Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is Poker Luck, Skill or ...?

Is Poker Luck, Skill or ...?

What do you think?

Oh--and what do you think of the video?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poker Quiz: Guess What Your Opponent is Holding

Circle-question-blueImage via WikipediaPoker Quiz: Guess What Your Opponent is Holding

I was in an interesting hand the other day at the club. See if you can guess the hand your opponent is holding.

You are in a $15-$30 limit hold'em game. You are in early position and get dealt Js-Jc.

The players in front of you fold and you raise the $15 big blind to $30. It is folded to Bob in the cutoff who re-raises to $45. Bob is a betting station, that is, he likes to take the lead by betting and raising. Debbie, who is on the button, re-raises to $60.

Debbie is a typical player at these middle limit holdem levels.

You call and Bob calls. There are three players in the hand going to the flop, as both blinds fold.

The flop is Jh-4d-2d.

Excellent! You have the nuts!

You bet the flop wanting to get multiple bets.

Bob dutifully raises, and Debbie re-raises. You cap it. Both players call.

The turn is a 7h.

Excellent! You have the nuts and bet out again. Bob doesn't seem to care and he raises you. Debbie calls. You re-raise and now both players call your bet.

The river is an Ace...uh oh..

You check, Bob checks, and Debbie....yeah, Debbie bets.

You call. Bob folds.

Guess what Debbie is holding?

Guess what Bob was holding?

Insert Jeopardy music.... :-)


Debbie shows pocket Aces.

Bob states he had pocket Kings.

You lose over $200 on the hand. Ouch!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

4 Main Poker Playing Styles and How to Beat Them

Луи Вэйн - ПокерImage via Wikipedia4 Main Poker Playing Styles and How to Beat Them

There are all sorts of playing styles when it comes to poker. While you can cast poker players as a mixture of tight-loose/passive-aggressive, I think it is more complex.

Here is what I have found while playing at my $15-$30 limit game and some thoughts on how to beat these players:

1. Props and Pros:
The toughest players you will find at a poker room. Why? It's their profession.

The Props are easy to find since they wear a badge to identify they are working for the card room. While the Pros are harder to spot you can pick them out by how they are interacting with the dealers and staff and other poker players--the familiarity is evident.

These players are very similar in that they "think they know" all the moves in the game. The Pros tend to play more hands than the prop players as they want some action and believe they are far superior than everyone else.

Both groups share the same weakness: Habits. Each one of these players have developed tendencies that even they are not even aware of. These habits can be on how they place a bet when they are strong versus when they are weak. Or, it may be how they always bet on paired flops or how they auto-bet after everyone has checked. One thing is for sure--expect a more aggressive playing style that is meant to create fear, uncertainty and doubt into your mind.

How to beat them: Study their betting patterns. Look for tells on how they place their bets, and even facial expressions. Take a shot by raising and check raising them, to see how they respond. Usually, it will slow these players down and get them to fold with a bet on the next street.

2. Attention Seekers:
There are two types of attention seekers. One type stands out because they love to talk. While the other type is quiet. Yet, both type of players want to be noticed for the bad beats they can put on their opponents.

The loud ones will mix things up in the cards they will play and when they raise and re-raise. They can get lucky and win a lot of money in a hurry, and, of course, they can lose a lot of money just as fast. When you find the guy who loves to talk, you've found an attention seeker.

The quiet ones like to stand out in the same way, but without the loud chatter. They will win pots with rags and that perfect runner-runner.

How to beat them: You have to realize that your swings will be larger going against these guys. They bluff more often, and can get paid off big when they pick up premium starting hands. Are they going to put bad beats on you? Yes. The key is not to lose your composure, as long term they are going to give you their money. Be patient.

3. Station bettors:
There are two kinds of station bettors:
-Calling stations: If there is any hope in winning they will call all the way to the river, regardless of what action has taken place on any street. Short and long term a calling station is a losing player. I don't know how they can afford to lose so much money.

-Betting stations: They are similar to calling stations, except that if they have an opportunity to bet first they will. And they will fire on every street with any draw or any pair all the way to the river. Oh, and if the you turned one of these players into a calling station, they don't feel comfortable in that situation. So, you can expect that raise or check raise on the turn or river to get you to fold.

How to beat them: Overall, you can't bluff out these players.
Calling stations: Bet for value. Don't raise without the goods. And make sure you can beat a low pair before betting on the river.
Betting stations: Call with as little as a low pair. If a scare card comes out on the turn and a betting station ignores it, it is a sign they are not that strong.

4. Thoughtful and careful players:
They tend to be recreational players who have read that tight-aggressive is the way to win at poker. They tend to bet their hands, and call with draws. They may have a move or two at the poker table, but are vulnerable to raises and check raises. Of course, since they don't play poker for a living, they don't like to fold. The result is that if they call you on the turn when raised, they will lean to calling you on the river.

How to beat them:
Raising these players will slow them down. So go for that free card with a raise. Being aggressive on the flop or river can get these players to fold, especially if the board is coordinated enough. But, if they call you on the turn, expect that river call.

Note: I have found one or two players who are Flush Lovers; that is, they, will play any two two suited starting cards. For some reason, they relish in that rare win when their Q-6 suited either makes a flush or two pair on the river. The good news: Over time they will give you their money.

I hope this helps. Any other styles?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, November 5, 2010

3 Poker Bluffs That Are Essential To Winning Poker

The Cincinnati KidImage via Wikipedia3 Poker Bluffs That Are Essential To Winning Poker

Here are three poker bluffs that every poker player should know and use in both no limit and limit hold'em.

1. Steal Flops

My favorite bluff is the steal flop. I must give credit to Bob Ciaffone and Jim Brier, since I learned about this bluff in their excellent book "Middle Limit Holdem Poker."

A steal flop is one that is not coordinated and consists of one face card or Ace along with two rags. For example, a flop of Ks-6d-2h is a great steal flop. If you are against three or less opponents, this is an excellent flop to bet. The reason is that there are no flush or straight draws and an opponent needs to have a King (or better) to call your bet.

2. Paired Flops

A second favorite poker bluff is a flop that comes with a pair. When you are first to bet this flop, an opponent will fold since he believes he is way behind. It is difficult to call a player who looks like he is holding trips, especially when the pot is small.

Importantly, the rank of the cards is influential on if your bluff will work. For example, if the flop is Jd-5s-5h, you are more likely to win with a bet as few players hold rags (a 5 in this example). Also, if you are in a blind, it looks like you have one of those big blind or small blind specials.

On the other hand, a flop like Qh-Qs-6d is less likely to work since Queens are in the playing zone (9 to Ace) for most players.

3. Stealing Blinds

Most players know that if they are on the button and everyone folds, it is often smart to raise to try to win the blinds. This play works best if you evaluate the players in the blind as tight and looking to fold, rather than defend/chase after their forced bets.

Of course, the same play should be considered for those in the cutoff position and even the hijack or power position (two seats from the button). Again, knowing the playing styles of your opponents who act after you are vital.

My suggestion is that you set up starting hand requirements for stealing blinds from the button, cutoff and hijack positions and adjust based on your experience.

Here is an example of starting hand requirements for stealing blinds by position:

Button: All pairs, any Ace-x hand, and two cards that total 18 or higher (using blackjack values for cards)
Cutoff: Pairs of 77 and higher, Ace-8 suited or better, Ace-9 unsuited or better, and two cards that total 19 or higher
Hijack: Pairs of 88 and higher, Ace-9 suited or better, Ace-10 unsuited or better, and two cards that total 20 or higher

You can adjust these requirements to your opponents, your table image, the situation, etc. The key is to start with guidelines so you know before you sit down at the poker table your action without hesitation in stealing blinds.

