The Basics of Hockey

Hockey is the ubiquitous Canadian activity, with nearly every Canadian having played some form of it. Since it was invented here, to make our long frigid winters tolerable, it’s spread around the world. Hockey is an extraordinarily manly sport, combining brute force and finesse. One article couldn’t possibly teach you enough to play on the level of Gordie Howe, ‘Rocket’ Richard, or the Great One himself, but it should be enough for you to join a pickup game or start looking for a rec league.

The Rink

Like any other sport, you need a place to play hockey. The basic forms of hockey are floor hockey, street hockey, and ice hockey, differentiated by where they’re played.

Ice hockey is played on an ice surface, either an intentional rink or a similar size area of natural ice. Intentional rinks can range from a simple backyard rink to a state of the art arena. A typical hockey rink is a rounded rectangle, about twice as long as it is wide, although the precise dimensions can vary.

Floor hockey is typically played in a gymnasium, using the entire room with only spectator areas being out of play.

Street hockey is played on driveways or public roads, with the width of the road defining the size of the play area. For safety reasons, the “car rule” is almost universally used. Any time a player or spectator notices traffic approaching the game they’re expected to yell “car” and the players and equipment move to the side of the road until the traffic clears. It’s also generally accepted driving etiquette in Canada to never drive through a street hockey game but rather wait patiently for them to clear out, for the same reason.

All hockey venues include a relatively small goal net near each end, that’s only open on the side facing towards the opposite end. Intentional rinks will often have boards around the perimeter to create a barrier to help contain both players and the puck or ball. The best rinks have markings painted on the ice. The purpose of these markings is to allow greater objectivity in applying the rules, but for casual play it’s adequate to estimate where they would be.

The rink is divided into three “zones.” The attacking zone, the neutral zone, and the defending zone. The attacking and defending zones are defined relative to each team. There are also goal lines that mark the behind the net area. One special area on the ice is the goal crease. This is an area immediately in front of the net in which only the goalie may be.

The Team

The total size of a hockey team varies, but there’s never more than six players per team on the ice;

  • 3 Forwards – primary offensive players
  • Centre – the forward primarily responsible for face-offs
  • 2 Defencemen – primarily tasked with preventing the opposing team from shooting
  • Goaltender or Goalie – the goal’s last line of defence

Players may substitute at any point during the game, not just stoppages in play.


Shared Equipment

One puck or ball and two nets must be on the ice at all times.

A puck is a hard rubber disc about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. A hockey ball is about the same diameter as a puck but made of softer rubber.

The open side of a typical goal net is 6 foot wide and 4 foot high. The closed side extends back just far enough to keep it stable, even when catching pucks and being hit by players. It’s also common to secure the net in place with pegs fitted into the ice.

Personal Equipment

The only personal equipment that’s essential for all forms of hockey is the stick. If you’ve never seen a hockey stick, they’re long with a flat blade at one end. The stick is held with the player’s off-hand near the end opposite the blade and and the strong hand half to three-quarters of the way down the shaft. Goalies use a different stick, designed to be held in one hand and effectively block shots. In both cases, the blade is the main way players manipulate the puck.

Ice hockey also requires skates, for obvious reasons. Any skates will work, but the best choice is high quality hockey skates.

Pads are also a good idea, to protect players from the brutality of the sport, and the hard puck. Goalie pads also help him to more easily stop shots, and even catch the puck in mid-air.

In formal games, team uniforms are nearly ubiquitous.


The rules of hockey are intended to limit the brutality.  While hockey is a full-contact sport, there is only one way players may come into contact while playing, the bodycheck. A bodycheck is an intentional collision between players meant to break an opposing player’s control of the puck. To be legal, a check be centred on the players’ torsos and may not involve either player’s stick or the target player’s back.

Two types of penalties are typically used in hockey; the power play and the penalty shot. Most infractions result in a power play, when a player is removed from the game temporarily and his team is forced to play shorthanded. If the infraction prevents a player from scoring a goal, he gets a penalty shot. A penalty shot is an attempt to score a goal with only the opposing goalie to interfere. 

The power play is when one team is forced to play with fewer than six players on the ice, giving an advantage to their opponents. Power plays typically last Two or five minutes, with consecutive power plays being possible. It’s also common for a power play to end once a goal is scored.


