So what’s all the hype about casino gambling?  How do you decide which games to play?

I’m going to help you decide where to begin when you first step into a casino.

What’s First

As you make your way into a big casino, you will probably be in a little bit of awe. Just the lights and sounds can give you a jolt of adrenaline as you take in the excitement of people screaming and machines ringing.

Take a moment and just look around, slowly walk around and appreciate the atmosphere. Don’t run and plop down at the first open slot machine you see.

I suggest you make a loop around the casino and checkout the layout.  You want to know where the penny slots are, where the high dollar slots are, and where the different gaming tables like blackjack and roulette are, etc.  

Before You Start, Remember This:

  • The house has the advantage in every single game.  The house will make money if you sit and play for any extended period of time. The house doesn’t need luck, and even if you hear the screams of winners, the house is always winning more!
  • Being lucky is the biggest part of winning at gambling. You can reduce the house edge in some games by playing proper strategy, but luck is still the most relevant factor in winning.
  • Come to play with a set amount of money you can afford to lose.  Gambling should be considered entertainment and not a way to earn money.  Remember, the odds of you winning money are literally stacked against you!  The house ALWAYS has the advantage!
  • Hot streaks may happen, but they won’t last.  Recognize when a winning streak has ended and the losing starts. Be able to stop before you give back all your winnings.
  • Go ahead and join the casino’s player reward program, sometimes the incentives are quite lucrative, with plenty of free deals.  They are usually free to join, so it will be worth the few minutes of your time.

Pick the Right Games to Play

The right games to play is going to depend on the type of experience you’re looking to have.  Hopefully you’re coming in to have fun and enjoy a few free cocktails.  In all reality, you shouldn’t be coming in expecting to win money. Do you want to experience flipping chips in your hands or look for the flash and ringing of machines?

If you’ve come for the fun and want games that require little skill, choose:

  • Slots
  • Keno
  • Roulette

These games are easy to learn and winning is due more to luck, than the player’s ability to reduce the house edge.

Slots give you the chance to sit down and enjoy a free cocktail (tipping small change is custom, but not required).

Keno is another games that gives you the opportunity to sit and enjoy a drink, tv or just the sights and sounds of the casino. Pick some numbers and hope they pop up, like a mini lottery.  Depending on the casino, the speed of the game is generally slower than all others, so you can enjoy having your money a little longer.

Roulette is the easiest of table games to learn and play.  All you have to do is guess which number that little spinning ball is going to land on.  You can give yourself 50/50 odds by betting odds/evens or red/black.  Unfortunately, there are usually no chairs around a roulette table so it’s not as relaxing in my eyes.

If you’ve come looking to win some money, your choice of games should be those that can have the house edge reduced with a bit of knowledge or skill, such as:

  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Craps
  • Video Poker (Jacks or Better)

These are really not difficult to learn either, but if you take the time to learn basic strategies, you might actually enjoy playing and winning a bit more often than most.

Don’t be Afraid of the Table Games

As a casino newbie, you’ll probably fear the table games.  However, you really shouldn’t.  You can (and should) do your research beforehand and learn the basics of each game.

However, if you weren’t able to do the research, but sort of pushed by friends to play, start with small stake games, like $5 blackjack. Look for a table with no players. Don’t be afraid to tell the dealer you’re new to the game and he/she will gladly guide you on the rules of play.  They will be hoping you will tip them for their assistance, but you certainly don’t have to, even if they’re basically teaching you how to play the game.  Don’t sit at a table with several players if you’re new to the game, the other players won’t be nearly as friendly as the dealer!

Be Aware of Casino Etiquette

Despite winning or losing, you want to maintain a kind, courteous and polite demeanor.  If you can remain in a good mood when winning, as well as when losing, the entire casino will appreciate it.  Dealers will be nicer, waitresses will come back to you more often if you’re happy and tipping and the other casino patrons will appreciate it.  If you remember to treat everybody with the respect you would want yourself, your trip to the casino can be lots of fun. If you think losing money will put you a nasty mood, don’t go to a casino, because you will probably lose money.

