Studying for my first Poker exam

Studying for my first Poker exam

After playing poker every Thursday night with friends for about 5 years, I finally decided to learn something about the game.

I started out on my quest for knowledge with a couple books that had the right reviews on Amazon. I had decided that I wasn’t really a novice so I should probably read a more advanced book about playing the game. Also, I thought that my people skills might be lacking a bit and I wanted to identify my own tells, so I got a book about that:

Hold’Em Poker for Advanced Players 
Caro’s Book of Poker Tells 

The first book is excellent with suggested play for low limit loose aggressive tables all the way up to no-limit hold’em (what you see on TV). The second book basically shows you how your opponents are telling you their hand and how what you are doing is telling them what to do. It can be summarized with “strong means weak” and “weak means strong”. For some people, you might have to further analyze another level and are actually projecting the tell because they think you will notice it. You may think this doesn’t happen very much, but I can tell you that I have used it already. I learned the most from that book with respect to playing low limit games. I had basically trained myself to play a terrible :weak tight” game, which basically means I was just a bad player. This book changed my game dramatically. Once you see the mistakes you were making, you just have to say “Doh!”.

I read both of these books over the weekend and went on Sunday to play in a no-limit hold’em tournament at Artichoke Joes. Every week they have a $40 tournament that brings in about 100 people. I had done poorly the 2 other times I had entered and was determined to become a better poker player. I watch a lot of no-limit hold’em on TV, probably everything that is broadcast, using ReplayTV. The problem is that they skip a lot of the little hands that make up a persons game and only concentrate on the big hands. Also, high stakes games are much different than low stakes games and you learn virtually nothing about playing against bad players by watching them. When I got to the casino to sign up I found that this week there were too many live games and I wouldn’t be able to play. I decided I would play live for an hour so I sat down at a $6-$12 table with $200. I watched for a few hands and determined from the loose calls, limpers, and poor showdowns that it was a loose aggressive table and my studies had taught me how to take advantage of that situation. I basically played what would normally be marginal hands, low pairs, suited face cards, and low suited connectors and ran the table. I was being called and raised with spectacularly bad hands and the strength that was shown when someone had a good hand was so obvious that I lost little money folding post flop. An hour later I had not lost a showdown (one tie), but my time limit had been reached so I got up and cashed in my $513. $300 an hour is a fine hourly rate. A real poker professional would have never, ever moved from my seat in that situation. There was just too much money to be made. My goal though is not making money at low-limit poker 6 hours a day, 7 days a week. My goal is to win tournaments.