Sunday, November 8, 2015

Promos Make Me Stupid

This is going to be an overall review of how I did, poker wise, on my recent trip to Vegas.


No, let me be more accurate.

Quite lousy.

I’m not going to give you specific numbers; I don’t do that.  But it was overall a pretty bad nearly two-weeks of poker I just completed.

And of course, I need to figure out why

And I have come to some conclusions that maybe can help me in the future.

As it happens, one of the nice things about doing the blog, especially the way I do it now, is that I really get to review my hand histories.  I record hands at the table soon after they happen.  It’s not all the good, big pots, of course.  I record the bad, big pots I lost as well.  And a lot of the smaller-medium sized pots.  Especially if I think I can learn from them. If I lost a small pot that I didn’t play right, or if I won a small pot but should have won more, I record those too.

Not all those hands make it into blog posts—in fact, I’d say more don’t than do.  But I think it’s important to think about these hands later.

So, at the table, I tap them into my smart phone.  The next morning, I voice-record notes about the day before.  I’ll talk about anything that happened that I could conceivably find blog worthy, and I’ll also read the hands into the phone.  When I do that, I kind of review them.  When I play them back to write the blog post, I’ll hear myself say things like, “Wow, that was a bad call,” or “Man, I didn’t get enough value there.”  The funny thing is that when I’m voice-recording the notes, I’ll try to explain what my thinking was at the time.  Then when I listen days or weeks or months later, I’ll argue with myself.  I’ll say to myself, “That wasn’t such a bad play after all,” or, more likely, “What, are you kidding, there’s no way you can justify playing it that poorly.”

Anyway, in reflecting on the poker I just played for all that time in Vegas—and not having listened to any of the recordings I did up in Vegas—I think I can safely identify three things that contributed to my poor results.

First, I suck at poker.

Ok, maybe I’m being a little too self-critical.

A little.

But I do think that, in reviewing my play, I actually think I was a better poker player a couple of years ago than I am today.

I’m not exactly sure why, but I have identified one contributing factor:  Information overload.

Is it possible that I’ve read too many books, studied too many videos, reviewed too many forum posts analyzing hand histories? So that when, added to all my own experiences, and trying to learn from those—it seems like I never know how to pick the right advice, take the right line, at the critical moment.

Because, every time you read a poker book or watch a video, or discuss a hand with five people—you run into conflicting opinions.  And maybe the problem is I should just stick to one single book and follow it religiously, instead of absorbing just some of it and then going on to the next one.

Or am I just making excuses?

Probably.  But you know, if you read several books on hold’em, they will all have different suggestions for starting hands, right?  I might not wildly different, but some differences for sure.  And different ideas about how to play all but the biggest or crappiest hands.  I mean sure, everyone says three-bet Aces or Kings, but Queens?  You can find different opinions for sure.  And Ace-King?  A lot of differences there, definitely.  Some say three-bet, some just flat.  I even read one poker strategy article—by a poker author I actually played with once in Vegas, no less—who said it wasn’t a very good hand at all and you should just limp with it.

Speaking of limping—some experts say never limp, others say sure, under the right circumstances, it’s fine to limp.

And then there’s always the same self-conflicting information you pick up from playing.  You tend to overcompensate.  Generals planning war strategy always worry about making the mistake of fight the “last war.”  But every war is different.  And this is so true in poker.  I come to that big decision, call a big bet on the river or fold?  I don’t have the nuts, just a good hand.  I decide to call.  The villain shows the hand I was worried about.  A few hours later, or the next day, similar situation.  I think back to the big hand I lost, so this time I fold.  And the guy shows a bluff, or just a much lesser hand than I just folded.  And sometimes I seem to get into the pattern where I always make the wrong decision—fold when I should have called, called when I should have folded.

You get the idea.  But honestly, I dunno if I made a bigger percentage of bad decisions this time than in other trips, or I just didn’t get enough chance to make more right ones because of…..

The second reason I didn’t do very well.  I was card dead.  For longer and more consistent periods of time, pretty much through the whole trip.  I was trying to keep to the Ed Miller starting hands I’ve talked about in the past.  And I would say that by at least 33%, I got less hands to play than you would expect either from the law of averages or from my previous poker sessions in Vegas.  Of course, a really good player can still win with bad cards, but I think I covered the response to that with my first point.  Then too, as I started into a bad run almost from the beginning, that made it very difficult to have any confidence at all to try something out of my comfort zone in an effort to improve my results.