There are basic casino rules of etiquette that should be followed:

  • Don’t sit at a table if you don’t plan on playing – if you want to watch a buddy play, stand behind him
  • Before sitting down, make sure the current hand is completed
  • Don’t answer a phone call while sitting at a table
  • Once you place a bet, don’t touch it
  • Use only 1 hand to touch your cards, if any touching allowed
  • Wait until dealer is clearly done with paying off a bet, before touching the chips
  • If you’re at a table and want to leave a tip, always tip with chips, not cash
  • If you’re at the slots and want to tip a waitress, you can tip with small change

These are just common courtesy suggestions.  You won’t win more if you do them, but it will make your time at the casino more enjoyable because you won’t likely be offending anybody.


Casino gambling can be great fun, but it can also be dangerously addictive.  Know when to stop.  That refers to the free drinking and the gaming.  There’s a reason the casino gives you free liquor, to loosen up your thinking and your wallet.

If it’s your first time, remember just that…you can come another time, don’t try to win everything or lose everything in this one visit. If you come with a set amount of money (which you should) stop when you’ve gone through that.  Learn to play the games wisely so you don’t lose all your money in 15 minutes.

It can be fun to make the goal of a casino visit to be, last 15 minutes or longer.  You can easily lose a couple hundred bucks in 15 minutes or win a couple hundred bucks in 15 minutes.  The challenge is, can you leave after either circumstance.  Know when to quit if things are going bad, and learn to quit while you’re ahead, while learning to enjoy yourself in either situation.

Don’t be afraid to go to a casino.  It’s great adult entertainment and everybody should experience it at least once. Have fun and good luck!


Have you ever thought about entering a slot tournament at a casino?  With the winning prizes getting bigger and bigger, it’s definitely worth a try. 

Those people that have entered seem to be having a lot of fun. Unfortunately, there is no real strategy to guarantee a win in a slot tournament.  There is nothing you can do to change the results of a slot machine spin, they are totally random.

Slot tournaments are run either based on a certain time limit or a certain number of credits.  The time limit format is the most common and what I will discuss here.

To improve your chance to win, you want to get in the most spins within that time period.  That’s why you see the experienced players just continually pressing the spin button.  You don’t want to wait for credits to add up, the machine will catch up with you.

You also shouldn’t get caught watching the results of a big winning spin, or a near miss, just keep pressing.  You have to keep your focus and concentration on pressing the spin button.

Keeping your focus and concentration also means not watching other players or any other distraction.  Your goal is to get as many spins in as you can.  Checking out the competition while you’re playing, is a waste of time and money!  You can find out what they did when you’re done!

Strategy in a Nutshell:

  • Get to the tournament a little bit early to relax and adjust to the atmosphere
  • If you have a lucky charm, bring it!
  • Once it starts, just keep spinning as fast as you can
  • Stay focused, keep your eyes on your machine, don’t look around
  • Have fun because it’s just a matter of luck anyway!

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While roulette is not a hard game to understand, the problem is learning how to bet properly. As in any game of chance, there is no fool-proof method to winning consistently.

How to Play

There is an American version and a European version, the difference being the “double zero” slot found in the American version. Players place their bets on the roulette table and watch as the croupier spins the roulette wheel in one direction and rolls the roulette ball in the opposite direction.  Once the ball stops and lands in a numbered slot, if you placed a bet on the number that the ball landed in, you’re a winner!  Once all bets are paid off for that spin, it starts all over again, a very simple process.

How to Bet on Roulette

Each player is given a different color chip, so the croupier knows which player to pay on different bets.  He can also guess the player jumping up and down is probably the one who won his bet. There will also be a table minimum bet.

There are two basic areas for betting in roulette, the inside and the outside. The minimum bet for the table is usually the same for inside and outside, however, the inside bet can cover multiple bets, whereas the outside bet covers one spot and must be that minimum.  For example, a $5 minimum inside bet can be $1 on 5 different numbers, and an outside $5 minimum bet is a $5 bet on one option.

