Specialize your way to poker success

Specialize your way to poker success

September 12, 2017 3:00 AM


The game 7-card stud was once a very popular poker game, enjoyed by most players around the world. But, over the last 10 to 15 years, for all intents and purposes, it has been replaced by Texas hold’em. That game is a “has-been.” Few casinos, if any, still offer it.

I saw a suggestion that 7-card stud was “the first step toward becoming a mixed game player,” and labeled it “a gateway game.” We questioned that rationale; its argument seemed rather tenuous to say the least – not really substantiated in our individual minds and contrary to our undivided opinion.

More to the point, even if we accepted that 7-card stud could teach us to become more proficient in a variety of other poker games, we don’t think it is wise to be “a jack of all trades, master at none,” my friend George commented. It’s a big enough job to become as highly skilled as possible at one game – Texas hold’em, in particular.

Another friend, Lucy, offered an interesting analogy: “Why do you think professional athletes almost always concentrate on one sport? They may participate in others, but always focus their main efforts on one particular game.”

George reinforced her observation: “Isn’t that why the most successful lawyers and doctors usually specialize? Would you want a general practitioner doing brain surgery on you? When I had my open-heart surgery three years ago, I was pleased the doctor was a surgeon specializing in heart problems.”

George reminded us that before his retirement in 1991, he enjoyed a long, fruitful career as an engineer, specializing in materials. “Most highly successful engineers and scientists always specialize,” he added.

If you were to divide up your time and energies – and poker investments – learning a variety of games, you are bound to be less skilled in your game of choice. If you are going to play Texas hold’em, then that’s the game on which to focus your attention, and gain as much experience and knowledge as possible. We all agreed; if you want to become a consistent winner, it is wise to become highly expert at that game. Use your time, energy and funds wisely.

Even within the game of hold’em, there are a number of varieties. There, too, it would be to your benefit (i.e., more and bigger winning sessions) to specialize in one variety of the game. No-limit is much different in many respects, than limit games. Tournaments are different than cash games. On that same basis, wouldn’t it be wise to focus your attention and energies on one variety of Texas hold’em just as do the most successful, highly paid professional athletes?