Watched Poker on Television, now you want to play Texas Holdem online?

Posted on Sunday, April 23 @ 20:21:56 UTC by root

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a prospective online poker player is to watch say the finals of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) on the television and dream of replicating Chris Moneymakers (real name) success as a new online player taking the title and the multi-million dollar prize. It can happen, but you have to realise that you have more chance of catching a flesh eating virus.

Televised poker while undoubtedly exciting to watch, leads new players to believe they have as good a chance as the next person of becoming the champion. I guess you are more likely to get to the top of poker than say win the Olympics starting in your 40's but you should not forget that poker is truly a game of skill, with a small element of luck.

Televised online poker games are edited for excitement. The plays you see are not sequential, they are the occasional dramatic moments from perhaps three days of play. Obviously the channels only show the best parts and they have to fit within a 1 or 2 hour slot.

With regard to the skill side of Texas Holdem ask yourself this "why do I keep seeing Doyle Brunson at the final table?" Well it's no coincidence, and the Godfather of Poker didn't get a free celebrity pass. He makes the final table because he is quite simply the most skillful player in the world and living proof that this is a skill game.

One of the many mistakes new players make is to see the glamour of televised events and watch the rather unusual style of quality players like Gus Hanson and conclude that Texas Holdem is a game of luck (because you can win with Q3) so lets get online and play. Obviously these people are fish food for the sharks. What the television does not show is the tight play that Gus and others played to get to the final table or, quite often, the hands he folded at the Flop playing Rags.

If you watch enough televised poker on ESPN or the Travel Channel you'll see the same faces time and again - Gus Hanson, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, and the most annoying person in the world (you've guessed it Phil Hellmuth) and yet there are as many as 8000 people chipping up at the start of each event.

My advice to all new players is this:

1) Take it slow. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are quality poker players.

2) Practice makes perfect, in poker as in so many other fields.

3) Realise your limitations before you start. Read my articles on to avoid all the standard pitfalls and traps that you will likely fall into otherwise.

4) Make good use of cheap tournaments as a learning tool. Not only are they good value but they offer the whole range of play throughout the various stages of a tourney that you may not see playing cash games.

5) Look at online poker as a means of getting sufficient low level hands of practice in before you play for any significant value.

If you do succeed in the poker business we'll no doubt see you opening your own brand! Good luck at the tables.

Graham Easton is the webmaster at He has a track record in large multi-player tournaments making heads up in 5 of the last 20 entered.

Posted in Poker News

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