Anyone play poker? (Warning: Lots of poker-geek talk inside)

The recent airings of this year’s World Series of Poker on ESPN and the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel have created a serious bug in me to try some low limit poker games with an online room.

I have played off and on with friends for several years and recently started playing online with “play” money. A month or so I went and played at a casino in Mississippi and held my own at a $3-$6 Texas Hold 'Em table with 8 or 10 fellow players. Was up $100.00 or so and then ended up losing 50 bucks by 5:00am. Luckily the next day my wife won $50.00 at Black Jack and I won $185.00 at Craps so alls well that ends well.

Texas Hold 'Em, for the uninitiated, is the poker game of choice with people who play a lot as it is about the purest form of playing poker there is. Each player is dealt two cards down and then five come up in the middle of the table which everyone shares. You bet after the initial 2 down, then three are “flopped” up in the center and you bet again, then another bet comes after the fourth and fifth cards are placed up. You have to make the best 5-card hand out of the seven cards combined. (If you have seen the movie Rounders, it is the same game. Frankly, after many years of playing with family and friends, I had never heard of Texas Hold 'Em until that movie came out.)

With only 2 cards hidden, there is a lot more strategy that goes on than in most poker games you may have played with buddies since you have to constantly analyze what you have, what he could have, what could come up in subsequent rounds of betting, how others are betting in this hand, how others have been betting throughout the session, and so on. All of this with the majority of your hand face up for all to see and share.

I would have never guessed I would have become so enamored with such a simple, yet strategically deep, game. Not sure if it is my boredom with my 2 decade old hobby of videogaming or what. Everyone talks at one time or another about gaming burnout and maybe I have just played enough that nothing really excites me anymore. Maybe I am just in a videogaming funk. I dunno.

Regardless of my motivations, I am developing a little addiction that has, as of this typing, not cost me any money. I am thinking of playing some online at $1-$2 tables and was wondering if any of you play poker for fun or have maybe played on line. I just did it one day and figured I would be bored out of my skull as it is play money and the pokerrooms are filled with morons, but that was 3 or four months ago and I am enjoying it as much as ever.

I’ve always thought seven card stud was at least as good a game as hold 'em. Maybe I haven’t played hold 'em enough, but to me seven is the best poker game there is. Five stud is too hard (everyone bails right away), and five draw is too short (although I like that game a lot, too). I’ve never played online–always just with friends. And although I gamble a fair amount in Vegas, I’ve never had the guts to play poker there.

Let me know how it goes, I’m curious.

I’m a huge poker fan – found the ESPN series fascinating, in part because playing styles were much more varied than I expected (and more like the average house poker game than the emotionless contests I expected).

Online poker is just crazy though, and loses everything I like about the game.

I disagree that “texas hold-em” is the “purest” form of poker – that has to be 5 card stud. Texas Hold-em is just the most practical game to play with a large group of players, since you only dole out two cards per player.

Tyjenks, you might want to read Positively Fifth Street by Jim McManus. He was a writer who was sent by Harper’s to cover the 2000 WSOP, and ended up spending his advance to play a satellite tournament to qualify for the WSOP, and then got all the way to fifth place. He had never played a real-life game up till that point, only stuff on the web. YOU CAN LIVE THE DREAM.

He ended up with something like 250 grand, not including tax (one good thing in Canada is that he wouldn’t have had to pay any tax on it, I think) on that initial 4 grand advance. The book details all that, and the trial of Ted Binion.

The explanation I’ve read as to why Texas Hold’em is considered the top poker game is because it doesn’t depend on memory. With seven card stud (and most other stud games), you’ve got a little more of an advantage if you have a good memory.

Huge poker fan, and Texas Hold’em is easily the game of choice.

I think that Hold’em is the preferred pro game for a lot of reasons - since you can see the five common cards, it seems to lead (IMO) to a lot more playing the players vs. the cards.

And I agree with Desslock about on-line poker - it loses the personal touch that is what poker is all about. Also, free games or very low limit games aren’t really worth playing (IMO) - when there’s no “risk” the game takes on a very what-the-hell nature that has faint resemblence to the real game.

I agree. Sometimes you can get at a decent table, especially some tables that have 5-player limits, and have a fairly normal run.

You miss the player interaction, but you don’t miss the travelling somewhere to play, the smoke filled rooms, and many other annoyances that come as baggage with casino gambling. You can get a feel for how players are operating if you sit and play for a while. Again, it works better with a smaller number of players.

