Lou Krieger is the co-author of Poker For Dummies, and the Host of Royal Vegas Poker.

Lou Krieger learned poker at the tender age of seven, while standing at his father's side during the weekly Thursday night games held at the Krieger kitchen table in the blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood where they resided. Always adept at sports and games, Lou's natural abilities enabled him to keep his head above water during the high school and college poker games he frequently played in.

But it wasn't until his first visit to Las Vegas that Lou took poker seriously. "I didn't like Las Vegas at first. Blackjack was boring, and I knew the odds were against the players shooting dice or playing any of the other table games. Then I discovered the poker table tucked into a small corner of the Desert Inn where we were staying. I bought into a low-limit seven-card stud game and managed - with a good deal of luck - to break even. While playing stud, I noticed out of the corner of my eye another game that looked to be a lot more fun. It was Texas hold'em.

"I left the stud game, watched the hold'em game for about thirty minutes, and sat down to play. One hour and $100 later, I was hooked. I didn't mind losing. It was the first time I played the game. I expected to lose. But I didn't like feeling like a dummy, so I bought every book on poker I could find.

"I studied. I played. I studied and played some more. Before long I was playing and winning regularly, and I haven't had a losing year since I began keeping records."

In the early '90s Lou Krieger began writing a column called On Strategy for Card Player. Aimed squarely at hold'em players, the column is chock full of advice for beginners, low-limit, and even experienced mid-limit hold'em players.

When not writing about poker, Lou - who resides in Long Beach - can be found playing $15-$30 or $20-$40 Texas hold'em in the card casinos of Southern California.


Hi Lou, can you introduce yourself?

I'm Lou Krieger, writer, poker player, and now the host at Royal Vegas Poker. I've written a regular column entitled "On Strategy" for Card Player magazine for more than a decade, and I've written six books: Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner (1995), MORE Hold'em Excellence: A Winner For Life (1997), Poker For Dummies (2000), Gambling For Dummies (2001), Internet Poker: How to Play and Beat Online Poker Games (2003), and Winning Omaha/8 Poker (2003).

How did you get into gambling?

I don't like to use the term "gambling" to describe poker. Gambling, to me, is when you bet against the house and the odds are fixed and immutable, and you can't win in the long run. Poker is a game of incomplete information predicated on risk taking and the proper management of risk. Moreover, the odds in a poker game are always shifting, and the winning players are those who take the best of it most of the time. While poker players wager money, it's not gambling in the sense of risking money at a game where the payoff odds are always less than the true odds.

Have you ever worked a "regular" job in your life?

Oh, sure. I've been a management consultant for one of the worlds largest consulting firms, a partner in a small, 9-employee consulting firm, and been peripherally involved in politics. But I like writing and poker playing a lot more than working in an office.

Do you consider tournament poker to be a "sport?"

It's a game, not a sport. To be a sport it would have to have some physical dimension associated with it. But poker is no more a sport than chess or checkers. I've seen writers refer to poker as a "mental sport," and poker players as "mental athletes," but that's a stretch, and by the same definition Scrabble and working crossword puzzles would have to be considered sports too.

Do you see the Internet as being a major poker education venue and a way to start to bring poker players together as a subculture and initiate growth and change?

Absolutely. The advent of online poker, and with it play money games and "micro" betting limit games (where the bets are under one dollar), provide a great opportunity to learn poker, to play in more tournaments online in a day than you can in the traditional world in a week, and to learn poker skills as sites such as Poker School Online. The philosopher and father of modern communications, Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." And the medium of online poker, along with poker on television, has changed the game more than anyone imagined, and the impact of this is still in it's infancy. I expect poker to continue to change, and in ways we can barely imagine.

Do you think a player who has done all the homework, studied the art and techniques of the game of poker can excel at both tournament play and live cash game play, or should they concentrate on one or the other?

That's not an easy question to answer because I play much more cash game poker than tournament poker. While there are outstanding tournament poker players who are really fish in cash games, there are others who do quite well in both, so I think if one has the discipline and temperament, along with the skills, one can do well in both forms of poker. Come to think of it, you don't have to go any further down the poker food chain than Doyle Brunson to find someone who has excelled in both forms of poker.

Can you tell me more about your poker books?

I've written six books: Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner (1995), MORE Hold'em Excellence: A Winner For Life (1997), Poker For Dummies (2000), Gambling For Dummies (2001), Internet Poker: How to Play and Beat Online Poker Games (2003), and Winning Omaha/8 Poker (2003).

I always wanted to write a book, any book would have sufficed, but it wasn't until 1995 that I wrote my first book, Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner, and followed it up with five more in eight years.

I also had some terrific encouragement when I needed it most. I was immersed in my first book and was fortunate enough to interview Al Alvarez, the author of The Biggest Game in Town, in London. When I told him I was beginning my first book, he told me it would be a hell of a lot of work, would never make me rich, and that I should only do it if I really had the desire to work hard and believed strongly in what I was doing. I'm not sure whether he was trying to encourage me or discourage me, but I decided he was trying to tell me to be prepared to work my ass off for not much money, and to do it only if I had a burning desire to write. Coming from Alvarez, who is one of my favorite writers, I took his admonition as a sign of encouragement, finished my first book and just kept at it.

And you know what, I'd give the same message to any aspiring author that Al gave to me. Do it because you have a visceral need to write, because you are literate and articulate, and because you have something to say. And those are the only reasons that matter.