Friday, July 31, 2009

Gus Hansen Loses A $450,000 Pot-Online Poker

It's Only Money, right?

It makes me ill, though...

Replay this hand at

Most Popular Poker Posts

Lacey Jones: Hottest Girl in PokerImage by chasingthegambler via Flickr

Top 5 Most Popular Poker Posts--These Are Hot

Thank you for reading my poker blog! 6 months ago I was getting about 1,100 visitors per month. Now, I am getting over 3,500 visitors per month to my blog--more than triple! My blog is hot--not even close to being as hot as Lacey Jones, of course.

I hope to continue to provide useful information for you, and interesting ways of presenting it. While my recent post about Phil Ivey's 35 hands to the final table of the WSOP main event took me many hours to assemble--it has been viewed over 420 times in just a few days.

If you missed any of these top 5 posts, you may want to check them out. As always, you never know if it can get you to a final table or maybe spot Lacey Jones at a major event.

Thanks again,

1. The Hands Phil Ivey Played at the Main Event of the WSOP to Get to The Final Table

2. 10 Key Actions to Use in a Poker Tournament: Learning from the Rio

3. This May Be My Most Important Post About Winning Tournament Poker Strategy

4. The Simple Secret to Winning at Online Poker

5. Poker Quiz: Early Rounds of Tournaments

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

After the Bubble Bursts – Now What? by @ChrisKristofco

Thoughts from a Winner

Chris Kristofco is a winning online poker player. He has a new Poker Blog you should check out. While much has been written about taking advantage of timid play near the bubble, he has written an insightful article about play after the bubble that can help your tournament results.


How to Play After the Bubble Bursts
We’ve all heard a lot about bubble play in NLHE tournaments. Big stacks should punish the tight play surrounding the bubble, and short stacks need to pick spots to try to steal or double up. But what about after the bubble bursts? What happens then?

Bubble GumImage by via Flickr

Post-bubble play is one of the least talked about elements of NLHE tournaments, but one of the more important. What happens after the poor bubble boy is sent packing? One word: chaos. All of those short stacks who have been looking to survive and make it into the money now are drunk on their mincash winnings and are spewing chips into the middle of the table like a sick child on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Now is really the time to pick your spot.

After the bubble breaks, big stacks can collect more chips picking off these desperation moves, and smaller stacks might just get an easier double up than they would have prior to the money. Remember the change in philosophy of the average player. For many of them, at this point, they are on a freeroll. Use that to your advantage.

As a large stack, tighten up just a bit in your raising requirements, knowing that small stacks might be shoving, forcing you to call in marginal spots. However, know that you will also get to pick off some smaller stacks with less than the nuts. You have to understand where your opponent is coming from in order to adjust your game appropriately. Knowing that small, and even medium stacks, are in spew mode can help you make proper decisions.

As a small stack, your game just got a lot more interesting. You need to be aware that the action is about to kick up into turbo mode. You might have to get it in with less than an optimal holding since you can’t afford to wait several orbits until the action slows down (which it will). So, you might have to stick it in with AJ. On the other hand, if the next money jump is significant, you might be able to get there without playing a hand. Just be aware that players will now bust out at an amazing rate, and make your decisions based on that information.

Medium stacks might have the toughest time of all. The action is going to be fast and furious around you, and the temptation to get involved light is going to be high. Just be aware that immediately after the bubble break is probably not the best time to try to steal blinds. Sit tight. Wait to get it in strong. Often medium stacks get it in way too light because they perceive that they have to make a move since the chips are flying around them. It isn’t necessary. Pick your spots without letting too much moss grow on your now rocky persona.

Chris Kristofco

How to Turn the Small Blind Into the Button by Angel "GiJoe" Valdez

He's Back!

Angel "GiJoe" Valdez has a few observations from watching the Pros play online poker Sunday. He brings up two moves he sees the Pro use that essentially turns their small blind into the button. After reading this post you may think, "That donk is actually a Pro who is pushing with nothing to get chips early, since he is busy doing the same nonsense at 20 other games at the same time." Hey, you never know.

Joe, thanks again. Mitchell

Watching Pros Play Online Poker

I like to take breaks from online poker quite a bit. I don't play that many games like most, so during my breaks I like to work on my game by reading up on my books, my notes from the academy or watching others play online.

Yesterday I logged into PS to check out what the pro's were doing. To my shock I saw 36 PS pro's logged in and playing. I am sure there were more but they

When the online poker gods smileImage by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

weren't affiliated with PS. Most of the 36 players were playing the $215 or the $500 MTT. Now the $215 MTT had over 8k players. It seemed like this particular game was an ALL-IN-LET-ME-DOUBLE-UP-OR-BUST game.

I chatted with one of my WSOP instructor and I asked him about this tactic, and his response was very interesting. He said that the pro's have a huge bankroll to play with so $200 is nothing for them. They don't want to play a game just for the sake of it and waste time. They want to double up quickly and often. They want to be in with huge stacks and take advantage when the blind and ante's increase. For them there is always another game they can play and most play 12 games a across multiple sites.... By the way when I was chatting with him he was playing only 9 games on PS!!! ONLY!! lol His buy-ins were $5, $33R, $500, $215, $50, $109, $55R1A, and some cash games of mix 40/80, mix 10/20, and 1 more that I don't recall.

When he first started playing this game I saw him go all in with hands like A5 and above. It didn't matter if they were suited. He did go all in pre-flop in the later stages with A3s vs 88 and of course he flopped an Ace to give him the win. This was against a smaller stack that he easily had covered. Once half the field was eliminated they started playing poker, with the exception of the short stacks who were looking to double up.

Two Moves To Consider

There were a couple of moves that I saw several pro's make successfully. The blinds were high and ante's had kicked in. The first one is called the All-In Re-Raise and the second the Stop-N-Go. Both are covered in one of my favorite poker books "Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves." The pro's did have a bigger stack then the other players so that might influence when to use these moves.

In the All-In Re-Raise players folded to the button which made a standard 3x raise. Then the pro being in the SB moved all in. The BB would fold and so would the player on the Button that tried to steal the blinds. So not only did the SB get all the ante's but he also pick up a nice bonus from the button. It was amazing to see it work.

After a few times the button didn't want to steal so the SB became the new button. I saw a pro get called by the BB with 66 once. The pro showed J7 and they held up. So his range to me was basically any 5 gap cards, suited connectors, to any pair. I mean that's a huge range. When they get deeper into the tournament, players value their tournament life more than at the beginning. I can see why this move worked out the way it did, although I kept saying "will someone please call that!!!"

The Stop-N-Go I first read about in "Tournament Poker:

Greg Raymer in the 2005 World Series of Poker.Image via Wikipedia

101 Winning Moves" and even got hands-on experience at the WSOP academy while sitting at Greg Raymer's table. This is how it goes. It all gets folded to the cutoff or button where they make the standard 3x raise. The player in the SB would smooth call and so would the blind(sometimes). After the flop, the SB being first to act would fire off a half to 2/3 pot continuation bet. The BB and initial raiser would fold. I saw this move work well a lot for the pro's. Again they were taking advantage of their stack size and being first to act.

I originally planned to watch the pro's play for only 30 min but 4 hours later…

The SB is the New Button

I now understand why most online pro's are calling the SB the NEW button. With the two moves above you can not only steal the blinds to keep up with the

blind increases, but also get extra chips to increase your stack.

1960s Action SoldierImage via Wikipedia

After a while players feared the pro when it came down to the button and SB. He was considered a maniac not only by them but by me!

So the next time you are in a tournament and the blinds are starting to increase and you think you might be "card dead," try one of these moves and see what it does for you. I know the more I see it, use it, and re use it… the more I will remember it.

