I recently hit a nice milestone at my favorite card room, the Mirage in Las Vegas. It is not the only place I have played, but it is my favorite and most consistently profitable game. I love the Mirage. Since I moved to Las Vegas, I have put in over 300 hours there. Pictured here are all the chips I have won.
Actually, there is $2,000 more, but it is surprisingly hard to buy $12,000 in chips in a poker room that only plays $1/$2 no-limit and $3/$6 limit.
Here are the stats:
- All $1-$2 no-limit
- 310 hours at the Mirage
- $12,000 won
- $39 an hour
- 136 sessions
- 67% winning sessions
- 31% losing sessions
- 2% break even sessions
- Average session: 2.25 hours
- Average of $88 a session
Why the smallest game?
I recently moved to Las Vegas, retiring from engineering to work on poker stuff full time. When I was an engineer, I basically always played $2/$5 and bigger. Moving to Las Vegas, I knew that my poker coaching clients would all be $1/$2 players. I wanted to get calibrated to the Las Vegas game, so I needed to play those games.
The second reason I decided to play $1/$2 was as a bankroll challenge. It is a topic for a different article, but when I moved to Las Vegas, I was not exactly a twenty-something with $2,000, a backpack, a one way ticket to Vegas and a dream. I had multiple, redundant back-up plans in case things went wrong.
These redundant safety nets were a good thing. I burned through plans A, B and C. Among other things, my house in Boston sold for significantly less than expected and nine months later than anticipated. Unexpectedly supporting a $3,000-a-month mortgage that long absolutely demolished my bankroll.
I had to go to an ATM for the first time in a decade.
Thankfully, that $500 withdrawal was my new “golden buy-in”. I won the next session and have never dropped below zero again.
Building the Foundation
The third reason is rebuilding my game. If I was moving to Las Vegas to do poker stuff, I needed to make sure my game was as strong as possible. Even though I am a founder of Red Chip Poker, I am also a Red Chipper. I watch the PRO videos that our coaches make just like the rest of our PRO members do. I have been taking my poker even more seriously now than ever in the past. My improving results have shown it.
People think that you need to play bigger to make more money and virtually all of them move up too soon. Without a doubt there is more money in the bigger games. However, I am really enjoying the challenge of learning to wring every bit of money I can out of a $1/$2 game. To me, that is the challenge. Can I find more money in a $1/$2 game than most winning players can find in a $2/$5?
I am a big believer in putting in your dues. I have learned a ton since I moved to Las Vegas by playing in the small games. It is not just “bingo poker”, skill matters a ton. Players can be bluffed, it is not (always) just a pure value game.
Fourth and finally, time is on my side. I am going to be in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future. There is no race to the bigger games. There is something nice about being able to walk into the small games every night and have a massive skill advantage over every other player at the table. The swings are very manageable at this level and I am being more than fairly compensated for my time. I can comfortably rebuild the bankroll slowly until I am the most over-rolled player in the game.