I hope this helps your game.

If you have any favorite poker bluffs, please don't hesitate to share them. Best of luck!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Post: How Poker Skills Can Help You Land a Job or Get a Better One

Guest Post: How Poker Skills Can Help You Land a Job or Get a Better One

If you or your friends are looking for a new job or trying to upgrade the one you have, see what POKERDIVAS CEO Ellen Leikind has to say about how the principles of poker can help you get what you are looking for. Ellen is the author of PokerWoman: How To Win At Love, Life, and Business Using the Principles of Poker. The book is available at Amazon.com as a hardcover or on Kindle.

Ellen has worked in escalating marketing positions at large consumer packaged goods companies including Pfizer and L’Oreal. She works as an Executive Consultant in the Direct Response TV industry and is a branding expert. She has an MBA in marketing from Fordham University and is a Native new Yorker.

Q. It’s a tough job market out there and people are either looking to find something new or upgrade what they have. How can Poker help you in this very tight Job market?

A. There are many valuable career boosting lessons based on principles learned at the poker table even if you have never played a game of cards. Poker rewards initiative, assertiveness, fearlessness and calculated risk taking all of which are needed for a successful job hunt. Real life stories in PokerWoman illustrate how poker has helped many women in business.

Q. What is the first thing you would tell women when looking for the right job?

A. The first thing I would say to them is stop betting like a girl. Women need to bold and take risk and play to win as opposed to avoid losing. They need to project more bravado and confidence and not be modest when it comes to selling their capabilities.

Q. What is the most important skill in getting ready for the job interview?

A. You can stack the deck in your favor by researching the company and people you want to work for. Poker Players are always sizing up the players at the table so they can play the right way against the right people. You need to know a companies objectives, products and financial situation before you walk in the door. And try to also find out something about the person interviewing you. With Google, face book and linked-in you can learn a lot. Be smart and be prepared.

Q. Once you are in the interview what is an important for the interviewee to be aware of?

A. Pay attention to non-verbal cues or “tells” during the interview both yours and the interviewer. Poker players are always looking for tells, to help get a read on another player. You have to pay attention to the cues you project. Do you make eye contact and sit up straight to project confidence or are your eyes down and hands fumbling projecting fear or lack of interest. On the other side of the coin, pay attention to the person interviewing you. If they look distracted or bored you need to look for ways to re-engage their interest. Women have good intuition in this area use it.

Q. What is the best way to bluff in an interview?

A. You need to be careful here. In a poker game you are expected to be deceptive but in a business situation your reputation is on the line. There is a big difference between a little embellishment and a total lie. If you have done something and are 70% proficient at it and know you can learn the rest it is fine to say you are good at it. But if you have never has any exposure to finance before don’t pretend you are an accountant. Remember if you are called on a bluff which is an out and out lie you have a lot to lose.

Q. What is the best way to put on a Poker face in an interview?

A. Save your poker face for after you have gotten the job offer. You need to be enthusiastic and animated during an interview to convey interest. Once you have an offer and are negotiating salary or benefits then use your pokerface to try to up the ante and get a better deal. The first offer is rarely the best offer they will give.

Q. What happens if you don’t get the job or interview you expected?

A. Remember not every hand is a winner. You are not going to get every interview or job offer even if you are the most qualified. In fact sometimes in life as in poker you do everything right and still lose. Make sure you do not let what poker player’s call a “bad beat” ruin the rest of your hands or job interviews to come. Going on tilt, or being overly emotional about your loss will hurt your ability to go on to the next opportunity. There’s always another hand or interview. Compose yourself and go on to the next. Don’t let your emotions undermine your intelligence.

Q. But it seems like I just keep losing one after the other.

A. There is a great poker story in PokerWoman about a man name Jack Strauss. He was playing in the 1982 World series of poker and thought he had gone “all in “ and put all his chips in the pot during a hand. He lost the hand and thought he was out of the tournament but when he got up to leave it turned out he had 1 chip left. He went on to win that tournament. Out of that experience came the expression “all you need is a chip and a chair.’ Keep motivated, keep playing and stay in the game and you will land something good.

Q. What can I do if I have a job but I am very unhappy and need to find something better.

A. It’s a tough economy out there but sometimes you have to have to know when to fold’em. Getting out of a bad job is sometimes a necessary evil in helping you preserve your sanity. Yes, it is a risk but sometimes you need to take a risk to up your odds for a long term win. Best to look for the job while you are still working but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and acknowledge that it is time to move on to the next game.

Q. Anything else we can learn from the principles at the poker table.

A. In poker and in life the prizes go to the bold. Be confident, have no fear, show some bravado and bet on your self to become a winner.

Ellen, thanks for your great insights on landing a new job!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Limit Hold'em: Should You Go For A Free Card With a Draw?

How the West Was Won (TV series)Image via WikipediaLimit Hold'em: Should You Go For A Free Card With a Draw?

One area that I have been experimenting with is to develop a guideline for playing draws in limit poker. I believe that drawing hands are an area that most limit players lose most of their money.

One reason for these loses is that these players hit a flush draw a few times, win a big pot, and decide that they know how to play these hands. But, in reality, they
are making the wrong plays and it is costing them big time.

Here, I want to address the notion of raising in position on the flop for a free card when you have a draw, most often, a flush draw.

The Free Card: Example

An example of a taking a free card is when you are on the button with As-5s and you limp in against 3 opponents. The flop comes Ks-Ts-4h. The small bets out and the next two players call. Here, the standard "free card" play is to raise since your opponents are likely to call your bet and check to you on the turn. If this happens, you can check the turn and get a free card.

A couple of key problems with this advice:
1. The initial bettor may re-raise your flop bet. This re-raise will cost you more, may get other players to fold, and reduce your expected return if you do make your flush.
2. When you check the turn when you miss your flush, you essential reveal your hand to your opponents. In fact, some authors suggest you should bet the turn as well, since the odds of making a flush are 36% and you are getting 3 to 1 on your money. I think is a bad play.

A Better Approach To The Free Card

A better approach is to plan ahead before you blindly go for that free card raise. You should consider the number of opponents, the composition of the flop, the style of your opponents, and your table image. (Note: Position is also critical, but in the example, you are on the button with the best absolute position.)

The number of opponents:
Since you have three opponents, you are in a situation where you are getting 3 to 1 on your money. That is, for every one bet, you can earn 3 bets, or 25%. This appears favorable as your odds of making a flush are higher. However, I think that your bet on the flop is to make your flush on the turn. It may cost you more on the turn. The odds are actually less than 25% to hit your flush on the turn.

In addition, as stated before, the more opponents the less likely you are to get a free card on the turn.

The composition of the flop:
In limit poker, the cards that are most often in play are in the playing zone of between 9 to Ace. If two cards hit the flop which are in the playing zone, the more likely your opponents are going to stick in the hand. In fact, I believe, a ten on the board is even stickier, as this card is needed to make a straight.

You really need to understand the composition of a flop. A coordinated flop tends to keep players in a hand as it presents opportunities to hit draws. So, if you believe that a raise on the flop and a bet on the turn (when you miss your flush) will get players to fold in a highly coordinated flop, you are usually mistaken.

