It has been sung, by Kenny Rogers in fact, “you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em” — but most other myths about poker simply aren’t true.
Myths about poker are surprisingly common. While it may not be as big as football or soccer, poker is a sport that just about anyone can play, either face-to-face or online. Some of us still think of the game as slightly seedy (since it is, after all, gambling), but more people are playing poker now than ever before.
In this episode of Mythbusters, we’ll take a look at a few popular poker myths. Fear not! Your Humble Writer is no cardshark, but he knows his way around a deck (electronic or otherwise).
Myth 1: Poker is Limited to Vegas Card Rooms and the Occasional Home Game.
You haven’t been watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN lately, have you? Poker has come into its own in recent years, so this myth about poker is no longer true. The game is definitely no longer limited to a few professional players living off the optimistic but unskilled “fish” they bring into the fold.
Since the advent of Internet card rooms, millions of people have started playing poker. All it takes to get involved in a game is a few clicks of the mouse. You can content yourself with play money games, and most people do. However, if you want to try the real thing, it’s not difficult to set up an account and deposit dollars into it.
Myth 2: Good Poker Players are Born Lucky.
Don’t let this myth about poker rope you in. The painful truth is that good players are made, not born. Sure, some have an innate “card sense” that helps them, but a good poker player gets that way by studying odds, knowing the cards, and spending a lot of time playing — and by losing lots of money along the way.
Myth 3: Online Poker is an Easy Way to Make Money.
Well, that’s what some folks who post in a few online forums would have you believe — but don’t fall for it. It’s no easier than it would be in a physical card room. It may even be harder; you lack the physical “tells” by which some people give away the value of their hands. They’re just an anonymous icon online.
If an online poker player is bad, yes, they may prove profitable to you. If they’re good, they’ll be a challenge. Professional players will assure you that doing well in poker requires plenty of hard work, just like any job or avocation. This myth about poker is patently false, since luck just doesn’t pay off in the long run.
Myth 4: Poker is a Game of Bluffs. The Best Bluffer Wins the Most Money.
Not unless you’re Doyle Brunson. Bluffing and chutzpah are important, but they can’t beat a good hand — and some people are impossible to bluff anyhow. Reading a person indicates a style of playing. It also lets you know when to get out before you lose your shirt. Reading is a commonly-used tool of the best players.
Poker is actually a game of patience and discipline. Good poker players use every tactic they can to win, but you’ve got to be willing to wait for a good hand — and to throw it away if you think an opponent has you beat. Keep believing in these myths about poker at your own peril — it can prove to be costly.