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Playing Middle Pairs


Texas Hold’em poker players almost dread getting dealt a middle pair because they are so tricky to play. Middle pair can get you in so much trouble and the purpose of this article is to help you make smart decisions when you have to play such hands. For all the examples used in this lesson, your middle pair will be two jacks. read more…

Why Online Poker is Better than Live Poker


Some people play poker exclusively online, without going anywhere near a live game. Others like to mix it up and play poker live and on the internet. Despite the huge popularity of online poker, there are still some poker players who avoid online poker and instead prefer the green felt to the click of the mouse. These people are missing out on the huge opportunities offered by online poker. Here are some of the reasons why online poker is better than live poker:

Action 24/7

full-tilt-tableThe number one reason why online poker is better live poker is because there’s always a game to be found. Sure, some times of day are busier than others- such as evenings and weekends. But it doesn’t matter what time of day, there’s people playing poker online 24/7. Possibly the most annoying aspect of live poker is waiting around for a game to start. Of course this is assuming they even have enough people wanting to play poker. While with online poker, you might not be able to always jump straight into the game of your choice, there’s never much waiting around.

Comfort of Home

Not only are there an abundance of poker games waiting for you, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home. There are no travel costs, no worries about how you’re going to get home, or getting stuck in traffic. There’s no need to bother getting dressed up either. Heck, you can even play poker naked if you like. Doing this at a live poker game would get you locked up. Let’s not forget, you also save money on food and drink, as the fridge is never far away when you’re playing online poker.

Online Poker is Cheaper

Online poker doesn’t just save you money on travel, food and drink. The poker itself is also much cheaper, which is particularly beneficial if you’re just starting out learning how to play poker, and don’t want to spend too much. If you go to a casino or card room you might find many cash games below $1/$2. The rake at live poker venues is also much higher than at online poker sites. Plus if you win a hand playing poker online there’s no obligation to tip the dealer – you can’t anyway!

Play More Poker Hands

The most noticeable difference between online poker and live poker is the hands per hour ratio. When you play poker online there’s no waiting around for the dealer to shuffle the cards, potential miss-deals, working out the pot, and the players are generally much quicker to act – to name just a few things. You get to see so many more hands per hour playing online poker, which means more opportunities, more decisions, and less boredom.


Many online poker players like to play on multiple tables at the same time. Just playing one table at a time means you get to see more hands per hour than in live poker, but if you’re playing on multiple tables then obviously this becomes an even bigger factor. Playing multiple tables also reduces the variance, and you can play at much lower limits – thereby spreading the risk. If you are playing poker in a live venue, let’s say a $1/$2 NL game, you’d probably want to sit down with about $200 – which is at risk on any given hand. You could spread this same $200 across multiple tables, at lower stakes, when you play online.

Tracking Your Game

It’s always nice to know if you’re winning, losing, or breaking even at poker. Sure, you can keep notes on how much you’re spending when you play live poker. I used to keep a spreadsheet to track my income and expenses from live poker games. But sometimes it’s easy to forget how much was spent, particularly with re-buy events. Of course, this is just basic tracking. When you play poker online you can get instant hand histories, and access to a huge wealth of data. It goes far beyond just saying if you’re a profitable player or not. You can find leaks in your game and plug the holes. By analysing your play you can improve your skills as a poker player.

Bonuses and Promotions

Online poker is a fiercely competitive industry, and with so many poker sites looking to attract customers, there are a multitude of bonuses and promotions on offer. Casinos like to offer promotions to their patrons, but when it comes to poker they care much less. Poker rooms don’t make much money for casinos, so they don’t really bother trying too hard. However online poker sites are only too eager to offer bonuses and promotions, be it 100% signup bonuses for new poker players, or re-load bonuses for existing players. They really want you to play poker at their site, which is something you can and should take advantage of.


I think the advantages of online poker that have been outlined so far, are fairly comprehensive. Of course playing poker in a live environment has its advantages too – such as the social interaction, and being able to see players’ reactions. The purpose of this article is not to knock live poker, but to give valid reasons for why online poker is superior in so many ways. It’s fair to say this has been achieved. Good luck at the tables!

It was SOOOOOTED – Newbie Wednesday!


  I can’t  count how many times i’ve heard that excuse for a ridiculous play by a new (or experienced) player after taking down a pot that they had no business being in.  Some players imagine that two suited cards have magical powers that make them would-be powerhouses.  The fact is, Suited cards aren’t that much stronger than unsuited cards.  They have an added advantage, but preflop, that amounts to about 10% to flop a 4 flush (not a full flush, that’s a much lower %).  For example, preflop, 78 offsuit has a 19% chance to beat AA; 78 suited has a 22% chance vs. AA. The difference is almost negligible.

