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Online Poker News Archives - August 19, 2004

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Copyright 2004 Newspaper Publishing PLC
The Independent (London)

August 19, 2004, Thursday


    TEACHING POKER is difficult in an environment like a public card room or casino. It is not possible for poker students to have a poker professor sitting behind them at the table giving tips, analysing moves and discussing what opponents' bets might mean.

    The other players would object violently and the "one player to a hand" rule invoked. But the world of virtual card rooms is another matter. The online poker table is an enormously useful tool for teaching.

    There are several advantages - not the least of which is that a player can have a tutor sitting alongside and advising and explaining what to do and why.

    The other players at the table are elsewhere on the planet. They have no way of knowing that one of their number is a learner under instruction and could not object if they were aware.

    Another big edge that the internet poker tables have is their clarity. All the players chip stack totals are displayed, the size of the bets and raises comes up on screen as they are made and the software makes betting out of turn impossible.

    On most sites players have about 30 seconds in which to decide what to do.
This is plenty of time for a teacher to explain to a pupil what the options are and the best one to take. Even if a student is not involved in a hand there is the opportunity to analyse the play of those who are participating in a pot.

    It becomes a sort of "guess the hidden hand" competition.

    If a beginner can correctly work out just half the hands this is enough to give them a winning edge.

    It is not even essential that a beginner actually plays in a game. Online it is possible to watch at any table - both tournaments and for real hard cash.

    Players' bad habits can be noted - the most common error on display being the tendency to make bets of the wrong size in relation to the size of the pot.

    A very common sight, particularly in the no-limit hold'em tournaments, is a player making a bet of say 50 units into a pot of 300. This is almost inviting an opponent to make an outdraw to win.

    Probably the most valuable lesson which can be learnt from playing or watching virtual poker is the strength of position.

    All too often players try to "limp" - participate in a pot for the minimum bet - only to be raised and forced to pass.

    Spectators will learn more than by watching poker on television.

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