The Game Of Texas Hold’Em

Texas Hold’Em in a Cardroom

Texas Hold’Em Online

Winning poker



Putting It all together

Psychological Considerations

Where to go from here

Places to Play

Appendix I Hold’Em poker Variations

Appendix II Poker Tournaments


  Poker has encompassed both euphoria and frustration. It would be impossible to have one without the other because over the long run, statistics would rule. If you play in enough hands, the distribution of cards received and draws hit would approach the percentages in the charts. The problem with poker would be that you would have no control over the good times and bad times. The nature of randomness would mean that events happen with no discernable pattern. You would never be due for either a good streak or a bad streak.

  Whatever your thoughts would be however alert you would be feeling, however ready you would be for action your mental state would not change the distribution of the cards. While alertness would not change the cards, it would affect the one thing you would control: the decisions you would make.

  Again, this is why patience would be the wrong idea. Being patient would mean you would fall into a routine of automatic decisions that would dull your thinking and would cause you to lose your edge. Alertness would be required at all times and to stay alert, you would have to think of non- action as a deliberate action. You should consider the outcome of a hand at Sid’s table one afternoon in an Atlantic City casino.

  A showdown had occurred between two poker players with a board of mediocre cards: six of clubs, two of spades, five of hearts, six of diamonds and nine of hearts. Expecting boring hands, none of them at the table, including the dealer, had paid close attention.One of the poker players had showed two of clubs and five of diamonds, and having matched both his pocket cards, had claimed the pot. The other player with a five of clubs, ten of clubs hadn’t objected so the dealer had pushed the chips to the player with fives and twos and had set up for another hand.

  Only after the transaction had ended, had a few of them at the table woken up and realized that the pot had been awarded to the losing hand. By then, it had been too late to change the outcome. When you had read this, had you immediately seen that five, ten had been the winning hand?

  The twos had been completely irrelevant because the board had a pair of sixes. That had meant each poker players’ hand had consisted of the same two pairs fives and sixes. The kicker (fifth card) had decided the hand and since the ten of clubs had been higher than all other cards on the board, it had beaten the nine of hearts on the board. (If a card higher than a ten had been on the board, say a Jack, the poker players would have shared the same kicker and the pot would have been split. The best five-card hand for each poker player in that case would have been fives and sixes with a Jack kicker, and the ten would not play.)

  By not analyzing the situation, the player with the winning poker hand had lost an entire pot, potentially the difference between a profitable and unprofitable playing session. Deliberate non-action would have meant you hadn’t let the routine take the edge off your play. To stay focused, you should analyze the actions of the poker players and dealers, and you should take breaks. You should be mentally alert at all times and ready to act. Over time, small mistakes would add up to big losses and small victories would add up to big profits. If you would not pay attention at a crucial time, as in the above instance, you would lose money. But if staying focused would require you to contest every pot, you would also lose money. The concept of tight-aggressive poker play would be to forcefully contest pots only when  you would have the edge.

  You should keep mentally focused by careful observation of the other poker players when the odds would be against you. You should choose only battles where you would be the favorite, and you wouldn’t feel that   you would have to win every time. If you were to select the best situations to challenge your opponents and ignore the marginal ones, you would accumulate money over time. Alan Schoonmaker has explained in his book The Psychology of Poker*, that the successful tight-aggressive style for poker was unnatural.

  In his observation, only in the profession of fighter pilot and police officer were there people who had been capable of tightly controlled aggression  Tight people were naturally cautious while aggressive people had tended to take chances.  The combination of the two traits would result only from a deliberate training process. It would not happen on its own.