Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This and That

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote, and I've been playing poker 40 hours a week at my new prop job, so there are lots of little stories to recount. The job itself I find to be pretty agreeable, except that I miss being able to take a few days off whenever I want to.

The owner of the Bike likes to play the 20-40 limit game. He's pretty bad, but mostly just because he plays way too many hands. If you don't care too much about losing a few hundred, I suppose it's probably a lot more fun to play almost every hand than it is to fold a lot. I was sitting next to him in the game a few weeks ago and Johnny Chan ambled over wearing a Bellagio shirt and a hat with some other casino's name on it. They discussed some project together for about 10 minutes. I don't think I've noticed any other recognizable players at the Bike, though. However, few days ago I did play high-low stud with the supposedly well-known whale Kim "The Dragon" Nguyen, who confirms that she once bet $1mil on the Superbowl. (Did she win? "Of course.") She seemed about as bad as the average stud high-low player.

Speaking of the high-low game, I've actually been doing well in it. I think it has something to do with the fact that I tend to give it my full attention, which I guess makes up for the 50 years of experience that the other players can draw upon. The culture of these games is startlingly different from that of the holdem games I'm used to. The most obvious difference is that most of the players have no qualms about harassing the dealers for any reason, usually just because they are not getting good enough hands. I honestly think they believe the dealers have something to do with the cards they get. Perhaps 40 years ago there was a lot of cheating going on, and so maybe the dealers really did have had the ability to manipulate the game, but in this game the dealers don't even shuffle the cards themselves (there are machines for that). Besides, I don't think the disgruntled players are trying to imply that the dealers are cheating, but rather just that they are bad luck, which, somehow, calls for them to be verbally abused. It is sometimes really shocking how convinced people are of their superstitions. Yesterday I overheard one such player ("Otto") respond to the question "are you in?" by shouting "With HER dealing? I'd have to be NUTS!" In other words, he was sitting out until a new dealer came to the table. This isn't actually one of the more ridiculous examples, but usually the abuse just involves berating the dealer for being "brain-dead" or something. Another odd thing about this game is that players will get quite upset if I take more than 2 seconds to make a decision during the hand, but on the last betting round, they will sometimes take literally 10 seconds before even looking at their last card. I think they like to keep themselves in suspense, and this is such standard practice that nobody ever complains about the delay. Then after all the action is finished, they will sometimes take as long as 20 seconds to decide whether to show their hand (I've actually considered calling for a clock on someone who was doing this), and often even more time is allotted to complaining to the other players about how unlucky they were to have lost. Then they often call for a new setup (ie, a brand new deck of cards), which they are allowed to ask for once an hour. This takes about 2 more minutes for the dealer to examine to make sure the cards are all there and unmarked. All of this is taken in stride by the other stud high-low players, but I am not allowed to consider how to play my hand for more than a second. In their minds, I think the honestly consider the actual play of the hands to be less important than these other practices of superstition and self-pity.

Holding AJc, I made a royal flush in 20-40 holdem on Sunday. If I were playing lower stakes, I would have been awarded a $1000 jackpot, but that promotion isn't offered at these stakes. I did get a couple hundred from the pot, though.

There is, however, a "bad beat jackpot" in the 20-40 game. If you have aces full of tens or better and lose to quads or better, you win half the jackpot, the winner of the hand gets a quarter of the jackpot, and the other players at the table split the rest. However, you need to use both cards in your hand. During odd hours (eg 1-2pm, 3-4pm), the jackpot is $100k, the rest of the time it's a progressive jackpot that starts around $10k. Last week the Jackpot was at $25k, and I held KK in the big blind. The first player raised, and there were three callers. I reraised, and 5 players saw a flop of AA6. Now, if someone had an A and either the turn or the river is another A, I would have the losing end of the jackpot, good for $12.5k. Everyone now checked to the button, who bet. I called, as did the pre-flop raiser. Since the button cold-called a raise preflop, it's reasonable to assume he has either a pocket pair (which I'm beating) or an A with a decent kicker (probably 8 or better). The turn was another A, so now I figure I'm either going to win the hand or the $12.5k (as long as the river card is lower than the kicker that goes with the A). Again the button bet, I called, and the third player folded. The river was a 4, which is a great card for me because now I will either win the pot or the jackpot unless the button has specifically A5, A4, A3, or A2. I bet, figuring it's pretty likely the button just has TT or 99 or something. When the button then raised, I realized he must have the A. I called expecting to win the jackpot... but my opponent showed A2. I lost $200 on the hand.

I am already halfway up on the seniority list for 20-40 props. There are seven of us, three of whom were hired after I started last month.

I overheard a lady in the 40-80 holdem game say "I raise... NOT!" The floorman was called over, and it was ruled that she would be required to put in the raise.


Craig Berger said...

Do you think there is so much turnover because people's bankrolls cannot keep up with the demands of the job or that they just get bored with it (or are released)?

Keith said...

It's mostly that people's bankrolls are insufficient. Some of the props at lower stakes started out as higher-stakes props and moved down. I've never heard of a prop getting fired, and they seem oddly willing to hire some pretty obnoxious players.