Which game to choose?

Cracked_Jacks11Cracked_Jacks11 Red Chipper Posts: 56 ✭✭
Over 300 hours of play (I know, not a reliable sample size, but it's all I have) I have had good results at the casino. Unfortunately, it's an hour's drive from my home, which is a big time commitment that prevents me from going more than once a week. A guy who regularly plays there invited me to his home game in my town, though. This was really exciting to me, because it meant I could spend more hours at the table and fewer in my car.
Just today, though, I learned an unfortunate fact about his home game: they have an absurdly small cap on the game. It's a $1/2 game with a max buy-in of $60. I have never heard of a game nearly that small.
I'm going to try it out a few times and see what it's like, but I wanted to check here and get some opinions, too. So here's the question: is it worth the extra driving to play in a much deeper game ($300 cap)? Or is the extra 2 hours that I would have spent driving worth it even in such a short game? There are pros and cons in each.

Casino game:
-deeper stacks
-looser players

Home game:
-closer to home
-no rake

There may not be an easy way to answer this, but I would be glad to hear any input you all are willing to give. Thanks!


  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 3,399 -
    As soon as I see "no rake" my ears perk up. I'd check it out and see if stacks grow. You might find there's enough gamble that after a couple of hours the people you want to play pots with are sitting > 100bb. Also I should give the usual caveat that home games lack the protections afforded by a casino.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • FrankDFFrankDF Red Chipper Posts: 12 ✭✭
    with stack sizes that small you might want to stay clear of speculative hands preflop.. you wont be getting the implied odds to call preflop raises with suited connectors and pocket pairs..
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Boils down to EV as always. It's possible to make more in a short stack if the players are bad enough, of course. Also of course, you have to be a good short stack player - lots of info on that. And then there is that thing we never talk about - enjoyment :)
  • Cracked_Jacks11Cracked_Jacks11 Red Chipper Posts: 56 ✭✭
    @TheGameKat the "no rake" is what really intrigues me, too. I appreciate the reminder about the lack of protections, though. I probably should have listed security in the "pros" of playing at the casino.
    @FrankDF and @jeffnc you're right, if I play in that game I will definitely have to alter my tactics from my typical full-ring game at 100+ bb. I don't have much tournament experience, but playing in a game this small seems like it might play more like a tournament than a typical cash game (other than the option to rebuy).
    I think I'll definitely check it out a couple times and see what it's like. Hopefully Kat is right and some spewy players will dump a bunch of chips and get more money on the table.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well, cash game players are less likely to fold in general when you raise/shove than short stack tournament players on the bubble, just FYI.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    One thing that is not talked about much when discussing short stack strategies is how they mesh with deeper stack strategies in the same session, as stacks do get deeper. It has been argued that you can make 0 or even slightly -EV shoves with a short stack in an effort to get deeper stacks where you have a bigger advantage. (While weaker players tend also not to be great short stack players, playing with a short stack definitely improves a weaker players chances, and vice versa). And since they are weaker players, they will often not be able to distinguish your maniacal or LAGgy short stack play with your tighter and more nuanced deeper stack play, and therefore can make more mistakes against you than if you had a deeper stack to begin with.
  • Cracked_Jacks11Cracked_Jacks11 Red Chipper Posts: 56 ✭✭
    @jeffnc that's a good insight regarding their perceptions of me not changing as stack sizes grow. I will likely be playing tighter and tighter as the game gets deeper, but early aggression will likely stick in their minds. Thanks!
  • RosyRosy Red Chipper Posts: 16 ✭✭
    An hour commute to the casino doesn't have to be wasted time. There are plenty of poker podcasts you can listen to on the way. In addition to exposing you to new information, it might help to warm up your brain and get you in the right mindset before you take a seat. Similarly, you can use the ride home to go over a couple tricky spots that happened in the session; this will make that hand history post a breeze!

    Also, if you are going to a home game for the first time, you need to be willing to do the things necessary to get invited back, assuming you enjoy the experience. Don't be nitty about chipping in for snacks, offer to bring beer, whatever the situation requires. It's not a big deal, but it is a consideration. If you are hyper focused on maximizing your EV for the home game session, you may find the hour commute is your only option next week.

    That said, I think the absence of rake more than makes up for the snack expenses, and you are saving money on fuel of course.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2019
    Rosy wrote: »
    An hour commute to the casino doesn't have to be wasted time. There are plenty of poker podcasts you can listen to on the way.

    Unfortunately the drive back can be a hellishly painful experience that seemingly takes 13 hours lol

  • Cracked_Jacks11Cracked_Jacks11 Red Chipper Posts: 56 ✭✭
    @Rosy I know this sounds funny, but I'm one of the few people who still has a flip phone. I don't own any portable devices I can use to listen to podcasts. I think that's a great idea, though, if/when I ever do get a smart phone.

    I appreciate the insight about contributing to the home game atmosphere, too. Better to be a little -EV and be invited back than to have one good session.

    And yes @jeffnc , after my losing sessions that drive feels waaaaaay longer than it does after a win.

    In general, though, I don't mind the drive. My day-time job is working with kids, so some quiet alone time in the car is a welcomed break.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My friends used to say I didn't have a car - I had a stereo on wheels. I loved listening to my high end stereo in the car. I'd even drive slow so it would take longer to get there.
  • Gameaholic21Gameaholic21 New JerseyRed Chipper Posts: 19 ✭✭
    Parx Casino in PA has a minimum buy-in of $60 for the $1-$2 game believe it or not, which is the lowest I've seen in a casino and surprising. I usually buy-in for at least $200 (It's capped at $300 or the highest stack at the table), A lot of the casual players who buy in for the $60 end up being pot committed pretty quickly as soon as they get into a single 3-bet pot or a pot with 2+ callers pre-flop. But I think It's deff worth it to play the home game for being closer to home, no rake, more real money play. You can come up with some solid short stack strategies as well to use elsewhere. At least check it out like you said and if it's not for you then you can always drop it in the future
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,453 ✭✭✭✭
    The only way to answer your question is to give the home game a try.

    A few years back I avoided some club games close to home in favor of going to casino much further away. I figured the higher rake and shorter stacks at the club game wouldn't be worth it.

    I was so WRONG. After getting tired of the drive I gave the club games a try. The average skill level in the club was so much weaker than at the casino. I had the best 2/5 hourly of my career in those clubs despite the higher rake!

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