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The Art of Poker

25 October 2014

By John Marchel
Poker is 50 percent skill and 50 percent luck. The part about skill is a given --- you need it to play successfully. The other 50 percent, luck, will come to you in various degrees. Sometimes excellent cards will come round after round, and other times you will not get any decent cards during a whole session. The thing to remember is that winners make good hands out of bad ones; losers always get bad hands.

Successful poker play could be said to derive from several different factors. The four main necessities are:

• Strategy is the principal ingredient
• Short-range knowledge of your opponents (a variable)
• Immediate action awareness of the situation (a variable)
• Long-range understanding of the game (a constant)

How to become a good poker player:

Because playing poker requires at least 50 percent skill, it only stands to reason that a player needs to do a lot of reading, studying, and practicing before any real success can be expected. You need to know and understand the rules, odds, and expectations of each poker game you want to play. There is a lot to know about calling, raising, and bluffing in poker. Indeed, there are whole books on facial and body expressions. It's important that you know how to read the other players at a table.

The other 50 percent of poker deals with the luck of the draw. You can be a very skilled player and not draw decent cards for some time. I call this being in a "slump" --- just like a professional baseball player. Just as the team MVP can get into a hitting slump, a skilled poker player can have a dry spell. Sometimes you just get lousy cards, round after round. My advice in this situation is the same for poker as it is for any other game: reduce your bets or stop playing for a while when you consistently get poor hands.

When it comes to strategy, there are a few general rules that you need to understand, regardless of which poker game you are playing. Aside from the draw, you will find that all decision-making is done during the betting rounds. Following are some basic poker strategies:

• The biggest mistake poker players make is playing too many hands.
• Don't play cash poor: a good rule of thumb is that your bankroll should be 40-50 times the table limit.
• There's an even chance that you won't better your opening hand.
• If you've got nothing in your hand, fold.
• If you've got a sure-bet hand, make the other players pay to see it.
• If they've got you beat, don't fool around-fold.
• The goal is to beat the other players, not have the highest hand. If everyone else folds, you win the pot.
• The more players at the table, the greater the chance that one or more players has a pair; if you haven't got a high pair or better, or four cards to a flush or straight, fold.
• The better your openers, the better your chances of improving your hand.
• Make sure you know all the rules of the specific game you're playing.
• When you get a weak hand in the initial deal, fold early instead of in the middle or at the end; it will save you money.
• Even a poor player can get lucky and get good cards once in a while.
• Don't play unless you can give it all you've got.
• If it isn't fun, don't play.

Bet – You Didn’t Know

• In 2013 the state of Nevada had 88 poker rooms and 774 poker tables available to play at.

• While in jail at Fort Still, Okalahoma, Geronimo, (1829–1909) the Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe who waged war for over 25 years against the encroachment of the U.S. on his tribal lands, played a lot of poker.

• The final table at the 2006 World Series of Poker H.O.R.S.E. event (Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven card stud, Eight or better), that required a $50,000 entry fee, had all World Poker Tour or WSOP champions.

• General Dwight Eisenhower, who was a skilled poker player, quit playing poker during WW II when he realized that he was winning too much money from junior officers who could ill afford it.

• While in the navy in WW II, Richard Nixon won $8,000 playing poker. He used those funds to pay for his first congressional race in 1947.

• It was in 1979 that Hal Fowler, from Norwalk California, becomes that year World Series of Poker Main Event Champion and the first non-professional to do it.

• Colorado laws governing gambling are an inch thick. It covers everything including what to do with the winnings of a patron who dies at the poker table.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at


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John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

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101 Casino Gambling Tips: Affordable Strategies & Techniques for Maximizing Profits & Reducing Loses

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