DeathWatch V : VegasTripping Interview With Nick Christenson 2009

Turn Your Head and Cough Las Vegas, The Doctor Is In (again)

Posted by Chuckmonster

Las Vegas Casino Death Watch

VT: In addition to being The Original Las Vegas Blogger (before blogging even existed), you are a professional poker player and author of Winning Strategies for No-Limit Hold 'Em, an essential addition to every cash game playing poker player's library. How has the economic downturn affected Las Vegas poker rooms?

Nick: Speaking of (cough), thanks for the very restrained and even-handed plug for my book. I really do appreciate it.

I was asked this question recently by none other than poker prognosticator Nolan Dalla, and I provided one perspective for an article he wrote. Basically, poker is down from it's peak, but still well above the levels we saw at the turn of the Millennium. We're seeing declines in many of the big poker tournaments, but not drastic ones, at least not yet. It's unclear how much of this is due to the crest of poker popularity and how much is due to the economy. Poker play is down around town, but there are still good games. As play continues to slow and belts continue to tighten, I expect poker rooms to close, but I certainly don't expect the scene to collapse, or even to retract to pre-21st century levels.

VT: Is the game changing as a result of lower tourist visitation rates?

Nick: A little bit, but a bigger aspect, at least for no-limit cash games, has been that play has improved, especially as we move above the lowest stakes games.

VT: As a result, how have you had to adjust your game?

Nick: It hasn't been a case so much of adjusting my game as it has been adjusting to circumstances. In 2004, decent no-limit cash game players didn't really need game selection skills to be a winner. Now this has become much more important, especially in $2-$5 and higher games.

Here's an example. Last Friday night I was at one of the larger rooms sitting in a $2-$5 game, and, frankly, it wasn't very good. So, I switched tables, and it still wasn't good. I went and scouted two other tables in that room, and neither of them looked all that promising. I thought I could beat any of these games, but not for much. I left, looking for a softer spot. Four years ago such selectivity just wasn't necessary.

I spend a lot of time looking for games with the right mix of players. This is a lot more important to me these days than playing in specific rooms or at specific limits.

VT: What are your favorite places to play?

Nick: It depends on what I'm playing. If I'm playing limit hold'em, really the only place in town is the Bellagio. I really like the staff at Binion's, but the games aren't always great. I tend to move around a lot. Finding a soft set of circumstances is far more important to me than playing in a certain room or a certain limit. That means I'm often playing in a lot of out-of-the-way card rooms.

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Comments & Discussion

So, like..when is Bellagio going to get rid of the old tube TVs?

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