Sunday, March 06, 2011

Omaha at Bowlero Lakewood

I played poker at Bowlero in Lakewood yesterday afternoon, and I get the feeling that this could be a very profitable game, if I could survive the variance.

First things first: I'd previously tried to play there last Saturday night, but the room was closed up. The poker room manager, Lou, tells me the games usually only run from about 9:00 AM to 6 or 7 PM. I called in on Wednesday to ask about their 2:00 PM tournament. It was a no-go, and it sounds like they won't be going any time soon.

The reason: the only games they spread are Omaha variants. This is a great thing, because there's very few places in the state that spread anything other than hold 'em, and as far as I'm concerned, hold 'em players have gotten too smart. They've only got two tables, and When I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the table of 10 players was full and I was third on the waitlist. As would be expected, everyone seemed to know everyone else. Unexpectedly, there were regularly eight players to the flop and three or more to the river. In the two hours I was there, I never failed to see a showdown at the river.

In a rarity for the west coast, the house doesn't take a rake from the pot. Instead, every half hour, they charge the players $2.50 to continue playeing. Also, unlike any other poker room I've ever encountered, they don't have an employee dealer. Deal rotates around the players, and the dealer chooses the game. Etiquette seems to be that the games called will be one of four Omaha hi/lo variants: 2-card, 3-card (Tahoe), 4-card (Omaha), or 5-card (Omaha Bonus). All games are $3/$6, with a full kill. "Full Kill" has always meant to me that if a player wins two pots in a row, they post $6 the next hand, and the game plays as a $6/$12 game with $1 and $3 blinds. In Bowlero's version, "Full Kill" means this happens if a player drags a pot of more than $50.

Do the math: for a $6/$12 game, with $15 in the pot to start out and a table full of loose players, the next hand is almost always another kill pot.

The winner of the pot is expected to tip the dealer $4-$6.

Their ad in the Western Gambling Journal insinuated that the staff was running it like the games at Parkland's Paradise Lanes used to be. I wouldn't know; I never played there. However, the chips Bowlero uses appear to be the chips from Paradise Lanes (see photo).

I would think that a super-tight player could make this high-action game quite profitable. Game play is about 40 hands an hour, so you'll see four rotations, and a blind cost of $16. The house charges you a $5 seat charge per hour, so you're down $21. You've dealt four hands, so you're getting $20 in tips. Thus, you're paying $1 an hour to sit and wait for a monster hand, as I did with AKQQ, dragging down a $60 pot.

Unfortunately, after waiting more than an hour on the wait list, I only had 40 minutes to play, only dealt once, and loose river play on my part netted me -$22 for the day. I'm pretty sure I'll be back, though, if I can find another available afternoon.

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