Under the gun

Last night was my first game of “proper” friendly poker, specifically Texas Hold’em.

I’d been wanting to try poker for a while so we’d tried to organise a Strugglers poker night, and in the process I also got invited to one with people from work. As it turned out, Strugglers poker got postponed, leaving me a little worried that my first experience would be a bit more stressful than I would like — it would be with people I knew a little less well and for slightly higher stakes.

As it turned out I really didn’t have too much to be concerned over. Chris from work was hosting and he’d explained that minimum bet was 10p, small blind 10p, large blind 20p, maximum raise £1, and that based on those figures, if someone did badly they might expect to lose about £20 through the night.

So I am quite happy that in my first ever real game of poker I came away £1.30 up, based on an initial buy of £5 of chips that lasted me all night! Hey, that is more than 20% profit, better than any savings account right?!

There were 5 of us in total, those being Chris from work; Paul, a former colleague, actually my former team leader at work; and two of Chris’s friends, Trog and Nat. At the end Trog was clear winner taking about £20 profit. Nat ended up with about £2 profit, Chris was down by about £6 and Paul stopped after going through £20 of chips.

I think I did well to remain calm and keep playing tight, which is definitely the best way to play when learning. I feel I was slightly unlucky in the cards I got in that I had very few hands that would be considered playable yet if I had played them I would have won a few hands via unexpected straights and so on. I did try to bluff a few times though and it didn’t work out well, so I shied away from that, and I felt a lot of the time that I was being too tight, seeing the others bet high on absolute crap. That’s probably something that only comes with experience.

As far as the mechanics of the game go, I didn’t need a “cheat sheet” of hands although they insisted I write one out to avoid misunderstandings. What I found hardest to keep track of was when to deal more cards, as the others were used to just throwing chips in or making motions without stating what they were doing. I quite often had to ask “are we all square?” in order to know if I needed to deal a new card, or to ask what amounts I needed to put in to call.

So in summary, it was a fun experience, which I hope will be repeated, and I hope we can reschedule the Strugglers game soon too. At that low level of betting and with snacking and chatter going on at the same time it is actually difficult to lose a considerable sum of money purely because the game moves quite slowly. We played for something like 5 hours!

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