Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Interview with Rodney Blackwell, @tshirtforums, winner of last weeks #tpt

Interview with Rodney Blackwell, @tshirtforums, winner of last weeks #tpt.

Q1. Share with us a little about who you are?
I'm a 35 year old father, husband, and old school web geek who loves t-shirts. I run a few websites here and there :) Notice how I left poker player out of that list ;)

Q2. When did you start playing poker?

I started playing poker in high school during the early 90's. Back then it was mostly home games for spare change. Ahhh, the good ol' days.

Q3. What is your favorite poker game? Why?
With the popularity of Texas Hold'em, most home games these days tend to turn into a hold'em tournament. I've found myself recently getting nostalgic for the old "junk" home games like "acey deucey ", "follow the queen " and "baseball ".

Q4. Do you play in many poker tournaments? Is so, where?

No, not really. Just TPT and the occassional Sit N Go on FullTilt or PokerStars.

Q5. What is the most valuable poker lesson you've ever learned?

That Ace Queen is not as good of hand as it seems :)

Q6. Did you have a strategy when you play the #tpt?
Strategy, smategy. I mainly wanted to have fun. Of course, the fun is increased when you place in the money, so I try to play well enough to stick around for a while.

Q7. Were there any hands that you recall in the #tpt which were key to you winning?
Nothing worth writing home to mom about. In fact, a couple of the hands that helped me stick around were probably bad calls on my part. After I lived through those two and picked up some chips, I went back to a more sane strategy of play.

Q8. Do you have any advice for those who play in tournaments overall?
Keep having fun! Unless you're doing it for your livelihood, in which case, you don't need my advice.

Q9. Do you have any poker goals?

I would really love to play in the World Poker Tour one year. I think it would be a great experience to hang in Vegas, experience the tourney, and see how far I could go.

Thanks for your time and congratulations again!

New Poker Player Guide to Tournaments

11 Lucky Steps To Win a No Limit Poker Tournament

I think this guide will help everyone, and especially the new players who want to play tournament poker. Step 10 may be the most important thing to learn in order to become a championship tournament poker player.

NEW: You can download and print this document (New Player Poker Guide pdf) here. It is located on the home page on the right column.

(Note: I just caught a typo. When you flop an open ended straight on the flop, you make your straight 32% of the time.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Uncoventional Poker Play

At The Oaks Today....

I was playing at the Oaks Sunday tournament, and I made another play which is out of the norm.

It was $75-$150. I was in the small blind.

The player under the gun called. Everyone folded to a late position player. This player is aggressive pre-flop. Frankly, he overplays his hands pre-flop, and is unpredictable post flop. He raised to $600.

In the small blind I had 8-8. I called. I had $1,700 left after the call. The limper called. There was $1,950 in the pot. Frankly, normally the right play is to move all-in since I only had 4 times his bet left. However, this was a one rebuy event, and I played the hand as if I had another $2,500 behind the line. (None of us had taken the rebuy yet.)

The flop came down 7-8-9 rainbow. I hit a set and wanted to optimize my winnings, but protect my hand.

The player I wanted to get all in was the aggressive player. He had $1,700 left as well.

I could check the hand, but I decided to make a play that looked like I was on a draw.
I bet $700.

The limper folded. The aggressive opponent thought for a while. I was sure he was going to move all-in. He just called.

The turn was a Q.

With over $3,000 in the pot. I bet $1,000. He insta-called with Q-J.

The river was a 2, and I took down a bet pot.

Would he have moved all-in, with his Q-J against two opponents. I think he may have taken a free card. If so, the turn may still have him moving all in.

What do you think?

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Is One of Your Unconventional Winning Poker Plays?

Unconventional Winning Poker Plays

An unconventional winning poker play is one that does not follow the accepted norms of the game but ends up with you winning more chips than a traditional play.

Here is an example:

It is $50-$100 and you are in the big blind. You have $3,000 in chips, an average stack.

Four players limp into the pot. You call with 8s-8c. The pot is $550.

The flop is As-Jd-8d.

What should you do?

You can bet out. You can check-call. You can check-raise.

My unconventional play is as follows:

I will check, and with 4 callers I am fairly certain someone will bet.

Let's say the first player bets $400, and there is only one caller. One of these players has $6,000 in chips and the other $2,500 in chips.

There is now $1,350 in the pot.

If I raise to $1,200 it looks like I have a strong hand.

Instead, I will move all-in, to make it look like I'm pushing with a flush draw.

It works often at online poker, especially since players are more aggressive online.

What is one of your unconventional winning poker plays?


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New Review of My Tournament Poker Book on Amazon

4.0 out of 5 stars Million Dollar Moves...., March 25, 2009

By F. Bourelle "Big Frank" (Chicago, Illinois)

I consider myself a seasoned amateur player and student of the games. I found that I was familiar with most of the moves however, there were some new twists with some of the moves preflop, postflop, turn & river that I have started applying with some outstanding results both in tournament and sitngo play. Bottomline is this book is priceless. Memorize 3-4 moves for each position under the gun, hijack, cutoff, button and blinds. Add to that 3 - 4 moves for tournament play Beginning, Middle, money bubble and final table bubble. If you can do that, you'll be freerolling with this information because the book pays for itself.

Read the Review for Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves

Daniel Negreanu's Small Ball Strategy: River Play Part 6

River Play

Goal: To get to the river without investing too high a percentage of your chips, unless you have a monster. People will lean to calling you on the river, so don't bluff as often as if you were playing a more traditional style of play.

The river is the time to get full value for your strong hands, avoid losing more chips, and induce bluffs from opponents who think you are weak.

