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Card Game Do’s and Don’ts

Part of the Card Games For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Card games are meant to be fun and entertaining and paying attention to the do’s and don’ts of card-playing can help you keep your enjoyment factor high and your frustration level low.

Card-playing do’s include:

  • Determine the rules of the game before play begins. Most games have several variations, and you need to iron out the rules before you start.

  • Shuffle the cards before each hand. Cut the cards, or arrange for someone else to do so, before dealing them.

  • Make sure that no one can see your cards, both during the deal and during play.

  • Avoid conversation that gives away information, or if the sole purpose of your remarks is to upset, irritate, or mislead your partner or opponents. (At Poker, though, you can get away with almost anything!)

  • Try to remember all the cards that you held at the start of play and recall the salient details of the cards played by the other players.

  • Listen to your partner’s bids and watch his plays. He wants to help you, so don’t ignore him.

  • Play each card in the same tempo. The speed of your play can emphasize how you feel about your cards.

  • Study your opponents’ actions at the table. If the game involves bluffing, try to read body language during bluffs. If you can, try to watch a group of players before joining them; you can read their behavior better when you’re not tied to one position at the table and you don’t have to worry about a hand.

  • Only try to bluff only one or two players at a time. If you’re bluffing against three or more players, the odds are that one of them can beat whatever bluff you’re pretending to hold.

Card-playing don’ts include:

  • Make any undue efforts to look at anyone else’s hand, both during the deal and during play.

  • Pick up your cards until the deal is finished.

  • Indicate whether you’re pleased or unhappy about the cards you’re dealt. In an individual game, you give your opponents unnecessary information about your hand. In a partnership game, you give your partner illegal information about your holdings.

  • Accidentally expose any cards while dealing, either by turning a card over or by distributing them in such a way that players can see them.

  • Accidentally drop a card on the table (as opposed to playing it). If you do so in an individual game, your opponent benefits from the sight of part of your hand, which is punishment enough for the error. In a partnership game, exposing a card gives your partner unauthorized information, which may lead to penalties.

  • Play or lead out of turn. Pay attention to the game so you don’t get caught in this embarrassing position.

  • Criticize your partner. It never accomplishes anything positive. Don’t dwell on what has passed; the cards have no memory.

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