Types of Inside Bets

  • Single Number – Straight bet – pays 35:1, the riskiest, but most rewarding
  • Two Numbers – Split bet – pays 17:1, your chips are placed on the line splitting 2 numbers
  • Three Numbers – Street bet – pays 11:1, your chips are placed on the line that separates the inside and outside of the table
  • Four Numbers – Corner or Square bet – pays 8:1, your chips are placed on the line intersecting all four numbers
  • Six Numbers – Double Street bet – pays 5:1, your chips are placed on the line between two rows of numbers, between the inside and outside of the table
  • In American roulette, there is a five number bet that pays 6:1, your chips are placed on the line beside the zero, double zero and numbers 1-3

Keep in mind that the inside bets have the best payouts, because they have the highest house edge and you have to assess the risks vs. the rewards.

Types of Outside Bets

  • Red or Black – pays 1:1, chips are placed on the red or black diamond
  • Odd or Even – pays 1:1, chips are placed on the odd or even rectangle
  • Field Bets – pays 1:1, chips are placed in the rectangles marked 1-18, or 19-36
  • Dozen Bet – pays 2:1, chips are placed in the rectangles marked 1st 12, 2nd 12 or 3rd 12
  • Column Bet – pays 2:1, also a 12 number bet, chips are placed in the squares at the end of the number columns

Outside bets are safer bets and therefore have lower payouts.

Best Roulette Tips and Strategy

  1. Beware of the house edge – Understand that the house edge in American Roulette is 5.26% (it’s 2.7% in the European game) which is big compared to the .5% house edge in blackjack. There are better ways than roulette, to make money in a casino.
  2. Manage your bankroll wisely – as in most casino games, give yourself a loss limit before you step to the table
  3. Control your emotions – if you keep calm while having fun, the smarter bets you’ll make and hopefully win more money
  4. Stick to the outside bets – While they have the lowest payouts, they are the safest bets, with more consistent payouts over the long run.
  5. Stay away from betting systems – There are popular betting systems, such as The Martingale System, associated with roulette, but for the most part, you’ll lose your bankroll quick if you run into a bad streak. As a beginner, don’t try to use any roulette betting system, just play for the fun and the experience.


In a casino, the roulette table can produce some of the loudest cheers. It’s a fun game that can have huge payouts for the players. There is no absolute strategy with this game of chance.  Each roll is a separate occurrence and you must remember the old adage “the wheel has no memory.”  Give it a chance, just for the fun of it!

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Is it really possible to be a smart gambler?  In terms of casino games, where you’re more than likely to lose your bet, it doesn’t seem that anybody could be a smart gambler.  You just have to realize that to be a smart gambler doesn’t mean you’ll always win.  I think you can consider yourself a smart gambler if you can become a better gambler.

SET A LOSS LIMIT – Stick to it!

You’ve probably heard the old adage, don’t play with money you can’t afford to lose.  Well that’s a very good place to start.  To be smart, give yourself a loss limit before even stepping into a casino.

While that is an easy thing to say, what gets most people in trouble is that they go into a casino with more than their loss limit. The typical gambler will enter a casino with $400 and tell themselves that they’ll stop if they lose $200. 

Many casino games play at a very fast pace and that $200 will be gone in 20 minutes!  You’ll be shocked and telling yourself “I just got here, I want to play a little more.”  There’s the hook the casino threw and you grabbed it! You’ll play with that extra $200, but hopefully at a slower pace, but then it’s gone in another 30 minutes. Wow, $400 dollars gone in about 1 hour! But was it fun?  The first $200 was fun because you knew you could afford to lose that, but the 2nd $200 probably hurt a bit.  Give yourself a limit and stick to it!

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Just like a loss limit, you should also have in mind a win amount you would be happy with.  While I’m not saying stop playing when the dice are rolling your way, or the cards a coming your way, but stop when it starts to go bad.

Of course you want to keep playing when it’s going well and you’re winning every other hand or so, but recognize when the winning stops and pull yourself away.

Let’s say you go in thinking I’ll be happy winning $150 and a winning streak has you up $500.  At that point, the cards turn and the next thing you know, you’re back down to up $100.  Now you’re mad at yourself because you were up more the 2.5 times what you wanted, but have backed it down to less than you wanted.  Teach yourself to walk away when the winning streak has come to an end and take the winnings you’re given!  Don’t be greedy!

