The Rise and Fall of Beginner NL Holdem at MGM
I’m back from back to back weekends in fabulous Las Vegas. As usual I like to play my live poker the MGM poker room. The first weekend after putting my name in at the usual $1/$2 level, I noticed that they were spreading something called beginner NL holdem. I asked what it was, and they said it was a $20 to $50 max buy-in $.50/$1 game. Now the 10% max $4 rake is a bit tough at the $1/$2 level, so at $.50/$1, it might be a bit tough to overcome unless the competition is really bad. I thought about it a bit and figured this really would attract the beginners, and with the small stacks they would be less afraid to get involved in pots. Seemed like a goldmine to me so I signed up. They were only running it at three tables. The wait was a bit long, but I sat down and figured if I could get a quick double up, I would have some chips to do some damage. I dropped about $20 early, and re-bought back up to $50, when I caught TT the next hand and built a decent pot preflop. The flop came 755, and I got right to work building a pot. I caught a nice T on the river and ended up getting all in three way for more than a full triple up and I was in business. The game is played with dollar chips so the mound of chips reminded me of dragging a massive pot in the old days at $3/$6 limit. From that point on I just grinded away a nice profit, while slamming all the free drinks I wanted.
Fast forward to the next night, and I am back at a beginner table with even worse players. The two guys to my left were folding preflop out of turn every hand, and the dealer did not seem to care. I got another easy double up and played for several hours and another nice profit.
Fast forward to the blogger gathering last Friday night at the MGM. The blogger table wait was too long to deal with, and bloggers were spread out around the poker room as a result. I put myself on the beginner list and hung out with the bloggers near the sports book bar for about 30 minutes as I moved up the list. When I found my seat, dollar signs were flashing in my head. I had a guy on my left playing out of a full tray of $1s. To his left was an agro kid pushing the table around on nearly every hand, but showing down pretty much crap. I had a lady to my right who had never played before, but had watched her son play. A bunch of other fish filled the table. This time the fish were getting a little luckier, and my stack was yo-yoing up and down a bit. I never really got into the hand I needed to double through and walked away with my stack down 20% (-$10). Ouch, but cost effective for the number of free drinks. Well there is always tomorrow night.
Fast forward to Saturday night, and they are no longer spreading beginner NL holdem. To bad, as it was probably more profitable than $1/$2 for a decent player. The rake was probably too low to take for the house. A bunch of small pots would go un-raked post flop, and the play was a bit slower due to the beginners. I thought that it was more of a loss leader type idea to get people to move up to where they make good money, but the MGM probably got tired of giving up the extra $20 or $30 per hour vs. a higher stakes table. Overall, I liked the concept, and hope some other poker rooms try it.