Poker is a game of many skills and a little luck. For many people it is very hard to understand that luck has such a small portion of influence in such a commonly played card game but anyone who pays attention to the ever popular poker tournaments knows the truth. In every major poker tournament you will see most of the same individuals that commonly win throughout the world. The game of poker can be taught in under an hour but can take a lifetime to master. The rules are generally easy to follow but crunching percentages on the fly is very difficult and can take years of playing often to pick up. Putting percentages aside, the major players in this world focus on reading each other as their primary weapon.
Everyone instinctively reacts differently based on what hand is placed in front of them. A poker professional reads, learns, and remembers these reactions while crunching percentages during these tournaments. Being a professional poker player also includes withholding and misleading reactions when necessary to fool their opponents. The number crunching should be researched and understood before you decide to gamble any amount of money.
Increasing your odds mathematically is a guaranteed way of improving your odds of winning and this should not be forgotten. Focus on practicing and learning a given group of people is a good way to understand people's reactions. Once you have mastered a single group it is very educational to branch out to others paying close attention to player's actions and the cards they play. There are many different ways to play poker and even different mediums.
If players are playing without betting they will generally play more carelessly as they have nothing to lose. This greatly changes the metrics of the game and you should not accept this as good educational game play unless players have a reason to win. Online play completely removes many important aspects of traditional poker.
Most importantly, you are unable to read your opponents as they are not physically near you. Second, many poker websites allow the ability for a team of cheaters to join the same game and communicate outside of the game sharing hand information which completely manipulates the metrics of game play. Be very careful if you decide to play poker on the internet.
Years and years of practice is the only way to reach a level in which you should attempt to compete within real tournaments. Even at this point you should have an idea whether that is even a good idea. Always remember that gambling is addicting and you should never bet what you cannot afford to lose.
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