What I Like About Poker
Straight From The Goat’s Mouth
GOAT – Where do I begin? What do I like about poker? Many things come to mind, first I enjoy winning money, as everyone probably does, but poker is more than that to me. I enjoy the competition, I enjoy the psychological aspect of the game.
It is almost primal in a sense.
I was watching the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel and they were interviewing Howard Lederer, an excellent player and he said that there is something primitively appealing about taking your opponents’ chips. Your opponent has a stack of chips, and you would like to take ownership away from him. He wants to take your chips away from you and how you play your hand determines who ends up with the chips.
Poker is not a game of luck. Luck is certainly involved (ever lose to a runner runner flush? Ever win with it?). Poker is a game of skill, if you are counting on catching lucky cards to win, over the long run you will probably lose more money than you win.
Some friends and I just recently took a trip to Biloxi to play some poker. It was only my 2nd time playing poker in a casino, it was a great experience. I lost money overall, but I didn’t do horribly in my opinion. I believe that I improved my game. I know I made the wrong plays in certain situations, and I know that I made the right play in certain situations. I came back from Biloxi a much better poker player than when I left.
My bankroll from my online game also reflects that fact. I was down to my last $30 the day I left, and today I’m currently up to nearly $200. Yeah, I can’t quit my day-job yet but it’s a step in the right direction. Don’t get me wrong, if I would have won I would have been happier, but I have no problem losing as long as I teach myself, or get ‘taught’ by others.
My worst hand was the very last one I was going to play. If I had won this hand I would have finished the trip with a slightly larger bankroll than I brought down. I had been playing from about 11pm on Saturday night until around 9am Sunday morning.
My buddy came down from the room and asked if I was nearing a decent place to leave the game, and I agreed to leave when the blinds got back to me. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I’m Under the Gun and I get dealt QQ…
Like any good poker player I raise it up. A very loose and aggressive player 2 positions behind me raises it again and we have 2 callers. I probably should have re-raised right there, but I only called. Flop comes down K 10 x. I bet, the loose player raises and the other 2 callers fold. I re-raise and am called.
Turn comes Q… BAM, I figure I’m up against A/K and I just hit my set. I bet out again and am once again Raised. I’m still fairly confident that I’ve got the best hand so I re-raise and am called.
River is rags so I bet out again, and once again I am raised. Now I start to question the strength of my hand, but there was no way I’m folding. I call and say “Got the straight?” Sure enough, he flips over J/9 offsuit for a K high straight. I think most people would fold J/9 offsuit when I’m aggressively betting, I’d like to think that if I would have re-raised after the flop that I might have won it, but the way this guy was playing he wasn’t folding anything.
It really sucks to have your very last hand be one where you get totally owned. That one bothered me for a while. This guy was a “Jackal” and I didn’t think he would fold to anything, but I still probably should have raised him instead of just calling. Flopping the Set was actually worse for me in this situation, my Q’s would have held up if not for the 3rd Q on the board. Live and learn.
I like Poker because it really is a sport. It is a sport that you can play as long as you are mentally capable. As I’m sitting at the table in the casino an older gentleman sat down, my first instinct was that this guy is a farmer. I don’t know what that means in regards to his poker skills, but if I was to guess his profession, I would have picked farmer, either that or professional online poker player over at pokerstars.net, but I knew that was unlikely.
Anyway, he was probably in his mid 60’s, and was by far the best player at the table. He completely confused me in hands and I lost a decent amount of chips to him. At the time I was pretty disgusted that I was outplayed by someone who on the outside looked like I should be able to beat no problem. The more I thought about it, the less disgusted I became.
First I know I’m a rookie, through and through. Second, it’s kind of cool to know that when I’m his age, I’ll be taking young punks money at the table. The more I thought about it, the more I respected him and his style of play. He was excellent at hiding his hands and I rarely see him enter pots that he did not win (or at least go down swinging). I liked his strategy, he didn’t get involved in pots where he didn’t have a decent chance to win, and he didn’t let you chase your cards cheaply. I mimicked his play (as best I could) online when I got home and have done pretty well.
So, for all you up and coming poker players out there, if you take any advice from a rookie like me, always learn. Poker isn’t just about the cards that land in your hand, it’s about how you play. I’m mostly playing online poker now with a live tournament every now and then, but I can’t wait to get back to the casino and try my hand, err hooves again.