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Online Texas Hold’em – Cash Games verses Tournaments (Play Video Poker)
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Online Texas Hold’em – Cash Games verses Tournaments

August 22nd, 2006

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I received an email recently from a reader who was bragging that her Texas Hold’em game play has greatly improved, since she started playing in online sit & go tournaments. She went on to say that not only does she feel like she is a better player, she enjoys playing a lot more now that she’s gotten over her initial fear of sitting in at a poker tourney. This is not uncommon and there are a couple of logical reasons why.

First, when you’re playing in a cash game, it’s possible to lose your entire bankroll on a single hand. When this happens, you’ll have to make an additional deposit before you can play again. In tournament play, your entry fee buys you a certain number of chips (1,500 is a typical amount), if you go all in and lose, you’ve simply lost your entry fee and you most likely will still have some money left in your bankroll. Also, in most tourney’s multiple players will finish “in the money”. For example, in a typical single table sit & go tourney, the top three finishers will earn something. Meaning, if you make it through to the final three, you’ll win back your entry fee plus a little something extra.

Next, when you’re playing in a cash game; players tend to come and go. It’s frustrating to just start getting a read on a particular player then have them simply up and leave the table. Further, a new player is usually pretty quick to hop in and take their place. Now, you have to start watching this new player and hope you can get a read on their style of play before they also take off. This doesn’t happen in tournaments as players who leave prior to the end of the simply lose. Also, tournaments are closed once play has begun so there is no worry of a new player sitting in.

Finally, just as you’re trying to get a read on the other players at your table, the other players are trying to get a read on you. It takes time to cultivate the appropriate table reputation. It makes sense for your opponents to head for an easier table, if they see you dominating the table in a cash game. Once again, this is not an issue in tournament play as leaving the table means forfeiting any chance of winning.

So as you can see, if you’re a “thinking player”, it makes perfect sense that your game will improve once you try tournament play. I’d advise any newbie poker player to first study the basics of the game then learn a tight Texas Hold’em strategy, then jump in to the exciting world of tournaments.

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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 »

A Matter of Suits

August 9th, 2006

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There are so many variables to , and so many different aspects to what many people first assume is just a simple card game. Texas Hold ‘Em is one of the great games because the rules are so simple, but the game itself is complex. There are players who make a successful living because they know every mathematical equation backwards and forwards. There are players who make a living because they have no tells and play a solid game, and there are even players who make a living who are only okay with the math, but they can read every tell of every person at the table. Many times the small things, just as much or even more than the large, can make a huge difference on whether or not you are a big winner at your table.

One of the small details that can pay big is if you can locate a player’s tendencies. This sounds simple and basic, but this goes well beyond the basic tells that virtually every poker player knows by heart. Certain people have tendencies that they may or may not even know about. One of the major tendencies that is overlooked by people is how a player will play suited cards. There are a lot of “rules” on how to play suited cards. Virtually any player will play high suited cards, but the low cards are a different story. What is unusual is that there are some basic patterns that can prove profitable–if for no other reason then that they will tell you when to throw away a beaten hand before you lose much more.

One of the small details that, though not used often, can often be very valuable is a person’s preference towards suit. Who would keep two small suited cards? Which suits? Surprisingly, there are differences. For some reason, spades are the most common suit where someone will keep two low, or two middle, cards to chase the flush. It might be something psychological, but for some reason more players will take a chance on suited spades than any other hand. That means that if there are a lot of people, and the river flops three spades, unless you’re holding the ace then it is time to get out.

Other players have a preference. If you study long enough, you may be able to detect a pattern. Many times this is a conscious thing. My friend, Jeff, had several table games in a row where he seemed to hit a heart flush every single time he played them. As a result, he will always play two hearts, no matter what the cards, long enough to take a look at the flop. He will always consider chasing hearts, where if they were clubs or diamonds, we would simply throw the junk cards away.

For other players, the preference is actually subconscious. I generally play conservatively, but I like to chase flushes, so I will make a lot of cheap calls to see cards. There’s one exception. For some reason, I found I always threw away diamonds. While for many people their minds are wired to think well of spades, mine was actually wired to throw away junk diamonds, and even some mid-ranged ones. Knowing this pattern has made me realize that others can also have the same trait.

Since this is a preference that involves hitting, or running away from, a flush, though rarely used this type of information can be extremely valuable. Look for it, and when you finally use it to make a good call or a good lay down, remember that the money not lost is just as good as the money won. Every pro thinks so, and you will be grinning ear to ear the first time this keeps you from being busted by a river rat!

