The Gambling known as business looks with austere disfavour upon the business known as gambling
Top Ten best starting combinations in Hold 'em
A Beginners Guide to Online Poker
There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker . why, I have known clergymen, good men, kindhearted, liberal, sincere, and all that, who did not know the meaning of a 'flush'. It is enough to make one ashamed of one's species - Mark Twain.
Graham Brown takes a look at Poker on the Web ...
Introduction - Big Bang
From the seedy speakeasies of the Great Depression, Poker has gained back the respect Mark Twain claimed for it. And now across the Atlantic, all sorts of people are setting up small "home-games". It works like this. Friends will each chip in say £30 to the pot for the night. Then they play away with Poker Chips to the value of 1000s of dollars (because it looks cooler than playing with £30, and as we shall see later, the pros sometimes pull that trick also!) and when someone loses all their chips they are out and consigned to watching, heckling or coffee making duties. At the end of the evening there is one person left at the table with all the chips, maybe £1,000,000 worth! Unfortunately they only win the real pot. The rest lose their tenners but had a fun night also and can enjoy moaning about their bad beats.
The pro version has been growing steadily in the US for some time, with Television cameras revealing the players secret cards and expert commentary bringing this exciting world of natty nicknames and cunning brainpower. Viewing figures are also now huge in the UK. Flick away any night and you will soon enough see a green semi-circle of earnest looking players riffling and clicking colourful chips. You may even see some real Poker players amongst the crowd of actors, singers, celebrities, wannabes . you name it they're there.
But perhaps it is the combination of the Internet with TV that has caused the real "big bang" for poker. Never mind the huge TV audiences, 13 million people in the UK have played online poker this year with figures up by 6 on last!. And last years "real" live Poker World Champion Chris Moneymaker (no I'm not bluffing!) started as an Internet Qualifyer in a $30 tournament! Cheaper than a home game!
In this article I want to suggest some good websites to visit before you step into any of the online poker rooms. If your view of poker is anything like mine was before I read them .western bar-room, piano player, whiskey, six shooters .come with me on a tour of them. I think you're in for a few surprises.
The first thing that surprised me when I started looking at the following websites, is that the top TV poker games where they are playing for hundreds of dollars of chips are not that different to the home games mentioned above where everyone chips in a tenner for the night and winner takes all.
In these TV games, just like in the homegames, you can't just cash in your chips if you have say 500,000 worth of chips. They mean just as little on the TV as at home. They are really in a sense play money!
The only thing they can do with those chips is keep them or lose them all and the one with all the chips at the end is the winner. But he doesn't cash them in, he takes the prize money.
I mentioned Chris Moneymaker before and although he won several million pounds and was playing with big value chips, the only investement he had to make was his $30 entry fee for the intnet qualifying event!
Make no mistake, there are cash games too, and for high stakes. There are always several cash games running alongside main tournament style events.
Onto the Web
Well firstly there is a vast choice of tournaments just like the ones you see on TV, but there is a vast choice of levels. These start at $1 to play, cheaper than a homegame!. Most of the sites use dollars by the way. Of course any winnings you have will be converted into pounds. You will find some sites that use pounds but it makes no difference. In fact for some games it might be worse as the site takes a maximum percentage commission from any winnings you may make of £3 for pound sites but only $3 for dollar sites!
In these tournaments it is just like the home games and the TV tournaments. The top few players, (for example in a small game of 10 players it might be the top 3 in larger games maybe 8), win prizes, the rest just lose their $1. Obviously this is the best place to start playing poker! You will be playing with plenty of chips but you only risk $1 and you have the chance to win! In fact when you first join a poker site you will find that most of them have free to enter tournaments . with money to be won!
When I read about this tournament structure I realised that this form of poker is not gambling really. I pay more to play chess. When I enter a tournament it usually costs about £25, not including travel and accommodation!, and I very rarely win any money at all and usually it's less than the entrance fee! The big fish win all the money
In poker you can play at any level and avoid the sharks. For example, no shark would be interested in a beginners tournament. They don't want to spend a few hours trying to win $10.
Next big surprise for me was that in general there is far less bluffing that you may think in Poker. See this excellent guide to when and how to bluff. And note the advice "In low limit games, theres really no point in bluffing. For a buck or 2, you can bet that most of the time someone will call your bluff. High limits, and especially no limit games, bluffing is at its most effective."
This is good news for us beginners as bluffing and reading the play is something that takes a long time to develop. Other aspects of the game are important for a new player and we see them very clearly spelled out on www.Poker-strategy.org
They have a really useful 5 pages worth of tuition in Poker. Page 1 , "Strategy" tells us the mechanics of how the game is dealt and played detailing that everyone gets 2 cards and that there are eventually 5 cards on the table for everyone to use. Then page 2 deals with "Pocket Card Selection" which is the two cards that you are dealt. This page may really surprise you. It contains the key piece advice that gets repeated by all the experts again and again. And you very rarely see this advice taken at all on the early tables!
Fold, Fold and Fold again. Folding is just pushing your cards back to the dealer and sitting out the game. And it tells you exactly which cards to wait for and what to do with them.
Page 3 is about "the Flop" which is is the first 3 of those 5 cards cards laid face up in the center of the table. Then we have page 4 dealing with the Turn or the 4th card and finally page 5 deals with the "The River" where the last of the 5 cards is turned face up, bringing the total number of common cards face up on the board to 5.
Apart from these pages there are plenty more interesting training articles.
