CAESARS ANNOUNCES ONLINE POKER FOR REAL MONEY IS COMING
Update March 27, 2013 Caesars Entertainment, the giant brick and mortar casino company
that also owns The World Series of Poker and www.wsop.com, has announced to its high rolling "Seven Stars players" that it will soon have "online poker for real money."
In a short mention in the new Seven Stars benefits guide for 2013-2014, Caesars says "Online Poker
for real money. Coming soon."
Caesars wrote to its Seven Stars players
that "soon you will be able to play online poker anytime, anywhere in Nevada at WSOP.com. You can even earn Reward
Credits when you play."
Reward Credits are the "comp points" in the
Caesars Total Rewards players club program. My guess is that when Nevada throws the switch for intra-state online poker
that Caesars will probably make it possible for its hotel guests to play online poker in their hotel rooms, or at other common
areas of the hotel including the pool and spa, using hotel-supplied laptops, notebooks or tablets that are connected directly
to the WSOP.com website and the portal for intra-state, Nevada online, online play.
page in the new Seven Stars guide announcing the online poker availability is in the section titled "New for you in 2013"
so Caesars must be pretty confident that the virtual cards will be in the air or over the web soon. A photo of the page
from the Seven Stars guide is below.
|From Caesars Seven Stars Guide
|Online Poker for real money, Coming soon.
MAKING POKER TOURNAMENT PRIZE POOLS RICHER WITHOUT RAISING
Update January 23, 2013 It appears that several
casinos have adapted the idea of multiple-entry poker tournaments and multiple-day entry poker tournaments as a way to increase
prize pools without raising entry fees. Here in the Los Angeles area, the Bicycle Casino and Hollywood Park Casino have
been holding multiple-day, multiple-entry tournaments to generate bigger prize pools.
latest of these multiple-day, multiple-entry tournaments has just been announced by Hollywood Park. The tournament starts
February 22nd and there are multiple-entry days every day until March 2nd with the final round on March 3rd. Each day
of the tournament, 6-percent of the field will advance to the final day of play, and then 10% of the players on the final
day will be "in the money." The winner is guaranteed $50,000 minimum and the casino has guaranteed a $200,000
minimum prize pool.
Each day's entry is $100 for the buy-in with a $60 rebuy.
And a player who makes the 6% more than once gets $2,000 cash for each additional entry to the final day of play.
What Hollywood Park is doing here, and what other casinos have done including The Bike, is adding the
number of entry dates so that the tournament and the prize pool can be bigger. The casinos could have run daily tournments,
but by running a multi-day, multi-entry tournament they can build up the prize pool and certainly a $50,000 first prize is
going to attract a lot more entrants than a daily tournament with perhaps a $5,000 first prize.
The Main Event at the World Series of Poker also is building a bigger prize pool with its $10,000 entry over several
days. If the WSOP Championship were limited to only one day of buy-ins, the field would be smaller and so would the
payouts. Of course at the WSOP multiple days for entry are needed because of space and dealer limitations. Someday,
there might have to be even another day or two of "first day play" at the WSOP. And if some of the other daily
bracelet events at the WSOP continue to grow, they too might require more than one day of "first day play."
The Bicycle Casino (also known as The Bike) also has a multiple-entry event on the weekends which tends
to generate bigger prize pools.
These multiple-day, multiple-entry events do help
to boost prize pools and paydays for the winners, but they also raise the number of players and may make it harder to finish in
the money because of the sheer size and rules that allow players to "re-buy" and enter again.
I like the "old rules" where a player cannot buy in a second time, or a third time.
I think that is more fitting for a tournament. But in the upcoming multi-entry, multi-day tournament at Hollywood Park
in late February, players will have nine chances to make it to the final day. Yes, players can take advantage of all
9 lives in this event at Hollywood -- as long as they have the money.
HARRAH'S RINCON CASINO SHUFFLES AROUND ITS POKER ROOM AGAIN
Update December 1, 2012 Harrah's Rincon Casino in San Diego County has shuffled around
its poker room again. The poker room was originally near the "sports bar area" but then was moved upstairs
in the hotel tower so that the downstairs area could be turned into a "video poker section." Well, Harrah's
Rincon has changed the poker room location again.
|Rincon poker area back on the main casino floor.
|Next poker room shuffle is when the new casino opens.
The poker room -- if you want to call it that -- is now back on the main
casino floor near the sports bar area again. But now, instead of being an isolated and quiet room suitable for poker
which what it was upstairs in the hotel tower, or instead of being in a side room that was somewhat isolated from the hustle
and bustle of casino traffic, the new poker area is on a main walkway opposite the sports bar and between slot machine areas.
It is not a good set up for poker.
I asked one of the supervisors about the move,
and he said it was "permanent until the new casino expansion is finished." And then, he said, the poker room
will really be a poker room in the new, expanded casino. Rincon is now adding a new hotel tower and a larger casino
is part of the big project.
The "poker area" which is now dubbed the poker
room has been used before during WSOP Circuit Events at Rincon. This area outside the Pavillion where the big tournaments
and other events at Rincon are held has been used for sit 'n go and one-table tournament games.
In reality, Rincon does not have much of a "poker business" and nearby Pechanga Casino dominates the poker
scene with a big, gorgeous poker room and a great poker staff and lots of tournaments and lots of tables. But it is
encouraging to see that Rincon is planning for poker in the future along with the new hotel and casino expansion project.
However, I think true poker players would still rather play upstairs in the hotel tower conference room that was converted
into a poker room because of the quiet.
