Friday, October 31, 2008

The Life and Thoughts of a Midwest Geek

I just want to point out a blog that I really enjoy called The Life and Thoughts of a Midwest Geek. Read blogger Oh Captain and enjoy. Yes, he is a poker player. I added his link as one of my "Favorite Blogs" on the left column.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Next President--Who To Vote For...

I am a registered independent since I do not agree with all of the policies of either party.

Tonight I watched a great Frontline on PBS that reviewed both Obama and McCain.

My impressions based on this program:

* smart, driven & cautious.
* has a vision of what he wants to accomplish which I think is centered around getting people out of poverty and helping the middle class.
* knows he is good at giving speeches.
* looks like his Presidential campaign is what he used to get elected as Senator in Illinois...from the speeches to the slogan.
* hasn't really had much time to accomplish much at all in Senate, since it appears he
had a plan to run for President since day one in the Senate. The Democrats also
saw him as the celebrity who could get elected President--probably after Hillary
served her term.

* courage, patriotic & driven.
* has been at odds with conservative wing of his party for decades. Almost became a Democrat while in the Senate at the start of the Bush 1st term.
* committed to winning the war in Iraq. Could not stand Rumsfield or Bush during the 1st term since he knew their military plan was wrong.
* he was a key reason for the change in military strategy by Bush in the 2nd term, which is the "Surge" strategy
* it seems that the Bush re-election team took over his campaign for President once he was selected as the nominee. The result: he had to embrace the right wing policies and even Bush to appease conservatives and religious right. The choice of Palin--who clearly is not ready to take over as President--was driven by a need to get conservatives energized.

Overall IMHO:
Very impressive men. Perhaps the best choices we've had for President in a very long time.
I believe that either man would be an excellent President.
But it seems to me that Obama is the right man since the country is looking for
inspirational leadership at home, rather than winning a war abroad.

My fear is that once elected, our new President ends up just being a loyal party leader, rather than someone who can bring the best people together (regardless of party affiliation) to solve our country's challenges.

That's just my 2 cents.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Radio Interview--on No Limit Tournament Poker

click here to listen to my poker tournament interview

We talk about a few no limit plays in the book and even a stock market suggestion.

It's about 20 minutes long and it's more interesting than listening to Alan Greenspan not take responsibility for the financial mess we are in. Reminds me a little bit of Colonel Schultz in Hogan's Heroes "I see NOTHING! I know NOTHING!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What To Do When You Are Card Dead?

Played in the Sunday event at Lucky Chances. I was card dead the entire time I was in the event--over 5 1/2 hours. The event had 140 entrants and paid 10 players.

How did I survive and give myself a shot at winning?

I moved all in on the small blind without looking when everyone folded to me and I needed chips. The big blind called--uh oh. I turned over K-2, and he had A-Q. I hit my 2 and doubled up.

I moved all in on the button without looking when everyone folded to me. The blinds folded.

I moved all in on the turn against two players, when I hit the low pair. I got called by one player who thought I had nothing. He had an Ace--but with antes I more than doubled up.

I did fold pocket 7's--which was a big hand for me today--when the under gun player raised, and he was re-raised before it got to my action.

And, earlier in the event, I did fold my best hand of the day A-J when a tight player moved all in under the gun. I put him on A-K, K-K or Q-Q, or pocket 9's or 10's. I decided to fold since in every situation I would be a dog AND there were 7 players still to act behind me.

We were down to 12 players and playing 6 handed. I moved all in on the small blind when everyone folded to me. I had a decent hand A-2, and the big blind folded. This pushed my low stack to $22,000--which put me in a decent situation as I needed just one more double up to be around 4th place.

On the next hand I was on the button, everyone folded. The blinds were $2,000-$4,000 with a $500 ante. I found the 4th best hand I had seen today---A-9. The small blind called right away. He had A-8.

The 8 hit on the flop and I was out. If I won that hand, I would be in 4th place and have a shot at the $11,000 first place win. Oh well...

A New Web Site To Help Your Poker Game!

I put this new website together to help you improve your no limit tournament game.

The focus is on poker strategy with advice on how to play pre-flop, flop, bluffing, poker tells...and on and on.

