Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A discussion of Tampa poker again?

Hmmmm. Tired of Tampa poker reports yet?

Yesterday was a tough one. I continued my pattern of playing no limit for the first half of my day and then relaxing in a bit of 2-4 limit when I tire.

Yesterday was a tough one. I continued my pattern of playing no limit for the first half of my day and then relaxing in a bit of 2-4 limit when I tire

Neighbor Ron was going home, so we stopped at the Tampa Bay Downs where he bet horses that could not run and for a long while I bet cards that I might better have let lie. I can't really figure exactly all my bad plays. I did play queen-nine which flopped two pair and then got beaten with queen-ten, so I know I was a bit loose at times. This is exactly why one does not play queen nine.

I kept my pattern of buying in so that my chips were always at $100 in case I had good cards. My idea then was to only play good cards. Well, that is the idea all the time, but sometimes ideas get lost in the moment, and with tiny chip stacks it is less damaging to be a loser. And you can get as they say "lucky"

Take Whitey. He is a gentle old fellow with white hair that includes a pony tail. He said that he has been thinking of cutting the pony, but his barber keeps talking him out of it.

"Some days I like it; some days I hate it," he explains with a shrug.

Whitey plays very well. He says he can win at a table of good players, but he loses at a table of poor players. Well, he lost a huge hand and was getting up to go when the dealer said, "Stick around Whitey, ya got four chips left here."

So Whitey went all in with them.
And won.

He did that four times in a row until he had parlayed his four chips into about sixty. The table, even the guy twice beat with Ace-jack, was laughing so hard that some of us had trouble staying seated.

Whitey played real poker then and I left before I saw whether he recouped his original buy-in or not.

Hey, "A chip and a chair."

Another interesting turn of events was the high hand award. Every hour they were to give $200 to the high hand. Four hands in to the game a guy at our table got a royal flush in spades so he was unbeatable as they count suits too and spades is the best. So there went the promotion. No fantasy anticipation was left to the rst of us for that hour. The next hour they changed the rules and decided to let every jacks full or better player join a table for a shoot off of one hand dealt without bets. This kept our fantansies alive. Nice.

The guys win did make it a bit harder at the table. He was to play the money so he was top chipped guy and he was a bit loose so he easily dominated. I mangaged a seat to his left and that helped. I only had a bit of time there, waiting for Ron to lose on bad horses and the time to come to go to the airport. Otherwise I might have left. As it was, once I accumulated over $200 chips I got nervous if the loose guy was in the hand.

My first play was good. I won two good hands which I played very well. I had jacks in early position, raised, was not reraised by pocket kings to my left until after the flop when I had trip jacks and made just a modest bet and he doubled it. I called rather than go over the top hoping to trap him and it almost worked, but on the river the rainbow board had come runner runner in clubs and he was shy about coming over the top of me which he was clearly tempted to do. Aggressive young kid.

I guess after that I got cocky and my play went South. I lost until I was down $160. Playing the jacks well did nothing for my table image except announce I could be deceptive and trap so I might have gotten respect for second best hands, but I never had enough to semi bluff.

I went to the bathroom and had a stern talk with myself, so when it was time to go to the airport, I left I had not done any more stupid plays, and I was down just $44 and the $7 I had risked on long shot horses to show.

I thought betting a horse would be entertaining, but found that I could not follow the race in any way that let me participate in the excitement. Usually I was straining to see who came in third, trying to read those ity bitty numbers in thei little colored circles on the TV and losing my poker concentration.

I won't do that again.

If I do that again, I am only betting horses to win. That information is given in many ways over and over,but trying to find the third horse takes too much eye time.

So I left down $51, took Ron to the airport, went over to the Hardrock where I relaxed with their fine buffet. Plenty of rightly cooked veggies, a nice piece of salmon and a plate of hot snow crab topped off with tastes of many other goodies. Then I dropped into a lusciously loose 2-4 game where folks were just paying off with any sort of half a hand.