The style of your opponents:
If your opponents are good, you have to worry about that small blind holding a hand that hurts your probability of taking down the pot. The small blind has bet into three players which usually means he has a King with a decent kicker, a set, or two small pair. Of course, he could be betting a straight draw or a flush draw. And, a flush draw here would mean your odds are not as good as you believe.

If you are playing in a low limit game, where players just play their cards, then your opponents can hold any two cards. But, at middle limits, I would read the small blind bet (assuming he is a typical player) as most likely being a bet to a top pair or a drawing hand.

Your table image:
If your opponents have seen you make this raise to get a free card before, it is more likely that you will be re-raised by the bettor. If you are seen as a tight player, it will more likely get your opponents to call your bet.

How I Would Play this Hand

In the example above, let me share with you my thinking. Again, you are on the button in that classic, free card play situation.

I would only call the flop bet as I am concerned the small blind will re-raise me and even if he doesn't, if I check the turn when I miss, I may as well show my cards to my opponents.

I know that if I hit my flush on the turn, that third spade on the board will scare most of my opponents into folding or slowing down. If I hit my flush on the river, at best I will only get one caller. Of course, if I miss my flush on the turn and river, and no one else bets, I only put in one big bet on the flop by raising for a free card.

Instead, I prefer to call the flop bet to keep those three opponents in the hand and to see how the hand develops. This is a coordinated flop, so all my opponents have some piece or draw to call that small blind bet. Granted, I may lose more if I miss, as it will cost me one one small bet and one big bet (the flop and turn--assuming no raises on the turn). But, if I do hit my flush on the turn, I can bet and/or raise here, or if I hit my flush on the river, I will probably get a nice pay off by keeping my opponents in the hand.

My belief is that while building a pot is a good play at times (especially with the nut flush draw), a key question to ask yourself in limit poker is "Will my bet get my opponents to fold?" Here, that is not going to happen. So, if you are trying to build a pot and take less risk with a nice return, why not just let the hand play out on the turn? The pot will build itself here on its own.

What do you think?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, October 4, 2010

How to Win and Not Just Play Your Next Hand of Poker

Bingo Card SampleImage via WikipediaHow to Win and Not Just Play Your Next Hand of Poker

I really think that a lot of people who play poker, play it like bingo. I mean they are trying to match their cards with those on the flop, turn and river--as if numbers on a bingo card. If there is a match they bet, if not they fold. How absurd!

The Bingo Player

Let me give you an example of what I see at the limit hold'em poker table. A player is in the big blind. Five opponents limp, and the player in the big blind peeks at his hole cards. He finds a Jc-5h offsuit. He checks.

The flop is Js-9d-4d.


He bets out into his five opponents.

He gets two callers.

"Uh, oh."

The turn is 7h.

He bets again, hoping his two opponents will fold.

He gets one caller.

The river is a 7c.

He checks, hoping his opponent will check.

His opponent bets.

He calls.

His opponent turns over J-10, and takes the pot.

Our hero loses.

What did he do wrong on this hand?

Answer: Everything!

Poker is Not Bingo

Let's take another look at this hand, played a much better way.

In the big blind, our hero should have been asking himself questions before he even peeked at his cards. Such as:
Player A limped. What does he limp into hand with? Is he straight forward or a tricky player?
Player B, C, etc. What does it mean when these players limp?

Yes, there are a wide range of hands they can each have, but start to formulate an idea of what is going on at your table. Perhaps, the player who limps in early position may be playing fewer hands and stronger starting hands than a player in a late position.

Our hero checks his cards and sees he has junk, so he checks on the big blind.

Before the flop, he should have an idea of what he will do if he hits top pair, low pair, trips, or nothing. This "idea" is based first on the number of opponents in the pot.

For example, he should be thinking "I have 5 opponents. If I hit top pair, it wouldn't make much sense to bet out in this pot with such a weak kicker. After all, they all limped, and players will limp with hands like K-J, Q-J, 10-J."

Note: If he had two opponents, betting out would make more sense. And, if the player to act last was aggressive, he could even check raise on the flop.

In this hand, when the flop hit, our hero should have checked. Now, when one player bet and another one called, our hero should be thinking about the odds to continue assuming he will win only if he hits a second pair. And, there is no guarantee that he will win, if he does hit his three outer! After all, an opponent can already have two pair, trips or a redraw to a flush or a higher pair.

Yes, there are a lot of things to be thinking about at a poker table! It is not bingo.

Ask Yourself Questions before, during and after each hand of poker

Who your opponents are? How do they play? What are their tendencies? Moods?
How can you beat their game?
What should you do with your hand, based on your position? Your chips stack?
How many opponents are in the hand? How does this effect your decision?
What are the pot odds? Implied odds?
Should I fold, bet, raise, check-raise, etc?

Think about writing down a list of questions to ask yourself. And, go through them in your mind, each time you play a hand of poker. Be prepared. Get into a routine so you are ready to win your next hand of poker and not just play it.

The Power of Poker Tells:

I was competing in a $15-$30 limit game last night, and I spotted a potential tell on one of the top players. However, I was not 100% positive. But, I knew if I was correct, I would be able to adjust my play to take advantage of his tell.

So, this is what I did to find out.

Hand #1: He raised pre-flop in a middle position. I had K-J and called. The flop was all rags. He bet and I called. The turn was a rag. He bet and I called. The river was another rag. He bet. I spotted the tell that he was weak.

I knew I did not have the best hand, and I thought about raising. But, I wanted to be sure about my tell. I decided to call, knowing I would probably lose to an A-x hand. He turned over K-Q. I mucked. Everyone was rather surprised I called all the way without being able to beat K high.

Hand #2: This player raised again pre-flop. I had 10-7. I called. Not because I had a good hand, but I was hoping to get heads-up and use his tell to my advantage. No one else called. The flop came down. I had zip. He bet and I called. The turn did not help me either. He bet. And again, his tell said he was weak. I raised. He mucked.

Hand #3: The same situation as before. However, when I raised him on the turn with nothing, he called. Uh oh. When the river hit, I had J high. He checked and once again I bet. He folded.

Unfortunately, this player left the table a few hands later.

The one thing about poker: If you can pick up on a tell on your opponent, you can literally own them at the poker table. I can't wait till I play him again!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Poker Concept: Little Talked About, But One That Can Turn You Into a Big Winner

Galleria BorgheseImage via WikipediaA Poker Concept: Little Talked About, But One That Can Turn You Into a Big Winner

I have been playing a lot of middle limit poker and I believe that many players don't understand the concept of "Table Composition." Yet, table composition is often the the first and most important thing to recognize when you start to play in a poker session.

First, you must understand that table composition is not to be confused with one player's table image.

I would define "table composition" as the table images of all your opposition combined along with the circumstances that these players are experiencing at that session.

Table Composition

In limit hold'em you will find that the way the table composition should greatly influence your selection of starting hands. Usually in limit hold'em you will find that pre-flop the following will occur:

1. A lot of limpers.
2. A raiser and a few callers.
3. A raiser and a lot of callers.

A lot of limpers

If the table composition results in a lot of limpers in a pot, you must widen your starting hands to include drawing hands. Drawing hands are small to medium pocket pairs, and suited connectors. When it comes to suited connectors, I'd recommend playing only no-gap and one gap suited connectors. In addition, you can also play unsuited connectors in a back position for one bet--such as 6-5 offsuit.

