# Who plays poker for fun or even seriously?

I do.

Honestly I never really got into the game. I need to sit down and learn the strategy one day. I'm a blackjack and craps kinda guy

For about 5 or 6 years, going on 15 years ago, I used to play a lot of low-limit stud, hold'em, and no-limit hold'em; mostly at casinos or underground clubs. I had to study the existing literature quite hard to get any good at it. I also wrote or co-wrote several books on the subject, two of which sold quite well for a few years.

Stepping Up: The Recreational Player's Guide to Beating Casino and Internet Poker

Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells

The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Texas Hold'em (Don't ask me what a "pocket idiot" is.)

I haven't played in years, though. Once I had learned the basics, I discovered I wasn't sufficiently talented to keep the game from getting horribly dull.

stoomart and S.G. Janssens
fresh_42
Mentor
I like Texas Hold 'Em most, but just for fun. It's the interactive part that delights me. I cannot really imagine to play it against a machine, I would get bored. But trying to read your opponent is fun, and varying.

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phinds
Gold Member
I'm a blackjack and craps kinda guy
What a coincidence ... I'm crappy too,

Oh ... wait ... you mean the dice game. Well, anyway ...

remanyssa
I tried sometimes, but I always found it difficult.

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I used to play regularly online some years ago. I was quite serious at it, always trying to improve and had consistent returns, but eventually had no time anymore to play it because, life..

I got really into Holdem and Pot-Limit Omaha about two years ago, but got out after realizing it's a no net gain activity that requires taking advantage of losers to be successful. I still play free games locally or online sometimes when I'm bored, but it was a good habit to put down. Learning cool stuff on PF is a much better habit. : )

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Klystron
Aufbauwerk 2045
[EDITED]

I'm just here because of Irma, and her suitor Jose who is chasing her all the way to Florida. I want to learn more about hurricanes and also to provide some links for people who also want to learn more.

But since I actually wrote a computer program to play poker, I will comment on this.

My main computer interest is AI. So a few years ago I became interested in strategy games, beginning with chess and later go. These are strategy games of perfect information. Then I became interested in poker, which is a strategy game of imperfect information. At that time it was all over the mass media. Two reasons were the WSOP win by Moneymaker, and the movie Rounders.

There are basically two types of strategy for poker, based on whether you are able to deduce how your opponent is likely to play. Your game can perform better if you have a correct "player model." A somewhat interesting book on this subject was written years ago called Winning Poker Systems by Norman Zadeh. I believe he refers to these as "informed" vs "uninformed" strategies.

There has been some academic research dedicated to the subject. Another way to have some claim to fame. "We wrote the best poker program. Hurray for us." Even von Neumann got interested. One prominent group is at the U. of Alberta.

Some people really get into this area, hoping to program their way to a fortune. They have programmed so-called "bots" to play poker online.

But let me cut to the chase and give my opinion on poker both as an academic subject and as a real-world activity. I can see some merit in studying poker as an example of a game of imperfect information which involves opponent modeling. But once I learned about this up to a point it became quite boring, which is my opinion on games in general. There just isn't much there that is interesting, compared for example to writing a program to solve math problems. One reason I like physics is because it involves the study of nature, which is a far more interesting and useful study than some game. Besides, nature does not lie, unlike humans.

As a real-world activity, although there is a skill factor, there is also a huge luck factor. One myth from the movie Rounders is that the same guys end up at the final table of the WSOP because it's a skill game. Of course that's not true. Maybe it was in the old days, but when the WSOP began there were only a few guys involved. If it was a skill game, it would still be true.

:)

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Klystron and stoomart
its old news but an AI computer won against humans in a poker game.

I think it would be a different outcome if the humans knew which player was the computer. But that was kept secret.

The computer did donkeybet a few times which is not an optimale play according to poker pros but maybe it is not that bad.

Klystron
Gold Member
My family played poker at every gathering. Grandpa taught me poker basics when I was age five. Soon I was the only child playing at the adult table. Not realizing that paying into the pot when Cousin Norma (obviously) made her flush was half the fun for family games, I guarded my pennies relentlessly.

I learned most poker/ rummy variations but 7-card stud is my game. With only 52 cards in the deck and many exposed cards, it is easy to remember what cards were exposed and recompute odds of completing hands. Hold-Em only shows you 2 cards before the flop. Seven-stud shows you 3 cards plus each players top card. So, I could memorize 10 cards before betting a cent.

"Amarillo Slim" Preston once told me while leading a group of cross-roaders* at the original Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, that true 7-card stud would be replaced by the much easier Texas Hold-Em. Slim and Doyle Brunson among other poker experts convinced casino executives that Hold-Em allowed more players per table and more marks (tourists, suckers, players) per hand plus enormous rakes** as most marks never count the pot. So, I lost my edge seeing cards and most profit due to excessive rakes.

This is beginners stuff. The real fun in live poker involves position; i.e., geometry. Knowing and exploiting changing order of play as the hand develops. Simple example: given two pocket aces, would you rather be the first to act each round or the last? A pro might invest many chips to eliminate a conservative player with better position leaving marks in poor position.

