I’ve been around gamblers most of my life. Indeed, childhood trips to Disneyland were not complete without a quick four-hour drive across the desert to “Adult Disneyland,” a paradise of weird facades that I later learnt was called Las Vegas. In uni, I lived with the daughter of a professional gambler, my brother has written a book on the subject and Mr. F’s job means that we are regularly invited to attend horse meets (technical term for going to the races).
As with every other way of wasting money, I’m good at this shit. Allow me to talk you through a few ways for you to gamble your hard-earned cash away.
Starting with the most glamorous option first, let’s pretend the casinos we xoJaners are most likely to be found at are in Monte Carlo or Las Vegas, rather than the Grosvenor in Stoke-on-Trent. Apart from the fact that a casino is often the only place that’s likely to be open at 5 in the morning, they’re also full of more interesting characters than the average pub, and can have far less threatening atmospheres.
According to my ex-roommate’s Papa, the key to being good on the games tables is very quick mental arithmetic, including knowing your thirteen and seventeen times tables, and mastering statistics. I find that kind of thing difficult so I’m going to make these suggestions instead: set a spending limit and stick to it (make your friends forcibly remove your handbag from you if need be) and take care not to overdress -- some of those interesting characters may assume you’re a sex worker if you do.
As in all art forms, there are a few people who have a natural genius for poker. The rest of us need to practice ‘til our skill set improves to the point where we have a sense of achievement because we’ve, ya know, played a full game. Though pretty much the most fun a girl can have involving maths and deliberately misleading her friends, it really is that complicated.
I’d need the whole site’s word limit to actually teach you how to play poker, so this is only a very quick overview of the game. If you’re interested in learning more, leave a comment and I promise to come back to you in more detail.
So, a typical game of poker will contain between two and 10 players. Casino games tend to set up with eight players for a seven-card game like Stud poker or Razz, and nine or 10 players for Texas Hold'Em but for God’s sake don’t go near a casino game ‘til you actually know what you’re doing. They will take your home if you bet it. That’s not just in movies.
The aim of poker is to win money by capturing “the pot.” This is the pot of money that contains bets made by players during the game. Players make bets in hopes that they have the best hand (set of cards) OR to give the impression that they have a strong hand. This is done to convince the other players to “fold” (abandon their hands).
Basically, you convince them your hand is amazing, they all back down and you walk away with the cash. To best achieve this you’ll need a “poker face”(an impassive or gormless gaze). Practice enough and yours will not give away the fact that, far from being close to winning the pot, you no longer have a pot to piss in.
Most poker games are played using a standard 52-card deck, with the occasional addition of a joker or “bug card” in some variations. There’s no need to invest in a set of poker chips -- peanuts to pennies will work just as well -- but they do look pretty cool, and can be ordered from a number of online retailers. For games of 3-4 players you’ll need 300 chips, with roughly another 50 for every additional player after that.