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postheadericon A Brief History of the Playing Card

“Given to Monsieur and Madame four peters, two forms, value eight and a half moutons, where with to buy a pack of cards” – so reads an entry dated May 14, 1379 in the account books of Joanna, Duchess of Brabant. It takes a while to familiarize a novice’s awkward fingers with what must be one of the most popular and widely known (through film and fiction if not through real life) modern online and high-tech casino games. And in the giddy atmosphere of first live games one may never realize that the glossy polygons – an as yet unruly freak-show of royal Siamese twins – have not in fact always been as they seem to have always been since forever, since you first saw a dog-eared pack on your grandma’s table.

Central Asia seems to be where the first playing cards originated from. A 10th or 11th century record of paper dominoes is the first known reference to cards. It is printed to represent all of the 21 combinations of a pair of dice, used in other games in China. Artifacts from the 9th century China are the earliest found. The first use of straight writing paper instead of paper rolls is associated by scholars with the first straight-sheet paper cards and the earliest book printing.

Egyptian Mamelukes most likely introduced playing cards in quite modern form to the Europeans in the late 14th century. There were 52 cards in the typical Mameluke deck, four suits (polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups) and three court cards with, rather than persons, depicted abstracted design. At the time, only wealthy Europeans could afford the cards which were hand-made. Woodcuts (used to decorate fabrics) were then applied to paper in a new technique which was introduced around 1400 and mass production followed suit. There are records of professional card makers dating back to the period between 1418 and 1450. Card production is now one of the most flourishing world-wide industries.

In the 15th century playing cards the number and style of suits varied: some decks had five suits, the standard suits in Germany were hearts, bells, leaves, and acorns. In Southern Germany these suits are still used today for a distinctive set of card games. Besides the more standard deck, from my childhood, I remember the German suits which because of their relative pictorial richness I preferred them. Especially the golden nut and greenish cupules of the acorn suit. A gift perhaps imported from German relatives into Asia, Kazakhstan.

In the early games if the “kings” were the highest card, by the 14th century the “ace” (from the Latin word meaning lowest unit of currency) began to acquire the ability to turn highest card, with the “two” being lowest. During the French Revolution this was a popular mode when the lower classes rising above royalty was vital. Likewise a revolutionary would prefer to play cards with the innovative design of Liberties, Equalities, and Fraternities rather than ones with kings and queens. With Napoleon coming to power the classic design returned.

In the 19th century a reversible double image in court cards was introduced. Although the earliest designs were America, a French card maker of the late 18th century is attributed the invention. The French government prohibited the idea. To prevent players from reversing their court cards during a session was the purpose, as this would reveal their hands to the opponents even the non-observant ones.

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postheadericon Professional Poker Software – Heads Up Displays

There exists a tool for online poker players to view other player’s statistics at the table, this tool is referred to as HUD (heads up display). This tool is indispensable to the skilled professional. Professional online poker players often play several tables at a time, many will play anywhere from four to sixteen tables at once using several monitors. When playing this many tables at once it is virtually impossible to keep track of every opponent’s playing style. So, in a glance you can view who plays how and their stats using a HUD. Let’s look at how it works.

On your hard drive are stored the hand histories for every hand of poker that you play online. By importing these histories into tracking software and compiling them into a database that can be read by a HUD, the stats can be displayed directly onto the table. Poker players can then make fast decisions based on playing styles and weaknesses of their opponents. With a HUD poker players do not have to watch every hand and player closely. Let me tell you how beneficial it is in actual play.

An opponent’s weaknesses can be exploited by watching them closely and learning their style. You can gain a massive advantage over your opponents with a HUD in conjunction with a data-mining software program. Without studying them in real time you can move from table to table and always know how your opponents play. The software does it all for you. Some players may fold the flop 60% of the time, but always check raise the turn. If this is seen on the player’s stats, when they call the flop, then you can often expect a check raise on the turn. This may be the time to save two bets and check behind with a mediocre hand. You would have to watch this player closely for thousands of hands to realize their standard play when they make a big hand, instead a HUD does the watching for you. You will pick up on some players easily when they raise 50% of the time before the flop but you’ll know what you’re playing with before the first hand is dealt with a HUD.

With a HUD your opponents’ hole cards will also be displayed after the hand is over if they go to shutdown. Often players will muck their cards to keep you from seeing them but the data will still be picked up by a HUD. This will help you value bet the river against players who will showdown weak hands by allowing you to know what a player will call a river bet with.

The heads up display should be used by anyone playing poker online. You should play like the pros and use them too.

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postheadericon Does Poker Exist in Fine Art?

