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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Random: the Perils of Piss-Poor Poker 

The worst thing to ever happen to poker was its explosion in popularity.

Last night I made the final table of nine in a 25-man game. I had about 1/10 of the total pool in my stack and was in late position with K-10 offsuit. The four people before me went fold-fold-call-fold, leaving me 800 to call.

Before I said anything, the big blind raised 800, ignoring myself and the two guys after me, who were already preparing to muck. I should have folded, but it was about the 4th time he had played out of turn. He often raises with nothing so I re-raised and decided to take my chances. Then the small blind folded, leaving three of us in the pot. The other guy just sits there until someone reminds him the action is to him. Then he tosses in two 500 chips, forgetting for the 25th that he can't raise a blind less than the big blind amount. Not only that, but he never says he raises and the dealer decides to push in more of his chips to raise another 800.

Now I'm up against a big stack that bets out of turn and a roughly equal stack that doesn;t know when to bet or how much he can bet, and in the mother of all WTF moments, the dealer string bets for him.


At that point it's nearing midnight, and I've already committed almost half my stack to this pot, with another 800 to call. I said "screw it," went all-in, and let my K-10 take on A-8 and J-J. The flop came A-rag-rag and nothing better emerged on 4th or 5th, thus my night was over.

I can't fully blame bad players for my going on tilt. But I saw it as a crossroads. Do I really want to fold and stick around to watch people bet out of turn, not pay attention and fumble their way to bad beat wins for another few hours? Not a chance.

Everyone's a poker expert these days, it seems. I'm hardly a great poker player, but I'm confident that I can sit down at a game and not embarrass myself with poor play and bad ettiquette. Of the field in last night's tourney, I'd guess that half had no business playing a comptetitive game. Getting tanked, smoking bud and barely paying attention is fine for poker night with the fellas. But when you're paying out the equivalent of a week's pay for first place, you should have some idea what you're doing.

The other inexplicable by-product of the pop culture poker barrage is that despite all the WSoP that people watch religiously, many players fail to pick up lessons on how to play the game itself. I heard anecdotes about Sammy Farha getting busted by an amateur, and enough poker lingo thrown around that the group probably owes Matt Damon and the cast of Rounders royalties, but do they emulate the gameplay? No. They still call with trash in a five-person flop, and check with pocket Aces.
Ignorant poker players are the worst, and they make the game unenjoyable for people that want to play, not goof off.

Poker was a lot more fun two years ago.


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