Friday, May 06, 2011


Usually I am not much influenced in where I play by the promotions available, but once in a while I'll make an exception. Yesterday and today were unusual because on two consecutive days I went to a poker room specifically because it was running a different kind of promotion that I was interested in seeing.

Yesterday I had a free buffet lunch at the Palms, and was going to catch a 5:30 movie at the theaters there ("Hanna," which was sensational--best action flick I've seen in a long, long time), with some afternoon poker in between. What had caught my attention was the beginning of a new promotion in the Palms poker room called "Action Aces." It's an aces-cracked thing with a twist: Lose with aces, and the room gives you a jackpot twice the size of the pot that you lost, capped at $200.

That strikes me as an interesting variation on the theme. Under standard aces-cracked promotions, one is torn between two choices: (A) inviting everybody into the pot by limping and playing passively after the flop, hoping to lose and pick up a jackpot worth more than the pot you likely would have won by standard play, or (B) play the usual aggressive way, and risk winning only a small pot or losing one so large that the jackpot amount doesn't make up for your losses. I hate that dilemma, and so usually avoid playing in places and at times that such promotions are running. It distorts the game way too much for my taste.

But with Action Aces, you are motivated to inflate the pot, because even if you lose, you earn more money than you would have won had you taken the pot (up to a limit). In other words, you can pretty much play as you normally would, without agonizing over which of two mutually exclusive strategies to follow. It's a good idea. I can't tell you about whether it worked as well in practice as it does in theory because neither I nor anybody at my table had aces cracked while I was there. (We collectively speculated that the poker room management had removed all the aces from the deck just so that they wouldn't have to pay out.)

Then tonight I went to Binion's because they were having a Cinco de Mayo promotion, in which making either a set of 5s or quad 5s paid handsome bonuses--up to $10,000. I got pocket 5s once, but couldn't improve them. I made a little money on the night, but won no jackpots.

One guy left the table soon after I arrived. He said that he had gotten pocket 5s four times in the past hour, and he knew that that was way over what was statistically likely, so he concluded that he wasn't going to be dealt any more potential jackpot hands, and he might as well go home. No matter how many times I hear poker players falling into the gambler's fallacy (the idea that past independent events somehow influence future ones), I just can't figure out how anybody can be a successful poker player if they have such a fundamental misunderstanding of randomness.

On my way out of the poker room, I noticed a sign listing Binion's rotating daily promotions, which I don't think was going on last time I was there, so I snapped a picture of it to share with you, rather than trying to jot down what they all were.


buttnugget said...

"$2/hr in comps for food or room charges"?? What rooms?? Didn't they close their hotel?

Rakewell said...

Yes. I believe it means rooms at the Four Queens, which is owned by the same company.