Sometimes I think Texas Hold'em is too popular. It's tough finding anyone that wants to play 7-stud or low-ball these days. I was playing in a home game the other day and we decided to give five-card stud a try. I had forgotten how much I liked the game. Sure, it's old fashioned, but it takes some real nerve to run a bluff with four of your five cards showing. Especially if you played your hand representing something from the start that the other players should have picked-up on.
I've played so much hold'em that at the showdown I'm almost never surprised by the winning hand, but the stud game proved a challenge to guess everybody's down card. It was a lot of fun. I felt like I was 18 again - probably the last time I played the game regularly. I really liked the fact that I had cards nobody else could have, unlike the community-card games I usually play in Hold'em and Omaha.
In other news, Poker star Phil Ivey tried a different game in August on a trip to London. He played Punto Banco, where you never touch the cards - like baccarat, and had a streak of luck the casino is questioning. After racking up an $11.5 million win he was told the money would be transferred to his bank account, but the cash hasn't made it there yet.
Apparently, the casino has fretted over the win for weeks, gone over the tapes, interviewed the floor supervisor (inspector) and the dealers on duty, and spent hours examining the cards and the shoe used on the game - without finding anything wrong, but no payment in sight. This isn't even like the Atlantic City casino that tried to get out of paying off a smaller $1.5 million win last month because the cards on their game were not shuffled at the factory as they were supposed to be. At least in that case the casino had something to ponder, before making the payoff against their own best wishes.
Issues like this really make casinos look bad. They are happy to take grandma's pension each week, but don't want to pay when a player has a nice streak. We'll see what they come up with in the next few weeks. Maybe the sun was in the dealer's eyes or the altitude affected him.