NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL 'FAMILY VALUES'!
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 Getting Your Feet Wet

15-April-2010


Recently I took a family trip with two of my brothers to play some $3-$6 limit Texas Holdem at the Hollywood Casino. It was a good entry-level game, $3-$6–very suitable for novice players, or those taking the game up recreationally. I played in a lot of similar type games back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when I first started out. It was lots of fun, a good training ground, and I often picked up $100 to $200 for my efforts. It’s certainly not as easy to win consistently today as the games are more serious at all levels now. But low-limit tables still make for some great entry-level games where all kinds of interesting things can happen.

For instance, in one hand during the trip in question my math expert, my Georgia Tech-educated brother Rob, got in a raising war on the river holding a 9-8 with a 9-9-8-7-5 rainbow board. They just kept raising, and I really thought Rob had a 9-8 and the other guy had 9-7.

When the other guy got all-in my brother said, “Only four nines beats me,” and turned over 9-8 (the nut full).

“Oh, nice-a hand, sir,” said the Asian gentleman–“The Five” we called him because he was in the five seat.

Then, The Five proceeded to slowroll a 9-8 too, leaving him and brother Rob to chop a mountain of $1 chips.

Of course brother Rob had overlooked the key fact that, since he had a 9 in his hand, the other player couldn’t have four 9s. It was a brain bubble of gargantuan proportions that left him misreading the board. But at least it didn’t kill his wallet. It’s the kind of thing that happens in games where people are still gaining experience. For what you learn, playing in them is well worth the ant-size losses and ridiculous split pots.

The same brother then published over the table his theory that Q-J is a great starting hand because you just raise with it, and if it comes an ace or a king you represent that; if it doesn’t but comes a queen or a jack you’ve got top pair. And if it comes all baby cards you’ve got two live “overs” so you’re still in great shape. An interesting theory to say the least. On cue it got tested.

I picked up pocket aces, the flop came 10-8-2 and I got run down by a Q-J that caught a gut-shot 9 on the river. It was The Five again, and this guy was just too nice. He always apologized for sucking out and praised other winners profusely for their play. Just one of those rare polite guys at the table. If you’ve played much at all you know that gruff and taciturn, to put it mildly, is much more the norm. Anyway, for his sage theory of Q-J everybody gave brother Rob some love–everyone except me, that is, since I wasn't feeling too congratulatory after being victimized by its supposed strength.

Not long after, my other “nitty-tight” brother swung into action and won a hand. He’s completely clueless at the game, but whenever he wins a pot he gives, like, a victory speech explaining his strategy and play of the hand. It’s absolutely hilarious. He’s got a long list of “P’s of Poker,” a list he publishes regularly while stacking a pot. It goes something like, “patience, poise, position, probability, perspective, percentages…” Yada, yada, yada. Shut up already.

Things like these make playing in a small limit game fun. Of course, you should probably take the theories and strategies you hear at such tables with a grain of salt, and you probably shouldn't expect your premium starting hands to hold up very often. Still, they’re a great place to get a feel for the fun of the game for a small investment. By playing well within your means you’re virtually guaranteed to get your money’s worth of fun, and the chance of winning puts them over the top as great entertainment values.



By: Dave Cinch
dave.cinch@acehoyle.com



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