The world-wide fascination with Texas Holdem poker continues to grow. The success of young poker players at the World Series of Poker has caught the attention of young people around the world. Jonathan Duhamel, a part-time student and professional poker player, became the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion at the age of 22 years winning almost $9 million. Add to this the fact that the top eight players, all of whom were still in their twenties, each won at least a million dollars and you can see why the appeal of Texas Holdem poker has received a huge burst of interest. Duhamel follows in the footsteps of other great young champions, Daniel Neagreanu, Phip Hellmuth, Chris Moneymaker and Peter Eastgate who have risen to superstar status by hitting it big at the World Series of Poker. They are now rich and famous poker celebrities who have inspired great numbers of aspiring poker champions to explore the marvelous world of Texas Holdem poker.
While there are a few poker players who have gained instant wealth and fame, the road to a World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour or a European Poker Tour Championship is a long and potentially expensive, learning process. For the poker neophyte, a basic poker skill development plan must be part of their learning strategy.
The learning process begins by acquiring a solid understanding of the basics of poker. These basics will involve knowledge of the ranking of poker hands, understanding the concepts of betting, checking, raising, re-raising, bluffing and folding. The ability to calculate mathematical odds and probabilities is a great skill to possess. But for many players who are not so blessed, a basic understanding of hand strength is required. Knowing which hands are strong and which hands are weak and the chances of making a hand with the cards that are dealt is an essential skill. Without this minimum basic poker knowledge and skill, poker success at any level will be difficult to accomplish.
Unfortunately, today there is a rush to get it done, just do it! Patience is not a virtue, it is basically non-existent. The biggest mistake that a beginning player can make is to rush off to a casino, a poker room or an online poker room such as PokerStars, Poker Party or Full Tilt poker and start playing for real money. This can be a very costly mistake.
The poker learning and development process should begin by playing poker at home in a low-risk environment with family and friends. Initially, stakes should be restricted to playing for bragging rights or for very low stakes. The poker group should include players who are at the same stage of learning, at least until there is an understanding of all the basic rules and procedures. At these very basic levels, the group of players might even want to share their knowledge to help each other develop their skills more quickly. It is at this level, that they should also begin to acquire a poker library of poker instructional books and DVDs. These instructional resources should provide basic poker instruction plus information on more advanced poker strategy and tactics.
There are many excellent instructional resources available for top poker players and authors who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise. Top player authors and poker experts include Doyle Brunson, David Sklansky, Pat Harrington, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein and Mike Caro. These individuals have all written highly acclaimed books and/or produced top quality poker instructional DVDs on playing Texas Holdem poker and Texas Holdem Poker Strategies. These instructional materials are valuable resources for poker players over a broad range of skill and experience levels.
When the player has acquired basic poker knowledge, they must then move to the next level of understanding. This includes understanding and utilizing position at the table, determining pre flop odds, pot odds and calculating OUTS. This knowledge will help the player to make better decisions about which cards to play. The positioning of a player at the table has an effect on how the dealt cards should be played. For example, there are table positions and circumstances when an Ace in the hole would require the player to fold, while the same cards, with the player in a different table position, would require a raise. Learning the when and how of making these decisions is a higher level skill that is essential for consistent poker success.
To make the appropriate mathematical decisions at the poker table related to odds and probabilities, a number of aids are available that can assist the player. These aids include charts and calculators that can assist players in acquiring the necessary statistical information. Through consistent use of these learning devices the player will begin to gain an understanding of how to make the right card playing and betting choices. In the early learning stages, beginning players should agree to allow the communal use of these assists. As the players develop a greater understanding or develop their calculation skills, the aids can be phased out or removed completely from use. These charts and calculators or available on line for purchase and at no cost and can be found with a simple search.
Armed with basic knowledge and skills, beginning players are now ready to attempt online play. They should start at online poker sites with play money tables. Here they can continue to use the charts and odds calculators to help in their decision making. The more they play using these aids, the better understanding they will develop. At this stage, they should begin reading more advanced poker instructional resources that will teach how to calculate odds and probabilities, determine the range of cards that a player might be holding, how to spot tells and the other psychological aspects of
When a player has reached this level with their poker play, they have advanced beyond the beginner level. They are now intermediate level players ready to begin playing for small stakes online and can venture into the casinos or poker rooms. Their poker education now takes on a new dimension requiring more advanced strategy and focus. They may not possess the skills necessary to challenge highly skilled players at the poker tables so they should focus on strategies that can somewhat neutralize the advantages that experienced players enjoy. One such strategy is the Big Bet No-Limit Hold’em Strategy. This strategy can be effective in both tournament and cash games. But this is instruction at the intermediate level and the focus of this article has been the beginning player.
As the intermediate poker players continue with their poker education, they must continue to take time to plan before they initiate further action. By setting out a path to follow and goals to meet along the way will help ensure the best chance for success. Remember “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.