The Real Basics
 
online poker games is a simple games; even a child can learn it. It's a game of money and of people, played with cards. The object of the games is to win money or chips, collectively called the "pot," wagered during the play of each hand. (Don't get confused here, but a hand also refers to the cards in a player's possession.) A pot can be won in just two ways:

By showing down the best hand: When two or more players are still active after all betting rounds are over, they show down their hands by turning them face up. The player holding the best hand wins the pot. While with in-the-flesh play it's possible for an all-too-human dealer to goof by misreading your winning hand at showdown, in Internet online poker games it's not. Online, your winning hand will always be rewarded, whether you've read it correctly or not. As long as you've called all bets in the final round (or gone "all-in," meaning you've put the remainder of your table stakes into the pot in the course of the hand), the games "invisible dealer" automatically awards you the pot, or whatever portion of it you're entitled to if you've gone all-in.

By having all opponents fold their hands: No, their hands aren't clasped in front of them. Folding means a player relinquished any claim to the pot by deciding not to match (call) an opponent's bet. He discards his hand - also called "folding" or "mucking." To "muck" one's hand means to fold it. Either way you put it, those losers bit the dust. But in Internet online poker games, rather than see folded cards in a physical discard pile, or "muck," you'll simply see them vanish into the void of cyberspace. Poof! They're gone!

If you win the pot because all your opponents fold, you may have had the best hand, or you may have been bluffing - it doesn't matter. If all others surrender their claim to the pot, it belongs to you.
 
Capitalizing on Habits of Straightforward Players
 
Now, what did he have? I didn't know a lot about this player, but he seemed to be fairly straightforward and not terribly passive. He was in a perfect position before the flop to raise and steal the blinds, but he didn't do that. That's passive behavior from a player who isn't real passive. With a big hand, a raise would have made sense because a raise would just look like a steal and probably wouldn't scare anyone away. With a couple of big cards, I'd have expected him to raise with as little as an Ace or a King. But he didn't raise, he just limped in. I concluded he probably didn't have any big cards.

I thought the flop didn't hit him very well. Maybe he had a jack, or maybe he had a 10 and flopped a straight draw, but I didn't think he had a strong hand. I didn't have anything at all. But more importantly I didn't think he had anything either. Possibly a draw. Possibly bottom pair. Probably nothing.

I raised. He called. The turn card was 4?. I bet. He called. The river was 2?. I bet. He folded.

This is an example of hand reading. He limped from late position preflop. There was no way I believed he hit part of that flop. He was aggressive enough so that I think he would have raised rather than limped if he'd had a big card. And, I think he was also aggressive enough so that he would take a stab at it after I checked the flop even if he'd missed. I was a little worried when he called the turn though. He probably hit some part of that flop, he just didn't hit it very hard.

It could be I just got real lucky on that hand. The point isn't whether my read was right or wrong, but that sometimes you can be confident enough about your opponent's hand that it doesn't even matter what your own hand is.
 
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