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Poker Strategy

Finding the best poker strategy for you is crucial if you want to optimize your poker game.
Good poker players know that every hand is a winner – it’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play them. This post breaks down some of the most basic and best poker strategy. 

If you’re completely new to poker, you may want to learn the basics rules of poker, before diving into poker strategy. Lucky for you, we’ve made a simple video telling you everything you need to know in just 4 minutes.

What is Poker Strategy

Poker strategy is one of those things that really surprises players who just started playing poker. Most people outside of poker think it’s a game of luck. You’re either dealt a great hand or a terrible hand. And the player who’s dealt the best hand always wins. 

Luckily, poker is much more complex than that. After all, it’s no coincidence that the same handful of players always end up at the final table.

The different aspects of poker strategy

There are of course a bunch of different aspects to a good poker strategy.
In this blog post, I break down some of the most effective aspects of poker strategy.
I plan to dive deep into poker strategy over the coming weeks, with new videos and additional paragraphs and topics for this post.
Let me know if you have any topic in particular you’d like me to talk about. 

Together, we’ll create the complete guide to the best poker strategy.
Now, poker of course isn’t just one game, but rather a whole genre of card games. The most widespread version of poker is called Texas Hold’em, and that’s the genre we’ll talk about throughout this blogpost.

How to bluff in poker

A pair of aces or a royal flush doesn’t come around too often in Texas Hold’em. Most hands you’re dealt are just ok or straight up bad. This means you can’t just fold every bad hand, and go all in when you hit a monster hand. 

This is simply too easy to read, and your opponent will catch on to this poker strategy.
This is why we ‘bluff’. 

Bluffing is when you ‘lie’ and pretend to have a great hand, in an effort to have your opponents fold their otherwise better hand. Bluffing is a great tool in your poker strategy, since it allows you to win some pots even with weak hands and also keeps your opponents guessing.

Poker betting strategy

Betting is obviously a core aspect of poker – and probably what most people think of, when they think poker. Shoving that pile of chips into the pot. But poker betting is actually a science and one of the absolute most important aspects of poker strategy.

Betting is usually divided into two different kinds of bets. A blocking bet and a value bet.

Blocking bets are a mind game. 
Sometimes, you’re dealt a hand that could turn into something, with the right community cards. So you may want to see a flop or a turn. In this case, you want the price of further participation to stay low – so you can’t have other players betting heavily. So we place what’s called a blocking bet. A small bet, designed to tell other players that you may have something – keeping them from placing huge bets of their own. Allowing you to see more cards without too much investment.
If done right, a blocking bet can actually control the action of other players and keep the game right where you want it. 

Value Bets are essentially the opposite of bluffing in poker, since this time you actually want the other players to call or, even better, raise. Let’s say you’re dealt a great hand, like pocket aces or that you hit a flush from the flop.
In this case, you’re on track to win the hand. 

Win Poker

So, naturally, you want to build the pot and raise your imminent prize. But you can’t just go all in at this stage, since this would most likely scare off opponents and have them fold – leaving you with just the blinds and some change in the pot. Not a great win.
In this case we place a value bet – a small bet, nudging opponents to either call, or even better, raise. This means they are still in the game, betting chips, and driving up the pot for you, thinking it’s all their idea and that they are in charge. Quite genius. 

Table position in poker

You may not know it, but the way you’re all seated around the poker table has a big impact on the game. More specifically, in what order you get to act your turn in a round.

Every round of poker of course has a dealer, a small blind and a big blind. As we all know, the small and big blind are required to place a bet upfront – so the first player to act freely is the player sitting after the big blind. This is usually thought of as the worst position to be in, since you haven’t seen anything from your opponents. You have to just act from your cards alone. 

The later your position, the better. Since you get to see more players act before you – giving you an idea of what they may have.
The best position to be in is the dealer, also known as ‘the button’. In this position you get to act third last in the first round, and last for every round after that.

Poker Positions

In general, the later your position the wider range of starting hands you should play.
We’ve made a video and a seperate blogpost that goes into greater detail about what starting hands we would recommend you to play in what position.

Position in poker may not sound like a big deal, but skilled players know what an important aspect of poker strategy it really is. 

Poker limp

Limping in poker is often referred to as the most common beginner mistake.
Poker is about confidence, and in most cases it’s advised to either bet or fold. When someone tries to just check or call, this is seen as a weak attempt of limping one’s way into seeing more community cards. It’s especially obvious when someone bet preflop but then decide to just check post flop. 

Poker R

If skilled players catch you doing this, they will turn up the heat and put some pressure on you with big bets.
If you have good cards, raise.
If you have bad cards, fold.
Don’t limp. 

Private table poker app

The best way to get good at poker is really just to play a lot. We’ve created the free EasyPoker app that works like a physical poker set – and we believe it’s the best poker app for friends. 

Whether you’re sitting together or playing apart from separate locations, EasyPoker gives you that feeling of a good old physical poker night. The app handles everything for you, so all you have to do is just play your cards and focus on your poker strategy.

It really is the easiest way to play poker with friends, plus it’s free. Give it a try.

Poker strategy

More poker strategy

We’re constantly adding new and exciting content to our library, and if you have something particular you’d like us to dive into, let me know in the comments.
Here are a couple of other blog posts you may find interesting.

Win poker
Poker positions

5 Tips to Win Poker

If you’re new to the game but want to win poker, this is the place for you.
I’ve been playing poker for some time now, and I’ve noticed how 5 tips changed my game dramatically – and took me from poker beginner to poker pro. 

They aren’t complicated, in fact you probably practice some of them without even thinking about it – but being conscious about it will instantly improve your poker skills.  

I’ve made a short video that quickly explains the 5 tips to win poker, but this page continues underneath the video with a more in depth explanation, a lot more detail and more of my videos to further explain each tip.

How to win poker

Easy tips to win poker

There’s no right or wrong way to play poker. There’s not one method that will guarantee success. But there are ways and means for you to maximize your chance of winning. 
There are good habits, and bad habits. Situations to avoid and situations to seek. 

And there are those who have the knowledge to exploit them. These five poker tips will make a huge and instant change to your game, and show you how to win poker.
Let’s get into it.

1. Know your starting hands

One of the most common beginner mistakes in poker is to see too many flops.
New players are curious to see what the flop will make of their hand, and so they end up throwing chips after a hand that was never going anywhere. This may not sound like too big a deal, but if you constantly waste your chips hoping for a magic flop, you’ll quickly see your stack go down. Advanced players know what starting hands to throw away so as to not waste chips, allowing them to trust their math and go big when needed.

Great players immediately access their starting hand after being dealt their two cards, and they know what to look for. What gives a hand potential, and what cards should just be thrown away? 

There’s a science behind this.
I’ve made an in depth video about starting hands, in case you want to get into more detail and see some examples of what starting hands to play and what to throw away.

If not, I’ll outline the basics underneath. 

Basically, paired starting hands are best. Like two kings.
After that, we look for ‘high card value. Cards of high value, like an ace or a queen, have good potential for high pairs from the board.
We then look for suitedness, meaning cards of the same suit – like hearts.
This is because a suited starting hand has potential for a flush from the community cards.
Lastly, we look for ‘connectedness’, meaning cards that are close to each other in rank.
Cards that are close to each other, like a 9 and a 10, have potential for a straight. Cards when a larger gap has less potential, and cards that are 5 ranks apart are terrible.

What starting hands to act on very much depends on your position. Another main pillar of poker strategy. So let’s have a look at tip number 2 in how to win poker.

2. Beware of position

Position is one of those things that no new player thinks about, but when told about it you go “Oh”. But it’s actually pretty simple. ‘Position in poker’ refers to the way players are seated at the table – more specifically, in what order they get to act.

Poker Positions

As you probably know, every round of poker has a dealer, a small blind and a big blind. Since the small- and big blind are forced to bet an amount, the first player to act freely is the player sitting after the big blind. This is the worst position to be in, since you have to act your turn without having seen anything from your opponents.
You have no intel to go from. Just your own cards.
The later your position, the better. Since you get to see other players act first. 

The dealer is considered the best position, since you get to act third last for the first round and last in every round after that. Like the role of dealer, small blind and big blind, your position of course changes clockwise after every round. 

Position and starting hand strategy is very much related, and the later your position, the wider range of starting hands we should play.
For more on position, and an in depth view at what hands to play in what positions, see this video or our blog post on the subject.

