Part of my never-ending journey to play in all of America's cardrooms (continental U.S. only, thanks) involves sometimes going to places that flat out suck. Now, I'm not what you'd call a high-maintenance guy. I don't seek out luxury as if I needed it. But parts of this trip to West Virginia exceeded my tolerance limit. Not my hotels, thankfully, which were more than adequate, but the towns that I was forced to travel through. the entire are West of Pittsburgh, for about 100 miles, seems to be a long line of towns full of lost promise and former glory.
But let's start from the beginning.
I didn't want to do this in the first place (I always wanted to be a lumberjack! hehehe). I had a bid in for a room in Atlantic City at the Fairfield, which was where I preferred to spend my time. I put in a bid at the lowest price, $285, for two nights and left it to fate to decide. As it happened, I lost the bid, even after raising it to $315. With everyone out of the city for Father's Day, I had to do something that didn't involve my being completely alone in my apartment for three straight days. So I looked at my list of poker rooms that I hadn't visited. West Virginia, as it turns out, has two poker rooms just west of Pittsburgh airport and they were close enough to do the whole shebang in just one weekend. A few furious clicks on Hotels.Com and Travelocity later, and I was all set to go. As I get older, my impulse purchases get more adventurous...
The flight out to Pittsburgh wasn't much of a problem, save for the delay. I have NEVER had a good experience taking regional commuting jets to nearby cities. I have ALWAYS been delayed. They just don't stack up in importance to the big jets, I guess. I landed in Pittsburgh Friday night at 7:30pm. Unlike New York airports, other air transit services around the country are a pleasure to use and Pittsburgh is no exception. Enterprise rental cars were right in the terminal and I was off the plane and in my car withing 15 minutes of landing. I fired up my GPS, whom I will now lovingly refer to as Hermes (the Greek god of travel and commerce, also trickery and liars!), and instructed him to direct me to my first hotel, which was the Comfort Inn in Wheeling, WV.
Hermes, for the first time I've owned him, balked. He couldn't find the Comfort Inn listed in his database. Ok, no problem. I'm prepared. I'll just manually input the address. 675 Fort Henry Road. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. What?!?! No Fort Henry Road?!?! FUCK!
I tried keeping my wits about me after this stunning turn of events. Logic indicated I should drive to Wheeling and when I got in the vicinity, the solution would be made clear. So I punched up the directions to the center of Wheeling, WV and drove off into the night. The drive was uneventful, though it took me past some real country farms and their inherent creepiness in the dark. When I was about 10 miles out of Wheeling, inspiration struck. I pulled over to the side of the road and used my Blackberry to Google the Comfort Inn website. From there, I was able to find the Wheeling, WV location and get directions. Bingo!
When I got to the front desk and relayed my GPS issue, he told me that everyone has the same issue. It was a Days Inn up until recently and the road had been recently renamed. Aha! Hermes was off the hook this time around.
I checked in, dropped off my bags and headed back to the car to get to Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack (Greyhounds).
It started raining within 5 minutes of my leaving the hotel. And by raining, I don't mean that wimpy mist we get in Manhattan. I mean that heavy country rain you remember when you were a kid and your parents dragged you away to a place upstate where the laws of nature conform to their regular patterns. Thick, warm rain that manages to drown cities in Louisiana and Iowa. Luckily, I had brought my umbrella. Being prepared ROCKS.
The Wheeling Island casino is actually quite nice. Not a large casino, by any standards, but not dinky either. There was a decent sized gaming area with plenty of slots, about 25 table games and a poker room tucked all the way in the back corner in a large no-smoking area. The labeling was poor and it took me a bit to find it, but the poker room was actually pretty nice. Tall ceilings and 20 beautiful tables. I sat at a 1-2NL table with some of the most passive players I've ever seen. Exactly my speed for that kind of rainy night. With precision benefiting a surgeon, I took down pot after pot until I had steadily grown my stack from my inital buyin of $183 to my cashout of $451. A little over 3 hours after I had started, I more than doubled my buyin and, miraculously, I didn't lose a single pot that went to showdown. Beautiful.
Not too many great hands to report that I can remember. The only one that sticks out is my wonderful slowplay of Jacks full that got a guy to call a bigger than pot sized bet on the river when I had check-called every street. Even then, no pot got over $150 the entire time I was there. Very passive room.