Posts Tagged ‘poker economy’

Gold Coast Closes Poker Room

Sends players to the Orleans

by , Feb 28, 2011 | 2:26 pm

Maybe this is old news, but new to me … while scouting out the pre-2011 WSOP bowling-alley bar scene late Saturday night — things were bumpin’ — I popped by the Gold Coast poker room and saw this:

click to enlarge

The Gold Coast poker room is apparently no longer … The flat-screens were dark, and tables had been replaced by video-poker and slot machines. And according to the sign they intend to turn the previously post-boom-downsized poker room into a slots and video poker tournament area. Not that anyone misses one of the least raucous, nittiest $2/$4 limit games in town … and I don’t think you can say much about this being a trend of poker continuing to recede or anything like that, but it may say something about smaller rooms being unable to justify their existence when small-stakes players gravitate to the bigger rooms in town.

As the sign says, all Gold Coast player(s) are being shipped over to The Orleans, which seems to be re-emerging as the big-little off-Strip room that locals like for the sake of convenient parking if nothing else. (Their Friday-night tourney continues to set field-size records, consistently drawing 100+.)

A Tipping Point

Know how dealers make a living before deciding how much or little to leave

by , Feb 1, 2011 | 2:41 am

Chad Harberts


I recently set off a minor controversy when I mentioned to @Pokerati that a Red Rock Casino poker dealer complained that new Heartland Poker champion Rob Perelman (@veerob) didn’t leave a dealer tip at the conclusion of the tournament.

First, I do not know Rob at all and was not making an accusation against him. I merely passed along the information because I knew @Pokerati had been covering the tournament. Second, as with any tournament cash of any size, Rob is free to spend or not spend his money any way he pleases. (He later tweeted that he tipped $2,000 on his $158,755 cash. The confusion being that he left the tip the next day after most of the dealers were gone and not directly after the tournament.)

Still, I believe the practice of tipping is an aspect of poker that merits discussion. Certainly, there is no standard for tipping in cash games or tournaments, and a lot is left to chance when the casino and other players alike rely on winners to pick up the check.

You may not agree with me to tip 10% of winnings of more than $10,000 in a poker tournament, but you can certainly agree that .00025% is extremely low!

Mike Caro makes a number of salient points when it comes to tipping in both cash games and tournaments in his article from 2006 here. How one player tips in poker is probably no different than how the same player tips at a restaurant or when getting a haircut.

Some players think that the part of a poker tournament buy-in withheld from the prize pool should cover everything. I have heard that of the house cut for the HPT main event (a $1000+100 tournament), $50 went to Red Rock Casino and $50 to the Heartland Poker Tour. I find it a little incredulous that a Las Vegas casino would split the house cut 50/50, but it’s possible.


Too Many Tourneys

PCA, Aussie Millions, LAPC … all before February; where do we go from here?

by , Jan 24, 2011 | 6:17 pm

Jon Katkin


We’re a month into 2011 and already, the poker season has revved itself into high gear. Since January 1, we’ve seen major multi-tournament events in the Bahamas, Melbourne, and now LA. If that’s not enough poker for you, then head to Vegas where you can play in a couple of smaller, but still notable, tournament series; the Caesars Winter Classic (running now) and Venetian’s venerable Deep Stack series, starting on the 28th.

And while I’m as big a fan of a good tournament – or tournament series – as the next guy, I have to ask has poker gone too far?

For a moment, let’s forget about all the money it would cost an average player to follow the circuit around the world and just look at sheer number of events that a tourney player has to choose from. I mean, if you want to become a professional hobo, there are probably worse ways to see the world than by joining the poker circus. Los Angeles, Vegas, Atlantic City, Biloxi, Paradise Island, Prague, Sao Paulo, Melbourne, London…. The world’s your oyster if you can pay the freight and handle the jet lag and inevitable food poisoning you’ll pick up somewhere along the way.

There’s too much poker to be played in too many places. All of these tournament options are slowly cannibalizing each other by stretching the player base – and the players’ bankrolls – too thin.

