This will be the start of the ramblings of a noob to *real* online poker and my hopeful improvement over time as a player. Hope you can all bear with me :mrgreen:

I've been a fan of poker for many years, although I've only ever casually played and never seriously applied myself to the cerebral/strategy side of the game (which is the part that attracts me the most to it). Several years ago, I ran in a circle of friends who were excellent players (well, to me at least , and were teaching me the ropes to some extent, but it was in a game of theirs where the stakes were too uncomfortable to me to really allow me to make any progress in trying to apply and progress as a player. That whole experience turned me away from the game for several years.

Fast forward a few years and I started playing on one of the social media poker games, who shall remain nameless but I'm sure you can all guess what I'm referring to. It all started off innocently enough as primarily a place to casually play with friends, but I quickly grew disillusioned with all the AIMs and idiots that frequented the place as I found I was longing for a REALgame of poker and a chance to learm more of the finer points of the game. This DEFINITELY wasn't going to be it, but it did give me an opportunity to get several thousand hands under my belt and learn a little bit about myself and a comfortable playing style, and (maybe even more importantly) learn a lot about the type of player i DID NOT want to be. I got completely fed up with that "game" probably about a year ago and I look back at that time as a sort of pennance. I hope you can all forgive me and look beyond my past digressions. :-D

I've had discussions on and off with a friend of mine, who plays semi-professionally, about wanting to find an outlet for this desire to learn more about the game and improve my playing skills. He always talked about PokerStars and said this was the place to be (this is where he plays as well). I resisted for a while, as I had a perception of online poker being this seedly underworld of the game, ripe with sharks and reserved mainly for high rollers and not something I would be comfortable with. Then two weeks ago, he started up a weekly Home Game and sent me an invite to join. This peaked my interest enough to check out what this whole PokerStars thing was all about. I liked what I saw and created an account and got set to join his little group.

Now, of course, the competitive side of me kicked in and I didn't want to walk into this game with my semi-pro friend and his buddies as a complete noob and make a fool of myself :roll: . So, as I dug around the PokerStars site I had just signed up a little more, I noticed this Poker School Online site. "Hmmm...now that sounds interesting" I says to myself....let me go check it out. Boy did this open my eyes to a whole different world that I had no idea existed before. Between the courses, quizzes and the forums, seemingly fiiled with folks of all skill ranges who held moslly friendly discourses with one another on the finer points of the game, I was in poker heaven! Much to the chagrin of my wife 8-O , I spent that first weekend going through all the courses and passing all the quizzes. I've got some major payback for that weekend, to be sure as we were in the middle of final preparations for our daughter's wedding, which went off without a hitch this past Friday. Ah well, no pain, no gain they always say, right?

Now even though I made it through all the PSO courses and quizzes, I definitely have no false delusions of grandeur of being an overnight master. I came though the courses a bit overwhelmed but excited. I've since played in a couple of the freeroll PSO Skill League tournaments (even breaking my ITM cherry last night with a 125th place and a $0.01 payout :wink: ). I even got up the courage to play in the PSO Warm Up earlier today and had my best game yet, placing 11th! Woo Hoo!

So this has rambled on more than I expected, so if you've managed to make it this far, thanks for reading. I'm really looking forward to spending more time here and learning more about the game with all the support tools and folks here. I know I'll have lots of questions along the way, but I now feel like I have found a forum for all the questions I'll have, which will likely sound silly to all the veterans here, so please bear with me.

Mark