If you play poker regularly, and you understand the game exactly
as it is, you probably know that there are misconceptions among people with no
direct experience. You've probably heard many of these erroneous viewpoints. If
you are like me, you spend a fair amount of time explaining to uninformed people
precisely what poker is and what it is not. For the benefit of all, this article
will clear up some of the more common misconceptions.
Conversely, if you never play poker, and your entire experience of the game is
what you read in print and see in movies, you probably have many wrong ideas.
That is to be expected. Please, allow me to enlighten you on a few points.
1. Poker is not casual. Many people think of poker as a mellow social pastime,
where friends sit around drinking, laughing and whooping it up. In fact, there
is nothing friendly about poker. You can be cordial with others at your table
(and you should be), but the game itself is vicious. Played properly, it is a
form of warfare. It is an aggressive battle for domination. I think of poker as
"violence, without the violence."
2. A poker face is not the main requirement to play. I cannot tell you how often
I hear this misconception. Nearly every time I mention poker to someone whose
only exposure to the game is the media, I hear some lame comment like, "Oh, you
must have a good poker face." No, a poker face, a steely-eyed gaze, is not the
essence of skillful play. True, you do not want to be sending tells to your
opponents, but the so-called poker face is widely misunderstood. The ability to
create a poker face does not make you a poker player. Consider this: When you
play poker on the Internet, everyone has a poker face.
3. Winning at poker is not easy. Blame television for this one. You generally
see only the winners on television. Those who win get the most exposure and are
most often featured. The final table in a tournament, for example, is comprised
solely of players who are winners. Very little attention is paid to those who
lose, say nothing of the vast majority who bust out of tournaments without
fanfare. Playing well takes a huge amount of study, discipline and practice.
Succeeding in the world of poker is far from automatic.
4. Women can play. The idea that poker is exclusively a manís game is another
falsehood. Years ago, many well-known poker authors wrote that women do not have
the killer instinct necessary to play well. Time has proven that theory wrong.
Nowadays, women compete at every level, and plenty of skilled women win in cash
games and tournaments. The idea that poker is a man's game is laughable these
days, and I wouldn't have included it among common misconceptions were it not
for the fact that many still believe it.
5. Poker is not a game of mathematics. In blackjack, for example, you always
have one best move at any moment. Your task is to determine what that move is.
If you have 13 and the dealer is showing an ace, then you should hit. That is
always true, no matter who is seated at the table or what they are doing. Poker
is different. In poker, you must take other players into account, and the
mathematically preferable move may not be wise. Top caliber players often debate
what is the best move in a particular situation. Poker cannot be reduced to
mathematics because there are too many human factors.
6. Poker is a not game of luck. This is perhaps the most common misconception,
and it is dead wrong. Luck averages out. Over time, all players receive the same
percentage of good hands and bad hands. The difference is what players do with
those hands. A good player will maximize the amount won with good hands and
minimize the amount lost with bad hands. The key element that separates winners
from losers, over time, is not the cards dealt, but the decisions made. Stu
Unger, three-time World Series of Poker champion, put it this way: "In cards,
the luck always balances out. The good players are going to win. Any player that
thinks card playing is a game of luck, Iíll show you a fool. Thatís what the
losers always say. The winners donít worry about the short term; we play for the
7. Cheating is not rampant. The prevalence of cheating is another incorrect
impression held by many. In private backroom games, cheating does happen
occasionally. But in modern casino cardrooms and high-profile tournaments, where
most of todayís professionals play, cheating is virtually nonexistent. (Online
poker, however, is a different story. It is possible to cheat when playing on
the Internet, due to the nature of the technology. If you'd like to explore a
particular way to cheat when playing online, click here:
Poker Cheat.) Although cheating is technically possible in some situations,
and it does happen, it is not nearly the factor that many people suppose. If you
are hesitant to play poker out of fear of being cheated, you are overreacting.
8. Poker is not an addiction. No matter what the media would have you believe,
the vast majority of poker enthusiasts play because they enjoy the game, not
because they are hooked in some way. Sure, a tiny percentage of players do
struggle with addiction, but they are people with an addictive personality,
whether or not they play poker. We should not blame poker for someone's
compulsive behavior any more than we should blame sex for someone being a
9. Poker is not sleazy. There is nothing even remotely "underbelly" about the
beautiful game of poker. A great many good and decent folks play for a wide
variety of reasons, such as fun, challenge and personal betterment. Poker
highlights the best of human interaction and calls into play the most honorable
of human qualities, such as courage, sound reasoning and self-control. Poker is
a wonderful way to build character.
10. Poker is not illegal. Most people with a functioning brain do not actually
believe this, but the forces of misguided morality want you to think that the
game of poker is against the law. It is not. Poker is not associated with crime
in any way. Nor is it controlled by the mob. Not is it dangerous. You do not
need to be on the lookout for gangsters. Or gunplay. No, you do not need to
carry a sidearm and shoot your way out of the casino to protect your loot.
Youíve been watching too many movies.
These are a few common misconceptions held by many in the public. If you
encounter people with these ideas, please set them straight. But be
understanding; it's not their fault that they hold these incorrect viewpoints,
which are passed off as fact everywhere in today's media. It rests with us,
intelligent members of the poker-playing community, to spread the truth
regarding the magnificent game of poker.
Timmor L. White is the founder and president of Online Poker Systems and the OPS
Group. With a background in Internet technology, he is active in the study and
reporting of online-poker playing strategies. If you wish to explore a specific
way to cheat when playing online, click here:
Online Poker Cheat.
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The temptation is strong. Cheat at poker and make gobs
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