Playing poker is easy money. You can win thousands in an instant with the turn of a card. Whether you’re playing stud or holdem, the prospect of making money at the game — especially if you’re a superior player — is seductive.
I awoke early this morning. I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Rather than go out for a walk, as is my habit, I decided to go downstairs and check my email, the sports scores from last night, and anything else that caught my fancy on the web.
I saw the Party Poker icon on my computer screen. “Might as well make some easy money,” I thought. And so as I have often done, while checking my email and generally surfing the web, I clicked into a 7-Card Stud game on Party Poker — a $5/$10 Stud game, to be exact.
True, I was distracted. True too, I was tired and bleary-eyed. But the prospect of easy money and my general feeling of invincibility at this great game got me started down a short and curious road. Pay attention to my journey. You might learn something.
It all started easily enough. I was dealt (QT)Q, raised the antes, got a caller, improved on Fifth, bet to the River and won about $45. I did so while focused on the game, remembering the down cards and keeping track generally of the suits. I knew that I was ahead because the Kings and Aces were generally dead right off the bat. If he was going for a flush he had a long row to hoe. I was confident. I was r00ling.
But then a particular email caught my eye. I had to reply to it. I clicked in and out of the game — only as absolutely necessary. I didn’t watch other players; I didn’t remember the cards that had fallen. In fact, I often didn’t know, clicking in, when it was my turn but after some of the cards had folded.
No matter. I was certainly the best player at this Party Poker table, having written a book on the subject and all. I didn’t really need to do all the things that I told other players to do. My innate talents would protect me.
And in fact, on my next playable hand, (AJ)J, when the action was folded to me and I raised, so did everyone else. They knew that I was a tight player. I really had nothing to worry about.
This went on for about 10 minutes. I won a contested pot and an uncontested one. I was ahead about $30 or so. The action was very fast. There were probably 40-50 hands dealt an hour in this game — it being slightly shorthanded.
But then came a few problem hands. I got (77)A two-suited. I thought I saw another 7. But since my image was so tight, I raised. I really didn’t know what had been folded but I was only against a 6 and an 8. They’d probably fold. An easy ante steal.
Only it wasn’t. Not this time. In fact, they both called. On Fourth I got a 10. The 6 got a suited card and the 8 a King. I was high, with an Ace, and bet — hoping to scare them both out by demonstrating that my Third Street raise was not a lark, that I had a hand worth betting on Fourth as well. And so I bet $5. The K8 called me.
This was not what I had hoped for. We both got 3s on Fifth Street. It didn’t help me but I figured it didn’t help him either. I bet $10. He raised me. Raised me? Why would he raise me? If I folded I’d look like a fool. I’d look like I didn’t have a pair of Aces. “I’m a great player,” I thought. No one does that to me. So I raised him back, making it $20. That shut him up; he just called.
“Geez, these amateurs,” I thought.
I got a 9 on Sixth and bet into his 8K3Q. He passively called. “Why won’t this moron fold?” I thought.
And then the River. I didn’t make two pair. But the only way for me to win was to bet, so I bet. And he called. He had Kings and 8s. I lost $50.
I was furious. Instead of making easy money I was stuck. I had to get back to even before starting my day. The only way to do that was to play some hands. No more weak folding for me. During the next 10 hands I played five of them — winning one on an ante steal and then losing four of them by pushing weak hands too aggressively and not catching cards, and pushing too hard and not backing down when I should have. I dropped another $120 — all in about 20 minutes.
I finished my email $150 poorer than when I started.
I had broken just about all of the rules. I played when tired. I didn’t concentrate on the game. I overplayed my hand and kept pushing a bluff well after it was clear that it hadn’t worked. I was swinging wildly in the dark without bothering to focus on turning on any lights. Had I been watching myself play, I would have made a dozen suggestions for improving my game.
There was easy money in this $5/$10 Stud game on Party. If I had been playing the careful, thoughtful, observant poker that I know how to play, I would have seen it clearly. The easy money was mine.
By Ashley Adams