River bluffs: In general, if someone calls on the turn, they will call on the river with almost any kind of hand.

Value bets and river bets: Need to have the same size bet on river.

Value bet
: Key is to know the strength of your opponent's hand. The stronger your opponent's hand, the more you should bet. Also, consider how much pressure you are putting on your opponent.

Checking the River: You have a marginal or strong hand, but your opponent has a much better hand or missed his draw. Check the river.

When opponents see you checking a hand with a marginal hand on the river, they will also check more often--which means they will be missing their value bets.

Defensive Bets
: A small river bet that minimizes your losses where you are uncertain whether you have the best hand, but you'll have to call your opponent's bet if he bets the river. This allows you to see the hand through for less, and it takes the big-bluff weapon away from your opponent.

Caution: Don't Make Bad River Calls.
Some players use pot odds to justify a call. This is wrong when you know you are beat.
Look for physical tells of your opponent to make a decision on the river.

Questions in deciding to make a value bet with a marginal hand
1. Will your opponent call?
2. Is he capable of check-raising you on the river?
3. Will he check hands that have you beat?
4. Will he check-raise bluff on the river?
5. Is it worth it to bet? Do you really need the risk?

Best target: smarter players who think they have you figured out.
Needing to read your opponent's hand correctly is most important aspect of a successful bluff. Next is bet size--it should look like you want your opponent to call.

From the book:Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Poker Tells-Daniel Negreanu Small Ball Strategy: Part 5

Four Tells To Look For (Part of Turn Play):

1. Early Reachers
Some players reach for their chips prematurely. Give yourself a few extra seconds before making your play, and you may find out some free information. Of course, some players reach for chips to discourage you from betting.

2. Speed of Their Action
The time it takes an opponent to call a bet on the turn may reveal some patterns like
he is on a draw, or discouraging you to bet the river, or something else. You need to figure what the speed of the action is telling you.

3. Card Protectors
Identify a pattern based on whether where his card protect is being placed. For example, if he normally has the protector on the cards, and this time he doesn't, it may mean he isn't going to play. Again, you need to figure this out.

4. Quick Checkers

Quick checks on the turn may be that he is going to check-raise or he is on a draw. Again, each player is different so you need to figure it out.

Next: River Play

From the book: Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy

Interview with last week's #tpt winner Rhoegg

Interview with last week's #tpt winner-Ryan Hoegg

Share with us a little about who you are?
I'm 29, and married with three children. I like to write software, and I also make a living doing it.

When did you start playing poker?
April 1, 2007 (I just checked). I joined Full Tilt because I was curious after seeing it on TV a few times, and played play money. It took a few months to learn the game, and I decided to deposit $80 when I got up to 2,500,000 play chips.

What is your favorite poker game? Why?

I play No Limit Hold 'Em almost exclusively. I am starting to learn Razz now, and will learn another variant once I play that profitably.

Do you play in many poker tournaments? If so, where?
Yes, I play a lot of multi-table tournaments on Full Tilt and PokerStars. I am trying out Cake Poker recently, and have played a few live tournaments as well.

What is the most valuable poker lesson you've ever learned?
Move up in stakes carefully! I'm still learning this one. If you play a lot of MTTs, there will be times that you win big and you find yourself with a bankroll several times the one you've been playing. It's tempting to move up and play a lot bigger than before. If you try it, be very disciplined about dropping back down when you start losing. Which you probably will. Surprise, the players at higher stakes are better than the ones you've been playing against!

Did you have a strategy when you play the #tpt?
When we got down to the final table I started using twitter for a kind of table banter. I thought it would be fun to see if anyone changed their play because of my tweets. I'm not sure if anyone did, but Street 3 started answering me.

Were there any hands that you recall in the #tpt which were key to you winning?

There were several times I won a race when it counted. I doubled up when it was 4-handed with 10-2 against A-3 of spades on a flop of J-10-2 with two spades. That put me in a good chip position for the rest of the tournament.

Do you have any poker goals?

I'd like to keep having fun playing, without going broke. I'd also like to learn a few more games; stud and omaha look interesting.

Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time to be interviewed. Congratulations on your victory!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daniel Negreanu's Small Ball Strategy-Turn Play Part 4

Turn Play (again, this is for deep stack tournaments)

Overall Philosophy on the Turn
On the turn it is important to protect your stack in favor of protecting the pot. You may end up giving away free cards, but that is not a sin. The reason is that it's often better to have an opponent outdraw you for free in a smaller pot than it is to play a big pot for all your chips.

It is NOT about maximizing the equity in every hand you play. Winning small pots, having the best of it in big pots, and avoiding the chance of going broke by risking all your chips. Tournament play is not like a cash game.

In deep stack tournaments, careful play in marginal situations is what separates the top players.

Also on the turn, take your time. Think about what you are currently facing, as well as be one step ahead and plan what you'll do on the river.

Playing Overpairs
It is rare that an overpair is in the lead when an all-in pot is played on the turn.
No matter how big your one pair is, it is rarely ever going to be good enough to risk going broke with after the flop.
Avoid traps. Sacrifice value. Lose a few extra pots to protect your stack.

Have Position On The Turn
It allows you to get maximum value from your hands and bluff more successfully.
For example, you can call a bet on the flop and when a scare card comes--completing a flush or straigh--you can take the pot away. Of course, you need to know which opponent is conservative and know that you can have the made hand.

Check-Raising The Turn
1. Avoid it as it makes the pot bigger. If out of position and you get called, you'll be faced with a tough decision on river. And, it may cost you a pot you would have won if you get re-raised, when you had a draw.

