Monday, December 22, 2008

Can we talk about something besides the jackpot?

Saturday I played for quite a while at the Orleans. They have a bad-beat jackpot, and it had climbed over $125,000. Two things happen at that point. First, the threshold hand for winning it drops to its lowest level: aces full of anything beaten by quads or better (both hole cards playing). Second, the room fills to capacity with people trying to get a share of it. Nothing wrong with that--that's presumably why the casino does it, to increase attendance.

I admit that I chose the place to play that day based on the jackpot. I thought it was highly likely to hit sometime over the weekend, with that low threshold and that many people making their hand selection mostly based on the potential for hitting the jackpot. (I was right; it hit some time Sunday morning.) And as long as I can play pretty much anywhere with roughly the same overall +EV, I might as well play when and where I might pick up some extra free money. At the Orleans, everybody playing in the same type of game as the one where the jackpot hits divides 5% of the jackpot. I estimated this at something like $600 each just for being there at the magic moment. Of course, it's quite a bit more likely to hit in a limit game than a no-limit game, but I'm not going to change what I play in an attempt to guess which limit will get it; I just play my regular game the regular way, and if somebody in one of the other $1-2 NLHE games hits it, great, and if not, nothing lost.

Anyway, the room was more jam-packed than I have ever seen it before. There were 23 cash tables in operation when I left, with long waiting lists for all of them. It was a madhouse.

At the table, there was, for all practical purposes, only one topic of conversation: the jackpot. It drove me batty after about ten minutes. People were repeatedly checking what the threshold requirements were. Players worked out elaborate signals and code words and betting patterns that they would use if they had a possible jackpot hand, in order to make sure that the pot size reached the minimum acceptable to qualify. Dealers passed on stories (possibly true, possibly urban legends) about there having been X number of hands that would have qualified, but the pot was just a dollar or two shy of the minimum. Players engaged in all sorts of shenanigans to be sure they were never dealt out, lest the jackpot hit during the two minutes they were in the restroom. When somebody was away from the table, somebody else would usually make a point of noting that he was out, so that if the jackpot hit right then, he wouldn't get a share. Every detail of the qualifying rules was hashed and rehashed and debated. One guy got a table change and told us that it was specifically so that he could be at a table with an autoshuffler, so he could get in more hands per hour and thus maximize his chances of making a jackpot hand. Stories of jackpots of yore were told and retold and retold. Whenever some combination of cards came even vaguely close, somebody would show his hand and say something idiotic like, "If only that had been a jack on the river instead of a six!" And, of course, every time that the board was such that it conceivably could yield the required kind of bad beat if two players held precisely the right hole cards, the chatter would heat up: "Oh, here we go!" "I hope somebody has the aces!" "This could be it!" Etc. Even the damn dealers couldn't keep their damn mouths shut, and would make comments just like the players were doing.

It was utterly maddening. These morons just had nothing else on their mind. I even sent a text message to a friend: "I'm in poker table small-talk hell!"

The most perplexing aspect of it was that all of this talk was doing the one thing that the casino's rules explicitly warn might void the jackpot, even if all other requirements are met! See rule #7 in the photo above. (Every casino that I know of with such a jackpot has a similar prohibition, because they don't want to queer the action and have people play in artificial ways just to try to hit it.) Now, I don't really know how strictly this would be enforced. But for heaven's sake--if you seek out a particular poker room because you want to try to hit the jackpot, and you stay in hands longer than you should (i.e., play in a -EV manner) because you're trying to hit the jackpot, why would you flagrantly engage in the conduct that might void your payment if you do manage to get lucky and hit it? It's just insane!

I was definitely using the non-iPod yesterday, with the volume turned up quite a bit louder than usual. I had to muster up every bit of self-restraint I had in order not to stand up and channel Sister Mary Elephant for them:

Oh, and by the way, the Orleans poker room is WAY too big to still be relying on dealers yelling at the desk person, chip runner, floor person, etc. When the room is busy, it's almost impossible for them to be heard. It's a horribly inefficient and unprofessional way to run things. And for those sitting in the seats next to the dealer, it's deafening to repeatedly be assaulted with "FLOOR on 17!" "PLAYER'S CHECKS ON 17!" "SEAT OPEN ON 17!"

Get with the program, and install a computerized player management system already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you should see the Hard Rock Tampa when it's bad beat climbs over $500,000