Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest post: Thoughts on poker tournament strategy

Thoughts on poker tournament strategy

Guest post from Mark who runs the Poker Bankroll Blog and the freeroll and tournament league follows:

Lately I have come to realize that playing Multi-table Poker Tournaments requires a special mental mindset that not all poker players possess. On one hand you never stand to lose more than the tournament buy-in, but the price you pay for this privilege is that most of the tournaments you enter will be a complete waste of time - when evaluated by a profit per hour criteria - unless you make it to the final table.

The path to the final table in a large multi-table tournament is bumpy to say the least. You will be fighting other poker minds and constantly increasing blinds in a race to stay ahead of the field while avoiding dangerous situations that could turn your chances of winning upside down in a heartbeat.

Multi-table tournaments are my favorite poker game, but it’s definitely a love/hate relationship. I like them because a small buy-in gives me a chance of winning big and unlike entering a lottery I can influence my chances of winning. I hate them when I play perfect, patient poker for 4 hours only to get knocked out in 30th place in some all-in situation where I am a massive favorite, but the chip leader at the table sucks out on me.

The last couple of days I have been wondering whether a change of my overall approach to multi-table tournaments could somehow minimize some of the frustrations I often experience when playing them. My usual tournament approach is to enter into many pots during the first hour when the blinds are low, hoping to catch a monster flop that will double me up. If I manage to make it to the first break with a solid stack I start playing my opponents more; aiming to win some pots by outplaying them. If I don’t have a solid stack after the first break I narrow down my hand range selection and play my decent hands aggressively. With this overall strategy I don’t have problems making the money, but my final table participation percentage is miserably low.

Ways to Approach Tournament Play

I think my biggest problem is that I often find myself below average stacked after the first couple of hours of play which really limits the possibilities one haves to accumulate chips. Basically my tournament becomes a folding game with sporadic bursts of aggression when a decent hand comes along. Of course if I become seriously short-stacked I will push with almost any hand if I’m first to act. Sometimes I get lucky catching a good series of cards, pushing, getting called by inferior hands and doubling up a couple of times putting me back in the running. However, an average or slightly above average stack is really vulnerable in the late stages of a tournament where the blinds are high and people push all-in preflop in each round.

The way I have been playing tournaments so far has resulted in most of my all-in situations being concentrated at the end of the tournament. Seeing as the all-in situations are the ones where you risk exiting the tournament it therefore makes sense that I will often experience being knocked out late in tournaments.

Now what will happen if I turn my game around so that most of my all-in situations are concentrated earlier on? I will be knocked out earlier more often that’s for sure. However, if I survive the early onslaught my above average stack will give me a higher degree of freedom to operate during the later stages of the tournament. I will be able to make moves on my opponents, I will survive bad beats and I will be able to wait for solid hands during the all-in frenzy that starts after the bubble bursts. In addition I will avoid the frustration of mostly being knocked out ITM but before the prizes become significant.

Another benefit of the strategy outlined above is that I will be accumulating chips at a stage where the average opposition is of a lower quality and have a big chip stack later when the average opposition is of a higher quality and therefore more susceptible to folding hands when I make moves on them.

I would really appreciate some comments on my thoughts in this article.

About the author
Mark runs the Poker Bankroll Blog and the freeroll and tournament league.
The Poker Bankroll Blog is full of articles on poker tournament strategy written by him and guest authors. There are articles for every level of poker player. The PokerBRB freeroll and tournament league is a free to join poker league where they host monthly competitions with freerolls and tournaments. Each freeroll and tournament in the PokerBRB freeroll league counts towards their monthly leaderboard. The top 20 on each monthly leaderboard gets invited to their exclusive monthly finals.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Limit Poker Cash Game Guidelines at Low Limits

Limit Poker Cash Game Guidelines at Low Limits

Last night I played a ring game at the local card room. They only were spreading a $3-$6 limit game. Everything else was no limit.

Ring (video game)Image via Wikipedia

I enjoy limit poker. And I miss the fact that limit poker tournaments are essentially gone. The fact is that there is a lot of skill at limit events but players today are in love no limit events.

