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Preparing Ahead of Time

Preparing Ahead of Time to Get a Seat
By Loki Luchs of

There are many different things that one has to keep in mind when they're selecting a game. One of the things that is important to consider is how hard you're going to work to have to play. For many, it's a local home-game or a local card club. Now that I live in Vegas, I have the option of finding any type of game at any hour of the day. Way back in the day, though, before every bar had its own underground game, I used to have to work to get my fix.

I would drive 2.5 hours from my college to get into a decent limit-hold'em game. This was well before the days of low no-limit games, so even when I got there, it was a grind. The drive to the casino never took long though… it was the 2.5 hours back that was always a bitch. Driving to the casino, I would be pumped with adrenaline. On the way back, however, I had just "worked" a 12-30 hour day. I was exhausted. I was fried. I was sometimes broke. More than once, I had to sleep in my car if I was going to be able to make it home without wrapping myself around a tree. As I look back, I don't regret the long drives; I regret the fact that I would get there and have two hours on a list before I could get a seat. If it's crowded, there's nothing that they can really do about it, unless they have a call ahead option, otherwise you're relegated to obtaining a seat when it's your turn.


Part of the reason this place was always packed was that it was the only real game in the state. For most casinos today, you won't find a wait over 45 minutes. Most players that are on a list won't wait longer than that, so you'll find many names that are called won't get a seat. For those casinos that do have overwhelming heads for the number of seats available, the smart ones offer a call-ahead service.

When the no-limit craze started, I would drive a half-hour to the game, but would have my name on the list before I ever left. Most times, I wouldn't be waiting for more than 5 minutes before they had me seated. This isn't unfair to the people who don't call ahead, because the name isn't actively called until you arrive and check in. By offering this, players who are regulars have a slight edge on getting a seat than the new-comers who don't frequent that room. For a conscientious player, the time spent waiting is time wasted. If you've been in my situation, check with your local room to see if they have call-ahead seating. By getting into the game sooner, you'll get to maximize your time on the felt and minimize the pressure of "making every hand count." If you're not waiting for two hours for a table, you won't be tilting before you see your first card.


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