Good luck

Angel "Gijoe" Valdez
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Hands Phil Ivey Played at the Main Event of the WSOP to Get to The Final Table

Phil Ivey-Not Every Hand Revealed

Let's see how Phil Ivey got to the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. This is information from hands reported by The event started with 6,494 players. The winner will take home over $8.5 million.

Phil Ivey in 2007 World Series of Poker - Rio ...Image via Wikipedia

Day 1D. July 7, 2009.

The first obstacle. Phil entered on the last day of the event. He got in, unlike 500+ other players who were left out and forced to find an outlet for $10,000 in that sleepy city of Las Vegas. By math, $5+ million in cash was standing in line outside the cage. By rumor, strippers had their best night of WSOP action.

Level 1 Hour 1.
Blinds: 50-100

Hand: Ivey builds his stack.
Flop 10h-6s-3s. Ivey bets 300 and is called by his lone opponent.
Turn Ks. Ivey bets 600. His opponent mucks.
Ivey: 31,000.
(My Comment: Your basic continuation bet on the flop by Ivey takes down the pot.)

Hand: The river helps...
Board: As-6c-9d-4c-6h. First player checks, and second player bets 1,250. Ivey raises to 4,000. First player folds but second player calls. Ivey shows Kd-6d, making trips on the river.

Level 3
Blinds: 150-300

Hand: Gotta know when to fold'em...

Turn: Ad-8s-8d-Kh. Player bets 1000, Ivey and another player calls.
River: 9s. Player bets 6,000, Ivey calls, but the last player raises to 16,000. Both Ivey and the first player fold. The raiser shows Ah-8h for a full house.
(My Comment: It's nice when you flop a full house. An easy fold with the river raise and two opponents.)

Hand: ...and to hold'em.
Flop: Ad-Jd-3h. Pot has 2,850. Ivey bets 1,700 and only gets one caller.
Turn: 2d. Both players check.
River: 9d Both players check. Ivey shows Ac-Kh to win pot.
Ivey at 58,000.
(My Comment: Excellent learning here. Even though, Ivey has top pair, top kicker he checks the turn. It's not because he thinks his opponent has a better hand. It's too control the pot size and possibly win more on the river if a scare card does not hit. A scare card did hit, though, and he had to check.)

Level 4
Blinds: 150-300 with a 25 ante

Hand: He's got him dominated.
Ivey calls an all-in bet of 8,825. Ivey show Ah-Qc. Opponent Ac-Jd.
Board: 8d-6s-3c-Ks-9d. Ivey wins pot.
Ivey at 82,000.
(My Comment: An easy call. A-Q and only risking a small percentage of his chip stack.)

Level 5
Blinds: 200-400 with a 50 ante

Hand: A semi-bluff on a draw?
Flop: As-6d-3s. Dutch Boyd bets 1,500 from the big blind. Ivey raises to 4,500. Boyd calls.
Turn: 4s. Both players check.
River: 8s. Both players check. Boyd shows 6h-3c for two pair. Ivey mucks.
Ivey at 105,000.
(My Comment: Difficult to know what is going on here. Maybe Ivey is playing his aggressive opponent with that flop raise. Maybe it's a semi-bluff on the flop. Not sure.)

End of day 1D: Ivey at 105,000. Leader at 340,000. Players left: 3,572

Day 2B: July 8, 2009

Level 6
Blinds: 250-500 with a 50 ante

Hand: They're just pocket Jacks...oh, it's Ivey.
Pre-flop a player limps, Erick Lindgren raises to 2,500 from late position and is called by Ivey in the big blind as well as the limper.

Erick Lindgren at the WPT's Doyle Brunson Five...Image via Wikipedia

Flop: 9c-8d-4d. Ivey bets out for 6,000. The limper folds but Lindgren moves all-in, for only 17,500. Ivey calls and shows Jd-Jc. Lindgren shows Qh-Qd.
Turn: 7c.
River: Jh. Ouch!
(My Comment: You gotta get lucky to win. Could you fold an overpair here?)

Level 7
Blinds: 300-600 with a 75 ante

Hand: Was it Ivey's stare?
Turn: 4h-Js-9h-7c. Ivey calls a bet of 15,000
River: 8s. Ivey's opponent checks. Ivey bets 45,000 and his opponent mucks. He shows a set, 9c-9d! Ivey does not show and collects his chips.
Ivey at 148,000.
(My Comment: What happened on the flop would be nice to know. But, what exactly do you think Ivey has here? Did he turn a straight? Is he going to call a big turn bet, to complete a straight on the river?)

End of Day 2B-Ivey at 325,000

Day 3: July July 10, 2009. 2,134 players left.

Level 10
Blinds: 600-1,200 with a 200 ante

Hand: Can't win 'em all.
Player moves all-in pre-flop and Ivey calls. Opponent has Ah-10c. Ivey has 9h-9s.
Board: 6d-4d-3h-5c-10d. Ivey loses hand.
Ivey at 355,000.

Level 11
Blinds: 800-1,600 with a 200 ante

Hand: Sometimes you got to fold the winning hand. Maybe here?

Pre-flop Ivey raises to 4,500 from under the gun and two players call.
Flop: Js-5s-5h. Ivey bets 9,000, next player raises to 18,000. Other player folds but Ivey calls.
Turn: 2h. Ivey checks, and his opponent moves all-in with 85,400. Ivey thinks for a few minutes and mucks. Opponent shows one card, the Jd.
Ivey at 358,000.
(My Comment: All-in moves on the river are often either a complete bluff or the nuts. Looks like the nuts to Ivey.)

Day 3 ends. Ivey at 358,000. Leader at 1,380,500.

Day 4: July 11, 2009. 810 players left.

Level 16
Blinds: 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante

Hand: The rockets hold up and get paid big. Oh, yeah, it's Ivey.
Ivey raises pre-flop to 16,000 from early position and is called by one player.
Flop: 7s-2d-Qh. Ivey bets 23,000 and is called.
Turn: 8h. Ivey bets 55,000 and is called.
River: 4d. Ivey bets big enough to put opponent all-in. Opponents calls. Ivey shows As-Ah. Opponent mucks.
Ivey at 900,000. (Note: There is no reporting on how much of this pot contributed to Ivey's increase in chips from 358,000.)
(My Comment: Ivey fires the third bullet on the river. No resistance. No scare card. Maximum rewards.)

Level 17
Blinds: 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante

Hand: Fold, dude. It's Phil Ivey!
Turn: Ac-Jc-7s-8s. Ivey bets 70,000. Opponent calls.
River: 3d. Ivey bets 120,000. Opponent folds.
Ivey near 1 million.
(My Comment: Pre-flop and flop play would be nice to know. He may just have top pair on the turn, and he is betting for value and making it expensive for his opponent to catch.)

Hand: Hello, it's Phil I-v-e-y!
Board: Qh-5h-9c-7c. Opponent checks. Ivey moves all-in. Opponent calls and shows Ad-9d. Ivey shows Kd-Kc.
River: 7s. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 1.1 million.

Hand: Does he have to wear a name tag?
Pre-flop Ivey raises to 16,000 preflop and the player on the big blind calls.
Flop: 9c-6s-3d. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bet of 22,000.
Turn: 8d. Ivey bets 55,000 and is called.
River: Kc. Ivey bets 120,000 and opponent folds.
Ivey at 1.2 million.
(My Comment: Ivey keeps firing even with that King on the river. The check-call is an interesting play by his opponent. A check raise on the turn may have forced Ivey to fold.)

Day 4 ends: Ivey with 1,276,000. Leader at 1,819,000.

Day 5-July 12, 2009. 407 players left.

Hand: You ain't gonna hit a set against The Man.
Pre-flop a player moves all-in and Ivey calls. Opponent shows 9h-9c. Ivey has Kd-Kc. Board: Ad-Ac-5c-Ah-8h. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 830,000. (It's noted that Ivey had dropped to 220,000 but no hands were reported. Maybe you are not allowed to report when Ivey losses a lot of chips.)

