I recently moved to Austin, Texas, and while I haven’t had a ton of time to play poker, what little time I’ve managed to play, I’ve seen some really strange things. I figured it would be fun to share a few of them with you this month, because any poker pro new to an area does need to adapt to the environment.
STAKES ARE MASSIVE OR TINY: There really isn’t much in between. The rooms I’ve been to have plenty of $1-$2 and $1-$3 NLHE and the only other option is $5-$5-$10 PLO. That’s a massive jump. There are some factors that contribute to the hold’em games playing slightly larger than you’d expect, but in the end the mid stakes are basically nonexistent outside of some of the home games.
SMALL RAKE: The rooms here all charge a massively low rake. There’s no jackpot dollar, no $1 out of a $6 pot, nothing. The law requires them to rent the seats and never take a dollar out of the games, so $10 per hour is their rate. This means no money comes off of the table for rake and dealer tips are handled with a separate kind of chip. The stacks stay bigger longer and you can even play heads-up profitably if you’d like.
ODD REQUEST: This is one of the most Texas things I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s part of the hospitality mind-set of the state, but a player folded to my bet and then asked me if he could see the turn. I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t even sure how to respond, but the dealer told me that’s the rule. The person who won the hand gets to decide if the player that asks gets to rabbit hunt. There’s no per-hand rake so the rooms don’t really mind time-wasters and, honestly, if it makes someone more likely to call me with that gutshot next time, I don’t mind letting them see the turn.
VENMO? This one was new to me, too. A dealer was dealing and a player needed cash. They asked the dealer if they could Venmo them; the dealer took out his phone, processed the request and then whipped out the cash and handed it to the player. He was still dealing in the box and didn’t charge vig, just did it. In some real way, this is the wild, wild West out here. — Brent Philbin