I don't have more than a few years' experience with Texas Hold 'Em. In fact, my first live game was an impromptu event at a backyard barbecue two years ago. Surprising myself, I ended up finishing second of nine players. The second-to-last hand saw me lose most of my stack to a bad read, an all-in bet, a fanatical call, and an all-hearts flush.
The game was a learning experience in that I didn't have three buttons and a bet slider bar sitting in front of me on an LCD screen. It also meant I was in danger of pulling such stupid rookie moves as folding my cards while in the big blind position after a series of calls around to me. Luckily, friends didn't mind when someone else shoved my two cards back to me, smirked, and mumbled, "Just check, Jeff."
Suffice to say, I learned a lot during that game. I gained more confidence as I played more games. Eventually, I began developing my own style (as most styles go, it's a work-in-progress).
This Saturday, I had the opportunity to watch former Chicago Bull Dickey Simpkins sit at a table with eight other players, including Chicago Poker Clubber Jason Finn. I don't know which very large (and damn impressive) championship ring Dickey was wearing on his pinky, but it didn't help him distance himself from the same beginner mistakes I made during my first few games.
As I hovered around the table during the charity tournament's first break, I watched Jason Finn and fellow CPCer Kirk Fallah give Dickey a brief run-through of poker's core rules, mechanics, and order-of-hands. They followed it all up with a few pointers and some advice. Though it was a good faith effort by both Jason and Kirk, Texas Hold 'Em takes more time to explain than that which is allowed during one break!
The break ended. Jason took his seat, as did the other seven players (one or two separated Jason and Dickey). As I continued to hover, I watched Dickey fold hand after hand. After one fold, he caught Jason's eye and shook his head looking like he'd just run up and down the court ten times. You don't have to be a good poker player to pick up on that read.
Jason smiled and affirmed his disgruntlement with a nod: "It's a patient man's game."
"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," Dickey responded, shrugging before sitting back in his seat to wait for his next two hole cards.