Day 5 ends. Ivey with 1,400,000. Leader at 4,872,000.

Day 6-July 13, 2009. 185 players left.

Level 21
Blinds: 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante

Hand: Will they ever learn?
Flop: Qc-10c-10h. Ivey and opponent checks.
Turn: As. Ivey and opponent checks.
River 8h. Ivey bets 50,000 and his opponent mucks.
Ivey at 1.7 million.
(My Comment: Whoever bets first here wins on the river, I believe.)

Level 23
Blinds: 12,000-24,000 with a 3,000 ante

Hand: You are moving all-in with A-K against Ivey? You are not playing online.
Pre-flop a player raises to 75,000 from early position and another player calls. Ivey pushes all-in from the small blind for 1,800,000. Original raiser calls the all-in bet for his last 700,000. The other player folds. Ivey has Ks-Kc. Opponent Ah-Kd.
Board: Jc-5s-4d-7d-Js. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 2,680,000.
(My Comment: The first raiser has a tough decision since it's a re-raise from Ivey in the worst position pre-flop. Ivey is aggressive pre-flop, but is he going to re-raise an upfront raiser unless he has a premium hand? I don't think so. If I was the player with the A-K, I would put Ivey on pocket Queens and be wrong.)

Level 24
Blinds: 15,000-30,000 with a 4,000 ante

Hand: Q-Q beats J-J--except against P.I.
Pre-flop a player raises to 80,000 and Ivey re-raises to 260,000. His opponent moves all-in for his last 620,000 and Ivey calls. Opponent shows Qs-Qc. Ivey Jc-Jh.
Board: Js-9s-4c-5c-7c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 3,260,000.
(My Comment: He got lucky, but he wasn't risking many chips.)

Hand: Charity for an author.
Pre-flop Ivey raises to 80,000 and Blair Rodman moves all-in for 362,000. Ivey calls and shows Ad-9s. Rodman has 8s-8h.
Board: Kc-10c-4d-6h-2s. Ivey loses a small pot.
(My Comment: Same as before. The risk is small. Ivey actually was in better shape than he might have thought he would be in, given that he has two overcards.)

Level 25
Blinds: 20,000-40,000 with a 5,000 ante

Hand: Meet the son of the Poker Gods.
Pre-flop Ivey bets 110,000 from the button and his opponent re-raises to 325,000 from the big blind. Ivey calls.
Flop: Qs-4h-2h. Opponent checks and Ivey moves all-in for 910,000. His opponent calls and shows the Qc-7h. Ivey reveals Jh-5h.
Turn: not a heart.
River: is a heart. Ivey hits his flush.
Ivey at over 5,000,000 now.
(My Comment: He tried to steal from the button, and decided to call with the suited hand. The play on the flop is not a bad one since it's a semi-bluff--and in this case, the "bluff" didn't work but the "semi" did:))

Day 6 Ends. Ivey at 6,345,000 Leader: Darvin Moon - 9,745,000

Day 7 July 14, 2009. 64 players left

Level 26
Blinds: 25,000-50,000 with a 5,000 ante

Hand: You are not playing against Phil Hellmuth, bro.
Pre-flop Phil Ivey raises to 135,000 and gets one caller.
Flop: 9c-3h-3s. Both players check.
Turn: 9d. Opponent bets 150,000. Ivey calls.
River: 7s. Opponent bets 360,000. Ivey calls. Opponent has nothing with a Qh-10h. Ivey shows As-Qh, a better nothing.
Ivey now over 7 million.
(My comment: This is another good learning hand. His opponent is one of the chip leaders. He wants to keep the pot small and keep his decisions easy. If he bets the flop and get called, his opponent will win this hand. Instead, he decides to call down his opponent's small bets. He induced a bluff on the turn and the river, to win a decent pot..)

Level 27 Update
Blinds: 30,000-60,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: He had to take an early bathroom break, I guess.
Pre-flop Ivey raises to 150,000 from the cutoff and opponent calls from the big blind.
Flop: Ad-5d-Kc. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bets of 225,000.
Turn: 3h. Both players check.
River: 5s. Opponent bets into Ivey with 350,000. Ivey folds and loses small pot.
Ivey at 8.4 million.
(My Comment: My guess is that his opponent has either top or second pair. Ivey clearly tried to steal pre-flop and take down the pot with a continuation bet on the flop. Once it didn't work, he was done with this hand.)

Level 27
Blinds: 30,000-60,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: Chip leader my ass.
Billy Kopp is the new chip leader with over 16 million. He raises pre-flop to 150,000 from the hijack position. Ivey calls from the cutoff.
Flop: 7d-7c-2c. Both players check.
Turn: 4h. Both players check.
River: Ac. Kopp bets 225,000. Ivey raises to 700,000 and his opponent folds.
Ivey up to 8.6 million.
(My Comment: Maybe he hit his Ace or maybe he felt his opponent was weak. A river raise usually indicates strength but it's hard to know what is happening here between these top 10 chip leaders.)

Hand: Ivey ain't three betting with 7-2 offsuit, buddy.
Ivey raises pre-flop from the button to 150,000 and gets re-raised to 460,000. Ivey re-re-raises to 1,160,000, and is called.
Flop: Kh-10d-4s. Ivey bets 1,200,000 after opponent checks. His opponent folds.
Ivey over 10,000,000.
(My Comment: His opponent has to fold to that re-raise. Give up when you are beat.)

Level 28
Blinds: 40,000-80,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: You just got pocket Kings? I got a 7!
Pre-flop a player raises to 205,000 and Ivey calls from the small blind.
Flop: Qs-7h-4c. Both payers check.
Turn: 7d. Ivey bets 350,000 and is called.
River: 4d. Ivey bets 750,000 and is called. Ivey shows 9c-7c. His opponent shows his pocket kings before mucking.
Ivey at 11,300,000.
(My Comment: His opponent got too fancy and it cost him. Ivey will defend his big blind with a big range of cards. If you want him to fold, pre-flop raise more than normal. If you want Ivey in, bet smaller pre-flop but make a larger flop bet. While the flop looks safe. It turned out to be a tough loss for his opponent with K-K.)

Level 29
Blinds: 50,000-100,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: You making fun of my 7. This time I got a 9!
Pre-flop a player raises to 260,000 from early position and Ivey calls from the big blind.
Flop: 10s-9d-6h. Both players check.
Turn: 9s. Ivey checks. Opponent bets 200,000 and Ivey check-raises to 600,000. Opponent calls.
River: 8c. Ivey bets 1,000,000 and is called. Ivey shows Jh-9h and wins with trips.
Ivey at 14,890,000.
(My Comment: A check raise on the turn can be a bluff, but with that scare card and coordinated board, Ivey is telling you I have a big hand and I'm going to get maximum value for it.)

Day 7 ends: 27 players Ivey at 11,350,000. Leader: Darvin Moon - 20,160,000

Day 8: July 15, 2009...Play 'till final table of 9 players

Level 30.
Blinds: 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante

Hand: He owed the gods a Queen from before.
Player moves all-in preflop for 1,030,000. Ivey calls with Jc-Js. Opponent has Qc-5c.
Board: 10s-8h-2d-Qd-8s. Ivey loses.
(My Comment: It was a good call with only about a 10% chip loss.)

Level 30. 23 players left
Blinds: 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante

Hand: What! This can't be--the favorite hand beats Ivey. Change the deck!
Pre-flop the first player raises to 290,000 and the second player moves all-in for almost 2.5 million. Ivey calls and the original raiser folds. Ivey has Jh-Jd. Opponent has Qh-Qd.
Board: 10h-5h-5c-7d-4d. Ivey loses.
Ivey down to under 6 million.
(My Comment: It's your basic cooler.)

