Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Casino $2/$4 action

I have only played B&M poker at Bally’s in Vegas once and Foxwoods in CT three times. Each time, I have played the lowest fixed limit stakes available, which is $2/$4 limit.

For those of you that have played only online, the casino experience has been completely different to me. When playing $2/$4 online, which I have done very few times, the players are generally pretty good. They play good cards and bet when their hand is made (total generality I know).

In the casinos, the action that I have seen is very loose. I mean ridiculously loose. This weekend, I played about a total of 8 hours at the $2/$4 tables. On average, you could expect that 8 or 9 players were in to see each flop! There were very few pre-flop raises, with a couple exceptions. The thing with pre-flop raises, though, was they were simply a pot builder. You could really not get anyone out of the pot by raising. The only exception to that was if you were UTG or if there was a reraise by middle position. That might deter some people to enter the pot, but you would still end up with 5 in for the flop.

Once people saw the flop, unless there was a lot of raising going on, pretty much everyone had the odds to keep calling the hand down to the end.

This completely changed my strategy in that, if I was in late position, and the whole table was in the pot, I would be playing cards that I normally wouldn’t. I was still only getting into about 40% of the pots, but almost always was in on the button and the blinds. If I saw suited connectors, suited one gaps, or any pair, I was in to see the flop. Even connected high cards like J10o, QJo, etc, I was playing. This obviously can get you in trouble if you get dominated, but it was tough to resist.

When you keep seeing the winner turning over 103o, J5o, Q4o, it can get frustrating if you are playing a lot of hands. I chose to just try to play as normally (tight) as possible and it worked out for me.

The first session, which I wrote about, I was up a good amount. The second session, I only made about $10 over the course of about 2 hours. The last session, I was up as much as $70 but ended up leaving the table down $10.

My losses in that session really came down to 2 hands. The first hand, I was QJs in late position and limped in. Since there were 8 others in the hand, there was $18 in the pot pre-flop. After the flop, I had a straight flush draw when the board came down 9s 10s 2d. I bet $2 and got about 5 callers. There was about $28 in the pot when the 3s came on the turn. It was checked to me and I bet $4 and had 2 callers. With $40 in the pot, the river was a blank and it was again checked around to me. I bet another $4 and there was a fold, then a check raise to me. With the $48 in the pot, $12 of which was mine, I had to call knowing that only the As+xs or Ks+xs would beat me. The raiser showed me his Ks 2s and I lost $16 on the hand.

The other big hand was more of my stupidity than anything else. I limped in from the small blind with Q 10o. Again there were 8 others in and the pre-flop pot was $18. The flop was 8 9 8 so I checked and so did everyone else until the button who bet $2. Figured it was a position bet (which happened on EVERY hand) so I called, as did everyone else. There was now $36 in the pot. The turn was a blank and action checked around the one of the MP guys who threw in $4. There were 2 callers before me, including the button so I called as did 2 more. There was now about $56 in the pot. The river was the J I needed for my straight. I led out with a bet and was immediately raised by the next to act, who had been checking and calling all along. The after her called the $8! I thought as I held the chips in my hands and figured with $76 in the pot, I had to call, plus I thought I had the best hand. I threw in the chips but mistakenly threw in $8 instead of the $4 to call so I had raised it! The woman who was next then capped it. I can’t even remember if the other 2 guys called or not but I threw in my $4 in certain defeat as she flipped over her 9 9 for the boat.

Ugh, that was a costly hand and very well played by her. The funny thing was, she had been in all kinds of pots with dogpoop hands earlier and had already reloaded once while I was at the table. I wouldn’t have felt so bad if I had just called her raise and was beat, but to basically through in another $8 on top of that really hurt.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I should have made more money. I actually left that table and met up with a couple of my buddies who were getting ready to play 3 card poker. I decided to jump into the “pair plus” bet only and hang with them for a while. I had about $80 on the table and was just playing the $10 pair plus bet blind. When the dealer got to me, he would flip them for me and either take my money or pay me. I ended up doubling my money over the course of about a half hour as I hit 3 flushes.

Next we jumped into Carribean Stud Poker. Another game I don’t like too much because you can get crushed quickly. I ended up playing for about another half hour and making $100 when I hit a straight one hand. Not a bad way to finish my trip.

On a side note, there was a new table game called Texas Hold’em. You get 2 pocket cards along with everyone else and the dealer. It cost $10 as an initial bet with a $5 bonus. If you like your cards enough to play, you double your bet, so another $20 to see the flop. After the flop, you can bet your initial amount again on both the turn and river, but you can also just check. After the river, the dealer shows down against each player for the win or loss. The bonus pays different amounts according to your pocket cards only. Anywhere from 1-1 up to 30-1 for pocket AA. We watched for a while and everyone was winning and the dealers were clueless. It was pretty funny.


At 1:39 PM, Blogger Klopzi said...

It's very hard to play with 8 or 9 to the flop.

All you do in this situation is tighten up. When the table's loose, you go tight. If it gets looser, tighten up even more.

In fact, with pots that big, you could probably sit back and wait for an AA and still come away with a profit.

Good job though! It must have been fun to play live in a casino. I don't think I'll ever get the chance, unfortunately.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger drewspop said...

Never say never. You have to make it to Vegas sometime right?

I am going at the end of May and can't wait.

It is a lot of fun, even to break even actually.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger phat said...

I think the looseness at these tables makes live-action limit even MORE of a grind than online, as you have to tighten up so much. On the other hand, if you're in late position you'll be calling preflop with just about any two cards as you'll probably be getting over 7:1 every hand. The thing about casinos that surprised me (but makes sense) is that half or more of the people playing the poker tables are gamblers pure and simple. These are the same people that have been up for 2 days playing slot machines and roulette. People who are willing to put $100 on a number in roulette at 36:1 aren't going to have any problem at all betting all their money on a 2-outer in poker.

Uhh, that table version of texas hold'em sounds bizarre. What is the casinos edge? It doesn't make any sense. Maybe they train those dealers to only play the hellmuth top10 or something. And that bonus thing - I just can't understand how the casino expects to make any money, unless they're counting on the facts that their players will be 90% donks.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger drewspop said...

The hold 'em table game was bizarre! No idea what the casino edge is, but the dealer is in every hand, no matter what they are dealt. Each player just goes heads up against the dealer. They flip over their hole cards at the end. The reason I said, they didn't know what they were doing was, they seemed to be confused over what beat what. The game had only been there for 2 weeks so they were still being trained, but the pit boss had to stand right there and make sure they got it right every hand.

The bonus is tough to say. It is $5 and they take it unless you get dealt a pocket pair, or AK-AJ. The better the hand in that range, the bigger the payout on the bonus, with the largest being pocket As at 30-1.


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