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Friday, 2 December 2011

Busy week!!

Been at the poker table so much over the past week that I struggled to find time to post.
It felt like a months worth of poker though, because I experienced so much over the past week, both the highs and lows of the game (came out with decent profit).
Last Thursday was the first of the trilogy -  started the night off getting disgusting cards 8.2 off, 7.2 off, for the first hour or so i grinded it out winning the few hands I did get involved in, patiently awaiting my "Premium Card Run". It came soon enough, because I was so quiet in the beginning it allowed me to keep a tighter style and letting loose occasionally to snatch up the pot with a bluff.
The next Monday, I arranged a session earlier than normal in the week because I'm going on a little vacation with my girlfriend. This was the most frustrating of nights, card dead and unlike the previous session the cards never lightened up for the most part. However there were two 'highlight hands': Middle position AsKs. I preflop and get re-popped by two players; Smelt trouble and folded! The players had a showdown with AA and QQ. I was glad I got out of the way. Another highlight hand was with a board A 4 8 4 J. Showdown on the river saw QUAD 4s vs Bullets [AA]. I thought the Quad 4s played the hand brilliantly and got maximum out of it. I also hit quad Aces on the flop earlier in the night but didn't make much on the hand because nobody hit the board hard enough to pay my quads off. For the rest of the night I busted out on flush draws, got rivered a few times, still cashed but not enough to cover my buy ins. Very disappointed and determined to recover from the dismal performance.
Yesterday afternoon, the boys called an afternoon gathering, we sat on the balcony soaking in the outdoors while we played some serious poker. I started off like house on fire. Literally! Got about 5 full houses in the first hour, and unlike the previous session i was hitting my flush draws. Having established a substantial chip lead early on allowed me to call medium size bets to see a turn card and hit a runner on the river. The poker gods were watching over me - there were times i made a loose call and miracle hit a 2 outer on the river. I crashed out 3 of the 7 players, until we were 4 handed (one more KO till we called it a day). Then a wild unnecessary bluff got me trapped against the 2nd high stack this damaged not only damaged my chips, but my pride and momentum as well. I allowed it to affect me so much that I just tightened my game up so much which rationed my hands and the amount of pots I found myself involved in.

>> The moral of this entire story is that sometimes a slow and steady start is better than an initial quick burst. In day 3 even though i had the majority of the chips it was unnecessary for me to bluff hands, especially with the cards I was getting, I SAW TOO MANY FLOPS. When you experience day 2, don't let it damage your confidence and morale there is no need to reassess your entire style, even the best of pros are card dead and are challenge to win pots.
It is very important to remember that the actual aim of this game is GET MAXIMUM OUT OF WINS, AND KEEP LOSES TO MINIMUM! That's the only way to come out on top!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Showing too much respect!

The image that you forecast to your opponents at the table is an important factor when they are up against you in a hand. Last week's poker night is a fine example:

I had a solid evening of poker, play lasted just over 5hours and I never found all my chips in the middle once, even though before the first hand was dealt I declared to my poker mates "I will guarantee and show 3 stone cold bluffs for the night". So they knew I would, they just didn't know when, this worked well in my favour because I was getting loose callers when I had the Nuts, and players folding to bluffs.

I felt I played loose aggressive, and the only thing I would change is the unnecessary flops I pay to see. There were many stages in the night where the best cards I received was like 3h 9h, and I would call small raises just to see the flop - even though I folded when I missed, the calls chipped away from my towers of chips. My mental goal was to stay patient, focused and 'incontrol', and by this I wanted to keep it strictly business and not make too many haphazard big calls. As a result the only story I managed to extract from the evening was against a pretty tight and calculated player, that however makes a few 'over calculated' decisions.
Play was down to 4-handed, I'm in Big Blind and receive A5 (off suit). The player UTG raises R5. Action folds round to me, I re-raise what is essentially 7x BB. He calls after a minute or two of thinking.
*I immediately put him on a mediocre hand (small/ medium pair, medium/ high suited cards). Flop comes [5 6 5]. I make it R21, he RAISES 2x my bet. I feel I'm ahead so I RE-RAISE by R60... Then, out of nowhere he SNAPS ALL IN about R200!!!! And without giving it much thought I FOLD. Possibly because I put him on the small pair and his tight play throughout the night made me cautious. Or because I regard him as one of the more experienced and calculated players at the table.

Even though many players sitting around the table were unsure as to why I LAID IT DOWN, I feel that as chipleader its not really wise to get too involved in hands with 2nd highest stack at the table.

STRATEGIC and FOCUSED are the two words I will be taking with me to the next poker table I find myself at.

WSOP MAIN EVENT

It has been weeks since I found the time to post a blog, I was writing my final university exams. They went pretty well, the last paper I wrote today Statistics even had a couple questions relating to poker - I had a good few giggles in the exam room. Anyway thats enough about me, while I was slaving away at the books, I had one eye on the Live Broadcasts of the November 9, WSOP!
Whenever I wasnt infront of the pc watching it live I was getting tweets from the pros, or mobile chip updates on www.wsop.com . It was a pleasure watching Martin Staszko and Puis Heinz battle it out for the $8.7million.

I never knew much about Heinz before the final table, but watching the highlights reel, "I run good" -Heinz, was the perfect way to describe his play. The 22 year old German was pretty aggressive when ever he sensed any weakness in his opponent.


WSOP MAIN EVENT CHAMPION
 The tournament started with over six thousand players, only 9 of which returned a month or so later on November 9, these included my personal favourite Ben Lamb, Matt Gianetti, Phil Collins, Eoghan O'Dea, Bob Bounahra, Anton Makiievsky and Sam Holden. A young, yet pretty experienced table of potential champions.
The heads up duel between Staszko and Heinz started off a tad uneven with Staszko having 117,3 million chips to Heinz 88.6 million chips - action went back and forth for 119 hands. Which makes the victory an even sweeter one with Heinz playing pure heads up, and being the more aggressive of the two, which ultimately won him the Bracelet.This hand is what crippled Stasko's stack:
Staszko limped in from the button and Heinz raised to 7.9 million in the big blind. Staszko called it pretty quickly, the flop came 10c 7c Ks and Heinz continued out with 8.2 million. The Czech was having none of it, though, and he raised to 17.5 million total, sending the decision back to Heinz. He spent a few moments thinking, then leaned back in his chair and sipped his water as he pondered. He shuffled chips for a bit, then leaned back over the rail to shoot a glance across the felt. A few seconds later, he announced his all-in reraise for about 70 million total!
Now it was Staszko with the decision, and he doesn't normally tank for the camera. Indeed, the call came just a minute later and the cards were on their backs with Heinz at risk.
Heinz: Ah Qh
Staszko: Qc 9c
"He's ahead!" Heinz's fans began to get giddy as they leaned in and gazed up at the monitors. The ace-queen was indeed the best hand, but Staszko was drawing live to the clubs and the nines left in the deck.
The turn was the 3h. Camp Heinz burst into another celebration as their guy was just one card away from a monster double. He just needed to fade Staszko's draws. The river was black, but it was the 6s, and Heinz and his rail enjoyed a big celebration together. After that hand, heinz was back in commanding lead with 161.5 million to Staszko's 44.4 million.

