Slow morning after the Guinness's of the night before. Went out around midday to the Fashion Show Mall – the walk from Harrah's through the scorching sun without hat or sunscreen was a little further than I anticipated and I have a little color to my cheeks today. Stopped by the Mirage on the way back to take a peak at the poker room – obviously its out of my low-rolling league – but it was busy enough for an otherwise off-peak time.
In the evening I thought I would try out two rooms. Firstly, at 8.30pm I headed for the Imperial Palace. There was 2 x 1/2NL and 1 x 2/4 limit games going, and got immediate seating at the limit table. Drinks service was relatively speedy, and I was served the strongest Bloody Mary to date, but unfortunately it was otherwise devoid of flavor.
The tables are huge at the IP, but they are also covered in what I find a very distracting photo felt. And it was not just me that found it distracting, on one occasion the dealer could not see I had placed my small blind because it had “blended in” to the background. The other players were surprisingly competent and sober for what I had assumed would be a rowdy room. In fact the play was probably the best I had witnessed all week (actually "best" is the wrong word, "least likely to be able to beat the rake" would be better).
About six hands in I was dealt my new signature hand (2-9 off-suit) as ordained by the poker gods. The flop saw the deuce match for bottom pair – I like the way this is going. Turn was no help, and when the river showed a 4th spade (which was 4 more than I had in my hand) and faced with a bet and raise I lost my nerve and folded. I few hands later I was dealt 2-9 again, and folded when faced with a AKK flop. Twice I had been tested by the gods, and both times I had failed them (my lack of faith was ultimately rewarded with a $32 loss on the session.)
Around 9pm they opened a second 2/4 limit table, which may have started short-handed. Players were starting to drift away, and by 9.30pm there were only 4 left on our table and 5 on the other. I asked the dealer about combining tables, and he did his very best but he could not get the attention of the floor who was busy chatting and paying no attention to the room. So the players eventually all just got up themselves and moved to the other table.
After a couple hours play I moved on to the second room of the evening. Originally I had planned to go to the Flamingo, but I figured it was probably getting past the bedtime of most players there, so instead I thought I would walk up to the TI as I understand the new freeroll promotion is getting a 2-4 limit table going midweek. Indeed it was, and I was first on the list.
Got seated after 10 minutes, the standard of play for the most part was strong though not super-nitty . The ambiance of the room was the nicest of any I had played thus far this trip, the management polite and efficient and the dealers competent though did not contribute too much (with one exception) to the fun-ness of the experience.
My biggest complaint was the quality of the Bloody Mary. I had forgotten from last time I was in the room, but the Bloody Mary's here have a distinct savory taste which is not to my liking.
Had one (and only one) big hand. I was holding two red queens QQ, flop KQ6 – 2 spades, turn was K spades to complete my full house, and river was a fourth spade. I bet, V raises, I re-raise, V re-raises me back. Hmmm … has he hit a higher full-house? I call, and he shows just the ace for the flush.
When I left the table just after 1am, it was 4-handed. And as I cashed out I found I was … $29 down on the session. Oh ye gods - why do you tease me so?
A little aside regarding the economics of 2-4 limit poker. It is said by many that it is impossible to make money at the game because of the relatively high rake on such a small stakes game. I, however, take a slightly different position: whilst it is impossible to make money at the game against competent opposition, there comes a point if the standard of play drops low enough the game tips back in your direction.
It is certainly the case that if you are playing 30 hands/hour with an average rake of $3 per pot, it is effectively costing the average player something like $9 rake + $3 dealer tips + $2 waitress tips = $14/hour to play. For me the figure is slightly lower as I play tighter than average – closer to $10/hour. And if I am playing against competent players (say, equivalent to 5/10 on my 'ease of competition score'), that's exactly how badly I'll do. But each point above that is worth something back – break-even for me comes somewhere around 7/10.
So, even when you add in the variance in the game (my hourly standard deviation is around $35), a week's play against the toughest opposition with the worst luck is not even going to lose me the equivalent of 2 buy-ins at a 1/2NL game, and that's paid for all my entertainment and drinks. And good table choice and/or a bit of luck will leave me with cash in my pocket.
And above all, I am on vacation, and people play 2-4 limit to have a good time.
Wednesday 2nd September
Imperial Palace, 2-4 limit, 8.30pm – 10.30pm (2hrs)
Time to be seated: immediate
Time to drinking first beer: 10 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 2 x Corona, 1 x Bloody Mary, 1 x Margarita (Bloody Mary rating 6/10, Margarita Rating 6/10)
Cocktail service: 7/10
Room management: 4/10
Ease of competition: 4/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 5/10
Fun-ness of table: 6/10
OVERALL RATING: 5/10
ti, 2-4 limit, 11.10pm – 1.10am (2hrs)
Time to be seated: 10 minutes
Time to drinking first beer: 15 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 1 x Corona, 1 x Bloody Mary, 1 x Frozen Margarita (Bloody Mary rating 4/10, Margarita Rating 7/10)
Room management: 9/10
Ease of competition: 5/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 6/10
Fun-ness of table: 7/10
OVERALL RATING: 7/10