The poker chronicles volume 1

Some thoughts on how to perform at the poker table. Photo by Eric Sandler

Sports gambling is a diversion in which a gambler thinks he holds an edge over the sportsbook according to their knowledge of a team. Yes, it takes a skilled person to be able to win consistently at sports betting, but even a person who is considered an amateur gambler can win at sports betting at any given time. Consistency is important, and that's what only 3% of bettors can accomplish over their sport betting careers. The best gamblers in the world win 57-60 % of their wagers. Although it may not seem difficult, there is a small group of people that can say they successfully do it year after year. If a sports gambler can win 52.4 % of their wagers, they can at least break even. Anything over that is profits, and that extra 5% is quite the difference in growing your bankroll!

Poker is known as a game of skill. A game in which not only do the cards you are dealt matter but also the ability to give the perception of something you don't possess. Texas Hold-em has grown as one of the most popular types of poker being played in casinos everywhere. The way the game is bet and the order of action in which the game is bet gives advanced players ideas of what opponents could be holding according to betting patterns. This makes poker more of a skilled game than sports gambling. On a card table, you can win with bad cards by betting your opponents out of hands. It's not about what you have; it's about what your opponents don't have.

Poker has endless possibilities in the way hands play out. For starters in Texas hold'em there are 169 starting hands.

*13 Pocket Pairs (EX: AA-KK-33-22)

*78 Non-Pair Suited cards (EX: A hearts J Hearts or 5 clubs K clubs)

*78 Non-Pair Unsuited cards

Total= 169

There are really a total of 1,326, But that total also considers suits as distinct, when in fact, before the flop comes, the suits are all actually of equal value. When the flop comes, certain suits held in a players hand, gain relative value.

Knowing your opponent

There are many strategies one can use when playing poker. Some players are aggressive, some extremely tight. On some occasions, you will notice the same players in many pots over the night giving you the reason to believe they could be a "looser" of a player and one that likes to play more hands than others. On the other hand, you notice an opponent rarely calls anything, and when he does he usually shows strong hands. Although it sounds novice, this is one of the first reads a poker player must make when studying his opponents.

Starting Hands

Starting hands (hole cards) are broken up into different categories. Pocket pairs are considered a made hand, as you are already holding at the minimum a pair. Most Pocket pairs are considered the stronger starting hands. We say most because pocket pairs are also broken down into categories.

*BIG pocket pair AA-KK-QQ

*Medium JJ-77

*Small 66-22

Big Pocket Pairs and Suited Aces are considered the strongest starting hands.

Medium and small pocket pair and the bigger to medium suited connectors follow.

Non-Paired, Non suited,  Non connected- at the bottom,  as the card combinations give us the least possibility to make big pairs, straights, or flushes.

Playing Position

Now that we explained the starting hands, your position according to where the dealer button gives hands more strength than others according to where you are seated and when it's your turn to act. The advantage of having a "late" position and seeing how everyone else acts first is something you must use throughout your sessions. While a medium pocket pair looks decent when you first glance at it, your raise from early position followed by a re-raise and a caller, all of a sudden makes those pocket nines look like a fold depending on the bet amount. That is another critical factor: when you are getting the value to call your hand according to how much is in the pot. In some occasions, you will know your hand is not the best hand when calling, but if you are getting the right pot value to call, you can call raises in the hope of catching up because the bets made weren't enough to get you out.  Thats a whole other topic; let's get back to position and how to use it.

So pre-flop, being in the blinds leaves you last to act therefore giving you the best spot before the flop comes, with big blind being king. If you are required to act after the big blind, you are considered early in action and in the most vulnerable spots to act in. One, because let's say you want to limp with a marginal hand, your range has to be that much tighter with so many other players to act after you. A marginal Ace with a 9 (A9) in early position isn't exactly something you would want to limp with often. Say you do, and it goes around and is raised three times the Big Blind, and the button calls, blinds call and now back to you. At this point, you might be getting value enough to call, but the problems you can find yourself in with a weak kicker are what can cost you chips. Calling with the weak Ace after a raise and a caller leaves you hoping for what flop? Of course, something like two nines on the flop would work but what happens when that Ace pairs on the flop and now the action is once again to you first. Can you believe the original raiser of having a big ace? What if they were playing two face cards that were not an ace or a medium pocket pair and the callers the same? At this point now you're having to make a play with a marginal hand and are forced to either bet to see where your opponents are, or check-call or check-raise to them with the expectancy of a call. All of these decisions while holding a marginal hand.

Reading your opponents and separating the aggressive from loose players and knowing how to use the button and your position is vital to growing as a poker player. Master these two elements and treat the game with simplicity. The fewer situations you find your self in on the table, the better. When you put your money in the pot, know what you're trying to beat and what you're looking for.

Like I mentioned earlier, poker hands have endless possibilities and strategies are plenty. I'll be giving out some of my poker approaches and views on how to better your game and become a winning player through various articles.

Any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter


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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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