It's well known that Missouri has major casinos at each end of the state – in St. Louis on the eastern border and in Kansas City on the west. There are a few poker rooms in these casinos making it easy to find a game. But what I didn't know, and was glad to discover, is that the central part of the state, near the capital of Jefferson City and where I was staying in the university town of Columbia, also boasts a casino with a poker room. It's the Isle of Capri. And if you like no limit hold 'em, it is surely an oasis.
The Isle of Capri casino is nothing special. It's about halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City – about two hours to either city. It's a casino with table games, slots, and a couple of modest restaurants. They do have a small hotel on the property. It's in the small city of Boonville, which itself boasts a couple of restaurants and a few bars. It's convenient to the major east-west highway, about ten minutes north of interstate 70.
The poker room is relatively small, with only six tables. It's not the nicest poker room I've seen. It's a little dim, the chairs are nothing special, there was some debris on the floor, and the place needs a good cleaning.
But there's poker. When I visited they had two $1/2 no-limit games with a $100 minimum and $200 maximum buy-in going – a "feeder table" and a main game. I've been told they get a $3/6 limit game going at times as well. Both no-limit tables were full each time I was there – and they were taking a list for a third table on one occasion.
The house has a pretty steep rake of 10% with a $5 maximum, with an additional $1 coming out for the bad-beat jackpot (which stood at $37,666.80 when I visited). You need quads beaten, with both hole cards having to play. The Isle of Capri also runs regular tournaments. There are 1PM and 8PM tournaments on Monday and Tuesday.
There is waitress service for drinks. Soft drinks are free but you have to pay $2.00 for a beer; I don't know if they serve anything stronger. There's eating allowed in the poker room, but waitresses won't bring you the food. You can call in an order to the 24-hour deli and then pick it up when they call back and tell you it's ready. There's also a reasonably priced buffet with a different theme each night of the week. Prices for the buffet range from $12.49 to $17.99 depending on the night and the theme of the meal. (Steak night, on Wednesdays was $17.99.)
I had an interesting hand on my second visit – near the end of the night. Let me set it up and then tell you about it.
I had been playing for a couple of hours. The floor recognized me when I came in because when I had last visited, on the prior night, they learned that I wrote articles and poker room reviews. Sure enough, they had a copy of the latest Poker Player Newspaper and made a big deal out of seeing my picture in it.
This evening the dealer mentioned that I was an author – which got the players chatting and, good naturedly, razzing me about how I played. I played very, very tightly, only contested a couple of hands and won them each – one at showdown when my flush beat a straight.
Near the end of the night, after some ribbing about winning a hand, I was dealt the . I was on the button and saw the flop for $2 – since no one in front of me had raised.
The flop was . Two players checked and an older conservative player whom I had beaten out of an earlier pot bet $10.
It seemed about the right amount if he didn't have a jack. With a jack, this conservative player in my estimation would check, slow-playing what he would see as a monster. I only had a drawing hand but I figured I might pick up the pot with a raise – representing that I had a jack. And if it didn't succeed I'd still have outs. So I raised to $30.
My raise knocked out the first two players. The bettor thought a while and then he raised me to $50.
That was an interesting raise, I thought. He did not have the type of play to make a small raise like that as a bluff. So I revised my opinion. He had about $190 left and I had him covered.
I thought about the raise. At first I didn't think it was sufficient – since I had raised to $30 and he had only raised by $20 more. But then I realized that he was making the minimum raise.
He was begging me to call it — $20 for about a $90 pot and huge implied odds if I hit my hand. I had nine outs for the flush and four for the straight – one of which was a flush card. Two of the flush cards would give him a full house – beating my flush. Still, I figured that if I drew my hand I'd have a good chance of stacking him. So I called his minimum re-raise of $20.
The turn was a blank – the I think. I figured it surely didn't help him – unless he started with the unlikely J-2. Surprisingly, he checked.
This confused me. Perhaps I was wrong again and he was putting a move on me with the min-raise – and he got cold feet on the turn?. Maybe he didn't have a jack. Or maybe he had J-2 and was slow-playing, hoping I'd bet into him? That didn't seem to make sense. But why check? Well, he was a very conservative player. And I had seen him check his pair of kings on the turn when he had bet the flop and no ace came on the turn. Maybe he just was hesitant to bet.
I decided that he didn't have the jacks and that his raise had been some weird bluff that didn't work. So I figured I might steal the pot from him for a bet. So I made a bet of $60, hoping he'd fold (since I had absolutely nothing but a draw). I figured it was small enough not to cripple me and large enough for him to fold if he really didn't have much.
Wrong again! He called.
The river was amazing. I needed a club for a flush or a ten for a straight and the board not to pair to beat trip jacks. I got more than I had hoped – the for a straight flush!
Once again he checked. I pulled a Hollywood and took quite a while to think. Then I bet $80 – trying to find the right amount to get the biggest call I could get. He raised me all in – pushing in about $80 on top of my bet. I didn't act any more, but immediately called and turned over my cards, showing the straight flush.
The other players shouted, "He's got a straight flush! Wow! A straight flush!"
I pulled in a fairly large pot for that game. As I did, the loser graciously said, "I almost don't mind losing – seeing such a pretty hand." The other player chimed in with how they were now convinced I really was a poker writer. I added, humbly, that it didn't take any kind of poker genius to win with that kind of a hand – and that I probably played it wrong on every street.
I left shortly thereafter – up $300 for my session.
The place was friendly, the players had some gamble in them; the dealers were also friendly, the staff was all very nice. Next time I'm in Columbia, Missouri or Jefferson City I'm going to the Isle of Capri.
Isle of Capri Casino & Hotel Boonville
100 Isle of Capri Blvd.
Boonville, MO 65233