Hand: What? Losing to Shulman. Change the dealer!
Ivey is first in pre-flop and calls from the small blind. Jeff Shulman checks from the big blind.
Flop: As-Js-2d. Ivey bets 120,000 and gets called by Shulman.
Turn: 2c. Ivey checks and folds after Shulman bets 200,000.
(My Comment: May as well take a shot with that Ace on the flop. Gotta figure your opponent would raise pre-flop with any Ace.)

Level 31. 19 players left
Blinds: 80,000-160,000 with a 20,000 ante

Hand: There is a disturbance in the Force.
Player raises pre-flop to 400,000 under-the-gun and Ivey raises to 1,150,000. His opponent moves all-in. Ivey calls and shows Ac-10h. His opponent has 2c-2s.
Board: Jc-6d-3c-4c-9s. Ivey loses.
Ivey at 2,640,000.
(My Comment: Ivey needs chips and he is forcing the action.)

Level 31. 15 players left
Blinds: 80,000-160,000 with a 20,000 ante

Hand: Phew...for a minute, I thought the world was coming to an end.
Phil Ivey raises pre-flop to 420,000 and gets one caller.
Flop: 8s-6c-4c. Ivey bets 600,000 and gets called
Turn: 4s. Both players check.
River: Kd. Both players check. Ivey shows 9s-9h, while opponent has 10c-9c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 6.8 million. (There is no report how Ivey won over $4 million in chips. Someone check his pockets!)
(My Comment: Notice how he is not willing to make the pot bigger on the turn when the 4 pairs, or bet with the overcard on the river. He will only get called on the river by a player who has him beat.)

Level 32. 13 players left.
Blinds: 100,000-200,000 with a 30,000 ante

Hand: As it was before.
Ivey raises pre-flop to 525,000 and the big blind calls.
Flop: 6h-2h-2s. The big blind checks and Ivey bets 700,000. His opponent mucks.
Ivey at 7,200,000.
(My Comment: Your basic continuation bet on the flop by Ivey takes down the pot. Notice the texture of the flop is not threatening at all.)

Hand: As it should be.
Ivey raises to 500,000 pre-flop. Opponent calls.
Flop: 6s-5c-3d. Ivey bets 700,000 and opponent folds.
Ivey at 6.5 million (not reported on the hand or hands he lost 700,000).
(My Comment: Another continuation bet on the flop.)

Level 33. 12 players left.
Blinds: 120,000-240,000 with a 30,000 ante

Hand: As it is meant to be.
Ivey bets 675,000 pre-flop and is called.
Flop: Ad-7c-5d. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bet of 800,000.
Turn: 3d. Ivey gets his opponent to fold with a bet of 1,700,000.
Ivey at 9,030,000.
(My Comment: That looks like a scare card on the turn. I can't figure the check call on the flop by his opponent...a wide range of hands are possible.)

Hand: And as we hoped it would be.
A player moves all-in for 2,350,000 and Ivey calls. His opponent has Kc-Qs. Ivey Ah-10h.
Board: 8s-3s-3d-3h-5c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 9,610,000.
(My Comment: I think this is the riskiest play of the day. He is risking more than one-third of his chips with A-10. Is it because the cards are suited? Even if he puts his opponent on a small or medium pair, the hand is a coin flip. I guess that's why he is Phil Ivey, and you are not=))

End of the Day

2006 World Serie of Poker Championship BraceletImage via Wikipedia

Players Remaining: 9 out of 6,494

Chip Counts:

1. Darvin Moon - 58,930,000
2. Eric Buchman - 34,800,000
3. Steven Begleiter - 29,885,000
4. Jeff Shulman - 19,580,000
5. Joe Cada - 13,215,000
6. Kevin Schaffel - 12,390,000
7. Phil Ivey - 9,765,000
8. Antoine Saout - 9,500,000
9. James Akenhead - 6,800,000

If he is in 7th place, why is he the favorite to win?

Ivey beats Chris Ferguson: Thanks for voting!

Poker Poll Results

Which Poker Pro would you most like to hear talk about tournament poker strategy?

Ivey 25
Ferguson 24
Negreanu 10
Hellmuth 8
Brunson 7
Harrington 7
Hansen 7

Ivey is hot. Chris Ferguson came in a strong second.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ka-Ching! 2 Online Poker Tells That Work

Poker Tells When You Play at A Card Room

A while back I wrote a blog post on 8 Poker Tells That Work (usually). These tells were for playing in a brick and mortar game. You should review that post before you go out to play in your next game.

Ka-ching! 2 Online Poker Tells That Work

1. When A Pregnant Pause means FOLD

This tell is really equivalent of the most prevalent offline tell--act weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak. It happens when your opponent takes that really long pause on the river and then boom, he puts in a big bet.

When this happens there is a 99.99% probability that he has you beat, and beat badly. FOLD! You'll beat this guy later.

This has become such an obvious ploy, that it's like a comedic pregnant pause waiting to suck you in for a call/laugh.

2. A Player is Missing means ATTACK.

When you notice that a player has not gotten involved in a round of poker, his cards fold a little too fast every time the action gets to him, and he doesn't even take part in the big blind, he is not at the table.

Take advantage and bet. This will happen at the start of an event and after the breaks.

If he is in the big blind, you should raise pre-flop first-in when you are in the hijack (2 off from button), cut-off, button, and small blind. When he is in the small blind, assume the big blind is weak and raise from the same spots. Don't get too reckless, but look to take advantage of this situation.

Bonus: Observe your opponents bet tempo.

Players tend to act at an even pace. When that pace changes, it often has meaning. Obviously, it could just mean the player is sizing his bet. But, other times, it may mean he has missed and is trying to figure out what to do.

This is not a ka-ching tell since there can be a lot of reasons for this change of tempo. However, you can sometimes sense something is off when this happens.

Do you have other online tells you are willing to share?

If you are losing money at online poker, here is my simple secret to winning at online poker. It may help you become a winner online.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Big Move By Chris Ferguson vs Patrik Antonius: Did It Work?

Chris Ferguson vs Patrik Antonius

Since Chris Ferguson is a favorite according to my poker poll, I thought I would find a video where Chris is playing in a big cash game against the best.

Not many people have viewed this video, but it's worth watching. Sorry about the third party ads on the video and the announcers who are not at their best.

See if you would make the same plays as Chris. I mean, what's $100,000+ in cash among friends!

Thoughts (wait to read this until after you view the video)

While this is a fun video to watch, I think there are a number of things I noticed. I have never played against either player, although I've seen them on TV.

1. Chris always seems to be very deliberate, and has the same pose when he plays.

2. When Chris check raises on the flop as a semi-raise, he puts Patrik on a range of hands such as two broadway cards or a pair. He probably believes his opponent will fold with just two overcards to the check raise. And even if he doesn't fold, he can win on the turn given his 15 outs. In fact, with 15 outs Chris is the favorite if the hand is played to the river! Of course, Chris is not the favorite since his opponent has a diamond.

Too many players think a semi-raise is a play to make whenever you have a draw. It is not. You make a semi-raise because you first think that you can win right then and there.

3. Chris is very deliberate when he checks on the turn. The J could be a scare card to either player. When Patrik bets after his check, Chris again takes his time. He pushes all-in putting pressure on his opponent. Again, he does have outs but he doesn't make this play to get a call.

4. The table image of the players are very important, and each player at this level is often thinking what the other player has, what the other person thinks he has, etc. However, I don't believe that really is happening here. Patrik knows that Chris is patient and waits for big hands. He also knows Chris views him as being aggressive. So a check raise on the flop and a check raise on the turn is a rare betting pattern and indicates either strength or a big bluff. With Chris it looks like strength given his image.

