Archive for the ‘Live Poker Action’ Category

Numbers Game

by , Oct 30, 2012 | 7:56 pm

A view from the cheap seats in the Penn & Teller Theater.

The last 9 players waited 103 days for the start of the 2012 WSOP Main Event Final Table and a chance at the $8.5 million top prize. Those are some figures you might be familiar with, but one amazing stat was that in the course of losing 6 players, we saw 7 all-in hands, and in all but one case the best hand held up. That’s just crazy. The best hand isn’t supposed to win the majority of the time in televised poker, is it?

Here’s a few other numbers that stood out during the festivities this week at the Penn & Teller Theater.

0: Number of offers Phil Hellmuth got to coach an October 9er.

1: Number of photo booths where you can have your picture made at a poker table with a pile of “cash” and chips, as if you won the Big One.

1: Number of T-shirt cannons firing black WSOP T-shirts into the crowd during breaks.

2: Number of ring girls operating T-shirt cannon and tossing Caesars mardi gras beads.

2: Number of Giant TVs on either side of the stage, to show the crowd what’s happening on the felt.

2: Number of screens showing info on players and tournament data to the crowd — such as flop, chip stacks, blinds, antes, pot size and the hand number.

2: Number of players to show up without any patches. (Andras Koroknai and Michael Esposito.)

2 and 2: Number of chairs and masseuses at the lone booth in the Penn and Teller lobby.

3: Number of players who wore sunglasses. Salaburu sported orange, plastic Oakleys, while Thomas and Merson wore wire-rimmed aviators.

A collection of WSOP hoodies, hats and other merch for sale with the Final Table underway.

3: Number of hoodie choices available at the lone merch booth.

4: Beer options available in the Penn & Teller theater. (Corona, Heineken, Miller Lite, Coors Light.)

3/2: Approximate ratio of ounces-to-dollars for these beers, which cost $7, or $8 for “imports”

5: Number of players who got some sort of coaching at the Final Table. (Russell Thomas talked with Jason Somerville, Greg Merson chatted with Phil Ivey, Jeremy Ausmus whispered with Joe Tehan, and Jesse Sylvia got repeated pointers from Vanessa Selbst; Jake Balsiger supposedly hired Mike “Timex” McDonald.)

5: Number of tournaments being played at the Rio today, not including the WSOP main event.

6: Number of dealers in rotation at the Final Table.

7: Approximate number of minutes Phil Ivey stuck around on Day 1 to sweat his teammate/pupil Merson.

10: Number on the Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles Jersey worn by Merson, a Maryland native.

11, 2, and 1: Number of ESPN cameras spotted, those mounted on cranes, and those “floating” in the crowd.

12: Maximum square inches a sponsorship logo can be according to WSOP rules.

More than 12: Inches of black tape used to cover parts of Andras Koroknai’s “L.A. Cocaine Business” T-shirt.

13: Number of different sponsorial patches (est.) seen at the final table.

15: Number of people in line for the Sportsbook Deli at the Rio during a WSOP TV break.

22: Number of seconds before opting instead for a bag of pretzels from the gift shop.

28: Cost in dollars of a One Drop water bottle (complete with filter) available for sale at the Rio.

1/100: Odds one of your fans on the rail might rhythmically shimmie with a Fathead version of Jake Balsiger’s face for at least 10 minutes straight, with no music playing.

105: Number of spotlights I counted before my burning retinas could no longer distinguish bright blue beams from red and yellow flashes all around me.

1,111: Cost in dollars of a single bullet in the recently announced Little One for One Drop unlimited rebuys bracelet tourney.

1,200: Day 1 crowd estimate from WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky, seeing a mostly full Penn & Teller Theater with an uppermost level that was practically empty.


Howard Lederer Re-emerges Just in Time for Fall Classics

by , Oct 11, 2012 | 1:00 pm

Ah, the Las Vegas fall. It’s that time of year when the high temperatures finally drop into the 90s, pool season ends, barbecues begin and we enjoy a brief respite from the melting cars.

But the live poker scene around Las Vegas is starting to heat up again, after the summer break from the WSOP. Three of the big four rooms — Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars — are hosting fall tournaments. And the WSOP Main Event final table returns to the Rio later this month.

