Specializing in one poker game will make you a winner

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Look at every major profession. Each of the top “players” has his specialty. Take, for example, the medical profession.

There are specialists in every aspect of medicine, ranging from cardiac surgery to repairing broken bones. Yes, there are general practitioners in the medical profession; they too are specialists in a sense. They serve to steer the patients to the appropriate specialist.

There is a good reason for this arrangement: It has been found to be ideal for all concerned. The same is true in other professions.

If you divide your time and learning experiences among several different – albeit somewhat related – specialties, you may become competent at one or more of these, but never as skilled as you would be if you focused all of your attention on just one.

Be the best you can – and the rewards will follow.

Specializing permits us to do that.

What about Poker?

Even some of the top players compete in a variety of poker games. There are even tournaments where the players compete in several different games of poker. Indeed, many years ago, in my first poker book (“The Greatest Book of Poker for WINNERS!”), we encouraged players to select one game and strive to become the best (most skilled) they could can at that game.

Most – but not all, I must admit – of my students do follow this advice. They play the alternate poker games for such low stakes it is really just a form of recreation and social interaction.

As for myself, I will always specialize in one poker game because “winning is great fun, and the more I win, the more fun it is.” (I quote my dear departed wife, who was a winner.)

Varieties of Poker

You may be surprised to see the following list of different poker games, and there are variations within each. In addition, tournament play is quite different from cash games, and the stakes make a big difference.

A no-limit game involves significant differences from a low-limit game of the same type. There are different strategies, tactics, thinking, and playing issues – different skills.

• Texas Hold’em; Omaha; Omaha Hi-Lo (8 or Better); 7 card Stud; 7 card Stud Hi-Lo; Cold Omaha; Razz; 5 card Draw; Badugi.

• 2 to 7 Triple Draw Poker; A to 5 Triple Draw; Crazy Pineapple; Chinese Poker; Mexican Poker; Heads Up Poker; Crazy Pineapple, Eight or Better.

• Double Flop Hold’em; Royal Hold’em; HORSE Poker (involves five different games played in sequence); HOE Poker; HO Poker; OE Poker; Strip Poker.

There are so many different varieties of the basic game of poker, it’s almost hard to imagine. But, relatively few of these are played in casinos – only the most popular. (Often, the casino will set up a table for a game if enough players request it.)

Each variety of poker, no matter what it is called, has its own unique rules. Often the term “poker” is only associated with its current most popular variety, Texas Hold’em. It is important to note there are over 100 different game variations. As for the rules, some are quite similar; some, on the other hand, are nothing alike.

Case for Specializing

Getting acquainted with new games of poker can be fun when it’s done at the home-games level – more of a social occasion. But, if you are playing to win – no matter the stakes – it pays to be the most skilled you can be.

Our brains do have somewhat limited capacity. Make the best use of it by focusing your attention – reading, discussions, thinking, playing – on the one game you prefer (assuming it is available in your local casino).

Just as the career professional has learned it is best to specialize, follow suit. Learn from success.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

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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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