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

The website is: Poker Strategy Today

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Radio Interview with Ashley Adams

about my book Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves.

I am interviewed by Ashley on his radio show House of Cards and it will air on Monday and Tuesday. Monday the show is on Boston's Sports Station 1510 the Zone from 5-6pm, and on Tuesday on the Cyberstation podcast from 9-10pm.

The link is House of Cards Radio

I recently finished taping the interview and I thought I did a sub-par job. Guess you gotta learn from these things.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 Must-Have Books For Tournament Poker Players

Here are the books you need to have in your library to improve your game and win poker tournaments.

1. Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington
Dan Harrington wrote this breakthrough tournament book a few years ago and it's still an essential read. This first volume tends to deal with situations early in an event when blinds are small and chip stacks are high. It provides a sound approach to tournament strategy.

2. Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 2: Endgame by Dan Harrington
After you read Volume I, you will want to get Volume as it talks about how to play after the early stages of an event. Here you will learn about inflection points and the mighty M, so you can calculate when to move all-in It is a reasoned approach to poker tournaments.

3. Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen
This is a winning book written by arguably the best no limit tournament player. In this book, Gus analyzes every hand he plays on his way to winning a major tournament--the Aussie Millions in 2007. It is insightful, smart and eye-opening to read how a champion thinks through every decision.
To get an understanding of Gus' strategic approach to the game, I analyzed his plays and wrote articles on how Gus plays at both the early and middle stages of an event. The articles are on my blog

4. Making the Final Table (World Poker Tour) by Erick Lindgren
This is a book that has never received the accolades it deserves. Erick is another big winner and he gives you great advice by revealing how he approaches the game. His approach is not about cashing, it's about winning.

Of course, the #5 book is my book Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves. You can get 10 free moves and five free tips from my poker reference book at my website Best Tournament Poker Book.

Good luck. I hope this helps!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Three Heads-up Wins in A Row

Entered heads-up tables on PokerStars for $100 buy-in. Won three in a row, and it was too easy.

I was surprised that the opponents didn't understand heads-up play. Some errors these opponents made:

If you only raise when you have a premium hand, that is a mistake.
If you bet the minimum as a bluff on the flop every time, that is a mistake.
If you are going to fold to a pre-flop raise unless you have a big hand, that is a mistake.
If you are going to fold with rags pre-flop every time, that is a mistake.
If you never re-raise a pre-flop raise, that is a mistake.

You can't be predictable in heads-up play or you'll never win. While luck is always an element of poker, I think heads-up play may give a good player a bigger edge.

Monday, October 13, 2008

12 Top Poker Tournament Strategies We Learn From Gus Hansen about Early Stages of Play

Gus Hansen’s new book “Every Hand Revealed” is one of my favorites books since he analyzes the hands from his winning the 2007 Aussie Millions Event.

After reviewing the book, I have identified 12 top poker tournament strategies from Gus Hansen’s book. It’s important to note that Gus plays in big stack events with long time periods before blinds increase. Your events may be give you fewer chips and less time in each round.

Overall, you can use these poker tournament strategies to help your own game or to simply beat Gus Hansen when you play against him.

A. Pre-Flop

1. He likes to limp and see flops. Gus doesn’t like to risk all his chips early in an event.

2. He takes early position pre-flop raises seriously and therefore is less likely to re-raise the player. Early position is the first three positions after the big blind.

3. He will call pre-flop raises often in the big blind with speculative hands when the pot odds are 2-1 or better. Speculative hands are drawing hands like 5-4 suited.

4. He is willing to raise pre-flop with K-x suited if he is first in the pot and in late position.

5. He looks to raise pre-flop on the button, cut-off or power positions.

6. He will re-raise pre-flop on the cut-off or the button with a hand as weak as K-7 offsuit if he thinks the raiser is weak; especially if that raiser is seated right next to him in a back position.

B. Flop

7. He doesn’t always make a continuation bet on the flop. He will check with awful flops for him; that is, for example a coordinated flop where the flop totally misses his hand.

8. He tries to avoid being outdrawn by putting the other player all-in on the flop or the turn when the pot size dictates it’s the best play.