You have to remember, the longer you play any casino game, the more you’re apt to lose! Stay long, play wrong! In the long run, the casino always wins.

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All casino games have a house edge, so the idea is to play those with the lowest house edge.

Ranking of casino games by house edge:

  • Blackjack: .5%
  • Video Poker: .5% – 3%
  • Craps: .6% – 1.4%
  • Baccarat: 1.2%
  • Poker: 2.5% – 5.2%
  • Roulette: 5.3%
  • Slots: 5% – 10%
  • Keno: 27%

You should know not to play slots expecting a profit.  The only thing worse than slots is Keno, which explains why you never see too many people playing Keno. (at least I don’t see many Keno players) But then again, how do you explain slots players? Slots are fun!  The thrill of hitting a jackpot just can’t be overstated!

You can have fun at all the games in a casino.  To be smart though, try to stick with Blackjack, Craps or Baccarat.  You will have the best chance to win with those games.  Understanding the odds, will allow you to better manage your winnings. What is more fun than winning?

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While the games have rules that give the house the edge, there are perfect strategies that can be played to cut down the house edge and give you a better chance to win. 

There are often side bets in many table games, but you have to understand they are usually sucker bets.  You will never find a strategy book that will tell you any side bet is proper strategy. 

If you make bad plays, you don’t play smart.  If you don’t play smart, you don’t gamble smart.


Betting systems give you a specific way to make your wagers.  There are a lot of different systems out there and they profess to be the best way to manage your bankroll.

While most of them will help you win big if things are running favorably, but they can’t change the house edge.  Remember, in the long run, the house edge wins out and the systems won’t help you when things go sour.


To be a smart gambler, you have to learn how maximize your winnings and limit your losses. The best way to do that is to know which games to play, play them with perfect strategy and recognize when things are not going your way.

The only sure thing with gambling is that you will probably lose in the long run. Unless your goal is to be a professional gambler, do it just for fun and you will be a smart casino gambler.


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CRAPS FOR BEGINNERS – Basic Play & Strategy

As you walk into any casino and figure you’ll head to where all the noise is coming from, you’ll probably find yourself at a craps table.  If you thought you could never understand how to play the game, you’re wrong and I’m going to show you how easy it is to play the game.

Game Objectives

First, keep in mind that casino games can’t be too difficult to play, or people wouldn’t play.  The first thought for making a casino game is that it should be easy to play.

I think what scares people with craps is that at first glance, the craps table looks very confusing.  There are a lot of sections, with all kinds of images of dice combinations, words and numbers.

The goal of the game is to bet on the outcome of the roll of two dice.  The fun of the game is that there are several different bets you can make.  Understanding all the bets is the complicated part, but fortunately you can still have fun, and win, just playing a couple of the simple bets.

Game Setup

The craps table is specially designed and features a betting layout where players place their bets. The players stand all around the table, as many as can fit comfortably. It can also be uncomfortable if it’s crowded!

One player is designated as the shooter and rolls the dice.  Everybody at the table will have a chance to become the shooter if they want to, though you can choose not to roll.  Some casinos require the shooter to place a bet as well.

Anybody at the table can place a wager, even the shooter, by placing their chips on their chosen bet spot.

There are usually at least 4 casino employees controlling the game.  They are the Boxman, the Stickman, and the Base dealers.

The boxman is in charge of the chips at the table. He/she will exchange cash for chips, supervise the dealers and basically make sure the game runs smoothly.

The stickman is in charge of the dice, moving them around to pass to the shooter, with a stick(ergo the name) and announces the outcome of the dice roll.

The base dealers, usually 2, stand at the ends of the table to payout winners and collect losing bets. They can also help place bets for players who can’t reach the correct spot.

Play of the Game

A round of play starts with what is called the come out roll, made after all bets have been placed.  This is the first roll of the shooter.

If this roll is a 2, 3, or 12 it’s considered “crapping out” and the round is over. Players will win don’t pass bets and players will lose pass line bets.  If this first roll is 7 or 11, players will lose don’t pass bets and players will win pass line bets, and the round is over.