Poker Art is something that poker fans may enjoy collecting, and the industry is large enough. Anything from Super Mario chip art to stylish monochrome photographs with titles such as Gunslinger and No Chance, are being produced. With no nuance to entice the eye of a connoisseur it is primarily commercial products.

What the serious poker player – with an eye for the game’s complex aesthetics – may have a general interest in whenever he is not busy challenging a worthy rival is poker in art: but does good art exist which is significantly related to poker?

Despite its immense popularity, worthwhile references to the game in art are rare and some admirers cherish them with the elite pride of the devotees of some wonderful esoteric practice. Poker in music, to my knowledge, features mainly in modern compositions, but there does not seem to be much possibility for its expression in sound. The more successful efforts are usually accompanied by video, and these are restricted to MTV clips. There are many songs which reference poker, but these offer mostly a half-hearted solace, composed by well meaning fans or even by poker pros that are not necessarily great with words or music.

Poker-inspired artwork in music that is the most significant that I am familiar with is The Card Party: Ballet in Three Deals which was first danced by Balanchine’s American Ballet Ensemble. It is one of the rarer curiosities poker admirers might want to see, with music by Stravinsky who also enjoyed poker as a pastime, it is more fanciful than accurate in representing the process of playing cards.

The most obvious example in painting form is Cassius Coolidge’s series of Dogs Playing Poker. Nineteen commercially oriented paintings using anthropomorphized dogs was the order in which these were a part of. It is not even the paintings which are iconic so much, these days, as the general concept of canines around a table in a dimly lit club smoking cigars.

In fact, many works of art tend to stylize poker and card games in general, blending them with fantastic themes. The most obvious example would be Alice in Wonderland. One of Alexander Pushkin’s most popular stories is The Queen of Spades which concerns a player desperate to learn a card trick he had heard about from a friend. The story begins as realism and culminates as a sort of card-game horror: the man is so desperate to learn the secret from the old widow guarding it that he threatens her with a pistol (unloaded), unintentionally causing her to die of fear. At the funeral, her corpse opens its eyes and glares at him; then her ghost visits him at his house and discloses the secret. In his first game afterwards the man doubles his possessions. He plays another, but though he knows he was holding an ace, somehow, he appears to have played a queen and lost everything. He is then committed to room 17 of an asylum, raving: Three, seven, ace! Three, seven, queen!. For the film buffs, there is a BAFTA-nominated 1949 British adaptation fantasy-horror adaptation of the story by Thorold Dickinson.

Though not necessarily more accurate, poker tends to be criminally realistic in film, from Cincinnati Kid to Rounders with Edward Norton and Matt Damon. Rounders did moderately in the box office but because of its decent depiction of the playing process it has become a cult film. Martin Scorsese gave us a memorable sequence in Casino, three years earlier, where by means of a hammer and De Niro’s poker-face threats a young pair of con poker players are expertly detected and deprived to cheat in any near future.

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postheadericon Datamining Online Poker Tables

Try to imagine you sitting down in a poker game with 9 different and complete strangers and instantly knowing what their game plan is. Imagine that you have knowledge of them equal to really sitting with them for hundreds of hours while carefully studying their moves. This is what the dataminers will let you do. If this program is going to be used alongside with the heads up display and other tracking programs like poker tracker, you can have scores of data from every online poker player flashed right at your computer screen. How does it work then?

The dataminers will operate tables for you whenever you are away from your computer and will take note of every single action that the players at the specific tables make. Your dataminer would be watching at least 20 tables even if you are sleeping. The data recorded is then imported into a special database and other information such as heads up display that are directly displayed on your online poker table. The question now is why is it so important to have data on every online player?

You may play 30 or so hands with a player and think you have them pegged. They haven’t played a hand yet so their super tight right? The answer is maybe. 30 hands is better than 0 hands but what does it really tell you. Maybe that player had a really cold run of cards and just didn’t have anything worth playing. The truth is that the sample size is just too small.

Now if you’ve been datamining all week you may well have a few hundred or a few thousand hands worth of data. This data may tell you that the player in question is not quite as tight as you may have though and is not a good candidate to try to run over. The truth of the matter is that the larger the sample size, the more accurate the date. With datamining you are sure to have a good sample on nearly every poker player you run into online.

Datamining is also very helpful for you if you use a poker table scanner for table selection. Having a lot of information on almost everyone on the poker table, you will definitely benefit in any available poker games online.

The professional poker players have used datamining and surely by this time, they already know a lot about you. Don’t you believe that you should be using the same strategy?

Be advised that not all online poker rooms allow data mining. Make sure to check the terms of service before you engage in any data mining. Failure to comply with a poker rooms terms may result in closure of your poker account.

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