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The Low Down on the World Series of Poker

Had you pay attention to the World Series of Poker, you would have heard gamers discuss "bluffing" and tweezing the line on the skill of the other player. Of course, the first player to break the bank with a winning hand did so by playing only perfect cards. Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth are among the most successful chip leaders in history. All have taken a streak of luck and some study in tactical poker to find an edge.

Good card players, of course, are only successful because of their wits, and not because of their cards (although cards matter in how the game is played). Poker and a good hand of cards is still the number one order for men. And, it's no wonder the phrase "you can't win at poker unless you're broke" has prevailed.

There is much truth to this maxim, of course, and it can be summed up simply as the old advice that, in poker as in life, you get what you earn. If you play good poker with the best cards, you are likely to be successful; if you don't, you will be broke. It is possible to win at poker consistently only if you game wisely and don't get caught up in fashionablestructures.

There is a popular school of thought that tries to turn the evaluation of one hand into the entire strategy of playing nagapoker. The "unit risk" approach, so called because it promotes maximizing the return in a series of hands, is dead wrong. If Phil Ivey, for example, wins a moderate pot on a river drop with his " pedestrian" full house, it doesn't constitute a good hand, even if jumped with the eleven of spades. A flush win, of course, but a hand won on the river is still a hand won.

Even if Phil Ivey had been playing "professionals" at the time of the river drop, you can't imagine him calling what would be an obvious fold. Like Phil Ivey, the professionals may have been waiting for a lessor hand, and may have had the same hand pre-flop, but because they were punting, had no hand, so to speak, post-flop.

This is also an important point. The types of hands dealt are not necessarily the only determining factor of the best hand. Good players will make good decisions based on the quality of their hands, not the strength of their hand relative to others.

With this in mind, we can state with confidence that both good and poor players make mistakes. Despite what you may read in print and see on television, the vast majority ofplayer out there are not cut out to be professionals. If you are making these mistakes at the table you will soon be showing big weakness and will be run out of the casino the first sign of daylight.

Unlike Derrenay, I do not teach beginners how to be professionals. Instead, I suggest you start playing and gaining experience on your own before graduating to playing online or entering that arena of casino versus player games. respectively. The path to becoming a professional player is riddled with challenges and obstacles and unless you can overcome them, the goal of attaining professional status will be impossible. However, you may use this Introduction to Texas Hold'em as a springboard to higher levels, in the same way a young student might learn how to master the forms and greet the architects of our society.

In the final analysis, this Introduction to Texas Hold'em, while an invaluable tool to any poker player, is neither a set of rules to be blindly followed nor anything that will immediately propel you to a profession in poker, if you apply yourself and gain the experience you require. Instead, it is an important topic you should read but not a rule you should endlessly repeat until such time comes when you will wish to challenge yourself and excel. In the final analysis, the knowledge gained from this book can only be of benefit to you and only if you act upon it.