3. Know how to bluff

Bluffing is easily the most recognizable and famous tool in the toolbox of poker strategy. Made famous by TV and movies. And it is a great tool, although the frequency of which players bluff in movies is very much exaggerated. 

The perfect hand doesn’t come around too often in Texas Hold’em. This means you can’t just fold every bad hand and go all in on every good hand. That’s too easy to read.

Bluffing is a great way to win some chips even with terrible cards and keep your opponents guessing. Whether you’re doing a semi bluff or a pure bluff, you should always keep your opponent in mind.
And it’s one of the secrets of how to win poker. 

Limit your bluffing to when you’re up against one or two players. It’s easier to bluff a few players than a whole table.
Likewise, you should focus your bluff to times when your opponents seem hesitant or are low on chips. Weak players probably won’t not have the guts to call you out.

How to bluff

Lastly, it’s important to consider your opponents playing style. It’s a lot safer to bluff against a player with a tight playing style than against a loose cannon, who might randomly call your bluff.

And of course, most important of all, if you’re bluffing, the last thing you want is to go into a showdown with your weak hand. Finish the job before that, and force your opponents to fold. 

For more info and example of how to bluff in poker, check this video or our designated blog post on the subject. Now you know how to win with a bad hand – but what do we do when a great hand comes along? Let’s look at betting.

4. Know how to bet

Knowing how to make the most of a great hand is absolutely crucial if you want to win poker. If you’re dealt a great hand, like two aces, you can’t have everyone fold before the flop and leave you with just the blinds. You need to make the most of your hand. This takes a good betting strategy. 

Betting in poker is usually divided into two different categories; a blocking bet and a value bet

A blocking bet is designed to control the pot. By placing a small bet, you get inside your opponent’s head and stop them from making a larger bet. Since just the fact that you made a bet makes them more cautious and less aggressive. They’ll most likely call. 

That way you get to set the price for further participation – allowing you to see another round without too much investment. Quite genius. 

Now, let’s say you’re dealt a great starting hand – like a pair of aces.
This is the best starting hand in poker and you’d be pretty likely to win.
When you have a great hand, it’s important to make the most of it – you want a massive pot to win.

Win poker

But, if you try to build a pot by instantly raising by a lot, other players might be scared off and fold their cards – leaving you with just the blinds and some change. Not quite the massive win you were hoping for. 

This is when we place what’s called a value bet.
A value bet is designed to build the pot, but to do it in such a manner that opponents won’t be scared off. You place small bets, big enough to drive up the pot but just small enough to not scare off opponents. 

A value bet is essentially the opposite of bluffing, since this time you actually want other players to call or even raise your bet. You want them to think that building the pot is their idea, and that they’re in charge. Essentially doing your dirty work and digging their own grave. It’s actually quite evil – but oh so effective to win poker.

5. Don’t limp

Limping is perhaps the most common beginner mistake in poker. And easy for more advanced players to spot and pounce on. 

Limping basically means to ‘hesitate’ or show a lack of faith in your cards when it’s your turn. This is typically when a player tries to just check or call instead of making a decision.

If you want to win poker, you have to play with conviction. Therefore, it’s best to either raise or fold – checking and calling usually isn’t a good idea.
If you have good cards; raise.
If you have bad cards; fold.

It’s that easy.

face to face poker - EasyPoker App

Limping is very obvious when players try to check after the flop or, even worse, after the turn. Especially if they start aggressive and bet pre flop but then suddenly show a limp the next round. It could be that they have great cards and are trying to play it slow – but most likely, they just didn’t hit anything on the board and try to limp their way into seeing if the next community card will make something of their hand. 
Don’t limp – play with conviction.

Best poker app for friends

If you and your friends are new to poker and just want to have some fun, you should consider downloading our free EasyPoker app. It doesn’t ask for a credit card, has no gambling and you only play against friends. The best app for poker nights with friends. 

The app takes care of everything, so all you guys have to do is just play your cards.
Perfect, whether you guys are physically sitting together or playing online from separate locations.
And it’s free, so you have nothing to lose.

Win poker

More tips to win poker

Knowing just a little poker strategy goes a long way and you’ll be amazed how even just small tips will make a huge and instant difference to your game – making you stand out from the crowd. As mentioned in these tips, knowing how to bet and how to bluff is really the most important part of poker strategy. It’s the salt and pepper of poker. 

Lucky for you, we’ve made complete beginner’s guides to both.  

Have a look 👇👀

Poker betting
How to bluff

Poker Betting

Want to understand poker betting?
You’ve come to the right place. 

We all know that poker is about betting and, hopefully, winning poker chips.
But what is the best strategy for betting in poker, and how do you make the most of a good hand?

It’s important to know how to bet in poker, and if it’s done right, your poker betting strategy can actually control the choices other players make.
Let’s take a look. 

If you’d rather watch a video than read a blogpost, here’s a video I made about how to bet in poker.
This blog will continue beneath the video, and go into further detail of how you can make the most of your poker betting. 

Poker betting

What is poker betting?

Starting off small here. More advanced players might wanna skip this paragraph.

‘Poker’ is not just one game, but rather a whole genre of games. The most popular version of poker is called ‘Texas Hold’em’, made popular by film and TV. 

In Texas Hold’em, all players are dealt two cards for them to see but keep a secret.
You then bet on whether your cards are the best. This is called poker betting.

Betting is the main aspect of playing poker and most people probably think of chips being pushed into the middle of a table when thinking of poker. It’s easily the most recognizable aspect of the game. 

It’s also crucial to master if you want to win, so taking the time to understand poker betting and finding the best poker betting strategy will help you a lot.

Let’s get into it. 

Reasons to bet in poker

Betting your chips is how you win new chips. You gotta risk it to get the biscuit.
If you try to just cruise through a game of poker without really betting, you’ll just be bleeding chips from the blinds and eventually run out. 

But, you know what they say, sometimes the best defense is a great offense.
The same is true in poker, and as we’re about to see, betting can even be used to control other players and have them play less aggressively. 

There are generally two reasons to bet in poker; to control the pot with a blocking bet or to build the pot with a value bet.

Blocking bet

You can actually guide the choices of your opponent and control the pot by betting.
Sometimes, you’re dealt a hand that might not be great but could turn into something with the right community cards. This means you may want to see a flop or a turn before making the final decision.
But, if you just check or call here, players sitting after you, who feel pretty good about their own cards, might place a large bet. Making it expensive for you to see a flop or turn. 
This is when we place what’s called a blocking bet.

This is a small bet, often around a quarter of the pot, designed to have a physiological effect on your opponents. Although small, this bet shows initiative and will most likely make your opponents think twice before making too large of a bet up front. Allowing you to see more cards without too big an investment. 

Poker betting

Value bet

Alright, but what do you do, when an actual amazing hand comes along? Like when you’re dealt a pair of aces. This is the strongest starting hand in Texas Hold’em and will most likely win the round. So how do you play a great hand like that?

Poker betting

You of course want to make the most of the hand and try to get a lot of chips in the pot for you to win. But you can’t just go all in right away – that will scare off your opponents causing them to fold and leaving you just the blinds to win. A great hand wasted. 

This is when we use what’s called a value bet. It’s called that, because it aims to increase the value of the pot – without scaring your opponents. Let’s dive into it. 

The opposite of betting in poker

Value betting is a form of poker betting that’s essentially the opposite of bluffing in poker, since this time you actually want the other players to call – or better yet, raise. Bluffing in poker is designed to scare off opponents with a bold and aggressive play, forcing them to fold their otherwise superior hand. But when poker betting, we not only want them to follow along, but ideally have them think it was all their idea and that they are very much on top of the situation.
It’s quite cold, when you think about it. But very effective.

How to value bet

You of course want your value bet to be big enough to grow the pot, but not too big for others to follow. The ideal value for a value bet actually varies, and depends on three things. The strength of your hand, the board and your opponent’s playing style. 

The strength of your hand

If the flop gives you a monster hand like a full house or a flush, you’re probably well on your way to win the round. In this case, your goal should be to get as many players to continue as possible. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to ‘slow play’.
If, on the other hand, you get a hand that’s good but not great, like top pairs from the flop you may want to be a little more aggressive with your betting. Although your hand is probably strongest at the moment, future community cards could turn the ties and give your opponents an even stronger hand. 

The board

The 5 community cards, commonly referred to as ‘the board’ can flip a round on its head, turning an otherwise great hand into nothing. So you need to always be aware of your hand.
Let’s say you’re dealt a queen of spades and a queen of diamonds, and the flop comes 2, Q, 6 – all hearts. 

