- It's in the same location as the old room, right next to the sports book, but the lighting and decor are much improved.
- For that matter, the entire casino has undergone an amazing upgrade. I had not been there since the old poker room closed in late 2008, and, really, you'd hardly recognize the place. It's bright, beautiful, clean, and airy.
- The new chips are very tasteful, as you can see above. I was disappointed, though, that they have retired all the old ones. I have about 65 different $5 Trop chips in my collection, but there are lots of them left that I never picked up. I had hoped that the new poker room would mean more chances to scrounge up some of the less-common older chips, but they have been taken out of circulation.
- Oddly, the poker room was using both new and old $1 chips, and some of the old design were obviously uncirculated, with sharp edges. Apparently they had a stash of the old design that never got used, and decided to put them into play alongside the new design. Why do that for the $1 chips but pull the old $5s out? Seems inconsistent.
- The chairs are comfortable, standard office five-wheeled things, adjustable for height. The dealers raved about their chairs (not the same ones players use) being the most comfortable EVAR.
- Tables are nice, but good luck keeping that white border white, what with spilled drinks and poker players' notoriously grimy hands and questionable personal hygiene.
- The tables are small enough that they can seat only nine. I don't mind that, but then why did they order them with ten cupholders? It's so much easier to square up the table if the dealer can tell everybody to get centered on a cupholder, rather than saying, "You need to be three-eighths of the way between this cupholder and that one."
- Restrooms are a l-o-n-g hike from the poker room--a longer trek than with any other poker room in town that I can think of offhand. We were told, however, that ongoing remodeling, when completed, will bring a new set much closer.
- The mainstay game is $1/3 NLHE, buy-in $100-$500.
- They're using Cartamudi cards, a brand I had never heard of before. They were nice enough, but the real question is durability. How well will they resist picking up identifiable dings, dents, bends, smears, and worn spots?
- The room is nicely isolated in terms of infiltrating noise and cigarette smoke.
- They have the Genesis Bravo system, giving the city standard $1/hour in food comps.
- They have progressive high-hand jackpots.
- There is ample, luxurious room between the tables.
- No magazine racks for picking up freebies.
- I really wish they would install a water cooler. It's such a simple and inexpensive amenity, but saves me from a bunch of waitress tips while keeping a ton of water bottles out of the landfills. (Incidentally, for an interesting look at the economics of bottled and running water, see this post from yesterday at the Freakonomics blog.)
- Nobody threatened to beat me up yesterday, which is all by itself a substantial upgrade from the old room. Also, they appeared to have and abide by actual rules!
- Dealers were first-rate, except for one young woman, who appeared to be fresh out of dealer school, still nervous and inexperienced.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Tonight I went to the Tropicana for the opening day of its new poker room, about which I'll have more to say later.
About 2 1/2 years ago I wondered out loud, and in some detail, why the online poker sites had not sought a declaratory judgment about the status of their product. See here, part #5. In light of the indictments and seizures announced within the last 24 hours, I come back to that same question.
Friday, April 15, 2011
I've been enjoying watching the pot-limit Omaha cash game on NBC's "Poker After Dark" this week. I had also noticed Pokerati's announcement that its regular $1/2 mixed NLHE/PLO Thursday night game had found a new home at the Palms, after some time at Hard Rock and then Aria. That was largely the reason that I chose Palms for my home last night--to at least watch that game for a while and see if it was something I might want to try one of these days.
I was playing at the Palms last night. The game was short-handed--just five of us at the time, I think. I was in the big blind. One other player limped in, small blind called, and I checked with 10-6 offsuit.
If you keep up with any poker news site, you already know that U.S. online poker went into complete chaos earlier today. Twitter reports say that it varies state to state, but right now I cannot buy into cash games or real-money tournaments on PokerStars. What I don't know is whether the site will allow me to play in a tournament for which I had registered before today's developments. Since my Sunday night home game is the only one for which that is the case, I don't have any way of finding out in advance what will happen when game time rolls around. Will it keep my $5 but not let me play? Refund the money? Play as if nothing had happened? I just don't know. All I can do is plan to be there and play if it lets me. If you can still register and play from wherever you are, I'll be happy to try to join you.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I just sent the following letter to two Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters, Chris Sieroty, CSieroty@reviewjournal.com, and Steve Tetreault, STetreault@stephensmedia.com, with a copy to the Assistant Business Editor, Dan Behringer, DBehringer@reviewjournal.com. If I get any substantive response, I'll let you know.
Mr. Sieroty and Mr. Tetreault:
I am inquiring about the accuracy of two sentences you wrote in this story:
Specifically, you said, “Technically, online poker is not illegal in the United States. But participating in an online poker game where the participants are wagering money on the outcome is illegal.”
After reading it a few times, I'm guessing that the meaning intended is this: (1) It is not illegal to play poker online if the participants are not risking money. (2) It is illegal to play poker online if the participants are risking money.
I also assume that the word "illegal" in the second sentence means that the players themselves--not just the site's operators--are committing a violation of a criminal law, a prosecutable offense.
If those inferences are not correct, please inform me what was intended.
If they are correct, please tell me specifically what criminal provision you believe a person violates by playing in an online poker game for money. The next paragraph in the story references the UIGEA, though it's not clear that that is the law you are claiming players violate. I hope that that is not the law you had in mind, as it has no criminal provisions for players whatsoever.
I also hope that you did not have in mind the 1961 Federal Wire Act. For reasons that I detailed in a blog post a couple of years ago, neither it nor the UIGEA criminalizes the playing of online poker. See: http://pokergrump.blogspot.com/2008/07/knpr-gets-it-wrong-wrong-wrong.html
Saturday night I was playing at Imperial Palace with several other poker bloggers. The conversation led me to picture in my mind a graph of how my tight play deteriorates when I stay at the table too long.
Monday, April 11, 2011
In this week's "High Stakes Poker," the players mention in passing something about a poker scene in the movie "Stripes." I don't think I've ever seen the film, or if I have it was so long ago that I've forgotten it. I checked YouTube and found this clip, which appears to be what they were referring to. Presented for your enjoyment:
I just watched the newest episode of High Stakes Poker. Something I've been noticing this season, the first season they've been at the Bellagio, is that the famous fountains seem to be running continuously, as seen through the window.
My previous post reminds me of an excellent column by Bob Ciaffone in the April 6, 2011, issue of Card Player magazine (not yet available on their web site). The title is "Taking the Heat," and his point is that poker room employees have a duty to proactively step in to deal with problems, so that players don't have to.