Even Howard Lederer made a ballyhooed return to high stakes cash games at Aria and Bellagio this week. He played in Bobby’s Room on Monday, the Ivey Room on Tuesday, and found his way back to Bellagio on Wednesday with a nosebleed crew that included Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Chau Giang, and Nick Schulman. Lederer’s given no indication where he’s headed next, but I imagine he’s a little more than a DOJ seizure away from the .50/$1 game at Bill’s.

I wanted to snap a picture of Lederer when I saw him at Aria, but security threatened to ban anyone who did, and Dan’s not paying me enough to risk arrest or deportation, so … this twitpic posted to 2+2 will have to be good enough.

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Brad Garrett plays MGM, PokerGives Keeps on Giving, Bellagio Raising (Low) Stakes

by , Sep 21, 2012 | 3:37 pm

Red-ish Carpet: Because of ongoing renovations at MGM, the Brad Garrett charity tourney will take place in a temporary area between Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant and the Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ theater.

Celebbing it Up @MGMGrandPoker
Brad Garrett has been a character around the poker scene for a while — pretty much since everyone in poker started loving his fictional brother and real life home-game buddy. On Saturday, Garrett hosts a $250 buy-in charity tournament at the MGM Grand, with a top prize of $10,000.

Fellow sitcom star and WSOP notable Ray Romano says he’ll be there. Others expected to join the action include actresses Elizabeth Perkins and Mimi Rogers, 2008 WSOP Main Event third place finisher Dennis Phillips, and, of course, MGM poker room ambassador Karina Jett. MGM officials expect upwards of 300 entrants for the event, which offers $100 rebuys and add-ons.

Proceeds from this event go to the Maximum Hope Foundation, a group Garrett founded 12 years ago to provide “compassionate, practical assistance” to families caring for a child with life-limiting illness.

Garrett recently opened up Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at the MGM, offering nightly stand-up acts on the Strip. (Somehow I haven’t been yet.)

Cards in the air tomorrow at noon.

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Out with a Fizzle? New Trop Poker Room Closing

by , Sep 10, 2012 | 9:02 pm

tropicana poker room closing

Sit-n-Go-Away: The Tropicana Poker Room tried everything, but just couldn’t get enough action to stick.

I went to the Trop poker room Wednesday night, about 10:30, to see if a few friends might be working or playing. The room was totally dark but for a single flickering light. No dealer in a box, no suit at the counter. It seemed odd, but the room had been growing noticeably quieter in recent weeks.

Sure enough, the new Tropicana Poker Room, which opened on Black Friday and briefly enjoyed a stretch as the Jamie Gold Poker Room, is closing tomorrow. Supposedly for good, with its current space, next to the CantorGaming Sportsbook, slated to be transformed into a special area for slot tournaments.

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The Restoration of Venetian Poker

by , Sep 7, 2012 | 1:00 pm

Let’s hope it’s an omen. I picked up pocket Aces on my first hand in the new-and-improved Venetian poker room. My good friend and fellow Pokeratier Andrew raised into me, then called my three-bet “just in case” before check-folding the flop.

venetian sands poker room

$10 Million Rebuy: The Venetian poker room has expanded to add 50 percent more tables and hopefully 50 percent more donkey tourists.

The new digs reopened at 5 am Wednesday; I arrived around 4:30 pm, or what Vegas grinders call morning. I wanted to see what a month-long renovation and supposedly $10 million could do for a major poker room. And I can tell you, this is now the fanciest poker joint in Vegas — if only for the giant, shimmering chandeliers hanging under a Renaissance ceiling mural at the front of the room.

Here’s some of what I couldn’t help but notice upon re-entering this previously familiar poker space:

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Gimmick Mixed Game or New Way to Play?

by , Aug 31, 2012 | 1:00 pm

So you’ve played hold’em, Omaha, 7-card stud, razz, badugi, badaci, baduci, razz-dugi, 2-7 triple draw, Chinese poker, Taiwanese poker, Indian poker and every hi-lo variant there is.

What’s next?

In a new game being spread at the Palms, using three 7s in his hand,  Bruce Paul turned quads and paused the action after scooping a big pot.

“That’s called a sniper,” he informed all of us newbies at the table about holding three-of-a-kind.

