Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Recommended Tournament Poker List

Yesterday I received an email from a poker player asking me for a recommended list of tournament poker books. My list is only four books long.

The first two books are about the basics and most often mentioned in any poker list:

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.

This next book is a must if you want to think about being a winner. It takes Harrington to the next level. I was told that Erick actually wrote his book by talking it on the phone. I don't know if that's true or not.

3. 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.

Finally, this is must book to own since it really is Erick's thinking put into action. It is my favorite poker book on no limit poker in 2008 that I didn't author.

4. 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.

I actually took Gus Hansen's book and reviewed his playing style to make it easier to learn from his game:

Tournament Poker How Tos

Happy Holidays!

Testimonials from Tournament Poker Winners!

I keep getting emails from players who read my book and experienced improved results.

Here are just a few:

Jules Carter: "I’ve played in 23 $40 buy-in tournaments in the last month and made the money in 17 of them."

William B: "After studying your book I finally made my first breakthrough and cashed in the 2008 WSOP, Event #32, $1500 No Limit Hold'em, finishing in 181st place out of 2300 players."

Robert Kerwin: "It is already helping me win or place in the money in sit and go tournaments."

Daniel: "I am having better results than before-4 final tables in a row cashing over $2k in $20 MTT's."
(Note: No, it's not from Daniel Negreanu)

Jill Shoten: "I took the action as suggested and took down a huge pot. I ended up placing second in the tournament."

Rich Bacca: "I discovered I've have been playing too tight. I played a little more aggressive at my Wednesday tournament and finished 3rd."

William Barman: "I played in the Canterbury Fall Poker Classic here in the Minneapolis area. $500 buy-in, 210 players. I finished in 15th place and took home a nice chunk of change."

Pascal Garnier: "I finished 3rd in tournament (Full Tilt 10+1$ 45 players)... this was the first time."

Congrats to all!

Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pushing All-In Blind in A No Limit Tournament

No limit
100 players

In the early stages of this event you want to identify the bad players and try to beat them for a big pot. The bad players do get knocked out in the early stages, or their luck will usually run out for them later on. In this event, their were two poor players at my first table, but I didn't have the opportunity to knock them out. Another player did...bummer.

As we get down 60 players, I get moved to a new table. My stack of $5,000 is down to $3,500 and the blinds are $200-$400.

What this means is that it's time to push. I am 3 off the button, and a player raises, so I fold. The next hand I actually get my 2nd hand of the day, pocket 9's and move all-in and don't get called. Winning this hand makes my stack to about $4,800.

I don't have a hand again and I don't have an opportunity to steal with raises in front of me. However, what is very clear is that the two players to my left are very tight.

When everyone folds to me in the small blind. I don't even look, I push all in.

In the next hand, everyone folds to me on the button. I have K-6. The big blind is going to be pot committed. I raise just 2x's the BB...just in case the small blind wakes up with hand. Nope. It's heads up against the BB who has 4-2 suited. I win the hand.

The blinds come around again, and I am in the SB. Everyone folds to me. Why look? I move all-in. The BB folds and shows pocket 2's.

A new player to my right enters the game with lots of chips. He raises three straight hands, and wins 2 of them. Under the gun he raises again, and I find A-10 suited. I move all-in. With the blinds at $400-$800, and I have $10,000, I still need to add chips plus my raise may make this opponent fold. It works.

I have about $12,500 and get moved to a new table.

Still no hands, and the blinds are increasing fast. I find K-10 in a middle position. I push all in and win uncontested.

Everyone folds to me on the button. Why look? I move all-in. The players to my left fold..they are also tight players with medium stacks.

Down to 22 players.

Blinds go up again. I only have 7x's the BB and I'm in the middle position again. I find Q-10. Gotta make a stand.

I get called by A-Q....and no help. Time to drive home.

For the day, the best hands were pocket Aces early on in the event, and the pocket 9's. The next best hands were A-J and pocket 7's. But, hey, in these tournaments you need to get lucky with good cards, no suck-outs against you, no one finding a better hand than you when you are forced all in--and if so, you need to suck out.

Overall, I don't think I missed an opportunity to steal, except one time. I was on the button, and everyone folded. I made the mistake of looking and found 8-3. If I didn't look, I would have won the pot.

I still think that pushing all-in blind is one of the best ways to add chips when you go card dead. I mean are you going to push when you see 7-2 offsuit? Probably not. Without looking, though, you won't hesitate when the situation is right.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What A Backward Country We Are...

From the Financial Times...

PartyGaming founder to pay out $300m

By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent
Published: December 15 2008 23:57 | Last updated: December 16 2008 11:53

The biggest shareholder in PartyGaming, the UK-listed online gambling company, has agreed to pay US authorities $300m and plead guilty to a charge relating to illegal web betting in the most prominent prosecution so far in the US clampdown on internet gambling.

