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Poker has been played for many years – at the casinos, homes, bars, and many other places. However, today it is played at two most popular “places” in the universe – the television and the Internet. The televised poker tournaments brought poker to a level of popularity that was once imaginable only for football, basketball, baseball, and other traditionally popular sports. Internet on the other hand, brought poker to everyone – now people from all over the world can play against each other, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, as long as they have a working internet connection.
Until recently, family fun time usually meant different board games, such as the Monopoly or Risk. However, little hotels and tanks were replaced by poker chips – now it is all about who is holding which cards in their hands. Wherever you go – at work, college, bars – people are going to be talking about the crazy hand they had last night, bad streaks, pocket pairs, and other poker stuff.
Poker on the TV
As said above, there are two main reason for this global rise of poker – the TV and the internet. Finding a poker tournament that is aired on TV is becoming just as easy as finding an NBA or NFL broadcast. The WSOP, the Ultimate Poker Showdown, the Celebrity Poker Showdown – those are only some of the examples. Common folks are beginning to recognize names like Antonio Esfandiari or Daniel Negreanu just as they do with Tom Brady or Kobe Bryant. The Internet is the second thing that brought poker to every person who has access to the Internet, which is not actually every person in the world, but it isn’t far from that either. You can play with your friends or you can test your poker skills against total strangers. Sometimes, you might even get a chance to take part in a sponsored online tournament and maybe even get to play with big poker names. You can play in the afternoon, late night, or in the morning – whenever it is convenient from you. You can even play on a subway, on your mobile device.
However, maybe we can single out one event that contributed to the rise of poker’s popularity, especially online, more than anything else did. It is a story of Chris Moneymaker. He participated in one of the $40 buy-in Poker Stars satellites, and qualified for the WSOP main event. Out of 839 players, he remained the last man standing, beating the biggest poker names in the process. The thing that makes his first place even more fascinating is the fact that it was the first time he ever took part in a live tournament. He won 2.5 million USD. His epic victory rocked the poker world. Everyone was thinking, “Well, he was only a regular guy, like me, and he won. If he could do it, why couldn’t I do it too?” From that moment, the popularity of online poker tournaments skyrocketed. Now everybody wanted to be the next Moneymaker. The World Series in 2004 had three times more players comparing to the year before. At the final table of the World Series of Poker, no less than four players qualified for the tournament through some of the online poker rooms. Once again, the winner was a player who entered tournament this way – Greg Raymer, called “Fossil man”.
There are countless strategies on playing poker “the right way”. Almost everyone knows “the best strategy”, and on the other hand, some people say poker is just another game of luck, so there is no strategy there at all. The truth is – there is no absolute strategy for playing poker; however, there are certain rules that, if practiced properly and consistently, increase your chances of winning. That is actually the main topic of this book, as you will see later on.
Poker has plenty of variations, such as the Omaha, 7-Card Stud, and so on, but by far the most popular version of poker is Texas Hold’em. It is essentially a simple game, just as any other type of poker (or any other card game for that matter); nevertheless, as you will see while reading this book, if you get a little deeper into the poker strategy, you will realize how incredibly complex and rich this game actually is. This book is dedicated exactly to exploring the best ways to play Texas Hold’em, especially online. Playing poker online can bring you lot of fun, but it can be very profitable as well, in case you play with enough discipline and the proper strategy. However, this game can always turn into addiction. That is why we will cover that topic as well – in a chapter that deals with gambling problem. This book will not make you become a good player, it will only give you a good material you can use to build your game and become good, or even great. But at the end of the day, it all depends on you.
Good luck, everybody… Good luck!