At this low limit ring game of $3-$6 many players will see a flop with a very wide range of hands. Hands like Q-4 suited or J-7 suited are hands that players will limp into the pot pre-flop hoping to get lucky. I think it is a losing play.

My Guidelines

The low limit cash games tend to be loose and passive. Given this fact I adjust my play accordingly.

If I have a big hand that is unsuited like K-Q. I want to raise and re-raise pre-flop to get players to fold.

Hands that are suited are good to play if they are connectors even as low as 2-3. But I won't play Q-4 or J-7 even to limp into a pot. The only exception is if I've won the last two or more hands--I like to play my rushes.

On the flop, if a raise will get players to fold, definitely raise. In limping games, some players will call no matter what and others will fold. Sometimes it depends if a player has been winning or losing.

If you take the lead pre-flop with a raise, you should bet the flop, turn and even the river--if you don't get played back on the earlier streets and you are certain your opponents are drawing. This is one of the key ways to bluff at a pot with nothing in a low level cash game.

Another common way to bluff at a low limit cash game is to check-raise the turn when a scare card hits. However, since pots are large on the turn, you will often get called down in today's game.

Sometimes you have to call a turn bet because the pots are big, and it is only $6 more to try to hit a winning card on the river.

Look for tells. Players at lower levels do not notice that they give the strength of their hands away by their actions. A player who is quiet, and now is talking is strong. Just fold your top pair.

Here is a hint at finding tells: A hand goes to the river and you notice a betting action your opponent takes you have not noticed before. If he wins the hand take a picture in your mind of that action. Try to get a confirmation that the player does it more than once. Make sure you notice the cards he shows down to determine how he played his hand.

I will notice this action heads-up against an opponent and at first, I have no clue what it means. For example, I may notice my opponent tossed his chips into the pot on the river when his prior bets he placed them inside the line. I will call his river bet even though I will lose. The reason is that I can now use that tell to determine how to play against him next time.

Since it is very difficult to notice these tells for all your opponents, just watch one or two players who tend to be most active at the table. The reason is that you will end up playing against these players more often.

My Results

The first hand I was dealt A-5 suited. Two opponents called, one raised, and on the cutoff I called knowing that I was going to get at least three opponents.

The flop came Ace high, and the raiser bet. I called. The other players folded.

My opponent bet the turn and river. I called and won the hand. He had pocket Queens and never slowed down.

The next hand I was deal 8-9 suited of diamonds. Four players limped. I limped as well. The flop came 5-6-2 with one diamond. One player bet and we all called. I called since the pot was big and I had won the last hand. The turn was a J of diamonds. The same player bet. The other players folded. Since the pot was big, I called. The river was a 7 of clubs. My opponent bet and I raised. I won the pot with my

The third hand I was dealt 5-3 suited of spades. Since I had won the first two hands I was going to play any two cards. The flop came with two spades. I raised on the flop and got 4 callers. On the turn I missed my flush, but I hit my 5 so I bet again. I got 2 callers. On the river, the flush card hit. I bet and I got check raised. Uh oh, with a flush on the board and a check raise my 5 high flush didn't look too good. However, the pot was big and if I'm wrong that I'm beat, it would be a disaster.

I called. My opponent hit a straight on the river, and did not expect me to have a flush since I bet the turn.

The fourth hand I played Q-3 offsuit. I was playing my rush. The flop came Q high and everyone checked. The turn was a rag and I bet. I got one caller. The river was another rag. There was no draw I could see at the end, so I checked the river. My opponent checked. He had K-Q and won.

That ended my 3 hand rush.

After a little over an hour I was ahead $80--and the game was down to just 5 players. I left...I didn't feel that the game was about to go my way.

I hope my guidelines are helpful to you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Embarrassing Poker Story and The Leave Something Behind Re-Raise

An Embarrassing Poker Story and The Leave Something Behind Re-Raise

This is part of an email I sent to Mark at the Pokerbankrollblog.

Smolare WaterfallImage via Wikipedia

The Leave Something Behind Re-Raise
The Leave something behind re-raise pre-flop is a move that I had never seen before–but tried it at one event by accident! In this tournament I had intended to move all-in as a bluff after a player raised pre-flop. After I made the bet, I noticed I had a couple of chips left and felt really stupid. Well…my opponent noticed those chips and appeared confused. He folded…and I decided I should try this play again. It worked and I won a big pot.

