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Old 03-07-2021, 08:16 PM   #1
Mason Malmuth
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Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Hi Everyone:

I'm putting this both here and on our Books and Publications Forum.

I'm currently in the process of writing a new book tentatively titled Cardrooms: Everything Bad; An Analysis of Those Areas Where Poker Rooms Need Improvement. And since I'm trying to cover all topics that need to be covered, if any of you have any suggestions, please post them here. And this is for live poker.

Thanks,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:30 PM   #2
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Isn't there an entire forum section dedicated to the topic of casinos and live play?

Also, DM Chainsaw on twitter?
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:31 PM   #3
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

A lot of big vegas rooms were run for many years by people who were there when the poker boom happened. The success of those rooms was predetermined - nothing they could have done would make the room unsuccessful during the biggest few years in poker history. But for some reason, they gave the credit of the success to the people who were there running the rooms. So whatever policies were going on were allowed to continue despite them having no actual effect on the success of the room.

See: Caesar's Palace. The room had every advantage possible and was a disastrously run room until it got taken over by the nightclub. As soon as poker stopped being the big attraction, the room crashed and burned.

I guess my point is that casino managers that promote from within will not have any idea who to promote and a lot of horrible policies result from this encouragement.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:16 PM   #4
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Cleanliness and sanitation of tables, chairs, and chips. More comfortable chairs. Better drink service at the tables. More variety of games and limits. LESS rake. More tournament and sng offerings.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:23 PM   #5
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Guys being able to order a saucy plate of ribs or nachos always seems gross. Anything food related is too far. Just sit out for a button and scarf or casually eat your burger and fries boss.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:33 PM   #6
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

eating in a poker room is disgusting. So are people, including dealers, who cough and sneeze without covering their mouth/nose. And maybe they could clean the chips more than once a decade. I don't miss it at all.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:42 PM   #7
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

People finding it necessary to go to a casino during a pandemic is fairly disgusting.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:43 PM   #8
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

I like live poker just not at the casino too many degens get angry at u for no reason.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:43 PM   #9
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

playing a 50c/1 with fish buddies is better than playing 2/5 or 5/10 at casino
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:46 PM   #10
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfound View Post
I like live poker just not at the casino too many degens get angry at u for no reason.
I like how the people not pissed off at other players are still run off by 'regs" after all these years of being told of not tapping the fish tank.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:50 PM   #11
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by txdome View Post
I like how the people not pissed off at other players are still run off by 'regs" after all these years of being told of not tapping the fish tank.
I agree regs who berate the fish are the worst
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:54 PM   #12
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

The only thing that pisses me off is bad drink service.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:55 PM   #13
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

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I agree regs who berate the fish are the worst
An obvious "word up" is due.
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:04 PM   #14
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Hi Everyone:

It looks like there may be more interest in this than I thought. Here's what I have so far, and if any of you want to add possible topics, please be specific.

Best wishes,
Mason

Table of Contents


About Mason Malmuth

Introduction

Part One: Cardroom Procedures
Consistent Decisions
Buy-ins That are Too Large
Transfers Bringing the Wrong Amount of Chips The Must-Move Rule
The Third Man Walking Rule
The Lunch Break Rule
Straddles
Lammers
New Set-Ups
Rack Counts
Game Location
Call-in Lists

Part Two: Cardroom Attitudes
Everyone Breaks Even
Going to Church
Adversarial Relationship Between Players and Management

Part Three: Dealer Problems
Talking Dealers
Dealers Selling Chips — Excessive Fills
Dealers Carrying Their Own Trays
Failure to Make Change From the Pot
Flashing Dealers
Dealers Need to Deal

Part Four: Management Issues
Cardroom Managers — Missing in Action
Bad Floor
Tournaments or Cash Games
Excessive Rake
Promotions
Cannibalizing Games
Forgetting the Regular Customer
Player Meetings
Spreading the Wrong Games
Starting New Games When Not Ready

Part Five: Other Cardroom Personnel
Props
Hosts
Brushes
Cashiers
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:08 PM   #15
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobbo View Post
A lot of big vegas rooms were run for many years by people who were there when the poker boom happened. The success of those rooms was predetermined - nothing they could have done would make the room unsuccessful during the biggest few years in poker history. But for some reason, they gave the credit of the success to the people who were there running the rooms. So whatever policies were going on were allowed to continue despite them having no actual effect on the success of the room.