9. He will fold top pair on the flop when he gets bet into on the flop; although he prefers not to fold if he was the pre-flop raiser.

C. Turn

10. He has no issue in folding his hand if someone check raises him on the turn.

D. Overall

11. He doesn’t call an all-in bet without the best hand. The exception is when the odds and the relative chip stack situation dictate a call.

12. He does not have FPS, or Fancy Play Syndrome, as he will move all-in when he knows he has the best hand.

I have posted more poker tournament strategies I learned from reading Gus Hansen on my website at Poker How Tos

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Top 9 Signs That John McCain Wants to Lose the Election

After the debate, I got this feeling that Senator John McCain actually wants to lose the election. I mean given the state of the economy in the US and the world, wouldn't you be having second thoughts?

He is over 70 years old, and you know he didn't expect the entire world to be a mess. Dealing with a war is up his alley, but dealing with credit default swaps? I mean the last time he heard about swapping, it was wife swapping back in his prime.

I'm sure he can't back out now, but the signs are there:

9. Does an interview with Katie Couric rather than show up for his planned appearance on David Letterman

8. Realizes that as President he would no longer have time to play his favorite game of craps

7. Pretends to have early stage of Alzheimer by calling Obama “that one”

6. Admits to his shrink he dreams of being Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove” riding the bomb down on Hanoi

5. Has been caught sleep walking into Sarah Palin’s bedroom

4. His latest ad campaign blames the Senate for all of the country’s problems, and Obama is a Senator so there!

3. Wants the government to buy back home mortgages because while he still can’t recall how many homes he owns, he knows he must owe a shit load of money

2. Rather than go to the first debate, he wanted to stay in Washington and party with President Bush and his daughters

1. Openly tells staff he made a mistake picking Sarah Palin as VP. Yes, he now wants Tina Fey.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to take advantage of poker odds to win big pots

You probably know what pot odds and implied odds are in poker, but do you know how to take full advantage of this knowledge in a no limit poker tournament?

As a reminder, pot odds are the ratio of the size of the pot to the size of the bet. If the pot has $400 in it, and your opponent bets $400, the pot is $800. Since you need to call with $400, the pot odds are $800 to $400 or 2-1.

Implied odds are based on the amount you believe you may win at the end of the hand, if you make your hand and win.

For example, the pot has $1,000 after your opponent bets $500 on the flop. You have a straight draw, and the pot odds are $1,000 to $500 or 2-1. Which is not favorable for drawing to a straight.

However, if you hit your straight on the next card, you believe that you may end up winning $4,000. Therefore, your estimate of your implied odds is $4,000 to $500 or 8-1 and you can call the bet.

While it's important to know these odds, it's even more important to know how to take advantage of the odds. Here's an example:

You are in a no limit poker tournament. It is the first hand with the blinds $25-$50. Everyone starts with $4,000 You are in the big blind.

The player under the gun raises to $150. Everyone folds to you. You have the pot odds of $100 to call the bet. Your pot odds are $225 to $100, or slightly over 2-1.

You look down at your cards and you have 8-7 suited. What should you do?

The correct play in this situation is to call the bet since you are getting excellent implied odds. If your opponent has a big hand like pocket Kings, and you hit your hand, you could win a much bigger pot.

What happens in this situation is that right before you call the raise, your opponent picks up his cards to look at them. By accident he flashes his cards to you. He has pocket Aces! Now what should you do? Does this change your original decision?

Not at all. Call the bet.

As a general rule, when you are in the big blind consider calling a bet if you are getting 2-1 pot odds or better, have much bigger implied odds (due to deep stacks) and have a drawing hand or better.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Play A Poker Hand With Me: Pocket Kings

I entered the local poker tournament today. It is a $120 buy-in. First place is a guaranteed $3,500. You get $4,000 in chips. No rebuys.

On the second level of blinds, one player limps for $100, and this aggressive player only raises to $250. He had been more aggressive with his pre-flop raises since the start of the game. The big blind and the limper calls. There is $800 in the pot.

