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10 Tips for Poker Beginners


1 Concentrate. Even if you don't intend to play the hand, keep an eye on what's happening. Don't, for instance, fold out of turn; it annoys the other players, not least because it gives their opponents information (viz. that you're not going to play the hand).

2 Even more important, don't bet out of turn. Again, it bugs the other players - and it can cost you. Different games have different rules about these things, but you're bound to lose out - perhaps by forfeiting the right to raise if someone comes in ahead of you.

3 Keep concentrating. Just because you're not in the hand, that doesn't mean you can't learn something about the other players and the game from the way they play it.

4 Under the same heading, always post your blind - large or small - without having to be nagged to. That, too, is very tiresome to the other players, even to the dealer (if you have one).

5 Protect your cards. Put a chip, or a personal talisman, on your hole cards, even if you wind up folding them. If a dealer scoops them up by mistake, it's your fault, not his. Your hand is dead as it is if it hits the 'muck', or discarded cards, for whatever reason.

6 If you want to show your cards, wait till the hand is over - or you might get shot. If you show them to one player, maybe the guy you were up against, you must show them to all.

7 If you've bluffed someone out of a pot, showing them your cards - and thus their own mistake is a perfectly legitimate tactic. But do it sparingly. It gets up their noses, and they're going to come after you.

8 If you're going to raise, say so. A single chip of larger denomination than the bet is deemed a call, unless you say 'Raise'. Likewise, a player with a fistful of chips in the middle, or 'across the line', cannot raise unless he pre-announces it, or indeed go back to his stack for more. A player guilty of doing this, even by mistake, is making a 'string' bet, which is illegal.

9 Don't take any notice of Kenny Rogers. Sure, you have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. But feel free to count your money while you're sitting at the table. Knowing the size of your own stack, and indeed everyone else's, is a crucial part of playing the game well.

10 Always remember the wise words of David Mamet, and everyone else who has ever played poker. It doesn't matter who wins the most hands. It's the person who wins the most money .

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