Monday, April 30, 2007

Why Do Poker Players Overstay Their Welcome?

I've been playing poker most of my life and no-limit Texas Hold'em for almost 20 years now and it never ceases to amaze me that people who are winning money, the table chip leaders, will continue to sit at that table until they bust.

What they hell is wrong with you poker players out there?

Hint: If you get a big pile of chips, GO HOME!

These people are obviously addicted to the rush of going "all-in" and sure they can double up their stack yet again and consistently lose it all.

The games I tend to play are either a 1-1-2 spread limit or a 2/4 no-limit, both with a minimum $4 bet and you can buy-in with a $100 minimum. Now the object of this game, at least my object, is to sit tight and wait for good cards while watching the play, maybe up to an hour without really getting involved with the action.

Do the math as my strategy really isn't that hard.

You pay for nothing but the blinds, unless you get killer hole cards, then you make your move.

The blinds in this game are typically $6 per each time 9 hands are dealt around the table, so you get to see 9 sets of hole cards for only $6. Better yet, you get to study how your opponents play 9 times (assuming 9 players per table) for $6 even if you take no action. This means for a measly $100 you can evaluate up to 9 hands per blind for 16 blinds, or a whopping 198 hands of cards.

The next thing is you NEVER buy-in for more than the minimum, which is $100 at this game, even if you could buy-in for $200 or more. Why you do this is you're protected in an all-in bet limited by your current table stakes. This gives you a lower risk all-in opportunity to double up your money for each $100 you buy-in. If you lose an all-in bet you've never lost more than $100 so you still hopefully have another $100 in your pocket to get more chips and try again.

Now the real secret, IMO, is to never spend more than $300 per day playing this game otherwise you quickly get upside down losing so much you have to keep chasing pots to get back even, let alone winning. If the cards are that bad and you've already lost $300, which would be about 3 hours playing for me, it's time to go home and try again another day.

Do I sound like a cheap gambler to you?

Hell no, just a smart one.

Been there, done the big stakes, the game is still the same small or low stakes.

The idea is always to play on THEIR money and not use YOUR money if possible. My investment in the game is just the bankroll to get the first big win and then I gamble using my winnings to get to the next bigger win. I could easily be into a game for a thousand dollars but that would be stupid as the object is to build off a smaller bankroll and then play on other peoples money. If you see me sitting with a thousand dollars in front of me you can bet your ass I have typically no more than $200 invested in the game. If I start to lose and see my stacks of chips declining, I always try to get out at a minimum with at least what I started with, and some winnings as well, not go completely bust like I see so many others do consistently.

Now that you have an idea of how I play, a little backgrounder on me, let's get back to the topic of people that overstay their welcome...

I took a break from no-limit poker for a couple of years, not because I didn't want to play, but because I couldn't find any good games locally. Then a few months ago I came across the exact same version of the No-Limit Texas Hold'em game I always used to play and it was a blast. So far recently I've played it 6 times and won 5 times, cleaned up all but one night when the cards just plain stunk.

On a couple of these games, I walked up to the table and there was a definitive chip leader with $800-$1000 piled up in front of them. One of them was a really solid tight player and the other was a loose player chasing pots that just happened to get lucky. The tight player sadly got a bad run and started losing to me with such hands as my King-high flush all-in against their Queen-high flush, and so on and so forth, one bad beat after another until I broke him on a final all-in bet. The loose player was a different night, ah well, he would bet large amounts on an Ace-high nothing into my 2 pair, and similar bad bets, and literally thought he could bully me out of the pot with bigger bets but I called and broke his ass as well.

When I took their big pile of chips guess what I did?


Remember what I said, they overstayed their welcome and gave it all back. I didn't overstay my welcome, I cashed out and went home, adding their money to my gambling war chest.

Until next week...