Only eight days remain before a swarm of poker players descend on Las Vegas for the 2015 World Series of Poker. Plans have been set, schedules are made, tournament packages and backing deals have been set and travel accommodations are booked. As part of our countdown to the 2015 WSOP, BLUFF looks to give a little bit of insight into navigating the cash game world.
While almost all of the attention surrounding the 2015 WSOP is on bracelet events or dozens of other tournament series’ throughout Las Vegas, cash games of many shapes, sizes, buy-ins, games and variants set to pop up to fulfill the need for all those craving action, or for whom tournaments simply aren’t top priority.
There’s a wide variety of options for players across the spectrum of cash game buy-ins and limits, and while no two tables in a single poker room are alike there are certain things that every player should keep an eye out for in order to maximize their value – or at least ensure their enjoyment of the experience.
Whether you’re just a poker fan heading out to Las Vegas to see a few days of the WSOP and want to get in on a little bit of the action, or have some serious goals for a summer-long grind, there are some valuable things to consider before putting your money on the table. No matter what level you play at, if you’re going to be putting in volume of any kind it’s paramount to either obtain or use a player’s card for the room you’re playing at so that you can accumulate comp dollars for your play.
$1/$2, $1/$3 and $2/$5 No Limit; Up to $10/$20 Limit
As you might expect the lowest stakes cash games have the widest variety of options during the summer, with almost every casino with a poker room offering either $1/$2 or $1/$3 No Limit Hold’em and $4/$8 Limit Hold’em. If these are your games then you have a few things to consider that could narrow down your options, and it generally boils down to your preferences. For low stakes players especially, knowing how deep the games play is vital.
The standard for MGM properties – Aria, Bellagio and MGM – is that the lowest No Limit Hold’em games are $1/$3 with a $300 max buy-in, while Caesars properties – Planet Hollywood, Bally’s and Caesars Palace, to name a few – run similar $1/$2 No Limit games with a $300 max. It’s important to note that cash will no longer play at the table, so you will have to buy chips for however much you’d like to put on the table.
They play deeper at the Wynn and Orleans, where the $1/$3 games have a $500 max buy-in. There’s the possibility that a certain crowd or trend could cause those standards to move slightly during high volume times during the summer, but all of these rooms run games of this size year-round and are almost certain to continue to do so in the same way they always operate.
When it comes to $2/$5 games, the options are a bit more limited but still robust, especially during this time of year. The Bellagio’s $2/$5 game has a $500 max buy-in, while the Aria, Caesars and the Orleans have $1,000 max buy-in games. The Wynn offers a $1,500 max on their $2/$5 action, with Planet Hollywood going so far as to offer an uncapped game at the level providing it runs – which it likely will far more often during the summer as their PHamous Poker Series should drive some serious foot traffic into their expanded summer footprint.
If Hold’em isn’t your game of choice, the seven weeks during the WSOP are the best time to find lower stakes mixed game action. There are $3/$6 and $4/$8 Limit Hold’em games scattered throughout Las Vegas, with $4/$8 and $8/$16 Omaha Hi-Lo games running frequently at the Orleans. As far as lower stakes Pot Limit Omaha goes, the Aria runs a consistent $1/$3 game with a $500 max buy-in while and a $2/$5 PLO game with a $1,500 max. There’s also a regular Mixed Game at Aria with a wide variety of games and a varying set of stakes that ranges from $8/$16 to $12/$24.
Other issues for smaller stakes grinders to consider will usually be found through trial and error. A strong wifi signal and the ability to plug into USB ports to charge your phone at the table are available at Aria and other casinos, and only you can know which chairs you’ll find the most comfortable during your longer grind sessions. Getting to know the Bravo app, which most of the more active rooms in Las Vegas use to put out which games are running and how long wait lists are, will prove critically important during high peak hours – on Fridays and throughout the weekend especially.
Inquire about comp rates by asking the floor person as you get into the room, as they vary pretty wildly depending on the room, the time of day and the stakes that you choose to play.
$5/$10 and $10/$20 No Limit; Up to $100/$200 Limit
There are a few Vegas rooms in particular that offer exactly what you’re looking for as a mid-stakes cash game player. The Wynn has uncapped $5/$10 and $10/$20 No Limit Hold’em action, Aria has a $3,000 max buy-in $5/$10 game and an uncapped $10/$20 and Bellagio offers a $1,500 max $5/$10 No Limit Hold’em game along with uncapped $10/$20 and $10/$20/$40 options. Bellagio is also one of the prime places to go for mid-stakes Mixed Game action starting at $10/$20 Limit Hold’em and going all the way up to the highest limits in the city. There are options at $20/$40, $30/$60, $40/$80 and $50/$100 for Mixed Games, Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven Card Stud.
This is also the bread and butter zone for the cash game action at the Rio. There should be an even wider variety of mixed game action and mid-level No Limit Hold’em spread in the Pavilion Room at the Rio going 24/7, and the best way to know what’s running – aside from walking into the room directly – is via the Bravo app, which should accurately track all cash games going on. You should also confirm table limits and any potential variations (straddling, button-straddling, etc.) in a given game before sitting down.
$25/$50 No Limit and Up; $150/$300 Limit and Up
Three of the aforementioned rooms are the strongest options for high stakes cash game players looking to make some serious money this summer. Aria and Bellagio will each likely have at least a couple of games in the $25/$50 to $100/$200 No Limit games going on during the summer, with each hosting at least one ultra-high stakes Mixed Game in a dedicated area in the room.
Those games will feature some of the biggest names in poker dueling it out far from the spotlight of the WSOP, playing Mixed Games with blinds with three zeroes after the comma or No Limit Hold’em games with pots that flirt with (and sometimes shatter) the six-figure mark. There’s certain to be some of that kind of action at the Rio too, albeit not on a scale that’s nearly so large. Games as high as $300/$600 and $400/$800 are likely to run during the WSOP, most of them having a Mixed Game format or one specific game from the kind of mix – i.e. Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo.
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