Poker Chip and Playing Card Party Treats

A poker party is one of the easiest themes to make snacks and treats for. Your guests will devour poker chip cookies, poker chip muffins, playing card cookies, and more, when you make them yourself. It’s exciting to create treats that look like things at the party, such as cards and poker chips. The special desserts, treats, and snacks will be the hit of the party so don’t waste anymore time; get into the kitchen!

Make everything from scratch or cheat a little, depending on how much time and effort that you want to apply. For example, you can make your own, homemade cookies, or you can just buy some cookies, and decorate them as you will. Graham crackers are a nice choice simply for their size and shape. If you’re making cookies, cut card-size shapes, and if you’re making poker chip cookies, make them small and round.

Frost the card cookies with a smooth layer of white frosting; frost the poker chips blue, red, white, or other poker chip colors. It’s best to make or buy white frosting and tint it with food coloring; you’ll be able to make small amounts of each color needed.

Gel frosting, which comes in tubes, makes it easy to draw on the cookies, but you can also pipe on the lettering and images. Just put frosting in a plastic bag, twist it tightly into one corner, and cut a tiny snip from the very corner.

Pipe or draw on frosting to represent the denomination of each card and/or poker chip treat. It’s helpful to look at cards and chips to get an idea of the placement of the lettering, sizes of images, and so on. All of the cards can be different – and the same goes for the poker chips – or you can make them all the same, like all aces or all blue poker chips.

Besides cookies, you can quickly make playing card cakes when you make your own cake, or buy Little Debbie snack cakes. Just purchase rectangular snack cakes, draw on top of them to create the cards, and you’re finished. It’s optional to put on a layer of frosting since most snack cakes are rather skimpy on the frosting. If you’ve made your own cake, you can cut it into individual pieces, or you can make the card design across the entire cake.

A fun element is added to the party when you create poker chip mini muffins. Purchase or make small muffins and then lay a clean poker chip on each one (after the cake is cooled if you’ve baked the muffins yourself). With this snack, each muffin-eater ends up with a free poker chip for the game!

Nothing like Poker in Vegas

Whew! Five days (no nights) in Vegas wore me out. I flew in Saturday to watch my son play poker in the “main event.” I’ve never been to football’s Super Bowl or baseball’s World Series, but this WSOP shindig seemed every bit a combination of both.

My son, Bret, began play noon Sunday. That morning I suggested he consider going over to the Rio a couple of hours early, just in case it was a registration madhouse. He said he was pre-registered so wasn’t going to bother getting there more than five minutes early.

Oh well, I knew it really wasn’t important to start with the herd on the first hand out of the gate. Phil Helmuth makes a trademark of showing up late to tournaments. Truth be told, it isn’t a big deal since not many wonderful things can happen early in big tournament play but a bunch of bad things can. Also, blinds are so tiny, the cost of tardiness is nil.

I did worry about administrative screw-ups. Stuff happens. I wasn’t comfortable walking in a few minutes before “shuffle up and deal” rang through the rooms, especially when I saw the mob as our taxi pulled up at the Rio entrance.

I needn’t have worried. We filed in, went with the signs that guided the flow toward the event. Bret peeled off at the “will call” desk to get his ticket. He presented identification and, after filling out an IRS tax form, was given his room and seat assignment. I was impressed. No muss, no fuss.

Luckily his table was on the edge with his chair closest to the ropes. I found a place to sit on some stairs so was able to comfortably watch the action…or, more appropriately, inaction. Tournament poker is hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror and excitement. Combat pilots use the same description for their profession.

I took in the sights until Bret was in a hand. Then I’d walk over to watch what went on. During hands he wasn’t playing, he’d come over to where I sat and we’d chat about the game or other players. It was most enjoyable for this father.

The huge central exposition hall had a “carnival” atmosphere. Books, software, educational DVDs, cards, chips, even a car customized into a “Pokermobile” were hawked from display booths. It was a flea market without fleas.

