Rakeback is out, Massages and MegaBeats are In

@RandomPoker: Vegas grinders look for new promos to pad their EV

by , Jan 16, 2013 | 2:00 pm

All Caesars poker rooms across Nevada launched the Mega Beat Progressive Poker Jackpot earlier this month. It started with $200k to be paid out if some luckbox got his quad aces cracked. For every $100k more dumped into the drop, the qualifying hand also drops. So at $300k, all you need to lose with is with quad kings, at $400k quad queens …

I tried to hit it last week — flopped quad bullets at Planet Hollywood with two fish betting into me — but couldn’t lose to win.

After I relayed the story to a math-minded pro friend who told me that, because of the board, there was no possible hand that could have beat me and I should have raised at some point prior to the river.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Answers told me the odds of losing with a hand as weak as quad eights (see: $800k on the Mega Beat scale) are “not good.”

Mega Beat JackpotBut for this new Caesars Megabeat Jackpot, it doesn’t have to be you: 20 percent of the jackpot goes to the player with the losing hand, and 10 percent to the player with the winning hand; But 70 percent is distributed to players at all Caesars properties in the state. Because of this promo, they’re not offering high hand bonuses. Which means I was a few days late for being good enough to actually win with quads. Is that a bad beat?

Goodbye Rakeback
For most of last year, poker players in Las Vegas could find at least one place to earn something of an hourly wage on top of the chips they collected at the table. But that trend has all but vanished in 2013. Poker rooms have essentially stopped encouraging grinders to fold all day long.

The Tropicana poker room — home to a $10/hr promotion — closed in September. About two months later, Treasure Island moved its room and halted a promotion that offered players up to $599 extra cash per week.

So where do you go now when you when your cards are as cold as the winter desert wind?

I’ve set out to find the best benefits players can find. Which promotions are the best? Which are the impossible gimmicks? And when your quad aces fail to get cracked, how can you stretch those comps into something more than the occasional lunch or redeem points for real cash?

Comps for Cash Equivalence
Larger rooms in Las Vegas such as Aria, Bellagio, Venetian and Wynn don’t offer many promotions outside of comps earned at an hourly rate.

Time was, a grinder would slave away for hours, earning $1/hr on his players card to redeem a day’s play for half a lunch at some fancy casino restaurant. But more and more rooms are pushing greater comp value.

At the Venetian, where you now earn $2/hr, you can use comps for just about everything — including massages. In the past, the $2-per-minute rate would destroy my hourly, so I never got a massage at a Vegas poker table. However, now that I know I don’t have to pull from my stack, I’m tempted to see if I might play better without the knots in my back. [Insert cheap, easy “happy ending” joke at your leisure.] What’s even more tempting, though, is cash. And at the Venetian, players can use their points toward tournaments at $10 increments. Which might be the best way to reduce variance for the Deep Stacks Extravaganza.

The poker room rate at South Point, the Vegas casino/rodeo is only $1/hr, but players can spend that just about anywhere on the property. If you can tear yourself away from the Steak & Shake, try the bowling alley or the gift shop. The movie theater is off limits because it’s technically a separate operation from the casino.

Freerolls to Boot
South Point also has hopped on the freeroll bandwagon, and seems to be blazing the trail. Playing 100 hours automatically qualifies you for a $125,000 freeroll that starts April 16. The player with the most qualifying hours gets $1,500. That’s enticing for someone like me who lives across the street. But I know I’m already too far behind the men and women who practically live at the Point’s $2/$4 FL games.=

The Cantor Poker Room at Palms now has a $10,000 freeroll every two weeks, with players qualifying for 1,000 tournament chips after playing 10 hours and 1,000 more for each additional 5 hours played.

Treasure Island started a $2,500 weekly freeroll this month for those who play at least 10 hours a week. First place is set at $1,000.

TI also remains one of the few rooms that still doles out pure cash on some level — offering $20 to each of the first 9 players who log into the day’s cash game and play an hour. Another promotion awards $100 to the player who wins the most pots every three hours, five times a day.

I’ve contemplated rounding up a few friends to start a game, sit for an hour and pick up an easy $20. But then we’d start fighting for pots and that hour would turn into 15, and a few bad beats later I’m stuck waiting for the next freeroll for a chance to get even.