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Why We Play Poker?
Oct 20, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Why do you play poker? There are almost as many reasons for playing as there are players, of course, but there are also some pretty common reasons for playing. If you wish to enjoy success in poker it's very important to identify your reasons for playing. When you don't know why you play, the chances of becoming stuck in a rut and experiencing great dissatisfaction when you you're at the table become substantial.

Money

When you see an ad for a poker tournament on television, what's the one thing that's emphasized the most? It's the size of the first prize, of course. The amount of money up for grabs is a major contributor to the drama that keeps people tuning in week after week. For many people who play the game rather than simply watching on television, there's no denying that money is a major motivating factor. It's no surprise that many of today's younger pros - the ones who took much of their inspiration from Rounders or Chris Moneymaker - cite the prospect of making lots of money without working a "real" job as one of the biggest reasons they pursued poker in the first place. Players who hone their skills can potentially make as much money as high-powered executives at major corporations. Even those who don't play in extremely high-stakes games can find themselves making more than they did working jobs that require a college education and specialized training. And for the players who choose their games carefully, the money can not only be substantial but also easily won.

Those players who are attracted to poker because they want to make a lot of money need to dedicate all their available time to improving their game; poker mastery comes only after logging thousands of hours at the table. This means that personal relationships can be easily strained, and other hobbies will often fall by the wayside. Understandings these pitfalls is extremely important for anyone hoping to become a big-money player: anyone who isn't willing to deal with them will most likely not find satisfaction pursuing poker as a moneymaking enterprise.

Competition

One thing many professional poker players (and many recreational players as well) have in common is that they are former athletes who can no longer play sports. Most of these players have been competing with others all their lives, and have a deep need to continue to compete. Many other players come to poker through skill games like chess or backgammon, which are as highly competitive in their own right as sports are. Poker is a great way to fill the need for competition that all of these people have deep within. Because poker requires skill to play well, players must constantly push themselves to become better at the game if they want to succeed at a high level. And because the objective of the game is to take money away from other players - players who must also hone their skills to play well - the need to compete is fed with every hand played.

Players who are filling a need for competition will most often not be happy playing at low limits. This means that, much like the players motivated by money, they'll have to spend a lot of time at the tables honing their skills so they can move up in limits quickly. Also, many competitive players enjoy tournaments more than cash games and will have to become accustomed to dedicating long hours to tournaments without being paid off in many cases. Finally, the need for constant improvement can be as strong as that of players motivated primarily by money, and competitive players must be aware of the same pitfalls mentioned earlier.

Fun

Las Vegas isn't America's most popular tourist destination because of its gorgeous springtime foliage or its proximity to most of the country. People continue to flock to Las Vegas in record numbers year after year because the entire city is set up to cater to their desires - there are few places where people can have as much fun as they do in Sin City. Poker is a part of the Vegas entertainment experience for more people now than ever before, but even those who can't make it to Las Vegas are now able to play poker for fun thanks to the internet. The most important thing for these players to keep in mind is that it's entirely possible to hit the point where poker isn't fun anymore. This can happen when you hit a bad streak, when you are bothered by the table chat of rude players, and when you spend more time with your hobby than you do with your family and friends. There's nothing worse than having a bad time at something that's supposed to be fun.

If you play for fun and find yourself in such a situation, take a break from the game for a while. There are plenty of other hobbies out there that can be just as enjoyable as poker - and when you decide it's time to come back, there will always be a game to get into. You'll probably find yourself appreciating and enjoying the game more than you ever did before.


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