How to get better at poker

This article was posted on September 4, 2007

Television has been credited big for the explosion of popularity, poker in general and online poker in particular, has seen in recent years. There might be something to this concept, as most rookies who hit the Texas Holdem tables of various online poker rooms come into the game with images in their minds of Scotty Nguyen, Phil Hellmuth or Daniel Negreanu raising the crap out of the opposition on rags and taking down huge pots.

Certainly there is value in watching poker movies, and in watching the greats in action, however, most people put the cart before the donkey trying to mimic what they see on TV or on different internet poker movie portals, without actually knowing even the most basic things about the game.

Don't get me wrong here, getting your poker education through movies is a very efficient way to forward your poker career, but there are ways to do it right, and ways to do it wrong. Do not begin with poker movies right away. You have no idea what this game is about, so you can't possibly have a clue to what the people playing in your poker movies, are after. The very first thing you need to do is make sure you understand the nature of the game, and what makes it tick.
Texas Holdem is not about coming into the game, playing almost every single damn pocket hand that you're dealt and taking down huge pots time and time again, thus proving that you're indeed the next Doyle Brunson. This game is extremely deceiving in light of the fact that sometimes it will allow you to act reckless and win hand after hand as if you were the great Doyle himself. The thing is though, it's all part of the variation Texas Holdem throws at its players.
You might be as hot as a tin roof at midday in the summer sun today, that doesn't mean you won't be as cold as a corpse tomorrow. There are no guarantees in Holdem. As a matter of fact there is one guarantee: variation will hit you sooner or later.

Rookies love Texas Holdem because of the variation it presents ' but they don't know that what goes around, always comes around in poker. Luck is of a much bigger importance in Holdem than it is in Omaha, and provided he gets lucky, the rookie will open a can of whoopass on any veteran sometimes. How can one beat Holdem then? may wonder.

In order to become a winner in Holdem, you need to have an edge in the long-run. Rookies will come and go, they'll take down a huge pot or two, then lose everything on a foolish call, and off they go. The true player recognizes the value in surviving. If you play recklessly, Holdem is nothing but a lottery. If you play wisely, and if you aim for small edges that you can re-apply again and again, you turn it into a game of skill.

This is what the guys on television are after. As soon as you recognize what the nature of the game is, and you study some basic strategy, you'll understand why there is so much pre-flop raising going on, and why a good player always aims to get his opponent pot-committed on the turn, whenever he holds a monster.
You'll be able to see far beyond what's actually visible in the movie(s) and you'll understand WHY those people do certain things. Won't it be more fun to watch them in action, knowing what drives them?

Not only will it be more interesting to watch poker movies, knowing the basics will turn these clips into powerful instruments of education.

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