Sunday, September 17, 2017

The New Westgate Poker Room

In case you hadn't heard, The Westgate opened a new poker room last month.  Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they re-opened their poker open, since they had a poker room and closed it a couple of years ago. This was kind of a surprise development, as mostly all you hear about these days is poker rooms closing in Vegas.

Well, it turned out that when management at the Westgate decided to get back in the poker biz, they called my bosses and colleagues over at PokerAtlas and asked them to set up our TableCaptain poker room management software in the new room.  It was actually up and running before the room opened.

That was pretty cool.  This is the first Vegas room to use our software.  You might recall that I mentioned that the Bike also uses that software, so I had seen it action a few times before.  That meant that before going over there, on the first Saturday I was in Vegas this month, I checked on the PokerAtlas app and saw that they had a 1/2 game running with a small waitlist.  You can actually open the waitlist on the app and see the names on it.  So if you're on the list, you can check to see how close you are to getting called into a game.  Sweet, huh?  You can also access all this information (including tournament clocks) on the PokerAtlas website too.

Once I saw they had a game going, I headed over that afternoon.  It was definitely on my to-do list for this to check out the newest room in town this trip.

I think the room is in the same location it was when it closed a couple of years ago—a location I never saw.  It was more-or-less part of the main casino last time I played there.  But I had heard they moved it over into the Sports Book (or adjacent to it) before they closed it down.  And now, the room is in the SuperBook (which is what they call the sports book over at Westgate, I believe it's the biggest in town), or at least across from it, near a snack bar.  The room has six tables and is pretty nice for a small room.  It is roomy, that's really nice.  The tables are not jammed together.  But the one minor issue I have is that the games are 10-handed.  I suppose for a small room just trying to build a clientele that's understandable.  They will have trouble getting multiple games going until they get established. 

And before you ask—yes, they still offer free parking over at the Westgate.  At least for now.

They are offering a lot of games—limit hold'em, limit Omaha, PLO—but from what I've seen on the app they are getting 1/2 NL almost exclusively (as you would expect).

The location in the sports book is both good and bad.  It's good when there are lots of sports on and the book is hopping. But late in the evening when there's not much going on in the sports world—even on the West Coast—there won't be much foot traffic near the room to draw from.

And the location of the casino itself is hardly ideal.  They will have to get some local grinders to leave their favorite rooms and give it a try. There of course will be plenty of tourists and convention goers staying at the Westgate to draw from.  But without the regs to get the games going, it will be a struggle.  But they just opened and the word hasn't really gotten out yet.

The Saturday I was there was actually the first Saturday of the college football season.  So of course the sports book was jam packed.  When I got to the poker room there was one 1/2 game going and an single open seat, which I grabbed. The buy-in was $50 min - $200 max.  According to the board, they also offer the same game with a $100 min - $300 Max. Obviously they're experimenting to see what works best for them. I didn't recognize any of the players.  I also didn't recognize any of the dealers, who were all first-rate.  It was a loose game, there weren't a lot of quality players at the table. I didn't get the impression that most of the folks at the table played poker all that regularly.  I figured that one or two of them were locals and the rest were tourists or maybe mostly sports bettors who wandered in from the SuperBook. 

I only took notes on two hands, but both were favorable.  I was the big blind with Jack-9 of hearts.  By this time I had  lost about $60 of my $200 buy-in, not winning a hand.  I flopped the flush draw, with the Ace of hearts on the flop.  I called $10. I think it was three-way.  The turn was the Queen of hearts, giving me the second nuts.  This time I led out for $25.  The guy who bet the flop called, the other guy folded.  The river was a blank and I bet $40.  He tanked forever and finally called.  He showed two pair and I had a decent pot.

Later I had pocket Jacks and opened to $10 and had two callers.  The flop was Ace-10-6, rainbow.  The big blind donked out $15 and I called, the other guy also called.  Yeah, the Ace was a bad card for me.  But honestly with the level of play I had seen in this game I couldn't rule out the possibility that he was donk-betting with just a pair of 10's or even 6's.  It seemed cheap enough to see what happened on the turn.

