Friday, December 21, 2007

How to Invade Las Vegas and Play Poker for a Profit

If you are going to Las Vegas to “gamboool it up”, have a good time, and are not concerned with building up your bankroll, this post will have little or no applicability.

However, if you are serious about increasing your bankroll by going to Las Vegas and playing poker, you have come to the right place.

First, do some reconnaissance by scouring the 2+2 forums regarding “brick and mortar” play and the site for info on the various poker rooms in Vegas.
A good sized room known to attract fish that also spreads the game you want to play is what you are looking for. A small room is less likely to have enough fish for you to take advantage of. You also want to avoid rooms that are known to be frequented by too many local grinders. Other “intel” worth gathering is the “$20 Trick” for upgrading your room and to use Koval, Paradise, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin as expedient roads to navigate the Strip without driving on the Strip any more than necessary.

When you get there, avoid the temptation to play the usual “table” games and slots. These will only siphon off your poker bankroll and/or reduce what you can use to buy in. These games will also drain away any potential winnings after a good session if you are not wary. Stay out of the sportsbook. I don’t know about you but I can place a wager on sports from my living room anytime I want to by using a local guy. Why people go all the way to Vegas and then bet on sports is beyond me. Only play games you have an edge in and that are not available back home. For me, that is NL or PL Hold’em cash games and nothing else. Tournaments are much more difficult to win at consistently. Although there are plenty of home games in Texas, to access a never ending supply of tourist/fish, you have to go to Vegas. Cardrooms in Louisiana or Oklahoma (or just about anywhere else) will not have the type or volume of fish you find in Vegas.

Eat well during the day so you will not be hungry later in the evening and limit alcohol intake. Eating a big meal right before playing takes away my mental sharpness and makes me a bit sleepy. You want to arrive at the tables less intoxicated than the players already seated. This will give you an edge over them that you do not want to give up.
Cheap eats are available if you look around and time it right. Eating breakfast in the morning is expensive but eating breakfast between 11pm and 5am is cheap. If you are like me and want to maintain some semblance of a normal schedule, go to Ellis Island anytime and eat inexpensively.

Play at night. Avoid playing during the day if you can. The reason for this is your prey, the drunken donkey tourist, primarily comes out at night. During the day, most of the players are sober and not ready to “donk off” too much cash just yet. 10pm – 3am is the prime time to play.

Leave the iPod at home or in your room. There are lots of tells to be obtained if you are paying attention. I also notice the iPod wearers are always asking how much the bet is when the action is on them. Both the player and dealer have already stated the amount, and then the iPod wearer removes an earbud and asks again. I also do not recommend shades although it is a personal preference, I guess. I do recommend wearing a cap to keep the overhead lights out of your eyes over the course of a long session.

You also want to be able to stay up late and remain mentally sharp. Be prepared by having an energy product or two on you. I avoid the usual energy drinks due to the “crash” when they wear off. I have found a product called “5 hour energy” that is inexpensive, sugar free, and does not cause you to crash when it wears off. I highly recommend it for maintaining mental clarity late at night while drinking. You may also want to have some other pharmaceutical grade caffeine (e.g. no-doz) with you just in case.

You should drink beer or something while you are playing. You want them to think you are a reckless gambler just like they are. I think drinking only water or coffee all night will cause you to receive less action from the rest of the table. They will think you are trying to wait them out by not drinking and staying sober.

Remain well hydrated. Las Vegas is in the desert and is arid. Drinking alcohol in the desert will catch up with you and you will get a hangover. Have plenty of water and gatorade in your room to drink late nights before going to bed and mornings when you get up. Trust me on this. You will probably also want some sort of lip balm to keep from getting chapped lips.

Set a goal. Know when to get up. If you are serious about making a profit, you will want to establish some sort of criteria for when to get up and leave. I decided once I was up 3+ buy-ins or was off my “A” game, I would leave the poker room. If I was up but not tired, I would cash out and take a walk. I could then return and buy back in for one buy-in or I could go to a different casino and obtain a seat for one buy in. Either way, I pocketed the additional buy ins and only had “in play” the amount I wanted to gamble with. If I was tired or off my “A” game, I would simply go home for the night. If you do not leave while you are ahead, you will eventually lose your winnings back to the table. It is called variance and sooner or later you will feel her wrath. Make a preemptive strike on variance and leave while you are ahead. As I stated earlier, if you really want to play more, fine. Buy back in after a short break or go to another casino but pocket your profit and buy back in for your usual amount. You will thank me for this advice later.

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