Archive for the ‘Las Vegas poker rooms’ Category

Getting Paid to Lose

by , May 17, 2012 | 11:25 am

Quad queens at the Wynn, a few hands after losing with quad jacks. Read below for the best bad beat jackpots in Vegas.

This is not a bad beat story, though it starts with one.

This is a story about bad beat jackpots, and the lack thereof.

Playing a 1-3NL game the other day, I raised to $12 in late position with JhJd.

An older man — here’s him as a younger man, seriously — called on the button, one of the blinds called and the limper directly to my right called.

The flop was a dream: Js5c7c. And it was checked to me, so I bet big, hoping to build it up with one of the suckers stupid enough to call my preflop raise.

To my delight, the button moved in for $150. The blind folded and the limper contemplated.

“Please call, please call, please call,” I thought.

And he shoved for $200.

Oh boy, dreams do come true.

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Zynga Returning to Las Vegas for Live Poker Event?

by , May 14, 2012 | 4:45 am

Though there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, nor do we have any insider knowledge … Pokerati’s exclusive screengrab journalism (and an iPhone that seemed to be buzzing moreso than usual this weekend) can confirm that the world’s largest online poker operation — and the only one with enough cash to buy up Full Tilt AND PokerStars (and Steve Wynn’s personal art collection should they want it) — will be back in Las Vegas for live action poker soon.

Lol to think I was wearing this T-shirt a couple months ago when someone noticed that a full year since the first ever Zynga Pokercon had come and gone with nary a mention, let alone much talk of a second such tournament event.

Gaming Social: Perhaps surprisingly, this photo was not taken with Instagram.

Kinda surprising considering that Zynga’s top executives had been chattering incessantly all Q1 about the company’s future in online gambling … almost as if their stock price depended on it!

But then, players learned this weekend …

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Panning for Bracelets

by , May 13, 2012 | 2:24 am

The temporary poker room at IP during construction of the Linq project is currently enjoying Quad-a-Palooza.

In the weeks leading up to the World Series of Poker, grinders all over Vegas start making big plans. Even small-stakes guys like me and my friends want a piece of the action. But with the major online sites shuttered for US players, we must hunt for a way to qualify for a bracelet event.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart told reporters that Caesars properties would increase satellites leading up to the series.

Caesars Palace just launched its WSOP Warm-Up, running through May 20, with tournaments as low as $130 that have $20,000 guaranteed prize pools and $1,000 WSOP seats.

My friends and I decided to skip those tournaments for now — thinking we’d hit a few of the smaller Caesars properties to increase our chances of scoring a seat. These rooms wouldn’t be as packed with local grinders, we figured, and the games would be less volatile.

With the construction of the Caesars’ Linq project underway, the Imperial Palace poker room moved from the front of the casino, by which all the tourists would stumble, to a rather inconvenient spot up on the third floor.

“I don’t get it. They had such a great location,” said one of my poker buddies — an out-of-towner who takes most of his vacations to Vegas.

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A Bigger, Louder WSOP for 2012?

by , May 8, 2012 | 1:10 pm

Jack Effel expects a “huge and great” 2012 World Series of Poker.

It certainly won’t be a quiet one.

“The poker room is not church,” Effel, the tournament director for the past 6 years, told poker media today. “You can talk in the poker room. We just feel that we need to set the tone to put the fun back into poker.”

A trimmed down WSOP TD Jack Effel promises to go easy on players who want to chat it up at the tables this year.

Table talk and celebration are allowed once again — and even encouraged, Effel and WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said.

“We’re going to relearn what it’s like to be at a poker table, understanding the verbal strategy,” Effel said.

Just don’t expose your cards, or talk when someone else has yet to act. Essentially, you can yap all you want if you’re closing the action.

This is something of a level, as one reporter pointed out: WSOP knows the ESPN cameras are on all the players who know the cameras are on them.

“We’ve rewritten the rules to say we want you to celebrate, just don’t get crazy,” Effel added, putting the kibosh on the 4-year-old “Hevad Khan rule.”

Players at a feature table are even required to announce their action.

