Odds-on Favourites

Take a look at Las Vegas today. Las Vegas Boulevard, the famous Strip, added new hotels at a rate of two per year during the Nineties, and the pace of additions seems to be continuing in this century both on and off the Strip. Excalibur, MGM Grand, Treasure Island, Luxor, New York-New York, Paris, Monte Carlo, Rio, Bellagio, Venetian, The Palms and others will soon be joined by Wynn Las Vegas, mognl Steve Wynn’s first fabulous creation of the new century on the site of the old Desert Inn. Atlantic City’s 12 casinos are jammed for every hour of the 24 hours they’re open. Even in sleepy Biloxi, Mississippi, casino action is non-stop, with more dock-side casinos being added year after year.

What should this expansion tell you? No, there isn’t the need for new hotel rooms in Las Vegas. No, the beaches in Atlantic City aren’t the most beautiful in the world. And no, people don’t frequent the dock-side casinos in Biloxi because they yearn for riverboat gambling of days past. This should tell you that the casinos make so much money that American casino companies are falling over themselves – and spending hundreds of millions of dollars – to build the next one. And why are they making so much money? Because the games offered in casinos don’t offer players much chance of winning. The tables have a built in house advantage, and the slot machines are simply computers programmed to win more for the casino than they payout.

Mathematics plays the most important role in the casino. The mathematicians who developed the rules of the various games that give the house its guaranteed wins are some of the casinos’ most valued consultants.
Slot machines are easy. They are essentially computers that can be programmed to pay back a certain amount of the money deposited in them. A little device known as the "random number generator", an essential element in many different kinds of computers, determines when jackpots are hit, how many are hit, and for how much. No one can tell when it will happen, but casino executives know one thing: when the day is over, a pre-determined amount of money will be added to the bottom line, courtesy of the "slots".

Sure, you can win at slot machines. They all hit jackpots, and if you’re lucky enough to be playing the machine when the jackpot hits, you could be a winner. But if you continue iD play ad infinitum, you will lose. It’s the law of averages, and it’s a law that has no loopholes.

Video poker is different. If you know what machines to look for and how to play those machines when you find them, you can reduce the house advantage to zero, or even less – an actual player-advantage game. But to beat that house advantage, you have to get your share of the jackpots – royal flushes, fives-of-a-kind, or whatever the top award might be. And that factor is dependent upon our old friend, the random number generator. Video poker gives you some control over the results by making your decisions matter. A skilful player will have a better idea of which cards to discard, and so on.

That’s where we draw the line in the casino. You have the best chance to win when you play games in which you have some control over the outcome.

High Roller Casinos – Getting Started

Casinos can be imposing, overwhelming places. Other, more experienced players can often make a newcomer feel intimidated and unwelcome. These situations can easily be avoided by knowing the basics of casino etiquette.

For many new players, the slot machines are the most familiar and least threatening of all the games in a casino. It’s easy to plop in a coin, or buy a stack of coins and sit for hours in front of one machine spinning reels or playing cartoon bonus rounds. Virtually all modern slot machines now take notes, and an increasing number payout in tickets that can either be cashed at the cage or simply taken to another machine and used like cash. In many casinos, this new type of gambling has made any contact with a cashier completely obsolete.

The note machines will take any denomination from £1 upwards. After the note is inserted, the machines will most likely register credits on the machine rather than spit out the corresponding number of coins or tokens. If you prefer to play with coins, however, it’s simply a matter of hitting the cash button that will spill the coins into the pay-out tray of the slot machine. Of course, with the increasing number of ticket-printing machines in modern casinos, even this tried-and-true practice may be on its way to becoming obsolete.

Choosing which slot machine to play is generally as simple as deciding what denomination you want to use. Remember two things: the larger the denomination, the larger the payout; and slot machines are programmed to win.

Casino executives love slot machines, which is a good reason why you should not. In the past 20 years, the percentage of casino revenue taken by slot machines has changed places with that of table games. It used to be that the table games accounted for over 60 per cent of casino revenue. Slot machines were provided for their entertainment value and aimed at the wives of the table game players.

Things began to change as table game players got older, and began to disappear. Newer casino customers weren’t comfortable with table games, but responded to the more modem and recognizable slot machines. With credit- or debit-card machines, computers and televisions now ingrained in our culture, slot machines became the choice of many of the casinos’ younger customers.

