By Rick Braddy

Welcome to the third in my Texas Holdem Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we’ll build upon the poker tournament strategy fundamentals from last time, with some important poker betting strategy basics.

Winning at Texas Holdem poker doesn’t have to be a gamble, since it’s actually a game of skill. Of course, there will always be an element of chance, but there’s a lot more strategy and skill to poker than meets the untrained eye. When you learn to play the odds properly, it can make a huge difference in your winnings.

No limit Texas Holdem is the game of choice these days – and for good reason. The fact that anyone can decide to push a large raise or all of their chips into the pot by going “all-in” at any moment, adds an exciting dimension to the game. Unlike limit Texas Holdem, where each round of betting takes place in prescribed, fixed increments, no limit Texas Holdem is as varied as the players at the table, since everyone chooses their own betting style and approach.

When playing no limit Texas Holdem, you’re faced with some important decisions. Arguably, the most important decision you’ll make is how much to bet in a given set of circumstances; e.g., hand strength, your position at the table, total number of players, their styles, etc. There are many different betting strategies, but one of the first things to learn and pay close attention to are “pot odds” and whether you have a positive “expectation” to win.

You have a positive expectation whenever the odds favor you winning more than you’re wagering at anything greater than 1 to 1 odds. For example, when flipping a coin, there is a 50/50 chance of it coming up either heads or tails. If you flip a coin enough times, both heads and tails will come up an equal number of times.

Casino games, such as craps, blackjack, slot machines, etc. all give the player a “negative” expectation and the casino a positive expectation. If you play these types of “gambling” games long enough, you will ultimately lose, since the game’s odd structure is never in your favor – negative expectation. People who experience “hot streaks” also have losing streaks (they just usually quickly forget about the losing and don’t discuss it). When you’re making a wager, you’d always prefer to have a positive expectation. This is generally true in poker, but not necessarily always in no-limit poker. I’ll explain why.

Pot Odds are the odds the pot is giving you for making a bet. Let’s say there is $50 in the pot and it’ll take $10 more to call – you’re getting 5-to-1 pot odds to call, since if you win you’ll be paid $50 in exchange for risking only $10. For purposes of this decision, any amounts you previously placed into this pot are irrelevant, since they’re already expended and gone (if you fold).

It’s essential to understand pot odds as it relates to your hand odds, as one key factor in making your betting decisions. If the odds of you holding or drawing to the winning hand are better than the odds the pot is giving you, you should call or even sometimes raise; otherwise, you should typically fold (unless you’re going to bluff, a different story).

Continuing this example, let’s say you’re holding a pair of fives, and the board flops 9, K, 2 “rainbow” (no flush draw, different suits). With 9 players at the table, it’s certainly possible and likely that someone else holds a King or a Nine, or both, making your 5’s look pretty flimsy at this point. Your best shot to win is to draw another 5. There are two more 5’s remaining out of the 47 cards that you can’t see (in the deck or in another player’s hand).

So, the odds of pulling that next 5 on the turn or river are: 2 in 47 (2/47 = about 4%) on the Turn, plus another 2 in 46 on the River (an additional 4%), for a total of roughly 8.6%, which equates to a 1-in-11.6 chance of pulling that third 5 to make a set. Since the pot is only giving 5-to-1 odds, it’s generally time to fold. Otherwise, you’d just be “gambling” with a highly negative expectation of losing that additional $10. In no limit Texas Holdem, players will often raise the pot sufficiently to actually lower your pot odds so far that you can’t possibly justify staying in the hand – at least not statistically.

Clearly you can’t sit there in a real poker room with a calculator and run through all of these pot odds calculations while at the table! So, how does one learn poker odds well enough to apply them in real-time? Well, it starts by seeing the poker odds repeatedly, in a context that’s suitable for you to learn and eventually retain them. A poker odds calculator is a piece of add-on software that runs on your PC, monitoring your actual online play. A poker odds calculator computes the prospective hands you and your opponents are capable of drawing at any point in time. It then displays all possible hands you and the opponents could draw, teaching you what the odds of making that kind of hand would be.

This makes it easy to see what’s going on, and since a poker odds calculator displays the poker odds right there in front of you while you play, you’ll begin to learn them, making it semi-automatic, so you don’t even think about poker odds any more – you just know them. So, the first step is learning and internalizing these “hand odds”. Then, you can quickly calculate pot odds anytime you’d like.

Calculating pot odds requires you to pay close attention to the game, a key trait of good poker tournament players. Unlike playing online, where the total size of the pot is easy to determine (the online Texas Holdem poker program typically displays the pot amount right there on the screen for you), when you play in traditional offline poker tournaments, you must keep track of the pot size and chip count yourself, so you can estimate the pot odds and your best betting options.

Pot odds become especially interesting as the blinds and antes increase as the tournament progresses. Let’s say there are 10 players at your table, and the poker tournament structure has you at $25 antes with $200/$400 blinds. That’s a total of $850 that’s sitting thre in each and every pot before anyone even places their first bet! So, before you even look at your hand, you know that the minimum bet is $400, so you’ll need a good hand (with roughly 1 in 2 odds or better) in order to simply break even.

At this point, people will be angling to “steal the blinds” by placing a hefty bet, typically at least two times the big blind, or $800, in order to make the pot odds so unattractive that everyone just folds. Therefore, the first player to act often makes off with the booty, since the pot odds become even less attractive and most everyone hasn’t made a good enough hand to call. Of course, this can definitely backfire…

Let’s say the first player to bet raises to $800 in an attempt to steal the blinds, making the total pot now $1,650. Let’s say that a second player then calls with another $800, boosting this pot to $2,450. To get in on the action, you’d only need to call with $800, which means if you win the hand you’re getting a slightly better than 3 to 1 on your money. If it’s the Flop and you are one card short of making a King-high flush, then your hand odds are roughly 1-in-3. This would be “even money” if you joined in on this basis alone; however, you’re holding a King and there’s a King on the board from the Flop, so you now have a better than 1 in 3 chance of winning – a positive expectation! You place your $800 bet, so now the pot sits at $3,250.

