Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is It Possible To Make Money at a Casino 3-6 Hold'em Game?

The vast majority of poker blogs start out when a relatively new player decides to track his progress from a couple hundred dollar bankroll up to the thousands. He may get lucky at the start and go on a nice run, but invariably the blog devolves into a rant about how "rigged" online poker is or how he needs to play in higher games where the donkeys won't call his raises with 7-4 offsuit. Eventually he goes broke and the blog is never heard from again.

So far I have resisted this urge as my bankroll has careened down out of control from a high of $5,500 to $100. I do not believe online poker is rigged even though I feel the main problem I have had is negative variance. Yes I play bad from time to time, but I don't think it was -$5,400 bad.

Last Wednesday night, my normal poker tournament was canceled and I decided to meet Rob and Carlo out at the Gila River. They mentioned that they were running an "Aces cracked wins a rack" promotion and that we might be able to get in on it. The promotion was not running until 10 and I was there at 6:30 PM so I figured I would just play a solid game of 3-6.

I won a couple of hands early at my first table and then I noticed Carlo had sat down at another game. Even though my table was pretty juicy, my main concern that night was to have a good time, so I racked up my chips and took a seat at Carlo's table. Besides, Carlo can be easy money sometimes too.

Carlo did not last long with his initial $40 and went outside to call Rob who was MIA. Carlo never returned and I was by myself for the remainder of the night.

It was at this time when I went on a horrendous run of bad luck. I played at least 10 hands where I was ahead before the flop and after the flop, but someone hit their draw on the turn or the river. The converse was true as well that on the few hands I went in as a dog with a draw, the card I needed never came. I proceeded to lose $190 in 5 hours of play.

I might have over called the river in a couple of spots out of frustration, but for the most part I felt like I played pretty well. What struck me as strange was at 11:00 PM I looked around the table to figure out who was winning all the money at the table. Every stack at the table looked smaller than $100! Some of the real fish like to buy in short for $30-$50, but nobody looked like they were winning. Most of these players had been there for at least 2 hours if not more.

While driving home I started to do the math in my head. Let's say we play 40 hands in an hour. There is $1 taken from every pot for the bad beat jackpot. The rake is capped at $3 so they probably average about $2 in a 3-6 game. Plus the dealer usually receives at least $1 for every pot as a tip. That means that $4 x 40 hands = $160 disappearing from the table every hour. So if I played 5 hours the other night, then the casino took $800 off of the table during the course of my session.

One argument against this theory is that the rake is only paid by the winners, so you are not necessarily losing money. If you are a good player, you play less hands than everyone else and bigger pots, so as a percentage, you would pay less to the casino than the others.

I have a proven track record of winning at 9 handed limit games online. Usually I was winning 1.5-2.5 big bets per 100 hands. The rake schedule for Full Tilt at 3-6 for 9 players is $1 for every $20 in the pot, with a max of $3. The live game schedule at Gila River is $1 for every $10 with a max of $3. So obviously the rake is much less at the Online Poker sites plus you do not feel compelled to tip the faceless computer.

The easy answer is to play higher limits live, because the rake is still capped at $3 even if the pots are in the hundreds instead of the teens. You would assume that the players are better at that level. I have played as high as 10-20 and the players were slightly better. I did not find anyone who I felt really outclassed playing against, but I have not played enough hands to give it a fair chance.

I think one of these days I will go to the casino and track how many hands are dealt in one hour, how much they collect in rake, bad beat, and tips and how much did I pay out of my own pots. I think it may be enlightening.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Poker Bully,

You got a nice blog here. I'm new at hold'em. Like 1 month new. I go 3 times a week, and practice online, mainly to recognize junk cards. Like you, my mission is to get better, and to win something everytime I go.

I was gonna start a blog to track my progress by creating a blog, but I'd prefer to read yours.

One thing I got to get better at is recognizing the possible hands that people could have, and their betting patterns.

Looks like your pretty consistent with posting, keep it up.

Good luck on the way to WSOP. BTW, I live in Las Vegas.