See: Caesar's Palace. The room had every advantage possible and was a disastrously run room until it got taken over by the nightclub. As soon as poker stopped being the big attraction, the room crashed and burned.

I guess my point is that casino managers that promote from within will not have any idea who to promote and a lot of horrible policies result from this encouragement.
Hi Gobbo:

I agree with everything you say. Many cardrooms were run terribly before the poker boom and that's still the case today. In fact, as the book will explore, some of the current policies actually hurt the game. Part of the reason for this is that many poker room managers have no understanding of the "balance of luck and skill" that poker needs to be successful.

If you have any specifics, please post away.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:08 PM   #16
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Everyone:

I'm putting this both here and on our Books and Publications Forum.

I'm currently in the process of writing a new book tentatively titled Cardrooms: Everything Bad; An Analysis of Those Areas Where Poker Rooms Need Improvement. And since I'm trying to cover all topics that need to be covered, if any of you have any suggestions, please post them here. And this is for live poker.

Thanks,
Mason
Who is the main audience for this? Casino management? Off the top of my head rising rake and long term sustainability of poker, jackpots/promotions, private games, list management/must moves, diversification of poker (ie more than NL hold em), attracting new players to poker, tournaments (rake, re-entries, formats), dealer quality/procedures. As someone who always enjoyed the Inside the Cardrooms sections of Poker Essays I will definitely buy this. Title can use some tightening but (second part) but think that depends on who you are trying to reach with the book.
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:11 PM   #17
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Meh View Post
Cleanliness and sanitation of tables, chairs, and chips. More comfortable chairs. Better drink service at the tables. More variety of games and limits. LESS rake. More tournament and sng offerings.
Hi Dr. Meh:

In the rooms I'm familiar with cleanliness and sanitation is not an issue, so I won't be addressing that. Less rake will certainly be addressed and why the current rake structures, eespecialy for limit games are terrible. There will also be a chapter on tournaments versus cash games.

Any specifics will be helpful.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:15 PM   #18
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by txdome View Post
Guys being able to order a saucy plate of ribs or nachos always seems gross. Anything food related is too far. Just sit out for a button and scarf or casually eat your burger and fries boss.
Hi txdome:

Having players sitting out so they can eat causes the games to play short-handed which many players don't like. And given that poker rooms have rules such as must-move and third man walking which are designed to keep games full serving food seems to contradict this. It's probably something I'll look at.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:18 PM   #19
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by txdome View Post
I like how the people not pissed off at other players are still run off by 'regs" after all these years of being told of not tapping the fish tank.
Hi txdome:

I agree that this was once a problem but I see virtually none of it today. Perhaps in different poker rooms than the ones I'm familiar with this may still be problem that management should address, but I think this happens to infrequently to address in the book.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:36 PM   #20
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffage View Post
Who is the main audience for this? Casino management? Off the top of my head rising rake and long term sustainability of poker, jackpots/promotions, private games, list management/must moves, diversification of poker (ie more than NL hold em), attracting new players to poker, tournaments (rake, re-entries, formats), dealer quality/procedures. As someone who always enjoyed the Inside the Cardrooms sections of Poker Essays I will definitely buy this. Title can use some tightening but (second part) but think that depends on who you are trying to reach with the book.
Hi Jeffage:

This is a good question. My plan is to actually give some copies away to poker room management. Year ago we published The Professional Poker Dealer's Handbook by Dan Paymar, Donna Harris, and myself and I gave away several hundred copies to hopefully improve dealer quality, and I think it did help. However, the more people who read this book, especially players, I think the better it will be for the poker rooms since now when people complain, they'll have a much better understanding of what to complain about.

