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Survive and Thrive Tournament Strategy (Play Video Poker)
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Survive and Thrive Tournament Strategy

August 16th, 2006

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Tournament play is much different from table play in , and even the specific type and set up of the tournament will dictate what kind of a strategy a player should take. While every tournament and every table demands a different specific strategy, one of the few tournament strategies that can generally consistently works for a large series of players is the survive and thrive strategy. Survive and thrive is exactly that: you thrive in the tournament and make the money not by playing wildly and doubling up ten times, but by avoiding playing as often as possible, playing extremely conservatively, and then playing hard only when you have a strong advantage.

The true survive and thrive strategy is difficult for many players because it does require such a conservative approach that even goes beyond what a conservative table player would play. Throwing away pocket 8s or 9s pre-flop is not uncommon, but a tournament requires a different type of thinking than a normal table. At a table you can re-buy, or switch gears knowing the blinds are always the same. Large tournaments are not like this. The blinds raise to keep putting pressure on the lowest stacks and to push the tournament towards conclusion. Losing even a few minor hands early will have you feeling the squeeze of the blinds, and may force you into a situation of going all in on a hand that you really do not want to push all your chips in with.

Survive and thrive does not mean to play extremely weak, however. When you get pocket As, you should push all in. Same with pocket Ks. The reason for this strong aggression is that since you dont play many hands, you want to cash in when you do. These are hands that start you out as a 67-75% favorite. This is an incredible advantage, and it you double up once or twice, then you can sit out even more handseven throwing away pocket 10s or 9s when there are a lot of scary pre or post flop raises ahead of you, and you think someone might have you beat. Why risk money on a coin flip hand or worse, when you can wait until you are a 4 to 1 favorite?

Basically with a survive and thrive strategy, you are letting other players take the chances and knock each other out, and with each disaster you avoid, you keep crawling nearer and nearer to the paid places. Not only to the raising knock players out, but you will notice as the blinds get higher and higher players seem to go nuts right before another raise. There are many times with only $1,500 in chips in an and thirty spots out of placing I watched guys with $2,000 chips go all in, two $4,000 chips go all in, and another high stack call. Those are four players that should have outlasted mebut instead three were knocked out when they did not have to take that chance. As long as you are not knocked out, you have a chance to place.

Players get really wild and excessive as the blinds go up. If you can steal an occasional blind, do so. The advantage of survive and thrive is that if you only play hands worth going all in on, then when you go all in to steal blinds no one is going to want to call you, so you can keep yourself afloat since even blind stealing becomes safer when you use this strategy. With survive and thrive, when there is any doubt at all, fold or run. When you are sure you are ahead, make your opponent go all in to call you, because youwant all of his or her chips to keep up your conservative, yet strong, playing. This is the best strategy to consistently place in tournaments, especially in online tournaments where blinds tend to go up very quickly.

What if everyone keeps folding? That is great! If no one wants to call you, keep stealing blinds and low bets to keep yourself above those blinds, and avoid the temptation of jumping into the feeding frenzies unless you absolutely have an unbeatable hand. Play this way and success will be yours!

Posted in Pokerrooms, Poker School, Texas Hold'em Strategy | No Comments »

Value Betting | Texas Holdem

July 30th, 2006

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Value Betting | Texas Hold’em

In Hold’em one of the more misunderstood concepts is that of the . One reason for the confusion is that the definition of what it actually means to place a value bet in is often up for debate. In his book “Phil Hellmuth’s Texas Hold’em”, Phil Hellmuth defines value betting as:

“Making a bet in the belief that you’ll win money with what you hold slightly more often then you’ll lose money with it. A bet that you may well lose, but you believe the chances favor your making the bet.”

What does this mean?