2. With the Nuts: Check raising is a play to make if it doesn't take the "play" away from your opponent who may want to try to re-steal with what he thinks is the better hand. So, if you check raise with the nuts, you are doing so thinking your opponent will make a big move in response to your play.

3. As a Stone Bluff: Once you know your opponents, you can make a bluff with a check-raise on the turn. But you need to make sure that you know your opponent's betting patterns and to play your hand in a way so that your opponent believes your lie.

Bluffing is believable story-telling as you make bets that are not out of character for you. Outlandish bets that don't fit your style will alert your opponent that you are bluffing.

Representing Hands on the Turn
Use "fake outs" to help you win more pots. You can't expect to hit your draws and straights often, and bluffing is a way to turn those hands into winners.

Rules on How to Play Draws on the Turn:
1. Figure out your pot odds.
2. Figure out the odds of hitting that card.
3. Figure out your implied odds. The stronger your opponent's hand on the turn, the more likely you will get paid off if you hit on the river.
4. Factor in bluff outs if you know your opponent real well--bluff outs are cards that could hit the river that will scare your opponent into folding his best hand. To do this, you really need to know your opponent and his likely hole cards. Key: You must have a very good read on your opponent's tendencies to make these plays--if not, avoid the bluff-outs.

Next: Looking For Tells

From the book: Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy

Friday, March 20, 2009

Daniel Negreanu's Small Ball Strategy-Flop Play Part 3

Flop Play (for deep stack tournaments)

Pre-flop: 2 1/2 time's big blind raise
Flop: bet 50 to 80% of the pot
Avoid betting consistent amounts on flop: like lower range when bluffing and higher range when you have a strong hand
If you have nothing, and get check raised it's ok to fold. Sometimes you will have a hand and get paid off big.
Rule: Majority of bluffs in small pots, and have the best of it in big pots. And position is very important in small ball. When you have it, use it. When you don't, respect it.

When you flop a drawing hand:
Worst thing to do, is to bet yourself off a draw. Just don't be consistent--always check a drawing hand.
Key factor in decision:
1. Chip stack size. Semi-bluff all-in with a low stack.
Check a drawing hand if your opponent's raise will represent too large of your stack that you must fold.
2. Stage of the tournament:
Safer earlier on. When later and pots are big, want to win pot now.

Marginal Hands on Flop
It's ok to check. You don't want to play a big pot. Risk less money.

Losing The Minimum
If you get played back at, it's ok to be cautious with your hand unless your hand is strong or suspect your opponent is bluffing.
You want to avoid playing big pots that require a lot of guesswork.

Advice: Pros don't bluff as much as you think. They want to have the best of it in big pots. Pros win because opponents don't believe them.

Guidelines to Flop Play
When to bet:
1. When you miss flop, have position, and your flop bet will win because you think your opponent missed the flop.
2. Good hands that need protection. K-J and flop J-8-4
3. Monster draws to trap opponent
4. When you pick up a tell and feel your opponent will fold.

When to check:
1. A drawing hand and want to catch a card cheap.
2. Flops that pose little danger of outdrawing your hand.
3. Marginal hand on a dangerous flop--coordinated flops.
4. When you suspect opponent has caught a big hand on the flop.

Checking the flop keeps the pot small.
Raise the flop as a pure bluff where you feel opponent is weak and will fold.

Calling on the flop to steal the pot later
When you are in position, against one opponent, your hand is unimportant. What is important is the strength of your opponent's hand. You call on the flop, and take it down when your opponent checks the turn either because he is weak or the turn card looks to make your draw.

Appearing to Play Weak Poker
What you give up are free cards.
What you gain is trapping your opponent.

Overall: Small ball poker will keep you involved in lots of pots, but you want to win the pots you are suppose to win without taking any unnecessary risks.

Next: Turn Play

From the book: Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Daniel Negranu's Small Ball Strategy-Part 2 Betting

Betting (Again, please be reminded that this is for deep stack tournaments)

Small Ball Strategy:
How to bet less to win more
Playing more hands before the stack without bleeding your stack
Benefit of this aggressive small ball betting style is you'll get more action on your strong hands while risking fewer chips

Preflop Raising
Instead of a 3x's raise, raise to 2 1/2 times the big blind
However, you should change your bet size based on your opponent's level of skill. For example, raise more against a player who defends his big blind and plays well after the flop.

Preflop Calling
You should call pre-flop raises with hands as you want to make most of your decisions after the flop. Example: With deep stacks, call with middle pocket pairs.
Seldom re-raise before the flop no matter what your hand is.
Most players are better at pre-flop play and overplay their hands. By calling their raises, you can wait to outplay them on the flop.
Even with hands like JJ, QQ, and A-K.

Dead Money Grabs:
Higher risk plays with a high success rate.
Goal is to win what's already in the middle with no intention of playing your hand post flop.
Your hand is not important:

1. Pound the limpers in position
There are multiple limpers and you are in one of the blinds. You have nothing, and raise to win the pot. The raise must be big. If there is $1,300 in the pot, raise it more than $2,000 like $2,600.
You need to feel sure the first limper is weak, usually the under the gun limper is the player who may be slowplaying a premium pair.
You don't want to risk a high percentage of your chips on a play like this or you'll be pot committed and be forced to put your entire tournament on the line.

2. Coming over the top with a pre-flop re-raise
You need to make sure that your re-raise is big enough to get your opponent to fold, that you have a big enough chip stack to make this play, your opponent is not pot committed, your opponent views as someone who would only make this play with a big hand, and your opponent hasn't had this play done to him a few times where he is frustrated and calls you anyway.

