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Beginner’s Tips for Poker Ornament Jan 31st, 2004

Greg Storey over at Airbag asked me a poker question recently, and this is what I told him. He then asked me to post it, so sure. Why not?

Please realize that even though I’ve been playing poker for about seven years or so, I am by no means a professional. Not even close. I’ve won plenty in local tournaments and placed in the money in two of three bigger tournaments I’ve played, as you can read about in the Lifestyle section, but just remember this advice is coming from a guy who has never won a World Series of Poker bracelet.

These are some general tips not knowing the circumstances of the game you might be playing, or whether you’re playing a tournament or ring game. A “ring game” is a normal, live game. The strategy between the two is quite differnet. Currently, if you have been watching poker on televsion, you have been watching tournament style play.

Always know what the best hand is at the time you make a bet

If you don’t know what the best hand is, stop and think it over for a few moments until you do. You should never put money into the pot before you know where you stand.

For example, if the board shows three cards, Adiamond Kdiamond Tdiamond, and you hold Qclub Jdiamond, you may have a straight, but someone holding 4diamond 7diamond has you beat with a flush. You might draw out on them if a fourth diamond hits giving you a Jack high diamond flush, but you must realize that your hand is not the best hand at the time if you are going to bet your straight.

By taking a moment to look at the board and determine what is the best hand, you also begin the habit of trying to put your opponent on a hand. You should always try to figure out what your opponent may have before you committ any money to the pot.

Don’t make a raise unless you think you can call a re-raise

In other words, if you’re going to play strong don’t back down if someone wants to play stronger. You may or may not re-raise, but that’s not the point. You have to be able to handle being re-raised.

Don’t make a call unless you think you could raise

The idea here is that you should only be playing hands when someone else bets where you think you have the best of, and you want to make others pay to draw out on you. Meaning they have to pay for the privilege of beating you.

The trick here is to be in the best of it odds wise more often than not because you will not win all of the time. Learning what the odds are can be a tricky thing, but that comes over time. (The percentages they display on the World Poker Tour are the odds.)

If someone draws out on you, take note of what they were playing, but don’t get upset

Part of playing poker is to have people gamble. If no one gambled, there would be no point to the game. Since it takes no skill to get dealt two Aces, no one would play unless they had the best hand all the time. Therefore, the game would always be determined by the luck of the deal.

That’s not poker. That’s a game called Bingo.

So pay attention to what people gamble with and use that to your advantage.

Be a happy loser and a humble winner

No one likes to give their money away to a show-off. Basically, give them some sugar if you are going to punish them. If you catch a lucky card that gives you the best hand, simply say, “Yup, I got lucky. You had me the whole way. I can’t believe how I lucky I got.” All the while thinking to yourself, “Yeah! That was a huge pot! I rule!”

Learn how to switch gears in tournaments

If you’re playing a tournament, know that as time passes and the number of players dwindles, it becomes more important to play hands that are less than optimal.

It’s better to win a bunch of small pots than to lose a few big ones

Basically, don’t get fancy. If the pot’s big enough and you think you have the best hand, go ahead and push as big a raise as you can into it in an attempt to take it down at that point. Don’t feel bad about not making as much as you could have had you let people stay in with weak bets.

The more often you let people stay in by not making strong bets, the more often they will suck out on you, destroying you as you lose big pots.

Some basic starting hand conditions

If you are playing Hold ‘Em, here are my recommendations for playable starting hands — the two cards you are dealt before any betting occurs in a hand. You should muck (fold) the hand if it does not fit this criteria.

From either small or big blind: Ace King through Jack Ten or any pocket pair if no one raised. Examples: ADiamond KHeart | 5Club 5Diamond | KClub QHeart | JDiamond TDiamond | 8Spade 8Heart. If it was raised, only Ace King, Ace Queen and pocket pairs higher than Tens.

From under the gun (first to bet before the flop, and directly next to the big blind): Ace King, Ace Queen and pocket Tens or higher only. This position is where you must play the tightest.

From any middle position: Pocket 5s or higher. Any Ace plus any other face card. King Queen on occasion. King Jack and Queen Jack rarely.

From last position, the dealer button: Everything above, but also add “connected” cards to the mix. Connected cards are two cards with rankings within a range that can make a straight. In this case, only concern yourself with two cards that follow each other by one rank. Examples: 8Diamond 9Spade | 5Heart 6Heart | QSpade JClub

Parting words

There are many more playable hands than these and many more tactics and strategies, but this selection will keep you out of serious trouble for the most part as you start out while also allowing you to get a grasp on strategy in the game.

Good luck!



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

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You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004