Poker betting

You now have a really strong starting hand, that became three of a kind on the flop. But, since the community cards are all hearts, the risk of an opponent developing a flush is high – and that would render your three queens useless. 

You need to watch out for boards that have cards of the same suit, connectedness or high value, since these could give your opponents strong hands. These kinds of boards are commonly referred to as ‘wet boards’, and in this case you’ll want to play aggressively, getting your opponents to fold and securing you the pot before others make a great hand.

But, if the board is ‘dry’, meaning low value cards of different suits and no real connectedness, your pair of queens is still looking strong – and you can take your time.

Opponent’s playing style

The last thing to consider when poker betting a great hand is your opponent’s playing style. If you’re playing against what we call a ‘tight player’, someone who doesn’t like to bet or bluff, you’ll probably be best off playing it slow. So you don’t scare them away. 

Poker betting

But, if you’re playing against a more loose/aggressive player, who likes to raise, bluff and see many flops, you may want to be more aggressive, in an effort to challenge them and have them pile chips to the pot.

Digital poker set

Now that you know the basic strategy of poker betting, you should try our free EasyPoker app. It’s a digital version of the physical poker set you know and love – but this poker set is always with you and fits right into your pocket. 

We don’t facilitate gambling, and you only play against your friends – so it’s really the perfect poker app for friends to practice their poker skills. 

It’s meant for physical poker nights, but with features like our built in voice chat, it works great for digital poker nights as well. 

You should try it – it’s free. 

Poker betting

More poker betting & bluffing

Now that you know how to use poker betting to either control or build the pot, your game will instantly improve. But you can also use betting to bluff in poker, allowing you to win hands even with weak cards. Bluffing in poker is perhaps the biggest difference between good and great players, and we’ve got the blogs and videos to teach you both how to bluff in poker – and how to spot when someone is bluffing

Let’s have a look 👇👀

How to bluff
Poker positions

Poker Rules

Understanding poker rules is of course crucial if you’re trying to get a game going.
Poker is easy to learn yet hard to master – but there’s no reason to over complicate things when explaining poker rules.

This blog will tell you everything you need to know and I’ve even created a 4 minute video, so you don’t have to read unless you want to dive deeper. The video is a part of a 6 video series teaching you poker strategy, but you only need to see the first one to understand poker rules.

Let’s get started.

Poker Rules

Texas Hold’em Poker Rules

Now ‘poker’ is actually not just one game, but a whole genre of card games.
But Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular one, and probably the one that brought you here after watching Casino Royale’ playing Red Dead Redemption or binging Kakegurui.
All great reasons, by the way.

Texas Hold’em Poker is usually played by 2-12 players who all sit down at a table.

You then choose who’s going to be the ‘dealer’ for the first round. This role usually just passed clockwise after every round.
But how do you decide who gets to be the first dealer?

Who is the first dealer in a game of poker?

This is usually decided by ‘dealing to the first ace’. So, one of you picks up the deck of cards, and starts dealing a card to each player, for everyone to see. The first person to be dealt an ace will have the honor of being the first dealer of the game. This is not a part of the official poker rules, but it’s how most home games do it.

Being the dealer of a round is usually considered a positive thing, since this means you get to act last – after watching all other players act their turn. More on this in our blog about playing poker in position.

Basic Poker Rules

After shuffling the deck, the dealer serves all players two cards, heads down.
You see your own cards, but keep them a secret. 
The very essence of poker is that you then bet on whether your hand is the best, or not.
The order in which players have to act moves clockwise around the table. 

Have a bad feeling about your hand? Fold.
Feel good about your cards? Bet. How much is up to you.

Poker Rules

Players who fold their hand, give up their cards and sit the rest of the round out.
If someone makes a bet, they automatically up the cost of further participation in the round. Meaning all following players need to match that bet to stay in a round. 

Once every player has made the choice to bet or fold, the chips are gathered in what we call the pot.
The aggregated prize for winning the round.

To ensure every hand in poker always has something to play for, we have the two roles of small and big blind.

Small and Big Blind

What does small and big blind mean? Don’t worry, although this is often the part of poker rules that confuses beginners the most, it’s actually pretty simple.

The person sitting after the dealer is small blind and the person after that is the round’s big blind. Just as the role of dealer, small and big blinds change clockwise after every round. The small and big blind are required to bet a predetermined, often small amount. Like 10 and 20. Big blind is always double the small blind.

Blinds are there to make sure every round of poker matters, and that there is always something to be won.

Other than that, it works as a gentle ‘push’ for players who haven’t got the nerve to bet. 

Poker Rules

What are community cards?

Alright, so we now know that the essence of poker rules is to be dealt two cards and then bet on whether your cards are the best at the table.
But, as you might imagine, this becomes pretty boring and predictable. Like, if you’re dealt a pair of aces, you’d be sure to win.

This is why, in a full round of poker, another 5 cards are drawn from the deck and placed on the table, face up, for everyone to see. These are called community cards, and they are the part of the game that makes poker unpredictable. 

At the end of a poker round, your final ‘poker hand’ will consist of the best 5 card combination of the two cards in your hand and the 5 cards on the table.

Poker Rules

The cards in your hand are for you to use only, but every player in the round can mix their cards with the community cards – and yes, multiple players can of course use them at the same time. In some rare cases, your final poker hand of the round doesn’t even include the two cards you’re holding in your hand, if the community cards have a straight for instance.

But, to keep the possibility of twists and turns, not all community cards are drawn and placed at the same time. It goes flop, turn and river. 

What is the flop?

After all players have made their initial choice of betting or folding, the chips are gathered in the pot and this is when 3 of the 5 community cards are drawn and placed on the table.
These first 3 community cards are called ‘the flop’.

Poker Rules

After the flop, another round takes place, where players again get to either bet, fold or check. Checking means you’d like to proceed without betting and is only possible if no one before you has betted in this round. If any remaining player makes a bet, all players have to either match that or give up their cards.
So if I check, but the guy after me makes a bet, I then have to make a choice to follow or fold before the round can continue.

The small and big blinds are not forced to bet any amount after the flop – that is only for the first round of a hand. 

What is the turn?

When all remaining players have made their choices, assuming 2 or more players are still in the round, another community card is drawn from the deck and placed by the other 3.
This one is called ‘the turn’.

Poker Rules

Exactly same procedure as after the flop was turned.
Remaining players get to check, bet or fold, before a fifth and final community card is drawn.

What is the river?

The river is the fifth and final community card, and all players now know what 5 cards make up their final hand. A last round of checking, betting and/or folding follows.
After that, we get to see who wins, when all remaining players have to show their cards in what we call ‘the showdown’.

Poker Rules

Showdown in poker

When the last actions have been made in a round of poker, players lay down their 2 cards and show the rest of the players what they’ve got.
You can really do it in whatever order you wish, but according to the official poker rules, the showdown follows the same order as the round has.

The player with the best 5 card combination of the 2 cards in their hand and the 5 cards on the table, wins the round and collects all the chips in the pot. If two or more players have the exact same hand, they split the pot evenly.

In this case we win because we have a pair of aces + a king, a jack and a ten.

Poker Rules

What are the different poker hands?

There are 10 different kinds of ‘poker hands’ to have.
Here is a video explaining what beats what – also described in this blogpost.

A digital poker set

If you and your friends are new to poker, and just want to play and learn – I recommend using our free EasyPoker app
It’s designed to take care of your poker night, so you don’t need chips, cards or even a table. 
The app takes care of everything. 

It’s free, simle to understand, has no gambling and you only play with friends you know.

Perfect for poker with friends.

Poker Rules
Poker Rules

More Poker Rules & content

So, now you know your poker rules and are ready to play some poker with friends.

Ready for ‘all in’, ‘pocket aces’ and ‘flipping the nuts’. But what does all of this even mean?
Prepare for your next poker night by reading up on some poker lingo.

Or if you’d like, you can brush up on how to tell if someone is bluffing. Should come in handy. 

poker terms and slang
Poker positions

How to Bluff

Want to learn how to bluff in poker?
You’ve come to the right place. 

Alright, so you’ve been playing poker for a while now and feel like you’re beginning to understand the game. Aces are good, a flush beats a straight – and the player who’s dealt the best cards always wins – right?
Thankfully, no.

Because poker is a game played in the mind as much as on the table – and great players know how to get a quick win from terrible cards, by tricking their opponents into folding an otherwise great hand.

