Few people grasp the true nature of poker. At its core, poker is
not a card game. Players use cards, but it is not a game of cards. It is a game
Poker is a game of reading people. It is a game of analyzing and understanding
those around you. It is a game of posturing, a game of manipulation, a game of
interpersonal relationships and a game of supreme, raw competition.
Poker's fundamental concepts are amazingly simple. You take turns wagering
against opponents, with cards settling the outcome if needed. Thatís all there
is to it. Yet the intricacies of the game are challenging beyond anything that
exists in the gaming world. To play well, you need deep intellect, reliable
intuition, unfailing resource-fulness, steel nerves and raw courage. And you
need the ability to concentrate for extended periods at a level that is nearly
inhuman. No other game demands such a combination of skills.
The concept of wagering has been around since the dawn of humankind. One person
believes something. Another person believes something contrary. Before finding
out who is right, both parties agree to put a stake on the outcome. Each person
places a share of money into a common area to be held in trust until a
determination is made as to which person is correct. That person is declared the
winner, and the winner is awarded the total amount wagered.
Wagers come in all shapes and sizes. One person believes the 49ers will beat the
Dolphins by seven points. Another person believes they will not. A wager can be
made. One person believes he can run a mile in five minutes. Another person
believes he cannot. A wager is possible. One person believes he might be able to
pick the correct lottery numbers. The state believes he (and sufficient millions
of others) will pick wrongly. A wager is available.
Poker is a game of wagering. Players sit at a table and use cards to determine
the rank of their hands. The players make wagers whenever they think they will
end up with the best hand or be able to get other players to fold. Players bet
when they believe doing so is to their advantage.
Most hands come and go without players having much opinion about their chances
of winning that hand. Often, one player believes he has the best chance of
winning, but no other player disagrees strongly enough to challenge that belief
with a wager. For that reason, there is little betting during most hands (in a
Often enough, however, two or more players feel strongly about their chances of
winning the hand. One player believes, based on available evidence, he will end
up with the best hand or be able to get others to fold. Another player
disagrees, believing he has a better chance of having the best hand or getting
others to fold. When this disagreement occurs, players take turns placing chips
into the pot to wager on their chances of winning.
Every poker hand you play consists of receiving cards, followed by a round of
betting. Every time it is your turn to act, you are faced with a decision. If no
one has bet before you, you may pass or make the first bet. If some-one has
already bet, you may fold, call or raise. These decisions form the guts of
poker. The skill with which you execute these decisions determines whether you
win or lose.
Poker is supremely fair. Although bad beats are a part of the game, in the end,
the outcome at a poker table is based on pure justice. Players get what they
deserve, according to the skill with which they play. This long-term quality of
fairness is precisely what makes poker so worthwhile.
The philosopher Thomas Szasz says that what people need for happiness and
fulfillment is not wealth, comfort or esteem, but a game worth playing. Robert
S. DeRopp, in his book The Master Game, says, "Seek, above all, a game worth
playing. Having found the game, play it with intensity, play as if your life and
sanity depended on it. They do." Donald Trump says, "Money was never a big
motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing
Poker is a game worth playing. And the most admirable thing you can do is strive
to win. Engage with all your heart in the quest for victory. Poker rewards a
passion to win, an insatiable desire to pound your opponents into defeat.
I know a desire to win flies in the face of what a lot of folks preach these
days. They contend that games should be based on cooperation, not competition.
They say competition is bad, that it fosters a cynical world view. I donít care
what they say. I am not after approval or political correctness. If you agree
with me and you accept, as I do, the intrinsic competitive nature of the
universe, then you know my words are true. Poker is a glorious testament to the
true competitive nature of our world.
I will not spout beneficent platitudes about how we are all in this together,
how sharing and cooperation bring happiness and how the world could be a
wonderful place if we would just celebrate together and hug each other. That is
all well and good, but it does not win poker games. If you would rather believe
that the fairies of the forest will bless you with good fortune for meditating
under trees, that is your prerogative. But that is not my experience of what it
takes to win at poker. I donít know about you, but I would rather win than lose.
If you are with me on that point, then poker is right down your alley. The true
nature of poker is about competition, and a burning desire to win.
Timmor L. White is the founder and president of Online Poker Systems and the OPS
Group. With a background in Internet technology, he is active in the study and
reporting of online-poker playing strategies. If you wish to explore a specific
way to cheat when playing online, click here:
Online Poker Cheat.
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