Eadon On Hold’Em Poker

Behold resident geek Eadon’s Hold’Em new Poker column

Get ready for Las Vegas glam on BOGPAPER! This column is about the massively popular flavour of poker called “Texas Hold’Em”. It’s a dumb name for a smart and exciting game and on that’s much misunderstood.

Who should play poker and who should avoid it?

For your own sake, (and this may not be your fault) run for the hills…

  • If you are under 18
  • If you are an addict
  • If you are the type of person who doesn’t pay off your credit card every month
  • If you have bad debts and/or gambling problems.
  • If you are unable to resist temptation
  • If you have no spare cash for a new hobby
  • If you cannot control your emotions
  • If you have health problems that excitement can trigger.
  • If you lack self-discipline and will power
  • If you can’t walk away when things go wrong
  • If you are not very good with money
  • If your other half will be nervous about gambling

Still here? Then poker might be for you.
The column is aimed initially at poker newbies. Anyone can learn how to play and I’ll teach you, as a newbie, how to beat poor players and survive against experienced players.

Warning to newbies

  • Avoid playing poker cash games on the Internet and in general.

You will get burned even if you get great cards.
To date I have always played poker socially, in a good pub or casino. Like, erm… sex, poker is best played with other people in real life, it’s a much richer experience. Internet tournaments, however, are a good way to learn, at all levels.
In a real-life game, during a break, experienced players may cheerfully offer you useful tips on how to improve, if you ask them nicely. But take their advice with a pinch of salt ;-)
And I don’t know about you, but I need to get AWAY from the frickin puter!

Poker Myth Busters

MythPoker is scary
In my experience poker players are helpful and friendly, but play in a public place, such as a decent pub, casino or with trusted friends.

MythPoker is only about what cards are dealt.

The social aspect is fun. The banter around a poker table can be amusing. Poker creates human drama: you’ll experience and witness salient swings of mood and fortune. When you improve you will find that you play your hand differently against different players, the human aspect of your opponents is all part of the game.

MythPoker will surely make you into an out-of-control gambler.

Some people think that if you so much as look at a pair of aces the next thing you know your bank has repossessed your house. Poker is usually not a slippery slope into gambling debts if you are sensible and if you have taken heed of the advice in this column. Tournaments are the way to go: Avoid cash games. (See who should read this column? above).

Over time, poker punishes crazy and compulsive play (bad risk taking) and rewards calculated risk taking. Poker can bolster your ability to deal with risk and cope with uncertainty. If you find yourself getting addicted, be brutally honest with yourself. Quit or get help from Gamblers Anonymous or a similar support group if you can’t.

Mythyou have to be intelligent to be good at poker.
You can get good just by playing observantly and thinking. As you gain experience, it helps to read a bit now and again on how to improve, to give you the edge.

MythPoker is all about luck.
Whilst you will do better if you get dealt killer hands, over many hands playing ability will make the difference. Just like any game with a skill element to it, you will defeat weak players and yeild to strong players. Luck, however, gives the underdog a chance and creates lots of surprises and suspense :-)

MythPoker is all about money.
To the professionals it is. But you must consider poker as a hobby. Only play with disposable income you expect never to see again. If you treat poker like any other hobby and expect to spend modest amounts of time and money on it, then you will find the game really rewarding.

MythPoker is geeky
Unlike chess, say, poker is played by ordinary people, by adults of all ages and backgrounds. There is a bias towards men, but women are great at poker because they can intuit a lot that men are unable to ;-)

MythPlaying poker is unreasonably risky.
If you only play tournament poker games, then the most you can lose is the cost of entering a tournament. When you lose you simply walk away.
A pub tourney game is usually a fiver or a tenner to enter. For a Casino tournament you’re usually looking at £20 or more, depending on day and time, but play can last a long time (so it’s reasonable value for money) and you have a chance to win more money. You’re learning, so be realistic. You are not playing to win (yet), you are playing to survive, learn and to have fun.

MythPoker can make you rich.
This is unlikely to happen. There is too much competition for the prize money. When you become a strong player then you can expect to win a modest amount per hour but there are much easier ways to make a better living. You’re in it for the fun.

MythYou can learn just by reading a book.
There is no substitute for experience at the poker table. Reading books will improve your play, but you have to play too or your brain will not latch onto what the books are saying. If you’re a beginner you must play “tight”. I’ll explain what that means.

