Sunday, August 13, 2017

Can You Change Tables With a Short Stack?

On this evening, I learned about a rule that is apparently pretty common in poker rooms that I didn't know.  Pretty surprising that I've played live poker all this time and wasn't aware of it.

The venue was Caesars Palace and it took me about two hands to figure out that I was in for a rough night.  There were three or four maniacs at the table.  The opening raises were like $20, $25 or more and someone raised almost every hand.  There was a lot of three-betting and those bets were big too—when they weren't shoves.

I probably should have table changed right away.  You see, I was in the midst of a bad run and my bankroll wasn't exactly flush (partly because I couldn't make a flush).  So I walked into the room with only two $200 buy-ins on me.  That was all I had to play with this night.  I refuse to pay the ATM fees at the casino ATMs. 

So when I realized it was going to cost me a lot more than usual to see any flop, I should have gotten up right away.  I don't mind a game like this when I'm rolled for it—in fact, I like them, you can win a lot of money at them—but when I'm not prepared to dig into my wallet more than once, I know I might not last long enough to end up on the right side of variance.

But I thought I would stay for awhile and see how it went.  Obviously I was hoping for a big hand. The problem was I was definitely not card dead.  I kept getting medium and low pocket pairs and had to either fold them preflop or pay more than I should have to set-mine.  And of course I never caught a set.  I also had a few hands with Broadway cards that I whiffed with.  I was seeing huge turn and river bets—usually all-ins—and people showing up with all kinds of cards. And for the record, I never saw a hand where my medium or low pocket pair would have been the best hand on the river if I had  decided to roll the dice with it even knowing these guys were raising with crap.

In less than 45 minutes, without putting any money in on the flop or beyond, I was down to $84.  That was when I finally decided I wasn't prepared to invest a second buy-in at this game and got up to ask for a table change.  By the time I made it over to the new table, I was down to $65. 

I hadn't already added on because I had been thinking of changing tables and just starting fresh.  And so my original plan was, when I got to the new table, I'd add-on then.  But as I was making my way over there, I decided to hold off adding on immediately. I figured I'd play an orbit or two and see if I liked this table better.  Maybe there was something in the air at Caesars this night and every game was as nuts as my first table had been?  I didn't see the harm in waiting.

I had played one or two hands at the new table when one of the players finally noticed my stack and said, "It's a $100 minimum isn't it?"  The dealer looked at my stack of $65.  I of course said, "I came from another table."  I mean, I had originally bought in for $200, twice the minimum. 

The dealer asked if I came from a broken game.  I said no, it was just a table change.  So the dealer said if you change tables you have to start with at least the minimum buy-in.

Well, that didn't seem right to me, I'd never heard that before.  But then, I doubt I've ever asked for a table change when I was that short stacked before.  Still, I think if that's the rule, they should tell you up front.  Suppose I didn't have enough money on me to get back to $100?  I'd already moved and in this case played a couple of hands (that last part was on the dealer for not noticing my short stack).  So in that case, would I have table-changed myself out of the room?  It seems to me anyone asking to move in that situation should be advised of the rule and then given the option of staying at the original table if he wanted to keep playing the short stack.

But I didn't say anything.  I was originally planning to add-on anyway. It wasn't a big deal, it was just new to me.  I added-on right away and we went on with life.  But I was curious if that rule was unique to Caesars or more universal.  So I tweeted out the question, asking dealers, floor people and poker room managers if a player had to have at least the table minimum to get a table change.

Initially, everyone said absolutely yes.  I was impressed that quite a few poker room managers, in addition to my dealer pals, responded.  However, a few dealers eventually came back and said at their room, the answer was no.  If I was moving to a table of the same limits, it was considered all one game and I didn't have to bring my stack up to the minimum.

So obviously it is a house rule that varies from room-to-room.  Hopefully I won't have that situation again (it took me years and years to encounter it) but if I do, I'll be sure to ask before accepting the table change.

The new table was not full of crazies.  It was much quieter.  Meanwhile, not long after I gotten to the new table, I noticed that all the craziest players at my old table had taken off.  Perhaps I should have waited them out?

At the new table, there was a discussion of those infernal $2 chips that they are still using over there.  One player made the point that the reason they use them is to reduce the frequency of the fills. But then I noticed something interesting.  There were no green chips in the dealer's rack.  And by green chips I mean real green chips—the $25 chips, not the light green $2 chips. At MGM and most other rooms they keep green chips in the racks to sell to players when they rebuy if the run out of red.  Venetian and Wynn even use some black $100 chips.  But no $25 chips at Caesars.  If they got rid of the damn $2 chips and instead kept a bunch of $25 chips in the racks, it would reduce the number of fills without having to use those damn $2 chips.

Anyway, I got a few hands to play at the new table and was able to win a few of them.  Nothing very big though.  I raised preflop with pocket Aces and pocket Queens and didn't get a call.  Why couldn't I have gotten those pocket pairs at the first table when I could have possibly won huge pots with them?

I won a small pot raising with King-Jack of diamonds and flopping a Jack. An Ace on the turn and a third club on the river kept me from betting past the flop but the Jack was good.  I also won a pot raising with pocket 4's and c-betting on the flop when I didn't catch my set.

I managed to win most of the money back that I'd lost at the wild table, and I considered that a win.


  1. Sometimes it just seems like nothing goes right. Crappy game we play, huh?

    1. You don't have to be crazy to play poker.

      But it helps.

  2. I'm staring at the size of that woman's mosquito bites.

    1. Are you saying she should have been using "Off"?

    2. Well if she was a friend of yours, you should have offered to get her "Off".

    3. Heh heh. Good one, Alysia!

  3. I think that's a good rule but yes you certainly should've got the heads up.

    I think I mentioned to you whern we met that I decided to play 2/5 for the first time at CP on that trip. I bought it for 400 and I was definitely the short stack at the table ( it wasn't close) and the players were pretty crazy by my standards .

    I ended up enjoying it and making a few bucks but it was late in the evening and hsd I gone bust I was willing to just call it a night which made it easier to play.

    The Casino Royale used to have a one dollar ATM fee but it has recently gone up to three dollars which I guess is still a bit of a bargain for the strip.

    1. Thanks, yeah I remember hearing about your 2/5 adventure at Caesars.

      The trouble with the ATM fees is, even if I found a "bargain" like a $1 fee at Casino Royale, I'd still be hit big time on the back end by my bank.

    2. I think you and I are about the last people that still put up with a bank that charges you ATM fees if you go out of network!