As I moseyed through the expo hall, Doyle Brunson rode past on his handicap scooter. He zipped right by. Had I stepped a foot to my left, I’d probably have gotten my name on the nightly news. “Doyle Brunson hits fat southern boy at WSOP main event. Otis Gardner rushed to hospital. Scooter successfully removed.”

I ran into a bunch of familiar folks. I stood in line with Hevad Kahn. He wasn’t hyperventilating or agitated one little bit, unlike his televised persona. He seemed like a nice, quiet guy. I suppose some players don’t go into “character mode” until on camera. I was surprised Chris Moneymaker was such a short dude. I don’t know how he manages to see over his chip stacks.

Mike Matusow apparently doesn’t come alive until ESPN people show up. He’s known as “The Mouth” because he constantly runs his. But on this day, he sat at the table next to Bret’s and I didn’t hear a peep from him. No camera – no sound. It’s magic!

Jerry Yang, last year’s winner, was in the house. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson most definitely looks like the artistically classic Jesus. Joe Hashem and Daniel Negreanu were signing books at separate tables.

I want to read Negreanu’s new book. I would’ve bought it there, but why carry it around all day, signed or not? I don’t care much about people’s autographs unless they’re on checks to me or already dead like Elvis.

News folks with cameras and microphones scurried around the room. When an “all in” was hollered from a table, they’d rush over to film and record the play. Most of what they filmed would be edited out. It’s mostly chaff excepting a few kernels for entertainment consumption. I look forward to seeing the finished product on ESPN.

It was a lot of fun even though we won’t be seeing Bret on TV. He got “all in” with the best of it but was drowned by a two-outer on the river. It happens. It’s the nature of the game, both its biggest strength and weakness.

I learned something. Now I understand why so many players wear headphones. It isn’t about the music. The big room full of players fiddling with their chip stacks sounded like the soundtrack of a Japanese horror movie, “Cricketzilla.”

Being southern, the cricket sound filling the room didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it made me want to grab a cane pole and bait up. Needless to say, the trip was a total hoot…or should I say, “chirp.”

Like Arnold, I’ll definitely be back.

Is Texas Hold’em a Game of Luck?

Texas Hold’Em is a card game played by millions of people all over the world. It is most known for the World Series of Poker which is held once a year in one of U.S.A’s largest casino’s. The winner is awarded millions of dollars and is considered by many to be very lucky. Luck has some role in any card game, however hold’em is also a game of skill and strategy.

Each hand starts with all of the players receiving two cards face down. These cards are referred to as hole cards. Knowing what hole cards to fold and what cards to hold is an important aspect of the game. By setting a base set of hole cards such as a pair of aces, pair of kings, pair of queens, ace king, pair of jacks, pair of tens, ace queen, ace jack, ace ten, and a pair of nines one strengthens their chance to win. With that in mind if a base hand is not in the hole cards then one should fold. This is considered playing tight and saves the player from buying in to hands that they are destined to lose.

The betting will start with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. The player sitting to the right of the dealer is referred to as sitting on the button. This is the best position at the table because one will get to see everyone’s move (fold or bet) except the dealer. Knowing how to read the bets is a crucial element of Texas hold’em. If a bet is placed and it is half the amount in the pot that player probably has a decent base hand. If a player places a bet that matches the pot then they either have a strong base hand or they’re bluffing. In any case one must evaluate their hole cards and decide to either match the bet, raise the bet, or just fold.

Knowing how to Read a players body language and facial expressions is another way to improve chances of winning. If a player scoots closer to the table after making a bet they probably have cards they feel are among the winning hands. If a player is biting their lip or will not make eye contact they are more than likely chasing a hand and hoping their bet scares everyone off the pot. Playing several hands with the same group of players will allow one to pick up on the body language and facial expressions of that group.

Knowing how to read bets, what hands to start or fold, and reading someone’s body language or facial expressions has nothing to do with luck. The cards that come flying out of the deck are the only aspect of hold’em that should be considered luck. If one plays with skill and strategy then the luck aspect of hold’em is virtually eliminated.

