Friday, August 25, 2006

Dealers are Rich

It's been a couple of years since I heard anything about how much dealers make at Las Vegas casinos. The last discussion I can remember having about it was with recent WPT champion (and "crew" member) Joe Bartholdi, back when he used to deal at Binion's. At the time, he told me he wanted to move to Los Angeles, where Dutch Boyd and other crew members were living, but that his girlfriend was making $100K a year dealing blackjack and was unwilling to leave her job in Vegas to move to L.A. Joe told me he was making about $60K as a poker dealer. Since then, whenever I've been asked how much dealers make, I've said, "I'm not sure, but poker dealers can make over $60,000 I think, and other dealers sometimes make as much as $100,000." Usually, the person who asked dismisses these estimate as being far too high.

Now I have some more evidence. At the Wynn (admittedly, the highest paying casino), the average dealer makes $100,000 a year. I would guess the poker dealers average a bit less. I got the $100K figure from this article about how Steve Wynn is instituting a new tip-sharing policy that's not very popular among the dealers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Google Ads

It seems I can put up ads on my blog. They would be generated by Google in the same way the ads for gmail work: ehe text of my blog would be scanned for key words so that the ads are related to my blog's content. The ads on gmail tend to be unobtrusive and often pertinent. If I do this and anyone actually clicks on an ad, I get paid some nominal sum. I'm also pretty curious to see what will be advertised, so unless I have a sudden change of heart, expect to see some ads up in a day or two.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Celebs Playing 3-6 limit at the Mirage

I've now played poker with two supporting actors from TV shows at 3-6 limit tables at the Mirage. A few months ago, it was Brad Garrett from "Everybody Loves Raymond." Last night I was sitting next to a guy I'm pretty sure was Powers Boothe, from "Deadwood" and Sin City. I also have heard Jason Alexander plays there sometimes, but I've never seen him. I don't really have a story to tell, I just think Powers Boothe is cool enough that I should post about it. And if it wasn't him I was playing with earlier, well, that guy sure looked a lot like Powers Boothe, which is kind of interesting in its own right, I guess.

In case you actually care: Here is some evidence I found that Powers Boothe might actually play poker, which makes me feel somewhat more confident it was really him. (Search for "poker." It's a bit more than half way down the page.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Los Angeles Poker

From about the time I started looking into moving to Las Vegas for poker, I had heard that Los Angeles was another excellent location for a poker player. The Bike and The Commerce casinos have two of the biggest poker rooms in the world, and other poker rooms were supposedly scattered all through the city. I decided on Las Vegas because I already had some connections here, but I always figured Los Angeles would have worked just as well. Now that I'm moving there and looking into it a bit more, I'm not so sure. I've now been to both the Bike and Commerce, and both are located in rather depressing neighborhoods, almost completely devoid of culinary options. Drinks, which I have become accustomed to being served for free at poker tables, were being paid for by patrons at the Bike; I can only hope that this is not a city-wide policy. My most severe misgivings, however, concern my anticipated commute.

Westwood, the neighborhood I'm moving to in LA next month, doesn't seem to have any poker rooms within a half hour drive. Now, I realize expecting a commute of less than 30 minutes in Los Angeles was probably overly optimistic, but I really thought that was going to be the case. When a particular destination is about 10 miles away on the freeway, I used to expect that to mean it would take about 15 minutes to drive there. That was before I tried driving on the freeways in LA. The Commerce casino is 20 miles from Westwood, but this takes at least 40 minutes, probably nearly 2 hours during rush "hour." The Bike is just a bit further. Somehow, I had gotten the impression that the Hustler Casino was ten miles away, but really it's about twice that. My best bet now seems to be the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, east of the airport. Only 12 miles south of Westwood on the 405, this shows some promise; maybe I'll even be able to get there in under half an hour. Hollywood Park has the added advantage of being in the neighborhood where Aaron, one of my best college friends, will be moving this week for his new job with a video game company. It'd be nice to finally have a poker buddy to play with on a regular basis, but I expect Aaron will be pretty busy with his new job. I just hope the Hollywood Park poker room will be satisfactory. Going to their website doesn't really help give me much idea what to expect. I guess I'll have to go check it out on my next apartment hunting trip. Hopefully, I won't have to resort to the recently outlawed internet poker after I move.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Pain of a "Bad Beat"

Recently I was talking to Brad, one of Joe's friends. I had last seen him two and a half years ago, and at that time we played a home poker game during which Joe and I had to explain the rules to him. Now he plays what I guess you could call semi-pro poker, by which I mean he plays online for hours a day and doesn't have a job, but he doesn't seem to consider himself a pro. That's pretty impressive progress in two years.

While we were talking, Brad mentioned that he plays online a ton, and I told him I thought he'd probably get sick of it. For me, I find it hard to justify sitting in front of a computer all day long when that is one of the reasons I decided to leave my old job. Brad says that he actually likes playing online more than live sometimes because he doesn't mind the bad beats as much. I had never heard that before. The only reasons I had heard in support of online play is it's convenience, possible higher earning rate, and faster pace of play (which reduces boredom). He said that online, he expects bad beats and since he plays several games at a time, he usually plays at lower stakes, which makes the bad beats not quite so bad. I guess online the bad-beat pain can also be reduced partly due to the fact that you don't have actual people there looking at you, and since you will be playing another hand immediately (and if you are multi-tabling, you are already playing other hands). I imagine it is also easier to watch a number on the computer change than to watch someone take a pile of your chips.

Personally, I think my problem is the exact opposite. Bad beats don't really bother me that much unless I am playing over my head financially, which is very rare. In fact, I usually feel pretty good after a bad beat, because it means that I probably played the hand well, which give me more confidence. So, playing at stakes that can't hurt me helps me to avoid the pain of a bad-beat. The flip side is that if I don't care about the money, it makes it a bit harder to concentrate on the game. As I've mentioned before, I think concentration is the main factor that separates good players from great ones.