No not really.
Well, maybe a little.
One of the things on my agenda for my most recent Vegas visit was to check out the new Caesars Palace poker room. Caesars actually closed their poker room right before the start of the WSOP, a rather surprising move. It was a temporary closure. They were building a new, smaller room, but there was about a month where there was no poker available at Caesars.
Right when the WSOP was getting underway. At the flagship property of the corporation that owns the World Series of Poker.
I’d bet the farm that this idea was instituted over the loud objections of all the poker execs at Caesars.
The old poker room was big, and hosted a lot of the special series tournaments that Caesars ran regularly—including a series that ran concurrently with the WSOP. I played in a few events there over the past few years.
But no more. It seems that the powers that be determined that all that space the poker room was taking up would be better served by expanding the adjoining night club, which is called “Pure.” I suspected that name was chosen to be ironic. Just a hunch.
Apparently, the bigwigs at Caesars heard that nightclubs were really good at attracting a young, hip crowd in huge numbers. I can’t be sure, but I have to assume that they read my Slut Parade post and that’s where they got the idea. I’m sure their plan is to make Pure bigger and better than MGM’s Hakkasan. Well, better, at least. When the new and improved Pure reopens, I suppose I will be obligated to check out the resultant Slut Parade it creates and determine whether it is superior to the one over at Hakkasan. Yes, it will be a terrible burden, a horrific chore. But I know my readers demand that I make that kind of sacrifice.
Meanwhile, all the tournament series events that Caesars used to hold will be taking place at Planet Hollywood from now on.
After a few weeks of having no poker, the new room opened shortly before I arrived back in town, and early in my first week there, I went over to check it out.
The new room is located near the old one, over on the other side of the sports book from where the old one was. It is much smaller. About 16 tables. But it is really, really nice. Very aesthetically pleasing and spaciously laid out. It really is a beautiful room. There’s even a sorta private, separated table, presumably for high stakes games. I also noticed a little private dining table.
When the room reopened, they announced $2/hour in comps, and a $4 max rake (and a $1 jackpot drop). The rake is a big deal. As most of you probably know, a few years ago all CET (Caesars Entertainment) properties (Caesars, Planet Hollywood, Harrahs, Bally’s, etc) went to a five dollar max rake. Almost all the other rooms in town max out at $4. So it was a big concession for CET to approve the new room at Caesars offering a $4 max rake.
It’s $1/$3 at Caesars, just as in the past. After saying hello to a few Caesars folks I know from my work, I was shown to a seat. This was on a Tuesday evening, and I arrived around the time the 7PM tournament was getting underway. It appeared fairly busy for that time. There must have been 4 to 5 1/3 games going.
I liked everything about the poker room but the game itself. Most of the problems with the game were just happenstance, and not the fault of anything that management had set in place.
Most of the problems, that is.
The first thing I noticed was the infuriating use of the $2 chip. We’ve gone over this before (see here). Two dollar chips are a horrible, horrible idea for a 1/2 or a 1/3 game. Maybe there’s a place for them somewhere (a 8/16 limit game, perhaps?). But not in a 1/3 NL game. And in this case, it was clear that all the dealers were instructed to always use the $2 chips. They would never ever give you more than one dollar chip in change. Most of the other times I’ve seen them used, it was hit or miss whether or not you’d get them in change. Here, it appeared to be a written-in-stone policy that $2 chips were always given in change. At least the color was significantly different from the $1 chip so there was no confusion.
Another thing I was less than thrilled with was the availability of the button straddle. Again, this is something I’ve harped on before, no need to repeat (see here). I will just point out that they have the most offensive version of the button straddle….where the action starts on the small blind, not under-the-gun. Why they would allow a player to completely change the rules of the game for one hand is beyond me. You might as well give the button straddle the right to declare, “For this hand, straights beat flushes. And Aces are always low, never high.”
The button was straddled only a couple of times during my play there, but it still offended me.
And then there is the “Third Man Walking” rule. Is everyone familiar with that rule? If not, basically it is an attempt to keep the table (relatively) full. If two players are already away from the table, the third person leaving the table gets a “third man walking” button and if he/she is away long enough to get a missed blind button, their chips will be picked up and a new player will be called from the waiting list to replace them (assuming there’s a list).