The fact is, there’s barely a week left on the calendar where there’s not some kind of tournament begging to be played. Even if you just confine yourself to the continental US, you can easily go months without ever sleeping in your own bed or seeing the family you used to have. Decide to play internationally and you could easily find yourself classified as a missing person unless you can regularly Skype with your loved ones to prove that you’re still alive.


Full Tilt’s New Black Card

Exclusive VIP program brings curious changes to rakeback game

by , Oct 4, 2010 | 12:00 pm

For those of us that like to eke out every percentage point of value out of VIP programs/Rakeback/dumb fish, Full Tilt certainly made an effort to change the game with the Black Card system. But is this really good value for poker players? Lets find out.

Before we can even talk about black card, there were two other changes to Full Tilt’s system that are worth mentioning. One is the change to how points are gained within Full Tilt. Before, you’d get 7 FTPs per $1 of tournament rake and 1 FTP per $1 of cash rake. Now, the value has been increased from anywhere to 10-500% depending on how you play. You now get 10 FTPs (up 43%) per $1 of tourney rake, and anywhere from 1.1 in Full Ring, through 1.5 for 6-max, all the way up to 5 HU FTPs per $1. This increase makes it obviously easier to gain Black Card status or the Iron Man status of old, and there certainly isn’t a problem here.

Where things start getting murky is how FTP has changed rakeback. In the past, you basically could have played like an uber-nit and let the fish give you 27% for every dumb hand they played in the dealt system. Now, they have moved to the “weighted contribution” system, which essentially means you only get rakeback for the rake you put in the hand. Much anger has been spewed on 2p2 over this, but in reality this system is technically the most fair of them all.

Think about it: rakeback pros no longer get a percentage of your rake for all-in hands you take with fish, and conversely if you fold pre-flop with 72o you shouldn’t feel entitled to rakeback if things get crazy at the table. That said, the fact the rake percentage hasn’t changed is a little problematic, as people will in general be potentially getting less than usual, which is going to hit at the nerves of many players. They are still shelling out the same amount of money, just now its only for the people that deserve it, and for some that still isn’t fair.

So more FTPs but a rakeback system that may or may not give you more money, how does this fit into Black Card?

Delaware — Atlantic City’s Plight?

Not to be confused with the Boardwalk’s blight

by , Sep 17, 2010 | 7:02 pm

The WPT-Borgata Poker Open is underway … big action of the season for East Coast grinders and top pros willing to travel to New Jersey. New Jersey happens to be one of the most fascinating states on the online gambling legal fronts for many reasons — sports gambling, poker, and casino games all included — as their state lawmakers attack severe budget deficits at a time when Atlantic City took some of the biggest recessionary gambling hits.

But arguably the biggest and most immediate threats they’re facing are from neighboring states that have expanded gambling — with new tables, poker and otherwise, rapidly opening. Though it’s just a single anecdote and hardly statistical evidence of anything, I got this text message from a Pokerati player about new games in his home state of Delaware:

I’m back in DE. Playing @ DE Park right now. Casinos 15 mins from my house. 20 tables, separate tourney room, pretty nice. haven’t gone to AC since I’ve been here.

Yikes, if not indicative of likely continued economic woes for New Jersey, it seems to at least suggest something about the redistribution of gambling wealth currently going on in the Northeast corner of the United States.

Just How Big Was WinStar’s Big One?

Mr. Sou takes down The River; what that could mean remains to be seen

by , Sep 7, 2010 | 5:03 pm

Greg Raymer busted from the main event of The River @ Winstar yesterday in 11th place. Little clue what Fossilman’s payout was, nor even where I shoulda been looking. Limited media info was one of many justifiable gripes people had for a tournament of this size … others included player lockouts, bad blind structures, and you should see the vitriol attached to Facebook comments about Toby Keith’s steakhouse at Winstar!

