Unless you’re already playing poker at a professional level, there’s probably a lot you don’t know. Likewise, there may be many things you think you know that are actually pretty far from the mark.
It’s the same with every type of gambling and betting activity on the planet. Alongside the facts, science and common sense of it all, there’s a darker side filled with myths, misleading advice and outright untruths.
Poker is no different, so if you are really out to get the best from your game regardless of the level you are at, it could be in your best interests to completely and permanently ignore the following myths and falsehoods:
1. We All Bluff
In a word, we don’t. Contrary to popular belief, bluffing really isn’t all that commonplace in poker games. In lower stakes games, newcomers and amateurs don’t tend to bluff because they don’t really understand how. At a professional level, those playing for enormous sums of money don’t tend to bluff too often, as in doing so they risk losing a fortune. As such, bluffing doesn’t tend to be something that you need to focus a great deal of time and energy on, given the way in which those around you probably aren’t either.
2.You Can Learn a Lot from Televised Poker
Watching professional poker on television is all well and good, but shouldn’t necessarily be used as a means by which to guide your own game. The reason being that unless you are watching a major tournament live as it happens, you have to take into account the fact that what you actually see may well be chopped, changed and edited in a manner to make it more entertaining and exciting than it really is. Creative licence has the potential to paint a rather inaccurate picture of how the action really goes down, meaning you might not want to read too much into what you see on TV.
3. It’s Purely a Maths Game
Despite the fact that there are a lot of odds, statistics and mathematics in general to take into account when it comes to poker, it is most certainly not a game of pure maths. If it was, every mathematical genius in the world would be playing poker at the highest level and taking home ridiculously lucrative prizes on a weekly basis. Mathematics may be involved, but so too are strategy, common sense, experience, skill, intuition and so on. You need to focus on the total package to become a premier poker player, as opposed to one or more of the component elements.
4. Practicing with Virtual Currency is Always a Good Thing
When you are new to poker, practicing with virtual currency is a great way of learning the rules, seeing how it all goes down and generally getting a feel for things. However, once you start playing for money, things take a decidedly different turn. The reason being that when you play for virtual currency, there are no stakes whatsoever – i.e. nothing to win and nothing to lose. Which in turn means you cannot expect to play in the same manner you would if there was real money on the table. It definitely has its place when it comes to picking up the basics for the first time, but too much practice poker with virtual currency can actually breed bad habits.
5. You Need a Poker Face
Referring back once again to the point regarding bluffing, the cliché of the ‘poker face’ is one that tends to have very little bearing in the real world of poker. The very concept of the poker face in its own right is effectively flawed. The reason being that if you genuinely do not want any of your fellow poker players to have any idea about what you are thinking or the cards you are holding, the key lies in maintaining exactly the same personality, demeanour and body language throughout the entire game. It most certainly doesn’t mean being chatty one minute and stone-faced the next, as you try and use a somewhat artificial facial expression to throw them off the scent. And of course, there’s the fact that assuming you are playing poker at a relatively modest level, it’s highly unlikely your fellow players will be using facial tells and signs to guide their decisions, anyway.
6. Studying Poker Strategy Is Pointless
As with all games of a similar nature, there is no such thing as a flawless strategy that can guarantee you will win at poker. Nevertheless, this does not mean that there it is not plenty to gain from studying professional poker strategy. It’s not a case of having to learn the specific odds and the kinds of card-counting techniques that take a lifetime to master. Instead, it’s simply a case of memorising a few important rules, with regard to the kinds of things you should and should not be doing, along with when. When to raise, when to fold and when to go with the flow. There are certain relatively simple rules of thumb, which once assimilated are absolutely guaranteed to improve your game.
7. It Takes Years to Go Pro
Last but not least, while there is certainly quite a lot of truth in this statement, it isn’t necessarily 100% accurate. Right now, we’re living in a golden era where anyone with the necessary ambition, dedication and perhaps even a little bit of luck can find themselves taking seats at the most prestigious and lucrative games on the face of the earth in no time at all. The vast majority of leading online poker brands these days serve up all manner of incredible competitions and tournaments of their own, which in many instances can lead on to tickets to major events worldwide. This might not necessarily represent turning professional in the traditional sense, but it certainly means that even those getting started for the first time could soon find themselves competing at the highest level. Needless to say, we really do have a lot to thank online poker for!