Dude, that’s my seat: A poker home game dilemma

January 10, 2020inPoker

Tonight’s the night I go play in my monthly home game with friends. I’ve been looking forward to it all week!

The game that has been ongoing for many years — probably 10 or 15 — although I can’t say for sure as I’ve only been part of it the last year-and-a-half or so.

We play a no-limit hold’em tournament that features a smart structure (in my opinion), one developed at some point in the game’s history before I first joined.

The levels last a half-hour with the stacks very deep to start (200 big blinds), which more or less ensures most players make it to the scheduled break after two hours. Sometimes everyone does. After that the blinds are big enough to move things along fairly quickly, which prevents the tournament from going too late.

It’s a small group, usually comprised of seven or eight players. The most I can remember attending was 11, but even in that instance we all gathered around a single table.

It’s the way we gather around that table I wanted to talk about. Perhaps you play in a home game, too, where you experience something similar.

The same fellow hosts every time. It’s literally a “kitchen table” poker game — two tables, actually, pushed together with a cloth over both. The chairs are different sizes, with some pulled from other rooms to provide enough seating for all.

I can’t remember how I picked my seat the first time I played, although I dimly recall being invited to sit in a particular one near one of the corners. In any case, that’s been my seat ever since, and similarly have the other players all taken the same seats, too — again, no doubt continuing a practice begun well before I joined the game.

The seats are all plenty comfortable, mind you. The one at the far end has a bigger back, making it a throne of sorts and perhaps slightly more cozy than others. But I wouldn’t highlight that as a meaningful factor affecting the game.

There is one small issue, though. Perhaps you know what it is.

Since we all are sitting in the same seats every time, that means we’re all experiencing the same positives or negatives stemming from our positions relative to the other players.

To be honest, this game is relaxed enough and for low enough stakes that I wouldn’t dream of suggesting we change anything about our seating assignments. After all, I am still more or less the new guy! The play is also (generally) on the passive side — not unusual in friendly home games — which means there aren’t any super-aggro types making life miserable for the players sitting on their right. The players always sitting on their right, that is.

To refer to what the great Mike Caro has said on this subject, it’s generally more preferable to have loose and/or aggressive players sit on your right than on your left. Having them on your right makes them relatively easier to deal with, since most of the time you will get to act after they do.

When these types are on your left, you often don’t know what problems they might be about to cause for you when you act. You’d rather have tight rocks who rarely play hands on your left and/or passive players who when they do get involved are just calling and not being such a nuisance with raises.

I’m not going to propose it tonight, but I’d think if you were in a home game in which everyone agreed it wasn’t good to create ongoing advantages and disadvantages caused by seating assignments, it might be time to randomize.

If there are nine players, pull the ace through nine out of the deck, shuffle, and deal them out as seat assignments before you start. Make sure the seats in which players sit are as random as the cards they’ll be dealt.

And if someone complains about not getting the cushy recliner or getting stuck with the creaky deck chair with the wobbly leg, well, then maybe you’ll want to do some high carding to sort that out as well.

Photo: “poker,” dupo-x-y, CC BY 2.0.


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