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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.

Posted in Pokerrooms, Gambling Articles, Poker School | No Comments »

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 »

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!

Posted in Poker School, Texas Hold'em Strategy | 11 Comments »



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