Friday, December 22, 2006

My First "Live Game"

First, a disclaimer. When I type "live game," I mean a game with real, living people. This *could* mean something different in true poker lingo- I don't know yet, but I intend to find out.

Anyway, I'd done my reading. I started with the basic, fun yet still instructional, book "The Badass Girl's Guide to Poker," by Toby Leah Bochan. Then I moved up to Phil Hellmuth's "Play Poker Like the Pros."

I bought T.J. Cloutier's "World Class Poker" CD game and had been playing pretty well. Then I started playing free games at, which had gone well. I was watching reruns of World Poker games on ESPN and understanding the players' moves as well as the commentators' comments.

I was ready to play against living, breathing people.

So I got on the internet and found a sports bar that's sponsoring a free Hold'Em tournament.

What could be better? I'm still looking for a job, so playing for money isn't smart. A free poker game? With other living people?

The day I was to go- last Thursday, December 14, 2006- I finished reading Hellmuth's Hold'Em chapters. And I noticed something he wrote, which was that your game had to change significantly once it became short-handed.

Short-handed? Okay, I know from Cloutier's game that that means few people. But what changes? How?

Phil left me hanging.'s website had a series of articles on tournament play. I downloaded them to read while taking my grandfather to his late-afternoon doctor's appointment.

Rising blinds? Antes? WTF???

I got stuck in rush-hour traffic trying to get my grandparents home. I rushed through changing clothes and set off for the bar, which was on the other side of town. I figured I'd be too late to register to play that evening, but I could watch the other players. See what all this tournament talk was about. I had the feeling it wasn't the same as the games I'd been reading about in Phil's and Toby's books.

I got there to discover that I wasn't too late- there was plenty of room. When I asked a guy setting up the tables about playing, he gave me a card (the ten of diamonds) and said table 10 was in the other room.


I must've looked confused because the guy pointed to the other room and said table 10 was in there. He then pointed to my card.

So somehow, I was supposed to know that my card meant go to table 10. How, I don't know, but I was, because he was looking at me like I was a doofus.

I decided to get something to eat, since I had about 20 minutes before the game started. While waiting 10 minutes for the bartenders to take my order, I skimmed the articles some more. And had no idea what they were talking about except one thing: tournament play is very different from cash game play.

I tried to reassure myself that it would be okay- no money was on the line. I went into the room where table 10 was.

And saw a table-all men- joking and laughing as cards were being dealt.

I turned on my heel and fled.

I tried to stop myself after I'd gotten into my car, but I convinced myself that I wasn't ready. I didn't know the first thing about tournament play. Two cars were waiting for my parking spot, so I let that be the deciding factor and drove off, knowing full well that I was being a cowardly idiot.

I still have that card- the 10 of diamonds. I won't throw it away. It's a symbol of my cowardice.

I went to Borders bookstore and started reading "The Complete Idiot's Pocket Guide to Tournament Poker."

I will go back.

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