For the past week I've been playing Hold-em on Facebook. Let's make one thing perfectly clear immediately: this is nothing at all like playing poker with real money.
As proof, consider that I, a moderately (and only moderately) skillful player, began the week with a $1,000 play money bankroll. As I write this, my fake bankroll stands at $423,027. If you seriously think that anyone, never mind me, could accomplish that feat in the real world, well, I'd like to sit down and play poker with you. I'm sure we'd both enjoy it.
Anyway, even though FaceBook Texas Hold-em is full of "Bingo" players (people who make ridiculous bets with any cards at all) there seem to be enough serious players there that you can (with a little effort) enjoy a good game now and then.
The path to a good game requires getting rid of the Bingo players. Interestingly, it's not that hard to do. For those who don't understand the game, in Texas Hold-em you are dealt two cards. Everyone bets based upon what they now have (or would like other players to think you have). In a real game, a typical bet at this point would usually be not more than three or four times whatever the minimum bet is. The reason is that you really don't know what you have - there are more cards to come. A pair of Aces in your hand is certainly good, but it's hardly a guaranteed win. In a tournament, a player might push in all their chips with Aces if the situation is ripe for that play - if it's late in the tourney, if your chips dominate the other players, if you are playing in "late position" (being the last or close to the last person to bet).
In a cash game (not a tournament) , it would be extremely unusual to risk everything you have on one bet before seeing more cards. But that's just what the Bingo players do, and they don't wait for Aces to do it - they'll often just push in chips no matter what their cards are.
There's no point in complaining. I made a mildly sarcastic comment once and got the retort "It's called gambling, *redacted*!". OK, yes, that it is a type of gambling. It's not poker.
However, if there are at least a few of you at the table who would like to play poker as though the play money really meant something, there is a way to get rid of the Bingo players. You simply ignore them.
That is, if they bet their stack pre-fop (before the remaining cards are dealt), you simply fold. You fold even if you are holding Aces yourself, you fold even if you have already called smaller raises before the Bingo players jump in.
The other Bingo players will call the bets. It doesn't matter very much what cards they hold - they are in it for the excitement of a giant pot. They'll keep playing like this until they wipe each other out.
However, if you and just a few other players refuse to call ridiculous pre-flop bets, there is no excitement. As the other Bingo players are wiped out, there will be more serious players than Bingo players and the only time the Bingo folks can get any action is post-flop. Even then, you don't play to their silliness unless you have the "nuts" (the best possible hand) or close to it. Otherwise, you just fold - ignoring pot odds and implied odds and not caring at all about whatever money you are throwing away. Your purpose at this point is to get rid of the Bingo folks so you don't call their bets unless you are very sure to win.
This strategy works. Of course new players will join the table, and some will be more Bingo players, but if you all stick to the strategy, they'll soon either be bored or broke, leaving the rest of you to enjoy a good game of poker.
You'll also acquire a big pile of fake money earned from the Bingo players foolish enough to push all in with their post-flop pair of Kings against your made full house or Ace high flush. That's where my $400,000 came from - playing against the "real" players probably gave me much less - if anything at all. Those were the games that were fun, though, where skill, cunning and a little luck are what you and your opponents are using. With serious players, you can even bluff now and then - something you can never do against a Bingo player. At times, you might even forget that it isn't real money - well, until it's time to stand up and you realize you are not going home with several hundred thousand dollars. Oh well: I'm having fun - that's what matters.
I do wish they had a "post and fold" option so that you could leave your seat for a few minutes and not lose it. It would also be nice to be able to set your "Raise" button to some multiple of the minimum bet and have it stay their until you change it. There are other minor interface annoyance issues, but overall I do find this enjoyable.
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