Vegas low stakes: Maybe more rake IS better?

Schmendr1ck

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I just got back from my first trip to Las Vegas since 2016, and I noticed that things have changed since then - and mostly not for the good.

Until this trip, I have never seen tight, grindy NLHE games consistently at the lowest casino stakes. I regularly ran into players who appeared to be relatively skilled locals playing tight, exploitative poker at the 1-3 $300 max NLHE game that has become the standard low stakes offering in Vegas.

Are the drunk partiers and the fish gone? No, definitely not. But the "1-3 grinders" only seemed to show up in certain places I played: Aria, Bellagio, Caesars. They were much less common in Bally's, Planet Hollywood, and Venetian, and the ratios of bad to good players at these rooms was (in my very limited experience) higher.

I talked about this with @Payback quite a bit during our stay, and the only substantial difference we could come up with was the jackpot drop. All rooms dropped the standard 10% up to $5 rake, but the rooms with better games had an additional $2 jackpot drop while the grindy rooms did not. This additional rake is ridiculous: none of these rooms offer high hand jackpots or bad beats. Instead, the drops go to pay for player comps and freerolls for the players who play the most hours - local regs.

My theory is this: because it's already tough enough to beat the rake at 1-3NL, the smart local grinders know that the additional $2 per pot puts them at a bigger disadvantage, and they avoid these games in spite of the rewards offered (food and freerolls). Stronger tourist players also know this and probably also avoid the games with higher rake. So in those games, you're left with a better overall pool of players - weaker players, gamblers, and partiers - none of whom know or care about the impact of higher rake on the game.

This is exactly the point Daniel Negreanu was making in his infamous "more rake is better" post, and while I thought it made some sense at the time, I believe I've actually seen it in practice this past week.

Thoughts?
 

JeepologyOffroad

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moose

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I read the promos on bravo and if I am going to play at a property with a promo drop, I make sure I am going to qualify/be there during the promo hours.

I am way ahead of any promo drop. I think I have cashed every freeroll at the Flamingo I have played. My wife and I cashed huge at a $30k Bally's freeroll. Last trip to Vegas I earned 2 free buffets from Bally's (4 hour min play).

I agree with your assessment of which casinos are grindy and which are fun because the tables are full of touristy gamblers who are there for fun on vacation. Rounds of shots definitely help.

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My wife hits the Royal Flush promo.

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Flamingo $6k freeroll. 10 hours play to qualify.

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Ballys $30k freeroll. I was short on hours for this because I had cashed in a tourney at the Venetian that night while my wife played cash at Bally's, so I played until 5 am to qualify, walked back to the Aria to sleep for 2 hours and was back at Bally's for 9 am. It was worth it! Those bills are hundos.

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Another Flamingo Freeroll

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monkeydog

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I read the promos on bravo and if I am going to play at a property with a promo drop, I make sure I am going to qualify/be there during the promo hours.

I am way ahead of any promo drop. I think I have cashed every freeroll at the Flamingo I have played. My wife and I cashed huge at a $30k Bally's freeroll. Last trip to Vegas I earned 2 free buffets from Bally's (4 hour min play).

I agree with your assessment of which casinos are grindy and which are fun because the tables are full of touristy gamblers who are there for fun on vacation. Rounds of shots definitely help.

View attachment 727919

Another Flamingo Freeroll

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I love that it's the same dealer in these pics. I think his name is Frank and I've seen him every time I've been at the Flamingo! Good dealer, keeps the pace up but is still friendly. His wife is a dealer there too and is almost as good.

Wow, do I ever miss Vegas...
 

Frogzilla

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I just got back from my first trip to Las Vegas since 2016, and I noticed that things have changed since then - and mostly not for the good.

Until this trip, I have never seen tight, grindy NLHE games consistently at the lowest casino stakes. I regularly ran into players who appeared to be relatively skilled locals playing tight, exploitative poker at the 1-3 $300 max NLHE game that has become the standard low stakes offering in Vegas.

Are the drunk partiers and the fish gone? No, definitely not. But the "1-3 grinders" only seemed to show up in certain places I played: Aria, Bellagio, Caesars. They were much less common in Bally's, Planet Hollywood, and Venetian, and the ratios of bad to good players at these rooms was (in my very limited experience) higher.

I talked about this with @Payback quite a bit during our stay, and the only substantial difference we could come up with was the jackpot drop. All rooms dropped the standard 10% up to $5 rake, but the rooms with better games had an additional $2 jackpot drop while the grindy rooms did not. This additional rake is ridiculous: none of these rooms offer high hand jackpots or bad beats. Instead, the drops go to pay for player comps and freerolls for the players who play the most hours - local regs.

My theory is this: because it's already tough enough to beat the rake at 1-3NL, the smart local grinders know that the additional $2 per pot puts them at a bigger disadvantage, and they avoid these games in spite of the rewards offered (food and freerolls). Stronger tourist players also know this and probably also avoid the games with higher rake. So in those games, you're left with a better overall pool of players - weaker players, gamblers, and partiers - none of whom know or care about the impact of higher rake on the game.

This is exactly the point Daniel Negreanu was making in his infamous "more rake is better" post, and while I thought it made some sense at the time, I believe I've actually seen it in practice this past week.

Thoughts?
More rake certainly makes the game softer as it will discourage pros, but also it makes the game tougher as the rake taxes everyone. The net effect of these is unclear
 

moose

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I love that it's the same dealer in these pics. I think his name is Frank and I've seen him every time I've been at the Flamingo! Good dealer, keeps the pace up but is still friendly. His wife is a dealer there too and is almost as good.

