You are looking good; you have just gotten a haircut, a manicure, and perhaps a touchup where needed. You have donned your new outfit and are heading down to the cardroom to enjoy your favorite game. It is tournament time in town and you know the games will be juicy. You know the fish will be biting and the live ones happy to give you their money. You are pumped and ready to go when the worst thing happens. You arrive at the podium to get into your game of choice and find that 50 others have arrived before you and are all on the list. You decide that this is no big deal. After all, you have been reading my column and know the importance of having a backup plan, and you have more than one game and limit you are eager to play. You head over to the other podium to get on the list when you find that this other game has even more would-be rounders ahead of you. How did this happen? What will you do?
With the phenomenal growth of poker, cardrooms are more and more full and lists have become unbearably long during tournaments or holiday weekends. What is a road warrior such as you supposed to do when faced with a wait of several hours to “get into action”? Believe it or not, there are many things you can do to utilize your time. I travel a great deal to the big tournaments, especially the past couple of years as the statistician for the World Poker Tour. I find that more often than not, I am in a cardroom during prime time, and getting into a Bola88 game isn’t the snap that it used to be. Because of this, I arrive with a contingency plan. The first thing I always do is grab a Card Player, to read the latest on strategy and get tournament results and other insightful info. Sometimes I bring a good book or my iPod, or I come with a friend and plan to have lunch while waiting. Other times, I look on the rail for a familiar face and ask someone to hang out. The best of all things to do is scout the games that I am interested in playing. If I do that, I already will have an idea about the opposition when I get seated. I can get a line on the play of those in the game, be familiar with the tempo, and know who the aggressors are. I also can get an idea of who is winning and who is losing. Just because someone has two racks of chips in front of him doesn’t mean he is winning, you know. He might have just barely gotten even. It is always good to know who is stuck and possibly steaming, and who is the big winner and could be running over the game. With all of the huge new properties, you can also take a tour of the one you are visiting. Who knows, it might have a museum, a flower garden, a great band playing, some cool shops, or even an ice cream stand. It’s best to go find those things when you have the time.
Another thing I often do when waiting to get into a game is leave and come back. That’s right, I will leave the cardroom and come back in an hour or two. You can sometimes tell by the number of players on a list and from asking the person running the list about how long the wait might be. If it is going to be considerably long, I might go home and come back. If I am staying in a room on the property, I might go to my room to kick back and ask for the courtesy of a call. Many cardrooms will offer this service. There is no harm in asking. I have been very content in a venue that offers this courtesy, as I can go back to my room and catch up on work, watch TV, or even go to the gym and work out and then shower again. But the gym workout is generally already completed before I venture out in the first place. Healthy body, healthy mind … well, I hope so!
If you choose to hang out in the cardroom or nearby where you are able to hear the page when your name is finally called, why not find someone with whom you can talk poker? You needn’t find an expert to discuss hands and strategy. You just need to find someone who plays and is enjoyable to talk to, and is someone with whom you have a mutual respect for common sense and objectivity. You can talk about trouble hands and “what ifs” of poker. You needn’t solve every problem or complex situation, but a good discussion is great food for thought to get your own creative poker juices flowing. The time you spend waiting for a game needn’t be wasted time. The things you do while you are waiting can help to put you in the right frame of mind for when you finally do get seated. Of course, you can always take a walk and find somewhere nice to simply smell the roses. Class dismissed!