The flop is K-Q-5 rainbow. The limper checks. The aggressive player bets $800. The big blind moves all in for $4,000. The aggressive player has about the same amount in chips and without blinking calls all-in. What do these players have?

When the big blind moves all-in, I put him on K-Q. But when the aggressive player calls without even thinking, I figure he must have a set of Kings or Queens. I was wrong.

The big blind had the two pair with K-Q, but the aggressive player just had pocket Aces. He didn't get any help and he was out.

Now, let's play a poker hand with me.

It's the third level. You have $3,100 in chips and you are on the button. The blinds are $100-$200. The player under the gun limps. You know this player and he likes to raise with big hands under the gun, but limps with strong drawing hands in this position.

A second player and a third player also call the $200. Players have been tight overall, so you figure they have drawing hands or low pairs. The player on your right with $3,200 moves all-in.

You look down on your hand and find pocket Kings. Easy decision. You move all-in. Everyone else folds so it is heads up.

Your opponent turns over A-J. The player who limped under the gun says, "I had the same hand." Another player who called and folded speaks up, "I had the Ace 10."

How are you feeling? There is only one Ace in the deck that can beat you.

The flop comes and....yes, it's the Ace. You get no help and you are driving home.

That was a quick ending. Yet, there is nothing you can do in that situation. It's just one of those things.

What was the probability your opponent would hit an Ace?

He has 5 tries at hitting one card.

Do you think it was a bad beat?

It doesn't matter. You made the right play and lost. It's called poker.

At least you have a story for your poker blog, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Has Barack Obama Already Let Poker Players Down?

Many poker players think that Obama is the better choice for President since he plays poker and he will understand the need to regulate rather than outlaw online poker. Well, think again.

It seems that he is doing the political thing and ducking the issue, or perhaps worse.

Recently Senator Obama responded to the issue regarding online gambling. What he said in a letter dated 8/15/08 is disappointing. in fact, I'd say he replied like a typical politician.

To quote him regarding the UIGEA: "This bill was then folded into a conference committe report on unrelated port security legislation, and became Public Law on October 13, 2006.

I recognize the need to comply with federal and state laws and the desire of many Illinoisans to not have the federal government over-regulate their behavior. As opportunities to re-examine this issue arise, I will certainly keep your concerns in mind... -Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States Senator

I know he wants to get elected but geeze, take a stand.

I guess the next time you get dealt Ace-King in a no limit tournament, you should say:

"I recognize the need to comply with TDA rules and the desire of many players at my table to act on my hand. I am forced to wait to see all the community cards on the table, and I will re-examine my thinking and play my hand accordingly. If you have concerns about this strategy, I will certainly keep your concerns in mind."

I just found his letter online. It is at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Poker Tournament Survey: One question only

Click Here to take survey

You are in a poker tournament and have a medium chip stack. The
players at your table are typical with a range of playing styles. You
are in a middle position, and the first three players after the big
blind fold. You peek at your cards. Which hand would you least want to
get in this situation?

Pocket Aces
Pocket Jacks
K-Q offsuit
Pocket 4's
7-2 offsuit
None of the above

Click Here to take survey

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Limit Poker Tournament Reviews and Results

All 7 Amazon reviews on my No Limit book have been 5 out of 5 stars, and here are the top lines:

Best poker book released this year!!!, October 1, 2008

Unbelievably awesome, August 25, 2008

Full of sound advice and a lot of fun to read, August 1, 2008

Superb!, June 25, 2008

Outstanding!, July 3, 2008

Great Poker Book, July 2, 2008

Excellent tournament poker tips, May 24, 2008

Frankly, I think that the book is really good because it makes every player's game better by being a great reference. It's incredible that more players don't understand the importance of having a reference book of plays to help them win.

An update: I've played twice more at the club. And, one Sunday I built I decent chip stack. It got down to the last 3 tables but I lost every time I was all-in with either a small or big advantage.

Today, I just played bad. Passive play. My number one weakness. These things happen for a reason. "Risk is Good." Just because I wrote the book, doesn't mean I don't revert back to bad habits.

Since I wrote the book, though, I've played only in 6 no limit tournaments. I finished in the final table in 3, and went out in the other 3 One of the final tables was a win.