As for your specifics:

rising rake and long term sustainability of poker: addressed

jackpots/promotions: addresed

private games: not to be addressed

list management/must moves: addressed

diversification of poker (ie more than NL hold em): perhaps and certainly indirectly

attracting new players to poker: probably not

tournaments (rake, re-entries, formats): not sure

dealer quality/procedures: addressed

While I want many issues to be addressed, if the book gets too long I doubt that any poker room manager will read it. Also, I already have a draft of the "Promotions" chapter and will post it in another post so that more people can get an idea of exactly what this book will be about.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 03-07-2021, 11:50 PM   #21
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Hi Everyone:

And here's the draft of the "Promotions" chapter:

Promotions

Way back in the late 1980s, after having been living in Las Vegas for a little more than a year, I had a conversation with a particular poker room manager who, while always a pleasant person, didn’t run his poker room the way I thought that it should be run. “Look,” I said to him, “if you want to fill this room with players, take all your promotional money, go find the ten worst players in town, and give it to them with the stipulation that they had to play their poker at your place until the money was gone.” Of course, we both laughed, but there’s something about this silly idea that’s extremely right. The best and most successful poker rooms have good games and it’s these good games that attract the plyers, both experts and recreational players alike.

So, it should be clear from this short story that those cardrooms that offer promotions that these promotions should be designed to benefit the weaker players and not the pros. However, if the weaker players benefit, then it should be obvious that in most cases the pros should benefit as well since much of the money that goes to the weak players in time will end up in the hands of the strong players (less rake and tips). This is the sort of thing that makes poker rooms successful. Let me give three examples, one good, one neutral, and one bad.

First, a common promotion that many poker rooms have is a reward for making certain hands of value, usually four-of-a-kind or better, and sometimes the reward money goes up based on the strength of the hand. And who gets this money?

Well, if you understand how different people play poker, it should be obvious that in most cases the weak players play more hands than the tight strong players, and the more hands you play, the more likely you’re to make one of these strong hands. It’s also my guess, and again this is just a guess, that about two-thirds of this promotional money will go to the weak players. So, in my opinion, this is a good promotion for a cardroom.

Second, I’ve also been in cardrooms where they have seat drawings. I won one recently when my seat was randomly drawn (and the drawing occuring was linked to a casino slot machine jackpot being hit). While this was certainly nice for me, having the money go to me was from a cardroom’s perspective similar to putting putting the money in a wood burning fireplace and burning it.

Of course, live players can also win these drawings, so this is not the worst promotion there is, and I would give it a neutral rating. Not good but not that bad either. However, if it was up to me, random cash drawings would never happen since there are better ways to distribute the promotional money.

Third, many poker rooms have a promotion where in one form or another, they reward players for playing a certain amount of hours. It can be something like $100 for playing 20 hours in a week, and, if you play a full 30 hours, the reward will go up to $200. Another version of this is that players after putting in enough hours (and sometimes the hours will count double), will earn a spot in a free-roll tournament which of course has value, and in terms of expectation is similar to giving a player money.

But there’s a big problem with this type of promotion. The majority of the money is going to the better players and not the live ones. That’s because it’s the better players, and not the recreational players, who are the ones that tend to put in a lot of hours. So, here is a common type of promotion which has the effect of making the games tougher and should be long-term detrimental to the poker room. So, not only would I give this type of promotion a poor rating, but in my opinion, promotions that reward players for putting in a lot of hours should never be offered. My guess is that poker room managers have never thought through the damage that promotions like this do.

Continuing on with this chapter, let’s address another more important idea. And it’s the fact that poker rooms need to consider the clientele that their promotions will attract.

Again, going back to the late 1980s, one of the poker rooms that I played at offered a promotion where the first person who played 500 hours on graveyard shift, regardless of the game he played, would win a substantial amount of money (and I’ve forgotten the exact number). Also, if more than one person tied by hitting the 500 hour mark at the same time, the promotional money would be split. The idea was that this promotion would add one or two more games on graveyard and through the rake easily pay for itself, and it may have done exactly that.

However, this cardroom was located in a very nice casino and this promotion attracted many “low lifes” who were probably desperate for money. And while I don’t know for sure, it was my opinion that even though an additional game or two was occupied by players trying to win the promotion, it also had the affect of chasing more desirable players (and casino customers who wanted to play a little poker) out of the poker room. So, in that sense, it had the opposite affect. That is, instead of creating more games, it cost the cardroom business and most likely contributed to its closing a year or so later, and I’ve never seen a promotion this bad again. (Of course, the manager of this poker room, probably due to his resume that showed a lot of experience, went on to get a better job.)