You should generally make this bet, since it will yield a good return and you have the high pair (Kings), plus a flush draw, thereby improving your odds even further. Let’s say there was an Ace also showing, making your Kings second best pair. In this case, it time to fold because you have a less than a 1 in 3 chance of winning this hand, and if you continued throwing money at this pot, you’ll end up “pot-committed” and beaten by a pair of Aces (there’s usually at least one player in 10 hanging in there with an Ace hole card).

So, let’s say the last player to act goes “All-in” – after we’ve put our $800 in this pot. Now what? The first reaction should be – what kind of hand *could* this player actually hold? If the player is a relatively tight or solid player, chances are they’ve made a set or an Ace high flush. It’s always possible they’re bluffing, but very unlikely if they’re a good player, since there are already far too many people in this pot and it’s likely they’d get called with a real hand when bluffing.

So, what’s happened to our pot odds? Let’s say they went all-in with $5,000, pushing this pot up to $8,250. If you called with $5,000, you’re now only getting a 8.25 to 5 return, or roughly 1.65 to 1 – especially unattractive under the circumstances with highly negative expectation and so many players in this hand, further reducing your chances of winning. Therefore, everyone will likely just fold; unless they have a very strong hand plus a great draw (some outs).

There’s clearly a lot more to poker betting strategy, including position and acting first vs. last. Generally speaking, though, if you’re going to take a shot at that pot, and you’re in a position to act first, there’s a good chance everyone else will fold; however, you’d better think carefully about the pot odds the opponents will be getting after your bet is in there.

If your bet modifies the pot size such that it improves their pot odds (by limping in with just a small bet), you’re actually encouraging the opponents to hang in there with you, since they still have a good, positive (and improving) expectation level. If you bet enough, such as two to three times the size of the big blind, you’ll be reducing their pot odds enough to swing into a negative expectation, so they’ll be much more likely to fold. It’s really important to think your bet amounts through and understand the pot odds implications of your betting.

When you make such a play at the pot, it’s ideal to have some kind of hand, along with a good draw. If you find yourself short-stacked, then this may be as good as it gets. Bluffing will be covered more thoroughly in a later article, but at this point it’d be great to have at least a small pair, as well as a good straight or flush draw (since you’ll also have the potential to make a set of trips, too). In this situation, you have so many good “outs” that your small pair begins to look a lot stronger, and your hand odds acceptable enough to go on a “semi-bluff” at this pot.

So, these are the basics of Texas Holdem poker tournament betting strategy that you should know and practice (the other good players do). Knowing your basic hand odds and being capable of quickly calculating pot odds are essential to making intelligent betting decisions under fire in poker tournaments, and regular ring game and limit play for that matter. A good poker odds calculator will help you learn the hand odds, and along with practicing calculating your pot odds, you’ll be making better decisions and getting the best of it the next time you play Texas Holdem poker.

In the next article, we’ll explore a popular Texas Holdem poker tournament format – the Sit & Go poker tournament. Until then, have fun. And as always – good luck!

Rick

Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software specialize in helping people become better Texas Holdem poker players. If you’re a poker player, be sure to visit his Texas Holdem website today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem, too.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Rick_Braddy/2011

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By Rick Braddy

This is the second in the Texas Holdem Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament play and associated strategies. In the first installment, we examined a real-world tournament scenario and how to handle a particular class of difficult players – the “maniacs”, aggressive, wild players that are commonly encountered in today’s poker tournament venues.

In this article, we’ll examine the techniques that were used more closely to best these players, along with stitching a Texas Hold’em tournament poker strategy together with some good poker tournament fundamentals.

Let’s begin with some foundational elements of any winning tournament poker strategy – clearly understanding our priorities. In poker tournaments, each player’s primary objectives are:

1. Survival – first and foremost, surviving to play at the final table, and ideally to be the last surviving player (the winner!) is of paramount importance.

2. Building and Protecting that Chip Arsenal – to survive increasingly large blinds and tougher competition at the latter and final tables, a player must build up and sustain a “chip arsenal” – a substantially large stack of chips – early enough in the competition to be capable of surviving and taking various necessary, calculated risks from time to time.

This must be accomplished without risking the entire tournament and building that chip arsenal in the process. Failure to build an early chip lead is a sure ticket to being eroded away once the blinds and antes increase, chewing away at your stack until you’re cornered or dead.

3. Sustained Focus – concentrating on your game plan, attacking when the right cards and situations present themselves and converting those opportunities into “profits”, while avoiding killer momentary lapses of reason (i.e., making occasional mistakes by not paying close enough attention). Focusing like this over an extended period of time is much more difficult than it seems, requiring a constant vigil, self-awareness and self-discipline.

4. Adaptability – as the tournament progresses, it’s critical to recognize when the game dynamics change and quickly adapt to new conditions such as:

o Number of players at the table

o Style of the players

o Size of your chip stack vs. opponents’

o Odds the pot is giving you, especially as blinds and antes increase

o New players arriving that are initially unknown quantities

o New table you’ve been moved to and avoiding mistakes.

Since Texas Holdem tournament events are specifically designed to progressively eliminate players, your foremost objective must be to survive and protect your stack of chips. Taking unnecessary risks is a formula for disaster and an early trip home…someone can always get lucky against you.

Demonstrating the patience to hold back and attack at the most opportune moments, when the odds favor your success, and with a proper battle plan in mind is critical. While others are visiting and socializing, daydreaming, watching the waitresses, and otherwise taking their eyes off the ball, when you’re at a tournament table, it’s time for your focused attention on the game at hand. This kind of extended attention span becomes increasingly difficult to maintain, so rest up before playing in a tournament – do not play when tired if you can avoid it.

