You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. PokerListings is going to answer some of the more basic poker questions you might have in a new ongoing weekly feature. These questions are mostly going to be of the new player variety so no question is too simple. The following questions are collected from various places including our poker strategy section, Quora, Yahoo! Answers and other places online. Feel free to drop questions in the comments section below and we’ll answer them next week.
Q: What do movies and TV shows get wrong about poker?
A: There are some exceptions but in general there are two major points that TV and movies tend to get wrong about poker:
- 1. Relative Hand Strength
If you went by the movies you’d assume the only way to win a pot in poker is by hitting a Royal Flush or four-of-a-kind.
In actuality the odds of hitting a Royal Flush are somewhere in the range of 649,739-1. There’s a decent chance you’ll never even see a Royal Flush unless you play a considerable amount.
Successful poker players play a wide range of hands and poker tournaments are often decided by a modest pair or even ace-high. If you’ve seen the famous Casino Royale straight flush hand then you know what we’re talking about.
- 2. When to Show Your Cards
When’s the last time you watched a dramatic poker scene where a player showed the winning hand FIRST? Directors always have the winning hand (usually the hero) shown last in order to build tension and drama.
In reality this is very rarely the case and there’s actually a designated order for revealing your hand. Another way that directors crank up the drama is by having the winner pause before revealing their hand (perhaps even acting like they lost for a beat).
In real-life this is completely against poker etiquette and a good way to get an entire table of players to hate you.
Q: Can you make real money playing online poker?
A: Yes. There are numerous poker professionals who make a very good living playing online poker. It’s not a scam.
Not everyone makes fat stacks.
There are a couple of big caveats though. First off, you have to be extremely skilled. The number that gets tossed around frequently is that only 5-10% of poker players are profitable.
That’s why most people are happy to just enjoy poker as a recreational activity and nothing more. The skill level in poker has also gone up in recent years with the poker boom of the early 2000s creating a huge influx of educational content.
All that said, the dream of earning huge sums of money from your living room while wearing sweatpants is still alive and there certainly are players who are able to pull it off.
Q: Are Spades the best suit in Hold'em?
A: No. That’s a common misconception. All suits are equal in Hold'em. You're likely thinking of Seven-Card Stud where suits DO matter in certain circumstances.
Q: How stressful is poker?
A: This is very subjective but poker isn’t as stressful as you might think. While there are undoubtedly some very stressful high-stakes games out 95% of poker players are happy to play as low as $.01/.02.
Once you start playing you start to see the money as 'points' or simply a way of keeping score. Good poker players are able to take unlucky hands in stride and focus on the next hand.
For the most part it’s no more stressful than a game of chess or cribbage. Some people feel very uncomfortable bluffing but it’s really just another strategy that works sometimes and not others.
Q: When can I cash out my chips?
A: This depends on what you are playing. If it’s play-money poker, then definitely not.
If you’re playing a real-money poker tournament you have to wait until you bust out or make it 'into the money' in the tournament. Payouts are based on what place you finish (usually the top 10% of finishers are paid).
Finally, if you’re playing real-money cash games, you can cash out any time you want provided you’re not in a hand.
Q: What is the worst hand in poker?
A: If you’re playing No-Limit Hold’em that would be the infamous hammer: 7-2 off suit.
Interestingly it’s not the hand people lose the most playing, however, as the majority of sane players throw it directly into the muck.
Q: I just found a 10-year-old $5 poker chip? Can I still use it?
A: Yes. As long as the casino that issued it is still in business of course.