Today, slot machines account for over 70 per cent of casino revenue. In some places, it’s even higher. Table games, meanwhile, have undergone a dramatic decline in interest. Players continue to disappear, and attracting new table-game players is costly for the casinos.

Because most table games offer a house edge that is significantly less than most slot machines, casino executives don’t lose any sleep over players moving from those games to slot machines.

Even slot machines that have good payout percentages (the ratio of money returned to the player to the money played) generally pay back far less than a player can achieve by playing intelligently at a craps table, blackjack or in the baccarat pit. Even American roulette tables pay back more than the average slot machine payout.

Yes, slot machines are fun and non-intimidating, but they also take your money faster than any major table game. And, by sitting in front of a slot machine the entire day, you miss out on the social interaction that can be so rewarding in the casino. Break down the barriers and give table games a try.

High Roller Casino Culture

The legal status of gambling has changed markedly in the past 25 years. From the introduction of casinos to Atlantic City in 1978 to the explosion of Indian gaming in North America, some form of gambling is legal in almost every state and province. Australia and New Zealand have large gaming industries, while the UK, France, Germany and other Western European countries allow various foorms of casino gambling. And the nations of Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia are all increasingly allowing more forms of gambling. In most parts of the world, patrons are now able to drive to a casino.

The types of casinos vary widely, however. In the UK, for example, patrons must be “members” of a casino in order to play. In France, on the other hand, the general public is free to enter. In Australia, gamblers can play slot machines in small clubs or large casinos.

European resorts like Monaco in France, Spain’s Gold Coast and Germany’s Baden-Baden offer different kinds of casino experiences, but they all rely on one thing: the ability of their clients to play … and lose.

An American-style casino is different from the European casino. In most cases, the European casinos are reserved effectively for the middle and upper classes. with entry fees, memberships or location serving as an effective barrier to those who either can’t afford to join or aren’t acceptable as members.

However, in the US, most casinos are open to everyone, with few restrictions on participation – outside of age or criminal background. American casinos, like many aspects of the American culture, are aimed at the masses. They are much more democratic.

All gaming resorts make the lion’s share of their money from the casino, so it is important to them that customers play in their casino as long as possible. Casino executives understand that the longer people play, the more likely they are to lose. Remember, in the short-term, you can profit from deviations from the law of averages, but the longer you play, the more vulnerable you are, and the more likely you are to end up losing.
To get you into the casino in a gaming resort that features other entertainment amenities, the house employs a variety of tools. The regulations can vary from country to country and even within a country, so many of these methods do not apply, but in general the idea is to get customers into the casino and keep them there as long as possible.

In Nevada. vou can’t walk anvwhere in a hotel without walking through the casino. Even when you’re checking in, you usually have to walk through the slot machines to get to the front desk. The friendly din of the slot machines is audible whenever you leave your room, encouraging you to slip a few coins into the machine and yank the arm just in case it’s your lucky day.

In the past, many casinos decorated their bedrooms in garish colours and busy designs. This was supposed to make the guests restless and encourage them to return to the casino. You’ll notice that televisions in casino rooms don’t sport a wide variety of channels and, in most cases, there are no minibars, so people are forced to leave their rooms in search of a drink.

Even if you’re eating in a casino restaurant, you’re still not insulated from the games. Keno runners will skip from table to table accepting bets for the next keno game. The keno numbers can be seen from every vantage point in the hotel. Some casinos have designed special slot machines that will let you eat while you make a bid to maximize business.
Alcohol plays a large role in keeping you in the casino. Cocktail waitresses circulate frequently through the tables and the slot machines to ply the players with free drinks. Alcohol greases the casino’s cash stream. Even when you want to take a break, casino bars have video-poker machines embedded in the bar that constantly flash their appealing message. It’s difficult to sit still and resist the temptation to try your luck.

Many casinos also pump extra levels of oxygen into their ventilation systems, which gives players a feeling of well-being, making them feel lucky, with the aim that they will increase their bets. However, casino executives defend this practice by saying they are just increasing the flow of fresh air.

Don’t expect to see any clocks in a casino. The executives want you to lose track of time and neither know nor care whether it’s night or day. Windows were never originally included in casino design, but that concept is beginning to change now that most casinos are located in resort areas that have spectacular vistas.

