If you see me coming to a poker table…

…stop what you’re doing, take some money out of the ATM, and sit down at the poker table with me.  I’m on a losing slide that will erase all my profits for the year if it continues another 4 or 5 sessions.

Hey, the least I can do is make sure some of my friends get my limit Texas Hold’em bankroll.

I’m playing reasonably tight*, but I’m going for hours without seeing good cards, and when you do that and then finally you get a hand like Jack-Jack and you hit your set, it’s hard to fold to the river flush for just one bet.  The rest of the time though I’m making GREAT folds. 

Last night at the Hustler Casino in LA (a really, really nice poker room) I flopped bottom two pair with an unremarkable hand and accurately read my opponent for top pair middle kicker.  As he continued to bet and I raised him, I had him read perfectly.  The river came and paired the board and I realized I was beat.  Though it was just one bet, I felt confident in my fold and in my read of his play and I threw away my hand.  He showed me his cards to confirm what I knew to be true and raked the pot.  I made folds like that all night, but still continued to leak away money to the rake, to counterfeited hands, and in the occasional tip to the wait staff or dealers. 

In case you’re curious there’s nobody that looks as sleazy (or sexy) as what you might find in Hustler magazine in the Hustler casino in LA.  In fact I’m not even sure you can buy the magazine in the casino.  It’s just like every other casino except it’s got the Hustler name and some chips with women with ‘come hither’ headshots printed on them.

I’m going to step up my time at the tables on the assumption that my perceived run of bad luck is just a lack of practice, but I’m going to stay to the $4/$8 and $6/$12 games.  No sense blowing money while I’m still analyzing the problem.

digital poker table

The other interesting thing about the Hustler Casino in LA is that they have a Poker Automation electronic table.  The casino can configure it for a number of games.  While I was waiting for my $4/$8 table they had it set up for $2/$4 limit hold’em.  Later they configured it for a $20 Sit’n Go tournament.  Basically if you don’t mind online poker, you’ll not have a problem with it.

It’s got some real advantages for players.  For one, you can get a wider variety of games because the casino doesn’t have to do the profit and loss analysis for opening a new game.  So the $20 SNG, which is not really enough to make them money and justify using a dealer, becomes possible.  Second is the complete lack of dealer mistakes.

On the other hand I really thought the interface was clunky.  Players noticed they had to keep looking at their screen to see the action, and the central table screen to see the actions of the other players.  They really need to allow you to look at only your own display for everything if you’d like.  Almost every player was confused by this, myself included.

To use the machine, you just need to go to an ATM-like kiosk and create a plastic player card and deposit money (actual bills).  You set a PIN on the card and then take it to the table where you swipe it again and deposit money "into the table".  When you’re done you just select "leave table" and your money goes back to the card.

It will never replace real poker dealers but I think most casinos will install a handful for things like Sit N Gos and other low-revenue poker options.  Most exciting is their ‘heads up’ version.  At low stakes it’s never profitable to dedicate a dealer to letting two players play against each other.  It becomes possible with Poker Automation’s heads up table.  (Of course you can just setup a private headsup table on an online site and accomplish the same thing with two computers, but hey…)


* ‘tight’ is poker slang for playing very few hands.