I had seen a steady parade of sometimes awful players come to the table with a swagger

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I didn't quit till the rising sun punctured the desert darkness. In the previous six hours, I had seen a steady parade of sometimes awful players come to the table with a swagger, only to leave in a slump -- including the two who had literally passed out, head down on the poker table.

But I had more than quintupled my stake overnight, and if that meant some kid had lost this semester's tuition, so be it. In the morning light, I was dreaming only of taking out Jamie Gold.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX) Let the games begin THE ADVICE

A simple rule of thumb: If you're not a highly skilled player, stay away from the top-end casinos that brim with pros and sharks. Likewise, avoid the standard "locals" casinos, which attract a legion of seasoned amateurs who play every day. Best bets are middle- to low-end casinos without a cool image. Basic tips for unskilled no-limit players: Play cash games instead of tournaments. Make minimum instead of maximum buy-ins; you can always re-buy. Be patient and wait for premium hands. Don't get cute with marginal hands that you don't know how to play. Against more skilled opponents, try to go all-in with monster hands. Lose the cap and shades.

THE PLACES Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; (702) 693-7111, www.axebet.com. The gleaming crown jewel of Vegas poker rooms. If the guy sitting across from you looks like Doyle Brunson, it probably is Doyle Brunson. Don't try to play a 10-2 here unless you are Doyle Brunson. The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; (702) 791-7111, www.axebet.com. Classy and cool. A sometimes playable room for amateurs. If you're lucky, you'll make big bucks off an inexperienced big spender. If you're unlucky, the Vegas plasma banks are open 24 hours. The Wynn, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; (702) 770-7000, www.axebet.com. Beautiful, like the hotel around it. Take a nice look and then keep on walking, unless you're a direct relative of Steve Wynn. The Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road; (866) 942-7777, www.axebet.com. Ultra-hip and just as dangerous. Its weekday $2 to $5 game is the toughest in town. More local pros congregate here than anywhere else waiting to fleece the nonstop flow of inexperienced big spenders. You've been warned.






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Bonus Examples Bwin PokerFirst Deposits of Regular Bonus






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