So since I moved to the Hague I have been about fifteen minutes from the Holland Casino in Scheveningen. When I lived in Dordrecht I rarely made the journey out to the casino in Rotterdam as I simply couldn’t be bothered. So far I have been to the one in the Hague three times. Three times in eight months, nowhere near “I’ve got a gambling problem” territory.
The best (and worst) thing about poker in the Netherlands is that it’s just starting to get popular. It has just started to be put onto prime time TV with celebrity (if you can call them that) poker and some televised poker shows late at night. To give you an idea, when I moved here in the end of 2004 the only place in the whole country that had poker was the Amsterdam casino. They only opened at 8pm, and they close at 3am. And there were two tables. I went once or twice, took Ken there when he came to visit, but it was so ridiculously restrictive that it wasn’t worth it.
Then they started a few tables in the Hague and a few in the Rotterdam casino. Last night (Saturday) the place was packed and there were people lined up all over the railings that look onto the three (count ’em!) poker tables. The sign up sheet opens at 7pm, but if you’re not in line by 6:30 then you can’t get onto the only 5-10 table they have. So you have to be there at 6:30 to play at 8:00. Ridiculous. They still have a long way to go toward becoming customer-focused.
So last night Darien and I went together and signed up, waited in line with the other degenerates, and got on the first table. The players there are of medium quality, with a liberal sprinkling of very loose, very aggressive players who will see every hand to the river. I got a huge compliment from Darien after a while when he said, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you’re playing really tight Brian. I’m impressed.” He’s more used to my somewhat reckless play at our weekly poker game where the buy in is 20 Euros.
So I went up 150 Euros in the first hour or so, then gave back 100 of it on ONE HAND. The board came up 10, Q, something else on the flop. I had 10, Queen. The turn was another queen. I had full house. I was set. I raised aggressively. Three people stayed with me. One of them re-raising me. I re-raised him right back and we went on. The river was a Jack. Again, more raising and re-raising. I plunked down 100 Euro on this one hand. He finally ran out of money and went all in. I felt mildly bad about putting him out. I showed my full house. He looked at me with a huge grin and said “LOOK!” and turned over Ace, King suited. It was then I noticed that the 10, Jack, and one of the Queens were all clubs.
I’ve been playing poker in casinos since 1998 when my friend Jon Hefler and I would head down to Atlantic City to play in the cavernous poker room at the Taj. I have never yet seen a royal flush.
But now I have.
The good news for me was, I was duly impressed by his hand, took it well, didn’t go on tilt, and kept my cool the entire night. Playing tight got me up 250 Euros, then when some kids who had no idea how to bet came and sat down at the table (around 1:45am) I raked in another 75 or so.
All told, I left up 315 Euro for the night.
Darien did well also, leaving up 235 (once subtracting food and beverage and tip costs, he’s an accountant, he does that…)
When you’re winning, it’s not a gambling problem. It’s a profitable hobby.
But the time before this I lost my whole roll of 200 Euro, so I don’t let myself get carried away.
Still, looking forward to next time.
Thanks to Darien for being my degenerate gambling companion and to Magreet for the lovely quiche.