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How to play a Mother’s Day Freeroll … with your mom!

April 27, 2021

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Replay Poker’s Mother’s Day Freerolls are just around the corner! Why not get a mom in your life involved? Our Poker Operations Lead, Chasetheriver, shares a story on what it’d be like playing poker on Replay with his own mum.

My retired mother has shown some interest in the internet recently. We visited her brother and sister-in-law, and they were showing her their archive of holiday snaps and grandchildren photos on a tablet. Ever since then, she regularly asks me about whether she could use one, and how easy is this internet thing anyway? My dad has a laptop (same one for ten years), but doesn’t use it much beyond Google and emails. He is quite protective of the laptop and mum doesn’t get to play with it. At all.

With the forthcoming Mother’s Day Freerolls at Replay, I thought it might be a good idea to both train her up on a computer and show her how poker works.

To begin with, I get her to sit at my workstation laptop and search for obvious things like recipes, department stores, garden centers and holiday destinations. Soon enough, she has a good idea of how the mouse works and was already a better typist than me.

Next up, we need a Replay account. We make an email address and have to think of a username. We log in on my account and take a look at some of the avatars and names already being played. 

Chasetheriver (CTR): “We should give you a name you can remember and a picture of something you like, so you can easily see where you are sitting.”
CTR’s Mum, after seeing a picture of a famous singer: “If we choose a picture of a pop star, will people think it’s really them? Is that allowed?”
CTR: “Everyone knows it’s not really them in the picture. Who do you like?’

We go with an avatar of UK heartthrob Englebert Humperdink, and although I press to have the username ReleaseMe, she controversially prefers Delilah by rival Tom Jones. So we get to a version of that as a username.

Now we need some poker basics. I get her to sit and watch me play in the Bust the Staff tournament just before the Mothers Day freerolls. I fold a lot as usual, but explain what hands people should be playing, folding, and calling. How to bet and how to operate the buttons and sliders. Hand Ranking and pot sizes do not come easily, because although she is familiar with whist and bridge, poker is alien. So is wagering chips. I decided that the best option for now is to teach her to stay in as long as possible and soak up the Replay atmosphere.

After a few more games where she shadows me, we log in to her account and sit her at a 1/2 ring table to see if she can follow the action, and see how she feels about the game first hand.

CTR’s Mum: “Is this what you do all day? You tell me you are in meetings when I want to talk to you.”
CTR: “No! It’s a really popular game and people make friends here. Remember how I have all those people in my friends page? I don’t know them all personally, but we can chat and say hello when we meet at a table.”

Mum folds a lot too but limps to see a few flops, without any success.

I have gone with this strategy:

  • If you should match one of your hole cards with either of the highest two cards on the board, don’t fold.
  • If they both match the board, bet and raise
  • Otherwise, check or fold.

(Apologies to poker coaches everywhere.) 

I will try to work in basics about position, flushes, and straights as we see them come along, but the idea is to play and have a bit of fun, not to over-analyze.

She gets a pair of queens on the Button, and I advise trying a raise instead of just a call

CTR’s Mum: “Are you sure we will win? That other player lost everything when they had two queens.”
CTR: “We can’t be sure to win. They played awfully and bet all their chips after they were losing. We are going to try and just have one or two opponents and a great chance to win.”
CTR’s Mum: “OK, but what about if I dont match one on the table? Don’t I have to fold?”
CTR: “Not always. A high pair like this counts as a matched pair anyway.”

Someone raises to 26 before it gets to us. Then there is a caller, and another raise to 100! 

We have the full buy-in at the table (of course!), and she goes all-in and finds three callers all for less than 400, with A-J, 10-9, and 3-3. The Queens hold, and it’s a 1,095 pot — making her stack up to over 1,250!

CTR’s Mum: “Have I won some money?”
CTR: “No, it’s free poker, but it’s fun, isn’t it?”
CTR’s Mum: “I don’t see the point, really. But if it is what you like to do all day. Can you make me a cup of tea?”

When I get back, she has dropped to below 1,100 and it is obvious she has got the hang of the calling because she is in more hands than not. But nothing spectacular happens.

I have already decided that we will treat the freeroll tournament in the same way as the ring table. But I explain how the blinds will get more expensive, and how the object is to win absolutely all the chips from all the other players.

A couple more days of test play later, Mum is not flying totally solo yet, but has the buttons worked out. She likes to raise it up when we have pretty much any picture cards, but doesn’t hang around in too many pots where she misses the flop. Maybe not knowing about flush and straight draws is a good thing?

We arrange to sit down together to play a Mother’s Day Freeroll.  

There are almost 100 players, and I know it will be about 150 by the time late registration ends. I point out the prize structure of tournaments and that the cost to play goes up almost each round, so she needs to get a little lucky for the next hour or so. 