I also recommend against alcohol while playing, as it leads to impaired judgment and fatigue.

Here are some basic guidelines to use when playing in poker tournaments or at any table where there are many players that you don’t know well:

1. Prepare and Refine your Battle Plan – when you enter a tournament, you’re going to be fighting a “battle” for survival – against the blinds, the antes, fatigue, as well as against the other players. Would any good military commander go into battle without having first surveyed the battle field, understood the enemy and its tactics, and without having a well-conceived battle plan which takes these facts into account and ensures success? Of course not! If they did, they probably wouldn’t live to tell about it.

You shouldn’t go into a poker tournament without having completed some pre-planning for the battle ahead either. Think about your plan and several things you’ll do in each typical situation ahead of time. Refine this once you’re at the table as your battlefield unfolds before you.

2. Start out slowly. Be patient. Use the early tournament period, while the blinds are still low, to study everyone at your table, identifying the most likely prey, understanding their habits and play styles. Use this time to mentally prepare and refine your “battle plan” for transferring their chips into your stack. It’s best to formulate several strategies during your pre-tournament planning, and then refine each one as you see how the game is actually shaping up, the types of players at your table and how you’ll approach each situation.

3. Set the Stage – play a few “ugly” hands early, limping in occasionally and feeling your way around the table with the other players while the blinds are still low, playing a few hands you wouldn’t normally even consider. This prevents you from starting out with a table image as a solid or tight player; otherwise, you may not get the action you’ll need when you do get those pocket rockets (AA) and great opportunities later.

4. Know Your Own Table Image – Everyone develops a “table image”. Be aware of your own table image, and be careful to mix your game up along the way so that you can’t easily be “typed”. Once others can predict your behavior and your likely reaction to a given situation, they’ll definitely use it against you. For example, if you play mostly premium hands and fold at the first sign of trouble, other players will quickly type you as “weak” and will steal you blind, taking advantage of that knowledge by representing hands they don’t actually have so you’ll fold. If you project that image, know it, so you can trap them with a good hand – make the most of it, since that will definitely destroy your weak table image…

In the first article, I let several aggressive players push me around a little early on, then limped in and dropped out on a few draws, so they all thought I was a tight, weak player and a good target for their aggressive style of play. Letting them push me around some, while not losing much to them, conditioned these aggressive players to push me even harder when they absolutely shouldn’t have – a huge error on their part that I converted into a chip leadership position.

5. Be Careful, Protect Your Stack – You must protect your stack and survive until you get some good hands you can use, so be careful to expend that chip depot deliberately and judiciously – always with purpose. When a player raises you significantly, you must think: 1) how much of my stack can I afford to invest in this one hand, 2) can I win this hand if I play it fully, and 3) what kind of play will yield me the most chips and give me the best overall odds to win against this particular player.

6. Get a Real Hand and Extract Its Value – don’t go up against maniacs and aggressive raisers without a real hand – and definitely, do not challenge them while you’re chasing a draw! Their strength is their bravado and wild, aggressive betting style – it’s also their biggest weakness. When you do get a real hand that you believe is a winner, you must get the most value for it by extracting as many chips as possible from the other players:

o Hit aggressive players head-on, triggering their aggressive response systems, and be willing to stick it out with them, re-raising them all-in if necessary since you know you’re likely in top position, or

o Trap them with a check-raise play. You can often just let aggressive bettors take the initial lead, betting into you and thereby become pot-committed, leading them to putting many or all of their chips at risk. That’s another reason you’d better have a real hand whenever you challenge the aggressive players – they typically just will not fold or back down, and

o Bet enough to extract a significant chip “profit” from the opponents, without forcing them to fold, if you’re sure you have the winning hand.

7. Pay Attention and Focus Outwardly – watch everyone and everything that’s going on at your table. Don’t daydream, and for Pete’s sake – do not focus on your own hand! As a general rule of thumb, spend 3 times as much energy and time trying to determine what other players are holding (especially when you’re not in a hand), gauging their play and betting styles, and refining your battle plan – than you do thinking about your own hands and play. You won’t be playing that many hands if you’re a good poker player, so use this available time wisely.

8. Play the Pot Odds – most people think too much about their own hand and what they might draw next. That’s because calculating and playing the pot odds isn’t yet second nature to them. If that’s you, then you definitely need to get the poker odds ingrained into your subconscious mind, so they’re second nature and you don’t even need to think about them while you’re playing. Find yourself a good Texas Holdem poker odds calculator, practice with it, and you’ll learn the odds of drawing each type of hand and find that you don’t need to think about them.

9. Bluff for the Pot from Good Positions – as the blinds and antes increase, the size of each hand’s pot becomes substantial. Bluffing for these pots from proper positions (e.g., acting late with a big bet, acting first with a semi-bluff hand and bigger bet) is a good way to hold your own while everyone else struggles against the blinds.

10. Play the Player – the key to winning in poker is to get other players to make the wrong play, which you then profit from. To do this, knowing your opponents, understanding what kinds of hands they play, whether they’ll fold when bluffed, and knowing when it’s time to lay down your hand to simply survive and play another is crucial.

The alternative is to do what many players do – just leave most everything to chance and play the game in a random, unpredictable fashion with whatever hands you’re dealt; a.k.a. “gambling”.

They say “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”, and that “hope is not a strategy” – a couple of my favorite sayings that come to mind…have a plan, and execute it.

