General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play

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Think before playing

Poker is a game of skill.
This simple fact must be understood and believed before anything else can be said or taught about the game. Cards have no memory. They do not know that you are losing.

You may have been “going badly,” but this has no effect on how good your cards will be for the next hand.  they are just as likely to be a top-notch hand as when you are “going good.”

What is more likely is that you will play this hand poorly when you are losing.  You also are much more apt to play a hand you shouldn’t in an effort to “get even.”  Then, when you lose, you blame your cards rather than your play.

Well, your cards are probably somewhat to blame, especially for your early losses in the game.  However, the play should probably share the blame.

If you are a beginning to play poker, you undoubtedly made bad plays all night, plays that cost you money! If you are more experienced, your bad plays were more likely to occur when you were losing.  In any case, that was no excuse for them.

These essays will be concerned with the beginning and intermediate poker player.  The expert can take care of himself.  His mistakes are more likely to be emotional than technical.  If he can’t control himself, that’s his business.

Once in awhile, a section will be devoted to a high-level poker concept or play, but this will be rare.  I am more concerned with improving the play of the less experienced, but anxious-to-learn player.  Most of my tips will therefore be directed at him or her.

I will usually be addressing myself to casino poker games.  However, almost all concepts or tips can apply to private home games as well.  The only differences are that casino games tend to be tougher and there is no rake off in private games. 

This will occasionally have some bearing on the correct strategy.  Private games are also more likely to include such variations as Criss-Cross, Baseball, Split in the Ocean, etc.  while these games all involve a high degree of skill, I won’t be writing much about them.

Most of these essays will be devoted to the more common casino games, namely seven-card stud, Hold’em, and seven-card lowball (razz).  However, it is true that many general poker concepts can apply equally well to any poker game (with the possible exception of high-low split).

For now, I just want you to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to play a poker hand in a particular situation.

Of course, you cannot playing poker hands the same way every time.  Your opponents will pick up on that.  You must mix up your play somewhat, depending on who you are against, how the game has been going so far and how you hope to affect the play of future hands.

However, more important factors in deciding how to play a certain hand are:

  • The size of the pot.
  • Your Position.
  • The cards your opponent(s) are showing and in what order.
  • The Cards you are showing and in what order.
  • The size of a possible bet or raise.
  • Your estimates of what you think your opponents have.
  • Your estimate of what you think they think you have.

These are many, but not all, of the technical factors that must be weighed in your mind before you can arrive intelligently at the best play in a particular situation.
If you can find it, you should use this play 90 percent of the time.  Finding it, however, is not always easy.  You may need some help.  These essays are designed to give you that help.

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