Friday, March 09, 2012

Poker School 101

Words slightly fail me regarding last night's Poker School but “challenging” is the one I’ve come up with. It took quite a while to even start the class because this involved breaking up a heated debate regarding the best way to deal with tennis elbow.

What tennis elbow looks like

After two hours or so, it appeared no solid conclusions had been reached however and I was then able to start teaching the fundamentals of Texas Hold’em.

Almost immediately my students decided to multi-task - combining this week’s Poker School with NEXT week’s Cinnamon course on wine tasting. Almost everyone was conscientiously and bravely working their way through Cinnamon's range of Riojas while simultaneously trying to master the four key words of poker terminology (bet, fold, check and raise). Congrats to James for being the ONLY player who ever actually used the correct word at the correct time.

Sally came up with so many different ways to say "I fold" (without actually saying "I fold") that I thought she was using a Thesaurus. (“I’m out”, “I quit”, “I bail” and “no” all came up – well done Sally!!!).

Tim’s tragedian responses (nearly every hand) to finding out that his totally crap hole cards WOULD have given him full house if only he had stayed in were Oscar-worthy. First would come the raised eyebrows and early look of horror (the flop). The turn card would have him on his feet, pointing furiously at the table and looking around for someone to blame. And by the river, he’d be throwing his arms in the air, groaning and gesticulating wildly. Even Othello would have been pushed to make more fuss.

Tim after every hand

Jane was a shoe-in for the “Mathematically Precise Dealing Award”, laying down such neat and tidy flops, I thought she must be using a T-Square. She dealt one hand so slowly I thought it WAS next week and almost had a glass of Rioja. I was very worried she would start labeling things.

Rick appeared to be paying attention and was very busy taking notes. At the time I assumed these were aides-de-memoire for his next game of poker, but I now realize they were notes for his next script.

Peter gets the “Swedish Internet Pro Award” for raising absolutely every hand without the slightly regard to the cards he’d actually been dealt. This gave him a lovely pot on one occasion when he accidentally hit two pair, but most of the time this proved an unsuccessful strategy.

I looked up “Top 5 Worst Starting Hands for Texas Hold 'Em” this morning and I strongly believe Peter managed to play them all. (FYI, they are 2-7 (offsuit), 2-8 (offsuit), 3-8 (offsuit), 2-9 (offsuit) and 2-6 (offsuit) The notes for 2-7 offsuit read: “This is the worst hand to start with in Texas Hold 'Em because there are so few good options: you have no straight draw, no flush draw, and even if you wind up with a pair of 7s or a pair of 2s, you're very unlikely to have the best hand. Of course, you'll see some crazy flops every now and then. But just because you might see a rare 7-7-2 flop once in a blue moon doesn't make this a good hand to play.” To Peter, these are all excellent starting hands and require a strong raise.


Once the class finally broke up, with Tim mysteriously having made a profit on the poker, but a record-breaking loss on the Rioja, the debate on tennis elbow fired up again with the conclusion that Jane would be mad to play tennis tonight, but probably will.

All students (apart from James and Dave) will be required to retake the class.