Today’s casinos take advantage of those great views so that when you sit at a gambling table or slot machine you can appreciate the surroundings. You can then return home with tales of the beautiful scenery, even if you never actually left the casino.

High Roller Casino Games

High Roller casinos tend to have the same casino games as standard online casinos but with higher betting limits. Most high roller online casinos offer a big range of betting limits from a few cents to hundres of dollars, euro’s or punds so it’s important to pick the level that you are comfortable at. A lot of people prefer to play at the lower limits as it gives them more games whereas others aren’t interested in playing anything other than high stakes games with big payouts. It all depends on personal preference and is one of the great things with online casinos in that the betting range is so much wider than a standard casino.

In almost all high roller casinos you will find the following casino games:

Video Poker: This is an incredibly popular section in most casinos and there is almost always a massive range of different types of Video Poker. As the name suggests the games are based on Poker but are much faster and of course you are not playing against other players. You also have the option of playing multiple hands at the same time which adds to the excitement.

Slots: Most High Roller casinos seem to be competing with each other to see who can offer the biggest selection of slots games. These days some of the slots at online casinos are absolutely fantastic with excellent graphics and some of them offer the opportunity of some tactics, especially with the multi-line slots.

Table games: This is the section that most people identify wth a casino let alone a high roller casino , it includes such classics at Craps, Sic Bo and Roulette and is without a doubt the most popular section of almost any online casino.

Card Games: This includes the casino games which are perhaps most identifiable with high rollers, Blackjack, Baccarat, Tequila Poker and many others. Whenever I think of a traditional high roller casino I immediately think of Blackjack, Baccarat and Roulette as they are the games which are most featured via films and books.

Aside from these games there are many others which you will find at high roller casinos and amongst these are progressive jackpot games which at high roller casinos can offer absolutely massive payouts although not particularly good odds. In summary you won’t really find any casino games at a high roller casino which you can’t find in a regular online casino but the big difference between them is the increased betting limits at a high roller online casino.

High Roller Casino Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular games at a High Roller Casino and offers some of the best odds. High Roller Online Casinos offer some really exciting Blackjack games with a very good range of betting levels, enough to suit even the wealthiest pocket. What is fun is that these online casinos offer many variations of Blackjack, not just the standard game, for example at most high roller casinos you’ll find European blackjack, Lucky 7 blackjack, Single deck blackjack and many more.

Blackjack in itself is a simple game to learn but is slightly trickier to master. The aim is to get as close to 21 as possible with 21 being the best total and if you achieve 21 with two cards then it’s called Blackjack.

The cards are worth the face value of the cards, with Jack, Queen and King being worth 10 and Ace worth 11. You are initially dealt two cards by the dealer, the "House", and you can then choose whether to receive another card or stick with what you’ve got. You should generally aim to get to at least 17 points. Your cards are dealt face up but the dealer, who deals himself 2 cards, has only one card visible. This visible card will influence your choice of whether or not to take another card. For example if the dealer is showing a card with a value of 10 then he is in the a very strong position so you need to get at least to 17 points yourself as chances are he will get to this total himself or herself. In most high roller casinos the dealer has to stop at 17 which means as soon as the dealers hand has a value of 17, either immediately or after taking additional cards, he has to "stick". this means that if you had 17 it would be a "push" which means you get your money back or if you had between 18 and 21 you would win and get paid out at 2:1. If however you get a natural Blackjack, for example a King and an Ace then you would get paid out at 2.5:1.

This then is the basic rules of Blackjack but there are many other documents on this site which go into far more detail. In any case I highly recommend this game of Blackjack because it is very easy to get into, offers great odds and is excellent fun to play. Check it out at one of our reviewed high roller casinos soon.

Introduction to Poker – Part 1

Card games have been played for centuries. Hours of excitement and fascination have been spent in plush salons, sleazy basement dives and friendly home games and, most importantly for poker, above aIl other games, fortunes have been won and lost.

In 1837, poker developed into, more or less, the game we have now. Previously, a short deck – or pack – of only twenty cards was utilized, but with the advent of the 52-card deck, which we know today, the game changed dramatically and for the better.

Since then, all poker games have been based on the purest form of the game: 5-Card Stud. ln this version, each player is dealt five cards and the betting begins, players having a chance to bet that theirs is the best hand at the table. Mostly, players fold – throw away their cards – and wait for a better hand. If one player bets more money into the pot than anyone is prepared to match, he takes the pot whether he really has the strongest hand or not; he doesn’t even have to show his cards. If one or more of the other players match the highest bet, there is a showdown – where aIl those players show their cards and the player with the best hand takes the spoils.

