Back in 2003, when I became a stay at home dad, my wife and I agreed I could have one night out a week, a “Daddy’s Day Out”. The problem turned out to be most of my “guy” friends, didn’t have the same freedom, so I looked for things I could do on my own.
Then one day a friend of mine told me about a private poker game, a weekly Texas Holdem tournament. I’d always shown a knack for playing cards and with the buy-in being only twenty dollars, it turned out no more expensive than a night out to the movies or dinner.
At first my wife wasn’t sure gambling was a good idea. But when, week after week, I brought home money, she began to remind me when poker night rolled around. While I’m no Daniel Negreanu or Phil Hellmuth, I’m not to shabby, either. So I thought I would offer a few tips for Newby players. If you’re an experienced player, then these tips you likely already know. Feel free to add others in the comment section.
These tips are geared towards live play.
Tip 1: Read, read, read. In today’s information driven world, there are a ton of great resources to draw from if you want to improve your play. For those of you who are old school and like the feel of a book in you hands, then I suggest you start with two books: Super System II by the God Father of Poker, Doyle Brunson, and Caro’s Book of Poker Tells by Mike Caro. The first will offer up the best strategies on how to play the game. The other will give tips on how learn what other cards players at the table have just by watching how the react.
Then, of course, there are the blogs. Often the Kings and Queens of Poker will offer tips on how to play the game on their blogs. I recommend those of Kid Poker, Daniel Negreanu, Phill Hellmuth, The Poker Brat, and Vanessa Selbst, perhaps the best female poker player of all time.
Tip 2: Play, play, play. Once you’ve done your homework, you need to play. And play a lot. I recommend you start by playing on free sites such as the World Series of Poker. Playing online and in person are two different animals, but online you can play a large amount of hands in a short space of time and there is no substitute for experience. Plus, you get to fine tune your game without risking any money.
Tip 3: Budget, budget, budget. When you are ready to start playing in person, whether it be at a casino, private game or charity poker tournament, set a budget. I read an article some years back by poker pro Chris Ferguson who said you should only risk ten percent of your bank roll at any one time and I live by that rule. Never risk more than you can afford to lose. A desperate poker player trying to score a quick bundle is destined to be broke in short order. Build your bank roll steadily.
In the next few weeks, I’ll offer up other life lessons I’ve learned on the felt as well as actual game playing tips. In the mean time, “Shuffle up and deal!”