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The True Nature of Poker
by Timmor L. White

Few people grasp the true nature of poker. At its core, poker is not a card game. Players use cards, but it is not a game of cards. It is a game of psychology.

Poker is a game of reading people. It is a game of analyzing and understanding those around you. It is a game of posturing, a game of manipulation, a game of interpersonal relationships and a game of supreme, raw competition.

Poker's fundamental concepts are amazingly simple. You take turns wagering against opponents, with cards settling the outcome if needed. Thatís all there is to it. Yet the intricacies of the game are challenging beyond anything that exists in the gaming world. To play well, you need deep intellect, reliable intuition, unfailing resource-fulness, steel nerves and raw courage. And you need the ability to concentrate for extended periods at a level that is nearly inhuman. No other game demands such a combination of skills.

The concept of wagering has been around since the dawn of humankind. One person believes something. Another person believes something contrary. Before finding out who is right, both parties agree to put a stake on the outcome. Each person places a share of money into a common area to be held in trust until a determination is made as to which person is correct. That person is declared the winner, and the winner is awarded the total amount wagered.

Wagers come in all shapes and sizes. One person believes the 49ers will beat the Dolphins by seven points. Another person believes they will not. A wager can be made. One person believes he can run a mile in five minutes. Another person believes he cannot. A wager is possible. One person believes he might be able to pick the correct lottery numbers. The state believes he (and sufficient millions of others) will pick wrongly. A wager is available.

Poker is a game of wagering. Players sit at a table and use cards to determine the rank of their hands. The players make wagers whenever they think they will end up with the best hand or be able to get other players to fold. Players bet when they believe doing so is to their advantage.

Most hands come and go without players having much opinion about their chances of winning that hand. Often, one player believes he has the best chance of winning, but no other player disagrees strongly enough to challenge that belief with a wager. For that reason, there is little betting during most hands (in a good game).

Often enough, however, two or more players feel strongly about their chances of winning the hand. One player believes, based on available evidence, he will end up with the best hand or be able to get others to fold. Another player disagrees, believing he has a better chance of having the best hand or getting others to fold. When this disagreement occurs, players take turns placing chips into the pot to wager on their chances of winning.

Every poker hand you play consists of receiving cards, followed by a round of betting. Every time it is your turn to act, you are faced with a decision. If no one has bet before you, you may pass or make the first bet. If some-one has already bet, you may fold, call or raise. These decisions form the guts of poker. The skill with which you execute these decisions determines whether you win or lose.

Poker is supremely fair. Although bad beats are a part of the game, in the end, the outcome at a poker table is based on pure justice. Players get what they deserve, according to the skill with which they play. This long-term quality of fairness is precisely what makes poker so worthwhile.

The philosopher Thomas Szasz says that what people need for happiness and fulfillment is not wealth, comfort or esteem, but a game worth playing. Robert S. DeRopp, in his book The Master Game, says, "Seek, above all, a game worth playing. Having found the game, play it with intensity, play as if your life and sanity depended on it. They do." Donald Trump says, "Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game."

Poker is a game worth playing. And the most admirable thing you can do is strive to win. Engage with all your heart in the quest for victory. Poker rewards a passion to win, an insatiable desire to pound your opponents into defeat.

I know a desire to win flies in the face of what a lot of folks preach these days. They contend that games should be based on cooperation, not competition. They say competition is bad, that it fosters a cynical world view. I donít care what they say. I am not after approval or political correctness. If you agree with me and you accept, as I do, the intrinsic competitive nature of the universe, then you know my words are true. Poker is a glorious testament to the true competitive nature of our world.

I will not spout beneficent platitudes about how we are all in this together, how sharing and cooperation bring happiness and how the world could be a wonderful place if we would just celebrate together and hug each other. That is all well and good, but it does not win poker games. If you would rather believe that the fairies of the forest will bless you with good fortune for meditating under trees, that is your prerogative. But that is not my experience of what it takes to win at poker. I donít know about you, but I would rather win than lose. If you are with me on that point, then poker is right down your alley. The true nature of poker is about competition, and a burning desire to win.

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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