I have played poker as a semi-pro for many years, and a common question is "how can I clean up at the poker table when I get to Las Vegas?". In this article, I will offer some guidelines that will increase your likelihood of increasing your wealth, and also prevent souring your holiday if your luck turns bad.
Personally, I recommend sticking to no limit Texas Hold'em. There will be a large varieties of poker to choose from, but currently, that is where the bulk of recreational players are found. If you are a weekend player, don't dive into a new type of poker, unless you are really just looking for fun. You certainly don't want to walk into a mid-stakes pot limit Omaha High-low Split Eight or Better (one of my personal favorites) on a sunny Tuesday afternoon if you are unfamiliar with the game.
I will not fill this section with a detailed, drawn out description of the basic rules of poker (you are welcome). Yes, it takes a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master, as "they" say, but there are a million pages that will teach you this or sites that will let you play (with play money) for free (ta da, no plugs ;).
Play the game you are most comfortable with, at stakes you can afford to lose. That is my basic advice. Oh, okay one tip: just fold that AK when it misses on the flop and turn and your opponent is still betting into you. You may have gotten married by Elvis, and the details could be sketchy, by you are not married to this hand. Ahem, I know, this is not a strategy article, I apologize.
KEYS TO GLORY
I already gave away part of a key above, actually. I will let you in on a (not so secret) secret. 80% of my winnings are from Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Thursday nights are ok. Beyond that, most novices ought to be thinking about table experience and enjoying various casinos rather than hoping to score big while the family is otherwase occupied on an off the strip day trip. Also, to reiterate and reinforce these points, note that less popular games such as Limit Hold'em, Seven Card Stud, and Limit Omaha, will be frequented my a much higher proportion of hungry ginders and sharks. They are all still there at night and on the weekends, but at least you have a huge pool of fish and donkeys mixed in.
For now, think about your psychological state. If you play as soon as your plane lands, you might be tired, or tilt more easily. Moreover, brush up on your games. Look into what tournaments are available (this will control maximum losses, as well as provide the Vegas-esque hope of a huge payout). Know how long these events can run, and inform your family or friends who will be accompanying you if they are not joining you on the felt, to make their own way for a stretch.
FREE BONUS TIP: (as if I would ever charge...): Look around the poker room before you sit down. Can you spot the tourists (it shouldn't be too hard) sit there. Who knows, maybe you tip the server an extra twenty and ask which table has the most regulars.
In conclusion, play the game you know, at limits that won't alter your vacation experience, no matter how the chips fall (except for a giant tournament score, right?). That way, you are likely to have an enjoyable experience, soak up the atmosphere, and want to come back for more. Oh, and save your "one time" for when you really need it.