Digital Dealers, Silicon Chips

Play online, where the stakes are lower.

Not so long ago, you could get good at poker only by losing as you learned. Now there's a cheaper way. Turbo Seven-Card Stud, a CD-ROM from Wilson Software, lets you populate your virtual poker table with customized "players." Some cyberopponents remember every card that's dealt; others are smart enough to know when you've paired up. The cards come at you as they would in a casino, but Turbo Stud does something that no flesh-and-blood dealer would ever do: It tells you whether you played your hand correctly.

Watching Turbo Stud in action at the legendary Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas, Herbie "The Hat" Lipson — one of the store's sports-betting experts — reports that he finished in the top 15% at this year's World Series of Poker tournament for media types. "And all my knowledge," adds Lipson as he pats the computer monitor, "came from here."

Coordinates: $89.95. Turbo Seven-Card Stud, Wilson Software, 800-735-4430, www.wilsonsoftware.com

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