by Ashley Adams
I go to Las Vegas at least once a year – and have learned how to minimize my overhead while out there. Less money for expenses translates into more money for tournaments.. Here’s how I save.
Let’s look at the four major cost components of a typical poker vacation:
3. Ground Transportation (taxi, buses, rental cars)
Airfare – Save $150
I live in Boston, Massachusetts. My travel costs may be different from those of you who live elsewhere. Even so, I think the process of saving money is the same, regardless of your place of departure.
Many of my friends have frequent flyer cards and use one airline exclusively. I don’t do that. I use a consolidator, an internet service that scans all airlines for the lowest fare. Recently, I noticed a disparity of $150 between the most expensive seat and the cheapest seat on a round trip flight from Boston to Las Vegas. The best site for this, in my opinion, is Fly.com. It looks at all of the consolidators and finds the cheapest seat. It also shows you the cheapest days to fly, allowing you to further cut your costs by leaving a day or two earlier or later to qualify for the lowest fare.
2. Hotel – Save between $420 and $1,940
First of all, you should decide what kind of a place you want. Maybe you want to stay only in a first class place – five stars all the way. Fine. I just checked the rates through the site of a well-regarded 5 star hotel on the strip in Las Vegas. Their least expensive room was $2,050 for five nights including a Saturday night. I then went to my favorite internet site, Trivago.com – and booked the exact same room for $1,630 – for a savings of $420. But maybe you’re a little more flexible than I was – and are willing to stay in another 5-star hotel – just not that particular one. Using Trivago again, I found another popular, well known place, in roughly the same strip location, for only $750 for five nights including Saturday night – for a savings of $1,250. Same quality, roughly the same location – and over $1,000 less!
Of course if you’re willing to go down slightly in quality you can save even more. I found a well-known three-star hotel, near the northern end of the Strip for just $210 for those same five nights – for a savings of $1,840. Believe it or not, if you want, you can do even better than that in Las Vegas. I typically stay in a clean two-star place for $110 for those five nights – for a savings of $1,940. If you are a serious poker player like I am, you’re spending nearly all your waking hours in a poker room anyway. You’re just using your room for sleep. Who really cares how fancy the pillows and drapes are? So why pay top price?
3. Ground Transportation: Save $225
Many people take cabs wherever they go in Las Vegas. That can get expensive. With a $3.30 initial charge, $2.60 a mile plus $.60 a minute “Waiting time” plus $3 or so to use your credit card – a typical ride from casino to casino or casino to restaurant typically runs no less than $20 a pop including tip. Do that three or four times a day, five days in a row and you’ve out at least $300 to get around in Las Vegas.
Instead, consider renting a car. If you go through Hotwire.com, my favorite site for rental cards, you won’t know what rental car company you have, but I really don’t care about anything but the rate. Recently, I paid just $75 a week (including all taxes and fees) for an economy car –$225 less than using cabs.
4. Meals: Save $300 -- maybe
You can get a room with a kitchenette and cook many of your own meals – saving the cost of going out to eat. Groceries are a lot cheaper than restaurant meals to be sure. I used to do that. I saved a few hundred dollars. But I found that it often wasn’t worth it, since I so enjoy the experience of eating out while in Las Vegas.
All tolled, depending on the choices you make you could save from $795 up to $2,615 for your five-day vacation, airfare included. With the money you save you could afford at least the entry into the Aria’s recently announced $565 tournament with a $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. Not too shabby! For my money, saving the money is worth the slightly extra effort.
For information about finding poker games while on vacation or traveling, check out my other article on PokerStrategy.com.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
The bloom was still on the rose of the poker boom when James (Jimmy) Woods strolled into the Commerce Casino, just outside Los Angeles. We met up for coffee and then walked over to a no limit hold’em game with “open seating.”
Tobey Maguire was in the game. So were Leonardo (Leo) DiCaprio and David Schwimmer. The rest of the players were a mixture of local pros and other recognizable regulars. There was no fanfare--no handlers holding court, protectively, no velvet ropes to keep gawkers at bay, no caviar on the side tables for the celebrities.
Except for the cast of Hollywood characters at the table, it was a typical, no limit hold' 'em game in the country's biggest card room The blinds ware relatively small. the buy-in was uncapped, and thousands—not hundreds of thousands--of dollars changed hands in the course of the night. Like the rest of the players at the table, the Hollywood pack seemed to care mostly about how people were playing their chips and the odds of a reversal of fortune on the turn of a card.
