Sunday, March 9, 2014

As Phony as a Two Dollar Chip

Let’s talk about March Madness.  No, no, I don’t mean this year’s March Madnessthe one that is coming up.  I mean last year’s March Madness.

I started using voice-notes to keep track of my Vegas activities last March.  And to this day, I’m pretty sure I still have unwritten blog posts to get to from every Vegas trip I’ve made since then.  So here’s one from March, 2013 that was unwritten—until now.

It was the first Friday of March Madness and I started the day playing in a room I’d only played once before—Monte Carlo.  The first time I had played there I was a 2/4 player and I remember it being a wild table where most hands were capped preflop and often post flop.  I also remember one hand where I had pocket Jacks, which was only the fourth best starting hand in play.  Yeah, someone had AA, someone had KK and someone had QQ.  I can’t remember if someone had 10-10 or not.  I do remember that I didn’t win that hand but it cost me a lot of money.  I can’t recall if anyone hit their set or not.

So I had never played NL there before.  And as I’ve mentioned, I do think it’s important that try to play in more rooms that I usually play, in order to keep my thumb on the pulse of the Vegas poker scene for Ante Up and All Vegas Poker.  I figured that March Madness time was as good a time as any to give MC a whirl.

It turns out, Monte Carlo has a nice little (8-tables) poker room and it is well run.  My only issue is that they use $2 chips.  I hate that.  They also use $2 chips at Red Rock.  I don’t think I ever mentioned Red Rock’s $2 chips before (but I might have) and I really want to complain about the use of $2 chip.  You can tell it’s been festering inside of me all this time, and that I couldn’t wait to complain about the $2 chip.  After a year, I can no longer contain myself.

I guess they have them for the rake.  A lot of poker rooms use odd amount chips for the rake.  MGM uses a $3 chip.  It’s never in play.  They won’t sell you one.  It’s just so they can drop one chip instead of three down the rake box so it doesn’t get filled up so fast.  Venetian, last time I was there, was using a $4 chip.  And they never let players use them, just like MGM and the $3 chip.

But both MC and RR use a $2 chip and they use them at the table and give them to players to bet with.  This, in my not even remotely humble opinion, is a huge mistake.  In both rooms, the $2 chip and the $1 chip look very similar.  The $1 chip is white, and the $2 is kind of off-white.  It’s very easy to mistake a $2 chip for a $1 chip.  This can not only mess up your betting but also your tipping.

I’m sure the first time I encountered this, before I even realized that I actually had $2 chips, I tipped a dealer two bucks for a pot that was barely $10. And I almost tipped the waitress two bucks for a drink that took me forever to get.  The buck I gave her was already 99 cents more than she deserved.

If they want to use $2 chips for the rake, fine.  They should use them just for that, and keep them out of play.  At least in a standard hold’em game. Maybe there’s some other poker games where the $2 chip would come and handy (and the players would be used to them), But for a low limit hold’em game $1 chips and $5 chips are the way to go.

The other odd thing I saw at the Monte Carlo was a dealer asking players to make change for her.  Huh?  Of course you see that in a tournament all the time.  But in a cash game, there’s this thing called a “fill” and the dealer should see when she’s running out of $1 chips (as well as $2 chips!) and ask for more of the smaller denomination chips.  Instead, this dealer had to get change during the hand in order to make the pots right.  I’ve seen dealers offer to buy $1 chips from players who had a lot of them before.  But this has always happened between hands.  In this case, it was necessary for the dealer to keep taking money out of the pot, asking various players for change before she would burn a card and deal. Never saw that before in a cash game.  It slowed the game down.

I didn’t have any success there.  One hand bugged me for a long time.  I was in the big blind with 7-5 off.  Only one or two people limped in, as did the small blind.  The flop was 5-5-10, two spades.  I bet out on the flop and only the small blind called.  I bet bigger on a blank turn and he called again.  A third spade hit the river and this time he bet out $50, a reasonable amount for the size of the pot.  He was an older guy who had just come to the table, I had no read on him other than his age.  I figured he had called me both times with the flush draw and hit it  I folded.

But then a little later, I saw a hand that made me reconsider.  I wasn’t involved, but an Aggro had raised pre and this guy had called.  The flop was Jack-10-7.  The aggro bet and the old guy raised.  Aggro re-raised.  Old guy shoved.  It was around $200.  The aggro had him covered and snap called.  The turn and river were both blanks.  The aggro had 9-8 suited and had flopped a straight.  But the old guy had Ace-10.  That’s it.  He shoved on the flop with middle pair!  Wow.  He was felted, and rebought.  That made me rethink the hand I folded.  Maybe if he was shoving there with middle pair, he was just bluffing that he hit his flush. Maybe I should have called his river bet with my trip 5’s?  It bothered me for some time.

I liked the room, but I wasn’t doing well and BSC was calling me.  I went over there for my evening session.

This was a night were pocket Kings were truly dreaded. I had lost one early hand with them when I had to let them go after an Ace hit the flop.  Then, with Michelle dealing—she’s the dealer I joke about never pushing me a pot—I got them again.  As it happened, I had taken down a small pot with Michelle early in her down, so I thought maybe my Kings would be good this time.  I raised to $8 and had four callers.  Yeesh.  The flop was Queen-10-9, rainbow.  I bet out $25 and it was fold, fold, fold….tank.  An older gentleman thought long and hard before finally calling.

