It’s so cold in here

August 22, 2007

Have you ever been so angry at the game of poker, any game will do, that you start thinking things you’d never guessed would have entered your mind?

I’m not talking about a bad beat, and I’m not talking about making a wrong bet and seeing it come back and bite you in the butt. Those things happen, and people make mistakes. And the later is something that you as a player actually can control, and hopefully learn from somewhere down the line.

But when the cards come cold, hand after hand, seemingly week after week, your skill can only take you so far (most of us). And let’s put the tilt aside for this article, it’s not the point of what I want to focus on.

So, this is currently happening to me on Full Tilt Poker.com and in the poker home games, and it was never so evident as my last Saturday night game of cards. 6 hours worth of playing….I didn’t think that many 2-7 hands even existed.

It’s enough to turn you into a day-after drunk.

“I’ll never drink again, man….that’s it….vomiting sound (i sat here for a minute trying to figure out how to spell out a vomit sound, but I’ve since given up)…..I’m NEVER DRINKING AGAIN.”

You’ve said it before, too, you know you have…definitely about drinking, possibly about cards. And the thing is, I truly love playing cards, so it pains me to think about giving up the game, even for only a couple months. But after Saturday night, that’s what I was thinking. I had had enough of slowly losing my antes, betting guarded but smart, trying to make a move here or there, and the cards just continuing to put my head in the toilet.

I seriously felt like Chris Farley after that SNL skit where they tell him he’s drinking decaf coffee.

“How do you feel, sir?”

“Annnngryyyyy.”

So, what do you do? How do you as a player handle it?

Some go crazy and bet disproportionately over the top, lose even more than they should, we know the terminology. But usually in home games there’s a limit on the table, and usually it doesn’t make sense to try to bluff a 4-10 offsuit when the max is like 4 or 5 bucks, because someone’s gonna call, and you’re gonna lose again.

I think my question is more trying to figure out how you handle it in your head. Do you pull yourself away from the game? Do you tell yourself a hand to break the drought is just around the corner? Do you lie to yourself or sugar coat your losings by saying ‘it’s not that much’ or ‘I’ve lost 4 times as much as this before, tonight is nothing.’

I definitely went through the last one myself. I was only down about $20 bucks, which in the wide world of poker really is nothing, right? Somehow, though, I can remember when I’d lost in the hundreds, and it didn’t frustrate me as much as slowly getting nickel and dimed to death.

I know, it’s part of the game, there are ups and downs, there are hot runs and cold runs, but it pisses me off. And I know that luck is luck and I’m the schmuck. But….I WANT better cards. Show me a face card more than one out of five hands. Help me out here.

Some people think getting up for a few hands will switch things up, some think changing decks or cutting 1 more card than you would randomly somehow will put luck back on your side.

None of them work any more than a coin flip puts you at 50/50 odds. You just have to ride it out, baby.

And besides, you and I both know damn well you’ll be drinking again next Saturday night.

Poker Home Games – Pass The Trash

August 20, 2007

Pass the chips, pass the remote, pass the ketchup….and while you’re at it, pass me the two spades I need to complete the flush.
Aww yeah, pass the trash. Where the end result of your hand isn’t only up to the luck of the draw, but also the decision making skills of your opponents at the table.
Over my years playing cards, I’ve learned two distinct and quite different ways to play pass the trash (as well as different numbers of cards dealt), so let’s go through the basic rules of the game, and then break down the two ways I know how to play.

1.) Players are dealt seven cards, all at once, all face down. Organize your hand as you choose.

2.) One round of betting.

3.) Now you must choose 3 cards, no more or less, to remove from your hand and pass over to the player to your left (or right, it doesn’t really matter). You’ll give them these cards face-down, and they will then become part of your opponent’s hand.

***Doesn’t it just SUCK when you have to break up that full-house you were dealt? I know how you feel, I’ve had to do it many times before.***

4.) Likewise, you’ll receive three new cards from the player to your right to add to your hand.

5.) Now you’re going to factor in your new cards and make your best 5-card poker hand from the cards you have.

6.) A final round of betting and then show your cards.

***Note, with either version of the game, you can play a stud version, deal out 5 cards to everyone, and then you pass 2.***

That’s the first version, pretty simple, straightforward betting structure similar to 5-card draw, etc… The next version will take a little more explaining.

1.) Game begins the same as previously described, everyone is dealt 7 cards, face down.

2.) Initial round of betting (if you prefer…you don’t have to because in a minute the pot is going to have many more opportunities to grow)

3.) Pass your three cards to the left. ***Remember what you passed, because knowing even one card that your opponent may be using will be extremely useful by the end of the hand.***

4.) Here’s where things change. After you’ve passed and received your pass from the person to your right, you’ll choose the top 5 cards to make your poker hand, and then discard the other two into a garbage pile.

5.) Now, you’ll be flipping these cards up one-by-one, similar to a seven-card stud game, so choose wisely in terms of how you want to arrange your cards (especially if you’ll be bluffing).