Two of the players are sitting out and mum is surprised, but I open up a few other tables and show her it is a fairly common thing for players to register to a free tournament and then ‘forget’ to play.

Almost straight away, she gets Ace King on the big blind and simply has to click call when UTG pushes and scoops a pot to double up. The opponent had 10-8, and she asks (for the 20th time in a week) why people would play like that. I say, “People just have favourite hands or maybe they are impatient. You have to win all the chips though, so some people like to have a gamble from the beginning.”

The cost to call automatically goes up after a few more hands and she asks why. 

CTR’s Mum: “Why is it 40?”
CTR: “It is so the tournament gets over with. As people get knocked out, the other players get more and more chips. This way, they eventually have to use them to keep alive in the game.”
CTR’s Mum: “It is a bit like Monopoly then, where one player gets all the money?”
CTR: “Yes, that’s right!”
CTR’s Mum: “I had to stop playing Monopoly with your father. He likes to win all the time and doesn’t play for fun.”

The No Shows get removed and Mum is 81st of 93 left because she is seeing quite a few flops when there is no raise and not winning any.

Then, she gets AA in early position with a stack of a little over 2,000, which is well below average by now and I know we want to make a stand. She is first to act and I cringe a little as she min raises to 80. 

CTR: “Arghh, you should have bet more. Too many people might play and it’s hard to win against them all.”
CTR’s Mum: “I’m going to do what that player with the picture of the car did earlier. When someone bets again, I will bet more.”
CTR: “You learned to 3-bet?”
CTR’s Mum: “What’s that? I have been watching the cards people bet with and you said aces are the best hand, so I am going to make them pay more when they bet again.”
CTR: “Unfortunately that only works when somebody makes another bet, but let’s see.”

Incredibly, everyone folds and she gets a pot of less than 200.

Much disappointed by this, she seems to lose heart and asks if we can play another game.

CTR: “No. Sorry, but we have to play until we lose the chips. If you want, we can play everything in the next few hands. We are low on chips anyway and you had bit of a game for 25 minutes.”
CTR’s Mum: “If I lose all my chips, we can stop? You won’t be angry at me?”
CTR: “No, it won’t matter. Just call when someone makes a big bet.”

Five hands later, she wins a 5-handed all-in extravaganza with Q-10 suited, quickly followed by a nice pot with kings where she over raises all-in preflop and gets called by queens.

Suddenly Mum is 19/34 as we near the first break, and there are 30 prizes.

I put the kettle on and try to explain that we would like to make sure we finish in the top 30, so we get a chip prize. There is a leaderboard, but I can tell she is not ready for that yet.

CTR’s Mum: “Has it been an hour? Do all of these people play all the time?”
CTR: “Yes. It goes quickly and you did play a lot of hands compared to me. Most people just play when they want to pass the time, but there are lots of people who play everyday because they want to win things.”

The game restarts, and to my relief, she doesn’t get any tempting cards or flops until there are fewer than 30 players left. We move tables for the first time in the tournament, so there are three tables of nine.

CTR’s Mum: “How come the player with the duckling has that many chips? They must have cheated somehow?”
CTR: “No, there were over 100 players and they have won the chips of about 25 of them. They must have been a bit lucky, probably. It happens in tournaments.”
CTR’s Mum: “I didn’t get very lucky.”
CTR: “You didn’t do so bad considering the Ace king and queen ten hands winning, as well as the kings.”
CTR’s Mum: “When they raise, I am going to play against them.”
CTR: “Yeah, why not?”

The duckling is third chip leader and stays quiet for a few hands. Mum is 20th of 25 left. 

Mum gets Jack Ten, both spades and the duckling makes it 400. She swings the bet slider to max and bets it all.

The duckling calls with Jacks, which is the worst result ever. But the board runs our four spades and Mum wins! Even though she is expecting to lose because she has not done the course on hierarchy yet (my bad).

CTR’s Mum: “I won! I told you we should play against them more.”
CTR: “Actually, at this stage it’s a bit of a lottery who wins because the bets are so big and betting a lot can be the best way.”

Sadly, the next major interaction was getting K-9 on the big blind in an unraised pot and a flop which came 9-7-7. I had also neglected to say much about the dangers of open pairs. After the small blind bet both the flop and the turn, we found ourselves all-in against a 7-4 and Mum was out a commendable 17th.

She liked the confetti pop-up and was chuffed with the 5,000 prize, but I could tell she was glad to be able to get away from the bustle of the site.

All in all, a great experience for both of us to share some time together. I don’t expect she will be pressing me to play again anytime soon, but we will have to see about getting that tablet for the photographs.