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Adam Stemple

The Family Road Trip — Poker Style

By November 15, 2012

The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New JerseyThis summer I packed my wife, young son, and teenage daughter into the van and took a road trip to visit family on the East Coast. A lot of people do this, but I like to think we do it a little differently. Sure we see the sights -- we spent four days in D.C., two in Niagara Falls, and took the ferry across Lake Michigan -- but whenever we had to stay overnight, we tried to find a place with a casino attached. After all, we have to pay for the trip somehow, right?

With how popular poker is these days, it isn't difficult to find places that offer the game. On this trip, I played in Atlantic City, hardly a rare spot to find people gambling. But did you know there are three casinos in Niagara Falls? How about Uncasville, Connecticut? That holds the Mohegan Sun, one of the biggest casinos in the world.

Quick story from Atlantic City: I played in a little midnight tournament there and picked up Aces in early position. I wanted to thin the field, but didn't think a small raise would do it. However, a big raise from early position would mean I'd just get the blinds, and I wanted more value from my Aces than that. So I used one of my favorite moves in small, aggressive games where the players are not real sophisticated. I limped in, and let the players behind raise it for me. When the action got back to me, I was able to make a big raise, committing more than a quarter of my stack, and ensuring I both got value from my Aces and made it impossible for my opponents to make correct decisions after the flop.

And don't think the kids were disappointed to go to a casino. They know a casino means a pool and a buffet. My kids would sell me to foreign dignitaries for a swim in a pool and couple trips through a buffet. We even stayed an extra day in Des Moines on one trip. Not because I wanted to play more cards -- the card room was across the street from AdventureLand, and its water parks and hundreds of thrill rides.

The Omaha 8 game was a bit of a rollercoaster for me as well.

No amusement parks on this trip, but some things I don't think we would have seen if we hadn't been looking to stay in casinos are:

  • A tightrope walker cross right above our 43rd floor window
  • Niagara Falls lit up at night
  • The ocean
  • The Atlantic City boardwalk
  • A laughing gull snatching a hot dog from my daughter's hand

Are there any spots you have been to that you might otherwise not have seen if you weren't looking to play poker on your trip? Email me and let's compare notes. I'm always looking for new places to play.

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