Out of retirement

With the exception of a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the New Year, I have not played poker in a casino for over a year.  There are a couple of reasons for my hiatus: first, I have been just too busy with my PhD work to devote time to poker; and second, when I do have some free time on the weekends, I would prefer being social than grinding it out at a $4-8 limit game making $12 an hour.  Frankly I find playing poker in a casino mind-numbingly boring.  The money is nice, and indeed when I did play regularly I was making enough to pay my rent and then some each month, but it takes discipline to force myself to play enough hours.  I find that I can only handle about 2 or 3 hours at a time before the boredom becomes too much and I have to leave.  Online poker is even more boring.  I haven’t played online poker since I went home for Christmas and had nothing else to do.  I can only stand about an hour of online poker at a time before I have to quit, even with the stimulation of playing 5 tables at once.  It’s too bad I find online poker so boring because when I was playing regularly (I played about 40,000 hands over the course of 8 months about 2 years ago) it was amazingly lucrative for me.  I was multi-tabling the micro limits ($1-2, $2-4, and $3-6) and had a win rate of 3 big bets per 100 hands.  In addition, I would regularly take advantage of deposit bonuses to further increase my earnings.  I was able to supplement my income nicely.

Recently I have come out of retirement for a few sessions at the RiverRock poker room.  The reason for my return is that I have friends interested in playing casino poker.  I thought I would take them to the Rock and have them play $2-4 limit Texas Hold’em to lose their casino poker virginities.  I wanted them to have a clearly defined strategy that would hopefully keep them from stupidly losing all their money.  I gave them a quick crash course on preflop play in the car on the way to the casino.  What is the most important advice for poker virgins?  Play TIGHT.  That way their money will last a long time despite their inexperience.  I also stressed the importance of position.

Here is my preflop advice for beginners:
In early position (first 3 seats after the big blind)
-raise/reraise with the premium hands: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK
-If it has not been raised, raise with AQ, AJs (s means suited; e.g. A<IMG src="/images/14229-13631/Club.gif”>J<IMG src="/images/14229-13631/Club.gif”>), KQ, TT
-Call with 99, 88, 77, and suited broadway cards (e.g. ATs, QJs, KJs, JTs)
-If it has been raised, fold unsuited broadway (AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, QJ) call with AQs, AJs, KQs, TT, 99, 88, 77, and reraise with the premium hands

In middle and late position everything is the same except you can call suited connectors (e.g. 87s), suited Aces (e.g. A8s), and the small pocket pairs (22-66).

You can play loosely from the small blind in unraised pots (any two suited cards, any connector, any ace or king).

If you are in the big blind and someone raises, play as if you were in late position in an unraised pot.

That’s the strategy in a nutshell.  After watching my padawans in action, however, I would like to add a few more pointers:
– If you have limped in and somebody raises the pot behind you, it is almost always correct to call for one more bet (my padawans would routinely call one bet and then fold when it got raised.  I wanted to pull my hair out).
-Always know what the nuts are.  One of my padawans had the nut straight against two other non-nut straights and didn’t even put in a raise.  These are the situations you wait hours or days to materialize.  You have to take full advantage when the poker gods smile at you.  It is simply unacceptable not to put in a raise when you are last to act with the nuts on the river.
-If you have made it to the river and can’t decide whether you should call or fold, lean towards calling.  It is a catastrophic mistake to fold the best hand on the river because it costs you an entire pot whereas calling with a losing hand only costs one bet.  It takes a hell of a lot of incorrect calls to equate to even one incorrect fold.

My stats for the three sessions are as follows:
Session 1 (2 hours; $2-4): +$70
Session 2 (3 hours; $2-4): +$130
Session 3 (2 hours; $2-4): -$30 (I stupidly lost another $40 when I hit the craps table on the way out)
Session 4 (3 hours; $2-4): +$58

My padawans, with one exception, are in the black as well.


2 thoughts on “Out of retirement

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