It's funny but I notice that more and more players and will read one of my books do well for a while and then lose. Why do they and I start to lose? We start to revert back to old habits, rather than recalling what works. That is true in the Razz book and the Tournament Poker book.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Added a new blog: Let's Play Horse

His blog is worth checking out.

Oh yeah, he posted the great scene with Paul Newman bluffing in 5 card stud in Cool Hand Luke. Paul Newman was the best!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Who Is the Better Poker Player: McCain Or Obama?

The country is a mess. There is enough blame to go around. The President, the Congress, business leaders, financial institutions, etc.

Greed was a major cause of the financial problems we are experiencing
today. The entire residential mortgage mess is at the center of the
credit crunch. People who don't have a clue about gambling were
playing no limit poker with our chips. Time for a change.

Our next President must be a great poker player. A trillion dollar
economy requires a leader who knows when he has been dealt a winning
hand and when he has trash. He must know when to bluff and when to
fold. And he must be able to identify the "tells" of the people he
meets, so he can determine when someone is telling the truth or lying.

We have a choice: John McCain or Barack Obama. Who is the better poker player?

We need some criteria to judge this crucial question:

1. Knows what to do with 7-2 offsuit?

Advantage: John McCain.

Why? McCain almost lost his life in the Vietnam War. He was later shot
down over North Vietnam and with serious injuries was held captive
from 1967-1973. He was tortured in prison and has lived with physical
injuries from this service. No one can fully understand what this man
lived through in those prisons. He got dealt the worst hand, and came
out a winner. Impressive.

2. Knows what to do with pocket Aces?

Advantage: Barack Obama

Why? This guy has been on a poker rush. A rush in poker terms is
when you are getting winning hands over and over again. That is
certainly the case for Obama. He is smart, ambitious and must have
been dealt incredible cards to be running for President after only
five years in the Senate. Getting pocket Aces is important. Knowing
what to do with them is even more important. Obama knows what to do
with pocket Aces.

3. Knows when to bluff?

Advantage: John McCain

Why? McCain positions himself as a maverick in the Republican party,
but he has a solid history of voting for conservative positions. is
he going to seek "change" or does he just realize that everyone wants
change given the recession or near recession our country is
experiencing. It looks like a bluff. Will he pull it off?

4. Knows when to fold?

Advantage: Barack Obama

Why? He admits to be being a long time poker player. While in the
Illinois legislature, he regularly competed in a low stakes poker game
with colleagues. He was known as a poker player who would play it
safe and not take chances. He knew when to fold'em.

5. Can identify tells in those around him?

Advantage: Undetermined.

In the movie "Rounders" there was a great tell using Oreo cookies.
When faced with a big decision, Teddy KGB, played by John Malkovich,
would reach for his tray of Oreos and lift one. When he held a weak
hand, he'd twist the Oreo in front of his face, push the halves back
together and place the Oreo back on the tray. When Teddy KGB's hand
was a good one, he'd place the Oreo cookie by his ear, open it and eat
the halves one at a time.

Reading tells is critical in poker. It is more critical in being President.

Since so many Americans are undecided in whom to vote for, perhaps
it's time to break out the Oreo cookies and place them in front of
McCain and Obama at the next debate. Let's see who eats the halves
one at a time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How to Play the "Telephone" Game on the Internet

Tired of bad beat stories? Maybe some of them are not true. They have been passed along to so many people, that maybe they change.

I was wondering if the game of telephone--which you may have played once or twice as a child--would work on the Internet.

Here is how we can play it on the internet:
1. Listen to Poker Joke #1 recording.
2. Remember and record what you heard on your computer. Make up a list of friends and/or family members and email your recording to the first person on the list.
3. Tell this person to listen to your recording once and and pass it along by recording what he/she heard on their computer and passing it to the next person on the list.
4. Record and repeat until it gets to the last person on the list.

Now, check out how you did by having the last person right down the message. Come back to this website to compare it to the original message.

(Note: Before you listen to the recorded message one time, make sure you know how to record a message on your computer and email it. )

Poker Joke #1

Gabcast! Poker Joke #1

What's Your Poker IQ?