Well not much you can do about that.  On the theory that sooner or later, things will even up, perhaps I’m due to get better cards than average next time.

But there is something I can do about the third reason I’ve identified for my poor results.  And to some extent (maybe a pretty big one), it even helps explain reason #1.

Promos.  Promos make me stupid.  They are definitely negatively affecting my poker decisions.  At least the ones they have in the rooms I play most.  I’m sure they have in the past too, but this time it really became obvious to me that some promos are bad for me and I probably don’t have the will-power to completely ignore them and just play the right way.  I know plenty of people do have the will-power to ignore them, and it’s embarrassing to have to admit this.  But this is a conclusion I’ve definitely come to.

Certain kind of promos are relatively benign, really don’t affect my play.  Like high hand bonuses.  Or a random splash pot (tho a splashed pot would affect play for that one hand).  But promos that are run at a certain time, that you have to qualify for with a certain type of hand, those, I’m now convinced, are really hurting me.

And again, let me be clear.  It’s not the promos themselves that there’s anything wrong with. Poker rooms can and should do whatever they deem necessary to get people to play poker in their room.  No argument with that.  It’s just my reaction to them that is the problem.  It’s not them; it’s me.

The most obvious promo is the one I’ve mentioned quite a few times over the past couple of years.  It’s the cash drawings that take place every four hours.  And if you qualify in the prior four hours by making a flush or better, you have a shot to win some money.  It could be $100, $200 or even $400.  If you get more than one entry, you can win multiple times during the same drawing.  The catch is you have to be in the room, and actually playing in a live game, at the time of the drawing.  So if it’s 10:30 PM, and I’ve decided that, for whatever the reason I should stop playing, I think twice if I have already gotten a ticket, because I could miss out on some money at midnite.  And I might be inclined to play longer, which might work out but, if I really want to stop playing, might not.

Especially if I start playing differently, because I want to be there for the drawing.  If I’m having a bad night, I might play way too tight, not wanting to risk a lot more, because I’m really not playing poker any more, I’m just sitting there waiting for the drawing.  So I’m no longer playing my A-game (if I ever was).  It’s more like my D-game.

Just because of the promo.

Or, suppose I’m actually having a good night.  Suppose there’s lots of chips in front of me.  At some point, I’ll start thinking about booking that win. Most of the time, booking the win is more important to me psychologically than financially.  But I can’t deny that when I’m having a bad run, I think about the financial side too (because I have a fixed bankroll for each trip).  Either way, once I want to leave, if I feel that I am “stuck” there waiting for the drawing, I’m going to be playing bad poker.  I’m going to miss opportunities to increase my stack, and playing it “safe” and not wanting to put won chips in play might actually prevent me from betting enough or at all and get me the pot instead of later being drawn out on (or missing opportunities to steal). 

I think I already posted a pretty good example of what I mean, of how this plays off, and I’m frankly surprised that no one called me out on it.  Recently I posted about the wildest game I was ever a part of, which you can find here.  After losing two buy-ins, I had a decision to make.  There were two valid options.  Buy in again for the $200 I usually buy in for, or realize this wasn’t my night and call it a night.  Either one had strong arguments in its favor.

As I said in the post, my budget calls for a max of two buy-ins a session. But this game was so wild, and the opportunity to possibly make my entire losses back in one big hand so great, that I could have easily justified buying in again at full (for me) buy-in.  It would have been a perfectly valid decision.

Or….keep with the program and just call it an early night.  Not risk another $200 there and start fresh the next day.  Again, totally valid.

But as I said in the post, I had a couple of drawing tickets for the next drawing.  Plus there was football promo going on so I could have won some money that way too.  So I decided to play. 

But totally half-assed.  I said in the post I didn’t have $200 on me but that’s not quite accurate.  I keep my poker money and my expense money separate, and if I used up pretty much all of my spending money, I could have come up with $200 for a full buy-in.  Or, if I thought the game was that juicy that I had to take another shot at it, I could have hit the casino ATM and lost a few bucks in fees.

