Don’t be Intimidated

Along with maintaining a positive attitude, it’s also important not to be intimidated when you play in a public card room.  If you’re new to the game, it’s natural to feel that you’re in the presence of “pros,” but at the low lmits, you aren’t likely to find too many professional (though at times you will find plenty of people who think they are).  Relax and have a good time.  If you have a general knowledge of the game, but you’re still vague about certain concepts, don’t hesitate to ask questions.  Most delears are competent and friendly, and they’ll be glad to help you.

Don’t worry about looking foolish or making a mistake; there will be occasions when you bet the wrong amount or misread a hand.  You won’t get thrown out of the card room.  As the saying goes, “You can’t learn to swim if you don’t jump in the water.”  You may very well be nervous the first sessions you have in a public card room, but think of each session as a chance to improve your game and implement your strateiges.  As time goes on, your play will improve.  Let’s take a look at some easy ways you can quickly become a better player.

Remembering Cards

Some people like Texas hold’em because there are no cards to remember – you have your hole cards in front of you, and the rest of the cards are always on the board.  In stud, there’s more work to do, which brings us to the concept of live cards.

There is a saying that texasa hold’em is a game of big cards, while stud is a game of live cards.  That’s very true.  After you’re dealt your first three cards, if you are considering staying in or are the forced bring-in bet, the very first thing you must do is look at the board to see what’s out there.  As players muck their cards, you need to keep in mind what they’ve folded.  If you find it too tough to remember everything that was folded, at the very least you must be on the lookout at all times for cards that would have helped your hand that are gone.  For example, let’s say you have two kings in the hole and an 8 upcard.  A hidden big pair– very nice.  But it’s worthless if the other two kings have been dealt.

Remembering cards is one of the most difficult aspects of the game, and I continue to work on it.  I seem to have no problem remembering my cards, but it get trickier when I try to remember all the cards that have passed.  A basic thing you can do is pay sharp attention at all times to the cards as they are folded, and at the end of each betting round, put them in some type of order mentally (such as from smallest to largest or vice-versa).  Obviously, there’s no need to memorize the cards on the board – they’re right in front of you.

In case you’re not yet convinced of the value of remembering cards, I’ll give you an example.  One session, I played in a game where I had filled up on fifth street: 4s full of kings.  I played this aggressively, but several players stayed in to the rivier, including one player who had Poker Two Pair on the board, 3s and 9s.

Because I had been paying attention, I remembered that one of his 9s was gone – there was only one card left in the deck that could help him beat me. As it turned out, he had 3s full of 9s, and I managed to win a nice pot.  Remembering cards may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it you want to play stud well, there’s simply no way around it.