Archives for: 2007, week 32


On the River

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by Digger

The Texas Holdem Poker phenomenon momentum sweeping the country is in full gear. Players of all ages are coalescing around poker tables nationwide. From friendly pickup games to casino’s, Texas Holdem’s popularity is seemingly endless.

Casino’s fill their poker rooms with various events and tournaments offering large cash rewards to winners. Players of all ages have been filling seats. Television stations have been carrying various events from championship matches, World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour, to celebrity matches and even re-runs of past tourneys. Audiences can’t seem to get enough action.

Gambling has been expanding across the USA. From Las Vegas to Atlantic City to various Indian Casino’s, race tracks and resorts… people keep coming in record numbers from far away places. Most card rooms have waiting lists. Most private games have people begging their friends to sit in on the action. Water cooler talk has picked up steam as many winners bend ears with tales of their winning hands.

Casino sponsored daily Texas Holdem events offer winners large cash prizes as new players are born everyday. Skill, strategy and cards determine each players fate. Most importantly is knowing how and when to bet while keeping a careful watch on your opponents tendencies. Many casino’s and online gaming sites offer “satellite” tournaments where winners receive vouchers (pre-paid entries) to higher tournaments leading up to Championship games. Currently there is a $10,000 cash entry fee required to join WSOP or WTP Championship events.

Thousands of books and millions of websites illustrate competing philosophies offering wide ranging suggestions for optimal game play. The quick version of how each rounds works is as follows. Texas Holdem is a seven card poker game. Each player receives two face down cards (“hole” or “pocket cards“). A “pre-flop” betting round begins where players can either bet their hands or fold. The player left of the “big blind” has first option of betting or folding (matching or raising the big blind). The big blind is a predetermined amount which increases by timed rounds. The pre-flop round continues until each player has decided. Next comes “the flop” when the dealer reveals three face up community cards. A similar round of betting ensues. Next is the “turn” (a.k.a. fourth street) and third betting round. The firth and final community card is called “the river”.

The river card can make or break a hand quickly snatching the thrill of victory from an unsuspecting player who is “all in” (bet everything). All eyes watch as the dealer gets ready to turn over this final card. Players place their hands together praying to make their flush, full house, straight… some can’t take the suspense and stand up… some hold their lucky chip… audiences grow silent…here comes the river card… players either sweep in their winnings or head home. One of the most fascinating aspects of playing is each individuals strategy while perfecting knowing (or not) how and when to bet.

Want to play a quick game from your computer? Your choices will be limitless. Online Holdem sites are rapidly growing as well. Many players sit and play for hours either for free by way of internet providers, software games or internet casino’s. Internet casino’s have raked in over $100,000,000 during 24 hour periods. Individual states have laws regulating or preventing online gambling. There is a great debate in State and Federal government branches on how to regulate online gambling and what determines games of skill or gambling.

What is behind this prolonged Holdem boom? Thrill of gambling? Searching for the perfect hand? Being a part of the “in” game? Winning an “all in” hand on the river? Competitive natures? Strategic prowess? Gambling addictions? No one knows for certain… or how long it will last. Texas Holdem has yet to peak as river cards continue to flow and grow.