As the calendar counts down to the November Nine at the
World Series of Poker Main Event, players and fans alike have been caught up
with watching the action on the ESPN broadcasts and imagining themselves
competing at the tables in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, due to economic constraints, many players can’t make the
trip to Sin City. So how can players enjoy live action without the plane ticket
and the high buy-in?
Three words: Free Pub Poker
Many bars, clubs and restaurants have employed free live
poker tournaments as promotional events to drum up business. But how does the
pub poker experience compare to the action at a casino? While pub poker doesn’t
guarantee that you’ll win millions, the fun of free poker does have some great
Pub poker games offer everybody’s favorite four-letter “F” word: FREE! While some establishments offer additional
chips for players who buy appetizers or beverages, everyone attending can play
live poker without risking any money.
It’s LEGAL! (almost everywhere)
Free pub poker is also popular in jurisdictions that don’t
allow gambling. Players who don’t have the money to spend to drive to a
location with legal casinos can take in the action at their corner bar.
Players accustomed to online sites (such as SBR Poker) can
see how their strategies and tendencies stack up in a live environment. Also,
players can take the opportunity to learn more about reading mannerisms and
“tells” that the online game doesn’t provide.
Despite its numerous advantages, free pub poker also has
some pitfalls that experienced online players should anticipate.
Pub poker tournament organizers typically structure a game
to last 2-3 hours, which means blind levels usually step up every ten to
fifteen minutes. With short, fast blind levels, players can’t afford to sit on
their stacks for too long. This speedy structure often favors luck over skill
and forces players to risk all their chips with marginal hands or risk getting
Pub poker games can be full of noise, movement and other
distractions. Loud music, sporting events on TV and well-meaning wait staff can
pull a player’s attention away from the game. In these environments, players
can often miss the action and make a costly, ill-informed decision.
Some of the players in free pub poker events try out these
tournaments without ever having played a hand before, either live or online.
Many of them will act out of turn, ask about rules and slow the game down with
basic questions. Also, most of them consider poker a game of luck and will not
fold a hand until the river, hoping to “get lucky”, so bluffing them off a hand
is a losing proposition.
The most important factor to remember in a free pub poker
event is that it’s meant to be loose and social, not fierce and competitive. A
player should concentrate on enjoying the experience and treating it like a
practice session, not a WSOP final table.