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News Bulletin: Fun is Good

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Last night, I fought the urge to play online poker and satiated myself with a game of Pirates. Thanks, Poker Wolf, for the suggestion. Man, what a gloriously enjoyable waste of time! I had already finished most of Gun, another decent game. This is what happens when you wean yourself off of online poker.

But enough about that. Two nights ago, as I toiled away at the WWdn, I chatted with SirWoffleHause. He was trying Duece-to-Seven Triple Draw for the first time, and I tried to give him what little pointers I remembered. In fact, I think my best advice was to read Maigrey's primer post, something that I found very informative.

Alas, when he started to play, he came across a bunch of marginal hands. My limited knowledge was already spent, so I offered this advice in the chat:

Jordan X: go have fun and you'll come upon a strategy
Jordan X: if nothing else, you build an image and loosen up the table

I was really just encouraging him to have fun, since it was a brand new game. Hopefully he was playing at stakes where he could explore the game's limitations and opportunities without risking a significant portion of his bankroll (not that I follow this rule, as I've been playing 3/6 and even a rare 5/10 2-7 TD table here and there).

But as I looked at my text, I realized that my statement was largely my inherent strategy in most poker games. I used to play online to make money. Unfortunately, it became like a job, and I began to play mindlessly, like a factory worker trying to get through the day. So, I quit my job. I still come back to the old office, but I do it on my time, and I do it to have fun.

When it comes to mixed games, anyone who has played with me live will know that I tend to be an action player. I goes back to what I said to Woffle: "go have fun and you'll come upon a strategy". My strategy was to play a lot of hands, see how they play out, and, frankly, gamble a bit. This allows me to get a grasp on the game, the players, the action. Naturally, from that flows my second statement to Woffle: "if nothing else, you build an image and loosen up the table."

It's a simple and logical enough scenario. You sit at a table and you are playing games that are odd and unfamiliar to you. Maybe it is familiar to you, but the players are not or the poker room is new and you have no feel for the type of game you have on your hands. In situations like this, you'll shoot yourself in the foot if you decide to start re-raise bluffing with 35o. But you could be setting the pace of the action if you are playing more hands than the rest of the players (within reason). First, you'll get to interact with the players more. Second, they will remember how you started off. You are setting a tone that says, "I'm a donkey. Come play with me!" All the while, I hope you have some innate card sense and know when it is time to fold. But calling a raise in limit Badugi from the BB and then drawing three out of four cards won't break the bank. It will, however, get the rest of the table to call your bets in a later Badugi hand when you have the nuts, and it will tilt the table when you win the hand after drawing three.

In actuality, the Badugi move I just described has been dubbed the Bajordi, as I pulled that move to success at least one at the SIF home game. I drew four and hit a 9-low, 4-card Badugi (a fairly strong hand) and took down the pot. Was it a donkey play? Probably. Did it work for me in the short term? Yes, although that was an unexpected surprise. Could it have hurt me significantly? Not really. It could only hurt if I hit a strong hand and was facing an even stronger one. That does happen, but more likely, I miss and fold. I lose one additional big bet, but I show that I'm giving action. And this, loosens a table.

You've seen it before. A player comes into a rock-tight table and starts to play like a maniac. Soon everyone and their sister is limping into pots or calling small raises preflop, hoping to shut down the maniac or get in on the fun. Sometimes the maniac gets lucky and gains a huge amount of chips. Other times, they stay loose and go busto. But what if you were that maniac, and you knew enough to control your game once you've set the table off in the wrong direction?

That is the crux of the matter. By playing my usual fun-guy game, especially live and at casinos, I effectively can loosen up a table. It's a byproduct of my behavior, and not the goal, necessarily, but it is a byproduct that I have found profitable. Another great example occurred on my last trip to AC. I was down almost $300 and getting frustrated until I decided to have a few drinks. I win a small hand and I get chatty, as I often do. Prior to that, I was focused on making money and beating the table. After that, I was busy joking around, razzing players and acting a fool. The result was that my game turned around. I loosened up, had fun, and the players began to loosen up with me, calling bets preflop that they might otherwise fold, and playing my game instead of theirs.

So, that's my advice to anyone playing a new game. Don't play uber-loose, because you will loose. But feel free to mix it up early, get a feel for how the new game plays, how hands play in particular, and how the other players react. You'll also be inducing action, so be ready for it and take advantage when opportunity strikes. It might be safer to wait for a super strong hand and then start raising, but you'll likely get little action. It's a shit load more fun playing a bunch of hands, losing small pots and then scooping a huge one later, since, after all, you the donkey couldn't have anything.

In closing, let me add that this is nothing new. I remember reading how the Poker Grub (one of my all time favorite reads) used to write about playing his first hand really loose to set an image. So, kudos to him for introducing me to the importance of setting up a table image, and kudos to Woffles for getting me to think about why I seem to play mixed games with reckless abandon, lose a bunch of chips, but eventually recover and make a profit.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:57 PM,


At 9:53 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Thanks for the reminder. I, like you, play poker for fun (mainly because I don't have the time to really dedicate myself to it and it feels too much like "work" if I do anything other than have fun), but it's easy to forget that when I'm trying to win a tournament.

Glad you like Pirates! If you want other game suggestions, drop me an email with the gaming platforms you have and I'll give you a list of cheapo , awesome games to go buy. You can also go bug Helixx for game suggestions as well.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Oh, one more thing.

If you really want to get a table rocking, especially if it's a limit table, raise in the dark with your first couple of hands. Good times!

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, Pirates! as in "Pirates! Gold" the old, rare, Sega Genesis game?

At 2:56 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I thought Anonymous made you quit already.. jeez..

At 3:21 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

jl, it is the exact same thing, but nicely updated. It's called Sid Meier's Pirates and I have the PC version. I didn't know that anyone besides my family had the old Sega Genesis game.

Woffles, I was planning on writing as Anonymous King for a week, but I decided against it, since it would prove to be too much work just to advertise my arch nemesis.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Joe Speaker said...

I'm a big fan of this strategy when playing live. I'm happy to show down some awful hands early becuase you know what they say about first impressions.

I also like to mention I've been drinking for 12 hours (a lie about 50% of the time) and offer to buy the table a round of shots when I first sit down.


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