Legal questions surround Texas hold 'em
December 7, 2004 11:46 PM   Subscribe

What is the deal with Texas hold'em??? Texas Hold'em (in the U.S.) has become the poker players crack. Its OK, but not that fun for me, and I don't understand what has caused this huge craze sweeping the nation. Poker Chips are in definately in demand... 1 In 10 Kids Will Become Compulsive Gamblers so Do Your Kids Know When To Fold'em? at least there is some texas hold'em charity work aiding victims for the holidays
posted by clubmedia (52 comments total)
They can stop anytime they want to.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:54 PM on December 7, 2004

My own "local poker ring" tends to focus on Anaconda.
posted by quasistoic at 11:55 PM on December 7, 2004

so, does that end the "clubmedia debate"? it looks like he's an actual member. ses la vy, eh?

as for texas hold'em - go TEXAS!!!
posted by puke & cry at 12:02 AM on December 8, 2004

My hands smell of stripper talc.
posted by i_cola at 12:12 AM on December 8, 2004

I don't know what it is either...Our own Ty Webb is obsessed, obsessed I say!

*raps table*
posted by black8 at 12:20 AM on December 8, 2004

I used to force people to play one card Pocahantas (one card held on your forehead that others can see but you can't, you bet against the other cards) until I saw the light.

Texas Hold 'Em is fun, its a good game and people already half know how to play it. Poker-mania indeed though, the tournament intruded upon the traditional football games post Thanksgiving dinner this year. Those damned glasses, I'll hate that guy forever for those damned glasses.
posted by fenriq at 12:25 AM on December 8, 2004

love it or hate it, its much worse than crack honestly. gambling isn't allowed in my state, but there are $30,000 texas hold'em tournaments every weekend or two.

i refuse to gamble just because i don't need that addiction, but it does make me wonder why its growing like this
posted by clubmedia at 12:32 AM on December 8, 2004

but it does make me wonder why its growing like this

Three words: televised poker tournaments.
posted by Quartermass at 12:45 AM on December 8, 2004

Oh man, the text ads are going to love this thread.

90% of the comment spam I get on the weblogs I host is for "Texas Hold'em" sites....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:46 AM on December 8, 2004

I play Hold 'Em online, like millions of others. I only got into it about a year ago after seeing it on late night TV here. I deposited $50 into my Poker account, played 5c tables and learned, and I've not looked back since.

The really, really great thing about it at the moment is the explosion of new people wanting to play - some good, some very, very bad - the sheer amount of fish who'll gladly toss their coin into the pot and play their 3-7os to the river is worrying. That's where people like me, and others, clean up.

I wouldn't say I was addicted, but I do play a few Sit n'Go tournament tables every couple of nights (I'll win, say, 65% of the time), amounting to maybe an hour and a half's play a day. I'll play multi-table tournaments and freerolls maybe once a week. I've never won a huge tournament yet, but have always covered my outlay by achieving a paid place.

Never bet above your limits, never bet more than you're prepared to lose. Never play when unhappy, or worse still - drunk. Never chase your losses - chalk it up as experience and move on.

Hold 'Em is a great game, and not a paragon of gambling evil. Remember, you're playing against other, real life people - not a faceless casino whose odds are hopelessly stacked against you.
posted by metaxa at 12:51 AM on December 8, 2004

the main reason i posted this is because i went christmas shopping the past weekend and i ran across a T'holdem board game that was the only thing i could think i could give to my brother that he would actually use...

he isn't a gambler either at all. but it really seems like this is the new age crack.

kind of scary to say the least
posted by clubmedia at 1:00 AM on December 8, 2004

i have a friend who is currently bonus-whoring himself to online poker sites, meaning that he signs up to various poker sites just to get the deposit bonus. each site has a requisite numer of hands that you have to play in order to get the bonus, so he's been playing online poker his every waking hour. he tried talking me into it, but that's way too much work for my lazyass.
posted by joedan at 1:04 AM on December 8, 2004

Read Tony Holden's Big Deal. Even if you don't want to play the game...
posted by i_cola at 1:06 AM on December 8, 2004

i still don't find gambling interesting regardless.

i don't understand how people can't stop throwing their money away like that

doesn't make any sense at all
posted by clubmedia at 1:20 AM on December 8, 2004


Gambling is entertainment, and being somewhat bad at poker is relatively cheap entertainment. The secondary form of entertainment is that if you get good at poker, you can actually have a profitable hobby.