Hockey has the simplest possible scoring. Each time the puck passes through the opening in the net, a point is scored. For that reason, points are called “goals” in hockey. It’s also common to track scores for individual players. Players can score “goals” and “assists.” A goal is awarded to the last player to have control of the puck, if giving up control scores a goal (ie. he shot it). An assist is awarded to a player who didn’t actually shoot the puck but played a pivotal role in scoring a goal anyway.


The head official in a hockey game is the referee. His job is to call penalties and goals. He’s typically assisted by one or two linesmen. Their job is to make calls related to the lines on the ice, except for goals. It’s also common to have a second referee on the ice and, in serious play, off-ice officials are also common, to help keep calls objective.


Now down to brass tacks. How do you actually play hockey? To start with, hockey typically consist of three “periods.” On a professional or Olympic level, they’re twenty minutes long with five minute intermissions between them. Shorter periods are also common, to accommodate the limits of the players’ age and skill. Only time spent actively playing is counted towards the length of the period.


Play begins and resumes with a face-off. The two teams line up, facing each other, with the forwards in front and the defencemen in back. An official then drops the puck in one of nine locations on the ice, determined in advance. After goals and at the beginning of each period the centre face-off position is always used. Otherwise, they use whichever position will resume play in the most fair possible manner.


I’ve been talking about stoppage in play quite a bit, but now I’ll go into detail. Along with goals, periods, time-outs, and at the referee’s discretion, there are four things that can stop play.

The first is rather obvious. If the puck leaves the ice play is stopped. If the puck would have left the ice but stayed because of nets or cages put in place to protect spectators or rink-side facilities, it still stops play.

Play can also be stopped for an “icing” call. Icing is when the puck travels from the defending zone past the opposite goal line, but not into the net. “Offside” is a similar call. Offside is called when the puck is passed into the attacking zone.

The last thing that can stop play is a goalie. Immediately after making a save, that is stopping a shot, the goalie must either return the puck into play or “cover it up.” Usually covering it up means literally covering the puck with his glove, and then a face-off takes place at one the positions in his defending zone.


It’s quite common for the rules to not allow a tie after the regular periods. There are two ways to resolve a tie, overtime and shootouts. Overtime is simply continuing play. A shootout is when both teams get an equal number of penalty shots and then the team with the highest score wins. The “sudden death” variant is also common. In sudden death, the game ends as soon as a winner can fairly be declared, regardless of how much longer play could’ve continued. Any combination can be used, but udden death must be last.

Shooting Terms

There are a few terms that are unique to hockey, and relate to shooting, that every player should know;

  • Deke – when’s a player moves his stick as though he’s shooting but does not
  • Wrist shot – a shot with little to know wind up or follow through, used when precision is needed
  • Slap shot – a powerful shot with significant wind up and follow through
  • One-timer – when a player receiving a pass shoots without first gaining control of the puck

Getting Involved

If you want to play hockey, you have the same three options as with most sports: pickup games, leagues, and tournaments. If you have a few friends and a place to play, you can play a pickup game. If you want to join a league, contact your local arena or recreation office and ask about “rec leagues” and they’ll direct you to the league administrator or  the manager of a team seeking new players. If you want to play in a tournament, watch for notices wherever they may be posted in your community and follow the instructions.


How to Drive Stick

Manual transmission vehicles are more efficient, cheaper to produce, and put the driver in full control, and best of all are way more fun to drive. Yet, a large number of men now have no idea how. I’m going to teach you how to in theory, but you’re going to need to practice too.

Disclaimer: I’m operating on the assumption that you’ll be driving a typical North American car. You may find slight differences in other countries.

Getting In

When you first get into a manual transmission vehicle you’ll notice two major differences; the shifter and the pedals. A stick shift has a third pedal to the left of the other two which controls the clutch. The clutch is a mechanism positioned between the engine and transmission that allows the energy flow through the powertrain to be interrupted, and functionally puts the car in neutral. The shifter is typically a metal stick protruding from the floor or centre console with a ball on the end. The shift pattern, the pattern of movement needed to select gears, is usually printed or engraved on the top of the shifter. 

Typical 5-speed shift pattern.

To start the car, you’ll need to depress the clutch pedal before you turn the key. That’s a safety feature so the car won’t accidentally lurch forward. It’s a good idea to check that the car’s in neutral, especially if you’re not the only driver. If it moves to both sides easily, it’s in neutral. You’ll also want to check the tachometer, which shows engine speed, if you’ve never driven that specific car before. Whatever it reads now is the lowest you ever want it to until you’re parked again, probably 500 to 1000 rpm.


