The Poker Lab Rat

July 27, 2008

Omaha Hi/Lo Poker Tip

Filed under: General Blog Rant,Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 11:00 pm

John Cernuto professional poker player

Even though Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo is often considered to be a post-flop game, winning tournament players know that it’s important to regularly raise and three-bet their opponents before the flop, especially as the blinds and antes increase.

Why? Because applying pre-flop pressure against weaker opponents lets you create better post-flop situations and, on occasion, even lets you steal the blinds and antes with little resistance. With this in mind, the question then becomes, how often should you three bet? My answer is, as often as you possibly can without worrying about becoming short stacked.

Say you’re sitting on somewhere between 40 and 50 big blinds. This is the time when you should be accumulating chips, which means opening up your game and three betting the table in order to create heads up, post-flop situations. Your stack size is very important here because you want to make sure you can comfortably three-bet without becoming crippled if you have to give up on the hand after the flop. If you’re sitting on 35 big blinds or less, I’d recommend slowing down on the three-bet strategy unless you’re holding a monster hand like A-A-2-X.

Of course, there’s more to three betting than just throwing in an extra raise before the flop – you want to be smart about when you decide to pump up the pot. Let’s say a player in middle position puts in a raise and you’re sitting in late position with a hand like As-Qs-Jh-3d or Ad-Kc-Jh-2c. I don’t like flat calling with these kinds of hands here because I’m giving the players in the blinds better odds to follow suit and am creating a spot where four or five people could end up seeing the flop. That’s a lot of bullets to dodge.

Since these hands have a good chance of taking the high end of the pot, I think a better play in this position is to three bet in order to try and force the blinds out of the picture and to get heads up with the original raiser. (Read Perry Friedman’s tip on Omaha Hi/Lo Strategies to learn more about the importance of playing for the high end of the pot.) Once I’ve done this, I’m going to continuation bet after the flop every time, whether I connect or not. If my opponent plays back, I’m going to slow down since he’s almost certainly connected and may be well ahead. But, on the times he folds to my bet, I’m going to take down a nice sized pot.

Because of my aggressive approach in PLO Hi/Lo, I often get asked how to play back at opponents who, like me, try to three bet whenever possible. My answer is to call their extra bets pre-flop, assuming I have a playable hand, and hope to outplay them after the flop. The key is not to obsess about trying to see “cheap” flops because if you’re stealing enough blinds and antes with your own raises, you can afford to make calls that less aggressive players won’t.

Remember, even though post-flop play is arguably the most important aspect of PLO Hi/Lo, well timed pre-flop aggression can be a great way to pick up some extra chips on the way to the win.

ABOUT JOHN CERNUTO:
“Miami” John Cernuto has 3 WSOP Bracelets, over $4.4 Million in career tournament earnings and has had 45 WSOP cash finishes.

John also enjoys playing blackjack; he appeared on the 2006 Ultimate Blackjack Tour, where he made it to the final table in the Elimination Blackjack event. When he’s not playing blackjack, however, you can almost always find John at a poker table.

tickyCheck out the latest reviews and ratings of popular online poker venues here at the Gooners Guide to Gambling Poker Review Directory.  These guys also offer some interesting and up to date (! wow unusual !) player reviews of Online Casinos for a Blackjack fix too.

 

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July 26, 2008

Player beware: new poker network may just disguise dodgy dealers!

Filed under: General Blog Rant,Industry News,Poker News & Views — Kishan Neilsen @ 4:02 am

Caution urged on playing new poker networkIf it looks like a dog, barks like a dog and even has the same registration tag, then perhaps you’d best not throw it a bone!

News this week of poker scandal-specialists, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet a.k.a. Tokwiro Enterprises, “joining” to form the Cereus Poker Network was fairly predictable.

Applying a thick coat of “rebranding” to dodge a bullet is consistent with behaviours to date from this online gambling outfit. The head of Tokwiro Enterprises, a former Grand Chief of the Mohawk nation who was apparently instrumental in establishing the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, thought no further action was coming his way… and so a little rebranding would “do the trick”…. but watch this space!

Some background: In late May an independent investigation identified 18 super-user accounts involved in poker fraud at the Tokwiro Enterprises poker sites. Since then, however, posts on many poker forums allege that the cheating was in fact more widespread than reported. This apparently led to Ultimate Bet issuing a statement confirming “additional suspect accounts” and a longer timeline of cheating. A link has been claimed between the cheating incidents and Russ Hamilton, a former owner of Ultimate Bet.