Ex World Champion Phil Helmuths' Top 10 poker hands for beginners is an even more extreem example of the Fold, Fold, Fold strategy! Hellmuth submits that these 10 hands 1. A-A 2. K-K 3. Q-Q 4. A-K suited 5. J-J 6. 10-10 7. 9-9 8. 8-8 9. A-Q suited 10. 7-7 should be the only pocket cards played by the beginner in low limit Texas Hold 'em! If you follow this advice you will find that you play only a couple of hands every 10 dealt ... if that!
Then there are more advanced articles such as the Hutchinson point system and how to calucate Pot odds. If you don't want to calculate them every time there is a useful "Cheat sheet" which lists them all. They preface it by saying "Obviously, carrying a cheat sheet to a brick and mortar casino will practically scream "Shark bait!" However, if you are playing online, it is a great option"
Another great site is www.chessandpoker.com. Again we get the same sort of good advice Fold Fold Fold, Don't get pressured, Play your position, Don't bother bluffing, Don't chase Straights etc etc
In addition to these you will find that all of the online poker rooms have excellent training articles, diarys, newsletters advice etc.
Hey, We have articles!
We have articles on Easytorecall ourselves that we believe can help your game! Firstly we have "Poker Virgins start here" which gives you a very quick overview on all the various Poker games. "The 3 Classic Poker mistakes" by Andrew NS Glazer , is well worth a read!
Then the Al Alvaraz Master Class is a great read! David Fowler is a regular gambler on football, tennis and the stock market but, like myself, is a beginner at Poker! He writes about his introduction to Poker at the Al Alvarz Master Class and how he gets on! It makes for an interesting read as it details the emotions of being thrown in with the good players very quickly!
Once you have mastered the basics we have some more advanced articles such as "Managing your poker Bankroll" Then when you're ready and not before! Check out our Poker Rooms on the Net reviews. This lists all the main poker online rooms and their special offers.
We also have a Streaming TV show on the site which is half an hour magaizine program this from our partner site http://www.pokerupdates.com/ which is also well worth a look.
Better than any articles including this one! Is to watch it on real TV! Sky have an absolutely brilliant progam called Poker live. And if you don't have sky then go to www.pokernightlive.tv and the show is also broadast live on the net! Just click on the Watch Live link. It is broadcast in good enough quality to show on full screen, just right click the the screen and choose full screen option.
What it does is fuse TV commentary with online card rooms. It is on live every evening from 10.00pm to 3:00am on Pokerzone (Sky226) and from 1am to 4am on The Poker Channel (Sky 265)
Every hand you see all the cards and are guided through the good and bad points of the players play. If you don't go to any other websites or TV shows then I belive you can learn the game from that channel. They also take email and text enquiries live on the show if you have any questions.
So if you have done all the lessons and want to give it a try how do you do that?
The best way to start is to practice with 'play money'. All the sites allow you to play for fun whithout even registering your credit card with them. Party Poker are one of the best since they have so many players you can always find a game.
This is a good way to practice but note that people can play a rather unreal game under these circumstances. You will find it harder in the real games!
If you still don't want to play with real money, then a great halfway house is Cardplayer which is free but you can win real prizes! Of course these are only thing like a basball hat but this still gieves the game a nice edge to it.
Most of the advice you will find on the web and on TV is to play low limit games with plenty of people at the table. If you do this this really minimises the risk and bluffing game play (although not as much bluffing as people think in poker anyway) As long as you play tight and follow the basic rules given on the website you will find plenty of people not obeying these simple rules and should hold your own.
In additon you can get software to help track your game and to teach you when to fold and bet. For example Poker Office allows you to track all of your opponents actions as well as your own game, live while you are playing. It brings you summarized statistical reports, spreadsheets and graphs of your own and your opponents play. In addition it comes with a Live Advisor Window that displays real time opponent modeling of the players you are currently facing, real time probabilities of future hands, hand rankings, Pot Odds and live graphs and statistics.
There are over 40 supported online poker sites: including the big sites such as PartyPoker and EmpirePoker. What's more the software is approved of by these sites. You can evaluate PokerOffice for free the first 300 hands without obligation. If you want to continue using it after the evaluation period is over, you need to purchase a license which is $69 or about £38 in pounds.
You might think that software like that is banned but really it is nothing more than a more sophisticated version of the statistical sheets you find on the web.
What is banned are the more detailed poker tracking software suites. Party Poker have banned several of these as they use Player Histories which in Party Poker's opintion is a breach of the players copyright.
You can find information about the present game by looking at the live histoies anyway, all you need to know if rough info like is the player tight (eg conforms to Hellmuth type play) or loose eg plays too many hands. You don't need software for this anyway.
Once you have read all the tips on getting started you will probably realise that the beginners tables at the very least are not so scary. For one thing you will see that a lot of players ply far too many hands. This give you an edge if you follow the tips, but of course you will still need to know when to play there rest of the cards. But the sites mentioned in this article will tell you clearly how to do this.
Anyway, good luck with your poker and let us know how you get on. We would welcome from readers about their experiences.
Recommended Books: (see also Poker Articles & Books)
Brunson, Doyle (1979) Doyle Brunson's Super System: A Course in Power Poker!, Cardoza. ISBN 1580420818
Sklansky, David (1989) Theory of Poker: A Professional Poker Player Teaches You How to Think Like One (3rd Ed), Two Plus Two Publications. ISBN 1880685000