CAFRINO.COM ONLINE POKER IS NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
Update October 16, 2012 A couple of days ago I wrote about a new free-to-play online
poker site www.Cafrino.com and I am sorry to say that after playing on it this site is not yet ready for prime time or your time. It has just
too many problems. I discovered, and the company confirmed, that you cannot switch from one table or game to another
and the only way to play multiple tables is by opening the site on multiple browsers. There doesn't seem to be a way
to check on sign-ups on any of the tournaments so even on a heads-up table you could be left waiting for hours before another
player joins to play. Earlier tonight I tried to sign up for the daily $50 free tournament, and I couldn't sign onto
the site even though I tried signing on a full fifteen minutes before the start of the tournament -- and I tried using various
browsers including Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and even AOL. And out of frustration, I even tried to sign
on using a new password and while I was able to get a new password, when I entered the new password I got the message that
Support at Cafrino.com confirms that you can't switch from
game to game so that you can't play two or more games simultaneously. The site is now in its "Beta test" form
so we know they have a long way to go before anyone who wants to play online poker can take it seriously. Unfortunately
we are not talking about new technology. Cafrino should at least be able to offer what other online poker sites offered
for years. For now, we suggest you just "fold" on this site.
FULL TILT POKER RETURNS TO THE USA WITH A FREE-TO-PLAY SITE
Update October 13, 2012 Full Tilt Poker, once one of the giants of the online poker industry
in the USA, says it is planning a return to the USA market with a free to play online poker site. Here is an email that
was sent to former users of the Full Tilt Poker website:
a player on Full Tilt Poker, you may be aware of the recent settlement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice (the "DOJ").
Full Tilt Poker will not offer real money online poker
in the U.S. until it is permissible to do so under relevant law.
In relation to your account balance, you will have the opportunity to file petition with the DOJ through a remission
process which will be administrated by the DOJ.
In light of the above, only play chip games will be available
to Full Tilt Poker players in the U.S. following re-launch, in the first week of November, 2012. Your Full Tilt Points balance
will remain intact in your account.
Please note that we are unable to answer queries in relation to your funds
- all such questions should be directed to the DOJ in accordance with the procedure to be defined by them.
retain this email for your records.
Full Tilt Poker
ONLINE POKER SITES OPERATING IN THE USA
Update October 13, 2012 There are several online poker websites operating in the United
States and it appears that they are all legal operations because you don't have to pay any money to play. These sites
do offer small prizes and they can offer the prizes because the sites carry advertisements and the revenue from the ads fund
the prize pools for tournaments. Several brick and mortar casinos have these online sites including the South Point
in Las Vegas and the Hustler Casino in Los Angeles. These casino-branded sites are actually operated by an independent
company. But now an independent site operator is running its own site without a brick-and-mortar casino brand.
The new online poker site without a brick-and-mortar casino brand is www.Cafrino.com which is free to join. I joined it and I've been playing single table game for "points" and there is
also a daily multi-table tournament with a $50 prize pool. Typically the first place pays about $11 so you're not going
to make this a full time job.
The graphics are simple and clean. If I have
a complaint it's that the audio warning about time are soft and sometimes difficult to hear -- even when you adjust the volume
on the computer. The commercial ads are audio and video ads that play during the game, and that's OK. They
have a good system for showing the commercials which are typically 30-second TV commercials: they play in the center
of the table while you are waiting for a game to start or when you are not in a hand. Be prepared to watch the same
commercial over and over again because so far the company appears to have only a few advertisers.
This site is being funded by investors and I am sure it is an attempt to stake a claim on the Internet poker turf
for when and if full online poker for money is allowed. It is also possible that this company or others might set up
intrastate poker sites because under existing federal law the states are allowed to authorize online poker that is restricted
to players within their state.
Another problem with this site is that it is still
relatively unknown, so you could be waiting a long time for a table to fill so a single table game can start. The multi-table
tournaments have a fixed start time so waiting for players is not a problem for those games.
LITTLE CARDS CAN WIN BIG POTS
Update September 7, 2012 Poker players covet the big cards -- the pocket aces, the pocket kings, the
Ace-King suited which is often called the best drawing hand and the most powerful hand in poker. But experienced players
know that sometimes little cards can win big pots, because the flop sometimes comes "small." Take a look at
the photo below of an $800 stack. This was taken after a hand at a $100 buy-in game of No Limit Hold'em at the Hollywood
Park Casino. Most of those chips were won in just one pot -- and with small cards.
|This wasn't won with AA or KK.
|Just a lowly 4 and 5 of hearts.
Here's what happened. I was the big blind with $3 on the table.
After the hole cards were dealt, the player who was first to act raised to $10. The next player re-raised to $30 and
then three more players called the $30 raise. As I looked at my hole cards I thought that I was "priced in,"
meaning I was getting a good return on my money -- if I got lucky with my cards. And what were my cards? I had
small, suited connectors -- the 4 of hearts and the 5 of hearts. As I looked at my cards several thoughts
raced through my mind. First, it was likely that the "raisers" had big cards and those calling also were playing
"big cards" which meant that perhaps only small cards were left in the deck? Secondly, just recently, playing
5 of diamonds and 6 of diamonds also from the big blind I won a big pot making a full house of 6s full of 5s -- beating a
player who had pocket kings and other players playing Ace-Queen and Ace-Jack. I had a profit, and I reasoned, I could
afford to take a gamble and see the flop. I called. The player who started the action with a $10 raise also called
the $30 re-raise.
I will spare you the boring details,
but I flopped an open-ended straight draw with a five on the board giving me one pair. The flop was 3, 5, 6. Everyone
checked after the flop, which convinced me that the others were all playing "big cards," and then came the
turn card and the turn was a Jack and I made the judgment that a flush on the river was unlikely. I checked
and the original raiser checked and then the player who re-raised to $30 went all-in. Two other players went all-in.
One player folded.
I went all in with this reasoning:
I had an open-ended straight draw and one pair (fives) and I had "outs." Unfortunately a small straight
flush draw was not one of the possibilities. But I had to call. On the river came a deuce, there was no chance
of a flush, and I knew that my 6-high straight was "good." The only thing I had to dodge was that a player
had a 7-high straight. No one had a seven-high straight. The player who initially raised to $30 had Ace-Jack and
the other players all had big cards without a pair. The big pot was mine with the little cards.
You have to be very careful playing small cards. In my case, the flop came in such a way that I couldn't fold.
But had "picture cards" came on the flop or even a medium or high pair, I knew my 5h,6h were doomed to fail.