All poker hands, in every form of the game there is, have a ranking. It is how you tell who has the best hand. It is arranged in order based purely on the statistical probability of such a hand occurring, from the best hand and least likely to occur – the Royal Flush – to the worst hand and most commonly seen type of hand, containing nothing but a High Card.

All poker games are based on this ranking and all poker hands are made up of five cards. ln some versions of the game, more than five cards are dealt to each player, or are available for use. However, only five cards can be used to form a poker hand. Never more; never less.

5-Card Stud Poker is mostly about psychology, guts and the ability to mask your real emotions. Vou got your five cards and that was it. You had to fold them, pretend that you had the best hand or, if you really did have a great hand, pretend that you didn’t have one to lure other players into the betting action. But players wanted more action, more of a chance to stay involved in the hand. The solution was a development that, once again, was to change the face of poker: The Draw.

Texas Hold’em Poker – An introduction

Texas Hold ‘Em is the Rolls Royce or Cadillac of poker games. It is the form favoured by the professional players and it is the one which features every year in the five-day marathon which is the climax to the WSOP – theon World Championships – or the “Big One”, as it is often called. Thankfully, it is incredibly easy to learn which means that you will be playing before you know it.

Firstly, let’s look at the briefest of descriptions – and then we’ll explore the game, the terminology, and the ritual in more detail.

In a casino or online casino game of Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is dealt, face down, two hole cards – so-called because the cards are “in the hole”, in the dark to the other players, hidden – which he looks at without showing them to his opponents. These are his cards and only his. There is now a round of betting based on the strength of those two cards alone.

Next, three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is known as the flop. These three cards are community cards, which can be used by all of the players, together with their two hidden cards, to make up a 5-card poker hand. There is another round of betting.

Now, a fourth community card is turned over and added to flop. This is known as the turn or fourth street. Another round of betting follows, before the final card is dealt, face up, in the middle of the table. This final card is known as the river, or fifth street. It is so-called because it is often the river on which a player’s dreams go floating away when his opponent’s hand is suddenly transformed by the arrival of the final card.

There is now one final round of betting in which the remaining players use one or both of their own cards, plus any of the five community cards on the table, to make up the best 5-card poker hand. If more than one player believes that he holds the best hand, there will be a showdown, in which the players will show their hidden cards and announce their hand.

The winner takes all.

It is possible, although very rare, that the five cards on the table form the best possible hand and, if that is the case, all the remaining players would share the pot between them.

Let’s look at a quick example:
Player A holds A(C), 7 (C)
Player B holds K(C), Q(S)
Player C holds J(D), J(H)

There is a round of betting, based on just these hole cards during which strong hands may raise the betting and drive out players who hold weaker hands. Once the betting is complete, the flop is dealt:

The flop comes A(S), J(C), 2(D)
All three players will feel that they have quite a good hand now.

Player A has a Pair of aces – that is pretty strong.

Player B has no hand yet but if a 10 were to appear, he would hold the highest possible Straight – what we would call the “Nut Straight”.

Player C is winning right now, holding a powerful 3 of a Kind jacks.

There is a second round of betting. Player A might well put in a bet, believing his Pair of aces to be the best hand. Player B might give up, since he doesn’t have a made hand yet. Player C would certainly call the bet and might even raise the betting, since he is virtually sure that his hand is the best right now.

However let’s assume that all the players stay in the hand and watch what happens.

The fourth community card, or turn, is now dealt: 8(S)

The 8(S) has not changed the situation much, except that Player B, whilst still holding no hand, has now developed an extra chance of winning. Not only would a 10 give him the Nut Straight, but another spade would give him the highest possible Flush – the Nut Flush – since A(S) is on the board and he holds the next highest spade: K(S). So, while Player C is currently winning, with Player A in second place, Player B could overtake both of them if and when the fifth and final card is dealt.

Assuming, perhaps unrealistically, that the betting fails to drive out any of the players and they are all still in the hand, here comes the fifth and final community card – the river.

This is a big card for everyone. For Player A, it gives him 2 Pair – aces and 7s; for Player B, he has now made the best possible Flush – the table shows A(S) and he holds K(S) no one can have a higher value Flush than him – whilst Player C still holds three jacks, which still looks a strong hand.