Playing Against A Re-raise

If you get re-raised fold your hand unless:
You have AA or KK.
The re-raise was the minimum
You have position
The stacks are deep: call with suited connectors or small pairs and you can hit your hand or bluff using the board cards that can get your opponent to fold
Rule: Never risk more than 10% of your stack in these hands
Fold: KQ, KJ, K10, QJ against a re-raise!

Calling All-in Bets Or Raises
1. What is the range of hands of my opponent
2. What price am I being laid? Pot odds
3. How does my hand stack up against the range of hands my opponent has?
You are calling when the odds the pot is laying you dictates that it would be a good investment. Not because you think you have a better hand.

Playing A Small Stack
If your stack is less than 10 bets, you have to move all-in
When your chip stack declines you can look at limping...which is your goal to get to the flop.
When your chip stack is below average, you need to play conservatively, wait for the right hand, and hope.

You have Ks-Js. Your stack is $100,000 with $3,000-$6,000 blinds and a $1,000 ante.
If you raise 2 1/2 times the big blind, it is 15% of your stack which is too much too risk. Limp instead.

Next: Flop Play

From Daniels' Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy book.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review of Daniel Negreanu's Small Ball Strategy: Starting Hands

Small Ball: For Deep Stack Events

A few poker players on Twitter asked me to help them better understand Small Ball Strategy for no limit tournaments. I've decided to summarize the key points based on Daniel's chapter in his book Power Hold'em Strategy. It's important to realize that this approach is for deep stack events.

Increase your stack size in no-limit tournaments without taking significant risks.
Battle for the blinds and antes
Play your oppponent's hand rather than focusing on the strength of your own hand.
Manage pot size--small hands, small pots. Big hands, win big pots.
Want to hit straights and flushes against top pair hands.

Starting Hands
Small ball=focus more on what your opponent doesn't have than the strength of the cards you do have.

Big pairs:
AA, KK-it's ok to go broke with these hands
QQ, JJ-you don't want to play many big pots because you are either way behind or slightly ahead. No need to re-raise, especially against an early position raiser.

Middle pairs:
77 to 1010-they are good hand for their implied value pre-flop rather than their pre-flop strength. Your goal-flop a set to win a big pot. Doesn't mean you fold, if you miss--depends on the action.

Small pairs:
22-66-play like middle pairs. Don't re-raise with these hands pre-flop.

A-K, A-Q:
Big trouble in deep stack events. You don't want to get all in pre-flop.
A-K-raise pre-flop, but doesn't play well after the flop.
A-K unsuited will win small pots, but usually a dog if lots of action.

Aces and Paints: A-J, A-10, K-Q, K-J, Q-J, J-10
These hands are much better when suited in deep stack events.
Unsuited one pair hands win you small pots usually, and can cost you big pots.
Also, these hands are second best to premium hands.
If someone raises in front of you, fold K-Q and A-J--unless they are suited.

K and Q rag suited:
Don't raise with them and only limp in multiway pots.
Will mostly make second best hands--and small ball approach avoids these kind of hands.

Suited connectors:
Ideal for small ball as the goal is to hit flush and straights against premium pairs.
Opponent won't be able to put you on a hand, and overplay their pair or overpair.
These hands are easy to get away from on flop.
And your reputation for playing small ball allows you to steal pots, example:

You Js-10s:
Flop: 5h-6s-7h
Can win if:
Opponent has A-K and checks flop.
Opponent bets, you call, and a 4 hits the turn.

And--best of all, when you do hit your straight, you can win a big pot.

Trash Hands:
Q-3, J-2, 9-4, 8-2
No value except when you are playing the situation where you are trying to win the pot with a re-raise before the flop. Just don't get careless after the flop. If you hit your hand, play a small pot.
Or raise when opponents in blinds are very tight and fold pre-flop or fold to a small flop bet when they miss.

Next: Betting

Monday, March 16, 2009

Interview with last week's #tpt winner SteveBrogan

Interview with Stephen Brogan

Share with us a little about who you are?

I am a 61 year old husband, father of two sons, and grandfather of two granddaughters and one grandson. For the past twenty years, up until December 2006, I was employed in the high tech industry first as a business programmer and then as a system administrator. My hobbies include reading, poker and enjoyment of the outdoors. Now I assist my wife Diane as a computer and image technician (photoshop) for some of the products that we produce for http://www.brogan-arts.com (shameless business plug).

When did you start playing poker?

I actually started playing poker as a teenager with my parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins at an early age. I started playing Texas Holdem poker in late 2006, catching the bug as the result of watching the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel.

What is your favorite poker game? Why?

My favorite game is Omaha High/Low. There is so much strategy about the game; trying to scoop up the whole pot, being able to use two hole cards to make the high hand and two hole cards to make the low hand. It is a game that requires you to make your best efforts quickly in deciding if you can win it all.

Do you play in many poker tournaments? Is so, where?

I actually don't play many tourneys as a rule. So far, the #TPT and the #CPL are the tourneys that I have played the most in. I used to play the Railbirds.com freerolls but that took a lot of time and effort with a small rate of return for my efforts. It was fun, but, tiring.

What is the most valuable poker lesson you've ever learned?

Patience. Patience. Patience.

Did you have a strategy when you play the #tpt?

My current strategy is to play a tight but aggressive game. I keep myself aware of position relative to the button and who is at the table and their tendencies.

Were there any hands that you recall in the #tpt which were key to you winning?

Obviously, the last hand was the best I have ever had in a tourney. I spiked a straight flush to end it. I also had pocket Kings twice, which crushed my opponents both times that I held them. My good cards allowed me to more easily play back when others were also being aggressive.

