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Casino Apache, Ruidoso NM

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  • Casino Apache, Ruidoso NM

    Ruidoso New Mexico, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Casino Apache

    Howdy guys, it's been a while since I've played at PSO, but I wanted to share a very enjoyable experience with everyone here. This is way too long and doens't have a lot of poker content, but there were several variations to the traditional poker games I played and want to make sure and cover all of the details. I'm short on hand details, but discussion of how the betting structures change optimal playing strategy could be interesting.

    I just returned from a 10 day trip to Ruidoso New Mexico. Ruidoso is a small tourist town of about 8,000 people in the Lincoln National Forest in Southeastern New Mexico. There are a lot of activities for all types and ages. Horse Racing, Golf, Skiing and Gambling are some of the highlights.

    There are two casinos within 30 miles but only one of them offers any form of poker. Casino Apache offered all of the traditional casino games and at the time had two poker tables. The casino is open 24 hours a day, but the poker room was only open from 6pm-1am Sunday-Thursday and 1pm-6am Friday and Saturday. There are plans to expand the poker room to 4 tables within the next couple of weeks. The poker room is just a roped off area on one of the slots floors. They are in the process of building a much larger casino next door scheduled to open sometime in 2004, but noone was able to tell me if there would be a dedicated poker room.

    I had heard that Wednesday Friday and Saturday were the best days to get in a game. I had some free time Tuesday evening and decided to drop by and see if they had any games going. I arrived at about 6:30 and there were two people at a table waiting to get a game started and I decided to wait until Wednesday.

    Wednesday-

    I show up right at 6:00 and there was already a full table of regulars sitting at the table waiting for the game to start. I spoke to the floorman and he put me on the list for that game and a second game if they had enough demand. The full table was playing a round of each 5-10-20 Holdem and 5-10 Omaha 0/8 with a full kill. The second table was a 2-10 holdem game.

    5-10-20 Holdem
    Two blinds $2 and $5
    You can open for $5 or $10 and can only bet $20 on the river.

    2-10 Holdem
    One $2 blind
    You can open for any amount from $2-10

    5-10 Omaha 0/8 with a full kill at $60
    Traditional betting rules.

    10-20 Omaha 0/8 with a full kill at $100 spread on Saturday

    All games are very reasonably raked. 10% to a max of $3

    I arrived too late to sit at the round of each game and waited about an hour for the second game to start. I sat down to the 2-10 holdem game and put my name on the list of the round of each game. The 2-10 holdem game was interesting and after a couple of orbits I felt comfortable with the structure and adjusted my strategy. Most hands had 4-7 players seeing the flop usually for the 2$ bringin. Some hands were raised to $5 or $7 preflop with very few raised to $10. With only one $2 blind there was very little money to fight for preflop which made this a postflop game. My strategy changed to increase the value of suited connectors and mid to small pocket pair and reduce the value of high pocket pairs. Since there isn't enough money in the pot preflop to be aggressive with premium pairs it becomes a postflop game where you need to improve any hand to have decent odds of winning the pot. The value of pocket aces compared to pocket fives are much closer than a traditional game because you need to improve on the flop by flopping a set in order to create real value with them.

    In the first couple of hours of play I made two obvious mistakes not betting the maximum with sets or top two pair on the turn with a flush or straight draw on the board and then betting out or raising on the river when the draw card hit. I played for approximately 5 hours and left down $70 for the night but very confident about the potential over the next few days.

    By about 7:00 there must have been 15-20 people on the list to play so you have to get there early to get a seat. I never did get a chance to play the round of each game. I was told that on Saturdays and Sundays they spread special scheduled games and was asked if I wanted to sign up for the Saturday game. The Saturday game was 10-20 Omaha with a full kill and I was the 20th!!! person on the list. The dealers and floor staff were extremely pleasant and the players were all very friendly as well. Everyone was on a first name basis and it was obvious that almost all of the players were regulars.


    Thursday I decided to make sure and show up half an hour early so I could get a seat in the main game. I was running behind and arrived about 15 minutes early and the seats were all taken but I was first on the list. I didn't have a lot of confidence that I would get a seat but I decided to wait around a while. I don't ordinarily play any of the other house games such as blackjack or craps. After sitting around for half an hour or so I decide to walk around the casino. I knew that it might be a long time before I get a seat at the poker table and decided to play some $5 blackjack just to waste some time. Not two minutes after I sit down the pitboss comes to the table and says he is going to run a promotion at our table and he's making all 2's dealt to the players wild as long as they are one of the first two cards dealt to you for the next ten hands. Only rule is you are limited to a max of $25 bets and can play no more than 2 spots. Realizing the odds have just changed considerably to my favor this game becomes a lot more fun . I play two spots for ten hands and walk away after the ten hands with a nice profit. I walk back down to the poker room just to make sure I don't lose my seat if someone leaves and I stay there for a while longer before heading back up to the blackjack tables. This time when I sit down about five minutes later the pit boss walks over and says he is going to run a promotion for the next ten hands. You can exchange one of your first two cards dealt to you. It's basically draw blackjack where you can draw one card in exchange for one of the first two cards dealt to you. I feel like this is probably even a better proposition than the 2's wild proposition and I bet the max on two spots for the next ten hands. EVERYONE at our table lost money during this promotion! Hard to believe that we could all lose money with this game. I go back to playing $5 blackjack for a short while until my name is called for the round of each poker game. I heard from other players that there is a third promotion where all of the players are dealt two cards and the players use the best two card combination from all of the players at the table. If none of the players get a two card combination of 17 or higher then the dealer redeals the hands. I heard that they run these blackjack promotions frequently during slow periods. It Made an otherwise boring wait interesting.