Anurag Dikshit, co-founder of the company, retains a 27 per cent stake and is due to appear in the Southern District Court of New York on Tuesday to admit to an offence under the Wire Act and to agree to co-operate with the US Department of Justice, people close to the situation say.

No plea bargain has been agreed, and Mr Dikshit, one of India’s richest businessmen, risks a jail sentence of two years. He hopes the DoJ will recommend to Judge Jed Rakoff that, having gone voluntarily to the DoJ, he should not go to jail.

Observers say it is a landmark moment for online gambling.

Mr Dikshit’s fate and the DoJ recommendation will be watched by individuals and companies who have been pursued for taking bets in the US.

They want to put the liabilities behind them to enable consolidation and growth.

But Ruth Parasol and her husband Russ DeLeon, Party Gaming’s co-founders, who each own 14 per cent of the company, have shown no sign of any willingness to settle.

PartyGaming, which enjoyed a stellar rise as a FTSE 100 company three years ago and made millions out of online poker, has been in separate talks with the DoJ for months, as have other companies – including 888 and Sportingbet.

In a statement to the stock exchange on Tuesday, the company said: “The company’s discussions with the DoJ have made good progress and it is currently negotiating the final terms of a possible settlement with the DoJ.

“Whilst these discussions are at an advanced stage, the terms of any settlement have not yet been finalised and there can be no guarantee that an agreement will be reached between the company and the DoJ.”

Shares in PartyGaming rose 7½p to 146¼p in mid-mornng trading. James Hollins, an analyst at Daniel Stewart, noted that the company’s statement made clear that its own negotiations with the US authorities are independent of those of former directors, “implying, in our opinion, that the likelihood of a settlement and a fine ‘significantly lower than that reported to be paid by Dikshit’ are now very high.”

People close to Ms Parasol and Mr DeLeon say they believe the new White House administration will have weightier concerns than online gambling. Many in the industry believe the US will regulate online gambling and say Las Vegas gambling operators are lobbying for regulation of an industry they shunned.

Mr Dikshit is believed to have found the pressure too much and is ready to risk jail to draw a line under the matter. But it is thought unlikely that he will sell down his shareholding in the company. Mr Dikshit’s representatives declined to comment.

He made £420m when the company floated in 2005 and a further £65.7m when he sold another batch of shares the following year. He also received a dividend of $64m that year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday at the Oaks...

$225 buy-in, NL tournament
100+ players

5 hours of being essentially card dead...but there is always a way to accumulate chips without cards.

In the the first hour, I had one hand A-Q in early position. Player under the gun called, I raised, and the next player called. The BB moved all-in, so I folded. The BB had 6-6 and the player to my left had A-K. She made a bad play just calling. The 6 hit the flop.

When it got down to 7 players, I raised with position a few times to get chips. A key hand was I raised on the cut-off with 10-8. The player to my left had a tell so I knew she'd fold. The SB called. The flop was 8-5-2. The SM moved all in and I called. He had 8-7 and I added more chips.

It got down to 7 tables and I was moved. This table was weak. I made some steals by calling the limps in position, and then betting the flop when checked to. If I got called, I would move all-in on the turn.

Down to 5 tables..and moved again. My first hand at the table was J-J. I raised and everyone folded. Card dead again...I stole in the cut-off twice to get some chips. My hands were not important, as I needed chips to have a chance. And when you fold a lot, it allows you to look strong when you raise pre-flop.

Down to 3 tables...and moved again. The table was 9 handed, and the blinds were big. When I was on the button and everyone folded, I pretended to look at my cards and moved all-in. I knew the guy to my left was super tight, and the BB I had never seen before.

I made the all-in move from the button twice and fortunately, the blinds folded. The third time I knew that one of them would call, so I really looked this time. 5-4 offsuit. I folded.

The next time around I made the move on the cut-off with the no look steal. It worked.

Down to 2 tables...and moved again at the worst time and in the worst position. I had to take the big blind. With the antes it was getting desperation time. First hand, a player limped, and another player who is also very tight moved all-in. While I had slightly more chips than him, I needed a big hand to call.

I found A-Q suited. I folded, since I was sure I was behind. And I felt I could steal in position to accumulate chips. A player called. He had 10-10, and hit the 10 on the flop. Good fold by me.

I was still card dead...the best hand of the day was J-J for me, along with the two times I had A-Q and had to fold. And...unfortunately, nothing changed and my opponents were raising all-in before me and showing A-A, A-K, and K-K. It was sick.

I finally was on the button and had to make a move. Q-9 all-in. Called by both blinds. One who had Ace high and knocked me out.

I got back $170 for finishing in 14th. A $50 loss for 5 hours of play.

Not a good day, but there was only one play I missed the entire time. With 4 tables left, I thought a player raised, and folded A-8 in position. Turns out the blinds had just gone up and he just called. The flop came A-8. I would have won a few more chips.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

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