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Poker has amazing enduring popularity. Texas Holdem is now the Big Papi of all poker variations. This doesn’t mean that the others are not fun to play; they are! But Texas Holdem has captured the imagination of millions of poker players from every corner of the globe. Let’s examine why.

Why is Poker So Popular?

Poker is the mother of all mind games!  It combines the luck of the cards with the skill to figure out as accurately as possible what any opponent might have.  The element of bluffing is always present in poker.  In fact, we might say that someone is bluffing on every hand!

In some hands, the bluffer might fold after the first set of community cards are dealt.  But it still means that that player was bluffing before the flop.  On the other hand, a player in early position might raise before the flop with a potentially good hand and then be forced to fold if they miss the flop altogether.

The mind game aspect of poker involves every bet on every street from every betting position! 

Are All Poker Players Alike

To some extent, yes.  But there are really three very different types of poker players.

  1. Most poker players like to play the game for low stakes with friends.  They might have a game once a month or so.  They play small ante poker with maximum betting limits.  One of the most fun aspects of these friendly games is that the dealer chooses the poker variation he or she wants to play.
  2. The opposite type of poker player likes the head to head confrontation with strangers or with opponents who are at best acquaintances and nothing more.  To these players, poker is a combination ego massage, bloodless war, and battle of wits.
  3. The third type of poke lover plays video poker.  Here they can have all the poker fun without any bluffing whatsoever.  It helps that the return to player rate in video poker is so high—almost 100%.  So, if you realistically don’t like a bluffing game and you want a game that will be easy on your bankroll, video poker is likely the best game for you!

The Camaraderie of Poker

There is a very special kind of interaction among poker players.  On the one hand, everyone is trying to win everyone else’s money.  On the other hand, people like to kibitz during a hand.  There is a lot of “dead” time for every player since poker players fold about 70% of the hands they are dealt.

They fold for a few reasons but mainly because the hands are weak or they are in early position or both.  Another reason for frequent folding is the natural desire to conserve one’s stack.

What Can I Do about Players Who Tilt?

If you are not the one tilting, then there is very little you can do except to use their tendency to tilt to your advantage.  We have all seen YouTube clips of poker pros who either take bad beats with stoic equanimity, even good humor, and others who tilt at the first sign of bad luck.

It’s as if these pros feel that they should have all the luck since they know so much more about poker than anyone else.  It could be that technically they do know more about poker than everyone else but practically they have to be hurting themselves by tilting so much!

There are people who say that more players tilt in online games.  We can’t say for sure if this is the case but we can say that if you can control your emotions, both on good days and also on those inevitable bad days, you will have a distinct advantage over a tilting opponent.

How Can I Tell if an Opponent is Tilting?

There are two basic ways to know when someone is tilting.  The first is that there suddenly is a dramatic change in the way they bet.  They may bet more often, they may bet more money, and they may take less time to think things through.

A player who has lost a few tough hands and is now trying to win back his or her losses is in a classic tilting situation.  The cards simply don’t observe tilt as a reason to fall well or not so well for a player!  In fact, the cards don’t know anything!  So throwing good money after bad is a very tiltish action!                      

The second way to know if a player is tilting is by a change in their chat activity.  They may chat less or they may chat more.  They may complain about their bad luck or they might channel their inner tilting pro and blame the amateur who lucked into a big pot.  A tilting player may start to become political and in a not so pleasant way.

The camaraderie that develops at the poker table can succeed only if the players leave their politics at the door.  Politics was once one of the four taboo subjects at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner among family members with a wide range of political opinions.

By the way, the other three subjects that used to be taboo were money, religion, and sex.  It may be a sad commentary on modern life that they are increasingly no longer taboo and that makes for many contentious family dinners on the holidays!

Are There Ways to Prevent Tilt?

There are four physical ways to prevent tilt and one psychological way.  The psychological way is to train yourself to see the humor or the good or at least the “not bad” in every hand.  You may have folded low connected and suited cards and seen a straight flush emerge in the community cards.

If you can tilt easily, this would be a perfect time to do so!  However, if you have taught yourself to not tilt in tilting situations, then you will simply rack it up to the poker gods playing games with you!

The four physical ways to avoid tilt are:

  1. Play only if you are well rested.  That means getting enough sound sleep to make good decisions at the poker table.
  2. Play only when you have eaten moderately.  That giant hoagie before playing poker will probably cause your digestive system to tilt and that will cause you to tilt as well!
  3. Play only when you have exercised on a regular basis.  You don’t need to work out like an athlete.  You only need to work out like a good poker player.  Exercise for a poker player is like practicing scales for a singer or a musician.
  4. Play only when you feel 100% healthy.  Even a sniffle will play head games with your head and poker is the quintessential head game when you can direct your misdirections at your opponents.  If you play when you feel not so well, you will be directing all of those misdirections at yourself!

What Does All of this Have to Do with Learning How to Play Texas Holdem?

There are two vital elements in learning any variation of poker: learning the technical details of the game which in Texas Holdem is very complex and a lifetime’s endeavor and learning how to relate to poker as a social and intellectual activity and as a test for your rigor in preparing yourself physically and emotionally for the game!

Juicy Stakes Poker wishes excellent luck and good decisions to all players!  We invite you to join if you aren’t yet a member of the team!  Join NOW and follow this blog to get the most out of poker!


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