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King Me

The stock market should clearly be taking the summer off; you're planning on heading to the beach, visiting relatives or relaxing by a pool.

So the focus now has to move from the competitive thrill of trading in the markets to the only thing that's important in the summer -- making sure you trounce every other family member and friend at all the critical games, notably Scrabble, poker and chess.

While all three games are relatively difficult to master, to be able to defeat the casual player requires only two things: your store of trading knowledge and a few simple tips, which you can absorb in a matter of minutes.

Scrabble Savvy

You want to dominate at this game so fiercely that people will think you've memorized the dictionary. Here's a few essentials.

First, know all of the legal two-letter words:

AA AD AE AH AI AM AN AR AS AT AW AX AY BA BE BI BO BY DA DE DO EF EH EL EM EN ER ES ET EX FA GO HA HE HI HO ID IF IN IS IT JO KA LA LI LO MA MI MU MY NA NO NU OD OE OF OH OM ON OP OR OS OW OX OY PA PE PI RE SH SI SO TA TI TO UN UP US UT WE WO XI XU YA YE

Note: these are the legal two-letter words in the Official Scrabble Dictionary, version 3. If your cousin happens to have version 4, which was just released, then you'll also need to know FE OI QI KI ZA. And be prepared to scoff and say, "Didn't you know that 'za' is slang for pizza in California?"

You will often be questioned on the definitions of many of these, even though it's not technically part of the game.

Be ready to quickly state, "Of course I know what 'xu' means -- it's a form of Vietnamese currency," or "You didn't know that 'ai' is a three-toed sloth?"

And, for the icing on the cake, to guarantee that you will win every game, don't forget that QAT, QANAT, QAID, and QOPH are all legal scrabble words.

In other words, most Scrabble players think their vocabulary is great -- like most casual investors think they are good stock pickers, most drivers think they are above average and most poker players think they are great bluffers -- so doing a little basic homework is enough to gain a significant edge.

Simply knowing the two-letter words is enough to win every game against the casual player, but if you add in the Q-without-U words, you'll be unstoppable.

Poker Pointers

Everyone wants to play Texas Hold 'Em these days, thanks to the popularity of poker on TV. But while your friends and relatives are trying to imitate the greats they observe on the screen, you'll be taking their money.

The trick? Don't ever bluff.

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