So I played a private, home tournament Saturday night.
I didn't really know what to expect. The guy hosts card games every once in a while and wanted to host a hold 'em tournament.
The buy-in was $20, which was a teensy bit stiff for a guy with a baby and a reporter's and teacher's household income, but I thought I might be able to win it back, and I always enjoy playing with new people. Plus I can't resist live poker,and I haven't gotten to play it as much as I would like.
The first hand, I look at A,10. Eight of the nine players call, so I nervously call, too.
The flop comes A,10,3 rainbow.
I bet $300 into a $300 pot. Everyone looks at me and complains about the size of the bet, letting me know that the players may not be as good as I feared.
It's a stiff bet, but I want to pick up the pot and drive players out. And we only start with $200, with an aggressive, Internet-like blind structure (every orbit they double, I guess they don't want to be there all night), so I need to take advantage of the hands I have.
A 5 comes on the turn, and two people call my $500 bet. It's another stiff bet, in the hopes of picking up the pot right there.
On the river comes a 2, and I wonder if they were chasing. I check, not ready to put all my money, and $20, into the pot just yet.
One flips over 5,5, and the other flips over the 4,6 for an impressive straight.
One called my huge bets with nothing, and the other had only a pair of 5s.
I'm here to have fun, so I don't bitch. Nice draw, I say (remember my new edict?).
What's a draw, they ask.
This is what it's like to play with new, beginning players. Donkeys, they were, but I don't want to be mean. Half of the table barely even knew how to play.
That, as I've shown up above, can be a great thing, but it can also be the most frustrating draw in poker, as you all know by playing with so many donkeys online.
You can't bet them off a hand. They won't raise themselves but they call all your raises, preflop, postflop and pre-post flop.
If they have a draw, they're chasing it, even if they have less than a 5 percent chance of making it. Then they say things like, "I knew that was coming." And so you never know where you are in a hand.
Of course, they will also call your A-high flushes with, well, nothing, just pretty face cards.
It works both ways.
Twice I had A-high, top two pair and lost both times to sets and flushes that shouldn't have been called. And twice I got lucky, once when my pair of 5s held up (my BB put me all in) and another time when a J appeared on the turn to help me through another all-in with the other guy holding A,Q.
I took second, gathered up my $60 and went home.
I promptly put it on a poker Web site.
After all, playing with bad players is frustrating, but, ultimately, it's rewarding as well.