Friday, January 18, 2008

Home Game(s)

Since the great State of Texas prefers for all of us Texans to take our gambling funds across the border to neighboring Louisiana or Oklahoma rather than be able to spend them here, most of the poker in Texas is of the home game variety. Home games are very different from poker games in a cardroom.

The first thing (and this is a key concept) is you have to be invited to the game. This means if you do not have any friends or if you are an “ace-hole”, it may be difficult for you to find action of this sort. Even if you find a game and manage to get invited, demonstrate that you do not have the temperament to play in a friendly game and you will not likely be invited back. Once you find a good game, you will want to be invited back so behave yourself accordingly. Don’t berate or insult other players – particularly the bad ones. They are the ones that make the games good. You want them to stay and play as long as possible. Remember, GOOD players stack bad players, but GREAT players get bad players to re-buy. Moving on - for you guys that win big early on, you cannot just hop up and take off like you could at a cardroom or casino. That would be unfriendly, damage the spirit of the game, and cause the host to not invite you back. If you need to leave early, let the host know that when you arrive. That way, it is an objective fact and not likely to be misconstrued as a form of ‘rat-holing”. We have a designated starting and ending time and winners are expected to play until the stopping point unless you run out of money sooner (losers can leave at any time since you are not taking anyone’s money off the table).

The second thing is there is no rake. Big deal, you say? Yes, it is a very big deal. Imagine you and 8 friends start playing poker and you bought in for $50.00 each - $800.00 total. By the end of the session, there is still the same $800.00 in the pot.
At a cardroom with a rake, there will be much less than the sum of all buy-ins in the pot to be split by the winners. Sklansky and others have written about this so you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Hopefully, the game organizer has cultivated a good mix of players with no less than one “maniac” for every “rock” at the table. We have a well balanced mix of about 15 players of which 9-10 show up on any given Sunday. We like to keep the mood light and fun. “Partying” is definitely encouraged. I actually allow myself to get somewhat intoxicated which is something I would never do at a real cardroom. We play strictly NLHE with blinds of .25/.50 that do not go up. We used to play tournaments but that was too restrictive on when people had to show up, when they could buy in, and how much they could buy in for. If you have a few players arrive in the middle of the tourney with money “burning a hole in their pockets”, it sucks to make them wait while the tourney concludes. We want guys to be able to “belly up” and buy in right away. Heck, I remember when I first got our group started and we struggled to get 4-5 regular guys together every Sunday. We sure have grown and now we are turning guys away for lack of seats. Get there early and lock down your seat is what I tell the would-be players. The game usually starts about Noon and we play until 7:00pm. By 3:00pm, there is always around $500 in the pot and by 6:00pm the pot is near $1,000 or more. We jokingly refer to that last hour or so as, “frenzy mode” because things get really crazy. Those that are stuck are pulling out all their tricks and stuff to try to get even or ahead. Those that are ahead are trying to take advantage of all the “donktastic” action and get more ahead. It’s great.

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