Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vegas Poker Scene (December 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 sooner, rather than later.

And there's an added bonus too.  A few months ago, they printed a profile I did of a Las Vegas poker room staffer, Josh Hayes.  I forget to reprint it here, so you will find it at the bottom of my column below even tho it was in a previous issue.  You can find it on the Ante Up website at the bottom of the page here.

Josh deals at MGM, a room you may have heard of.  If you are guessing that he has been mentioned on this blog with a blog pseudonym, you'd be correct!

Joseph McKeehen, the 24-year-old pro poker player from the Philadelphia suburb of North Wales, Pa., put on one of the most dominant performances in November Nine history, bringing to close the 46th annual World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas by pocketing a whopping $7.6 million.
It’s his first WSOP victory, and what a title it is, besting more than 6,400 players. “This is definitely the greatest accomplishment anyone can have in this game,” McKeehen after his win. “I was always confident I could make money playing the game professionally, but to get this really proves something.”
Josh Beckley was runner-up ($4.4M) followed by 61-year-old Neil Blumenthal ($3.3M).
Also, longtime popular pros Jennifer Harman and John Juanda were elected to the Poker Hall of Fame, becoming the 49th and 50th members. Juanda, 44, has five WSOP bracelets and more than $16M in tournament earnings while Harman, 50, has more than $2.5M in tournament earnings and two bracelets, but it’s her prowess at the world’s biggest cash games that makes her remarkable.
ORLEANS: The popular locals favorite on Tropicana Boulevard, two miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, is a worthwhile stop for visitors. If you don’t have a car, you can get there and back via a shuttle bus than runs every 45 minutes to and from the center of the Strip.If you don’t mind staying off the Strip, the hotel has some of the best room rates in town.
The poker room recently changed its tournament schedule and it’s not all no-limit hold’em.Mondays and Saturdays at noon is $75 Omaha/8. The same tournament runs Thursdays at 7.Wednesdays at noon is a $75 Omaha/8-stud/8 event.Tuesdays at 7 is $100 PLO while Sundays at 7 is a $100 HORSE tournament. All of these tournaments have 20-minute levels and 10K stacks.
There are two superstack turbo NLHE tournaments on the schedule: Mondays at 7 ($100) and Fridays at noon ($75).These tournaments have 15-minute levels and players start with 20K chips.
Bounty tournaments run Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7 for $125 ($25 bounty). Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon are $75 NLHE events.These also have 20-minute levels and 10K stacks.
The most popular regular NLHE tournament in town runs Friday at 7 p.m. ($125, 12,500 chips, 30-minute levels).
A nice variety of cash games are always available.No-limit players enjoy the $1-$3 game with a $100 minimum and a $500 maximum.During busier times, you can find a $2-$5 game ($200-$500 min-max). Multiple limit hold’em and Omaha/8 games are available, too.
Hold’em and Omaha games have progressive bad-beat jackpots. Promos change monthly, so ask about them.Recent promos have included high hands of the hour, big bonuses for high hands during certain hours, cash rewards for playing the most hours during a month and cash drawings.
MIRAGE: Daily tournaments have been added at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. to join the 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. tournaments. Most days these have a $65 buy-in for 10K chips with 20-minute levels.
“The Stack” tournament has been a popular Saturday fixture for years and is running on Fridays and Sundays, too.
It starts at 11 a.m. and offers players a 25K starting stack with 25-minute levels.The regular 7 p.m. tournaments on Fridays and Saturdays are now $100 events.Both nights the starting stack is 15K, and on Friday there’s a $25 bounty. Levels are 20 minutes.
Promos for the cash games include a bad-beat jackpot, high hands ($100 for quads, $200 for straight flushes, $500 for royals) and $75 for Aces Cracked (8 a.m.-2 p.m.).The most popular cash games are $1-$2 NLHE ($100-$300 min-max) and a $3-$6 limit game with a $30 minimum buy-in.
SUNCOAST: The locals room in Summerlin has started spreading a big cash game.It starts every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and is $2-$5 NLHE.The game has a mandatory button straddle and the buy-in is $500 minimum and $3K maximum.
HARRAH’S: The mid-Strip room is running a $10-$20 HORSE game Tuesday nights at 6. Added to the traditional HORSE mix is deauce-to-seven triple-draw. The game is being dubbed “HorseT.” The stud games have a $1 ante, a $3 bring-in and a $10 completion. The minimum buy-in is $100. After just a few weeks, it’s filling up with a healthy wait list.
VENETIAN:  Berzad Teranie of California won the $1,600 Deep Stack Main Event for $66K.He outlasted Anuj Agarwal ($60K), also from California, and Nemesio Alegado of Illinois ($53K).The prize pool was $420K with nearly 290 entries.
The Winter Weekend Extravaganza will be Dec. 9-13. The highlight is a $250 event with three starting days beginning Dec. 10.
It offers a $100K guarantee. Single-day tournaments between $125 and $200 are scheduled and all events have guarantees.
New Year’s Extravaganza returns as well.It runs Dec. 25-Jan. 10.That’s a bit longer than past New Year’s events.The big event is a $400 tournament that’s part of the River Card tour and has a $150K guarantee.
The two starting dates are Jan. 1 and 2.There’s also a three-starting-flight $250 event that starts Dec. 27 with a $100K guarantee. On Jan. 6, a four-starting-flight $250 tournament features a $150K guarantee.The other tournaments are single-day affairs priced between $125 and $300.Again, all events have guarantees.
WYNN: Pennsylvania’s Joseph McKeehen, just before winning WSOP main event at the November Nine, took down the championship event of the Wynn Fall Classic, earning $90K.Seth Berger of New York earned $60K for second and Jeff Roberson of Nevada won $38K for third. The $1,600 buy-in had more than 260 entrants and a $388K prize pool.
BELLAGIO: The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic runs Dec. 4-20. The $10,400 main event begins Dec. 14 and runs to Dec. 19. If that isn’t a big enough buy-in for you, you can enter the $100K Alpha 8 event Dec.18.
Other events include a $10,400 PLO tournament Dec. 10 and a pair of two-day seniors events, one priced at $1,090 on Dec. 7 and one at $1,600 on Dec. 10. NLHE events priced between $500 and $5,000 round out the schedule.


Meet Josh Hayes

Josh Hayes has been a dealer in Las Vegas since 2004. He has been dealing at the MGM Grand’s poker room since 2005.
How did you get into poker? I started out dealing blackjack and roulette at Jokers Wild Casino in Henderson, a small locals casino. They opened a poker room within my first year working there. When I saw that it was much better pay and less stress than working in the pit, I signed up for poker school the next day and transferred within two months.
Why play at MGM? We have more rooms (5,005 plus three condo towers) than any other property on the Strip. Between that and the Grand Garden Arena events, there’s always a large influx of tourists to play against. Our $1-$2 no-limit action is generally among the best on the Strip.
What do you do when you’re not dealing poker? I host and produce four fantasy sports podcasts and write daily fantasy sports articles forrotowire.com. If I’m not doing that, I’m likely chasing my 1-year-old daughter around. — Rob Solomon

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