Normally I only say nice things about whatever I review. I like Las Vegas, and I read enough negatives that I just don’t want to add to them. However, this week I am making an exception. I am going to complain about poker, or a lack of same, as the case may be.

What? There is poker all over this town! Is this guy nuts? Well, yes, but that’s a different story. I mean that what I haven’t seen anywhere around here is non-serious, truly low ante, stakes so low that losing your shirt only costs you a Jackson, friendly play like I used to enjoy in the gambling Mecca of Denver, Colorado. Here is the sort of game in which I used to participate.

This you won't see in your local poker lounge.
This you won't see in your local poker lounge.
Screen Shot of the Site Selling Alien Poker

It cost $20 to buy a bag of chips that, unless you were really bad or really unlucky, would last you all night. Sometimes I was really bad, but again, that’s another story. The dealer would ante one dollar, and for that buck get to choose the game. There were no blinds, and nobody else was required to ante anything. It was customary to bring a snack to share, however. The games were not all Texas Hold ‘em. That’s a wonderful game, but it takes only a couple of minutes to play without the cameras rolling, and it gets boring if that’s all you’ve got. We would plan endless variations of seven card stud, plus five card stud and five card draw. Sometimes we would play Omaha. Many of the games were high-low, frequently with a qualifier on the low hand (no card higher than an eight, usually.) The organizer of the game had one he called “Alien Poker,” which was any poker game you want, but with each player granted a power by a special card dealt at the beginning of the hand. So, okay, none of this stuff would fly in a casino. No professional player would touch rules like those.

Well, that’s my point, bucko!

I don’t want to be a professional poker player. Sure, I watch the games on cable and think, why heck, I could play as well as that joker. Maybe I could, but I don’t need the pressure, you get me? When anything like real money is on the table, I get nervous. On the other hand, for twenty bucks, I can forget about the money and just play the game. Like a professional, in fact.

I’m not the worst poker player you’ll ever meet. I can see tells, and when I’m on an up phase I can keep my own tells down to a mild roar. If you want to see how I do when I’m tired, you’ll have to pay to play, but you may well get your money back. My point being that I like the game of poker, but not the expense of gambling in a casino, local or other wise. I enjoy pulling off a good bluff (oops, tipped my hand a bit there.) And I’ll admit that it’s more fun to win than to lose. But, put enough of my money to go to a movie with out of town company and pay for it all in the pot at one time and I get too worried about the money to enjoy the game.

This Beats Two Pair, Right?
This Beats Two Pair, Right?
Photo by Steve Fey

So that’s something I dislike about Las Vegas. People here are just too serious about their poker! If I could I’d host a low stakes game like I used to attend. Twenty bucks to get in, dealer ante and pick the game, as many variations as the players can figure out on basic poker and still have it be basic poker, and just because it’s my game, no more than one hold-em and one Omaha per trip around the table.

Now that would be a poker game I could get in to.


7 responses on “Poker!

  1. My brother hosts a home game like that, they have a lot of fun and drink alot. They play a lot of mixed games, even some crazy games.
    There are many casinos in California (cardrooms) that have a maximum buy in of $20 to $40 dollars, usually No Limit Hold’em. Tends to be full of Mental Midgets though, no respect for the game, because they will go All-in at the drop of a hat. Games like that don’t really help you improve your overall game.

    On-line ‘No Money’ games are almost the same, but if you play to improve your game, you can really develope your skills. I’m learning more about HORSE and other mixed games on-line. Don’t have any real money in them because I still don’t trust them, after the two big scandles that happened. The “Free” games work best for me. Still you have to wade through the Mental Midgets.

  2. I miss the Denver poker games, too, although being REALLY cheap, I would play at the slow table in the $5 buy in version. I loved Alien Poker, but one of my favorites was the game I named Jesse Helms – best straight wins.

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