One of the times I used this move was in a $500 buy-in tournament in Reno. I only took third place or the story would have been better.

It was the middle of the event. And I was card dead. My image had to be of a very tight player. My chips were bleeding out. The under the gun player put in a standard 3x blind raise….this player and I compete all the time in the Bay Area, so I know he thinks I only re-raise with the nuts. I also know his image–and he likes making moves under the gun with good but not great cards.

A player in middle position calls. I have 9-7 suited on the button. I make a re-raise--about 4x’s the initial raise, which puts about all my chips in…probably 90% of my stack. The reason is that if I move all-in I know I will get a call by one of my opponents. The blinds fold. The guy I knew looks at me, looks at those few chips behind the line and asks, “What are you going to do with those?” I don’t respond. He thinks for a while and mucks. The player in middle position thinks for a long time. I’m thinking to myself, “Fold. Can’t you see I want action with those chips I left behind?” Finally, he shows pocket 9’s and folds. That hand was a big increase in chips for me, at the right time.

An Embarrassing Poker Story to give you full disclosure…later on in the event. I’ve never told this story, because it is rather embarrassing. We are down to 3 tables. I’m in the small blind and the timer says it is break time–but the dealer had shuffled so the hand is being dealt. I am dying to take a leak…I mean I had been holding back for a long, long time! The under the gun player limps, the next player limps..and everyone except for one player limps in. I’m in the small blind and I have to go…I really do…I look at K-5 offsuit. I fold and get up to leave. One player says to me, “Wow, you must’ve had real junk to fold there.” I nodded. As I leave, I see the flop…K-5-5!!! No!!! Damn you Red Bull!!

Uh oh. Did I just lose any chance of an endorsement deal with Red Bull? :-)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Which Poker Book Do You Want For Free?

Which one of these 25+ poker books do you want for free?

Championship Table at the WSOP 1970-2002
Championship Hold'em Cash Game Strategies by Cloutier and McEvoy

John Chan in 2006 World Series of Poker at Rio...Image via Wikipedia

The Science of Poker by Mahmood
No Limit Texas Hold'em by Daugherty and McEvoy
Championship Tournament Practice Hands McEvoy and Cloutier
Poker Tournament Tips from the Pros by Smith
Poker Tournament Strategies by Suzuki
Championship No Limit and Pot Limit Holdem by Cloutier
52 Tips for Texas Holdem Poker by Shulman
The Mathematics of Poker by Chen and Ankerman
Flop by Burke
Championship Satellite Strategy by McEvoy and Dougherty
Killer Poker Online by Vorhaus
Psychology of Poker by Schmoonmaker
Inside the Poker Mind by Feeney
Poker Strategy by Ankevy
Real Poker II the Play of Hands by Cooke
The Pro Poker Playbook by Vorhaus
Play Poker Like Johnny Chan by Chan
Complete Guide to Winning Poker by Morehead
Tao of Poker by Phillips
Poker A Winner's Guide by Nelson
Tales out of Tulsa by Baldwin
Holdem Excellence by Krieger
Play Poker Like a Pigeon by Anonymous
Complete Book of Poker by Carson
Ken Warren Teaches Texas Hold'em by Warren

As a Special Promotion, I will send you one of these poker books from my collection for Free when you buy either my Play Razz Poker to Win or Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves books from my webpage here and ONLY here.

As a bonus....I am going to pay for shipping and taxes AND I will even autograph my poker book. Since the free poker books are in my collection they are used.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Has Joe Cada influenced poker play?

Has Joe Cada influenced poker play?

I entered the $20,000 1st place guarantee MTT event at Lucky Chances today. It was a no limit event with a $330 buy-in and unlimited rebuys for the first 2 hours--you get to rebuy only when you lose all your chips. This event uses automatic shufflers with 30 minute rounds so there is time for some play. The starting chips were $6000.

