Rungood Summer Continues At The Mirage

The poker season in definitely in full swing and my rungood summer is still plugging right along, as well.

Since my first World Series of Poker cash

in the Casino Employees Event two weeks ago I have been playing significantly more poker. I went fairly deep in Daily Deep Stack at the World Series but didn’t cash the following weekend. That 2PM Daily Deep Stack is getting really big. There were more than 600 players the day I played with $25,000 and some change going to first place.

Saturday I broke through again, as a combination of good fortune and good play help me take down “The Stack” Tourney at The Mirage.

PHOTO COURTESY BEN DEVLIN. Chad concentrating on a hand with 11 players left at The Stack Tournament at The Mirage Saturday.

I had the good fortune of my friend and teammate Ben Devlin already playing in the $3-$6 cash game at The Mirage Saturday morning. He absolutely crushes that tourist-filled, river-chasing game on a regular basis. Since I hadn’t really decided where I was going to play yesterday I decided to head to Mirage to say hello to Ben and figure it out from there.

I arrived a The Mirage a little after 11AM. Ben was playing and I was on a waiting list. While I was waiting I found out The Mirage has a tournament called “The Stack.” For $120 ($110 plus a $10 dealer add-on), a player receives 50,000 in tournament chips. The blinds start at 500-500, go to 500-1000 and then 500-1500. The levels are 30 minutes long, and with 100 big blinds to begin it’s a pretty decent structure as far as Strip tournaments go.

Yesterday, The Mirage hosted their biggest “The Stack” Tourney yet. It was 56 players when I signed up. It would eventually climb to 80 by 1PM.

I only played two hands in the first three levels — K-K and A-A, picking up some decent chips both times. By level five I was amongst the chip leaders with 174,000 chips (the average at the time was about 80,000). However, I took a little hit at my new table. Under the gun (UTG) raised all in 47,000. The table chip leader called. I had A-A in the BB and jammed my entire stack in. The table chip leader folded and the all-in tabled J-J. Unfortunately she spiked a jack on the flop and tripled up.

When we got down to 30 players I was in the 10-12 BB area when I put my whole stack at risk with A-Ko. I was called by the table chip leader, who tabled K-Jc. Although he flopped both a flush draw and a gut shot straight draw I faded the outs and doubled up.

From 15 players to 11 players I went on a little run and chipped up to 665K chips. The average stack was 336K. We were all trying to get to the final table, playing 6-handed and 5-handed for more than an hour. Eight places were getting paid.

There I made the call that changed the tournament. UTG went all in — the same woman that cracked my aces with jacks — for 203K. The woman to my left called all-in with a little less. I looked down at 10-10, my favorite hand. I didn’t think I had both players beat but I was sure I had at least one of them beat. It was going to cost me around 30 percent of my stack to call. Even if I lost the hand I would have an above average stack, so I made the call.

Both players tabled A-Ko. They both caught a king in the window one a K-Q-4 flop. The turn card brought and ace to give them each two pair. Luckily for me, a jack spiked on the river (oh, so appropriate!) and my rivered straight took out two players.

We went to the final table with nine players and me leading the pack with 1.1 million chips.

With six players to go the field was trying to negotiate a six-way chop of roughly $1,200. Nervous tourists! I was second in chips to a woman from Switzerland, but not by much. I proposed a chop where her and I each received $1,600, and the rest of the tourists got $1,040 each. It was a no-brainer for them.

The only sour part was typical crappy tourist tippers for the poker dealers. I tossed out my tip first hoping to spur some better tipping. Ugh! The Swiss girl left $10 on her $1,600. One of the other left $5 on his $1,040. The only thing I like about tourists is taking their money!

I was very lucky my buddy Ben was playing at Mirage yesterday as it led to a fine day of poker.

Let that Rungood Summer continue!

How A Guy Is Supposed To Spend A Weekend

I live in Las Vegas. More accurately I live in the Las Vegas suburbs, but since there is only two of them (Henderson and North Las Vegas), I just say I live in Las Vegas. Plus Las Vegas is tiny town. Bellagio isn’t in Las Vegas. Neither is Mandalay Bay. Nor is Caesars Palace. They all say they are in Las Vegas, but they aren’t. They are in unincorporated Winchester, NV and unincorporated Paradise, NV. If they can claim Las Vegas, so can I.

Vegas is supposed to be all play and no work. I do work pretty hard. But I like to play. And since I have successfully avoided getting married or having kids, I can play hard when I have a weekend. Like this weekend.

First Hole
The first hole at the Boulder Creek Golf Course.

Thursday (which is my Saturday) started off with a golf outing at Boulder Creek Golf Course.

Golfing. At 9AM. In January.

Me and three buddies — Jameson, Chris and James L. hit the links with some friendly per hole wagers that increased on the par 3s.

Did you see the view in the photo. That’s the first hole of one of the three nine-hold courses. Nothing but blue sky and mountains as far as they eye can see. I’ve golfed in worse places.

After a long round — the four of us all carry bogey handicaps — we retired to the clubhouse for a late lunch, to finish off the beers from the round and settle up money-wise. I lost $9 to Chris, but won a combined $9 from Jameson and James L. so the wagering came out just fine for my tastes.

After the short drive back to my house it was time for a nice 90-minute nap.

After the nap it was time for a shower and get ready to head to the Strip. Gambling adventures with my friend Ben at Mirage. The poker room is hosting a $50,000 freeroll next month and we are trying to qualify.

A pretty successful ‘Saturday’.

Sunday (a.k.a. Friday) meant giving my weekly tour at the Neon Museum. The tours were packed this Friday with close to 25 people on each tour. I had a good mix of Midwesterners, a few locals and the usual contingent from southern California. It was also the first time I have had a tour that included a bride-to-me and bridesmaids, already decked out in full regalia.