It’s time we talk ‘bluffing’ – and, oh boy, is it going to make a difference.

If you prefer watching over reading, we’ve made an entire video explaining how to bluff in poker. This blog post continues beneath the video. 

Why Bluff? 

Alright, so, the perfect hand doesn’t come around too often when playing Texas Hold’em.
This means you can’t just go all in when you’re dealt a monster hand, and fold every time you get a bad hand. This would be too easy for your opponents to read.

This is why the best poker players switch up their play, and sometimes try to trick their opponents into misreading them. 

This effort of misleading is what we call bluffing and, if done right, it will keep your opponent guessing, never getting an actual read on your game.
Allowing you to win pots with a terrible hand. So it’s important to know how to bluff. 

Now, bluffing is usually divided into two different kinds of bluffs, called a ‘pure bluff’ and a ‘semi bluff’.

What is a pure bluff? 

A pure bluff is when you’re dealt a terrible hand but choose to play it very aggressively in an effort to convince the other players that you have a great hand. To scare them into folding their otherwise superior hand. 

Like if you’re dealt a hand of 7 2 off suit. This is the worst hand in Texas Hold’em poker, and would normally always lose. But, let’s say you’re big blind and therefore already somewhat invested in the round. Raising here might get everyone else to fold, and so not only would you not use your big blind, but also steal a nice little pot. 

A pure bluff is of course extremely risky, and is therefore often referred to as a ‘stone cold bluff’. But, getting a quick win with a terrible hand can help you a lot – and will keep your opponents guessing.   

What is a semi bluff?

Less risky, is the semi bluff.
This is when you’re dealt cards that aren’t good, but could turn into something if the community cards hit just right. A hand like 7 8 suited. This of course isn’t a strong hand, but it is suited connectors, so you have a decent chance of hitting either a straight or a flush in combination with the community cards. 

A semi bluff is when you have cards that aren’t great, but could turn into something.
Like 8 9 suited. This isn’t a strong hand, but since they are suited connectors, you have a decent chance of hitting a flush or a straight from the community cards.  

A semi bluff is of course a lot less risky than a pure bluff, and for that reason, it’s usually performed a bit less aggressively.

When to bluff

Now, when you bluff should of course vary. Never be easy to read. 
But, 3 factors should help you pick the optimal time to bluff. 

1) Number of opponents
The more players in the hand, the more people have to buy your bluff.
It is always going to be easier to convince one or two players, than a whole table.
You’ll want to limit your bluffing to when you’re up against one or two players. 

2) Strength of opponents
Players who are low on chips or who try just calling instead of raising, might not have the courage to call your bluff. But the chip leader probably will.
Consider your opponent’s situation, and make sure you don’t challenge a hard ball. 

3) Your opponent’s playing style  
All players are different, and you should always consider your opponent when choosing a strategy in poker. Players who call and fold a lot are referred to as ‘tight players’, and other players who bluff and raise a lot in are often called loose or aggressive. 
It might be more prudent to bluff against a player with a tight playing style, than a loose cannon who might suddenly call your bluff.

When you bluff

So, you’ve found the perfect hand to bluff – now, how do you actually convince your opponent? He or she is probably looking for tells to spot your bluff, and you’ll want to use every trick in the book to hide it. 

 Luckily, we have some rules of thumb that will help you do that.Namely ‘representing a hand’ and the ‘continuation bet’. Let’s have a look.

How to bluff

Representing a hand

You need to always be aware of the game’s development.
Keep the community cards in mind, and act accordingly. If you’re bluffing hitting a pair of aces on the flop, and the turn shows another ace, you need to double down on your first bet – since you’re now bluffing having 3 aces. When fully committing to a bluff, forget your actual hand and act like you have the hand you’re trying to convince them. 

Otherwise, good players will easily spot your bluff and lure you into a trap.

C-bet (continuation bet)

In for a penny, in for a pound.
If you’ve made a bet pre-flop you need to keep betting after the flop, whether the community cards have given you anything or not. The last thing you want is for someone to follow an initial bet and then just ride it out from there to the showdown.
You have to be more aggressive, and keep betting.
A C-bet shows confidence and initiative. Without it, your opponent will easily be able to spot that your initial bet was just a bluff.

🚨 Most important rule of how to bluff 🚨

Remember, if you’re bluffing, you need to make all opponents fold.
The last thing you want is to end up in an awkward showdown with your terrible hand and a bunch of chips invested. Finish the job before that, and get your opponent to tap out.

Practice how to bluff

So there you go. Now you know when and how to bluff. If done correctly, this will make a huge difference to your game, by allowing you to win pots even when dealt terrible cards.

To practice your skills, I recommend downloading our free EasyPoker app.
It’s a digital version of a physical poker set – perfect for poker with friends! 

Pokerface app alternative download
Poker Rules

More tutorials

Poker is a wonderful game – easy to learn, but hard to master.
To add more tools in your poker toolbelt of strategies, consider watching the full playlist we have on YouTube. I tried to keep it light and fun, and it is in to way overly complicated. 

It will take you through the most common aspect of poker strategy and take you from beginner to advanced – in under an hour!

Or head on over to this blog post, that talks about poker tells and how to spot them.
That way, you’ll be able to sniff out a bluff from other players as well.

You can find it here.

Poker tells

Poker Positions Explained

What are poker positions and how do you play poker in position?
You’ve come to the right place.

I’ll tell you exactly what the different poker positions are and how to play each position.
And by the end of this breakdown, you’ll find a complete visual chart for you to save and look at whenever you need a reminder.

If you prefer watching over reading, here’s a video explaining the basics of poker table positions.
Beneath the video, you’ll find further explanation and in depth charts.

What are poker positions?

Poker positions refers to the way players are seated around a poker table and in what order players get to act in a round. Being one of the last players to act is obviously a huge advantage, since you get to see all other players act before you need to make a decision.

All rounds of course have a dealer.
To the left of the dealer is the small blind, and left of the small bind is the big blind.
Since the small- and big blind are forced to place a bet, the first player to act pre-flop is the person sitting after the big blind.

After that, we continue clockwise around the table, ending with the small and big blind.

After the flop however, the small blind will be first to act for the rest of the rounds. 

We usually divide the different positions into 3 groups; early, middle and late position.

Poker Positions


The first couple of players to act in a round are in what we call early position.
This includes both the small- and big blind – but also the players sitting after the big blind.
This person is usually referred to as ‘Under the Gun’ (UTG), since you have to act without any clue from the other players. If you are playing at a table with nine or more players, the person sitting after the player ‘under the gun’ is often considered early position as well, and referred to as ‘UTG+1’.

Early positions are the hardest positions to be in, with Under the Gun being the absolute worst position. 

How to play under the gun

If you’re sitting under the gun, you need to be careful. The only thing you have to go on is the two cards in your hand – and that’s not a lot.
We recommend staying within the top 10 starting hands – that’s high pairs and aces with a suited face card kicker.

Poker positions

Middle Position

The players sitting between early and late positions are in what we call ‘middle position’.
Since early position is usually 3-4 players, and late position is 3 players, the size and number of players who fall into middle position of course varies depending on the total number of players at the table. 

The later your positions, the more hands you should consider playing.
Sitting in middle position, you have seen the actions of some of the earlier players, which is a huge advantage. You still need to keep a level head though, and know your chances. 

How to play middle position

If everyone before you have folded:
Raise with medium pairs or higher, aces with a face card kicker or any two suited cards higher than a 10 – like JQs or 10Js.

Poker position

If someone has already called:
Call with medium high pairs, suited cards of ten or above and any suited connectors.

Poker positions

If someone before you has already raised:
Re-raise with pairs 10 10 and above, ace king or ace queen.

Poker positions

Or call, if you have suited connectors or a pair of up to 9 9.

Poker position

Late Position

Sitting in late position opens up a lot of different hands to play.
You’ve had the advantage of seeing how other players chose to act, and can feel a lot more secure. 

The best poker position to be in is the dealer, since you get to act third last before the flop, and lastly for the rest of the rounds. The dealer is often referred to as ‘The Button’ since this position is usually show by a physical or digital button with the letter ‘D’ on it.
The player sitting just before the button is often referred to as ‘Cutoff’.
And the player before that is called ‘Hijack’ – because players often “hijack” late position advantage from the cutoff and button with an opening raise.

