After years in poker, both as a writer and mildly successful player, I finally ponied up the $1,500 buy-in for event #16 at the 2010 World Series of Poker, a six-handed no-limit Hold em tournament. It was my first real shot at poker glory I lasted all of an hour and a half when I turned a set of eights and my opponent rivered a straight. After busting, I walked around the Rio for an hour feeling like Id taken a baseball bat to the chest. It wasnt the money though that was a bummer too it was was the end of the dream that I would someday hit the big time as a poker pro. Despite the loss, I still enjoy the game. In fact, I prefer to do just that; enjoy the game. I put together a reminder sheet for myself:
13 back-to-basics beginners tips to help put the fun back in poker:
1. Dont expect to lose, but plan to. Poker is an imperfect game, and no matter how well you play theres no guarantee youll come out ahead. Sure, over time skill will prevail, but to put the odds in your favor would require such a large sample size of hands that youd have to be an insomniac. If you go to a poker game with $200, plan to lose it all, consider it the cost of an evening on the town. If you win, great; if you lose, no big deal.
2. Smile at the table, tell a joke, chat with other players, enjoy yourself. Dont waste your days off of work turning poker into another job. Theres no reason to stare down other players or to gripe about someone elses bad play. Of course, if youre playing with close friends, heckle at will, but dont belittle lesser players just because you can.
3. Listen to bad beat stories, but never tell one; nobody is listening anyway. Poker players are selfish in nature, they have to be. No matter how brutal your story is, other players are just waiting to one up you. Change the subject or be an observer.
4. Know the rules and know when its your turn to act. Theres nothing worse than a player who slows down the game by not knowing when the action is on them. If you dont want the other players to hate you, pay attention. It will keep the game moving and other players will appreciate the courtesy. That said, be flexible. Sometimes amateur players make amateur mistakes, especially in home games. For help getting started there are a lot of how-to poker books on the market; one that I would recommend is Phil Hellmuths Play Poker Like the Pros.
5. Win graciously, buy a round after the game. A broke loser always appreciates a free beer.
6. Lose graciously, buy a round anyway. If you cant afford to buy a round after the game, you had too much money on the table to begin with.