When I first moved to Las Vegas, I looked around to see where I could find a regular HORSE tourney, and as it turns out, only two casinos offer it on a regular basis.

Horse Poker

Green Valley Ranch has a weekly $45 HORSE tourney on Wednesday nights that has a structure that looks pretty much like a super-turbo to me. Plus GVR is a pretty long drive across town for me, so I didn’t like that option too much.

The Orleans is the only other casino that I know of in Vegas that spreads a regular HORSE tourney. They offer it on Sunday nights and Fridays at noon and it sports a $75 buy-in. Both days offer the same structure, which is pretty decent, although it gets pretty fast in the middle levels, but what do you expect, they want to get that sucker over with as soon as they can. I’ve played this one six times. Five times on Fridays, and once on a Sunday night. When I’ve played this tournament, the number of players ranged from 30-50 or so.

Old Grizzled Guys With Sausage Fingers

Sausage Fingers

I can now chalk up two wins in this tourney, but more on that later. First lets talk a little bit about the players in this tournament.

If I could pick one word to describe the typical player in this tournament, it would be Crusty. Most of these guys are old guys who like Stud, are somewhat familiar with hold’em, and need Razz explained to then every time it comes up in the rotation.

Oh yeah, and I’m sure I’ll be there someday, but these old guys have these huge fat sausage-fingers. Hell, some of these guys can barely pick their cards up off the felt with those nubs attached to the end of their arms. This of course begs the question…How do they pick their noses with those fat things on their hands?

The skill level of the players in this tourney is average to low. Lots and lots of bad habits are seen here, and these guys don’t care to correct them, or adapt their game to dynamic situations. It’s pretty easy to spot the weaknesses of these old guys, of course getting an opportunity to exploit it is another story, as you’ll only see a very small range of situations where you’ll find yourself heads-up with someone who you can exploit.

There’s always the guy who has to ask what the bring-in is every time the action is on him. This doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is a bad player, but it tells me that all they care about is their own cards, and really aren’t paying attention to much of anything else.

Of course, there’s always the guy that plays nearly every single hand. Sometimes they get lucky, but more often than not they have garbage, especially in the Stud levels. They’ve been playing Stud for over 50 years dammit, and they know the game, and nothing will get them off of two pair on fifth street because by God, they won a huge pot with tens-up way back in 1963, and there’s no way it can lose.

Occasionally there’s a young guy or two in the field, and they’re generally pretty strong players. Let’s face it, those who play online have the distinct advantage of simply seeing more hands over a short amount of time.

My Image – The Resident Geek

The Poker Geek

When I sit down in this tournament, I generally get no respect from these old-timers. I’m in my late thirties, but I look younger than that, so usually they assume that I’m a young gun who likes to ram-and-jam and play a wild, loose, aggressive style.

Of course those of you who know me, know that that’s not my game, especially in HORSE. I’m pretty calculated and deliberate, and I change my game up often enough that people don’t know what to expect.

Now there’s a few of the regulars who know me in this tourney, and they give me respect, because they’ve seen me win this thing, and run deep on the occasions when I don’t win.

The Bread-and-Butter – Smart Middle Aged Guys

Bread and Butter

My favorite opponents in this tournament are the 45-60 years old guys, who also play online. These guys look at me, and know I play online, and they know I’m not just some NLHE kid who decided to take a stab at HORSE. I carry a fairly intellectual look, I wear glasses, and don’t talk and act like a jerkoff at the table, yelling “Boom!!!” when I hit my boat on seventh street.

These guys give me respect, and I thoroughly abuse that fact, raising light against them whenever I sense weakness, regardless of what I’m holding. Nine times out of ten they’re folding, and there’s not enough time in the tourney for them to realize what I’m doing.

There’s Always a Crazian


Of course, there’s the resident Crazian in the game. I’ve sat with him 2-3 times, the latest being yesterday when I won.

His name is Dennis, and he’s about 60 or so, constantly talking, and nearly always in a hand. The first time I played with him, he was intentionally miscalling his hands when he was in showdown, and eventually another player called the floor on him, and he got a warning.

