It's hard to believe that it happened to me. But it did. I figure, at the very least, it will be an interesting and cautionary tale for the rest of you. I was visiting Las Vegas on what has become bi-annual poker playing jaunt. My mission was to research the state of 7-Card Stud in the city - something I reported on in two earlier Stud Sense articles. It was also a good excuse to tour many of the more popular poker rooms.
The other four guys who played at one time or another during my two hours of play were each over 90 years old or so. One gentleman seemed to be literally attached to the cushion around the table - so inert was he. He didn't move, didn't speak, and didn't move his head. He just moved his arm slowly as he pushed in chips or tipped his hand so he could review it. The rest of him was motionless.
I just spent a week playing poker in Las Vegas. What a great time. I stayed at the Orleans Casino, off the strip. They provide a beautiful room at a reasonable price - around $50 a night with the poker player's rate.
It used to be that the Orleans spread a $1-5 stud game and had two stud tournaments a week: a Stud8 and a Stud high event. Not anymore. I had to go elsewhere for my stud fix.
You can still find a stud game in Las Vegas - but they're few and far between. The Bellagio usually (though not always I discovered) has a $20/40 game - but my attempts to get into it proved unsuccessful because of the long list for the one game. Former oasis of stud action like the Orleans, the Mirage and the Luxor were completely dry when I stopped in and called (though the Mirage told me they had a $1-5 game sometimes). I did manage to get into one game (that I'll write about later) at the El Cortez. And I was told that they spread low limit stud at Sam's Town and at the Excalibar.
I live in Boston and I'm a stud man. I'm fortunate in that regard, because there are great stud games at Foxwoods Resort Casino, New England's only public poker room. But variety is the spice of life - so I try to find games when I travel for work and pleasure from time to time. I am happy to find any poker games when I'm away from New England - not just stud. I'm usually successful - even in places without well known poker rooms. For example, I've recently found wonderful poker games in Fairbanks, Alaska; Dawson City, Yukon Territory; and Nassau, Bahamas.
Maniacs present a problem at the table. They greatly increase the volatility of the game. Let me share my strategy for dealing with them. I think you'll find it profitable. I was playing at my friendly neighborhood $10/20 Stud game at Foxwoods. I knew nearly all of the players at the table. All but one were tight players attracted to this tightly structured game.
Yeah I know you're an old hand. You read these columns more for amusement than instruction. Hell, let's face it. With all of your experience and common sense at the table you could write the column. I know. I know.
Even so, every now and then, it helps even the most seasoned veteran player to return to the basics - if only to remind himself of the rudiments of good play. It is possible, after all, that even the best of us, in our desire to be tricky and unpredictable, stray too far from the core elements of winning play. So with an eye toward fundamentals, let me return to the basics.
Let's be honest, shall we. It's more fun to play a hand than to fold. It's more fun to play a wild, careless, carefree rockin and rollin game than to play the careful, self controlled disciplined poker we know we're supposed to play. With that in mind, I have a list of some excuses you can employ during or immediately after your 7-Card Stud session to justify your wild side while not losing face to the many people in the poker room whom you imagine actually care about how you play.
It was Thanksgiving night at Foxwoods. I played short-handed $20/40 stud for a few hours. My experiences there might prove instructive for you. The house cut the rake down to $2.00 maximum instead of the customary $4.00. Even so, I wasn't sure if I wanted to play. My game is built around extracting profit from bad players. Were the other three players who remained bad enough for me to make a profit?
I play in many games; I read all the poker magazines and on line sites that I can find; and I read a lot of news groups too. I read a lot of advice. Some of it is good. Some of it is awful. Here's some of the worst.
A columnist who writes for low stakes players just starting out in poker opines, "...so never play a hand the same way twice in a row. It will make you too predictable."