The recent poker explosion on
TV and the Internet has
created a flood of new players
who are serious about
developing their game. Sadly
for them, television is sending
a skewed message. No-Limit
Hold 'em is the game of choice
when the game is shown on
TV, and it's easy to think there
is only one game out there.
Poker Tips and Lessons
Howard Lederer Poker Strategy Article
Poker Lessons, Poker Tips, Poker Strategy Articles
Full Tilt Poker Lessons and Tips from the Pros, Howard Lederer
Full Tilt Poker Lessons and Tips from the Pros, Howard Lederer
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Howard Lederer
Lesson: 13
Specialize At Your Peril
June 13, 2005


The recent poker explosion on TV and the Internet has created a flood of
new players who are serious about developing their game. Sadly for them,
television is sending a skewed message. No-Limit Hold 'em is the game of
choice when the game is shown on TV, and it's easy to think there is only one
game out there. While no one would argue that No-Limit makes for the most
exciting television, there are many dangers associated with playing only one
game.

First, you run the risk of getting bored, and boredom will lead to a stunting of
your poker development. Enthusiasm is a critical ingredient for a successful
poker career. When I spend time around the best poker players in the world,
the one thing that they all share is a genuine love and passion for the game.

Next, you might be missing your true poker calling. As it happens, my best
game isn't No-Limit Hold 'em - it's Limit Hold 'em. Had I not tried playing limit, I
would never have found the game I am best at.

There are reasons why all the biggest casinos in the world feature multiple
games. Stop by the big game at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and you're liable to
see No-Limit and Limit, with games ranging from Seven-Card Stud to
Deuce-to-Seven Draw. The best players in the world simply love to play
poker. To deny themselves the pleasure of playing some of the best forms of
the game would be unthinkable. They also know that if they play just one
game, the specialists in a particular game (who are not nearly as good
overall poker players) would be able to sit at their game and win. If you want
to climb to the top of the poker world, you better become a great poker
generalist. If you insist on limiting yourself to one game, you'll never make it.

Even if your ultimate goal is to become an accomplished No-Limit Hold 'em
player, I encourage you to at least play a lot of Limit Hold 'em. Too many
No-Limit specialists get by with almost no post-flop skills. To get good at limit
Hold 'em, you will be forced get more comfortable playing after the flop.
Getting free cards on fourth street and making close value bets on fifth street
are just two of the skills you'll be working on. And those skills are
transferable. Developing these skills in limit Hold 'em will allow you to play
your hands with all your options available. And your No-Limit results will
improve dramatically.

Playing the other games will develop skills that will simply make you a better
poker player. Skills that have subtle value in No-Limit Hold 'em are very
important in the other games. Acquiring these skills will have profound effects
on your No-Limit game, even though you might not even be aware of their
importance now.

Playing Seven-Card Stud will definitely teach you the value of free cards. It is
a fundamental skill necessary to succeed at the game. In Pot-Limit Omaha
you will learn the power of position and the power of the semi-bluff.
Seven-Card Stud 8/Better is a game where you need to learn how to narrow
the field at the right time. The number of players in a pot can make a hand go
from a fold to a raise. Razz? Well, if nothing else, it will teach you how
important patience can be when things aren't going well.

The world of poker has a lot more to offer than No-Limit Hold 'em. And if you
start to explore that world, I am confident you will enjoy the game more.
Getting good at each game will take time, so start out small and read what
you can. Have fun; a new world awaits.

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