A Seat of Her Own

Poker Power instructor, Amrutha Alladi shares what she learned from her very first in-person poker game in Las Vegas.
Amrutha Alladi

Poker Power instructor, Amrutha Alladi wasn’t always a poker pro. In fact, she learned pokers’ ins and outs through Poker Power’s 12-week course. In this three-part blog series, Alladi recounts her first time on the felt and her biggest takeaways.

In the beginning

I learned how to play poker and its strategy (more than just knowing the hand rankings) in 2020 when I completed Poker Power’s 12-week course.  The majority of my poker play was through free-roll games and online charity events. After plenty of practice, I started itching to test out my poker knowledge on the felt. A year after learning, I decided to play poker for the first time in person. I flew to Las Vegas (go big or go home, right?) and felt so excited and nervous.

First cash game

For my very first cash game, I went to the poker room at a well-known casino. When I entered, I saw a beautiful card display. I had a general understanding of the setup, so I  added my name to the list. I signed up for the $1/$3 NLH Texas Hold ‘em table waitlist and waited patiently. After what felt like an eternity (a whole 25 minutes), my name was called. They had enough people on the waitlist and a dealer available, so a new table was started.

I was very present. I made my way through the crowded room, absorbing as much as I could, and finally found my table. I chose a random seat.  At last, I was sitting at a poker table! I glanced around the table and observed the seven other players. The players were a diverse group and I noticed another woman sitting at the table too!

On the felt

As everyone was getting settled, the dealer went around the table and asked how much each person wanted to buy in for. I had pre-decided* that I would start playing with 100 BB (big blinds) and had determined a limit for how much I was willing to re-buy for. I also decided what I would be OK with losing.

*Bankroll management is an important part of playing poker for real money. This concept is based on allocating money aside from your other finances for recreational spending separate while keeping track of how much you are spending.

Putting it together

Each poker room and game type is structured differently and has a particular minimum and maximum that you can buy in for. The recommended buy-in is 100 BB because it allows the player more opportunities to utilize poker strategy—bluffing, trapping, re-raising, etc. On the other hand, let’s say I were to start short stacked with $100, which is only roughly 33 BB in this game to start. This can be a disadvantage for me and limit my gameplay.  I may not have enough chips to display strength or bluff on a hand by betting continuous streets (betting on the turn and river) and I may find myself in more all-in situations. That being said, there is a different strategy involved in playing short-stacked.

The dealer picked up the shuffled deck and began to deal. The first few hands, I folded. One, because I recognized that my starting hands were not strong enough for my early position, and two, because I wanted to observe the other players’ specific mannerisms and how they bet at the table. I could feel my hands shaking a bit as I counted my chips, and my posture was stiff, but slowly and surely I became more comfortable and relaxed in my chair. Over the next 2.5 hours, I won some hands and lost some too, but learned a lot. I thought it was a great experience for a beginner like myself because the dealers were friendly and answered any questions I had along the way. Plus, there was an array of different kinds of players.

Throughout that night, and during the other two cash games I played, my goal was to take it all in—being present in the moment, observing how others acted, picking up on tells, but most importantly, having fun! 

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