reports from a WSOP Main Event from
professional gambler Andrew W Scott
is a complex and interesting game with a broad
spread of subject matter. Currently most of our material
covers Texas Holdem due to the overwhelming popularity
of that variant. For specialised information on less
widely played variants, poker supplies, books and
so forth, we have provided links to various poker
websites in our Links
Online Poker Rooms
Links to some online poker rooms that are both reputable
and large, so you will be able to get the game you
want fairly quickly.
as a comparative gambling activity
Pokeris one of the most skillful and fascinating gambling
games ever devised and one of the few which Smartgambler
recommends for the person who wishes to be a winning
poker is generally a good game to play because
there is no house percentage, known as rake, and the
standard is more likely to be low. On the other hand,
you tend to either already be friends, or become friendly,
with people you play against regularly and it may
be ethically uncomfortable to consistently take money
off them. If that is a consideration then commercial
poker tournaments where the prizemoney comes from
entry fees and sponsorship are more appropriate to
your needs. For information about such events contact
your national or state poker association or nearest
land based casino. In
Australia social poker is legal as long as there is
no house rake.
There are hundreds of different variations of poker,
but the similarities allow some people to become experts
at many different types. One of the most important
things to appreciate about poker is that it is not
a game of luck, it is a game of skill that involves
some luck in the short term. Whilst individual hands
and indeed tournaments can be decided by luck, good
poker players turn the percentages in their favour
and the longer the game is played the more certain
it is that money will migrate from the lesser players
to the stronger.
has a very simple philosophy on poker, study, study
and study the game! Become the most knowledgeable
player you possibly can and continually try and improve.
This involves knowing the table of probabilities for
the variations you play off by heart, knowing how
to perform the necessary mental arithmetic when calculations
have to be made and finally learning the strategies
and psychology that elevate the truly great players
above those with mere mathematical flair.
There are thousands of books on poker and also a huge
collection of internet sites devoted to the game.
You will find it relatively easy to find study material
so only your own level of motivation stands in the
way of becoming a skilled player who can win consistently
at the game.
are slightly more ambivalent about casino poker
in comparison to home games for several reasons. Most
obvious is the house rake which typically will be
something like 5% of each winning pot up to a prescribed
maximum. This makes it difficult to win consistently
unless you are a better player than most of the opposition.
The trouble is that often many of the players on the
table at casinos are skilled regulars and professionals
just waiting for a nice plump Wood-duck to waddle
up to the table. Taking money off these hardened regulars
is hard work and there are easier gambling targets
to attack. There seems to be a body of opinion though
that the standard in most casino games is generally
lower than the equivalent stakes game online, which
we shall come to.
drawback with casino poker is the possibility of collusion.
This is cheating of course, but it's tricky to prove
and hard for the casinos to prevent. Since the cartels
win money off other players and the casino still gets
its cut, the casinos may not be quite as motivated
as usual to stamp out this form of cheating, though
they certainly claim to watch out for it.
One simple method used by such cheats is as follows.
A signal is used by cartel members to determine who
is holding the best hand. When a non cartel player
is showing strength the weaker cartel hands are automatically
folded, leaving only their best hand playing. If the
non cartel player wins, the pot it is reduced in value
from what it might have been if the cartel players
had not known each others hands. Over time this disadvantage
would wipe out the non colluding players.
There are many other tricks. Suffice to say that a
skilled team of players can very easily take money
off non colluding individuals. This form of cheating
at casinos is not currently regarded as a major problem
in Australia or most other well regulated environments,
but it pays to be aware of the possibility and to
quit any game where you feel there is any suspicious
pattern to the play.
of online poker rooms have sprung up on the web and
despite the potential for cheating it is definitely
possible to win good money on these sites. One piece
of advice I've heard is to play the lower stakes games
as the cheats are more likely to target the richer
games. Big sites like Party
Poker and Pokerstars are probably the
best places to play as they have built up a lucrative
enough business to make it worthwhile for them to
try very hard to keep their games clean and they are
also unlikely to suddenly disappear with the balance
of your account! There are also so many players there
at any given time you can always find a weak table
somewhere. There is a link to a listing of all our
favourite poker sites at the top of this page.
There is probably more collusion online than in all
the casino and home games put together, but a lot
of online collusion is poorly planned and executed
and it's doubtful whether the colluders are actually
gaining an edge over any reasonably skilled player.
The card rooms are on the lookout for it and there
are so many games available online that it's easy
to move around if you have any suspicion at all that
other players are cheating.
A lot has been written about the use of automated
poker programs, known as bots, for cheating purposes.
Whilst there are definitely some of these bots around,
it's not clear that they are worth worrying much about.
For a start the poker rooms take anti bot measures
which limit their prevalence, and more importantly
it's not yet evident that the bots can play better
than skilled players... and if you're not a skilled
player you will lose whether you are playing a bot
or simply playing against superior human opposition.
Your best defence against bots is to become a good
player, which you have to do anyway to win long term
at poker. One of the first things a good player learns
is that if the game on a particular table seems too
tough you should leave it and play elsewhere. Apart
from being common sense if your aim is to win money,
this reduces your exposure to cheating by any form.