What's Wrong With Angry? Poster for the 2008 E...Image via Wikipedia

I didn't have any hands for the first hour so my stack had dropped down a little. An interesting hand occurred when I found pocket Queens upfront. The first player raised the big blind of $200 to $700. I was next and I re-raised to $2,100. Another player in a back position re-raised to $4,200. The under the gun player folded. I had about $5,500 so I had to decide if this was going to be a defining moment for me.

A raise, re-raise and then a min re-raise usually indicates a big hand--like pocket Aces or pocket Kings. The player who raised my re-raise had not made this move before. He also had an interesting tell. The more pained he looked, the better his hand. And he looked like he was in a great deal of pain to me :)

I folded. He then volunteers that he had pocket Queens. Do I think he had pocket Queens? No. I think he had Kings or Aces. Poker players are liars.

A few hands later I find A-J both clubs in the cutoff; again at the $100-$200 level. Everyone folds to me and I raise to $600. The big blind, who had just doubled up in the prior hand, re-raises me to $1,200. I call.

The flop is A-A-3 with two diamonds. I check and my opponent bets $1,200. The poor guy must have pocket Kings. I call. The turn is a Jack. I check. He checks.

The river is a 5 of diamond. The question I asked myself is how can I extract the most amount of money on my full house. There is $4,900 in the pot. I had $4,100 left.
If I bet half the pot, I may or may not get paid off. If I move all-in, I may double up if I try my reverse tell.

What's my reverse tell? I hold my breath. It makes me look like I'm bluffing. This tends to work with players who have big hands and are not sure about letting them go.

I move-in and my opponent stares at me. I make sure he sees that I'm holding my breath. I'm sure my face slowly turns pink. He stares longer than I can hold my breath--so I do have to take another breath of air. He finally calls and I double up.

I get dealt K-Q five times before the break and lose every time! I am back down to $6,000 as we break.

There are 162 players, 48 rebuys and the top 20 will get paid.

The next few hours of the event

I have to move up my aggression in he next hours to accumulate chips. I know my table image is tight and the players to my left are tight players. It allows me to raise pre-flop in position as steals. The other thing is that players check their hands way too often. I take a check as a sign of weakness and bet to win pots on the flop and/or turn with nothing.

An example: A player to my right opens the $1,000-$2000 blinds and $400 ante with a call on the button. I have the small blind with Q-7 offsuit. I call as does the big blind. The flop is A-7-4 with 2 diamonds. I check, the big blind checks and the limper bets $2,000. I don't have a diamond. It is clear that he limped with a big hand to be tricky. But does he have the Ace?

It is worth calling to see what he does on the turn. The big blind folds. The turn is a J of hearts. I check and the button checks behind. When he checks, I'm sure he doesn't have the Ace.

The river is a 3 of diamonds. I bet $4,000 to make it look like either I have the Ace or hit a flush. My opponent folds and tells me he knows I hit the flush. He shows pocket 10's.

Joe Cada time

I am up to $31,000 and the co-chip leader at my table. We are down to 25 players. I am feeling good about my play and I just have to be careful of players who overplay their hands a la Joe Cada.

I am on the cutoff with A-J and come in pre-flop with a $6,000 raise at the $1,000-$2,000 blinds. A new player in the small blind moves all in for $15,000.

There is about $24,000 in the pot and it is another $9,000 to me. I look at my opponent and he is nervous. It feels like a middle pocket pair. I can fold, but given the odds and my sense it is a race, I decide to call.

He turns over pocket 2's.

Good grief...does he think he is Joe Cada?

Yeah, his deuces hold up. I guess he does think he is Cada.

I am pissed about this loss and walk away from the table angry.

A few hands later a player in middle position moves all-in for $9,000. I have him covered with $12,000 with A-Q suited. Does he have A-K?

He gets up to talk to his friends nearby. I look at him and he is not comfortable with my hesitation on what to do. I go with my tell and I call.

He turns over A-5.

Good grief...

Yeah, he hits his 5 on the flop.

A few hands later I go out in 24th place.

6 hours of poker and time to drive home.

Do you think I made a mistake in this event? Would you have risked your entire tournament with those pocket deuces?

I do tend to look for reads on players. Overall, I feel that players do give away the strength of their hands by how they look, act, and what they say.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Very Strange Poker Experience And A $180,000 Jackpot!