After the tour I had time to stop by Sushi Twister for a to go order on my way back home. The weather is perfect for enjoying my patio table and chairs and having lunch outside.

After plowing through my domestic duties and another brief nap it was time to head back to the Strip. This time Ben and I had a gambling adventure from Hard Rock Hotel to Aria to Mirage. He won, I didn’t. It didn’t matter.

It was still another great weekend in Las Vegas!

 

Freerolls Are Rarely Free

All the talk amongst the Las Vegas poker grinder scene the past few weeks has been freeroll tournaments at the various properties around town.

A freeroll tournament is offered by a casino to reward player loyalty. By playing a certain number of hours each week, month or quarter, a player is placed entry fee free into a tournament for prize money.

The concept, while quite simple overall, is actually quite complicated for the players involved.

Station Casino’s will host its $300,000 Poker Plus Tournament in January. To qualify, a player must log 50 hours of live play from November 1-December 31, 2011. Of the rumored 3,000 players who have qualified, each will start with 1,400 chips.

Each player is guaranteed $75 no matter their finish. By reaching day 2, a player is guaranteed $200. The prizes escalate the further a player advances in the tournament, with a top prize of $40,000.

The question that most players in this field cannot answer is, “How much did I spend to achieve 50 hours of live play?” Since most recreational players don’t track their wins/losses they have no idea how much this freeroll cost them. For a player who is a retiree/2-4 limit grinder this tournament can be expensive. A typical 2-4 limit game will average around 26 hands per hour. That means a player will have played about 1,300 hands of 2-4 limit to qualify for the freeroll. Have you ever played 2-4 for a long period of time? The only winner in a long 2-4 game is the casino. There is rarely more than $800 on the table. Once a player is down even as little as $60 it’s hard to make your money back. With approximately $4 coming out of every pot to cover the house rake and the promotions rake (including the freeroll), roughly $104 is coming off the table every single hour. There is almost no way for even the best 2-4 limit players in Vegas to turn a profit in the game over 50 hours. The low stakes of the game by a recreational player almost demands playing well over 40 percent of the hands dealt.

I run a poker room that spreads 2-4 seven nights per week. The average “regular” spends about $200 per week playing 2-4. There are some winning sessions and some high hands, but you can safely say a 2-4 player is going to buy in for between $150-$300 per week playing 2-4 limit on a regular basis. Even if you generously say the player is getting 15 hours of play in for this cash investment the player is probably in the “freeroll” for a “buy-in” of around $1,000.

To recoup this $1,000 in the $300,000 Poker Plus Tournament a player would have to finish top 20…out of 3,000 players! That’s right, you have less than 1% of a chance of breaking even if you’ve spent $1,000 over 50 hours to get in this freeroll.

In addition to the 50 hours played, how much more money did the average player tip the waitress for a drink or a bottle of water? Play a slot machine and lose before, during or after the poker session? Spend in gas to and from the casino? All these questions translate into real dollars that has to be tracked to figure out if a freeroll is actually free.

Now this concept doesn’t apply to all players. Some of the freeroll players will be 1-2 and 2-5 no limit players. In a no limit game you play many less hands per hour and many less hands overall. If you can have just one big night such as a $2,000 winning session you should be able to cover the buy-ins for 50 hours of play.

I will simplify this freeroll concept for you.

Club Fortune Casino, where I serve as Poker Room Supervisor, has a $500 weekly freeroll for up to 30 players who log 10 hours of live play during the week. This freeroll attracts an average of 12-18 players, though its been as high as 26 and as low as four players during Christmas week.

Club Fortune spreads mainly 2-4 limit hold’em and $.50/$1 no limit hold’em. Again I will err to the generous side and say the average qualifying freeroll player spends $150 in buy-ins for a ten-hour week. Although some players have spent at much as $700 to qualify (during a nasty NL session), some players do manage to stay close to even for the week or even turn a small profit. The strictly 2-4 limit players rarely turn a profit for the week, unless they hit a high hand or win one of the other weekly tournaments.

So in an average week, 12 players qualify for the freeroll having spent on average $1,800 combined to qualify for the event. The total prize pool is $500. And, the tournament is almost always chopped five-handed or four-handed, giving players a pay out of either $100 (five-handed) or $125 (four-handed)

Exactly how much did this “free” tournament cost?

The only solution to the solving the complexity of the freeroll is by tracking every single dollar spent at the casino during play. Every buy in, every cash out, every tip to the dealers, every tip to the cocktail servers, every dollar put into a slot machine. If you spent $150 playing poker on the week, tipped off $40 to the dealers and wait staff, put $100 in a slot machine and won an $1,800 jackpot you have a profit of $1,510.  You are definitely freerolling the freeroll. The only way to know this is to track it all, since we tend to remember exactly every big jackpot we have ever won, and tend to forget about the $20 here, $40 there we lose in the casino.

I am currently trying to qualify for Mirage’s $250,000 Freeroll Championship Series. To qualify, a player must play at least 25 hours between November 1, 2011-January 31, 2012. This gets the player a spot in the $50,000 Quarterly Tournament. There are also bonuses for playing 50 hours, 75 hours and 100 hours.

I have played three sessions of $3-6 limit hold’em so far. My results are +$31, (-$33) and +128. In 11.3 hours played, I have profited $126 and am more than 1/3 of the way toward qualifying for the freeroll. By using the Poker Journal App on my iPhone, I know this exactly:

Total Buy Ins: $420

Total Cashed Out: $546

Total Hours 11.3

Total Dealer/Wait Staff Tokes: $57

I have not figured in gas/food yet but as long as I am positive on poker profits I can play this freeroll figuratively free. That is, if I am still profitable another 13.7 hours from now.