It’s not enough to know they are bluffing

After being in Central Illinois for over two years, I finally hosted my first poker game last week. It was a lot of fun. I got a group of relative newcomers together and taught them how to play a Texas hold’em tournament. We had an hour long class where I went over the basics, pretty much following the plan I previously blogged about. Then I had them each chip in a couple bucks and I dealt them their first tournament (I didn’t play).

One hand came up that reminded me of something that happened when I still lived in New York. The hand was pretty straightforward. A few people played the hand, two of them played until the end. There wasn’t much betting, but I remember one player made a small but significant bet on the end. Another player called him. He turned over his two cards to show that he had a pair of sevens, one in his hand, one on the board.

Since this was more or less a practice hand, the other player turned her hand over and said, “Oh damn, I thought you were bluffing.” Her hand consisted of an eight and a three. She did not have a pair. She should not have called. Her hand was too weak to call.

However, she was partially right. Continue reading “It’s not enough to know they are bluffing”

Teaching poker to absolute beginners

I like teaching and I like poker, although I’ve rarely tried to combine the two. This week, I’m going to give it a shot. I run a meetup group here in Peoria for single people. I have wanted to host some poker games for the group for some time. I finally decided to go ahead and host one this week. It wouldn’t simply be a poker tournament, it would first be a one hour lesson in the basics of Texas Hold’em tournaments. And then we would do an actual one table tournament with me dealing.

I’ve always thought teaching poker to beginners would be a fun thing to do. My goal with the class portion is simple, demonstrate the basics of the game like how the cards are dealt, how betting works, and how the winner is determined for each hand (and for the tournament). I also want them to understand the rules of betting, and various quirks of how poker is typically dealt, so that if they ever want to play in a casino run tournament, they will be able to sit down and play without asking too many questions. If we have time we will also go over some basic strategy ideas.

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Truth in Poker

If someone is going to go to all the trouble to practically tell you what their hand is, the least you can do act accordingly.

Recently, my local riverboat casino added poker to their roster of games. This is good news for me. Poker is something that I have missed dearly over the past year and half since I moved home. I had hoped to find some local home games, but never managed to find one that worked for me. So over the last week, I’ve started playing again.

Now a lot of people think poker is a game of deception and that is true to a degree. But in a typical poker game, like in life, most of the time people are telling the truth. It’s hard wired into our brains. Besides, one of the easiest players to beat is the player who lies as a rule. Once you realize that the big bet they make on the river is a usually a lie, you just have to wait for a moderately good hand to take a lot of their money. And you know to fold when they make a smaller bet on the end instead of the usual big bet. That bet they want you to call.

Continue reading “Truth in Poker”

Theory of Poker on the Kindle

I just saw this announced on the forums of Two Plus Two Publishing by Mason Malmuth:

We have just given Amazon permission to create kindle-books from Hold ’em Poker for Advanced Players and The Theory of Poker. We’ll see how these do and then decide if we should do any more.

Finally some decent quality books on poker will be available for the Kindle. These two books by David Sklansky are must reads for any student of poker.

Poker Books and the Kindle

Like every good geek who plays poker, I have read books on poker, lots of books. So when I got my Kindle, I started thinking about how wonderful it would be to carry around my poker library with me. Poker books tend to be heavy and thick. And if you like to travel light like me, a few less poker books in your carry on bag would make a big difference.

Many of my favorite poker books are from Two Plus Two Publishing and none of them are available yet. Judging from this thread on their forums, they have no plans to release Kindle versions of their books. That’s a shame.

So what is available for the Kindle now? Well there are several books by Phil Helmuth. They all look like crap honestly. I don’t particularly like him anyway, but more importantly, I did once buy his book, “Play Poker Like the Pros” and returned it within a few hours. I just couldn’t read it and from what I did read, it was very light on useful advice.

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Why I haven’t made a video since October

Last summer, I started a video journal at which was about my experience living in Scottsdale, Arizona. I haven’t updated it in some time. I want to tell you why.

I’d left New York the previous fall to stay with my father in Arizona. He had recently been ill and wanted to spend the winter in Scottsdale. At first I just wanted to help him move and find an apartment. But as the time approached, I realized that I could use a break from NYC. I decided I would spend the winter with him. It wasn’t because I was being a good son. I did want to help my dad and it was a terrific opportunity to spend the kind of time with him that I’d never been able to do before. But I had other reasons too. My father is a poker player and intended to spend the winter at Casino Arizona playing hold’em. I had already been making a little money playing poker. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to see if I was good enough to be a pro.

It was a fantastic winter. Arizona is probably the best place to spend a winter in the states. The desert is beautiful. Nearly everyday is sunny and a day with a high in the 50s is rare. We played poker almost every day, my father’s health improved and we began talking about this winter when Dad would again return to Arizona. I decided to stay through the summer, continue to play poker and find a nice 2 bedroom apartment where my dad could join me when the weather in Illinois began to get cold again.

Continue reading “Why I haven’t made a video since October”