Ways of learning how to play

Back At The Poker Game
Image by Vicious Bits via Flickr

During the last three years, I have discovered that there are a lot of ways to learn how to play cards and the various games that are out there.
I was once told by someone, perhaps a teacher,  that there are only two kinds of knowledge:  That which you know, That which you know where to find.

Back when I started playing Holdem, Omaha and Stud poker, I just sort of tried them out. It is not as though I have not played cards. Growing up, my parents used to get together with a couple of my aunts, uncles, and cousins to play card games on a Saturday night. The antes were mostly 1 cent or a nickel. The names of the games we played were something: Woolworths (fives and tens were wild). Follow the Queen was another.  There was one game that was played with a lot of wild cards: deuces and jacks, the man with the axe and a pair of sevens take all. That was some game. The sevens had to be a natural pair. It would take too long to list all of the games I learned growing up.

I thought I understood how the games of Texas Holdem and Omaha were played and later found out that there was more to the story that I did not know (and still more to learn even now). I starting reading books about Texas Holdem and found that there are quite a few out there and some specialized in Limit Holdem, Pot Limit Holdem or No Limit Holdem. Many of these books had a lot about poker theory and a lot about odds of making a hand and the betting odds that the amount in the pot gave you.

I knew I was in for a lot of lessons, and as it turns out, twenty odd books later, I still need to read them when I find my focus straying. When you’re playing either at a casino or on line, you don’t usually have the luxury of an adviser to tell you when you are doing well or poorly. Sometimes even your results could mislead you as well. You could be playing very poorly but lucking out as they say. It is not usually a good idea to discuss poker stragergy while playing the game. If your playing for money, you don’t want to tell your opponents anything that might give them an advantage.

Besides reading and playing, I have found that you can learn more about the game from blogs such as this one, and by joining in discussion groups and also by reading the online journals of poker professionals such as Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunsun, and, dare I mention, Mike Matusow, in the same sentence?

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