There is an increasing need within the poker community for player development. Casinos are always seeking new customers and current gamers want a broader and bigger player base. How can this expansion come about? With education! There is a genuine need to provide the newbie with the knowledge to feel comfortable when venturing into a poker room the first time. If novice players learn the basics of the poker world, their first visits will be fun and entertaining, and they will want to return on a regular basis. There is so much going on in a cardroom that can seem confusing: who the employees are and what functions each of them serve, which of the available games to play, what the rules are, and much more.

Generally, the novice lacks the skills necessary to become a winning player. While this goal is one that takes years to achieve, a little bit of education can transform a poker virgin into a player who needn't feel like a rookie and whose money can last a long time while gathering those needed skills. And just what is the point of all of this?  This series is for the poker newcomer as well as for those looking to refresh their existing skills and knowledge. For many years I wrote the Poker 101 column for Card Player Magazine, the leading publication of the poker industry. Card Player saw this need for new player education, and when my column first started, it was thought that its run might be a few months. To our amazement, that few months became several years! I will begin here, as I did many years ago in Card Player, with the fundamentals. We will discuss just who the different cardroom employees are and what their functions are as well as teach you how to actually get into a game or buy chips.

The intimidation factor in a public cardroom seems to be huge [and unfortunately, rightly so]. It is my goal to assist you in becoming comfortable and adept when in the world of public poker by offering you some working knowledge of this venue. In addition to providing what I hope will be a wealth of information for you, I also will answer any basic poker-related questions that you may have. I am not a statistician, so I prefer not to address those types of questions, but if you want to know about procedures, rules, basic plays, semantics or jargon, ethics, or other general interest questions I will be happy to offer answers. Regardless of your question, I promise that you will get a reply from me, even if the response is "I don't know". I do not profess to be an expert, but I have been reasonably successful as both a player in the game and as a member of the industry for more than 25 years. I have a wide range of experience from which to draw, such as being a chip runner, a dealer, a cardroom manager, as well as a professional player. I will share this knowledge with you and attempt to enhance your newfound activity in the poker community. The second Freshman Poker column will address the cardroom staff and their functions. Once you become a regular, there are many employees with whom you will interact on a regular basis as well as others whom you likely will never even see. It is important to feel comfortable in your surroundings, and by being able to identify the staff, you will feel more at ease. Class Dismissed!