Two Plus Two Publishing LLC Two Plus Two Publishing LLC
 

Go Back   Two Plus Two Poker Forums > >

Notices

Casino & Cardroom Poker Discussions of the activities, rules and etiquette of Live Casino and Cardroom Poker Venues.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-05-2017, 06:08 PM   #1
sidmando
newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 16
Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

(I hope I have posted this in the right forum, as I'm not a regular contributor. If not, someone please let me know and I'll post it where it belongs.)

I just finished a one month stay in Punta Cana. Before my trip I read every trip report I could find, so I figured I would return the favor and share my experiences.

I originally thought I would be playing at the Hard Rock, but I ended up not even going there once. For the most part I played at the Avalon Casino (formerly the Tower casino). I also played a few nights at the Melia Tropical Caribe while the Party Poker Caribbean Poker Party was going on, but that casino was totally dead there after the Party Poker event ended.

The reason I didn't end up playing at the Hard Rock had to do mostly with transportation. The only way to get there is by going on the main highway. Since I didn't have a car I got around either by moto-taxi (where you ride on the back of a small motorcycle) or by rental scooter. Multiple people told me I would be crazy to get on the highway late at night in anything other than a car. I also heard from multiple people that there wasn't much action at the Hard Rock and/or that their room was temporarily closed. Tourist season is just now kicking into gear, so that might change. In any case, obviously I can't offer any insights into poker at the Hard Rock. All of the rest of my comments will relate to the Avalon.

The poker operation is run by a guy named Mickey. He is a 38-year-old Serbian who has lived in the DR since 2003. He married a Dominican woman and has a couple kids. He's a very nice guy, and we became quite friendly. His English is pretty good, and he keeps things running smoothly. He also plays when the games aren't full but will give up his seat when the table fills up.

Cash games usually start around 9:30 or 10pm, although it varies quite a bit. Usually the games start later on Fridays and Saturdays. it wasn't unusual to have to wait until 11pm to start playing on the weekends. I'll get back to the cash games below, but first a word about tournaments. They have frequent small tournaments and satellites. Tuesdays and Thursdays they have a $60 buy-in tournament starting at 9pm (which sometimes delays the start of the cash games because there are only 2-3 tables in the poker area). The tourneys are kind of a mixed bag. The structure is very fast, with 12 minute levels. You start with 120 bbs, but the blinds escalate very quickly. Also, there is a crazy add-on at the break where you pay another $60 for almost twice as many chips as the starting stack. Given the number of chips, I felt there was no option other than to accept the add-on, so you're basically committing to buying in for $120 (unless you bust out before the add-on). The game gets ridiculously short stacked by the final table. I was chip leader when the final table began, and I had less than 15bbs. The great thing about these tourneys is that the locals have absolutely no concept of correct tournament strategy. While Dominican locals in general are crazy gamblers (see my comments on cash games below), they play way too tight with short stacks in the later stages of tournaments. It is pretty clear to me that customs officials confiscate all poker books at the border, because I'm certain that none of these people were even aware of the existence of poker books. It wasn't uncommon to see a player in the later stages with 5bbs in his stack limp preflop! To me, this aspect makes the tournaments worthwhile in spite of the poor structure. A skilled tournament player should have a substantial edge on the field. Last thing to mention about tournaments, there is a larger tournament the first Saturday of every month starting at 6pm with a $120 buy-in, the same crazy add-on for $115 and 20 minute levels. Also, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays they have $10 satellites to win seats in the monthly tournament. I never played one of those because it just didn't seem worth the time, but a lot of locals played the satellites almost every night, which resulted in a pretty decent field for the monthly tourney. I think there were about 40 entrants in the monthly $120.

Now for the cash games. Most nights they play $1/2 NLHE. Sometimes they play Omaha instead (or a combination of the two where each hand the dealer chooses which game to play). Occasionally there is a $2/5 table as well. Also on Friday and Saturdays there is a larger Pineapple game with a minimum buy-in of $500. (I didn't play that, since I have no experience with Pineapple.) In the $1/2 games, the minimum buy-in is $100 with no maximum. Most players buy in for $100-200, but some start with $500 or more. And these players by and large are crazy gamblers, so the chips really fly, which can result in some pretty substantial stacks on the table. Overall the skill level was quite low. There were quite a few absolutely horrible players, from rich locals who are willing to call 10x preflop raises with J8 to tourists who don't even know when it's their turn to bet. These folks LOVE suited cards and will often call large preflop raises with suited rags. There is also a ton of straddling, both UTG and on the button. It wasn't unusual to see a triple straddle. The low skill level makes the game worthwhile, but you certainly need to be willing to tolerate quite a bit of variance. There is no doubt in my mind though that a skilled player should have a significant positive EV. However, the rake is pretty brutal. It is 10% with an $8 cap PLUS a high hand jackpot contribution of between $1 and $3 per hand. That's a tough rake to beat, but I still think the game is beatable because of the low level of the competition. I ended up breaking even for the month, but I'm confident that was due to negative variance. My cooler/suck out ratio for the month was pretty bad. I'm sure that if I played for a longer period of time I would have ended up winning modestly. I don't think it's possible to make really substantial money in the long run, mainly because of the rake, but I definitely do think a skilled player should definitely be in a +EV situation.