But no, my thinking was, I would buy in for the minimum, $100, and just milk it.  Play only the absolute top premium hands.  If I could double or triple up while waiting for the drawing, awesome.  If not, just try to hang on until the drawing.

What if I got Aces or Kings and got it all in preflop (as I mostly likely would have) and then got sucked out on?  I’d be done, right, before the drawing?  Well, like I said, I could scrape together another $100 minimum (with a lot of $1 and $5 bills) and then still have been alive at the drawing.  By this time, it wasn’t that long until it was time, so it wouldn’t have been a lot of hands before the drawing.  So I had the spending money reserve to buy in for one last time at $100.  And after I did that, I would have probably left the table until a few minutes before the drawing, then come back just in time, and only pretend to look at my cards and fold every damn hand until the drawing was held so I would still be eligible for it.

Like I said, promos make me stupid. Really, really stupid.

I should mention that there was at least one $1K envelope available, meaning either 5 $200 winners or 1 $400 winner and six $100 winners.  So in my mind, it was worth hanging around for that and also the football drawings.

Really, really stupid.

In fact, I probably cost myself a chance to get even because of my stupid idea.  There was a hand where I had a suited Ace and I just mucked it right away.  I figured there was no way I wanted to risk my $100 (less by then) stack chasing a flush.  I was UTG, so M3  was the BB.  Any suited Ace is a hand to play preflop in the Ed Miller handbook.  I folded and I was shocked to see it wasn’t raised.  And sure enough I would have flopped the nut flush draw.  It hit on the turn and by the river, I would have had the nuts.  Of course, M3  shoved the flop so I would have had to have called my entire stack to chase it, and I wouldn’t have been getting the right odds—unless I considered implied odds.  In that case, it was probably worth a call to try to hit it.  And sure enough, it was M3  vs two other big stacks and I think the biggest hand was two pair and in all likelihood if I had stayed in and called the flop bet I would have had a quadruple-up.  Again, whether I would have played it right (by results) if I had been playing to win (and also if I had a $200 buy-in to risk instead of a $100 buy-in) is not certain.

OTOH, if I was alive in the hand and had to call a shove from the all-time maniac with the nut flush draw and two cards to come, I think if I fold there I should just go home and put on my skirt.

And all through the trip, I found myself making decisions, both in-hand decisions and overall play decisions (like how much to reload for) based on that damn cash drawing promo.  I actually have a story where it worked out great one time, and I’ll post that eventually, but overall, I’m sure it cost me a whole lot of money.

Not to mention the occasional time I would play a flush draw too long or call a river bet with what I thought was a losing hand but would get me a drawing ticket.  How stupid is that? 

There’s another problem with the promo, again a mental thing.  If the promo took place in a room where no one knew me, I might never know if I was picked for a prize after I left early, before the drawing.  But you know, if I showed up in the room the day after they picked my name for the cash drawing at midnite, and I left at 9:30PM, at least five of my friends would tell me that I tossed away $100—or $200—or $400.  It would add insult to injury, for sure.

Even that football promo, which seems benign enough, is problematic.  Basically, it is at a real inconvenient time.  Not the room’s fault at all, it’s just based on when the games are.  But man, 5:30PM to 9:00PM is really inconvenient—do I eat before, or gobble something down at half time, or do I wait until after the game?  I have to time my meds based on dinner, so it’s very problematic for me.  For just the football promo, it would so much more convenient if it was East coast time….I mean 8:30PM to midnite would be the perfect time for me, a bit after a nice, relaxing dinner.  I’m gonna suggest they do the promo on a three-hour delay.

So that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that, since I am weak, since I am a promo whore, I have to stop playing in rooms that have promos that will affect my decision making. I just have to.  I have to find those rooms that don't have those kind of promos  (should be easy since I enter promos on PokerAtlas).  Or just play in one of the five rooms on the Strip that have no promos at all.  They should all be safe for me.

Having said all that, can I promise you that I’ll never play in a room that has this type of promo again?  No, I can’t.  I do want to see my friends. But I think I’m gonna greatly reduce my play in such rooms.

And that said, if I’m in Vegas on New Year’s Eve, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna wanna be around the New Year’s Eve Slut Parade.

But man, I’ve got to greatly reduce the amount of time I play stupid because of stupid promos.  I play stupid enough on my own without any help.


