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Local plays in Vegas poker championship
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Poker Glossary

A good player knows winning takes more than a solid poker face. Here are some terms to know when playing Texas hold ‘em.

All-in - betting all of your remaining chips on a hand.

Blinds - the two players left of the dealer must always bet before they are dealt cards; thereby, playing blind. This ensures some betting each round. The dealer rotates in Texas Hold ‘Em.

Bluffing or reverse bluffing - When a player bets in a way to make his opponent think he has a stronger or weaker hand than he really does.

Late position - being far to the left of the dealer. Playing in this position has the advantage of getting to see how strong others feel their hands are before having to bet.

Living on the river - beating an opponent on the last card.

Flop - the first three community cards turned over, followed by the second round of betting.

Fold - throwing in your hand and giving up on a particular round of betting.

Pocket - the two private cards each player is dealt.

Pot - the total amount of chips that have been bet in a given hand.

Raise - raising the bet on a given hand. A minimum bet is established by the blinds.

River - the final community card, followed by the last round of betting.

Short-stacked - having a smaller stack of betting chips than opponents, which gives you less flexibility in betting and generally leads to more conservative play.

Texas Hold ‘Em - the most popular version of poker in which each player is dealt two hidden cards, and can then create the best combination from those cards plus the five community cards. Betting happens during multiple rounds.

Turn - the fourth community card, followed by the third round of betting

When Ernie Smith peaked at his cards, barely raising their left tips, he was greeted with pocket aces. Naturally, he was confident after receiving the best starting hand in Texas hold ‘em.

He was on the verge of a big pot at the World Poker Tournament Amateur Championship. So he raised, and then raised again.

Poker, however, is a cruel mistress.

The flop actually did him in, though he had no idea. All he saw was no chance for a straight, little hope for a flush and nothing to be afraid of. The turn and river didn't change much.

In a perfect world, everyone else would have read that Smith had "pocket rockets" (poker is full of slang, check out the box to learn more) and gracefully bowed out. Vegas is far from a perfect world, even when it comes to poker.

"I ran into the same junky players I run into here anyway...classic suck-it poker" Smith said to his fellow players back in the cozy confines of Covington.

His opponent was holding a queen-nine off-suited hand, and what should turn up on the flop, but the dancing partners needed to turn that hand into two pairs.

"I was broken hearted. Three times I raised to the blind; that doesn't show the kind of discipline you'd expect," Smith said. "After that, I was short stacked and went to another table and got "the chair." The chair where every hand dealt is death. I ended up going all in with a king-jack and losing."

Luckily, there was more in Vegas than the national amateur poker tournament, and there's more to playing cards than winning - at least to some.

"I'll be your friend all day long, but I want to win," said Matt Horner, a loud talking, sunglass wearing local.

Horner, Smith and a rag-tag bunch of locals gather at 7 and 9 p.m., every Tuesday and Wednesday at Five O'Clock Somewhere to mock each other, have a good time and play poker in a competitive, yet easygoing environment.

"This crowd is your more laid back, fun, happy crowd," said Frank Hustek Jr., president of the southeast amateur league for the World Poker Tournament. "It's a laid back bar crowd having fun. Everybody messes with everybody."

The poker is free, so the stakes are low. Regulars can rack up points, and on any given night players may win bar credits or movie tickets, but this isn't gambling, so no money changes hands.

"It's a great place for players to come in and learn how to play. We get new players almost every night," Hustek said.

"We like to refer to them as FNG's," Smith interjected. (You can figure that one out.)

Players can come in to Five O'Clock at 6 p.m. to receive a how-to from Hustek, who's played professional poker for several years.

If you get good enough, you can make it to the annual tournament in Vegas, like Smith, or his good friend Dave Carter who won a regional tournament to earn his spot.

"It's just one of those feelings, you're this high off the ground, going yeah! I went out and called my wife, said "I'm going to Vegas!" By hook or by crook," Carter said.

Carter and Smith were both knocked out in the first round of the nationals, but that just gives them something to work on for next year. Texas hold ‘em is incredibly simple, yet chocked full of complexity.

"I have a hard time bluffing," said Carter, laughing. "Which you really need to know how to do, because you need to be able to win the pots you're supposed to win and the pots you're not supposed to win."