Here’s an extract of what online gambling authority GamblingIntelligenceGroup.com had to say today (below) – you decide whether you’ll play online at the new Cereus Poker Network – we won’t be!

If you’re after a safe, fair online poker site with high integrity then check out these detailed poker reviews. We play-test all sites we review and members of our test team are regular players at all sites we recommend!

Good luck at the tables, and don’t feed that (poker) dog!
Kishan Neilsen

“Mired in controversy and declining player liquidity, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet have joined to form the Cereus Poker Network. The two brands, owned by Tokwiro Enterprises Inc, expect to become the third largest poker network by pooling their customers and hope to compete with the likes of the rapidly rising iPoker Network, as well as PokerStars and Full Tilt.

Paul Leggett, Chief Operations Officer of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, said the Cereus Poker Network was the culmination of more than twelve months of innovation and development. He said the two sites will pool their customers in the new network, however there are no plans at present to merge and they will continue to operate under their individual brands. “Cereus not only delivers the best online poker experience; it enables our company to improve our operations and deliver significantly better value and service to our customers” said Leggett.

“Our company’s goal is to provide poker players with the ultimate online experience. The launch of Cereus is a major step for us in achieving our goal and we look forward to making many more exciting announcements very soon”.

While the likes of PokerStars and Full Tilt who also continue to accept US players have seen rapid growth, Absolute Poker and Ultimate have seen their customer bases dwindle as a result of insider cheating scandals and their inability to advertise in the key UK market. With criticism mounting this week on Ultimate Bet and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) for their handling of the cheating scandal, and the KGC’s promise of further action to come, a further loss of player confidence is to be expected. By pooling both sites’ players onto one poker network, Tokwiro has gone some way in limiting the affect of a potential further decline in users, and GIG analysts predict that ultimately it will be the Cereus brand that survives.”

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Poker Wisdom of a Champion

Doyle BrunsonWe thought we’d share some of Doyle Brunson’s advice from his 1984 book, Poker Wisdom of a Champion.

Doyle believes that most ‘players would do well to examine themselves carefully before every game’, and given that he is regularly touted as one of the best three individuals ever to peep at pocket aces, his words might be worthy of consideration. Keeps them moving and look at

So, as most people should recognise that playing in the wrong frame of mind can be a wonderful method of shovelling cash to your opponents, let’s have a look at ‘Texas Dolly’s’ seven point checklist.

1. Have you had enough sleep? If no, don’t play.

(Bear in mind it was written in the eighties, before the online game exploded and players began a policy of bed-avoidance in July. We wonder if Gus Hansen would agree – in one forty-eight hour session, he managed to turn around a two month, million dollar deficit.)

2. Is there something else you would rather be doing? If yes, don’t play.

(An interesting one this – it seems to imply poker should feel like your number one priority. We’re not sure GA would agree.)

3. Are you feeling physically well enough to sit through a movie? If no, don’t play. When you are tired or you’d be fidgety in a theatre, you probably won’t play your best poker.

(With the amount of people multi-tabling these days, we suspect a bit of adrenaline might be necessary to keep them going and look at Phil Hellmuth – a multi WSOP bracelet winner but hardly Mr Phlegmatic.)

4. Are you so mad at someone that it is interfering with your concentration? If yes, don’t play.

(No quibbles here. It is possibly the single most important thing. Read Zen and the Art of Archery for more insight.)

5. Are drugs, alcohol, or medication interfering with your logical thinking? If yes, don’t play.

(Look at how he qualifies the point with ‘logical thinking’. He seems to have foreseen the day when people would pop ‘n crunch Adderal.)

6. Are you emotionally upset? If yes, don’t play. Fights with your wife or girlfriend are not healthy to your money clip.

(Whilst true, this point manages to combine elements of number four and casual sexism.)

7. (He says this is the most important advice) Do you feel like you’re going to win? If no, don’t play. Give credibility to your hidden feelings. Your subconscious might be analysing things you are not aware of.

(It is hard to disagree. The wording might be a little off – how can you give credibility to your hidden feelings? – but he proves that he could also have been a champion of the positive thinking movement with the final gem of the Dolly’s checklist.

