Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cute Dog Photo: Poker Tournaments and Dogs...What would you do?

Poker Tournaments and Dogs...

Last night I entered a poker tournament at the Oaks. It was a $100 buy-in plus an $80 rebuy event. There were some things that happened last night that I thought were interesting.

The First Table

The first table was rather strange in that there were 3 players who acted like you could win an event in the first few levels of play. These players moved all-in way too often, and called all-in when their raises were re-raised all-in.

Now, these three players are generally good poker players but they believed the key to winning was getting lucky and accumulating lots and lots of chips early, so they could apply pressure throughout the event.

It was annoying to say the least, especially since they were winning hands uncontested or sucking out. I kept thinking that they were going to be dog meat eventually. I started thinking of that famous illustration of the dogs playing poker.

I had to fold hands to one of them twice:

I had A-J, raised preflop, and he pushed all-in. I folded.

A few hands later I raised preflop with K-Q, and the pushed all-in. I folded again.

I figured that I would trap him when I got a big hand.

Sure enough, a few hands later, I was dealt pocket Kings and just called in middle position. I got raised by a player who was predictable and seated in front of these three....they folded.

When the play got back to me, I moved all-in. To my surprise, the predictable called me with A-J. Bad play on his part. I doubled up.

However, later on I was on the button and raised the predictable player. I had Q-6. He called my raise. The flop was 10-6-3. He checked raised me a small amount. I called. The Q hit on the turn. He moved all in. I called.

He turned over 10-3. Yeah, a 3 hit the river crippling my stack.

At the end of the first 4 levels, I had a low stack and those dogs had big stacks.

Post Re-buy & A Cheat?

As I predicted, those three players got hammered later on and lost all their chips.

The player who moved all-in on me twice got knocked out when he moved all-in after another player raised with KK.

They just played nuts throughout. I understand why they play this way early on. But, if it works, I think it would be wise to change. Otherwise, they are counting on being lucky throughout the event since their play is predicatable.

Anyway, I turned things around and I was able to build my stack. I won an all-in pot with KK, and another one with A-Q. In both cases, I was all-in as the favorite.

When it got down to three tables, I was moved. At my new table, there were two players to my right who I had never seen before. The player two to my right, who is Asian, didn't seem to understand English very well and/or didn't play much live poker.

While the dealer was collecting antes, the player next to me quietly asked the Asian guy for change for his $1,000 chip. I believed the Asian gave him 4 $500 chips instead of just 2 $500. But, I wasn't sure what I had just seen. I recalled Prahlad Friedman accusing a player of not anteing and I didn't want to make an issue out of something I was wrong about.

The cards were dealt out, so my attention shifted to my hand. Still I wasn't sure how or if it was my responsibility to say something.

After the hand, I asked the tournament director about it. He said he could go to the tape, if someone called it out. I didn't want to stop the game, so I let it go.

Did I do the right or wrong thing?

Down to 30 Players

I got moved to the big blind to even up the last three tables. I played a few hands with nothing happening, when we broke it down to 2 tables.

To my dismay, I was moved back into the big blind! But, it looked like I was moving into a position that should sit out one hand. Since taking the big blind was really going to hurt my stack I asked the Tournament Director. He said yes.

Then, a player moved into the seat of the small blind. So, I called over the Tournament Director again. He said yes, I am in the big blind.

Bummer. I was unhappy, until...

The player under the gun raised. Everyone folded, and I found QQ! I moved all-in and doubled up.

When it was down to 12 players, I was in the big blind with $30,000. The blinds were $2,000-$4,000.

Everyone folded to the small blind who raised me to $10,000. He had $20,000 left.

I had A-4 offsuit. Should I call or fold?

Given my table image, the way my opponent plays, and that I had folded to a similar raise to him before, I moved all-in.

He thought a long time before folding.

It was a key hand since it got me to $40,000 and a decent stack at the final table.

