UKPN Vegas Guide: The Low Down on Low Limit
Although you can certainly find some high stakes action in Las Vegas, if that's your cup of tea, the vast majority of games on offer are low limit games.
In particular, the ubiquitous Las Vegas poker game $2/$4 limit hold'em – and it's great fun!
If you're usually a no limit player, don't rule it out without giving it a try. You may just find it very easy to learn to love this game.
The brilliant thing about a Vegas $2/$4 game is that the primary motive for almost everyone in the game is not to win money, but just to have some fun. You won't find ipods and attitudes here.
People come to Las Vegas for a good time and the cheapest poker game in the casino attracts a lot of tourists who just like to spend their time playing cards and getting free drinks.
When you're on vacation – and the majority of visitors come only for a weekend – there's only a short time to have some fun, so sitting tight and waiting for the nuts in a poker game is out of the question!
As a result the game is usually very loose. Expect to see flops frequently contested by six or seven players – even when there's a raise – and don't be surprised the first time you're involved in a family pot at a full table.
Clearly the best strategy is going to be somewhat different to what you're used to in no limit, and even if you're an old hand at limit hold'em expect to have to make adjustments to your normal game. Most micro-stakes games online play tougher than a typical $2/$4 game in Las Vegas!
There isn't room here to give an in-depth strategy, but in a nutshell: if you've got it bet it, and if you don't you can probably afford to draw to it. Forget about making tricky plays and big bluffs. It's just not worth it.
When the big bet costs $4, there's none of the pressure of having to make a decision for your entire stack. In fact, calling one more bet is rarely a big mistake – whereas folding the best hand in a big pot is a disaster!
Your big hands won't hold up as much as you'd like, but when they do the pots will be massive. Raise to try to thin the field, sure, but don't expect to be heads up at the flop very often.
Conversely, you can often make correct calls with very weak draws to drag down a huge pot when it's your turn to get lucky.
If the pot has $28 in it (a seven-way pot with one raise pre-flop) and all you have is a gutshot straight draw, an extra $2 to see the next card is a very good investment.
In this example, you're already getting 14-1 pot odds on a 10-1 shot, and you'll almost certainly win some more big bets too if you still have the best hand after the turn and river.
Small stakes hold'em is a game of sucking out which, of course, is great fun. Embrace the suck out. Live for the suck out.
If you've ever played poker seriously at all, even a little bit, you will observe the mistakes that others are making and very often feel that you are one of the best players at the table.
However, even if players do appear to be giving away their chips, don't expect to automatically make money. Over the long term, $2/$4 is a very tough game to beat for a consistent profit.
The house typically takes a rake of 10% with a $4 maximum, although some casinos now rake up to $5, and some deduct another $1 towards a jackpot promotion.
Although a rake cap is good for the player when pots get large, a lot of pots played at $2/$4 will be in the $40-$80 range so all too often the amount taken out will amount to a full 10% of the pots you win.
Don't forget to tip your dealer too. $1 each time you win a pot is usual, but don't be shy if you feel he or she deserves more for making your time at the table a pleasant one.
Having deductions of up to $7 per pot – almost two full big bets – means that you need to be much, much better than the rest of the table in order to gain an edge significant enough to be a long term winner.
But, as it's fairly likely you're not going to be in town for very long yourself, don't worry about it too much.
Just sit down, order a colourful drink with as many umbrellas as you think you can handle and enjoy the game.
Ed note: Enjoy some great low limit cash action at Full Tilt Poker