I’ll hold some of that for another post, lest we sully the winner’s accomplishment with analysis of the obstacles certain Indian casinos face in 2010 moving forward. But be sure, as evident in the fifth running of this tournament at WinStar, the paradigms have shifted … particularly for what constitutes a major minor-league event capable of profiting from a national player base.

The River’s $2.5 million guaranteed main event, with three Day 1s, drew 1,440 players … a much better result for Winstar than last year when they had to cover a $580k overlay on $3 million guaranteed. It coulda been even bigger had the casino not put itself in a position of pissing off players who trekked out to the Oklahoma hinterlands only to be turned away … but regardless, with a $2,100 buy-in and several months of satellites, first prize came to a relatively whopping $647,690.

To put that in perspective, that’s better than 10th-place money in the WSOP main event. So would it be a stretch to contend winning The River is just a notch below making the November Nine?


Where’d They All Come From?

Online sites, satellites don’t explain bigger numbers in 2010

by , Aug 24, 2010 | 9:16 am

Jon Katkin

The Poker Economy


For 99.99987 percent of the players in this year’s events, the 2010 WSOP has come to a close. Some were winners and many more were losers. And, for nine lucky combatants, there’s still one more long day of poker left to play before someone claims the game’s most prestigious title and poker’s second-largest payday ever.

As tonight’s television coverage of the Main Event (ESPN 9p ET) moves past the massive Day 1 fields and more and more players see their WSOPs come to an end, I just have to wonder: Where did they all come from?

After a slow start, the 2010 WSOP finished strong, enticing 72,966 players total to Las Vegas to play in 57 separate events — a 20 percent increase over 2009’s record-setting figure of 60,875. And it wasn’t just the smaller events that benefitted. After hitting a high-water mark in 2006 with 8,773 entrants and a prize pool worth more than $82.5 million, the Main Event contracted over the next three years, attracting no more than 6,844 players for the big dance. Until this year, that is.

The best guess is that live satellites account for about 15 percent of the Main Event field. Combined with the online qualifiers, that means roughly 40 percent paid something less than $10k to play in the tournament, which seems about right. Still, that means that about 60 percent (roughly 4,400) of the players coughed up $10K each for their seats at the WSOP tables.

According to the WSOP’s official figures, 7,319 players took part in this year’s $10,000 Main Event. That’s 825 more people than who played in 2009, or an increase of nearly 9 percent. Now I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty impressive, especially in today’s economy where nearly 10 percent of the general public in the US is out of work and Europe is struggling to keep countries like Greece and Ireland from going completely bankrupt under the weight of huge budget deficits.

All of which, again, begs the question, where on Earth did all these players come from?


Finding Value Outside the Rio

Alt-WSOP tourneys may be better bet for low-stakes players

by , Jun 30, 2010 | 1:43 pm

Jon Katkin

The Poker Economy


Brand names serve an important purpose in our society. For consumers, they offer a simple shorthand that let’s you know about a product’s quality – or lack thereof – while at the same time providing a quick way to flaunt your status or hipness to the unwashed masses in our burgeoning consumer culture.

For businesses, brand names are just as important. Let your quality slip or make your product too ubiquitous and your value – both real and perceived – begins to slip. Make your product trendy or limit its availability and you’ll have customers clamoring at your door to get their hands on it.

With 57 events on the calendar, the WSOP is hardly as elitist as it was in the past, but that’s OK with the folks at Harrah’s because when it comes to poker, there is no substitute for a gold bracelet. Win an event and you join a still exclusive club that includes some of the greatest players in the world. Play your cards right, and the WSOP is a golden ticket to the top of the poker food chain. Bust out before the final table and you’ll still leave town with a great story for your friends.

For $1,500 you can play one WSOP tournament and take your chances against a single field of 3,000, or for the same money you can play five Venetian Deep Stack events against a combined field of about 2,400.

And that’s what makes the WSOP the brand when it comes to tournament poker. Win or lose, playing a WSOP event carries with it an inherent coolness that other poker players innately understand and respect. But if you’re a serious low-stakes player looking for a big summertime score in Vegas, there are actually much better options to consider outside the Rio.