The tournament end with Ac Ks vs 10c 7c. A very well played and well deserved tournament!

WELL DONE PUIS HEINZ!!!!

Monday, 17 October 2011

There are really only three or four ways to select your bet. You can base your bet on the size of the blinds - many tournament players enter the pot preflop with a raise of 3-4 x Big Blind. The size of the pot, all or a portion, (in many cases 3-4 x BB is a pot sized bet), and finally you may base your bet or raise on stack sizes. Which method you select really depends on the situation, and you may even elect to change during a hand.
The major advantage of NL over Limit is the ability to manipulate the pot odds. So it only follows that the best basis for sizing the bet is to bet the size of the pot. In its simplest form, recommended by some experts, simply bet the size of the pot. If you bet the size if the pot, you are always offering a single opponent 2:1 on his money. Betting "pot-size" regardless of your hand disguises your hand and builds the pot. Using this approach has varied play built in and is excellent for the beginner who should only be peddling the nuts and not trying miracle plays.
Betting a percentage of the pot ranging from 30% to 200% of the pot is a good adaptation of the pot sized bet. You can bluff, bet your draw, for a smaller amount, and use call-able value bets with the nuts. You can actually manipulate the pot size to give yourself the proper pot odds for your hand. If you have a good hand you use pot sized or slightly larger bets to punish everyone on a draw since the pot size bet offers them only 2:1. If you elect to use this methodd of bet sizing you must make a conscious effort to vary. You can actually manipulate the pot size to give yourself the proper pot odds for your hand. If you have a good hand you use , since  your play or you can easily fall into a pattern, detectable by your opponents. When you bet the pot every time your play is varied automatically because you bet every hand exactly the same way. 

Hand
Pot
<1/2 Pot
>3/4 Pot
>5/4 Pot
8 out draw
50%
35%
14%
1%
12 out draw
25%
50%
20%
5%
Made hand
10%
20%
50%
10%
Nuts
*
20%
60%
20%
Bluff

40%
50%
10%
 
 
 
when stack sizes are very large compared to the pot size and implied odds have become more important than pot odds. If both you and your opponent have stacks of $1000 and the pot is only $5, a pot sized bet is insignificant for a good drawing hand. You also need a good read on your opponent, or you need to hold the nuts. When you have the nuts, your goal should be, to get 100% of your opponent's stack.
 
 
Hand
Call
<15% stack
~50% stack
>75% stack
8 out draw
85%
10%
5%
0%
12 out draw
75%
15%
5%
5%
Made hand
10%
30%
20%
10%
Nuts

20%
60%
20%
Bluff

60%
35%
5%
 
 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

More than just Texas Holdem....

I know the main focus of this blog is No Limit Hold'em but I have recently grown fond of the other, older variations of poker. In the early years of the game, the preferred form of the game was 7 card STUD. A player receives 7 cards 4 of which are open for the table to see, and 3 are face down.
One of my favourites, because of its fast pace and hand strengths is Omaha this is split into Hi and Hi/Lo... Hi being the best hand wins and Lo where the worst possible hand.
This including Hold'em have 3 limits: Pot limit, fix limit and No Limit. Furthermore, the same hand hierarchy is used.

However, there are other variations of the game that use a different form of hand hierarchy. Example being 'Razz', a player receives 7 cards and needs to make the lowest possible hand A,2,3,4 being the best possible hand. This form of the game much like stud a player receives 7cards four of which are face up.

A very similar version of Razz, Badugi, which is a Chinese game also consists of 4 cards and drawing rounds. However the its abit more difficult than Razz becoz the four cards need to be of different suit. Example: Ac.2s.3h.4d. I have really grown to enjoy the challenge and placed 180/4000 in a freeroll on Pokerstars a few nights ago.

The reason I learnt how to play all these different variations is because I read some where that it is important to be able to participate in more than just NLH in the WSOP. An event that I'm focusing on is H.O.R.S.E (holdem, omaha hi/lo, razz, stud and holdem). Owing to the fact that it tests a players skill in all four variations as well as the ability to adjust between required styles.

Professional players like Phil Hellmuth play in all these events at the WSOP. In his book, Play like the Pros he explains strategies for all forms of the game...
So maybe shuffle up and deal a new variation at your next poker night!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

WCOOP 2011

Even though I never got the opportunity to participate in the series of tournaments of all variations, I watched ever one of them, I followed my felt idol Daniel Negreanu mailto:%7B@KidPoker}. The man is a legend live and online and he proved it this year. He managed to cash 15times over the 62 tournaments. (He never played in all of them obviously). I have him on twitter as well, reading his tweets kept me updated on what was happening while I wasn't near a PC.