And lucky me, the turn was the Jack of hearts, the second heart on the board but more importantly giving me a set of Jacks.  Same guy bet $20.  I thought for a bit and then made it $50.  What happened next was apparently the key to the hand.  There was a player behind me who the action was on.  But before he had a chance to act, the first guy saw my bet and asked, "How much is it?  $50?  I call."  The dealer told him to hold up, the action wasn't on him.  So now it was on the third guy, who had just barely $50 in his stack.  He counted his chips, tanked for quite a while and then said, "Well, since I know you're gonna call (referring to the player  who had called out of turn), I'll fold."  The other guy indeed called and it was heads up to the river.

That river was the King of diamonds, not exactly a card I was hoping for.  There was now four to a straight on there.  And this time the guy led out for $50.  Oh crap, did he have a damn Queen?  There were all kinds of Queens in his range...pocket Queens, Ace-Queen, Queen-10, Queen Elizabeth.  You name it.

I started to think of that classic line from the TV commercial, I think it goes something like,  "I don't always fold a set of Jacks, but when I do, there's four to a straight on the board."

But the thing was, he was a loose enough (and bad enough) player to have all kinds of things in his range.  Ace-X, 10-X, who knows.  I figured he must have at least two pair but I could beat that.  I didn't like it but I made the crying call.

And he said, "I just have an Ace."  Whew!  I showed my set and he showed the Ace with a low card.  Not even two pair.  Not even a good kicker.  I was happy to take the pot.

After I stacked my chips, I suddenly remembered the third guy saying that he folded because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  Well, my curiosity was aroused.  So I said, "That hand where you folded because you know the other guy was going to call....would you mind telling me what you had?"

He said, "Well, I would have had a straight."  Holy crap.  I said, "You would have won if you stayed in?"  He said yes.  "But it was for almost all my chips."  Hmmm.

Of course, at the time he said it was because he knew the other guy was gonna call.  At the time, that sounded like, "Well, at least one of you has me beat."  But if he was on a draw....well that is very different.  On the turn, we both had him beat.  But if he hits his straight (as he apparently would have) he'd beat us both.  The only way that fold makes sense to me (and not really) is if he figured that one of us was drawing to the same straight and if he hit it he'd split the pot.  Then he wouldn't have had good odds to call.  But the fact that the other guy was going to call actually gave him good odds to call, right? 

It seems I got real lucky there running into two pretty weak players who accidentally colluded to give me the pot!

Now that I've written this up, I realize I should have played a lot more poker at the Westgate this trip, but as it happens, I never had a chance to return.

I left after a couple of hours with $110 profit.  And I'm happy to report there was about a four person waiting list when I cashed out. 

Nice little room they have there.  I hope it makes a go of it.


  1. That's is exactly the location it was previously. And good. Red they have reopened it. But like everything else over there recently how long will it actually be open. They seem to be just throwing stuff around and seeing what sticks. See their shows and restaurants !!

    1. Everything in Vegas is temporary, Ben, that's for sure. I heard (third-hand) that they were getting requests from some of their regular visitors asking for a poker room. I think they can make a profit from a small room that isn't overwhelmingly busy but whether they decide that it's making enough money to please the suits remains to be seen.

  2. Hello? How about room comps? Or do I have to go to Poker Atlas for that?

    1. Yeah, you can go to PokerAtlast for that. But since you're clearly too lazy to go there, here's the whole comps/promos for them:

      "$1/hour comp rate ($2.hour 10am-4pm Monday -Friday). Aces cracked $50. High hand bonuses: Quads $50 ($200 if flopped), Straight Flushes $200 ($300 if flopped), Royal Flush $250 ($500 if flopped). No Rake Daily Special (1st game daily will take no rake for first 2 hours). Football Promo: High Hand of the Quarter, $50, progressive rolls over to next quarter if not hit."

  3. Well, why didn't you say it was the OLD, Hilton?

    Or the OLD, old, INTERNATIONAL! Circa 1969.

    1. You left out that after the Hilton and before the Westgate, it was the LVH.

  4. I think we are going to hit the super book for college football in a few weeks – I think I'll get a session in over there at poker.

  5. I'm still curious why NL players think 9-handed is better than 10-handed. Seems to me that it gives you one more late position hand to play each orbit and one more hand to play overall without having to pay a blind. Plus, in rooms with cup holders in the rail, it seems typical to have 10, so in 9-handed games, no players except seats 1 and 9 actually have cup holders in front of them.

    BTW, unless Jon came to his senses, demanding personal info to be able to see room info in the Table Captain app is still a poor user experience and keeps people from using the app, which drives fewer people to the rooms that use it.