If You Throw It, Will They Come?

Big buy-in events don’t automatically bring big fields

by , Jun 2, 2010 | 3:48 pm

Jon Katkin

The Poker Economy

For most of us, $50,000 is a whole lot of money. It’s a year’s salary. A new car. A down payment on a new house. Our savings.

For others, however, $50K is pocket money — a single pot in a $200/$400 game or a roll of the dice on the craps table. It’s also the cost of entry into the first marquee event of the 2010 WSOP, the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship.

Over its short life, this tournament has undergone a variety of changes as it tries to cement its identity in the poker world. Starting out as the $50,000 HORSE event in 2006, the tournament quickly gained a reputation as the true players championship because of its hefty buy-in and mixed-game format. In that first year, 143 players ponied up $50K each for a shot at the title and the chance to play mixed games on ESPN.

The poker economy isn’t what it used to be. Players who wouldn’t have thought twice about dropping $50K two years ago are now looking at the cost of entry the same way many of us look at $1,500, $2,500 or $5,000 events.

Poor ratings forced a format change in 2007 and 2008, however, when ESPN agreed to broadcast the event only if the final tables were all No-Limit Hold ’em — a game that’s much easier for the general viewing audience to follow. The change didn’t do much to affect the number of entrants, as 148 players registered for the tournament in both 2007 and 2008.

ESPN dropped the $50K HORSE event completely in 2009 and, it can be argued that the lack of potential TV time, combined with the beginning of the economic crisis, had a significant impact on the field as just 95 players competed in the event last year. Now, however, the $50K HORSE event is back on the air – renamed as the the $50,000 Player’s Championship and featuring an eight-game mix along with a TV-friendly NLH-only final table. Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi took down the $1.5 million bracelet last night in what had to be good-for-TV fashion – with his brother and other well-known pros falling by the wayside before he ended up mano-y-mano against an interesting Russian high-roller.


Online Gambling = Jobs

Disastrous news for degen bloggers who’d rather not work!

by , Apr 21, 2010 | 1:38 pm

Check it out … Washington DC is starting to get the picture, as yet another study circulates about the benefits of fully legal online gambling. However, this study doesn’t champion just the 10s of billions in tax revenue — it points out how many jobs it would create: 32,000 over the next five years. I wonder if that triple-counts those who will surely get hired, fired, re-hired, and re-re-hired in the industry. Also can’t tell if Mathers’ pay in chum will be counted as a full-time job. Kinda funny when you think how many people currently working got into this industry trying to avoid the concept of a “real” job.

The study comes from the UK-based H2 Gambling Capital. And though The Hill hardly notes any pressure from the looming UIGEA drop-dead enforcement-enforcement deadline, it does give lawmakers something to work with as they look to keep any bills they’re pushing forward in line what will obviously be a key Democratic talking point as we move toward November.

Interestingly, though we knew this all along, the study also attaches a quantifiable number that online gambling would add to the economy beyond the straight tax revenues. $94 billion in new economic activity. Wow, we an use that. Perhaps they see a Galctic Series of Poker in the future?


Cloutier bracelets for sale

by , Jan 21, 2010 | 3:49 am

A sign of how things change … back in 2005 the already legendary TJ Cloutier was still tearing it up. But in 2010, the WSOP bracelet he won in the 2005 $5k NLHE is now for sale on eBay. I guess he didn’t cash big enough via the sale of PokerPages to buy it back Bummer, dude. We feel ya. Not sure where the big fields are coming from in LA, AC, Australia, and France … everybody seems broke. But either way, you get the sense that those who are playing are doing so with far more seriousness than the fields were back in the day when TJ won this:

The seller is Plano Pawn Shop (“specializing in fine jewelry and firearms”), who has a 100 percent positive feedback rating after 314 eBay sales. Plano, of course, is the suburb next door to TJ’s home in Richardson … and on the way to the Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma, not to mention some of the bigger private games in the Dallas area.