However, you must realize that your premium hands go down in value. The reason is that A-K does not play well against 5 plus opponents. Even pocket Aces are vulnerable, and as far as pocket Jacks go--well, you better hit a set on the flop!

Overall, this is the kind of table composition you will find in low limit games and when players are playing by route, tired or stuck in a middle limit games.

A raiser and a few callers

Most middle limit games result in one player raising pre-flop with a few callers. This means that you need to play solid poker and fully understand the concepts of limit play. The premium hands go up in value, while the drawing hands go down in value.

Most flops in these games result in everyone checking to the pre-flop raiser, and the player on a draw raising the bettor on the flop. It is a case of hitting or missing, stealing, and some smart poker moves in order to be a consistent winner at middle limit hold'em.

A raiser and a lot of callers

When you sit down to a game where most everyone is playing to win a big pot with a wide range of hands, look out! This is gonna be a wild ride. The variance in these games is wide and you can walk away a big winner or a big loser.

You can expect players to be aggressive on the flop and turn with raises and check raises. The reason for this aggressive play is that it builds the pot for a draw, the player with the best hand and/or get an opponent to fold before the river. Frankly, the pots are often so big, that at times to chasing to the river is not a mistake or that big of a mistake.

The starting hands played will be similar to the game with a lot of limpers, except for a few differences.

When you have a drawing hand in an early position and the player raises under the gun, you are going to have to call and expect to get multiple callers. Hands like 7-5 suited are worth a shot, when you know you are going to be paid off if you hit your hand.

Also, you must understand that when you miss your A-K on the flop, don't just bet into 5 plus opponents. Check and hope for a free card.

And, if you raised with those pocket Aces or pocket Kings pre-flop, you must muck them when the board is coordinated and there is a lot of betting and raising on the flop. You may have an overpair but with multiple opponents and redraws you are taking the worst of it.

Again, these games are wild and it can be a very profitable or costly session to compete in. In fact, when the table composition is this aggressive and risk-adverse, you may want to move tables.


You will get much better results when you understand table composition. Often you can get a sense of how your table is playing after just a few hands.

Oh, and you should also realize, that as players change, the table composition may also change.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Interesting Hand of Poker: What would you do?

Ace of spades.Image via WikipediaAn Interesting Hand of Poker: What would you do?

I am playing in a $15-$30 live cash game of limit hold'em. It is a full table of 10 players.

In this hand, I am on the button with As-Ts.

Everyone folds to the player in the cutoff. This player is winning tonight and he has been super aggressive with many pre-flop raises.

As expected, he raises.

I already had decided that whenever he raises first in a pot in late position, I would re-raise him with a calling hand or better. My objective is to get heads-up on the flop.

I re-raise here.

The small blind is a selectively aggressive player. He has been having a losing session, though, and he may be a little on tilt after the last few pots he lost. He calls-which is a little surprising

The big blind is straight forward in his play. A little too conservative and predictable. It surprises me when he calls as well.

The Flop

The pot is $180.

The flop is Ad-7h-6h.

The player in the small blind bets out. The big blind calls. The cutoff folds.

I raise..Why? I think I am ahead, and this raise will help me to find out more on where I stand in this pot.

Well, to my surprise the small blind re-raises and the big blind caps it!

What the heck is going on here?

Would you call two bets with your hand here?

I take some time to think this over. I put the big blind on a flush draw since he didn't raise the first time the small blind bet. I put the small blind on top pair. The question is does he have me out-kicked?

Well, I take some more time to think about the small blind. If he had A-K or A-Q, he would have re-raised me pre-flop. That means that he either has A-J, A-T or worse. I doubt he flopped two pair or a set.

I make the call.

Three of us take the turn.

The pot is now $360.

The Turn

The turn is a 6c, pairing the board.

The small blind bets out and the big blind calls.

Okay, what should I do here?

What would you do?

I could raise--but I doubt I will slow down the small blind or get anyone to fold given the pot size. And, I won't necessarily get a free card either.

The pot is too big now, but I really don't want to see a river bet from my opponents. How can I get the small blind to stop from betting on the river?

I say out-loud ..."I'm either way ahead or way behind."

I figure that if the big blind misses his draw, there is no way that the small blind will bet as he has to believe that I may have A-K or A-Q now.

I call.

The pot is now $450.

The River and the Results

The river is a 2s.

My opponents check...should I bet here?

Well, given what I said on the turn, I check.

The small blind shows A-8. The big blind mucks.

I win with my A-T!

What a hand...it seems so clear now.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Poker Quiz: See if you can catch this mistake in hold'em?

Yes checkImage via WikipediaA Poker Quiz: See if you catch this mistake in hold'em?

You are playing holdem--it could be a limit, no limit ring game or a tournament--it doesn't matter.

The blinds are $50-$100, and you have $3,000.

You are in the big blind with 10c-4h.

An early position player limps. A middle position player limps. And the button calls as well. The small blind mucks.

You check, happy to see the flop for free.

The flop comes Kd-Qs-2s.

You check. The early player bets. Everyone folds to you.

You fold.

Question: Did you catch the mistake?

Answer: Folding is certainly the correct play. The mistake is that you were not thinking ahead of what you are going to do in this situation if different flops hit. At the very least, you should know what you would do if you hit a pair, two pair, or trips here--and if the board is coordinated or not.

Most players do not anticipate what will happen and plan ahead. Don't be one of those players!

Before the flop, you should be thinking about:

how many opponents
your opponents' table image
how your opponents view your playing style
how big is the pot
what action to take if you miss or hit your hand--and
how the flop type will effect your play.

I sense this mistake all of the time in poker. The player who is first to act ends up hesitating if the flop somehow connects to his hand--and then, he doesn't want to give it away, so he checks.

Think ahead. What is the situation? And, what action should you take? This is key when you are first to act on any street.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tournament Poker: Do You Know This? I Didn't!

Odds Against TomorrowImage via WikipediaTournament Poker: Do You Know This? I Didn't!

Yesterday, I was playing in the Oaks tournament and my game plan was working very well.
We were down to 20 players, the blinds were $1,000-$1,500 with $200 antes, I had $30,000 and I was in a middle position.

With pocket 7's, I raised to $4,500. A tight player smooth called, and another tight player moved all-in for $12,000.

What should I do? What would you do?

The first thing I did was to put my opponents on a range of hands. I put the first player with a middle pocket pair like 8's, 9's or 10's or A-Q, A-J. The second player, I put on QQ, KK, AA or AK.

The second thing I did was look at the odds. It was going to cost me $7,500 to call. So if I called and the first player called, I was betting $7,500 to win the blinds (2500), the antes (3000), my bet (4500), the all-in bet (12000), and the first player's bet of (12000) for a total of $32,000. Therefore, it would cost me $7500 to $32000 or about 4+ to 1.

The final thing I did was look at how many chips the first caller had left. He had $10,000 more, so I thought I would probably have to call this amount as well. This reduced my odds a lot.

I figured my odds of winning this hand was now really poor, especially given the pot odds, so I folded.

What happened...

The first caller had pocket 10's, and the all-in player had pocket Kings. I felt like I made the right play. On the flop a 10 showed up, and I felt really smart. Of course, that changed when the turn and river revealed that I would have hit a runner-runner straight..Doh!

What I did not know....