Last thing to mention is getting to and from the casino. It is located in a relatively lively area, so I didn't feel nervous walking around outside. You will definitely get approached by a lot of people trying to sell you weed or hookers or whatever, but I never felt threatened. Also, the casino offers a free shuttle to and from the major resorts. I wasn't staying at a resort, but the shuttle took me to my airbnb apartment. It takes a couple nights to figure everything out, but once the casino staff knows you everything works quite smoothly. I typically tipped the driver 200 pesos (a little less than $5), and I think that was more than average.

If you go to the Avalon, tell Mickey Josh from Tennessee says hello!
sidmando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-2017, 09:32 PM   #2
Rapini
ragging
 
Rapini's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: DC
Posts: 11,906
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Very interesting trip report! Thanks for sharing. Makes me wanna visit DR.
Rapini is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2017, 04:57 PM   #3
sw_emigre
adept
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: resurfacing
Posts: 1,190
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Great write up, ty OP
sw_emigre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2017, 09:25 PM   #4
torontotablecpt
adept
 
torontotablecpt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 700
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Are you able to share any particular hands?
torontotablecpt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2017, 04:31 AM   #5
mojojo16
old hand
 
mojojo16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,759
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

I'm heading to Punta Cana in March so I'll definitely be checking out some of the poker clubs. Thanks for sharing!

Sent from my SM-G950W using 2+2 Forums
mojojo16 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2017, 02:10 AM   #6
xmarxthespot22
grinder
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 466
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

what about the girls? that's what we really wanna know. and how much was your airbnb for a month..thanks
xmarxthespot22 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2017, 11:56 AM   #7
nwolfe
adept
 
nwolfe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Chicago
Posts: 756
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by xmarxthespot22 View Post
what about the girls? that's what we really wanna know. and how much was your airbnb for a month..thanks
I had a similar experience to OP when it comes to poker..if you go to the Avalon there will be ~infinity ladies as well as what I can only assume were 'managers' offering company for the evening.

2/5 rake is higher than 1/2, think its 10+3 max, but don't quote me on that.

Would advise against wandering around the area off the main drag at night leaving the casino when it closes (3-4am) and just taking the offered shuttle.

Locals/regs are allowed credit (I'm assuming it comes out of the high hand/bad beat drop, but who knows, the guy running the game basically does whatever he wants). Saw multiple times when I busted a whale he was immediately given $500 from the rack with no exchange of money. No issues obviously, tourists aren't getting their promo drop money back any other way.

Avalon is a fun club, but OP is right that games are sort of sporadic. 2/5 definitely more beatable than 1/2 with the rake and players imo.
nwolfe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2017, 04:33 PM   #8
mojojo16
old hand
 
mojojo16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,759
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by nwolfe View Post
I had a similar experience to OP when it comes to poker..if you go to the Avalon there will be ~infinity ladies as well as what I can only assume were 'managers' offering company for the evening.

2/5 rake is higher than 1/2, think its 10+3 max, but don't quote me on that.

Would advise against wandering around the area off the main drag at night leaving the casino when it closes (3-4am) and just taking the offered shuttle.

Locals/regs are allowed credit (I'm assuming it comes out of the high hand/bad beat drop, but who knows, the guy running the game basically does whatever he wants). Saw multiple times when I busted a whale he was immediately given $500 from the rack with no exchange of money. No issues obviously, tourists aren't getting their promo drop money back any other way.

Avalon is a fun club, but OP is right that games are sort of sporadic. 2/5 definitely more beatable than 1/2 with the rake and players imo.
Ill be staying at RIU Bambu which is very close to the Hard Rock. Does an Avalon shuttle even go that far? Or is it just better if I mainly play at Hard Rock?

Sent from my SM-G950W using 2+2 Forums
mojojo16 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-19-2017, 05:58 PM   #9
Javanewt
Carpal \'Tunnel
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: a farm in the country
Posts: 7,254
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Sounds like a blast. Thanks for writing.
Javanewt is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2017, 10:57 PM   #10
sidmando
newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 16
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Thanks for the comments!

