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Poker in the Pub - It's All About the Novices

by Dave Brannan |  Published: Mar 01, 2008


The introduction of online and then pub poker has created a new kind of poker player. Previously, only two broad types really existed in any great numbers, the serious player and the amateur player. With the advent of online and pub poker, a new type of player emerged whom we will call the "novice". The novice does not play in casinos and, in fact, may not ever have been in a casino. It is amazing how many of our Poker in the Pub players have never been in a casino until they attend one of our regional finals. Many do not play for money, and those who venture online do so only to play freerolls or the play-money tables.

The novice player plays for fun, and I believe that many could become good amateur players but are simply not interested. They do not want to spend time studying the finer intricacies of the game and are instead quite happy to leave much of their play down to luck. Many are not even particularly bothered whether they win or lose, as they just enjoy playing.

The only chance that these novice players will ever get to play in large poker tournaments is through their pub poker league. This is one of the best things about being involved with novice players; you get to see firsthand the genuine enthusiasm and excitement they experience when they first play in a big event. Much like Christmas always seems more magical when there are young children around, the same can be said about large poker tournaments and novice players. We had 11 Poker in the Pub players take part in the Golden Sands Poker Festival last August, and it was a fantastic feeling to see four of them make the money. There is not the same excitement or wonder on the faces of the seasoned pros and amateurs when they play the large events.

We will have 10 Poker in the Pub players taking part in the Genting Stanley National Poker Championships in March (see the Inside Straight), and once again, one of the highlights for me personally, aside from attending some brilliant festivals, will be seeing the enjoyment had by our winners.

The Poker in the Pub National Final is fast approaching, so our players' eyes are turning toward Las Vegas. Last year we sent five people to Vegas, and this time we are doubling that to 10, so five lucky players will be jetting off to "Sin City" with a partner for a luxury holiday in June. Everyone has heard of Vegas, and even people who have never been will have an idea of what it might be like. If you go to Vegas with the right attitude, you are going to have a great time.

Vegas is the perfect place to piggyback on the wonder of the novice, as you can once again experience the thrill of your first visit to the city. The novice will walk through the doors of the airport, and as that wave of heat hits, he will have a little thought in the back of his head that, yes, I won this, I can live the dream for a week. Much like the first time you sit down in a tournament that is part of the World Series of Poker, a tingle goes down your spine. Even though it has flaws, it is the WSOP, and that makes it special.

Vegas is where the world, as portrayed on television, actually approaches something close to real life, and for many people, visiting Vegas is the first and only time this ever happens. Normally, at home, when they close the bar you want to visit, it is due to maintenance work or an office party. In Vegas, the hotel bar has been closed for a movie premiere, complete with A-list stars, for a film you will be able to watch in the cinema a couple of days later.

People complain when they get knocked out of a tournament by a novice player who makes a bad play and gets lucky, but you never hear the same people talking about how they collected loads of chips off novice players making bad plays. Novice players help make the WSOP great, because you get the best players in the world competing against some distinctly average players, which makes a great story. Also, poker is one of the few mainstream activities in which Joe Public can play in the biggest tournament in the world against the best players. Football fans dream of playing in the FA Cup Final but know that they never will. Novice poker players know that if they really want to, they can either try to qualify through satellites or save up their money.

In today's poker society, any unknown player who wins the main event is immediately scrutinised to try to ascertain whether he is a good player. If popular opinion decides that he falls into the amateur camp, or even worse, the novice camp, then straight away, some people deride the WSOP. At the end of the day, if you have a tournament that has a far larger contingent of amateur players than professional players, much of the time luck is going to push the bracelet in the direction of the amateurs. It can be argued that the WSOP has become a tournament for the amateur, and I do not believe that this is a bad thing. It generates huge publicity for the poker world and creates interest amongst people who might otherwise not start playing.

People may deride the novice player, but it is the hundreds of thousands of novice players around the world who have helped make poker such a great game. It is because of the sheer volume of players across the world that players can play poker at any time of the day, on any day of the year. It is also the reason why there is so much choice in terms of live tournaments for people to play in. The world of poker would be much less interesting if there were only a couple of big festivals to play around the world each year, which is why we should do everything we can to encourage the novice player.

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