Gambling Facts and Fictions
Neighborhood Poker Games
Gambling Facts and Fictions: The Anti-Gambling Handbook to get yourself to stop gambling, quit gambling or never start gambling
Copyright © 2004
by Stephen Katz
Library of Congress: 2004094023
Neighborhood Poker Games
There are poker games which are run by the gambling industry at casinos and poker parlors. The cards are dealt by the house. The players compete among themselves. The house takes a cut out of the pots. That little cut here and that little cut there means that eventually the house winds up with all the money from all of the players. The top poker players in the world do not sit in on these games. The top poker players know that despite being superior to the other players in these games, the house edge also grinds them out. Top poker players will outplay the other players, but they cannot outplay the house. There is not any skill involved whatsoever in these house run poker games as far as making money is concerned. Everyone gets ground out of their money the exact same way as horse racing takes a cut out of each pool, although slower because the house cut of the poker game is not as high as the house cut in horse racing. Casinos and poker parlors could not afford expensive floor space and have employees working these poker games if they were not making a lot of money. Avoid these house run poker games including those on internet gambling websites. It is impossible to win money at them.
Where there is not any gambling industry involvement, private poker games are played in neighborhood homes and clubs. You might think in a neighborhood poker game that there is not any house edge. You might believe that this is a fun, recreational and entertaining form of gambling whereby whoever gets lucky that night will win. That is incorrect. All types of neighborhood poker games are strictly games of skill. Other neighborhood card games which are strictly games of skill include gin rummy, bridge, pinochle and others. Poker is a game that can only suitably be played when money is bet among the players. Whereby gin rummy, bridge, pinochle and others can be enjoyed strictly for fun, recreation and entertainment without any betting. These other card games though are sometimes played for money.
In neighborhood card games, the dealing of the cards will eventually give all of the players generally the same cards over a given time frame. All players will have runs of hot and cold hands but it generally evens out over time. The cards may not even out over the course of one night of playing, but over several sessions the cards will generally even out. The money won and lost though will not even out. The superior card players in the game will eventually permanently win the money.
Superior card players are those with the best analytical memory, strategy skills, betting skills, bluffing skills and the ability to tactically evaluate the betting and playing tendencies of the other players. The superior players among a group of regular players will always consistently win money over the long-run and also usually over the short-run. These superior players in a card game are not part of the gambling industry of course, but they are the equivalent to a house edge as far as the other players who consistently lose money are concerned.
If consistently losing money at these neighborhood card games then you should quit. You will always lose money in the long-run although you may win on one night once in a while. But you will always lose back the money from that one winning night, then lose more on future nights. You may be losing much more money each year than realized. If considering losing your money to these "friends" as a form of fun, recreation and entertainment, then you should think otherwise. You cannot afford it. The social value of being with these "friends" is not worth it. When permanently quitting the game, any real friends in that game will still be your friends. Be careful in these so-called "friendly" card games that are played for money. They usually are not truly friendly games.
Do you enjoy playing card games? There is nothing wrong with that. You want to permanently quit the gambling part of it. Card games can be more pleasurable without the gambling. There are many dozens of interesting, competitive and truly friendly card games out there that can be thoroughly enjoyed. There are many card clubs where you can become a member and meet new people. There you can experience the real fun, recreation and entertainment of card playing. You will have a pleasant night of card playing as well as some good conversation and a few laughs. There are also other types of enjoyable games and clubs involving competitive skill such as chess or backgammon. All of this is how real friendships are made. Real friendships are not made by playing for money.
To the neighborhood card game players who are superior to the other regular players, much of the rest of this chapter is for you. Be very careful that you do not start believing that you are some super-duper superior card player just because you beat up on your neighborhood pals. Do not start getting involved, especially with poker, in games for higher stakes with a higher class of card players whose superior skills will annihilate you.
