Why is Texas Holdem So Complex?
At first glance, a poker novice at Juicy Stakes Poker might look at Texas Holdem and say that the game is very simple: everyone gets to use the same five community cards. Still, Texas Holden continues to prove extremely complex even for experienced players. Let’s take a look at why this is so.
Texas Holdem Proves the Extraordinary Variability of the Unknown
Yes, each player who stays in a hand has only two hidden cards and can use up to five community cards. The identity of those two hidden cards can create anywhere from a Royal Flush, which is rare indeed, to a possible range of hands from a high pair, to two pair and so on!
It takes very little imagination to conclude that the range of hands an opponent might have is quite wide! Therefore, players have to use insights that go beyond mere poker in figuring out what the betting player may have. Does she have a top hand? Is she bluffing?
The Trans-poker Side of Texas Holdem
We might call this the psychological side of poker but we prefer to use trans-poker since that term will include all aspects of a hand that are not directly related to poker. A player may be thinking about a previous bad bet. A player may be concentrating too hard. We have to see inside an opponent’s head to see their psyche at work; we need to see into their soul to see their emotions at work; we have to see into their cognitive mind to see their intellect at work.
All of this to help us discern two, little, hidden cards!
Are there Real Life Examples of a Similar Nature?
Yes, there are!
In fact, there are many!
When a human resources person interviews a prospective new employee, there is much more about that prospective employee that is unknown than there is known. Interviewees also bluff! Interviewees “hold their cards close to their vest!”
No matter how many good reviews a restaurant gets, we never know for sure if it will be good enough to go back to. Even if it is good enough this time, we don’t know about the next time! The same applies to movies, concerts, books, and many other things where we can’t ever know for sure!
One of the elements that make poker hard is that we have to be very patient.
In Texas Holdem We Should Play Very Few Hands
Novice players play too many hands. For starters, any two cards from ten to two is a hand that you should fold before the flop with a few very complex exceptions.
One exception refers to suited and connected low cards. This kind of hand might be worth seeing the flop for. Position also comes into play here. Your stack will play a factor. And your own betting tendencies will be important in a simple hand in which you have suited connectors.
Why Are My Betting Tendencies Important?
A good opponent will be looking constantly for any telltale signs that he or she can file away as your betting tendencies. All of these elements work together synergistically to create an image of yourself that an opponent might exploit against you!
Getting back to the idea of playing very few hands, we come to the realization that when we do play a hand, we are immediately telegraphing that this hand has at least a high card; it might have a pair; it might have suited cards that are not connected; in short, it is a hand that has more value than all of the other hands we folded with!
This simple deduction goes back to the idea of our playing tendencies. If we never go against the grain, we will always be a kind of open book.
That means that we have to bluff before the flop. We obviously can’t bluff too often; that will set us apart as a poker chump. We have to bluff with a plan. Doing so in such a way that we can win our bluffs is one of the many complexities of poker in general and Texas Holdem in particular.
Why in Texas Holdem in Particular
The reason is because of the blinds. In many variations of poker, everyone antes before the dealer deals. This puts everyone at some risk on the hand. But in Texas Holdem, we can safety exit any hand at zero cost if we are not one of the blinds.
Here we get to the idea of stakes levels.
Low Stakes games are Different than High Stakes Games
This might seem to be so obvious as to not need mentioning but it is. High stakes players come in two very distinct forms: the players who are quite skilled at poker and the players who have lots of money and want to play with the best players even though they know that they will ultimately lose.
If you don’t fit into either of those categories, you should never be in a high stakes Texas Holdem game or a high stakes poker game in any variation!
So, most Texas Holdem players play in relatively low stakes games. We have to recognize that the skill level of our opponents will increase as the stakes increase. We won’t encounter any fat cats who are playing against top players for the fun of it. In low stakes but not micro stakes games, the next level always has better players than the previous level.
A perfect example comes from sports. Whether we are talking about college football or basketball, professional baseball, basketball, or hockey, or soccer in countries with several levels of play, the lower levels will be occupied by lesser players and each subsequent level will have better players.
Poker Math is Hard to Master
In modern day poker, it is impossible to win in the long term without using the basics of poker math. In this sense, we can once again look to sports for some insight. All sports now use ancillary statistics to paint a picture of a player or a situation. Even a game like hockey, where possession can change many times in just a single minute, teams keep statistics about possession one’s defensive zone, offensive zone, and the neutral zone.
The Complexity of Poker Adds to its Appeal
In this sense, poker is a lot more like chess than it is like the games that may involve some skill but ultimately rely on throws of the dice to determine winners. At Juicy Stakes Poker, you can avail yourself of several variations of poker and at many stakes levels which we have just translated to mean skill levels.
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