At any given point between May 27 and July, there will be as many as 500 poker tables at the Rio. That’s the largest ever for a single event, Effel said.

This year’s WSOP offers 61 bracelets for events including a $1,500 “ante only” event, a $2,500 4-max event, a $3,000 heads-up NL/PLO event, and a $5,000 mix-max event. They’ve also added a couple quirky non-bracelet events, such as the $560 bracelet bounty, where players receive $500 for knocking out a bracelet winner, and a $560 (per player) doubles tournament, where players share a chip stack and alternate at each level.

They also announced the return of daily deep stack tournaments.

Stewart feels good about the prospect of a “second boom for poker,” even with Full Tilt player funds in limbo a year after Black Friday.

“This game is stronger than we all even hoped,” he said. “It has become truly global, and it is here to stay. It appears poker’s darkest days are behind us.”

A few other highlights from the conference call:

  • With a series of satellite events and a $25,000 mega satellite, the directors expect to fill the 48-player $1 million One Drop charity tournament to reach capacity.
  • Instead of the standard food comp, players this year will receive Caesars Total Reward credits for bracelet events based on the size of the buy-in.
  • The main event final table has been pushed up to Oct. 28, instead of the following month, when it would have interfered with the presidential election.

Casino Poker Rooms Suffer in Post-Black Friday Era

by , Apr 30, 2012 | 2:46 pm

Las Vegas casino gambling revenues have been on a notable rebound. But in the year following online poker’s Black Friday, brick and mortar poker room revenues haven’t necessarily kept pace.

From February 2011 to February 2012, according to the the latest Nevada Gaming Control Board report, the state’s total gaming revenues (excluding sports books) increased by 5.6 percent, while revenues from poker dropped 1.4 percent. Las Vegas’ Clark County grew gaming revenues by 6.6 percent, while poker revenues slipped 1.1 percent.

Atlantic City has struggled with competition from new slot parlors in Pennsylvania. But even here, the toll on poker was larger. The latest report from New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforecement, Atlantic City’s total gaming revenue fell 5.0 percent from March 2011 to March 2012. Poker revenues fell 6.9 percent.

One poker room in Atlantic City handily beat the trend. Revenues at the Borgata’s poker room rose 28 percent. The Borgata played host to a number of major tournaments in the past year. The poker room staff is also very active on online poker forums such as 2+2.

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More than Just No-Limit Hold’em for Tourists

by , Apr 23, 2012 | 5:30 am

Matt Savage returns home to Las Vegas tomorrow to take the TD helm for the MGM Grand Challenge Series, which began on Friday anr runs through May 6.

At first glance, this series resembles most “tourist stakes” festivals in Las Vegas — two-and-a-half weeks of two tourneys a day, with buy-ins ranging from $150 to $550 and a $1,600 main event (starting May 1). But a closer look at the schedule reveals that 9 of the 30 events are something other than no-limit Texas hold’em. There are five Omaha events, two HORSE events, a stud event and a hi-lo variant of Chinese Poker. Even the WSOP doesn’t have that.

Matt Savage opted not to include any limit hold’em or pot-limit Words with Friends in the current MGM series line-up, but did include just about everything else.

And six of the hold’em events veer from standard full-ring multi-table freezeout structure — to include turbos, a double-stack event, bounties, an “all-in or fold” tournament (where those are your only two choices on every hand), and a mix-max, where the number of players at each table progressively shrinks (from 10 to 8 to 6 to 4…).

Savage says he  expects a healthy turnout of pros for the Chinese Poker ½ High, ½ 2-7 event.

The idea for this series, he said, was “to provide a variety of games that other series’ in Vegas don’t generally have. No-limit hold’em, while it’s popular, isn’t the only game.”

The Grand Challenge series is taking place in a temporary location on the casino floor,  next to the old lion habitat, while construction on the adjacent bar is underway.

For the first event, a $230 NLHE tournament with 3 day ones, there were more than 300 entrants. The top three finishers chopped for a $10k, $9k, and $9k payout.

