Traveling for the best games

November 28, 2012

One of the things that I haven’t done recently as much as I should have is travel to play in good games. When I was younger and single, if there was a good poker situation I found out where it was and went there, because I was free to travel. I just hopped on a plane, had some contacts, and got in the game.

The last few years I’ve played primarily in LA and Vegas. As a result I missed the boat on some good games in other places. What a lot of people don’t know is that big games don’t usually start overnight. They build over time. The winners of smaller games get more money and start playing bigger, especially if there are amateur players who can buy in bigger.

That’s what happened in Macau. Originally the buy-ins in Macau were $5,000 to $10,000. As people started winning the buy-ins got bigger, bigger and bigger. I missed out on the monstrous games because I never traveled to Macau and didn’t put in time to build up connections so that I was ready to play when those games happened.

I like to play mixed games primarily, but recently mixed games have pretty much died on the west coast. I’ll go into Commerce Casino and there won’t be a game. All I can play is Chinese Poker, which is kind of random. I’d heard there are good games at Borgata, so I decided to go out to Atlantic City in October and see what was going on there.


One of the weird things about the mixed games in Atlantic City is that the biggest games are played as 400-800 E.B.: half Stud Eight-or-Better, half badacey. There are some games at 100-200 and 200-400 that include a wider mix but the biggest limits usually have only those two games. Even weirder is that on Thursday through Sunday the games run at the Borgata, but on Tuesday and Wednesday they move to Parx Casino in Philadelphia – and all of the regulars move with them.

I stayed in Atlantic City for a few weeks, moving between AC and Philly with the games. After a while, my girlfriend and my daughter were asking me to come home. I kept saying, “As soon as Commerce starts having mixed games, I’ll come home.” I would check with Commerce almost every day but they never had any mixed games going. I figured I had to work. That’s my job. The games were best on the east coast, so I stayed and played.

Eventually my girlfriend joined me in Atlantic City. She hasn’t played that much poker since Black Friday because she used to play mainly on PokerStars. Once she hopped into the East Coast mixed games, she said “Wow. Why didn’t you tell me poker’s like this here?”

That’s the reality of playing poker for a living. While it’s great to have good live games close to your home (and even better to be able to play online), sometimes finding the best game means traveling.

As it turned out, we left Atlantic City on Sunday, October 28th. We both lost that day and decided to head home in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

I wasn’t thinking the storm was going to be as bad as it was. We really only left because we were both disappointed with a losing day. If we’d have won that day, we’d have stuck around and we might have been stranded without any game to play, as Borgata was closed for almost a week after the storm.


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