There is now a final round of betting and, with each player holding what appears to be a good hand, there could be some big bets made. If the players end up having to show their hands, it will be Player B who will be smiling – he will collect all the chips. Players A and C will not be happy. They had good hands, but having the second or third best hand at poker is the worst situation of all because, in a showdown, you never win anything for being second best.

In a real game, the action might not have reached those final stages because Player C, holding the best hand until the very last card appeared, might have chosen to raise the betting so high that neither Player A nor B may have felt it worthwhile to stay in the hand. In that case, Player C would have won the pot at an earlier stage.

Here, then, is the classic poker dilemma. When you hold what you think is the best hand, do you bet it strongly, telling everyone you are strong, and risk all the other players giving up and you winning only a small amount of money?

Or, do you feign indifference, keep all the other players in the hand and then hope to surprise them at the end and lure them into betting more than they should?

That is one of the hardest, most skilful decisions in the game. Represent strength and risk winning little; slow play a good hand in an attempt to win more, but risk another hand overtaking you (as Hand B did) and then lose everything at a later stage?

To answer briefly: if you’re starting out at poker, when you have the best hand put in a big bet. It is definitely better to win something than to get outdrawn – have a player make a better hand than you because perfect cards appear for him on the flop, turn, or river – and outplayed later and lose everything. As you gain in knowledge and experience, you can modify that action.

There is a further scenario however, unique to poker. You may have a very poor hand, but choose to bluff your, way into winning a pot. If you bet aggressively and confidently, other players may believe that you have the best hand at the table, and they may all concede to you. Most players will tell you that it is far more satisfying to win a pot with a bluff than to have the best hand and Just get paid what you feel you were owed. Without the aspect of bluffing, poker would be a very dull game, smce the best hand would always win the money. Bluffing changes everything. 

Texas Hold’em Poker – Post Flop

The game only continues to the flop when all players have either folded, or matched the highest bet on the table. If no one calls and the Small Blind folds, the Big Blind wins the chips without needing to show his hand. The betting might end up with everyone betting two chips, or it may mean that one player has bet ten chips and just one other has called that bet and placed ten chips on the table.

Let’s imagine that two players have done that. The chips, which up until now, have been pushed forward by the players in front of them in little piles, get placed – or tossed – into one big pile in the middle of the table. This is the pot – the prize for which all the players remaining in the hand are now competing.

(It is important not to throw – or splash – your chips into the middle when you first bet since that will make it difficult for everyone to check that you have bet what you say you have. That is why you push your chips tidily forward in front of you first and then, once that round of betting is complete, everyone then puts their chips into the pot.)

Player A holds K(D), K(H)
Player B holds A(D), Q(D)

Both are strong hands, but Player A is winning so far since he holds a Pair and Player B holds only a High Card.

The dealer burns the top card off the deck (that is to say, he discards the top card face down) and then deals the next three cards in a row into the middle of the table, face-up – this is the flop.

A(S), 8(D), 5(C)

Player A will be sorry to see that ace on the board (the community cards that are face up on the table) since his Pair of kings may now be beaten if Player B holds an ace in his hand. As you can see, that is the case. Player B now does hold a Pair of aces and he is beating Player A.

Being to the left of the dealer means that Player A must bet first and he decides to make a bet to see if Player B stays in the hand. In this way, he is testing to see if Player B has been pleased by the appearance of the ace on the table. Player A bets ten chips. Player B now suspects that he has the best hand and he now has a choice of actions. He could simply call the bet (placing ten chips on the table), giving the impression that he wants to stay in the hand but that he is not sure who has the best cards or he could raise the bet, say to 20 chips, to state clearly that he believes that he has the best hand.

Let’s say that he takes the former option and just calls the bet. Each player moves his ten chips into the middle, adding to the pot. The dealer burns the next card and then turns over the following one. The board now shows:

J(S)  A(S), 8(D), 5(C)

Player A is still not sure that he holds the best hand so perhaps this time, he checks (indicating that, at the moment, he doesn’t want to make a bet). Player B may decide that, with two spades on the board, there is a slight chance that Player A might have two spades in his hand and be on the verge of making a Flush, so he decides to Bet.

is when you are the first player after the flop, turn or river, to make a bet.

