National Center for Irresponsible Gambling
Gambling Systems
Risk Management
Game Theory
American Roulette
French Roulette
Russian Roulette
Cock Fights


The Theory of Poker

NCIG home > education > game theory > poker


Poker is kind of like blackjack, in a sense that hundreds of books have been written on the subject. Nowadays, every schmuck that ever walked past a poker room seems to be a poker "expert" with half a dozen published books on poker strategies. But the problem is that in all those hundreds of books no one really wants to tell you how to win. They all clutter the information with hundreds of pages of irrelevant text and it becomes impossible to find any real information buried in all that junk. They probably do that on purpose, just to confuse the readers.

We offer a one-page tutorial on winning poker, right here on this page. Basically, this is Winning Poker in a Nutshell. All the wisdom of winning poker has been condensed down to a few paragraphs of relevant text.

Texas Hold'em Poker

So, the first thing to remember is that, in poker, any hand can win. Not only can any hand beat the rank of an opponent's hand, but even a lower ranking hand can beat a higher hand, if the player holding the higher hand is forced to fold. So, it doesn't even matter what the cards are, the secret of winning poker is in the betting strategy alone.

This last paragraph alone is worth reading again. Basically all those hundreds of books on poker focus on what some odds are for drawing to a flush, or completing a full house on the river. But what good does any of that do, since almost every single one of those hands can be beat by a higher hand, or even by a lower-ranking hand? There is only one poker hand that can't be beat, a royal flush. And when was the last time you even saw one of those?

So, forget about the cards, they are completely irrelevant, and focus solely on the betting.

In Texas Hold'em, for example, you will be dealt two cards, called the pocket cards. Don't even look at those cards. None of the other players know what they are and you don't even know what their pocket cards are. Then, five communal cards will be dealt on the board. Those are the only cards you should pay any attention to, as they are the only cards that are known to all the players. But still, the focus is on the betting, and not so much on the communal cards (and not at all on the pocket cards).

The other important thing to remember is to resist the urge to fold, in the event that some other player made a high bet or raise. Remember, you didn't come to the poker room to fold, you are there to play. So, play.

So, in this one page tutorial you've managed to learn all there is to know about winning at poker. There is really not much that can be said that would give you any more practical information about winning at poker. However, if you do want to have more of a theoretical knowledge about the game of poker, to fulfil your academic curiosity, then you are welcome to read our feature article, Poker is a Game of Chance.


Bookmark and Share
Gambling Resources

NCIG home | about NCIG | research center | education | public outreach | resources | contact us

gambling systems | risk management | game theory