I know that in a pair versus pair situation, the bigger pair is an 80% favorite. What I didn't know are the odds in a pair versus pair versus pair situation. I checked the Cardplayer hold'em calculator for the answer using the above situation:

KK: 66%
TT: 19%
77: 15%

My odds are 5-1...a lot higher than I thought.

Given this learning, do you think I made the right decision?

I did cash in the event, and my system is now 2 for 9, with one win.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tournament Poker: My New System Update.

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5...Image via WikipediaTournament Poker: My New System Update.

I am feeling pretty good about my new poker system for no limit tournaments. I have only used this at my local card room, so I am not sure how it would work online.

I believe I have had better results than in the past because the system allow me to win bigger pots, minimize the size of my loses in a pot, and gives me a super tight image early on which I can change later in the event.

Learning from Early Stages:

In early stages, the approach requires you to be passive--very passive. You are looking to limp with even your strongest hands and hit big on the flop. You are not going to lose big or go broke with AK.

You do need a lot of discipline to play this way, especially the ability to laydown a premium hand when action is aggressive on the flop or turn.

A couple of other advantages that I have found is that you can spend more time evaluating your opponents playing style and you create a very, very tight table image.

Learning from Middle Stages and Late Stages

Here is where your tight image comes into play. The first time you raise, your opponents are going to respect that raise a lot! Even if you get called, a bet on the flop will usually scare your opponent into folding.

You do need to play solid poker, but you want to avoid calling pre-flop. This is a tough habit to get into but you can win bigger pots--or go home early. Put your opponent to the test with a re-raise with hands you usually call a pre-flop raise with.

The only exception: Consider the player, the size of the raise, and the position of the player. In these cases, it is okay to call or even fold.

The other key I take into account in these stages of the event is the size of your stack, and your opponents. If your stack is 12 times the big blind or less, just move all in if you are going to enter the pot.

If your opponents stacks are low, your steal raise is more likely to get called--so be aware.

The most difficult time of the tournament for me is when I get down below 8 times the big blind. Here, you have to take a shot to add chips. I like to play smart, which is a mistake. Let the poker gods decide your results.

My advice with low stack: Ignore your opponents play and just play your cards.

For example: I know if two players are all-in, I would fold a hand like T-8 suited. But, if I have only 4 times the big blind, I need to take a shot and just hope for the best.

Last night, I finally had a good hand, J-Q suited. The first player called and the next player raised. I only had about 4 times the big blind, and I knew I was going to have the worst hand pre-flop, so I folded. It was a mistake.

I should have just ignored the action, and hoped for the best.

Yes, my advice, in this stage--when your stack is low--is to only play your cards by asking yourself, "My stack is so low, I need to take a stand with any two cards. Is this the best hand I am going to get?" If the answer is maybe, go for it.

I hope this learning helps. I am only 1 for 8, but in two events I made the wrong play near the end which would have allowed me a decent shot at winning.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Suggestion for a New Tournament Poker Rule

DSC_8714Image by aboutmattlaw via FlickrSuggestion for a New Tournament Poker Rule

The Bad Beat Re-entry Rule

This rule only applies in a heads-up situation where both players have a pocket pair, and one or both player's are all-in in pre-flop so no more betting is possible. When both players have a pocket pair, if the player with the higher ranking pair loses and gets knocked out of the tournament, she/he is allowed to re-enter the event.

To re-enter the event, the player must pay the entry fee again and only receives the amount of chips a player gets when entering this event.

Note: If it is a rebuy event, and the tournament is pass the point where more rebuys are allowed, this player also is not allowed any rebuys.

Example of the rule in action:

You enter a tournament for $100 and get $2,500 in chips. It is late in the event, you have $5,000 in chips, and you get dealt pocket Kings under the gun. You raise the $50-$100 blind to $300. Everyone folds to the big blind, who moves all-in for $7,000. You call all-in.

Your opponent shows pocket Jacks. You have pocket Kings. While you are an 80% favorite to win, if you lose you will be knocked out of the tournament.

The common cards are dealt out, and a Jack hits the river. You lose the hand and you can not continue to play as you have no more chips.

With the Bad Beat Re-entry rule, you are given the option to re-enter the event. To re-enter this event, you would pay $100 and get $2,500 in chips to continue to play.

What do you think?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why You Should Not Play In Another Poker Tournament

Angry german shepard.Image via WikipediaWhy You Should Not Play In Another Poker Tournament

I believe that no limit tournament poker has changed for good and if you don't understand what is going on, you shouldn't bother to enter one ever again.

I would describe the key change as Blind Aggression. Players are willing to take on significantly more risk than ever before and make plays without (what appears as) much thought. Some examples...
  • Players who will raise and re-raise preflop with inferior holdings.
  • Players that will call a pre-flop raise with any two cards.
  • Players who make big bets or move all-in on the flop or turn even though they know they are behind.
I describe this aggression as being blind because these players will suck out to win and often declare "I knew I was behind." And, these players will often be the ones with huge chip stacks at start, middle and at the end of an event.

Why the Shift to Take on More Risk

1. More players.

With more players come a bigger disparity in skill levels. Many inexperienced players need to find a way to counter the advantage of more skilled players. The best way to beat a pro is to move all-in pre-flop. It is high risk, but one that eliminates his opponent's advantage on other streets.

2. Online poker.

While online poker allows players to experiment and quickly gain experience, the key is the ability to multi-table. A player who is in 6 events at the same time, has a goal of building a big stack in one event. This allows for blind aggression since more risk leads to more rewards/bigger stacks. With multi-tabling, you can now place your bets on more games, and if you can build that a big stack in one event, you can even afford to slow down. In tournament poker, always remember that it is better to win one event than to take home small wins in all six.

3. Poker on TV.

To make viewers at home more likely to watch poker, the program needs to be exciting. What is more than watching a bad beat (assuming you are not the player taking one)? When a poker player sees the worst hand winning often enough, it leads to thinking that a) any two cards can win b) they are a better player than the ones on TV.

There our other factors in this shift to take on significantly more risk, such as: blind levels increasing too fast, fewer starting chips, "tells" being of less value online, personally experiencing bad beats as the giver and the taker, and the desire to be noticed.

Go Big or Go Home

When it comes to tournament poker you need to realize that you must go for the win. Be bold.

"Risk is good" is the underlying principle in my tournament poker book with 101 winning moves. But, risk in my book is about knowing how to manage it. The game today has taken the level of risk to a higher level.

My advice: Be bolder than you've ever been before. Someone is giving other poker players bad beats. Why shouldn't it be you?

I recommend you try this new approach to poker, since it may open your eyes to the way the game is being played today. You may decide this style is one you want to adopt as your own.
Or, you can try my new approach.

My New Strategic Approach to Tournament Poker

I have been working on a way to counter this blind aggression. To date, I have used my strategy in five events and won one. My strategy is higher risk than before, but it still provides for a way to manage it.

While I have written about it in my previous post, let me give you a brief overview:
  1. Early Stage: You play a solid game. Understand implied odds; that is, how you can come in with suited connectors and other drawing hands to win a big pot. Slowplay premium hands. Minimize the A-K losses.
  2. Middle and Late Stages: Open up your game and be more aggressive. Look to raise or fold, preflop. You can't win by calling. If you get a top hand, even if you are almost 100% sure your opponent has you beat when he moves all-in, you have to go with it when your stack is declining and this hand may be the best you'll see.
  3. Final Table: Play tight until 4 players have been eliminated.
By the way, I know that this blind aggression in tournament poker has been part of the game for the past year or so. However, I really had not figured out a smart way to counter it. I believe my new approach may be the answer. It attempts to counter blind aggression with smart aggression. Give it a try...