At the end of the article, he offers the following as a wave-off:

‘If it looks like a good game and you survive the checklist, then sit down and do some serious winning. Otherwise, save your energy for tomorrow.’

Blimey!

usa_OKIf you’re USA-based, like “Texas Dolly”, play with top professionals and poker novices – and anything in-between – online at Bookmaker Poker or BetOnline Poker.

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July 24, 2008

Most poker players, even good ones, lose more than they should

Filed under: Doyle Brunson,Mike Caro,Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 11:07 pm

Mike Caro plays online at Doyles Room poker

Most players, even serious ones, suffer much greater poker losses than they should. One reason is that their losses are “reversed manufactured.” (Reverse manufactured just means that those losses are the necessary byproduct of trying to manufacture a winning streak).

Oh, fine, but what does “manufacture a winning streak” mean. How can you manufacture a win? It’s amazingly easy. All you have to do is refuse to settle for a loss and accept small wins whenever you need to. The only requirement is that you fight back when you’re behind, hoping to break into the plus column, then quit happy if you succeed, rejoicing in the notion that you overcame adversity, struggled to restack your chips, and are now going home to rest victorious. It will feel like a proud accomplishment to you, but it shouldn’t.

How you won

Let’s look at how it might have just happened. You’re a medium-limit player, not competing quite large enough to make a good living, but large enough to supplement your income or to barely get by without a job when required. In this way, you’re like the majority of winning poker players – somewhere between just eking out a profit and professional wage-earner status.

Anyway, today you sit down in a $10/$20 hold ’em game, supposedly hoping to make a profit by showing off your Sunday-best poker skills. Sad stuff happens right away, though. Down goes a king-high heart flush, which you flopped, when a player holding the ace of hearts and deuce of diamonds sees a fourth heart come on the river. Next you flop three jacks, but they finish third when two opponents hit straights. Then there’s that devastating hand where you got bluffed out of your birdcage by Bruno, who never, ever did that before. And it gets worse. The little medium hands that can go either North or South, all go South. Losses pile up. Misery surrounds you.

But somewhere deep, deep inside, you maintain your faith and conviction, and the spirit strikes you. You fight back. Hours pass. You grow weary. Hours pass. You fight to stay alert and wait for your luck to change. Hours pass.

It’s now 3:40 in the morning and you need to be up at 8:30. Suddenly several pots are pushed to you. Then a small setback. Then you win more pots. After a string of pots go your way, you win a really big one. Is your recovery complete? You don’t know, because you haven’t had time to count your chips.

“Deal me out one hand,” you tell the table. You need to stack these newly won chips, count them, find out where you stand. Down $135, put 10 of these $5 chips here, down $85 now, put these two $25 chips off to the side, down $35, oops, three more $5 chips under a $20 bill, exactly even, and that leaves these three $1 chips, change from the rake, so up $3! You did it! Your winning streak continues!

Time to go

“Deal me out!” you announce. “It’s getting later than I thought.”  “Don’t you wanna play till your blind?” someone asks. “You’ve got another hand coming.” You’re tempted, after all, you can just fold everything except aces – even aces if you really want to. But you just wave away the suggestion. “Nah, deal around me.” And within minutes you’re cashed out and on your way home. As you’re leaving, a friend asks you how you did tonight. Your chest puffs out proudly and you say, “I won a tiny bit. Nothing that matters, but that’s 19 winning days in a row.”

Signs of trouble, my friends. Bad signs of trouble. You’re manufacturing that win streak just so you can make yourself feel good about it. But you’re not manufacturing profit. Sure, you think you’re making profit, but really you’re putting your bankroll at risk. You have tallied a lot of wins – a couple when you got off to a fast start and kept on winning, a few short ones when you started fast, but faltered and quit before you found yourself in the negative column, some where you’d come from behind and quit when you got ahead. And, of course, tonight when you’d stuck it out and turned a major loss into a tiny win.

Speaking of tiny wins, that’s exactly the kind you’re likely to have when you strive to extend a winning streak. That’s simply because you’re willing to settle for them. You’ll quit with small wins when you’ve been winning more to keep from dropping below break even. And you’ll gladly cash out with a small win if you’ve been losing and get ahead. However, there is no such thing as a small loss. You won’t accept one. It’s either a win or a big loss. You need to keep that winning streak alive if you can, right?