How to play late position

If all players before you have folded:
Raise with any pair, any suited ace, any ace with a kicker of 7 or higher, any two cards of ten or higher and any suited connectors. 

Poker position

If someone has called before you:
Raise with a high pair, or an ace with a face card kicker.

Poker positions

Feel free to call with any pair, suited high cards, a suited ace and suited connectors.

Poker positions

If a player has raised before you:
Re-raise with high pairs or aces with a king or queen kicker.

Poker positions

You can call with medium pairs or suited connectors.

Poker positions

Mix up your play in poker positions

So there you go. Now you know what positions are, and how to play them.

All of this being said, you should of course mix up your play from time to time in order to stay unpredictable.
And keep in mind that your position in a round depends on the location of the button.
Since the dealer button changes clockwise after every round, your position changes as well.

Practice playing poker positions

The best way to learn poker positions is to play a lot of poker. I recommend downloading our free EasyPoker app. The app takes care of everything from dealing cards to sorting chips – so you can focus on assessing your hand and poker position.

The app is meant to be played with friends and works as a digital version of your physical poker set. It’s intuitive design and built in voice chat makes it perfect for poker with friends
– whether you guys are playing face to face or online from separate locations.

Poker Rules
Poker positions

More on how to play poker

I’m not a professional poker player. I’m just a guy who fell in love with the game.
So, like all other beginners, I went online to do some research. But everything I found seemed overly complicated and not at all easy to understand.
That’s why I decided to boil it all down into a few YouTube videos called the ‘How to Player Poker’ playlist on YouTube. It will take you from complete beginner to skilled player – in less than an hour.

Now that you know how to play poker positions, you might want to read up on how to sniff out a bluff! We’ve made a great blog post about that as well – and you can find it here

Poker positions

Doyle Brunson – Poker Player Story

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson is known as the ‘Godfather of Poker’ and this living legend may very well be the biggest icon of the poker world. Through an entire lifetime of playing professional poker, Brunson has seen it all and his life is the stuff of Hollywood movies. This is the story of Doyle Brunson.

We’ve also made this blog post as a video, if you’d rather watch than read.

Early Life

Doyle F. Brunson was born on August 10, 1933 in Longworth, Fisher County of Texas –  a dirt poor, rural town smack in the middle of The Lone Star State.  The town had a population of less than 100, and almost all were farmers. His family lived on a cotton farm with no electricity or plumbing. Brunson was the youngest of 3 children and had a textbook Texas childhood, although often feeling like a bit of an outsider. 

Doyle Brunson

He was an active kid, and shaped into a natural athlete who received a spot on the All-State basketball team and also dominated in the statewide track community. This is especially impressive considering that Brunson never actually had a track coach or knew anything about running track. According to a 2018 podcast interview he did with ‘Poker Stories’, after baseball practice, Brunson would just go to the track, start running and never let anyone get past him. These performances led to him being offered college scholarships for both basketball and track.

Doyle Brunson was well on his way to realizing his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. The then-Minneapolis Lakers wanted to sign him, but his basketball career would end before it really began. One faithful day, while working at a local gypsum factory, Brunson was in an accident that shattered his leg. His leg never fully healed, putting an abrupt end to his athletic dreams. To this day, he’s easily spotted around the poker table by the crutch standing nearby. 

But, as Doyle Brunson would prove again and again, no matter what you’re dealt in life, anything can be turned into a winning hand.

Doyle Brunson

Picking up poker

Doyle Brunson had always been an observer of people. Perhaps because he grew up feeling like an outsider looking in. Barely able to move around after shattering his leg, he would often just sit and watch people – which would only advance his skills of reading faces. Something that would become his ace in the hole later in life. 

Doyle Brunson got his bachelor’s degree in 1954 and a master’s degree split between administrative education and business administration the next year, with a new plan of perhaps becoming a school principal
But he found the pay scale to be too low, so straight out of college he went and got a job as a business machine salesman. Not a dream job to Brunson, but a place to start and a way to make a living. He wouldn’t stick around long though.

The young Brunson had always enjoyed poker, but played a lot more after his injury. So when his co-workers invited him to play with them after his first day, he went along. 
They played a game of seven-card stud, and Brunson absolutely cleaned up, winning more than a month’s salary that night.
Always eager to chase a goal, Brunson soon quit the job and started playing poker professionally. 

Calling Death’s bluff

In 1959 Brunson met his future wife, Louise. The two got married in August of 1962 and soon thereafter Louise became pregnant with a baby girl. Things were looking great, but then life took a turn for the worse when doctors found a tumor in Doyle’s neck.
When they tried to operate it, doctors found that the cancer had spread and Brunson was given just three months to live. 

Doyle Brunson

Doctors felt that a second operation might prolong his life enough for him to witness the birth of his daughter and so they went ahead. After the operation, doctors were stunned to see that the tumor had completely vanished. They found absolutely no trace of the cancer and so Doyle was healthy for the birth of his daughter and back on the road soon after. Like the true gambler he is. 
This wouldn’t be the last time death came looking for Doyle, but he would always call the bluff and see death fold his cards. 

Adventures with the Texas Rounders

After the birth of his daughter, Doyle Brunson  went to Fort Worth, Texas, where he and his friend Dwayne Hamilton would play in illegal games. But even Fort Worth soon proved too small for their appetite, and so they took to the road. They met fellow poker players  Amarillo Slim and Sailor Roberts and formed what became known as the legendary ‘Texas Rounders’. A team of truely elite poker players who completely cleaned Texas dry playing high-stakes poker in the 1950’s and 60’s. Probably poker’s closest thing to a team like ‘The Avengers’. 

These illegal games were often run by criminals and so things could get heated. Brunson remembers literally staring down the barrel of a gun more than a few times – and he has seen 2 players get shot in the head at the table.

Dwayne Hamilton headed back to Fort Worth while the rest of the gang expanded to Oklahoma and Louisiana, playing bigger and bigger games. They would pool their funds for gambling, participating in the biggest games around.

After six years of dominating the southern poker rooms like this, and outrunning the law and the hijackers who preyed on winners of illegal big-money card games, the Texas Rounders had amassed a massive pool of funds.
And now they arrived in Las Vegas.

Doyle Brunson

Las Vegas

The Texas Rounders arrived in Sin City as legends, but were about to get a harsh reality check.
In fact, they quickly lost everything they had – a six-figure amount. Which was a hell of a lot back in those days.

Vegas had chewed them up and spat them back out. They decided to stop playing as partners, but remained friends, always watching each other’s back. 

Doyle however, did just fine on his own and was quickly becoming one of the major attractions in Vegas, as audiences would literally gather to see him play

Brunson would settle down in Las Vegas, and has been a solid component at the World Series of Poker since it first started back in 1970. He would mostly play at the Bellagio, which to this day remains his favorite spot.  

Doyle Brunson

Why is Doyle Brunson called “the Texas Dolly”?

The poker scene is full of nicknames – and players love to name fellow players – probably because it is easier to remember than real names and because it adds an element of fun.
And, honestly, why call a guy Tomas Austin Preston, when “Amarillo Slim” sounds so much cooler? 
There are some legendary nicknames out there, but the most famous nickname in poker of course belongs to the game’s biggest icon. But exactly why is Doyle Brunson called “the Texas Dolly”? It’s actually a funny story. 

Back in 1973, Doyle Brunson had a well-established relationship with a guy called Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. Jimmy would later become famous for his part in CBSs “The NFL Today” throughout the 1980s, but in 1973 he was still just a gambling columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. Jimmy was covering the WSOP and therefore frequently mentioned Doyle Brunson’s accomplishments. But at the time, gambling was still frowned upon in Texas, and for that reason Brunson asked Snyder to use an alias – and so he would call him “Texas Doyle”. 

A member of the Associated Press picked up on an exchange between Brunson and Snyder, but misunderstood the nickname to be “Texas Dolly”, which then made the report and has since then gone down in history as a legendary poker nickname. 

Doyle Brunson’s Poker Winnings

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Bruson is often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Poker’. And this title makes sense, as he’s been around since the very beginning and very much made the game what it is today. After an entire lifetime of playing professional poker, it’s really not possible to summarize his winnings in one blogpost. But let’s have a look at some of his major wins. 