Negreanus results:
768 WCOOP-03: $215 NL Hold'em
107 WCOOP-06: $215+R NL Hold'em
72 WCOOP-08: $215 Triple Stud
89 WCOOP-11: $320 NL Hold'em
362 WCOOP-14: $265 NL Hold'em
62 WCOOP-25: $215 PL Omaha
95 WCOOP-30: $530 NL Hold'em
4 WCOOP-41: $10,300 NL Hold'em
17 WCOOP-44: $320 NL Hold'em
23 WCOOP-50: $215 NL Hold'em
21 WCOOP-51: $320 PL Omaha H/L
104 WCOOP-52: $320 NL Hold'em
34 WCOOP-53: $530+R NL Hold'em
183 WCOOP-60: $215 NL Hold'em
5 WCOOP-61: $10,300 8-Game

The World Championship of Online Poker was established in 2002 and attracts large numbers of players from all over the world, much more than a Live tournament could because this is from the convenience of your own space. It was interesting to see that despite the online poker laws passed in the USA there were still many US players.
I would really like to be involved in the tournaments next year, as i have learnt a lot from observing. Mainly that even though some of these players are seasoned professionals they are not immune to fatigue and mistakes. Some of the tournaments are over 10 hours long.
*Now that is called grinding
Players like 2010 WSOP winner, Johnathan Duhamel. played from the time they woke up till late at night, non stop online poker, now that is work.
Important things to take into consideration when playing these marathon long tournaments is that its important to stay hydrated and fed snacking and several cups of coffee will keep the body and mind active enough to keep focus.
In conclusion, here are a few tips on how to be successful in big online tournaments: Use all the online statistics that are available, with it there are stats on every opponent online what tournaments they play, how often even how many flops they generally see. In addition while playing an event continuous NOTE making will make decision easier. History sometimes becomes habit...

I will be trying to participate in way more big online poker events rather than small cash games. Struggling to find rhythm in online cash games. I am also targeting a recently published book by  Bertrand Grospellier (ELKY), Raiser's Edge as it focus on advanced tournament strategies.

Until next time - Keep up the Grind!!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Grinding till the river*

The latest word that's been widely used amongst my poker playing friends is "grind". Tonight I tried it and it all most paid! I was invited to the weekly high stakes poker night. There was a 8 seated table... Started the night off dry, card dead. Could even hit the flop. So I stuck it out for the 1st hour n a bit... Till I came down to about R75. Got K5 suited and pushed! Hit the board hard, full house 5s over Ks (triple up)...
I tried to keep it tight, until I wobbled down to R140 got pocket 5s and pushed. 4callers hit a set on the flop!!!
*You can see grinding was working out too well for me, I decided to loosen up, go big or go home... I made a few solid bluffs and big raises with bottom n middle pairs, it paid off managed to expand to about R800...
-then I get dealt JJ. Raise preflop. Board 7 9 Q... Bet on flop (one caller), turn 3. Push all in. He folds... Have about R1400!

Now this is where it gets intense... I go on a card hot streak: QQ, AK, 10s all winning preflop. Takes me 2 about R2100... I get Ac8d I raise. Two callers, including big stack. Flop comes [Kd 4d As]... He bets R200. I push the remaining R1400 all in. Other player gets out the way! Big stack tanks for 5minutes. And makes the call with (5d3d). Turn 6h. Rivers a diamond. Pot was roughly 4k...
-> Insane! I am still replaying the hand in my head... I couldn't of played it any other way. Yes, maybe I could of kept it cheap with my Ace. But that allows him 2 wait for the Diamond, where as now I made him earn it... (He had about 11outs including the straight draw). I still feel that was a sick call...

I consulted the hand with a few poker colleagues and they agree I did all I could... Will have to wait a while before I can take some revenge.
He had about 40% chance on the flop though.

However, tonight reminded me an important lesson. Even if you are card dead for hours, the cards will come in dozens eventually. Stay positive n be patient.

Anyway, hopefully I can sleep and the hand doesn't haunt me tonight. I will catch you on the flop side!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

In The Zone

I havent been playing much poker because of University, but this week was my vacation and I wanted to get as much play time in as possible. Tuesday I decided to purchase some online credit and spend the evening playing online poker.
> Started off like a house on fire, it felt as if I couldn't lose a hand. The cards were coming hard and fast, so fast that I can't even call my style of play TIGHT. I sat down with a R50 on the R1/R2 table. After about an hour of play I had R300, after an hour and a half R500.
*I experienced something that I've never even witnessed before. I get KK on the button two players push ALL IN preflop, the pot is about R400!! so I send R200 of my stack both players flip over JJ (drawing dead!)....
By the end of the evening I had about R750. Unfortunately, being greedy and a tad out of control I had set a target of R1000 for the day. As I'm sure you already guessed I crashed it all. Made a ridiculous strategic mistake in that i move to the R20/R40 table and got bullied by players with over R3000 in front of them.

My confidence took a bit of a hammering, but I kept positive and erased the negative part of the evening from memory. Then, last night I decided to go with two Buddy's to the casino. Sitting at the R10/R20 table with a R1000. The players that a casino poker table attract is very diverse and require a lot of skill if one is to be successful in the long run.
- My table  had a girl on my right that from what I could observed was a regular and played a pretty tight style. There was a serious guy next to me, a player that has a belief ACEs hold up 100% of the time. (they don't) He was pretty lose though. Then two elderly guys one super tight named Paul, and Mike, Mike was lose and loved throwing money into the middle - by the end of the night his name was 9.5 off suit. Mid way through the session a seasoned PRO, an Englishman, I really wish I got his name but I have seen him many a time on TV. And then my two friends.

The night never started that great, never got any hands and when I did I never hit the board or a flush or straight draw was on deck. My R1000 quickly depleted to R200 where I was the short stack at the table. A brave push on the Straight draw with 10.9 off suit landed on the turn - I doubled up and it started the momentum!
There were so many hands that I got involved in, too many to recall because I treated each hand as a separate one so as not to tilt when the run of good cards dried up.
There were two hands however that I will discuss: First, I straddled (UTG) and received [Qd.3c] three callers but once the action got to me I bumped it up 3x POT SIZE. Only one caller the English pro! Flop comes [Qs.Ad.7c], he checks I bet 1/2 pot size. He raises to pot size. I push ALL IN. Roughly R700 on top. After a long tank he folds. And shows me [Q.5]. He was beating me, and after I showed him my hand his response was "You have a quite a bag of tricks up your sleeve".
-That hand was both good and bad, in that my table appearance loosened up making my opponents cautious and more aggressive when they up against me.

The final hand I was involved in, I receive [9c.9s] in early position and bump the action to 11x BB (R220). one caller! Paul, the super tight player. the flop comes down [10s.10d.5s] I bet R300 and get re-raised to R700. I considered the flat call but I decide its all or nothing and Re-Raise ALL IN to about R2000 and odd. Paul tanks for about 5minutes before laying down JJ face up.
The table including the pro was pretty impressed with the way I built back up from R200 all the way to R4400...

Friday, 5 August 2011

know when to throw in the towel..

