Sunday, December 10, 2017

God's Plan for Aging

(Received this in an email the other day and I thought it was good enough to share here).

Most seniors never get enough exercise. In his wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking.

 And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things requiring them to bend, reach & stretch. 

And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise.  

God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember, it’s God’s will. It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.  

Nine Important Facts To Remember As We Grow Older:

#9  Death is the #1 killer in the world.

 #8  Life is sexually transmitted.

 #7  Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

#6   Men have 2 motivations: hunger and hanky panky, and they can't tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.

#5  Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.

#4  Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

#3  All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

#2  In the 60's, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.

#1  Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may be a burning issue tomorrow. 

Please share this wisdom with others while I go to the bathroom.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Aria Big Blind Ante Tournament

The sacrifices I make for you people....

You may recall that a year or two ago the Aria changed their tournaments on the weekends.  Instead of the $125 at 1pm, they offer a $240 starting at 11am.  The $240 buy-in I am ok with, no issue there.  But it's always been the 11am part that has been a deal breaker for me.  That's just too dang early for me to be playing poker, as I've explained before—especially in what could be a long tournament that doesn't offer a dinner break. I pretty much vowed I would never play it, unless I was ever given a really, really good reason to.


A few months back, Aria introduced a different type of structure for the $240 weekend tournament.  They are calling it "The Big Blind Ante."  What's different about it is that for each hand, the big blind posts the ante(s) for the entire table.  The idea is that the game goes faster and you get in more hands per round.  I actually wrote about this format in my recent Ante Up column, and got a quote from Paul Campbell, Aria's TD, about it.  You can read it (again) here.

As Paul mentioned, it originated in the Aria's high roller tournaments.  They experimented in one of the weekend $240's and got positive feedback.  So it is now the standard format for the weekend tourneys. I would guess it's only a matter of time before they use it for all their tournaments.

Well now, since it appears to be catching on, it seemed like I was more-or-less obligated to personally give it a try.  I know my blog readers would demand that I try it and share my opinion of it.  Afterall, I am "robvegaspoker" and thus have to be well acquainted with all things involving Vegas and poker.  It was my duty to experience it for myself.

I have to admit, when I first heard about this, I thought it was crazy and didn't like the concept at all. All I could think of was if you were the big blind and short stacked, that big ante might put you all-in where you wouldn't be with a normal structure.  And whenever that big blind came around, it would be a bigger hit than usual.  Of course there would be hands when you had to put zero chips in, but it just seemed to me it added to the randomness of the tournament—one more element of luck you had to work around to survive.  But I knew I eventually had to try it for myself, it wouldn't be fair to criticize it without trying it.  Aria was getting a lot of positive feedback for it, at least in the Twitterverse.

I suppose I could have played in one of the Aria high rollers that start at 2pm and experienced it.  But since I don't feel like donating $10K (or $25K) to the poker elite, I knew I had to play the $240 version, which, as I indicated, starts at 11am (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  It was a huge inconvenience but I know you were demanding it (or would have, if you knew about this unique format).

Below is a copy of the structure I played.  I think it may be different now, I know that they were playing around with it, trying to tweak it to get it as perfect as possible.  At first glance, it looks really odd, The ante is often more than the small blind.  And sometimes even equal to the big blind.  But remember the goal is to make each pot more-or-less the same starting size as it would using a traditional format.

So, I had to get up bright and early on a Saturday morning (my first full day in town) and make it over to the Aria by 11am.  And I had to pack a lunch.  Just so I could evaluate this format for you guys.  I'm such a giver.

One thing I figured out early on was that, in order to really review this format, I'd have to last fairly deep into the tournament.  Busting out in the second or third round wouldn't really give me the full flavor.  I had to last to the point where the antes get to be significant to appreciate this new format—at least the 7th or 8th level.  Plus I needed time to evaluate it, I didn't want to judge it based just on a few hands.  So I kind of wanted to make sure I lasted that long, but of course, I couldn't play in a manner that would not give me a chance at cashing.  Fortunately, I just played my regular game and the cards cooperated enough to at least give me over 4 hours of play to analyze it.

