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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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