The play money and low limit games definitely are lacking when it comes to using much of the strategy and skill. That’s why I though about trying out some real money $1/$2 tables to weed out some of the morons and make some money off the remaining morons who can afford to screw around and lose their money to me. :wink:

If I was closer than 3 1/2 hours from the Mississppi Native American Reservation casinos, I probably would not try it. Right now, I have the itch for some “real” poker (and maybe a tourney or two) and a trip across statelines once or twice a year when the wife and I can get a sitter is simply not doing the trick.

Gundaliro, you’re mixing the McManus story with the Moneymaker (2003 WSOP Main Event Champ) story.

McManus has played live home games (and a few tourneys, but nothing big) for years. The rest was right, though (spent most of his advance on a satellite, won the seat and took 5th). He was also out there to cover the murder trial of Mr. Binion, which ends up being a minor part of the book (when it was the major part of his reason for being there at the start).

Chris Moneymaker was an online player who won his WSOP entry at PokerStars, and had never played a live cardroom game in his life, and won the whole tourney.

I’m totally hooked. Took an initial deposit of $100 at to $550 (though some of that is bonus deposit, less then $100 of the profit), and am currently at $1/$2 rolling along. You get much more fishy play, which can lead to bigger variance (win $50 one day, lose $70 the next) then live play, but in the long run leads to bigger profits for a winning player (plus, the rake is lower).

Hold 'Em isn’t the purest form of poker (I’d give that to 5 card draw, too), simply because it’s a community game and you only hold 2 cards. It is the game of games, though, mostly because the WSOP was built on it, and it became the tourney game of choice. Stud is too reliant on memory of dead cards, and you’re too often getting the right odds to chase your draws (which means there’s less skill involved), but there’s still a lot of stud games spread all over.


I know the Moneymaker story. I wasn’t mixing it up – the Moneymaker story was pretty big news. I actually should have written that McManus hadn’t played in a live tournament, identical to Moneymaker.

Also, I love the repetition in this thread.

I bet online poker rooms were creaming all over themselves when Moneymaker made it to the final table and then had to be shocked back to life when he won. That’s some story. I remember hearing McManus’ story too.

Moneymaker’s site, Pokerstars, seems decent enough. Several of them now have a notation feature where you can take notes when you play people and it saves it on your computer. How cool is that? These PC thingies are kinda handy.

Hey dannimal - Did you start at the $1/$2 tables or work your way up? I think I have seen some $.01/$.02 tables. That seems insane, but I guess it gets people hooked and in the game for those sites that have it. It’s the same software and probably doesn’t take up that much extra space so why not.


Couldn’t have said it better myself.

btw, Rounders is a great movie. It’s always on one of the movie networks and I never seem to tire of it. Malkovich is gloriously over-the-top and having Gretchen Mol in a tight sweater never hurts, either.

The problem with playing a lot of straight poker games like Hold Em is that, at least for me, to be interesting, the stakes have to be high enough so that the money lost or won is significant. Since you can’t see other people’s cards in Hold Em, you can only judge your own hand and the face-up cards in terms of incontrovertible information, and that is not exactly the hardest thing in the world. Of course you can also judge other people’s betting patterns and tells and so on, but you can always be wrong about such things, at least if the other players are reasonably clueful.

I can’t play for high stakes with my friends (or they wouldn’t be friends for long), and I don’t much want to play for such stakes with strangers, either; I’m not all that risk averse, but it just doesn’t seem like a very fun pastime.

So when I play poker, I play with friends at nickel-ante or some such level that doesn’t cause anyone any pain, and then we play silly games like Rothschild or Anaconda or Baseball, because such games are fun when there is little money involved, when it’s hard for anyone to lose more than $20 in an evening even if they stay in for every hand. For real money stakes of course it’s dumb to play silly poker variants or games with lots of high-low splits or wild cards.

FWIW, Steve Brust seems to play a lot of Hold Em. He moved to Vegas from Minnesota, and has an entry in his blog about how if only he had more money that’s what he would do – play professional poker…

I think the key is to just limit the amount each player brings to the table to an amount everyone’s cool with potentially losing. Just break the chips down to amounts that essentially give players about 500 to start with, whether that means they’re $1 chips or $0.01 chips or whatever your group is comfortable with. I think Poker loses a lot without an “all-in” option.