A Very Strange Poker Experience And A $180,000 Jackpot!

Yesterday I went to Casino 101 in Petaluma, CA to enter the $115 buy-in MTT event. I had never played in one of their tournaments before, and it was the second time I've been there since the renovation from Sonoma Joe's. A lot of money was put into this place to fix it up and it looks great.

The Jackpot

Proper Driver's LicenceImage by Noeluap via Flickr

Casino 101 has a starting Jackpot of $150,000 and it requires that a player has four 10's or better getting beat--and using both down cards. The one unique thing the club does is that everyone who is playing at the club at the time of the jackpot gets a share. I am not sure of the percentage break-outs for the Jackpot hand, winning hand, players at the table and the players at the other tables.

I believe this jackpot started in September. It was now at $180,000.

The Tournament

The event gives you 6,000 in chips and 20 minute rounds with automatic shufflers in play. It does provide you with some time to play.

I was playing way too passive in the first hour, and my stack had gone down to about $4000.

One interesting play: I was in the small blind with rags. The player under the gun, let's call him Joe, limped in with A-K offsuit. The guy next to him, who hadn't raised the entire game, raised. Everyone folded. Joe moved all in. His opponent insta-called with pocket Kings and knocked Joe out of the tournament.

My thinking: "Joe really made a stupid play. A-K is not pocket Aces."

At the break, I walked outside. It was about 5pm.

Suddenly I had a feeling that the Jackpot was going to be hit. In fact, I saw a xerox of a California Driver's license flash in my mind's eye. When you win a lot of money, you have to show your license and the club xerox copies it for their files.

It is tough to really explain my premonition on this. But I felt that if I had this "feeling" I guess I am going to win the Jackpot!

Back to the Tournament

I took my seat at the tournament table, thinking that I may not win the tournament, but I'm going to win the Jackpot. The first hand was dealt and I won with pocket 9's. As the second hand was being dealt...

"Jackpot!!!" the players screamed from the $4-$8 limit table. My back was to the the winning table. A player's four queens lost to a royal flush. I didn't turn around since I was rather bummed.

Another player at my tournament table said, "Look, Joe is at that table. I think he is going to win $4-$5,000."

My thought about Joe's play changed. That A-K all-in was a brilliant move!

Oh yeah, no one in the tournament got a share of the Jackpot since it wasn't a live game.

As to the tournament, I took a beat on the river later in the event. My A-10 lost to Q-J when my opponent made a bad call on my all-in pre-flop..but it turned into a great call since the Jack hit on the river.

The Rest of the Story...

After I got knocked out, I signed up for the $3-$6 limit game. I waited for about 30 minutes and walked around the club thinking about my premonition. I decided that it was just coincidence since I hadn't seen any xerox copy of a California Driver's License.

A few minutes later I walked by the cage. One of the club's employees was at the cage. I glanced over and on the counter were xerox copies of many California Driver's licenses--yeah, from the players at the Jackpot table.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guest Post: Thoughts on how to beat low stakes MTT online tournaments

Guest Post: Thoughts on how to beat low stakes MTT online tournaments

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Mark and I run the Poker Bankroll Blog and the freeroll and tournament league. The Poker Bankroll Blog is full of articles on poker tournament strategy written by me and guest authors. There are articles for every level of poker player. The PokerBRB freeroll and tournament league is our free to join poker league where we host monthly competitions with freerolls and tournaments. Each freeroll and

Poker chipsImage by Jam Adams via Flickr

tournament in the PokerBRB freeroll league counts towards our monthly leaderboard. The top 20 on each monthly leaderboard get invited to our exclusive monthly finals.

Lately I have given a lot of thought to the notion of formulating an optimal strategy for playing low stakes MTT online tournaments. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it nailed down yet, but I want to share what I have come up with so far. Maybe you have some ideas of your own to add to mine? Before I start I would like to share one of the most important things I have come to realize lately when it comes to optimizing your chances of winning an online poker tournament:

Don’t expect to win if you don’t have the time and attention to invest in the tournament.

