Vegas Poker Tips
Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world. Unsurprisingly, it is home to some of the best live poker action one can find. Whether you are interested in playing $4-$8 hold'em or $4,000-$8,000, you can probably find a game in Vegas. Many players who make their first venture to Vegas are unsure of which casinos to visit and are eager for any hints that might increase their chance of success at the tables. This shuffle will provide a few basic tips to help players succeed at the Vegas poker scene.
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1. If it is your first time playing live poker or you are still relatively new to the scene, check out our Casino Etiquette article. It details several important points that all players should be aware of when playing live poker. Notably, make sure you do not make newbie mistakes such as string betting.
2. Games at casinos not known for poker tend to be the softest. This is because they appeal to casual playing tourists instead of sharks. There are two types of sharks that play in Vegas poker rooms. The first are the local pros, which tend to attack the higher-stakes games. The second are the tourists that happen to be good poker players. Most of these tourists are drawn to the major poker rooms on the strip, such as the Wynn or the Bellagio.
Neither a semi-pro tourist nor a local pro is going to go out of his way to visit a small poker room that spreads low-stakes games, such as the Luxor or Bally's. Most of the sharks are too busy playing at the Bellagio to be bothered playing a $1-$2 no-limit hold'em game with a $100 buy-in at a casino with a small poker room.
The low and middle-stakes games at the smaller poker rooms are some of the softest games you can find on the planet. Most of these games are filled with casual poker players who happen to be staying at that casino hotel, as they do not appeal to the locals or the poker sharks that are visiting Vegas.
3. Games are softest during peak hours and late at night. While Vegas attracts tourists year-round, most casual playing tourists hit the poker room during the weekend evenings. Get to the poker room a little early, so you can be sure to find a table without having to wait too long.
If you are able to stay awake, the games tend to get very soft late at night. People are often tired and eager to play any hand dealt to them. Other players may be drunk and on tilt. It is not uncommon for a drunk fish to tilt away a thousand dollars or more in a low-stakes game (e.g. $2-$4 no-limit). The games in Vegas at 2 am and later may be the softest games you will ever play in.
4. Multi-table tournaments tend to have bad structure and large entry fees. If you are used to playing online multi-table tournaments, you will most likely be sorely disappointed with the daily multi-table tournaments that are spread in Las Vegas. About half the number of hands per hour is dealt at live tournaments compared to online tournaments. They are also on more of a time crunch, since the dealers want to head home and the casino wants to use the tournament space for cash games. These two factors necessitate that the blinds escalate quickly, resulting in poor tournament structure.
Furthermore, since it is more costly for a brick and mortar casino to host a tournament than an online poker room, the tournament fees are often higher. This is especially the case with small buy-in tournaments. Casinos charge very high fees percentage-wise for these tournaments, since they know people will probably buy-in no matter what the fee is.
Playing thirty hands an hour instead of sixty hands hands an hour might affect your hourly rate in a cash game, but it won't affect how you play or your strategy at the table. However, this reduced amount of hands per hour greatly affects the strategy involved in a multi-table tournament, since it turns it into more of an all-in fest than a true game of poker.
5. It's okay to pass up on Downtown Vegas. While Downtown Vegas has its charm, most of the good poker rooms are on the strip. Both Binions and the Golden Nugget have poker rooms, but a lot of the other small casinos do not. If you want to see the Poker Hall of Fame at Binion's (which is just a wall of photos), then by all means visit. If you decide to skip on visiting downtown, rest assured you did not miss out on anything poker-related.