***Note, the betting order is determined based off who currently has the highest hand showing after each flip, so if your goal is to avoid opening the bet, you may want to structure your cards accordingly as much as you can to save the “hand” for a later flip up.***

6.) Once everyone has their order set, everyone flips up the first card, and a round of betting ensues.

7.) The continues through the first four cards, with a round of betting after each flip.

8.) OK, now at this time it comes down to a major decision, especially if the pot has grown to a healthy amount. The person with the highest hand showing must decide if he’s IN or OUT. If he’s IN, he says so, but he keeps his fifth card hidden for the time being.

9.) Now, going around the table in descending order of strength of hand, each player must decide if he or she also wants to go IN or OUT. (Is that first guy bluffing with his two pair? Or did he make that full house? Damn, why didn’t I remember what I passed him like J.P. told me to! Heh…heh…)

10.) At the end of the round, if more than one person went IN, you flip up your fifth card to reveal your final hand. If you win, you win the pot. If you went IN and lost, you must match the pot, and the game continues with a new hand.

Yeah, I told you the pot would grow.

11.) If the game continues, the next hand you can pass to the right instead of the left, to keep the same person from receiving a pass from the same person over and over again (again, doesn’t really matter, but it helps change things up.)

***Note, one important piece of strategy to remember during the final round here. If one person goes IN, they are basically trapped. They have put themselves in jeaopardy of matching the pot if someone else goes IN and beats them. And there is only one way for them to back out. That is, when you decide to go IN or not, you also have the option to say IN and raise…however, you then open the door for the other players who already have gone IN to back out and fold their hand, thus not worrying about having to match the pot.***

It’s a gamble for the raiser….but hell, that’s why we’re here, right? It’s also a great way to bluff back with your rags to someone who has a made hand already showing on the table. Until they call with the full-house, and you realize you screwed yourself even worse :)

As you can imagine, this game can run for many hands and build a huge pot to match. Somehow, it seems that when the money in the middle passes $100, that “trash” you’re waiting for becomes ever so much more valuable.

Play pass the trash at home, and play texas holdem online at FullTiltPoker.net.

Indian poker – a newfound respect?

August 12, 2007

I’ll admit, for as long as I’ve been playing cards, I’ve hated Indian Poker. I just saw it as a really, really stupid filler between games. More of something to give people time to straighten out their chip stacks and actually be active with them.

Of course, the way I was taught was everyone stick one card on your forehead and bet away!

Wow, truly magnificent, huh?

So last weekend we’re playing cards, I had just finished being the first one out during our Texas Hold ‘em tournament (all-in on Ace, King…just wasn’t to be), and by this time of the night, the empty bottles of beer are starting to pile up around me.

After sweeping the cards, one girl says “OK, time for INDIAN POKER!”

Just to paint the picture for you, I’m now down about $20 bucks, haven’t won a single hand yet (that would change, although by the end of the night I’d only get back to even). Begrudgingly, I throw my ante into the middle, and she sloppily deals the cards.

This time, it’s just reverse Texas Hold ‘em rules, everyone has two cards on their head facing out, and the rest is dealt the same way.

The highlight of the game was when the guy to my left (who had 6, 8) bet the max after the turn (leaving 6,7,7,9) on the table. I had already called and was getting pretty short-stacked, so I sat there looking like an idiot with two cards touching the top of my face, debating on whether to see this guy, raise or give up.

With him already making two pair, what would you do? I figured I had waited too long and missed my window to raise back, so I folded.

What did I have? Of course, a nine.

The girl, now quite drunk, and everyone else at the table bursts out with a massive “OHHHHHHHHH!” and she declared the other guy the king of Indian Poker.

Did it bother me? Not so much, since it was never a title I was searching for in the first place…but I did come to appreciate a little more of the strategy involved in this game.

And I found a little more respect for the game, as well.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s still stupid :)

If you want to play a real poker game, visit www.FullTiltPoker.com and try playing H.O.R.S.E.

Poker Home Games – Two Thirds

August 5, 2007

Two thirds is a fun, pot-building variation of seven card stud. As with any of these pot-building games, it’s always better to have at least 5 or 6 people at the table. Not to be confused with other pot-related tables that tend to be much more smokey (heh…) Although, you get a few nice cigars going, and a poker room can easily turn into a fire hazard itself.

Anyway:

1.) Hand is dealt out and played exactly like regular seven-card stud, including betting rules and order.

2.) In order to win the hand, you must have two of the possible three ways to win. Those are:
– high hand
– High spade in the hole
– low spade in the hole

3.) Rules to note:
– If nobody wins the two-thirds, the pot remains and a new hand is dealt.
– If you fold during the hand, you’re out until the pot clears. You will not be dealt in the next hand if nobody is declared the winner of the current hand.
– If nobody has a spade in the hole, nobody wins regardless of who has the high hand.
– If someone else has the high hand, but you have the only spade in hole, then you win because your spade counts as both the high and the low.

Another, more common variation of this game is called Chicago or Black Mariah. Instead of a winner-take-all game, this is a split-pot game that splits between the high hand and the high spade in the hole.
When the pot is an odd amount, we always played the high hand gets the extra, but that, of course, is up to the house rules.  Practice playing Two Thirds online at Full Tilt today.