Poker is a ridiculously exciting and addictive game as I am sure you have already found out. I learn my lesson the hard way everytime. I find myself absorbed into the game after starting a strong run of form, I told my friend "when I start winning I can get out of hand and just want all the chips at the table".
Over the past few days I have hit an expensive bad run of form both online and at the casino. My luck online has been atrocious, I played the R1/R2 blinds until I took my R50 to R300. Then moved to the R3/R6 table where I built it up to R1200 and finally the R5/10 blinds. To many making R1150 is a remarkable achievement, but for some reason because I was running so strongly I wanted to make R5000 before I called it a night. This obviously wasn't the case else I would obviously have made a different title to this post. I lost all of the R1200. Even though at one point I raked up approximately R2000 in front of me...
The hand went like this I'm dealt [Kc5c] board comes [Ac3c4c]... I have the NUT FLUSH. Bet about a third of my stack, one caller. Turn [3d]. I bet the 2nd third of my stack. River brings a Queen... I push all in and get a snap call from this calling station. He shows. [Qs3s] for the full boat... In complete and utter disgust I logged off! I'm still replaying the hand in my head, its incredibly confusing as to his motive behind the calls.

Then tonight myself and a buddy decide to spend some time at the casino, now honestly I'm not a fan of cash games at the casino because of the type of player it attracts - the rich money doesn't matter player, who will call just because they can afford it. Anyway, we play. For about 2hours I receive absolutely nothing better than [87]suited... Eventually I get 10s. Push all in, get called by 3 players with AJ, A7 and KQ. An Ace on the river won it of course. My summary: the poker gods were not watching over me. Not only was I card dead, but when I did receive cards they struggled to hold up.
At least my mate made a substantial profit for the night which made it worth the trip.

There's nothing I can really do about this run of poor luck and bad decision making. Its essential that I regroup by regaining my focus, confidence and maintaining my playing style. Know that it works, it merely needs support from the deck to be profitable....

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Etiquette at the table

I'm a pretty keen golfer so I know all about sport etiquette, there is an acceptable behavior in everything from the sports field to the dinner table. It is confusing that many fail to abide to the respectable etiquette. After noticing many things from both the World Series and this months poker games I have played I wanted to expand on some behaviors that need to be enforced.
Speaking at the table, yes poker is a card game and banter is acceptable but not talking over the game. Its ridiculously annoying when players that aren't involved in the hand have a gigantic conversation while another player is tanking. What is worse is when they are discussing the hand that is in progress. Everything that is said can disperse valuable information to all the players involved in the hand. Imagine one player says after the board comes down [J.Q.Q] - "s**t, I just folded a Q...
I don't know if this is an official thing but last night I told a player that he can't force someone on tilt. He was saying after he lost a hand that the player who beat him is weak and plays too many weak hands. Its is pretty probable that by aggravating a player, his more likely to 'target'.

Your only tool at the poker table is your style of play. Maybe its just my opinion but having players ask what did you fold after every hand is somewhat of an invasion of your style.
During the last poker night after I raised on the flop my opponent was about to fold and asked if I would show my cards.
So I told him "if you call me on the flop, I will show you on the turn"... By exposing your cards at anytime in the hand you are relaying unnecessary information to your opponents at the table.

Earphones, I have never tried listening to music while I play. I can understand when players want to get into their own worlds blocking out the world, narrowing it down to them, music and the cards they see. However, I don't respect players who pump the volume up to unbearable. Poker is a very involved game, continuous information and directions are required so it is required of you to listen to what's happening around you and most importantly at the table...
However, I have been considered experimenting with my ipod at the next poker table. I have questioned what to listen to, does the genre, volume or tempo have any influence on your style, behavior and mood.

In conclusion, treat the poker table and the people around it with "competitive respect", they are your opponents however the way you treat them is the way you will get treated. If you remain positive, technically correct in both style and mannerism you are more likely to have a successful and more importantly good time on the velvet.

Finally, shaking hands and commenting on your opponents play can benefit you without your opponent even knowing. There are subconscious effects on your opponent. Always remember to acknowledge a 'classy performance', because when your on the receiving end of the acknowledgment you can pocket it to confidence. Now your thinking, why would I want to boost the confidence of my opponent. Yes you are, but you will be taking more out of it than they do. You're subconsciously making a mental note of the hand how it was played and this gives additional information on your opponents hand. Another thing being friendly at the table will help with is the way in which people bet against you, earning the respect that the bets aren't going to be 'targeting'

Saturday, 30 July 2011

small buy in, big buy in.....

Wow! Is the only word to describe the way I played yesterday. My afternoon was spent playing at the University's regular small buy in table and my evening at a High-stake private game I happened to receive an invite to, through a friend.
The quality of players at the respective tables were uncomparable, university poker tables are filled with young aggressive players spending lunch money looking for entertainment. However I have utmost respect for these player as they have master great betting strategy and understanding of low-staked cashgame. The buy in was only R20 with the blinds 25/50 cents. It was difficult to adapt my betting style to the small blinds, I have noticed that each table has a "standardized raise" - basically an amount acknowledged by the table as a significant raise. Difficult to explain but at the campus table a bet of 6x BB was still not enough to limit the amount of callers.
High stakes table
- My game plan at the table was an tight style initially whilst I build a chip stack and then once I had an efficient amount of chips infront of me I would loosen up my range. In the back of my mind though POSITION played a vital role in the hands in got involved in. My biggest frustration at tables where the blinds are so low is the range of cards your opponent can have because its so cheap people are involved in the majority of pots. A combination of luck, good cards and great reads I managed to build a winning stack of R350. (A win that was acknowledged by the entire university poker playing community. I played for about 3hours raking up many hands and chips. The most significant hand I was involved in was with a player I deem to be the most calculated and capable player at the table, Cliffie. I start the action off with [10s.7d]Pre-flop bump to R6 (12x BB). I get raised by Cliffie to R12. I call. Flop comes [K 6 3]. I open the betting with R10, he thinks n raises it to R20. While his thinking I'm trying to put him on a hand. Which I can't! I decide to see how serious he was and raise R40, he reraises to R80. I snap push all in R200. He ponders for about 5minutes before tossing away QQ. This 3bet was award winning. I flipped over the 10 7 and got applause from even spectators.
In conclusion, during small-staked games keep your basic playing style. Don't necessarily adapt your game all the way down to 'cheap', attempt to bring it up a notch. Maintain your original playing style but don't be afraid to see more cheap pots. A very important component you may need to adapt is Continuation Betting! Bet preflop and raise on the flop 7/10 times it will win you the hand.