Getting Moving

Before you start driving you’ll probably need to release the parking brake. Most auto drivers know how to work a parking brake but don’t use it, so tend to forget about them. Getting moving from a dead stop requires careful pedal control and excellent situational awareness. Start by depressing the clutch and putting the shifter into first, then comes the hard part. You’ll need to gradually release the clutch and gently press the gas at the same time. If you can’t keep the engine speed at or above an idle, release the gas and depress the clutch then try again. When you feel the clutch “catch,” release the clutch entirely. Until the clutch catches it’ll feel a little like you’re trying to drive through molasses.


You can’t keep your car in first forever, at several points you’ll need to shift. Again, pedal control is key. You’ll need to move though the following steps as quickly as you can:

  1. Release the gas
  2. Depress the clutch
  3. Move the shifter into the desired gear
  4. Release the clutch
  5. Hit the gas

How hard you hit the gas depends on the situation. If you’re shifting into a higher gear you probably want to hit the gas fairly hard, but if you’re shifting down you’ll need a lighter touch. There’s also a technique called “engine braking” but that should wait until you have some more practice.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you much help with when to shift, every car is different. A lower gear will give better acceleration and torque, but a higher gear will give better fuel economy and speed.

Stopping & Parking

The brakes do the same job regardless of what kind of transmission you have but, once you reach the point of stopping, stick shifts are a little different. You need to either depress the clutch or shift into neutral before you try to stop, or your engine will stall. If you depress the clutch by the time you get down to about 10 km/h, you should be fine. Personally, I usually shift into neutral anytime I’m slowing to stop or expect to need a lower gear when I hit the gas again.

The only thing you need to remember when parking a stick is that there’s no park gear. You’ll need to leave it in gear, fully engage the parking brake, or both.

A Couple Final Points

There are some things you’ll need to know that aren’t really instructions. First, you will stall, there’s no way around it. Just restart the engine and keep trying. Second, if it doesn’t want to go into gear, just release the clutch and put it back in, that’s called “double clutching” and it should help.

Finally, if you hear a grinding or squealing when you try to shift, for the love of all that’s good and holy, stop trying. You’re doing irreparable damage to the transmission, which can cost thousands of dollars to replace. Just leave the shifter in neutral, double clutch, and try again.

Understanding the Basics of Firearms

Firearms, guns, the most manly of items. They can’t even be mentioned without evoking the glory of combat or the legacies of some of history’s greatest men. Yet, many modern men know nothing about them. Hopefully, I can remedy that today. 

Types of Guns


Rifles are the most common type of gun. Originally, they were defined as having a “rifled” barrel (more on that later) but now it’s a catch-all term for guns that don’t fall into any other category. 


Carbines are a sub-type of rifles, defined as being shorter than a typical rifle but still significantly larger than a pistol. They’re commonly used by navies and marine corps because they’re easier to handle in confined spaces, like warships, but are still effective in combat. 


Shotguns have exceptionally large smooth bore barrels. They usually fire several projectiles at once which makes them extraordinarily powerful at close range. 

Machine Guns

Machine guns are similar to rifles but are typically larger and designed around a high rate of fire. They’re generally illegal for civilians to own because they aren’t good for anything but killing people. 

Submachine Guns

Submachine guns are a sub-type of machine guns that fire a smaller bullet, the same as what pistols fire. The iconic “tommy gun” is a submachine gun designed to clear out trenches during the Great War, although it never saw service there. 


Pistols are small guns that can be carried on one’s person at all times. They fire a smaller bullet and can be handled with one hand. 


Revolvers are a type of pistol with a single distinguishing characteristic, the ammunition is carried in a rotating cylinder that brings it in line with the barrel to fire. 

Gun Parts


The barrel is deceptively simple. In the most basic terms, it’s a metal tube that guides the bullet on a path to its target. Most modern guns have rifled barrels, meaning there are helical grooves cut into the inner surface, causing the bullet to spin and drastically improving accuracy. A gun that lacks this feature is described as “smooth bore.” The inner diameter of the barrel is called the bore and determines the size of bullet the gun can fire. 

There’s a trade off in the length of the barrel. A longer barrel is more accurate, but a shorter barrel is easier to handle. 