What other legal hobby involves hanging out with your friends on Sunday, watching all the games, being given free beer, while earning an average of $40/hr?

For the losers... it's still cheaper than season tickets.
posted by mosch at 1:41 AM on December 8, 2004

If you're going to say that 1 in 10 kids are going to become compulsive gamblers, I'd appreciate if you'd at least cite multiple sources on the figure.
posted by mosch at 1:43 AM on December 8, 2004

What vacapinta said.
posted by Ljubljana at 1:49 AM on December 8, 2004

i am not claiming those results are for all players, just as you can't actually claim averaging $40 an hour being a result of playing texas hold'em
posted by clubmedia at 1:52 AM on December 8, 2004

clubmedia: My 'earnings' playing Hold 'em work out at about $35/hr. Of course, this is tournament play, and not raked hands. Still, it beats TV.
posted by metaxa at 2:00 AM on December 8, 2004

Obviously those results aren't for all players. We can't all win. I noted that the losing players tend to treat it as affordable entertainment, especially at higher limits.

Regarding my winrate, that wasn't a fabrication, nor was it meant to impress. I have enough friends who spend their weekends playing the really big games, and pulling down $100+/hr, that it didn't occur to me that somebody would misconstrue. In hindsight, I should've known not to mention a dollar figure, and instead said 'one or two big bets an hour'.
posted by mosch at 2:21 AM on December 8, 2004

low hold, follow the queens, guillotine, night baseball, in between, guts, 5 card draw, 7 card stud, etc., etc. all smoke texas holdem out of the water.

fucking tv poker.
posted by jimjam at 2:30 AM on December 8, 2004

Is now an ok time to shamelessly plug my poker news blog,

(Disclaimer: there are some ads and shameless affiliate links, but it's pretty much just links to news about poker.)
posted by bdk3clash at 2:30 AM on December 8, 2004

bdk3clash: yes.
clubmedia: OK, if you're a real person, what's up with your blog?
posted by mek at 2:49 AM on December 8, 2004

I hear people make respectable amounts of money playing poker online, just by following an algorithm and slowly cleaning up from the losers who think it's anything other than an exercise in going with the odds.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:18 AM on December 8, 2004

It's not really an algorithim, but poker pretty much comes down to a series of decisions, and good players will tend to make the correct decisions more often than bad players and will win the money in the long-term, which, by the way, is a lot longer than most people realize.
posted by bdk3clash at 3:38 AM on December 8, 2004

As any blog owner knows, texas holdem info has tons of interesdting stuff!!!!!
posted by scruss at 4:05 AM on December 8, 2004

My comment blacklist contains one word: holdem. It stops all the spam I was getting.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:06 AM on December 8, 2004

Texas Hold'em is probably the best strategic poker game out there, really. Because 5 cards are public, you're able to play the odds that someone has a better hand than you without excessive calculation or observation. A smart player in the right game can win Texas Hold'em reliably as long as he occasionally gets good cards.

If you're good at it, poker's unquestionably the best form of casino gambling - simply because you're not playing against the house. Texas Hold'em is the most available poker game for making sure that skill can trump luck in the long run.
posted by graymouser at 4:16 AM on December 8, 2004

I like Texas Hold'em because it's all about the guts. Yeah, there is some numbers strategy, but most of the game, IMHO, is played in your stomach. The key to the game for me is knowing when to fold before the river. As metaxa pointed out, you can find the patsy easily because he bets bad cards into the river.

