4 basic rules

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on the response to previous columns on Gaining the Edge, George has prepared several others based on the discussions at the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Lab.)

No matter which game of poker you play, the Four Basic Rules for winning are essential if you hope to go home a winner.

These four rules are described in detail in my book, The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! (See ad in GamingToday for special deal.)

To be a winner, it is essential that you understand and use every one of these rules. Otherwise, you are bound to be a loser in the long run. Fortunately for us, most poker players do not obey at least one of these rules.

That distinguishes the 80-90 percent who are the losers from us, the minority, who are consistent winners. (Don’t share this knowledge with the people you play against. Otherwise you may lose the edge you gain by using these rules.)

Summarizing the four rules:

o At the start of your session, set a goal and a loss limit. Use money management so that you don’t lose back all your winnings if the cards become unfriendly.
o Carefully select the game, table and seat at which you play.
o Play only hands that have a reasonable chance to end up as the best at the showdown.
o Be alert! Focus on the game. Avoid distractions. Don’t play if you are tired or disturbed. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages while in the game.

Having the edge

It’s great to be seated at a table where your opponents are obviously violating one or more of these rules. See who is drinking and engaged in loud conversation or rapt in watching the football game on the big screen TV – rather than focusing on the game: Note those failing to observe and assess opponents, how they play and their tells.

That alone gives you an edge right from the start. You gain more edge when you observe that your opponent consistently plays more than one out of three hands dealt to him – violating Poker Rule 3.

When the cards are exposed on the showdown, note what hands your opponents play. If one called to see the flop from an early position with A-rag in the hole, he has violated Poker Rule 3. Use that knowledge to your advantage – more edge for you!

If an opponent, seated to the right of a very aggressive player, fails to take the opportunity for a “better” seat when a player leaves the table, you can assume he is unaware of our Poker Rule 2 – more edge for you.

It requires patience and self-discipline to obey all four of these rules to maintain you edge over your opponents. You might be dealt 10 or more hands before getting one that meets the criteria of our Hold’em Algorithm. Don’t allow yourself to get so bored that you plunge into a hand in violation of the Algorithm. Be patient, the cards will turn.

Let’s say that you have been at the table for several hours and find yourself well ahead of your goal for the evening. Whatever method of money management you use (two methods are described in my Poker for Winners! book), it will take self-discipline to quit when it is prudent to do so. That’s more edge in your favor.

You won’t go to jail for failing to obey all four of these Basic Rules for Winning, but you will be penalized. Obey each to gain a huge edge over your opponents and a winner in the long run.

Next week: Effective bluffing tactics.

(Comments? George “The Engineer” can be reached at: [email protected])

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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