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How to Win at Poker

Before we dive into the explanations how to win at poker, I would like to ask your opinion about the biggest gaming philosophical question:

Is poker a game of skill or chance?

I hope that in result of learning Poker on this website you will answer to this controversy that Poker is definitely a game that involves more skills than chance. This debate about the status of poker has been going on for as long as the game itself has been around. However, it is interesting to hear what the world thinks of this important question.

Why is it important? Because in many countries, games of chance are either illegal or regulated, whereas the rules are more relaxed for games of skill.

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Poker Vs. stock market

Think about this: This is the same situation in the stock market. There are random events in both of these games. If you could only buy one stock there is a good chance that you would lose, therefore if everyone did that you might say that it's gambling. However, most reliable investment advisors tell you to have your money in at least 10 different stocks or put your money in a mutual fund. If you could sit down and only play one hand of poker in our lifetime than no matter what your skill level is, there is a good chance that you would lose that hand. But, if you play many thousands of hands over a life time against people that have lesser skills than you do, you might consider that a good INVESTMENT. If you have fewer skills than your opponents do, then, the longer you play the more likely it is that you will lose.

  • If you are putting your money on an event and the odds are not in your favor then you are gambling.
  • If you put your money on an event where the odds are in your favor then you are INVESTING.

In some countries, what are perceived to be games of chance are subject to much tougher jurisdiction: in most states of US, for example, online poker has been essentially illegal since the passing of the -2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement ActBlackjack.

How to Win at Poker

Every game exists on a continuum between "pure skill" and "pure chance". Allowing the discussion to be framed as a binary choice between chance OR skill is always going to be a loss for poker advocates, because there will always be substantial elements of chance that even the dimmest opponents of the game will be able to readily cite.

Anyway, if we have to choose (for legal decision for instance) we should think of a dialogue from one of my favorite movies, Rounders, where Matt Damon says:

“Why does this still seem like gambling to you? If so, why you think that the same 5 people make it at the final table of World Series of Poker every single year, what they are the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It's a skill game.”

Many poker-pros that make their living at the game say sage things like, "Well, if it were gambling I couldn't be doing it professionally now, could I?"

The legal issue

From a legal perspective, the issue turns on the determination of "predominance." That is, a game or enterprise is classified legally as gambling if luck and chance predominate over skill.

No one has ever argued that opening a small business is a "gamble" (although it manifestly is) because the standard interpretation is that the business acumen of the proprietor is the key factor and "dominates" any contribution that chance elements might play.

For the better part of our history, poker had been viewed by the courts as "gambling" on the grounds that luck was the predominant element.

More than one judge or legislator was heard to utter statements like, "Whoever ultimately wins is the player who shows the best hand, and that is the luck of the draw" -- thereby, of course, showing that he didn't know anything about poker.

Poker experiment

Trying to solve this controversy, the Journal of Gambling StudiesBlackjack published a pseudo-experiment designated to solve this chewed question.

In the experiment, 300 participants were divided into “expert” versus “non-expert” groups, depending on whether they had an interest in the game or not. Then, they played 60 hands of Texas Hold’em in which the deals were fixed, so that players could get consistently good, bad or neutral hands. Briefly, the researchers found that there wasn’t much difference in the final amounts of money that the experts accrued compared with the non-experts, with the implication that skill level didn’t have much effect on the outcome. In other words, they argued, poker is a game of luck.

The answer to this experiment was argued by the pro-poker advocates, that an inferior and inexperienced player may win a few hands, or even games, but those who have mastered the game will come out on-top in the long-run.

How long is the long run?

Some players report that it takes at least 1500 hands to be sure to get a clear advantage.

Then, something new occurred that, in my opinion, did determine the answer to our philosophical question.

Unbeatable Poker  computer

a Study in ScienceBlackjack reported a new computer algorithm called Counterfactual Regret Minimization, or CFR, that was used to weakly solve a variant of poker called heads-up limit Texas Hold’em. In other words, researchers claimed to have developed a computer program that, although it won’t win every hand it plays, it will play a near-perfect game of poker that makes it pretty much unbeatableBlackjack. To do this, it spent two months playing through a billion billion hands, and built up a monstrous, 11-terabyte database of every possible combination of hands, plays and outcomes. You can try your chancesBlackjack against the program, called Cepheus.

Until you will install Cepheus app on your iPhone in order to win at Online Poker, try the next pages on this website to learn to play unbeatable poker like a pro.

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