Friday, September 14, 2007

My favorite poker room is closing


I've written before about why I like the Hilton poker room better than any other in town: Well, it seems that I'm going to have to find a new favorite place. I learned today that the Hilton is closing its poker room as of October 17. Many reports of poker rooms closing in the last year or so have turned out to be rumors without merit, but this decision is apparently set in stone. The dealers are starting to look for other jobs; the shift manager today was talking about it openly with customers, and said it is official, public, and final.

This would seem to be perfect timing, because

--they just hired a couple of new dealers.

--they just started a new promotion for their limit hold'em games.

--they just started a new tournament series, a ladies-only event every Saturday.

--they just started their fall football promotion, which is tied in to the poker room (hit a straight or a flush and get an entry for two different drawings), because lots of people like to play poker while watching their football games.

--they just bought new boards for their jackpots.

Yeah, that's great timing, all right.

(Sarcasm mode now off.)

In other words, it seems like completely ridiculous timing to me. Why launch things like this, then do a full abort? Certainly looks like not very good planning on the part of somebody in management over there.

I'll freely admit that I have no clue about the profitability of poker rooms in general and this one in particular. But it seems to me that closing a poker room when it's still a phenomenally popular game is a really stupid idea, even if the room doesn't make a lot of money--and this is particularly true for the Hilton, which is so heavily dependent on convention business. Conventioneers who don't want to go to the trouble of leaving the hotel for the Strip should be able to find whatever game they want where they're staying. If they leave, whatever they win at another facility's poker room will surely get spent (in other gambling, drinks, night clubs, restaurants, etc.) at that other place, too, instead of at the Hilton. You just can't consider yourself a real Vegas casino if you don't have a poker room. Dives like the El Cortez, Jokers Wild, and Arizona Charlie's can manage to provide a place for poker for their patrons, but the Hilton can't??? Talk about marking yourself as a second-rate place!

So I'm seriously bummed out about this. The Hilton accounts for roughly half of my poker-playing time and half my poker income every month. Now I'll have to find someplace else to call my home base, and there just isn't anywhere that I find as comfortable, friendly, convenient, and profitable. And nobody else runs a monthly freeroll tournament, as far as I know--at least no place that I could stand being at for that many hours.

I'm not exactly optimistic that this rant will change anything. But ranting is what I do when I don't like something, and I hate, hate, hate this decision by the Hilton management. Please reconsider, guys.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Poker gems, #16

An exchange from NBC's "Poker After Dark," September 13, 2007. The set-up: At the end of the last show, Phil Hellmuth lost a big pot to Erik Seidel, because Hellmuth slow-played a flopped two pair (queens and threes), and Seidel caught an ace on the river for a better two pair (queens and aces). Seidel, with position, bet his top pair/top kicker all the way, and Hellmuth just checked and called. Hellmuth's whiny rant started at the end of the last show, and continues into this episode. Nobody at the table has a speck of sympathy for him.

Doyle Brunson: All you had to do was pop him [i.e., check-raise on the flop] and you'd be stacking the chips.

Hellmuth: I understand that. I mean, you know, I mean, I didn't want to pop him. I wanted to let him go for his money. It's so sick. And then he value-bet it on the river. That's so sick. Wow. [Value-betting top two pair on the river, in position, against an opponent who has been completely passive through the hand. Yeah, Phil, that's just a terrible play!]

Seidel: Anybody have Phil's nanny's phone number? She'll know how to calm him down.

Hellmuth: You're not even in the same league, Erik. [For the record, Hellmuth is a slightly more successful tournament player than Seidel; he has 11 WSOP bracelets to Seidel's 8, and a little over $9 million in total tournament winnings to Seidel's $7 million+. Seems like pretty much the same league to me, but what do I know?] Just be happy the deck saves you every pot we play. I keep slow-playing it, and you've sucked out on me like five in a row that I've slow-played, all just weird beats. And I could have won all five pots, but I want to let you...

T. J. Cloutier: I want to make a comment on that. I would think the solution to that would be not to slow-play it.

[More whining from Hellmuth, which I don't have the stomach to transcribe.]

Cloutier: Phil, that's why you make every show. You whine better than anybody alive.

Seidel: My little niece gave me a pacifier for you, and I was going to bring it, but I forgot.

[Yet more whining from Hellmuth.]

Brunson: Yeah, he's [meaning Seidel] just been lucky for 30 or 40 years.

Poker gems, #15

From Broke: A Poker Novel, by Brandon Adams, p. 70:

The World Series of Poker, especially the $10,000 main event, is the primary annual gathering spot for poker players across the world. Failure to attend is considered an admission of financial ruin. My gauge of a player's bankroll comes primarily from the WSOP. If a player is not solvent enough to afford the main event, he is advised to play at least one or two smaller but highly visible events such as the $1,000 no-limit Hold 'em with rebuys. This will show that he [is] not broke; poker is one of the few fields of endeavor where this is an exalted status.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poker gems, #14

Stanley Kowalski, in "A Streetcar Named Desire":

Nothing belongs on a poker table but cards, chips, and whiskey.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Poker gems, #13

From Barry Greenstein's great book, Ace on the River, p. 39:

An abusive player collapsed at the table, a victim of an apparent heart attack. He was moved away from the table and paramedics were called, but none of the players offered assistance and the game continued. A week later the abusive player was back playing and arguing with everybody. One of the other players, Sam Perleman, apologized to the table. He said, "It's all my fault." Someone asked, "Sam, are you the one who saved him?" "No," Sam replied, "But I was right there when the paramedics were reviving him and I didn't pull them off."