You must also keep in mind, that if you do hit your 4 flush with 9-2, A) you still have to pay to see 2 more cards (and if you’re paying for the turn, you should pay for the river as well, you’ve come this far!) and B) you’re getting your money in with players who may have a much HIGHER flush draw than you do.  It’s very similar to chasing the bottom end of the straight.  You may end up with a flush, but you may also put all your money in with a really weak hand.  It’s no good walking away from a poker table broke, kicking yourself for going all in with a 9 high flush.

He called a preflop re-raise with jack-three? “But it was sooooooted!”  STAY AWAY!!

Poker 101 – Newbie tips!


I’m going to try and go with a regular feature for the next little while, and post tips that i wish i had known when starting out as a poker player.  These tips will be old hat to seasoned online players, but may be an “AH-HA” moment to anyone who has been burned by what they deemed a bad beat, but what in reality was poor playing, or just poor spotting skills.

The first tip is this:  Never chase the bottom of a straight!

If you’re sitting on 4/5 (suited or not) and happen to see a flop of 6/7/8, you may get REALLY excited.  Flopping a straight usually means you’re changing your game from trying to make a hand, to convincing that table you’re drawing so you can extract as much money from them as possible.  In this situation, you’ve flopped the ASS end of the straight, and you should play it extremely aggressively (or very carefully).  If someone plays back at you (ie/ you bet the pot and get re-raised all in) you’re likely looking at the guy who was holding 9/10 and flopped the NUT straight.  If you call, you will be upset with yourself (and maybe even that dude who just took all your money).

Think your play through and make sure you’re not playing to conservatively…but dont get all your money in when there is a good chance someone is waiting for you to do exactly that.

Changing Up your Game ?


With the WSOP currently running and tons of poker related news and blog posts, i figured i’d get back to basics.  I recently read an article about how Phil Hellmuth is changing his game up at the WSOP.  As a player with the most tournament wins at WSOP, is this really a wise move?  He says that he is no longer avoiding aggressive opponents who threaten to knock him out.  In the past he has avoided all in situations, opting instead to outplay opponents without letting them get lucky.  This translates to players pushing their stack when they no longer want to see cards, andHistorically Phil will fold.  This year he Says “All those amateurs making all those crazy moves on me that they got away with in the past, this year I’m calling.”

Changing up your game can be very difficult for most people.  If you’re a conservative person by nature, and you want to start playing loose and easy, that transition is not going to feel comfortable for you.  You’ll want to check the flop, even when in position (bad move anyways) or you’ll want to bet the minimum amount to get the player to fold (generally a good rule of thumb), but if you’re playing out of character this could easily backfire on you.

On the flip side, if you’re an ultra aggressive player who is trying to really pick their spots, you wont be able to help yourself in seeing opportunity when the table checks around and you folded preflop.  This could lead to you overplaying rag hands and getting money in when you’re behind (“i missed that opportunity last hand, I’m not going to let another one go by”).

My advice?  Choose a lower level than your use to playing in and really practice those skills.  Make it a low risk area, and make sure that the result  you’re looking forisn’t “making money” but improving your game.  If you’re goal is to only play premium hands, stick to it and see how your fare.  You may be surprised.  And if your goal is to become ultra aggressive, do that too, and track it.  Give yourself pro’s and con’s to playing that way, and see how you can incorporate it into your regular game.

Switching up during the WSOP?  Leave that to Phil Hellmuth.

Short Handed Poker Anyone?


Short handed play is offered at all online casinos, and I really enjoy playing short handed.   6 players as oppose to 8,9, or 10?  The action is faster, the betting is much bigger and there is a lot more variance and wild swings.  But it can be very profitable if you’re willing to give it a go, and can handle the swings!

Understand the difference between short and regular play, and adjust!

The first mistake most people make is not realizing the difference between short handed and regular games and not adjusting their game accordingly.  Waiting too long for a hand will cost you in a short handed game due to the increased number of blinds you have to pay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying play every hand you’re given…Far from it.  But i am saying if you don’t adjust to compensate for the fewer players and more blinds you will go broke without playing a hand. 

In full games you can afford to sit back and wait for big hands before committing your money.  You can’t do that in short handed play;  the blinds come around far more often and other players have loosened their games, so unless you push back enough with less-than-premium hands you’ll be seen as an easy target and will literally give your money away.

