Station Casinos, Wynn Choose Sides For Online Poker

By Chad Harberts
Wasted Aces Poker

Though legalized online gaming in not approved federally or in Nevada, it hasn’t stopped some of Las Vegas’ biggest players to start lining up partners.

Exactly one week after uber casino owner Steve Wynn announced he was teaming up with PokerStars, Station Casinos honchos Fertitta Interactive jumped in bed with Full Tilt

. Wynn is Las Vegas’ dreamweaver, from his early work with the Frontier and Golden Nugget downtown to Mirage/Treasure Island/Bellagio triumvirate he sold to build Wynn and Encore. The Fertitta brothers own the Station Properties set, including Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock, in addition to majority-owning the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

This means nothing to the estimated 100 million online poker players — including an estimated 50 million in the U.S. — right now, but it could be huge for online and brick-and-mortar poker going forward.

Federally approving and taxing online poker is not something poker players are against. In fact, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) would settle for just approving it in Nevada if it could lead to bigger things. Approval should lead to an increase in jobs and revenues both federally and in Nevada. In addition, online qualifying tournaments could significantly increase the participation of live poker tournaments throughout Las Vegas. If the legislation went one step further and allowed players to register for live tournaments online, brick-and-mortar play could really take off.

Legalized and taxed online poker is inevitable. In a country that allows people to wager on horse and dog races across state lines, forbidding legalized online poker is hypocritical at best and ludicrous at worst.

 

Chad Harberts is the co-founder of Wasted Aces Poker. You can follow him on twitter @chadharberts or @wastedacespoker. He can be reached via email at chad.harberts@gmail.com

 

Exercise and Poker

I had a bad day yesterday.

Not a bad day in a time where 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 per day. Not a bad day where I contracted a terminal disease. Not a bad day where I was injured or sick. But a bad day all the same.

Trying to build and maintain a successful and profitable poker room has taken a lot of hours of my week, especially late into the night. I am not sleeping enough nor eating very healthy.

I was irritable, quick to anger and slow to do my daily chores.

But this should not have been a bad day. I was off work, the sun was shining, the temps were in the 70s and a nice breeze blew through my rental house.

I am not the greatest person in the world for changing my attitude. I’ve read the books and watched the videos. I know how important it is to have a positive attitude. I am just not that great at changing mine.

Besides the obvious reasons of losing weight and making a stronger body and heart, exercise can make a stronger mind. Since my day was already spinning off the rails, I decided to take her advice. Instead of playing in a poker tournament last night (which I wanted to do), I decided to go for a four-mile walk (not nearly as appealing).

It was a splendid choice, like laying down A-Q when you know the other person has A-K.

The average walking speed of an adult is around 3 MPH. Younger adults a little faster, older adults a little slower. If walking 4 miles seems like a daunting number, think about it as walking about 90 minutes.

I am blessed to live in Las Vegas, home to literally hundreds of hikes, paths and paved walking areas throughout the city, the suburbs and the outlying areas. I was able to walk from my rental house to a CVS pharmacy to pick up a prescription and then back along the Pittman Wash to a park two blocks from my house. I only took a small walking pack with two bottles of water with me, and didn’t even drink it all.

After just 90 minutes of walking I felt better than I had all day. When the walk was over I rested for a short while before resuming my work.

Exercise is an important part of poker, too. The better you feel, the better you will play. In fact, a lot of body factors can effect the way you play.

BAD FACTORS

Alcohol — Drinking while playing can impair you decision making ability. And having to go to the restroom often takes you away from the table.

Eating — A large meal, or a fattening meal, can make you tired while it digests.

Lack of Sleep — Being irritated or uncomfortable can lead to bad decisions

Tobacco — A need to get out of the room and smoke can take you away from the action, make you rush decisions and miss learning information from other people’s play

GOOD FACTORS

Sleep — Feeling fresh and alert will put your on your A game

Exercise — Reducing the amount of stress in your life and the release of endorphins in your brain will make you feel unbeatable

Eating — A good breakfast like fruit, yogurt or oatmeal can keep your body strong without feel hungry or bogged down

Exercise and poker go hand in hand! I am going to try to exercise 60 minutes every day!

A Tipping Point

I inadvertently set off a minor controversy last night when I passed along to @Pokerati that I had learned from a Red Rock Casino poker dealer than current Heartland Poker Champ @veerob (Rob Perelman) didn’t leave a dealer tip at the conclusion of the tournament last Sunday.

