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Don't Be Afraid Of Casino Poker  
BY:  Bill Burton

Everyone knows the casinos make their money because they have a house edge on most games. The games where the player can attain an edge with skill are Blackjack with card counting, certain video poker games and live poker.  
 
Unfortunately the opportunities for skillful players are slowly dying out. The casinos do not like the players to have an edge in any casino game. For example, they are doing everything in their power to stop card counters. In Las Vegas they can bar players. In Atlantic City and other places where they can't bar players they have taken different measures.  
 
They have multiple-deck games with lousy penetration or they will choose to shuffle up on a player or both. They can also restrict a player to flat betting a specified amount. Profitable video poker games are also starting to disappear as well. Many of the dollar games that offered over 100 percent payback are now being offered only in the quarter machines. This leaves poker as a viable alternative for players seeking a game that offers a positive expectation.  
 
Why then don't players flock to the poker rooms? The answer to this is easy. It's the intimidation factor. Live poker is probably the most intimidating and scary game in the casino even more so than craps. Why? One reason is because in casino poker you are competing against other players instead of playing against the house.  
 
Another reason that players fear poker is the misconception that casino poker is mostly no limit games for professional players. This perception is bolstered by stories in the media about high stakes tournaments like the World Series of Poker in which players put up thousands of dollars just to enter. The truth is there are many low limit games being played by average people every day in card rooms around the country.  
 
Poker is a game of skill and you will find all types of players in the card room. The skill level of the players varies from the beginner just having fun to the skilled professional. In low limit games you will find many players who are out for a good time and have no concepts of how to play the game or they lack the discipline to play the game correctly. If you are willing to spend the time to learn how to play the game correctly and put a little effort into practicing, you can learn to play winning low limit poker. I know because I have done so.  
 
Let me introduce myself. I am Bill Burton. I am not a professional poker player. I am the Casino Gambling Guide for About.com I made my first trip to the casino over twenty years ago. In that time I learned how to play every casino game except casino poker. I have been writing a weekly column about the casinos and the games on the About.com Casino Gambling website since 1998. http://casinogambling.about.com  
 
I started receiving some questions about casino poker from readers of my column. I grew up playing Kitchen Table Poker and had experience playing in the Friday night games with the guys in college but I had never ventured into the casino poker room. I felt it was time to learn how to play poker in the casino.  
 
There are two popular low limit games offered in the casino. The games are Seven-card Stud and Texas Hold'em. I knew how to play stud from my kitchen table days but Texas Hold'em was foreign to me. I started to research the games. I sought the advice of several expert poker players and they agreed that I should learn how to play Texas Hold'em. Since I had never played this game I was looking forward to the challenge.  
 
I firmly believe that a player of average intelligence can learn to be successful playing in the casinos if they take the time to educate themselves about the games. In my articles, I advocate that players take the time to learn all about the game they wish to play before venturing into the casino and risking any money at the tables.  
 
It amazes me when I see players sitting down at the tables in the casino and playing a game without any idea as to how the game is played. This is bad enough for games of chance but it is deadly for games of skill like poker. Low limit poker is fun, profitable and not as scary as you think. However you need to learn to play correctly if you expect to be successful.  
 
Since I had never played casino poker I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice what I preach. I decided to document the process that I used to learn how to play Texas Hold'em on my website and share the knowledge, along with my successes and mistakes with my readers. I planned to show that by using a disciplined approach I could be successful at Texas Hold’em.  
 
When I started my project, I wanted to experience playing poker in the casino cardroom. My goal was to learn enough so I could play competitively. What I found however, was a game that would allow me to make money. I have compiled a winning record playing low limit Texas Hold'em. In many of the games I played in, I found bad players that I could exploit for my own financial gain. I'm not saying that all the players are bad but there are many that have clearly never read a book or article about the game. Having studied the game I felt comfortable sitting down to play. It did not take long to realize that there was no reason to be intimidated by other players. I also discovered that playing low limit poker was not only profitable, but it is a lot of fun.  
 
Texas Hold'em is my game of choice. You can have up to eleven players in a game because it uses five community cards. This makes for some good size pots. I found that the game was a little easier to play than Stud because you don't have to keep track of all the other player's different hands.  
 
In my book, Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em, I will teach you the basics of the game. Many players you will meet in low limit games have never studied anything about Texas Hold’em. They don’t understand the concept of proper starting hands and player position. If you follow my advice you can become a winning player and have an edge over many of the players you will compete against.  
 
At this point some of you may be wondering what a poker article is doing on the DiceCoach.Com website.  
 
For years many poker players considered playing craps a leak in their game. This meant they won money playing poker but gave it all back at the craps table. This is because poker is a game of skill and random craps play is a game of chance. However craps no longer has to be a game of chance. By learning the skills of rhythm rolling you can gain an advantage at the craps table turning it into a game that utilizes skill instead of luck. Dice Coach can teach you those skills.  
 
I have learned these skills and have played craps with the Dice Coach and can attest to his teaching methods. He can teach you the basics to turn craps into an advantageous game however it will take a little work on your part. To become a successful poker player you need to develop patience and discipline while developing your basic poker skills. When learning dice control, you also need to use patience and discipline. You will have to practice to be successful. If you are serious about making money at the craps table, the skills you learn from Dice Coach will start you on your way.  
 
I have heard some player's say "I'd rather be Lucky than good."  
 
This is nonsense! I'd rather be knowledgeable than merely lucky. When I started writing my weekly gaming column I adopted a motto that appears at the end of all my articles:  
 
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge stays forever.  
 
About the Author  
Bill Burton is the casino gambling guide for About.com and writes for several magazines, including Midwest Gaming and Travel and Southern Gaming and Destinations. He is also the gaming consultant for Fodoor’s Travel Guide to Las Vegas.
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