If any other number is rolled, it establishes a “point.” Once a point is established, the shooter continues to roll until the point number is rolled again or a 7 is rolled. 

As additional rolls are made, bets are being placed on the outcome of those rolls.

A round is complete if the point is rolled or a 7 is rolled.  The shooter remains the same if the point is hit, however, if 7 is rolled, the dice are passed to the next shooter.

Types of Bets

The list of available bets in craps is:

  • Pass line
  • Don’t Pass
  • Come
  • Don’t Come
  • Pass Line Odds
  • Don’t Pass Odds
  • Come Odds
  • Don’t Come Odds
  • Place Win
  • Place Lose
  • Buy
  • Lay
  • Big 6
  • Big 8
  • Hardways
  • Field
  • Any 7
  • Any 11
  • Any Craps
  • Ace Duece
  • Aces
  • Boxcars

With this long list of possible wagers, it is totally conceivable how play of the game can be considered confusing.  They really aren’t that hard to understand (click here for bet details) and you don’t even have to understand them all to enjoy the game.

Beginners Strategy

Best bets to make:

  • Pass line bets with free odds
  • Come bets with free odds
  • Place bets on 6 or 8
  • Go with the streak if you’re winning
  • Copy the bets the player with the most money is making
  • Don’t make the high odds bets
  • Don’t listen to the dealer’s appeals for high odds bets
  • Backup your Pass/Don’t Pass bets and Come/Don’t Come bets with the allowed Odds bets
  • Remember to pick up your winnings between rolls or they will be considered a bet.  Sometimes all the cheering makes people forget they won!

The first 3 bets have the lowest house edge, which is why they’re the safest bets.  They’re easy bets to make and you can actually make a decent profit if a shooter gets on a roll.  You don’t need to understand any other bet.


I hope I’ve given you enough information to not be afraid of trying craps.  The basics of the game are not difficult to grasp. Everything in a casino is a gamble, but it can also be fun. Craps can become quite the party if a player gets hot with the dice.  Play with money you can afford to lose and have fun!

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BACCARAT – Beginner’s Strategy

Baccarat holds of bit of mystique for the casual gambler.  You may or may not see a lot of people at the baccarat tables in casinos. The casual gambler feels that it’s a high stakes game that is hard to understand and play. The truth is baccarat is actually very simple to play, and there may be only one good strategy.


The goal of the game is to bet on who will have the winning hand.  There are 3 bets you can make in baccarat, The Banker’s Bet, The Player’s Bet and The Tie bet.

  • Played with 3 dealers and 12 to 14 players
  • Six to eight decks are used
  • Aces count as 1
  • Face cards and 10’s count as 10
  • All remaining cards count as their face value
  • Suit doesn’t matter
  • Object of the game is to get as close to 9 as possible
  • Player wins automatically with Natural 8 or 9
  • Player must hit 5 or less
  • Banker stands on 7 or more
  • Banker must hit 0, 1, or 2


Play begins with all players, including the dealer, placing their bets on the banker, the player, or a tie.  The dealer traditionally bets on the banker.  The dealer can be the casino dealer or a player.  Bets can be placed on more than one bet.

Once bets are placed, everybody receives two cards, including the banker. The two cards are added up and the last digit of that total is your score.  For instance, if you receive a 9 and a 3, the total is 12, so your score is 2.  The scores will always be between 0 and 9, and it is impossible to bust. 

Whether or not a third card is dealt, is determined by strict game rules.

A two-card total of 8 or 9 is considered a Natural for the player and wins, the hand is over and payouts are made.

Depending on totals, a third card may be dealt. If the player total is 5 or less they must hit and receive 1 more card.

The banker’s play is determined by what the player has done. It is as follows:

  • If the player’s third card is a 9, 10 or Ace, the banker will draw with a total of 0-3 and stand with a total of 4-7
  • If the player’s third card is an 8, the banker will draw with a total of 0-2 and stand with a total of 3-7
  • If the player’s third card is a 6 or 7, the banker will draw with a total of 0-6 and stand with a total of 7
  • If the player’s third card is a 4 or 5, the banker will draw with a total of 0-5 and stand with a total of 6 or 7
  • If the player’s third card is a 2 or 3, the banker will draw with a total of 0-4 and stand with a total of 5-7

Once all the cards are dealt, the hand total that is closest to 9 wins.  If the player and the dealer have the same total, it’s a tie and no one wins.  The bets on the player and the banker are returned and the tie bet is paid off.