And talking about promotions, it is the Hard Rock drawing promotion that attracts me on Tuesdays. It is a very rare promo because it is a casino wide promotion that is made available to poker players as well. To enter you swipe your player's card once and every hour they pull one name that has three minutes to get to the identity booth for usually about $1000. It makes a nice diversion at the table when the drawing comes. Also, poker players get the best of the drawing because they can stay and play for longer periods than any other players (no full pay VP) and not be ground down by house rake.

I was up and down playing there. My worst miss was a nut flush draw/straight draw chase with capped bets after the flop from seven players. Just one more heart! The winner held just a pair.

I left up $58 so my grand total for the day was $7 to the good.

My frugal bring my own cup habit payed off too. The iced tea left at the end of my buffet actually was plenty of liquid for me for the rest of the evening. So I save a $1 tip there as I had at the horse track by getting two coffees in one cup. Linda can help me with the math, but I think that carrying a cup added 29% to my daily winnings. Not quite as good as a comped Myer's rum might be, but hey, I'll take it and God bless Jean Scott.

Now recently a friend in a helpful attempt to continue my education, sent me Scoblete's attempts to present yet again another set of Gambling Myths (or some such over generalized repetitive swill that these gambling writers seem to be able to sell over and over. Are all reading gamblers newbies or what?)
I responded with my own takes on the generalized issues, arguing finer points against his generalizations and half truths.

And here again in yesterday's experience is a counter argument for the one that suggest comps are more myth than part of gambling strategy.

Yesterday, I had done well in the frugal department by bringing my own cup so I could double the free coffee at the track and pour out the rest of my iced tea and lemon after the buffet. But had I been playing the same poker in Vegas, I would have had some fine, wonderful drinks while I played and my seven hours of play might have earned me enough to almost pay for my $15 buffet. So instead of the day's play being valued at $7, it would have been valued at more like $50.
"There are some people who, if they don't already know, you can't tell 'em" - Yogi Berra-

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tampa Downs

While Neighbor Ron escaped the brutality of the Northern winter for another few days of basking in the Florida sun, I emerged from two days nursing a fairly nasty cold with orange juice and bed rest to pick Ron up in Tampa and hit Tampa Downs just in time to lock up a no limit seat and allow Ron to handicap some ponies and marvel at how rich and green the Tampa down turf looked.

Poker games run for just 12 hours here in Florida and Tampa Downs chooses 12:30 to 12:30 so I am fortunate to start at a new table where everyone is equally chipped with the one hundred max that defines no limit in Florida.
I am very pleased to find three players at my table whom I have faced before. I remember how they play. Added to that is one young fellow who is one of the worst poker players I have ever seen. His loose play keeps the bluffing at the table contained because he will call with a low pair, and basically the table passes him around while he rebuys and loses.
This is an ideal game for me.

I catch some good cards early. The kid pays me and I am about a hundred or so ahead when everything just dries up. The kid wins with lucky draws, rebuys when he loses, and is a great source of entertainment, but I am really just watching everyone else play for a long, long while.

These old regulars make one huge mistake. They mutter and shake their heads and in many little ways send the kid the message that he is a bad player. He gets it. He justifies some of his plays, but gradually he tightens up, and finally he leaves to lose his money at a 2-5 table where he won't feel like an idiot. We have tossed the fish back into the water.

I am content for a while playing tight with the regulars, and then my cold catches up to me, and I know I will do something even more stupid than what I generally do when I am healthy, so I escape to a 2-4 table to play a bit of easy poker, watch the horses on the television, and listen to the horse banter.

Here I make one huge mistake. I don't bet any horses. I had decided earlier to just take a dollar to win on long shots and cover each race, so that I have a bit of distracting fun, but the cold and the sleeplessness of the night before put me off that plan. Of course, this is the day for long shots at Tampa, and I'd have probably turned my few dollars into profit.

Woulda, shoulda......well, you know the drill.