The wrong time to play

But, all together, this strategy means you’re playing more hours than you should when you were losing, because you’re trying to catch up. And it means you’re playing fewer hours when you’re winning, because you’re eager to cash out and add to your win streak. By manufacturing a win streak, by forcing small wins, you’re also putting yourself in grave danger of manufacturing huge losses – you simply won’t experience them as long as your luck holds and your winning streak is extended.

You see, when you try hard as you can to dig yourself out, you risk digging yourself deeper. It’s like that popular advice, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” I think those words were tailored for poker. Beware! On the few occasions that you won’t be able to experience the glory of cashing out with that $3 profit and puffing up proudly, you’re likely to suffer painful losses and depart pitifully from the poker table, all chance of recovery now hopeless. Maybe chance of recovery tomorrow will be hopeless, too. You will have lost way more than you should have. And I’m not talking about a magic stop-loss or predetermined limit on how much you should risk in a game.

Listen closely. I’m saying something different. I’m saying you lost much more than you should because you played poker in the worst of circumstances. When you’re winning, opponents are usually intimidated by you. They’re less likely to play their best games, less likely to make daring bets and raises with winning hands and extract every penny of profit from you. This means you can make value bets that can push your profits to the limit. Opponents who are intimidated usually keep calling in frustration, but seldom raise with anything but obviously strong hands. In doing so, they neglect to take advantage of all their edges, so you rule the table, and your profit soars.

Conversely, when you’re losing, opponents are inspired. They play better against you specifically. They think, “Hey, there’s someone I can beat. There’s someone who’s unluckier than I am.” And they single you out for money extraction.

So, I don’t like to hear about long manufactured winning streaks, because I know that those invite huge manufactured losses, too. And, in the long run, long winning streaks usually mean that you’ve played most of your time under bad circumstances and limited the time you’ve played under good circumstances. And that isn’t a smooth path to poker profit.

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July 21, 2008

Professional Poker Tips: Poker is a game of choices

Filed under: Chris Ferguson,Howard Lederer,Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 11:17 pm

Poker is a game of choices. Some of these choices are fairly straight forward and simple while others take a lot of thought. The thing is that when all is said and done, there may not be just one correct path to winning a given hand; it’s all up to you to decide what road to travel.

With that in mind, we asked Team Full Tilt’s Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson to share their thoughts on one of poker’s trickiest decisions – the coin flip. Should players be willing to put everything on the line in a coin flip situation? Here are two different sides to the coin flip question:Professional Poker tips

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Says:

For the most part, coin flips are something that I tend to avoid. You never want to take on a negative EV proposition, so you can pretty easily fold a hand like A-K when you’re certain your opponent is holding a high pocket pair like Jacks or Queens. Some players are willing to take a negative EV coin flip early on in a big tournament in order to accumulate chips, but this is an incorrect decision (unless you’re trying to catch an early flight or make like Ivey to the golf course).

Of course, there are a couple of situations where pressing a coin flip can be the right move. For example, if you think your opponents are better players than you, then it might be correct to take a coin flip. When you’re outclassed in a game and are certain that you’ll be outplayed after the flop, taking a coin flip can help even the playing field.

By that same token, you should be willing to press a coin flip situation every chance you get against a player who thinks he’s better than you. Make him avoid taking the coin flip by raising and putting a lot of pressure on him to make that decision. If he really thinks of himself as the superior player, he’ll want to avoid that situation and keep folding until he gets the chance to try and outplay you after the flop. He may think he’s the better player, but if you put a lot of pressure on him, you may end up outplaying him.

Howard Says:

I think people try to avoid them too much, especially after they’ve already committed chips to the pot. If the pot has 1,000 in it and you have to put your last 500 chips in to make the call, you’re getting 2-1 on your money – yet people dodge this situation all the time. It’s just wrong; you should love to take 2-1 on a coin flip even if you only have a 48% chance of winning.

When you have a hand like A-K and you could be running into Aces or Kings, committing chips to a coin flip is obviously not something you should be looking to do. But at the same time, when you’re getting 2-1 on your money in a likely coin flip situation, I think its right to take the flip. It’s a pretty big disaster if you’re holding Jacks and don’t want to flip against something like A-K, but it turns out your opponent has pocket 9s.

