I have a long history with Poker. Some of my earliest childhood memories are playing poker with my brother and his friends. We’d almost always play 5-card draw for pennies. Needless to say we were all just playing Bingo. None of us knew how to play. Me at about 7-8 years old, my brother a few years older… we were pathetic. A few years later, with my brother in his teens, alcohol became involved too. Not much, just a beer or something to make us all feel like we were something. I remember going to the store and buying “near-bear” so I could feel like I was part of it, though occasionally I partook in the real stuff too.
After I left Utah (at age 13), I didn’t really play much… though there were rounds of poker on the bus ride to and from school with Amanda and Nicole. I don’t really recall the stakes, so I’m sure we just pretended there were going to be real stakes.
Years later, I started joining in the game a co-worker of mine, Michael Graf, would host at his house with a bunch of work buddies. In the beginning, none of us had a clue. We were playing “dealers” choice games like High Chicago, Football and so on. Some real bizarre games. I look back on it now and laugh. On each wall was plastered the Poker hands so we’d all remember and could sneak a peak without being to obvious should we need to, and a lot of us needed that help. (For some reason people got flushes and straights mixed up in the order of things).
Eventually we all matured, and soon enough No Limit Hold ‘em became the name of the game. Some of my friends got into it hardcore, while I was still playing casually. Next thing I knew they were talking about their favorite pros, articles they read in Bluff Magazine, and Odds and such. I was still pretty green. Playing my cards, and not really considering the many other facets of the game.
Then I moved to Georgia. I missed our home game. It wasn’t so much the poker, though I really did enjoy the game, it was the social time… and the connection to my youth. I looked around for a home game, but the only ones I was finding felt very shady. I knew my level of play was not good, and these guys would take my money faster than I could say “call”.
Then my wife suggested I look at this site called “Meetup.com”. Sure enough, I found someone who had set up a poker group. Turns out it was a business that ran a free poker tournament at a bar. I showed up, very nervous, but happy to have a place to play… and it was free, with a chance to win a gift certificate.
That was almost 3 years ago. Since then I’ve truly discovered the game. The psychology of it, the mathematics, the personalities… all of it. I absolutely love the game. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it too. I’ve learned about all the pros, read tons of articles, books, and played a *lot* of Poker.
Free Poker is wildly popular in Georgia, where it is illegal to have even a penny ante home game (not that it stops people). You can play multiple games any day of the week with different poker companies. I’ve often thought that it would be a good business to start if we ever moved back to California. While I’m here though, I’ll be happy to work with Jeff, who runs my favorite games (well ran, Tony’s shut down leaving Jeff looking for a new place to host his games).
So I’ve become a regular in the Poker games around here. I think I’m a formidable player. There’s nothing like this game, which is largely a skill game, obviously mixed with luck. I really enjoy improving my game, and picking apart the nuances of the game. Yes it’s Free Poker, but I can play a real game too (more on that later).
One thing to note… I have an incredibly supportive wife who understands my need to socialize with other poker players. I’m a very lucky man.
Coming in Poker Part II. The Vegas Trip, wins and losses, internet poker, books and experience.