Some friends and I play poker (small-ish stakes), and we recently switched over from "dealer picks" to all Hold'em, and we all agreed it was better because:

- More hands get played.
- It's actually harder to lose all your money.
posted by mkultra at 5:13 AM on December 8, 2004

My monthly group plays poker the way it was meant to be played: for quarters, and drunk/stoned off our asses.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:39 AM on December 8, 2004

hell, i just made $32,000 in GameSpy's poker room. easyyyy....
posted by NationalKato at 6:35 AM on December 8, 2004

As someone who is foolish enough to play poker with someone who calls himself 'The Card Cheat,' let me just say that poker is great fun even when you lose (if you're playing low enough stakes-- I'm not talking about losing the deed to your house and your first-born child here) but especially when you win.

Watching the World Series of Poker on Sundays has become a ritual: I plop down in front of the TV with a pile of snacks and watch millions of dollars changing hands. And fenriq, I second your distaste for that guy and those damn glasses. It's incredible to me that sunglasses and hats are allowed at these tournaments. If I ever make it that far up the poker ladder, I'm going to show up swaddled head to toe in a protective Bee Keeper's outfit.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:40 AM on December 8, 2004

If I ever make it that far up the poker ladder, I'm going to show up swaddled head to toe in a protective Bee Keeper's outfit.

Why stop there? Imagine the advantage you'd gain at the big table with your intimidating Darth Vader-like breathing and completely unreadable expression. On the downside, you'd have to be careful that your cards weren't reflected in the facemask.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2004

Aye, nonreflectivity is just one of the many benefits of the bee-keeper's protective nonreflective mesh.

*goes outside, removes honeycomb*
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:02 AM on December 8, 2004

Poker's a fine game so long as you remember to never talk about anything important in front of the cards, never play on water, and if cigarette smoke ever starts to curl and pool over the middle of the table, you get the hell out. You never know what you're buying and selling in those games.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:15 AM on December 8, 2004

I'm a fan of T'Holdem (both on TV and in real life).
The problem is that I'm not very good at reading people, so I either get bluffed out too often, or I fall into traps. I've lost more money than I've won at the casino (in the neighbourhood of $100-200 over the past two years) but it's not money I couldn't afford to lose. It's probably the same amount of money I've wasted on bad movies and concession stand food in the same time period.

However, I seem to have some natural ability at Hi-Lo Omaha. I've haven't had a chance to play for real money, but I've won 85-90% of the sit'n'go tournaments, and finished in the top ten in 5 of 8 1000+ person tournaments online.

I won't play for money online (it's too easy to lose more than I want to lose that way), but I'm going to Las Vegas in March and look forward to putting a couple hundred on the tables in the Bellagio poker room. Win or lose, it'll be an experience.
posted by grum@work at 7:43 AM on December 8, 2004

you're about a year too late. the big craze was around Moneymaker and the 2003 tournament (shown ad infinitum on various ESPN channels, still).

it's cyclical, like any marketing trend. ahem.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:13 AM on December 8, 2004

I can stop watching anytime I want. I just prefer to not to.
posted by pepcorn at 8:32 AM on December 8, 2004

I'm in a weekly game that's been going for over 10 years (I've been in it for 6) and the new-found popularity for Hold 'Em has mostly amused us (we feel like everyone just found out about our favorite small-town band) but also encouraged us to get more serious about learning to play the game -- we dumped all the wild-card games and exclusively play Omaha, Hold 'Em, Stud (5&7), and Anaconda (or as I call it: "pass & fold") which has made the game much more "serious" (more money changing hands) and more fun. (As the night gets later and more alcohol has come into play, we'll throw some guts into the game, too, for that "sudden change of fortune" excitement.)

