I played for a while at the Rio last night. I have mostly been avoiding the place since early August, when I showed up to play and was turned away because they shut down their cash games for a daily freeroll tournament. I was curious to see how the character of the room had changed since implementation of this promotion. Sadly, my worst fears appeared to be borne out: it has become Nit Central. The entire poker room operation now revolves around local nits sitting stoically in their favorite seats, just putting in the hours toward the freeroll tournament. I will undoubtedly stop in there once in a while anyway, but it is a certainty that my frequency of visits is going to be much lower than it used to be, now that I know this. It's really a shame--the Rio used to be one of the most reliably action-oriented places on my circuit.
Anyway, the "You might be a nit if..." thread on allvegaspoker.com to which I recently alluded has had me thinking lately about the phenomenon of the local nit, and the ridiculous things such people say and do. Last night was kind of a high point for that subject. There were two master practitioners at the table, and literally for the entire 90 minutes or so that I was there, all that these two talked about was promotions, comps, deals, coupons, discounts, freerolls, etc. It was like the poker version of one of those horrid web sites or magazines where people share their secrets for saving money by making their own soap from lye and leftover bacon grease.
One of the gentleman involved in the discussion took the cake, though, with his explanation of how to turn poker-playing into a crab legs feast. After 3:00 a.m., as I understand it, the Rio poker room gives $2/hour in food comps. Also, it takes only three hours per day to qualify for the daily freeroll. Then you need to know that the the Rio buffet routinely gives 50% off the price of the buffet to locals (just show your Nevada driver's license), which makes it about $6 for the lunch menu. Finally, you have to know that they charge the lunch price until 3:30, but you can stay through the transition and have access to the expanded dinner menu after that point without paying more. (Many buffets shut down for an hour or two between lunch and dinner hours, but not the Rio's.)
Combine these, and you see what this guy does: He comes in at 3:00 a.m. to play poker, stays three hours, earns his tournament entry and $6 in comps, returns at precisely 3:25 p.m., pays half price for the lunch buffet, then waits five or ten minutes until they start putting out the dinner menu, which includes the unlimited crab legs that he so covets.
I tell you, he was positively radiant telling the other nit about this marvelous discovery. He repeated at least four times some variant on this summation: "There is just no other place in town where you can play three hours of poker and earn a crab leg buffet!"
I, for one, have a hard time imagining a more miserable approach to playing poker.
The really bizarre part of this is the extent to which such people have mentally compartmentalized their poker dollars and their real-world dollars. They will go to these extraordinarily lengths to save a buck or two or six, but if they make a bad all-in call for, say, $100, oh well, that's how the game goes sometimes. It doesn't seem to occur to them that improving the quality of their play even a little bit would have far handsomer payoffs than all the penny-pinching promotion-whoring that they obsess over.
I'm going to keep my ears open from now on for further examples of extreme nittiness I encounter at the Vegas poker tables, and memorialize them with what I hope will turn into an ongoing occasional series here.
Incidentally, the photo above (taken from this page) is an actual nit (i.e., louse egg). I have looked at, oh, a few dozen of these under the microscope in my former life, and always thought they were kind of cool. The bad part of it, though, was that just seeing one always caused me to feel an unaccountable scalp itch for the rest of the day. Contact with poker nits does much the same thing, except that the creepy/itchy feeling is all over.