Cash Game A Good Problem to Have: Bomb Pots (1 Viewer)

Jimulacrum

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The scene: Weekly 0.25/0.50 cash game with 20 max. Played at a private club. No rake or anything like that. The game typically brings together a bank upward of 500 by the end of the night, and probably does not exceed 1,000 on any given night. Usually 1 table but sometimes 2.

Each buy-in and rebuy comes with a special chip called a bomb-pot token. You redeem a bomb-pot token on your deal to deal a hand of no-limit Omaha, where everyone antes 1 and betting begins on the flop. These tokens can also be bought for 1, and all proceeds get pooled into a tip for the bartender, which is where our problem begins.

Bomb pots are wildly popular and bring amazing action. Even staunch Hold'emites get in on it. It's been one of the most successful innovations I've ever run in a game.

At first, token sales would only bring in 30 or 40 a night, but the past few games we've played, it's been a lot more. Tonight was 95, and the week before that was 73 IIRC. There are logical reasons why it's getting big; we run shorthanded for a while late in the night, and most of the players who stay late also play lots of bomb pots. We have one new player who has tilted this scale significantly and plays all night. I expect this to probably remain the case for a while.

I certainly don't mind making the bartenders happy, but I have serious game-health concerns about 10% or more of the purse getting tipped out every game. Tonight, that was 95 that other players didn't get to take home and bring back next time Pretty sure the whole purse never cracked 800. It's like having a guaranteed medium/big winner every week who never plays again. (It could also become a point of contention for the bar staff, since now Wednesday shifts are unusually lucrative, but I'm mainly concerned about the game.)

I'm mulling a couple solutions. I feel like scaling back the price of a token to 0.50 would keep the good game dynamic but halve-ish what we're pulling out of the purse, which would be a lot easier to absorb. We could also put a modest cap (40?) and use anything in excess of that to fund replacement equipment and such. Bartenders would still be very happy, and it'd contribute back into the game. We currently use the cards, table toppers, etc. that are funded by the tournament league (that I also run), and it would be fairer to have the cash game covering its wear and tear.

Thoughts? It's an interesting problem to have. I was surprised when I even saw the bomb-pot kitty pass 30. To see it almost crack 100 tonight was nuts. Bigger than most players' stacks all night.
 
I don't think you have a longevity problem. If you're selling tokens that's above and beyond buy-in money. Clearly someone doesn't mind throwing $30-$40 down to Degen it up with NL Omaha.

It sounds like your game maybe running smaller than some would like it to be. Without knowing the cast of characters and the buy-in details, it's hard to say for sure, but even if you average 10 players per game, you're only averaging ~$75 per player with your stated bank sizes. That's $10 additional per player in tokens. This doesn't feel like a game ender to me.
 
With so many tokens bought, and even more with buy-in/rebuy tokens, that's over 100 bomb hands played.
It might be time to consider switching this game to NL Omaha, or 1 round NLHE / 1 round NLO!
 
I think the health of the game here in not in danger due to the bomb pot money, I would rather focus on why your playing 100+ Omaha hands in a hold'em session. Some players are driving it forward but are all players happy with it?
 
Agree with the comments above:

1) Have any bomb token purchases made in cash above and beyond the normal buy-ins; and

2) Limit the number of total bomb pots to avoid turning this into a BINGO game; plus,

3) Encourage players to tip anyway regardless of whether they get a token.
 
I think if you limit the token purchase to cash only this will correct itself. I get the feeling that it's actually driving your purse up. At least that how I would manage it as a player (bring a few extra bucks for the tokens).
 
I feel like scaling back the price of a token to 0.50 would keep the good game dynamic but halve-ish what we're pulling out of the purse, which would be a lot easier to absorb.
Do you have any limits to how many tokens can be purchased or played? Because this could result in people buying twice as many tokens.
Frankly I’d be more concerned about having more bomb pots (which must usually end in somebody being felted) than regular pots. But I’m sure you know your game, so carry on.
 
which must usually end in somebody being felted
But it can't based off the size of the bank and the number of tokens being purchased.

Unless, someone is harvesting the tokens!!
 
I lost sleep trying to wrap my head around how, with 90 NL Omaha bomb pots, you don't have 35+ rebuys.
Hahaha. Me too. I Would think with $15-$60 in front of everyone that 3-5 players would be all in on every bomb pot hand. Or are we just degens?
 
What if you increase the token price to $2 but can only be paid with cash not chips. Then $1 goes toward tip and $1 goes toward equipment upgrades.

The higher price should bring the number of tokens down. Keeps bartenders happy, helps fund equipment upgrades, keeps number of bomb pots down, keeps more chips in play. Win, win, win, win
 
To address some of the questions I've seen:

Players are allowed to buy the tokens out of pocket or using chips from the table. I don't see it materially changing anything if I restrict this to buying out of pocket, except in that it'll annoy players and create more work to administer. Same concern about shrinkage of the poker economy; those dollars would still be coming out of the players' recreational funds.

That's a lot of bomb pots for a Hold'em game. Why not just play Omaha/Hold'em rotation? I've thought about this. Omaha is really popular with this group. I've even got it in the back of my mind to host a full-on dealer's choice game at some point. But people also enjoy the bomb-pot dynamic in this game, which is not quite the same as straight-up Omaha, and it gives us this funding mechanism that's only problematic because it's so successful.