You must be prepared to mix up your play enough that players aren’t sure what to expect from you. It’s helpful to “shift gears” from one mode of operation to another from time to time. It’s also recommended to play the opposite from everyone at the table; e.g., if most everyone is playing tight overall, then loosen up your play and take advantage of them by overplaying some hands, going on some draws, and a few semi-bluffs. If the table becomes loose, tighten up and attack with a good hand or trap them.

Remember, aggressive players’ egos usually can’t handle being overtly raised or publicly challenged. They expect to be the preeminent raisers and dominate the game, so they’ll often re-raise or go all-in in order to leverage their aggressive position against you. Be ready! You can just about count on it. When they push you at the wrong time, sock it to ’em! You can use these types of players to build up your chip arsenal and possibly earn yourself a seat at the final table.

There aren’t any absolutes in no-limit Texas Holdem tournament strategy, which is one of the things that make it so entertaining and challenging. These are just a few good tips and techniques that will help you get started and do reasonably well against some good players and some aggressive ones.

Finally, it’s been said “if you can’t spot the sucker at your table, it’s probably you!” I love this saying, because it’s so true. If you do your pre-planning and have confidence in your game plan, along with an ability to observe the opponents and apply the proper techniques against different kinds of players, you’ll go far in Texas Holdem poker tournaments.

So, there’s your first set of Texas Holdem poker tournament strategies. I sure wish someone had condensed things down like this for me when I first started playing. It would’ve saved me years of learning it the hard way. Enjoy.

Good luck!

Rick

Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software specialize in helping people become better Texas Holdem poker players. If you’re a poker player, be sure to visit his BetterHoldem.com Texas Holdem poker website today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem, too.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Rick_Braddy/2011

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By Rick Braddy

The “Language” of Poker Bets

We humans are very perceptive creatures. We are able to communicate in many different ways with one another. By saying something, by saying nothing, by shrugging our shoulders, by winking, delaying, etc. These are all forms of communicating.

Do you realize that when you place a poker bet you are actually communicating something to the other players? Understanding what you are communicating with your betting, and understanding what the other players are communicating with their bets is one of the cornerstones of good poker play.

By mastering this form of poker communications, you will find yourself becoming a truly formidable poker player. If you ignore this betting language, you will consistently lose – it’s as simple as that.

When a player calls, it often just means they’re limping to see the next card with the hope of improving their hand. When a player checks, it typically means they’re not too happy with their current hand, and would like to see another card before making any move. Yes, they could be trapping, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

When a player bets, they’re communicating that they like their hand and they want some action, so they’re risking more chips in order to take control of the action or just take the pot. Whether this communications is “real” or not depends – upon what style of player they are: tight, solid, loose, maniac, etc. and how this player communicates.

If you’ve been paying attention (like you should be), you’ll have a pretty good idea of how “honest” this player typically communicates (bets/plays). Aggressive players who play a lot of hands and raise a lot to drive people out of pots can be generally considered “dishonest” and can’t be trusted to communicate (bet) honestly.

Tight/solid players are relatively honest, usually betting more in accordance with the true strength of their hand, making them easier to read most of the time. Learn to read these different player’s betting signals and you’ll be amazed at how much your game improves.

Decide how “honest” or “dishonest” you want your betting signals to be that the other players are reading from you. Try mixing these signals up a bit so the other players can’t quite tell what to expect from you and it’ll help by causing them to make more mistakes against you, resulting in bigger winnings.

Now, let’s have a look at an example situation. Let’s say you’re in a game with 9 people at the table, and on the button, so you’ll get to act last and have the most information to work with. Your starting hand is good, but not great, such as a 67 spades-suited connector. The action comes around and half of the players have dropped out, and several players have limped in. You go ahead and limp in as well, wanting to see the flop like everyone else. The flop comes: 4s, Jc, 9d – not exactly what you’d hoped for. The first three players check. The 4th player throws out a bet of 3 times the big blind. So, where are we?

Ignoring your hand for just a moment (since we’re talking about betting and communicating – right?), everyone except the 4th player communicated that they didn’t really like the flop, then the 4th player placed a decent bet. Is he trying to steal the pot or does he now have a pair of Jacks? Since we’ve been watching these players’ style of play all along, and we quickly realize that this is a fairly tight player, we would correctly conclude that this basically “honest”, tight player has hit that pair of Jacks.

On the other hand, if the 4th player had instead been playing loose with lots of bets and raises, stealing many pots and pushing people around quite a bit, then they can’t be trusted since they’re fundamentally “dishonest” with their betting communications patterns.

See how this works? Now, about your hand. You need to fold either way here, since the odds of you making a flush or straight aren’t good, and there’s an overpair of Jacks that’s possible and likely based upon what’s being communicated (and someone could also be trapping that checked, too).

So, what are you communicating with your bets? Are you even thinking about that? Before you fire out a bet, you need to consider what “message” you want to send the other players, and make sure your intended message gets through, in order to affect the other players’ actions and control the outcomes more often.

What are the others communicating to you with their bets? What kind of “communicator” are they? Honest or dishonest? Consistent or variable? How much do you believe what they’re telling you? Are you really listening, or just looking at your own hand too much?

So, Betting Is Communicating. Become truly fluent in this “poker language” and you’ll be amazed at how much it boosts your winnings.

Good luck!

Rick

Rick Braddy is an avid writer, Texas Holdem player and professional software developer and marketer for over 25 years. His websites and Texas Holdem poker software specialize in helping people become better Texas Holdem poker players. If you’re a poker player, be sure to visit his Texas Holdem website today and learn how you can play better Texas Holdem, too.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Rick_Braddy/2011

http://EzineArticles.com/?Texas-Holdem-Tournament-Poker-Strategy—Betting-Is-Communicating&id=44314

By Rick Braddy

Who came in 2nd place in last year’s Super Bowl?

OK, not everyone keeps track of American football…

So…who came in 2nd place in last year’s World Cup?

