Saturday, September 27, 2008

"The House Rules!"

In my last post I briefly touched on some of the screwed up things one can encounter while playing in different home games. When I think back to all the different home games I’ve played in one game particularly stands out.

Every Friday at 8:30pm sharp, in a small Maine town, some of the state’s finest poker players (which is a bit of an overstatement) get together to play one of the most f****d up tourneys known to man. And while I always complain about playing in this tourney I can’t seem to stop subjecting myself to being tortured week in and week out.

The game structure is as follows. The buy-in is $10 and each player receives a total of forty chips. The chips all have the same value of $25. In this particular game there are no blinds. Instead they use a $25 ante so all players are in every hand pre-flop unless there is a raise. Generally I don’t mind playing with just antes, but in this game I feel it is the wrong option. The game play goes ultra quick as the antes double every time someone is sent to the rail. I have no problem with playing that way if there is just one table but most of the time there are two or more tables. This poses a problem when the tables combine because players get knocked out at varying times during the tourney. By the time all the tables combine there will be one table at a $100 ante and the other at say a $150 or $200 ante. After about ten minutes of debate the remaining players agree on a “final table ante” before resuming play.

I think Phil “The Poker Brat” Hellmuth put it best when he said; “If it wasn’t for luck I’d win every tournament.” Now while hold’em is a skill-based game, the way this tourney is structured “Lady Luck” plays a bigger role than in your typical tournament. It is virtually impossible to bluff, as you will get called down every time. You really have to be on your game and hope the cards are running in your favor because when you enter a pot, by the time you reach the river you are almost always pot committed. The only benefit to playing this way is that we see a wider variety of winners each week.

You are required in this tournament to call what your hand is upon flipping your cards. I have mixed feelings about this rule. Don’t get me wrong I am a strong believer of knowing what you have in your hands at all times when playing but from time to time even the best player gets blinded by the cards. So lets say you think you have a set of KINGS and call it that way but in all actuality you have a FULL BOAT and your opponent has a FLUSH guess what…You just lost the hand! I like it because it keeps players focused on the tournament but like I said earlier even the best players make mistakes.

The one major gripe I have about this tourney is how the kickers are played. Let’s say you’re in a hand with one other player and you are both playing a straight of A2345 on the board. You’re holding K10 and your opponent is holding K8. They will go as far as the second card deep in your hand as a kicker to determine the winner. In all reality this should be a split pot. Again it comes down to really being on your game and picking up on that before you bet your whole stack away.

In the end it is kind of nice to try out different versions of the game but when it comes down to playing serious poker I prefer the more traditional game play.



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