Friday, May 27, 2005

When the Player's interest doesn't line up with the Casino's interest

When I was playing in San Francisco, they would almost always have a 20-40 game going. However, I prefered to play higher - in the 40-80 or the 80-160 games. The 80-160 games were scheduled once a week, on Thursdays. But 40-80 could be spread at anytime. Whenever the 20-40 was full and there was enough players for a 40-80 game, I would bug the floorman to start a 40-80 game. However, they often refused. They were afraid that if they started the 40-80 game, the 20-40 game would go shorthanded and break. They were not confident that any 40-80 game would go for a lengthy amount of time because some players would actually leave if they won a couple of hands (obviously these players shouldn't have been playing 40-80 in the first place, if winning a couple of hands was a big deal to them).

So often, my interest as the player was very different than the casinos. They cared about maximizing revenue, which meant they needed as many tables going at the same time. Unless it was very busy, they knew starting a 40-80 game may risk breaking up the 20-40 game. So what's the solution? For the player, there really wasn't any good solutions, except move to another city near a poker room where they spread higher limits.

When online poker became popular, it was a viable solution. Planet Poker opened up a 20-40 5-player max game (still going strong to this day). The shorthanded games played fast and they dealt roughly 3 times as many hands per hour as live games. This mean the swings were regularly the same as 80-160. And that's when I began to play the shorthanded online games much more than making the 1.5 hour round-trip drive to the casino. I learned I liked the shorthanded games more because it allowed a good player to play alot of hands. Relatively little waiting time, and it was more fun. These days, unless its a new game that I am thinking about (such as 7-Card Stud and Omaha Hi-Lo), it is difficult for me to play in casinos, because the wait time between hands is long. By playing 4 shorthanded tables at the same time, I could get in 400 hands an hour. So in just one hour, I could get in the same amount of hands as a full day at the casino! Long live online poker!

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