A value bet has more to do with the long run then it does with the current hand. In other words, you’re holding a decent hand and there are a few other players still hanging in. Your hand while good is by no means a monster. It’s kind of the middle point between a marginal hand and a killer hand. You feel that what you’re holding will give you say a 1 in 3 chance of winning. So you place a decent sized bet that you’re confident will get called by the other players – you’re goal is to add more chips to the pot. While your winning is by no means a sure thing (1 out of 3), you know that in the long run, the additional chips you’re adding to the pot will result in bigger wins for you. You’re adding money to the pot, knowing that this additional money will make up for the two losses you’ll face every three times this hand is played.

Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Since value betting is a long run type of wager, don’t try it if you’re short stacked. In other words this is a strategy for you to use if you’re ahead.

2) New players probably shouldn’t get involved with value betting. As a new player you already have enough to think about – save value betting for a later time when you’ve accumulated more experience.

3) Value betting, like much of Texas Hold’em involves quite a bit of psychology. I wouldn’t attempt to value bet if I’ve just lost several hands. Use it when you are controlling the table.

Finally, value betting in Texas Hold’em is a more advanced technique that can add to your bankroll –in the long run. It’s not an end all poker strategy, it’s a tool that can be effective if used properly.

Posted in Texas Hold'em Strategy | 1 Comment »

Marginal starting hands in Holdem

July 29th, 2006

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Marginal starting hands in Holdem

It’s a simple fact that in Texas Hold’em any hand can be a winner. If played correctly, with the appropriate attitude and fortitude, a marginal hand –even an absolutely terrible hand, can take down a huge pot. Play like this however, is usually better left to the pros and those of seemingly infinite bankrolls. For the rest of us, there are a few guidelines we can use when dealt a middle or poor hand.

To decide how to proceed we need to first define what a marginal hand is. This can be a tricky matter as your hand is often as good as your opponents think it is, in relation to their own hand –follow that? What I mean is, if your opponent(s) are meek players, and you’ve followed a tight poker strategy and have cultivated a tight table reputation, then any bet from you will probably scare them off, if they’re not confident in their own hand. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that a marginal starting hand is a hand that can turn into something good if we hit the flop. This could be a low pair –say deuce through four, suited connectors (6h,7h) or 1 face card and a low card off suit. Any of these hands could turn into something good after the flop but are probably not the best hand pre-flop.

So how do we play it?

First we need to consider our opponents, or at least those that are still in when it’s our turn to act. If we’re playing at a table of very aggressive players and there are raises already out there, then we should probably simply fold –preflop. Aggressive players often won’t back down, thinking they can bully you out of the hand. With a “not very good” hand, we’re better off not getting into a spitting contest.

If our opponents seem to be from Missouri (the “show me” state), we’d probably want to limp in just to see the flop, then fold if we don’t hit. Players like this will often stick around with nothing –just the faint hope of hitting that one card on the river that will give them a monster hand. With a marginal hand, I’d rather not take that chance of getting into a showdown.

Next we need to consider our . If we’re in the big blind then we’re last to act pre-flop, if no one else has bet, we can simply check and see the flop. However, a bluff may also be in order here, if the remaining players tend to be on the meek side, we may be able to put in a decent sized raise (say two or three times the blind amount) and scare them off. On the other hand, if we’re first or second to act pre-flop, I’d probably recommend folding and waiting for better cards.

Finally, the fewer players there are at the table the better our odds of winning become. In a head’s up game, a low pair has a pretty good chance of being the best hand. Keep that in mind and watch how your opponent acts. I’d probably stick around and see the flop even if I had to call a marginal raise if I sensed any type of weakness in my opponent’s behavior. Obviously if I miss the flop completely and my opponent comes out betting, I’d probably fold pretty quickly.

Posted in Texas Hold'em Strategy | 1 Comment »

Folding pocket Aces pre-flop. Are you crazy? Not necessarily.

July 28th, 2006

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Andy Machin

Do you have the discipline to before the flop?

Imagine the scenario. You’re playing Texas hold’em poker in a single table sit-and-go tournament. It’s getting towards the latter stages, five players are left and you can smell an in-the-money finish. But you need to get in to the top three and stay there - while your chip stack would be nice if it was bigger. The blinds are becoming significant and you know you’ll have to make your move soon.