Another example of attracting the wrong clientel probably occurred in the Desert Inn Casino (which has now been replaced by The Wynn Casino). For those who don’t remember, the Desert Inn, while small by today’s standards was a beautiful casino that had a high class and wealthy customer base. Anyway, one day in the mid 1990s I was in the Desert Inn and their headline entertainer that night was none other than the great Frank Sinatra, and it was one of the last times that he played in Las Vegas. In addition, you could tell by the way people were dressed in the show line that these were the type of customers the Desert Inn management would want.

However, there was also a small poker room in the corner of this casino and that night they were having a $12 buy-in tournament. Needless to say, the people coming into the poker room were not of the same status as those in the show line. In fact, it was my opinion that if the casino management at The Desert Inn understood what the poker room was doing, there would be no more poker room. And sure enough, it was closed a few months later.

Next, I want to address jackpots when a terrific hand gets beat that offer large payoffs for the loser of the poker hand. At first, this might seem like a good promotion since the jackpot winner is more likely to be someone who plays too many hands. That is, the more great hands you make, the more likely you are to get one beat. But there is a problem.

First, notice that for a promotion to be good, the poker room needs for most of that money to go back into the poker games. But does this happen when a large jackpot gets paid out. I think not.

But what will happen is that someone will buy a new car, perhaps make a down payment on a house, or come up with another way to spend a large amount of money, and this can’t be good for the poker room. However, some cardrooms seem to realize this and they try to spread the money out to a number of players. This includes not only the winner of the jackpot hand but perhaps all the players at the table, or even more.

As an example, and this goes all the way back to the mid-1980s, I was once playing in a California poker room which had a promotion that anyone who made a straight-flush wheel (ace-deue-trey-four-five of the same suit) in one of their California Ace-to-Five Lowball games (which was a form of draw poker with only two rounds of betting) would win a big prize. However, as part of the give-away, they also gave money to everyone who was playing in one of these games at that time, and one day when this jackpot was hit, I received $100 for playing in a similar game.

Needless to say, ths type of promotion is better than just the straight jackpot give away since some of the money will go to live players who will just bring it back to the poker economy. But in my opinion it’s still a poor promotion.

I also want to mention one final idea. It’s when is it best to offer these promotions? Many poker rooms will offer them on their slow days in an effort to attract more customers. At first, this seems logical since on certain days there will be a lot of empty seats and tables in the poker room, and its management should be aware of this. But who’s now going to get the promotional money?

The answer is that it’ll mainly be the regular/tougher players who show up on the slow days and so the promotinal money will again be going to the wrong place. And part of the reason for this is that the poorer playing recreational players, who’ll show up on the busy nights, won’t have the money to play on the slower days since they were losers on the nights they did show up. So, this means that the promotions, where lots of money is being given away, should happen on the busy nights so that a larger percentage of the weak recreational players get it, and this is probably the opposite of what most poker room managers think.

By the way, and this is not the subject of this book and will only be briefly mentioned here, but in games, like poker, which are based on probability theory, many things will be counterintuitive to many people, and the idea that promotions should be held on the nights when you don’t seem to need them is certainly a counterintuitive approach that doesn’t seem right.

Anyway, to finish this important chapter, and to recap some of the above, I believe that promotions can be an important part of what makes a poker room successful. But the promotions need to be done right with the emphasis on the money being returned to the players going mostly to the right people. This will help assure that the games stay good and, as was pointed out at the start of this chapter, it’s good games that attract players to a poker room and allow the poker room to thrive.
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:08 AM   #22
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Good luck with this book and this thread. It takes gumption to do what you are doing here.

My observation is for the long-term survival of poker rooms; some above threads have discussed various ways of getting players in and to stay. Mine is an older observation.

In order to survive long-term, a room - and the industry - needs to spread limit poker. It is how people truly learn the game, at their own pace, with their own pace of losing. Because hardly anyone wins from the outset. The manager of the largest poker room in Michigan, a good friend of mine and my wife's, has said this constantly; a healthy offering and array of limit, to compliment NL and other forms, is a key to long-term survival of the game.

