How Real Poker isn’t Like Rounders

I get this question a lot:

Is poker like the movie Rounders?

When it comes to the rise and fall of bankrolls, yes, it can be.  Professional poker players can be several millions up one year and be filing bankruptcy the following.  Relationships crumble, lives crash and burn.  That part, I can say in all honesty, does happen.

As for the pacing of the poker games, not quite.

The World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and other poker events that are now televised are edited versions of the actual event.  “Degree all-in moments” don’t happen every hand, every ten hands, or even every 20, and more than once have I dealt to a table where someone was itching just to go “all-in” just because it looked cool on TV.

Yes, in the movie, you do learn about  tells (which for you novices out there refers to behavioral patterns that unconsciously show up when you are lying or being truthful), and dealer’s method of cheating, like dealing from the bottom of the deck (which is pointless, because those cards are as random as the cards on top of the deck, unless they’re marked – but someone would have figured that one out quickly), and about playing the players, rather than the hands.

The one thing every outlet fails to mention is patience.

Poker is as much about playing a hand as knowing when to fold.  It’s knowing that a good portion of the time, your hands will be unplayable and therefore you will need to bide your time and be a spectator until the right moment comes when you’re in a good position and those left in the hand aren’t confident they have the nuts.  Think of it like dating.  Not everyone you date will be an ideal match.  On many occasions you go on one date and realize there’s just no chemistry, so you cut your loses and try again.  Then on other occasions you keep dating the person, even though there’s something just not quite right about them, and two weeks later, you find them trying to break into your house through the chimney and you have to call the fire department to get them out.  It’s kinda the same thing with poker.  If you decide to play, you bet because you have faith in the hand to be a winner.  There’s a reason why it’s called “committing to a bet”.   Technically, if you’re playing poker right, you’re roughly going to be in for about 20%-25% of the hands that you’re dealt, which breaks down to once every 4-5 hands, which means a lot of waiting.

So is real poker like Rounders?  Lifestyle, yes.  Game play, throw in a few hundred more hands then maybe.

…oh, and you’re more than likely not going to see as many professional named players at your table every time you walk into the poker room at a casino.  Sorry.