If the banker has the highest total, that bet is paid 1:1, less 5% commission

If the player has the highest total, that bet is paid 1:1

If it is a tie, that bet is paid 8:1, or 9:1 (depending on the casino)

The banker bet includes a commission payment because the banker has a slight advantage

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Always bet on the banker.  Despite the fact that a commission is taken, it’s still the best bet.  It’s a very simple strategy and practically the only strategy.

You only have to consider what the house edge is in baccarat to understand.  The house edge for the banker’s bet is 1.06%.  The house edge for the player’s bet is 1.24% and the house edge for the tie bet is ridiculous.  Most table games seem to have a sucker bet and the tie bet is the sucker bet for baccarat.

So if you want to gamble at a casino table game or online, without basically thinking, just sit at a baccarat table and only bet the banker and figure out when you’d like to cash out your winnings! 

There really is no skill in Baccarat, it’s about luck. Once you’ve placed your bet, there’s nothing else for you to control. You just want to truly understand the rules so you can know why you won or lost a bet.

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TILT CONTROL – For beginners

In poker, tilt control refers to the ability to maintain logical thinking and therefore proper play analysis, despite an apparent string of bad luck.  In other words, playing with logic instead of emotion.

This is a part of the game that beginners can struggle with. Poker can be an extremely emotional game and if you can’t maintain a “poker face” you will just be helping your opponents beat you.

When you’re playing the smaller stakes games, with other beginners or just plain crazy players, logical play can be seen to go right out the window.  It’s at this time where tilt control will suit you best.

The best way to prevent tilt is to never allow yourself to get close to it.


Learn to identify what triggers tilt for you. Develop strategies to avoid those triggers.

Set a stop loss – This is giving yourself a limit as to the number of buy-ins you will allow yourself. If you know you will be on tilt if you have to buy-in for the 4th time, make sure you get up from the table if you’ve gone through 3 buy-ins.

Learn to quit early when things are not going your way. It will happen, so  be able to take a break and come back another time. Nobody wins all the time anyway.

Play at your best. Try to always play when you’re feeling most confident and mentally alert.

Play shorter sessions and include breaks – As a beginner it’s probably good to limit your playing sessions to 30 or 40 minutes at a time.  After that, at least get up and take a break, give your mind and body a chance to reset. Remember, you want to always be playing at your peak mental alertness.

Don’t get emotional – You have to be clear headed to make the proper decisions. Showing emotions usually results in bad play. The saying of having a “poker face” or showing no emotion is a part of good poker play.

Learn to expect the downswings –  If you realize that bad swings are going to happen, you should be able to let those times roll of your back with no emotional explosion.  If it starts to bother you, take a break.

Final Thoughts

The mental side of poker is a huge part of the game.  Learning to play within the boundaries of whatever triggers your tilt will be of tremendous value to you.  You will improve your game play much faster if you can control your tilt, because you will always be playing at your best. Tilt will hurt your game and help your opponents beat you.  Keep it under control.

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While you can certainly sit down at a poker table and start playing without knowing all the terminology you’ll hear, it would probably be a good idea to be aware of what you might hear.

Betting Round Actions

BET – When a player makes a wager

CALL – When a player pays the same amount of the previous bet

RAISE – When a player bets higher than the previous bet (call plus an additional amount)

RE-RAISE – When a player makes a third bet, higher than the raise amount, after a bet and a                                                                                          raise

FOLD – When a player tosses in his hand without making a bet

CHECK – When a player passes the action to the next player without making a bet

3-BET – The third bet in a betting round, also a re-raise

CAP – The last possible raise in a betting round, in a fixed-limit game.  Players usually can raise up to 4 times in a single betting round and then the action is “capped.” Once a player has capper, the remaining players can only call or fold, no raising is allowed until the next round.