Sometimes called the butt, the stock is an extension of the body of a gun that allows the shooter to brace it against his shoulder to improve his aim and more comfortably absorb the recoil. Some stocks can be retracted or folded away and some can be used for storage. 

Firing Pin

The firing pin is hidden away within the guns action. It’s a spring loaded pin that slides forward and strikes the primer cap, thus firing the bullet, when released by the trigger mechanism. 


A hammer is the alternative to a firing pin. It works on exactly the same principle except that it swings into the Primer cap and is typically on the outside of the gun. Some hammers don’t hit the primer cap directly but rather strike a firing pin. 


The trigger is the mechanism that ultimately initiates the firing sequence. When squeezed it releases the hammer or firing pin and fires the bullet. A trigger that only does that is “single action.” A “double action” trigger can also cock the gun and rotate the cylinder of a revolver to bring the next bullet into position. 

Trigger Guard

The trigger guard is a loop fitted around the trigger to prevent the trigger from being bumped and accidentally firing the gun. 


The magazine stores ammunition and feeds it into the chamber to be fired. It can be designed to be installed in the gun preloaded or loaded while attached. Some can’t even be easily removed. 


The muzzle is the “Business end” of the barrel, where the bullet ultimately leaves the gun. Some muzzles are simply a machined end, others are the mounting point for accessories that make the gun easier to handle or stealthier. 


The chamber is at the back end of the barrel and serves a single purpose, to hold the bullet in position to be fired. Most guns have one chamber per barrel but revolvers have several in a rotating cylinder. 


The breech is the back end of the barrel. It closes off the barrel so the path of least resistance is to send the bullet out the muzzle. The breech can be fixed in place or closed off with a moving bolt. 


A bolt is a piece of metal that slides into the breech to close it and then moved out of the way to “cycle the action.”


There’s a plethora of different kinds of sights. They all work differently but they all serve the same purpose, the make the gun easier to aim. Most come with very simple sights but many can have better sights mounted later. 


The action is the mechanism by which a gun is fired and prepared for the next shot. 


Bolt action is extremely popular for civilian rifles and, thanks to their slow rate of fire, one of the least regulated. A handle is attached to bolt which locks it on place to fire and is lifted and pulled back to cycle the action before being pushed back and locked in place. 

Bolt action rifles were perfected over as hundred years ago. In fact, some rifles that saw service in the Great War have been in continuous use ever since, like the Lee-Enfield 303.


The most popular type of shotgun is the pump action. They have a sliding front grip that’s “pumped” back and forth to cycle the action. 


Lever action is the fastest action that doesn’t require a special technique and isn’t considered automatic or semi-automatic. It has a loop attached to the trigger guard that the shooter’s other fingers fit through. This turns the trigger guard into a lever that’s swung away from the grip and back in to cycle the action. 


Break action guns have hinged barrels that swing down to open the breech. The next round is then inserted directly into the chamber. 

Recoil Operated

Al true semi-automatic and automatic firearms use some form of recoil operated action. Recoil operated firearms are based on Newton’s Third Law of Motion;

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

-Sir Isaac Newton, paraphrased 

In shooting terms, this means;

A force is transmitted into the gun and shooter that is equal to the force propelling the bullet towards its target. 


By redirecting an infinitesimal portion of that force into the action, it can be cycled without any input from the shooter. This is usually achieved with a free floating bolt that provides significantly less resistance to movement. 

Recoil operated actions can also be cycled manually, for preparing to fire the first time. 

Gas Operated

Gas operated actions redirect gases from the barrel into the action, rather than using the recoil force directly. 

Legality & Safety

Being inherently extremely dangerous, firearm laws and safety need to be mentioned.

Laws vary between jurisdictions so the best option is to speak with your local police. They should be happy to help you stay in compliance. 

The most important safety rule is to treat every gun as if it’s loaded. Always point guns in the safest possible direction and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. When in storage or transport, keep guns unloaded and ensure all appropriate safety measures are taken. It’s also best to store ammunition separately. The harder it is to get a gun from storage ready to fire, the less likely it’ll be fired unintentionally or without due consideration. 

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll likely write more firearm articles in the future. In the meantime, there’s sure to be clubs or stores in your area that would love to teach you everything you need to know. 

Tending Bar: The Most Manly Hosting Duty

When we think of hosting we usually think of food and ladies preparing and serving it, but there’s another hosting duty that’s much more manly and equally important; tending bar. Regardless of the type of event you’re hosting, your guests will need drinks. Wouldn’t you rather serve them with class than let them raid your fridge?