Do not ever trust or go to a card game run by a friend of a card game friend and then gamble with people who you do not know. There are so many ways to cheat at cards that chances are you will be cheated in some way and may not even realize it. You teach your children not to talk to strangers so this is teaching you not to play cards for money with strangers. Even if you think that you are a better card player than most in that group, the chances are good that at least one or two players in that group will cheat. You will get dealt four of a kind and then just happen to get creamed by a player who has a higher four of a kind. They can even set it up so that you dealt the cards then you would not suspect any cheating. They will even let you borrow money to stay in that four of a kind hand especially when knowing they cannot lose. You will not only lose your money, you will windup owing them money. The player who beat you and won your money on that hand may not even be the cheater. But that player would be the worst card player among the group. The cheaters know that they can eventually win the money from that player without cheating over the course of tonight or a few nights. The cheaters may keep the game clean for a number of sessions until becoming sort of friendly with you. When letting your guard down is the time they will crush you with something such as that four of a kind hand. However they orchestrate it, eventually you will get crushed by these cheaters.
Some of you superior neighborhood card game players are cocky. You believe in the Factual Laws of Gambling and decide to permanently quit all of the hopeless, forever losing, house gambling games. That is a very good thing to do. However some may decide that since a card game such as poker is strictly a game of skill, then you will keep on playing that. But you get bored with the small stakes of the neighborhood poker game and want to move up. For all superior neighborhood card game players, especially poker players attempting to win a lot of money or major poker tournament, your fate is predictable.
Somewhere along the way up you will encounter superior poker players who will win your bankroll. They are simply better players than you are. You may not even figure out why they are better but the bottom line is that they now have your money. Of course as previously mentioned there are so many ingenious, imaginative, calculated ways to cheat in poker that you will most probably get crushed by cheating players if not by the better skilled players. All of your efforts of learning the game and countless hours of many late night poker sessions will not only waste your time but will windup costing you money. Keep on playing poker attempting to get rich off of it and the opposite will happen. You will windup getting poor off of it. You will end up dead broke and in debt.
For example sake though you overcame all of the cheaters, beat all the good poker players and rose to the top of the poker playing world. You won or almost won a big poker tournament. You might have a few hundred thousand bucks stashed underneath a board in your closet. You are so content with having that hidden money. It is like a nice nest egg. You do not wish to spend much of it because you need that money to bet with in more poker games.
Well, you are now on top of the world but the chances are still virtually certain that you will windup dead broke and in debt. You will keep on playing and it might be next time, next year or whenever but sooner or later not realizing it until too late that your playing skill had eroded ever so slightly. Then you get beat. Your concentration and reactions are not quite what they should be. Somebody, somewhere in some game will wipe you out. The real money winning skills of live poker such as timing, betting, bluffing, etc., you are not quite able to do quick enough or good enough. Other players will learn your playing style. You eventually will not be quick enough or good enough to strategically adjust your playing style to successfully beat all the good players. Just a brief millisecond of a twitch that another good poker player picks up from you, allows you to be outplayed. These seemingly insignificant and undetectable mannerisms are very significant and detectable to a poker player who is better than you. You will not even realize that you are hesitating or hurrying ever so slightly at the wrong time which means making costly mistakes. When you get wiped out, the dream of getting to the top again may still be there. That dream is unlikely to happen. You very well may windup writing a book detailing poker strategies along with some past poker stories as other washed-up poker players have done so that you can payoff some gambling debts.
Just in case those big time tournament poker players who are on top of the world have not figured it out yet, when constantly playing in enough casino sponsored tournaments, they will all eventually get ground out of their money. The house edge cut on each tournament is about 3% to 10%. Given enough time and enough tournaments, they are guaranteed to lose all of their money. After winning a tournament, winning players should permanently quit while ahead. But they probably will not quit because of fervently believing that they can keep on winning money despite the house edge cut on each tournament pool. They will keep on playing until the house edge beats all of them out of all of their money. They will one day wish that they had permanently quit while ahead.
If you are a superior neighborhood card player with illusions of grandeur, then there is little doubt that you will eventually go dead broke and in debt. There might be a few exceptions out there of a permanently winning top poker player. Even if there was a documented permanent winner, the odds clearly say that it will not be you. Most former top poker players after they are washed-up will end up working at some menial job. Sometimes they get jobs in the gambling industry as a dealer, pit boss or worker of some type with yearly wages that are less than some of the single poker pots they played for in the past. That tells you all there is needed to know about the future possibilities of getting involved in high stakes poker games. Your odds of getting to the top are virtually nil and your odds of staying at the top are nil. You most probably will never have the discipline or foresight to quit while ahead. So quit now and save your money, time and life attempting this Mount Everest type pursuit. Nobody who climbed to the top of Mount Everest ever stayed there. Forget about the hopeless dream of trying to become a top poker player.