So....after playing it, I am happy (and surprised) to report that I really, really like it.  Yes, it is actually an improvement over the standard format.  The game goes much faster and the dealer is able to get out more hands per level.  So much time is saved from the dealer a) reminding the players to put out the ante and then waiting for them to do so and b) having to make change for the ante amounts each hand.  It's actually amazing how smooth this was.  The dealer just tells the blg blind how much to put out (and if necessary, reminds the small blind to put that out) and there you go.  The dealer waits for one person instead of 10. You don't have the blinds asking the dealer how much the blinds are because the dealer pretty much automatically tells them as he's shuffling.  

One of the hidden benefits of this format is that you can take a bathroom break in the middle of the tournament without losing anything.  You know, sometimes you just can't wait for the break to go.  Once the antes kick in, in a regular tournament, you are going to have to ante up for a few hands you won't even see—totally dead money that you are giving away.  Later in the tournament that could be a significant amount.  But with this format, you could go to the restroom after you played your small blind (or after you played your button and maybe the cutoff), and still get back to the table before your big blind is due.  And it would cost you zero chips whatsoever.

You'll notice that for this tournament, the antes start right away.  But at least for the Aria $240, the structure I think is really a slow progression and very player friendly.  After the first few levels, I realized that you wouldn't be missing that much coming in a few levels late to this.  Thus I can say that, as long as they are using this particular structure, or a similar one, I can see myself playing this tourney again—but not feeling like I have to break my neck trying to get there at 11am.  I actually would shoot for Noon, or 12:30 even, and eat lunch first. I would still get plenty of play for the money.  Especially since once I'm there I'll be dealt more hands per level.

One thing I noticed right away was that, because there were no $25 chips (no need for them), in the early levels you couldn't make the standard opening raise to 2.25x or 2.5x the big blind.  You had to do 2x or 3x.  Not a big deal at that point in the tournament and as the tournament progresses it works itself out.

As for the situation I was worried about initially—having to post a big blind and a relatively large ante when you are short stacked—well, I think in the long run it all evens out.  Sure one time it might really hurt you.  But more often than not you'll benefit from playing up to eight hands in a row without having to put any money in the pot unless you choose to.  If you play this tournament an infinite number of times it won't make much of a difference.

This day they had 68 players (they never had more than five tables going).  The total prize pool was $13K with $4,900 for first, $2,900 for second and down to $597 for seventh place—the min-cash.  Yes, that's right, they were (apparently) going by my recommended formula of paying the min-casher more than double the buy-in amount.  In fact, I was watching how the prize pool kept changing as more players bought in.  And at no time was the min-cash ever less than 2x the buy-in, it was always more. Coincidence?  Needless to say, I was happy about the prize pool distribution—except for the fact that none of it was distributed to me.

I didn't cash.  I'm not going to do a detailed tournament recap (wait, is that cheering I hear?).  I'll only describe the last hand.  It was level 9, with the blinds at 1,200/600/1,200.  I had about $23K so I was pretty short.  And it was at the very end of level, we were just minutes away from going on break and returning to a 1,500/1,000/1,500 level.  So my stack was about to take a hit even if I didn't play any hands.  There was a min-raise to $2,500 from a big stack and a call from another big stack.  I had Ace-9 on the button.  The big stack had been raising a lot so his range was pretty wide.  I decided I had a lot of fold equity there, some of which I was about to lose just by the blinds going up in a minute two. So I decided to roll the dice a little and I shoved.  But the original raiser called and showed pocket Queens.  I didn't catch my Ace and I was done. I think I busted 24th.

But it was a great experience playing in this tournament and testing out the Big Blind Ante concept.  It's a good idea.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Vegas Poker Scene -- December 2017 Ante Up Column

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.  The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room by now.


