March 14th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
Liar’s Poker comes in a couple of different flavors. The first may be more comfortable as it is a tradition card game and the later is not. The game begins with each player starting with two quarters. Everyone is then dealt two cards down. The first player calls a poker hand. The next player has the option of either calling a hand which beats the previous hand or challenging the previous player’s call. If a person challenges the hand, then everyone’s cards are pooled to determine if the hand exists. If it does, the person who called the game loses one of his quarters and starts the next game, with only one card dealt to him. If it does not, the player who called the hand loses the quarter. After a player has their second quarter taken away, the player is out. Deck is reshuffled after each round. Game ends and the pooled change is awarded when only one person has a quarter left.
Liar’s poker is also a popular bar game that only requires a dollar bill to play. In the place of cards, the eight-digit serial number on the dollar bill (see below is blue) represents each “hand.” The object is similar to the card version–to make the highest bid of a number that does not exceed the combined total held by all the players. The numbers are usually ranked in the following order: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 (10) and 1 (Ace). For example, if the first player bids three 4′s, he is predicting there are at least three 4′s among all the players, including himself. The next player can bid a higher number at that level (three 5′s), any number at a higher level (four 2′s) or challenge. The end of the game is reached when a player makes a bid that is challenged all around. If the bid is successful, he wins a dollar from each of the other players, but if the bid is unsuccessful, he loses a dollar to each of the other players.
Both games are fun diversions that combine statistical reasoning with bluffing. The barrier of entry is small in that the most you can lose is a matter of dollars and cents. However, for you high rollers, currency substitutions are always an option.
If you practice any other variations on Liars Poker let me know in the comments. This is one game that can easily vary in rules.
March 6th, 2013 / 1 Comment » / by Grundy
I’ve seen the following game referred to by a few names; Holy Cross and Iron Cross to name a couple. It is a game in which players are dealt a five hole cards to play with community cards, this time in to configuration of a cross.
The version I am most familiar with uses five community cards laid out in the form of a plus sign. The cards are revealed one at a time, each followed by a round of betting, with the middle card revealed last. The player makes the best hand possible using the two in their hand and either the vertical or horizontal line of three cards from the cross. The picture, for example, depicts a full house beating a straight.
This game allows for many variations such as having the middle card as a wild, each player dealt two hole cards instead of five, or having one side of the cross longer than the other.
I like this game because of the high number of betting rounds and the little differences that make people who think that it is just like Texas Hold’em lose. However, like most game variants I highlight, I don’t like playing it continuously, but rather use it as a break from the standard poker games I play.
Ancient people used to place holy cross near their bedding. This was done in order to avoid home lighting from calling the evil spirits. Today we have such innovations as art in our outdoor furniture.
February 25th, 2013 / 2 Comments » / by Grundy
I find that the tells I read most are in the eyes. I admit that I cannot look into my opponents’ souls, but I don’t really have to. Their eyes betray them with nervous twitching. An opponent with out of character eye-contact—either too much or not enough, will generally lose the hand to me. It is a tell that is easily remedied, as I do, by wearing protection.
If you find me at a big-money live game, you’ll find me in shades. Your eyes are a hard tell to conseal without sunglasses. Sure, I suppose if you practice your poker face enough you could minimize the tell, but for me that would require constant awareness. I want all my mental resources devoted to playing my cards and reading my opponents, not damage control.
One complaint about shades is that they interfer with your vision. I don’t think they have to. Your glasses need to be either tinted or mirrored to conceal your eyes, and I agree that tinted glasses used in an already dim room will make gameplay difficult. Mirrored glasses, on the other hand, don’t have to be dark barely at all. Even the infamous holographic specs of the “Fossilman” barely darken the view. If you have trouble viewing your cards, you can always try wearing your glasses upside down like TV’s Marcel Lewis. He knows the importance of shades is so much that he completely sacrifics style. Nowadays you will find him wearing poker-specific glasses that open at the bottom for easy hole-card access.
Personally, I wear Oakley half-jackets. Nothing about them is specially better for poker then any other good pair, but the ability to easily switch out lenses was a draw for me. I have both a dark tinted lense and the lighter mirrored “fire” lense. If I ever made it to the WSOP main event I’d take the shades off for the camera, but there is no way I would go against the pros without them.