Let’s say he bets 20 chips. Hand A is now feeling a bit depressed. His two kings were almost certainly the best hand until the ace appeared on the flop but now Player B’s confident betting is strongly suggesting that he holds an ace and has the best hand with a Pair of aces.

If Player A continues in this hand, unless another king appears (giving him 3 of a Kind kings – sometimes called Trips, so here Trip kings) he will lose. Since there are only two kings left in the deck (or held by Player B) out of 46 possible cards (the pack of 52 cards minus Player B’s hole cards and minus the four cards on the board), this is very unlikely.
(Here are some statistics – there is only a 1/23 or 4.3% chance of a third king appearing.)

Therefore, if Player A can work out that Player B really does have a Pair of aces, he should give up on the hand now and fold. He started with the best hand, but the community cards gave his opponent a better hand. Assuming that Player A is good enough to fold such a nice hand as KK, he will throw his cards away and concede. Player B will gather up the pot without having to show his cards (and, almost always, he should not show his cards as the best strategy is to keep your opponents guessing at all times).

Beginners often whine at the end of the hand and ask you to tell them what you actually held. Do not tell them. That is the game of poker: if you want to know what your opponents held, you have to pay to see the cards!

So, the hand doesn’t always proceed as far as the river. More often than not, one player makes a bet that is so big, so convincing, that all the other players feel that it is not worthwhile to continue in the hand, and they fold. Of course, in the previous example, Player B really did have the best hand and would probably have still had the best hand even after all five commumty cards had been dealt.

But, what if he had held almost nothing? He could have bet in the same way, Player A might have reacted in the same way, and Player B might have taken the pot without having any kind of decent hand. That is the beauty of poker. You do not have to have the best hand to win (unless there is a showdown, when you do). If you can convince your opponents that you have the best hand, then they may all fold, and you may win the pot without ever having to show your cards. That can be an amazing feeling.

Incidentally, should the deal have proceeded further, the dealer would, again, have burnt the top card and dealt the final community card – the river – face up onto the table. The dealer’s job is now done and he can relax and watch the hand played to its conclusion.

Forms of Texas Hold’em Poker

There are three main forms of poker game:

1. Home Games
As the name suggests, played at home, usually amongst friends, acquaintances and work colleagues. Stakes are usually low and, commonly, the style of poker played changes regularly. One round of Texas Hold ‘Em might be played, followed by a Hi/Lo game, then perhaps a mad variation with wild cards. A favourite form is "Dealer’s Choice" – where the dealer decides on a different form to be played on each deal.

However, recently, players have come to realize that Texas Hold ‘Em is the most exciting form of the game and many home games have switched to playing this form exclusively.

2. Online
At the end of the 1990s very little poker was played online. Now, more poker is being played online around the world than in homes and casinos. It is a massive business, hugely popular, and growing month by month. The advantages are many: there is privacy, convenience (you can play two hands and then change your mind and leave the table again), anonymity, huge choice of games and stakes.

The disadvantages are there too, however: you lose the human, social element, which diminishes many of the psychological elements, such as reading other players’ body language and reactions. It is also possible, without the support of others, to lose too much and to become utterly addicted to the adrenalin rush of gambling for high stakes. Like or loathe it, online poker is here to stay .

You can qualify for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) _ the World Championships for poker – over the Internet, starting with an entry fee of just $2 and you can give up work and become an online poker pro – as some have – earning a good living from the comfort of your own home.

3. Clubs and Casinos

Beware, the standard of play at poker clubs and casinos will be a lot higher than in your home game or online. You get the atmosphere, the equipment, often a dealer, and the reassurance of high security when you play. You are very unlikely to get cheated in a reputable casino or poker club. However, you’ll pay an hourly fee, or the house will take a rake (a small percentage) from each pot, to pay for all the facilities. Playing for mid or high stakes, that’s fine, but those fees eat into your bankroll as a low-stakes player and may harm your bottom line. Frankly, steer clear of club and casino poker until you are experienced and competent, or you may lose your shirt.

The Buy-In
Whatever game you play, there is always the buy-in. You exchange cash for chips and you place them on the table in front of you. Traditionally, you do not take chips off the table and put them in your pocket: any that you win are available to be lost until you stand up and cash-in (change your chips back into cash).
There is usually a minimum, and sometimes a maximum, buy-in. In clubs and casinos and online this is posted at the table. In a home game, it will be be mutual arrangement.
Buy-in for an amount which will hurt just a little if you lose and which will please you mightily if you manage to double. Do not buy-in for money you cannot afford. Sometimes the poker gods are in a black mood and you could play perfect poker and lose the lot.