A short time later in that same tournament, I had just taken a sick beat in HE when KK called my AA all the way down on an unconnected, unpaired board, and spiked a King on fifth street. I was down to about 2500, and the blinds were 200-400 I think, or something in that range, and I’m dealt A-K suited the very next hand in MP. It folds to me, and I’m ready to get as much in as early as possible in this hand. I grab a 1K chip, and toss it in front of me at the same time I say raise. All of a sudden, Dennis, is complaining because he didn’t think I said “raise” soon enough. Of course the dealer, and the rest of the table didn’t have a problem, but he starts making a fuss and wants the TD to come over. The TD wasn’t putting up with his shit though, and essentially told him to shut the hell up and play.

I win that hand btw, and come back and final table the thing, but bubbled the money in 6th place though.

I’ve come to know Dennis a bit now though, and he’s alright, but he’ll shoot any angle he can, and I know this.

A Few Notes About Yesterday’s Win


Back to yesterday’s tournament. I guess technically I didn’t win, but I was the chip leader when we did a three-way chop at the end. Whatever, I call it a win.

One awesome aspect of this tournament is the fact that you can enter late. Levels are 20 minutes, and you can enter anytime through the first five levels, which of course is one complete rotation of all five games. This means if you happen to bust out before the first five levels are up, you can buy back in with a fresh stack of 7500 chips.

Yesterday on my left was a guy who didn’t even know how to play Omaha, let alone Omaha8. He didn’t realize that it was 8 or better for the low in Stud8 and Omaha8 until much later, after he had bought back in to the tournament.

So he busted out during level five. As he walked away, I turned to the woman next to me, who was just as amazed at how badly he was playing and said, “God, I hope he buys back in.” She smiled and nodded.

Sure enough, two minutes later, he was back on my right with a fresh stack of chips. He didn’t last much longer though, spewing everywhere. It was a gorgeous sight to behold.

I played a solid game, and got value in the middle part of the tourney with a six high straight with a wheel for the low in Omaha8.

Made good money in Razz against guys who can’t fold a draw to an eight when my board is 2-9-7-6.

Chipped up quite well when my table was six-handed and 4 of the others were old dudes who tend to shut down during hold’em.

Very early on I chipped up when I limped from the BB with 4 other players, flopped trip 10s with 10-2 and rivered an unneeded boat to take a nice pot from the previously mentioned donkey on my right when he couldn’t find the obvious fold. He paired his nine on the turn. No shit… he had…K-9.

At the final table I boated up in Stud high on 6th street, and was loving it when we capped 7th street and he didn’t even have a pair on board. This put me in the chip lead with about 100K of the 225K chips in play with five people left.

I always look back at a tournament when I’m done and note my mistakes, and try to analyze them. I sometimes jot notes afterwards, but usually it’s mental inventory of mistakes made.

Of course, when you run good, the mistakes are usually, but not always, fewer. This was one of the rare times when I played a tournament, and could not find a single spot where, with hindsight, I made a mistake.

The only thing I can think of that could possibly be a mistake is a single hand at the final table.

There were 7 left, blinds were at 800-1600, I was sitting on about 40K in the BB and the game was HE. UTG raised, UTG+1 reraised, putting himself all-in for about 4.5K. It folded around to me in the BB and I’ve got 3-3.  UTG has about 75K in his stack and looked ready to play. I thought about this one for a good minute, and opted to fold, knowing that AT BEST I’m racing against him. Maybe he checks it down after the flop just to thin the field, but I’m getting the feeling he has a pair, and not 2-2.

Big stack shows A-J suited and all-in boy shows K-10. Flop comes A-3-10, and I’m kicking myself…especially when a J comes on the turn. Would have been an easy double up with bottom set if I played.

But thinking about it, I have no problem with my play in that spot. I feel I made the right play with the information available to me at the time.

As I mentioned before, this is my second win in this tourney. Sometime I’ll sit down and write about the other one.