The whole point of a coin flip is that yes, sometimes you have the classic A-K versus Queens race. But what about all the times you have A-K and the other player has A-Q. When you have a hand where you aren’t in a coin flip, you likely have your opponent dominated, and you should take that proposition every time.

With that said, there are obviously times when you should not be looking to take a coin flip. When you’re in a situation where you have a lot more chips than your opponent, this is a good time not to take that flip. The more of an advantage you have over the other player, the less willing you should be to take the coin flip. Avoid that situation by not committing too many chips to the pot and waiting until after the flop to outplay the competition.

As you can see, there’s no one right way to approach a coin flip situation. There are always two sides to every coin.

 

tickyThere’s lots of choice when it comes to poker networks including the iPoker Network, Microgaming Poker, Chico Poker and WPN Poker Networks. Check out the latest poker room reviews before you decide where to play your next hand of poker.

 

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July 20, 2008

Poker and Rock, Paper, Scissors

Filed under: Doyle Brunson,General Blog Rant,Mike Caro — Mike @ 2:36 am

Poker and Rock, Paper, ScissorsMike Caro’s nickname as ‘The Mad Genius of Poker’ is well chosen. Resembling a cross between Sigmund Freud and Dr Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy, if someone told you that he could travel back in time to find out why you grasp your earlobes in times of stress, you would nod your head.

Luckily for us mortals of the felt, Caro is now more famous as a leading poker ‘theorist’ and seems happier playing with statistical tables. To this end, he founded the ‘Mike Caro University of Poker, Gambling and Life Strategy’ and was one of a handful of individuals who believed online poker could be a money-spinner.

His theories, when extricated from some of the ‘Life Strategy’, are always worthy of consideration. In one of his lectures, he compares poker to the game Rock, Paper, Scissors.

For the rules of the latter game, there is no optimum strategy to win every time – rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock. If you are to have any edge over your opponent, you have to predict how he’ll play. Caro then expands the metaphor to poker and offers a practical example.

He puts three hands on the table, asks his opponent to pick one, and then he chooses the ideal one of the remaining two. (It is not a perfect comparison to Rock, Paper, Scissors as he knows his opponent’s choice before he acts.)

The hands are: 4c,4h  /  Jh,10h  /  Ac, Ks

It makes his point well – if his opponent picks the two fours, Caro opts for jack-ten and will win 53% of the time; likewise, if the sucker chooses AK, Mad Genius awards himself 44 and profits in 54% of the battles; and finally, if his hapless student fancies jack-ten, AK is snatched up and Caro takes 59%.

He then indulges his love of mumbo-jumbo and goes a bit Lion-King by suggesting that the above is an example of the ‘circle of strength’. He calls this, with a nod again to both mysticism and ego, ‘Caro’s Conception’

It states: ‘ In life, strength is sometimes circular. Therefore, the conqueror can be an underdog to an entity too weak even to defeat what has already been conquered.’

In lay-men’s terms, this means that it can be a mistake to believe there is ‘a best hand’ and the key to survival is adaptability. Therefore, and back to a Friday night’s online session, when you are staring at leagues of multi-tabling rocks, you have to work out how to become paper. It is here that some of Caro’s points stumble. He argues that rocks lose out because they are unobservant and fail to steal pots – which is true, but only to a point.

In a tournament, with increasing blinds they lose out – but in online cash games, spread across twelve tables, they have the time to wait and there are usually plenty of fish to pay them off. Their hourly rate may suffer but they rarely lose money as they are only investing in premium hands.

It is possible to beat rocks but it is a task about as pleasurable and time-consuming as papering the Grand Canyon. It is better, when possible, to leave the quarry and look elsewhere. If that is not possible, steal blinds, don’t ever call their all-in bets unless you have the nuts, stay patient and make more from the looser players.

Good luck.

Playing against rocks can make a person question their life strategy. Indeed, play for the real thing and get your party pants down to Bookmaker Poker. (Players from around the world including the USA are welcome)

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July 18, 2008

Texas Hold’em Play: OMG you have A-A!

Filed under: Doyle Brunson,Mike Caro,Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 12:16 am

In poker, two decision making concepts come into play:
1. You should usually make the decision that has the best chance of success, even if in retrospect other decisions might have been better
2. When you hold a superior hand, you want your opponents to bond to the pot

Here’s an example of common bad decision making that violates these precepts:

You’re playing Hold’em. The game is nine-handed and you’re two seats to the right of the button before the flop. Everyone else has folded. You peek at your cards and, OMG, you have A-A! In an instant flash of brilliance you decide, cleverly, just to call. You reason that this will invite opponents into the pot and set a trap.