Paul, the 58-year-old Californian who created the game, hopes his 2-11 poker is the next big thing to captivate the card playing world. It’s called 2-11 (“two-eleven”) because of the 2-card flop, the 1-card turn and 1-card river.

Players get 4 hole cards and can use 2 or 3 from their hand and 2 or 3 from the board to make the best 5-card hand. Betting was 2/4 fixed limit, but could easily be played NL or PL.

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Tobacco Station

by , Aug 26, 2012 | 7:14 pm

Dragging Pots: The 4/8 limit Omaha at Boulder Station is a throwback to days when smoke-filled poker rooms were standard.

Open the locomotive-handled doors, weave through the slot machines between the bingo hall and Burger King, and step into the past.

The poker room at Boulder Station, an off-strip casino opened in 1994, is one of only two poker rooms in Las Vegas that allow smoking at the tables. (The 3-table Arizona Charlie’s on Decatur being the other.) With 11-tables and a reputation for action, the Boulder room remains popular among a certain, darker-lunged crowd.

And it’s one of the few places — smoking or non — that offers consistent small stakes limit Omaha it’s the all day solution for stress.

But what are places like this still doing around?

“It’s just tradition,” Steve Deuel, the poker room manager, told me. “It’s been that way for 18 years.”

Only about 5 miles from the Strip but seemingly in another era, the train-station-themed casino sits between a Motel 6 and an apartment complex facing the I-515. It’s on the east side of town and the  north end of a row of a widely spaced casinos along the diagonal Boulder Highway.

“Play the 4/8 Omaha high over there,” Andrew Neeme said in a text message. “I’ve never seen bigger pots, physically, than in that game.”

Giddyup.

I wondered what kind of splashy tourist might find this place, and I’m still wondering. As a local who rarely grinds off-strip casinos, I felt a little out of place in what is something like the Cheers of poker rooms. Couldn’t spot an out-of-towner in the place, let alone someone under 30.

By 5pm, they were starting a  third 4/8 Omaha table, and I hopped in the 6 seat. The action picked up quickly, especially for a Monday. Along with Omaha, there were 4/8 and 2/4 limit hold’em games and a quickly growing interest list for 1/2 no-limit.

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Venetian Poker Room Overhaul Underway

by , Aug 16, 2012 | 9:00 am

The long-awaited redesign of the Venetian Poker Room is in full gear, creating a major, albeit temporary, shift in big-room action on the Vegas Strip.

In a couple weeks, the renovated room will have 59 tables with bigger and better TVs — mounted on the walls and in pillars — and cushier chairs. The newly remodeled room is slated to open Sept. 1, according to the Venetian’s facebook page.

The old 52-table room quickly grew favor among regulars and tourists alike after it opened in 2006, particularly for its Deep Stack Extravaganza tournament series. But the Venetian’s prestige as the Best Poker Room in Vegas slipped with some poker enthusiasts as Aria opened 3 years later.

The renovated room supposedly will extend across floor space previously used for overflow tournaments and slots, abutting the new Cantor Gaming Sportsbook and Noodle Asia.

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Nosebleed Heaven

by , Jul 15, 2012 | 5:10 pm

Dan Bilzerian tweeted this picture of $9.4 million in chips with the caption: “Our poker game is officially fucking huge.”

Flags were flying around Las Vegas — and it had more to do with the WSOP than the 4th of July.

Sure, you can always expect to see more $5,000 chips in play on Vegas felts during the WSOP, but the super-high-stakes action that requires them really picked up this summer — more so than usual, it seems, particularly in the days leading up to Big One for One Drop, the biggest buy-in tournament in history.

Pots in the hundreds of thousands of dollars practically became the norm in The Ivey Room at Aria, where a bunch of billionaires and Hollywood socialites were playing $2k/$4k NL for more than a week. At the same time, a $1k/$2k PLO game was going on in the Pavillion Room at the WSOP, and Doyle Brunson was logging super-long sessions at his home room in Bellagio.

Poker room supervisors say Vegas hasn’t seen this level of action since billionaire banker Andy Beal took on “the Corporation” at the Wynn in 2004. ($15k/$30k and $30k/$60k heads-up limit hold’em was their game.) There’s some chatter among Vegas regs about how different poker rooms go about bringing in certain players while keeping others out — lest the biggest casino whales get devoured too quickly by certain poker sharks.

