Report: First Home Poker Game in Several Years

A few days ago I played in my first home poker game after a long absence and it was a very strange feeling. I guess staring at a computer screen and playing hundreds of online poker hands really does have an effect.

Handling real chips when making bets, paying attention to physical tells and getting stared down by the other players all felt very foreign to me, even though I used to play with my friends all the time. I guess hours upon hours staring at the computer screen takes its toll on us…

Anyway, I lost my buy-in and began to think about how the game was played in hopes of figuring out why I was serving as the dealer instead of playing after about an hour.

The game was short handed with 6 players at its maximum point, so it’s already pretty high variance. On top of that, the blind structure made us extremely short stacked. For a $20 buy-in we played .25/.50, giving players only 40 big blinds! This is a pretty common structure for casual games among friends, at least in my understanding.

None of the other players seemed to think this was an issue. The guys were acquaintances of mine and I know that they play online, but I suspect they aren’t winners.

I was a little surprised that no one else seemed to think that this structure was anything but standard. The game itself had the feel of a masculinity contest where each player was trying to show the other that he was the most dominant at the table. You could see that players took folding as a personal failure; a major ego hit. There were big overbets and a couple guys were clearly out to get each other.

I tried to stay out of this, but there was little I could do especially after I lost a decent amount of my stack. No one was re-buying, and I didn’t want to buck the trend. I ended up shoving against an aggressive player with AK preflop, like I would in the later stages of a multi-table tournament, and lost to his 88.

All in all, I guess I should just take games like these as fun social events and not care too much about the results or think too hard about my strategy. The players are just there to gamble and see who comes out on top. In order to get to the “long run” in any sense of the term, I would have to play for many years.

How do you handle home games?

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