(Carol, I know that the folks have heard me talk about our daughter Oklahoma Sarah Hale and that she is winning a lot of poker tournaments. Today I want to introduce the folks to OK-Sarah as a writer, and I have asked her if she would tell the folks about the younger side of poker.)
By Oklahoma Sarah
As far as I remember my parents have been pretty strict about letting me out on the town on New Year’s Eve. This year my best friend since kindergarten, Claire, was coming into town and I wanted to show her a glamorous Vegas New Years.
Claire and I decided to go to the poker room at Red Rock casino. The plan was that she would watch me play to try and get comfortable enough to play herself.
We settled down into a cozy little 1-2 no limit game and I started to tutor Claire on the basic concepts of poker. After about a half an hour a seat became available at my table and I said to Claire, "Honey, the best way to learn to just get in there and experience it. I will stake you and if you loose it’s no big deal."
She agreed and I handed her a crisp hundred dollar bill.
I gave Claire three main rules to follow: Number one, never call, only raise. Number two, play pairs and blackjack hands, and number three, quit when you get ahead.
Claire isn’t at the table five minutes before she gets involved with an attractive Asian woman at the opposite end of the table. The lady makes it ten dollars to go and here comes Claire with an immediate raise of twenty dollars.
The lady moves all in and Claire beats her in the pot. I start to shake my head and think, "Gee, that didn’t last long," and Claire flips over two red queens. The lady angrily mucks her pocket tens face up and the dealer ships Claire her first pot ever in a cash game.
A new player swaggers over to the table and sits down with an abundance of chips. His arrogance and cocky attitude are impossible not to notice. Claire is the big blind and the entire table limps in. The flop comes 3s-8d-Ah. It checks around and the turn is the Ad and the cocky kid flings out ten bucks.
Everyone folds except Claire who raises him per my advice. The kid calls and the river is a Kc and he checks and Claire checks behind exposing her measly two pair, eights and aces. The kid rolls his eyes and slaps his third ace down and Claire looses her first pot.
I wouldn’t have mentioned this hand except that Claire unintentionally set this young gun up for her next hand because of her obvious novice image. The next hand the kid raises pre-flop and Claire re-raises and the kid is ecstatic.
The flop comes Kh-7d-4s and the kid fires out twenty bucks and Claire raises him again. I hope she isn’t making the same mistake as the last hand with middle pair. The betting and re-raising continues with neither one of them retreating and this time Claire shocks the whippersnapper by nonchalantly flipping over her first pair of pocket aces. By this time Claire is up two hundred bucks and enjoying her poker buzz. Her rush starts to cease and it’s my turn to play.
Seat three is taken by your stereotypical Vegas gangster. He must be about fifty-something and looks like he is connected to the mob in some way. His unlit cigarette is hanging out of the corner of his mouth and shirt is unbuttoned two buttons too many exposing his gold jewelry and gorilla-like chest hair. He gets off to a fierce start and is bullying the entire table. He has about four hundred in front of him and is commanding everyone’s attention. I look down and see two black kings and make it $16 to go.
I get one caller, the cocky kid Claire has had some previous dances with. The flop comes Kh-Ac-8d and I try to contain my excitement. I know that I am out of position but in this case I think I can use it to my advantage. I also know that the whole table doesn’t think I know how to play because I am with Claire, I am a girl and I am down money.
I usually play solid poker but in this case I decided to milk my girly image, so I turned out all the tricks. I asked if it was my turn to act, I twirled my hair, I looked pained to see the flop. I asked for time and said I needed to think.
Finally the gangster and the kid start laughing and make fun of me. The kid looks me square in the eye and says, "Doll, if you have to think this long, trust me I have you beat."
I decide that I am going to act as blonde as possible so I say the most unintelligent thing I can think of, "I know you’re on a flush draw (it’s a rainbow board) so I better just go all-in I guess." He calls immediately and I flip over my set and he is mortified. The gangster shoots me an impressed look and the dealer shovels my of chips over to me.
Now I know that my cover is blown and the table doesn’t want to mess with me too much anymore. I am finding it harder and harder to get action but I am feeling the game and I want to make one more attempt to make something happen. The gangster makes it $15 to go, under the gun and there are two callers. I look down and have pocket jacks and decide to go all in and pick up the $45 bucks.
The guy behind me thinks and thinks and calls and the gangster mucks his pocket queens face up. The other two stragglers fold and I flip up my pair of jacks the other guy shows tens. The flop comes Q-7-7 filling up the gangster if he would have stayed. I scooped the pot, turned to Claire and said "Honey, this is our cue to leave."
OK Sarah’s Tip of the Week
While a little Hollywooding is an acceptable strategic play in poker there are many other angles that are not. Integrity in life and poker is the most valuable personal characteristic an individual can encompass. If you are not acting with the utmost veracity at the card table, the poker Gods will frown upon you and aim a bolt of lightening straight for your Aces! You know in your gut what the difference between right and wrong is and if you don’t then you should review the rules for the tournament or cash game you are playing in and act accordingly.