Introduction to poker

The late Walter Matthau described poker as exemplifying’all of the worst aspects of capitalism that have made our country so great’, Along with Hollyvvood road movies, the images of the ‘rambling-gambling man’ and the poker-playing cowboy, willing to risk all on the turn of a card, are abiding metaphors for the free¬spirited American ideal, A recent Hollyvvood film, Rounders starring Matt Damon, realistically portrayed the game with all of its thrills and excitement. Set in New York’s underground poker world, Rounders tells the story of a card player who attempts to leave behind the poker-playing rounds for a legitimate career and a chance for a new life with his girlfriend. However, the new life is short on the buzz of high-stakes poker games and the Damon character is soon drawn back to the poker table.

Rounders gives one perspective on the game of poker, but often poker games are played by groups of friends purely for enjoyment, with winning or losing being secondary to the social experience, and with the stakes often nothing more than matchsticks, Inventor Sir Clive Sinclair is perhaps the best known of all the players who have appeared on Channe14’s Late Night Poker series, and he plays socially in a private game. For him, poker is an opportunity to meet friends and pass an enjoyable evening, Sir Clive has played poker for about ten years and for a recreational player he has acquitted himself very well against the ranks of professionals in the series. I am not alone in believing that if he played as much as some of the rest of us, he would become a very formidable player indeed.

However, I would contend that to experience the true thrill of poker it should be played for stakes that matter to the players. If you are playing for a sum of money that is meaningful to you, your sense of excitement will be heightened, your palms will start to sweat, the adrenaline will start to pump in your bloodstream and you will experience a sense of risk rarely encountered in everyday life.

Joker Poker

It’s only one card, but what a difference it makes! with 53 cards in the deck, the different possibilities for winning hands in Joker Poker are very appealing to slot players who enjoy video poker. When that Joker appears on the screen, it adds an immediate bonus.

The explosion in the popularity of video-poker slot machines has understandably led to the development of games that use wild cards. The Joker Poker slot machine is the most popular of these games. It adds a 53rd card to the deck for each hand. Since this gives the player more opportunities to draw winning hands, and indeed makes the game easier, the payout is lower than ordinary video poker.

The Joker will come up about ten percent of the time and the player must be prepared to react to certain situations in a different manner to how he would in an ordinary video poker game. Strategy changes in this game and the different situations must be understood to take advantage of the higher payouts.

Though there are many different types of Joker Poker machines – most pay only on two pair, others pay for Jacks-, Kings- or Aces-or-better – and pay tables vary, the strategies are applicable to most situations. In Atlantic City and some riverboats, the highest jackpot is for five-of-a-kind. In Las Vegas, the royal flush cops the top award.

The Joker can be used as a substitute for any other card, or used as a fifth imaginary card of any value (to complete a five-of-a-kind hand, for instance). The machine automatically computes the best hand when using the Joker.

The only exception to this rule is that the Joker cannot be used to complete a royal flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten of the same suit). A Joker completing this hand is paid off as a straight flush. In most versions of Joker Poker, the lowest payout is two pair, unlike many video-poker machines that pay out for Jacks or Better.

There are some basic rules that apply only to Joker Poker. These guidelines are formulated by the unique situations and odds that exist by the addition of the one wild card.

Never draw more than three cards, regardless of the first five cards received. If you get a Joker in the first five cards, always keep one additional card to start with a pair, before the draw. If you don’t have a Joker, keep at least two cards of the same suit, so you at least have the beginning of a flush. Drawing a royal flush simply is not possible when you get a Joker in the first five cards, so any flush will be paid off, at best, as a straight flush.

When you start with a Joker, you can’t finish with two pair. It’s simple.

With the Joker, partial straights are better than partial flushes. If you have a Joker-Seven-Eight-Nine any Five, Six, Ten or Jack will payoff. That is 16 possibilities. For a four-card flush with a Joker, you only have ten possibilities to complete that flush. Though the payout for a straight is slightly less than for a flush, you will draw a straight more times than a flush.