Wow, do I ever miss Vegas...
Frank is the best!

Definitely our favourite dealer too!

Also standing up in the second picture is Phil. Crazy local, always up for a good time. This was at least the 4th time I've run into him. Always on Friday nights, usually at Bally's or the Flamingo.
 

Payback

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I'll affirm that I found the same in the 2/5 games that I played, specifically the difference in the Venetian room $5+2 vs. all the others who drop a flat $5. The average table age at Bellagio/Aria was probably around 30 with usually 6 or 7 seats being grinders. Venetian I had one table once with one. The others all tourists and the average age was probably 55. Games there were more limp/call passive playing with 3-5 players taking a flop in a raised pot vs. the other games that were highly aggressive with pots usually going heads up after a 3bet preflop.

At the 5/10 Bellagio game it was all grinders and as this was a time game a lot of the play got centered around blinds because there were no chops. The game I was in was playing with a mandatory $20 straddle on and someone was occasionally putting the $40 straddle. It wasn't uncommon to go 3 or 4 hands without seeing a flop because the blinds were being aggressively defended with 3 and 4 bets preflop.

I was laughing about this game afterwards because a couple of the players at the table told me I was the only tourist, which was easy to confirm based on the fact they all knew each other by name, and the dealers knew them as well. One even had the audacity to even say he was just waiting for me to fuck up so he can take my stack. It felt very predatory and if I were a more casual player I would've just picked up because the grinders certainly weren't making the game fun. It's part of the reason I ended up going back to the Venetian, and not the Bellagio again even though it is my favorite poker room.

If you haven't seen this Twitter thread yet. It's worth a read because it's surprisingly accurate based upon what I saw last week.

 

Schmendr1ck

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I read the promos on bravo and if I am going to play at a property with a promo drop, I make sure I am going to qualify/be there during the promo hours.

I am way ahead of any promo drop. I think I have cashed every freeroll at the Flamingo I have played. My wife and I cashed huge at a $30k Bally's freeroll. Last trip to Vegas I earned 2 free buffets from Bally's (4 hour min play).

I agree with your assessment of which casinos are grindy and which are fun because the tables are full of touristy gamblers who are there for fun on vacation. Rounds of shots definitely help.
Right - you're the type of player who is either going to skip the games with a promo drop, or make sure that you can get some benefit out of them. And you're also the type of player I don't want in my game. ;)

The Venetian takes a $2 drop that I will never see any benefit from, because it all currently goes to a monthly freeroll for the locals who grind the most hours. I would have had to be there on that specific date and have a minimum of 30-some hours to qualify. That's never happening for a tourist.

Consequently, the tourists who were there were the kind of players who didn't think or care about that.
 

Schmendr1ck

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More rake certainly makes the game softer as it will discourage pros, but also it makes the game tougher as the rake taxes everyone. The net effect of these is unclear
Agreed, it would probably take a lot of hours logged to figure this out, and it's very dependent on skill and play style.

I know it's n = 1, but on my first full day in LV, I stacked a slightly drunk, hyper-aggro kid in a $1700 pot playing 1-3NL at Bally's. That would never have happened at, say, Aria. The other players that I saw there would have eaten him alive, and he probably would have gotten up and left way before he built that kind of stack.
 

Schmendr1ck

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One even had the audacity to even say he was just waiting for me to fuck up so he can take my stack.
This made me WTF so hard when you originally told me this. What kind of idiot pro tells the only "fish" at the table, "You're a fish and I'm going to take your money"???

Guys like that deserve to trade stacks back and forth and bleed slowly to the rake.
 

moose

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I'll affirm that I found the same in the 2/5 games that I played, specifically the difference in the Venetian room $5+2 vs. all the others who drop a flat $5. The average table age at Bellagio/Aria was probably around 30 with usually 6 or 7 seats being grinders. Venetian I had one table once with one. The others all tourists and the average age was probably 55. Games there were more limp/call passive playing with 3-5 players taking a flop in a raised pot vs. the other games that were highly aggressive with pots usually going heads up after a 3bet preflop.

At the 5/10 Bellagio game it was all grinders and as this was a time game a lot of the play got centered around blinds because there were no chops. The game I was in was playing with a mandatory $20 straddle on and someone was occasionally putting the $40 straddle. It wasn't uncommon to go 3 or 4 hands without seeing a flop because the blinds were being aggressively defended with 3 and 4 bets preflop.

I was laughing about this game afterwards because a couple of the players at the table told me I was the only tourist, which was easy to confirm based on the fact they all knew each other by name, and the dealers knew them as well. One even had the audacity to even say he was just waiting for me to fuck up so he can take my stack. It felt very predatory and if I were a more casual player I would've just picked up because the grinders certainly weren't making the game fun. It's part of the reason I ended up going back to the Venetian, and not the Bellagio again even though it is my favorite poker room.

If you haven't seen this Twitter thread yet. It's worth a read because it's surprisingly accurate based upon what I saw last week.

I find a lot of the locals collude against the tourists, take their money and then go back to playing against themselves.

I definitely found this to be the case playing plo at the Flamingo. The game runs during the WSOP. As soon as a table opens, all the locals text each other and drive over from the Aria. Eventually they take over every seat after stacking the tourists and then they all leave and the game breaks.
 
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