Mistakes by Novices
By Joseph R. Marcel
Well, we (my friend Jeff and I) were doing the monthly home game for some time … became fans of the movie Rounders … bought and read a couple of books … played in the Poker Pages World Series Warmup … and found enough courage to try our first real poker tournament at the local casino. Probably a not too uncommon scenario … but, our faux pas's might seem special ('specially funny, that is).
We called ahead to get the particulars … $50 buy-in, $1,500 in chips, $25/$50 blinds that double every 20 minutes, approximately 40 players, top 5 place in the money (winner gets 50%) … We can do this! But, we were still fairly nervous. We didn't know how $1,500 in chips would be broken down, and feared we would be fumbling with nervous hands to place our bets. We also felt like we would be read like open books … like we had neon signs on our foreheads that displayed our hands … but, what the heck, we play Indian Poker in our home game.
Arriving plenty early, we stood around looking nervous for 10 minutes before sitting down to a live $2 - $5 game. We both got sat at the same table next to each other. I basically lost the majority of my $50 due to two hands. The first hand was when I played A 9o. An A flopped and my early $2 bet scared off the field except for Jeff, sitting to my immediate left. He called my $2 turn bet and my $2 river bet and out-kicked me with his A T. On the second devastating hand, I was graced with two pair on the flop. I thought my A 2 fit nicely with the 2 3 A rainbow flop. I checked, a big bet was made, the player to my right and I called. The turn came no help, I checked, another check, big bet, I call, the bettor on the flop folds. The river came no help, I check-raised all-in as I poorly put my opponent on AQ or AJ. My acey deucey was squashed by a set of treys.
MY MISTAKE: Besides playing my hands poorly, playing those hands at all, just 20 minutes before the tourney, in a game where I was unfamiliar with the rest of the field, was quite foolish.
Jeff, on the other hand, was doing just fine. In the final 10 minutes prior to the tournament, I hear someone shout, "Royal flush!" I look over, and there's Jeff raking in a pot with a big grin. The table proceeded to comment, "Do you know what that is?" and, "I've been playing for 15 years and never been dealt a royal!"
JEFF'S MISTAKE: He forgot to tip the dealer in all the excitement. ;-)
Well, it's tourney time. We both pick up index cards that direct us to our corresponding separate tables and seats. When I sit down, a stack of 13 chips is placed in front of me. What the hey?!?! How can this be $1,500? 2 gold $500 chips, 3 purple $100 chips, and 8 blue $25 chips. Ok, ok, I think I can handle this … After an announcement of the rules, the dealers "put them in the air."
Trying to look as cool as possible, I cupped both of my hands forming a half dome around my two cards. With my thumbs, I lifted the lower right corner of each card. Hmmm, these cards appear to be blank. I look around and it's already my turn to act. In a clumsy way I rotate my cards 180 degrees and proceed to peek at the wrong (blank) corners again! My half dome of hands grab each card and lift the cards so I can see the red K's and call. I'm sure my head was a beacon of red itself. Well, I continued to call my way (the first two hands were actually limit) to a board that contained 4 hearts, absent of an A or a pair. My K lost to an A 9.
MY MISTAKES: Fumbling with the cards like a buffoon and not raising the heck out of my K K in early betting rounds.
JEFF'S MISTAKE: He later admitted that he too peeked at the wrong corners, and quickly fumbled to get a glance at his cards. We blamed the over-crowded tables, as we both started at the two tables with 11 players.
The pace was relatively fast throughout. I felt like I was scampering to see my cards so I'd have time to prepare for my action (by prepare, I mean ponder the ways a 7 2o will win in multi-way action with lots of big cards on the board). I decided I would use verbal commands, as I did not want the act of fumbling with my cards or chips to be construed as a check. Imagine my embarrassment when I shreek, "Check!" and it isn't my turn to act. I guess I scampered so quickly that I bought myself too much time, finished pondering my hand, and acted as if everyone was waiting on me.
MY MISTAKE: Being a nervous goofball.
JEFF'S MISTAKE: I think this is where my mistakes outnumber his.
I played for about an hour and Jeff played for about an hour and 10 minutes in a field of 42. We were both energized when put on the rail. We excitedly talked about our highlights and lowlights with anxious anticipation of our next attempt at this tournament. Because, like potential addicts, we think we can do much better next time.
Let me tell you about my exit before I mention our final mistake. Down to my last $600, I posted the $200 big blind. I was dealt black 8's. A single raiser forced the rest of the table to fold. I called all-in. He shows the table his A 9. When the dealer is done, there are 4 lowly clubs on the board, and his 9-high flush beats my 8-high flush. I stood with wobbly knees, said, "Good luck fellas" and walked toward the next room (where I eventually sat and skimmed through a copy of Poker Digest).
OUR FINAL MISTAKE: We never tipped the dealers. We just didn't think of it, and at the time didn't know how to tip in a tournament.
I'm vowing to not make these mistakes again.
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