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Poker for beginners at Manchester235

Lynda Moyo takes a dip in the river and manages not to drown

Written by . Published on March 31st 2011.

Poker for beginners at Manchester235

AS if New Year’s resolutions aren’t hard enough, I set myself the unheard of challenge on 1 January 2011 – to learn how to play poker. In my head, there was also a secret second part to the resolution – win money. Hmmm.

We all sat nervously as the dealer sat on his own with chips and cards spread across the table on the other side of the room. He had a look which said ‘welcome, I’m about to change your life.’ He had that fortune teller mystique about him.

Three and a half months on and along with the nation’s promised diets and exercise regimes, I was yet to start mine. The chance to learn to play at Manchester235 in a session for beginners retriggered the resolution immediately. I could avoid making a fool out of myself in front of Robert De Niro types, yet still learn the art of the game with the best.

At just £15per person it’s much more than beginners luck – Manchester235 have purpose planned an evening to show newbies that poker, as well as being a lot of fun, is also not just about losing money when you’re new to it.

Beginning with a choice of wine or beer, we all sat nervously as the dealer sat on his own with chips and cards spread across the table on the other side of the room. He had a look which said ‘welcome, I’m about to change your life.’ He had that fortune teller mystique about him. We were then given a banquet to feast on made up of a variety of pizza and fries. Brain food. Poker takes lots of thinking, predicting, plotting and planning.

They say the best way to learn anything is to get stuck in straight away. Craig, a poker dealer of 18 years, laid his cards out. We were shown the different types of winning poker ‘hands’.

Names such as ‘flush’, ‘four of a kind’ and ‘full house’ have now been added to my vocabulary, but I couldn’t tell you what they meant off the top of my head right now. As Craig told us, remembering the hands would come with time, but once you’ve got them, that’s where the real fun begins.

There were eight of us around the table, nine including the dealer. Three of us were women. If anyone thought this was just a man’s game, they’re mistaken. Craig took the time to show us the chart of all the different hands and it was at that point we all realised that there’s a lot more to it than just waiting for the ‘river card’ like in the movies. It’s about outwitting your opponent when you’ve got a bad hand, outwitting your opponent when you’ve got a good hand – it’s just about mind games really, all in the good spirit of the game of course.

Good cards doesn’t always guarantee a win though. Play 21/pontoon for that. This game is more about thinking on your feet, understanding the pressure of your opponent, keeping your nerve and making your own luck.

After the teaching, the tactics and the explanation he threw us into the river, so to speak, and eight of us played with the help of some of the other dealers peering over our shoulders to help.

Practice makes perfect in this game and we all realised quickly that it would take more than one session to win big. There was no winner though in our first game. No real money was exchanged, chips were reused as we played for three hours but by the end of it I genuinely felt like I could hold my own in a real game for real money. Well, maybe pence.

If you fancy trying beginners’ poker at Manchester 235, the next session takes place Wednesday 4th May from 7pm

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