The turn card was an 8.  Not good.  But I bet $40.  He called.  The river was a deuce.  I checked.  With only a Jack needed to beat me, I didn’t really like my Kings so much.  He bet $50.  I might have folded there but I was still thinking of the trip 5’s I had laid down at Monte Carlo.  So I called.

I asked if he had a Jack.  Nope, he had Queen-8 for two pair.  Really?  So I guess it’s a good play to call an early position raise with Queen-8 off huh?  Good to know.

I kept losing chips and eventually bought another $200 when I was down to about $50 or so.  In the meantime, an Aggro Asian (redundant?) took the seat immediately to my left.  He not only raised almost every hand, he not only played almost every hand, but he straddled every chance he got, which meant he was always straddling my big blind.  It was getting real annoying.

Since I was having a bad night, and now I was getting straddled all the time, I got up and asked for a table change.  While I was waiting, this hand happened.  I had Ace-Jack of clubs and raised.  Two players called.  The flop was great for me, Jack high and two clubs.  I bet, the guy next me was the only caller.  Blank on the turn, I bet again, he called again.  A club on the river gave me the nuts.  I bet again (sorry, I didn’t note the amounts back then) and he thought long and hard.  I read his hesitation as being undecided whether to call or raise, and not whether to call or fold.  My bet was about half my remaining stack and I thought about shoving but didn’t think I’d get a call.  Obviously I would have loved it if he had raised.  But he finally just called.  He mucked when he saw my flush, claiming he had a smaller flush.

As I was stacking my chips, I heard my name called for the table change.  What do I do?  I had just won a nice pot and was already feeling better about this table.  I think it was mostly out of superstition, but I decided to stay at that table.

Then came another frustrating hand.  I called a small raise in late position with King-10 suited.  A bunch of folks had already called.  The flop was Ace-Jack-x, with one of my suit.  The guy who cracked my Kings with Q-8 led out for $15 and the next player called.  I’m thinking at this point, I should probably call, I’m getting decent odds to hit my gut shot.  But the last guy to act before me made it $30. 

If my call would have closed the action, I probably would have called.  But now the first two players each had a chance to raise behind me.  Not knowing what they were going to do, I could only come up with reasons to fold, not to call.  So I folded.  The other two just called.

Of course, the turn card was a friggin’ Queen, giving me the nuts.  Except that my cards were now in the muck.  Ugh.  But wait, it gets worse.  The first guy checked.  The next guy shoved for about $150.  The next guy shoved for about $200.  Note:  I had both of these guys covered.

The first guy folded saying, “Well, I guess that Queen killed me.”  Actually sir, it killed me, because I was no longer eligible to take the $350 that had just been put into the pot where I would have had the nuts.  The river was a blank.  Neither one of them had the straight. They chopped the pot, both showing Ace-Queen.  It would have all been mine.  Shit.

I won a semi-decent hand with a flush and then decided it was time to call it a night.  I was playing my last orbit.  Second to the last hand—under-the-gun plus 1—I got my ol’ friends, pocket Kings again.  One of them was a diamond.  Three players called my $10 bet, including a guy who was fairly new to the table and gave me the impression he was a rather inexperienced player.  The flop was low, but all diamonds.  Yuk.  The inexperienced player led out with a whopping $10 bet.  Rather small for the size of the pot.  I just called. The board was just too wet.  I was hoping to see an Ace of diamonds, of course. Everyone else folded.

A blank hit the turn and he bet $10 again.  Ok, I can call that.  The river was not the Ace of diamonds but a King.  So I had a set of Kings that I wasn’t sure was all that good.  He bet $20 or $25.  For that price, I had to see if my set was good.  But it wasn’t.  He had Ace-9 of diamonds. 

And with that, I was done.  It was a frustrating night where I had played hands I shouldn’t have and didn’t play hands I should have…and got punched in the gut a little with my old friends, pocket Kings.


  1. i agree the 2 dollar chip should only b 4 the rake and not in play. if it is in play at least make it a color like blue or something ,so not mistaken 4 the dollar chip.

    1. Yep.

      Thanks anger. Sorry for the lack of boobies. You might like the pic better in my next post.

  2. The St. Croix Casino in Turtle Lake, WI is one that uses $2 chips in its $1/2 NL games. It takes some getting used to. Instead of thinking of bets largely in multiples of $5, people tend to bet stacks of $2 chips.

    1. Do they also use $5 chips? I would trade all the twos for fives if they do. But the Bike in L.A. uses only $1 chips for their $1-$3, which is absurd

  3. think it is tough with the $2 looking like the $1 chip? At Maryland Live! Casino they use a $2 chip and it looks almost identical to the $25 chip! I have seen some players mistake the two and bet way more or way less than they intended. And if you try to tip the dealer $2 and toss him/her a $25 chip by mistake, you never saw a dealer move so fast to get that chip into his tip slot before the player can "change his mind." -Joe M.

    1. Thanks, Joe.

      Wow....the $2 & the $5 look the same? That's awful. I'd make sure I'd stick to a game where they never use $25 chips!

      I don't get why they do that, I'm sure it creates problems for them. I can just imagine a player asking to correct his bet....or demanding that he get his $25 tip back.

      Seems like a huge mistake on the casino's part.

  4. Complaining about $2 chips is SO 2009.

    1. Thanks, Grump.

      Great post. However, it is bitterly disappointing to realize that your brilliant comments fell on deaf years and here I am still having to complain about $2 chips in 2014.

      Why don't these poker rooms listen to us?