Can’t remember – me either. I’m lucky to remember who won! For the most part, almost nobody remembers the player who comes in 2nd place in a poker tournament, either…

Who won the 2003 World Series of Poker? Chris Moneymaker

How about the 2005 WSOP? Greg Raymer

And in 2006? Joe Hachem

Who came in 2nd place in any of those tournaments? No idea…

And you’d have to do some homework to figure that out!

In addition to the notoriety, the bulk of the tournament purse money goes into the pocket of the Champion – who comes in 1st place. The difference between 1st and 2nd place is much more than the money, too.

The Champion gets the press, gets talked about in all the blogs, the winner gets their picture on Poker Stars (at least the WSOP winner does!). The winner is who gets remembered. Nobody really cares much for who comes in 2nd place in any competitive game or sport…

Well, now it should be clear why understanding how to win at heads-up play is so important. So, let’s talk about how to do it, and how to win heads-up more consistently.

First, it helps to think about the odds. What are the odds of Player A winning a particular hand vs. Player B when playing heads-up? Answer: It’s dead even! Both of the players have the exact same odds – it’s a coin toss…until someone bets!

If you’re familiar with American football, there are two types of basic plays: running plays and passing plays… In a passing play, when the quarterback throws the ball, there are three possible outcomes:

1. Ball is “incomplete”, nobody catches it – LOSE

2. Ball is “complete”, receiver catches it – WIN

3. Ball is “intercepted”, defense takes over – LOSE

It’s similar in poker. When you are dealt a hand in poker (any hand), you have three outcomes:

1. Your hand remains “incomplete” and you fold – LOSE

2. Your hand is “beaten” in a showdown – LOSE

3. Your hand is the winning hand – WIN

4. Your hand could be beaten, until you bet/bluff – WIN (some %)

In all of these cases, you can only win chips IF YOU BET. The thing is, the odds of either of the two heads up player drawing a strong starting hand aren’t very good, so chances are excellent you both

have a loser hand at the outset.

When you are first to act and you BET, you force the other player to look at their hand and make a decision – to either call that bet with (likely) a lousy hand or just fold and save some chips.

So, in heads-up play, you should generally play much more aggressively than you would normally in regular play, realizing that both you and the other player are most likely to have crap hands.

You need to use betting as a means of controlling the action and winning as many of what would otherwise be “crap shoots” as you can.

By winning the crap shoots (where you both have crap hands), you come out on top, and take down perhaps 2/3 of the hands – the ones you can win with a great starting hand or actual hand, PLUS

the ones you win through a successful bet/bluff strategy! This often makes the difference between winning and losing heads-up.

Does that make sense? Is it helpful? (hit “Reply” and let me know what you think, and if you have some other heads-up suggestions to share)

So, here are the BASIC rules you can use when playing heads-up poker:

1. When in doubt, BET!

2. Any pocket pair or board pair, BET BIGGER!

3. Given an option to “represent” the board, BET BIGGER YET!

4. When you’re the small blind, fold occasionally to give the

other player the impression that you’re playing “honestly”

5. When in doubt, BET!

6. Whenever an opponent calls you all-in, fold UNLESS:

a. You’re holding a legitimate strong hand you can win with

– or –

b. The other player is going all-in as a strategy against

you regularly – then nail them with any pair or Ace-high

hand you get.

Generally speaking, in a normal heads-up match, you want to avoid calling all-in hands, since most players only go all-in when they have a big, winning hand.

You should go all-in anytime you believe you have a winning hand or good enough hand w/ some decent outs for improving it.

Now, you need to practice playing heads-up BEFORE you find yourself heads-up at the end of a hard-fought tourney.

You can find plenty of heads-up action at most online poker rooms – practice makes perfect, so invest some time and money and practice your heads up play. There’s no way to learn better than actually playing heads up a lot.

Trust me, your heads-up play will improve immensely if you follow the simple strategy I’ve provided above.

Here’s some excerpts from the heads-up chapter of my sit and go e-book:

“When heads-up, you should be constantly applying pressure to

the other player to make him fold. You may re-raise when you

think you’re either beaten badly or your opponent is bluffing. It’s

a bit like chess or war games, with attacks, feints, counterattacks,

and graceful retreats. This is part of the “feel” of poker that’s hard

to put into words, but hopefully you get the idea.

Avoid getting into a predictable pattern yourself, and look for

patterns that your opponent uses and take advantage of it.

Since you’re playing against a single player, now’s the time to …”

“When playing heads-up, you need to get a sense for how the

other player is operating. If they are still playing tight, then loosen

up and get aggressive with them. If they’re aggressive, then deal

with them like you would any aggressive player by …”

Playing heads-up is perhaps the most important skills one can develop

and hone as a poker tournament player, yet it’s amazing how many

people fail to really practice ahead of time.

You can practice heads-up play in a number of ways:

  • Online – most online poker rooms offer a sit and go tournament format that’s just 2 players. This is a great way to get a lot of experience playing heads-up – highly recommened.
  • Poker Software – there are a number of offline poker software tools that provide great heads-up practice capabilities

Be sure to study up and practice your heads up play. You’ll be amazed at how much it’ll increase your winnings. It’ll also give you a better chance of emerging as the champion in a poker tournament sometime soon.

Rick

Rick Braddy’s poker websites, books and software helps thousands around the world win more Texas Hold’em poker games. You can take his heads up poker skills test to measure your heads up and other poker skills, read his sit and go poker tournament e-book to get the full heads up play strategy and playbook, and watch his sit and go poker videos [http://www.SitAndGoVideo.com/] to learn how to win more sit and go poker tournaments.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Rick_Braddy/2011

http://EzineArticles.com/?Heads-Up-Poker-Tournament-Play—Winning-When-It-Matters-Most&id=590428

By Tamas Sziladi

First I will ask some important questions and throughout the article I will answer them to give you a full understanding of freeroll tournaments. Who can benefit from playing freerolls? How does your strategy differ in a freeroll tournament from a normal cash tournament?