Finally, the above is just my perception of what is happening. I can be terribly wrong. If you have additional perspective, please let me know your opinion. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kathy Liebert on Small and Medium Pairs

Kathy Liebert on Small and Medium Pairs

The following poker strategy advice comes from a book by Warwick Dunnett titled Poker Wizards. He interviewed the Super Stars in poker and packed all their strategic advice into one book with over 300 pages.

Here I am reviewing the advice from Kathy Liebert provided in the book.

Small Pairs
Pocket 2's to 6's

Kathy did not comment on small pairs. I will ask the author if he recalls whether she avoids these hands, or just forgot to discuss them.

Medium Pairs
Pocket 7's to 9's

Kathy talks about understanding your opponent, your position and your chip stacks in deciding whether to play these hands.

If Kathy has 100x's the big blind, and the player in an upfront position raises and he is also playing a lot of hands, Kathy will call the raise in late position. However, if it's a solid player making that raise and Kathy has 10 to 20x's the big blind, she will fold. The larger the stack compared to the blinds, the more she will consider other actions.

She does not call big pre-flop raises with these hands either. And, if she makes a move with a raise and gets re-raised she will fold.

She does give position a lot of respect in her decisions. An upfront or middle position raise will have her folding unless she has a big stack. A pre-flop raise from the back position is different. She will re-raise if she thinks her opponent is weak.

Kathy plays these pairs slightly different than Chris. With a big stack, Chris leans towards folding not wanting to lose a big stack set over set.

Like Gus, and any other pro, Kathy attacks players when she feels they are weak. That is why she is willing to re-raise a late position raiser. The interesting thing to me is that an opponent who raises in back position may have a strong hand like A-Q, A-J or even 10-10, but when he gets re-raised he may muck being afraid of pocket Kings or Aces.

I have only played against Kathy once. It was in an LA event, and she was to my left. I was playing real tight. On this one hand everyone folded to me in the small blind. I had A-A. I limped hoping to trap Kathy. She checked. I checked the flop. She checked. I checked the turn. She checked. I bet the river. She folded. The thrill of victory:)
Over 1200 players have taken my free Poker IQ quiz. Have you? You need to submit your name and email to get the answers.

Chris Ferguson on Small and Medium Pairs

Chris Ferguson on Small and Medium Pairs

The following poker strategy advice comes from a book by Warwick Dunnett titled Poker Wizards. He interviewed the Super Stars in poker and packed all their strategic advice into one book with over 300 pages.

Here I am reviewing the advice from Chris Ferguson provided in the book.

Small Pairs
Pocket 2's to 6's

From early position, Chris folds.

Medium Pairs
Pocket 7's to 9's

Chris will put in a small raise from an early position, but will fold to a re-raise unless it is not a big re-raise.

In middle to late position, he raises first in the hand pre-flop. If there are limpers in front of him, he may call. But, if he has a big stack he will fold not wanting to risk losing a lot of his chips set over set.

It's interesting because he says he will not limp in with pocket 2's when he has 200x's the big blind, but he will limp in when he has 50x's the big blind. He finds the risk/reward ratio not as favorable when he has 200x's the big blind.

The more I review how the pros play the small and middle pairs, the more interesting I find it. First, I think that we have to realize they play in events with a lot more starting chips and a lot more time to play poker. Online, the structures are not as good in most cases.

Another thing I find interesting is that both Chris and Dan worry about set over set, while Daniel and Gus are willing to take that chance.

It was interesting that not many of the players discuss their opponent's chip stack when calling a raise after a limp with these pairs. Gus appears to be willing to call given the potential to win a big hand. While the other pros clearly are not.

I believe comparing the play of poker pros will help in your thinking about your tournament poker game. If nothing else, it will make you realize that not even the poker pros think alike.

The reason I selected Chris Ferguson is because he is leading in the poker poll. If you haven't voted, please consider taking part. Thanks!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dan Harrington on Small and Medium Pairs

Harrington on Small and Medium Pairs

The following poker strategy advice comes from a book by Warwick Dunnett titled Poker Wizards. He interviewed the Super Stars in poker and packed all their strategic advice into one book with over 300 pages.

Here I am reviewing the advice from Dan Harrington provided in the book.

Small Pairs
Pocket 2's to 6's

Harrington says that he tends to fold the small pairs 2-2 through 6-6. He says he may play them if his opponent has a big stack and he has a big stack. However, if someone raises you are generally not getting the correct odds to play. In addition, he warns that 1)you may not get in cheap since players behind you may raise 2)you may not be heads-up. And the more players seeing the flop, the more likely someone else may hit a higher set.

Medium Pairs
Pocket 7's to 9's

Harrington says he plays these hands in the later positions.

Dan suggests a very tight approach to playing small and medium pairs, compared to both Gus and Daniel. This is probably not a surprise given Harrington's nickname of "Action Dan."

From a personal standpoint, my best tournament result was in a pre-WPT event in Reno. In that event I recall always throwing away small pairs and feeling good because not once did any of those pocket pairs hit on the flop. I may have even folded pocket 7's and pocket 8's in early position.

Of course, since that event, I became a lot smarter (?) and now I almost always play pocket pairs if I can get in cheap.

How about you?

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gus Hansen on How to Play Medium and Small Pairs

Playing Small and Medium Pairs Based on Gus Hansen

Now that I reviewed Daniel's advice on these hands, I thought it would be interesting to see how Gus Hansen approaches these hands at a full table. For my analysis I am using play from his book Every Hand Revealed.

Hand 15:
Pocket 7's

In middle position he raises the 100/200/25 blind to 650. The cut-off raises to 2300 and he calls the re-raise. Gus has 28,850 in chips, so he is risking about 7% of his stack. He folds when the flop has three overcards.

Hand 21
Pocket 5's.

He limps and in first position, and gets raised to 800. He calls. Gus now has 58200.
The flop is 10-10-9. Gus check-calls. The turn is an Ace. Gus check-calls. He admits he should have folded.

Hand 33
Pocket 8's.

He raises from the 3rd position and gets no callers. His raise was a little over 3x's the big blind, given the ante.

Hand 42
Pocket 7's.

The button raises to 4000, with blinds at 500/1000/100. Gus is in the small blind with 68000. He re-raises to 12600. His opponent re-raises to 45300. Gus folds.

Hand 45
Pocket 4's.

Gus limps in the third position and only the BB is in on the flop. Gus hits his set and wins after checking the flop and betting the turn.

Hand 49
Pocket 3's.

He limps and folds when he missed on the flop.

Hand 67
Pocket 9's.

A player raises in early position to 3800. The blinds are 600/1200/200. The next player calls. Gus is 2 off the button and says he will either call or re-raise. He doesn't want to call since he doesn't like to hit sets when he "doesn't need to." He re-raises to 13200 and everyone folds.


Not surprising, but Gus is more aggressive than Daniel.

Gus limps with small pairs, but is much more aggressive with middle pairs.

With medium pairs, if he gets re-raised pre-flop, he will call a small percentage of his stack in hopes of hitting a set. If there is a raise in front of him, he will re-raise putting pressure on his opponent to fold rather than hoping to hit a set. This is something that Daniel does not recommend.

What's Your Favorite Tournament Poker Strategy Blog?

Favorite Blogs for Tournament Poker Strategy

I need your help in identifying the top blogs when it comes to tournament poker strategy.
I read poker blogs and like them for different reasons. To name three of my favorites:

For NL cash strategy advice I like Ed Miller's Blog Noted Poker Authority.

For Vegas poker stories, I like the Poker Grump.

The one I have followed the longest is What're The Odds?. Jusdealem was a big supporter when I launched my first poker book. If you like the OhCaptain blogs, you will like hers too.

But, I would like to read other poker blogs that focus on tournament poker strategy.

If you have a favorite blog that covers this area, please comment below and let me know. I am not looking for poker forums, just blogs. I'd like to read 'em.