Tools of the Trade

Not surprisingly, there are some tools you need to tend bar.


The shaker is a canister in which you put ice and the drinks ingredients to mix them. There are two common types of shakers; the classic martini shaker and the Boston shaker. The martini shaker is all metal with a tight fitting lid and built in strainer. The Boston shaker is made up of two cups, one metal and one glass, and does not have a built in strainer.


A jigger is a bartender’s measuring cup. It’s typically two small metal cups, joined at their respective bottoms giving an hourglass look. Some also have a metal handle but that would be pretty superfluous.

Bar Spoon

This is your other mixing option and it’s exactly what it sounds like, a spoon you use at the bar. It has a long handle and a small bowl, so don’t try to use an ordinary teaspoon, you’ll just frustrate yourself.


A muddler is essentially a stick you can use to crush things. It usually has a handle on one end and is flat or serrated on the other.

Ice Bucket & Tongs

An ice bucket is an insulated bucket for storing ice, and you’ll need a lot of it when you’re tending bar. Just make sure the only ice you serve a drink over is clear and cube shaped.


Every drink is properly served in a certain type of glass so you want to have all the right ones on hand. It’s best to have a large matched set so you don’t hand your guests a hodgepodge of different designs.

Corkscrew & Bottle Opener

You’ll want to have a corkscrew and bottle opener, mostly to open the other drinks you’re serving.

Things You Likely Have Around The House

Some drinks are mixed in a blender so you may want to have one on hand. You’ll definitely want to have a towel handy to help clean up.

Garnishing Tools

Many drink recipes call for a garnish that you’ll have to make yourself. For that you’ll need a citrus stripper, to cut narrow strips of citrus peel, and a knife and cutting board, to cut fruit.

The Bar Itself

As usual, your workspace is of crucial importance. At a minimum you need ample counter or table space but the best is a dedicated bar with storage for all your ingredients and tools, a sink, and plenty of character in the midst of your entertaining space.

Setting the Menu

Just like the food, your drink options need to be considered in advance. The goal is to make sure every guest has at least one desirable option and you’re serving appropriate drinks for the occasion. If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, you should probably skip the martinis and serve craft beers and whiskeys. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a black tie cocktail party, you’ll want to skip the beers and serve cocktails and wines.

Something many people forget is to have options for guests who have somehow limited options. At the very least have water available and consider getting some high quality juices and sodas.

Being the Bartender

One would think tending bar would isolate you but nothing could be further from the truth. The bartender is virtually guaranteed to speak to everyone at the party several times. If you’d rather not stand behind the bar during the inevitable lulls you can mingle, so long as that doesn’t mean people have to get their own drinks.

How to Change Your Own Oil

Changing your oil is a crucial part of your vehicle maintenance regimen. It’s easy and low risk, so getting a professional to do it just costs more.


There are some tools you’ll need to change your oil that you likely don’t already have. They’re all pretty easy to find online or at your local auto parts store.

Filter Wrench – Your oil filter is fitted pretty tightly so you’ll need a wrench to remove it. If your filter uses a disposable housing you can use a wrench that looks like a set of pliers with giant jaws or one that has a loop on a stick. If it doesn’t have a disposable housing you’ll likely need to use a special socket. Your filter housing is most likely a beer can sized cylinder. If it’s painted it’s probably disposable.

Oil Catch Pan – An oil catch pan is exactly what it sounds like, a pan to catch the oil as it drains. They’ll typically have a spout and many have lids so you can store and transport used oil without spilling.

Funnel – You don’t strictly need a funnel but it does reduce spillage and using a dedicated oil funnel reduces the risk of cross contamination.


To get the supplies to change your oil you’ll need to know a few things about your car. First, you’ll need to know the year, make, model, and engine size, then you should know everything you need to find everything else.

Oil is the simple one. Your owner’s manual should have a “capacities and specifications” section. In there you should find your engine’s oil capacity and the recommended oil type. The capacity will likely be listed twice, once with a filter and once without, you want the amount with a filter. Many manufacturers recommend a specific brand and synthetic oil. Brand is irrelevant unless it’ll void your warranty to use anything else. I’ve heard mixed reviews about synthetic oil, some say it improves performance and others it just costs more. If you want to experiment or ask your mechanic for his opinion then go for it, but I wouldn’t bother.