WYNN: The Signature Weekend runs through Dec. 3. If you read this in time, the highlight is a $600 tournament with a $250K guarantee that has three starting flights beginning Nov. 30. Dec. 3 is a $300 survivor tournament with a $20K guarantee. It has a payout of $2,500 for one in every 9.65 players.
A $400 senior event, which runs Nov. 29, offers a $25K guarantee, 30-minute levels and a 15K starting stack. The next dates for this senior event will be Jan. 3, Jan. 31, Feb. 28, April 4 and May 2.
The regular schedule for Wynn offers a daily noon tournament. Monday-Thursday is a $140 tourney as players get a 10K stack and 30-minute levels. On Fridays and Sundays, the buy-in is $200 and there is a $10K guarantee. The levels are 30 minutes. Players start with 10K chips and there’s an optional $100 add-on for 5K chips at the end of the fourth level.
The Saturday tournament offers a $25K guarantee for a $225 buy-in. The levels are 40 minutes and the starting stack is 10K. Unlimited $200 rebuys for 10K chips are available through the first four levels. Players must have 5K or fewer chips to rebuy. There’s also an optional $100 add-on for 5K chips during the first four levels.
Matt Affleck from Las Vegas won the $1,600 main event at the Wynn Fall Classic, earning $139K. Arizona’s Christopher Sova took home $90K for second and Keith Ferrara from Las Vegas received $60K for third. The event drew 447 players for a prize pool of $650K, easily surpassing the $500K guarantee.
SOUTH POINT: Check out the ad on Page 11 for the poker room’s Flop-A-Palooza promotion.
VENETIAN: The next Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Jan. 16-21. The featured tournament costs $250 with five starting flights. The levels are 30 minutes on Day 1 and 40 minutes on Day 2. The top 10 percent of each starting flight will be in the money, with the final 5 percent advancing to Day 2.
The room is running a daily high-hand promotion until Dec. 17. The high hand of the half-hour will win $300 between noon and midnight. The high hand of the half-hour will win $100 between 4-8 a.m. Venetian announced a series of senior events. The buy-in is $400 and the guarantee is $25K. Players start with a 15K stack and play 30-minute levels. The dates are Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3.
The winner of the main event of the October DSE was David Vu from San Jose, earning $38K. Australia’s Harald Petschnig grabbed $23K for second and Marcel Vonk of the Netherlands took home $17K for third. The $340 event attracted 673 players resulting in a prize pool of $188K, exceeding the $100K guarantee.
TREASURE ISLAND: There are three daily tournaments; all have $77 buy-ins and feature 20-minute levels with 15K starting stacks, and offer a $500 guarantee. The 12:30 p.m. offers a $10 dealer add-on for 10K chips. The 6 p.m. and the 10 p.m. have a $5 dealer add-on for 5K. The tourneys have a progressive bad-beat jackpot (quads) that starts at $1K and increases weekly.
The main cash game is $1-$3 NLHE with a $100-$500 min-max buy-in. The room sometimes spread a $3-$6 limit with a $30 minimum and no max.
Promotions include a Get Paid to Play program. Players get $50 for playing 10 hours a week and can earn $599 for 60 hours. Those who have participated in the Get Paid to Play program can refer new players to the room and get paid $25 if that person plays 20 hours in the first week ($150 for 60 hours). The new player can get a one-time bonus of $50 (or a free tournament entry) for 30 hours of play or $100 for 60 hours. There’s also a tournament referral program. Players bringing in new tournament players receive free tourney entries.
The Weekly Tournament Leaderboard competition pays the player who cashes the most money in tournaments $500. Also, players receive $2 an hour in comps.
WESTGATE: The six-table room, the newest in town, has added a number of promotions: Aces Cracked pays $50; high-hand bonuses pay $50 for quads, $100 for straight flushes and $150 for royals. The daily high-hand promo pays $50 four times a day (3, 6, 9 p.m. and midnight). Monday through Friday, the first 10 players to start the first game of the day receive $20. There’s a weekly loyalty bonus for the three players with the most hours of live play between Monday 10 a.m. and Friday 10 p.m. First place gets $200, second place gets $100 and third place gets $50.
Players earn $2 an hour in comps Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The rest of the time it’s $1. The main game is $1-$2 NLHE with a $50-$200 min-max.
The room hasn’t settled on a regular tournament schedule, but it has been running $40 tournaments at 11 a.m. and $60 tournaments at 6 p.m.
BINION’S: The new 1 p.m. Saturday tournament is $150 with 30-minute levels. The starting stack is 20K.
Sunday through Friday at 1 p.m., and every evening at 6 p.m., the buy-in is $60 for 20-minute levels and a 10K stack. There are unlimited 10K optional add-ons available for $20 any time a player’s stack drops is less than 10K. There’s an optional $20 add-on available at the first break (at the end of the fourth level) for 10K chips.