Poker is a card game involving both cards and money as basic elements of the game. It is   not a game of making big hands; it’s a game of winning large pots. 

  It’s not a game of winning a lot of pots; it’s a game of winning the big ones. This is an   important distinction between poker and other card games. 

  In poker, money is not just the objective-it’s an integral part of the game.

  Often new players, and even some not-so-new players, look for a magic formula or system   based on the cards that will make them a winning poker player. 

  There isn’t one. When Kenny Rogers sang, “Know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em   in the song “The Gambler,” he only got it half right. 

  You also need to know when to bet or raise. Money does matter.


  As children, most of us played a card game called war. I recall the game as a two-player   game where each player got half the deck, face down. 

  The top card in each player’s stack was turned face up, the player with the highest ranking   card won the cards, placing them on the bottom of his stack. 

  Ties were broken by comparing a second card. The winner was the player who ended up   with all the cards.

  War is not poker, but a slight modification of the game transforms it into a primative form of   poker. 

  It simply requires adding money bets and peeking at your next card to transform it into a   form of poker.

    war as poker

  For example, each player could put up one cent (the ante) then receive a card.  The first   player looks at his card and decides whether to bet or check. 

  The second player looks at his card and decides whether to call or fold (or bet if the first   player checked).


  Even without allowing a raise, we now have a simple form of poker.  Note that just adding   money to the game in the form of an ante was not sufficient to create a poker game-the   option to bet is a key element  of the game that makes poker what it is. 

  Once we’ve added  the concept of a bet to the children’s game of war, the entire nature of   the game has changed.  In the game of war, the winner is the one who ends up with all the   cards. 

  When we are allowed the option to bet or fold, it should be easy to see that the player who   gets all the cards may not end up as the player who wins the most money. 

  This is also true in poker.  The player who wins most of the pots is seldom the one who wins   the money. The  reason is that to win most of the pots you have to play most of them.

  Playing too many hands is one of the quickest routes to losing at poker that you can choose.    Remember this.  It’s probably the most important fundamental truth about poker that a   new player can learn.

why play poker ? / unique features of poker / poker versus other casino games

keeping score with money / mathematics of poker

growth and change in poker / holdem / sources for this book


holdem poker