At a $1/$2 table at the Palms in Las Vegas, Pokerati founder Dan Michalski is leading the charge to bring high-stakes action to low-stakes poker games.
In 2009 Michalski set out to create the casino poker game he’d most want to play in and what he came up with not only gives players a non-threatening way to try Pot-Limit Omaha live, but offers special features usually only available in higher-stakes games.
“I’d like to think that’s been my contribution to poker society, bringing ‘running it twice’ to low-stakes games,” Michalski told PokerListings.com.
And, in Michalski’s opinion, offering perks like running it twice will not only please low-stakes players, it will translate to a more profitable game for the casino.
Patterned after a higher-stakes PLO/NLHE game run by friends of Michalski in Dallas, the Pokerati game at the Palms seeks to temper the ramped up aggression of PLO with variance-reducing tricks like running it twice.
High-Stakes Action for Low-Stakes Players
But it was more than his own desire to see a game like this offered at low stakes in Las Vegas that motivated him to follow through with its creation. It was right in line with what the biggest players in the game have been doing for a long time.
“At the time we started, durrrr and Isildur1 were playing these two games, PLO and No-Limit, as were a lot of the highest stakes players,” explained Michalski.
“And the biggest games, as we saw on HSP, often ran it twice,” he said.
And there’s a reason players in the biggest games in the world have the option to run it twice.
“It cuts down on variance. You get it all in with top set, I have nut-flush and open-ended straight draws, run it twice and often we will chop it up,” said Michalski.
“All the casino wants is for that button to keep moving around the table so if you suck out on me and take my stack, I very well might go home,” he said, pointing to the main reason casinos may want to embrace the convention, even if it will slightly hurt the hands-per-hour rate.
Other special features include a button straddle with “Ultimate last action”, meaning the button gets to act after the blinds pre-flop, and rounding up “True Pot” to the nearest $5 to make betting and raising easier during rounds of PLO.
PLO Popularity Starting to Reach Low-Stakes
Michalski hopes all these things will help make Pot-Limit Omaha more accessible to recreational players in the casino setting, and he knows he’s got a head-start given PLO’s expanding popularity.
“Plenty of people have dabbled in PLO at online micro-stakes, but there wasn't anywhere in Vegas they could get live PLO experience in a way they could feel comfortable learning the game,” he said.
“It's just not as scary when they know only half the hands are PLO, and then they get to run it twice too, so messing up is a less intimidating factor.”
And while the game has succeeded in attracting players who may be intimidated by live PLO, it’s also attracted many who are anything but.
Playing in the Pokerati game at the Palms means there’s a good chance you’ll be playing with big-name pros and poker media insiders.
People like 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider, Kathy Liebert, former world champion Tom McEvoy, Gavin Smith, David Chicotsky, Bodog Ari Engel and Alex Outhred have all played in it.
The game was in full swing the day before the 2011 November Nine and no less than six of the seats were filled by media fixtures like Paul "DrPauly" Maguire and former PokerNews Editor in Chief John Caldwell.
2010 November Niner Joe Cheong played in it before making it big and once turned the max $400 buy-in into more than $2k in a few short hours.
“Stacey Nutini (@lasvegaspokers) has a rather impressive rising star record and she’s a regular who admittedly came to work on her PLO game, and now comes because it's fun,” said Dan.
“The Pokerati game is a fun game because we have a base of good, fun, friendly people and we're playing a game that is different and high action where no one is going super-broke,” said Michalski.
“Yet the stakes are big enough where you can win real money, for a typical 1/2 player.
“I personally lost $1,100 in it in one sitting but I’ve promised myself never to let that happen again,” Michalski said.
The Pokerati $1/$2 NLH/PLO round of each game plays at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas every Thursday at 7pm.