Do you have any poker goals?
Yes, this year I would like to play in cash games about 20/25 hours a week, profitably, and continue to do so as a "semi-pro" . I have a bankroll to manage and I am working out the details of what games to play, what times to play them, and how to play them. And of course, another first place finish or two at the "Twitter Poker Tour" is also one of my goals.

Continuing education is a big part of being able to accomplish my goals. I plan to read and reread many of the 30 plus poker books that I own, including yours, "Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves". There are online courses, videos, and training that I use as well. There are also the television show such as "High Stakes Poker", World Poker Tour, that gives me some ideas of what could be done. Any time I am stuck, reading some of my books has helped me to become unstuck.

Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed. Congratulations again on your win! I will try to stay out of your way the next time we play.

Negreanu and Small Ball Strategy

Small Ball Strategy

I read the small ball strategy chapter in his Power Hold'em Strategy book and decided to use it in my Sunday NL tournaments for the past two months.

My overall conclusion: Small Ball Strategy Needs Lots of Chips To Work

His strategy simply does not work for my Sunday events since the chips are not deep enough and the rounds are not long enough. I've probably lost over $2,000 the past two months testing small ball.

The positives to the strategy is that it does allow you to play more hands, and hope to hit good to bust an opponent. It also helps you to understand the importance of implied odds, managing pot size and playing your opponent's hand from the flop.

However, it doesn't allow for eliminating opponents when you are raising 2 1/2 times the big blinds in these events. And, it also ends up being costly to be raising with suited connectors and players coming over the top, forcing you to fold.


Yesterday, first hand. I have J-9 suited. Each player starts with $2,500 and blinds at $25-$50. A player under the gun raises to $150. I call in a back position. The button calls. The small blind moves all in for $2,500. I have to fold, of course.
I'm not too happy to see the flop comes with J-9-9.

The player who moved all-in had A-K.

My Next Step

Learn from Daniel, but revert back to the Gus Hansen aggressive style of play. It is not only more fun and challenging for me, but it also enables me to be more feared at the table.

Daniel's style at the higher buy-in events work of course. However, I do believe that with fewer chips and fast blind increases it is simply a difficult way to add chips.

I have written a summary of Gus Hansen's playing style on this blog.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Answers: Who Said These Famous Poker Quotes

Answers To Yesterday's Quiz

"Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."
-Stu Ungar

"Tournament poker is not about survival. Tournament poker is about accumulating chips."
-Erick Lindgren

"In early position, beyond the middle stages of a tournament, limping should almost never be a consideration."
-Daniel Negreanu

"Try to decide how good your hand is at a given moment. Nothing else matters. Nothing!"
-Doyle Brunson

"Sometimes in order to live, you have to be willing to die."
-Dr. Max Stern

"Yeah, well, sometimes "nothin" can be a real cool hand."
-Cool Hand Luke

"In the long run there's no luck in poker, but the short run is longer than most people know."
-Rick Bennet

"The mathematically correct play is not always the best play."
-Chip Reese

"Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died."
-Steven Wright

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Poker Quiz: Guess Who Said These Famous Quotes About Poker?

My Attorney Said "No"

When I wrote the book "Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves" I hired an attorney to make sure I wasn't going to get sued.

She told me it would be better to take out the poker quotes. Bummer.

The famous people behind these quotes

Doyle Brunson
Erick Lindgren
Daniel Negreanu
Stu Ungar
Rick Bennet
Steven Wright
Chip Reese
Dr. Max Stern
Cool Hand Luke

Can you figure out who said these things about poker?

"Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."

"Tournament poker is not about survival. Tournament poker is about accumulating chips."

"In early position, beyond the middle stages of a tournament, limping should almost never be a consideration."

"Try to decide how good your hand is at a given moment. Nothing else matters. Nothing!"

"Sometimes in order to live, you have to be willing to die."

"Yeah, well, sometimes "nothin" can be a real cool hand."

"In the long run there's no luck in poker, but the short run is longer than most people know."

"The mathematically correct play is not always the best play."

"Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full hours and four people died."



And please don't sue me.

Poll: Results to How Often You Bluff

In a poker tournament, how often do you bluff with nothing and win (exclude continuation bets)?

0-5%: 35%
5-10%: 38%
10-20%: 17%
20-40%: 7%
Over 40%: 0%

Thanks for participating in the poll.

I think I was surprised that players actually bluff 20-40% excluding continuation bets. Maybe these were raises before the flop as steals? If not, I wonder how successful these players are with these moves.

The 10-20% seems like an aggressive player to me--which is good or bad depending upon your spots.

I think 10% and under is more like what I expected to answer; probably because I fall into that range.


As to bluffs. I tend to view all-in moves at the pot with big bets on the river as either the nuts or a total bluff. While I tend to view all-in moves on the flop as a flush draw.

One play that has worked online for me is when I hit a set on the flop, and the flop comes with two cards to a flush, I will check raise an opponent all-in. I make this move when I am fairly certain my opponent has a premium starting hand (based on the pre-flop raise and table image) because it looks like a bluff.

Are there bluff plays, that anyone would like to share? Or, would you prefer to keep these a secret.



Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview with winner of #tpt @mac_zealot

Interview with last week's #tpt Winner

Share with us a little about who you are?

Well, my name is Brian Hughes. I live and work in Hanover, NH, at Dartmouth College. Dartmouth happens to also be where I graduated from, back in 1989/90. I had spent a little over a year working as a student computer consultant and pretty much fell into my first job right after I finished up. I've been working there, since then.

When did you start playing poker?