But I love the banter and the cheering and the energy of my table mates as they talk about which horse they like and how close they came to the daily double or a triple or anything. It is not so much about poker here. Poker is just something to do while they study which horses to bet.

Except for the horse talk, it is a dull table. I suspect a couple of the players were in special classes in school forty years ago and did not learn a while hell of a lot. They have trouble keeping their place. The dealers are over tired and somewhat removed from the game. This is unusual in Florida. The dealers last week at Tampa hardrock, even when dealing 2-4 were alert and quick. These dealers are slow, spend way too much time watching the floor for their next break, and fail to control out of turn betting. At one point I pause to think in early position and five people behind me bet before I decide just to call. The dealer is so out of it I barely get my two dollars in before the chips are gathered.

But they call hands accurately.

At my table are passive players who see every flop chealy and may raise a bit after the flop on anything really strong, but will pay just about any good hand. The pots are nicer at times than the no limit pots I have left on the other table.

Many of these players know one another. I am very lucky to sit to the left of the tightest player at the table, and it saves me money. I don't get anything approaching good cards, not even the jacks full of deuces or better that would qualify me to compete for a $350 seat in tomorrow's tournament.

Today's promotion is that anyone with a full house of jacks full of deuces or better can sit at a table where an open hand of hold em is dealt out to determine one winner. This winner gets a tournament seat in tomorrow's game which is a nice $350 prize. It is not really high hand bonus. It is a middle hand bonus. One seat is given every hour. But I don't get even one shot.

One hour three people from my table compete and one takes the prize. He jokes that he'll have to explain to his wife how he just has to go back to the track this Sunday because he has this great free tournament seat and certainly can't let a $350 freebie go to waste. He'll act annoyed that he'll miss Sunday dinner with the mother-in-law , but whattarya gonna do.

The truth is that he can sell the seat easily for $250, and the dealer will help him connect with a buyer. So the promotion also benefits regulars who get a bargain price on seats winners can't use. This means that every hour some player who had a full house catches a bonus worth at least $250 and a full table of players get the chip and a chair dream of that happening. For me it is a brighter promotion than those bad beat once in a lifetime awards.

It is a delightful afternoon, but by the end of the races I am beginning to fade.

Poor sleep and my persistent head cold, can't be overcome even with my very large mugs of coffee. I brought my car coffee cup along again, and the pretty waitresses will fill it up for me rather than bring me one of those small and hard to handle syrofoam cups.

The coffee will stay hot. The cup will be easy to hold.

And old age arthritic clumsiness will not cause me to tip anything or spill anything or worry about it. And today I am very pleased with myself because I have finally found a dollar store car cup that fits perfectly in those little plastic cup holders. Between coffees the cup stays in front of me, so I don't have to give up my cup holder. In fact, this cup locked up seat up when I arrived. And I get twice as much coffee out of every tip.

I am a very frugal gambler; I delight in very small things.

Except I don't delight in all these small cards. I practice various methods of tossing the cards in when I fold, working on my spin. This is a good exercise for my fingers, or so I tell myself anyway.

Except for the horses I am not much into the banter here today. I feel in a bit of a fog with the cold.

Also, I am not a regular.

What is so nice about 2-4 poker in Vegas is that the crowd, even if it includes some regulars, generally collects friendly tourists with interesting life stories from all over the world. This game collects only regular horse players. They are nice enough and not as grumpy as at most tables, but generally quiet and old. The guy to my right is too busy handicapping to every have a word with me. The really old guy to my left can't hear me say check out loud.

The only pretty girls to watch are the waitresses, and they are friendly and cute and wonderfully attentive. Each coffee is delivered with a smile. Still they are there an quickly gone.

Meanwhile back at the races Ron is not doing so well. He is not betting the long shots that rush out from no where to frustrate the careful, concentrated study with book and pencil and stats. He is not losing a lot, but he is not winning.

More frustrating is that he is not predicting anything. Gamblers, when they lose, like to lose by just a bit. They feel so much better knowing that they did know what they were doing, and that it was only last minute luck that took them out of the money and then just by a little bit.

