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Part I: Being Prepared to Win in Texas Hold Em Poker

This article is part of a larger Texas Hold Em Poker course, for new players. Course links are provided at the bottom of this page.

'“Every Battle is Won Before it is Ever Fought”-Sun Tzu'

Like the old saying goes, “Many people come to Vegas to lose.” Before you start playing Texas Hold Em the first question that you should ask yourself is: “When I start playing, do I want to win or do I want to lose my money?” This is a serious question. I'm guessing that if you asked most active players this question outright their answer would be, “I want to win.” So then why do less than 10% of the players leave with 80% of the money in online play? Some of it, I would say, in certain cases, has to do with a lot of natural talent or a specific type of intelligence which is tuned into the game-those are your superstar players. But what about that larger group of winning players with no extraordinary talent, who make a very nice living for themselves winning consistently at Texas Hold Em? What is the difference between them and the larger majority of losing players?

The answer is simple: The players who win consistently have a clear understanding and mastery of all the basic aspects of winning play. Just knowing how to play, having good in game skills and strategy is not enough. Those things are very important, obviously, but its not the whole ball of wax, and winning players know this. Many of the losers know this also, but for whatever reason they are not able to master their own negative behaviors enough to turn a profit.

So intelligence, instinct, skills, and overall ability are one thing, and make up maybe 60% of what you need to win, and being able to deal in a positive mental and emotional way (self-mastery) in all the various in-game and out of game situations make up the other 40%. In short, even if you've had a horrible string of bad beats, and you feel frustrated to the Nth degree, you've still got to play the way that you know is right, and make all the rest of the correct decisions that you know are right for your bankroll. Many players who experience a run of bad luck tend to start not caring about the rest of the money that they still have left. Winning players have learned to overcome this problem.

Therefore in terms of your own preparedness, you just need to be aware that the game of Texas Hold Em will test you in this way. The good news is that you are not alone in this. Every player has to learn to pass this test eventually, unless they are committed to losing their money.

I'm spending a good deal of time on this first lesson about being prepared to win, because it is absolutely essential. You should be aware of those challenges which I have just discussed, which arise from within yourself, but the other part of being prepared to win simply has to do with seeing poker for what it is, and to be OK with that. So what is poker?

As Matt Damon correctly said in the movie Rounders, “Its a War.” Poker is cruel, that's its nature. Its a game of skill, luck, and psychology, where every player is trying to beat every other player out of their money. You can be a gentleman, or lady while you play, you can be a nice guy, nevertheless war will remain at the heart of it. The house take's it cut from the rake, the winners walk away winners, and the losers walk away losers.

The following links for this poker course are listed sequentially. Beginners may want to go through in the order in which they are listed to get the whole rundown. More advanced players may want to skip around to the parts which hold interest for them.

Poker, Psychology


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