Unfortunately I don't remember any notable hands from a strategic perspective. I suffered some bad beats, but they were typical, and nobody wants to hear more bad beat stories anyway. As for the girls, prostitution is legal in the DR, and they are all over the place. There are several bars within walking distance of the Avalon where you can find that kind of stuff. You can't even walk by without being offered girls, drugs, whatever. I would advise you to be careful about drugs though. I am a regular pot smoker at home in the states, but everything I read said that they are pretty strict in the DR when it comes to drug enforcement. Since I didn't want to include Dominican jail on my list of sightseeing stops, I didn't partake.

Regarding the rent on my Airbnb, I was paying $1,700 a month for a 2-bedroom. It was a nice apartment complex with a 24-hour doorman and a pool. You can definitely find cheaper accommodations than that though. If you're on a budget you can probably find something for around $1,000 a month.

I would imagine the Avalon shuttle would take you to the Riu. It's not very far. The Riu is basically in between the Avalon and the Hard Rock, if I'm not mistaken. It's only about 10 minutes ride between the Avalon and the Hard Rock, so they're all pretty close. You definitely don't want to try walking between them late at night though.

As a follow up, I am currently in Santo Domingo, and the poker here sucks in comparison to Punta Cana. I've played a few times at the Grand Casino Jaragua on the Malecon. It is the least professional poker room I have ever played in. The dealers are clueless, and the players (mostly local) are rowdy and unruly. They constantly play out of turn, flash cards to each other, etc., and management doesn't do anything about it. Also the Dominican locals tend to buy in for very small amounts, as little as $20 at $1/2. Most of the stacks are very short, which greatly reduces the strategic aspects of the game. Overall, I would not recommend Santo Domingo if playing poker is one of your main priorities.
sidmando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2017, 03:07 AM   #11
ssomega
centurion
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 162
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

I think I played with you one night during the party poker series. We were talking about the new casino in Schenectady, NY.

Good luck on the rest of your trip.

We had a great time in Punta Cana.

It was nice meeting you.

-Steve
ssomega is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2018, 07:39 PM   #12
sidmando
newbie
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 16
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Hey, Steve! Yes, I remember talking with you. Hope you did better than I did at the Party Poker event!
sidmando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2018, 08:47 PM   #13
MikeStarr
Pooh-Bah
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 5,079
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

For a skilled player, that rake wont be a problem at all to beat.
MikeStarr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2018, 03:51 AM   #14
mojojo16
old hand
 
mojojo16's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,759
Re: Punta Cana, DR Trip Report

Hey,

I just got back from my trip to Punta Cana and thought I would add a bit to this ongoing thread.

I was able to play poker at 3 different places: Riu Macao, Avalon Poker Club and the Hardrock Casino.

By far the biggest action game was over at the Hardrock. It spreads a 2/5nl game with a $2k max buy in. Most players bought in between $300 - $1000 but as the night goes on, several people bought in for the $2k max. The poker room is also right beside an awesome sportsbook - so if you're like me and enjoy watching the game and having a beer, this is the best place in Punta Cana to do it. The sportsbook was as good as the top ones in Vegas.

One thing to note at the Hardrock is that the high hand of the night is a complete scam. They take an extra $3 drop for "promo funds". I played one night where a lady made quad 10s and then she left around midnight. If her hand held, she would need to return the next night to collect. I ended up playing right until the game broke for the night and knew her hand held. When I saw her again the next day, I asked her about the high hand and she was told that someone else beat it after she left. There was only ever 1 table so this was impossible.

Avalon Casino had the friendliest group to play with. I got the impression that many of these players were regulars but that certainly did not make them good. They had a shuttle that picked me up and dropped me off each way and just cost a $5 tip for the driver. Alcohol is free while you play (unlike at Hard Rock). The game plays much smaller then Hard Rock, but it was still a fun atmosphere. Avalon Casino poker site: http://www.puntacanapokerclub.com/

If anyone is staying at the Riu chain resorts, then you have access to the casino at the Riu Macao resort. ABSOLUTELY do not play here. Extraordinary rake, house players and I even caught the dealer bottom dealing (at Blackjack, not at poker). They also give you "house chips" for free when you first walk in, but they can only be used at a progressive roulette game which is a known scam.

Feel free to ask any questions as I'm sure I left a ton of stuff out. Thanks again for the previous info, it was a big help!
mojojo16 is online now   Reply With Quote

Reply
      

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:42 AM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright © 2008-2017, Two Plus Two Interactive
 
 
Poker Players - Streaming Live Online