Don’t piss your money away – but don’t wait for premium hands either!

There are people out there who play King / 8 every time it’s dealt. In a regular game that would be suicide, however in a short handed game (if it’s suited) K/8 may be a very playable hand depending on your position. With this in mind, you need a hand strong enough to win just on high card alone, especially when you’re putting your money in there against the blinds.  A hand like 9/10 suited looks very attractive, and indeed in late position in a full table game would be a raising hand.  In short play, your hand still needs to improve to win the pot.  With the King / 8 the king may be good enough to take the pot down without improving at all.  It’s also likely anover card to any pair that may be out there, so you’ve still got outs if your opponent improves on the flop.

Short games are geared for a loose,  aggressive playing style,  while tight,  passive players  —  who can at least survive in full games  —  will need to adapt to succeed.

Avoid losing money playing poker – 8 Tips – Part 2


5. Observe, Observe, Observe

I’m going to modify this.  It’s difficulty to hyper focused on one table while multi-tabling online.  And i wouldn’t even really recommend it.  Paying attention to the way players play is obviously important.  And, you can for sure glean information regarding how a player plays by watching hands that you aren’t in.  But is it worth shutting down a multi-tabling session to only watch one table and get a little more information?  Not in my opinion.  Pay attention, and observe how people play, but make sure you’re maximizing your earning potential!

6. Know Your Opponents

Knowing your opponents is an important aspect of poker.  Online it is a little easier because you have a program built into the client that enables you to create notes on each player.  I highly recommend this because if you get a great read on someone WRITE IT DOWN! With the amount of players online it will be very difficulty to distinguish between players who are aggressive bluffers, and players who only play the nuts.  The only drawback is that it’s software based, and not kept in the cloud (ie/ it’s not married to your user-name)..So if you have to reinstall your poker software, you lose the notes you made.

7.  Just play a solid game against idiots

You will never bluff a bad player.  I have posted about this last week.   It’s just not possible.  Over the long run, that same bad player will dump a lot more money to you if you play ABC poker, than if you try to bluff them or try any fancy stuff. They’re just not playing the game at the level  you are, and they honestly don’t care what cards you’re holding.  They’ve fallen in love with their hand and they’re going to see the river…even if they have to go all in.

8.  Don’t play if the results don’t Matter

This should be self evident.  If you don’t care about the money you’re winning or losing, poker is a meaningless game, and you will not do well (but that doesn’t really matter does it?).  Also..i use to play a lot after getting home from the bar.  This is a really bad idea, not because I was drunk (see rule #1), or because i was tired.  It was a bad idea because at the end of the night i just didn’t care enough about losing a 5 dollar pot.  I would dump 50 or 60 bucks in 5 dollar increments because of all the bad decisions i was making, mainly because i didn’t care about the outcome.

Avoid losing money playing poker – 8 Tips – Part 1


I came across this list from Examiner.com, and while the person who came up with the list is going to go through them in the next few days, I figured I would expand on his list, and give reasons.

Here is the list:

  1. Don’t drink and play
  2. Be well rested
  3. Stay Focused
  4. Play within your bankroll
  5. Observe, Observe, Observe
  6. Know your opponents
  7. Just play solid poker against idiots
  8. Don’t play if the results don’t matter

1. Don’t Drink and Play

Sometimes the obvious stuff isin’t so obvious.  I play in a weekly game that is more of a social get together than a grinding it out, money making session.  In that game, this rule goes out the window.  Everyone who is participating in the game are solid players, and not everyone drinks.  But everyone who does partake in the drinking consistently do worse than those who don’t.  The drinking affects descision making skills, sometimes making you more bold (and leading to reckless bluffs, or stupid calls), always affecting your ability to accurately read a player (depending on how much you have to drink, reading a player may be very low on your list of priorities) and will often make you very easy to read.  You give away more tells than you realize when you’re drunk, and if your goal while playing poker is to make money, you should stay away from the booze and wait until some of the other participants have had a few.

2. Be Well Rested

Anything that takes prolonged mental disciplin and concentration requiers you to be well rested.  This will give you a huge advantage over the players who are on the other end of a 12 hour overnight session.  If your mind is clear, and you’re not concerned with being tired you will make better descision more consistently.  On the flip side, if you decide to embark on that 12 hour overnight session, and came to the game with that in mind, then you will be in a much better state at the end of it if you showed up well rested in the first place.