Sometimes when everyone is betting and raising you have to think that they are holding big cards -- because betting and raising
is what players do with big cards. Players with small pairs and small suited connectors hope to see a flop for cheap.
But when you have small cards and the others are betting big, you have to be a contrarian and call to see the flop hoping
the only cards left to come are the small cards you need to win.
IT'S GOOD TO BE SITTING AT A POKER JACKPOT TABLE
Update August 15, 2012 I am writing this just a few hours after a bad beat jackpot was
hit at Hollywood Park Casino. Quad Jacks beat Aces full of Jacks. There were only two players in the hand.
The player with AA raised the big blind, the player with JJ went all-in, and the player with AA also went all-in. The
flop came JJK and an Ace came on the turn, and when both players flipped over their cards it was a very happy table.
This is one of the few times it's good to lose with pocket Aces. In this case the player with AA won about $4,000 and
the player with JJ who won the hand won about $2,000. The player with the "bad beat" gets the bigger payoff.
There were seven other players at the table and each of them was paid a "table share" which was $620.
|Quad Jacks beat Aces full of Jacks.
|Hollywood Park Casino. $100 No Limit Hold'em.
Bad beat jackpots are not the same and have different rules at different
casinos. Some start their bad beat jackpots at $10,000 and some start at $20,000. Some bad beat jackpots require
that Aces full of tens must be beaten by quads or better (a straight flush or a royal flush), while at other casinos Aces
full of anything beaten by quads or better qualifies for a jackpot. At Hollywood Park Casino Aces full of 9s or better
beaten by quads or better with "both cards playing" is required for a bad beat jackpot.
Sometimes Aces full of tens loses to quads but the player with quads
didn't have a pair, and in that case a bad beat jackpot might be awarded. Check with the rules at the casino.
Some casinos have special payoffs when quads beat quads, or quads lose to a straight flush or a royal flush, and again this
varies by casino. And then there are some casinos that don't have bad beat jackpots.
In the case of last night's jackpot at Hollywood Park Casino, it was a nice payday for the players who folded their
cards -- they received a table share of $620 just for sitting there and taking a hand, and I was one of them. If a player
was "sitting out" of the hand, or stepped away to go to the restroom, or went outside for a "smoke" they
would not be eligible for the table share. This has happened and sometimes (but not always) the players who did get
a payoff will give the excluded player something. And the reasoning is that if the player had been sitting at the table,
then the hands would not have been dealt the way they were and there would have been no jackpot.
It is always interesting to see how the dealer and other casino personnel
are tipped after a jackpot. I've been told that the dealer should get something around 10% of the jackpot amount, with
the lion's share of the tip coming from the player who lost the hand and the player who won the hand, with the "table
share" players tipping less. But there are always stories about a player who tipped ten dollars when they won $5,000
or more because either they didn't know any better or didn't want to part with the money. Tipping, of course, is a personal
decision, but I've always tipped about ten percent even on "table shares" that I received just for sitting at the
THE U.S. CASINO INDUSTRY IS GETTING READY
FOR ONLINE POKER
Update March 7, 2012 It is very clear now
that several U. S. casino companies are getting ready for online poker to be legalized in the United States. In several
states, including California, casinos are pushing for intra-state legislation of online poker, while in Nevada the Nevada
gaming companies are hoping that a national legalization will be approved and they they will be the online poker market leaders.
Already several brick and mortar casinos and card rooms are running their own free, no-money online
poker sites. In some cases, these free sites do have tournaments that pay small cash prizes. These sites are advertiser
and brick and mortar casino supported and are clearly an effort to establish an online poker brand. Some brick and mortar
casinos also have free, no-money, online casino games which they label as "practice games" and this could be part
of an effort to prepare for full online gambling.
Among the brick and mortar casino
companies with some forms of free, no-money, online poker are Hustler Casino in Los Angeles, South Point Casino in Las Vegas,
and Caesars Entertainment. IGT the giant slot machine maker and operator of mega-jackpots slot machine networks also
wants to get in on the action once online poker is legalized.
IGT has this appearing
on its website IGT.com:
ever-increasing potential for interactive gaming to be legalized in the United States, IGT is well positioned to be the partner
of choice for existing land-based casinos.
has aligned interests in defending our existing land-based business, while exploring the revenue opportunities which undoubtedly
exist in the new interactive world.
it is preparing to launch a U.S. poker product and it is offering online demonstrations to casino managers about how it will
look and work. The company says it is looking for U. S. casino companies to partner with once
legalization comes about. IGT already has much of the support services in place including
the technology, security and of course marketing. It already is involved in marketing its mega-jackpot wide area progressives.
HUSTLER $100,000 POKER ROOM JACKPOT
Update March 4, 2012 Everyone who plays live poker in a casino hopes to hit a bad beat
jackpot -- if the casino offers a bad beat jackpot. Many of the card clubs and casinos in Southern California do offer
a bad beat jackpot. And some offer "mega jackpots" for the really unusual and rare bad beats. Hustler
now has one of these mega jackpots for the truly rare bad beats.
Hustler Casino bad beat jackpot is "on" every odd hour, every day from 11-AM to 1-AM, and it is open
to all players at bet levels of $3/$6 and above. To qualify for this bad beat jackpot, one player holding a pocket pair
and making quads must beat another player at the table who also made quads holding a pocket pair.
Most bad beat jackpots are for "aces full of tens or better" that lose -- and often that loss
is to a four-of-a-kind. I've been at tables where one player had AAATT and another player had quad tens. Those
kinds of bad beats are rare, but not that rare. And often the jackpots for those "routine" bad beats are in
the range of about $10,000 to $20,000. But getting quads over quads is indeed rare and worthy of a $100,000 prize which
is usually divided among the winner and loser in the hand plus a "table share" for other players.
About a year ago at The Bicycle Casino when they offered a mega bad beat jackpot, quad jacks beat quad
tens. The player holding quad tens got a $40,000 prize, while the player with quad jacks got a $20,000 prize and the
other 7 players at the table shared the remaining $40,000. That bad beat jackpot at The Bike has been discontinued.