Posted in Gambling Articles, 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 »

A list of the winners so far in the 2006 World Series of Poker…

July 27th, 2006

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  1. $500 No-Limit Hold’em Casino Employee - Chris Gros
  2. $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em - Brandon Cantu
  3. $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em - Rafe Furst
  4. $1,500 Limit Hold’em - Kianoush Abolfathi
  5. $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Short Handed 6/Table - Russ Boyd (Dutch Boyd)
  6. $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Mark Vos
  7. $3,000 Limit Hold’em - William Chen
  8. $2,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB - Jack Zwerner
  9. $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Jeff Cabanillas
  10. $1,500 Seven Card Stud - David Williams
  11. $5,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB - Sam Farha
  12. $1,500 Limit Hold’em - Bob Chalmers
  13. $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em - Max Pescatori
  14. $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em w/ Rebuys - Allen Cunningham
  15. $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em - Mary Jones
  16. $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha - Lee Watkinson
  17. $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Jon Friedberg
  18. $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em - Eric Kesselman
  19. $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Seniors - Clare Miller
  20. $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. - David Reese (Chip Reese)
  21. $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Short Handed 6/Table - William Chen
  22. $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Jeff Madsen
  23. $3,000 Limit Hold’em - Ian Johns
  24. $3,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB - Scott Clements
  25. $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout - David Pham
  26. $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys - Eric Froehlich
  27. $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha - Rafael Perry
  28. $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em - Mats Rahmn
  29. $5,000 Seven Card Stud - Benjamin Lin
  30. $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em - John Gale
  31. $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Short Handed 6/Table - Jeff Madsen
  32. $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Justin Scott
  33. $1,500 Seven Card Razz - James Richburg
  34. $5,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em - Jason Lester
  35. $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em - Phil Hellmuth Jr.
  36. $1,000 Seven Card Stud High-Low 8/OB - Patrick Poels
  37. $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball - Daniel Alaei

This list is from 2 hole cards

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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 »

An Introduction To Poker Slang

May 31st, 2006

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If you’re new to the world of , you want to play desperately but you don’t want to look too “green” then you should probably brush up on some . You don’t have to learn how to speak a new language to look like a pro because learning just a few terms can make a few fear you at the table!

Some of the most common terms like trips, quads or ole one eye are pretty obvious pointing to three of a kind, four of a kind and the notorious one eyed jack. When you’re looking to impress some avid online poker players, brushing up on a few terms that aren’t so common will do the trick.

Let’s look at a few hands you may have and the correct terminology of portraying a big boy at the table. After all, the last thing you want to say when you see two aces in your hand is, “I have a pair” so let’s look at the terminology for pairs.

A-A= these are called “Pocket Rockets”.
K-K= these are called “Cowboys” or “Elvis Presley’s” and some times “Penn & Teller”
Q-Q= often called “The Twins”, “The Ladies”, “The Hilton’s” or “The Dirty Duo”.
J –J = sometimes Jacks are called “Jokers”, “Hooks” or “Jerky Joe’s”.

These valued cards often have some wacky names and it may seem hard to keep up with some of them but you’ll soon realize that’s not so bad compared to some others. For instance, take a look at the slang on these babies.

2-2= “Ducks” or “Deuces”
3-3= “Prom Night” or “Crabs”
6-9= “Top or Bottom”, “Delight” and “Big Lick”.

A-K= Big Slick
K-J= “KoJak”
A-J= “Apple Jacks” or “Apple Fritter”

The terminology listed above can help you but only to an extent.

To be seriously efficient in a poker game, learn a few other terms to show that you are experienced and you mean business, everyone bluff’s sometimes. These terms are usually used in context when referring to a stage of play.

What is the flop?
The flop as it’s called is actually the first stage of play involving the community cards when the first three are laid upon the table in any type of “Holdem” style of poker. There are several ways the word flop is used and if you’ve watched televised poker play, it can be confusing.

What does it mean when someone says:

“He’s seeing the flop”= generally speaking this means that “he” the player will stay in the game, stay in the pot or the ante until “he” sees the first three cards—the flop.

“He’s hitting the flop”= this is a phrase that any poker player loves to hear and it means that the flop cards which are the first three of the community laid in the center of the table are going together well with the hole cards the player is holding that were dealt face-down to “him”. The chances of putting together a winning poker hand is looking pretty good.

“The post-flop is up”= basically this describes an action such as a bet most commonly. A player has bet post flop; the player has waited after he sees the post flop cards and means that the player didn’t bet blind.

“It’s coming down to the river”= the river refers to the last hand of Holdem style poker game. The very last card laid upon the table face-up, is the river.

Learning some of these terms should get your foot in the door to a good poker game but after you’re in it’s up to you. Have fun playing poker and even more fun learning some of the new slang.

Posted in Gambling Articles | 1 Comment »



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