Way before Before Molly’s Game
In the mid 80s, when I first sidled up to a poker table, the WSOP was the one tournament that meant something to any poker player worth his salt. In that era, poker players were accustomed to seeing the likes of Gabe Kaplan and Telly Savalas at the World Series of Poker, but generally, movie stars were not aficionados of public poker rooms. Very few women took seats at the tables. During the three week World Series at Binion''s Horseshoe; blue language and vulgar comments were part of the game--except when a lady was at the table. Benny Binion, had no patience for such bad manners! Neither did Jack Binion. And good old Texans jumped right in if a guy got out of line when the fairer sex was present. But not so much in many other card rooms where male players viewed women as intrusive on their boys' nights out.
New York's Mayfair Club did better than most. In the mid 80's the Mayfair began its evolution into the hottest underground poker den in America. There was an egalitarian spirit at the table. Originally, a bridge and backgammon club, the Mayfair attracted some of the best and the brightest game players in the world; a slew of them were poker players; some were women. Once poker was an option at the Club, word spread like wildfire among local game players and sports bettors.
In no time flat, the Mayfair's ambience roped in low limit poker players from all walks of life. Pros, Wall Street whales and a smattering of celebrities were part of the Club's regular ebb and flow. There was one big no limit game; I decided to make high stakes no limit hold 'em my game. Few women dared to take a shot at pulling down a four or five figure pot. Most of the time I was the only woman at the table.
Needling fellow players and "coffee-housing" (harmless trash talk) were encouraged. Cursing was discouraged. The F bomb was never acceptable as a regular part of the conversation. Disparaging whispers about women and fish were routine but down and dirty abuse at the table was verboten.
And, Molly Bloom the poker hostess with the mostest, and author of a new book about high stakes poker games, in hotsy- totsy enclaves, was just a kid in Loveland, Colorado.
The 90s takes poker up a notch
In the 90s, screenplay writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien discovered New York’s Mayfair Club. The Mayfair was the inspiration for their 1998 film, Rounders, starring Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich. In the years that followed, increasingly, celebrities made their way into poker rooms. Damon took a fancy to the game. His close friend, Ben Affleck also got into poker; first at Foxwoods, in small no limit games, later in Atlantic City’s high stakes mixed limit games--with Jennifer Lopez at his side. After their break-up, more often alongside Maguire, and DiCaprio in California--the poker capital of the world. Woods, caught the poker bug, independently. He eagerly, made visits to tournaments and cash games on both coasts. and Schwimmer was a frequent player, too.
The movie stars generally behaved in poker rooms as they would in any other coed domain, where manners count and unwritten rules of basic etiquette frown on being disrespectful or making fun of women for sport. As to the rest of the poker players, across America, they were as orderly as required by the game runners and poker parlors personnel; few public card rooms muzzled provocative commentary.
The Poker Boom Years in the Oughts
With the advent of online poker, the average age and social skills of poker players dropped, dramatically, during the next decade of the "oughts." A small influx of never-seen-before women of varying ages began to take seats at casino card room tables. If they wanted to play poker, they wee forced to adapt to a new lexicon of acceptable curse words and more table chatter that portrayed women as nuts and sl---s .
Of course, some women in the poker world never have looked upon a poker table as a place to be a prim and proper lady! One-time poker star and runner-up contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, Annie Duke was among them. At one Ante Up for Africa charity poker event, the outspoken Duke, came running to our table where Matt Damon was the center of the universe. Mugging for the cameras, she said to him in earshot of the well-heeled crowd, “You are such an attention w---re!”
The golden era of Molly Bloom’s poker games was on the horizon.
Molly’s Game: Beyond Imagination
The poker festivities described in the new blockbuster book, “Molly’s Game,” by Molly Bloom became the hottest tickets in town in the latter years of the oughts. Business titans mixed it up with movie stars and the occasional well-known poker pro.
Dubbed the “Poker Princess,” of Hollywood and New York, Bloom operated private, exclusive, high-stakes poker games until the Government shut them down. Her game got hit by a sting operation that targeted big fish in sports betting businesses and organized crime.
This past spring Bloom resolved the criminal case against her with one year of probation.
Ms. Bloom’s games were always carefully laced with celebrities the likes of Maguire, Schwimmer, Di Caprio, and Affleck. Movie icons attract billionaire businessmen into the fold, she explains. Bloom catered to Spiderman Maguire because he was a regular who encouraged other A-listers to join the fun. And for a good while, Maguire helped to keep Bloom's business a captivating affair.
According to Bloom, Maguire was a big winner and a poor tipper who messed big-time with her sense of dignity. Showing him as a cad toward women, she cited an incident in which Spiderman insisted she bark like a seal for the reward of a $1,000 tip. She found it in herself to decline. She got the tip anyway. It was not the first example of Maguire's penchant for humor at a woman's expense, in a poker room, nor the last.
Maguire is part of a sizable demographic of men who push the boundaries of “arguably acceptable” conduct outside , brothels, male locker rooms, and bedrooms--by mutual consent.