So what is this Hold’Em game then?

There are three main aspects to the game: what card hands beat what other card hands; what cards are in play and when; and how you make bets (if any). You’ll quickly get the hang of it, I promise :-)

Next week I’ll get stuck into some No Limit Texas Hold’Em advice for beginners. Before then you may want to learn the basic rules of how to play the poker game called “No Limit Texas Hold’Em”, which you can find on web pages or YouTube videos.

Once you know the basic rules, perhaps practice a little on a software game / app to get a feel for how the betting works. You could watch an Internet, casino or pub tournament game too, watch how people bet with their chips. If practical, buy a poker set and play with friends.

If you know the basics and are feeling bold enough, then join in a public tournament game as a player. Poker players are a friendly bunch and will tell you when it’s your turn to act and your options. You’ll lose but everyone starts somewhere and all that!

I will give you a simple (and simplistic) newbie formula, break it only very occasionally.

You don’t know what you are doing, so play very tight, which means this: Only play very strong hands, a hand with an ace pair, ace-picture card or two picture cards. You must fold (throw away) the rest of your hands, you will find you have to be disciplined and throw away nearly all the hands that you are given. (If your chips are very low or there are very few people at the table, then play any pair and anything with an ace too.) Be patient. Watch how people play.

Betting: bet chips on your strong hands. Don’t bet more than the amount of chips in the middle of the table (the pot) but often bet more than a quarter of the amount. Resist the temptation to bet too many of your chips too early in the tournament. Be patient. That way, you will last longer. Hopefully you will win a pot or two with that newbie formula :-)

It’s hard(!) but try not to be disheartened when you lose. Don’t get carried away when you win. (Beginner’s luck). You’re there to learn and have fun. Any questions, leave a comment.

Go get em tiger. You gotta know when to hold ‘em. You gotta know when to fold ‘em. See y’all next week, players.

Disclaimer. You use any information on this page at your own risk. We are in no way responsible for your actions.

  • therealguyfaux

    Hopefully, in the exposition of the game, you will throw in a bit about the argot of poker. One expression I’ve always loved is that aces are called “bullets.” It gave rise to a joke I heard when I were but a mere lad, and the joke probably goes back to when the buffalo roamed the prairies, but here goes:

    Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday are at a poker table at the Long Branch Saloon. The pack of cards is, you will pardon the expression, just a bit “dodgy.”
    They’re playing draw poker, and each have drawn cards.
    Checking, then betting, raising and re-raising have ensued.
    Finally, “the pot’s right.” Showdown.
    Bat’s cards come over.
    “Three aces– three bullets!”
    Doc’s hand next, and he’s a bit perturbed.
    “Four aces– FOUR bullets!”
    Wyatt settles matters.
    “Buntline Special– SIX bullets!”

  • http://eadontech.wordpress.com James Eadon

    @therealguyfaux – oh definitely. The poker argot is great. You have gut shots, drawing dead, bad beats, maniacs, donks, mucks, nuts, scare cards et cetera. And hands can have fanciful names too, it’s all part of the entertainment.

  • http://jazz606.wordpress.com/ jazz606

    Years ago I worked on a GPO cable ship, and we had a regular poker school in the saloon after dinner when it sea. It was played for low stakes, so you couldn’t get badly burned and it was great fun. Of course just because the stakes were low didn’t mean we didn’t take it seriously.

    So my advice would be ONLY PLAY FOR LOW STAKES that way you’ll stay solvent and not lose friends.

  • http://eadontech.wordpress.com James Eadon

    @Jazz – that’s a good point and I know where you are coming from and you’re right, it’s great.
    But for newbies, even low stakes cash games can get you in to trouble. It depends on how low the stakes are, and how long the game is, and how much raising (the laying of higher subsequent bets) occurs.
    Even if the bets are modest, it is amazing how fast the losses can accumulate over an evening and a few drinks. (Don’t play cash-games poker drunk!)
    Tournament type play has a safety valve, you can’t lose more than the joining fees, but on the other hand, with friends it excludes the losers from play.
    So my advice to newbies is, don’t take more money to the table than you can afford to lose, and don’t beg your friends for more when you do lose. Stick to tourneys ;-)

  • Pingback: Texas Hold’Em Poker for beginners: The greatest newbie FAIL | Bogpaper.com

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