I've pretty much been around poker just about all of my life. Back when I was a kid, growing up on Long Island, my mother moved back in with her parents (my grandparents) when I was 3. My grandparents used to host a weekly home poker game, which they did pretty much all the way through my college graduation. I think my grandmother taught me the basics of poker when I was about 9 or so and I played a bunch while I was attending Dartmouth in the late '80s, but I didn't start playing NL Hold'em until around late 2001, back when Pokerroom.com started getting popular.

What is your favorite poker game? Why?

Hmm... I'm not sure I have a favorite. I try to play all the usual forms, but No Limit Texas Hold'em is definitely my best game. It's the one that I've studied the most and put the most time into improving, but I'm also a pretty big fan of Pot-Limit Omaha.

Do you play in many poker tournaments? Is so, where?

Yes, I play in live tournaments, quite regularly. In addition to taking one to two trips out to Las Vegas, each year for the past few years, along with a few trips to Foxwoods and Turning Stone Casino (in upstate NY), as luck would have it, poker is legal in New Hampshire! I'm a fairly well known regular in 3 or 4 of the poker rooms that operate in the state and try to play every weekend, bankroll permitting, of course. :)

What is the most valuable poker lesson you've ever learned?

Wow. I don't know if I could single out any one lesson, but I would have to rank understanding proper bankroll management, even when I don't always practice it, pretty high up on the lessons learned list. Fortunately, I've only gone "poker broke" a couple of times, not actually broke.

Did you have a strategy when you play the #tpt?

Not right at the start. My initial plan was to test the waters with a few hands to see if I could pick up some chips. Turns out that didn't go as well as I wanted and was actually one of the short stacks early on. But I got a couple of good hands in the mid stages which really let me open my game up and I pretty much used good pre-flop aggression, and catching some hands in key spots, to outlast everyone at the final table.

Were there any hands that you recall in the #tpt which were key to you winning?

I have to say that there were 2 hands that really stood out for me. The first was in the mid-late stages, when I was around the chip average, with $3145, it's 100/200 blinds. I had been pretty active at the table, raising before the flop. I'm in the SB with 66 and it's folded all the way around. In the BB is cprpoker, who is a good player, but hadn't had much to play, so he'd been folding behind my raises most of the tourney.

I raise to $600 and cprpoker, who has $2820 behind his $200 BB, pushes all in. I think for a bit and put him on making a move, since I'd been so active, but this looks like a great spot for me to possibly double up, to a really healthy stack, and get a good player off my immediate left. So I type into the chat "lets race" and call. Fortunately, cprpoker has 33 and my hand holds up for a really nice pot.

The second hand happened, right towards the end, when we were 3 handed. I finally picked up pocket aces, in the BB. I just called Street3's pre-flop raise, the flop came out K high, he shoved, I called and had way the best of it, since he didn't even have a pair, yet. I had Street covered, my hand held up and put me in a great spot to go heads up with jordie21. I didn't realize it was only going to be 2 hands of heads up, but I had the chip lead when jordie21 re-raised all in, pre-flop. I called with A Q, he had 8 8 and I flopped a Q.

Do you have any poker goals?

I don't know if I have any specific goals, really. Obviously, I'd love cash big, or win (naturally :) a big money tournament. But I know that's somewhere down the road, when I'm in a better bankroll position to take that kind of shot. However, I know I still have a lot to learn and plenty of leaks to plug.

Brian, thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with us. Thanks!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

15% Off On My Poker Books

Gambler's Book Shop Sale: Best Price on My Books Today

With the 15% off poker book sale at Gambler's Book Shop, you can get my books for only $16.96 each. It's the best price I can find to save you money.

1. Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves
If you are interested in Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves, just click here. This is a reference book on 101 no limit plays that the Poker Pros use to win no limit poker tournaments. It is rated 5 out of 5 stars on amazon--and no, those reviews are not from my friends. One of the reviewers is a top 100 Amazon reviewer who was nice enough to review both of my poker books.

Frankly, I am averaging about one positive email each week about how I helped a poker player improve his or her tournament results.

In the past 6 months, I have gotten three negative responses to my book. One told me I was an idiot for ever suggesting slow-playing pocket Aces, another was about how I didn't understand expected value, and a third criticized some plays in my book.

Just by way of response:

1. Slow-playing pocket Aces is often the best move, especially if you need to get chips to have a shot at winning.

2. Expected value is a great concept for cash games, but not always for tournaments. Why do you think top Pros will fold hands like pocket 9's and pocket 10's when a player moves all-in and they know he has A-K? Their expected value is positive but they are looking for better opportunities to get all-in.

3. 90% of the plays in my book are not mine. It's a reference book of materials I have read or seen from top Poker Pros. So if you think I am crazy, please let Gus, Daniel, Phil, etc know.

2. Play Razz Poker to Win
If you are interested in Play Razz Poker To Win, just click here. This is based on running a large number of simulations in different Razz situations. Most of the positive replies I have received are from Razz players who like my Starting Hand Point System that is not just based on your starting cards, but the exposed cards of your opponents and your relative position at the table. Is it perfect, no. But it will help to keep you out of trouble. The book is for cash and not tournament play.

This book has also been getting good reviews on Amazon, although not as glowing as my tournament poker book. I tried to add to the Razz discussion since the only noteworthy Razz book was over 20 years old by Sklansky.