I agree that making high bets is important in poker for it to be a proper competitive game where bluffing and folding are meaningful choices and where winning a hand is both rewarding and satisfying.

However, when you play poker as a pastime with friends, I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow all-in bets, or else someone will quickly lose all their chips. At that point they are either done for the night which is no fun for them (and also reduces the quality of the game for the remaining players if you are down to 4 or fewer players) or else you let them cash back in and then they can potentially lose a lot of money. Neither of those two highly probable outcomes is consistent with the night being fun, or with remaining friends with the other players.

I worked my way up. I played for a few hours (10-20, about 3-4 weeks time) at $.01/$.02. I spent half my time outraged at the absolutely ludicrous play (who calls 4 bets pre-flop with 8-3!) and half my time worried that I’d get killed if I moved up.

Finally, moved up to $.25/$.50. Played ~2 months there. Not much better in terms of play, honestly. Won more then I lost, read and learned, and moved up to $.50/$1. More of the same here, realized that the rake cap is the same ($1/hand) as $1/$2, but didn’t have the stones to try it. played another ~2 months, finally got my initial $100 up to $400 and decided to stop being a nancy boy.

I’m finally starting to see a decent number of “good” players, but it’s still easy enough to find a beatable game.

I don’t know which sites have $.01/$.02 tables. UltimateBet does, I think Stars might. Party Poker does not (the lowest they go is $.50/$1), but is the largest site of the bunch.

I just fell into a semi-regular no-limit hold’em game with some co-workers and really like it.

If there’s some way to get into a game online with QT3 regulars that involves real money (like a $30 buy-in tournament) I’d love to give it a go. I just can’t stand playing low-limit or fake money games.


I worked my way up. I played for a few hours (10-20, about 3-4 weeks time) at $.01/$.02. I spent half my time outraged at the absolutely ludicrous play (who calls 4 bets pre-flop with 8-3!) and half my time worried that I’d get killed if I moved up.[/quote]

That sounds like me. Except I am doing some reading and looking at 3 or four top sites during the pre-deposit stage while still playing for fake money. So on the puss scale, I would say I rate a bit higher. :) Part of my hesitancy has been the fear of being schooled. I think I am passed that and on to the “how much can I get away with depositing and playing with before my wife starts to bitch” stage. Luckily, she is loving watching it on TV and even sits and watches me play online on occasion. How boring must that be, but she seems to dig watching. (IF only that held true in other…nevermind)

I would say, from what I see and hear at least, the play money tables play pretty much like any game that is under the $1/$2 tables. People are morons as with anything on the internet. That’s why I want to edge my way up and my gameplan mirrors yours pretty much.

Have you cashed out any? If so, was it any hassle? It seems that it is all a pretty stream-lined process for most of the sites.

Miramon - I hear what your saying, but there is something about the risk of my own hard earned funds (Even if it is 50 dollars) combined with a sense of competition that keeps me interested. I too play in games with friends where the losses rarely exceed 20 or 30 bucks. That is just for fun and only a minor test of skill, IMO. I guess I want to see, as with any other game, how I stack up against people who know or think they know what they are doing. I realize $1/$2 tables will not be any sort of ultimate measuring stick, but, like high ticket prices at Disneyland, it does filter out some of the riff-raff and give me some idea.

Today $.01/$.02 tables, tomorrow $10,000 entry fee no limit Hold 'Em tourneys in Vegas. :wink:

I know PokerStars has “sit-n-go” tournaments that are starting up constantly. IIRC, there are 4-player/9-player/18-player tourneys set to go with varying amounts for entry fees and various limits - fixed/No Limit/Pot Limit. You register and, once the table is full, it starts. Not sure if you can password protect private games, but I can look and see.

That said, not sure if I want my first “real money” to be played with a bunch of cut throats from Qt3. :) I would seriously be interseted at some point in the near future. If only a LotR III preview copy could be put up in lieu of your entry fee Adam. What’s that release date again. You told me, I simply forgot. :wink:

I think the problem with 7 Stud (vs. Hold 'Em) is that it ends up being very random: each player has 7 different cards, with 3 (almost half) of them hidden. It adds just that much more luck to the game.

But it is my 2nd favorite game.

What’s with you guys? I can’t play poker online. It’s all about the bluff and read, if you can’t do that you might as well play video poker versus a machine.