Out come the cards - miracles of miracles, you look down at your cards and see the magic AA looking back at you.

Now, surely this means it’s you right to win the hand. Announce “I’m all-in” and become the chip leader.

Now, under most circumstances there’s no doubt that you should either push in a tasty raise or even all-in with those big aces. Although remarkable as it may seem, there are times to fold those “pocket rockets” and not see a flop. It takes discipline to do and is all about risk versus reward.

If you’re playing single table sit and go tournaments you must finish in the first three to get a return on your entry fee. We all know that the great starting hands don’t come along too often and when they do, a lot of players become married to the hand and can’t put it down under any circumstances.

The savy player knows when to fold.

And that includes folding AA pre-flop. Here’s when to consider very carefully when to muck those aces before the flop.

Back to the scenario. Five players left, you’re in fourth place with those Aces screaming at you to push your chips in. But you have the advantage being in last position to act. Two players with bigger stacks than you throw enough chips in the pot to force you all-in if you decide to play.

And now the small stack in fifth place takes his chances and goes all-in.

The action is now on you. The urge to splash your chips in to the middle is irresistible. But before you do - this about it for a moment. As things stand, you can fold your aces now with the chance of moving in to third place and a money finish without risk.

If the player in the hand with the biggest stack wins it, he’ll take out the other two with smaller stacks and you instantly get bumped up to third place and guaranteed money without. And without risking any of your chips which you still have to fight with.

Risk = zero.

Reward = third place at least and a guaranteed prize money.

That’s when to fold anything pre-flop, not just aces. Throw anything away at any stage if it means you can move in to the money without risk.

Posted in Gambling Articles | No Comments »

How to Play Pocket Kings

July 26th, 2006

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Pocket kings are a hand that requires a lot of strategy to play correctly. The only starting hand that is more powerful is pocket aces, though some players, including some pros, are strong believers that A-K is just as good. Still, when you start off a round of Texas Hold ‘Em, there aren’t too many hands that you would rather see. Pre-flop, pocket kings are considered a dominant hand. It is correct to always raise or re-raise no matter where you are sitting at table. This is true of no-limit games, and always true of limit games.

The biggest general concern you have with pocket kings is having an ace land on the flop or during play. Should you worry about pocket aces? Generally, no, and here’s the reason. The chances of being dealt pocket kings are 1 in every 222 hands. That is the same odds that someone will receive pocket aces. They are great hands, but the chances of both being in the same round are really slim to nil. What happens if you fold your kings only to find that pocket queens or pocket jacks end up winning the pot? You won’t feel good about that decision then. The odds of your pocket kings winning against any two cards (other than pocket aces) is 70%! This means that if you play it out ten times, on average you will win against that hand seven times.

The general odds are that one of every three boards (this is all five cards—including the flop, fourth street, and the river) will have an ace appear. That ace is the bane of a existence, because several of the strongest hands someone will play you all involve an ace (A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10), as well as suited ace-something, or bad players will even play A-4 or A-5, which suddenly could be better than your kings if that board hits badly. So how do you play pocket kings? There is only one basic rule, then there are some general guidelines. Like any type of poker game, the players involved in the game and playing styles have a lot to do with how you should react.

The Rule: Pre-flop you should raise and re-raise. In a no-limit game if a short stack goes all in you should actually raise over that to discourage others from calling. Always raise and re-raise pre-flop with the kings. Your chances for winning the hand are so good that you want to put in as much as possible.

Next time, we’ll look at the guidlines for playing your pocket kings!

Posted in Pokerrooms, Poker School, Texas Hold'em Strategy | 1 Comment »

No Limit Texas Hold’em Strategy 2

July 17th, 2006

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Pre Flop Decisions – Late Tournament Play

As the tournament progresses two things start to happen; players get eliminated and the blinds go up. This is a double whammy, because with fewer players, the growing blinds come around quicker. In other words, the later it gets in the tournament, the more expensive playing tight becomes. At this point, playing the tight hold’em strategy I outlined in my last post will probably start to cost you money. We need to make a few adjustments!