Next, you pay a visit to your local auto parts store. Get the amount and type of oil your manual specifies then find the filter section. There should be a computer or book to look up what filter you need, or you can ask the staff. You’ll be given a model number which will also be printed on the box. You may be presented with several brands and some will be a better value than others. FRAM is a pretty safe bet and available in most stores.

Now Get to Work

For your own safety, you’ll want to work on a cold engine so park your car with enough clearance under the engine to work and leave it for an hour or two.

The first step is to drain the used oil. Under the engine you’ll find the oil pan. It looks like someone bolted a metal box onto the bottom of your engine. Position your catch pan under what appears to be a pointless bolt in the oil pan, your oil drain plug, then remove the drain plug and hurry up and wait, just make sure you don’t lose the plug. Now, use your filter wrench to remove your oil filter.

If you have a non-disposable filter housing, you’ll also need to remove the old gasket, which is probably a black rubber ring around the housing’s threads. You’ll then install the new filter and gasket into the housing just like the old ones were installed. Now just smear some oil on the gasket to moisten it, used oil is fine, and screw it back into place.

My Oil Filler Cap

Now it’s time to fill in the new oil. Make sure the drain plug is in nice and tight and start pouring the oil in through the filler neck. When you’re within a litre of capacity, check the level and top it off.

You’re done, it’s just that easy. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check the oil sooner than usual, just to catch any problems but you should be good until next time. Used motor oil is quite toxic and can cause serious problems if it gets into the water table so you’ll want to dispose of it properly. If there’s an oil recycling plant in your area they may even pay you for it, otherwise your mechanic or local auto parts store should be able to help you.

Now you can help others save money on car maintenance too, especially if there’s a lovely lady who already thinks the world of you.

Learn the Right Way, Then the Easy Way

An alarming trend in our modern society is the obsession with easy. We want everything to be easy, as if a challenge is a punishment. I’m here to convince you to drop this philosophy, and try to learn things the right way before you learn the easy way. What is the right way? The right way is the way that gives you the least assistance so success or failure is in your hands.

The Easy Way is Often Just Easier to Learn

This is a fact that’s become blatantly obvious from my years driving stick. After all this time, I’m still learning and I’m not even convinced it’s a skill that can be mastered. On the other hand, I mastered driving automatic before I even drove on public roads. Despite this, I feel far more in control, and thus safer, when driving a stick. Learning to drive automatic may have been exceedingly easy, but driving stick became the easy way once I reached a point where I could call myself “skilled.” This is the case because of one simple point;

The Right Way Puts You in Control

The easy way isn’t easy because it limits to possibility of failure, it’s easy because it limits the possibility of variation. Consider an attempt to build a table. If you do it the right way, using raw materials from your local lumber yard, your skill will determine the quality. If you don’t know a hammer from reciprocating saw, the table will most likely collapse when your wife sets that scalding hot pot of soup on it so everyone can get some delightful third degree burns. If you’re a middling carpenter, your table will be able to hold that soup but will probably look like it was built by a blind monkey. If you’re more skilled, your table will not only be sturdy but a beautiful complement to your home’s existing decor. If you go the easy way and buy a kit from IKEA, you’ll end up with a sturdy table that looks professionally built but it’ll also be very generic.

The Easy Way Doesn’t Help You Improvise

If you only know how to do something the easy way then your only options when things go sideways are to find someone who knows how to do it the right way or give up. However, if you learned how to do it the right way then you most likely know some of the principles behind it. In that case, you can apply the scientific method and use some informed trial and error to find a solution.

It’s Easier to Learn Than Relearn

There’s nothing wrong with learning to do things both the right way and the easy way, but if you learn the easy way first you’ll find it’s a hard habit to break. We all know, humans are creatures of habit, we’ll often do something for no other reason than having done it before. So, we’ll tend to do something the easy way even when we want to do it the right way. However, when you’re trying to go the other way our natural laziness will keep us on track, and if the right way is in fact easier then you’ll easily be able to stick to it.


Next time you’re looking to learn a skill, start with the hardest method people still use, it’s probably the right way. Teach your son to use hand tools before power tools. Learn to cook on the stove, or better yet over a fire, before learning to cook with a microwave.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Gambling

Roulette TableGambling is one of the most manly forms of entertainment. The entire thrill is the risk, and there aren’t many other activities that you can do with a martini in one hand and the other arm wrapped around a beautiful woman in a fancy cocktail dress. 

