Betting smart may sound like an oxymoron, but there are some tricks to minimizing how much you lose and maximizing how much you win at the poker table. After all, a good poker player will still win even if he has bad cards, all because he knows how to bet correctly. Here are some tips:

  • Don't be scared to fold. One of the more intimidating aspects of the game of poker is how much or how little one should bet. Eventually, as you develop a feel for the game, you will become more knowledgeable about when to bet and when to fold. As a general rule, if you have nothing in your hand, do not expect that later cards will remedy that situation. Feel free to fold frequently. It is better to sacrifice your small early bets then to rope yourself into a betting war with a seasoned pro.

  • Keep a poker face. We also can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping a poker face while betting, and not giving any clues about how good (or bad) your hand is. The whole point of the game is to make sure that they have NO clues, other than the bets you make.

  • No alcohol. When it comes to betting, alcohol can be your enemy. While beer and cigars tend to go hand in hand with poker night, alcohol is not recommended if you're going to play in a casino, especially if the stakes are a little higher. Newsflash: Alcohol makes you lose your inhibitions. If you suddenly find yourself betting the limit on a pair of twos, you've had too much to drink. Stick to Fresca.

  • Maintain control. The best piece of advice we can give you about betting is to bet with your head, not over it. This is the slogan for Gamblers Anonymous, and it couldn't be more true. Betting within your means will allow the game to remain fun. Remember, very few people make their fortunes playing poker. A lot more lose theirs. We don't mean to get preachy here, but we don't want you to pawn your high school ring to pay the phone bill. We've seen it happen, and it ain't pretty.