I myself have a tendency to run poker tournaments in the background when I write articles for my blogs or do work on my websites. Truth be told neither my work or my poker tournament results benefit from this. If you want to win tournaments force yourself to focus on the action taking place on your table also when you are not involved in hands. Playing more tournaments at the same time could help you to prevent your mind from drifting.

Playing low stakes MTT online poker tournaments before the 1st break:

· Many of your opponents in this stage of the tournament will be paying most attention to their own cards and not so much on what kind of hands their opponents might have. They will more often call raises with medium hands such as AQ, AJ, 99 etc than re-raising them. If they hit top pair they will seldom fold. As a consequence trying to bluff them out of a pot with fancy play seldom pays off.

· You will see a lot of call - raise - call action in the beginning of low stakes poker tournaments meaning that you will rarely win pots through pre flop raises. This means that if you decide to try to pick up a pot through bluffing you need to be prepared to follow through post flop. Suited connectors are good hands to do this with as they need to see a flop to improve and are well disguised if you open them with a pre flop raise.

· When you get dealt premium hands raise them to 5-6BBs to isolate the field.

· If your starting stack is 1500 and you haven’t doubled by the time the blinds have reached 50/100 you should start taking risks and stop calling drawing hands; if you think a hand is good enough to call it is good enough to raise. Keep in mind that the chances taken early in a tournament, if payed off, mean that you won’t have to take as many risks later.

· Don’t go all in unless you feel confident that your opponent will fold his hand or call with a worse hand than your own

· Set as a goal to triple your stack before the 1st break.

Playing low stakes MTT online poker tournaments after the 1st break:

· The quality of your opposition will now have increased and some of your opponents are now considering your possible hands as well as their own. This opens up opportunities for stealing pots through bluffs but also means that you have to deal with opponents pulling the same moves on you. At this stage in the tournament being able to classify your opponents will improve the chances of your bluffs being successful.

· Have a plan and a purpose for every hand you play

· Loosen up your starting hand requirements and start raising more often. Since the blinds have now grown to represent a higher fraction of the average chip stack, 3xBB raises are usually sufficient. Your aim is to pick up as many pots as possible while risking as little of your stack as possible. This approach is known as small ball poker.

· Set as a goal to stay above the average stack size for the tournament.

Playing the late stages of a low stakes MTT online poker tournament:

· Turn up your aggression a couple of notches loosening up your starting hand requirements and raising often aiming to pick up the blinds.

· As Mitchell Cogert would say: Embrace the risk. You have to be brave and fearless to end up standing as the winner of any kind of poker tournament.

Mark, thanks for your insights on how to play low stakes MTT poker tournaments. I definitely recommend poker players should check out the great work you are doing with your Poker Bankroll Blog and freeroll and tournament league. Best of luck.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Learned From the WSOP Final Table

What I Learned From the WSOP Final Table

I spent over 15 hours the past few days listening to the online telecast via Bluff Magazine and watching the ESPN broadcast of the final table. This may have been the most talented group of nine players to ever appear in the final table.

The first thing: Congrats to all the players! Congrats to Moon! Congrats to Cada! It was really super poker.

The second thing: To the poker players who criticized the play, give me a break. If there is one thing I've learned when it comes to a small group of poker players is that they love to criticize--especially anonymously and/or without any credentials to do so. Until you are under the pressure of playing for a Main Event bracelet, give it a rest.

The third thing: To the moderators on the Bluff Magazine online telecast and Phil Hellmuth, super job. I really enjoyed the poker commentary.

My Learning from the WSOP

1. Don't Play Too Tight.

I think Shulman played real tight at the final table. While he got unlucky with pocket Jacks, he either didn't get good cards or he didn't want to gamble. He folded pocket 9's against a re-raise from a worse hand. It would have been a race, but it seemed to me that he was always leaning to the fold rather than a willingness to gamble. Maybe that was the right thing to do--after all, Hellmuth was his coach.

But...Poker is gambling. It is impossible to control the risk in the game. Did Jeff get a "read" that his opponent was stronger than him? Or, was he was avoiding the risk?

"Risk is Good."

Even The Great Players Don't Read Their Opponents All that Well.

I was really surprised that the players did not appear to, or could not get, a read on their opponents. Hellmuth did a great job of reading players from the booth. Even Hellmuth said once, "I wish Cada would look up at his opponent" when Cada was making a key decision.

