In the beginning — some thoughts about the game

    To many years ago to admit, I learned to play poker from a pro that made his living at five-card draw. “Crip” Kriger was his name. In addition to hustling tables from Key West to Brownsville as what was then called a rounder, he made more than a few trips on paddle wheelers up and down the Mississippi. He was also Granddad, my step-grandfather on my mother’s side. For Granddad, five-card draw was not gambling it was an investment.

Texas Hold ‘Em has pushed draw poker into the back corner. You can still find a game in some of the casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere but TV with its myriad tournaments has brought Hold ‘Em out front. The Internet with online casinos, play-money especially, has put tables within everybody’s reach.

I’ve been playing poker for 60 years or more. Maybe as long or longer than Doyle Brunson. He’s only three years older than I. Unlike Doyle and Granddad, I never went pro. I just love the game. I’ve played it for matchsticks and cigarettes and payday stakes in the Marine Corps. I’ve played penny-ante with pals in the kitchens of our homes. And I’ve played it in casino’s.

It took a while, and some expensive lessons, to switch from five-card draw to Texas Hold ‘Em. I was always ahead at draw and by my personal estimation, I think I’m far enough on the winning side to say I’m ahead of the game. Far enough to tell when I’m at a table with a bunch of doofus or some serious players. Believe me, the latter is much more satisfying.

Most of what I see at online casino play-money tables are the doofus types.

I should say that I do NOT play online for real $$; never have and never will. Why? Read any book on poker about tells and you’ll know. I never realized until I read one of Daniel Negranu’s books on poker how much I get out of watching other players at a table. The term poker-face is only part of it.

One last note, Grandad always told me never, ever draw to an inside straight or two cards to a flush. That applies to betting after the flop as well.