3. Stay Focused

There is nothing worse than playing poker while watching a sport you’re interested in.  Something that you believe only takes half of your attention away from the table is very dangerous indeed.  While you’re watching a replay of an amazing goal, you’re missing a tell, or a telling hand from an opponent.  You will not be as prepared for the upcoming hands if you’re concentration is on something other than the game at hand.

4. Play Within your Bankroll

I have seen a lot of people lose A LOT of money “taking a shot” at the bigger limits.  Every so often, playing in a higher limit is a great idea.  It teaches you how the game changes (or how it stays the same) at the bigger tables.  But typically, if you are considering taking your shot, you have built that into your bankroll, and you are not planning on using your entier bankroll to finance the 50/100 game you’ll be playing.  Any time your whole bankroll is up for grabs is generally a bad scene and you should drop a limit or 2 to build it up.  Stay away from risking it all at one game!

I will post the other 4 on Wednesday…..

You can find the original article here.  I’ll be interested to see how different out takes are when he comes out with his list!

Bluffing In online Poker


Image by l0ckergn0me via Flickr

Bluffing in an online poker room is completely different than bluffing in a live game.  For a lot of reasons, it’s easier to bluff.  You just have to click on the button, and not worry about your face flushing, or your breathing changing, or anything about your body giving you away. Make sure you’re chat is disabled, and all you have to do is close your eyes and prey you aren’t called.  Thing is…most people do this.  Bluffing is out of control online, and people are wising up to it (and have been for a long time).

A good player can spot an online bluff a mile away, and I’m telling you, LOVES them.  The tells are extremely obvious, and have nothing to do with your eyes going to the left or right, or you holding your breath.  It comes down to how you play the hand, and throwing an ill though out bluff on the end of a hand will typically not pay off, and in fact end up losing you money.

Another main reason to stay far away from bluffing online is that players change in the blink of an eye.  There is typically a waiting list with players joining as soon as a player “gets up” from the table.  If you have a read on a player, leave for the washroom, and come back to seemingly the same player but get burned because the guy you had a read on left, and was replaced by an ultra aggressive player.  Or even worse, someone who has marked you as an easy target, and is waiting for you to throw out your stack on the turn.

Because online bluffing is called more often, you have to bluff very minimally.  If you are going to bluff in online poker, keep it to situations that really matter to your opponent.  Wait for a great opportunity, plan it and execute it.  Throwing out money willy-nilly will not pay off in the long run, and you’d be much better served playing ABC poker.

Fold a Full House?


In Pot Limit Omaha, you should absolutely be prepared to fold a
full house.  This can be a very difficult thing to adjust to when
switching from any hold’em style game, but is necessary if you want to be a successful omaha player.

reason for this is there are many more hand combinations in pot limit
Omaha (you get 4 hole cards instead of 2), and as a result many
more hands are out there than there would be in hold’em, making the
likelyhood of bigger full houses being out there extremely high.

An example:

You are playing against a solid opponent and
you flop the nuts with nine seven on a 9c9s7h board. Your opponent
checks, you bet and your opponent calls. The turn is the Kh, and again
you bet and are called. The river comes out a the 10h and your opponent
bets pot into you – what should you do?

In hold’em,
you’re praying that your opponent made their straight, and you’re
getting a big payday (or even had pocket 7’s for you to have the better
boat).  But in Omaha, in this situation, Against a solid
opponent your hand is basically never good here. Although it is
probably worth calling against a complete fish, most of the time here
your hand is clearly beaten. There are
many hand combinations that you lose to here. Your opponent may have
called on the flop with a pair of kings to see if you would continue
and turned a monster, although most likely they probably have a hand
with a nine in it that also contains a king or a ten or pair of tens,
and have turned or rivered a bigger full house.

The honest truth is a lot of players come from a hold’em
background, and will have a really hard time getting away from any boat
(Which is why you pray your opponent had pocket 77’s in the scenario
above).  A very seasoned Omaha player will be able to see the that he
is likely beaten and will be able to fold.  A more unseasoned Omaha
player, will know the THEORY that he is likely beaten, but will talk
himself out of folding because folding a full house is not accepted
strategy in Hold’em.

that Omaha is a game where most of the time the hands are out there,
and the spots you call and bluff in have to be adjusted accordingly.
Although it really stings to fold hands like this – especially if your
background is in hold’em – in Omaha you have to be able to make lay
downs like this on a regular basis to stay afloat, no matter how much
it hurts.

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