    It takes me a couple of orbits to get used to the round of each game. The 5-10-20 holdem game played tighter than the 2-10 game, but looser than you would expect in a traditional fixed limit game. Since the big bet of $20 can only be bet on the river it is cheaper to draw to flushes and straights than in traditional fixed limit games resulting in more action. If there is a straight or flush draw on the board chances are someone is drawing to it. I really enjoyed the Omaha rounds. Play is extremely loose in the omaha rounds. Most hands have 7+ seeing the flop with very little raising preflop. It only takes one round to determine that the Omaha 0/8 game is the better of the two games for me. I have always enjoyed playing all of the variations of Omaha more than holdem. I also felt that while the holdem game was probably beatable, my lack of knowledge of the habits of the players was a larger negative in holdem than in Omaha. I'm sure some might disagree with the following statements, but I believe that the advantage that skilled players have over unskilled players in Omaha is much greater than in holdem. I also believe that the variance of a skilled player playing lesser skilled opponents is much lower in Omaha compared to holdem. I run card dead in the omaha game and don't see any flops outside of the big blind for the last three orbits of Omaha. My holdem play was fair. I play quite a bit tighter than the table, but don't flop any big hands that I remember. I end the 4 hour session down $110, but I'm looking forward to Friday and Saturday. Both days they will be spreading Omaha only tables and I am still feeling very confident about my chances of having a good trip. Tomorrow will be 5-10 Omaha 0/8 with a full kill and Saturday the same game but 10-20 with a full kill. On a side note I am very impressed with the dealers and floor staff of the poker room. Everyone remembered my name form the previous night and made the trip very enjoyable.

    Friday I arrive early enough to choose between the 5-10-20 Holdem game or the 5-10 Omaha game and choose the Omaha game. The game is very loose as usual and doesn't play very aggressively. Over the four day period I don't think I saw the turn or river capped more than maybe 2-3 times in either the Omaha or Holdem games. I also see several more instances where very strong to nut hands don't bet, raise or reraise on the river. I know 7+ of the opponents at my table every night from the previous nights games. They are all very friendly and it's not unusual for several of them to have played golf with each other and with the dealers earlier in the day. I made an effort to try and remember some interesting hands to discuss when I got back, but that's not one of my strong points. The only hand I remember from Friday was one hand where I was dealt A3sQx. Six people saw the flop that came 25J (don't remember if there was a flush draw). I am in mid position and call a bet from early position. Two others call. Turn comes a 10 and everyone checks. River is an 8 and it's checked to me second to act and I check. Very good omaha player to my left checks and the button bets. Early position folds, I call and the very good player to my left calls. We turn over our cards and all three of us have A3 split three ways and both myself and the player to my left have AQ high cards that wins the high for a two way split. I play much tighter than most at the table. Several times all ten of us saw a flop. I ended the night up $240 and leaving me excited about the last day of poker. I'm just hoping I get lucky and get to sit at the 10-20 Omaha table even though I'm 20th on the list.


    I get lucky on the last day and get the last seat available in the Omaha game. I have very little experience playing live games and wouldn't ordinarily be playing a game as high as 20-40. I had the bankroll to play this high of a game, but it is higher than I would be comfortable playing had it not been for my previous days experience playing with this group. As I stated earlier though I felt that my level of knowledge compared to my opponents with a fairly low variance made this game too good to pass up. Unfortunately I really don't remember too many hands. I do vividly recall one hand that is worthy of discussing. I don't remember my exact hand, but I do remember that one of the kings was suited and I didn't have two cards 8 or below. For the sake of discussion lets just say I had 59KK. It is a poor percentage hand to be playing, but if there is any hole in my Omaha game it's my reluctance to lay down KK. I am not superstitious at all about cards, but I do have a fondness for KK in Omaha games. I prefer KK over AA for two reasons. The first is that if you hit a set with AA there is a higher chance that there will be a low qualifying hand and the second is that there is more deception with KK. While I only called preflop this time with two other poor cards, if I have a good low possibility I am likely to raise preflop in late position with my pocket kings and several callers. Most people in a fairly passive game will put you on AA with the preflop raise. I almost hate even mentioning my affection to KK because I believe I play a much more solid game than this scenario reflects.