“Mike the Mouth” Reflects a Popular Mindset
Calling Out Sexism in Poker — Beyond Maguire, Molly’s Game, and “The Mouth” - by Wendeen H. Eolis
Featured Strategy - Mike Caro: Today's Word is Revenge
World Series of Poker Events 53 to the Main Event (#65)
AND MUCH MORE, Download the new Issue PDF now!
by M. G. Smith
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by George "The Engineer" Epstein
Our two previous columns [Editor's Note: Read Part 1 and Part 2] presented responses from a wide range of readers to our earlier column, “How Do You Rule?” It was about a hand where a player misstated his hand on the showdown, prompting his opponent to muck his cards. To whom should the pot be awarded?
Based on readers’ responses, in this case, both the Tournament Directors Association (TDA) rules and Robert’s Rules of Poker lack in specificity and are subject to interpretation by individuals, as well as possible personal biases.
Quoting Robert’s Rules as they apply to this situation: “A player must show all cards in the hand face-up on the table to win any part of the pot. Cards speak; players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared... Deliberately miscalling a hand with the intent of causing another player to discard a winning hand is unethical and may result in forfeiture of the pot. If you miscall your hand and cause another player to foul his or her hand, your hand is dead. If both hands remain intact, the best hand wins. If a miscalled hand occurs in a multi-handed pot, the miscalled hand is dead, and the best remaining hand wins the pot. For your own protection, always hold your hand until you see your opponent’s cards.”
by Barbara Rogers
Art by Robby Becker
This piece of art (above) reflects my brain on poker. I couldn't say it better with words. But poker dealer Robby Becker speaks to the poker player in us through his art. Robby and his wife left Vegas for Southern Florida and now he deals poker for Director Of Poker Operations, David Litvin, at the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale, Florida as one of David's best dealers. His passion for art extends beyond poker. It includes plenty of beach themes and vistas from urban golf courses to fantastic sci-fi worlds. Robby's poker art specializes in colorful spay paint on canvas in abstract forms and adding the poker theme. This has drawn so much attention to his work that David has made arrangement for Robby's work to be on display at Mardi Gras poker room. You can see more by going to robbybeckerart.com. You may want to invest in his art before he becomes famous, while it's still affordable.
by George “The Engineer” Epstein
My column entitled, “How Do You Rule?” in the Feb. 10 issue of PPN, had so many great responses that we awarded seven valuable prizes (copies of the Hold’em Algorithm) instead of one as planned! All raised salient issues; many offered thoughtful suggestions. Some described personal experiences. I’ll summarize their comments and quote several in this and the next column (Part II). After studying the responses and consulting with others, I have drawn conclusions that I will share with you in Part III. (You may be surprised!)
by George “The Engineer” Epstein
Hear Ye... Hear Ye... The Players’ Poker Court of Law is now in session.
You are the Judge. I am the key witness. I have been sworn in. During a low-limit game at a local casino, James raised before the flop in middle position, and was called by several opponents. The flop was rather uninteresting:
There was no card higher than a nine, no pairs, no connectors, and it contained three different suits. A player in early position bet out. There was one limper before James raised again. One player behind him—Bill—and the two limpers called James’ raise. The turn was not very exciting either. There were no pairs on the board, but there were possible long-shot draws to a straight or flush.
by Geno Lawrenzi Jr.
Every New Year’s Eve I gather with friends at a favorite watering hole. Iced champagne is served by pretty waitresses who look more like Playboy Centerfolds than the girl next door.
We watch the wall clock move slowly toward midnight. When it hits that magical hour and we are in the New Year, I reveal my New Year’s Resolutions. Excuse me? The room has suddenly gone silent. Okay, all of you called my bluff. You know that most people do not keep their resolutions. In my case, that, unfortunately, has been true.
In 1962, I resolved to marry Kathy, my childhood sweetheart. There was only one problem. She was already on her second husband and would go through two more before we met at a class reunion a couple of years ago. When I saw her, I was happy I hadn’t made good on the resolution. Boy, what time and four ex-husbands can do to a woman.
In 1984—what a wonderful George Orwellian year that was!—I resolved to stop drinking in excess. And I did.
Ten years later.
by Wendeen H. Eolis
Last month at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, the American Gaming Association (AGA) upped the ante in its bid to promote progressive federal legislation to regulate online poker while pushing for a strengthened crackdown on illegal online poker operators.
AGA Uses Runner Runner to Campaign for Legislative Reform
AGA president, Geoff Freeman (since July 1, 2013) held a media conference during the GGE gathering to let it be known that the AGA intended to capitalize on the new movie, Runner Runner, by highlighting perils of online poker in an unregulated environment.
Freeman demonstrates a savvy understanding of the two-edged sword of this movie, noting, also, the need to mitigate against opponent cries to eliminate online gambling altogether based on the ills of the industry depicted in the movie.
Runner Runner Movie Eludes Box Office Kudos