Live games are best

Apr 24, 2007 2:26 AM

Hi Folks! Let me introduce myself, I am Sarah Hale, otherwise known in the poker world as "Oklahoma Sarah" Hale. Growing up with a legendary card player like my dad, Oklahoma Johnny Hale, truly shaped and molded me into who I am today. In fact, my first words were, "I raise the potty!"

From the age of five my Dad schooled me in games like Gin Rummy and Poker and actually kept my allowance if I lost. That taught me to be very disciplined in life and in poker and to always conduct myself as a lady at the table at all times.

When I got older, I approached my dad with the idea that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a poker player. He supported me in my decision but made me promise that I would get a degree, just in case. I am proud to say that I have kept my promise and I am graduating in August. I made sure to pick a major related to poker so I chose "Child" Psychology," which comes in handy at the card table.

When the Internet poker boom came about I jumped on the bandwagon. I was hooked because of the sheer convenience. My dad who is about to turn 80 years old also loved the expediency that Internet poker had to offer.

In some ways I learned more than I ever would have because I would sit with my Dad and analyze hand after hand with him. He would let me in on secrets that only years of experience taught him.

Soon my game improved and I started to feel confident enough to try my skills around town. I would invite my dad with me but I often got the response that it was just too easy to stay cozy at home. I headed off on my journey alone and started to succeed.

I quickly noticed the differences in a live poker game versus an online poker game. While I missed the undeniable ease of Internet poker I loved the sociability that a real, live game provided.

I made friends, created an image, and improved on picking up tells and quirks of regular players. While I was happy, I knew my dad was missing out on the camaraderie of the game.

Players would ask me, "Where is Oklahoma Johnny?" Over the next couple of months I started playing online less and continued to try and persuade my dad to get out there among the action.

I was worried that with the new poker boom and so many new and up and coming players that maybe we weren’t just losing the comradeship but letting our legends fade into the backdrop. The older generations were so complacent staying at home in their P.J.’s that they were being missed by their public.

When the new legislation banning Internet gambling was passed last fall, I thought that it may be a blessing in disguise. I knew that my dad loved poker way too much to just let it go by the wayside.

I predicted that my dad would have a lot more pep-in-his-step in the weeks to come. Sure enough my hypothesis panned out and my dad was off and running when the Internet took its final dump.

Now he is like a new man. He has even been known to "triple dip" on occasion, hitting three casinos in one day. Not too bad for a senior citizen.

He also brought back the social aspects of the game into his life again. He is known for his gentlemanly demeanor and fun tableside manner. I guess you could say coffee-housing is his cup of tea.

I’ve also noticed that he is rekindling those friendships with people all over town. In fact, Kathy Raymond, The Venetian poker room manager, is throwing him an 80th birthday bash in September.

Now, my dad and I have a different routine. We go and hit the town and come home and discuss our hands. I keep a daily log and he gives me lessons accordingly. It’s different but still effective and most importantly we’re all happy.

"OK-S" Poker Tip of the Week

Don’t get too complacent in the game your at. If you get too comfortable and notice yourself starting to daydream, watch television or lose focus, your game and pocketbook will lose weight.

I recommend switching it up and trying different establishments from time to time. Not only will it keep you on your toes, but you’ll improve your image and reputation.