‘Home’ team has different view of casino versus home games

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In my last column, I explained why I prefer to play in a brick-and-mortar (B&M) casino rather than a home game. Well, Peter Blake, one of the more skilled players in our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group, does not agree. (I didn’t expect everyone to agree; after all, home games seem to be flourishing.)

Peter lists reasons for his preference. By the way, when our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group was hosted by the Normandie Casino, Peter served as the moderator for our panel of experts, which included the well-known poker pro, Robert “Chipburner” Turner.

Responding to my query regarding playing poker in a B&M casino vs. a home game, here is what Peter says (I have made a few editorial changes.):

“I prefer home games because they are usually much closer in distance to where I live. Driving through downtown L.A. often is a slow process.

“I like home games because I meet a wider variety of people of both sexes who span the age range. Usually in the clubs (B&M casinos), I play against middle-aged and older semi-expert males who spend a lot of their time grinding out a small profit, so the games tend to be tight. In the home games, there is a wider range of abilities and experience, and the games tend to be a little looser and more aggressive (which Peter prefers).

“Finally, the cost is substantially less in the home games. For example, I play in a weekly tournament with a $10 buy-in; where is the comparable casino game? The answer is there isn’t one. The typical home game tourney has 30 people and seven to ten rebuys before the break, so there is often $400 in the prize pool. First place can be close to $200. That’s not a bad rate of return for a $10 investment!

“In this particular home game, the house gets $1.00 for expenses and an additional $1.00 if you want to nibble at some of the snacks provided.

“The quality of play is excellent. The players at the final table are usually quite skilled, and the ‘entertainment value’ is off the charts.

“There is usually one player who likes to deal at each table and, although they are not professional, they do a great job and keep the games moving along at a good pace.

“In addition, players who have ‘felted’ in the home game tournament, can play in some small-blind no-limit cash games that can get quite interesting.”

In summing up his viewpoint, Peter added, “I don’t really see what the casino can offer that I can’t get cheaper and better in the home games I frequent.”

My comments:

The home game that Peter is describing is much different than the ones in which I played over the years. Our home games consisted of all men, all friends. There were only cash games, no tournaments. The stakes were always low. Each player took a turn dealing, and he could name the game of poker he wanted to play. Some preferred games with “wild” cards; I didn’t. Apparently Peter’s home game is at a different level, more like a game in a B&M casino without the rake and with fewer amenities.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons for both home games and casino games…It is apparent home poker games could, at least in part, supplant those in casinos – unless the government decides to clamp down on them as it did to online poker. Home games come in all sizes and flavors. In the final analysis, at the present time, it’s your choice. One flavor doesn’t suit everyone!


I can be reached by e-mail: [email protected]

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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