Winning at Joker Poker is no more difficult than an ordinary video-poker machine. Joker Poker is, however, much more complicated, and you must understand what the addition of the wild card does to the probabilities. This very challenge makes Joker Poker more exciting.

Give it a try.

Keeping the Baccarat Score

Baccarat requires no skill. Luck is the dominant factor and nothing at all can be done to affect the outcome of the hand after you place your bet. All decisions are automatic. You cannot reduce the inherent house advantage by altering your betting strategy or even counting cards. It’s simply not possible.

A mathematical study of the game reveals that the Banker hand wins 45.8 per cent of the time, the Player hand wins 44.6 per cent, and the Tie wins 9.6 per cent. By ignoring the tie bet, we find that the Banker hand wins 50.7 per cent of the bets and the Player hands win 49.3 per cent. The house charges the five per cent commission because it would simply not be fair to give this Sort of advantage to the baccarat player.

Like the toss of a coin, the hands in baccarat have no memory. Just as whether the previous coin toss came up heads or tails, it doesn’t matter whether the previous baccarat hand is won by the Banker or the Player. You could toss ten heads in a row, and there’s no guarantee the 11th would come up tails. The same is true in baccarat, but the “streak” of the same winning hand is what makes the game so fascinating.

Every casino provides a scorecard to its players to keep track of the winning hands. While this is a very useful tool, it’s important to remember that it is simply a reflection of the history of the game. Many players believe that it is an indication of future trends, but many other players have gone broke trying to chase patterns or streaks.

Because baccarat offers simple decisions – odd-even, up-down, heads-tails – it is a game that has long intrigued systems sellers.
A simple system with a fancy name is the “Gargante Marche” system. In fact, this system is simply one that takes advantage of streaks. The theory is to latch on to a streak and ride it until it fizzles out. It sounds simple, but is actually difficult. While you’re waiting for the streak in baccarat, you’re going to experience what is known as a “chop”, where the winning hand alternates between the Banker and the Player irregularly. You’ll be there for the streak, but you may have a long wait. In the long run, this system is no more effective than simply guessing which side is going to win.

Introduction to Baccarat

Baccarat is the casinos most elegant and profitable game, with an air of sophistication and wealth. Although it looks complicated and intimidating, baccarat is one of the casinos simplest and most profitable games for the player.
If roulette is a glamorous game enjoyed by Europe’s upper crust, then baccarat is the game of kings. Until James Bond began playing the game in the Sixties, it was one of the casino’s most misunderstood games. Crouched in mystery, baccarat is conducted in a private gaming room, and caters to some of the world’s biggest high gamblers – or “whales” as they’re known to casino executives.

The dealers are attired in tuxedos rather than standard casino uniform. The supervisors watch over the game like hawks, sometimes sitting in chairs elevated above the game, to give them a complete view of the action. The players seem to be a cut above those vou’d find on the casino floor.

It seems a million miles from the rattle of the slot machines, where the players are noisily slamming coins into the shrill machines. Baccarat is unlike any other casino game, but it is in reality one of the simplest games in the house. Yet because of its elegant atmosphere, baccarat seems to be beyond the reach of the average gambler. Don’t let them try to tell you that.

Baccarat (pronounced “bah-kah-rah”) is one of the most socially involved games, one where you get to know your fellow players, and one where it’s very difficult to do something wrong. At the same time, you can’t make bad strategy decisions that will erode the minimal house advantage. In short, baccarat should be investigated by any player looking for entertainment and a good return on his investment.

Learn the basics of playing in online casinos

In case you have never gambled online before, you might feel confused about how to get started. Online gambling is still a young industry and this is why people might find quite difficult to differentiate the reputable casinos from the less reputable ones. All the casinos, whether good or bad, are fiercely competing, hungry for market share. So, it’s a good idea to be very careful when choosing an online casino to play at.

