Yesterday I was able to play some live poker yet again. Indeed, I have had the opportunity this summer to play more live poker than ever before. Being one of those who lives in a state with no poker rooms, I’ve long been primarily an online player, and so am greatly enjoying this chance to play live on a regular basis.
I continue to stick to the low LHE games, where I’m both enjoying myself and getting more and more comfortable with live play. Have been kind of looking at it as an extended tutelage, and since I’ve been winning some I also have been considering it a way to pick up a little extra pocket money with which to buy the occasional Italian sub or candy bar over at the Poker Kitchen.
I was talking the other day to the Poker Grump about a couple of the lessons I’ve learned -- the sort of things with which experienced players are likely very familiar, but which novices usually have to bumble through themselves.
For example, I had one instance a couple of sessions ago where the dealer mistakenly skipped me with the button. My neighbor sitting to my left insisted she’d just paid the small blind and thus it was her button (when I knew that wasn’t the case), but I didn’t push it. I realized afterwards I probably should’ve been more insistent about it, but for a moment was confused myself about whether I was right.
Had another occasion where the player to my right had just won a pot, and he was still scooping his chips when I posted my small blind. The dealer began the deal, and then asked me to post. I explained I already had, but the dealer said she hadn’t seen it nor did she take it. I shrugged and posted again, thinking for a moment that I’d somehow forgotten what I’d done. It was only afterwards I realized my neighbor surely scooped my small blind along with the pot he’d won. “Never post until the player on your right who has just won a pot is finished gathering the chips,” the Grump noted when I told him about it.
A couple of small lessons there to carry forward, for sure. I’ve had other slips, too, such as a hand in which I’d rivered a nut flush against four or five opponents, raised and got some callers, then in my rush not to slowroll opened my hand before the last player had decided whether or not to call my raise. I only lost one big bet there (he was going to call -- the pot was too big for him to let go whatever he’d had), but again I learned something about paying attention and staying in tune with the rhythm of the game and the action around me.
That said, I’m having fun. And learning, I think.
I actually played about a half-hour of online poker a couple of days ago -- the first time in two solid weeks, easily the longest consecutive stretch I’ve gone without playing online since I began the blog.
I hopped onto two LHE tables, and -- no shinola -- within a dozen hands total I’d been called a “moron” on one table (the very first hand!) and an “idiot maniac” on the other. Indeed, on the second table two players got into a big discussion about how bad I was, and this was after just five or six hands! Needless to say, I’d won pots on those tables, and from the perspective of the name-callers it had been nothing but dumb luck. And so they felt the urgent need to share with me and everyone else their breathtakingly quick analyses of my horrific game.
Ah, yes. The sometimes socially-stunted world of online poker. I’d almost forgotten.
Goes without saying I haven’t experienced such abuse at the live tables this summer. I realize it’s not always hunky dory with everyone getting along swimmingly at live games. Still, people generally are civil and even friendly for the most part. Have seen an inordinate amount of bad play, natch, but haven’t once run into players calling each other names at the table. (Further proof of my limited live experience, I know.)
I’ll just mention one other interesting difference between live and online play that I’ve been noticing, this one having more to do with my own attitude toward the respective pursuits. For some reason, when I play live I almost always come away feeling good afterwards (save times when the session goes especially badly -- which has happened, well, just once all summer). And if I happened to have made a few bucks, I feel kind of giddy, both because I’ve won some cabbage, but also because I sense I’m somehow benefiting in other ways, too.
It’s hard to explain, but what I’m experiencing is a kind of satisfaction that resembles what one feels after having done something worthwhile -- like having read a book or gone for a run or somehow “improved oneself” in some fashion or another. Whereas when I play online, I almost never feel that sense of satisfaction, win or lose. In fact, I often feel something very different, something more akin to self-loathing over having “wasted” my hours in a non-creative, unproductive, empty pursuit.
I’m making no grand claims here about online poker or live poker; rather, I’m just reflecting on my own psychological reactions to each, which are admittedly very subjective and not necessarily representative of anyone else’s experience. In fact, it might just boil down to the difference between engaging in genuine human interaction (as in a live game) and sitting at home alone playing online.
We frail humans, we get something out of being around each other. Something vital, I think.
Anyhow, it’s back to work today. Then tomorrow -- a day when the Main Event rests before Day 3 -- I’ll be playing some more live poker as I get to participate in not one but two different freerolls: the “Media Charity Poker Tournament,” then the PokerNews freeroll after that.
The former is going to be set up according to the Dream Team Poker format, with three-person teams competing to see which trio fares the best overall. (Actually, I believe it is which trio produces the two best finishes.) Joining me on my team are Benjo and Katkin. Together we are Le Grand Fromage. “That’s no ‘e’ and one ‘em’” said Benjo. (Hopefully they get it right on the jerseys.) More on all the fun stuff later in the week.
Meanwhile, head over to PokerNews’ live reporting page to follow the Main Event circus as it barrels through Day 2b.