Off late there has been a lot of high stakes action in Goa’s poker rooms at Casino Royale and Pride. I, being mainly a high stakes poker player, have personally witnessed a network of colluders involved in these nosebleed games wherein the target are the high rollers and the flush players who are oblivious to these happenings.
How it works:-
There are 3-4 professional poker players who have been dominating the high stakes game since it’s inception, off late, they have roped in some young innocuous looking boys who have been bankrolled by them known as their jockeys. One will always see 3-4 of these players on the tables at any given time and they will hardly get into hands against their mentors or the other jockeys, even if they do, it hardly ever is a big pot and usually fizzles out before showdown. Very often , when there are big pots involved, one will see these guys get into 3 way action in order to minimize the chances of the ‘victim’ to win the hand. These players live and network together and have developed certain ‘signs’, which helps them communicate with each other during a hand and this is almost impossible to decipher for the regular player.
There is also a lot of pressure from some of these players to play a few hands of ‘Omaha’ every round since it is very difficult to consider any hand as an exceptional starting hand and players are compelled to play more hands. It is also difficult to win 3 way pots in Omaha since the nuts have a tendency to change on every street.
Their strategy is almost foolproof and the odds for an ordinary player to succeed against them is highly stacked up against him. There is also another (unproven) theory going around that some of the dealers are hand in glove with these colluders and that’s the final nail in the coffin for the regular player. These magic dealers deal set up hands to players inorder to initiate pre flop raises and re raises and eventually the beneficiary (usually the jockey) is inflicting a bad beat onto the victim. Many patrons have complained about this fact as well. Whilst the poker room is finding it difficult to control this menace, it baffles me as to why automated shufflers are not installed on the high stakes tables, whereas there is one installed on the low stakes table in Casino Royale, where the maximum big stakes action takes place. When I complained about the same, I was rebutted very aggressively by one of the controlling partners of the poker room.
Some high rollers, especially from Mumbai have now decided amongst themselves to stop playing in these places till some controls are not put in place. It is really sad that these things are happening at a time when poker is developing into a big sport in the country and as and when the Government declares this as a game of skill and a sport, it will sound the death knell for poker rooms who follow this unhealthy practice.