• An Edge in Hold 'Em

    The hottest poker game in town, hold 'em poker is basically a bluffing game. Yes, it involves strategy and lots of thinking, but just the same, strategy in and thinking on bluffing. So here are three things to remember on how to get an edge in the game.

    It's conquering some behavioral demons - they are written all over the face but it's still hard to "tell" them. When a pretended behavior is detected, that's a "tell." If not, then a player might "go on tilt," or lose his head over tiny mishaps - seemingly minor misjudgments that carry heavy consequences. Then a call is made and one's either out or in.

    Poker is not won just by luck. It's in mastering strategies, remember that. Says Lou Krieger, book author on poker, "In the long run good players win and bad players lose." More so in no-limit Texas hold 'em. These three are a must: knowledge, guts, and patience.

    Of course, basic knowledge of playing poker is a must. What beats what, whose turn is it, and who's looking nervous. It also pays to know stud and draw - get lots of poker wisdom playing them. They get one to roam and be familiar with the territory.

    Then guts. Dare to stay put and scare them out of their wits. Call the bluffs. When the calls are made, stay focused and unmoved by any visage expression. Fight it out. If one has to fold, give the others a hard time before doing so. When making a bet, do it with manifest confidence. Let no ugly cards cause anxiety. Make the best bet out of what's available.

    Then patience. This balances knowledge and guts. Patience is very critical for players, says Edwin Silberstang, another author on poker. Often, when the action starts and the chips are mounting - the pot is swelling, there's the strong urge to play hand and get a piece of the action. Well, for the most part, don't. Wait. Beware of ill-timed compulsion - it consumes a lot of people.

    Before one goes all-in (betting all the chips) go easy on guts and review knowledge. What really are the cards in hand? Review the flop, the turn, and the river. Review everything happening. Knowledge matures with patience. Then if all is weighed and balanced then guts comes into the picture. This time don't hesitate. Knowledge, guts, and patience.

    These are the right composition of a professional bluff. An amateurish bluff easily betrays the real score, often given away by a slight misjudgment on little things that seem immaterial. Master the three and the edge is there.