About 2hours later, I arrived home from university on a high from the afternoon's outcomes. I get a call to invite me to a HIGH-STAKED private game. As a student its a privilledge to be seated with these business men at a high rollers table. Riding the highest of confidence I arrive at the well organised and professional looking tournament, while I was driving tho the venue I contemplated playing the same style I did earlier in the day. I Did and it worked! The players sitting at this big money table were pretty seasoned campaigners, people who have been playing long enough to have widened and practiced with a wide range of hands. The evening started off pretty quietly only got involved in one hand pocket 9s - hit a set on the flop and doubled up... Which allowed me to patiently wait over an hour before I got involved in another hand. At one stage I claimed to the table "I am card Dead!", but it was merely a matter of time before decent cards started landing in my hands. But before the card high started I needed to make a few brilliant plays if I say so myself. The most memorable the player behind me (extremely aggressive) raises preflop, I look down at 33 and re-raise so that his all in, he calls and flips over [10s9h], I had a strong feeling he had air... The board comes perfect and my 33 hold up!!
My chip stack at the end of the evening
As tight as it seemed I played, my style was majority tight but played many randomly selected loose hands. Loosest of all 67 hearts. You will scratch your head when I explain how this hand unfolds... So I get [6h7h] and check in the big blind with 3 callers. The flop comes [As.5h.2d] - now according to any strategy I have explained in the past, you should fold right? Wrong. There's a bet half of pot size, only I call. The next card [Qh] giving me a flush draw... BACKDOOR. My thoughts if the next shot this opponent fires at me is anything less than pot size I will call... However, unpredictably and very weak on his part, he checks behind me. The river brings a [9h].. I have the unexpected flush. Yip, I raked in serious chips after I stunned the entire table. Nobody saw that, was an out of character, loose but brave way to play the hand - sometimes you just have the good feeling and you should go with it. My opponent did have two pair so that kind of put him on TILT.

I learnt sufficient lessons from the evening besides the fact I cashed well. It was more the experiences I took from the table. Patience and confidence are the biggest keys to success in this business, if your feeling the cards and are 'in the zone' don't hesitate in making the most of it. Another tip I can offer from this poker day, if you have a good understanding of your own style it will make reading and deciphering your opponents routine easier.

Out of position is out of action!

Obtaining information is the most important part of poker, it is required in order to make a correct and calculated decision. Most tables seat 9 players, which is dissected into three parts: Early, middle and late position. These seats represent the order in which you ACT. Its important to realize that different strategy is required in each seat. Well, not a different range of cards but more a different style for each seat.
This post will give my opinionated approach on how to and what (not) to play in the respective seats.
- Let's start in early position: the blinds. The small and big blind are to the left of the dealer button, acting last preflop and first after. In this position you are already invested or half invested in the pot! Its recommended to open up your range of hole cards in this seat provided there are no raises or a call gets value for money. However, this doesn't mean be reckless just to protect your blind - the key is to use the pre-flop information delivered by your opponents at the table. The way in which the action unfolds will advise your bet. In these two seats players are betting infront of you so the pot could be of significant value and a bet will be advised because of the pot odds.
The next position is under the gun... I call this 'cautious'. Because its just a dangerous position unless your very sure about the strength of your cards as well as your ability to read the players at the table. My range of cards shrink tremendously in this seat. I would even fold A 6 in this seat, mainly because I don't know the strength or weakness of my hand compared to my opponents. Occasionally however, I will fire a raise from under the gun with cards just less the premium. But from this seat a continuation bet regardless of the flop might be required, not only to 'exclaim your strength' but also to find how your opponent feels about their cards.
Middle position requires a simple style, from this seat hands like 67 suited can be useful because there are only 2 maybe 3 players still to play - many a time has a raise from middle position managed to get players in late position to fold leaving me last to act.
Finally, the most preferable and informative position, late, on the button. This is a situational position in terms of the actions. You will always be last to bet, so take full advantage of any signs, signals or tells you can make on your opponents.
I struggled for weeks, pondering how to explain the value of the different positions at the poker table. But the main focus at the table would be to gather as much information before you can make a calculated decision of which hands to play and it allows you the information to make tells, and figure out what cards your opponents can have. In summary, from early position play tight as you are the first player to GIVE OFF information, stick to premium cards, don't forget to continuation bet when using the occasional looser hand. Middle position allows you to loosen up and incorporate some suited combinations. Late position will give you enough information to open up your aggression and range.
* I read a quote the other day "play tighter at loose tables, and looser at tight tables."

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bounce back with quad eights...

Apologies for the long delay between posts, but I had nothing positive to say about poker before last night. I was crashing out early online and not even seeing top 3 of weekly poker nights. My moral was damaged, things were going so downhill at the velvet table that I considered taking a lengthy break. But my gf reassured me: "your putting too much pressure on yourself, relax and let your talent shine".
The situation was terrible. I would hit a set of Aces and get rivered with quad 2s. Or land a flush draw on the flop and watch the turn n river without completing the flush.
A tweet from Daniel Negreanu: *Message to all poker players who have been or are running bad. Everyone goes through it but it never lasts forever. Focus and stay tough.*... I then decided to take a week off of poker meaning no online, no live. Only contact I had with the beautiful game was watching live feeds of the WSOP online.(www.wsop.com). I declined two big invites, using the break to relieve pressure and clear the mind of any negative thoughts of bad beats.

Then at yesterdays poker night as Daniel predicted the bad run never lasted forever... One hand changed everything. Boosted my morale, confidence and bankroll lol. Roughly an hour in I'm dealt 8c8h (in middle position) and I rasie preflop. Narrowing the callers to two. The table bully and the chip leader. The flop comes 7c8s9c. The player in early position raises Pot size. I bump it 2x he, the late position (chipleader) calls. I get re-raised all in. Snap call... Pots up to about R500. They open Ac9d and Jh10c... The turn comes 8d. GIVES ME QUADS and instantaneously I rake in the gigantic pot. CONFIDENCE! The rest of evening I could sit back, see several pots only playing certainties. End of the night played heads up. And decided to call it a night.
My objective for the night was to play my regular strategic game even though I felt it hadn't been working. Another thing I focused on was to only play certain hands in certain positions. I will go into depth on position in my next post. OUT OF POSITION IS OUT OF ACTION.
I now understand, bad runs never last forever - just stay positive and positive things will happen that will jump start a GREAT RUN OF FORM...