In late tournament play we’ll start aggressively playing any hand that includes an Ace or King. At a full table, simply having an Ace in your hand doesn’t really mean that much (even though many loose players feel otherwise). However, when there are fewer players at the table, the odds of pairing an ace or king or even hitting a set greatly improve. Plus, fewer players at the table mean less of a chance that someone else is holding a better hand. These rules become even more pronounced in head’s up play.

Betting

Late tourney play is also a good time to consider moving all in before the flop if you’re dealt a big pocket pair (Aces or Kings). This is especially useful if you’re short stacked as it will probably scare off the other players and you’ll win the blinds. If you are called, you’ll at least get all of your money in with a strong hand. Remember, position is everything; a move like this doesn’t make sense if you’re in the big blind, but makes perfect sense if you’re on the button.

Bluffing

I do occasionally bluff, however, I almost always wait until late in the tournament. I like to establish myself as a tight player, maybe even showing a few strong hands that I don’t have to simply to let my opponents see that I went in with good cards. I also consider who I’m playing against before I bluff. There’s no sense in trying to bluff a “calling station”. Note, bluffing is an art in itself and I’ll expand more on that in a separate post.

That’s about it for pre-flop strategy when it’s late in a tournament. Next I’ll talk about what to do after the flop and beyond.

Read about a Texas Hold’em Online Poker Tournament Right Here!

Posted in Texas Hold'em Strategy | 2 Comments »

No Limit Texas Hold’em Tournament Strategy

July 14th, 2006

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Pre Flop Decisions

Let’s start out by saying the perfect Hold’em strategy simply does NOT exist. There is no magic bullet, or plan that will take you from absolute beginner to WSOP champion in 30 days or less. If you see things like this advertised somewhere —avoid them.

Ironically, one big reason why there is no perfect strategy is that there are just too many bad players out there. Bad players don’t fold when they should, they can’t be intimidated because they often simply don’t know how good or bad their hand really is. They come to play and that’s what they do —play. To the frustration of those of us who actually try to learn and improve our games, these loose cannons occasionally win. Not because of any real skill, but simply because they picked up a few lucky cards.

With that said here’s a simple strategy that I use at the start of a tournament. It is a very tight strategy of play; I’ll wind up folding most of my hands pre-flop. However, when I do play, I almost always play aggressively. So Here goes:

1) Play any pair 2,2 to A,A.

2) Play A,K (big slick) and A,Q

3) Play Ace, anything suited (Ace of Diamonds And 3 of Diamonds)

Sounds pretty simple right, well it is but there are a few other guidelines that I follow…

First, I’ll (almost) always come in for a raise when I have a high pair (9,9 or better) A,K or A,Q. The only exceptions to this are when other players keep raising. If I’m holding A,A or A,K, I’ll probably stay in no matter what. However, if I’m holding 10,10 and facing a raise, re-raise situation, I’ll probably fold.

Next, Lower pairs (8,8 or lower) and A, anything suited. If the players before me are calling, I’ll usually come in for a raise on this hand. If there is a reasonable raise on the table, I may call just to see the flop. However, I’ll usually fold this in a raise, re-raise situation.

Bet Size: I try to be consistent with my pre-flop betting. It’s not a good practice to base the amount of your pre-flop raises on the hand you’re holding. This will obviously give your opponents too much information about how good your hand is. When I go in for a raise, it’s usually for around three times the big blind. I’ll bet this amount whether my hand is A,A or 7,7.

Table Position: If I’m in one of the blinds, I’m more likely to stick around to see a flop. If I have a bad or marginal hand, I’ll obviously check when I can, or call if I’m small blind and no one else had raised.

That’s about it. Remember this strategy assumes it’s early in the tournament and the table is full or almost full. Things change later on, when there are fewer players and the blinds are higher. Read about that in the next installment of the Texas Hold’em Pre-flop Strategy.

For an overview of an Online Texas Hold’em Tournament Click Here!

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