Dan played the $150 Pot Limit Omaha with $100 rebuys last night. The Sunday evening event drew 37 players and saw 98 rebuys, for a first prize around $5k. Dan got knocked out just short of the money, with 32 players remaining. I wonder how many hands he played before realizing the odds can actually change when you don’t run it twice.

I’m personally interested in Wednesday’s 6-max NL Hold’em event — something I’ve played before online but never live. We’ll see if my online experience short-handed combined with my looser live cash-game style gives me the edge I anticipate. And if I make the money there, I may just take a shot at the all-in or fold event on Friday. Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been hashing out strategy with friends.

Sounds like it could be really fun or really quick.


Las Vegas @RandomPoker Buzz

by , Mar 22, 2012 | 12:38 pm

It’s hard to play anywhere in Vegas as a non-tourist without hearing noise about the room you’re in or one down The Strip. No wonder so many regs wear headphones. But I keep my ears unplugged to filter through it all for Pokerati — and so Dan has at least half a clue about what’s real, what’s bullshit and what’s a live tell.

Some of what I’ve picked up lately:

Karina Jett is the MGM’s new poker room ambassador, meaning she will promote the room and host the weekly $120 HORSE event at 7:15pm every Tuesday. Jett has hosted the HORSEament previously at the Palms and then M Resort before settling into her new gig at MGM. The inaugural running at MGM featured a drinks-flowing pre-party that saw Cyndy Violette, Gavin Smith, Layne Flack, Allen Kessler, and Erik Seidel.

DonkDown Radio founder Bryan Micon won the tournament last week, beating a pro-filled field of about 80 for a $2k score, along with besting several others in a last-longer bet that paid an added $4k. The next running, earlier this week, attracted a field of about 60 players.

Meanwhile, WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage is also on board with MGM, serving as tournament director for the upcoming Grand Challenge Tournament series. Savage apparently was looking for something else to do in Vegas now that the Epic events are off his calendar.

Occupy Aria?
Players take Ivey Room mixed game back to Bellagio

This hasn’t been confirmed yet, but according to at least one regular player in one of the bigger regular games in Vegas:

FWIW I saw Jean Robert Belande (@BrokeLivingJRB) still playing in Ivey’s room with David Williams (@DWPoker) just last night, so there could be more to this schism. If it’s all political, as Crazy Mike says, that could explain why Barack Obama was in town yesterday.

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RE: Jamie Gold Residency Shuttered at the Trop?

by , Mar 16, 2012 | 11:44 am

Officials with Tropicana have responded to a story we posted Thursday about Jamie Gold’s relationship with the casino and recent changes in the poker room, saying Gold remains the ambassador and will focus on training seminars.

After we published, the Tropicana released the following joint statement from Fred Harmon, vice president of talent and image relations, and John Fort, director of gaming, via QuadJacks:

“We have seen a few false assumptions posted regarding Jamie Gold. The Jamie Gold Poker Room is alive and well! It appears Jamie not being at Tropicana Las Vegas everyday (sic) has sparked some assumptions that are just not true. Jamie is part of the Tropicana family and will be focusing on his seminars, including the one on March 24th, and bringing exciting poker events to the New Tropicana Las Vegas.”


Festival of Nits, the Tourist Factor, and Swallowing Your Pride

by , Mar 8, 2012 | 7:37 pm

I think I was in Los Angeles at the end of last summer. Somewhat amazingly, that was the last time I was outside of the desert. I did go to Palm Springs with my girlfriend and met some family there for Thanksgiving … but that’s still in the desert. I didn’t go home this past Christmas for the first time ever in my life, and I haven’t left Vegas once in 2012. This can’t be healthy. I need to get out for a while.


    This was THE nit festival of all nit festivals. Your normal hourly rate simply does not translate when you remove the fun-loving, didn’t-come-to-fold tourist factor and replace it with the game-has-obv-passed-me-by-but-I’ll-still-sit-here-and-fold-for-$10/hr-zomg-dreams-do-come-true jaded older Vegas reg. I mean, it was truly miserable.