Hope this serves as a guiding star to poker players grinding through a tough patch in their game!!!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

200 viewers and counting!!!!

Unbelievable! Its been 8days and my posts have gathered up 200 views.
The Audience is from all over the world, thank you very much for keeping me motivated so I can keep documenting my experiences and techniques.

   I thought I would use this space to acknowledge those whom prompted me to start this blog.
> Poker players often remind me of actors. I guess it takes a some level of acting to bluff from the flop all the way to the river. Check this blog, its amazing and the blogger is both my girlfriend and the one whom inspired me to get blogging. (http://www.backstagewhispers.blogspot.com/)!

The vast majority of my audience are individuals from countries that don't speak ENGLISH as a first language. So check this site if you are interested in visiting Cape Town, South Africa to learn English and tour. There are many casinos throughout the country and it is quite a vacation!
(http://www.englishcapetown.co.za/)!

Thank you
May the FLOPS be with you!

When everything comes together...

I havent had much to report on for the last few days... However, Friday night, my weekly poker night had a couple of interesting moments. The regular table of 7, both serious players online and live mixed in with some social gamers - Its always a big spending, entertaining night!

Things started slow for me got hands like [10.3] and [9.4] off suit in so many hands I had a nightmare about them. This lasted about an hour, but I remained disciplined and positive that a decent hand was arround the corner.

Counting chips for the ALL IN moment
 I didn't stay out of the action entirely, remember your TABLE IMAGE is vital. If I remain too quiet, players will begin to think I am playing TIGHT. With these opponents I try to change my style every now and then, just to keep them unaware =).
Then along came suited connectors [6d5d]. I contemplated a preflop raise to minimise the targets, but the player 1st to act bumped it to 2x BB. In my opinion he got what he wanted and there were 3 players in the hand. Board came down [Jd.7s.4h]. In front of me is an UP AND DOWN straight draw (8outs). The initial raiser makes a puny bet, blind size - too small to even be noted. We both call him, turn is [10d]... This gives me an additional flush draw (9outs), back door but with some luck its almost definitely a winning hand. Check, check, the actions on me, I raise a significant amount the preflop raiser calls and the other player folds. [2d] lands on the river I'm smiling (on the inside ofcourse) because now I have the flush. How much do you have left infront of you? Is the question I'm asked, after I make a count he says ALL IN. I take a breathe and ponder what he could possibly have, theres no way he has a flush! So I make the call and say "I've got the flush", opponent hangs his head after flipping top pair top kicker - [Ac.Js].

This must've jump started the poker gods, a few hands later in the Big blind [Kc5c]. No preflop bets so i check my option! Board comes [5d 10s 5s]. Gigantic raise comes from a generally tight player, I can't just make a call so I double his bet hoping to get him off the hand, doesn't work he calls. [As] comes on the turn, an immediate another large bet is shouted. The thoughts in my head:
*Did he hit the flush? Does he need another spade? or did he just play two pair? maybe he has the other 5? Is the pot big enough to make this call?
I couldn't come to a conclusive reading and just said CALL. The river, delivers me a FULL HOUSE with a [Kh]. My opponent is confident with his Ace high flush and pushes ALL IN. I snap call and flip my cards over saying "HIT THE BOAT!" I agree the river was relied on to win the hand but sometimes its the big decisions that win you the most money.


These dodged BULLETS

Last 15mins of play, I am chip leader by some distance and am more than happy with the profit I'm making.There was only 3 of us remaining, all with significant chip stacks. I look at my hand [JJ] - I wouldn't say I am particularly a fan of this hand as an over card always seems to hit the board. I raise 3xBB, one gets out of the way, fold. The other makes a confident call. Flop opens [J K 4] which gives me three of a kind! This is followed by my opponent sending half of his stack into the pot... could he have KK? I push ALL IN, he snap calls (I have him covered). He proudly topples over his BULLETS [AA] and was devastated at this bad beat for the night so close to CASHOUT TIME.

There were many lessons to be learnt from this session. The main being: stay patient because a hand will come, sometimes it is YOUR NIGHT other times maybe not so much. Focus on making decision that are calculated and timely - even though you have to GAMBLE occassionally.
*However, my new number one rule! LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR!! Nobody is better than the game.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Poor run!

You know that feeling when every flush draw you chase doesn't come... I don't understand it.
[Jd.9d].... board [5d 8s Ad] >> this is the exact kinda flop I look for with this hand. I was in BB and just CALLED a raise 3x BB. So I mentally put the guy on a Ace, but it doesn't matter this is the 2nd hand of the tournament. I call his bets on turn and river hoping for 1 of my 9outs...
Obviously, it doesn't come so I'm left crippled with about 235chips (starting stack 1500). I have to fight my way up playing short stack styled: super-tight-aggressive. get KK and climb back to about 1200.
I get dealt [Ac.3c]... yip, you guessed it.... board [2c Qc 6d] i get pushed all in 3handed i have to make the call as i will triple up on a 9outer... reluctantly i make the call knowing my "luck". Surprise! the flush doesn't come [9s] and [Jd]. Busting me in 67/90....

Struggling to keep myself motivated at this stage. I'm playing some textbook poker - just looking for a helping hand from a leprechaun. Now my job here is to stay positive and keep busting on flush draws. Its not an option to remove suited cards from my inventory completely.
SIGNING OFF - HOPING TO WAKE UP ON THE BETTER SIDE OF THE FLOPS.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Maniac - table bully

Picture this, your seated at a table of about 8players and the table leader is playing so many hands, betting wildly put chip stacks at risks constantly. Can you blame this table bully - all his doing is simply applying pressure on his opponent and pouncing on any sign of weakness. his style: Loose-Aggressive.

*First, you need to identify whether they are maniacs or simply loose-aggressive players. There are many pros that can be put in this category, Daniel Negreanu- likes to see flops and isn't afraid to inject chips into the pot. Yet his still disciplined - if he senses any strength in his opponent or misses the flop completely, HE FOLDS.
Where as, a maniac fires on each street, every hand he plays - which is most!
> In the identifying stage you need to be sure he always plays this aggressive and that he hasn't just hit a run of good cards.... I have watched players getting premium hands five, even ten hands consecutively.

