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Why travellers should try out their poker face

October 10, 2011

A quick musing on something other than travel, but a passion nonethless: poker.

It’s something many people will dabble with, whether in their local bar (where often there’s no fee to play, as the bar relies on players to have a drink or three to boost their courage), with friends at home, through Facebook, or even professional websites. Like travel, it can be an exhilarating phenomenon, with hearts pumping fast and pulses racing.

The trick is patience – another attribute travellers will no doubt be able to relate to – and learning the rules is a must. Websites such as PartyPoker Español are an ideal place to find your feet. Luckily this website has an area that teaches you the basics, and my advice is to start with Texas Hold’em.

It’s a cliche, but true – it’s a game that’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. Acting like a complete novice can sometimes trick fellow players, as they instantly lose the ability to judge you. But my advice, get online and practise, practise, practise. (The worst case I’ve seen of this is a player who turned up with a print-out of the hierarchy of winning cards, which they referred to constantly during the game. They also happened to win a lot of hands, and coming third in the tournament. Still, get the practice in, then try this…)

Advance slowly, and get earning for that next city break or backpacking stint to South America. The best part? Next time you’re travelling – especially backpacking – and finding that breaking the ice is difficult,  as soon as you open up the pack you’ll discover nothing brings people together more than a game of poker.

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