Brunson is believed to have won more than $6,100,000 playing at live tournaments. More than $3,000,000 of those comes from his impressive 37 cashes at the WSOP. He even won the WSOP main event 2 years in a row, and has won a total of 10 bracelets, which puts him in the top 3 of all players ever playing in the tournament.
His 10 WSOP bracelets are: 

1976: $5,000 Deuce to Seven Draw

1976: $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

1977: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud

1977: $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

1978: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud

1979: $600 Mixed Doubles No Limit Hold’em

1991: $2,500 No Limit Hold’em

1998: $1,500 Seven-Card Razz

2003: $2,000 H.O.R.S.E

2005: $5,000 No Limit Shorthanded Texas Hold’em 

Doyle Brunson

Super System – The Poker Bible

Doyle Brunson has given poker so much, but perhaps his biggest contribution came back in 1978 when he changed the game forever by writing and publishing the book ‘Super System – How I made over $1,000,000 playing poker”.

This was right after his back to back WSOP win and the book was the first comprehensive book on strategies for various poker games. The book became a huge success and is largely considered the “Bible of Poker”.
Even today it sells about 14,000 copies a month
In October of 2004, a second version was published called “Super System 2 – A Course in Power Poker”. This version featured updated lingo, new games & strategies as well as insights from, not only Doyle Brunson, but also other players like Daniel Negreanu. 

Doyle Brunson also has an autobiography called “The Godfather of Poker”. Surely a life like the one Brunson has lived needed to be told in a book and one could easily imagine this becoming a movie at some point as well. 

Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson’s Recent years

Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson really is a living legend and perhaps the biggest icon of poker. At the age of 87 he’s still going strong, although he has scaled back on the amount of games he plays. Doyle and his wife Louise still live in Las Vegas and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of this living legend in “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio. Although we wouldn’t recommend playing him. 

Doyle Brunson has no less than two hands in poker named after him.
One is the hand of a ten and a two, which was named after him because that’s the exact hand he had when winning both of his WSOP No Limit Hold’em Main Events in ‘76 and ‘77. In both cases giving him a full house.
The other one is when holding an ace and queen of any suit. This is because on page 519 of his book, Brunson famously wrote that he never plays this hand. 

Doyle Brunson

Brunson’s son, Todd Brunson, is also a professional poker player.
Doyle didn’t teach Todd to play, in fact Todd never knew how to play before going to Texas Tech University and learning on his own – perhaps from reading the Super System?
Todd left Texas Tech before his senior year and turned professional poker player.
In 2005, Todd won a WSOP bracelet in Omaha Hi-Lo, making Doyle and Todd the first father-son combination to win WSOP bracelets

The next Doyle Brunson?

Back in the day, Doyle Texas Dolly Brunson and the Texas Rounders had to pretty much risk their lives when playing poker in smoky back rooms against criminals and big time drug dealers.

Luckily though, things have changed today and if you and your friends want to play poker all you have to do is just download the free EasyPoker app. It’s by far the easiest way to play poker with friends, whether live or online. No chips or playing cards needed. 

It’s a digital version of a physical poker set. Create a private poker table with a single tap, and invite your friends to play by sharing the 4 digit game code. Poker with friends have never been easier. 

Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson

Want more poker player stories?

Here at Easypoker we really like talking to our users – and we really value your opinion.
If you have anything to add to this post, feel free to comment below. 

We also have a ton of other amazing poker stories, like the crazy story of Daniel Negeranu.
A highschool dropout that became what many believe to be the most successful and beloved poker players of all time.

Or perhaps the story of Mike Saxton,
“The Ambassador of Poker”. A professional poker player who became a commentator and was even inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. 

Doyle Brunson

If you have any specific story or topic you would like us to profile, please let us know in the comments or by reaching out to us

Maria Ho – Poker Player Story

Maria Ho’s poker story is one of how the black sheep of a traditional chinese family went against her parents and took a gamble on her passion. It’s the story of how a young role model won the heart of the poker industry and became a female ambassador of the game. This is the amazing poker story of Maria Ho.

Early life

Maria Ho was born on the 6th of March, 1983. She lived with her mom, dad and older sister  in the city of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. These were hard times in Taiwan, and her parents were struggling, just as their parents had struggled.
Wanting a better life for their two daughters, Ho’s mom and dad moved to America when she was just four years old. They bounced around for a while before settling down just outside of Los Angeles in Arcadia, California.

Maria Ho

Ho’s parents wanted their two daughters to remember where they came from and so the family only spoke Mandarin at home and the girls had to learn traditional chinese instruments, dances and more. In general, Maria’s childhood home was very traditional chinese with structure and order – something that was starting to irritate the young, rebellious ‘black sheep’ of the family. 

In middle school, Maria Ho began hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble for no real reason. Her parents often had to come get her at the principal’s office – and even at the police station one time. When Ho topped it all by running away from home for a month, her parents decided to send her to an all girls catholic high school.
Surrounded by nothing but nuns, Ho was finally able to focus on her school and homework – and in a later interview she said that without this she probably wouldn’t have graduated highschool. 

Poker beginnings

With her life back on the right track, Maria Ho went to college. She attended the University of California San Diego where she studied psychology, wanting to go on to medical school.
One day she heard some of her male friends talking about hosting a poker night and sort of invited herself. She showed up that night, bringing beer, and was of course allowed in.
This being her first ever game of poker, she had little clue what she was doing. But she still managed to win the game and walked away with all the money – and a feeling of having found a new love. She was hooked. 

Maria kept playing with friends on campus, and on days when classes ended early, she would go down to the nearby indian casino and sharpen her skills. She played for just the fun of it but as the prize money started piling up, she had the feeling that this could be more than just a lucrative pastime. 

She didn’t dare tell her parents though, since traditional chinese culture expects you to take the secure path and utilize the opportunities your family has put out for you – not take a gamble. After finally getting her life back on track in the eyes of her family, she was afraid they wouldn’t approve her new plans.
She wanted to finish college and planned to maybe take a gap year between undergrad and grad school where she could travel the world playing poker and having fun.
First stop after graduating would be the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.


Maria Ho’s first appearance at the WSOP was not a huge success. Beating her college friends was one thing, but it seemed WSOP was still too big a mouthful for her.
So she went back to Los Angeles to sharpen her skills. 

Her parents still wanted her to finish her degree and when they asked her what she was going to do for money she finally came clean and told them how she’d been making good money playing poker. This allowed Ho to focus on playing poker and as her skills improved she became more and more convinced that this was the path for her. 

After a year and a half of playing poker professionally, Maria went back to WSOP in 2007.

Maria Ho

The WSOP breakthrough

This time Maria did very well, outlasting more than 6000 players. Though she didn’t quite reach the final table, she was the last woman standing and ended up caching over a quarter million dollars! And the respect and attention of the poker world. Suddenly everyone was talking about the new female phenomenon of poker – and Ho thought it was time to tell her parents that she wanted to pursue a career in poker. 

Her parents, however, thought it would be better for her to put the prize money into a savings account and continue her degree, quitting poker while being ahead. Luckily though, more people than her parents weighed in on her decision, with multiple poker sponsorships coming at her.

Maria Ho & Tiffany Michelle

Maria Ho kept playing and learning, and in the summer of 2011 she won her second ‘Last Woman Standing’ at the WSOP main event. She was quickly solidifying her place among the top female poker players of the world. On this prominent list we also find another rising star, Tiffany Michelle, who won ‘Last Woman Standing’ the year after.
The two really hit it off and became best friends – and the absolute female power couple on the poker scene. 

Although participating in many of the same tournaments, and both competing for the role of ‘Last Female Standing’, the two formed a strong friendship and would lean on each other through everything.
Quite a dynamic duo. 

In an industry heavily occupied by men, this was exactly what Ho had been wishing for. 

The duo also teamed up to participate in CBS’ show called “The Amazing Race” where teams of two reace around the world in 30 days with a first prize of one million dollars.
Ho and Michelle didn’t win the race, but the appearance alone helped further their brand in a big way, and Maria later said that this was the  best experience she’d ever had.
She would later appear in other popular TV shows such as American Idol and Deal or No Deal.

Maria Ho

The Amazing Race proved to Maria Ho that she could do anything she wanted and was able to feel comfortable well outside her comfort zone. At this time, Ho had been the last woman standing at 3 WSOPs and was now the top female ambassador to the game she once had to hide from her parents. Because of this, she was asked to be a female strategic analyst on the Heartland Poker Tour – an American TV show that first aired back in 2005.
She stayed on HPT for two seasons and really enjoyed the possibility of branching out.
Something she also had a change to do when asked to be the manager of ‘LA Sunset’ – a Los Angeles based team competing in the ‘Global Poker League’. According to interviews, Ho liked the idea of poker being more of a team sport and wanted to create a team that was as much of a melting pot as the city of LA. 