First, I do not know Rob at all, and was not making an accusation against him. I knew @Pokerati had been covering the tournament. Secondly, as with any tournament cash of any size Rob is free to spend or not spend his money any way he pleases. (It should be noted that Rob followed later Wednesday with a tweet that he tipped $2,000 tip on his $158,755 cash. The confusion being that he left the tip the next day after most of the dealers were gone and not directly after the tournament.).

I sent this tweet to @Pokerati for one reason – tipping is an aspect of poker that I feel is rarely discussed. Certainly, there is no standard for tipping in tournaments or cash games.

Mike Caro makes a number of salient points when it comes to tipping in both cash games and tournaments in his article: http://www.poker1.com/archives/8645. How one player tips in poker is probably no different than how same player tips at a restaurant or when getting a haircut.

As a poker dealer, I have been asked about tipping and how poker dealers are paid. Most poker dealers sign up for the Internal Revenue Service tip compliance program through their home casino or any casino in which they are dealing a tournament. The formal part of tip compliance is: Under the Gaming Industry Tip Compliance Agreement Program (GITCA), a gaming industry employer and the Internal Revenue Service work together to reach a Gaming Industry Tip Compliance Agreement that establishes minimum tip rates for tipped employees in specified occupational categories, prescribes a threshold level of participation by the employer’s employees, and reduces compliance burdens for the employer and enforcement burdens for the Service.

Essentially, poker dealers (and other casino employees) are taxed a certain amount per hour for every hour they work. The rate of tip compliance is higher in bigger and busier poker rooms, less in smaller and less frequented rooms. What is consistent is if you are working eight straight hours at Aria on a Saturday night, you are taxed a certain amount per hour per your rate of pay (i.e. minimum wage). If you are “dead spreading” at 8 AM at Excalibur on a Monday morning and don’t get a game for the first two hours, you are still taxed at your tip compliance rate.

The upside is that poker dealers in the tip compliance program keep all of their own tips. They are not reported to the IRS. They are not taxed. They are not shared. These tips are what make up the majority of a poker dealer’s wages. For a full-time Las Vegas poker dealer you can expect your bi-weekly paycheck, after taxes and insurance, won’t buy you more than a bag or two of groceries. Your tips, however, can afford you a car and a home.

As I have been on the felt as both a tournament casher and a tournament dealer, I have seen both sides of this dance.

In a typical situation where the top 20 players of a tournament are getting paid, the tipping breakdown generally goes like this – 16 thru 20 make a very small profit but they are willing to throw a few bucks of their profit to the dealers because they are happy to have survived the bubble. Finishers 15 thru five are happy they cashed, but upset they didn’t cash big. They generally tip lowly or not at all because they have the mentality that tipping the dealers is the top finishers problem, not theirs. This is not true for all players, but I see it happen more often than not.

The top cashing players usually tip based on what they think is fair – from one to 10 percent, but usually in the 3-5 percent range.

Here is where human nature really kicks in. If I buy in to a $120 tournament and win $3,000 I think I generous tip is in order. I would tip $300. However, most players I have run across do not think about the $2,880 profit they just made ($3,000-$120), they think about the $300 they are about to give away, and that seems like a lot of money. The same source of the @veerob tip told me that the second-place finisher was a local Red Rock 2-4 limit grinder and tipped $7,000 on his $79,059 cash. A 2-4 limit player has to be lucky to make enough just to stay ahead of the rake. Generally, that player would look at a $79,000 cash like hitting the bad bead and tip accordingly. Again, this tip from last Sunday is unconfirmed.

Every poker dealer has heard the tipping horror stories. My friend and fellow dealer @scarletlv told me a story of a player who tipped a half eaten candy bar. I have dealt in a casino where quarters are raked and players would tip 25 cents on a $45 pot. At a major downtown casino last summer a player profited in a tourney more than $2,000. But he was so angry about the bad beat he took that knocked him out of the tournament he slapped two quarters on the counter for the dealers and stormed out of the room. You may not agree with me to tip 10% of winnings of more than $10,000 in a poker tournament, but you can certainly agree that .00025% is extremely low!

I have dealt a number of poker tournaments in various casinos and have many friends that are dealers in Las Vegas and other places. No matter the size of the tournament, the number of entrants or the location, the same number comes up time and time again with poker dealers — $10 per down. That is what most tournament downs (30-minute dealing sessions) average. That means that most poker dealers make $20 per hour for dealing a poker tournament (before taxes).