In poker they might whine about bad beats, but the underlying message is that they knew what they were doing and in that sense bad beats are very reassuring. Life is much more complicated than poker or horses and most of us rarely really know what we are doing. That is one reason gambling can such a comfort.

I know exactly what I am doing. I am trying to spin my folded cards so they land perfectly flat on some previously folded cards, and the dealer never has to make a special grab for my cards but just rakes them away in one easy swoop. I am doing a similar thing with the chips in my blinds so the dealer rarely has to reach for anything. I am very proud of myself. I can't raise, but I can be an efficient folder of cards and chips.

I remember that in poker it is nice to have two cards that match. I get them too. Once I get sevens that match and once I get deuces. The sevens actually last to the river and are beat by eights without costing me much.

I win a pot now and again. My 2-4 suited flops a set. My rare ace-king turns an inside straight on the turn, after I call against the odds on the flop. So my preflop raise here pays me. I win a hand with 5-2 when it flops a set of fives and folks bet into me probably chasing a straight. One guy bets into me on the river and is amazed I have the third 5. I guess he is one of the kids from special class.

I see no pocket pair higher than the sevens. I do see connectors, but few straighten or flush. I win a hand with 6-8 that goes to two pair on the river, and guys who have checked along with me call me on the river and lose with their one pair. I find that very hard to believe, but I smile and rake in my small pot.

So I stay about even. Finally it is time to go. I play all my free hands and in my very last hand of the day I'm under the gun with A-K. So I raise. I figure I'll probably lose this hand and cut in half my small day's profit. Queen-Ten flops. I bet, and it goes around for a few calls with no raises.
And yes, on my last hand of the day, the jack comes on the turn AND someone raises me who has a straight to the king, so I can reraise on the river, get called, and pick up my chips a winner. Nice.

I rack my chips and go off with Ron to eat the special cordon blue chicken at the nearby Grill. I am a winner. I am up $35 after four hours of poker and happy.

I know my cold is fading, and I know tomorrow is going to be warm and sunny after a week of chilly days of waking up to frost in Florida.
I am too tired to safely take take charge of my new van on the trip home, so Ron makes the long drive back to Homosassa while we talk and get caught up on things back in upstate New York.
Tomorrow Ron and I will work the pontoon down the river to see if there are any Manatees and pull into a pier to eat a Seagrass Salad in the sun. I won't swim with the Manatees until my cold is really gone, but at least I will be on the water after a week of Florida winter, and Ron will delight in the sun and the warmthm. having exchanged the snow and ice and near zero biting wind of upstate New York for what seems to him like summer.

Life is good.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

blackjack and poker players

I answered this response to my trip report on Tampa Hard Rock poker from a fellow who wanted to make Blackjack into such a better game to play.

He wrote:

While reading this very good report from dewey, I am forcibly reminded of why I despise poker so much in favor of blackjack tournaments. BJT's are all about the cards and the math, and only about the cards and the math. If you've got the brain and can get some decent cards, you can win.

I heard a poker guy say "Poker tournaments favor the playground bully. Blackjack tournaments are for the Poindexter kid with the pocket protector full of inkpens." My pocket protector is doing just fine!

I responded:

While your analogy is a bit value laden, and "despise" perhaps a bit strong, I agree there is a great difference in the games. In poker you play the people as well as the cards and math. Some people are a bit rough, but others are friendly and easy, like playing opponents in any sport. There are bullies and there are graceful losers, taciturn players, jokers, maniacs. It is like the playground games of marbles or pitching pennies because all sorts of personalities are there and interacting and trying to deal with frustrations while they compete with one another, but unlike those games, personal interaction is a given part of the rules of play.