And that might work perfectly. On rare occasions I will choose this tactic, just to confuse astute opponents and set the stage for making more money on future hands when I’ll be able to play lesser cards more safely because others will remember that I could hold a monster. But that tactic isn’t the most profitable way to play this specific hand right now.

If you have Aces in early position, you might just call, hoping others will raise and you’ll build a bigger pot with a significant advantage. But here, in your fairly late position, analysis shows that you’ll make more profit on your Aces by raising. I suggest a minimum raise or a little more. If the big blind is $100, try wagering $200 to $250. As a standard tactic, just calling is poor, because many opponents become suspicious of a big hand. They’ve been there and done that themselves. They might surmise that your call means you have either a fairly weak hand or a speculative one, such as 8c-7c. But they’ll also be alert to the possibility that you’re trapping. If you raise though, that act seems natural to your opponents who expect you to leverage your late position. Oddly the possibility that you hold a big pair will often seem less likely to them than if you just call. And you’ll be able to bet after seeing the flop with much more likelihood of being called – especially if non-threatening cards flop.

In their Heads

Opponents put you on hands. If you raise on your first two cards, they’re thinking you’re trying to buy the pot on the flop and they’re likely to call if they connect in any manner whatsoever, including just holding high overcards. But there’s an even bigger reason why making a small raise is the best tactic. You’re getting players to bond. They now feel that they have an “investment” in the pot. That’s bonding.

So, clearly in common poker situations, almost any decision might turn out to be ideal. And you should sometimes choose an unusual tactic to keep sophisticated foes off guard. But the choices that have the best chance of winning the most money most of the time are the ones you should routinely choose. Also, when you have a quality hand, you should try to bond opponents to the pot, which you crave.

In poker and in life, always consider whether making someone else bond will benefit you. Then make the decision that has the biggest shot at long-range profit, keeping in mind that it might not work as well right now as a seemingly inferior choice might. In poker and beyond, the trick is to steadfastly do what’s most likely to succeed.

Mike Caro
AcesThere’s lots of choice when it comes to poker networks including the iPoker Network, Microgaming Poker, Chico Poker and WPN Poker Networks. Check out the latest poker room reviews before you decide where to play your next hand of poker.

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July 14, 2008

Pro Poker Tip: Sealing the Win

Filed under: Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 10:26 pm

Nenad Medic wanted to be a basketball pro

If you don’t think poker is a competitive sport, chances are you’ve never made it to the late stages of a major tournament where the only thing higher than the blinds is the pressure of playing for thousands – or even millions – of dollars in prize money.

As a former basketball player, I can compare the pressure of a WSOP final table to the final minutes of a playoff game where every play is crucial and any mistake can mean the difference between walking away a champion or a runner-up. From the crowds on the rails to the lights, TV cameras and reporters running around the floor, everything around you is amplified. Let the pressure and the circus atmosphere distract you, and you can easily watch your tournament slip away.

Pros who have been in these situations before – whether they’re athletes on the court or players on the felt – understand the key to wining in this atmosphere is to maintain focus on the task at hand and to block out everything else that doesn’t matter. TV cameras? Forget ’em. Railbirds? Block them out. Bear down and play, and let the rest take care of itself.

Unlike other sports, poker has one more X factor that you have to learn to deal with – the money ladder where finishing just one spot higher can mean thousands or even hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in prize money. For players who haven’t gone deep in major tournaments, thinking about the short-term money jumps can be just as distracting as any TV camera. Succeeding at this stage takes focus on a single goal. For me, that goal is winning.

In my experience, tournaments can be divided into two distinct parts; in the money and out of the money. Before the bubble, my goal is to make the money. I want to cash and, hopefully, put myself in a position to win. After the bubble breaks, I aim to win. For me, and many other pros, the real tournament doesn’t start until after we’ve reached the money and its here where I really try to concentrate on making the smartest long-term strategic decisions I can in order to secure a win.

