Grinding hours to pad your roll
A middle-aged local approached the Treasure Island poker room supervisor early Sunday evening, inquiring about how many hours he had played.
“I want to make my $50,” he said.
At the start of the year, the room announced its latest promotion on signs around the casino, flyers outside the room’s entrance, and business cards on the supervisor’s counter — “GET PAID TO PLAY POKER!”
The 8-table room at TI pays back players with money collected in the rake. For every 10 hours of play (up to 60 hours), a grinder can earn as much as $599 in extra cash each week. This good-for-players promotional trend is catching on around Vegas. Whether it’s called “rakeback” or advertised as an hourly rate, it pays close to a minimum-wage job.
A similar promotion started last month at the Tropicana offering players as much as $10 per hour for play between 11a and 7p. The Trop, which re-opened their new room on that infamous poker date of April 15, 2011, and recently re-coined it the “Jamie Gold Room”, has their $80-a-day rakeback as one of several promotions going in an effort to keep players in the seats at all hours.
Poker room operators say they want to keep the rakeback promotion going as long as they can. Many players love the idea of topping off their stack at the end of a long grind. But that can’t continue if the bulk of players simply auto-fold for 8 hours, hoping to collect their $80 payment each day. And if you swing by the Tropicana room regularly, you might see a few of the same faces doing just that.
Poker room supervisor Andy Cobb told me the other day that management altered their raffle ticket promotion to boost pots. He said the room had been losing money when too many people played uber-tight and the pots didn’t get big enough for the house to take a full $6 rake (half of which goes back to players).
Live Rakeback: the Fine Print
NOTE: All hourly benefits mentioned here are for cash games only, and are current as of press time.
Treasure Island: Earn $50 for 10 hours, $125 for 20 hours, $200 for 30 hours, $300 for 40 hours, $400 for 50 hours and $599 for 60 hours. A player’s hours are tracked between 12 a.m. Sunday and 11:59 p.m. Saturday each week. They can pick up their cash at 10 a.m. on Sundays, and have 30 days from the time it was earned to collect.
Tropicana: Payments received at cash out. You must play betwen 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to earn rakeback, and you must play at least 3 hours to earn any extra cash. For the first 3 hours, you’ll get $15. At 4 hours, you earn $28, at 5 hours, you earn $45. Play 6 hours and collect $10 per hour.
Palms: Payments made Mondays at 11 a.m., with 24 hours allowed to collect. Those who play at least 13 hours but don’t make the top 10 are entered into a drawing, in which 5 people win $100 each.
Wynn: Beware of your time at the table and grab your cash whenever you hit 25 hours. You must collect your money by March 15.
As a former full-time player himself, Cobb says he relates with the grinders, and wants to keep the players happy.
“You need that extra equity of something when you’re playing 1/2 or 1/3,” Cobb said of the rakeback promotion. “If you’re trying to build a bankroll, it’s a big deal.”
Farther north on The Strip, Wynn is offering it’s Winter Rakeback Promotion through January 31. For every 25 hours of play, you can earn $50.
With 26 tables, Wynn’s poker room is the largest we know of that offers rakeback. There’s a $4 max rake, the lowest among the rooms offering such promotions, and they also offer tournament entries and cash prizes for those who play the most hours.
How they rake ‘em
TI: House takes $1 at $10, $2 at $20, $3 at $30, and $4 at $100. With the money returned to players, $1 is taken at $10 and $2 is taken at $30.
Trop: For every pot, the house gets $1 at $10, $2 at $30, and $3 at $50. Money paid to players is collected at $1 per flop, $2 at $20 and $3 at $40.
Palms: House takes 10 percent per pot up to $4, plus a $2 jackpot rake.
Wynn: $4 max rake, with $1 taken for every $10 up to $40 in 1/3 games. In 2/5 games, the house collects $1 at $10, $2 at $20, $3 at $50 and $4 at $80.
On Flamingo Road, the 6-table Palms poker room launched a promotion this month where players can earn $8 per hour and get paid weekly. But there’s a catch: the max one player can earn each week is $300 (lowered from the original cap of $599). And the room only pays out $3,000 weekly in rakeback. During the first week, they paid the 10 players who played the most hours.
(Full disclosure: The Palms poker room hosts a weekly Pokerati half hold’em and half Omaha hi game. Come work on your PLO and take a stab at me or my editor — preferably my editor.)
Every serious player wants to maximize his hours, and a little cushion certainly helps. I plan to hit them all, and see if I can’t bring in some $1,400 extra dollars a month while working on my ideal strategy for game-selection.