  1. Not entirely sure of the details of the drawing promotion, but it's easy to calculate your expected value (EV). The basic formula is:

    EV = (Your Tickets / Total Tickets) * Total Prizes

    If you assume each player gets roughly the same number of tickets, then you can simplify the equation to:

    EV = (1 / Total Players) * Total Prizes

    Although this equation is less accurate, it saves you the effort of trying to figure out how many players have accumulated how many tickets in the qualifying period. Applying to your situation, assume the room has 5 tables with 9 players each. If the room is giving out $1,000 total, then your EV is 1/45 * $1,000 = $22.22. That's right, you would be sticking around to collect a theoretical Jackson. If there are more players, your EV drops.

    Of course, tickets won't be distributed entirely randomly. Although qualifying hands will be distributed randomly over time, in a short period, variance will give some lucky folks more tickets and some unlucky folks fewer tickets. Also, folks playing more hands will have a higher chance of hitting a qualifying hand and getting more tickets. So, if you're playing rather tightly, your odds of getting a qualifying hand (and ticket) drop versus the field.

    In any event, there is little value in chasing this promo. Like most promos, do not alter your fundamental play because of it. If you happen to hit the promo while playing normal, solid poker, just pocket the extra cash and treat it as a refund of your share of the jackpot drop.

    1. Thanks, Grange, your analysis is excellent and I can't argue with it. In fact, I've figured out myself (not in detail) how little each ticket is worth.

      The fact that I can't over come that in my mind is why I say the promos make me stupid.

      Also....the thought that my pals would be teasing mercifully if I missed out affects me as well....stupid, really. But this post is actually a confessional.

  2. I can relate. I think he best part of this is your advice "don't do anything stupid"
    works for almost all occasions. The promo trap is real, it keeps you in the room as intended.
    I think your hand reviews are good. I find myself replaying hands and realizing all of the ways I screwed it up after the fact.

    Makes you human


    1. Thanks, LG, Yeah, it's good advice. Following it is another thing.

  3. Rob, I don't read your blog to look at poker chips with silly signs on them. I open your blog so I can look at the naked (or near naked) women. Please redeem yourself and put in at least two pics of ladies in various states of undress in your next blog. Thanks in advance.
    Pete Denver
    Perth, Australia.

    1. LOL....sorry Koala. I just felt that I had put a lot of boobies in the last few posts and it was time to give the ladies a rest.

      But nice to hear they were missed.

      Never fear there will be some pics more to your liking next time, I promise.

  4. I've been at the MGM several times recently and the promos do keep me playing in the room longer, but I've never won a single one of those ticket drawings and it doesn't affect my play.

    I did win $200 in a football drawing a few days ago though. Was down $194 and then won the $200 to go up $6. Doesn't sound like much but it saved me from a losing session.


    1. Thanks, Steve...never hit the promo, huh?

      So you say you play longer but it doesn't affect your play? But if your playing longer, that IS by definition affecting your play. I guess you mean in the hand it doesn't affect your decisions. Good

    2. After thinking about this some more I think I have a tendency to play more cautiously sometimes when I'm up and I'm waiting maybe 20-30 minutes longer for the drawing. So I guess I'm wrong and in a situation like that when I'd normally just leave it does affect my play.

      Last time I was there I had 4 tickets for the 4am drawing (only two $100 winners for that one, but I think there were only 3 tables running). One of the winners was a guy at my table who had 2 tickets. That was kind of annoying. However I usually only have 1 or 2 tickets because I'm one of the tightest (and maybe am the tightest) players in the room.


    3. I never calculate bonuses won in my win/loss for a session. That would give me inaccurate statistics. Bonuses only pad my bankroll.

    4. I agree, but I wasn't talking about how to account for the bonuses, only how they mess me up by playing for them.

  5. Speaking of running badly, I've been running badly myself. It feels like opponents are 70% to get there when my opponents are on flush draws while I'm around 5%-10% to get there. I've run into several horrible drunk/horrible opponents who all lasted much longer than they should have lasted.

    1. Yeah, sorry, Anony, I can relate, obviously. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I'm running better with hooker stories though. I played against an middle aged Asian guy at MGM and he had this young, attractive Hispanic woman with him who was wearing some clothing that was a bit revealing. And after listening to them talk, it became more and more obvious to me over time that she was an escort. I think the tourists at my table who were talking about escorts earlier actually didn't even notice it, but I thought it was very obvious. I also thought it was interesting that he didn't seem to care or be embarrassed about it. When he showed up with her I was expecting him to play a reckless, aggressive game but he was actually a very cautious player.