That may seem like a lot of money, and certainly it is above the poverty line. But look at it this way.

SALARY                        AVERAGE PER HOUR

$100,000/yr.                      $48

$75,000/yr.                        $36

$50,000/yr.                        $24

$40,000/yr.                        $19

And that’s for full-time dealers. With the supply of dealers vastly higher than the current demand most dealers are not full-time employees. They are extra board personnel and tournament temp hirers who take jobs where they can get them.

Locals and low-levels players are typically great tippers. They make sure they push you $1.00 after every single hand they win. Generally, bigger game players and tourists are terrible tippers. I know many a dealer who would rather be pitching cards in a four-table casino in the suburbs than a high-stakes game on The Strip.

In the end, poker dealers are no different that servers, bartenders, valets and a whole litany of service industry jobs in Las Vegas. We do what we do because we like it and it affords us a living.

But the next time you hit that beautiful river card and take in a huge pot, take a beat and think about the hard-working person in the box making the game go smoothly.

Chad Harberts is a full-time poker dealer/supervisor and part-time poker player based out of Henderson, NV. You can follow him on Twitter under @chadharberts.

Viva Las Vegas

It’s been a little while since my last blog, a reflection of my crazy life!

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Las Vegas, and my life as been on fast forward.

I moved here with no job, no house, no career whatsoever. Within months I had gone to poker dealing school and gotten a job at a North Las Vegas casino. In the worst job market in the country (over 14% unemployment), I have moved on to another casino and been promoted to dual-rate poker supervisor/dealer.

Alas, I had to get the TV suits out of storage for my new position. Part of me was hoping that those TV suits would stay in storage forever!

I’ve taken up hiking, lost 25 pounds, given up fast food and soda, and now live in a rental house. The only drawback so far has been the challenge of finding a house to buy. Although there are thousands of empty houses in the Las Vegas valley right now finding the perfect one for me has been a little difficult. The short-sale process throws up a lot of hurdles, but I am working through them.

For now, I am house-hunting and playing poker.

Hope all is well with all of you!

Losing Weight: Hard, But Rewarding

After years of hoping, wishing, lamenting, procrastinating and just plain being lazy I have reached my tipping point with being overweight.

I want to be heathy and have more energy, so I’ve gotten back to working out. But more importantly I have started eating right. And that is hard as hell!

My steps so far:

1. I stopped drinking diet Coke. Depending on who’s research you believe, diet Coke can cause cancer. There is no arguing that diet Coke and any other soda product is basically just a batch of chemicals. I think we all remember that Nancy Reagan warned us to not put chemicals in our bodies. My last soda was July 25, 2010.

2. I gave up fast food. This was actually easy when I gave up the diet Coke. Fast food and soft drinks go hand in hand. That food is not only chemically-enhanced, but it’s fattening too. I didn’t have to watch Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary to known Mickey D’s was bad for me. Heck, baseball reliever Goose Gossage told the world year’s ago. My last fast food meal was sometime before July 25, but I don’t know what date exactly.

3. If it comes in a can or a box, it is probably bad for you. This is my grocery shopping rule. Although there are exceptions, a majority of the things that come in a box or a can at a grocery store are high in sugar, chemicals, fat or all three.

This does make it a little difficult to eat while I am in the process of losing the weight. I’ve had to stick to apples, string cheese, yogurt, chicken, bananas and salmon thus far. I am single, and cooking for one can be difficult. But I haven’t been going hungry. And when I do eat, I get full much faster.

4. I do 45 minutes of cardio minimum every single day. This was the easiest one to achieve. After I stopped eating and drinking all the junk, I had a lot more energy to go to the gym.

I am sure I am on the right track. I’ve lost 9 pounds in the first 10 days I’ve done this. It is the incentive to keep going.

I Never Drank The Kool-Aid

As the Brett Favre saga continues to drag into the final days of July it’s time for real Minnesota Vikings fans to shake off their embarrassment of pouring so much love on the formerly hated Packer and realize that Favre didn’t take the Vikings any further than they had been before.

I’m a lifelong Vikings fans. I will probably be a Vikings fan until the day I die. I never drank the Brett Favre Kool-Aid.

I was embarrassed to see Brad Childress pick Favre up at the airport for training camp last year. Can you imagine Tom Landry or John Madden doing that?

