How Las Vegas is Slowly Becoming the Gambling Capital of the World
It was like eight years ago when I first began writing about poker. I literally had no idea how to start. I wrote meant that I would tell my story, how I got started, and how I got profited from the game. That is one of the reasons why this is so important to history.
Las Vegas was at the forefront of the poker industry’s early years. The only rooms that offered poker games at that time were the “big two,” the Bellagio and the Mirage. And, while the “big two” featured some of the best players in the history of poker, they did have some major drawbacks. They were expensive to play poker, and if you were paying to play poker, you had to contend with extremely high table limits.
Compare that to today, and you can see why I say that poker rooms, in Vegas or anywhere, are “mom and pop” games. The small stake player can usually find a game to fit his or her budget.
The big two poker rooms purposely complicate their rules to make it more difficult to win. For example, in “no limit” holdem, you can bet any amount you want at any time. In the limit, you bet the minimum while allocating the maximum. Flush betting is a common play in stud games. You can avoid making expensive mistakes by making more difficult decisions.
Today, the range of wagers available in non-limit holdem has dramatically expanded. If you don’t mind making difficult decisions, that is, if you like your poker mediocre, Omaha is your game. With more than fifty cards played out and only half of them exposed, it is easy to get a big hand. You get to pick your stud and deck cards in stud games, which makes for some interesting strategy.
For the first six years that I played poker, the weekly tournaments seemed to be holding their own. I was a disappointed guard because I wasn’t taking advantage of the easy money. Then I figured the tournaments weren’t fair and was growing my bankroll by not playing. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t win without playing. No one is making moves without some commitment; even the best players in the world don’t always win.
By taking the time to learn the game, I finally felt that I was beginning to understand what it was about money and chance. True, there are some advantages to be had with the cards, but not every hand is a winner. In order to learn about the odds, you have to play against the odds. You have to make the poker hands you feel are most likely to be winners and least likely, to lose. For a lot of players, this is hard to do because they are used to feeling winning and losing folding these types of hands.
It’s a hard enough adjustment to make when you’re playing in cash games or to upgrade your game for the kinds of players that are better at one or the other, but when you decide to play for higher stakes with better players, it might be the time to take a step back and look at the rest of the variables. Most players tend to focus on the hand they are playing and at first glance, the big hands sound most appealing. However, if you’re not careful, this easy transition can be difficult to reverse.
College is an example of a game of variables. Unlike professional tournaments, there are subtle differences in a college play, mostly because the players are young and not so experienced. Thus, college players tend to call more raises and play a wider range of hands. In addition, betting patterns and bluffing are much more intense in college as you cannot observe your opponents.
More extreme variations of college poker games include elimination poker and pit game poker. In elimination poker, the game is played as traditional poker, but before the flop, the dealer deals each player a card face down. After a round of betting, he exposes his card. The player to the left of the dealer exposes his hole card first and then plays the rest of the hand according to traditional poker. In-pit game poker, the same thing happens except that the player to the left of the dealer exposes his hole card first, and then all other players play the hand according to their traditional poker.
It is easy to observe college poker games and determine the differences. When I began to observe high-stakes poker games, I noticed that there was more bluffing in college games. In the pros, bluffing is a skill that you want to develop but it is not necessary for college because there are not enough experienced players to make the bluff effective.