A word of warning, irresponsible gambling can easily ruin your life. Always treat your losses as the cost of an evening’s entertainment and keep the rest of your money as far away as practical, bring only cash and chips to the casino. Avoid the games of chance, like bingo and slots. In all honesty, Russian roulette would be a better idea, at least then you don’t have to suffer when you lose. 

Basic Betting

You can bet on anything with an uncertain outcome, from the weather to wars, but the most popular is sports. Gamblers place their bets based on their observations and intuition, often with more being wagered on some outcomes than others. The winners then divide the entire pot (the combined total of all the wagers) proportionally based on their original bets. The inequality of vets is typically called “giving odds” and is generally expressed as a ratio of potential winnings to amount wagered. 

Many team sports have a point spread system. This makes it reasonable to bet on the clearly inferior team. In a point spread you’re not betting on who will win but rather by how much. So, your team can lose but you still win the bet. 

Another common form of gambling is the betting pool. A betting pool has many participants and each one wagers the same amount on a different possible outcome. Whoever guesses right or closest wins some or all of the pot. 

The Sport of Kings

Gambling on horse racing involves betting on which horse will win, not surprisingly. You can also bet on a horse to place or show, meaning to be in the top 2 or 3 respectively, reducing both the risk and the reward. 


The classic casino evokes images of classic James Bond and Connery’s distinctive accent ordering a “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.” The casino can be a place where a gentleman can enjoy himself and exude class, so long as he avoids the seedy casinos that plague gambling Meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and the “Indian Casinos” that make everyone victims of racism to line a few pockets. 

There are four casino table games that are really gentleman’s games; roulette, craps, poker, and blackjack. Table games take bets using “chips,” coloured plastic discs that have no cash value elsewhere. Typically chips are bought from a cashier on the casino floor and sold back later, but many casinos will also give them away as promotions. It’s also common for casinos to encourage large bets with incentives like high roller suites, free food, and exclusive tables. Sometimes you can buy chips at the table, by placing cash on the table and having the dealer pass you chips, neither cash nor chips should ever change hands directly. 


Blackjack is one of the simplest card games around. The goal is to have a hand that adds up to a larger number than the dealer’s does but not greater than twenty one. Each of the numbered cards are worth the number on them, face cards are worth ten, and aces are worth either one or eleven. 

A hand starts with the dealer dealing two cards to every player, including himself, all face up except one of his own. Each player then plays his own hand. The player chooses to hit or stand, meaning take a new card or accept the hand as it is. If a player is dealt two of the same card it gives the option of “doubling down” which means each one becomes the first card in a new hand, doubling the player’s risk and potential reward. The dealer moves on to the next player when each stands, has twenty one, or “busts” meaning they’re dealt more than twenty one. After all the other players, the dealer turns over his other card and deals the rest of his own cards. Unlike the players, the dealer must hit until he has seventeen or more, although whether or not he can use the ace as an eleven varies. 

If the dealer busts all the players win, otherwise players with better hands win and players with worse hands lose. If a player and the dealer have equal hands, the player’s wager is returned. If the initial cards in a hand equal twenty one that hand beats all others. Any player who busts automatically loses. 

Unlike other games, a blackjack dealer is expected to give sound advice to players. Specifically, discouraging them from hitting when they’re likely to bust. 


Poker is the most strategic of all casino games. It relies on your ability to hide your emotions and deceive your opponents while trying to read their subtle giveaways. 

Poker Hands
(best to worst)
Royal Flush 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit
Straight Flush five cards of the same suit, in sequence
4 of a Kind four cards of the same value
Full House three matching cards and one pair
Flush five non-sequential cards from the same suit
Straight five sequential cards from different suits
3 of a Kind three matching cards
2 Pair two pairs of matching cards
1 Pair two matching cards
High Card no discernable pattern

The goal of poker is to either have a better hand than your opponents or convince them to give up or “fold.” There.                     Are ten different hands in poker. If two players have the same hand, then the player with the highest card wins, the ace is the highest and all other cards fall right where you’d expect. If two or more players have the same high card then house rules are applied.

There are many different variants of poker but the most popular are Texas Hold ‘Em and Five Card Draw.  

