Nothing can really prepare you for your first time playing poker live in a casino. It’s possible people who play with their friends a lot feel more comfortable, but the first time I played, I had only been studying the game for two weeks… so, I was pretty much shitting myself. Now, after having lots of experience, I look back on this and laugh -and I’m posting this so you can too… or maybe even get an inside look on what it’s like to play for you first time if you never have. I kept a diary of my poker learning experience so you are able to follow a play by play of what was going through my head…here you go:
So today’s the day, despite Turning Stone Casino being totally booked when we called yesterday there was a cancellation so Matt [my boyfriend] are going to go play poker this afternoon to take advantage of the promotions they’ve got going on.
Since most of you probs don’t know what Turning Stone is it’s really the only legit casino with a poker room in New York, everything else is kind of crap. This place isn’t Vegas or anything but it’s fun to pop in and play for a weekend.
I feel pretty good about it until Matt decides to tell me about a particularly nerve inducing aspect about playing poker. He explains the concept of “going on tilt”. This basically means you start playing badly because losing starts to affect you emotionally. Especially if you are playing correctly and you’re still losing, it can get to you and you start fucking up.
THANKS FOR THE WARNING. Totes the time to tell me about how I can completely fuck this up because of my emotions, because I’m not nervous AT ALL. I down my vodka and Sprite and pretend not to be worried about that happening to me.
Confidence level: 4
I get my shit together and I’m confident walking in the poker room, which btw, is completely full. Until this point, I’ve never actually stepped foot in a poker room, or really even seen one. The one at Turning Stone is basically a rectangular room filled with tables. There’s nothing fancy about it. And it’s a total sausage fest. I’m definitely the only female under the age of 45 except for some of the dealers. This basically means that people look at me like Lady Gaga just decided to pop in for a few hand of poker clad in her meat dress circa 2010. Someone actually called me a unicorn, like to my face, in terms of describing how amazing and rare it was that I showed up.
I have my resting bitch face on, I’m feeling good, and I just got a confidence boost because the selfie I posted got a bunch of likes.
Confidence level: 10 I’m feeling like Beyonce’s weave. #ONFLEEK
I follow Matt up to the counter where you sign up for a table, and I watch Matt tell the guy he wants to play 2-4 limit and then give him his initials. So then, I walk up and do the same. Matt goes to the bathroom, and as I’m standing there and watching I’m noticing the pots are just huge fucking piles of chips. They aren’t stacked the way Matt did when we practiced -and the pace is faster than I expected. I started to get nervous again …a little.
Confidence level: 8
Then one of the dealers who is starting her shift walks by me and compliments my top. We chat about how Express is great for inexpensive ‘going out tops’ and how they opened up a location close by. She was really cool. Just being able to have this normal conversation with someone relaxes me a bit.
Confidence level: 10.
Matt gets back and we get a drink from the bar. I get a vodka soda and get carded -probs because I look like a baby prostitute with the falsies I have on. Whatevs. Then Matt’s initials get called. So I’m alone again. Waiting.
I’m now I’m thinking, “Ok, what do I do when they call my initials? Do I go to the table then get chips? Chips first? Do I have to like sign something? WHAT’S THE PROCESS!?!”
The guy at the desk calls my initials he points to the nearest row and says, “This row, two tables back.” I look, I don’t see a seat. I think I’m looking at the wrong one. Taking pity on me, he walks me over to the table like a kindergartener with their mom on the first day of school. I almost tell him not to leave me.
I’M NOT READY I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO PUT MY VODKA SODA.
I set it down on the felt #rookie. (You’re not supposed to do that because it can spill and fuck up everything.)
With everyone staring at me expectantly, I turn around from the table and go to the cashier to buy chips. I hand over the hundred and ask for chips and go back to my table, hoping I didn’t weirdly fuck up something already.
Confidence level: 8 ugh.
The technicalities are fucking with me. I’ve never done this and I’m starting to see that people realize this. UGH. but I just keep telling myself WHATEVER, YOU’RE A BAD BITCH. YOU GOT THIS. Yes, I know how lame that is. Yes, I hate myself. *Takes giant sip of vodka soda*
Ok, so now that I’m at my table I see that I have a quiet AF Asian lady dealer who is about as helpful to me as Rose in Titanic, when she just fucking takes up the entire door and watches her man sink like shark popsicle.
Seven people at the table are so old they have clearly been playing poker for longer than I’ve been alive (one of which is a woman) and then one middle aged black dude with gold teeth and Patriots beanie. They all look at me like, “damn this bitch has obvi never done this shit”.
The dealer swipes my card and tells me I need a cup holder thing for my drink. THANKS BITCH, BUT LIKE, HOW? One of the old men sees my internal struggle and flags someone down walking by to grab me one.
Confidence level 2.
Ok. I’m dealt in, and I fold my first hand and shit is moving fairly fast. WTF this dealer is not saying shit about how many players or anything ugh.
COOL. JUST LET ME SINK ROSE.
AND people are making bets I don’t understand -I thought I knew everything about betting. I thought I was prepared for this. WHERE DID I GO WRONG? I AM AT THE WRONG TABLE? WHAT AM I DOING HERE? (I later found out they were betting “all in” because they ran out of chips) So they were saying things like “3, all in” and I was like da fuuuck?! I thought this was 2-4 limit? Why are they betting in increments that are not fucking 2 or fucking 4? Why are they going all in? This isn’t no limit?? WTFWTFWTF
Confidence level -23.
