I went back to Day 2 of Estrellas San Sebastien in the Casino Kursaal optimistic that it might at least last a little longer than most of my day 2's to date in 2012. As my roommate for the week David Lappin (a master of the niggle school of encouragement) pointed out, most of the time I'm not even surviving an orbit. Reasons for optimism included not being short for once and the general standard of play. As Lappin pointed out in his blog it's fair to say that Spanish poker is in what could euphemistically be called the early stages of development.
Things looked even better when I won a big hand straight away. Unfortunately I then lost almost half my stack after opening kqs. Two flat calls juiced the pot to the point that the bb now figured it was too good a spot not to shove for 20 bigs. Given the obvious nature of the spot and the fact that he'd already shoved in three times in an orbit I figured my kqs was miles ahead of his range and the two flat callers both of whom seemed like the kind of guys who liked to see flops so long as everyone kept it cheap. Seemed like a good spot to stick the loot in so I did. After the flat callers had folded I found myself in good shape against j9o. Not for long though after a nine high flop. That left me with a shoving stack and set up my most bizarre exit hand ever.
By the time it was folded to me in the small blind the dealer had mistakenly mucked the big blind's cards. I therefore assumed his hand was dead and went through the formality of shoving to pick up the blinds. Or at least that's what I assumed would happen. What actually happened is the big blind was allowed to retrieve two cards from deep inside the muck. Presumably his original two but who can be certain? Having ascertained that both of those rescued cards were kings he made the call. As my mind reeled from what I was witnessing the dealer banged out a flop turn and river and was pushing my stack to him quicker than you can say Floor! At this point I finally did get round to expressing the opinion to the dealer that it might be a good idea for her to consult the floor on this one. She either didn't understand (she provided no evidence at any point to suggest she either spoke or understood a word of English) or decided the best line here was to just ignore the confused looking foreigner, and ploughed on with dealing the next hand.
Lappin expressed the view to me on the trudge back to the hotel that I should have handled the situation more forcefully (he's also an exponent of the niggle school of consoling your friends after they bust). That's fair enough and hopefully I won't make the same mistake if a similar situation arises in future. Although I might pull up a little shy of Lappin's suggested line of manhandling the player with one hand while screaming FLOOR at the top of my voice and restraining the dealer with the other hand to prevent her from doing anything until floor got there.
Maybe I'm just being crabby after the incident but for a number of reasons other than bad dealers, unfriendly locals and unpleasant playing conditions (the Casino Kursaal is not one of the nicer I've played in and they had us playing much of day one in an overheated unpleasantly cramped basement slash dungeon) I kinda feel like Spain is the nut low poker destination right now. They've just ring fenced their players off online all the better to gouge them for taxes which means foreign visiting players basically can't play online when they're there. All of which caused me to abandon my plans to go to the next Estrellas and EPT in Barcelona (one of the first things I did after getting back to the hotel was cancel my Barca flights). I wasn't feeling positive enough towards Spain in general or Casino Kursaal in particular to play any of the crapshoot side events so I had a fidgety few days spent mostly in the hotel room watching the Olympics in German and trying not to think about my multitude of mosquito bites.
There's more than a bit of hyperbole about the title I've gone with for this blog. San Sebastien is actually a very picturesque city with a lot of nice things to look at. Like a lot of people who live in these popular tourist spots the novelty of outsiders wore off a long time ago so the locals for the most part make no pretence of being happy to see you. So I don't feel too bad about not being able to resist adapting Johnny Cash for the title of this one.