m a r k a n d e y a

Poker Notes

Posted by Brian on September 17, 2007

I couldn’t find a table of 7-card stud so I played Texas Hold’em on two nights while in Vegas. HEre’s how it went…

I was wary about playing at one of the bigger casinos, so I went to the Flamingo across the street from Caesars Palace and found a $2-$4 Hold’em game (not no limit). After watching for a bit, I worked up the nerve to buy some chips and sit down.

Things started out well. I won two big pots early on (and for the record, my first ever winning hand in a real casino was two pair, aces and sixes). Things turned south later on though with some bad luck (of course!). On one hand, I found myself with a straight on the flop. This is medium strength hand, so I followed the advice I read from some poker book somewhere and bet strong in hopes of driving out the competition* (see below for an explanation). Things were looking good up to the river, as the up cards ruled out the possibility of a flush, full house, or 4 of a kind; I was in a good spot. Unfortunately, the river card proved my undoing, and it wasn’t even something I was keeping an eye out for. The 5th card revealed a natural straight on the table, meaning that *everyone* still betting then had a straight. In the end, I had to share the pot with another player because we both had straights. Any other card on 5th street would have given me the whole pot.

The other incident of bad luck was on my last hand for the night. I had pocket queens and a  third on the table, given me an excellent hand from what I could see. I bet hard and went in with the rest of my chips. When it came to the showdown, another player had pocket aces, to go w ith an ace o nthe table; my Queen trips was beat by his Ace trips. It was a terrible way to go out…

The next night was one whole episode of bad luck. I blew it early when made some bad bets holding pocket aces. Unfortunately, there was a pair of jacks on the table and in my enthusiasm (“cool, a pair of aces!”) didn’t take into account getting beat by a player holding the third jack. That left my bankroll short and had to spend the next hour or so playing very tight poker. I didn’t win a single hand and decided to save 10 bucks by cashing out early. The second night was a mess.

It was fun though, but also stressful and a bit intimidating. I wasn’t too familiar with the Texas Hold’em style betting structure so it took me a bit to get a handle on everything. I’ll probably try to continue practicing by playing at local casinos. 

As for my wife, she sat down to play roulette and started out strong; she was up about 30 bucks at one point. But the house always wins in the end and after about an hour of playing she was broke. She also did a bit of slot machine play as well.

* Regarding the poker notes above, general strategy (at least from what I’ve read) is that with a medium strength hand, such as a straight, low flush, or trips, the wise move is to bet strong as to force the other players out before they have a chance to improve their hands. With a super-premium hand, such as a mid-flush or better, one way to play is to slow-bet, which means to check and call without raising in hopes of keeping as many players in the hand as possible. Ideally, you’ll find some chump at the table who thinks he has the best hand and will do your raising for you.

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