Bike’s Quantum Reload is turning heads

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I don’t get to play as much as I’d like to, or used to. Having a new baby last year and the near extinction of online poker this year made sure of that. I have been getting out more often recently, though, squeezing in some cash play. But except for the World Series of Poker, I haven’t had the opportunity to play a tournament.

Well, with my wife and baby on a plane, the Bike was running its annual Big Poker Oktober tournament series, which had an event called the “Quantum Reload” with a $50K guarantee. It was in my buy-in range so I decided to give it a shot. I wasn’t sure what Quantum Reload meant, but it worked with my schedule and who knows when I might get another opportunity.

I’ve been pretty critical of the Bike’s structures in the past. Since I hadn’t played there in a while, I expected the same. I very much like the staff and tournament room, and there’s a new tournament director.

Am I ever glad I was able to play in this tournament. The Bike revamped the structures for the lower buy-in tournaments and I thought it was great. And about the Quantum Reload, it added another level of strategy to the game.

Here are the basic details: The first four levels are 55 minutes each. The first two make up “Session A” and the second two “Session B.” You can enter in either session, and if you bust from Session A, you can re-enter in Session B. No matter which session you’re playing, you can rebuy OR add on one time in that session, but not both. After the end of Session B, the levels go to 30 minutes.

You get 5K chips to start, and here’s the twist: If you rebuy before the end of the session, you get 5K chips. If you make it to the end of the session, you can add-on for the same price and get 6K chips.
During a normal rebuy, I’d add chips right away. A few of the people at my table rebought immediately, but I opted to wait. It seemed like the bonus chips superseded normal strategy. I’d be interested to hear other input to the correct strategy here.

It only took me 19 minutes to lose nearly half my starting stack, but I was able to get to 7,500 at the end of the session, which after add-on gave me 13,500 going into 75-150, which was great. I was able to chip up pretty steadily and had a good mid-money finish.

All in all, I thought the tournament was great. I mentioned the structures have been tweaked, and there was the usual percentage of poor players out of the 421 runners. First place was more than $24K and a min-cash was $390 for 45th and better. If you get the chance, I highly recommend playing one of these.

L.A. POKER OPEN: Coming up next for us low rollers is the L.A. Poker Open at Commerce Casino. It starts Nov. 2. There are buy-ins ranging from $125 to the $2,085 championship event on Nov. 18 and you’re guaranteed a good Matt Savage structure.

Most of the events are $340 or cheaper. The formats include NLHE, Omaha/8, stud/8, Omaha-Stud/8, H.O.R.S.E. and PLO with rebuys. Hopefully in the near future I’ll have a positive report from one of these, too.

— Dave Palm is Ante Up’s Los Angeles Ambassador. You can email him at LA.AnteUp@gmail.com.

Elsewhere in SoCal, five-card Omaha/8 gaining popularity

One of the greatest things about traveling the country and seeing different poker rooms is game variation. In the coming months we will be reporting our Road Trip features for California, and there were so many unique things we found in SoCal. But one that really piqued our interest was five-card Omaha/8.

We had seen a variation of this game at Binion’s in Las Vegas many years ago, but it was called Juarez and featured two flops, two turns and one river with the best overall high winning half the pot and the best overall low (eight or better) winning the other half.

But on this trip we found a $3-$6 five-card Omaha/8 game that had a kill, and it was juicy (of course I lost my buy-in quicker than a rabbit crossing I-10 during rush hour). We only saw the game at Morongo and Pechanga, though it may be spread elsewhere, and floor supervisors at both cardrooms told us the game has been around awhile, usually spreads every day and has great action. We can attest to that.

WSOP QUALIFIERS: Sycuan Casino will hold WSOP main event qualifying starting Nov. 1 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Call (619) 445-6002 for more details.
— Christopher Cosenza, chris@anteupmagazine.com