Playing Poker Live for the First Time

A couple of months ago I took my cousin to play in his first ever live game. He’s 21 years old and I promised him a few years ago that’s once he reached 21 I’d take him to a casino/cardroom to play poker. So, I took him to a local cardroom for a $50 tournament. And no, my cousin isn’t Joe Cada!

We met for beers and a bite to eat beforehand, and I offered him some advice. He asked “how many is it for a straight – four or five cards?” which had me slightly worried. I told him to play tight and observe the other players at the table, and to not play any hands other than premium cards until he was comfortable. I said the other players would be understanding since you’re a beginner.

As it happens we were sat next to each other. He’s a confident kid but was very nervous. I’ve never seen someones hand shake so much when placing a bet. The other players at the table were laughing. I was a bit worried I’d thrown him in too deep. He also folded instead of checking, and other beginner mistakes – and was playing far too many hands.

Anyway, we reached the first break, and he was fairly short stacked. I told him – “just wait for a big hands and then shove it in”. The first hand after the break there’s an UTG raise from the shortest stack at the table. It’s folded around to my cousin who thinks for a few moments, then folds. The button calls and flips over AA. My cousin told me (and the table) that he folded QQ. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could anyone else. I told him later; “never tell people what you had when you fold a major hand – they’ll run over you”. It was a great fold on the surface, but the truth is it had nothing to do with getting a read on Mr. AA – so it was really an insane fold after my advice of “wait for a premium hand and then shove it”. Not that it matters, but he’d have actually hit a set and got the much needed double up.

As it happens he lasted a little while longer and even outlasted me by a few hands, which he was very happy about. “Wait till I tell everyone in the family that I outlasted you” he said. I then proceeded to give him another poker lesson, mentioning the variables at play in tournaments and how anyone can outlast anyone on any given tournament. It’s the long run that counts. I’m not sure he understood, but he sure had fun – which is the main thing.

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