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It's heads he wins, tails you don't. You should check instead, and hope your middling hand wins the ante. What about with a terrible hand? Should you check or bet? The answer is surprising. Checking would be unwise, because the hands will be compared and you will lose. It actually makes more sense to bet with these bad hands, because the only way he might drop out is if you make a bet. Perversely, you are better off betting with awful cards than with mediocre ones, the quintessential and rational bluff. There's a second reason for you to bet with terrible cards rather than middling ones: Your opponent will have to call a little more often.

Because he knows that your bets are sometimes very weak, he can't afford to fold too easily. That means that when you bet with a good hand, you are more likely to be called, and to win when you are.

Thursday-Night Poker: How to Understand, Enjoy--and Win

Because you are bluffing with bad cards, your good hands make more money. Poker is not simply a game of odds, moves and calculations. It is a game of controlled and exploited emotions -- including greed, fear, over-confidence and anger. Because a computer does not experience emotions, it cannot play poker any more than a motorcycle can run a marathon.

It's said that the two psychological features of snipers are patience and stubbornness. Some might say the same is true for good poker players. The seductive game of poker is one that I do not understand. I do not care to understand it, because it cannot be played without the putting up of a good deal of the coin of the realm, and although I have nothing to say against betting, my own theory of conduct in the matter is this, that I want no man's money which I do not earn, and I do not want any man to get my money unless he earns it.

Ok, so most of these actually apply to online as well, but since computers do math for us, and since we so often just think of betting in terms of some fraction of the pot, there actually are rules that you have to follow. The minimum bet is the previous bet. The obvious example is that you're first to act and so the minimum bet is two big blinds. Say you actually raised it to 10 BB -- that's a bet of 5 BB, so the next player's minimum raise is 5, for a total of When you bet, you have two options: Dump some amount of chips onto the felt all at once or verbally announce your bet and then put the chips out.

That isn't allowed, and the dealer will refuse to accept the second portion of the bet. A player moving all-in is just the same as any other bet. The minimum re-raise is still twice the difference between the all-in and the previous bet although chances are, unless the guy is very short stacked, you're probably going to have to shove over the top to isolate it if that's your goal.

Regarding chip stacks: So, technically, if, before a hand starts, you announce to the dealer that you'd like to top up, and you put money on the felt before she deals everyone in, the dealer can announce to all players that your chip stack is whatever you topped up to. You'll live! Have you ever played Blackjack? You know that thing people do when they want to hit, where they just slap the table like their hand is a wet noodle? That motion is also a thing in poker -- it means "check. If, for some reason, you don't want to actually say the word "check" out loud, like you believe it would signify weakness or some silly thing, or if you're the coolest kid on the block who don't need no words If somehow you have performed this simple motion and your intent is still not clear, the dealer will ask "Was that a check?

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Or do both! As long as you're clear! Some places let the blinds chop a pot. If preflop action folds all the way to the small blind, and both he and the big blind agree to a chop, they can both announce their intention to chop to the dealer, and if the house allows it I'm not sure I've seen a place that doesn't, but who knows , then the dealer will push the blinds back to the players and the hand will end. If you're the small blind and you want to be a cool dude, offer to chop before you've looked at your cards.

If you look first and then offer, that's often a pretty big sign of weakness and it's kind of a jerky thing to do imo. I did see one guy do that, looked at his cards and then offered to chop, and when the big blind refused, the small blind raised, which was surprising; big blind called, flop came K high, sb checked, bb bet pot, sb raised to 3x pot; bb shoved; sb called; bb flipped up KQ; sb flipped up AA and they held. Unless you're racking your chips up to leave, once a chip is in your chip stack, it's in play.

Don't be that guy with sunglasses, a cap and earbuds. Nobody likes him and nobody's gonna want to get into a pot with him. You're grinding for at least a couple hours -- have some fun. Make some friends. Poker's a social game. I know it's a job for some of you, but you're allowed to enjoy your job, right? Also, one douchey thing people sometimes do and it's pretty frowned upon is hitting and running -- when they scoop an enormous pot and immediately leave.

Seriously, that's a dick move. Stay for at least another orbit. If you wanna grab a rack and start racking up chips while you're hanging around for as long as you feel morally obligated to, that's cool; even if you fold every single hand, whatever. You want to at least look like you care about giving people the chance to get their chips back. I'll usually hang around for another twenty minutes or so, enjoying the free "free" drinks and just playing super tight or something. This is a thing that I haven't seen allowed online but exists in live games.


There are two common types of straddle: UTG and Button straddles. If you do this, then you are now last to act preflop, not the big blind. A button straddle is similar, but you have to be on the button and do it before anyone has acted, and then preflop action will start with the small blind.

This is purely a cash table thing.

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Most places will hold your spot for up to an hour if you need to take a break to grab a bite to eat or whatever. Just let the dealer know. They aren't gonna blind you out. If you're just zipping off to the loo, you don't even need to tell anyone, although if you wanna verbalize your intent to take a piss, whatever, man, that's poker, I guess.

On the topic of food, btw -- food is totally allowed at the table after all, you've probably got alcohol there, so why the hell not -- but don't be a jerk about it. Don't be sitting there with a big stinky plate of curry or something. It's pretty common to see people bring snacks like nuts or sweets and if that's your thing, by all means, go for it.

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Just don't make a mess. It is generally much harder to isolate people preflop than it is online. Online, if you're playing full ring and you're under the gun and you raise to 5 bb, you're probably not gonna get a lot of action. Usually that's what you want. In a live game, however, you'll often get called by the guy with suited connectors, and the guy behind him with K7o will call because that's his favorite hand, and the guy on the button will call with T4s because they're suited.

If your gameplan is to get a couple callers into a bloated pot with a monster, that's great!

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Just watch out you don't get mugged. If you really want to isolate, you're gonna have to bet really fucking big, and the drunk whale with bb might still call you with 69o because "it's the old college hand, get it, 69, HAHAHA," that motherfucker. Similar to the previous point: If you think your opponent is drawing, they will often call you all the way down to the river. Value bet the shit out of whatever medium-strength made hand you have.

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  • This won't help much if it's your first time, but you might be able to pick some things up anyway. Watch other players and how they act. Pay attention, mostly to their faces and their hands. People are creatures of habit. If you see a guy stare at the board like he's gonna murder it when he bluffs, remember that shit.

    There are some live stereotypes that can actually be pretty accurate.