February 19th, 2013 / 2 Comments » / by Grundy
I was going along playing cards at home and abroad with my merry band of rounder buddies. My own personal “Tilt Boys.” Time went by and some of the guys I traveled with moved away, the poker scene in Athens started to declined, and I got engaged. At this point in my story, my poker life took a back seat.
A new relationship with the girl who would become my wife obviously derailed my poker train, and I couldn’t have been happier. The game was starting to feel more like work than fun and I knew I was on the verge of being burned out. I still got out to play from time to time, luckily my girl also played.
We both graduated and had little reason to stay in Athens. Upon moving closer to Atlanta, my finance and I took up jobs as dealers for a new poker night promotion at a restaurant/bar owned by my parents. The poker night grew into four poker nights a week with a full cast of regulars. At times it was hard to watch instead of play, and even harder to avoid table talk. Some of the players were fish, and I felt someone needed to educate them. Occasionally someone did.
That was then and this is now. I no longer work as a dealer, and have since turned most of my time to on-line poker rooms. I started at Party Poker where I was very successful, went to Pacific Poker where my results varied, and went back to Party Poker. Maybe I didn’t give Pacific enough of a chance. Now I’m on Fulltilt exclusively.
Congratulations, you are now up to date with my gambling exploits. Thanks for reading and may the poker gods be with you.
February 16th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
In Parts I and II of my poker history, you may think I just like to brag. I don’t, but it is necessary to give you an accurate account. I very rarely loss up to this point. But rest assured, I can’t be quite as high and mighty from here on out.
While I was winning in my out-of-town game, I started finding new places to play. Coincidentally, they were all on the city limits of Athens. It became known to my friends that if I didn’t answer the phone, I was out at a game. Not because I didn’t want to interrupt play as much as I never had reception.
I played at one house that had a decommissioned fraternity feel. The field was all college students or the recently graduated. I only knew a handful of the 30 to 40 usually in attendance, in addition to guy I traveled with. I still felt I was better than the majority, but there a few that, in retrospect, could out-play me. My difficulty winning here was also due to the wide range of styles played. There were some maniacs, some conservatives, and some solid and very aggressive players.
They played a five or more table tournament once a week. I usually went out near the bubble. I only remember placing in the money on one occasion, which is why my friend had a more profitable experience by going out early in the tournament before cleaning up at the subsequent ring games. There was nearly always more cash circling the ring tables than in the tournament pool itself.
It was an exciting time when we knew every game it a poker-addicted town. We would get knocked out of one game at 10:30 to jet across town to win another by two in the morning. Poker was at its highest popularity then, everyone played whether they knew how to or not.
The original crew I played with were never out of the picture. They would join me from time to time when they could afford a buy-in. Once the games I attended started to die-down in attendance, or shift to a crowd I wasn’t fond of, I decided to bring it back to basics. I started a home game.
February 14th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
Going to college in Athens, GA I found more bar games than in most cities. The place I frequented the most started out with prizes for first and second that may have been unrealistic for what they were taking in. The incentive for a bar is to get people in to buy food and drink…mostly drink. The players were buying, but the cheap prices of a college town plus the TVs and DVD player prizes equaled an unprofitable business. Most free games around town fizzled out.
I wasn’t in it for the free games, but they were good places to network with other players. Most of the cash games I found in town were through this network—everyone seemed to “know a guy.”
One of these guys agreed to meet with my friend and I at a local pub to approve us for his weekly game. It seemed a little cloak and dagger, but I suppose he was paranoid could be cops. After a few drinks with him, we were cleared.
The game was out of town and not with our usual opponents—meaning not college students. The one who met with us at the bar was regarded by all the others as the preimere poker player. Apparently, before we started attending, the same guy won all the time. Granted he was good, his style tight and aggressive with a minimum of bluffing and prided himself on his ability to read tells. I could tell all that after the first hour playing with him, which is probably why I usually beat him.
I didn’t win that first night. I was down $30 and my buddy about matched. We did leave knowing how we lost and confident that it would last. My major loss that night was a hand were I paired against someone who was betting against me the whole way with a straight draw. After the turn, I decided to raise his bet about three-quarters of the pot. He called and caught on the river. I lost, but my read was correct.