A hand from Event #1 of this year’s WSOP illustrates my point. We had reached four-handed play where the difference in finishing first and fourth was more than $500,000 when I got involved in a pot with Andy Bloch. I was holding pocket 7s and led out at a flop of Q-Q-3 only to have Andy make a pot-sized raise behind me. Though I don’t know what Andy was holding, I’m guessing that he may have had over-cards and, possibly, a flush draw. While my two pair of 7s and Queens may have very well been good, it would cost me my entire stack on what was essentially a coin flip in order to find out. In the end, I laid my hand down and looked for a better spot.

Why, you may ask. Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, I had a big enough stack at this point that I wasn’t committed to continuing with the hand and, while folding to Andy cost me some chips, I could still fold and sit comfortably in second chip position at the table. Secondly, and even more importantly, even if I was ahead of Andy on the flop, my read gave him 13 outs (approximately, a 40% chance) to make his hand. With my tournament life on the line if I called, I just wasn’t getting the odds to gamble.

While making the tough hero call in front of friends, family and the ESPN cameras may have been a great poker moment that earned me a few minutes of glory, I did my best to block all of that out of my mind and concentrate on the task at hand – winning the tournament. By focusing on the game plan I devised earlier, I was able to walk away from a marginal situation with only a small loss and move onto the next hand.

In the end, my decision to pass on the possible short-term gain I could have realized in this hand paid off, as I went on to defeat Andy after we reached heads-up play. I’ll take a WSOP bracelet over a few minutes of television glory any day.

ABOUT NENAD:
Born in Serbia and raised in Canada, Nenad scored his biggest victory ever in June 2008, defeating Andy Bloch in heads-up play to claim a WSOP bracelet in the $10K Pot-Limit Hold ‘em event. The victory earned him nearly $795,000. Despite his success in tournaments, Nenad considers himself a cash game player.

US players are welcome too!If you’re USA-based, play and chat with top professionals online at Bookmaker Poker or BetOnline Poker.

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July 13, 2008

Poker Fiction. Don’t Believe All Your Hear About Poker!

Filed under: Doyle Brunson,Mike Caro,pro tips — Mike @ 9:28 pm

In Mike Caro’s previous blog posting he shared a list of truths about poker. This blog covers some poker fiction (ie false statements).  It’s not a quiz, because you don’t get to answer the questions. He does.

Mike Caro poker questions

 

 

 

 

THE FALSE GROUP. Everything on this list is false.

After about 1,000 hours of play, everyone’s luck at poker is about equal, and skill alone determines who does better. (Don’t expect your luck to even out in 1,000 hours. It may not even out for your lifetime. Even if you did get precisely your fair share of flushes and full houses, you might not win your fair share of them. Additionally, there are all sorts of luck factors that influence your success, not the least of which is whether you happen to be available to play when that out-of-towner decides to unload $1 million. Your job is to do the best you can with the cards you’re dealt. A break-even player with $50,000 worth of overall bad luck for the year will lose $50,000. But if you learn skills that make you $120,000 better than break-even and you suffer $50,000 worth of misfortune, you’ll still win $70,000. That’s the secret. Your job isn’t making sure the cards are distributed fairly. Somebody else already has that job. Your job is to look at the cards you’re dealt and to make the most profitable decisions about them.)

On average, the top female poker players earn more money than the top male poker players. (Why is that false? What about question #1 in the True Group? Not a conflict. It’s the difference between what most intelligent women are capable of winning and what they actually are winning right now.)

There is more skill involved in limit hold ’em than in no-limit hold ’em. (You’re right, how could that possibly be true, although we hear the claim made quite often. In no limit, you need to make the same decisions about whether to bet or raise, but you also have to make decisions about how much to bet or raise. The only strong argument to the contrary is that in no-limit games, the all-in factor comes into play often. After someone is all-in, there are no subsequent decisions and the cards are simply dealt out with no further skill involved. This argument isn’t strong enough, however.)

On average, top professional blackjack players earn more than top professional poker players. (Not even close. Top poker pros earn a lot more.)

You can win a lot of extra profit by aggravating opponents and putting them emotionally on tilt. (Opponents may get aggravated, but they’ll usually decide that you’re just no fun to lose to. And when they decide that, they play better against you.)

