Poker, like a house, needs a base. You can only build on a solid foundation. Then you can add flourishes and decorative elements. Adding embellishments requires that the foundation be poured, the building be framed, and all other elements be in place. That’s the goal here: to give you a basic understanding of what you need before you start playing.
Planning And Discipline
Some poker players, a select few, truly have a Picasso-like talent for the game that is difficult to explain and must be seen to be believed. Even without genius — and most winning players are not poker geniuses — poker is an extremely learnable skill. Talent helps, but not a lot. Not everyone can play piano, paint, or basketball like Van Cliburn or Michael Jordan. To become a winning player, you need discipline and a game plan.
Making a plan: If you want to play winning poker, you need a strategy. While the school of hard knocks may have sufficed 20 or 30 years ago, today’s better poker players have a solid foundation in poker theory. You can learn the game from books, magazines, and the internet.
Discipline: No amount of strategic knowledge can guarantee a poker player’s success. Personal traits are vital. Success necessitates more than just strategic knowledge. Disciplined players, for example, rarely win consistently, regardless of their strategy. All the knowledge in the world won’t help if one lacks the discipline to discard bad starting hands.
Without discipline, knowledge is merely potential. Discipline is the key to not losing your shirt — or shorts.
You can win at poker if you learn to play like a professional musician or a commercial artist. Poker players like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Tom McEvoy aren’t world champions. A good journeyman poker player can supplement their income or even earn their entire living from the game. If you become the best poker player you can be, you should be a lifelong winner.
The Game’s Goal
The goal of poker is to win money by taking the pot, which contains various players’ bets. A player places a bet hoping to have the best hand or to appear to have a strong hand, thus convincing his opponents to fold (give up). Knowing when to release a hand that appears to be beaten is as important as knowing when to bet. In most poker games, the best hand is five cards high.
Depending on the game, there can be two to ten players. Eight players for a seven-card game like Stud or Razz, and nine or ten for Texas Hold’em. Most poker games use a standard 52-card deck. A “bug” is sometimes added to the deck for Draw poker and Lowball. But in Draw poker, it can be used as an extra ace to complete a straight or flush. In Lowball, the joker is the lowest non-pair card. For example, 7-6-2-A-Joker is the same as 7-6-3-2-A.