Let’s start with the most important question: Who can benefit from playing freerolls? Freeroll tournaments are no buy-in tournaments where usually hundreds or thousands of players register for a very small price pool. Sometimes you see 2 000 people fighting for $50-$100! (About 5-6 years ago, when many players have started online poker, the freeroll possibilities were a lot better and the poker rooms provided better freeroll options for new players.)

These freerolls can give you a free chance to play poker if you are a new player and want like to get some experience. You can play these freerolls and get a feeling of what the process of the game is. You can learn how the hands are played from the beginning until the end, the importance of position; see how the blind levels change the playing style of people etc. Freerolls give you a great chance to start your poker career without depositing any money, or put another way: it is a risk free way to play poker for money. However until you fight your way to the end of freeroll tournaments, you have to play tens or hundreds of freerolls and maybe you do not have the time for that. I mean you can imagine how hard it is to be in the top 20 of 2000 people to win $5-$10. Not even mentioning that with such a small amount of money if you get a bad beat on a NL$10 table, you lose all your winnings and you can start your freeroll tournaments all over again. (This whole process can take months or even years!) This is why bankroll management is a key factor when you win. You should not throw away your freeroll winnings but consider seriously how you want like to invest it.

Now comes the most important part of the article: How does your strategy differ in a freeroll tournament from a normal cash tournament? You have to play a completely play a different strategy. As it is a free registration tournament, many players do not want to wait for premium hands and they go all-in with all kinds of hands in the first hour. This means you have to play a lot tighter strategy than in real money tournaments as the bluff factor does not work well. You should play premium hands only, and when you get them, do not try to be tricky, play them hard and fast because often someone will call your bets and pay you off with second or third pair.

You also have to think about the advantages of other players going all-in with all the time. In a $150 buy-in tournament it does not make any sense if to go all-in in the first blind level. Someone makes a call with a TsTh or JsJc type of hand and risks the elimination from the tournament. In a freeroll it will happen often that your opponents push with small pairs, unsuited aces with small kicker like Ad7s, or simply with two high cards like KsJh. Even if AQ is not my favorite hand, in a freeroll tournament I would call an all-in with it if I had the right pot odds.

It is also important to mention that freerolls are usually not deep stacked or slow blind level tournaments. If you find one where the level change and the blind structure are slower and deeper, then you can be a bit more patient and not make calls with AQ type of hands.

Even in freerolls there are time when there are not too many loose players even in freerolls and you can take advantage of your skills and start bluffing successfully. When the field is close to the money (or to the bubble), most players start playing their best poker and try to reach the price. During this period the tournament looks more like a small buy-in real money tournament than a freeroll.

This is the right time to build your stack and give yourself a chance to win the tournament. Of course do not be eager and enter every pot. Although in late positions you can try to steal some blinds and antes. Once you reach a high enough stack (after you steal 4-5 times the pot) you can even increase it even easier in the following rounds as the other players realize that you have so much money that it is not good to mess with you and they rather fold their hands. With this strategy sometimes you run into huge hands and eliminate yourself from the tournament but other times you will give yourself a chance to win the tournament with the largest price pool.

This will compensate for all your losses in other situations when you would always reach the money but with so small stack size that you would not have a real chance to give yourself the opportunity for the first place.

I do not know how many freerolls you have to play until you have enough money to play at real money tables but if you follow these guidelines you will get there eventually. I wish you a lot of patience and luck in your journey!

If you would like to see deeper analysis with the concrete numbers and chances, please visit our website and take an active part in the analyzing process.

Tamas

Learn freeroll strategy [http://www.howtolearnpoker.net/2011/05/the-best-poker-freeroll-tournament-strategy/] – learn poker with real money hand analysis so you master poker strategy not only theoretically but in practice!

For even more news let me invite you to my Twitter site at: http://twitter.com/HowToLearnPoker.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Tamas_Sziladi/839644

http://EzineArticles.com/?The-Best-Poker-Freeroll-Tournament-Strategy&id=6222763

By Pankaj Diya Gupta

In freeroll poker tournaments, players can enter without paying any entry fees and yet compete to win some handsome cash prizes or rewards. This article is a step-by-step guide for learning how to play freeroll poker tournaments.

1. First of all, find a freeroll poker tournament to play in.You can search many online poker sites on the internet which are offering the best freeroll poker tournaments. To help you find one more easily, try visiting Online-Poker-Play.com link given in the resource box of this article. It provides an updated list of all upcoming freeroll poker tournaments available at best online poker sites. You may also check other online casino or poker sites or any other gambling site to see if there are any private freeroll games available to play.

2. Check the type of poker games that is being played in the tournament. As there is no entry fee, you may consider this chance to try a new variation of poker, one that you have not mastered. It will cost you nothing if you don’t play well, but you will get some valuable experience of playing under real tournament conditions. You can also experiment a new strategy on your favorite poker games. However, if a freeroll poker tournament is the only time you are able to play for prize money, then adhere to the game that you know best.

3. Check whether the game if online or offline. Now adjust your strategy according and ensure that you are able to attend. Also, check you computer and internet connection to ensure that they are running properly.

4. Now check the amount prize money that will be awarded. A really low amount may not be worth your time, while huge cash prize is very inviting. Also consider if the prize has value besides the monetary award. Winning a free seat into a bigger poker tournament, for example, could be worth a huge cash prize if that tournament has a high buy-in.

5. Check out the number of players participating in the tournament. If there is no cap on entrants, the game could possibly last too long for you to be able to play. It may be possible however, that the entrance is limited. In this case, ensure you register before the tournament entries are closed.

