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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fun with Poker and a new casino

Just came back from a strange weekend full of poker. The first two days were "business like usual". Breaking almost even with some 3/6 and 5/10 Hold'em. Nothing special. But on the last they I played a 17 hour game with more fun I ever had before. It was just a nice crowd that played together in that 2/4 game. Full table in the beginning, short handed for the last 10 hours. I suffered some bad beats in the first hours and would have quit on any other occasion. But this crowd was just hillarious.

Beside the great fun it was a great learning experience. Not that it was all really good and experinced players. But it was a bunch of players that were aware of things that happend around. So instead of just folding, calling and raising by the book you could really "play" with them (and sometimes they played with me of course). I know the money is were you play those without any good sense for the game. But playing with this crowd was a mental challenge. Can you imagine ... a 2/4 game with people that can be challenged? I lost some money due to the bad beats but this was of course the cheapest lesson in some different aspects of the game of poker.

Later in the evening we got joined by a guy who never looked at his cards before the flop (sometimes later) and raised (or made live straddles) every time. This guy was hard to play as he was extremely lucky. But after we adjusted our play somewhat we could take his money quite fast. Another medicore player who tried to play by the book (but made several mistakes) quit frustrated after losing his money.

It was an interesting experience to sit on the other end of the table and try some crazy things (compared to the book). I definitly got a better understanding of crazy play now. The point is that most crazy players are just maniacs (they play without any real sense). But there are a lot of crazy players (to name two top players: Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu) that have a deep knowledge of the game and know exactly what they do. Those people are really hard to play. I don't think you can play them plain by the book - you have to adjust. General rule: The looser the table the tighter your play should be. On the other hand play more loose if you play tight players.

It all comes down to the fact that the books are only the basics. But from that point you have to adjust to your own style and the other players.
It's like dancing. You have to learn the proper steps and rules first but to become a real great dancer there is a point were you have to throw away (some) of those rules and build it your own way. But don't throw the rules too early or you will fail without doubt.
Another similarity to dancing: If you learned it once you will be able to do it even if you didn't do it for a long time. But to stay top notch you have to practice as often as possible!

The next day I visited the new casino in Bad Wiessee (near Munich). It's a nice and modern place. Much nicer than the old one from the 60's. Big panoramic windows with a great view over Lake Tegernsee.
They now offer Poker - but only Stud with a €5-25 spread-limit.
They have quadrupled the number of slot machines and created a nice slot place that gives you some kind of "Little Vegas" feeling.

They doubled the number of BJ tables and of course I took a look at the game (and had some money with me to play). But I never played a single hand. Why? Well, I had no interest in it. I watched the game for a while (btw, it's still hand shuffled) and saw a lot of those bad beats I experienced myself in the past. I know there are bad beats at poker too but they don' feel that frustrating. Imagine this is a €10 min. game. So by playing just the minimum you are betting €300 per hour. Ever experienced bad streaks that lasted half an hour or longer? No? Then you haven't played enough BJ in your life. Counting cards at that level you play sometimes €200 per single hand.
Compare this to Poker. Let's take a 10/20 Split-Limit Hold'em which should be equally to that BJ game. With 30 hands per hour you have to post 3 big and three small blinds per hour. So the minimum risk is €90 instead of €300. Take the other extrem with raises to the cap in every round you may risk up to €240. The big difference: By playing a good game of poker you have a big opportunity to win this pot (otherwise you wouldn't be involved). In the game of BJ you know (due to card counting) that you have positive expectation but you still have to make a "blind post" before you see the first card. Even worse: You can win just the posted amount (or a little more in case of a BJ). In Poker you will quite often make much more in a single pot due to the fact that you don't just play heads up or at least have several people that added money pre-flop, on the flop and the turn.

As said in older blog entries I think it still will be fun to play BJ in places like Vegas were you can earn great comps (but I still consider craps equal but more fun). But I don't think I get much from BJ without comps or good promotions in the future...


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