    I have 59KK in mid to early position and the flop comes 3c6cKx. I don't remember how many saw the flop, but I opened in early position and and two people called before it got to the very good omaha player (now known as VGP) I mentioned from the day before. He raises and I reraise and the player to my left calls. VGP caps it and I have to put him on A2 of clubs or a set. He is the best player at the table and I know he respects my play enough to only raise here with the nut nut draw or less likely with a lower set. He is also the only player at the table that has the knowledge and skill to reraise and cap with the nut nut draw knowing that he is behind but a favorite to win by the river. One of my weaknesses is to fire off a bet when I know I'm ahead before fully putting my opponents on hands. Three of us see the turn. The turn brings the J of clubs making his flush and I'm first to act. I still have some doubts concerning his Ac2c and open with a bet. I still don't know exactly why I bet the turn, but I figured it wasn't a terrible bet for a couple of reasons that don't make a lot of sense in hindsight. Player to my left calls and VGP raises. I call and the other player calls. Before the river is dealt VGP asks the dealer to please not pair the board and the dealer turns over a 3 pairing the board!!!! I bet, player to my left folds and VGP pays me off as he probably should with the size of the pot.


    The game started at 1:00 and I had played with 7 of the people at my table and had a pretty good idea of their abilities and tendencies. It only took one orbit for me to categorize the other two players. I determined very early who I thought would be net winners and losers for the day. I don't think I could have done this in a holdem game, but this being Omaha I felt very confident that I knew who would be a winner or loser. The first five hours of the game were absolutely outstanding! The weakest players at the table lost consistently, but got lucky just enough times to convince them to rebuy and play some more. I bought in for $300 dollars and at no time during the day was I down more than $70. There was one terrible player that got extremely lucky and built up a lot of chips and one average player that got extremely unlucky and never won a hand and left after losing $500. The extremely lucky guy eventually lost quite a bit more than he bought in for and the extremely unlucky player left losing a lot more than I thought he should have. Everyone else at the table performed exactly as I suspected. The large advantage with low variance allowed me to play with a lot of confidence and I did exceptionally well for the day. The three expected winners at the table had amassed profits of 600-1,000 within five hours with everyone else losing. This one day made my trip a great success. This is why holdem is much more popular in casinos than Omaha variations. It was too easy to see within two orbits who would be the winners and losers by the end of the day. The better players took the weaker players money too quickly.

    I played another 4 hours without really making or losing any money. Once the weak players all busted out the players that were willing to wait around for many hours to play were of higher caliber and the game became tougher. I felt I still had an advantage in this game but I also felt that the variance would be higher.


    I am looking forward to returning to Casino Apache. My confidence is much higher getting some real experience under my belt.


    What made the trip even more enjoyable was there were very few "losers" in the games that I played. You will have to buy into my theory here to understand what I mean. I've read a few books, and I believe that it was Ciaffone that explained the motivations to play poker, but I could be wrong. I play poker for the competition and for the social interaction. Money is the way to keep score for me, but it's not the primary reason I play poker. We could be playing poker with toothpicks and as long as everyone was playing like each toothpick was worth $10 $20 $50 etc I'd still get a lot of satisfaction from playing poker for toothpicks. Most of the players I played with at Casino Apache are good friends, most of the are retired and they will still be playing poker with each other tomorrow, next month and next year. For the most part the people I played with are playing well within their limits and play every day for the social interaction (and to get away from their wives :P). Noone was ever way out of line, the dealers were respected and tipped generously by most. I feel like when I return their later this summer to play again I'll be walking into Cheers where everyone knows my name and win or lose everyone will have a good time.

    I post the trip report for two reasons. I always enjoy reading other members reports and while I didn't have many hands to discuss that are good for debate I feel confident recommending the poker room knowing that you will have an enjoyable and potentially profitable experience playing at Casino Apache. The other reason is the unbelievable job that the dealers and floor performed. I thanked the floor manager as I was walking out on my last day for the very enjoyable experience and he asked me to please spread the word to my friends. It seems that poker rooms are always the stepchild to the casino and any help I can give them to help the room succeed is a win win scenario for both us and the poker room.

  • #2
    What can I say?

    Just a GREAT trip report!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for sharing, and now I know why you stare longingly at my chips when we play o/8 (after the first two orbits). 8O

    Tim

    Comment


    • #3
      I guess what they say is true.....it's hard to kill a Cockroach! Good to hear from you! Thanks for the excellent report. To me the lack of hand content didnt mean a thing.


      Sounds like youve found a ripe little berry patch!

      Hope to run into you again soon.

      Comment

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