A "Nice" poker video (no longer on youtube):
Doyle Brunson vs Chip Reese

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Daniel Negreanu on How to Play Middle and Small Pairs

Middle and Small Pairs

Lately, I've been misplaying these middle and small pairs. So I went back to review how Negreanu would play these hands using his small ball tournament strategy. This information is taken from his latest book Power Hold'em Strategy.

Middle Pairs: Pocket 7's to 10's

Don't overplay these hands. They are good hands because of their implied value rather than their preflop strength.

Pre-flop: If first in the pot, a raise of 2.5 times the big blind.

Flop: If you hit your set, play to win big. If you miss, don't auto-fold unless the action indicates a lot of strength.

Small Pairs: Pocket 2's to 6's

Play these pairs like the middle pairs.

Pre-flop: Do not re-raise your opponents.

Example #1:

You have 10s-10d.

A tight player under the gun raises before the flop. You call from the button.

Important note: Please don't re-raise a tight player who raises under the gun with pocket 10's. I see this happen too often and the only reason I can think someone is doing this is because they are not paying attention.

The flop: 8h-4h-3c.

The tight player checks. What should you do?

Bet becasue 1) Your opponent checked and it will define your opponent's hand 2) If you check, your opponent will have a chance to hit his most likely hand, A-K and 3) A flush draw is present and you can lose if he hits his hand and/or picks up a flush draw on the turn.

If he check raises you here, just fold. Tight players won't make a play in this situation.

If he calls your bet, proceed with caution. He may be setting a trap with pocket Aces.

Example #2:

You have 9h-9c.

Blinds $25/$50 and a player raises to $150 from middle position. You call on the small blind.

Flop: Qh-7d-2s. You check and your opponent bets $300. This opponent is aggressive and tends to c-bet, so you call.

Turn: 7c. You check and your opponent bets $600. What should you do?

Check raise to $1200 or $1500. If he re-raises you, you can fold. If he calls, check the river. If he bets the river, you are beat.

Example #3:

You have 4d-4s.

You raise the $50/$100 blinds to $250 in late position. The small blind calls.

Flop: 8h-9s-9h. The small blind check calls your $400 bet.

Turn: Kc. The small blind check calls your $600 bet.

River: 8d. Your opponent checks. What should you do?

Don't check even though the board counterfeited your small pair. Bet $800 into the $2700 pot. It looks like a legitimate value bet. If you are wrong, that small a bet will not hurt your stack if you are beat.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What I Know About The Final 9 WSOP Players: Career Earnings And More

Info on Final Table for WSOP

Listed below in order is the player name, age, chips, city and state, and career tournament earnings.

1. Darvin Moon (45) – 58,930,000
Oakland, MD
Career tournament earnings: $0

2. Eric Buchman (29)– 34,800,000
Valley Stream, NY
Career tournament earnings: $967,000

3. Steven Begleiter (47)– 29,885,000
Chappaqua, N.Y
Career tournament earnings: $0

4. Jeff Shulman (34)– 19,580,000
Las Vegas, NV
Career tournament earnings: $1,386,135

5. Joe Cada (21)– 13,215,000
Shelby Township, Mich.
Career tournament earnings: $28,000

6. Kevin Schaffel (51)– 12,390,000
Coral Springs, FL
Career tournament earnings: $169,000

7. Phil Ivey (33)– 9,765,000
Las Vegas, NV
Career tournament earnings: $9,600,000

8. Antoine Saout (25)– 9,500,000
Saint Martin des Champs, France
Career tournament earnings: $0

9. James Akenhead (26)– 6,800,000
London, United Kingdom
Career tournament earnings: $691,767


There are three players who have never won any dollars at a tournament of any significance. (Based on what I could find online. If I'm wrong, please let me know.)

Two players from NY, and two players from Nevada.

Two players from overseas. (I guess they signed up early enough that last day.)

Phil Ivey is the biggest career tournament winner by far among the group. (From now on we should call Hellmuth, the other Phil.)

Youngest player is Joe Cada at 21. (I hope he really is 21. If not, I guess he has to forfeit!)

Oldest player is Kevin Schaffel at 51. (Dispelling the myth that once you are over 50, you can't play this long in a grueling poker tournament.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Dennis Phillips Got Knocked Out of WSOP--Why Poker Is Not Fun Sometimes

This Is Not Fun When It Happens

Dennis Phillips was one of the surprising players at the final table last year. He wore a Cardinals hat and played a mean brand of tournament poker.

This year we found out that Dennis Phillips is no fluke!

He finished 45th and won $178,857 at the main event. The way he went out of the event after 6 days or 70+ hours of poker was rather ugly.

Here is the hand (source

One player raises pre-flop to 165,000 and Francois Balmigere calls. Dennis Phillips re-raises to 450,000. The first raiser folds, but Balmigere moves all-in. Phillips calls putting his entire stack into the pot.

Balmigere: As-Ks
Phillips: Ad-Kd

The probability of a tie is 86%
The probability of either hand winning is only 7%.

The flop: Kc-6s-4s. Balmigere gets his flush draw.

The probability of a tie is now 64%.

The turn: 10h.

The probability of a tie is up to 80%.

The river: 5s

And Now For The Rest Of The Poker Story...

Balmigere is one of the final 27 players. He has a low chip stack with over 1.4 million and the blinds at 50000/10000 with a 10000 ante. He will win at least $250,000+.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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How Poker Stars Hansen, Lisandro, Griffin, Raymer and Brad Garrett Got Eliminated From the Main Event of the WSOP

How Famous Poker Players Got Knocked Out of the Main Event

Here are a few players that I was rooting for, but didn't make it. All of this information is taken from

Gus Hansen: Out on Day 2A

Hansen: Ac-Js
Flop: Kc-Qs-3d. Hansen called a bet from opponent.
Turn: 10d. Hansen raised, and re-raised all-in. He called with his straight. Opponent shows 3-3.
River: Kd.
Ouch! Rivered!

Gavin Griffin Out

Griffin: Kc-Js. Move all-in. Called by one opponent.
Opponent: Ah-Kd
Board: Qh-8s-2h-7h
River: 5s

Greg Raymer Out

Raymer moves all in after a raise pre-flop. He gets called.
Raymer: 10h-10d
Opponent: As-Ad
Ouch! He gets no help and is out.

Jeffrey Lisandro Out

Board: 9d-8d-5d
Opponent checks. Lisandro moves all-in for his last 43,000 with 100,000 in the pot. Opponent calls.
Lisandro: Kh-Kc
Opponent: Jd-7d
Turn: 2h
River: 4h

And For Fun...Brad Garrett: Out on Day 2A

Garrett: Qd-Jh
Board: Qs-4h-3d-Ac-9d.
Opponent bet and after a long while, Brad calls.
Opponent shows Qc-9c.
Ouch! Rivered!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Did Hellmuth Play His Pocket Aces Poorly at the WSOP?

Phil Hellmuth busts out from the Main Event with Pocket Aces

First, Phil Hellmuth is a great tournament poker player. The fact is that he has cashed more than any other player at the WSOP and he has won the Main Event. You may not like his antics, but he has created himself into a brand as the Poker Brat. It works for him very well.

Second, it is easy to second guess players based on outcomes rather than the decision itself. I think we need to evaluate the decision that was made and not the outcome.

Third, I only know what happened based on what I've read on If you know specifics, please let me know.

Finally, the key in reviewing his play is not to criticize but to see if you can learn from his play.

A Few Hands Before The Pocket Aces

Abraham Mourshaki raises to 20,000 and Phil re-raises to 36,000. His opponent calls. Phil can re-raise with a range of hands, but it looks like a min re-raise. A min re-raise usually signals pocket Aces. Phil knows he will be called.

Note: I don't know the levels, but it looks around 2000-4000 blinds.

The flop is Jh-Jc-3d.

