Sure, video games and various electronic diversions are available now. Who would want to find a pack of playing cards and start up a poker game when you can flip out your cell phone and play video space poker?
I suppose I would. Poker is a lost skill. People my age spent twenty years learning exactly how to manipulate Tetris blocks, where the best place to shoot a zombie is (the head), and the insanely complicated rules of the Pokemon card game. Those same people never learned how to play poker in any form. If you are one, please follow my drift here; “Poker Face” is not just a pop song.
The Different Games
Poker comes in many different variations. The simple Five Card Draw is what video poker is usually based on, and it is the easiest to learn. Start with that if you know little to nothing. We’re talking five cards for each player, and you try to create the best combination of cards. Don’t like the cards you were dealt? No biggie. You get one chance to draw new cards and discard lame ones. Simple, eh?
The more complicated games include Seven Card Stud. In this one, you get seven cards, and some are hidden from your opponents, while others are exposed. This is a much better game to play if you want to bluff, or play the player instead of the cards, but we’ll talk about that later.
I’m a personal fan of “Indian” Poker, which includes a card on each player’s forehead that they never see. The most popular game these days is, of course, Texas Hold ’Em. This game should be played by experienced poker players. It is the same concept as Five Card Draw, except you get two cards, and the rest of your hand is selected from a group of community cards on the table. The drawback to this game is that it is only interesting with a high amount of betting.
There are several things that a poker player needs in his or her arsenal in order to do well and enjoy the game. The first big thing is learning how to bluff. A bluff is not an outright lie or announcement of, “I have a really good hand and you will lose.” This does nothing but ruin the game. A skilled bluffer artfully and deliberately bets in a way that keeps others guessing. It is all about perceived risk.
This brings up a big discussion among card players: playing the cards vs. playing the other player. If you play poker, you can either strategize based on the cards in your hand, or you can play based on what the other players may have. The most skilled players can win a hand regardless of the cards because they can read other people and con them. Beginners should stick to playing the cards, however, because it helps teach them the fundamentals of the game, and it pays off about half the time.
If a player is a math genius (unlike me), they have a bit of an advantage. Factoring in the variety of cards in a deck, the number of hands, and the probability of what the next card will be, some Hold ‘Em players can predict what cards their opponents are holding. This is known in some circles as playing the odds, and it is risky. But knowing that there is a 34% chance of getting a flush versus your opponent’s 22% chance of getting the six-card that he wants may help your game.
This is why poker is such a beautiful game. No one can claim electronic interference, or bugs in the system. It is a pure game of skill and luck combined for an extreme dose of entertainment. They say that the adrenaline highs and sorrowful lows of winning and losing at poker are more intense than cocaine…and they are less disgusting, illegal, and dangerous as well.
All a poker game requires is a table, a deck of cards, and some participants. It is the cheapest game system out there. Learn the lost skill now!
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