I first heard of this rule years ago. I immediately liked it, because I really don’t like short-handed games. It was especially bad when I was playing 2/4 limit. The pots are small enough as it is.
But I never really saw it in effect—rooms that had the policy didn’t seem to enforce it. But after playing this one night at Caesars, I realize what a bad rule it is.
You see, the entire time I was playing at this game, the table was never full. Not for a hand. Oh, we indeed had nine players—technically, anyway—at the table. But never, and I do mean never, all at once. There was always at least one, and most often two players missing. And when a player left, it would take some time for a new player to get into the game, so we’d be even shorter. Then there were times when there was no waitlist so we’d be really short-handed.
With the third-man walking rule in effect, that meant if one of the rest of us were to get up just to make a quick trip to the restroom, we’d risk getting picked up. And since the table was short handed, even if just played your button and got up to go immediately after, you might not make it back before your big blind.
The problem with the rule is—you’re punishing the wrong person. The people who should be punished for causing the short-handedness are the people who have been gone a long time, not some poor schlub who’s bladder is about to burst and just needs to make a quick bathroom run.
There were at least three different players at my table who were gone close to an hour each in the time I was there. Which made it almost impossible for anyone else to leave. Why should someone be punished for a 5 minute break when people are totally abusing the liberal policy of allowing players to be away from the table for 45 minutes (or more) without penalty?
The third-man walking rule punishes the wrong people.
Anyway, this came into play because honestly, I needed to excuse myself and couldn’t. And you know, when I’m running bad I sometimes take a bathroom break when I don’t “need” to just to clear my head and maybe cool off. Couldn’t do it. Actually, there were times when there was no list, and I suppose I could have left, and hoped a stream of players didn’t show up in the five minutes I was gone. But honestly, I really don’t like leaving a table short-handed anyway. I take it as a matter of personal pride that I don’t do that. So I was really upset at the players who abuse the system. Ultimately, it’s really the fault of poker rooms (all poker rooms, really) for allowing players to be away from the table for so long. I suppose one day I’ll do a full rant about that. But the way to remedy the problem is not to institute the Third-man walking rule, that’s for sure.
Anyway, the staff at Caesars was all first rate. The dealers were all great too. The only problem with the game—aside from the short-handedness of it—was the fact that I was epically card dead. I didn’t get a pocket pair or even Ace-King in the two hours or so I played. No suited connectors, either. The only positive was that I wasn’t getting playable hands that would cost me a lot of money.
I won only two pots. I had Ace-Jack offsuit, raised pre, and took the pot with a c-bet.
The other pot I took was one I played badly. The guy to my right was apparently a regular, a young kid. I knew he was a regular because as soon as he got to the table he called the dealer by name and said, “Hey, remember that girl from Saturday night?”
“What girl?” the dealer asked.
“You know what girl.”
“The girl in the blue dress?”
“Yeah, the girl in the blue dress. Anyway, she was a swimsuit model.”
“Really? Her girlfriend was pretty hot too.”
“Yeah. Anyway, she was so drunk I ended up escorting her to her room.”
“And then what happened?”
“Nothing. And I haven’t heard from her since, sorry to say.”
Damn, the story was starting to get interesting. I was hoping it had a happy ending.
But not as much as the kid was, I’ll bet.
Anyway, this kid raised to $12 and I was in the cut-off. I was so damn card dead and had played so few hands, I decided to call with Ace-7 spades. Four of us saw the flop, which was Queen-high, one spade. The kid bet $15, kind of small for the size of the pot. Honestly, that was about as well as a flop had hit me all night—back-door flush draw and an overcard. So I decided to call. I also felt he was just c-betting and would likely check the turn.
Just the two of us left and it was another spade. I was right, the kid checked, as did I. The river completed my flush. He checked again, I bet and he mucked.
That was the end of my run.
Card dead and not wanting to run afoul of the Third Man Walking rule, I got up and cashed out, somehow only down ten bucks.
I like Caesars room itself, very nicely done. I could do without the $2 chips, the button straddle, and the Third Man Walking rule, tho.