A couple of nights ago I was playing at The Bike and at the table we discussed the current
jackpot for a bad beat which for the $100 buy-in table was about $26,000. Our dealer at the time told us when he dealt
a jackpot and the subject came to "tipping the dealer." He told us that tips can vary from fifty dollars to
several hundred dollars. I often wondered how much would be an appropiate tip if I got a $40,000 hand? Would you
tip something like 3% which is what some tip for a tournament win? Or would you tip 1% or one-half of one-percent which
is appropriate for a hand-pay in video poker? All I can say is -- it's a nice problem to look forward to having some
BEWARE ONLINE POKER ROOMS BY ZEN ENTERTAINMENT
Update January 23, 2012 Several months ago, I wrote on our Forum about a free online
poker site that is branded with Hustler Casino here in LA. The online poker site is actually run by Zen Entertainment
and it does offer free games, and the online poker site is made available to various casinos who want an online presence.
Hustler Casino uses the site, and so does South Point in Las Vegas, so that they can have an online poker casino.
It's a good idea for brick and mortar casinos to have an online presence because in just a few more
months online poker in California, Nevada and other states could be legal.
take these online sites too seriously because I've experienced way too many problems with the operation at Zen Entertainment.
They have some problems that cause tournaments to be cancelled, or play suspended, or players getting knocked off the site.
I'm writing this just after I was "bounced off" my second tournament today and in this second tournament I had the
eighth biggest chip stack and was about to play big cards. And I've had similar problems too many times in the past.
Earlier today I was bounced off a tournament after outlasting much of the field. In the second
tournament, I was within reach of the prize points and possibly the cash payoff. In both cases these tournaments were
free to play but Zen Entertainment uses advertising revenue to pay the prizes. We're not talking a lot of money here--
in fact most "prizes" are in the range of under $50. Personally, I've won two $10 prizes in the past few months.
But what is annoying is that you can't get a "good game" when a site has problems like this.
In the case of the first tournament earlier today, the entire tournament crashed and they awarded prizes
based on the chip ranks when the tournmaent crashed. That's not fair. In the case of the second tournament I think
I was dropped from the tournament individually and I was in the top ten players, and fewer than 30 players were left.
So, I was guaranteed at least prize points had I finished the tournament and busted out. But, by being "forfeited"
for a connection issue (or being bounced by a software problem, I get nothing). I sent a protest to their support department
and I will let you know what they say.
In the meantime this is one "free poker
site" you might want to avoid. There are others that don't have as many technical glitches.
PECHANGA'S BAD BEAT JACKPOT REWARDS ALL PLAYERS IN THE ROOM
Update January 5, 2012 Many casinos offer bad beat jackpots in their poker rooms but
the bad beat jackpot at Pechanga Casino in Temecula pays even players who are not at the bad beat table. The Pechanga
bad beat jackpot pays all players in the poker room. And, it hit again on New Years Day paying two people a lot of Happy
New Year money, the other players at the table a big chunk of money, and then there was a Happy New Year greeting for everyone
else in the poker room.
More than 250 players in the Pechanga
Poker Room had a share in the Mega Share Bad Beat Jackpot when it hit for $157,346.00 on New Year’s Day
at 6:25 PM. The loser of the bad beat hand was paid the most. Together the winner of the hand and the loser
of the hand shared 50% of the jackpot. These two players each had a straight flush in spades.
Thirty (30) percent of the jackpot ($47,322.00) was paid to the losing hand
of 2s,3s,4s,5s,6s , held by Irene Orona of Perris. The higher straight of 4s,5s,6s,7s,8s, held by Chinh Hoang of Placentia,
won the game pot, but it took second in the jackpot payoff, with 20 percent or $31,469.00. Such is the nature of
a “Bad Beat” jackpot, where the losing hand wins. Seven other players at the table got equal shares of 30%
of the jackpot, or $6,743.00 each, and 256 other players of live Hold ‘Em games (39 other tables) received an equal
cut of the last 20% of the jackpot, with everyone taking home $122.00 just for being in the room.
From time to time, other casinos have had "room shares" or shares for all players in the casino
during certain promotions. Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood used to promote a share for all players when a super bad
beat occurred during certain times. But for the most part, bad beat jackpots are limited to the players at the table
where the rare event occurs.
HUSTLER CASINO BRINGS BACK ITS WEEKLY TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE FOR
Update December 23, 2011 Hustler Casino, near Los Angeles,
has brought back its schedule of weekly poker tournaments. Hustler Casino is at 1000 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena,
and their website is www.hustlercasinola.com and you can call (310) 719-9800 for information.
There's a Sunday
afternoon tournament starting at 3-PM with a $125 buy-in and one $100 rebuy with a $10,000 guarantee. This will compete
directly with what Commerce Casino offers. There are also 7-PM tournaments Monday through Thursday nights with the buy-ins
starting at about $125 (these vary) and Thursday is a Super Bounty tournament with a re-entry during the first two hours.
WORLD SERIES OF POKER CIRCUIT EVENT AT THE BICYCLE
Update December 7, 2011
You can start off 2012 with some of the best poker tournaments going at The Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles starting on New
Year's Day. This is when the World Series of Poker Circuit will be at the popular casino. The WSOP Circuit Events including
ring events will run from Sunday, January 01, 2012 to Thursday, January 12, 2012.
The Bicycle Casino is at 7301 Eastern Avenue in Bell Gardens. This is off the 710 Freeway
and it's about a fifteen minute car drive from downtown Los Angeles. Call 562-806-4646 for information. The entry fee for
some of the events is as low as $150 and there are satellites that will give winners satellite chips that can be used to buy
into the events. For information call the casino or go to www.thebike.com which is the casino's website. There is also information at www.worldseriesofpoker.com which is the official WSOP website.
PLAYING POT ODDS
Update November 7, 2011 Yesterday I played some poker at a low limit table. It was a "new
table" meaning that the table had just opened and all of the players had just $100 in chips. There are a lot of
advantages for playing at a table when it "opens" because when you set at a table that has been in action for several
hours you might be restricted to a $100 or $200 buy-in and you could be pressured by other players who might have stacks have
a thousand dollars or more in the betting.