Just got back from LV for Thanksgiving (visiting a friend who's doing Mamma Mia out there, as well as to gamble a bit) and there's nothing like playing on real tables. grum, Bellagio has got a beautiful poker room, but when I was there they didn't have any 2-4 or 3-6 tables, so if you're thinking of playing lower limit you'll have to go somewhere else (Luxor has 2-4 tables, although a dinky poker area. Playing down at Binion's is a kick, too, what with all the history.
posted by papercake at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2004

insert that missing ")" wherever you see fit.
posted by papercake at 8:36 AM on December 8, 2004

As far as I'm concerned it's the number one source of comment spam. I would never have heard of it if I weren't cleaning shit up all the time off my blog, and frankly I don't care if I never hear of it again.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:24 AM on December 8, 2004

It's incredible to me that sunglasses and hats are allowed at these tournaments. If I ever make it that far up the poker ladder, I'm going to show up swaddled head to toe in a protective Bee Keeper's outfit.
I discovered another reason for the hats and sunglasses while I was playing in the Foxwoods WPT event (I didn't make the money). They were routinely setting up a portable lighting rig, to take shots of some of the big names, and the lights were bright enough that it actually hurt my eyes from several tables over. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the final table eyewear is simply defense against stage lighting.

If somebody is looking for low-limit poker action in Vegas, I'd point them at Mandalay Bay and The Mirage. Mandalay Bay was strictly low limit last I was there (10/20 was the "big" game), and is a really nice, uncrowded room. The Mirage is pretty much low limit, and lower middle limit now, and is a nice place to spend a few hours with your friends.
posted by mosch at 11:25 AM on December 8, 2004

Hold 'Em is a great poker variation. As for its current popularity, I have always thought it stemmed from its prominence in Rounders (1998).

Said movie has a line that is difficult to forget. Malkovich says, in a silly Russian accent, 'I'm still playing with the money from the last time I stuck in in you.' He says this while wobbling around horribly. Very difficult to forget. I've tried.
posted by footballrabi at 11:34 AM on December 8, 2004

The Washington Monthly published a pretty good article back in May about the rise in poker's popularity:

Strategy-oriented, individualistic, and embedded in a nice masculine mythology, poker is the perfect game for the revenge-of-the-nerds generation looking to square their intelligence with their inner maleness.
posted by monosyllabic at 11:56 AM on December 8, 2004

Does anybody have any suggestions on good places to play online? Is money always at stake or are there sites you can play just for fun?
posted by Justin Case at 12:39 PM on December 8, 2004

On review I guess my question would be more suitable for ask metafilter
posted by Justin Case at 12:44 PM on December 8, 2004

Justin, I think that most places allow you to play with real money and "play" money (they want to get you hooked and then reel you in). I play at and like it.
posted by papercake at 1:28 PM on December 8, 2004

Re: Gambling...

I find it interesting that nobody is willing to consider Texas Hold 'em anything other than Gambling.

If Texas Hold 'em cannot be considered a game of skill, because there is an element of luck involved in the short term, then neither can Baseball or Football or Hockey or Basketball. Why? Because no matter how good the team - they do lose SOMETIMES. Whether it's because the great team has an off night, has some unlucky breaks, gets unlucky with injuries or illness, etc - it's luck that causes them to lose.

The very same thing is true of Texas Hold 'em. On a given night, I'll lose. However, if I'm generally at a table where I'm the best player - I will make serious money over the long term - because I'm better at it than the others around me. Sure, they'll take down the occasional pot playing any two suited cards and pulling their flush, but in the long haul, my better decision making makes me money. I am not gambling - I am participating in a game of skill where money happens to be what's at stake, rather than points.

Like a football coach - I'm viewing the lay of the field. Like the linebacker, I'm watching the eyes of the quarterback (i.e. my opponents) to see where he's going next. If I make better decisions than the next guy - I will fare better in the longrun.

There's a reason that in all the World Poker Tour events you see a pro or two or four at the final table -- because they're BETTER than the rest of 'em. The trick is, in these big tournaments they're competing against a few hundred or even a thousand or more people - so luck has more of a factor. However, these pro poker players make their real money in cash games, not tournaments, and believe me - they don't walk away losers very often.

Why is it so popular? Because, all of us Gen-X and Gen-Yer (I guess i'm Gen-Y, being 26 years old) nerds have found something that we're good at that also makes us money, and all of the Gen-X and Gen-Yer non-nerds have found a reasonably inexpensive form of competitive entertainment that's fun to talk about, fun to play, and cheaper than dinner and a movie for most folks who play it.

