Sharking games in Vegas

I have some work in Vegas and came a day early to try and make myself available for some meetings.  The meetings fell through, so I played some cards.  I consulted AllVegasPoker for some poker room reviews before heading out for the day.  With so many poker rooms in Vegas, you need a good resource to save you from finding out the sordid truth on your own.

According to AllVegasPoker, the Paris casino would have the very worst players and a 9:30am no limit tournament.  I worked until 8:30am (most of the East coast morning) and then headed out to Paris.  Doh!  I had given someone the task of signing a nondisclosure agreement which they did quickly, instead of taking all day as I’d planned.

I ran back to the room, sent them all sorts of data so they can proceed with their work, and barely made the $65+$5 tournament.  After all, work has priority.  I arrive at Paris and though it’s a small casino, the warm weather and the ambiance of the casino is wonderful.  Half the players are taking the "learn how to play poker" lesson before playing the game which is a really good.  We start with 18 people, and I come in 3rd.  (no prize money for me though I had a whale of a time)

I then have lunch in the french cafe (I love this casino) and proceed to head back to the poker area to play some $3/$6. The low limit players will call too much, so I intend to practice my "maniac" game.  My note in my poker notebook says, "You are going to play $3/$6 and practice the maniac role.  You will jam pots and lose lots of money.  Your goal is to learn how to entice lots of calling, keep the table happy, and give yourself lots of statistically beneficial draws."

This strategy only really works against a table of players who play any two cards.  Big pairs, big cards, suited connectors, pretty much anything in my hand is worth a raise.  Because they’ll call it all, you just keep making them put money in.  What you’re basically doing is playing $6/$12 effectively.  There’s always enough money in the pot such that you get great odds on your draws.  You still have to practice good hand selection though, it’s just that you have odds to draw to everything reasonable and when your opponents make a mistake, it’s very very expensive.

This, by the way, is my antidote to people who complain when they play Aces and they get run down because 7 people call their raise in these low limit games.  You’re not going to make money with big pairs, even if they hit a set.  You’re going to make your money on flushes and sets against other big pairs. 

It’s also fun to be the guy that only plays if he’s raising.  You’re the table captain, and it’s fun to be the maniac.  Without a single drink I am the happiest player at the table, hooting when I’m beat and polite when I’m stacking their chips.  I keep everyone smiling.

I play the maniac to great enjoyment until some better players came by and ruin the environment, walking away with a little over $100 profit.

I then head over to Wynn, my favorite casino on my previous trip.  If you visit Vegas, you should be playing poker at the Wynn.   The poker room tableside food menu is really good, and you know how they have those comp cards that give you a couple of comp dollars every hour you play poker?  Well they’re currently encouraging poker players to stay by simply not caring how many comp dollars you have.  One guy at our table has been ordering food at the table and is $500 in the hole, but they don’t care.  I don’t know how many dollars I had, I just kept ordering food, and they kept bringing it to me.  I’m pretty sure I got a $15 sandwich and matzo ball soup for $2.

First up at the Wynn I sat down at an Omaha/8 $10/$20 half kill game for about an hour.  I knew I was playing with better players, but I have the bankroll ($600-$800) needed to sit in a session of this game.  The players at my table were wild chip dumpers.  They’d raise with pretty much anything and everything.  I saw raised kill pots routinely called for $30 with JJ87 preflop, which is a terrible hand.  And most of them took cellphone calls during the game, often talking during the hand and paying little attention.  I couldn’t figure out if they just didn’t care enough to concentrate, or if they were that good.  I think I was paying the most attention to the action at that table.

Because I was at a limit higher than I’m usually comfortable playing, I stuck to premium O8 hands such as AA23 double suited and other scooping hands.  I spent most of my time getting my cheap higher limit O8 lesson.  I ended up down about $25 when my seat for $4/$8 got called.  The $8/$16 at the Wynn is usually full of smart locals so I stay away, but the $4/$8 is often very fishy.  Mine was no exception.

My $4/$8 table went through periods where everyone would want to see the flop, and if I had the right sort of hand, I treated it like a table full of loose low limit players and became the Maniac.  I jammed the pots over and over again, shoving as much money in as possible, knowing that most of my opponents have problems telling where they are in a hand or selecting strong starting hands.  Inevitably I’d get 6 or 8 callers, and if I flopped a draw, or even better, hit my hand, I kept on jamming the pot.

It was wildly successful, and as I said, a ton of fun to be the maniac at the table.  About 5 hours and over $150 in profit later I was tired and had enough poker for one day.   I looked around the table at the sizes of the stacks of the worst players, and concluded it wasn’t worth my time to stay and try and win their meager remaining chips. 

I’m anticipating no more poker for this trip.  I’m working very very hard for the next two days.