Final Table

I am at the final table. Last time I played, I was at the final table. Made a move with A-10 and ran into pocket Aces.

Here, I didn't get a hand.

The first 4 all-in hands were funny and sad for me. Each time the player who was all-in was also the underdog. But each time, he or she hit a 2, 3 or 4 outer to win.

I was card dead and players kept pre-flop raising before me, so I didn't have an opportunity to make a move.

I ended up in 8th place--after 6 hours of play.

Oh well....till next time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Poker, it's the Economy, I mean, it's the Seat, stupid.

Yeah, it's the Seat!

Tux on a ChairImage by fuzzcat via Flickr

Some non-deep thoughts:

Poker is a series of short term events.
The best poker players win in the long run.
There is no long run in poker because
we don't live long enough.

Why do players win in the short-term?
Often it is because they are in the right seat!

Skill Levels of Players Have Narrowed

I have played online and live poker for many years. The difference between the ability of great and good players have narrowed considerably. As have the difference between the ability of good and average players.

As the skill level between players have decreased, the luck in the game has increased.

Have you ever wondered why you did better playing poker one day to the next day? Was it the cards? Did you suddenly stop knowing how to play well? Were your opponents simply better?

Yes, it could be one or all of these things. But, it also could be your seat.

And sometimes, it really is true that certain seats run hot and cold. In the short run those hot and cold streaks will happen.

Online Poker Advice

My best advice is to enter a game online and realize that these lucky/unlucky streaks happen. If you are in cash game and your luck is good, obviously stay seated. If not, leave that seat! Don't get stubborn.

Personally, if I've been hit with two or three losses in a cash game I will move to another table. But, if I lose again at the new table--I leave the site. It's just not my time to win. When I return, I will do better. If I don't, I will review my game and/or move to a lower level. Maybe this approach will work for you.

In tournaments, you will sometimes find that there will be one player who is winning despite his play. Avoid this player! If you raise with A-K, and he re-raises you, fold. Yeah, he probably has A-Q, but it doesn't matter. His luck is running way too hot. For some reason, it appears that the site wants this guy to win, so avoid this player!

Live Poker Advice

When I play in cash games at poker clubs, I notice that those who play in the highest levels tend to move their seats more often than those who play at the lowest levels.

Why are these $15-$30 and $30-$60 players moving around so much? Usually, either because they are losing in their present seat and/or a player who has been on a rush just left his seat. In all the years I've played poker, I believe leaving my seat has been the wrong move maybe three times.

In tournaments, you can't move your seat. But if you've been getting good cards at one table, and you get moved to a new table, don't be too disappointed when the streak ends. Yes, you should welcome a table change when things are not happening for you.

Also, you won't find too many stupid plays in a live event as you do online. So even if a player is hot in a live tournament, you have to play your "A game" and not worry about his luck.

I have talked with players who believe in hot and cold seats, and others who think I am nuts. Hey, just because it works for me, doesn't mean it is right for you.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Limit Poker Question: Did I Miss A Bet on the Turn?

I'm all in!Image by ckeester via Flickr

Limit Poker Question: Did I Miss A Bet on the Turn?

I am playing at a $3-$6 limit game online. I have $60. I don't use any software to analyze the style of my opponents.

I am in an early position with 7s-6s.

The player under the gun, Mr. A calls. He is the only loose and aggressive player at the table. Well, besides me. (FYI: He bought in with $500--which usually signals to me a loose player.)
I act next and call.

The next player, Mr. B, raises. Mr. C, re-raises, and Mr. D caps the betting. It's the first time a pot has been capped pre-flop at this table. Mr. A calls the 3 extra bets. I am next and I call, as do the remaining players. There is $64.50 in the pot and five players see the flop.

The flop is Kd-4s-3s.

Interesting flop. I have a (inside) straight flush draw, but I know that my chance of winning lies with hitting my flush.

Mr. A acts first and bets. This is a strange bet to me; that is, to bet into the raisers. I call.