So back to the table yesterday.
I was in the big blind and had posted my $3. The player to the left who is known to be a boastful and loud player immediately
bet $30 and dared others to call his bet of ten-times the big blind. Well, since his reputation was for "talking
too much" he got his callers -- five of them -- and then it was my turn to decide. I looked at the bets in front
of me and said "pot odds, how could I resist." I was getting six to one on my money if I could win the
pot. Well, six to one in poker isn't bad especially when your cards are "playable." And they
My cards: 7 and 9 of clubs. Certainly not the best hand -- not AA and
not KK, but playable.
There were seven players in the pot, about as close to a family
pot as you can get, and then came the flop. It was a 9-high flop, rainbow. I had hit top pair.
Next round of betting: the original raiser goes all in -- another $70. The other five initial
callers fold, and then the action is on me.
I had lost some previous hands, so I
was in fact "pot committed." I put the rest of my money in hoping that my one pair would improve. That's
when the raiser flipped over his cards -- pocket aces. The only way for me to win was to hit trips or two pair.
And on the turn it did -- a 7. Two pair. As long as the board didn't pair on the river, or another ace came
out, I would win.
And I won.
don't ever think that 7-9 suited can beat AA all the time or even many times. I got lucky. But what made me lucky
is that the math of the game prompted me to play the pot odds, and with half my chips gone I was committed. As I said
to the other players -- had I lost the ATM was only a few steps away.
EVEN THE PROS LOSE WITH THE BEST HANDS
Update October 29, 2011 I just played in a charity poker tournament at The Commerce Casino
and the field of players was filled with celebrities from Hollywood and local TV as well as several of the top professional
poker players. Men "The Master" Nguyen and Annie Duke were both among the field of professionals who took
part in the tournament to support both The Renal Support Network which helps those with kidney disease and Hands Across the
Ocean which helps families in Vietnam.
I was fortunate to play with Men at two tables
during the tournament, at the first table when the tournament started and later when only four tables remained. I paid
particular attention to how Men played because it isn't often that I get to play with a true "master" of the game
and someone who has won millions playing poker. Below is a photo he graciously took with me.
First of all, he's a gentlemen. Before cards were in the air I handed my cell phone to a player
across the table and asked him to take my picture with Men -- and I didn't have to say a word to Men. I was two seats away
from him and as I got out of my seat to step over to him he stood up so the photo could be snapped. Later he gladly took photos
with others. He also actively took part in the fund-raising effort donating some of his personal souvenirs from playing in
the WSOP and he even helped in the auctions to raise money during the tournament.
hard to say if he was really playing seriously in the tournament. Early, in the rebuy period, he was playing loosely but winning
some hands while losing others. He lost one hand to me when I had a bigger flush than he had.
But from watching him I can tell you this-- pro poker players suffer the same bad luck and bad draws that the rest
of us suffer. Men busted out of the tournament with only four tables left when he as a short stack he went all in with pocket
kings, and lost to a player with slightly more chips who was already pot committed as the big blind who had 7-deuce off-suit.
There were two 7s on the flop and Men got a round of applause as he left smiling.
happened to all of us at one time or another. We have the "best hand" pre-flop and then bad luck grabs us, knocks
us down, and tramples us. Seeing that it happened to Men makes me a bit more understanding about how much "luck"
factors into the game of poker.
So one thing I will always remember from this tournament
is that even the worst hand in poker -- 7-deuce off-suit -- can beat pocket kings. But more importantly I will also always
remember what a pleasure it was playing poker with Men "The Master" Nguyen.
FULL TILT: ONLINE POKER'S BLACK EYE
Update September 30, 2011 Just when we are getting close to having legal online poker
in the United States, the big black eye hits because of alleged shenanigans at Full Tilt. Full Tilt used to be the most
prestigious of the online poker websites and boasted having the top names in poker as part of the organization. Now,
some of those top pros are being named as part of an alleged Full Tilt ponzi scheme in which many players lost money,
cannot recover money in their accounts, allowed insiders to play for free and keep their winnings, all the while company insiders
walked away with millions and millions of dollars.
The drive for online poker in
the United States has not been derailed or slowed however. Nevada could legalize online poker within the state by early
2012 and other states including New Jersey and California might follow. And at the same time, there are moves in Congress
that might legalize some kind of online poker or even full online gambling throughout the United States.
Full Tilt's big black eye on the business, however, will not be forgotten. And the message is
whatever systems are legalized must be closely monitored to protect players as well as investors. I mention investors
because it is likely that some of the big, publicly traded gaming and gaming equipment companies will be the outfits that
will be operating the legalized systems here in the United States.
And another lesson
from Full Tilt's black eye is this: all of these companies, government agencies, and online gambling promoters will have a
lot of serious relationship building ahead of them because Full Tilt's scars will keep many from trying online gambling again.
CHECK THE JACKPOTS WHEN YOU PLAY POKER
Update May 2, 2011 Many poker rooms are now promoting their jackpots for "bad beats"
and it seems that players enjoy the bad beat jackpot promotions. At just about every ring game table players are always
asking the dealer to "give us a jackpot." These bad beat jackpots do hit from time to time, but asking the
dealer to deal one won't work unless fate is on your side. Bad beat jackpots will vary. Hollywood Park just announced
new jackpots for quads over quads in addition to its regular jackpots. The "super jackpots" for quads over
quads are valid only on certain days and during certain hours of the day making it even more unlikely that you will get it.
Both players must have a pocket pair that makes quads to get the super jackpot amount. The super jackpot varies with
the type of game being played at Hollywood Park with the top jackpot prize of $75,000 paid for the no limit hold'em games.
Other games have smaller jackpot amounts. The jackpots are divided among the winning hand, losing hand and other players
at the table.
"LIVE AT THE BIKE" WEBCAST IS RETURNING
Update November 9, 2010 The Internet webcast of live high stakes
poker from The Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, near Los Angeles, is returning. I was at "The Bike" Monday
night and the set up for "Live At The Bike" that was last used about two years ago was back in the high limit
room at The Bicycle Casino. There was a rehearsal with dealers acting as players and cameras and lights were being used.
