I don't play cards as often as I'd like. I'm an average player, but I tend to play too conservatively to win any real money. Usually when I play I can manage a few good hands, and get into the top 1/3 of the group I'm in. From there I have to get pretty lucky. I toyed around with playing online for fake money, but I find that is no way to learn. People do some dumb things when fake money's on the line.
I signed up for a 6 month tournament with my brother and his friends. The tournament cost $100 to enter, and meets once a month. Each meeting is an additional $60. The monthly games pay out for the top three. Players are also awarded points towards the series over the course of 6 games. Our second game is this week, and I'm currently in 4th place (1 point).
To me, this is a really fun way to do something that's not going to cost too much money, but has a potentially great reward. After the initial month of $160, the commitment is only $60/month. The games last about 3 hours, and are a great way to blow off some steam while sitting around the table busting on each other. The added benefit is if I finish 3rd or better, that week becomes free.
My brother and his friends all play regularly. In our first round, and times I've played with them in the past, I've shown that I can stay with them, but If I took more time to study it, I think I could get better than them. That's not bragging. I'm not WSOP material. The trouble I run into is my style is to play low risk, high reward hands. I move my weight around when I have the hand to do it, and often scare players out of the pot. I outlast the reckless players, but their chips get distributed amongst other players. In our first round game, I did well to make the top 4, but when we got there, I was out-stacked by the top three, and the blinds were going up. This put me at a severe disadvantage, and I was quickly taken out of the game.
I've got 1 week worth of studying hand strengths and percentages before my next game. I'm hoping to get into the top 2. It will be an interesting strategy because of the point breakdown. Everyone will be gunning for the leader at 10 points, and second place (6 points) from our first game. If I let them get knocked out, and bide my time, I may be able to make a late run at some chips, and put myself into the top two. My strategy going into this game is help knock off the top two players early, so they don't collect any points, then to get myself into the top to, putting me between 7-11 points.
What I haven't factored in is what to do if I win money in this. I suppose for now, I'll put it towards the next month's game. Playing with house money is the best way to play. After that, the money should really go towards savings or beefing up our cash reserve. Having written that, it's clear that I'm as conservative in Poker, as I am in life.