Enjoying Poker Tips

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How should I limit my drunken poker losses?

Drinking and Clicking

You may be tempted, after a long night out on the town, to settle down for some drunken poker. If you're going to play – and I don't think it's necessarily wrong – you should tiny stakes.

I like to play a different game than my specialty, because otherwise the super low stakes would be hard to get excited about. But playing a rousing game of .01/.02 no limit Omaha high-low can be the perfect way to cap off an evening. Just make sure you never wake up asking, “Why does my account look so empty this morning?”

What is the rake?

How the house makes money

By far the worst thing about poker is the rake, the cut of every pot that the house takes. It's a great feeling seeing the dealer push that huge pot towards you, but it would be just a little sweeter if he hadn't taken out $3 for the house. Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do about it, except to play poker in home games with your friends.

When it comes to casinos, whether live or online, there's no free poker. Some casinos will give you a free lunch though, and you should snap that up.

How do you play Omaha?


If you've played some Texas hold ‘em and you're looking to switch it up, you might want to try Omaha high (it can also be played as a high-low split game). The rules of Omaha are very similar to Texas hold ‘em. The only differences are that you are dealt four cards instead of two.

When playing Omaha poker you have to use exactly two cards from your hand and three from the board – no more and no less. A lot of players have lost huge pots in Omaha holding a ten in their hand with AKQJ on the board – in order to have a straight you need a ten and an A, K, Q, or J. You'll learn that there are an awful lot of similarities, and trying to figure out a new game will make you a better poker player.

Why do pros play such marginal hands on TV?

Why Pros Look So Wild on TV

When you watch poker on TV, there's usually a dirty little secret they're not telling you. Only the interesting hands get shown. Ever notice that sometimes it looks like the same person is the big blind twice in a row? No, that person didn't tick off the tournament director, and it's not a crooked poker game. All of the hands in between have just been edited out.

*This is why pros look so wild on TV. You don't see the ten times that Phil Ivey folds his trash hand; you only see the outrageous bluff that leaves him thoroughly enjoying poker.

Do you have to play poker for money?

Poker for Fun

If you're looking for a fun way to spend an evening with your family, consider a card night. When you play classics like hearts or go fish, you can introduce your children to the games you used to play. Or try your hand at a game that's all the rage these days, Texas hold ‘em.

There are a lot of options that can get the whole family enjoying poker night: you can play for nickels, for chocolate chips, or you can ditch the cutthroat mentality and just play poker for fun! You can even teach your children some of the basics of probability as you play. It's a great way to have fun and learn.

How should I play small pocket pairs in no limit hold ‘em?

Small Pocket Pairs in No Limit Hold ‘em

Small pocket pairs – say, 22-66 – are hands that have a much higher value in no limit hold ‘em than limit hold ‘em. In a low buy-in poker game, if you have a reasonably deep stack compared to the blinds, you can feel comfortable calling before the flop with any pocket pair from any position if no one has raised. The idea is that if you flop 3 of a kind a mediocre player will pay you off quite well if they have a decent one-pair hand. If the pot is raised before it gets to you, you can consider the rule of five and ten.

You should usually call the raise if it's less than five percent of your stack, and almost always fold if it's more than ten percent. If it's somewhere in between, consider how likely the pot is to be reraised behind you, how likely the raiser is to donate his stack if you flop three of a kind.

How has technology helped cause the increase in the popularity of poker?

Poker's Techno-Boom

Poker has exploded in popularity in the last few years, and it has largely been the result of a technology boom. Now when you watch poker on TV, you can see players' hidden cards, thanks to the invention of small “lipstick cameras.” It makes for much better TV, enjoying poker as a spectator sport has never been easier – watching the old World Series of Poker replays before they existed is like watching paint dry.

The other technological innovation that's helped poker is the internet. It's made it much easier to play poker, and now we don't have to take long drives to casinos or risk dicey underground games. Online poker players are more likely to watch the game on TV and those who watch it are more likely to play online, so the two trends feed each other.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.