    2-3 nights ago I ran into her by herself, and she told me this guy was her regular and that he preferred other poker rooms like the Aria (he didn't play at MGM for very long and talked to her about why he preferred some other rooms). When I first started talking to her she mentioned that she saw me at the MGM poker room and I was thinking to myself "Who is she? How could I not remember an attractive woman that I played cards with?" But then I remembered when she said she was with the other guy and wasn't playing.

    My conversation with her ended abruptly and she just took off.


    1. Great story, Steve, thanks for sharing.

      It sounds like she's not the type who strolls the casinos looking for Johns, but rather someone who sets up her appts in advance. I wonder if she was where you ran into waiting for another client that had been prearranged?

    2. I actually saw her in a bar a couple of minutes earlier and noticed her because I have a tendency to notice attractive women when they're nearby. It looked to me like she was looking for Johns that night.

      She told me that she had seen me walking around casinos before, and it sounds like she is out there a lot which surprises me because I never talked to her before.

      However, she wasn't pushy at all which is unusual. She never said anything like "Lets hang out," and it surprised me how quickly she took off.

    3. She probably knows that poker players are bad marks......with the exception of her regular.

  7. any suited ace is a hand to be played preflop?? Was he sober when he wrote that? I assume you're talking also any position and I cannot for the life of me find the positives of playing A6s as an example in early position. And assuming you limp and face a raise, it's an eight to one shot that you're going to flop a flush draw, and even if you do 4-1 on each street to hit the damn thing. Flopping top pair is a 3 outer shot and that's assuming no one else has an ace and how many times are you going to be up against an ace with a better kicker?? Miller may be a professional, but there is no way I can even begin to understand what he bases that advice on.

    1. At the risk of getting sued for copyright violation, here's his list of starting hands from early position:

      Any pocket pair, any suited Ace, KTs+, QTs+, JTs-76s, AKo, AQo

      He adds more of course as your position improves.

      If you read his latest book, he talks a lot about the value of suitedness and connectedness. And he's not really suggesting you play those suited Aces to make flushes, just put yourself in a better position to steal.

      He is also more interestied in "frequencies" than actual hands.....he wants you to play approx 14% of your hands from EP. And have hands that are generally better than your opponents opening range of course, and also, be in a position to make a a lot of steals when you miss (that's the part that's tough for me cuz it never seems to work in 1-2)

      If you read his book it makes sense.

    2. Miller recommends raising with 100% of the hands you play assuming that nobody else has raised PF. That include all suited aces.


    3. Ed Miler's suited Ace play strategy rarely makes sense at a passive 1/2 table where raises get called 3-4 ways or more. Then all you've got is a marginal hand that is very tricky to play OOP in a bloated pot.
      IF you can get it heads up against a predictable fit or fold player, then sure. But this is much more the exception than the rule at 1/2

    4. @Steve--yes, I've mentioned that before. And one of the ways I played bad this time was that,after things started going south for me, I stopped raising all the time and would limp in a lot. That did not help my results, but it was a bad reaction to how I was running.

      @Dave--In his book, he will explain why you should do it on pretty much all tables. That said, one of the points of his latest book is that you master a few skills to get you good enough to progress to 2/5. I think this strategy might be more effective there.

  8. i cant think of all 5 rooms without promos. can u list them here?

    1. Yes, they are Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Venetian, Wynn.

  9. Hey Rob,

    I had nothing on my schedule Friday, so decided to take the day off work and head over to Macau for the day - so here's a little mini-report.

    I took the Noon Cotai Water Jet from Hong Kong island, and arrived around 1pm. Took one of the complimentary buses to Studio City, one of the new resorts ... place was brand new, and very impressive. I can't believe all of the construction going on there ... several new mega-resorts under construction.

    I headed over to the PokerStars LIVE room at City of Dreams, and arrived just before 2pm. It looks as though they've expanded the room since my last trip, or else added more tables for ACOP (Asia Championship of Poker) which runs through Nov. 15th. I was looking to play cash, and they had two games available: 25/50 NLHE, or 50/100 NLHE (Hong Kong Dollars).

