Let me make my New Year's Resolution perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon might have said. I shall not play poker when drunk, tired, emotional, or otherwise out of sorts, or when the opposition round the table seems too tough, too rich, too dodgy or otherwise disagreeable. I have been breaking this precept all the time - to my cost. On the other hand, if you played poker only when in complete control, when would you ever play?

A couple of years ago I proffered a trio of good resolutions, which are instructive to review in the cold light of experience:

1) Set a limit. This point is elementary. If you set a limit on how much you are prepared to lose, or can afford to lose on any given night, you avoid disasters, financial or emotional. This applies, of course, to all and every kind of gambling.

2) Hang on to your winnings. If things are going your way, the temptation is to let the upside rip. What I meant to imply was: Don't be greedy. Better to stash part of your winnings before your luck turns around. Some punters get the idea when they are playing up winnings that they are on a free roll, gambling with their (the bookies' or other people's) money. Not so: they are playing with their own money. Better follow the Rothschild maxim: No one ever went broke taking a profit.

3) The most important New Year's resolution is to stay in control and to understand what you are doing. I score about half on that one. I must confess to the occasional lapse. Not so much going on tilt as dwelling on mistakes. I don't gamble, but I do tend to make big wagers - say, on seats won and lost at the general election - in the spirit of a convivial night out, which as a matter of honour I can't get out of, or even remember very clearly the following morning. At poker, self-control is the most important quality of all. It implies concentration, card sense, courage, judgement and money management. Can you combine all these after a Saturday night binge, a crisis at the office or a family row? You bet you can!