Please let me know what you think.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 16, 2010

My New Poker Tournament Strategy: Adjustments

Photograph of a marble chess setImage via WikipediaMy New Poker Tournament Strategy: Adjustments

I wanted to provide an update on my new strategy to poker tournaments and make some adjustments. I've used it four times in live events and I have had one win for $2,900 (a 3-way chop).

My Tournament Strategy

Early Stages:

In early stages, preflop limp with premium hands or call one raise. If one player raises and another one calls, push all-in with a premium hand. You don't want to have more than one caller in a raised pot.

A premium hand defined: AA, KK, QQ and AK.

The advantages: 1. Winning a big pot by surprising your opponent. 2. Not losing a lot of chips with AK.

The disadvantages: 1. Losing with a premium hand 2. Needing the internal fortitude to laydown your hand when there is a lot of action and/or a coordinated flop.

Middle Stages and Late Stages

a) Play aggressive with raises and re-raise. Avoid calling. Raise and re-raise with any pair, raise in back positions first in preflop, and attack the more aggressive players. No more limping or calling.

Look to move all-in with A-K.
Look to move all-in with A-9 or better by attacking players who raise too often or when in a back position.
Look to raise with any A, K, Q J-x hand from a back position.

b) When you get a premium hand and you are low on chips, evaluate whether it may be better to limp to win more chips.

c) When you have a strong but not premium hand pre-flop, take on more risk by even calling an all-in player or two. Example: Two players are all-in and you have pocket Jacks. Since this may be the best hand you see for quite a while, and your chips are bleeding away, just call the all-in.

Final Table

Play very tight until you get a premium or strong starting hand, and/or 4 players get eliminated.

Goal: Not to finish on the bubble! Either win or go home early.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 2, 2010

Putting My New Tournament Poker Approach to the Test: #1

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, CA a...Image via Wikipedia

Putting My New Tournament Poker Approach to the Test: #1

Sunday I went to Lucky Chances for $225 buy-in $10,000 first place guarantee event. I wanted to try out my new approach to tournaments. Unlike most events, the Lucky Chances tourney is a Re-entry one" that is, if you get knocked out in the first 4 rounds, you can buy back in. It is not your traditional rebuy format.

There were over 120 players that entered. I was lucky to start out at the "final table" since it is less likely I will be moved. I was in table 1, seat 1.

Early Stages

My starting style was to be totally passive pre-flop with all my hands, even the premium starting hands. My objective was to take on more risk, to get more chips.

The first hand: I am in the small blind for $25. They give you $5,000 to start.
Everyone folds to me. I peek at my cards and almost fall off my chair. I have QQ. I call the $50 big blind.

The big blind raises me to $125. I call.

The flop is 2-4-5 with 2 spades. I check and call a $125 bet.

The turn is another 4. I check. My opponent bets.

I figure this is the time to raise. I raise his $200 bet to $600.

He re-raises me to $1,500!! Oh no! Disaster on hand one. I make a reluctant call.

The river is a J. We both check. He shows Q-4. I lose almost half my stack on the first hand.

I continue to limp, even with A-K. I keep missing. My stack is getting lower and lower.

However, right before the break, I get back to even thanks to two key hands:

I win some chips when my Q-J gets raised by the weakest player at the table and I call. The flop comes J high. I check, call. On the turn it's check, check. And on the river since my pair is still high, I bet. My opponent folds and shows A-K.

A few hands later I'm dealt the Ac-10c in back position. I limp and the weak player on the big blind calls, as does one other player. The flop is 8 high with 2 clubs. They check, I bet and only the weak player calls. The turn is another club, giving me the nut flush. I check after my opponent. The river is a rag.

I am going to bet small hoping my opponent will call, when I notice he seems eager to call any bet. I bet the pot or $1,500 and he insta-calls. He has A-K.

Middle Rounds

In the middle rounds, my approach is not to call. Raise or fold. It works quite well and I build a nice stack.

I get lucky when I raise pre-flop with A-A and an opponent makes a move all-in with K-Q suited. I double up.

I am able to move my stack up to $15,000 in chips and we are at the $300-$600 level.

Late Rounds

After the break, we are down to 4 tables. I need to build my stack since the blinds are now at $600-$1,200 with $100 ante. I still have about $15,000.

Under the gun, I am dealt K-K. I raise to $3,700. A player on the button with $20,000 pushes all-in. What do you think he has to make this move?

I call.

He shows Ad-Td. Oh my! What hand did he think he could beat with that play?

I am feeling good when the flop is 7-7-J with no diamonds.

I am feeling even better when the turn is a 2 of spades.

When the river is an Ace....well, I'm sick.


I'm not sure I can take away too much from this experience. Except for the fact that the construction near the Golden Gate Bridge is so bad, it took my almost 2 hours to make a 30 minute trip back home. I may avoid Lucky Chances, and head back to the Oaks.

One final note. If I had a hand like pocket Jacks I would simply move in that last hand. The reason is that I don't mind someone going over the top when I have Kings. When I have Jacks, if I'm going to call a move all-in, it's better to move-in first.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oh, woe is me. Last night at the $15-$30 table...

Oh, woe is me. Last night at the $15-$30 table...

Sometimes things go south at the poker table.

I get dealt pocket Jacks under the gun.

I raise. Everyone folds to the big blind who reluctantly calls.

The flop is J-10-8 rainbow.

He checks.

I bet.

He raises and I call.

On the turn is a 2. He bets. I decide to trap and I call.

On the river is a 4. He bets. I raise.

He re-raises me!

Oh no!!!!!!!

I call.

He shows 9-7 for a straight.

A few more hands are dealt and I am not a happy camper, of course. The player who beat me on that hand now leaves the table.

Another player at the table moves into that departing player's seat and posts.

A few hands later

I get dealt pocket 3's in middle position.

5 players call pre-flop. Since 3 players already called, I decided to try to hit my set by limping.

The flop is J-7-7.

Everyone checks.

The turn is a 3, giving me a full house.

The small blind bets and everyone folds to the the player that posted. He calls.

I raise, of course. I figure if either player has a 7, he will call my raise.

Only the "poster" calls.

The river is an Ace.

He checks and I bet.

He check-raises me!

Oh no!!!!!!!!!!!!

I call.

He has J-7 offsuit!

I got punished through out the night until I decided enough is enough.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Interesting Hand of Limit Poker....

Stacks of US quarters and penniesImage via Wikipedia

An Interesting Hand of Limit Poker....

I have been playing mostly limit poker at the $15-$30 tables at the Oaks. Yesterday, the traffic was so bad, I decided to forget the bridge and head north to Casino 101.

The highest level at limit hold'em at the Oaks is $4-$8 with a half-kill. After $15-$30, it was like playing for pennies.

Probably the most important thing at any limit hold'em cash game is to figure out how the table plays. That is, is it one where a lot of players enter pre-flop or not. If they do, it means you have to adjust your starting hand selection. High cards go down in value and suited cards go up in value.

For example, a hand like K-J is a loser, while K-J can be a big winner. A hand like pocket Aces is going to lose a lot more often as well, since so many players will see the flop.

The Interesting Hand

It is a half-kill hand....so the level is $6-$12. I am in the big blind for $4.