Here is a 2012 guide to the who/what/when/where/why of the really big games around Las Vegas:

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Tipping Points

by , Jun 25, 2012 | 12:39 pm

wsop dealer tips

A drunken fish plopped down in the uncapped $1-$2 NL game at Golden Nugget on a recent Saturday night, and before long, playing maybe 98 percent of his starting hands, he scooped an $800 pot thanks to an extremely fortunate flop. He threw the dealer a $100 bill for a tip.

The other players’ eyes widened, and the dealer even seemed reluctant to accept the 12.5 percent gratuity. But considering that I got to be the one who eventually stacked him (KK > TT) I couldn’t help but think that the dealer’s good fortune ultimately cut into my own profits!

Call me a life-nit or just a guy who chooses self-park over valet, but here in Las Vegas too many people want a piece of your bankroll. You can see it almost everywhere at the WSOP, and after awhile all that extra “optional” money can really add up.

We spoke to dozens of seasonal WSOP workers to find out what they really expect from decent players, along with the likelihood that you are going to stiff them.

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Ellis Island Poker Room Opens for Business

by , Jun 23, 2012 | 2:49 pm

The newest poker room in Las Vegas opened Friday night at Ellis Island, which sits just off the strip behind Bally’s, between a 7-Eleven and Super 8 motel. It’s a casino that caters to local casino workers — with stiff drinks, cheap steaks, and loud karaoke — and I was there for the very first hand. (I folded 2-8 offsuit in early position.)

Cards got in the air shortly after 6 pm for a 1-2 no-limit and 2-4 limit game, both 10-handed. Though inside a Leroy’s Sportsbook, the casino operates the two-table room, which is next to the cage and slot machines, but out of earshot from the karaoke bar.

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Hook a Lady Up

by , Jun 22, 2012 | 12:53 pm

Say what you will about the WSOP Ladies Championship — I’ve got the over/under at 15 for number of men who enter this year — it’s still the kinda event that some people get super-excited about for weeks if not months beforehand. And our super-good friend Donna from Pink Ladies Poker Tour has a series of single-table satellites this Sunday, June 24, St. Jean Baptiste Day, at the Tropicana.

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Station Casinos Ready Themselves for Online Play

by , Jun 20, 2012 | 10:35 am

Fertitta Interactive LLC on Tuesday announced it will launch its real-money and social gaming company, Ultimate Gaming, an online gaming business it has been developing since its October acquisition of CyberArts Licensing LLC.

“We view it as a global opportunity,” Tom Breitling, chairman of Fertitta Interactive, said during an hour-long presentation . “We believe the timing is right to enter the world of online gaming, so we are doing so with Ultimate Gaming.”

Breitling said its free-play poker game, Ultimate Poker, will be released Friday on Facebook, with a promotional campaign to begin July 7 during Ultimate Fighting Championship 148, a pay-per-view event.

He said Ultimate Gaming is UFC’s official online gaming sponsor.

The Las Vegas-based company will launch real money poker in Nevada as soon state gaming regulators approve pending manufacturer, service provider and operator licenses, Breitling said. That should be by the end of the year, he said.

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Sneak Peek at New Ellis Island Sportsbook / Poker Room

by , Jun 6, 2012 | 7:41 pm

A new two-table poker room is under construction at Ellis Island, the popular off-strip dive casino. Perhaps taking a cue from the new CantorGaming poker room at the Palms, the room is located inside a Leroy’s Sportsbook.

Leroy’s (owned by British online bookmaker and poker room William Hill) and Cantor are engaged in a quiet battle of licensed technology … as Cantor has devices allowing in-game sports-betting all across casino properties its in, and Leroy’s has Nevada Gaming-approved iphone and android apps that allow sports betting anywhere within state lines.


Wynn Plugs in, Keeps Players All Charged up

by , Jun 3, 2012 | 2:25 pm

I’m posting this from my mobile device while at a 1/3 table, without worrying about my battery dying. About a week ago, the Wynn installed electrical outlets under the tables at almost every seat in the room.

wynn poker table outlet

“It’s great customer service,” said the random player to my right with his iPhone plugged in. He said he talked with a Caesars floor man about it and would tell poker room managers back East.