The tale of a novice poker player learning the ropes playing Texas Hold'em...
The seed is planted...
So I'd played a few casual, low stakes games of Texas Hold'em with friends and was starting to get pretty confident that I knew the rules and how to play pretty proficiently. Hell, I was winning consistently - not much but enough to think that this poker thing might actually be my true calling in life. Figured I could now handle the gambling action playing against some more seasoned poker players.
The obvious first arena for a novice poker player taking his first tentative steps into the realms of real money poker against players you don't know was online. I mean its certainly more convenient than actually going to the casino, but its also far less daunting. You don't have to content with a room full of possibly intimidating players, and you can rest assured they don't know how much of a newbie you are...at least not until you've played a few stupid hands!
So anyway, I surfed around a bit and decided to give Sun Poker a go, as I'd played blackjack online at The Sands before whose service I couldn't really fault (although they did take my money doh!) so figured their poker room should be pretty cool. And it was. Nice easy to play interface with clear playing instructions and a reasonably intuitive format. Of course my first two sessions were just for play money, and on both occasions I very quickly turned my initial $1000 into tidy sums. All my opponents were very eager to go all-in, which kind of meant that you just had to wait for a reasonable hand and then the pot was mine for the taking, with only the very occasional bad beat.
This was too easy! I was already imaging the thousands of dollars I would be making playing for real money...$3000 on average a night, 7 nights a week, wait maybe take one night off, that's 6 nights or $18,000 a week...$936,000 a year. I was practically writing my resignation letter in my head when I thought I'd better actually check out some of the real play action.
Look out sharks, here I come...
Funny thing about poker players playing with their own real money...they're not quite as willing to throw it away as when the money's fake. My first real money session was somewhat of an eye-opener, and I reluctantly had to reassess my expected future online poker earnings. The all-in calls weren't coming so thick and fast any more, and when they did, the player going all-in usually had the cards to match. I learnt this the hard way when I confidently called an all-in bet after the flop. My cards...7/10 with a 7/3/3 flop. Easy money I thought, and happily went all in with my $160 stake. Turns out the player going all-in (ironically with the moniker "AlwaysAllin") had pocket Kings.
I was rocked. My knees were shaky and I was very nearly down for the count. Should I make another deposit and get back on the horse? At a real poker cross-roads moment I reasoned to myself that if I didn't get back in the ring and at least win one real money pot, my sparkling poker career might be over before it even began. So I begrudgingly deposited another $200 and resolved to play ultra conservatively and only play really solid hands....I'm talking like the rock of Gibraltar. Anyway, to spare you the boringly painstaking details of my next 2 hours of play, I had my win (along with around 50 early folds) and limped out of the game battered but not totally beaten.
Over the next couple of weeks I began to find my rhythm and believe it or not even built my purse up to $600 from my original $200 buy-in. Time stare down some some players face to face!
Casino here I come...
I remember thinking how nervous I was when I walked into the casino's poker room and surveyed the some 100 players going at it at a dozen or so tables. Get a grip I thought...I'm going to play on the $60 max buy-in, $1/$2 blinds table...not exactly make or break stuff. But inexplicably I really felt rattled and was anxious to sit down and get amongst it and settle the nerves. Just needed to get that first win and I'd be fine. Unfortunately as it turned I wouldn't get that win I was so desperately searching for that first day, in what can only be described as a most tragic terrestrial casino poker debut.
Play like a rock, play like a rock...I was saying to myself as a strode to my seat with my $60 in chips grasped tightly in sweaty hands. My ultra-conservative play had eventually paid dividends online and I figured it would be the same story here...with little blinds that would take ages to wipe even the smallest hip stack.
My first hand ...9/9. My heart started to beat a bit. The flop...2/4/9 off suit. My heart began thumping. I was going to win first up! The turn...6 of spades. The player to my right goes all-in. I'm going to win a pretty big first up pot! I'm quietly ecstatic. His only possible way to beat me is if he has spades in his hand, and gets a spade on the river...odds too tantalizing to sit back.
I call. The river comes out...
ITS A F@*%KING 10 OF SPADES!
Try going home to your wife and telling her you lost playing poker at the casino not because you're a stupid chump, but only because you were extremely unlucky and see if she believes you.
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