Once I learned to recognize colluding card cheats, I welcomed them in fixed-rate poker games. Their general lack of skill, obvious tells and signals, and tendency to drive up the pot with dubious raises made me more money than beating honest players. BTW this lead to my conversations with Slim Preston.

I gave up poker for moral reasons. Hobbies and work carry over into your social life. Poker, not unlike American football, emphasizes misdirection and deception; both character traits I seek to avoid not cultivate. I play low stakes low-ball, draw poker or Hold-Em rarely, mainly to chuckle at the inept cheaters but leave before the desperate losers start chasing.

*cross-roaders: groups of organized sociopaths expert at cheating and fleecing marks.
**rake: derived from a croupier's stick; the house removes a percentage from every pot.

P.S. I read post #3's "Book of Poker Tells" from the public library. Not bad. Phil's advice about not becoming "glued to your seat" is wise, though that might be from a different book.

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DaveC426913
Gold Member
Grandpa taught me at age five.
My grandpa could barely read at age five.

Klystron
Gold Member
My grandpa could barely read at age five.
Do not get your pun. I was 5. Grampa played in weekly poker games started by A.R. back in NYC. Parents told me the "new" income tax ruined those old-timers who never kept written records.

Rumor has it old A.R. (Arnold Rothstein) was ruined by a .38 special fired by some disgruntled mark who thought Rothstein cheated at cards. I do not believe that story. Real players do not need to cheat. Much more fun to honestly roll over on a greedy mark. Dad thinks Arthur (Flegenheimer) ended A.R. over some trucking dispute in the garment district.

Just writing some poker yarns makes me feel mean. Glad I no longer gamble.

P.S. Movie writers must be terrible card players. Of course KGB had "Rounder's" hand beat (first game). The most unrealistic poker hand in cinema history must be the final round in "Cincinnati Kid". If you need to wait for a Royal Flush to beat Aces Full, then forget the game.

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Orodruin
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Gold Member
I used to play quite a lot of relatively low-stakes online poker around the time of my dissertation as a way of relaxation. Mainly no-limit texas hold ’em and pot-limit omaha hi-lo with buy-ins up to around $200. Three our four times I visited the Stockholm casino with some PhD colleagues to participate in their lowest buy-in texas hold ’em tournament (500+100 SEK) with 80 seats. The first time I went out early on KK vs AA, the last time I won the tournament with a final hand 10-3 vs 8-2 and a 10-8-3 flop. That was quite the experience as I declined a deal offered by my opponent when we were more or less equal in chips. When I got the offer I looked over at my friends, who I had a 70-10-10-10 split deal with, and one of them shook his head and mouthed ”don’t do it, you are better”. My bookshelf still has quite some poker literature in it. Last edited: Klystron Klystron Gold Member To be clear Poker as a game is relatively easy. I taught my children and grandchildren Rummy card games after they mastered Go-Fish and Crazy-8's (surely called by other names in the UK and EU). Adult Poker concentrates on Money: Great heaping stacks of checks (chips). Poker strategy books, hole-card cameras and tournaments are just another form of entertainment. Luck is for tourists. Learn to compute odds on the fly measured against the amount of money in the pot coupled with a bit of people reading and a cool demeanor: you can play poker. Never bet more than you can safely afford to lose. Leave early. Once I made a good salary as a software engineer, Poker lost its appeal. I lack the greed and concentration required for real Poker. My main strengths were stamina, fast read and being impossible for typical players to figure. I helped computerize Poker slightly back in the day but NEVER play online for coin. Way to much collusion and other cheating. Last edited: If you need to wait for a Royal Flush to beat Aces Full, then forget the game. you are absolutely right.I had one royal flush in my whole poker life. btw In a televised poker tournament someone lost with quad aces against a royal flush. unbelieveable! Last edited: Klystron Gold Member I have had a few straight flushes in money games. Straights, flushes and straight flushes seem more common in poker games without community cards since each player can build independent hands. Consider: If you have many Clubs in your hand, other players face a lack of your suit and a surfeit of the other three suits. Showdowns with straights of different rank and flushes of different rank and suit are particularly exciting in poker games with individual hands. Making a strong hand is one aspect, building a decent pot another. On my 27th birthday at the old Sahara Hotel Las Vegas, I caught a low straight flush in Clubs in$10-20 7-card stud live game. With golf tournaments and several conventions in town and "The Wiz" pounding nearby, the joint was jumping. With my friend getting off work soon, I only planned to play a few hands. My buy-in was strictly "found money" from lower stake games.

Showing the deuce of Clubs I was first to act under the rule low-card must bet first. The rest of the table ignored me, pouring checks into the pot faster than the dealer could count them. I made a low Club straight flush on 5th Street and capped the raises from trip-somethings battling a dominant player with Aces Up. After the big dog made Aces Full on 6th Street, my raise was forgotten. Now last to act I just helped grow the pot.

Cannot remember the other hands now but Fortuna provided quite a "gift". Lavish dinner at Chez Vegas where Lefty Rosenthal and his friend Antony bought our wine.

I played hold'em online some 9 years ago. Internet casinos are banned now and I'm really not that interested in the game, any more.