Omaha bomb pots are just "bingo." Incorrect. It's still a skill game. Vanilla Omaha is arguably more of a skill game than Hold'em, where skill levels run closer and thus chance is a greater factor in outcomes. However, we do start the hand off with a much larger pot than usual, and thus shorter stacks than usual, so they do add an element of variance. But this is a good thing! We should want elements that splash the chips around a little. It's healthier for the player pool.

How is this game playing 100 bomb pots and people are only in for stacks in the sub-40 range? It just plays like that. People are comfortable with the smaller stacks, and betting doesn't get especially big except between a handful of players. We'll have bomb pots that generate a starting pot of 8 or 9, and a lot of people will make tiny bets like 1 or 2 into it. (But then it gets to me and I make it 10.)

Still mulling over some of this stuff, and I need to get to work now, but I figured I'd chime in while I have a moment. Thank you for all the replies!
 
If I had $15-$60 in front of me, I'd be all in every hand, no matter what game we were playing.

REBUY!!
It's not every hand for me, but when I only have ~20, my plan is to gamble big and often, especially in bomb pots. Once I get a more reasonable stack size going, I calm down a bit and pick my spots more carefully—with the benefit of having a maniac table image from my previous play.

I've been playing roughly this game (minus bomb pots) with this shorty structure going back 7 or so years now, and this feels like the right approach for me.
 
I have come to love round by round NLHE/plo with one bomb pot every Omaha orbit. Good balance and keeps the game sustainable.
 
@Jimulacrum with your additional information I still do not believe this is an issue. It doesn't sound like it's causing players to buy in for more than they desire, as indicated by your elementary level bank, and there doesn't seem to be a detraction from the number of bomb pot tokens being purchased.

I wouldn't change anything.
 
How are you playing $.25/$.50 with 20 Max and not cracking $1,000 in the bank? If you're getting $95 in bomb pot tokens sold, there has to be stacks flying around. Are players only buying in for $20??
You'd be surprised. Field composition is roughly:
  • A handful of players willing to rebuy to 100+, most of them consistent winners
  • One or two willing to rebuy to 100+, most of them not consistent winners, and not consistent players
  • A whole bunch of people who have 40 or 60 to play with, and hard stop after that
We may have gotten to 1K like once, on a night with 2 tables running, but that's about the max in my estimation.
 
I don't think you have a longevity problem. If you're selling tokens that's above and beyond buy-in money. Clearly someone doesn't mind throwing $30-$40 down to Degen it up with NL Omaha.

It sounds like your game maybe running smaller than some would like it to be. Without knowing the cast of characters and the buy-in details, it's hard to say for sure, but even if you average 10 players per game, you're only averaging ~$75 per player with your stated bank sizes. That's $10 additional per player in tokens. This doesn't feel like a game ender to me.
It's a little of both, I think. Not sure we have sufficient demand for a new game/night at higher stakes, but there are a few players who'd be in.

My concern about the money coming out of the game is in the same sense I'd be concerned about a rake. It's not beating up any particular player on any given night, but it dulls overall wins and leaves less money to be played with in the long run, and that's important in this crowd. There's a reason we're playing 20 max.
 
With so many tokens bought, and even more with buy-in/rebuy tokens, that's over 100 bomb hands played.
It might be time to consider switching this game to NL Omaha, or 1 round NLHE / 1 round NLO!
I'm open to restructuring it like this. I enjoy the bomb pots, but at the same time, I think this format would suit the game very well and would "normalize" Omaha instead of having it be an oddity you have to redeem a special token to play.

I do want to have some sort of pay-in scheme (not rake, though) to keep the bartenders taken care of. We do it because we're there on a Wednesday night keeping the place open late, a lot of us don't even drink, and we want to show some appreciation.

Maybe I could re-employ the bomb-pot tokens within a NLHE/NLO structure to do double-board bomb pots or something. Could scale back the number of tokens people are willing to buy, since I think a lot of the demand now is from a desire to play Omaha over Hold'em.
 
I would rather focus on why your playing 100+ Omaha hands in a hold'em session. Some players are driving it forward but are all players happy with it?
I had my concerns about this too, but the results were surprising. I make it clear that everyone has the option to sit out bomb pots if they'd rather not play; this comports with the general rule that you can sit out at any time. No one sits out except to use the bathroom, get a drink, etc. They really enjoy it.

It's a realistic possibility that this ends up evolving into a NLHE/NLO rotation. It'd be fun. That's almost what it is already, anyway.
 
Do you have any limits to how many tokens can be purchased or played? Because this could result in people buying twice as many tokens.
Functional limit is 42 because that's how many of them I bring, but effectively no. Players just plunk down a dollar to buy the right to a bomb pot on their deal. No token need change hands.

Frankly I’d be more concerned about having more bomb pots (which must usually end in somebody being felted) than regular pots. But I’m sure you know your game, so carry on.
Bomb pots used to result in someone being felted pretty often, and they still do sometimes, but folks have gotten better/tighter at Omaha.
 
but folks have gotten better/tighter at Omaha.
Do tighter and better ever go together with Omaha? It’s a serious question. You can play tighter and lose less, and I supppse that means you’re playing better, but it doesn’t mean you’re playing well.
Of course, I’m not sure I’ve ever played NLO. So these are legit questions.
 
Do tighter and better ever go together with Omaha? It’s a serious question. You can play tighter and lose less, and I supppse that means you’re playing better, but it doesn’t mean you’re playing well.
Of course, I’m not sure I’ve ever played NLO. So these are legit questions.
"Tighter" meaning more selective, especially with the types of hands that Hold'em players often bomb off their stacks with.
 

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