As an average observation, the casinos keep about 75% of money deposited, so they should not need to cheat. Nevertheless, there have been a lot of players complaining of the problems caused by playing at some non-licensed casinos that use anonymous software. Every player should be aware of the fact that quality counts. All you have to do is to take a close look at their web sites or free games. In case they look like a professional organization (and have all the necessary features to look this way), then there are high chances that they really are. It is also advisable that you follow your own instincts. If you do not feel all right about a certain online casino, you must obey your inner voices and resist playing there. You can find two ways of gambling online, namely Java and downloadable software. They have both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, Java offers almost instant playing, but on the other hand, downloadable software offers better sound and graphics. More than that, about half of the casinos with downloadable software offer a free CD version as well.

After having installed the software , the next step will be to open an account. This can be done either on the web site of the casino or through the software. Then you have to put some money into your account. Most of the time, this is done with a credit/debit card. There are also other options such as: Western Union and bank wire transfers, with the observation that both of them imply substantial fees (which many online casinos will credit back to your account). You must be aware of the fact that some credit cards will treat deposits to an online casino as a cash advance. If you do not agree with this, it is possible for you to have success in arguing the charge, although many credit cards have a flat policy referring to the fact that a purchase of casino chips counts as a cash advance. It is recommended that you should use debit cards instead, as there is never any cash advance fee involved and the transactions are posted faster. As soon as you have money in your account you can start playing, but not before checking the rules.

Many online casinos favour the European rules which are sometimes different from the US rules. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the particular game. If you are about to play you shouldn’t forget getting the necessary information first. If you think of playing some other time too (in the near future), do not cash out, just leave your money in your account. The moment you cash out, the chips will be converted into cash and credited back to your credit card, up to the amount of the initial purchase. Online gambling is different from gambling in a traditional casino, there is no doubt. In some aspects it is better and in other aspects it’s worse.

Online gambling is a competitive business and this is why many casinos will offer different sign-up bonuses to new customers, adding from 10 to 50% of their initial deposit to their bankroll. Some casinos will simply deposit money in customers’ accounts randomly, while others will offer vacations for specified levels of total money bet. Another favourable aspect of online casinos is represented by the fact their rules are usually better than those imposed by traditional casinos. More than that, you do not have to travel long distances because the casino is right inside your own home. If choosing to play online casino games you do not have to suffer all the annoyances involved with the traditional casinos like smokers, for instance and you do not need to give tips to anyone. An unfavourable aspect regarding the online casinos stands in the fact you have to be patient in order to get your money after having cashed out. The period of time between cashing out and your money appearing on your credit card will be of (at least) two weeks. Debit card operations are much faster, taking only about three to five business days. There are also disadvantages related to the customer service support.

Some places offer great service through the agency of chat, e-mail and a toll-free telephone number. Others take several days to reply to an e-mail, do not have any telephone numbers, and generally seem like they just don’t want to be bothered. Anyway, this does not mean that all online casinos act this way. An extremely positive thing brought about by online gambling is the freedom to learn. If you have ever wanted to try out a game but you have been reluctant to risk any money, you will be no more if choosing to play at an online casino. The great majority of online casinos offer ‘play for free’ versions of their games that enable novice players to learn and practice them without risking a cent. In addition, as you’ll be playing alone against the house, you can take your time when making crucial decisions or even use strategy cards (where possible) in order to be sure that every move that you make is just perfect. Thus, a major advantage in online gambling is represented by the great possibility of setting your own rhythm.

In case you are not at a multi-player table, online gambling offers the players enough time to better consider their moves and play at a slower pace. When it comes to traditional casinos, it can be quite awkward to sit at a blackjack table trying to decide what to do while other players and the dealer are waiting for you. On the other hand, in an online casino, you can play slowly, thinking twice before making any moves as there is no one waiting for you. Above all these things, many sites provide their players with unique games that you cannot find in other online casinos or in traditional gambling halls. Related to this subject we can point out a couple of originals games, namely ‘SpaceJack’ (a video variation of Blackjack) and ‘Treasure Box’ (a different version of the traditional slot game that allows players to hold the reels after each spin).

Progressive Pots in Video Poker

Another twist in video poker payouts is a progressive jackpot. These incorporate a progressive meter above a carousel of video poker machines, and a portion of each bet is designated to fund the progressive jackpot that is usually hit on a royal flush.