It is well known that the threadmaster here co-authored a fine book with another former poker room manager, and that manager espoused the same concept; healthy rooms run limit poker as well as other games. Newbies will lose money too quickly in a NL only room. How fitting that the room that manager used to run, known to many as "The Office" is now out of the poker business.

Observe the biggest rooms is LV right now that have Limit. Orleans, South Point, Flamingo. They are doing plenty of other things that are customer friendly. I just spent two nights at South Point. I was very pleased to learn that my poker comps NEVER expire.
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:11 AM   #23
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobbo View Post
A lot of big vegas rooms were run for many years by people who were there when the poker boom happened. The success of those rooms was predetermined - nothing they could have done would make the room unsuccessful during the biggest few years in poker history. But for some reason, they gave the credit of the success to the people who were there running the rooms. So whatever policies were going on were allowed to continue despite them having no actual effect on the success of the room.

See: Caesar's Palace. The room had every advantage possible and was a disastrously run room until it got taken over by the nightclub. As soon as poker stopped being the big attraction, the room crashed and burned.

I guess my point is that casino managers that promote from within will not have any idea who to promote and a lot of horrible policies result from this encouragement.
Shitty management can take a great business and make it into a good business. Nobody even realizes just how shitty the management because its being propped up by the business itself... is until the tide turns on the business prospects and skill is required to keep everything afloat.

When that time comes, they blame everyone but themselves.
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:23 AM   #24
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Not sure if this would go for the book, but there has been an explosion of card rooms in the state of Texas. To get around the no casino law, the private club has no rake taken, but an avg $10-15 per hour fee for a player to play. The clubs in all major Texas cities are busy with players, but usually when the casinos comp players for play, people in Texas are on a metered clock for play. Still better than no card rooms at all.
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:24 AM   #25
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Re: Cardrooms: Everything Bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveC95818 View Post
Good luck with this book and this thread. It takes gumption to do what you are doing here.
Hi Dave:

My comments are embedded below, but yes, this book may not sit that well with some people in the industry.

Best wishes,
Mason

Quote:
My observation is for the long-term survival of poker rooms; some above threads have discussed various ways of getting players in and to stay. Mine is an older observation.

In order to survive long-term, a room - and the industry - needs to spread limit poker. It is how people truly learn the game, at their own pace, with their own pace of losing. Because hardly anyone wins from the outset. The manager of the largest poker room in Michigan, a good friend of mine and my wife's, has said this constantly; a healthy offering and array of limit, to compliment NL and other forms, is a key to long-term survival of the game.
I used to think this buit I have my doubts today. The problem is that in the smallest limit games that are available, the rake is so high that no one playing it will win at it. (I do think that expert limit players can still beat the rake but they won't bother with these small limits.) On the other hand, in todays small no-limit games, there will be some players that will beat the rake. Thus small no-limit games actually have a better chance of surviving than small limit games. If the rake was less, then you would, in my opinion, be correct.

Quote:
It is well known that the threadmaster here co-authored a fine book with another former poker room manager, and that manager espoused the same concept; healthy rooms run limit poker as well as other games. Newbies will lose money too quickly in a NL only room.
Except that the games didn't evolve that way. In today's small no-limit games, lots of players limp in almost every hand. David Sklansky once called this an invisible ante and it has the effect of improving the balance of luck and skill that no-limit hold 'em normally has.

Quote:
How fitting that the room that manager used to run, known to many as "The Office" is now out of the poker business.
Okay

Quote:
Observe the biggest rooms is LV right now that have Limit. Orleans, South Point, Flamingo. They are doing plenty of other things that are customer friendly. I just spent two nights at South Point. I was very pleased to learn that my poker comps NEVER expire.
I do mention that South Point is one of the better run Poker Rooms in Las Vegas. However, even here, the rake, in my opinion, is too high for the long-term success of small limit games. You're also forgetting that The Bellagio has both $20-$40 and $40-$80 limit hold 'em games going all the time. But consistent with my point, nothing smaller.
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