Room Review: Orleans

I’ve always been impressed with Orleans. In general, most poker rooms either near the strip (Palms, Hard Rock, some of the Stations Casinos for example) or on the strip but not one of the “big” casinos (Harrah’s, Quad, Luxor, Treasure Island) seem to believe that either they can compete with the big boys (by big boys, I mean Aria/Wynn/Venetian/Bellagio, arguably MGM & Caesars) or that how the big boys run a room should equal how they run a room. By that I mean that because 1/2 NL is the bread & butter of the big rooms, the nearby rooms are going to try to fight in that marketplace. They’ll also fight for the low limit (2-4/3-6/4-8) hold ’em crowd.

Orleans essentially realized that you can’t beat the Yankees by outspending them. Instead, you make a room that puts an absolute hammerlock on the market outside of NLHE and Low-Limit Hold ‘Em. While they do run those games, that’s not the Orleans’ Bread-n-Butter. No, what makes their room is that they’re pretty much the best place for low to mid-stakes Omaha-8, Stud, Stud-8, and all the other non-HE games. I believe they’re the only place in town that runs a HORSE tournament. Orleans realized that they can’t compete with the big boys for 1/2 NLHE, because the combination of location/name recognition/tourist traffic that the top rooms have is simply unbeatable. But what they can do is instead focus their energy

Right now, for example, at 12:20 PM on a random Wednesday in September, they’ve got 2 tables running of 4-8 Omaha 8 or better. No room on the Strip besides Aria, Venetian, Wynn, and randomly, the Flamingo, have more than 2 tables running. Orleans has more than just those two tables, but my point is that instead of making their main focus trying to siphon off of the big room’s edges (I hope that metaphor actually makes sense), the Orleans went for the marketplace that the big rooms ignore – the non-Hold ’em Market. And the results are clear – they’re the most successful off-strip room, bar none.

So it only makes sense that the Orleans would be a perfect fit for Open Face Chinese – their strategy is to get the games that the Strip doesn’t go after, and OFC is exactly that. I’m actually a bit surprised they haven’t done more to go AFTER the OFC crowd, but simply willing to offer a very good rake ($5+$5, regardless of stakes) is far beyond most places.
There are a few negatives, although one negative is countered. First, the dealers there have had some issues. Most of the dealers are fairly “veteran”/”experienced” dealers, who are not very comfortable dealing new games, and don’t really adapt well. I’ve seen a lot of dealers struggle with some concepts – I understand that the first time you deal FantasyLand, it may be a bit confusing, but I’ve seen dealers routinely mess it up, time after time, and make no attempt to get better or to learn. I’ve seen dealers refuse to adopt some of the things that the players, or the floormen, have suggested to speed the game up, because the dealers in question are stubbornly dead-set in their ways and how they believe things should be run – for example, at the Orleans (and almost everywhere) if a card among the initial deal flips up by accident, the players just treat it as an accident and continue going, the card is not burned or replaced. One dealer refused to accept this and called the floorman to verify – I can understand that. But all four players asked the dealer to continue dealing out WHILE waiting for the floor to come over because the floormen were busy on another table – the dealer steadfastly refused. That is a problem, because that’s time wasted in what is already a slow game that is time-raked. I understand needing to call the floor, but continue the hand while the floor comes over, particularly something as simple as the deal, and particularly when all four players are in agreement.

The worst part was when the floor told the dealer we were right, and also in general to keep the game going while the floor is called over (something I give the floor credit for), that same dealer had a later issue where he refused to let the game continue until the floor came over.

Now I know any room has bad dealers, but it just seems that Orleans has the highest number of dealers who simply cannot understand or cannot learn Open Face. The floormen are great, and many dealers are perfectly fine, but I cannot write a room review without acknowledging that negative.

The other negative is the lack of foot traffic around the room; specifically, the lack of tourist traffic. Orleans is not a Strip Casino – it’s just not going to have nearly as many random passer-bys intrigued by the game. What made Venetian and Palms so great, and what makes MGM okay, simply does not exist at Orleans. It’s a huge problem because while it’s a great place to play Open Face, you’re not going to get new blood, at least in regards to tourists or random passer-bys or random poker amateurs playing 1/2 NL at a nearby table. On the flip side, because you have so many mixed game veterans, so many Omaha 8 or Stud players, you DO get a decent number of older players who see this game, have heard something about it (or know what normal Chinese Poker is), and want to add it to their repertoire as they fancy themselves experts in everything poker that’s not NLHE. The problem is that those types of people aren’t typically the ones who will just jump right in, or even ones who will jump right in at lower stakes, rather, they’re going to have to contemplate the game for a while before joining. I’ve only seen 3 people actually legitimately see the game and give it a try, far below even what MGM has gotten in terms of new players. Maybe I’m being too stereotypical, and said old people will actually start playing the game. But to me, it’s just as important that a room be a good place to get new players – it’s not just enough for 4 OFC regulars to play a $10/pt game or a $5/pt game somewhere, the game, like any poker game or the entire poker community, needs a constant influx of new blood, otherwise it just becomes a few people fighting for a dwindling amount of money.

Rules: Orleans uses 222 = 10 pts, 333 = 11 pts, upwards to AAA = 22pts as the Top Royalty. Trips in the middle are worth 2. They are very good about letting players turn around in FantasyLand to set their hand, while letting the other players play out the hand. Rake is $5+$5 (half for house, half for dealer) regardless of stakes.