I was more embarrassed by the legion of Vikings fans cheering Favre’s arrival, buying purple no. 4 jerseys and cheering his every throw. Have you no shame?

I understand how desperate Vikings fans are to win a Super Bowl? The Vikings were born just eight years before I was. I have been alive for virtually every agonizing moment in Vikings history. The losses to the Raiders, the Dolphins, the Steelers and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Fran Tarkenton and Alan Page being traded, the Steve Young TD, the Michael Vick TD, the McMahon game, the freakin’ fourth and forever TD against Arizona, Wrong Way Marshall’s TD, the Whizzinator, the Herschel trade, the Les Steckel era, the Mike Tice era, the 2001 NFL Title Game, Korey Stringer’s death, Robert Smith’s retirement, Drew Pearson pushing off, et al.

After all those years of suffering with the Vikings together, I still can’t believe that a legion of Purple Pride faithful would so quickly sell their collective souls to the ultimate Benedict Arnold to try to win a Super Bowl.

I spent the entire 2009 season cheering for the Vikings will quietly continuing to loathe Brett Favre.

In the end, Favre added nothing to the Vikings. Absolutely NOTHING!

Brett Favre in 2009: 13-5 overall, 363 of 531 passing for 4,202 yards. He passed for 33 TDs against seven interceptions. Two of those interceptions came in the NFC Championship game, including the critical one on the Vikings game-winning drive attempt in the fourth quarter.

Favre was 28 of 46 in the NFC Championship game for 301 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Vikings lost the title game in overtime in New Orleans, and the Saints went on to win the Super Bowl.

Wait, I’ve seen this before. It was 1998. Vikings’ starter Brad Johnson is injured and Randall Cunningham takes over.

Cunningham, like Favre, had his best years somewhere else. In this case it was the Philadelphia Eagles, not a Vikings’ rival like Green Bay.

With weapons Cris Carter and Randy Moss, Cunningham had a career year. He led the Vikings to a 13-1 regular season record.

He would finish the season 259 of 425 for 3,704 yards. He tossed 34 TDs with just 10 interceptions.

The Vikings lost in the NFC Championship game that year, too. Inexplicably, the Vikings played very safe in the fourth quarter against Atlanta. Gary Anderson missed his first field goal of the year, and the Vikings lost in overtime. Atlanta went on to lose to Denver in the Super Bowl.

The NFC Title game was hardly Cunningham’s fault. He was 29 of 48 for 266 yards in the final game, with two touchdowns and throwing zero interceptions.

Cunningham was already a much more likable guy when he QB’ed the Vikings. He didn’t have the prescription drug problem, the messy divorce from his first team, the awful season playing for someone else and a history of killing the Vikings.

Favre was a rent-a-QB in the worst way. The Vikings turned their back on everything they hold sacred — tradition, loyalty, their fans — and turned the reins of the team over to a guy who intentionally skipped camp, openly battled his own head coach and eventually cost the team a chance to go the Super Bowl.

A number of years ago I went to a Bears-Vikings game at the Metrodome. It was one of those let’s-just-get-cheap-tickets-and-go games where I ended up with three friends and their wives in the top row of the upper deck. The upper deck was probably 50-50 Vikings and Bears fans, which is what you expect from a great rivalry game.

Before the game a guy and his girlfriend came to the upper deck to find their seats. Because this guy was in his early 20s and didn’t no better or because his girlfriend appeared to be way out of his league, he had allowed her to leave the house and come to the game wearing a green Favre no. 4 Packers jersey. She was wearing a Favre jersey to a Vikings-Bears game at the Metrodome! As you might expect, Bears and Vikings fans agreed on something for the first time in history. Thousands of fans heckled and tossed garbage at the idiot and his girlfriend in a Favre jersey. That’s how much Brett Favre is hated within the division.

Favre’s never going to be remembered as a Vikings great. On the all-time Vikings quarterback ladder, he has to fall below Fran Tarkenton, Tommy Kramer, Joe Kapp, Brad Johnson and Daunte Culpepper. Maybe tied with Cunningham. Probably ahead of Warren Moon. Definitely ahead of Steve Dils, Wade Wilson, Rich Gannon and Sean Salibury.

I hope Brett Favre stays retired. I would rather go 8-8 this season with real Vikings, than back to the playoffs with a Green Bay Packer.

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