When a bank of Jacks-or-better machines offers a progressive jackpot, you won’t find 9/6 machines because the top award accounts for a larger percentage of the overall payout percentage. But don’t be fooled by being attracted to a big progressive jackpot when the payoffs for a full house and a flush aren’t at a reasonable level. You’re not getting the best bet unless you play at an 8/5 machine on a regular Jacks-or-better game.

Professional video poker players know that when the progressive meter hits £1,250 on a quarter video poker machine, they have the edge. Often a team of players will occupy every seat on such a carousel until the jackpot is hit.

IGT, the company which developed the Megabucks, Quartermania and Dollars Deluxe linked-slot systems, has had some trouble developing a similar system for video poker. Because the players can actually play for a royal flush when the progressive jackpot reaches. high levels, professional players could actually make it more likely that they’d hit the big jackpot. Requiring the winning hand to be “sequential” – that is lined up from Tento Ace left to right or vice versa – didn’t work, either, because the professional player could alter his style to go for that jackpot as well.

At one point, IGT developed what they called Star Poker. The random number generator added stars to the cards that make up a royal flush, and the players couldn’t predict when or where those stars would appear, so they couldn’t alter their playing style to try to win the progressive jackpot. But because it was so confusing, it wasn’t very popular.

Today, there is a system called Pokermania that designates a particular suit for each machine. For instance, a player sitting at a machine designated for diamonds must hit a sequential royal flush in diamonds to win the progressive jackpot. If he draws a sequential royal flush in hearts, he will get a good payout, but not the progressive. These machines seem to satisfy the player, but are still not as popular as the slot versions of the giant progressive jackpots. And because you’re supposedly playing for the big jackpot, you pay a big price in the full house/flush payout. Rarely will you see a giant linked-progressive jackpot video poker system paying more than six for a full house and five for a flush.

Baccarat – The small game

As we’ve seen, since the middle ages, baccarat has been considered the game of the rich. When it was introduced into Las Vegas, casino managers tried to maintain that aura, and succeeded beyond their wildest imaginations. Big gamblers from around the world today visit Las Vegas to experience the game in its most luxurious settings.

Other casinos saw the success with the big gamblers and tried to interest the rank-and-file gambler in the game in order to expand its appeal (and to make more profits, of course). In order to put it within reach of most gamblers, mini-baccarat was invented. It is essentially the same as the big game, but is played at a blackjack-sized table. It’s the generic version of the game, but with all the fabulous and highly enjoyable accoutrements stripped away. Like blackjack, it seats seven players. Each player has three spots, the Banker, Player and Tie bets. The game is conducted by a single dealer. The players do not handle the cards in mini-baccarat.

The dealer draws the cards according to the same rules as the big game. Winning Banker bets are charged the same five per cent commission and the house advantage is the same, as well.

The only difference between the two styles of baccarat is the speed of the game. At the large game, only two, maybe three, hands can be dealt per minute. At mini-baccarat, five, sometimes six, hands can be dealt per minute.

As the tempo of the game increases, the house gets more shots at your money. Even though the house advantage doesn’t change, if there are more decisions per hour, you’re going to lose at a faster pace. But since the minimums are lower, you’ll lose less than at the larger table.
Mini-baccarat is a good way to learn how to play baccarat without losing more than you’d like. It’s also a good game for anyone who wants to play a simple game that requires no playing strategy.

But bear in mind that for all the similarities with the big game, mini-baccarat is not baccarat. The elegance and appeal of the big game is worth spending the extra time and investing the money on. You’ll get the attention normally reserved for the big gamblers, and feel like one, as well.

Craps – Introduction

The most exciting game in the casino or online casino is undoubtedly craps. Most of the shouting and rooting can be traced to the dice games, and for good reason. Craps can be the most favourable game in the casino if you understand how to take advantage of its attractive bets.

Blackjack players approach their game with the studiousness of professors. Roulette players are like cartographers, mapping their way around the multi-numbered layout.
Baccarat players are serious gamblers, with their emotions riding the game’s twists and turns. And slot machine players stare at their machines with a mind-numbing expression,
only breaking their rhythm to celebrate wins.