CHECK BEHIND – When a player checks after the previous player checks

Made Hands

BOTTOM PAIR – When you pair the lowest card on the board

MIDDLE PAIR – When you pair a middle card on the board

TOP PAIR – When you pair the highest card on the board

OVER PAIR – A player’s pair that is higher than any card on the board

BOTTOM TWO PAIR – When you pair your cards with the lowest two cards on the board

TOP TWO PAIR – When you pair your two cards with the highest two cards on the board

TWO PAIR -When you pair your two cards with any two cards on the board

SET – 3 of a kind

STRAIGHT – 5 cards in numerical order

FLUSH – 5 cards of the same suit

FULL HOUSE – a pair and a set together, 2 of 1 number and 3 of another

Incomplete or “Draw” Hands

This is when you don’t have a made hand, but can end up with a strong made hand, if the right cards come up on the board.

BACKDOOR DRAW – A drawing hand that needs help from the turn and river.  Hitting on the turn opens a backdoor to hitting again on the river.

OVERCARDS = Cards that are higher than cards on the board

GUTSHOT – When you are missing a card in the middle of a sequence

OESD – Open Ended Straight Draw.  When you have 4 cards in numerical sequence, that will end up in a straight with the 5th card added to either end

FLUSH DRAW – When you have 4 cards of the same suit

Additional Terms

POCKET PAIR – When you are dealt a completed pair

UNRAISED POT – When no one raises before the flop

RAISED POT – When there is a raise before the flop

PRE-FLOP – Refers to everything that happens before the flop is dealt

POST-FLOP – Refers to everything that happens after the flop is dealt

UNIMPROVED – When your hand doesn’t improve with the next card dealt


These are the most common poker terms.  Don’t be afraid to ask about a term if you can’t remember or don’t understand when playing. 

All players were beginners at one time and didn’t know the terms either.  They might be happy to answer a question because it will signify that you are a novice and therefore, they might be able to easily take your money!  Play responsibly!

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Texas Hold’em-Beginner’s Outline

Texas Hold’em Poker is definitely the most popular variation of poker played around the world.  In fact, many people not familiar with poker, think this is the only type of poker played.  More and more people want to learn the game because of it’s popularity on TV.  It’s well known that the top professional players earn millions playing a simple looking game, so why can’t the average person win a few bucks also?  It seems like such a simple game.

Starting Rules

  • In casinos and card rooms, the dealer doesn’t play.  In home games, the dealer duty usually changes clockwise with each hand
  • The player to the immediate left of the dealer acts first.  The player to act first is at a definite disadvantage because they have no idea as to what the other players may do
  • At casinos, there will be a “dealer” button that moves with each hand played, so play will rotate fairly
  • There are 2 forced bets called blinds.  They are the small blind and the big blind.  Games begin with the two players left of the dealer making these predetermined blind bets.  This is to insure there is always something (a pot of money) to play for  in each hand.  This is also why the dealer button moves every hand, because it wouldn’t be fair for the 1st two seats to always have to put in the two blinds
  • The small blind is usually ½ of the minimum bet and the big blind is usually the full minimum bet.  So, when you see a $1/$2 Hold’em table, that means the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

The object of the game is to combine your hole cards with the 5 cards eventually dealt in front of the dealer, known as the “board,” to make the best poker hand at the table.  The hand can contain your 2 hole cards and 3 board cards, 1 hole card and 4 board cards, or neither hole card and just the 5 board cards.


The Deal

Each player is dealt 2 cards face down, called the “hole cards.” You cannot let the other players see your cards and therefore they are to be checked discretely.  No board cards are dealt yet.

First Betting Round

The 1st player to act is the 1st player left of the big blind spot, because the blinds have already bet in that sense.  The player may fold, call or raise.

To fold, the player pushes his cards face down towards the middle of the table, called a muck, and is out of the hand.

To call, the player matches the big blind bet.

To raise, the player bets at least double the big blind bet.  If he decides to bet all his remaining chips, it’s know as “all-in.”

Play continues clockwise around the table, with each player making the choice of fold, call or raise, with the same rules in play.  As betting continues around the table,  a raise is actually called a re-raise at that point.


