I haven't seriously played poker since college and even then was only an average player. But imagining a bunch of drunk tourists, I figured I won't be the best player but will be at least among the top 3. I started reading the book tynan recommended which advises a much looser starting hand advice. The Turbo Texas program oddly will only deliver via snail mail so I haven't tried it.
Since I'm driving back to the East Coast anyway, I figured I would spend a few days in Vegas getting a cheap $25 room and playing my hand at Limit.
To my surprise, it's hard to find any limit games in Vegas apart from the very entry level 2/4. Only the Bellagio seems to have any higher limits.
On the Monday afternoon, there was one 4/8 table and one 10/20 table. The 4/8 table had a good 30 minute - 1 hour wait so I signed up for a new 10/20 table opening up.
Starting out, I felt good. Folding all the bad cards. won a hand or two. Blinds would cut down my stacks back to break even and then I would win a small hand again. Rinse and repeat. The most aggressive player is to my immediate right so I'm thankfully able to see what he does before I play. Everyone else is slightly loose but very passive. To my surprise a lot of hands never make it to flop and usually with less than 4 players. Not what the book says at all, this seems like a regular table.
Then a very loose tourist with his wife came along raising everything and playing everything to completion. I eventually catch a pocket JJs and going one on one with him. Flop is a bunch of numbers. I keep betting, he keeps calling. Numbers on the turn and river. The showdown. I have two pair with my JJs. He reveals a turn card straight. And he leaves afterwards with my money.
That cut my stack in half.
Afterwards, I loosen up my play because everyone thinks I'm playing super tight. So I start stealing blinds and doing okay at it. But then I get pocket 10s and again bet heavily. Only one other player against me and he's raising me. The flop comes out with #s and a Queen. At this point, I think I should have kept going. I was already well committed into the pot. The pot odds were in my favor. But instead I check, he raises, I re-raise, he re-raises, and I fold. Then I'm down to only a few big blinds and get eaten away.
- Strangely, casino poker feels a lot faster than online even though I know that's not true. Maybe it was just the new environment, but 99% of the time I wasn't paying much attention to everything or calculating odds in my head. Everything just seemed too quick.
- Waiting for good hands is a very boring process.
- Since it was a Monday afternoon, I guess at least half of these guys were regulars. One of them was correcting the dealer's mistakes. Most or all of them obviously had more experience than me. Weekends might be better
- I brought in a $300 which seemed high to me at the time but for a 10/20, it actually feels way too small and I think I started playing sloppy once I had less chips.
- I'll be sticking to the 4/8 waiting list next time
To my left is Barry Schulman, the owner of CardPlayer magazine, and a professional poker player. At the next table over is Jennifer Harman, considered to be one of the very best limit hold'em players in the world. As the dealer starts flinging the cards around our table, Jennifer stands up. She's just been busted out of the same tournament I'm playing.
I look down at my cards and see pocket queens, the third best hand you can be dealt. I've been waiting for a hand like this for hours.
Amid a field of 675 poker players, the majority of them professionals, and a handful of them famous, only 100 players remain. Improbably, I'm one of them. Luck has a giant part to play in this, of course. If not, I would have been busted out long before Jennifer Harman was. But at the same time, playing for twelve hours with some of the best poker players on earth has given me a lot of confidence. They're better than me, but I've held my own. I'm good enough, at least, to not be totally run over.
I played Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time ever, recently. I was immediately tickled by the way it handles players going AFK and leaving the party. It was near seamless, near-zero interrupted fun whether a player left or just took a break.
Beau Hindman invited me to an online co-op room, which is typical procedure in most online co-op games. Someone creates a room, and then invites friends or makes it public for anyone to join. In L4D2, up to 4 people can play together, with an NPC taking the place of any real player not present.
My first experience with this was half-way through a level. Beau said he'd be right back. After a short spell, his character had the word (idle) appear next to it. It did take quite a few minutes of just sitting there, but suddenly the AI kicked on and it was as if I was the only one playing the game with 3 NPCs. I could then go about playing the game as if I was just playing in single-player. Beau, however, did return and immediately was able to resume control of his character; I imagine by simply moving his mouse or pressing a button.
I would love to see the same mechanic in a party-based, Isometric RPG. I could imagine playing Avernum 4 and having a friend contact me on Skype or by phone, ask him if he wants to jump in and regardless of what I'm doing or where I'm at, he could take control of one of the four party members instantly.