Most sports have the same kinds of personality difficulties. My dad had some spring training time playing baseball with the Yanks back in the day. He was a catcher. He hated Ty Cobb and the way Cobb came in to the plate with spikes up.
Ali was a very different boxer than Mikey. He used humorous rhymes and never bit off any ears.
We see fights on the hockey field and football, in spite of all the mental strategies, is fundamentally a celebration of physical bullying, which is why a pro player's life expectancy is about 55 years old and those alive suffer more than the average in old age.

What moved me from blackjack is simply what you present. Basically, the play is all mathematics and rather like being an automaton. Counting just makes it more mathematically complex, but there are no human factors. I guess in the tournaments you do figure a bit of strategy against other players, but still it is more math than personality. Basically, a computer would beat a human.

Poker mixes the personalities of the players in the game. So it becomes more complex. I think the suggestion in your analogy that smart people who are bookish and like to study avoid poker is in error. It attracts intelligence along with every other human attribute. There have been all sorts of books written about poker and poker players are always reading.

For Example, I love The Tao of Poker that puts a spiritual spin on the way we face the game.

My poker buddy John Blowers has written a novel called Life on Tilt
which explores the personal relationships of a fictional poker player and his task of sorting priorities and goals.

Both are as much about life as poker.

Yesterday I was playing with a ex Marine who had the job of being a Presidential guard for Isenhower and Nixon. He watched Nixon play many a poker game.

"He was the best poker player I ever saw," the old marine told us. " He was so sneaky."

Nixon's poker certainly revealed his Presidential pose.

Poker is basically a microcosm of human society in a world of competition and risk. It reflects reality and allows us to learn about ourselves in an environment where all we have to lose is a little bit of money.


That being said I can't tell you the number of times I've been at blackjack tables where fellow players were absolutely obnoxious about someone's failure to play perfect strategy in spite of the fact that no one player's play affects the randomness of the other player's chances for success. It certainly is no game to adopt if you want friendliness.

So while I agree that the game of Bj being much less complex, does not demand you read and play against all sorts of personality, there are plenty of bullies there as well, only they have no excuse.
And there are all forms of bullying. Gambling author Frank Sclobette talks about annoying BJ players in his latest newsletter:

"Unfortunately, blackjack is the game that brings out every false expert who has ever lived! For some peculiar reason, blackjack players, even the worst ones who have no idea of basic strategy, think of themselves as truly gifted strategists who must tell everyone else at the table how to play their hands. Worse, they must tell you just as you make your decision why that decision is good or bad. Worse still, they must tell you in such a loud voice that everyone on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is now fully aware that you don't know how to play the game."

video poker allows you to escape for the most part all of that and deal just with the mathematics in a random world. No human interaction except the odd person who needs to tell you how to play.

So game choice depends on what you want as experience.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tampa Hard Rock

The casino was very crowded. A dealer told that me it crowds up on Tuesdays as there is a good drawing. It was hard walking between machines and the VP banks were full except just around supper time.

The drawing is interesting because the TV screens in the poker room allow all of us to participate in that too. For us it is a great bonus because we play longer hours and will see more drawings. None of our rake goes to fund that drawing as far as I know. There is a bad beat and some awards for straight flushes.

The 2-4 list was longer than what would show on the screen, so I added my name to the 1-2 no limit figuring on moving later when I was called for the 2-4. Even that was a good wait.

Once I was on the no limit, I was content so I did not move. I seemed to be playing well. Pots were small, but people were pretty tight. No one bluffed or pushed. The entire time I played, I was the only one to make an all-in bet of any size.

My play was good except for the occasional temptation to chase. I caught two of those chases and that made me more than the small post when I had the winning. Both catches made the table mad. In one a fellow had the king high heart flush on the turn and bet $30. I had trip deuces and it would have been prudent to fold since any other set had me beat as did the hearts. I put the fellow on hearts figuring he would not be a set into three hearts with another yet to come. The river brought a jack and filled me up. The fellow bet and I went all in. He called as he was committed. That was the only all-in bet at that table in the four hours I played although I did see some bets that were very strong.