Pankaj Gupta writes for Online Poker Play, an in-depth online poker guide to learn how to play poker online and providing live and upcoming Freeroll Poker Tournaments updates of world’s top 10 online poker rooms.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Pankaj_Diya_Gupta/695029

http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Play-Freeroll-Poker-Tournaments?&id=5482685

One of the most exclusive, and highest payouts of all highstakes poker tournaments, the Aria Super High Roller Bowl, is slated to begin May 28th. 55 high stakes poker players will be competing in the event that sports a buy-in of $300,000. Yes that’s three-hundred-thousand dollar buy-in per seat. To be considered, potential players have to put down a $30,000 deposit! This will be one of the year’s most lucrative poker tournaments and features the top names in poker.
The 2016 Super High Roller Bowl saw German poker player Raine Kempe pocket $5 million dollars. Fedor Holz, another German took home second place prize of $3.5 million dollars. The 2017 payouts are bigger. The first seven finishers will be in the money. Top prize is $6 million and second prize is $3.6 million. The seventh place finisher will get $600,000. The total payouts are $16,800,000. The Super High Roller Bowl runs from May 28th till June 1st.
The poker pros who are scheduled to be in this event and brief bio include:
Andrew Lichtenberger
From East Northport, Ny, Andrew Lichtenberger, 29, is an American poker player. Aka LuckyChewy, his total live poker earnings are almost $9 million dollars with his best cash at $1.7 million dollars in the 2014 World Poker Classic. His second best cash was last year in the 2016 $3000 No Limit Holdem Event 52 for $569,158. He is sponsored by Ivey Poker.

Andrew Robl
Aka good2cu is an American poker player from Michigan.Andrew Robl, 30, has gone broke several times before hitting it big. Though he focuses on cash games, he won the 2013 Aussie Millions for $1 million dollars. His total live earnings are over $4 million dollars.

Ankush Mandavia
From Georgia, Ankush Mandavia has total live earnings greater than $4 million dollars. His top cash was nearly $800,000 in the No Limit Holdem Eight Max event at the EPT XII Jan 2016.

Antonio Esfandiari
A former magician, Antonio Esfandiari, has made history in the poker world with the largest cash ever, The One Drop for Water Tournament where he took home over $18 million dollars. His total live earnings exceed $27 million dollars. He has been in several movies and involved with tv shows like “Underground Poker”, a three-part mini series on the Discovery Channel.

Benjamin Sulsky
From Brewster, Mass. Benjamin Sulsky has nearly $2 million in live earnings. His greatest cash was over $1 million at the 2015 One Drop Event 58.
Benjamin Tollerene
From Texas, Benjamin Tollerine is an up and coming player. His most recent cash and one of his largest was over $500,000 in the Poker Stars Panama Event 5 in March 2017. His total earnings are near $3 million dollars.

Bill Klein
Bill Klein is a retired businessman turned poker pro. He’s had several cashes at the Aria including the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl for nearly $350,000. His largest cash was nearly $2.5 million dollars at the 2015 One Drop for Water Tournament.
William Perkins
A renaissance man in the making, William Perkins runs the Skylar Hedge Fund Investment group. He’s produced three major motion pictures and plays poker as a past time. His career earnings are nearly $3 million dollars. He is friends with Dan Bilzerian.

Robert Baldwin
One of the older players in the tournament at 65, Robert Baldwin is a casino executive who is CEO of Mirage Resorts and overseas several Mandalay Resort Group resorts. The Bellagio has a high stakes poker room named after him called “Bobby’s Room”. He has four WSOP bracelets under his belt.

Brian Rast
He was valedictorian at his high school but later dropped out of Stanford to become a poker player. He never looked back. He’s earned three WSOP bracelets and has made several videos on playing poker. A major poker player, his total earnings are over $20 million dollars.

Bryn Kenny
Bryn Kenny is no stranger to the Aria. He regularly plays the Monthly High Stakes Tournament there that has a $25,000 buy-in. His total winnings are over $14 million dollars. He was runner up in the Aria High Roller Series in both #54 and #55 and is second on their leaderboard.

Byron Kaverman
Another poker player familiar with the Aria High Roller Events, Byron Kaverman has nearly $10 million in live cashes. He cashed at the Aria Hotel Feb 4 in their Super High Roller for over $100,000. He also had multiple cashes over a million dollars at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas in January 2017.

Cary Katz
The student loan mogul and pro poker player had an opulent Las Vegas mansion on the market some years ago. He also founded Poker Central. He often plays at The Aria Super High Roller Event and cashed most recently March 4 for $92,000. His total earnings are over $10 million dollars.

Christian Christner
A newcomer in the high stakes poker world, his total earnings are slightly over $600,000. He has most recently cashed in PokerStars Championship Panama. He hails from Germany.

Christoph Vogelsang
One of Germany’s top poker players, Vogelsang has the Big One for One Drop under his belt for a whopping cash of $4.5 million in 2014. His total other cashes round out his total cashes of nearly $7.5 million dollars.

Daniel Colman
He really has looked back since the One Drop for Water tournament in 2014 for nearly $14 million dollars, the second largest cash in poker history. He added several other 7 figure cashes to his total that summer as well. And even this year he’s added nearly $2 million dollars to his cashes for a total cash of nearly $28,000,000. At 26 years old, he’s one of the youngest players. He is also second in for the most cashes of an American player.

Dan Perper
With nearly $2 million in cashes, he’s nothing not to look at. The Illinois is an experienced poker player with many cashes under his belt including nearly $900,000 at the 2015 One Drop for Water Event.

Dan Shak
He is hedge fund manager and semi pro poker player who specializes in high stakes buy-in tournaments. He has nearly $9 million in earnings. His most recent cash was $86,400 at the Aria Super High Roller 13.