Long story short, we kept returning every week and barely ever left down again. It became the most profitable weekly ring game I was ever a part of and he was no longer the premiere poker player. I was able to invite one other friend to play in a tournament hosted there. After my two friends and I took first, second, and third; we weren’t invited back.
February 11th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
In an effort to qualify me as a somewhat knowledgeable host, I give you Part I of my three-part poker autobiography.
Growing up I played more than my share of cards. I played Gin, Rummy, Gin Rummy and the like, but it wasn’t until I started drinking gin and rummy that I got into poker.
In college at the University of Georgia, my friends and I put together a poker night that evolved into a poker week. We would play cards almost every weeknight with a rotating cast of opponents from the dorm at which we played. It was easy to join into a game when you lived at the casino. The core members of our poker club were few, however, three guys and myself. As we practiced our skills improved to the point that the rest of the cast of gamblers didn’t stand much of a chance. Our profits were still small, in that our stakes were the very definition of micro. It was also one of the best times I’ve had with poker, playing crazy dealer’s-choice games mixed in with serious hold’em, omaha, stud and draw tournaments. A dollar buy-in became five, then the fish quit biting. My friends and I moved to a bigger pond.
The dorm days rarely left me without at least double my buy-in, and still my total bankroll was under $100. That is as much a testament to my skill as it is proof of the extremely low pots we were after. We migrated to the dorm across the quad and started playing $10 and $20 buy-in ring games. Occasionally, we organized into multi-table tournaments. I won two out of the three and scored my biggest payouts of the day.
The bankroll of my closest poker peer rose with mine and we had to move off campus for the bigger challenges and pots. That’s what I like to call the “Rounders Years.”
January 15th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
The law of averages is often quoted for an optimistic view of a player’s future. When applied to poker, it basically says that after a string of bad beats or weak hands, you are due a lucky break or strong hand. This positive luck supposedly makes up for the negative luck (unluck?) and maintains average luck. I’m all for optimism, but lets be a realist here.
The law of averages is useless with small samples. If your memory alone can keep track of your poker hands, it is a small sample size. If you work with the statistics of months of quantified luck (I call this profits and losses) you will eventually see an average.
For example, if your long-term stats show that you typically win $5 in an hour of play, and your most recent hour nets you $50, you can expect the next hour to be closer to $5 then to $50. This is called regression towards the mean. $5 is the mean, or average. If you think of the “law of averages” in terms of returning your hourly profits to $5/hour regardless of what ever hot or cold streak you just came off, then you’d be correct. It’s just that no one thinks of the law of averages like this.
As a rule, disregard the waves of fortune and misfortune from day to day and focus on playing good cards. Only detailed records can give you any insight on what to expect in the future.
December 18th, 2012 / No Comments » / by Grundy
If you walk into a casino and start playing blackjack note that your opponent is the Casino Organization. Unlike poker, there’s no need to worry about how other players are playing, they will not affect your play. Your only concerns are the cards, dice, board, or screen in front of you. You live and die by the house.
Casinos offer a variety that poker cannot offer. There are only so many ways to reveal community cards, after all. Here we have everything from card games like blackjack to dice games like craps to little spinning ball games like roulette–each with their own odds and betting structures. A well-played game of 21 allows you close odds at doubling your money; a single number wager at roulette offers a much higher return at a much higher risk.
Your first trip to a casino can be a thrilling experience, but it is also intimidating. My advice to you is to look up buy-in costs beforehand, build up a bankroll that you can afford to lose and is sufficient enough to be at least an average stack at the table. Walk in with nothing to prove and play smart. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the games at OnlineCasinos,
which provide all the gambling fun without that pesky human interaction. Actually the online experience can be exactly like the brick and mortar casino experience with games like video poker and slots. If that’s your thing, you might be better off gambling the gas money you would have spent in travel.
You have to spend money to make money, but you also have to spend money to have fun. Hopefully you’ll achieve both of these goals, but if not, priority number one is entertainment. You’re bound to find a game to like. Let them know Grundy sent you…and watch as their eyes glaze over in confusion.
November 22nd, 2012 / 1 Comment » / by Grundy
It was four years ago that I began my textual journey into the underbelly of the game we call poker. Thank you all for reading and joining the conversation. I have met a lot of funny, talented and insightful poker people along the way. You know who you are.