Poker: Old Lady Poker Primer

I sat down at a $1-$2 no limit hold ‘em table at the Borgata and pulled my small stack of chips towards me until they were pressed against the padded armrest. The game seemed to be stalled as the dealer leaned over speaking, almost shouting, in the ear of a very old lady.

“Do you know the order of poker hands, ma’am?” he asked. “Like one pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight and flush? Do you know what these are and do you understand what hands beat what?”

“Oh, I think so,” the old lady said. “You forgot royal flush, my Sam got one of those once. We were in a casino in Havana, back then you could…”

“Excuse me, ma’am,” the dealer butted in, “do you understand the hand rankings now?”

“But does a straight beat a flush?” she asked. “I can never remember that.”

“Flush beats a straight, ma’am.” The dealer placed the deck in the card shuffler.

“And when do I get to draw three cards,” the woman asked. “Or four if you have an ace, but then you’d have to…”

“This is Texas hold ‘em, ma’am, there is no drawing. You get two cards face down and you will be able to combine them with the five community cards in any combination to make the best five card poker hand.”

“But two plus five is seven.”

“Yes, but you only need to use five, you can ignore any two cards.”

“Oh, ok. I understand.”

The dealer pulled the deck out of the card shuffler and was about to deal but looked at the old lady who had a finger in her mouth. “Is there anything else ma’am?”

She hesitated and smiled from one side of her mouth. “When do I go all-in?”

The table erupted in laughter.

“Any time you want,” someone said.

Others chimed in. “All in the first hand.”

“Every hand. Just push and pray.”

The dealer held up his hand and cleared his throat. “Ma’am, this is a no-limit table so when it’s your turn you can bet any amount you choose up to all your chips. You don’t have to go all-in, you can bet anything you want, unless someone else has already made a bet.”

“Can we play yet?” some douchebag said.

“Ok,” the dealer held the cards out and motioned to the two players to his left. “Little blind, big blind.” The first player to the left tossed out one chip and the second player put out two.

“What’s that?” the old lady asked. The table was split in half over who laughed and who groaned, but Douchebag stood up flapping his arms.

“Holy Christ! C’mon, are you kidding me?” Douchebag yelled in the old lady’s face.

“Ease up,” I said, “you’re seriously gonna step up to an old lady?”

A few people voiced agreement and an old man said, “We were all beginners at some point, this gal just waited a while. Give her a break.”

“Ok, ok.” Douchebag sat down. “Carl, might as well give it all to her step by step.”

The dealer sighed. “Ok, ma’am, now you do understand the hands and what beats what, right?” She nodded. “Ok, so the first two players to the left of the dealer put out what are called the little blind and the big blind. Since this is a 1-2 table, the little blind puts out one dollar chip and the big blind puts out two. Then it goes to the next player to the left who can fold. Or if he wants to play he has to put in two. That’s a call. If he wants to raise, he can raise it however much he wants. Say everyone only calls the first bet then it comes back to the little blind and he would have to put only one more in to see a flop. The big blind then has the option to check and see a flop or raise. If he checks, the flop comes, it is the first three of the five community cards. The first three are the flop, then one comes called the turn, then the last one called the river. And everyone gets to bet before and after everything happens.”

“Oh my f’n God,” Douchebag spouted, “I think you confused her even more. Now I don’t think I even know how to play. Could you be any more unclear?”

“That’s ok, Douchebag, I think I get it,” the old lady said and everyone busted out in laughter, even Douchebag.