(Distributed May 30, 2006)
A FEW POINTERS FOR YOUR FIRST CARD ROOM VISIT
Mike S. of Wisconsin believes he’s ready to try his luck at Texas hold’em in a card room against strangers, but isn’t sure what to expect. Let’s help him out.
(SET ITAL) Hey LuckyDog: After enjoying a low-stakes home game for years with family and friends, I’m planning my first visit to a real card room to play against people I don’t know. Got any pointers? (END ITAL)
Sure thing, Mike. First, take a friend along to share the experience. You’ll be itching to talk about exciting hands you won (or lost!) and some of the characters at your table. So will your buddy.
Next, sign up for a game with comfortable betting limits. The smallest game in most poker rooms is $2-$4 or $3-$6 limit hold’em. That’s a great place to start because the action will closely match your home game with plenty of opponents playing lots of hands.
Buy in for at least 15 times the maximum bet, or about $60 in a $2-$4 game and $100 for $3-$6. That will give you enough ammunition to survive several “bad beats” without running out of chips. Also, set a loss limit and leave if you reach it.
Play only premium hands the first hour. Yes, I know you’re there for “action,” but dump marginal hands pre-flop and use the time to learn how your opponents play. Figure out who makes tricky moves, who’s a “calling station” (someone who rarely raises), and who’s on tilt (playing recklessly). Size everyone up, then you can loosen up.
Know the card room’s rules before you sit down. Is it a “kill” game with changeable betting limits? Is there a bad beat jackpot and how do you win it? How many raises are allowed each betting round? Most card rooms post their rules; review them before you play.
If you don’t like your game or want to join your friend at a different table, ask the floor person for a table change. To alter your position at the table, ask the dealer for a seat-move button and make the switch when a seat you want becomes vacant. If you take a food break, ask how long you can be gone before you lose your seat.
Finally, remember that the low-limit poker experience is more social than cutthroat. Still, poker’s more fun when you win. So if you hit your goal of doubling your original buy-in, don’t be afraid to leave while you’re ahead!
(SET ITAL) Hi Russ: After watching Alan Goehring play so wild and crazy but still take down the L.A. Poker Classic on TV last week, I think a lot of players will adopt that style. Do you agree? — John S. of Illinois. (END ITAL)
Actually, John, many players already use that style! I’m constantly surprised, both in live games and online, at the hands people play. Getting creative occasionally with 7-6 suited is one thing; calling two raises cold with J-2 offsuit because it’s your favorite hand is, well, something else.
Did Goehring really play badly and just get lucky? Well, he certainly was fortunate when he moved all-in with a pair of fives after J.C. Tran had raised $600,000 pre-flop with pocket aces. With one board card to go, Goehring had just a 6 percent chance of winning the pot. A miracle five came on the river!
But Goehring also lost big pots with A-Q against 9-9, K-6 against 10-8, A-Q against K-Q, A-Q against 8-8, and 10-7 against 7-4. He was even money or a favorite to win each of those hands. Pretty unlucky, I’d say.
The last hand against Daniel Quach was amazing. Goehring finally had the chip lead and momentum, so it was shocking when he called with K-8 offsuit after Quach raised all-in. “I can’t stand it any more,” Goehring said, apparently indicating he just wanted the tournament to be over.
Quach was ahead with A-J and became an 80 percent favorite after a flop of Q-J-9. Lady Luck smiled on Goehring, however, when a king hit the board like a bolt of lightning.
So, John, should more people play like Goehring? Only if they have steel nerves and a strong heart.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 RUSS SCOTT
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