Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Online Poker: 9 More Winning Moves For 9/9/09

9 More Moves For Playing Online Poker Tournaments

Here are 9 more moves for playing online poker MTT's. I find these plays work often enough to make them profitable. Of course, I make no promises...

Daniel Negreanu at the WPT's Doyle Brunson Fiv...Image via Wikipedia

1. Round 1--Establish an image as a tight passive player and assess the table image of your opponents.

Usually in MTT's the table you are seated at first is the one you will be playing at for a long time. Look to NOT play a hand in the first round, unless it a premium hand. And don't play these premium hands overly-aggressive--just play them by the book.

You want your opponents to think you are passive and tight. You'll find that players get an image of how you play early on, and it's the one they stick with for a very long time.

Spend your time, assessing the table image of your opponents. Frankly, here is what I am looking for:

a. Tight players who only come in a pot with big hands--these guys are predictable
b. Funny players--these are the players who make plays that just look off. They tend to be the ones who think they are being clever or trying to get you to be fearful of their hand. They may make bet sizes that end in crooked numbers. They may always call a player and try to steal with a bet on the flop. They may always be raising pre-flop on the button. It could be a lot of things. These players are an opportunity to win big pots.
c. Flop bets--you want to know what size bets your opponents make on the flop. It helps to figure out when they are strong or weak. Do they always make 1/3 of the pot c-bets, 1/2 size pot c-bets, etc. and what does it mean when the bet size changes?

Spend your time watching, and not playing in round 1. I've never seen a player win a tournament in Round 1, so don't worry too much if you don't accumulate chips in this round.

2. Pre-flop: Back position

You want to look to raise the limpers when you are in the hijack, cutoff and on the button with a calling hand--and make the raises big ones. It's the old saying, "If your hand is good enough to call, it's good enough to raise with." For example, let's say there are three limpers, and you are on the button with A-9 suited. The "right" play is to limp. Don't do the right play. Raise big<--this is key. Usually everyone folds. Even if you get called, make a good sized c-bet on the flop. This play works especially when your table image is that of a passive, tight player. 3. Pre-flop: Back position

You want to raise with any 2 cards from the hijack, cut-off and button if you have a passive, tight image and the opponents to your left are tight players. It's just a steal. The key is don't do it every time, and if you get re-raised just fold.

4. Pre-flop: In need of chips.

When you need chips, and there is a raiser in front of you, and you find small and medium pocket pairs, re-raise. Re-raise 4+ times your opponents raise. You are looking for a fold in this situation because the pot is a nice size.

5. Pre-flop: Size of pre-flop raises

I know that Daniel Negreanu's small ball is about pre-flop raises of 2.5x's the big blind. However, when it comes to online poker, I don't think players care about the difference between a min-bet and a 2.5x's blind bet. So, my advice is to go with the min raise in online poker MTT's. Heck, my guess is that most players will already select the fold button before you complete your min-raise.

6. Pre-flop: Playing pocket aces and kings

With aggressive opponents who have already raised pre-flop, I often like to call and trap my opponent.

With passive tight players, I like to push all-in when it is a much bigger overbet so it looks like Ace-King. The reason is that these players usually have at least a pair and will be thinking along the lines of "I almost never play a hand and this guy is trying to get me to laydown my pair with his Ace-King. No way, I'm in the lead so...."

7. Flop: Drawing Hand and Scare cards

In position and heads-up (or against 2 opponents), look to raise with a drawing hand. The idea is to get your opponent to fold, so you can get a free card. Also, you should know what scare cards can hit on the turn that will allow you to steal the pot. The more scare cards, the better the opportunity to steal the pot with a turn bet.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of evaluating the flop and your assessment of your opponent's hand, as it relates to scare cards that can come on the turn. If you are right, you will win the pot with any two cards. The only warning is that players don't like to laydown big hands--in fact, online it is almost impossible to get players to fold these hands since they don't like to be bluffed. There used to be poker saying "A good laydown is a good thing." Not true with online poker players.

8. Flop: Bet sizing

While it is difficult to know what a player's "unseen" hand is in poker, you can see the size of his flop bet relative to the pot. And that often tells you what you need to know.

Play against your opponent's bet size. If you've been watching closely, you'll know how much your opponent's bet size means on the flop. Often that 1/3rd size bet means weakness, so attack it. A player who always makes a pot size bet on the flop, can't always have the goods--if you have a draw or third pair, attack it.

The size of a bet relative to the pot, often tells you if your opponent is strong or weak. If he is weak, attack! Look, the fact is that it is difficult to get a big hand on the flop (a set or two pair is usually the best possible hand on the flop). Go on the attack. If you get re-re-raised, just fold.

9. Flop: The double your bet raise

Let's say you raise pre-flop and get one caller. You flop top pair, top kicker. You bet almost the size of the pot to protect your hand. Your opponent raises you by doubling your bet. What should you do?


Too many players do the auto-call, thinking their hand is good or improve to a winner. It is not going to happen. Your opponent probably has a set.

The only exception is if you are playing against one of those "funny" players who is trying to get you to fold. Against this player, you can call or if you really think he is a joker, re-raise.

In general, those double your bet sized raises on the flop usually mean you are in trouble and it's time to fold.

That's your 9 moves for 9/9/09. I hope it gives you something to think about and helps to improve your game.

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