In general Deep stack poker is defined as when the stacks are relatively deep when compared to the blinds. I personally would consider that 200 BBs or more is playing with a deep-stack.

For the games I commonly spread, buy-in ranges will generally be 100 - 300 big blinds so when considering a game it's far better to judge it by the buy-in and not the blinds.

My games are either 6-max or 8-max, 1 table, DS cash games. Generally I try to spread a game on Tuesday and Saturday but it may vary based on other games in the area. I offer a wide range of blind levels ranging from:

$0.25/$0.25 $40-$100 buy-in

up to

$1/$2 $200-$600 buy-in

Casino's generally only offer deep stack poker at the highest stakes. Deep stack games have fewer hands/hour therefore they're only offered with a time rake in Las Vegas that only makes sense for the higher stakes games.

In CA, they must have the same flat rake at all tables so they actually lose money by offering deep stack games. One may wonder at the wisdom for local casinos to even offer deep stack games at all, when far more profitable tables have long waiting lists.

Rake free home games have no such problem and blinds can get as low as we want. Therefore with small blinds and still significant buy-ins we can play deep stack poker and learn the same advanced concepts that go along with it.

CA Rakes vs Pro Win-Rates:

On-line data allowed us to accurately see win-rates for on-line players. They are measured in big blinds/100 hands. Sometimes they are measured in big bets/100 hands but that's more of a limit scale. A good online pro can win 10 bb/100 Hs, fewer than 1% can achieve win-rates of 20 bbs/100 Hs. It's generally considered that top live pros can do better than 20 bbs/100 Hs so, for arguments sake, lets just say that Phil Ivey could beat my $1/$2 DS game for 50 bbs/100 Hs in the long run if he chose to put the effort into it.

Local casinos charge a $5 rake/hand. If you were to compare a DS $1/$2 game with a $500 max buy-in, it's similar stakes to their popular $2/$3/$5 game. So a CA rake in one of my $1/$2 games amounts to a drop of 250 bbs/ 100 hands! That's 5x the amount that Phil Ivey could win with his best effort in the long run or 25x that of a very good player.

I'll be honest by saying that I'm an advanced player with a good understanding of deep stack play but I'm no Phil Ivey. Therefore we can see that the threat from a single player is relatively small. Still I'll often be under several handicaps both from distractions of hosting as well as directly self induced handicapping by posting extra money.

The reason I do this is to promote the growth of the game. I gain nothing from a game that eventually dies out so I'm willing to sacrifice much of my own win-rate to make the games more worth while for others. What I sacrifice in hourly rates, I hope to make up in part by higher volume and eventually higher stakes along with the huge benefit of 0 rake.

I run a quality game with only the best poker equipment including: casino quality ceramic chips, top quality plastic cards, casino quality table, with plenty of space for players, comfortable chairs, and even the best shuffle machine money can buy.

With decades of experience playing in dozens of casinos, I have a better understanding of the rules than most floors. New players not only learn the do’s and don’ts in casino cash games, I take the extra steps of stating why certain rules exist and the history behind them which you’d never get at a casino. With a better understanding, players are quick to pick up on the rules and I personally feel my games run with far fewer mistakes, than at most casino games.

Security against cheaters and angle/shooters is also a top priority in my games. I’ve invested quite a bit into an elaborate security system, I incorporate most of the same security practices casinos use, plus a few of my own, to ensure that my games are the most honest games around without sacrificing any convenience on behalf of the players any more than they would experience at any casino.  As any casino will tell you, the most important security feature they have is an experienced pair of eyes keeping an eye on the game. I have far more experience dealing with cheaters and angle shooters than most managers I’ve met but unlike them; I’m always at the table.

On the other hand I also police poor player behavior far more than a casino would. Players are not allowed to deliberately embarrass, insult, or demean other players (outside of friendly jest) or use other tactics intended to put players on tilt. The games, while perhaps a touch more competitive due to players improving faster than at most games, are still very light hearted and friendly. Serious games and friendly games need not be mutually exclusive.

Finally I tend to be far more liberal with educating my players than most at all levels of play. I encourage genuine poker discussion and am the biggest contributor at the table at all stakes played. This is again to help with the growth of the game over my win-rate. Some players may only improve enough to lose at a more affordable rate and keep the game enjoyable. Others will improve enough to move up in stakes.

Any poker player base can be looked at like a pyramid. While new players enter in at the larger base level with the smallest stakes, each level of stakes will have fewer though generally more frequent players. The education of poker players helps with both horizontal growth through slower player attrition and increased individual volume, but also vertical growth by moving players up in stakes.

Therefore you can have all the professionalism, comfort, quality, and peace of mind that any casino could offer but with the far friendlier, more enjoyable, and more helpful atmosphere of a home game, and with the kind of game education you might pick up from an expensive workshop. With a table handicap instead of charging a rake and no need to tip the dealer.

Best Regards,

Paul Ikeda

Player, Host, Organizer, and Founder of Deep Stack Poker in the South Bay

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