Las Vegas is awesome. We all know about the availability of booze and gambling 24/7, and the ability to keep whatever sleep schedule you desire. As cash game poker players, we never have to endure the pain of an alarm clock’s rouse, as Vegas embraces daywalkers and nightowls alike. The cost of living is relatively low, especially considering the quantity and quality of entertainment options available as compared to other cities with similar offerings, such as LA, San Francisco, Miami. If outdoor adventure is your thing, you can find plenty of that at places like Red Rock Canyon; hikes such as the Gold Strike near Hoover Dam, which takes you all the way down into the Colorado River; and weird natural beauty like the Valley of Fire. And for those less willing to leave Clark County, there’s the peaceful Summerlin suburbs, and the increasingly interesting downtown Vegas scene.

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Venetian Deep Stack Moves to Palazzo

by , | 4:23 pm

Venetian has moved its Deep Stacks Extravaganza tournament series to the Palazzo and replaced one of the quarterly events with a new “Spring Big Bounty Festival.”

The casino just released the schedule for its next Deep Stack series, set to run May 24 to July 15.

There’s no DSE next month, however, meaning there will be only three this year. Instead, they will host the Spring Big Bounty Festival from April 12-22, also at Palazzo.

Since 2009, there have been four Deep Stacks a year inside the Venetian Poker Room, with events starting in January, April, May and October.

That changed in January and February, when players battled in this year’s first Deep Stack Extravaganza in the main casino area of the Palazzo.

With the Venetian being home to the largest poker room in Las Vegas, there’s no word on creating a permanent poker room inside the neighboring tower.

But the tournament shift to the Palazzo — because of already crowded Venetian poker room — appears to coincide with rumblings about expansion.

For at least a couple of years, there’s been talk about making the Venetian, currently 52 tables, even bigger. Already, a roped off area outside the main poker room handles the daily tournaments.

Now, word on The Strip is that work on Venetian’s poker room could start as early as August.

The plan supposedly calls for upwards of 90 tables, new chairs, bigger and better TVs, and tearing down the high-limit wall for better space.

Several attempts to reach casino officials about tournament and poker room changes were unsuccessful.

But it looks like Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson might start throwing some money at more than just Newt Gingrich.


Caesars Recruiting Dealers for 2012 WSOP

by , | 2:44 pm

The 2012 WSOP is looking for a few good dealers, or perhaps I should say a few hundred, and Caesars Entertainment still has a couple of 3-week boot camps to prep the troops.

You won’t get paid while attending the academy, but as far as I can tell you don’t have to pay either. Caesars promises to equip you with the skills to pitch cards and cut chips at RIO All Suites Hotel from May 27 to July 16, aka the 2012 World Series. A session in late April provides advanced lessons for dealing non-hold’em games.
I’m still waiting for a response on my application. If I get accepted, I hope to document the experience. And since Caesars stresses “good customer service skills,” we’ll do it with a smile.

The job ad also says “a neat professional appearance and good personal hygiene are essential.” That might narrow the competition in the poker community. But I know I’m ready to shave and shower before I shuffle up and deal.


Grinding the “Off Day” Tourneys

by , Feb 20, 2012 | 5:50 am

Mondays and Tuesdays are arguably the worst days of the week for poker, which is why I often take those days off.

The tourists have donated their Vegas dollars to the grinders over the weekend, and even the L.A. crowd has headed back to their movie studios and plastic surgeons.

This meant that for the final two days of my week-long experiment in playing Las Vegas daily tournaments, I would have to hit some of the bigger casinos — Caesars Palace and Bellagio.

The 10,000 starting stack at Caesars Palace's nightly tournament.

With a WSOP-circuit event being held at Caesars, I didn’t have trouble finding a comfortable-size field for their nightly 7pm tournament on a Monday. With a $110 entry fee, this event has a $5,000 guaranteed prize pool (Mon-Fri only). The staff and one local at my starting table who had already worked out the math said they would need at least 63 entrants to reach that figure. Caesars’s nightly tournaments sometimes start with even fewer players, offering a healthy overlay.

Of the buy-in, Caesars took $20 as a “maintenance fee” and $10 was for the staff toke.)

