I remember my first poker tourney, at a local casino where we played for charity. I had never–not even virtually–sat down to play poker anywhere in the world. I’d only read the Texas Hold’em chapter in Poker for Dummies. You won’t be surprised to know I was overwhelmed. My table mates were punsters and pranksters and very kind to me, the obvious newby. I was out way too soon.
But what hooked me and sent me looking for more (and thus to Replay Poker) was the thrill of the chase. I can still feel it today when I think a hand might be mine and I raise the ante to try to get a bigger final pot. It’s the thrill that I love, more than winning. And always, the fun to be had at the table.
Do you remember your first poker game? What was it that brought you back (and back and back)?
I remember my first poker tournament well. Like many, I had recently watched Chris Moneymaker defeat Sammy Farha in the 2003 WSOP Main Event - and like many, I thought “man if that guy can win, I should have a shot.” I was familiar enough with poker to know the basics, but I had no practical experience at all. I found a casino outside Seattle hosting a weekly $50 event, called them up and got some info - how many players usually show - how late you can be. I took an hour bus ride up there and got myself a seat. I’d never had my fingertips on felt before, never handled actual chips - it was a bit thrilling. The casino was in a basement, dimly lit, a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering, various sporting events on small televisions on the wall. And then the cards were in the air. I was the stereotype of a lucky noob. I didn’t really know what I was doing - hand strength, pot equity, that sort of thing - and I kept winning pots. A few guys threw their cards and muttered. I’ll always remember one player saying “Look what you did to me!” in utter disgust when I rivered two pair on him, after we were all in - his AK to my K8 after we both hit a K on the flop. I managed to make it to Heads Up and we got all in - I don’t recall, I think he rivered a straight over my two pair, something. But I was so exhilarated to have done so well and win a few hundred bucks that I didn’t care. I shook the other player’s hand - from the look of him, he was a regular, the staff seemed to know him. He kinda shook his head at me, and I knew he thought I was a donk noob. And I was, heh. I remember the Floor Manager congratulating me and the adrenaline filling my senses. I took the bus ride home, a grin stuck on my face, then I found the first poker site I could and started playing online. And I’ve been playing live and online poker ever since.
My first time at the table was in a tiny reservation casino in Ft Randall SD. This was shortly after the 2011 Main event that was won by Pius Heinz. I had been playing on Replay for about a month. The game was $2/$5 dealers choice with a bunch of rich farmers, I bought in for $300. We started a table and I drew high card so the button with the first choice was mine. I chose NLHE and the whole table literally moaned in disappointment. I was dealt JJ and won a very nice pot in my first hand of live real money poker, $400 yay!! Now every hand that I played that day after the first one was O8, the preferred game amongst these old timers, and I didn’t even know the rules let alone any kind of sound strategy for the game. Now this O8 is not typical, I have never since found a better O8 game, so it did not take long for the $500 stack I had to dwindle to zero. These guys are capping the betting rounds consistently and going multi multi ways to the river and showdown. $1,000 pots were not unusual in this game, which is insane for a $2/$5 O8 game, even with a full rock. I was not deterred however, I went home to Google and researched and studied basic strategies for O8 and was ready the next time I stepped in that casino. It still took a few times to pull off a win but in the end I made a lot of money in that room.