By the time it gets back to Mr. A the pot has been capped again. Everyone calls. There is $120.50 in the pot.

With 4 opponents and the betting capped, I am attempting to put my opponents on a range of hands. Looks like the hands could be" AA, AK, sets, flush draws, and a straight draw.

The turn is a 2s.

I like that card, as it makes my 7 high flush, until Mr. A bets again! Wow, what is he thinking?!

Would you make that bet with a set? I didn't think so. I figure he may have a flush.

Is this a good time for me to raise? If I raise, and my opponents are not brain dead, they will fold if they can't beat a flush on the river. And, if Mr. A or one of the other players has a flush, I may be re-raised. I decide to call.

To my surprise no one raises. The pot is $150.50.

I am confident no one behind me has a made flush. Although I am thinking that Mr. A has a bigger flush, another opponent has a set and of course, another opponent is holding the Ace of spades.

The river is a 3d. Uh-oh.

Mr. A checks. Now, I'm fairly certain he has a flush.

I check. Instantly, the other 3 players check! There is a chance I have the best hand?!

Mr. A's cards open and he has As-5x offsuit for a straight on the turn and the nut flush draw. My cards are revealed--the 7 high flush. The other cards get folded. I win the pot!

I don't check the hand history. I never do.

Do you think I missed a bet on the turn?

Now that I know no one had a set, who is going to call my raise? Mr A will call with his nut flush draw. And, maybe if one of the other players had a K high flush draw, he'd call. But no one has two pair.

I guess a raise by me would have added another $6-$18 to the pot. But, that is hindsight as an opponent could have re-raised me.

Oh. No way I can bet the river when the board pairs, right?

What do you think?

It was a nice win. And, yeah, I was called an idiot by the player who capped the betting.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poker Tip: A Limit Poker Move So You Can Win More Money

Flushing for a Cleaner TomorrowImage by LiminalMike via Flickr

Poker Tip: A Limit Poker Move So You Can Win More Money

I thought I would pass this move on since so many players are missing out.

You are on the cutoff with As-Ks. Everyone folds to you and you raise. I am on the button and call. The big blind also calls.

The flop is Ah-9h-8c. The big blind checks. You bet. I call and the big blind folds.

The turn is a 2h. You bet top pair, top kicker although you are worried about the possible flush against you. I call.

The river is a 7c. You bet and I raise. What are you going to do? What do I have? Did I hit an inside straight draw?

You call since the pot is giving you good odds. I turn over Kh-Jh. I hit the flush on the turn.

Let's look at what happens when most players hit their hand on the turn:

You are heads-up and in position against a lone opponent on the turn. He bets and you make your flush on the turn, so you raise. He calls. The river is a rag. He checks. You bet and he folds. You've won two bets.

But, look at what happens when you wait to raise on the river:

Same situation except you call on the turn. On the river, your opponent bets again and you raise. In most cases, your opponent will call. You've won three bets instead of just two bets by waiting to raise on the river.

Next time you hit your hand on the turn, stop and think before you make that automatic raise.

Note: This is a better move when you are heads up and in position. And, yes, a scare card may come on the river to slow you down. But, overall, it will work more often than you think.

I hope this helps.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Customer Testimonial: Phenomenal book! (4/17/10)

Customer Testimonial: Phenomenal book! (4/17/10)

Chris Reslock's World Series of Poker Circuit ...Image via Wikipedia

The following is an email I just received. This kind of feedback is great and makes all the work I've done feel appreciated. Thanks so much J.B. --Mitchell

Mitch...just wanted to thank you personally for the contents of your book & website...I wish I would have had/read your book before the recent wsop circuit events I played in (which I did OK in, but I feel I would have done much much better if I'd have read your book 1st...) I can't believe I had never heard about your book before, but then again, I'm only recommending it to the friends of mine who I don't play on a regular basis! LOL

I live & breathe poker & have accumulated an extensive library of books as well as e-books...I just downloaded your Tournament Poker for Donkeys e-book & will be studying it intensely over the next week, but a glance through the Table of Contents assured me it will be well worth the study...