Phil bets 40,000 and his opponent calls.

The turn is the 7s. Both players check. This is a good play by Phil. If you are beat, you don't want to lose more chips. What if you get check-raised? Why give yourself a tough decision?

The river is a 5h. Mourshaki bets 120,000. Hellmuth calls. His opponent has As-Jd.

“I’m gonna vomit on the floor,” Phil said. “You had to find jack-jack for him. You couldn’t find just one jack so he could sail off? Phil's speech means he had pocket AA, KK or QQ, or he is just bs'ing.

Phil is down to 100,000.

Pocket Aces and He Is Out

A few hands go by and Mourshaki raises to 22,000 preflop. Hellmuth calls with pocket Aces.

Is that a good play?

My opinion is that Phil made the right play since he was so low on chips compared to average chip level and the leaders at the time. He wants to take the risk that he will be heads-up again and be able to double-up plus. He is playing to win. I don't believe Phil is targeting his opponent because he beat him a few hands earlier.

Unlike the last hand, though, three players call the raise. This is a problem. My estimate is that you lose about 8% per player when it comes to the probability of winning the hand with AA. With 4 callers, I think my Aces will hold up only about 2 out of 3 times. (I'm sure there is a more accurate formula but this is what I use when I have AA and get callers.)

The flop is Jc-10d-5c.

One early player moves all in for 83000. Hellmuth moves all-in for his last 110,000 (I guess he won a hand since his previous loss.) And another caller, also calls the all-ins.

Now, before we reveal the hands, I want to make one point here. This flop is dangerous since it is so coordinated with straight and flush draws, especially with cards 10 and over. I can't stress enough that a coordinated board with two cards 10 and higher are action flops--and a potential problem against many callers (like here).

Phil knows that as well. Even if he is up against two pair, he has a backdoor nut flush, can make a better two pair, and may even be ahead on the flop.

Hellmuth: Ac-As
Early player all-in 9h-8h (a straight draw all-in move)
Late player caller Jh-10c (calls with two pair)

The 7 hit on the turn and the early player gets his straight. Hellmuth is out.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree with Hellmuth's play?
Do you agree or disagree with my comments?
Anything to add on the probabilities of the hand match-ups?

Thanks for your input!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do You Know The Poker Leaks in Your Game?

What is a Poker Leak?

I couldn't find a good definition of a poker leak online, so let me try to define it here:

A poker leak is anything you do on a consistent basis at a poker table that ends up costing you money. You may or may not be conscious of your leak, but since it is based on your actions (and not the randomness of the cards) you do have the ability to eliminate it from your game.

Examples of Poker Leaks

When you let a bad beat on one hand of poker get you so upset that it effects your play negatively on subsequent hands, you are on tilt. This is probably the most common leak among players.

When I first started playing poker, I never went on tilt. However, thanks to online poker, tilting is something I tend to embrace. I need to stop that leak.

You will notice that top pros don't go on tilt. You may watch Phil Hellmuth get upset but you won't see him go on tilt. Instead, he marches away in anger willing to miss the next hand of poker in order to calm himself down.

Another leak is when you let an opponent get under your skin. Often it is because he or she seems to be bullying you and maybe stealing the blinds. Or, maybe the player is just being obnoxious and raising and re-raising with any two cards. Whatever the reason, instead of playing your A game, you focus on this one opponent. The result is that you play sub-optimal poker the rest of the night, costing you money.

Tells are a leak that are found in many players. The most common tell is when you act strong when you are weak, and you act weak when you are strong. You may have a tell or two and not even know about it.

Years ago I met a friend in Vegas who told me that he had no tells in his poker game. He wanted to prove it to me, so he asked me to watch him play. Oh my! I think he had more tells than any other poker player I had ever seen.

One of his tells is that his body gave away the strength of his hand. If he had a big hand pre-flop, he would lean into the table. Then if he improved on the flop, he would lean in even more. But if he didn't improve on the flop, he would lean back into the chair.

Another leak is when you give away your hand by the size of your pre-flop bet. Some players will make raises five, six or seven times the big blind when they have pairs and they don't want action.

In fact, being predictable with your betting patterns is a major leak in your game. For example, if you never check raise with a flush draw on the flop, your opponent can take advantage of you. If the flush card doesn't come on the turn, he can bet big enough to get you off your hand. And if the flush card does come, he can safely check and fold.


Every player has poker leaks. The key is to plug your leaks and find the holes in your opponents' game.

Very little has been written about poker leaks and yet they are something that you should address. Maybe I need to write another book. 101 Poker Leaks: Plug the holes in your game while spotting the ones in your opponents.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We Have A Winner! My Poker Book Was Some Help!

Here is an email I received from a happy and winning customer!

My congratulations to you, Nerio! Keep up the great results!


Hi Mitchell

I've read all the books you've mentioned Incl. Harrington's cash games, but I still believe that Gus's book and your book are the best I've read so far and profited from. If you need to take your game to a different level, you need to figure out the "thinking" of the expert mind......and Gus' book does just that. (Currently I'm reading " Check Raising the Devil" which is Mike Matusow's biography.)

I was on Royal Caribbean's Baltic cruise last month and I won the poker tournament there, thanks to some of the books I read and also the TV programs I've seen. Unfortunately, there were insufficient players so I had to settle for a cash prize, otherwise they give a seat for the caribbean poker tour.

Enjoy your blog. Keep it going.


Nerio Vakil

The Simple Secret to Winning at Online Poker

Here is something that you probably already know, but you haven't acted on:

The simple secret to winning at online poker is to play where the players are the weakest!

Fact #1: The Top Tier Poker Sites Attract the Toughest Players.

My guess is that you play at Full Tilt and/or Poker Stars because you are lured by the constant action, variety of games, and big prize pools. Guess what? So are the best poker players in the world!

I believe you should play at one or both of these sites and take a shot at a big payday. That is fun.

But do you really need to spend all those hours trying to beat the best?

Fact #2: A Second Tier Poker Site Increases Your Chance to Win. Try Bodog!

I know that Bodog doesn't see itself as second tier. But it is when it comes to the number of players and the size of the prize pool. Less action, smaller prizes and few top players at Bodog.

You won't run into Cunnigham, Ivey, or Negreanu at Bodog. But you will run into Donk, Fish and Tuccus.

I play at Bodog and it's the only site where I have won thousands of dollars. It's sad to say, but it's true, I haven't been able to win consistently on the top two poker sites.

Think of Bodog as a friendlier place to play not because you won't experience bad beats (heck Bodog can stand up to Poker Stars and Full Tilt any day of the week on freaking bad beats), but because the games are softer. That's a good thing for you...and me.

Fact #3: My Secret to Winning at Online Poker is Bodog.

The simple secret to winning at online poker is to play against the weaker players at Bodog. Therefore, I recommend that you:

1. Sign up at Poker Stars and/or Full Tilt (click banners on left for new player deposit bonus). Play the satellites to win a seat at a bigger game, and give yourself a chance for a big score.

2. Sign up at Bodog (click banner on left for new player deposit bonus). Go for those decent sized, easier cash wins.

You know in your heart and mind that this is all true. Don't let your ego stand in the way of playing at this site (as it does mine.)

Try Bodog. You lost against the best. Now win against the rest.

Good luck!

Oh yeah, if you play against me on Bodog and I raise, please fold:-)

You can join any or all three of these online poker sites and get the deposit bonuses by clicking on the banner on the left column. All three accept US players.

Full Disclosure: I just signed up as an affiliate for all three poker sites. I have played and won money at various times on all three sites over the years. However, the only online poker site where I won and cashed out for thousands of dollars is Bodog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

5 Reasons You Bust Out on the Bubble - Poker Tournament Strategy for Success

Wow! Some great tips here from Jonathan Gelling about how to play at bubble time.

