I have created this new blog for entries about my poker experiences, to free up my other blog for non-poker stuff. You can find a link to my personal blog in the Links section to the right. There are some poker posts there, but I am in the process of moving them over here; some of them are below.
Last night I played in the weekly Amateur Poker League tournament held every Tuesday at a local bar/restaurant named Willhoite's. I've been playing there since May, and it's been a good way for me to practice my skills. I generally do pretty well there; I have finished as high as second place, and often (but not always) end up in at least the top 16, which gets me points in the APL standings.
If you aren't familiar with the APL, it's a league that puts on free poker tournaments in locations in several states. It costs nothing to be a member; all you do is sign up on line and get a membership number. It costs nothing to play in the tournaments, either; however, you are encouraged to buy drinks, food, etc. from the establishment that is hosting the tournament. That is the key to the APL; it's a vehicle for bringing in more business to the bars and restaurants that host the tournaments.
The venues often sponsor nice prizes for the players who frequent their games. Willhoite's has partnered with Pocket's, another eatery in the League, to offer a trip for two to Las Vegas to the winner of their contest, which started in September and runs until December 31. The top 64 point winners for those two venues combined for that period will have a playoff tournament in January to determine who wins the trip. I may not play often enough to earn sufficient points to finish in the top 64, but we'll see. Another venue near here, the Gaylord Texan Resort, offers one free night's stay in their hotel to the first place finisher in each week's tournament. I fninshed second in the only tourney I have played there so far; missed it by THAT MUCH.
You might think that people playing in free poker tournaments play pretty loosely, making crazy bets and not being serious about their game. You would be right, about some of the players. But a lot of them do take it seriously, and make an effort to play well, even if there isn't any cash at stake. Some of the players are just there to hang out, drink beer, and socialize, and play cards while they are at it. It's like a home game in that respect, and that makes the atmosphere more relaxed that at a casino. Unlike a lot of casinos, though, there are no rules against smoking at the tables, unless the venue has their own rules about it. I have only played at Willhoite's and the Gaylord, so I can't say how it is at other places. But Willhoite's especially gets very smoky, and I have thought more than once about not going there any more because I don't want the second hand smoke in my lungs and on my clothes. I plan to look at other nearby venues to see if there are any with better air circulation or, if I'm really lucky, no smoking at all. I'm not counting on that last thing, though.
In last night's game, I finished 16th. It was the monthly championship for the highest finishers for the month of October. I might have done better if I hadn't donked off a bunch of chips on the very first hand of the night. I had A6o in the cutoff, and it was folded to me. I raised to try a blind steal; the small blind called. The flop was something like 10-7-4 rainbow. I didn't pair, but it didn't look like much of a flop for my opponent either, who checked. Sensing weakness, I put in a healthy sized bet, and he called. The turn was a 2. SB checked again; I bet even more to drive him out; he called. The river is a blank. No straights or flushes, and SB checks again. I cant figure out what he's up to, but I figure I've missed something, so I check also. He shows 22 for a set. I'm thinking, why didn't he bet those on the turn? Or even check-raise with them? Better yet, if I'm betting more than the minimum on a flop full of overcards to his deuces, why does he call? Either my ability to get a read on this guy stunk (which is entirely possible, since my reading isn't that great) or his play is awfully weird. So, I start the night with a much shorter stack than usual, and I have to tighten up some. I have another chip spew a bit later when my pocket aces don't improve and I have to fold them on the river to an all-in raise. Good thing I folded, because the winner had rivered a flush. Still, I had some redemption shortly after when I got AA again, went all in, and flopped J-A-J.
I like playing in these APL games. It gives me some experience playing with live people instead of on line, and I want to build my skills for the next time I visit a brick and mortar casino again and play face to face for real money.