Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't Peek

Poker tip of the day: Don't look at your hole cards until you have to. I can't call this a rookie mistake, it is more of a rookie habit.

It is an important habit to kick for two reasons. One: Looking at your hole cards before the action is on you gives the other players at the table more time to read you and more time for you to give your hand away. I don't care if you think you have a great poker face, you shouldn't give away any more information then you have too. Two: Looking at your hole cards early keeps your attention away from where it is most needed--the other players. You should be watching their reactions and noting how they bet while you can, your cards are not going anywhere.

I know it is tempting to see what you have, and you may think you will need more time to decide how to play them. Show some self-control, your cards aren't going anywhere. If you need time, take it. Never rush for the table's sake, just keep in mind that the time you take can be a tell unto itself.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Games to Play when Without a Deck

I try to keep a deck of cards around for when the unexpected game pops up. I have a deck in my car and my most worn jacket. There are occasions when I'm out of gas on a warm day that I am sans deck. For these sad times, I apply my poker-related skills to these surprisingly suitable games.


Many people are introduced to poker through other games. According to the bios of the WSOP players, such gateway games include backgammon, chess, and other card games like bridge. It is a nature progression in that all of those games include an element of luck and an element of skill. I offer another game into the mix–Rochambeau, AKA Rock Paper Scissors.

Why RPS? It is perfect in its simplicity. I hate the fact that people use Rock Paper Scissors to decide who rides shotgun or who will be the DD for the night. It reduces the game to the equivalent of drawing straws. It is, in fact, a game of skill. If you know your opponent well enough, it has absolutely no element of luck at all. For my money, Rock Paper Scissors is the best exercise there is in reading your opponent.

To know when the player across from you is sitting on aces or has completed his flush, first know when he will throw scissor. Is he the type of man who would open with rock? Is he capable of following up two papers in a row with yet another paper? It sounds crazy, but the more you can read people in other games, the more successful you will be in poker…and, actually, in life in general.

Liar's Poker

Liar’s poker is also a popular bar game that only requires a dollar bill to play. In the place of cards, the eight-digit serial number on the dollar bill (see above in blue) represents each “hand.” The object is to make the highest bid of a number that does not exceed the combined total held by all the players. The numbers are usually ranked in the following order: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 (10) and 1 (Ace). For example, if the first player bids three 4’s, he is predicting there are at least three 4’s among all the players, including himself. The next player can bid a higher number at that level (three 5’s), any number at a higher level (four 2’s) or challenge. The end of the game is reached when a player makes a bid that is challenged. If the bid is successful, he wins a dollar from each of the other players, but if the bid is unsuccessful, he loses a dollar to each of the other players.