Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tropicana update

I was at the Tropicana today to see some friends who were involved in the weekend festivities celebrating the official designation of the Trop poker room as the Jamie Gold Poker Room.

I played in a cash game for a few hours. I was surprised to learn that they have had some rule changes. When Gold started playing there on salary, they instituted special rules for his games. Those rules have now been extended to all $1/2 no-limit hold'em games played in the room.

These include:

1. Straddle for any amount from any position. Action starts to the left of wherever the straddle is. I don't know how they resolve it if more than one person wants to straddle, as I never saw that come up.

2. If all betting is complete because players are all-in, they can agree to run the board (or whatever remains of it to be put out) twice. I assume three or four times is also OK, though I didn't ask that specifically.

3. Players are more free than usual to discuss their hands during play, though it's not clear to me exactly how far they have moved the boundary on this point.

4. No chopping the blinds. (I think this was actually not a Gold rule, but was put in place to address the lack of action when they started the pay-players-by-the-hour promotion. However it originated, it is now the standard.)

If today was any indication, these rule changes make for some wild games. Sitting down in the first one was like being yanked off my feet by a tornado. A couple of very aggressive players were trading off straddling every hand for $15 or more, then following that up with a big raise over any callers. Players frequently were all-in before the flop with hands that in a normal $1/2 game would have gotten no more than one standard raise.

My guess is that if they keep these rules in place for the long haul, the Trop poker room will develop a deserved reputation that its $1/2 NLHE game, while nominally the same as is spread in all of the other 50+ rooms in town, is actually an entirely different animal. If you decide to try it out, bring a lot of cash for rebuys, and prepare for maybe the highest variance you've ever encountered.

Another change: One of the dealers there, Shannon, heads up a "dealer's-choice" game on many weekends. They will now be standardizing that to every Monday night. That makes a lot of sense, since that tends to be a quiet night for other poker. It also won't conflict with the Sunday night mixer at Imperial Palace or the Tuesday night HORSE tournament at M Resort or the Wednesday night HORSE tournament at Green Valley Ranch or the two weekend HORSE tournaments at Orleans. In other words, mixed game enthusiasts can now find their favorite form of poker on a regular, scheduled basis almost every day of the week now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jason Somerville

Four years ago I wrote this:

[S]ooner or later, inevitably, somebody that we all recognize from televised and/or online poker events (even if it's somebody who is not currently well known) will out himself. Every time this little curiosity has occurred to me, I've wondered how this incredibly macho, sexist, swaggering, "I am the MAN" poker world will react to the news. My guess is that there will be a lot of public quoting of the famous Seinfeld line (a la the title of this post), accompanied by a lot of quiet, private, nasty bashing. You can imagine the kind of things that will be written by the scads of anonymous contributors to the poker forums--those who can't make a comment about a female professional player that doesn't involve judging her attractiveness or lack thereof. I don't envy whoever it is who takes on (voluntarily or otherwise) the role of the first openly gay poker pro. I think it will be a difficult mantle to wear.
It appears that now we get to see if my predictions will come true with respect to Jason Somerville, who today publicly announced his sexual orientation.

(An unstated but obvious assumption in that old post was that I was referring to men. Since writing it, Vanessa Selbst burst on the tournament poker scene, apparently perfectly comfortable with everybody knowing that she has a live-in girlfriend. It's not like I didn't know that lesbians existed in the world, but my focus was on gay men, first, because there are so few women among the top tiers of the poker economy, and, second, because my impression is that gay women are less likely than gay men to elicit cruelty and bigotry from Neanderthal poker players.)

I hope my worst fears prove to have been wrong.

Monday, February 13, 2012