The incredible news is that my Razz book has been selected by PokerStar's poker school, IntelliPoker, to be translated into German and other languages. That was a high complement especially since Katja Thater, who won a WSOP bracelet in Razz, recommended my book.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What Would You Do?


hey mitch,
love all the advice your giving, its very beneficial.
iv got a question though.

i play at my local club with a field of about 80 or so. but the thing i struggle with is that the blinds go up quite quick and they start to double towards the last half of the tournament. it comes to a point where i may be chip average and above and going well, but i only have 10-15 big blinds. i struggle cos i dont know what to do in a spot with a big stack with only 12 big blinds and i get dealt an A10 suited or 6's and under. so i guess my main question is what is my strategy in these kind of situations?

im making some good profit from your advice so thanks heaps,

Ryan Howarth

My Answer:


Good question.

This is what everyone has to deal with in a poker tournament. Overall, it really becomes a game of luck.

Some thoughts:

When I have 10 BB's or less I will just push all-in with these hands and hope for the best.

When I have more BB than this, I want to know the next level of blinds. If in the next round I am going to be at 10 times the big blinds or less (Which is usually the case) I break-up the current round in halves based on time. If it is a 20 minute round, the first 10 minutes I look for premium cards, but in the 2nd half of the round I open up the range of hands since I will have to push all-in soon in the next round.

For me the premium cards in the first half of a round is A-J or better. I raise first in, and if I get re-raised all-in the pot odds will dictate me to call.

In the second half of the round, I am pushing all-in with a wide range of high ranking cards--even Q-10. The reason is that I need chips to win.


What do you do in these situations?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thoughts On How To Play Ace-King...

Big Slick

There are many names for Ace-King. From Big Slick, to Anna Kournakova, to my favorite "walking back to Houston." I learned this expression from reading T.J. Cloutier's poker book many years ago. If I recall correctly, he wrote that back in his day the biggest no limit cash games were in Texas. The poker players from Houston would travel to these games and they had one major weakness. They thought A-K was the nuts.

T.J. added that the only times they'd get called with A-K were when they were beat. Thus, the A-K got the name "walking back to Houston." (Let me know if I got this story wrong. It's been a while.)

How To Play Ace-King in No Limit Tournaments

I have seen players who like to get all-in with A-K no matter what, and other players who just call, never wanting to risk all their chips.

I must admit that I have misplayed this hand many many many...times.

After watching players on TV lose all their chips with A-K, I became a caller with it. But, after watching many Pros accumulate chips fast with A-K, I switched to always raising pre-flop and trying to get all-in pre-flop.

After much pain and suffering, I have come to the following conclusion that there are some general rules on how to correctly play A-K:

1. You want to raise with A-K pre-flop.
2. You don't want to get all your chips in pre-flop with A-K.
3. If you hit your hand on the flop and get a caller, keep the pot small by checking the turn. You don't want to lose to a player who called your raise with a worst kicker.

Why is this the right approach for playing Ace-King?

1. You want to eliminate the number of opponents, and hopefully, simply win the blinds without a fight.
2. If you move all-in with A-K and get called, you are most likely behind. Your opponent will have a pair and be favored. And, of course, there are those times he finds pocket Kings or Aces. Doh!
3. Keeping the pot small will minimize your chip loss with a hand that is just one pair. You don't want to go bust after the flop with just one pair. Don't do it.

What are the right situations to push with Ace-King?

There are a few exceptions to my rules:

1. If your chip stack is 9 times or less the big blind, pushing with A-K is the right play.
2. If you need to accumulate a lot more chips to win the event, pushing with A-K is the right play. For example, if you have 12 times the big blind, a player raises pre-flop in front of you, and your only hope of winning the event is doubling up now.
3. If you have a tell on your opponent that he is weak, pushing with A-K is the right play.


Too many players move all-in with Ace-King without thinking about the situation. It is a hand that you want to win pre-flop with a raise, a hand where you want to keep the pot small if you get resistance on the flop, and a hand where only in the right situations do you push to give yourself a shot at winning.

Why am I writing this post tonight? I just knocked myself out of a tournament by overplaying my hand with A-K. I only ran into two opponents pre-flop. One had K-K and the other A-A!! Oh, since it is online poker, the case King hit the board...
"I feel your pain," to steal a Presidential expression.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New! A Poker Auction Site for Entries, Cash and More!

This looks very cool! It's totally new and I even signed up to be an affiliate.

Here is my understanding on how it works:

This company auctions off poker cash, poker entries, and other cool poker stuff. The way it works is that you pay for the right to bid.

There is a free offer to sign up now for 5 free bids. It starts on Saturday. My guess is that this will be the auction with the fewest participants.

Click the banner to be taken to the site.

I also took a photo of part of the home page for you. Click on it to make it bigger. Good luck!

My Story at Playing in A World Series of Poker Event

One of the first times I entered a WSOP event was back in the early 2000's, my guess about 2003 or 2004. Frankly, I was a bad player, but coming off the dot come boom I had money to burn.

I entered a $1,500 NL event and there was one champion at the table, Johnny Chan. I was seated two seats to the left of the dealer, while Johnny Chan was two seats to the dealer's right. It was not a good position to watch and learn poker from a champion. But I did my best.

Chan was patient and was not entering many pots. When he did enter a pot, he got a lot of respect and players folded quickly.

I recall that I was playing the way T.J Cloutier's book told me to play the game. Tight, very tight. I mean T.J.'s book taught you the fundamentals of the game, but it is rather outdated for today's action game.

Anyway, at this WSOP event I recall that it had been almost over an hour, and I may have played one hand. I hate to say it but I was bored. So bored, that I decided that no matter what was dealt to me on the next hand, I was going to raise pre-flop.

I was in one of the middle positions. Everyone folded to me, and I found Q-6. Not a favorable hand at all.