One player raises to $12 pre-flop and 6 players call. I peek at my cards and find a monster...6c and 2c. I call.

The flop is 2d-4c-7c.

I bet out, the pre-flop raiser makes it two bets, I make it three bets and he caps.
Oh, there are three other players who call all these raises. It is now 5 handed.

Turn is a 5c. I have my flush and the inside straight flush draw.

I bet out again, and the same raising war happens. The betting is capped on the turn. Believe it or not, there are 4 players in the hand to see the river.

The river is a 10h. I bet and get called in three places.

My flush wins.

If this raising happened at the $15-$30 game, I would probably have lost to a bigger or nut flush.

What did the other players have?

The pre-flop raisers had pocket Aces (neither a club). He actually thought he was going to win the hand on the river!

Another player had a set on the flop and never once raised.

Another player said he needed my 6 of clubs to make a straight flush. And he said, he had the 3 of clubs which would make my straight flush. What did he have?

It was far and away the biggest pot of the night while I was in the game.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tournament Poker: A New Strategy...

image of Khet, the strategy board gameImage via Wikipedia

Tournament Poker: A New Strategy...

After a disappointing World Series, I took some time off to consider the state of tournament poker in general. I had witnessed plays at the Series that truly surprised me since they made no real sense to me at the time.

Now I realize that tournament poker has reached a
level where the traditional smart moves in the game need
to be updated. In fact, it may be that the game has changed
so much that even the long-time Pros are not doing as well
so they are playing more in the smaller, limit based events.

The theme of my tournament poker book is "Risk is Good." Today, it may have to be revised to "Risk is Good, But More Risk is Better."

A New Strategy

In fact, I am going to test out a new strategy based on what I've seen. I am going to look at playing tournaments where I take on more risk. For example,

In early stages, surprise the opposition, by limping with premium starting hands. If you get raised, move all-in.

In middle stages, play aggressive with raises and re-raise. Avoid calling.
Examples: Raise and re-raise with any pair, raise in back positions first in preflop, and attack the more aggressive players.

Look to re-raise the raiser rather than calling a raise in middle and late stages of an event.
Look to move all-in with A-K.
Look to move all-in with A-9 or better by attacking players who raise too often or a back position.
Look to raise with any A, K, Q J-x hand from a back position.

My goal: To get to the final table with more chips or be eliminated faster.


One warning: I've discussed this strategy with a player who recently got to the final table of a no limit, World Series event. His reaction: It's a mistake. He believes that you have to play the game with skill, hope to have some luck, avoid bad luck, but to hang on and give yourself a chance to win.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sometimes Limit Poker Can Be So Limiting: Another $15-$30 Hand

A modern British LED Traffic Light (Siemens He...Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes Limit Poker Can Be So Limiting: Another $15-$30 Hand

I was playing in a $15-$30 limit hold'em game at the Oaks. Here is one of those hands that is very frustrating.

I am in the big blind. 6 players limp in pre-flop. I look down and find two black Aces.

I can raise here, which would probably be the book play. But my raise is not going to get anyone to fold. My thinking is that I want to eliminate opponents, not build the pot.

The flop is 2s-3s-9h.

The small blind bets. I raise.

Two opponents call. The small blind folds.

On the turn is the 3 hearts.

I figured that was a good card for me. Now, if anyone had two pair, trips or a set, they would raise me here.

But, I bet the turn and one opponent just called.

Before the river card, I figured my opponent had top pair or a flush draw.

What would be the worse card on the river?

That is the card that hit the board...the 9s. Making a player with a flush draw to make his hand and giving a player with top pair, a boat.

I check-called. My opponent showed the 9c-10h.

If it was no limit, I would have re-raised big pre-flop and took down a nice pot. Instead my pocket Aces and I were doomed to lose.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Limit Poker: $15-$30 Cash Game--A Very Interesting Hand

toilet wcImage via Wikipedia

Limit Poker: $15-$30 Cash Game--A Very Interesting Hand

I got knocked out of the Oaks $120 buy-in tournament today when a player beat my pocket Aces. He moved all-in on the flop with his flush draw. I called. He hit his flush on the turn. Oh well.

Since I was out early, I decided to try the $15-$30 cash limit game.

Here is the Very Interesting Hand

Everyone is playing rather loose. I get dealt 9-9 on the cut-off.

5 players call. I call since no one is going to fold for one bet. The button raises. Everyone calls.

There are 7 players in the hand.

The flop is 5s-7d-9d.

The big blind bets into the raiser and the big field. I call. The button raises. The big blind calls. I call. Everyone else folded. Three of us take the turn.

The turn is a 2c.

The big blind checks. I check. The button bets. The big blind now check-raises. I call. The button calls.

The river is a Jd, potentially giving someone a flush.

The big blind checks. I bet right away. Why? I am sure no one has a flush. My bet will make it look like I have a flush. And, if the big blind has a straight he may fold since he is an "observant" player.

The button calls. The big blind is not happy. He takes a while to make a decision. He folds.

I show the set of 9's. The button shows a set of 7's.

The big blind had the 6-8, which gave him a flopped straight. He folded since he was sure I could only be in the hand with a flush draw.

A big win for me!

For the entire session of limit cash, I ended +$800.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Trip to the WSOP: A First--Getting Knocked Out By A Player Who Folded

The VenetianImage via Wikipedia

My Trip to the WSOP: A First--Getting Knocked Out By A Player Who Folded

I just got back from my trip to the WSOP. Something happened to me that never happened to me before. It is a little embarrassing and it was potentially very costly.

Let me set this up:

I entered the $350 Deep Stack event at The Venetian. While the WSOP has added a daily, deep stack cash event it is not as good as the one at the Venetian. The Venetian events use automatic shufflers and the rounds are 40 minutes. The WSOP Deep Stack events are shuffled by hand with 30 minutes rounds. Also, I believe the Venetian events have a much better blind structure. More play, more opportunity to read the opponents.

There is one disadvantage to the Venetian events. The smoke. There are so many players that they have to add tables outside the smoke free poker room and in the smoke filled casino.

The Venetian Event

670 players and paid 64 places. First place was over $47,000.

We had played for over 12 hours and it was near 1 am. We were down to 67 players.

I was at a corner table and in seat 10. The blinds had just increased to $2,000-$4,000 with a $500 ante. There were 9 players at the table.

In early position, I was dealt pocket Aces. I had $87,000 in chips and I raised to $10,500. The players folded to the big blind. The big blind was a loose aggressive player who liked to re-raise pre-flop with a wide range of hands and to push his draws on the flop with check raises. He had over $250,000 in chips and was probably one of the chip leaders.

I was hoping he would re-raise or check raise me on the flop since I wanted the opportunity to double up. He just called.

The pot was $27,500. I had $76,500 left.

The flop was Jh-9h-8c.

Being heads-up I thought this was the kind of flop my opponent would check raise me with any draw.

I bet $25,000. I studied my opponent to see if he would make a play here.

From the corner of my eyes and to the left, I spotted a bunch of $5,000 chips splash the pot. I immediately turned to my left.

The player in seat 2 had raised me! I didn't even know he was in the hand! WTF!!!!!!!

I was annoyed.

I was annoyed with the dealer for not saying this player called pre-flop.

I was annoyed that the dealer didn't state three players were in the hand pre-flop.

And I was pissed at myself for not knowing this player was in the hand.

With pocket Aces, a coordinated flop, and against two opponents...well, there was no way I was going to bet the flop.