Playing against: Many players fear this encounter because their entire stacks are always at risk. However, a better way of seeing things, the maniac is constantly giving opportunities for you to win their stack. The safest method to play this type of player - stay out of the way until you get a premium hand. My biggest concern with this strategy is there is a chance the maniac picks up a hand - you never know when he does, so in my opinion the time you STRIKE is when you sense any sign of weakness on his part.
Once you have a premium hand, act timid and make reluctant calls and checks, he will do the betting. I have never been a fan of SLOW PLAY.

Being the bully: If you have a lot of chips in front of you, a significant chip advantage on the other players at the table - get involved in a few extra hands. try attacking the majority of pots and keep the pressure on your opponents. Once your loose strategy becomes apparent, tighten your hands up - be sure you'll get action when the next monster hand arrives.

>Your table image is vitally important in poker, as this is used by other players to place you on a hand. So try changing it up now and then - a confused opponent is one who can make mistakes trying to adjust!

heads up...

This maybe a more advanced topic, but all poker players will encounter a heads up situation in their poker careers... It is one of my favourite encounters in the game. During house games I can't wait to be heads up, because I have spent so much time analyzing heads up strategy.
Unlike full tables heads up is an action based session, there's only a big blind and a small blind competing in every hand. So there is a duel hand after hand. This requires you to attack and defend every pot in a slightly more aggressive manner.

In my arsenal I convert my strategy to loose-aggressive, I will see a flop with pretty much any hand. The simplest explanation would be YOU CANT WAIT FOR PREMIUM HANDS. I have a few hands like 7.2 off suit that I avoid playing with completely. (I just feel this hand has no value at all)...
*so LOOSEning up my play means I will be playing more than just premium hands, using more suited connectors, suited cards and pretty much any royal card will work! The AGGRESSIVE part is where my post comes into play:
As you can't wait for the best hands your mission is to put your opponent into pressure decisions, by raising pre-flop it camouflages the strength or weakness of your hand. MAKE HIM THINK! Opening up your range of hand still requires a lot of discipline - it doesn't mean bluff stone cold no matter the cards. I believe a raise pre-flop and then depending on how the flop comes down, a CONTINUATION BET.
Play more Draws... If there's a straight or flush draw don't check it - bet into it. Be as aggressive yet safe as you can be.

*Just this afternoon I played a heads up match, dealt J6 hearts, board comes[7h Ks Jd].
-the betting on the flop was pretty passive, the turn [2h]. I now have a flush draw... My opponent trys 2 put me under serious pressure, but regardless I make the call. I hit the flush on the river... And maximise with an All in. My opponent had K7. But because he wasn't aggressive enough he got nailed. Slowly lol!

Not many people practice HEADS UP, but my advice would be to take advantage of the online facility. Get use to being aggressive and making the occasional CONVINCING bluff. Whether you have a hand, hit the flop or not if your going to bluff your opponent even if you sense weakness make sure your bets make sense, and be ready for whatever he throws back at you.

* In summary be aggressive but not reckless. If the board misses you completely and your opponent fires strong. DO NOT CHASE MIRACLES!!!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A winning mindset!

Poker is as much psychological as it is strategic. The frame of mind you have while sitting at the table will have a tremendous effect on the result. This post doesn't only apply to poker but to life in general. The key to positive think opens the door to positive outcomes!
Stress is something people experience regularly, when we stress we aren't thinking straight. At the poker table when we don't think straight we don't play our proper game. In the poker world stress can be brought on from happenings at the table or transferred from our 'off the table lives' - the only way to counter it would be to stay POSITIVE.

Sitting at a table, and getting beat by a bad player, can send you to tilt, and cause you to lose even more hands because your not in the right frame of mind. I have seen it both online and live, people are Stunned to see their AA get nailed (almost as if the odds were a million-to-one).

I think I have mentioned this before, poker is about winning the maximum and losing the minimum. Just as life there are UPs and DOWNs, its how we react and deal with them that influences its effects the most.
*Honestly, and I am speaking from experience you will go days with poor results, weeks, even months, and then that's followed by a few days of great results - winning so much you feel invincible and unbeatable. You have to take the bads with the same positive approach as the good.
-consider this, you play and lose money, then u decide to play with more money trying to break even. Odds are you end up leaving having lost double the initial loss. KNOW WHEN TO CALL IT A DAY.
When your on a down session, what are you going to do? Play 24hours forcing things to come right? Change your style because you think its not working? (However, that exact style won you a tournament the night before)...
-If your losing or feel like your being subjected to a run of bad luck, take a TIME OUT - rather be a small loser, than try break even and fix something that is more mental than fundamental, and become a BIG loser.

My girlfriend told me this tonight after I said 'I'm playing such shit poker', CLEAR YOUR MIND, A BREATH!
* Tomorrow is another day. There is no point in playing when your in a negative frame of mind, as the results will be negative.

>clear positive attitude, stay away from the negatives as it can only affect you negatively. Don't be reluctant to take a break whereby you re-gather calmness and focus. To get back to playing that Winning poker, you know your more than capable of.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Online tells...

Playing online and playing at a LIVE table require to very different strategies. I find online to be a lot harder to make accurate reads on opponents.
*Something one needs to do in order to improve their game is, take NOTES. For online use the make a note facility provided by the site. It will help you in the long run as it makes remembering previous experiences a lot easier.

With online, there aren't many means of gathering information only betting patterns and the chat/comments window. So here are a view things I have been noting:
Players whom comment "donk or poor play" - I'm sure you have come across many of them. These are novice players. They mainly play the premium hands, pretty tight and can definitely over play big pairs. Their biggest weaknesses are their lack of understanding of pot odds and they often fold a DRAW.
-Losing to a DONK will put them on tilt!
-They have convinced themselves that AA or KK will always win them the hand.

Watch the chat window, observe where chats between to players who know each other discuss matters like previous hands or tournaments or past experiences. Use these Q & A to get an understanding of their experience levels and whether they are regulars.