UPDATE: His bracelet from the Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge IV is also up for sale.

Via Bluff Magazine.

Kiplinger’s Gets the Poker Bug

by , Jan 12, 2010 | 2:11 am

Kiplinger’s, the DC-based publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice, appears to have “gotten” poker. A senior editor there attended a WPT boot camp (for a compilation story on adult camps), and before long he started seeing the world of investing and finance as a poker player … and that spawned a three-part series relating poker to all things economic.

Check it out … they’re all good reads:

How Poker Can Make You a Better Investor
Learn to avoid emotional traps by playing a little Texas hold ’em.

How Texas Hold ‘Em Simulates Investing
Both are based on incomplete and unfolding information.

How Deepak Chopra Helped Me Play Poker Better
A device featuring the wellness guru taught me to keep my emotions under control.

And then, to top it all off, in yet another article in the January issue, they quote Barry Greenstein about investment risk:

Barry Greenstein, for instance, is a poker player by profession, so you might think he’d be prone to gambling with his portfolio. Instead, Greenstein buys utility stocks and municipal bonds, and says he follows his father’s advice: “You can play poker, but don’t trade commodities.”

So in conclusion, if I am surmising this right, the key to personal financial success in 2010 is play more poker. OK, got it.

(This, btw, is probably a good-for-poker message to go out to Kiplinger’s subscribers.)

RE: Las Vegas Charity Efforts Thriving Despite Economy?

by , Dec 20, 2009 | 6:57 pm

Lisa Wheeler, president of Greasie Wheels, a poker consultancy that specializes in charity events, says that actually, numbers are not up across the board at charity tourneys in Las Vegas and elsewhere, though thanks to a handful of players, they aren’t hurting like all get-out:

Though attendance is down, and charity poker tournament coordinators are constantly looking for creative ways to stimulate participation, poker players continue to be extremely charitable. Many who have experienced success over the years have often donated even more. It balances out the ones who are less able.

High Roller (Recession) Living: Planet Hollywood Suites

by , Dec 9, 2009 | 11:54 am

Everybody likes a sneak peak into high-roller hotel rooms … and this YouTube vid gives more than a glimpse of the Bruce Willis and Marilyn Monroe suites at Planet Hollywood. PHo’s poker room is under new management, btw, that seems to be working hard to bring good, friendly customer-servicey low-stakes action ever since their previous management team turned out to be a bunch of (alleged) crooks:

Back in the day, you know, like 2007, rooms like these — with amazing views, foosball, and a bidet — were reserved for people willing to pay a few thousand a night or gamble with 10s of thousands. Now, as 2009 comes to a (bittersweet?) close, such suites are being given away for free to semi-famous YouTube bloggers who know a guy who knows a guy who once worked at Best Buy and sold stereo equipment to a previous high-roller with leftover comp points.

Economy prediction: Bargain luxe + favors will be hot in 2010, too.

Meet the New President (of the WPT)

(He works for PartyGaming as of Monday)

by , Nov 7, 2009 | 6:23 am

I went to Bellagio yesterday for free danish a little poker suit ho-down to learn more about the PartyGaming-World Poker Tour merger/acquisition/absorption … and was thinking how this meeting that included outgoing WPT president Steve Lipscomb and incoming new boss Adam Pliska might be kinda like George W. Bush handing the keys to the White House over to Barack Obama — you know, peaceful transition of power, new regime, new direction … change … then I thought, nah, that comparison might not be fair, and might be stretching things a bit.

But then, upon meeting Pliska a few minutes later …

lipscomb pliska

Hmm … White House, WPT House, WPTE House … Party Politics … workshop … but still, there might be something there.

Click below to read the corporate bio of a guy who stands to be rather influential in shaping poker’s future. But first, here’s another pic (taken at the actual White House) of the new WPT president, who was in town to talk about plans for what he believes will be a major poker stimulus:

pliska white house