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Best of Aaron Todd
The room itself is split into two sections: a "low-stakes" section, where limit games are generally spread, and a "high-stakes" section which houses no-limit games. Located next to the main casino floor, the poker room offers enough separation to keep the non-smoking room relatively free of second-hand smoke. The distance is not great enough, however, to be free of the sounds of slot machines. Tables are in very close proximity to the restrooms so players won't miss more than a hand or two when nature calls.
The room has a good mix of locals and tourists. The chairs are comfortable and tables appear to be relatively new. The room has a sponsorship agreement with PokerStars, so the tables have a sharp black felt complete with PokerStars.net logos. All tables have automatic shufflers, and the dealers are professional and friendly, coping with even the most jaded customers with class and humor. Cocktail waitresses are also friendly and visit at regular intervals.
The Palms offers limit Texas Hold'em games at $2/$4 and $3/$6, as well as $1/$3 and $2/$5 no-limit Hold'em, though $2/$5 seems to be rarely spread. The $3/$6 limit game is unique because it is played with a "half kill." When a player wins two consecutive hands that reach a flop, that player puts in a $5 kill bet, and the betting increments increase to $5/$10. The poker room management says that the room does spread a $4/$8 limit Omaha (high only) game on Wednesday nights, though that could not be independently confirmed.
The $2/$4 tables generate a loose-passive, "no-fold'em Hold'em" game, as is typical in most $2/$4 games. The $3/$6 game plays a little bit closer to the vest, with about half of the hands reaching a showdown. No-limit players' styles run the gamut from those who post the minimum buy-in ($100 for the $1/$3 game) and play tight-aggressive in an attempt to double their buy-in (me), to wild players who might be holding any two cards, but just happen to hold to hold pocket aces both times that player moves all-in with ace-king.
The Palms does not offer daily tournaments, though the room is offering a summer freeroll series that will give away a total of $25,000 through September 23. Players who accrue six hours of ring-game play in a week are eligible for a weekly qualifier where the top-six players qualify for the final and the top-four split a $300 prize pool. There are seven qualifying tournaments a week and players can play in multiple qualifiers, assuming they log six hours of play for each freeroll they enter. Players who earn multiple entries in the final will earn 2,000 additional chips for the final, which begins on September 21.
The weekly freerolls have a very quick structure, with 3,000 in tournament chips to start, plus an extra 2,000 for players who pay a $5 fee that goes entirely towards compensating the dealers. All but one player at my table — perhaps the stingiest, cheapest poker player I've ever seen — paid for the extra chips. The cheap player's reward? He started with just 15 big blinds, as the structure starts at 100/200 and blinds increase every 10 minutes. Of course his stack did outlast my 25 big blinds when I called off all of my chips with ace-jack, knowing I was almost certainly behind but down to just five big blinds, and my opponent turned over pocket jacks.
Players at the poker room earn comps at $1/hour, plus a free buffet comp for every eight hours of play. Limit games are raked at 10 percent with a max of $3, plus $1 at the flop for a high hand jackpot. No limit games are raked up to $4 in addition to the high-hand jackpot contribution. Players can also cash in simply by making a diamond flush — $100 is given away each day to a player who won a pot with a diamond flush the previous day.