break in Portugal with friends had reduced my nerves to tatters. The weather
had been perfect, the food and wine sublime - but the poker was a disaster.
After a week of being taken apart, it felt like time for - well, a holiday. So
it was back to the (Mac-friendly) PokerRoom.com site and its $1 buy-in
single-table knockout "turbo" hold-'em tournaments for some
confidence-building. Ten players "sit down" and the last two split the prize:
$7 for the winner, $3 for the runner-up. With turbo games, the antes go up
every three minutes, and games last roughly half an hour (about 40 hands). And
with one starting every few seconds, you just log on, sign up, and off you
Some fellow players weren't keen on this
new direction. "It's like blitz chess," they said. "It's all about obvious
moves." They have a point; you're unlikely to find yourself tangling with the
poker aristocracy - though it's no place for rookies.
In turbo games, an
edge of recklessness is vital. For those of us who tend to be overcautious, it
can be liberating. Always, though, sit back for the first couple of hands and
let the kamikaze players self-destruct. And then look for people who just want
as much play as they can get for their buy-in, and bully them. Usually it boils
down to you and a couple of other decent players.
It's astonishing, in
fact, how many solid players you find at this end of the poker spectrum; the
days of easy online pickings are long gone. But if you just need some TLC at
the baize, there are worse places. Portugal for one.