After the end of the 1st round of betting, the dealer “burns” (discards) the top card of the deck, just in case it was accidently seen, then proceeds to place the next 3 cards face up on the table in front of him.  This is the flop.

Second Betting Round

This starts with the 1st player to the dealer’s left, since there are no more forced bets.

After the flop, the option of “check” is now available.  This is like taking a pass.  You can stay in the hand without betting additional money.

If everybody checks, that round is over and everyone gets to see a free card.

If someone bets, then all players must either fold, call or raise.

You cannot check if a player has made a bet before you.  If a bet is made before you, you must fold, call or raise.

THE TURN (4th Street)

Once again, the dealer burns the top card and deals the next card to the table, called the turn or 4th street. 

Third Betting Round

The betting again begins with the player immediately to the left of the dealer.  The same betting rules used in the second round, apply in the 3rd round.

THE RIVER (5th Street)

The dealer burns the top card and deals the next (and last) card to the table in front of him, called the river or 5th street.

Fourth Betting Round

Same betting rules apply as in the previous betting rounds, with the player to the dealer’s left, starting.


This is where it gets exciting.  The last player to bet or raise shows their hand first and the highest five-card hand wins the pot. In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.

Hands don’t always reach the showdown.  In any betting round, if a player bets and everybody else folds, that betting player wins the pot without having to show his hand.


  • Royal Flush — five cards of the same suit, ranked ace through ten; e.g., AKQJ10
  • Straight Flush — five cards of the same suit and consecutively ranked; e.g., 98765
  • Four of a Kind — four cards of the same rank; e.g., QQQQ4
  • Full House — three cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., JJJ88
  • Flush — any five cards of the same suit; e.g., AJ852
  • Straight — any five cards consecutively ranked; e.g., QJ1098
  • Three of a Kind — three cards of the same rank; e.g., 888K4
  • Two Pair — two cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., AAJJ7
  • One Pair — two cards of the same rank; e.g., 1010942
  • High Card — five unmatched cards; e.g., AJ1052 would be called “ace-high”


Texas hold’em poker is not very difficult to learn, but it is quite difficult to master.  I’ve only given the basic outline and rules of the game here.  There are a vast number of possible game situations that can challenge players of the highest levels.  Even the winningest pros say they are always learning to play better. Remember it is a game of chance, you can’t win all the time. Play responsibly.

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Blackjack Superstitions

As you sit at a blackjack table, you’re bound to hear all kinds of hype about what brings good luck or bad luck at a blackjack table.  Unfortunately, believing in any of that hype can actually harm your game.  Let’s go over some of the myths and facts:

MYTH:  Novice or Bad players will make you lose

FACT:  It’s true novice players can negatively affect the outcome of a hand, because they’ll stand when they should hit and hit when they should stand.

When a bad move happens like that, it’s easy to blame the novice player for costing you a hand (especially if that novice is in the 3rd base seat), taking the dealer’s bust card, but the reverse can also happen.  The player’s bad choices can help you just as often, evening things out. 

MYTH:  A new player entering in the middle of a shoe, ruins the flow of the cards

FACT:  There is no way to know the order of cards, so you can’t say there’s a certain flow for you to know what card is supposed to come next.  Once again, as with playing with a novice, the addition of a new player can change your luck for the better, just as well as “ruin” the flow.

The Superstition: Face cards always follow face cards—so if a face card is dealt, don’t hit your stiff hand.

FACT:   Keep the facts in mind.  If you include the 10’s with the face cards, there are 16 out of 52, 10-value cards in a deck, meaning 31 percent of the deck.  If you see two face cards in a row, the chance of another face card coming out drops to 28 percent.  Because there are now fewer face cards, you’re actually in a better position to hit a “stiff” hand (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).  Looking at it this way, that superstition would be a detriment to your game. 

The Superstition:  You will always bust if you hit a 12

FACT:  Many blackjack players feel that if you hit a 12, you will almost always get a 10-value card.  However, remember the point that  a non-10-value card is more likely to come up, than a 10-value card.  You have to trust the basic strategy charts and hit a 12 when the chart tells you to do so.

Final Fact

If you let superstitions direct your blackjack playing decisions, you can bet it will cost you more money!

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