Grinders and well-known pros filled the room — the 2008 WSOP Main Event third-place finisher Dennis Phillips sat a few tables away playing a cash game and Jeff Madsen, the rapper who also won 2006 WSOP player of the year, was at the final table of the main event in the elevated area nearby. I didn’t recognize anyone at my table who should have given me trouble.

A Week of Whiffs?
I was due for a nice run, having missed the money in my first 5 tournaments. The 10,000 chip starting stack and 20-minute levels felt comfortable out of the gate. I’d have to beat out 59 others to earn the $1,914 first-place prize.

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Working the Weekend Circuit

by , Feb 8, 2012 | 1:55 pm

In the midst of a so-far unprofitable weeklong stretch of daily tournaments around Las Vegas, I decided to try my luck+skill next at the Orleans (a grizzled locals favorite), the Golden Nugget (for a tourist-packed short-stack event), and the Venetian for a little Deep Stacks Extravaganza with hoodie-and-headphones set. Each tournament has its own appeal, and gave me quite a taste of the broad range of game selection across town.

Friday night’s 12,500-chip starting stack at The Orleans.

Ragin’ Cajun: Friday Nights at the Orleans

Those on the lower-stakes Vegas grind often rave about Friday night at The Orleans. Large field, good structure, big prize pool. A friend advised that I arrive early because the event fills up so quickly. I parked around back almost an hour before the 7pm start time, and after securing my $125 entry, sat at a bar near the food court with T.G.I. Fridays, Fuddruckers, Baskin Robbins, Sbarro, Subway — yeah, real Cajun cuisine.

On this night there would be 270 players, with first place paying about $8,000. The floor supervisor said re-entries were possible but improbable because of a long list of alternates. As we got underway, two locals spoke conspicuously about a mutual friend who was playing a $250k buy-in event in Australia (the Aussie Millions high-roller event, won by Phil Ivey).

Of The Orleans’s comparably tiny entry fee, $100 goes to the prize pool, $2 goes to tournament “players of the month,” $13 goes to the house and $10 goes to staff. The tournament can often last until mid morning, but my run in the event would be a quick one, as I never dragged a pot and busted 5 minutes before the first break.

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WSOP Main Event Champions: Where Are They Now?

by , Feb 5, 2012 | 5:39 am

We know about Jamie Gold’s poker residency at the Tropicana in Las Vegas — where he can be found playing 1/2 and apparently trying to fill the poker world’s Professor void by offering lessons that cost about as much as a college education. (The Jamie Gold Poker Room official launch party, btw, is Feb 17!)

But what about the rest of ’em?

You can currently find Jerry Yang, the 2007 WSOP’s biggest winner and #20 on the all-time poker tournament money list, bussing tables while commanding an otherwise lackadaisical staff (according to Yelp) at Pocket 8s Sushi & Grill in central California. Um, pass the yum-yum sauce?

Via Pokerati’s resident Vegas grinder-thug @AndrewNeeme:

pocket 8s sushi and grill

Poker Fish: You wouldn’t believe how many of Jerry Yang’s relatives are always hitting him up for free sushi.


Playing the Small Nightly at the Strat

by , Jan 28, 2012 | 6:23 pm

stratosphere poker tournament

4,500-chip, four-color starting stack at Stratosphere.

The Stratosphere’s quaint 10-table poker room sits in the back of the casino, past a row of slot machines, craps tables, another row of slot machines, down the ramp past Roxy’s Diner, near the escalators to the Top of the World restaurant — just before the Double Down Pit and Back Alley Bar. On Thursday, there was a sole 1-2NL table of action about 30 minutes before the nightly tournament.

You’d hardly know that this room has supposedly become the new Sahara when it comes to Las Vegas’ most popular small buy-in dailies — with the 7pm event drawing consistent fields of 50 players or more.

I approached the podium and purchased a seat for the event. The buy-in is $45 for 4,500 in chips, plus a $20 add-on that gives you 4,000 more chips, which you can purchase any time within the first hour. (There’s also an option for unlimited re-entry within that time frame.)  With 20-minute levels, that add-on is necessary, especially considering there are no automatic shufflers in the tournament tables.

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