Determine Games and Limits
In my last column, I introduced the cardroom staff to you. Hopefully, this assisted you, the "poker newbie", in getting past the intimidation factor. Now we need to figure out how to determine what games and limits are being played in the cardroom you have chosen. Upon entering the cardroom, you should seek out the brush or board personnel. This person would most likely be the first person to greet you. He or she probably will be either standing behind a counter, or out on the floor with a clipboard. There may be other ways in which a board attendant operates, but these are the most common ones. Once you have found this person, it is his function to explain the game and limit options and to answer any questions about the games and/or rules.
As this column is aimed at the very newest of players, my comments about game opportunities will be aimed at the lowest-limit games that you likely will encounter. Most cardrooms will have No Limit Texas Hold'em at limits from $1-$2 on up. Most will also have Limit Hold'em games with perhaps the smallest limit of $2-$4. Some cardrooms will also spread Omaha Hi-Lo starting at limits of $4-$8. These will be the three main games that should be of interest to the novice player and luckily for you, they are the most widespread. Again, I am speaking in general terms. The cardroom you are visiting may differ.
What are the buy-ins and how do you actually get into a game? When the brush person seats you, ask him about the minimum chip purchase required to start. Generally speaking, most cardrooms will have at least one game where you can play for a buy-in as low as $20-$30. This is where you ought to be starting until you get comfortable and get to know the rules of the road. Depending on what part of the country you are in, the buy-in will be anywhere from five to ten times the maximum bet. This is meant as a general guideline only. As you soon will learn, in nearly all poker questions, the answer can be "it depends", and this is no different!
As you get seated in the game of your choice, ask the brush person to assist you in attaining whatever you need for your own comfort. Oftentimes, the room will provide cushions. If so, and if you want one, now is the time to ask. Most poker rooms today are no smoking rooms. If you are a smoker there will be somewhere for you to smoke but it will not be at the table! Beverages will be served, either complimentary or for a charge. Here is a good time to make that request should you desire cocktail or soft drink service. Does your room have a coat rack? Where are the restrooms? These are all things that you should ask about while you have the attention of someone in the know. This is not to say that you will not be able to get a needed assist later on, but ask while the asking is good!
From one venue to another, the game choices and other options will vary tremendously. This column merely is intended to give you an idea what you will find in the majority of cardrooms across the country. This discussion will continue with some general game rules and other important topics. Class dismissed!