Ivey misread an opponent's strength. I guess if he can fold a winning hand, anything is possible.

I believe Buchman is a great player. Yet, he lost all those chips with A-Q at a time he was outplaying his opponents. Later on, Hellmuth tried to get Buchman to realize his play was wrong, but Buchman resisted and stated the math was right.

I agree with Hellmuth. Why risk everything when there was no urgency? He was the chip leader and on his way to winning the main event. I think the math in this case was not in assessing hand probabilities, but in the overall risk-reward probabilities of the game itself. But, I'm not sure since I'm not a pure math guy.

3. Super Aggressive Equals Super Wins.

I think Cada was super aggressive. I don't believe he even cared much about his opponents hands when he made those re-raises/all-ins with small pairs. The one thing I took away from Cada was that maybe winning poker is forgetting about "reading" your opponent. Just play more aggressive than your opponent.

Maybe this is what Cada learned from playing 20 events at the same time online. If you have a pocket pair or a big Ace hand, make a move with it and hope for the best.

I think one reason Cada had a problem with Moon throughout the event is that Moon was making super aggressive moves with and without hands. At least Cada needed a small pair to make those plays. Moon did not.

Overall, I believe being aggressive is the way to play winning poker. But, maybe, it is time to look at being super aggressive like Cada.

What was your impression of the final table?

Maybe poker is headed back to those days of the "all-in specialists." These players had one move in their arsenal--an all-in pre-flop move. If they won and doubled up early, it made them more dangerous. These all-in specialists went broke because opponents knew that they could outplay them by trapping them or calling with a wider range of hands.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

This is a Must If You Are Into Poker!

This is a Must If You Are Into Poker!

Last night I found that there was a moderated netcast of the WSOP Final Table of the Main Event. The visual was not of the players or the event, but a diagram of player chip stacks, the action, and things you'd need to know if you really wanted to learn about poker.

The WSOP logo on a poker chip.Image via Wikipedia

It was excellent! I was going to watch/listen for a few hours, but it was addicting and I ended up watching for like 9+ hours, until around 6am--when it finally got to heads-up.

I have to give major kudos to the sponsors (Ubet, Bluff Magazine, something called poker maven VT (?) and others) the guys who did the moderation (David something and Joe Seebok), and the great guests (Ferguson, Duke, internet shiz kids, and more.)

The best part was when Hellmuth joined for the last hour or so. No matter what you think of Phil's style/act, he knows his poker. His discussion with the other moderator about his style of play of using reads versus the internet aggro guys was great.

The final table head-to head battle will be on Monday night at 10pm Pacific.

The link is:

If you are into the WSOP--you really should listen and watch.

I have avoided giving out who is still in or out of the event--since I know a lot of players are waiting for the ESPN broadcast.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Playing Ace-King Is Not That Difficult in a Poker Tournament

Why Playing Ace-King Is Not That Difficult in a Poker Tournament

It's not that it is easy to play Ace-King, but it's not that difficult either.

Burger-KeamImage by keamysparadise via Flickr

Let's review this: Ace-King is the best non-paired, starting hand.

Notice some important text here:

Non-paired. It is an Ace high hand, like A-x. It will not improve on the flop two out of three times. That can be a problem, a major problem.

Starting hand. It is the best non-paired starting hand. Starting hand means that the value of this hand will change on the flop, just like every other poker starting hand.

Players today are so super aggressive that when they get dealt Ace-King in a poker tournament they push all-in pre-flop. There are some right times to push with the hand, but other times it is a mistake.

Examples of when not to be all-in with A-K:

The tournament has just started, and you have lots and lots of chips compared to the big blind. Moving all-in is just a bad risk-reward situation.

The tournament is in it's early stages and a player raises pre-flop. You decide to overbet the pot and push all-in to get your opponent off his hand. Moving all-in is just another bad risk-reward situation.

You are one of the chip leaders at the final stages of a tournament. A player who has about half as many chips as you, pushes all-in pre-flop. The player is very tight. You are on your A game. You will be dealt another hand if you fold, promise. Why risk so much here?