    Just as I arrived they opened a new 25/50 table, so I bought in for $5,000. The game was nitty as f*ck, which is surprising ... so for the first couple of hours, I was only playing premium starting hands and mostly folding when I missed the flop. I had lost more than half my starting stack, when I woke up with A-A in early position.

    I raised to 3BB and got one caller (one of the big stacks at the table). Flop didn't look dangerous, so I made a pot-sized bet, got another call. Another Ace hits the turn ... I check, big stack puts out another bet, I call. River is a blank, I'm trying to figure out what bet size will get called ... I bet about 2/3 of the pot and get a call. I show my set, villain mucks. That got me back to nearly what I started with ... so I played a few more orbits, then called it a day.

    I think I'll go back again this w/e for another go - maybe on Saturday. When I left the PokerStars LIVE room, the place was PACKED - looked like about 40 full tables with lots of people on the rail. It's a bit of a pain-in-the-ass to get over there from Hong Kong, as you have to go through passport check each way. But you can buy ferry tickets online in advance, and I pay a few extra bucks for first class where you get a free lunch on the way over.

    Might check out the Wynn next time as well - they have a poker room there, too.

    1. Thanks for the nice report.

      FYI, the current manager at the Wynn LV poker room was the guy who set up and ran the Macau room until earlier this year. The current manager over there was the TD at Wynn LV for a long time.

  10. Your hand strategy almost never considers reads as strongly as it should. I am 3 betting QQ/JJ 100% of the time for value against a bad loose passive player who I know is never folding preflop.
    That's the gist of it. If I know I'm way ahead of his range, and he will call with worse, keep shoveling money in until that is not the case.
    If he is very aggressive, and I think I'll do better letting him bluff at me, I will consider that, but at 1/2 most bad players are passive, so you have to value bet hard.
    Reads matter A LOT at 1/2, because player are bad in different ways, Bet sizing tells are EVERYWHERE. You have to pay attention to them. Some people bet $8 with their weak hands and $12 with their strong hands. Guess which ones I'm 3betting light?
    Commitment tells are EVERYWHERE. I lead a lot of marginal hands in the cutoff hands when I see that the guy on my left on the button has already decided he's mucking his cards. If there are 2 limpers, I'm making it $15 with ATC quite a bit in that spot. I steal blinds and limps, or if goes heads up and I take it down with a cbet more than half the time (assuming I've picked the right spot against the right fit or fold opponents). Easy money.
    A lot of your hand discussions show you missing value far too much, and don't bet/fold enough rivers. It doesn't matter if the flush comes in on the river, if it's checked to you, and you think you are likely ahead, you have to bet for value.

    And while I'm certainly not the greatest 1/2 player on the planet, I feel 100% confident that anyone who says AK is not a good hand and you should limp with it is an idiot. I don't care what book he wrote.

    1. Thanks for the great feedback, Dave, some great advice there.

      Your comments on 3betting QQ/JJ go to what I said about getting conflicting advice. Ed Miller says just flat with those (especially in EP) where as many of the videos on his own RCP site from other coaches say they are always 3-betting them. Of course, reads on the other players matter.

      Definitely need to improve on my reads on other players and picking up bet sizing tells and the like. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Sorry to miss seeing you this weekend, i got here Saturday and entered the 7p bounty @ the V. Got 5 bounties and chopped 4 ways @03:30 for a nice $3700 score. Played the 7p @ Aria last nite, didnt cash but went fairly deep, 23/112.
    Last chance tonite prob Aria again. Back home to reality tomorrow.
    By the way, there was a pretty nice slut parade at the V Saturday nite.
    Hope your variance improves quickly and hope to see you next trip
    Staying at Rio, so may watch some live wsop FT tonite.
    GL and run good sir.

    Big L

    1. Congrats on the big score at the V, very nice.

      Where is the best place to view the Slut Parade at the V? Based on my desire to avoid certain kinds of promos, I may be playing there a lot in the future.

    2. i was drinking many beers, but i think my last table was #47.

    3. Oh wow, you can actually catch it from the V poker room? Hmm....didn't realize that. What time was this?

  12. Hey Rob, winning is not always easy. I suffer some of the same difficulties as you. When running card dead it's hard to not get a little impatient and make a bad decision. It is a hard thing to grapple with. Better luck next trip. Great article.