The popularity of it is great because it's the bad players that pay off the good ones. I turned myself from a losing poker player, investing around $800 into online sites over the course of 6 months, to a consistent winner. I made back that $800 and withdrew it so that I'm playing solely on profits. I've since made a few thousand dollars, and won myself a trip to play at a tournament in vegas at the Bellagio this coming monday, actually.

Anyone can do this - I'm not by any means trying to say I'm special - but that's why it's so popular. 95% of those who are into it are into it because of the allure of the game, and the results of the last two world series (won by internet "nobodies") - it makes it seem like anybody can do it, and they can, on a given day, if the luck falls their way. 5% of us got into it and became students of the game - we're feeding off of those 95% and their impatience, and loving every minute of it.

Of course, it's also just a fun social thing - I love playing online and I make WAY more money there - but I also quite enjoy my regular monday night games where I hang out with friends and play some cards with Monday Night Football on in the background. It's something to do in a time when all anyone really does socially anymore is go out to bars and drink.
posted by twiggy at 3:14 PM on December 8, 2004


Puh-leaze. Poker, by almost any reasonable definition, is gambling. Just because it's beatable doesn't mean it isn't gambling.
posted by bdk3clash at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2004

Puh-leaze. Poker, by almost any reasonable definition, is gambling. Just because it's beatable doesn't mean it isn't gambling.

See, I think of gambling as being something you do AGAINST the casino (like blackjack, roulette, sports betting, etc.) where the odds are NEVER in your favour. When your only competition is against other players, then it's not really "gambling" anymore. The only way the casino is involved is by taking money from the rake (or entrance fee), providing a neutral dealer and a table to play on.

A poker tournaments is more like a tennis tournament. You pay an entry fee and then win money back depending how you do against your opponents. If you do poorly all the time, then you will lose money in the long run. If you do well all the time, you'll make money.

Obviously, there is some luck involved, because if you simply don't get the cards, you'll have a hard time winning more often than losing. But even then, a skillful player can neutralize this luck to some extent.
posted by grum@work at 8:30 AM on December 9, 2004

twiggy: allow me to quote from one of the best poker books in my library.

"Poker isn't gambling." You have surely heard someone say it. You have have said it yourself. Whoever says it usually really means, "In the long run, everyone expects to receive the same distribution of good and bad hands. being lucky does not make you a long-term winner; playing better than your opponents does. Eventually, the bad players will all lose, and the good players will all win." That's a bit long-winded, though, so most people tend to stick to, "Poker isn't gambling." You are better off not abbreviating, though, because the second statement is true, while the first one is not! Poker is gambling.

--Small Stakes Hold'em by Ed Miller, David Sklansky & Mason Malmuth.
posted by mosch at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2004

1. There is luck in poker.
2. But isn't there luck in everything in life? Like sports... they are more complex situations... but as in poker, games are not always won "better" team. But in the long run, the better team will have the better season.
3. It seems as if some people are angry at the game because of all the spam they get relating to it. I'll tell you what, I play poker online... but I never get any unwanted mail of any kind. Maybe you should invest in some software (not that you need to pay for anything that keeps your mailbox spam free).
4. Is playing a game of poker much different than playing the stock market? I invest money in my hand because I think it will come out ahead. Sometimes I can make the wrong decisions and investments and lose some... but as long as I play smart my investments in hands will win for me in the long run and I show a profit. Some people study up on companies and market trends... I learn about probability and learn to read people.
5. For the people that asked about where to play... pokerstars is the most popular but there is some tough competition. Party Poker is pretty loose and a ton of games, but I like Paradise Poker the best. Its all personal preference.

For all these people who take time out of there day to complain about a subject that doesn't effect their lives in any way... Get a hobby or something. Poker is not a problem. If you are losing too much at it? Stop. If you can't you have gambling problem and even if poker wasn't available... you would find your fix blowing money some other way.
posted by Mroz at 4:46 PM on December 10, 2004

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