Now it would cost me another $40,000 to call a raise! Essentially, I was going to be all-in if I called this bet.

The big blind folded.

I was burning up. Was I pre-tilting?

My opponent could be raising here with a set, two pair, top pair, a draw or some combination. I had no idea....and I was really pissed.

I moved in.

My opponent had a set of 9's and I was knocked out by a player who I thought had folded.

It was so, so, absurd.

I did play in three side tourneys at the WSOP and lost all my coin flips. But after what happened to me at The Venetian, I decided it was time to leave Vegas.

Yes, I take full responsibility for my screw-up. And, yes, I would probably have lost 40% of my chips on that hand. But I don't play pocket Aces like a rookie--I would have checked with a coordinated board and two opponents in a raised pot.

I guess I was not the only thing that was really steamed. While driving out of Vegas in the 95 F-degree heat, my tire blew up about 4 miles from the Baker exit. Such fun.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, June 4, 2010

Introducing A New Poker Move!

Egg Cream Essentials - u-bet Original Chocolat...Image by akaalias via Flickr

Introducing A New Poker Move!

Yes, I have decided it is time for a new poker move. Obviously, it can't be really new since you can only do a limited number of moves at the poker table. But, it's new because I'm giving this poker move it's very own name.

First, some background....

When I was a boy my parents would drive us from Connecticut to visit my grandparents who lived in Brooklyn. One of the highlights of every trip was the food that was at my grandparents and never at my home. For example, there was this candy, I called it paper candy. I guess the real name is button candy. I loved that stuff.

My grandmother believed that it was important for me to drink milk. But, I hate milk. So she would have on hand, chocolate syrup. And whenever she told me to drink milk, I would get the milk and chocolate syrup out and put it on the kitchen table.

Next, I would take a long glass and fill it about three-quarters of the way to the top with the chocolate syrup and then cap the glass off with milk. I'd get a long spoon and mix it. It was great!

For some reason my Mom would never be able to find this chocolate syrup in Connecticut.

The name of this great syrup was U-Bet.

My new poker move: U-Bet

This is a very simple concept but for some reason many players don't seem to embrace it. When your opponent checks, U-Bet. You are not playing your cards, you are playing your opponents cards. Think about that great chocolate syrup when you play poker...U-Bet.

Again. When your opponent or opponents check, U-Bet.

Let me give you examples that are from the no limit $.50-$1.00 cash game last night.

Example 1:

A player raises to $3 and a second player calls. You have 6-5 suited in the big blind and make the call. There is $9.50 in the pot.

The flop is A-9-4 rainbow. You check and your opponents check.

When the turn card hits the board, U-Bet. I don't care what the card is. U-Bet since your opponents checked.

You only have to make a $5 wager to find out if you are going to win the hand. And, you don't have to be right that often to make this a profitable play.

Example 2:

A player on the button raises to $3. You have 8-7 suited in the big blind and make the call. There is $6.50 in the pot.

The flop is K-7-6 rainbow. You check. Your opponent bets $5. You call since you hit the second pair. There is $16.50 in the pot.

The turn is a 2. You check and your opponent checks.

When the river card hits the board, U-Bet. Again, I don't care what the card it. U-Bet since your opponent checked.

Other examples:

The most common example is when you have position and your opponents check the flop.

Another common example is when everyone checks the flop and now everyone checks to you on the turn. Your opponents check, U-Bet.

I hope U-Bet helps your game. If not, you can enjoy it in milk.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts On How to Win At No Limit Poker Ring Games

Free twitter barImage via Wikipedia

Thoughts On How to Win At No Limit Poker Ring Games

Sometimes Twitter is very helpful. I was reading tweets and there was one about no limit cash play. I clicked on the link and it took me to a 10-minute video of a Poker Stars 6-handed. no limit cash game.

The 6 players at the table had between $1,000 and $12,000. I believe the video was suppose to show how smart the player who was recording this video is at poker. He (our hero) was commenting at his play and his great decision-making.

I observed the play and it was evident that one of the players was betting too often to have the cards he was representing (the bluffer). The other 5 players appeared to be playing by the book.

Anyway, our hero went heads up against this bluffer three times. Each time the bluffer tried to bet enough money to get the hero off his hand. Each time the hero wasn't sure what to do. He finally called and won each time. He won almost $6,000 on those three hands!

After he won each time he talked about how he "knew" the other player had, and why he called. It was funny stuff.

It was even funnier since the reason for the decision was not so much about the bluffer's hands, but that the guy was a habitual bluffer. Play the player and not your cards. In tournament poker, you have to play your opponent to accumulate chips. You can't just sit back and wait for big hands.

I figured if this hero was an expert, I had to play in one of these 6-handed no limit cash games. I had not played in a no limit cash game in years.

Here are my thoughts after only around 10 hours of play. Please note that I am not an expert and these ideas probably are nothing new to you:

1. Don't play at a table where the money being wagered changes your decision-making.

If the amount of money being bet influences you in any way, don't play that level. For example, if your opponent makes a bet and you start thinking about the money being wagered rather than what is the right decision, don't play that level.

Put another way: If you are comfortable at the $.50-$1.00 level, and feel uneasy at the $1.00-$2.00 level, don't play at the $1-$2 level.

2. You have an opportunity to win big if you are at a table where one player is a habitual bluffer.

The guy who bluffs too much is a player who you can take advantage of since he continues to bet without the goods. The other players are much more difficult to beat big since they will be cautious. They do make big bets without big hands.

3. When you are heads-up against a bluffer identify his betting pattern and be willing to make that tough call.

Here's an example from my game:

The bluffer was to my left and he liked to re-raise pre-flop in position. He would make a continuation bet on the flop. If he was called, and he was not strong, he would check the turn. If his opponent bet the river, he would fold. If his opponent checked the river, he would bet and often times win uncontested.

At the $.50-$1.00 table, I raised to $2.50 with A-6 suited on the cut-off. The bluffer re-raised me to $8 and I called. With another player, I would usually just fold. There was $17.50 in the pot.

The flop was 9-6-2 rainbow. I checked and my opponent bet $15. I called. The pot was $47.50.

The turn was a 10. I checked and my opponent checked behind me.

The river was a Q. What should I do?

Frankly, I thought I had the best hand. If I bet out, I would know for sure. If I checked, I knew he would bet and I would win or lose a bigger pot.

I decided to gamble since well, I had something. I checked. He bet $33.

Now, the funny/sad thing is that even though the hand was going as planned, I wasn't feeling comfortable. Had I screwed up here? Frankly, it took me a some time before making my decision...sometimes you just have to go with your plan. I called and won. He had J-5.

4. For you to win big pots, these seem to be the situations:

a) You and your opponent have premium starting hands. And you have the better one.
b) Your opponent has a premium starting hand, but you called pre-flop with a drawing hand. You hit your hand, it is hidden to your opponent, and for some reason he won't get away from his hand.
c) You end up betting a good but not great hand and get called down to the river by an opponent with a slightly worse hand (those one pair, better kicker hands), and/or you have a slightly better hand and make tough calls down to the river.

5. In most cases, you are only going to be battling for small pots. You just need better cards and better smarts to win.

A key in most cases: Don't be predictable! If you get in a betting pattern change up. Just make sure you are playing against observant opponents.

I hope this helps. And, I am open to learning more from you. Oh, don't forget to follow me on Twitter at Mitchell1969.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What's Your Poker IQ?