I played in the first 5-10 limit H.O.R.S.E. game at the Fresh Fish club on Monday. The game got off around 7pm and had a solid following all night until I had to leave at midnight. My score for the session: +112 on a $200 buyin. Not bad.
The game ran very well considering it hadn't been very well thought out in advance. Problems included:
1. There was confusion as to when the games should switch. The house didn't have any counting lammers and it would be too difficult to have anyone keep track of the number of hands so switching every X hands seemed out of the question. The dealers switch every 30 minutes, but that seemed like a long time to play one game. It would mean a complete rotation of games every 2.5 hours! So we compromised and decided to switch the game every time the button got to the one seat. That meant we rotated the button even on the stud games, but just as a marker. When the button returned to the one seat for the Hold'em and Omaha sessions, it became the *button* again. This system worked out very well.
2. The house fee, which is nearly unbeatable at $6/half, was taken nearly 10 minutes into the first half. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be the guy who kept the game from going off.
3. The dealers didn't know enough to stop burning in the stud rounds. It was only a problem once during a 5 way stud/8 hand that went to 7th street. Luckily, there were enough cards in the burn pile to reshuffle and deal out 7th face down. I suspect this issue will go away quickly.
4. This was the biggest issue of the night and one still gnawing at me. W called for a 10 handed game, all the better to maximize the house's profit. The big problem there, of course, is that you can't play 10 handed stud games without resorting to spit cards (common cards on 7th street) so often that players lose interest in the game. 10 players time 7 cards equals 70 cards. The Borgata plays 9 handed 10-20 OE with an out button for the stud rounds. For 10 handed, we'd need *two* out buttons. In a raked game, this isn't an issue just an inconvienience. But in a room that charges a fee per half hour, it's unconscionable to force a player to sit out for even one hand. Why would any player in their right mind put up money knowing they're going to be forced out of more than 10% of the hands in the stud rounds (3 out of 5 of the games in HORSE)? There was a lot of debate on this point, with W not making any hard decisions on the point. Since the game only briefly touched 10 players, this issue didn't come into play, this time. But this will be a point of contention in the future. I highly recommend to them that they switch this game to a pot raked game to avoid this (10% up to $6 per pot should equal the $6/half they're getting now). And rather than have two out buttons, use the button rotation as the marker to switch games on the 1 seat and don't deal in the two players behind the button when the game is full. Just my opinion.
Despite the issues, the game was a lot of fun with Big Paul on my right and W across the table shooting the breeze. Even Darko made a brief appearance before shuffling over to the 2-5 table. I'll definitely be back for either this game or the Wed. 5-10 O/8 game. It's gratifying to know that there's at least one place in the city offering mixed games!