Female Poker Ambassador

Maria Ho is obviously a terrific poker player and a very intelligent person, but people who know her also say she’s truly a great person. Her friendly and very charismatic person has gotten a huge following and is probably what led to her branching out into media.
We’re all glad she chose to pursue a career in poker, but it seems Maria Ho would have been extremely successful in any job and industry. With her hard work and kind soul she’s truly a great ambassador for poker, and a role model for young players – both male and female. 

According to online sources, Maria Ho has won over $4,000,0000 playing poker in live tournaments. 

Maria Ho

Are you the next Maria Ho?

Maria Ho went against the wishes of her parents and took a gamble on herself – a gamble that took her from black sheep to multi millionaire poker icon and role model. And it all began when she invited herself to a friendly poker night in a college dorm room. 

Maybe you and your friends should test your skills as well, and for this we recommend using the free EasyPoker app. By far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed. 

Create a private poker table with a single tap on your screen and share its 4 digit game code with your friends to have them join the table for hours of fun.
Whether live or online, EasyPoker is perfect for poker with friends. 

Maria Ho
Maria Ho

Want more poker player stories?

At EasyPoker we love interacting with our users and we really appreciate you.
If you have anything to add to this story, please let us know in the comments below.

We are constantly adding more poker player stories, like the one of poker legend Daniel Negreanu
A crazy story of how ‘Kid Poker’ went from highschool dropout to being one of the most beloved and successful poker players of all time. 
And that’s just one of our many poker player stories.

If you have a specific poker player you would like us to profile, please let us know in the comments.

Doyle Brunson

Doug Polk Poker Player Story

Doug Polk’s poker player story is the story of how a nerdy college dropout from California took what he learned from playing chess and Warcraft, and became the best online heads up no limit poker player – perhaps of all time.
Making millions of dollars in the process.

The Beginning

Douglas K. Polk was born on December 16 of 1988 in sunny Pasadena, California.
Growing up, Doug was a pretty average. Around the age of five, Doug was introduced to the world of chess by his father. The young boy quickly fell in love with the game, especially the strategic element of it. The two would play for hours and hours, and Doug became very skilled. 

A few years later, the Polk family packed their bags and moved from the West Coast to North Carolina on the East Coast. Doug Polk was enrolled at Wakefield High School and graduated in 2007. During his time in High School, he became a competitive player of the video game Warcraft 3 – a so-called real-time strategy game. Warcraft allowed Doug to dive deep into strategy like the time he played chess with his dad, and he took part in multiple World Cyber Games (WCG) tournaments.
This is actually where Doug Polk’s online poker alias, WCGRider, comes from.

After finishing high school, Polk attended the University of North Carolina (picture). Polk was a bright young man and often found himself bored during classes. He created an account on a digital poker platform, and made a small deposit of $20. For the first couple of months, Polk was stuck at 1 cent/2 cents tables but then realized he had an obvious talent, perhaps due to his long time love affair with real-time strategy games like chess and Warcraft.

Polk decided to test his skills at a bigger table, and after cashing out $10,000 there was no doubt in his mind that he was on to something.

He dropped out of college and began chasing his new dream of poker fame. Something that was waiting just around the corner.

Doug Polk University of North Carolina

Rise to Fame

It wouldn’t take more than a year or two for Doug Polk to make a name for himself among poker players. In 2013 most serious poker players knew who WCGRider was, and he was not playing at 1 cent/2 cents tables anymore. By now, Polk had already won hundreds of thousands of dollars at online poker tables and was now a high-roller. Primarily due to one niche of poker that he truly dominated; online heads up. 

Doug was so great at heads up poker, that he actually had a hard time finding players who wanted to go up against him. But in late 2013 Doug and Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky went toe-to-toe in a highly publicised poker game of 15,000 hands.
Polk won the exhausting game and cashed in a prize of $740,000 plus a bonus of another $100,000. Not a bad pay day, and definitely something that solidified Doug Polk’s place among the best of the best. 

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Poker Winnings

When people hear the name ‘Doug Polk’ many think of only HUNL poker. And for good reason. The game against Ben Sulsky certainly got a lot of attention, and Polk has played (and won) a lot at online tables.

But Polk is so much more than ‘just’ and an online HUNL player. He has done really well at the live poker tournaments as well, with a total prize pool estimated at around $10M.
Money is one thing, but Polk has also won a lot of respect at the live poker tournaments, namely by winning three WSOP bracelets:

– $1000Turbo No Limit Hold’em in 2014.
With a prize of $251,969.

– $1000 Tag Team No Limit Hold’em.
When he teamed up with Ryan Fee and collected a prize of $153,358.

– $111,111 High Roller for One Drop No Limit Hold’em in 2017.
Taking home a whopping $3,686,865.

The 2017 bracelet win was of course the biggest of his career, and Polk outlasted no less than 130 other poker players to get it. Very impressive for a guy with a strategic background in video games. 

Upswing Poker

Back in 2015 Doug started a poker training website with his good friend and fellow poker player Ryan Fee. The site is called Upswing Poker and contains a number of strategies and courses that claim to take your poker skills to the next level. The courses are brought to you by professional poker players and range in price and duration with both regular courses and something they call ‘advanced’ poker courses. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a course where Doug Polk himself teaches you heads up poker.

Poker retirement

Doug Polk’s rise to poker fame was like a rocket, and the young comet has often claimed to be growing weary of the game and the industry. And in a 2018 YouTube video, Doug formally announced his retirement from professional poker. See the video below.
He talked about how the spark just wasn’t there for him anymore and how all his poker friends had already left the poker scene to pursue personal growth in other fields like starting their own business.

At this point Doug Polk was coming up on his 30th birthday, and already had north of $10M in his bank account from dominating online heads up poker. Certainly not a bad situation to be in, and you could see why it made sense for him to take a step back and spend some time searching for a project thatto add meaning to his life. Polk said his focus would be centered around growing his company Upswing Poker, playing Warcraft and getting into the habit of creating more content for his social media. 

Popular on social media

Whether he’s at the poker table or not, people love Doug Polk. The guy has an outgoing personality and seems to have opinions on pretty much anything. 

At first, his social media of choice was Twitter, and he would tweet about anything from playing poker or Warcraft to US politics and economics.
In more recent years though, Polk seems to have focused more on his YouTube video content. His main channel is still called Doug Polk Poker, but videos are not just about poker but rather full of tips to make money or  his thoughts on current political issues. The channel currently has 494 videos and more than 100M views. 
He also has a channel called Doug Polk Crypto where he talks about – you guessed it – cryptocurrency. 

However, it seems that Doug Polk still hasn’t quite forgotten how to tweet, and so in July of 2020 a series of tweets at poker legend Daniel Negreanu set the online poker community on fire and pulled Polk out of poker retirement.

Doug Polk vs Daniel Negreanu

A Doug Polk poker player story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his long standing, and very public, feud with Canadian poker legend Daniel Negreanu. It stretches back years and seems to have started on Twitter sometime back in 2014. Since then, Polk has consistently been taking jabs at Negreanu both online and to his face – and some of them have been absolutely legendary. Like the time he bought an entire hotel billboard outside of a tournament just to taunt Negreanu.
It seemed inevitable that the two would one day settle the score in a HUNL poker game, and in July of 2020, Negreanu finally accepted the challenge. 

The two poker legends agreed to play a total of 25.000 hands – with an option to quit after 12.500 hands. Stakes are $200 and $400. First 200 hands are played live, in-person. All remaining hands are played online on two tables at the same time.
It’s really a spectacular story, so we made a separate blog post devoted entirely to this feud – both the backstory and the current status.
You can find it here. 

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Are you the next Doug Polk?

Douglas K. Polk took his love of real-time strategy games and, in a matter of years, became the notorious WCGRider with a massive following and millions of dollars in the bank. What’s stopping you from copying the Doug Polk poker player story?

Whether you’re looking to play heads up poker or bigger tables of up to 12 players, the free EasyPoker app has got you covered.
By far the easiest way to play poker with friends – no chips or playing cards needed.

Create a social game og poker with a single tap on your phone and share the 4 digit game code with your friends to have them join in. Perfect for poker with friends – whether live or online.

