wasn’t the type to mess around. I folded on both.
After about 10-12 minutes, he asked if I wanted to chop.
Result: 1st of ? (heads-up chop)
Overall Net: +$606
Side Note: I did play a small PLO event and lost about $40-$80, but I’m not sure of total. I was just messing around before going home. Didn’t take it seriously. If you want to subtract $40-$80, you can do that. At the same time, I was +$1,500 here outside of tournaments.
While here, I was asked by Tana to be a Guest Ambassador for RunGood in Bossier City. I accepted. This was a good development on the business side.
DON’T BE SHY
I highly recommend playing at The Lodge Poker Club. The people are friendly and there is plenty of action! You even get free food.
Jason and I have agreed that I will return in 4-5 months. I’ll post on Facebook when I’m going to be there. If you want to come down and say hello or play some poker, please do. Don’t be shy. I enjoy meeting new people.
Note: It has obviously been longer than 4-5 months, but I just communicated with Jason and it looks like I might be there in November or December for the $100k GTD tournament and the livestream 1/3 NL game.
I busted the next small PLO tourney and got pulled over by a cop for a California roll at a red light. A second cop car quickly showed up as if I had just robbed a gas station. The first cop asked for my license and why I was in town. I explained that it was to write a short poker book: A Week at The Lodge. He inquired about poker. Once he did that, I knew I was good to go.
The three of us ended up BSing and laughing for 15 minutes. Early in that 15 minutes, the first officer walked away to take a call. I told the second officer that the first officer could be in movies because he looked like Bruce Willis. The second officer cracked up and said, “I think Bruce Willis is about 30 years older than him.”
“True,” I said. “We shouldn’t go with that. Let’s go with The Rock!”
The first officer came back and asked what we had been laughing about. The second officer said, “Oh nothing.”
The first officer said to second officer, “I heard something about actors.” You were going to be an actor once, weren’t you?”
I said, “Am I in the presence of a porn star?”
The first officer cracked up. I then told him he reminded me of The Rock.
Funny thing is … I wasn’t really doing this to get out of a ticket. They were cool. I was just hanging out, laughing, and bantering. It was fun.
No ticket. ?
BACK TO HOUSTON
Keep in mind that I was in a rental car. Also keep in mind that I was using Google Maps. I wanted to stop at Katy Mills to shop for some souvenirs prior to flying back (Katy is right outside of Houston). I didn’t find anything in the mall and hopped back into my rental car.
Google Maps then took me straight to the HOV lane. This was nerve-racking because I passed a solo driver who had been pulled over by police (same thing as cops). I thought about ducking low while stuck in the HOV lane, but that would look more like zero people than two people. So I leaned my head against the driver-side window looking stressed in case a cop spotted me.
This was also a toll road. Google Maps doesn’t give a shit if you have a pass or not. It’s going to send you on the fastest route. I drove on eight toll roads during this trip, which led to increased fees from Payless Rental Car.
On top of that, the gas tank was only half full and I had told them I would return with a full tank by 4 p.m. It was 3:35 and traffic was heavy. I could either get gas and return the car late or get the car back on time without a full tank of gas. I chose the latter, and I had a plan. It wasn’t a great plan, but at least it was something.
I pulled into the Car Rental Center at IAH at exactly 3:59. I asked the guy in the parking lot if this meant I made it on time. He said, “No” and that I had to be at the counter by my scheduled return time.
When I approached the counter, I focused on being worried about tolls and being arrested because I was in the HOV lane. I pretended to freak out about seeing a sign in the HOV lane that read: “Violators will be Prosecuted!”
He told me not to worry and I would just be sent fees through the rental car company. I thanked him several times and walked away, but only with the intention of making a lap around the escalators and coming back.
After enough time had passed for him to close up my account, I approached the counter again and said, “I don’t have to worry about returning the car with a half a tank of gas, right? I just really wanted to get the car back in time.”
“I didn’t even think about that,” he said. “You know what, don’t worry about it. I already put everything away.”
I knew I would be fined for the toll roads, but I knew I could at least distract him from a fee I might be able to avoid. However, maybe I should have been upfront and honest because karma is a bitch.
I was told to go to Terminal A for United. When I got there, the lady at the service desk told me I had to go to Terminal B to check-in. I chose to walk in the underground subway thing from Terminal A to Terminal B. It was a hike, but I enjoy walking. In fact, I once walked across Manhattan Island from Downtown to Harlem and wrote about it. And I once walked across Long Island north to south and wrote about it.
When I arrived at Terminal B, I checked-in and was told by a United employee that I had to check my bag. In a friendly manner, I pointed out that it was a small bag. She said she knew that but I had booked the most basic package. This was the first time I had flown United, and I didn’t know that the most basic package meant only one personal item. So … I had to check my bag. She then told me that I had to take the shuttle bus to Terminal C. I did that.
The flight took off 38 minutes late. When I landed in Charlotte, the shuttle bus for Long Term Parking 2 was down and delayed 30 minutes. When I got in my car, it was on E and I had to get gas.
I will fly into San Antonio next time. One, I dislike Houston. Two, I have never been to San Antonio.
Despite not liking Houston, it was an adventure. When I drove home on the highway that night for the 23-minute drive from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to home, I laughed most of the time. It might sound sick, but some people get it. Even though a lot went wrong on the way home, I loved the entire trip for one simple reason: It was an adventure.
If there is one thing you take away from this book, it shouldn’t have anything to do with poker. It should be this: Adventure = Living.
♠ Tyler Nals | pokerjournal.org