Dan Smith
One of the top 10 in the money of all time for Americans, Dan Smith is a force to reckon with. His total earnings are over $15 million dollars. This year is no exception with nearly $800,000 in cashes so far in 2017. It could be a very good year for him.

Daniel Negreanu
The Canadian has made a name for himself as the all time top of the in the money list with over $32 million dollars in poker winnings. Lately his streak has been off at the live tournaments. His most recent cash was over $250,000 at the PokerStars High Roller Event in the Bahamas.

David Einhorn
David Einhorn, a semi pro player, he is the founder of Greenlight Capital. He is a billionaire businessman. His most recent cash was $44,728 in 2014 in the No Limit Holdem Event 66. His total poker earnings are over $5 million dollars.

David Peters
Hailing from Ohio, Peters is a force to reckon with. He’s been a success almost from the start at age 21. He’s racked up over $15 million dollars in earnings. His most recent cashes was over $100,000 at the PokerStars Macau Event 28. For 2017, he’s made almost $450,000 in cashes.

Dominik Nitsche
Originally from Germany, Nitsche, who lives in Scotland, has an impressive list of cashes. In 2016, he cashed over $1 million dollars for the year. His most recent cash was $2000 in the Asian Championship of Poker.

Doug Polk
The California native has made his mark in the poker world. He specializes in heads up play. He ran a $20 deposit at PokerStars into $10,000 but still didn’t find lasting success till he decided to focus solely on poker. His most recent cash was $86,000 in the Aria High Roller 49.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has allowed an appeal to the November decision that Phil Ivey cheated the Crockford Casino out of nearly 8 million pounds playing Punto Banco, a Baccarat variant.
Many people have speculated the reason the court gave the first decision to the Crockford and other casinos that since joined in not paying Ivey is the close relation between the tax roll the casinos provide to the local governments. It would almost be impossible to break that bond. Ivey used what is called edge sorting.

Edge sorting is really paying attention to the cards and noticing the patterns. These are only on certain makers of cards. To play using edge sorting, you have to notice the patterns on the cards and have high and low cards seperated. Players can bet accordingly by noticing the differences in the high and low cards.. Call the makers of the cards in this case. Many casinos have since chosen card makers whose pattern is impossible to detect.

“Last November’s Court of Appeal ruling made no sense to me. The original trial judge ruled that I was not dishonest and none of the three Appeal Court judges disagreed, and yet the decision went against me by a majority of 2 to 1,” said Ivey, in a statement released by his legal team.
He went on to say, “I am so pleased that the Supreme Court has granted me permission to fight for what I genuinely believe is the right thing to do in my circumstances, and for the entire gaming industry. I look forward to the Supreme Court reversing the decision against me.”

Ivey has two cases on two continents. One is at the Crockford in London and the other at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Both involve millions of dollars. The amazing thing is these casinos invited him to play in the first place. This is not only a Phil Ivey case. There was a winner in New York who won a jackpot at slots only to be told it was a machine malfunction. Similarly, the jackpot winner will have to pursue the case in court, but they probably don’t have the deep pockets of Phil Ivey.

The Borgata case is also not over. The court ruled Ivey had to pay back the $10.1 million he won playing Baccarat from the Borgata in 2012. That ruling has also moved on to appeal. It will be important to take notice of the results. If a casino can get away with not paying winners does it make sense to play at all.

Starting the final table of the WSOP 2016 Main Event by playing aggressively has paid off well for Qui Nguyen. He won the event and the $8 million dollar first place prize. Though it wasn’t always smooth sailing, he pulled out a win which has become expected for those who play aggressively.
He came into the final table winning small to medium and several large pots against Gordon Vayo who was second in chip count and Gordon Josephy who was third. Josephy came out early moving up but his rise was crimped by Vayo who was dealt some strong hands as Josephy doubled up. He was left short stacked. He rallied for a bit till being eliminated by Vayo. Josephy took home $3.5 million for his work. This set the stage for Nguyen and Vayo.
The heads up match was long at 8 hours with many twists and turns. Vayo had gotten the chip lead briefly but that was changed after half an hour. The two battled back and forth till Nguyen took control. He went all-in on the river and Vayo folded with 80,000,000 chips on the table. Later Nguyen took another chunk of chips leaving Vayo weakened.
Nguyen continued to build on his lead eventually winning with a pair of kings against Vayo’s jack – ten spades combination.
Highlights of the tournament are in the video below.

Nguyen’s win highlights the effects of aggression in poker. If you sit at a table, you see it all the time. Players who raise often, even with questionable hands, often come out ahead.
The results were:
Qui Nguyen $8,005,310
Gordon Vayo $4,661,228
Cliff Josephy $3,453,035
Michael Ruane $2,576,003
Vojtech Ruzicka $1,935,288
Kenny Hallaert $1,464,258
Griffin Benger $1,250,190
Jerry Wong $1,100,076
Fernando Pons $1,000,000
For most of the players, this is a high point of the poker career. Nguyen had his largest cash at this event. His previous top finish was $9000 and he earned his first bracelet. It’s rare to have repeat winners who place tops in the Main Event over and over.

On day two of the WSOP Final Table, Qui Nguyen increased his lead to nearly 200,000,000 chips. He played aggressive, winning medium pots and he got one large pot against Ruane, who he eliminated with an ace – jack combination. Nguyen didn’t start off so well though. He doubled up and lost to Ruane with pocket sixes against Ruane’s pocket eights. Nonetheless, he still retained control of the board.
At one point in the tournament, Vayo held the chip lead. He eliminated Ruzicka with a pair of eights against a ace – king combination from Ruzicka who also bluffed.
The remaining three will battle it out for the last of the series. The chip counts of the remaining players are:
Nguyen 197,600,000
Vayo 89,000,000
Josephy 50,000,000