A casino manager told me that the live webcasts of high limit poker action would return and the live action would be broadcast
at least two evenings a week.
Recently The Bicycle Casino
added free online poker play to its website www.thebike.com and I am expecting news about the high stakes live webcasts to show up soon along with a link to the live poker action and
the "Live At The Bike" TV show on the web. The Bike, more than other casinos in Southern California, is using
the Internet to gain the lead in reaching an online poker audience in California. And that makes sense since there is
a growing movement to legalize online poker in the state, in accordance with federal laws which allow intra-state poker play
for money online.
Expect to see some big name players
and celebrity players when Live At The Bike returns as a webcast. A big-name lineup is being scheduled because managers
at the casino want this to work. And there will be big name and deep pocket players at The Bike in coming weeks as the
casino hosts some big money tournaments along with a tournament for The World Poker Tour. The Bicycle Casino in Bell
Gardens is one of the casinos that regularly hosts tournaments for The World Poker Tour.
CAN A CASINO CONFISCATE YOUR WINNINGS?
Updated November 4, 2010 We've all heard the stories about
a minor who sneaks into a casino, plays a slot machine and hits a jackpot. Does the minor get to keep the winnings,
even if a parent is playing with them? The courts have ruled "no." In this case, casinos can confiscate
Casinos can also confiscate winnings if someone
puts himself on an exclusion list for problem gambling. In California for example, if you notify the State that
you want to be voluntarily banned from casinos your decision is irrevocable. Players can bar themselves for periods
ranging from one year to life. And if you happen to be on this voluntarily exclusion list and you sneak into a casino
and win -- and if the casino finds out (as they would if it is a taxable jackpot) -- your winnings will be confiscated and
the money is turned over to the State fund for problem gamblers. "That's why we tell people to be sure they want
to ban themselves," my source in the California Justice Department told me.
had an interesting discussion about players getting banned and what happens when a "banned player" gets into a casino
and plays and wins. Is the money they won always confiscated? Well, it could be -- but isn't always.
"There are conditions," my source in the Justice Department told me. "Let's say
a casino banned a player for a period of time for bad behavior, but the player comes back to the casino to play before the
suspension period ends. If the casino knew that the player had returned and allowed the player to continue playing,
we might fine the casino for not following rules and procedures and the banned player would keep his winnings."
My source in the Justice Department said that because casinos have video surveillance systems, it can be shown if a player
had been playing for a period of time with the casino's knowledge. "We don't want casinos saying a player is barred,
but continue to take his money, and then when a player hits a jackpot to say the player was not allowed to play."
We recently heard about several incidents where players who were "barred" won jackpots in
poker rooms and their jackpots were confiscated. "We have no specific rules about this," my Justice Department
source told me, "unless the player voluntarily barred himself. Then the regulations are clear -- the winnings are
seized and turned over to the problem gambler program. But if the player did not bar himself because of a gambling problem,
then the player might be able to prove that the casino knew he was playing and the player would be entitled to the money whether
he was barred or not for something like disorderly conduct. It would be a civil issue. A court would have to decide."
FULL TILT POKER SAYS IT BROKE UP CHEATING OPERATION
The online poker company,
Full Tilt Poker, says it uncovered a cheating operation, and identified the cheaters and closed their accounts and is now
sending compensation to the victims. The official email sent to some of the player-victims is below and the name of
this player has been blocked out. But it is not known exactly how the bad guys cheated, and players who are receiving
the compensation have no way to know if they are being fully compensated. In fact they may be. Some online players
are happy that Full Tilt has found this problem and some money has been returned. But to many players this just raises
more red flags about cheating online and raises questions about how much more they might have lost to scams that were not
SO YOU WANT A REALLY GOOD SET OF
Some home game poker players really want
a "really good" set of poker chips. Frankly, I didn't know the type or quality of chips made a difference
to home game players -- but it does to many home game players. One player I talked to said he wants the best -- he wants
Paulson chips for his home game. That was reasonable to me until I found out how much poker chips made by Paulson costs.
You see, Paulson poker chips are the chips used in the big Vegas poker rooms such as those at Bellagio and Caesars and Mandalay
Bay and Venetian. The Venetian has the reputation for being the top poker room in Vegas -- and that seems to make it
the top in the world. Anyway, about the best price for a Paulson chip is a bit more than $1 per chip. Yeah, you
could buy plastic chips at WalMart for about ten percent of that price-- but they won't be the quality of Paulson chips, and
they won't have that "professional feel."
So, my friend
the home player had an idea. Instead of buying professional Paulson brand chips -- why not "rent them for free."
How do you do that? Well, his idea was that instead of buying 500 Paulson chips at a price of $664.95 (which was the
price we saw advertised on the Internet) his idea was to go to a casino such as Caesars or Bellagio and get 500 of their $1
chips at the cage and bring them home. He would have 500 Paulson chips to use for his home games -- and when he was
through hosting his home games, he could cash in the chips at the casino and get his money back. "I'm using the
chip free of charge," he told me. "Instead of spending more than $600 for a set of chips, I rent the chips
and can get all my money back." You know, it makes sense.
So, I called a few casinos and asked them -- can you "buy" 500 chips at the cage and take them home?
And the answer was also reasonable -- "why not?" Actually the casinos would love you to do this because they
get the cash for their chips and hope you never bring them back. In fact, one reason that Caesars Palace and other casinos
change their chip designs so frequently is that they hope you will "collect" their chips because every chip
you take home as a collectible is profit for them.
know who also does this? The United States Postal Service. They would love for you to collect their special "commemorative
stamps" that are issued every few weeks to honor this or that. Because every stamp that is collected is profit
for the Postal Service.
PLAYING POKER IS LIKE
I've been playing poker
for only a couple of years, and I only play low-stakes poker and low-cost poker tournaments -- so I'm no poker expert.
