FALCON POINTS

5 tips for beginning poker players

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Since we are all on lockdown, many people have rediscovered online poker, specifically Texas Hold 'Em. While pay money sites are not legal, there are a lot of free card rooms and player-money exchange rooms where you can hone your game. We started a free poker club on Pokerstars.net with tournaments every night at 8 p.m. for no real money. We also do noon tournaments.

On Saturday, we will be doing an online charity tournament.

Maybe you are stuck with your family and want to get a game going to stay busy. This will work for you as well. This is just a basic introduction to get you started. There are a lot of good resources out there once you master the basics.

So if you are looking for something to do and have only a passing knowledge of the game, here are five tips that will get you on your way.

1) Learn the basic rules

It sounds silly, but knowing which hand beats what is important. This will give you a detailed look at the basics. If nothing else, learn the ranking of each hand. You can also observe tables once you join our poker club. Pay attention to what is happening with the other players and familiarize yourself with the software and how the game is played. Pay particular attention to the players who are winning the most chips.

2) Start with the free games

This is an excellent chance to get involved, learn and see what the game is like with no risk. Most of the people in the poker club are pretty good players, so you will get a chance to test your skills without losing any money. The game will change when you play for dollars, but when you are learning, this is a good way to start.

3) Limit your hands at the beginning

When first getting started, playing tight is the best way to learn. Unless you are in the blinds, stick to top starting 10 hands:

1. AA

2. KK

3. QQ

4. AK (same suit)

5. JJ

6. 10-10

7. AK (different suits)

8. AQ (suited)

9. 9-9

10. AJ (suited)

Or you can use this table, which ranks all the hands, although slightly different.

As you become more familiar with the game, you can begin to expand which hands you play.

4) Understand the importance of position

If you have the button, you will be last to act after the flop. This is a big advantage; the later position you are in, the more advantage you will have. Think of it as being the dealer in blackjack. You don't have to act until everyone else does. Again, knowing how to take advantage of this will come with more practice.

5) Find your personality

Eventually, your game will match your life. If you are a wild risk-taker, you will likely develop an aggressive game. If you are a passive person, you will likely be a tight player. But there are many ways to win. Early on, avoid too much bluffing. You will figure out the right times to do it as you learn more and become more accustomed to the game. But let your personality dictate how you play as your skills develop.

The bottom line

This is just a starting point if you have been interested and want to mess around a little and see if you can learn. Use losses as learning experiences; go back and evaluate what you did right and wrong. Sometimes you will just make a bad play. Sometimes you will get outplayed. Sometimes you are just unlucky. As Matt Dean used to say, "decisions, not outcomes." The more right decisions you make, the better off you will be in the long run.

Questions? Hit me up at faour975@gmail.com

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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