Five Card Draw

In five card draw each player is dealt five cards, which they keep secret. After the cards have been dealt the first round of betting happens. The first player or two to the left of the dealer must bet blind, that is without considering what cards they have. Even in casinos, where an employee always deals, one player is regarded as the dealer to determine betting order. When called on to bet each player can call or check, raise, or fold. Calling means to raise one’s own bet to match the most recent, checking is only allowed if no bets have been made in that round and means one’s not raising yet. Raising is exactly what it sounds like, raising the bet. Folding is giving up and surrendered all previous bets. The most extreme raise is to go all in which means betting everything and immediately ends the hand, with the other players being required to call or go all in themselves if they can’t match your bet.  Next, the players go around the table and can each trade in up to four cards. Play alternates between betting and trading cards until either all but one player has folded, someone has gone all in, or a predetermined number of rounds have been played at which point the remaining players show their cards unless only one is left. The hand always ends with a betting round. 

Texas Hold ‘Em

Texas hold ’em uses the same betting system as five card draw but uses very different dealing. Each player is dealt two cards to keep secret and three are dealt face up to the middle of the table. After each betting round another card is dealt to the middle. After five cards are dealt to the middle players bet one last time, then whoever can make the best hand from the cards in the middle and their own two card hand wins. 


Roulette is the only one of these games that isn’t feasible to play at home. Players place bets on the possible outcomes, typically by setting chips on a chart that includes the various outcomes and their odds. An attendant called a “croupier” then spins a wheel and throws a ball to roll around the rim in the opposite direction. The ball will eventually come to rest in one of 37 or 38 numbered pockets on the wheel. The croupier then pays the winners based on the odds of each bet that describes the outcome, and clears all the losing bets. The players can then place new bets or leave the table. 

Every roulette wheel has one or two pockets that players can’t bet on in an way. So, the odds are in the house’s favour. 


Craps is similar in principle to roulette but is much more complicated. The basic goal is to accurately predict the outcome of a series of dice rolls. The game is played on a long table with walls around the edges and the betting options printed on the surface, which is usually covered with felt. 


The shooter is the player that rolls the dice. They roll two dice after the bets a placed. The shooter throws the dice towards the far end of the table and usually bounces them off the wall at that end. All the other players can only bet. 

Come Out & Point Phases

There are two phases of dice rolling in craps. The first is the come out phase. Rolling a 2, 3, or 12 in the come out phase means bets on the pass line lose and bets on the don’t pass line win, unless 12 is rolled in which case the don’t pass line bets are returned. If 7 or 11 is rolled then the pass line wins and the don’t pass line loses. Anything else moves the game into the point phase. 

If the shooter rolls the same number in the point phase as the last come out roll, then the pass line wins and the game returns to the come out phase. If the shooter rolls a 7, then the don’t pass line wins and another player becomes the shooter. 

Line Bets

Line bets are the core bets of craps. The shooter and any other players who wish to place bets on the “pass line” or “don’t pass line” predicting the overall outcome of the shooter’s rolls. At many tables, players can place similar bets for only the point phase. 

Other Bets

Most of the betting options vary depending on the table. They all involve different possible outcomes and progressions of dice rolls. 


Craps has some specific etiquette that should always be followed. To start with, if you feel you need some instruction, come to the table during a quiet time so you can get extra help from the staff without inconveniencing the more experienced players. 

When placing bets you always want to use as few chips as you can. It’s also common to place bets for the dealers. If you want to tip the dealers, put one or more chips on the table and declare that it’s for them. It’s best to never toss chips and not place any bets after the dice are moved from the middle of the table. 

Interrupting dice rolls in any way is considered rude. It’s also inappropriate to cheer when winning on the don’t pass line, hold anything but chips and dice over the table, stack chips in any way but larger denominations towards the bottom, leave the table with mostly small denomination chips, or sit by the table without medical cause. One faux pas that could even get you booted out is to handle the dice with both hands at the same time. 


You want to keep your gambling classy. Dress on the same level as those dressed most formally. Most importantly, try to keep it fun for everyone. 

When you get drinks delivered to the table you may want to tip the server. The best way to tip a cocktail waitress is to put a chip on her tray, thank her, and flash her a smile. If a waiter brought your drink, call him “sir” instead of flashing a smile. 


Whether you believe it works or not, superstition is a big part of gambling. If you want to engage in it, don’t let it slid down the game. If you don’t want anything to do with it, don’t begrudge others their rituals. Personally, I like to add some rituals just to make it more fun, I certainly don’t believe it’ll make a difference.