Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Gaming Limits

Colorado’s 3 gambling towns recently voted to increase stakes to $100, allow 24 hour operations, and offer craps and roulette in addition to current slot machines, player backed poker and house backed table games. The first step in the process was passage by the state in November. The legislation is expected to take effect in early July.

I am asking the question of what this means for Colorado poker which has been confined to $2-5 and $5-5 spread limit Holdem and to a much lesser extent Omaha. The word on the street is that poker rooms will still offer mostly Holdem and game offerings will probably include structured games from $3-6, $4-8, $5-10, possibly up to $15-30 or $30-60. The spread limit games will be more interesting with $1-2 blinds and $2-5 blinds with a max $100 bet in either game. Higher blinds may be offered but make less sense.

The current fixed limits force everybody to play together and slow and fast games kind of naturally evolve. The faster games are typically for players with larger bank rolls who like to gamble more. A session of plus/minus $500 is not unreasonable. The slower games still have ups and downs but a winning or losing session of more than $200 is unlikely.

With the new limits, the gamblers will tend towards the spread limit games and will enjoy more money getting into the pot. Players who don’t have the heart or the bank roll will quickly de-select out of these games. Casinos offering these games may experiment with an hourly play fee of $5 or $10 rather than raking each pot. However, I have not been able to confirm that this is allowed by Colorado gaming law.

The structured games will favor the grinders. These tight aggressive players will try to eek out a living by earning between 1 to 2 big bets per hour. This $30-60 game will have the usual suspects and probably only be spread in 1 or 2 casinos. In these games a 10% rake up to $4 or $5 is beatable as most pots should be $100 plus.

I feel the average player who breaks even but contributes to the $20/hour rake will find themselves playing $4-8 structured or $1-2 spread with a $100 max bet. This game will continue to offer entertainment, but the possibility to beat the rake will be reduced as the wilder players may opt for the bigger games and the week players will find themselves unable to play bingo like they could in the $2-5 and $5-5 games.

Overall I feel there will be a 3-6 months adjustment period, followed by stable action generated by home game players who have renewed interest in casino poker, non-gamblers who want to check things out, and tourists drawn from the pool of players who currently head to Deadwood and Sandia. It will be good for the game and for the degenerates, enjoy the honeymoon period of easy money.

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