Jonathan is the author of the new poker book Poker Tips that Pay: Expert Strategy Guide for Winning No Limit Texas Hold em. And everything I've read, tells me his book is going to be a winner!

Thanks for sharing this Johnathan!

5 Reasons You Bust Out on the Bubble - Poker Tournament Strategy for Success
by Jonathan Gelling

It's a frustrating experience. We've all been there. It's the middle stages of a poker tournament, the blinds are starting to eat into your stack, the cards aren't coming, and you don't want to bust out on the bubble. Anything but busting out on the bubble!

What could be worse than wasting two hours of your life and barely missing the payout? The only thing worse than that is knowing it might have been different, if you'd avoided the five major mistakes that leave you exiting right before the money.

Playing too conservatively

Hand values change as the blinds increase. What might have been a marginal hand at 10/20 blinds becomes a must-play stealing hand at 100/200 blinds. Particularly when the antes kick in and up the reward ratio on a successful pre-flop steal, you simply must apply maximum aggression during this bubble phase.

It will never be easier to steal a pot before the flop than it will be during the bubble phase of a poker tournament. All your fellow players are equally anxious to avoid elimination on the cusp of the payout, and they will not push back at you in a marginal situation. It's true that unrestrained aggression will occasionally have you leaving on the cusp of making the money, but unbridled folding will have you walking away empty-handed far more often.

Raising more than necessary

A lot of players will reflexively raise three times the big blind regardless of the stage of the tournament. They reason that a smaller raise will simply invite the blinds or button to call with marginal holdings. This may be true, but it's also true that as the blinds escalate, a standard pre-flop raise will increasingly commit you to the hand. As a poker player, you always want to maintain flexibility. If making a standard raise tends to commit you to a hand you don't want to play for all the chips, you shouldn't make it. Of course, you always want to apply pressure on your opponents.

So you will continue to raise with both your strongest and your marginal hands in favorable situations. But you should raise less than three times the big blind... perhaps 2.5 or even just doubling the big blind will do at higher levels. When the blinds ratchet up and the antes kick in, even the loosest players will begin to back off flat-calling raises. Most players are generally going to re-raise or get out of the way, and you can play the hand appropriately, confident that you've minimized your losses and maximized your returns by making a cheaper raise.

Playing drawing hands

Drawing hands like suited connectors lose more and more value in no limit Texas hold em as the blinds increase. Increasing blinds mean fewer players per pot and increase the cost of seeing the flop and drawing on the turn and river. All those factors make suited connectors and even small pocket pairs looking to flop a set unprofitable.

While you may be able to speculate with these hands at the low blinds, you'll whittle yourself down if you remain attached to them in the middle and late stages of a poker tournament. If drawing hands are to be played at all in the later stages, you should play them aggressively pre-flop to steal uncontested pots. Do not call and passively hope to hit some kind of miracle hand late in the game.

Playing against extreme stacks

There are two types of players you want to avoid on the bubble: the extremely large stacks and the extremely short stacks.

The short stacks have nothing else to lose, and they'll be looking to gamble with a variety of hands. While eliminating players is good for the remaining players as a group, you don't want to volunteer to play sheriff against these short stacks. The risks of being whittled down in all-in confrontations against a short stack simply aren't worth the marginal reward of knocking a player out, unless he's either extremely short or the very last player before the payout.

As to large stacks, you generally don't want to stand between them and a pot, unless you have a premium hand or believe you can raise them off their hand. On the bubble, the big stacks are usually loose, aggressive players who aren't afraid to gamble. It's usually not best to try to out-muscle these players unless you can do some damage to them. You also want to make sure they respect your play and are able to fold a hand before you try to bully a large stack out of a pot.

Failing to play position

Always raise in position (unless you're facing an extreme stack). If it's folded around to you in the small blind, you will almost always want to attack the big blind unless you're extremely weak and the big blind is extremely loose. On the bubble, it's often the first player to bet that will take down the pot.

When it's folded around to you and you're acting in position, it's a huge mistake to fold. Pay no attention to your cards. Instead, look at the relative chip stacks and what you know of the players at your table. If there's a better than even chance you can steal this pot, then make your move. You might get challenged, but if you make a less than standard raise you won't lose too much if you have to fold. Plus, when you really have a hand, you'll get paid off nicely. By being constantly aggressive, your opponents won't know when it's safe to make a stand against you.

This article extracted from Poker Tips that Pay: Expert Strategy Guide for Winning No Limit Texas Hold em (author Jonathan Gelling, Play to Pay Publishing 2009.)

Love poker, but want to earn some money from the game? Visit and preview a sample chapter from Poker Tips that Pay: Expert Strategy Guide for Winning No Limit Texas Hold em, by poker author Jonathan Gelling.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How To Take Your Game To The Next Level: A Strategy For Your Next Poker Tournament

Are you a winning or losing tournament poker player?

You need to be honest with yourself. If you are winning, then all you need to do is to keep working to improve your game. If you are losing, then you really need to re-think your approach to the game because you are not playing good poker. Sorry, despite what you are thinking, you are not playing well at all.

Let me make a few suggestion--consider this a game plan for your next tournament. If it does not help you to win, I believe it will start to get you to think more about your game and how being aggressive is better than waiting for premium cards.

It is sickening how often I see a player wait and wait for a hand. Finally, they get pocket Kings and either everyone folds to his pre-flop raise or someone takes him out of the event by sucking out. Bad beats happen. It's best to have enough chips backing you so you can survive two, and possibly three bad beats.

1. In the early stages

Be cautious and get in cheap if you want to play those small to medium pairs, or those suited connectors. Don't call raises with these hands, since if you are playing online you probably don't have enough chips to call pre-flop raises.

If you want to take the risk, given the favorable implied odds, call small raises with small to medium pairs. If on the flop, no set, no bet. Get out when you miss.

If you do get a hand like A-10 and you are in a late position after a couple of limpers, raise big since you don't want callers.

Respect the raises of early position players.

Respect the raises of tight players.

Respect the re-raises of almost all players.

2. In the middle stages

If you have a hand good enough to call, raise. You are no longer into the calling and hope to hit a flop game. You want to raise and win pots uncontested. If you do get a call, make a c-bet. But, make sure it is around 75% of the size of the pot. If your opponent calls your c-bet decide if he is on a draw or has you beat. Hint: Uncoordinated, rainbow boars are a danger if you get called.

Players who raise from a late position, like the cut-off or button are probably not that strong. If you have not acted, look to re-raise this player, especially if you have a tight table image. The cards don't matter. You are taking advantage of your table image and the probability of a late position steal.

If you get a caller to your re-raise pre-flop, don't give up. Make that c-bet. Yes, we are looking at a 75% size bet.

If you have a hand like pocket 8's or better, or A-J or better, and a player raises pre-flop, and you have only 8x's the original raise--just move all-in. You don't want to see a flop. You want to win the pot right then and there. If you do get called, you will still have a shot at winning.

Never limp pre-flop.

Never call a raise pre-flop.

Either raise, re-raise or fold pre-flop. Let the action revolve around you.

3. Near the bubble

Many players like to survive and just cash. When you are playing hand for hand, be more aggressive. Look to raise pre-flop with a wider range of hands. The same goes for the pre-flop re-raises.

When near the bubble you have the opportunity to accumulate chips easier since your opponents are more fearful of missing the chance to cash.

4. Final table

If you are in an average chip position, it is okay to play at the start of a final table. Let the cards play themselves. After a few players are out, you can change and become more aggressive. Consider changing gears when you get down to 7 players.


Use this game plan and determine what works and does not work for your game. The key is to try new plays and test yourself. Experience is the key to winning poker. If you play the same way all the time, you will get the same results most of the time.

If this game plan doesn't work, write down a different set of guidelines. They key is to take what you are doing, learn, and hopefully, get better results.

What's Your Poker IQ?