The loser got really annoyed. When the table gets mad at me, I know that I am doing something right. In fact, that fellow with the heart flush went on tilt after that hand and lost all his bankroll. Unfortunately, I did not have the cards to win it for the short while he was tilting.
On the other hand, I don't think I really played that way as a planned strategy to put my opponents off balance. I think I was just tempted to give it a try. In no limit a steady diet of that attitude is deadly.
Whatever, it worked to my great advantage here. I could have stolen more hands had I had the right cards for stealing and certainly I was a good deal less predictable. That is what annoys players. They try to keep their opponents predictable.

That fellow also tried to start a post hand discussion like this, " If I'd shown you the flush, would you have called that turn bet?"

I answered that I thought "if" questions were impossible to answer.
"Who knows what I might do? It depends on how I feel." That elicited the appropriate sneer. After a hand or two, for later such discussions, I got out my new card protecting fish, a carved bone fish I picked up here in Florida at an Indian Pow-Wow. The next time someone asked me why I played a certain way, I said that I merely listened to what the fish told me to do, that when "fishing" for cards, my fish would know what exactly was coming. That way I could avoid giving away any true information.

A second fishing play of mine was worse. I had an inside straight draw after the flop and called a woman betting a pair of aces. I caught. I checked the turn looking to trap and she checked her pair. I bet $20 on the river and she called me. Playing for an inside straight with one or two opponents is pretty lame.

I had some very lucky hands. I flopped some straights and had pocket kings and aces and ace king often, although no ace-king lasted very long at all. I started to tire around supper time and the players started to dwindle so I quit up about $140.

One guy got mad at me when I checked a flopped straight in early position and then raised his $5 bet and one call to $20 to force both players out. It only got me a small pot again, but I think it was a good play. This guy had moved his seat to one where he could see less in order to get to the left of me, so I suspect it was annoying when his plan backfired and I let him encourage the table to bet before I raised.

I don't really know how to play flopped straights. I think I over bet them often.

I walked around, waiting to see if my name was called on the promotional drawing. By swiping my card once I was in drawings every hour. The one drawn had just 3 minutes to claim the money prize which might be as much as $1000. I did not get called but some fellow named Herschel did win and two hours later his name was called a second time. He was not there to claim the second prize. Pretty tight odds to hit that twice in one day.

I had eaten at Fred's Buffet in Bartow for lunch so I wanted just a light supper. The food court had one station that offered a small bowl of mixed veggies for under $2. So that was my frugal supper. This trip I also brought with me an insulated coffee cup that held two casino cups. This was very helpful for coffee as at one point we had four dealers before we saw a waitress. It was also great at supper because I just filled it with water from the cooled water fountain.

I like the buffet at Tampa Hard Rock, but two buffets in the same day is too much for my diet. Fred's is a better choice, More veggies and less tempting bits.

I got back at suppertime and signed up for a 2-4 table as I was too tired for no limit. I did very well, doubling my buy in until two good players joined, one sitting two seats to my left and killing me with raises. My hardest loss was when this fellows trip jacks with ace kicker went full on the river and beat my sixes full of jacks that had ruled until then. The rest of players were too loose and would pay me if they had a pair.

I doubled my sixty dollar buy in and then lost it all back as well as over 40 more to the good guys and my loose play. I went to the bathroom, had a long talk with myself, bought in for another $20 and was able to grind back to a profit in large part because I was playing tight but my table image was of a loose player so even the good guys paid me off.

Long shot wins here was 3-4 that went to two pair and an Ace of Diamonds that saw a river bring 4 diamonds. I was paid for the diamonds by a kid who had none. The poor play was very poor and I was constantly surprised to win when I expected to lose. Check raising was a great tool also.

At the end of the day I was up $179 for the day even after losing $5 on a Howling Wolf slot and $5 on low pay table video poker, played while waiting for a poker seat. I was one card short of a royal once in my play. I played a double double bonus with an 8-5 pay table. Terrible, but better than the slots here as all I saw required huge max bets to be eligible for the big win. Playing short coin must be a bad bet in those. I just did that as a lark. Normally, I just won't play the bad machines at all figuring over the course of my life I'll lose more than I win.