Mike Caro is the greatest poker player alive, but nobody knows it. (Somebody knows it. See, it was a trick question. Speaking as a friend of Mike’s, I know he gets tired of hearing, “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.” Whenever he hears people say that, he wants to slap their clubby little faces, because he personally was doing long before he was teaching. And he’s still doing; and if they don’t shut up, and if they have any money, he might have to do it to them, too. Got it?)

Any world-class player has an advantage against a well-programmed computer poker opponent, because the computer cannot use psychology. (Maybe the computer can’t use psychology or maybe it can. But in any case, the human can’t use psychology, so – at worst – this is a push from the computer’s point of view. If both opponents are forced to ignore psychology, the battle will be resolved on a purely computational basis. If the computer is properly programmed, it won’t lose, no matter how much psychology its opponent understands.)

A predetermined stop-loss specifying the maximum amount you should lose in a game will save you money. (This is not true in any honest game where you are not incapacitated, you feel like playing, and the opponents are beatable. The more hours you play under favorable conditions, the more you’ll win. You earn an average amount per hour. Consider that your wage. More hours, more money – just like most other jobs).

AcesThere’s lots of choice when it comes to poker networks including the iPoker Network, Microgaming Poker, Chico Poker and WPN Poker Networks. Check out the latest poker room reviews before you decide where to play your next hand of poker.

 

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July 11, 2008

On Tilt: A Frequent and Massive Part of Poker’s Appeal

Filed under: General Blog Rant,Poker News & Views — Mike @ 10:45 pm

Here’s the latest poker blog from the team at bet365poker. Thought I’d share it. Check out bet365 if you’re looking for a fun, safe site to either swim with the fish or build your bankroll. No B.S poker. (More info in a detailed bet365 Poker Room Review here)

On Tilt

On TiltPutting another player ‘on tilt’ is probably the single most effective way of improving your EV at the table. By the same token, if you cannot recognise the symptoms of tilt in yourself, you will severely hinder your chances of scooping the pots.

Being ‘On Tilt’ disturbs the mental balance that is essential for sound judgements during the game and usually results in the affected individual becoming too aggressive. It is not always caused by the actions of other players but when it is, it can be particularly hard to shake.

Consider the following scenario:

You are playing in a low level NL game at Vegas. You have played steadily all night but are yet to see a profit. You are on the button, you look at your hole cards and see AA.

A drunken loudmouth, who has been winning all night, decides to push all of his chips into the middle.

You smile, call and surrender yourself to a higher power.

After he reveals his KK, you smugly turn over your little beauties.

He laughs and says, ‘Tough luck pal, this one’s mine. I can feel it in the whiskers of my beard. You’ll wish your mama had had a headache all those years ago.’

The flop makes no difference.

The turn brings a king.

The opponent cackles and orders beers all round.

He breathes beer in your face.

‘You’ll get me next time, son.’

You hope for a miracle on the river.

You get the 3 of clubs.

You are now on tilt.

How could you not be?

It is also going to last for some time and is highly likely to cost you money.

It is possible there are some players reading this and scoffing with derision. They believe they don’t tilt.

For them, we have one question:

do you ever feel pleased when you win a massive pot?

If the answer is yes, then you also go on tilt.

If you experience emotion one way, then you also experience its opposite.

Tilt can be managed, even minimised, but it is naive to think it can be eliminated.

In the example above, the best thing for you to do is to change the environment for a while. Staying in the same pressure zone will cause the metaphorical steam so beloved of animators to blow out of your ears.

Consider this:

Have you ever felt the urge to take a gift from an ex, drive to the train tracks, pump out some NWA and take baseball bats to the item?   (Thanks to a source for that one).

No?

Well, try it, it is awesome – but it is that very same destructive urge that overwhelms your senses when you are on tilt.

You want to take the guy down.

It is not about the money, it is about justice.

But poker isn’t about justice. It is about survival of the fittest.

As much as you may be the fitter player under normal circumstances, as soon as you draw a mental ‘Wanted’ poster of your opponent, you have surrendered the advantage.

Go for a walk, preferably outside and away from the casino. Eat something. Drink something non-alcoholic. Let the emotions subside.

They probably won’t dissolve but you should aim to return focused on stacks and not scalps.

Acknowledge that tilt is frequent and a massive part of poker’s appeal. It will affect everyone at the table at some stage.

All you have to do is be its cause, not its victim.

 

bet365_90x60UKNow put that into practice and play poker online. Check out bet365 Poker.

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