You are one of the chip leaders at the final stages of a tournament. You raise and another player with more chips than you, overbets the pot with an all-in move pre-flop.
Hey, maybe it is a tie and he has A-K too. So what. Just let it go.

Examples of how not to play Ace-King from the flop on..assume that you raised pre-flop or you called pre-flop:

If you are against three or more players and your hand does not improve, you bet. Why are you betting here? I think sometimes the simple math of counting the number of opponents you face on the flop has been lost.

If you are against two or less players, and your hand does not improve, you check automatically. Hmm, a continuation bet is a good move, if you have the lead on the flop. If not, the texture of the flop will be a key determining factor for your action.

If you are against two or less players. Your hand does not improve on the flop. No one bets the flop. Your hand does not improve on the turn. An opponent bets and you call with Ace-King. Why do people call here with Ace high? All you are doing is costing yourself more chips. Unless you have a great read on your opponent, but then the right play is not to call but to raise.

Why another post about Ace-King?

I just read an article about how a top player handled Ace-King early on in a tournament. It was early in the event with $100-$200 blinds, and $25,000 in starting chips. Our hero limps with Ace-King under the gun, Allen Cunningham raises him to $800 from middle position, Van Nguyen calls from the button. Our hero decides to re-raise to $3,200. Both opponents call.

Let's stop here. I hate this re-raise. Players are getting so aggressive that they mix up Ace-King with pocket Aces. Thy are different hands, really=) If you limp with Ace-King, you are not looking to re-raise preflop. You are stating that you want to play this hand to lose as little as possible in an early round. That is ok. A call is ok. A re-raise here is a bad play by our hero.

The flop is J-5-5. Everyone checks.

Let's stop again. What happened to the continuation bet? That is not a scary board. You put in a check-raise preflop and you check the flop? Talk about compounding a mistake. I sure hope our hero folds this hand if he doesn't improve on the turn.

The turn is a 9. Our hero checks, Cunningham checks, but Nguyen bets $5,000. Our hero folds right? Wrong! He calls! Why the heck does he call here?

Think about what Nguyen's hand is. He called a pre-flop raise, and a check-raise preflop. If he just called a pre-flop raise, let's eliminate AA-KK-QQ. Next he calls our hero's check raise. I will eliminate AK, AQ, AJ, A10, and small pairs. What does that leave us with--JJ, TT, 99, and maybe 88.

The river is an 8. Our hero checks. Nguyen checks.

Now guess what hand Nguyen is holding?

88, 99 or JJ? No. He'd bet the river.

Therefore, he must have pocket 10's right?

Yes, Neguyen wins the pot with pocket 10's. A perfect example of how not to play Ace-King...and how to put an opponent on a range of hands.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Letter From My Bank Regarding UIGEA--Oh NO!

Letter From My Bank Regarding UIGEA--Oh NO!

My bank wrote to tell me that they will no longer process these transactions:

"any wager which involves the use of the Internet, where such bet is unlawful under any applicable Federal or State law in the State or Tribal lands in which the bet or wager is initiated, received or otherwise made."

The bank even updated their Deposit Agreement and Disclosure to include the UIGEA.

What does this mean?

It means that now I have to launder money to get my poker winnings--lol.

Actually what it really means is that there are way too many stupid people in government. But you already knew that.

Hey, are they playing poker while in session..
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Customer's Slideshare review of my Razz book--interesting...

Free! For The New Poker Player: A Guide to Your First Tournament Win

Free! For The New Poker Player: A Guide to Your First Tournament Win

Here is the ebook I put together that you can now download.

* How tournament poker is different than other forms of poker.

* You need to learn No limit hold’em to win millions--just like on TV.

* Know which are the best starting hands in a poker tournament.

* The importance of practice, practice, practice.

* The probabilities in poker you need to know and a trick that makes this easy.

* The 4 most common probabilities in hold’em poker.

* How knowing the probabilities helps you decide how or if you should play your hand.

* Common heads-up situations and how to make the right decision.

* Know the difference between pot odds and implied odds.

* Learn ways to accumulate chips

* How to play your opponent’s hand and not your hand.

* How not to go on tilt!

You can now download for free.

What's Your Poker IQ?