Texas Hold’em Poker

I am passionate about playing Texas Hold’em Poker. There are many reasons why I enjoy playing poker. I enjoy working out strategies on the fly and I especially enjoy pitting my wits against my fellow man.

Luck certainly plays a part in poker, but only within the hand you are playing at any given time. By employing good strategies, keeping to them, and working on a long term solution, the unluckiest of people who are skilled in the knowledge of the game will always win against the luckiest people who are not so skilled. So, yes, luck is important, but only in the short term, i.e. the present hand or the present game.

The rules are simple. You are dealt two cards each which you don’t show. You bet on these for one round. Three cards are dealt and shown on the table. If they help with your two hidden cards, you join in with the round of betting, and then another card is turned up, more betting then the fifth card is turned up and then even more betting. The best hand of five cards that can be made out of the seven cards wins. You can fold your hand (quit the hand) at any time during any stage of the betting.

The hands are easy to remember. High card, a pair, two pairs, three of a kind, a mixed straight, a flush of any denomination, a full house (three of a kind and a pair) four of a kind, a straight flush (all one suit and running numbers) and finally a Royal Flush which is a straight flush of Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace – the highest hand in the game.

On reading the above two paragraphs, many non-poker players will thing that this is simple. But whoa! There are many ways you can play each hand, you can almost never be certain that someone has got a better hand. There are hundreds of books, magazines and lessons on the subject, TV channels devoted to poker, and even a few DVDs.

The complexity occurs when actually playing. If we scored a hand, for example, an identical hand would have a different value to play, depending on two criteria.

  1. Depending on how many people are left on the table. An A-4 would be discarded if there were ten players on the table but would be extremely valuable if there were only two players left – known in the game as “Heads Up”.

  2. Am A-10 would be a discardable hand if you were the first to bet, i.e. nearest to the dealer going clockwise. However, if you are last to bet in the round and nobody has upped the stakes, it would possibly be worth a large bet as many of the players on the table would more than likely fold.

So you can see how much there is to learn from the very simple rules listed above. Any person could play a game of poker after only five minutes learning the rules. However, it may take playing a thousand hands before a new player becomes comfortable with all the nuances of the game.

The successful poker player has courage, he knows that luck can rain down on him for maybe months. So he never plays unless he can back up his play with a bank roll at least 200 times the amount he plays in a single hand. Many prefer ten times as much money.

The successful player has a good memory. He watches each player in turn as they play their hands and, at the end, if a player puts a huge bet into the pot, he can play back, in his mind, every nuance of each player as they made each bet.

The successful player has the determination to know he is going to win. The winner is often someone who has watched the hand unfold and has committed himself totally to winning that hand. There are thirteen cards in a suit; I can be determined that a certain card can fall about three or four times out of thirteen – so I am not quite there yet. An average should be once out of thirteen. Let me put it in the words of “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe” who once said:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it, boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

There are dozens of poker tables on offer over the Internet. They each offer the opportunity of playing for “play money” or real cash. One thing to bear in mind is that, with play money, if you start winning on the low tables and gravitate up to the bigger play money amount tables and start winning on those, when you move over to real cash you will start losing almost every hand. This is because, with play money there are dozens and dozens of cowboys playing, and they are foolish with their money – after all it is free! People playing for real money tend to “put their money where their mouth is” and play a lot more conservatively. They think through each hand (round of betting) and think through the game most carefully. It is a completely different game, believe me.

There are dozens and dozens of websites where you can play Texas Hold’em Poker and, in fact, many other forms of poker. I will mention just a few here. A good one to start with is Ladbrokes Poker This is the one I started with. The one I play the most is Pokerstars but only because their software runs in Linux (under W.I.N.E), luckily it is a good company so I am reasonably happy. Then there is PKR. This is a great website as you have full life avatars and can give yourself the features you want. My one looks like a tough mercenary soldier of around forty – and tends to intimidate the “little darlings” I play against!

The most difficult and the one that seems to have the better quality players is Full-Tilt Poker. At present I am holding my own on ten table (90 players) tournaments with a stake of $2,000 to join the game. My present stake is around $50,000.

There are two different ways of playing Texas Hold’em Poker. One is to play tournaments – where you put up a certain amount, all you can lose, and get an amount of “tournament chips”. For example, you pay $100 to enter the tournament, and are given 1,500 chips to pay the tournament. If you get knocked out and lose all 1,500 chips, all you have lost is the $100. The other form of playing is cash games. This is where you put up your bankroll to play against others and if you lose, you lose real (or play) money chips in your bankroll. Most players are better at one of these two types of games but my advice is to play and become proficient at both.

For the record, I only play with “play money” – I am more interested in husbanding my resources in these troubled times than any “get rich” schemes.


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