>Something I have tried countless times, I'm sure you have too. MULTI-TABLING.
- This is definitely a sign of some skill as its difficult to monitor more than one table at a time successfully. What I have noticed though in their playing style, is it becomes relatively tight - they will waste little time on marginal hands. In my opinion poker takes a lot of focus and unless they are good at multi-tasking they will make a few unusual mistakes when attempting more than one table.
*So, browse the lobby and identify those opponents.

I don't know how true this theory is, but the size of the chip stack definitely is an indicator of skill. For some reason better players tend to accumulate more chips than others.

In summary, in order to be a successful poker player both online and live, you have to remain focused and vigilant at the table all the time, even when your not in the hand - your goal is then to be analysing your opponents moves for a spectator view point....

Tight-Aggressive

I know that I just did my post for the day but this i have to share....

Decided to play a free ring game with FULL TILT POKER (www.fulltiltpoker.net)... Wanted to test out a theory, so I sat down at a table 300/600 with about 15K the smallest chip stack at the table by some distance.
-My goal, to only play premium hands. Show patience and discipline... The outcome was ridiculous, fold every time I had anything less than premium... in 25minutes of play i took the chip stack from 15K to 450K.
This just proved to me that PDF (patience, discipline and focus) one can dominate a table.

-One of the hands I thought i would share with you, i have [Ac. Qc] obviously i pre-flop raise about 4x BB, get one caller (I didnt stay long at the table but from what i saw this guy was an ACTION JUCKY - calling station)... the board comes [3d 5c 8d]...
*In my mind I know my AQ is in serious threat if he made a poor call with small cards (like suited connectors).
-Anyway, I decide to throw out a feeler bet! Just over half the pot. He makes the call as predicted! Turn comes [As]... I feel confident i have him beat now and bet large, again he just calls.
River [Ah].... don't want to scare him off so a bet that pays me off well....
After a call, He flips [Ad. 7c]...
>> Now even though the board came down tremendously in my favour, it was painful for him.
 Lesson: If your going to play anything less than premium, you have to be able to read your opponents well and know when to fold.
*now I know this was free roll, and no money involved but I honestly enjoyed the challenge of reading players as well as testing out a few theories.

My opponent made several mistakes: Before the flop - he shouldn't of even considered playing [A7 off] when there was such a significant raise. On the flop - when he missed and I bet he should of retreated or if he had a read on my weakness FIRE one back! So by the time the two Aces came he had dug his own grave...

In my next post I will touch on a few TELLS or READS one can look out for when playing online....

Combat a CALLING STATION....

Today I took the time out to re-think where i made mistakes in Friday nights poker session, i struggled to come up with flaws in my game of that night that i could highlight to you.
What I remember very clearly though is that one of my opponents played almost every single hand, and when they were in a hand they saw it pretty much all the way to the river.
This type of player is called a CALLING STATION - the name being self explanatory (they call pretty much everything you throw at them).

I decided to do a little homework on them and how to beat them and gathered the following information.
They many tactical mistakes, and in my opinion your opponents mistakes generally I'm meant to capitalise.
* There mistakes include calling too often, calling when they should raise and even when they should fold.
- basically, they chase hands with little to no chance of winning.
Example: They have [As.2d] the board [9h. 2h. 7c], but this doesn't deter them - they make the call hoping for what would be a miracle.
- The biggest mistake however is when they have the BEST hand and just call, not raising there can and often does, lose you the hand!!

The combating part is easy because when you win its at maximum, and when you lose you can only lose minimum - this being because your not faced with raises.

* There isn't much advice I can hand you, except, when you have a winning hand and you facing a calling station - bet till you cant bet anymore.... get as much out of it as possible.

> Honestly though, and I have seen this countless times, DO NOT bluff a calling station!

# I hope you are not a calling station, lol. I have this philosophy: You either raise, or fold. calling is a sign of weakness

Sunday, 19 June 2011

suited connectors

High risk, high reward. I was told as a youngster you have to be in it to win it!
Suited connectors are cards like 4.5 6.7 8.9 and favourite 9.10 of the same suit. The art of using these cards in your game is regarded as an advanced style, owing to the fact you really need to understand your outs and be able to read your opponent well.

>Unlike premium hands, using suited connectors your aim is to hit the flop hard, talkin flush or straight draws. Playing with these low valued cards can cost you as they not guarantees. Your probably going to lose more than win with these cards. Therefore your goal is to make the times that you do win count.
* I have seen, even experienced A.A get cracked by a mere 8.9 suited as the board showed him a straight or flush.

Many professionals have adopted this style of play into their game, players like Daniel Negreanu. One of my favorite players to watch because of his ability to play connectors and read his opponents. Now I am no pro but I love having these hands as part of my armory.

I try to keep it as simple as possible though, stay away from very low connectors like 2.3 or 3.4 even 4.5... This is for personal reasons as 9/10 times these hands get cracked by high connectors. We all have preferences I guess! However, hands like 6.7, 7.8, 8.9 and 9.10 I tend to play pretty frequently. There are many specifics to consider though before making a call preflop. My number one rule is not to call more than 7% of my chip stack - this is because even though these hands have great potential you are very far behind.(Try not to get involved too many times when the pre-flop raise is more than 2.5x the big blind) You also need to consider where your seated at the table and against who, or how many players your going to be facing - this is important facts, you need to be certain that when you win its a substantial amount to allow you the bankroll to continue adopting suited connectors in your game plan.
* If not the most vital component to this strategy, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO FOLD! Now this may sound ridiculous, but I have seen many a player chasing straights all the way to the river, paying ridiculous amounts for each card.

After a decent flop chasing a straight you have 8outs, and flush 9, but its not worth putting your entire chip stack on the line in hopes of HITTING the turn or river.
*my rule: if you miss the flop, FOLD.

>I have only had the honour of catching a straight flush once in my short lifetime lol, will never forget it. Was online I had [Jh.10h] the board came [7h, 9h, As], my opponent who played tight the whole day, pushes all in. I have him covered but will be left with small change if I lost. I decide to chase the straight flush. He flips [Ah,9d] for two pair... At this stage he has me nailed to the floor. the turn [9s] his got the full house. I am gutted! Swearing at myself in disblief at "the weakest call I have ever made". However the river my friend, [8h], I could not believe my eyes... I went on to win that tournament. Obviously was my day lol.

Its ridiculously early in the morning here in SA, my round of golf was just cancelled on account of bad weather. Maybe I will catch a tournament online now...

*MAY THE FLOPS BE WITH YOU