But I have discovered that playing poker is a lot like going through life. In poker chance and odds and draws and bluffing
are similar to what goes on in real life. Sometimes you have the cards to make demands for chips -- or to make demands
for a discount or a pay raise -- and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you can bluff in poker because other players aren't
sure about what you have and they are not confident about their cards, and sometimes in business you can bluff a customer
or a supplier or a contractor the same way -- they might think you have another customer or another supplier ready to do business.
Probably the most important skill in poker is "reading
the board" in games like Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha when your cards are combined with the cards on the table -- the so-called
community cards or the cards on the board. Another very important skill is knowing how much to bet to win the hand,
to win the most chips, and to chase others out of the pot or out of the hand. Those are life skills as well-- to know
how you fit in with your environment, or what you can present "to the table" or to the community or to a business
to make yourself more valuable and to win a job or a contract or a position of power.
Poker also teaches you about chance. The odds are that one in 220 hands
you are going to be dealt two aces in Texas Hold 'Em. And in video poker, the odds are that once in 629,740 hands or
plays you are going to be dealt a royal flush. It's like that in life too. Once in a while you are going to get
a good start on a job or a career (two aces) and if you're very lucky once in a while you're going to be dealt a royal flush
and a jackpot.
MORE TOURNAMENT OPTIONS
IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA
Park Casino on Century Boulevard near LAX has announced rebuy no-limit hold 'em poker tournaments for Friday and Saturday
nights. The buy-in is $25 with a $10 entry fee (so it's $35 to play initially) and then there are unlimited rebuys at
$10 each. This is the usual format for tourneys at Hollywood Park and frankly unless you are very lucky, very good and
have a very big bankroll, you don't want to get involved in this kind of play even though there is a $10,000 guaranteed prize
pool. I once finished as the chip leader at the final table (we chopped) and it was only because of a lot of luck--
because I couldn't do the massive number of rebuys that some players make. It is not unusual for some players to pump
$200 or more into rebuys during the rebuy period as they go all-in whenever they have a decent hand-- but not necessarily
the winning hand. Honestly, it's not the kind of poker I like to play. I prefer a tourney with one rebuy or better
yet -- no rebuys.
in Compton had this same rebuy format for several years, also with a $10,000 guarantee, but at Crystal the budgets were a
bit smaller and the rebuy play was not so aggressive. There is a lot of loose money at Hollywood Park, so be ready for
a lot of all-in action during the rebuy period.
DAILY POKER TOURNAMENTS
AT THE BIKE 7 DAYS A WEEK
Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens is expanding its tournament schedule to 7 days a week. All of the tournaments will run
seven days a week including the noon tournanment, the midnight tournament and the 7-PM tournament. These are generally
low cost tournaments, where you can get a full day or full evening of play for under one-hundred dollars. The Bike (as
The Bicycle Casino is known) has moved its tournaments back into its Event Center which is the large tournament room.
For several months while the Event Center was under construction and undergoing renovations, the tournaments at The Bike were
held on the regular poker casino floor which was loud and full of distractions. Now, The Bike is back to its regular
tournament environment which is one of the best in Southern California.
SOME OF THE BEST POKER
ADVICE I EVER GOT
the best poker advice I ever got came at a cash game at Hollywood Park Casino near Los Angeles. It was a friendly "cash
game," and about as friendly as these kinds of cash games can get. Sure we were after each other's money, but the
players were like me-- in the TV business. There was a producer, and a writer, and a couple of directors and actors,
and we had the morning off from our daily media chores and were at the casino for some "poker fun."
The stakes in these games were usually low, but sometimes a
large pot developed when a few of the players "had cards," meaning a good hand. And then the betting was brisk
and the pots could become as big as a hundred dollars or more. I was in one of those pots with a pretty good hand--
but I wasn't sure it was "the best hand."
looking at my cards, and looking at the pot, and looking at the other three players in the hand, I just didn't know what to
do. Should I check or should I raise, or should I fold my hand rather than lose more money to a superior hand?
That's when the "producer" at the other side of the table said to me "Alan, a winner can fold too."
Yes, I folded. And that "fold" saved me a lot of money as the betting continued and had I stayed in the hand
I would have lost to a superior hand.
was really good advice -- winners can fold too. Sometimes you have to fold your hand to protect what remains of your
chip stack which is your bankroll in a poker game. In chess, I sometimes followed the advice "when in doubt push
a pawn" if it was my turn and I didn't know what chess piece to move. And now, when I play poker I always remember
the advice that "winners can fold too."
MAKES A BIG CHANGE IN ITS TOURNAMENTS
Palace in Las Vegas has made a very big change in its popular 7-PM poker tournament. This tournament is popular with
tourists as well as Vegas locals. And the change allows players who bust out prior to the first break to buy into the
tournament again. The initial buy-in for the tournament is $160, and prior to this rule change once you lost all of
your chips you were out of the tournament. And now, players who lose all of their chips before the first break can buy
This means that players
can make a mistake and get a second chance, or a third chance or a fourth chance prior to the first break. The change
in the rules also means that the prize pool might be larger than in a regular "no re-buy tournament."
Now we have to wonder if other casinos will follow the lead
of Caesars Palace and also allow re-entries and second chance buy-ins? It's really not a bad idea for Caesars to do
this to cater to its tourist market. Because normally once a tourist/poker player busts out of a tourney he is out of
the action for several hours until the next tourney comes along-- and Caesars does have multiple tournaments each day.
But by allowing re-entries players can stay in the action longer.
Of course the casinos also get a cut out of every entry fee and this is also a way for them to
gain more revenue, and with casino revenue down because of the recession this idea might clearly benefit other casinos as
well. I think there is a very good chance this idea will spread to other casinos.
WHY THE BEST
HAND DOESN'T WIN IN ONLINE POKER TOURNAMENTS
be frustrated by those "bad beats" in online poker tournaments -- especially the tournaments that are free and cost
no money to enter. All of the online poker web sites have free tournaments from time to time, and in those free tournaments
the "best hands" can easily lose to inferior hands. Let me tell you why. It's because in a free online
poker tournament, some players will play "any two cards" and hope to get lucky, and sometimes they do get lucky.
