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The Ruling Principle

In Act I of George Bernard Shaw's famous play Caesar and Cleopatra, the two main characters meet for the first time at the foot of the Sphinx. Cleopatra, still very young and inexperienced, does not realize who Caesar is and confides to him her terror that the invading Romans are barbarians who "are coming to eat us all." Without revealing his identity, Caesar tells Cleopatra that if she behaves like a grown woman and a queen, then the Romans will not harm her, but if she continues to act like a silly child, she will be eaten.

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Stuck in Reverse

As the name indicates, reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds. While implied odds push your true pot odds one step forward, reverse implied odds pull them one step backward. In either case, the pot odds are not quite as they first appear, because future betting rounds must be taken into account.

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Money for Nothing

It's one of the most beautiful words in all of poker. It's a word players always love to hear because it offers the promise of getting something for nothing. The word is freeroll, and it means that you cannot lose.

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Deadliest Catch

It's a peculiar kind of poker tragedy. You're drawing to a big hand when precisely the card you were hoping for appears on the river. It's such a wonderful feeling, a glorious rush. So now you throw chips into the middle of the table with abandon, confident this pot will soon be yours-only to discover at the showdown that another player already held a better hand than the one you were drawing to. You were drawing dead all along. Hitting your card was the worst thing that could have happened. That beautiful river card has cost you a big chunk of chips.

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Back in the Straddle Again

Unique to live cash games, a straddle bet is an additional and voluntary pre-flop blind raise. In effect, a third blind. Before any cards are dealt, the under-the-gun player can announce "straddle" and put out chips amounting to twice the big blind. In some locations, a Mississippi straddle is allowed from any location at the table. With the straddle, betting limits double for the first round only, and the straddler will always act last before the flop.

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Sugar Pops

In no-limit and pot-limit games, one sneaky little weapon that can prove very useful in the early rounds is the pot-sweetener. Typically, a pot-sweetener is a smallish bet or raise that's designed not to drive opponents out. It's a little bet that's trying to coax little calls-with the aim of fattening up the pot for the eventual kill. Opponents usually call the diminutive raise because they're getting good pot odds, and in the later rounds will be more inclined to keep on calling because of the now-larger pot.

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Stealing Those Blinds

Thievery is an essential part of poker. If poker were simply a game where the best hand always drags the pot, it would lose much of its strategic nuances and in turn, much of its appeal. The giant all-in bluff is the most dramatic form of poker larceny, but there are many others. Stealing the blinds and antes is small potatoes by comparison, but it's still a crucial tactic, especially in tournaments.

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Bluffus Interruptus

There's an old poker adage that says if you never get caught bluffing, then you must not be bluffing enough. A corollary to that adage might be if your bluffs keep getting caught, then you must be doing it too often. Either way you look at it, there's no getting away from the fact that bluffs always carry the risk of getting snapped off. For many players, that's a big part of what makes bluffing so much fun-the thrill of taking that chance in order to buy a pot without the best cards.

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Angle-Shooting: Dishonorable Discharge

Anyplace you find rules, you will always find somebody who wants to abuse them-especially in a game like poker, where so much money and ego are often at stake. Technically, angle shooting is not cheating. Angle shooters don't break the rules-they just make it their personal mission to bend them as much as humanly possible. Angle shooting occupies a strange gray area in the game of poker. It's unethical and poisons the atmosphere of the game, and yet it's not really illegal.

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"One More Hand" Syndrome

That phrase was coined by author John Vorhaus in his book, Killer Poker Online. Say you're thinking about quitting a poker session, but then a little voice in your head keeps telling you: Just one more hand...just one more round...and you end up staying for a lot longer than you planned. That's a classic case of one more hand syndrome and it's a real danger sign. Self-discipline is crucial in this game.

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