Action on the Flop in Poker – Part1

The time to get off (or out of) a hand is either before the flop – and therefore before you have committed any, or much, money to the pot – or once the flop has appeared and it does not help your hand (which is, I’m sorry to say, most of the time).
The flop is the time when your hand – and those of your opponents – is made or broken. It is the moment when hands which were trailing before the flop have suddenly become strongest, and good hands pre-flop get no help from the community cards and suddenly look frail. Let’s look at a series of common situations and decide what action we might take. Bear in mind at all times that different players will take different action in the same situations. There is rarely a right or wrong way to play your hand, just methods that are more or less likely to work. These suggested methods are simple, but they are a good starting place on which to build your own skills and poker identity.

When the Flop Doesn’t Hit:
Sadly, this is a common situation.

You hold  A(H),Q(C)
and the flop comes K(S),7(S),3(D)

If no one bets anything, you can just check and wait to see if the turn and river are great cards for you. An ace would be nice. However, be aware that someone might’ be holding two spades and be on a Flush draw (hoping that another spade will appear in the turn or river and make him a Flush). If anyone makes a bet, you will have to concede.

You hold Q(S),Q(D)
and you raised before the flop, and one player called your raise
and the flop comes A(C),K(D),6(S)

This is a disaster for you. It is very likely that one of the two overcards (cards higher than those in your hand) has paired up with your opponent’s hand. If your opponent makes a bet, it will be right to fold and concede your greatly devalued hand. Contrast that with this situation where, again,

you hold Q(S),Q(D)
and the flop comes J(D),7(S),2(C)
Now, unless your opponent has AA, KK or a Pair matched on the flop, you have the best hand. You should definitely bet and probably re-raise any bet that your opponent makes since your QQ is likely to be winning. What you do not want to see is a king or ace appear on the turn or river – that would threaten your hand. Here, you want to raise big, to protect your hand and try to force your opponent to fold.
Intention: try to win the pot now with a raise to protect your hand against being beaten subsequently if an ace or king hits the board on the turn or river.

Holding Top Pair: This means if the flop’s highest card matches yqur hand to make a Pair. Now, your pair is the highest possible unless another player holds a higher pair in hand (here, only AA in the hole can beat you). This is a common situation which requires a simple course of action. Assuming that there have been no pre-flop raises, but three callers,

you hold            K(D),J(D)
and the flop comes  K(C),9(C),4(S)

when it is your turn you should bet. This is because you hold the top Pair of kings and a decent kicke: In the form of your jack. Unless someone has called originally on a strange low hand or something like K9 or K4, you have the best hand. You do not want to see any further cards in case a third club appears and you begin to fear the Flush. Betting the value of the pot here looks good. If you are called by a player with two clubs in his hand, seeking a club Flush, you have the odds on your side. He will only make his Flush one time in three whilst you have the best hand unless a club appears.

Intention: try to win the pot now or make players pay too dearly to draw to their hand.

Holding an Overpair.
An overpair is a Pair in your hidden two cards (in the hole) which is higher than the highest card showing on the flop. Assuming that no one raised pre-flop and you decided to call rather than raise with your low Pair, you face a similar problem to holding top Pair when this happens:

You hold            8(S),8(D)
and the flop comes  7(D),6(H),3(D)
Hoping that no one has called on 54 or 98 (it has been known) and therefore made a Straight on the flop, you probably have the best hand. Players with a higher Pair than yours might well have raised pre-flop. So, you want to protect your top Pair of 8s from the appearance of high cards on the turn and river, which might mean that another player suddenly overtakes you.

Some players would go all-in here to prevent any speculative calls, but in truth, a large bet – maybe twice the pot size – should do the trick.

Here, your intention is to win the hand now while you seem to be safely in the lead. If you checked or made a small bet which was called and the turn came:

K(D)  7(D),6(H),3(D)

Now you would be miserable. A player might easily hold a king and have you beaten and someone might just have made a diamond Flush.

Anyone betting now will surely have you beat and you will have to give up.

Intention: bet big to win the pot now – you do not want to risk overcards appearing on the table.