I stuck to my guns and raised three times the big blind. I wasn't sure why three times the big blind was the right sized bet, but hey, I figured it would look like I had a premium starting hand.

It was folded to the big blind who called. The flop came Q-6-6.

Oh my, I think that's a good flop for me. I checked to set up a trap, but my opponent checked.

The turn was a 4.

I checked to set up a trap, but my opponent checked.

The river was a 2.

I bet real small and my opponent mucked.

Wow, that was fun...not.

And now we get to the Johnny Chan part of the story...

The next hand I was dealt rags and folded. But a player raised three times the big blind. It was folded to Chan who moved all-in. It was a huge all-in move so early in the tournament. His opponent went into the tank for about 30 seconds, and called. He turned over Q-Q. Chan showed A-K.

At the time I was thinking Chan had made a bad play. You don't move all-in for all your chips with A-K. It was crazy...the Ace hit on the flop and Chan doubled up. What do I know?

The very next hand Chan was in an early position and he raised three times the big blind. Another player moved all-in, and Chan insta-called. The player had A-K, and now Chan had Q-Q. Chan's opponent got no help and Chan gained an even big chip stack.

My first thought: "Oh, no wonder he's a champion. He wins with A-K, and he beats A-K."

The only other thing I recall from that event was that there was a table with seven or eight pros. While seating was random, it was just one of those things. The pros complained a lot to the Tournament Director, and he broke up their table first--even though it was not first in line. Of course, a lot of other players complained to no avail.

Many years later, I witnessed where two pros did everything possible not to play against each other. They knew that the other novice players were a lot easier to pick on, and they took turns hammering the players. Yeah, including me. In fact, one of them bluffed me out of a big pot...I think. No, I'm sure of it. One day....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Interview with winner of #tpt: @treystill

Here is my interview with last week's #tpt poker winner @treystill.

@treystill, congratulations on winning last week's event!

Share with us a little about who you are?
I am a very young 50-year-old, living in a suburb of Nashville, TN called Hermitage. I am a truck driver by trade. I'm single and other interests include volunteering and NASCAR. I have just begun a blog at www.buttheyweresuited.com to record my thoughts on playing poker.

When did you start playing poker?
I've been playing video poker and 5 Card Draw for over 30 years. In 2005 I had a stroke and my physical therapist told me that playing cards would help with the rehab of my hand and my mind. I'd watched Texas Hold'em on TV and in April 2006 I played in my first Texas Hold'em tournament taking place in a neighborhood bar.

What is your favorite poker game? Why?
I have two favorite games. I love H.O.R.S.E. because of all the games involved. But lately, because of good coaching, I really starting to love RAZZ. It is so different from the other games.

Do you play in many poker tournaments? Is so, where?
I play 3 to 5 nights a week with the American Rounders Poker League, which is a free poker league in the Nashville area. Since I began playing with them in 2006 I have won 36 tournaments so far.

What is the most valuable poker lesson you've ever learned?
To be patient in the early part of the game. So many players will go all-in in the first few hands so I play the good hands and let them take each other out.

Did you have a strategy when you play the #tpt?
Just try to be patient and play my game. I also try to not let any bad beats put me on tilt. In the early part of the game I took some bad beats and was down to 850 in chips. But I kept my cool and played my game.

Were there any hands that you recall in the #tpt which were key to you winning?

Yes, there were two. In the first one, I had 5700 in chips and got pocket 8s and I bet 3000. The big blind, who was also the chip leader, made it 6000. So I folded and he showed pocket Aces. In the second one, we were three-handed and I had 25,000 in chips. I got pocket 7s and raised to 10,000 and the chip leader/big blind called. The flop came A 7 3. The big blind then went all-in and I called. The turn was 8 and the river was an A. He showed AK and had trip Aces but that gave me a full house and I doubled up.

Do you have any advice for those who play in tournaments overall?
Yes. My friend and coach Trisha Webb has taught me that patience is the key to tournament poker. No matter how bad a beat you take, as long as you have one chip and keep your head in the game, you can come back to win. I've done it 5 times.

Do you have any poker goals?
There are two. First to win a WSOP bracelet. And second, to be there when Trisha Webb wins her first WSOP bracelet.

Thanks, @treystill for taking your time to respond to my questions.

This Is Too Funny

Online Poker is Legit, No Really!

Poll: Free Weekly Ezine on Tournament Poker Strategy and Tips

Why an ezine on poker tournaments?

Right now, I am up to almost 10,000 poker players visiting my poker sites, poker blogs, and on my email list--not to mention my Twitter followers.

I thought it would be easier for everyone, including myself, to simply put out a weekly ezine instead of almost daily blog posts.

Please let me know what you think.

My first idea for the ezine name: Bracelet or Bust!

What do you think of the name?

Do you get any other poker ezines on poker? Good, bad? Any other advice?

Thanks for your input.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Online poker--it's truly a joke!

I just deleted everything I wrote about why I think online poker sites like PokerStars and FullTilt are set up to make players lose their money. Overall, I think they suck in players via intermittent rewards and setting up too many premium hand confrontations.

Instead, I have decided to try to set up a way to try to counteract this nonsense.

I am going to rotate between sites...

I will rotate from UltimateBet, Bodog, PokerStars, and any other US permitted sites.

I believe I will be rewarded by the sites for my inactivity. In fact, my theory is that I will win by doing the following:

Play at poker site #1: Enter 3 or 4 events. If I have not won money after these events, I will go to poker site #2. If I am ahead, I will continue to play. If I am not ahead after 3 more events, I will go to poker site #2. Rinse and repeat.

It will either prove me right or wrong...

What's Your Poker IQ?