But over in the corner, you hear some yelling and rooting, it seems like the most exciting place in the entire casino. You see a crowd of people gathered around what appears to be a pit, but is actually a craps game. Craps, or dice, is easily the
casino’s most thrilling game. When the dice are falling the right way, there are few other experiences that rival it.

As mentioned previously, craps is not a very popular game in Europe, and particularly the UK. Perhaps that is because, for centuries, all dice games were banned in England because King Charles I was distraught when his soldiers whiled away their time playing these games instead of preparing for battle. Legalized in the 1970s, dice games have never caught on, perhaps because the excitement and enthusiasm generated at the craps table never seemed very “British”. But with the coming liberalization of gaming laws, UK punters would be well advised to reconsider their initial impressions about this exciting and potentially profitable game.

Place bets in Craps

Another way to bet multiple numbers at a craps game is to “place” your bets. These bets can be made at any time. To place a bet, following the come-out roll, you simply tell the dealer you’d like to “place the six” or any of the other place numbers – four, five, six, eight, nine and ten – you’d like to take.

Unlike the come-line bets, the dealer must take the chips from you and place the bets. In no situation should the player ever reach above the come line, which is the unofficial dividing point between the players and the dealers. He places the chips in a corresponding position to your playing position at the table, so he can easily identify which bets belong to which players.

The odds for the place numbers are as follows:

•    For the four and ten, 9-5;

•    For the five and nine, 7-5;

•    For the six and eight, 7-6.

Place and buy bets can only be set up by the dealer. To make this bet, simply tell the dealer you want to “place” a particular number. Place bets are not paid at true odds, while buy bets are because you pay a commission to ‘buy” those bets.

Right now you’re saying “Why should I place on the four or ten at odds of 9-5, when I can bet a come bet, place the odds and get 2-1 ?”

The answer is that on the come line, you’ve got to wait for the number to hit before you can take odds. And you’ll get no odds if you bet the come; your bet will simply be moved to the place bet box number. Then you have to wait for the number to hit a second time before you get a payout.

If you place a number, you get paid the first time it hits. But you suffer by placing your number bets. The casino advantage for the four and ten is a large 6.7 per cent. For the five and nine, the edge is four per cent, and for the six and eight, it’s a more reasonable 1.5 per cent.

It is only advisable to take the six and eight because of the small advantage, as well as the fact that six and eight are the second-most likely combinations to be rolled apart from the seven.

If you do bet these numbers, you must make the exact bets, or you won’t get a full payout. For instance, you must bet £6 to win £7 on the six and eight. For the five and nine, £5 will get you £7, and for the four and ten, £5 will win £9. If you’re betting higher, bet in multiples of those amounts. Anything less, and the house will further expand its advantage.

Place bets can be taken down at any time. Simply ask the dealer to “Take me down” and you’ll get all your bets back. Place bets are also “off’ or “not working” on the come-out roll.

Craps – Simple yet complicated

Because the table layout has multiple areas in which to place bets, and the amount and payout of those bets vary, modem players have abandoned craps to concentrate on simpler, less confusing games. But those players are missing out on one of the last bastions of true gambling.
The activity at a craps game is very confusing to a novice. Players throw chips to the dealer yelling what seems to be a secret code, such as “Give me a hard eight for five,” “C and E for a deuce!” “I’ll take a two-way.”

It’s easy to see why observers are mystified by this repartee, but many of these bets are ones that the knowledgeable craps player will not make. Many people play craps but very few play it skillfully, and there lies the difference in a game that wins a great deal of money for the house but, at the same time, treats the intelligent player very well.

To understand why the house makes so much money at the craps table, you first have to understand the maths. There are only so many ways to roll specific numbers on the two dice you use in craps. For instance, there is only one way to roll the two or 12. The true odds of that occurring are 35-1. But the casino does not payoff your bet at the correct ratio; for the two (or 12), you only get 30-1. That gives the casino a rather hefty house advantage of nearly 14 per cent on that bet. So you see, when the house takes such a big percentage of what you’re supposed to get on that bet, the intelligent craps player will avoid those bets.