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The Specialist

The Specialist
by Hank Cashman of

I think that this debate will go on forever. Is it better to concentrate on doing one thing well, “Specialize” or learn various games “Generalize” so to speak? I do believe that a generalist will win out over the specialist. Let me present my case.

When I was growing up I learned how to play poker. I was taught Stud and Draw. I'm not going to get into “One Eyed Jacks” and “Ace in the Hole”. Those were kiddy versions.

Today if I want to play a lot of poker, Texas Hold’em is the game of popular choice. I can still find Stud and Draw games but if I want to play anywhere anytime, Hold’em is the game. As a Draw player I would be limited to a very few players and very few games.

In my opinion, the worlds best poker players aren't the Hold’em or Omaha players but the H.O.R.S.E. player. In this game you have to know how to play Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Stud and Eights or better.

Think of it this way. If you can win the medal in track, you are a good runner. If you win in the javelin, you are a good thrower. But, to win the decathlon, you have to run, throw, jump and pole vault. Now who is the better athlete?

Education is important to all of us. The more you learn the better decisions you can make. Poker isn't about money. It is about being able to make the best decision at the time. Learning from different sources is also helpful. Sometimes a mentor may gloss over a very important lesson that reading will bring out to you.

There are many aspects of the various poker games that are interchangeable. You have to know how to read your opponent. You have to learn betting strategies. You have to learn that bluffing is a part, but not a big part, of the game. These are all similar in any style of poker.

I do think that Omaha players are crazy, but I also think that playing Omaha will help your Hold'em game. Omaha forces you to think of more possibilities in your hand and your opponents’. It will make you look at how many options you could have.

Razz will turn your thinking up-side-down. You will look at your game from a new direction. This can actually make straights more visible to you in your hold’em game.

Stud will make you concentrate on many hands since there are so many up cards to keep track of. In eight handed Stud you have 32 up cards compared to 5 in Hold‘em and Omaha.

Many of the top pros have games that play better than others. That will become their specialty. But, they will continue to play other games to help them improve their main game. Phil Hellmuth is the worlds best hold’em tournament player. He will still play Omaha or other games but Hold’em is his forte’.

One last thought, if you don't play the other games, how will you find your favorite or best game?

Keep the cards and chips flying.


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