How to Play No-Limit Texas Hold’Em Poker

So you want to be the next poker superstar? Possibly the next Phil Ivey? Or perhaps you just want to learn the game to win some extra cash. Whatever the case may be, you will first be required to learn the basics of this game we like to call no-limit Texas hold’em; this is the most popular form of poker nowadays. So let’s get started!

No-limit hold’em or NLH is a form of poker that requires a deck of 52 cards with a minimum of two players and a maximum of 10 players per table. When you are playing against one opponent, this is called heads-up. In every game, there is a dealer; this is the person chosen to deal the game by distributing two cards to every player. The dealer will typically start a game by checking its deck of cards to make sure there are exactly 52 cards. In NLH, the joker is not part of the deck. Once this is done, the dealer will draw out one card for every player and the player with the highest card will be known as the dealer button; this is represented typically by a white medium-sized button with the text :Dealer.” The dealer button, which rotates clockwise from player to player after every round is also what defines who will post the blinds. So what are the blinds? The blinds is the obligatory amount of chips that you must put before the cards are even dealt for each round. There is a small blind and a big blind which is expected to be put by the players to the left of the dealer button. Example:

The stakes are $5/$10. There are five players in play.

Player 1: Dealer button

Player 2: Small Blind (Puts $5)

Player 3: Big Blind (Puts $10)

Player 4: N/A

Player 5: N/A

This also defines our round. Once a round has passed, the dealer button moves clockwise to the next player and thus the next players are now Small Blind and Big Blind. This is how it would look on round 2:

The stakes are $5/$10. There are 5 players in play.

Player 1: N/A

Player 2: Dealer button

Player 3: Small Blind (Puts $5)

Player 4: Big Blind (Puts $10)

Player 5: N/A

This leads us to the actual game. As previously mentioned, you are dealt 2 cards; the goal is to make the best 5-card hand combination using the Community Cards (the combination of the Flop, Turn and River). The flop is the first 3 cards, the turn is the next card, and the river is the last card. Once the blinds have been posted and the dealer has dealt all the players, the first person to act will be the player to the left of the small blind. This player will have 3 options:

1) Raise (You must put at least double than the big blind, or more)

2) Call (You must match the big blind)

3) Fold (You must throw away your cards)

Then once this player has made a decision, it will be up to the player to the left of that player to make a decision; this player will have the same equal decisions available to him with a slight difference: He is able to re-raise the previous raise; this means he is able to put up any amount of chips more than the double of what his previous opponent raised. Example:

Player 1: Small Blind $5

Player 2: Big Blind $10

Player 3: …. Decides to raise to $20

Player 4: …. Decides to re-raise to $73

Once each player has made their decisions, the only players left should be the ones who haven’t folded their cards. All the chips put in the middle is now known as the pot. The flop is now dealt and 3 cards are shown. (Part of the community cards to help you determine your hand) The player to the left of the dealer button is the first to act and gets 2 possible decisions in this case:

1) Bet (You must put any amount you want, and must match at least the big blind)

2) Check (You basically pass your turn to your opponent)

If you decide to check, your opponent will be next to act, and he can check as well. If he decides to check, we will

see the next community card or the turn. If you decide to bet, he will once again have the options to: call, fold, raise. And so on… So for the sake of our example, you decide to check, and he checks as well. The dealer shows the turn and once again it is the player to the left of the dealer button who must act first. Then finally comes the river or the last community card shown by the dealer. This would look something like this:

Flop: [A] [7] [K], Turn: [2], River: [10] (Community Cards)

So now you ask, how do we determine the winner? Simple. Remember, you’re trying to make the best five-card hand combination. This is done by looking at the following poker hand ranking:

Remember the community cards are here to help you determine the best hand.

The goal is to accumulate and extract as many chips as possible from your opponents and be the last one standing. Now that you have learned the basics, I hope you can take it to the next level. The best way to learn is through practice. And although you may be overwhelmed with these basics, don’t be worried as you will catch on very soon and start playing this great game.