Poker Camaraderie

In one of my first posts I referred to you all as “happy, shiny poker people.” I’d like to put some emphasis on that. Don’t be “grumpy, narcissistic poker curmudgeons.” Firstly, people won’t want to play with you; secondly, the phrase doesn’t roll of the tongue.

I’ve played against my share of rude and obscene opponents, and there is no call for it. In the digital arena,  they hide behind their avatar, saying things they would never utter in person. After all, no one gets their butts kicked in an on-line flame war, but I think this is a symptom of a larger problem.

Poker isn’t perceived as a fair game, even when there is no cheating. The poker gods giveth and taketh away on the river far too often. If you can’t come to terms with that, you shouldn’t play. “He who curses out the chaser doesn’t put the chaser on tilt, he puts himself on tilt. And so goes the remainder of his chip stack.” –Confusious.


Thought on Tells

When playing poker face to face you should use different skills than you would to win on-line. Physical tells can give you insight into your opponent’s hand. Here are some things to look for:

  • Shaking hands or a flush face usually come from the adrenaline caused by a player’s excitement about a strong hand. Don’t assume shaking means nervousness, often the player is quite confident they will win.
  • Your opponent will likely cover his cards  with his hand or look back at them more than once. This is a subconscious action in line with the desire to protect what one considers valuable. Keep in mind that you are looking for anything out of the ordinary. If he always covers his card in the same way, it means nothing.
  • Disinterest and drawing attention away from the game is often an act to disguise a big hand.
  • A player with a weak hand, hoping to bluff, may throw his chips into the pot aggressively and make a point for direct eye contact with the player thinking about the call. Often acting strong equals weak and acting weak equals strong.

It is also important to note that if you are up against an inexperienced (or drunk) player, the tells will be less reliable. This is because tells don’t really give you information about your opponent’s hand, only about how you opponent perceives the strength of his hand. If the hand is misread, you will be mistold.

Mistold is a new word copyright HellsColdDay 2008.

Bid Poker

I’ve always liked bid poker for the new strategy element it brings to the game. The game starts with an ante followed by the deal–five cards down to each player. Players review their hands and the dealer reveals one card in the center of the table. The player left of the dealer has the option of placing a bid on the card or passing. Action moves to left with each subsequent player either raising the bid or passing. Once all but one player has passed, that player pays his bid to the pot and takes the won card. He then discards to keep his card count at five. The same process continues until every player has had the first shot at an auctioned card. Finally we have the traditional poker hand of bet/raise/fold/showdown.

The pots can get large if players pay top dollar in the bidding process. The advantage is if you start off with trash, you can pass on the bidding, fold, and only lose your ante. I don’t generally recommend bluffing in this game since hands have the potential of being very strong come the showdown. It is important to pay attention to what your opponents are bidding on and know whether to get out of their way and stop them from making their hand.

There may be a time when you should outbid an opponent for a card you don’t need just to stop them from having a monster. For example, you have a strong full house–three aces and two tens, and your opponent has already bought a king and is bidding on another king. At this point you know the last king probably made him trips or a full house, which your hand trumps, but this new king would give him four-of-a-kind. This is when the game can get nasty since both you and your opponent are willing to spend a small fortune bidding on the card. There is a lot to think about, but in a different way then most poker variations, and that’s why I like bid poker.

Online Poker

You can play online poker all over the world. There are still millions of people playing online poker every day. Some play in specific UK poker sites, others are looking for sites offering poker mac os. A lot of money is changing hands. There’s no reason a smart player can’t get their fair share of it if they know what to do.

Learn the Games

While some players are successful at online poker without ever opening a poker book, why handicap yourself? Pick up the top books on poker by the top authors and learn their techniques. Although you can get by just with No-Limit Texas Hold’em, you may wish to learn a variety of games. Give yourself more options when you sit down to play.

Use Data

Something unique to online poker is the ability to collect data. Everything that happens in an online poker session is there on the computer for anyone to see. You can e-mail yourself hand histories and go over how different people played different hands. You can see what you could have done differently on certain hands.
You can take notes on other players. You can even get poker tracking software that will keep track of statistics for you as you play.

Ode to the Buffet

I thought the casino food a cliche
Until I saw the meals on display
Chicken, lobster, and steak
Makes me forgive the rake
Never lose the money for the buffet!

A short Ode to the Buffet courtesy of me. If you frequent casinos, you know the usual set up. High priced restaurants nearby or on the premises may be tempting, but I always opt for the cheaper buffet for the sheer variety of high quality food. I’m not talking Ryan’s here, this stuff is chef prepared. I don’t frequent five star restaurants, but I’d give at least four stars to most high-class casino’s all-you-can-eat option. Just make sure you’re wearing elastic.

Poker Nicknames

Whether you’re the Master, the Brat, or the Mouth of the table; earning a nickname is part of the hazing ritual of the poker fraternity. We all probably know a “Mr. Conservative,” but some nicknames are a little more outside the box. I like “Slot Machine” (a name we gave to a player who seemingly plays hands at random.)

With Internet play it is a given that you need to give youself a new name, but the titles to be proud of are those given to you by others. I’ve been named “Grundy” after the brute who battles Superman, Solomon Grundy. Another name that stuck for me is “Castro,” possibly inspired by the untamed beard I sported when I first attended a new game.

What nicknames do you have at the tables? What nicknames have you given others?

Texas Hold’em Bonus

Anyone who wants to learn to play Texas holdem is just a few clicks away. Just open an online-poker account, study poker articles on the web and practice for free. When you feel ready to play for real money, look for the best Texas holdem bonus to maximize the value of a first deposit.

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