His First Real Poker Game

Perry had been playing poker for years with his buddies. It started in college. Their weekly home games involved some pretty crazy versions of Poker. Games with names like Casino, Fiery Cross, 2-2-1, Pineapple, and "Deuces, Jacks, Man with the Ax, but a Pair of Natural 7's Wins the Pot" were just some of the unique games they played. Oh sure, they would play "Texas Hold 'Em." But Hold 'Em was one of the purer games that they played, and only occasionally. Perry was used to playing "Dealer's Choice" (as the "deal" passes to the left of the previous dealer, the new dealer decides what game will be dealt with the new hand).

Now in his mid-20's, it was a unique experience for him when he went to a real Poker room for the first time to play in a real Poker game. He chose to play "Hold 'Em." It would be strange for him to play the same game, hand after hand. But he looked forward to seeing what it was like to play poker in the largest Poker Room in the world.

When he walked in the door and entered the Main Room, he was not prepared for what he would see. The room was huge, and he had never seen so many poker tables in his life. Watching tournaments on TV don't really give the viewer a true feel of what a big Poker Room looks like.

There were several different games to choose from in the Poker room: Hold 'Em, 7 Card Stud, and Omaha. Perry decided ahead of time that he wanted to play Hold 'Em. Once he was in the Casino, he had to decide whether to play a limit game or a no-limit game. Then there was the choice of what stakes to play. Perry didn't feel that he was ready for a no-limit game, so he decided on the $2-$4 limit Hold 'Em game.

He searched around the large room trying to figure out how to find the $2-$4 game. This particular Poker Club is a loud place. Public announcements are being made, calling players to available seats from several locations throughout the room. There are cocktail waitresses, food servers, and porters running up & down the aisles taking care of the customers. There are even Massage Therapists giving "Chair Massages" to players as they are playing their hands. It was a lot of sensory stimulation for this guy on his first visit.
Perry noticed that there were men & women dressed in tuxedos (called Floor People) scattered throughout the room. He decided to ask one of them to point out the $2-$4 Hold 'Em tables. When they found Perry a seat, his heart began to beat faster with excitement. They sat him in seat #9, directly to the dealer's right. Perry pulled $50 from his wallet, and the dealer exchanged his cash for 50 $1 chips. These were the first professional Poker Chips that Perry had ever held in his hands. His excitement continued.

He was playing at a full table. The Big Blind was one position to his right, which meant that Perry was the first to act. He looked at his two cards which were a 7 of hearts and a Deuce of Spades. Everyone will agree that a 7/Deuce off-suit is the worst Hold 'Em hand one can be dealt (perhaps Perry should have seen this as an omen). He folded his hand. But he watched intently as the rest of the hand progressed.
Playing a game of Poker at a table full of strangers is definitely different than playing with a table full of one's buddies.

As the game continued, Perry began to relax, and was able to focus on his cards. Unfortunately for him, the river card always seemed to be a hand killer for him. So many times he thought he had the winning hand, and then the river card would hit the table, and he just knew that someone else made their straight or their flush, and his 2 pair would not be able to stand up. And so often, he was right.

Besides learning about Poker at this Poker Club, Perry also had to learn from whom to order a beverage to pay the least amount of money. Perry decided to stay sober at his first professional experience, so he was ordering Pepsi. When a Porter came by, and Perry ordered a Pepsi, he was charged $1. Later, when the cocktail waitress offered him a drink, the Pepsi cost $1.75. And when a food server was delivering a meal to one of the people at his table, he ordered another Pepsi, which cost him 50 cents. Live and learn. My suggestion is to always order from the food server, so you can throw them a buck, and they get a 50 cent tip out of it.

When his money ran out, Perry decided not to re-buy. He was done for the night. This was a smart move for his first Casino Poker experience. He then walked around the room and watched other games of varying stakes. He saw pots of hundreds of dollars being won. He thought how he could never play in those higher stake games. When he walked out of the Casino, he was tired and his mind was spinning.

Perry was fascinated by his real Poker experience. He was able to see Poker in a completely different light. He still participates in his weekly game with friends. But now there is talk at his table about several of his buddies getting together and going to the Poker Club to see what it's all about. So next week at the buddy game, there should be some very interesting dialog about their professional experiences.

It's important to remember to change up one's style of play when one makes a switch from a private game with friends to a Casino game with strangers.

Mark Leoni