Compared to playing at the Tampa Downs this place is more crowded and more noisy with longer waits for tables. The food choices are better. Ocala poker rooms are even quieter still. Those were the most layed back and relaxed rooms I have ever played. I'll probably play again there this trip. The players were about the same as the Downs for the no limit but worse for the limit. Of course, the Downs can also mean players are distracted by betting horses, especially at the 2-4. I did not play no limit at Ocala. There the 2-4 players were as serious and skilled as players at a good $4-$8 other places.

For frugal players Ocala also has a 1-2 limit game. None of these games are left in Vegas.

My winning breaks a long series of losses, a tough losing streak over the past few months with few wins in between and nothing as large as this. I hope it means better luck ahead or better play or whatever brings the score in my favor.

Saturday I'll be back a the Tampa Downs as I pick up a buddy at the airport.

POSTSCRIPT NOTE: A guy on a board took issue with the selling of the promotion seat and ranted a bit. He claimed it spoiled the tournaments when people did that.
This is my response:
Perhaps that is why the dealers could arrange the sales.
I don't see it as exploitation by the middle men, but a service.

As you describe it, it is not like the guys are scalping and getting more for the seats than the original price.

The casino is taking raked money and redistributing it to attract and keep players. I doubt they care who gets the $350, but they don't want to have limited, local only awards, or if they do, I don't want to play there. If I am playing where my raked money is redistributed in such a way that when I can only come for the day I play, I lose when I win and have to throw away my $350 seat, then I feel cheated. That is exactly how I feel in Vegas where freerolls seats are given for so many hours of play. That promotion does not attract me. Tourist raked dollars are basically redistributed to the local's players. But in this case, at least it is a tournament that is offered totally free, so one could argue it did not come out of casino raked money but is their lost leader. I don't know if that is the case, but I don't like it and any other award, especially aces cracked will attract me away from that casino. For one thing, the local wise guys given the freeroll are then attracted to play often there, and will be the worst kind of competition while they are earning the last few hours of their qualifying play. I don't want to play with tight,old regulars,sitting and just playing blinds for two hours so they get to a freeroll.

That may be fine for Vegas casinos, but these horse tracks want to attract the tourist as well and to attract from all over Florida. I drive an hour and a half to two hours to play at Tampa Downs. I may or may not be available for that drive another day. Tourists who come to see the horses run and lose at the horses may come in to play a bit of poker before they head home. They may not be coming back on another day.

So it seems that arrangement is the best of all worlds.

The poker room awards me $350 value and so entices me to come to play for that promotion and to come back another day if I win.
If I can't return, they let me sell or give my ticket to another person so s/he can play and they get that person back gambling and kep me a happy winner and everyone is happy.

I suspect they don't lose a seat here. I suspect most of the players at a $350 tournament in retired and depressed Florida where you can play limit 1-2 (yes, I said limit) don't buy in. Perhaps just giving a few seats away in this way allows the horse track to offer the tournament and fill the seats.

But regardless, if somehow a middleman gets in the way of this, well, they have got to redistribute that raked money somehow, so the worst they have lost is one return visit from the winning player, and they have not risked pissing off someone who has won $350 in two rounds of risk (got high hand for hour and beat out others)
And perhaps even in this situation they have not lost anything at all. The middleman who sells the ticket also had to come back to the poker room to do as you describe.

However, my guess in layed back Tampa Bay Downs is that no such complicated thing happens. The dealer was connecting the winner to the buyer in this case. I suspect that the dealer knows a regular who will take the seat at a bargain price and he connects the ticket to the regular to be nice. Maybe he gets a tip if the regular wins.

Tampa Downs is not Atlantic City. Old retired guys greatly outnumber wise guys.