    1. Thanks, Swager, appreciate the thoughts.

      Hey, once you get in a downward spiral, it's hard to escape, and it makes you play worse.

  13. Hi Rob Promotions and Poker. They just do not mix. Its like playing in a room that has bad beat jackpots. They are taking the drop but if you didn't have to pay the extra drop than you would make more money off your wins. I stopped playing in casinos with bad beat jackpots. This means I can not win one. I have been playing for 40 years and I never one one anyway when I was playing with them.

    1. Thanks, Ed.

      At least BBJ probably don't affect your play, at least very much. It's te ones that keep me glued to my seat longer than i want to play that due me in.

    2. I think you first have to define what your goals are. When I go to Las Vegas, I am there to win and have fun. Promos are fun for me, thus I have enjoyed playing at MGM. However, I don't go promo chasing with every hand, although Q-10 sooted is a pretty hand, don't you think? I have been surprised to see, based on your posts, how many times you chased flushes just to get a promo ticket.

      I have noticed quite a bit of change in your play over time. imo, you went from nitty and fairly easy to read to mixing things up quite well. Your bet sizing got much better and you got harder to read. Maybe you have gotten into some bad habits since we last played in person, but personally I thought you were kicking ass pretty well.

    3. Thanks, Lightning, appreciate the compliments.

      If I was going to Vegas less often and for shorter periods of time, I think promo chasing would be more fun. But with my schedule, I think I have to pay a lot more attention to good poker and a lot less to the damn promos.

      Yeah, I know I was a better player might just be this trip in fact, where I started bad and never dug myself out. My results are not bad at all over the long range, but honestly, the last few times when I came back in the black, I didn't actually feel I played that well, I felt more like I was just running well.

      But the more I think about it, the more I think I made a lot of weak decisions because of the promos (and also because of my bad run). Running bad leads to playing bad leads to running worse and playing worse. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

      I'm looking forward to playing next time without thinking of those the promos and see how I do.

  14. What Dave said much better than I could. You know the basics, you know the intermediate strategy and you know a good deal of the expert strategy. Now you need to weave all those things first with table composition and then hand by hand against the players in the hand. I think playing strategically correct gives you an edge most of the time. The playing against the players is a level fraught with many land mines and you can wipe out any edge you may have playing statistically correctly in a heartbeat, but it is definitely the next level.

    I love, love, love promos. I only add promos to pot odds when I know for sure I am going to win the promo if I hit the hand. For instance my room has an aces full promotion where it pays $100 once for each ax full house until all but one has been hit and then pays $400.00 for the last one. So if say, Aces full of sixes is the last one and is going to pay $400.00 you can bet that I am playing A,6 from any and all positions.

    1. Thanks very much, AgSweep.

      I used to like promos too, until they started causing me to play bad. It depends on the promo...high hands are pretty benign.

      I remember when I was play 2/4 limit, a room I liked had a promo for awhile....on certain days, hit quad with a pocket pair in your hand and get $1,000. So you can be sure that no one was folding a small pocket pair on the flop if they missed totatlly. Everyone would keep their hand for the gazillion to one long shot of runner runner quads. I never hit it of course, but since it was limit, it was always cheap to see the turn card.

      But it didn't keep me in the room longer than I wanted to play, waiting for a drawing.

    2. AgSweep, adding promo money to pot odds is legitimate, but you need to add the correct amount. Preflop, any hand (X,Y) will only develop into Xs Full of Ys about 0.8% of the time, or roughly 1 in 128 times. So $400 * 0.8% = $3.20 in added value to the pot. And that's being generous. There are lots of situations where you would play, say A-6, and flop only one pair and have to fold to a bet (say, K-Q-6 or K-K-A), or would have to fold two pair on the turn (say, 8-8-6-A or Ah-6h-7h-8h). So your actual extra EV preflop is almost certainly less than $3.

      Just another example of why it's generally a mistake to take promo money into account in how you play a hand.

    3. Thanks again, Grange, appreciate the analysis....and the assist from Grump (see below).

  15. Sorry, my last comment was supposed to add:

    h/t to Poker Grump for walking me through the math to calculate the odds of a hand (X,Y) improving to (Xs Full of Ys) by the river.