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Each One, It's Own Special Snowflake

My mind has been racing with poker lately. It's like some slow-release chasing-losses tilt. All I can think about is the next game, where is it going to be, how can I get in, and how can I play sooner. I have the 2008 negative number in the back of my head, yet I also feel somewhat optimistic. Poker is a bitch, and I'm like a mutt in mating season.

Rawr!

Thinking about poker has got my head all over the place, and a few moments ago, I was reminded of the Financial Game. The Financial game was hosted by Lee in his buddy's apartment. I've played in many homegames and unlike kindergartenners, each one really is it's own special little snowflake (ooh, burn kindergartenners!).

For instance, Jamie's Wall Street Game is a very professionally run homegame. Make no doubt, it's still a homegame, but Jamie has top notch supplies, a clean, easy system, and cooperative players.

The Roose Game is like a hippie concert. People are mulling around, its usually smoky, and you do not want to eat the brown acid. The blinds move faster, so it also makes for a more frenetic game, but the vibe is friendly.

The Lawyer's Game is like playing poker in an outdated frat house. The players are all busting each other's balls. Someone is usually drinking scotch. More people are drinking beer. The buy-in is a tad higher and the players a bit more aggressive.

Each one, it's own special snowflake, and if you have the right attitude, each one a great game to play for fun and profit.

Whenever I play a new homegame tournament, I'm often pretty quiet. Usually, I don't know the players, so I am merely listening and hanging out. But once the tournament starts, I also don't ever comment upon rules. I want to gauge how the players react to the environment and the rules or lack thereof in a given homegame can offer a lot of insight into the types of players and their experience levels. I also don't want to tip off the players that I am playing seriously.

The guy who speaks up is the guy you want to be wary of in the game. He's paying attention to the action, he knows the rules, and he takes the game seriously. This, of course, assumes that he knows what he is talking about. If he doesn't, the mere fact that he spoke up tells a lot. If people listen to him, he's probably an alpha male, or at least someone with influence among the group. If the players reject what he is saying, it still shows that the player who spoke up is paying attention, believes that he knows what he is talking about, and probably feels like he has something to prove, once everyone denied him.

On that note, I am also usually automatically wary of whoever is running or hosting the game. These players obviously are passionate about the game, so until I have determined whether he/she is a student of the game (i.e., a skilled player looking for more opportunities to play and learn), an action junkie, or a social person, I am watching him/her the most.

Aside from the benefits of finding out about individual players, you can learn about the entire homegame population merely by watching what rules they do and do not enforce. This was what really perked my interest at the Financial Game.

The first thing I noticed was that the host splashed the pot. For those uninitiated, when you play live, you should place your bet/raise/call/blinds/antes in front of you. You should not toss them into the pot in the middle. The reason is obvious; by leaving the money separate from the pot, it is easy to see if a player is placing the right amount of chips. It also keeps the action clean; it's easy to tell who is next to act or how much is needed to call a re-raise if the chips are not tossed into the pot willy-nilly.

If a homegame allows players to splash the pot (or make change from the pot immediately after they act), you know you are playing in a relaxed environment. This may mean that the players are all stooges who do not know the usual rules of casino etiquette. It may mean that the players know the rules but just don't care because it is a friendly atmosphere. Either way, you know that the players are not taking the game as seriously as they should.

I also noticed that a couple of players put too much money into the pot. In one hand, a player i the $2 BB called a raise to $15 by putting a green $25 chip into the pot and fishing out his $2 BB. That pot was pumped by an extra $10 thanks to his error, so I chose to play my otherwise marginal hand.

One major thing that always sets me off at homegames is table talk. In some games, table talk while a hand is in progress is just not permitted. In most homegames, however, there is a little bit of leway. In some of the most annoying homegames, table talk is outright permitted. I like to play a very verbal game, so that is nice. However, it can be problematic when players talk a bit too much. For instance, a fourth straight card comes in and someone says, "Okay, who has the straight?!" Well, buddy, I might, but even if I don't, I don't need you to announce to the table that there is a four-card straight out. Similarly, there are players who see the fourth straight card and grunt, like the whole world just bent them over by dealing the one card they would've needed if only they didn't fold their 82o preflop to a $15 raise and a $60 flop bet.

Even so, if I am not in a hand, I won't complain about the table talk. I like the information available when other players table talk. At the Financial Game, players were downright discussing hands aloud while play was in progress. Generally, it was the players in the game, but a few times, someone from the rail chimed in with, "Who has the 9!" I mean, come on! Once again, though, I didn't say anything. First off, I wasn't in the hand. If I was, I would be willing to tell someone to STFU if they were messing with my hand. But second, if no one else cares, that tells me a lot. These are not serious players. They may think they are, but anyone with significant casino experience knows that table chat from outside players not only an issue of etiquette; it .

The Financial Game played yesterday, but I couldn't make it. The last time I played there, I lost $41, mostly due to a $600+ pot against bro-in-law Marc, when he cracked my AA and a short-stack's AA with his KK. This is all to say that while I may've left with less money then I came with, I identified a juicy game. Now I just need to get back there.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:53 PM,

2 Comments:

At 6:36 PM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Good luck getting back there, as I think you have indeed identified a +EV game for you! And I enjoyed the general insights into the different vibes of different home games.

I've made mention of one specific home game that I frequent that's filled with people that don't know the game. And while attending the game has proven very profitable for me, it has also proven to be incredibly obnoxious! The players just don't understand even the most basic etiquette!

I swear I'm likely to lose it the next time a 4-flush comes on the river and some fool not in the hand finds the need to shout "ooh, now anyone with a spade has a flush!" Or the next time a player that's folded clearly illustrates his holdings immediately upon seeing the flop with the noticeable frustrated noises and the subsequent whispers! As much as this latter situation is actually useful to me in providing information, I'd still rather NOT have to deal with the rampant lack of etiquette.

Fortunately my latest home games I've hosted all involved players that knew what they were doing, and did not need to be informed of BASIC rules.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Cibulasimon said...

First, really enjoy the blog.
I play in one home tourny where the host is pretty serious about poker (plays 1000nl online), but the tourney players are a mix. The table talk bugs me, but as things near the money, talk quiets down considerably.

I guess it is a balance of not being an ass, and keeping the game fun for all. If someone is going to ohh over the board, then play needs to be adjusted to deal with it...not every home game will play like a B&M game in a casino card room...

 

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