These old people are actually perfectly nice about my clear lack of experience. The guy next to me, who is a Native American badass with a cowboy hat, asks me what I’m drinking, and we talk about gin and tonics and Singapore slings. He’s cool, but he also throws his chips and cards like an asshole.
Confidence level: 1.
The first hand I play is pocket queens. I’m in middle position. I’m betting and shit and I think I’m doing ok. Although, this is my first real hand betting for realz. So, I’m nervous, TBH.
There are 2 things that I should have noticed and then folded my ass out of the hand. The guy to my right kept calling to my raise AND there was a possibility of straight on the board. And yes, that dude had the straight.
I have to show my hand and feel a little dumb, but at least I had *something*. This doesn’t make me feel worse about anything, but it does kind of wake me up and make me think ,”Jordan, these are things you know to look for and are totally capable of knowing, but stop being a little bitch and get it together.”
The old guy across from me, who constantly has his tongue out, the way some old people do, like little old birds, comments that I’m “too quiet”.
THAT’S BECAUSE I’M SHITTING MYSELF OK? UGH. Also, y’all are old, sorry Robert.
The cool Native American dude next to me leans to me and says I’m better than a guy he played with earlier. He, apparently, was too loud and didn’t win a single pot in 3 hours. This guy really is awesome. He’s like my Native American spiritual guide or something.
Confidence level: 3
I’m not doing great, but I’m realizing I CAN BE IF I STOP BEING A PUSSY ASS BITCH.
One of the promotions going on is they call a random seat number every half hour and that person gets $250. I’m in seat 4, table 23. They begin to announce… SEAT 4… everyone at my table looks at me…TABLE NUMBER TWENTY…..oh shit, is this going to happen? SIX. Nope. One of the guys at the table says, “Ya would have gotten it if you looked over at the announcer and smiled!” Me: “Ha, thanks. Next time I’ll give him a wink and a wiggle.”
After that, I’m starting to loosen up, and I’m getting the hang of the technical how to. I win my first 2 pots. I’m starting to make fewer mechanical mistakes, and I’m falling into a rhythm. I’m now up like 10 bucks, which is awesome.
Some of the players start switching in and out. A guy, who looks like he is from Making of a Murderer, was at the table for a while, he sized me up HARD. He got replaced by a 19 year old. They guy who told me I was too quiet got replaced by the 19-year-old’s friend.
So, now that I have played for a couple of hours I’m starting to feel pretty good and way more comfortable. The next hand after that, that I really played was a King high flush, the other guy had the Ace I lost he apologized, so I felt totally fine with that.
Confidence level: 8
And then I got hit.
I was hit by a flying button. A guy walked up behind me… and then all of a sudden I was hit on my left arm. I turn around and see him. I think dude “WTF! Why the fuck did you just hit me?!”
Immediately, he said, “OMG that wasn’t me. And bends down and picks up a button his friend had thrown to him.” I realize had happened and say it’s fine.
The guy who threw it was like “I’m so sorry it came out of my hand wrong” and the guy behind me was like, “Dude thanks for making me look like an asshole”
SO THAT HAPPENED.
After that, the dealer who complimented my top sat down. YASS BETCH! HEYY!! WHAT’S UP, GURL??! YOU GOOD??? KEWL, ME TOO!
So, yeah. I was excited to see her show up. The first hand she dealt I got 9s full of 4s as the big blind and it was almost the high hand of the room (meaning I would have won money on a promotion). My dealer totes went to bat for me to get it put on the board, but another hand out ranked it right after, so it didn’t go on the board. I still won a decent pot so I was happy.
Confidence level: 9
I notice another young girl walk up to the table next to mine, and think, ‘oh, that’s awesome another woman under 30… or even 40.’ And then I see that she is just pulling up chair to watch her bf play. I saw her look back and totes want to be me.
Confidence level: 10
Then, the black guy at my table gets that 250 random seat draw promotion. HE IS PUMPED. So that’s awesome.
A few hands later. I’m dealt the nuts Ace high straight. I’m betting and raising, he’s re-raising and 2 other people are in for the turn and river I’m like shiiit this is a HUGE pot and I have the nuts. BUT because he kept re-raising me, I’m totally scared shitless BUT I KNEW I HAD THIS. So, I keep on this until the showdown. I win (obvi). Black guy is crushed. He makes a joke about sharing the money he just won, and we have a laugh. I FEEL LIKE A BALLLERRRRRR.
Confidence level: 20
After that, there wasn’t really another exciting hand for me, I won a couple decent sized pots, but I had been playing for a while (about 5 hours). So I was good with wrapping up.
Overall, I know I came off as nervous and new -just clearly I hadn’t really played before. Getting used to just actually playing live at a table takes a couple hours to get the hang of, it just does. And it worked to my advantage. I think generally they took my bets pretty seriously, because I only really bet when I had something, But also, due to my fuck ups, if they had a good hand they would underestimate me and I would get more money. I basically think I confused the fuck out of them, which was awesome for me.