Doug Polk - Poker Player Story
Doug Polk - Poker Player Story

Doug Polk – Poker Player Story

The Doug Polk poker player story is quite unique, and whether you love him or hate him, the guy is hard to ignore. What do you think, is he one of the greatest of his era? Let us know in the comments below.

We’d also like to hear from you if you have additions to this post, or if you have a specific poker player or topic you’d like us to address next.

Want more poker player stories? 

The world of poker is full of interesting players with fascinating stories. We’ve got a massive archive of the greatest stories, and are constantly adding more.

Like how ‘the Great Dane’, Gus Hansen, built a massive name and fortune playing poker, only to have it all ripped away in a record breaking $20.000.000 string of losses.

Or the story of how Chris Moneymaker, a complete amature, got inspired by the movie Rounders and went on to win the World Series of Poker.

If you have a specific player you’d like us to profile, please let is know in the comments below.

Doug Polk

History of Poker

The fascinating history of poker seems as interesting and full of legends as the game itself.
There are lots of different theories out there, so we decided to go through them all and create a ‘one stop’ blog post to tell you everything. 

Poker is the world’s most popular card game, played all over the planet by all kinds of people. The game has seen a huge boom in popularity over the past 15 years, but the game actually goes way back and seems to be a melting pot of popular features known from a range of old card games.
It’s story stretches across centuries and played a major role in iconic moments of history such as the colonization of America, the Old West, and World War 1.


As-NasMost historians agree that the ancient, Persian card game ‘as-nas’ seems a likely origin to poker. The game can be traced back as far as the 17th century and stems from Arabic culture. 

As-nas was both the name of the game and the type of cards used to play it. The name as-nas roughly translates into something like “Aces and Mankind”, and the cards featured an ace and 4 different kinds of man. Not unlike modern playing cards.
However, the ‘mankind cards’ would often show 4 ranked levels of society such as a king, a lady, a soldier and a dancing-girl. The ace was usually something cool – like a dragon or a lion. Or both, fighting each other.
A deck of as-nas would have 4 or 5 identical cards of each suit meaning the full deck was either 20 or 25 cards.

When playing as-nas, each player was dealt five cards. With no community cards, the player would only use the cards in his hand to make combinations. The ranking of combinations was pretty similar to what we use today, but without straights and flushes. 

The dealer would be the first to place a stake and you would then go around the table in a circle with players either calling, raising or folding. Sound familiar? When all players’ stake was even and no one wanted to raise further, the players would show their cards and a winner was found.
What’s also really interesting about as-nas, is that the game would encourage bluffing.

As-nas certainly seems to be a very likely ancestor to poker. It introduced elements like betting, bluffing and even the early stages of the same hand rank we use today.
There’s also no denying that the game had a huge involvement in shaping the deck of cards we use today, with its introduction of aces and face cards.
But later card games would come to further develop the game towards the poker we play today.

The European Ancestors

Like much of the American population, poker also seems to have clear roots in Europe. 
Some time during the 17th century, a card game called ‘primero’ became wildly popular in Spain. The game had three cards dealt to all players and a big focus on bluffing.
Later, primero was copied by the Germans who named their version ‘pochen’ and the french who called it ‘poque’.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Irish also had a version called ‘poca’ and the brits developed a version called ‘brag’. Confused yet? 

Anyway, the french version (poque) was by far the most played and in the 17th century the French colonists brought it to their settlements in North America.

Early History of Poker in America

After being brought to North America, poque was translated into English and quickly developed into different versions. Around this time is when stud poker was introduced – a version of poker that is of course still played today, although less popular than Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

This version of poker became popular among the crews of riverboats transporting goods up and down the Mississippi River and thus quickly spread around the country. In fact, this is believed to be where the poker term ‘river card’ (fifth community card) derives from. As poker became popular during Mississippi boat rides, sometimes cheaters would purposely deal a final community card that would improve their own hand. If such cheating was discovered, the guy would be thrown overboard and so the river card got its name.

Early versions of casinos called ‘gambling houses’ started popping up along the riverbanks and these attracted a lot of opportunistic people, trying to hit the jackpot. This same group of people was later attracted to the possibilities of prospecting and the gold rush – and so poker spread to the West. It became tremendously popular in Westers Saloons, and is perhaps one of the most recognized elements of the Old West today. Their game of choice mostly resembles stud poker and was the backdrop of many Western stories and legends. Although a great pastime, one can easily imagine how the alcohol, guns and laws of that time would often result in very dramatic poker games. 

History of Poker

Soldiers spreading poker

When the civil war broke out in April of 1861, many men were called to arms. As both sides gathered in their respective camps a lot of them brought poker from the West and this quickly became a popular pastime between fights. Since it was played by both sides, pretty much every soldier was introduced to the game and it’s rules at this time and it seems the game stuck with them after the war. Upon returning to their families, the soldiers further spread the game and poker, that up until now was only played by men and outlaws, was now enjoyed by everyone.

Soldiers at war also seem to be what brought the game of poker back to Europe after maturing across the pond. Although the US tried to remain neutral for the start of WW1, certain events and threats forced them to enter the war in 1917. On a faithful morning in June of 1917, American soldiers sat foot in Europe, ready for war. As during the civil war, poker became a great way to socialize between battles, and quickly caught on among the US allies who kept playing it long after the last shot of WW1 was fired.

History of Poker

History of Texas Hold’em

Just as one would expect, the exact origin of Texas Hold’em is the object of much debate and myths. According to official documents by Texas Legislature, the official birthplace of Texas Hold’em is the small town of Robstown, located in the state of (you’ve guessed it) Texas. This was sometime in the 1920’s.
It was the first of it’s kind to use community cards, and therefore the first to distinguish between cards on the board and the cards you hold. This is probably why they doubted the game ‘Hold’em’.
Although never officially confirmed, poker legend has it that this fast paced and pretty different take on poker was invented by notorious road gambler Blondie Forbes. A man who was later inducted in the Poker Hall of Fame for the creation.

This new type of poker quickly became popular around Texas, but never really left the state. Not until several decades later, in the 1960’s, when the entrepreneurial texan Crandell Addington saw a business opportunity and took the game to Vegas.
Things didn’t go too smooth for Addington though, as the only casino who took the bid was ‘The Golden Nugget’. The Golden Nugget was located in downtown Las Vegas, and not on the prestigious and buzzing ‘Strip’. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s poker room was run down and very basic, with sawdust covering the floor. Not an ideal place for Addington to have his game played by any of the big players – and something had to be done.

Addington finally got his big break in 1969 when the now-demolished Dunes Casino, located on the Las Vegas Strip, agreed to host a Texas Hold’em tournament which caught the attention of the big players. And the attention of Benny Binion, a huge influencer of the Las Vegas we’ve come to know. Binion had lost his gaming license, and was looking for a chance to bounce back to the top of the Las Vegas gaming community. He and his son Jack started “The World Series Of Poker” and made Hold’em (now known as Texas Hold’em due to its roots) the centerpiece of the entire thing. 

WSOP took off like a rocket and this helped solidify Texas Hold’em as the most popular type of poker in front of Five-Card Draw and Seven-Card Stud. And when Texas Hold’em was legalized in California in 1980 the game saw a massive boom.

Years later, WSOP became a household name when Chris Moneymaker (a complete amateur) beat all the pros and went on to take home the grand prize of a whopping $2,500,000. A truly amazing story we’ve detailed in this post

Today the word “poker” is largely synonymous with Texas Hold’em – so much so that pop culture often get’s it’s timeline wrong. Like in the popular video game “Red Dead Redemption” where players are free to roam around the small towns of the Old West. The game allows users to enter saloons and play poker – but the game you’ll be playing is Texas Hold’em – even though this style of poker was in no way popular (or even invented) at that time. You gotta give the people what they want, right?

Make your mark on the
History of Poker

Now that you’re educated on the fascinting history of poker you of course need to casually share it with your friends – perhaps over a game of poker? 

If so consider downloading the free EasyPoker app – a digital version of a physical poker set that provide you and your friends with an endless amount of chips and cards – for free.
The app is available for both Android & iPhone and so easy to navigate that even good old Blondie Forbes would be able to pick it up and get a game going in no time. 
The app takes care of everything, so all you guys have to do is just play your cards and have fun. 
And who knows, maybe we’ll have to add a segment about you in the history of poker.

History of Poker
History of Poker

History of poker

Here at EasyPoker we’re always eager to hear from our community. If you have something to add to this story, or a specific element of the history of poker you’d like us to touch on, please let us know in the comments below. 
Thank you, and have a great day.