Let me give you an example: in one free tournament (the
online casino offered a prize pool of $50 to be shared by the top 18 finishers) there were five players in the hand.
Some of the players had "good hands" including high pairs, or suited connectors. In this particular hand the
flop comes three clubs. In the next round of betting, four players are all-in, and the cards are exposed. One
player flopped the flush, another player had a pair, a third player had high cards but no club, and the fourth player had
6-6, pocket sixes, and without a club.
at this point you have to ask why did the player with two high cards and no club go all-in after the flop? You can understand
why a player with one pair might gamble. The player who flopped the flush is probably thinking "this pot is mine"
after all of the cards are exposed. But -- hold on.
comes the turn, and it's a 6 of clubs. And then the river, another 6. The player who went all-in with a pair of
sixes and no club had just made quads. So you're asking: why did this player go all in without a club? Well, online
players tell me things like this happen all the time because the tournament is "free" and no real money is at risk.
Players will gamble when there is no money involved -- and this was certainly a gamble (though it paid off).
In another tournament, in the very first hand of the tournament,
a player with pocket aces, AA, raises the big blind of 10 to 200. Another player goes all-in and the player with AA
calls, going all in as well. When the other player's cards are revealed he has an unsuited 7 and a Jack. And you're
thinking, "all in with an unsuited 7 and Jack?" Yeah, that's what I would be thinking also-- but wait.
After the flop and the turn and the river, the player with
J-7 makes a jack-high straight, beating the pocket aces. So, what would make the player with the unsuited Jack-7 go
all-in pre-flop? Yes, it could have been a bluff and he might have been shocked to see the caller have pocket aces.
But a bluff might not be the motivation and the player with J-7 off suit might have decided to go all-in just because he liked
the combination of Jack-7 or perhaps he had a face card, or maybe just because he wanted to. Well, online players tell
me, it's a free tournament, so why not go all-in? What do you have to lose? Nothing especially when another free
tournament might be an hour later.
what's the bottom line here? It's that anyone with any two cards is likely to play them in a free tournament with no
money at risk and getting a player to fold with a big bet can be awfully difficult in online poker when players can see that
"any two cards" can certainly win.
IS IT TIME TO
BAN CELL PHONES FROM ALL POKER GAMES?
most casinos, use of cell phones is not allowed during tournament play. Some casinos have a strict rule about this,
but in other casinos you are asked to leave the table to use your cell phone. And then there are some casinos who have
no rule at all -- or objection -- to using cell phones during tournament play. And every
casino allows the use of cell phones in cash games.
perhaps the time has come to ban cell phones from all games -- cash games as well as tournaments? Cell phone use is
now banned in many blackjack pits because there are programs (or apps or applications) that can be used to determine player
strategy. Now, there are similar programs (or apps or applications) that can be used to determine player strategy in
The other night I was at a
casino where a player showed me his cell phone, and the app that let him not only rank his hand, but also determine
the chance of winning the pot based on the cards that have flopped and the number of other players in the hand. He used
his cell phone app during critical hands in a no-limit Texas Hold'Em game. And he was winning.
Perhaps it is time for the casinos to ban the use of cell phones
now that these poker strategy applications are so freely used and are as near as someone's smart cell phone. And even
if you don't have the app or program loaded onto your cell phone, many cell phones today also have Internet access so a player
with quick fingers could easily enter his hand to determine if he should raise, call, fold or check.
That's right -- the next "call" at a poker table
could be to a web site that can help with player strategy or a click onto an application or program that can tell the user
the same thing. Perhaps there is no room for this technology at the poker table? Or pretty soon, everyone will
be on their phones letting the computers decide their next move.
THE TEXAS HOLD'EM
Lord, please give me the hole cards that will make the winning hand, or give me the hole cards that will be easy to fold."
The truth is, prayer is important in the game of poker.
In fact, the only difference between prayer in a church or synagogue and prayer in a casino is that in a casino you really
PLAYING A JACKPOT
HAND IN POKER CASH GAMES
card clubs and casinos offer jackpots for certain competing hands at cash games. In many casinos, a jackpot is paid
when four of a kind beats four of a kind, or when Aces full of tens or better is beaten by four of a kind or better, such
as a straight flush or royal flush. These jackpots are usually funded by a portion of the rake (drop) on each hand,
and the jackpots have a progressive payout. Sometimes the jackpots can reach twenty or thirty thousand dollars or more,
with the winner and loser of the hand sharing the biggest percentage of the jackpot and the remainder given to the other players
at the table -- the so-called "table share."
there is the potential for a jackpot, most players at a table will know to "play differently," and play for the
jackpot and not for their own personal interests. After all, a jackpot can pay hundreds of dollars to each player just
in the "table share," while in most cash games the pot might only be worth a hundred dollars or less.
When there is a flop of the community cards containing two
or three aces, the table goes on "jackpot alert." At some casinos, there is a "code" to alert other
players that someone has a jackpot potential. Here's an example:
At Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, I saw this happen: The flop comes Ace, Ace, 5.
One player (who we later found out was holding pocket Queens) bet $5, the minimum bet. This was a signal that he held
a qualifying pair, so that if another ace came on the turn or river he would have a full house. The next "signal"
was for a player holding an Ace to bet $10.
there was another player holding an Ace. In fact he had Ace-King (the king is vital, which I will explain later).
But instead of betting $10 to signal the table that he held the ace, he made a $75 bet and that forced the player with Queens
to fold his hand.
Later the player
with AK was told of his error-- that he should not have forced out the high pair because that "killed" the potential
for the jackpot. And that King the player was holding? It was perfect for a jackpot because many casinos say "both
cards must play" and in this case the King kicker would beat the 5 and the pair of Queens allowing the jackpot to be
Casinos also have anti-collusion
rules and these apply to jackpot hands as well. The players cannot openly discuss that there is the potential for jackpot
which is why the "code" of betting one or two chips is used. Too bad not all players know this. Anyway,
the jackpots keep rising -- and yes, they do get hit.