It's funny, you're book only has 1 close competitor in my humble opinion & that is PTF1 by Arnold Snyder...meanwhile Harrington, Sklansky, Brunson, Cloutier, etc get all the press... I'm glad I stumbled upon your book & followed up on your website before your book does become mainstream, so I can more easily dominate the MTT world 4 awhile.

I have a friend who developed what I consider to be the BEST online Heads-up strategy in existence...His name is Sean Grady...his website is You 2 guys should do some both have the best in your own little niche & are not getting the credit you are due.

Thanks again for the awesome book.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

To Win at Poker Take Off Your Handcuffs!

What you can do to win more often at poker.

Handcuffed , TokyoImage by mskogly via Flickr

I have been playing mostly limit poker cash games and a few no limit poker tournament the past two weeks. The one thing I've learned is that my opponents seem to limit their pre-flop raises and re-raises to big premium starting hands like AA, KK, QQ, AK, AQ. If this is the way you play, my advice is take off your handcuffs!

Let me explain it this way: Raise and Re-raise preflop with a much wider range of starting hands.

1. Limit Poker:
When I am playing online poker at a nine-handed table, I find that players are tighter than at a poker club. When a late position player raises pre-flop, I will re-raise with dicey hands like K-J or J-10. What happens when I make this re-raise is that I tend to have position and the lead. On the flop, I hold my nose and I make that continuation bet. It works a lot more than you'd think.

A late position player raises with pocket Jacks. I re-raise with K-J. He calls.

The flop comes A-8-4. I bet and he calls or folds.

Let's say he calls. I don't like the call, but if he doesn't have an Ace, he will have to fold to my bet on the turn.

Let me make this clearer. You are on the cutoff and raise with pocket Jacks. I re-raise from the button. You call. The flop is A-8-4. You check. I bet and you call. The turn is a 2. I what are you going to do? Let's say the turn is a Q. I what?

Another example is when I do hit the flop; let's say it is J-4-2. My opponent calls me down with those pocket 10's. Now, any opponent paying attention is going to think I'm a poor player to re-raise with K-J or J-10.

And my table image results in my good hands getting paid off with bigger pots. The other advantage is that tend to have control of the hand, so I can even check the turn and see the river for free.

Give it a shot if you play limit cash poker online.

By the way, a lot of players like to make this re-raise with small and middle pairs. Frankly, I am not a fan of this play. I mean if you re-raise with pocket 6's and end up heads-up what are you going to do when your opponent calls your flop bet, and the flop has cards like 10-J-4. If the turn is a 9, now what? Are you really going to keep firing away hoping to hit a two-outer. A lot of players do just that.

2. Poker Tournaments:

In poker tournaments, players are not raising often enough to accumulate chips. You can't just sit there hoping to move all-in with AA against KK.

My suggestion is to widen the hands you raise with pre-flop. First, widen it a little and then keep widening the hands. Learn from these situations. Personally, I like to randomize between a 2 and 3x raise pre-flop. And, I try to find situations to steal with little risk with my raises.

In addition, just like in limit poker, widen the hands you will re-raise with pre-flop. The re-raise pre-flop will get your opponent to fold. If not, make that continuation bet on the flop and it will work more than you'd expect.

Yes, you may end up being trapped. But, that's okay, because you are going to improve your game. You will find that your ability to read your opponents will get better.

When you play aggressively like this, you will find that when you get deep in a tournament you won't worry about the bubble because you will have enough chips to have a shot at winning!

The fact is that Daniel Negreanu's small ball is all about making a lot of those small pre-flop raises. And, if you watch the new breed of poker tournament winner, you will see these guys making a lot of pre-flop re-raises.

Learn from them and try it yourself. It will improve your play and eventually, your results.
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What's Your Poker IQ?