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POKER BASICS

Texas Hold'em

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5 Card Stud Poker

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Texas Hold'em

If you’re reading this article, you are probably a beginner when it comes to online poker, so I’ll gear it towards providing information on the most popular poker variant in an easy to understand, straightforward manner.

Let us first see why Texas Holdem is your best option when you’re considering taking up online poker. Though it is predominantly a game of skill, Texas Holdem features a wide luck-induced variance. That doesn’t mean a more skilled player won’t be able to beat a less skilled one in the long-run. Quite the contrary actually: the skilled player will always beat the beginner, so as long as you are one and you’re faced with skilled opposition, you will lose out in the end. However, because of the high luck-induced variance it features, Texas Holdem offers beginners a short-term breather, that is, it allows them to go up against good players on apparently equal footings.

What this does is that it prevents experienced players from mopping the floor with the beginners, while offering rookies a taste of success. In Omaha and Stud on the other hand, skill is such a big factor that luck is no longer able to induce a significant short-term variance. In these games, experienced players will simply take beginners to school and something like that is not exactly the best way to set your online poker adventure off on the right foot. When it comes to one good player playing another good player, Omaha and Stud will often bring about a frustrating stalemate.

The conclusion is, that whenever a good player plays another good player, they’re better off squaring off at the Holdem tables, because the edges are finer there and more patience is required to make them work. Patience and the ability to focus will be the tie-breakers there. When a good player faces off against a rookie, he’s best off taking the rookie to the Omaha or Stud tables where he’ll proceed to skin him alive undisturbed.

Therefore, as a rookie it is obvious where your place is: at the Texas Holdem tables. Don’t let the simplicity of its rules fool you (I’m not going into Holdem rules in this here piece as you’ll find plenty of other opportunities out there to catch up on those), Holdem is an almost infinitely complex game.

There are players who have studies it for almost a lifetime and they still find it within reason to improve, and still, there are players who have played it for years and who are still no better than some two-bit beginner. Your immediate goal is to avoid becoming a one of these guys. There are two plains on which you can attack Holdem with the goal of one day being able to dominate most of your opponents: the mathematical plain and the psychological one.

The first one is exact science and it’s defined by the notion of Expected Value. Everything is mathematically definable here. Like poker rakeback for instance

The odds that you play with on each and every hand can be calculated in a similar fashion. The psychological part of the game consists in making reads, anticipating situations, and making decisions based on such non-exact factors. Mind you that these psychological considerations will often force you to go against the mathematically defined correct path. Finding the right balance between the two plains is what the best poker players in the world are adept at.  

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Last updated 21 February 2018
Texas Holdem