I am missing something in the chopped pot remarks. Whether the seat is a gift or cash buy in would have little bearing on the decision to chop. When down to a few people, players have to decide whether to risk losing everything or settle for a fair share. It depends more on the chip distribution and the respect for opponents and sometimes on whether they are just damn tired of playing and want to go have supper.

And I also suspect that the horse track might know a little bit about what they are doing with these promotions. If they did not like this arrangement, they would not have to stop giving away tickets as suggested. It would be very easy just to limit the ticket to the original player if they wanted to. As simple as showing an ID when you redeemed your voucher for the free seat.

They don't do that with these tickets or with food vouchers which are another often offered high hand prize.
Let's just think they might know their business.

The tracks here experiment all the time with various creative ways to give back raked money. They gave up the huge bad beat bonus. I am happy for that, but what I heard was that they did not want to be responsible for the volatility of that bet. They rake enough money to pay for it, but not if it is hit many times in a row before they have rakes enough. Smaller high hand awards work better. You know, like the argument for playing JOB instead of 10/7 DB on a small bankroll.

Vegas casinos are on an unlimited bankroll; these horse tracks are not.

The funniest promotion I saw was at Lucky's Dog Track. Here they gave tickets out every so often, for high hand, or just for keeping you seat for an hour. Two names were called every hour and those folks went to a table where they were blindfolded. On the table were chips and racks. When the whistle blew they scrambled to rack the chips and when the time was up, they got to keep all the chips they had racked and the winner of the contest got a bit more. It was very funny.

It had some of the regulars practicing racking chips blindfolded at home.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Elizabeth and I went to the Ocala poker room located in the Jai-Alai gambling center. It was my first time there. I played 2-4 limit and Elizabeth played 1-2 limit, and then 2-4 limit but not at my table.

I loved the place. It was layed back and folks were friendly. The players in the 2-4 were good but very lose and passive. That is my favorite sort of game. Over about 4 hours I lost $19 but I'll go back.

The room itself was very quiet. They were not always calling for seating arrangement like at Foxwoods. If kids visit us they would have the bankroll for the 1-2 limit game. I have never sen that low a game before.

Elizabeth reported the other games as similar although she is fairly new at this. Still, she would have recognised a table of maniacs capping every bet. That did not happen.

At my table it was a see the flop and play game. So just holding strong cards, including strong draw cards was the way to win.

Once on 5-7 of hearts with everyone in I was on the button. I had been throwing away lots of stuff, so I wanted to play. I raised.
It worked perfectly to put lots of money in the pot and disguise my hand. It might have worked to give me a free card, but I flopped a straight, so I bet. Good thing. On the turn and the river two hearts came. This made my flush, and I bet the river because most of the post flop players folded when I bet after the flop putting me on a very high pair. Someone could have easily stayed with a couple hearts has I checked and then paid to see the river. The folding on the river in many hands told me plenty of players were happy to chase.

I had both pocket aces and pocket kings in fairly early position and because I was playing so tight I got too much respect and won both those pots before the river. Nice, but I could have used a guy with queens calling me down.

My earning respect with rags-thrown-away did not set me up to steal many pots. Some would say that here can be no stealing in 2-4, but as loose as they guys were preflop, they were cautious to tight after that and could be bullied out, but I was never in the right place with the right cards. I guess I overbet twice and won but I had backups.

I might have benefited from playing just a bit more tight. I lost three hands to the same player when his kicker beat me.

My best hand was K-7 suited that flopped 7-7-X. A woman bet in to me and I just called as I had callers after me and nothing much for them to chase. On the river I raised her and she called to see with her two pair. That hand also earned me respect. I liked the pot, but perhaps that was the time for a table change as these players did pay good attention.

Afterwards we found a nice little Italian-Mexican place down the road. Also there is food there outside the poker room. I could easily get a soup and salad to hold me over if I needed it. I may go back on Tuesday or I may go down to Tampa Downs again as the horses are running and there will be distracted players.

Next year we are hoping for a place we found in Dunellon. That would be just 40 minutes to the Ocala poker room and Elizabeth might play a few hours there with me.