As some of you may know, the family and I moved to the San Francisco area at the end of June.
Since I have been here, I have been playing a lot of 80-160 limit hold’em at the Bay 101 and some 5-5-10 PLO at Lucky Chances. Both these games are filled with people who enjoy poker and seem to be having a lot of fun when they are playing. (and both are in driving distance from my house)
While I was thinking about why poker players seem happier here one day, I made an interesting observation about a similarity between the two games. Both games tend to be drawing games. Let me explain.
In limit hold’em, you often have a big enough pot that it is reasonable to call a single small bet with 5-8 outs. Any hand with one pair and a live kicker, a gut shot and an overcard, or an opened ended straight draw is getting a reasonable price. If there was a raise preflop and 3 people called, the minimum price is 7-1. Basically, people are supposed to be persistent once they get to the flop and connect with the board. I think this phenomenon leads to players saying things like “I can’t ever get anyone out of the pot, I hate limit” and other interesting complaints.
In PLO, you also have a betting cap, the pot. But because you have 4 cards, drawing hands in this game often have a good enough chance to win to be able to call. With 12-15 or more outs, and 45 unknown cards, calling is reasonable. A hand with a flush draw and a gutshot has 12 outs. A flush draw and an open-ended straight is 15 outs. A wrap straight draw can have 13 to 21 outs. These hands also have runner runner potential. The other day, I held the 6s 5s 3c 2h against the Kc Kh Jc 4d and the board came Ks 4s 3h. I had a draw, but I was actually the favorite in the hand and got 7 times the pot all in on the flop.
Of course, a 4 came on the turn and I lost… But I digress.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, when you sit in a low stake no-limit game, a lot of the games are tight. The pots are small. People often don’t seem to be enjoying themselves as much as they should. Yet, almost all the newest players find themselves playing no limit. It is what they see on the television and the internet. Often, they sit there and fold a lot. Then they fold some more. Then they finally decide to put it all in and play one big pot for their night. If they lose, they are sad and leave. If they win, sometimes they leave too.
It seems that players seem to have more fun when they have the opportunity to play more hands and play them deeper into the pot. Maybe the poker community should try and do a better job of directing newer players to games where they are likely to have a better time and become more regular players.
Poker needs more of this: