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Celebrity Poker

I watched Celebrity Poker on Bravo tonight (well, my TiVo got it for me). It's pretty good, and it showed me what little I know about poker. I think I've only ever seen five-card draw played, according to Eric. Texas Hold-Em and these other types of games seemed odd to me. I quickly picked up the basics, but it's now obvious that I've got a lot to learn in a very short amount of time if I expect to make any money at a weekly poker game in the next year.

Does anyone play poker? What's a good site or a good quick book which lists the basics so I can get up to speed quickly? I know card games are simply a matter of math, so I should be fairly competent once I get the gist of it all.

6 Responses to "Celebrity Poker"

  1. If you think poker is simply a matter of math and you play against even somewhat skilled players, you're going to have your ass handed to you on a platter. Granted, pot odds are a big part of the game, but reading hands is really what it's all about in poker. If you want a math game, play blackjack.

    If you want a book, the first must read is The Theory of Poker by Sklansky. It's pretty elementary, but it gives you a good foundation for reading the other books by Malmuth and others.

  2. My bookmarks menu coughed up the following page of links to Poker information: ... there is also, of course, a FAQ that may be helpful. Also, if you liked Celebrity Poker you might want to check out the Travel Channel; they've been showing professional tournaments lately. (Playing for charity is one thing; playing for half a million bucks is another 🙂

  3. I don't think it's simply a matter of math. I misspoke. The actual poker is a matter of math. The other people against which you're playing, well, that's obviously not mathematical at all.

    However, I think you're simply going to be a better poker player if you know at least one side of things. It can help you with the other. Finding the right time to bluff is, in fact, both mathematical and personal. What's the likelihood he has two queens? Both the math and the way he scratches his goatee can help tell you that.

    The poker itself, the way the cards fall, is math (and chance). Understanding that really well can't hurt.

  4. There is a math component. The math component can be boiled down really quickly, especially in a game like Hold Em, where you have a lot of information. You can memorize the tables that show the odds of getting a particular hand. Then each turn, you can determine that odds of making your hand, the possible hands that your opponents are holding, and based on what you need to call, the pot odds. Then weigh the odds and determine whether you raise, call, or fold. It all sounds really great.

    I did have your mentality when I started playing poker. I'm a total math geek, math team, math major, with a focus on probability and combinatorics. It took me a long time to realize that in poker, you're playing against the other players, not the cards. You have to give the math it's due, but learning the math alone will not make you a better player, and can actually hamper your play.

    Go to the store and buy The Theory of Poker, if your goal is to become a decent player, you'll end up buying it eventually anyway.

  5. Self control also needs to be mentioned. If you don't have amazing self awareness and self control you can be letting the other players know things that you'd rather keep secret.

    I'd say poker is a good mixture of accounting, knowing yourself, knowing your math, and knowing your opponents. I try to play like Wal-mart and usually do rather well. Cut your costs; make small wins and have even smaller victories for your opponents. If you can get more and more money slowly enough the other players may not notice for a while, and eventually you walk away ahead.

    (Obviously, you have to change that strategy if you are playing for big money at an all-night, head to head affair, but you said "weekly poker game" which I took to mean informal with a few people involved)

  6. Some people I work with cut their teeth using a game called Real Deal Casino:

    My understanding is that it's no substitute for real experience, but it's a good way to learn the rules and dynamics of the game. And it's cheap...