Online Poker PlayerMost poker players prefer to see and face their opponents, not only for social reasons, but also to gain valuable tactical information from their facial expressions and demeanor (“tells”). Nevertheless, it’s very convenient to step over to your home computer and minutes later be involved in a hot online poker game. And now, not only can you play live poker at almost any limit, you can also readily find either minitournaments (one-table) going around-the-clock or regularly scheduled multitable tournaments with hundreds of players.
Although at first I was rather skeptical about playing serious poker online, recently I have been playing in lots of multitable no-limit hold’em tournaments, mostly late at night. You will probably find that these online tournaments are very good practice for the real thing.
In December, my family had a little Christmas gathering with friends, neighbors, and bridge players (overlapping groups), when I suddenly remembered that I had agreed to play in a RoyalVegasPoker $22 no-limit hold’em tournament in which there would be a cash bounty on my head and the heads of several other Card Player writers.
None of my guests missed me for the first Unique Casino hour or so. Then, slowly but surely, some of them gathered behind me and my wide-screen laptop and formed a cheering (jeering?) section. It turned into quite a show. Two of them were familiar with no-limit hold’em from watching the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, and served as commentators for the rest.
I had about $30,000 in chips, when on my $1,000 big blind I picked up big slick (A-K). It was folded around to the ****on, who raised it to $3,000. I frequently go all in with big slick when someone raises my blinds, because the hand is often hard to evaluate on strong flops and because I would be acting first. But I knew this player was very aggressive, and I thought I could get more of his $20,000 or so by trapping.
So, I just called — although my cheering section was screaming for blood. I bade them to patiently wait. Heads up, the flop came with a king and two small cards. I checked and he bet $4,000. If there had been a second (dangerous) high card in the flop, I would have raised all in. But, since I knew his tendencies, I decided to wait and risk one more card.
The turn (fourth) card was another low card. I checked and he bet $7,000 (based on his earlier “step” betting style, I had expected that he would bet around $8,000). I then went all in. Actually, I had no choice, as two of my cheerleaders, who were looking over my shoulder, announced to the crowd that it was time to pounce.
My opponent took a while, but since more than half of his chips were already in the pot, he probably felt committed with his K-Q. He called, and no queen came on the river.
I was now the chip leader at our table. Looking at an A-Q, I had the audacity of trying to knock out the smallest stack at our table, nicknamed “PoopScoop”, who defended his blind with Q-3. When he caught a 3 on the turn, my cheering section moaned. I tried several more times to knock him out, but he always survived and eventually became the chip leader at our table.
Meanwhile, the gang was cheering me on and one of the men won a hand for me (that I wouldn’t have played) while I was out getting more wine. Just before reaching the final table, Lou Krieger, also with a bounty on his head, came to our table. He raised all in on my big blind when I happened to have pocket tens, which held up, and I collected the bounty for knocking Lou out. The gang liked that.
I tried several times to knock out “Nancy”, but she always seemed to have pocket kings and survived. Finally, at the final table, I had her all in again with my A-Q suited against her A-J, but a jack on the turn cost me more than half of my stack. One of the wives commented, “Serves him right for picking on that poor girl.”
My final fling with pocket jacks turned into “The Final Revenge of PoopScoop,” as his K-4 turned into fours full of kings and he went on to win the tournament. But the gang was very impressed with the several hundred dollars I won for a mere $22 buy-in, and everyone there took copious notes as to how to download the software to play some online poker.
I wondered how many times similar scenes occurred all across the country and world this holiday season. One of my guests astutely observed that this poker stuff might be “very addicting” and “contagious.” Yes, it looks like poker is going to have another happy new year!