» Poker Tournaments

How to Play Freerolls, Part Five


This article is a follow up on the articles How to Play Freerolls, Parts One, Two, Three, and Four which you will also find in the poker strategy section.

If you’ve reached a very late table in a freeroll tournament, chances are that you’re an excellent player and that you’re playing against some high level players. At the later stages, you’ll need to really consider your strategy carefully. If you play very tightly, you’ll be able to stay in, but your chip stack will dwindle, and you won’t be able to continue to place the blinds as you go on. You’ll need to play loosely enough to take some pots even if you’re not holding pocket aces or ace-king suited.

On the other hand, if you play too loosely, you can easily lose your stack to another player who holds trips to your high pair. You’ll have to strike a careful balance there. At this point in the tournament, you’ll be playing against the same opponents for longer stretches, so you’ll need to vary your style of play more in order to keep them guessing. On the other hand, you should keep watch on your opponents’ styles as much as possible. If an opponent has been playing fairly tightly and they make a modest raise, be aware that they may have a better hand than that raise lets on.

On the other hand, if an opponent has been calling almost every bet, then their continued calling shouldn’t trouble you too much.

When you get to the final table, you’ll have to play somewhat aggressively. At the final table, your goal is no longer to stay in or to amass chips. At this point, your goal is to knock out other players. While you can be passive and try to amass chips and stay in the game up until the final table, it simply doesn’t work at that point. You still need to avoid going all-in with a less than optimum hand, and you’ll want to drop any poor pocket cards before the flop if you’re not on the blinds. If you can see the flop without paying, you should always take it, of course.

When you’re down to only one other player, then you’ll have to play heads up, and that presents a whole different set of challenges.

How to Play Freerolls, Part Four


This article is a follow up on the articles How to Play Freerolls, Parts One, Two, and Three which you will also find in this poker strategy section.

Once you’ve gotten past the early stages of the freeroll, most of the players who remain are players who use a standard strategy, but some “red herrings” can remain in the game if they’ve had a few lucky hands. As a result, you can start to loosen up your play a little.

Whereas early on in the tournament, you have to assume that everyone will stay for the flop regardless of their hand, by the time you’re several rounds in, those players who called every raise on a pocket 3,8 to see the flop have already been eliminated. At this point, your play should be slightly more aggressive. Since many players are still recovering from the extremely loose play of the novices and are playing very very tightly at this point, they will fold to any raise they don’t feel they can meet. Again, though, don’t get into a betting contest if your hand can’t support it. Some of your opponents will use the same strategies that you do.

Like in every poker game, modest raises are a good way to go. If you hold an excellent hand and you double the pot,  your opponents will instantly fold, leaving you with a small win. Raise the amount of the big blind or double that and you’ll get some opponents who will stick around just out of curiosity. Do the same thing for each of the four rounds of betting and you’ll build a solid pot to win. On the other hand, if you have an opponent who raises to your raise, calculate carefully. If you think it’s really likely that you have the winning hand, then take them down, especially if you can force them all in. You’ll drive all of the other players out of that round, but it won’t much matter if you take the player’s entire bankroll in one hand.

Remember that the key to winning the final table is coming in with as many chips as possible.

The European Poker Tour


The Monte Carlo round of the European Poker Tour is one of my favorites, as it takes place in one of the grandest casinos known to mankind.  The setting is apt for Europe’s premier poker tour, as its known to be the home to some of the richest people on the continent. read more…

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…

Sky Poker Tour Kicks Off With Dramatic Comeback


LONDON, UK—9 November 2009—Sky Poker kicked off its six-leg live tour in Manchester on Saturday with a hotly contested tournament that saw David “David36” Bryan, beat 149 players to walk away with the first prize of £4000. 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!

If it looks too good to be true, it likely is!


Let’s-Play-Poker is hosting a UK Poker Championship between August 29th and September 3rd.  This is a £100 buy-in event with a cap of 750 players, yet it suggests a £100,000 first prize with a further 9 players making the money. Some quick math tells me that, if this is a straight tourney (no re-buy, no add on), they are only bringing in £75000.  First prize is more than all the money collected from the tourney.  A little strange? Also the website doesn’t use the word ‘guarantee’ at all with regards to the prize pool.

A number of major UK forums have been questioning the legitimacy event, most of which think that this could be a possible scam. I don’t want to say it is for sure a scam, as there are many reasons this could be happening.  Although, I’m hard pressed to think of any, maybe it’s a promotional event? Maybe it’s an intro into bigger events.  Maybe it’s just to get their names out there.  But before i plonked down my 100 quid, I’d make sure that i knew where the prize money was coming from and how they justified paying the top 10 players with more than they’re making from the tourney.

Some other concerning items have been raised such as the fact that you have to pay for the event with a credit/debit card after one of their Representatives calls you. You have to register an interest online and then await a phone call, rather than being able to ring them directly to register. A number of people have been contacted by the call centre (And when they are the phone number is blocked) and been told that over 1000 people have registered an interest, yet the call staff have rang several players multiple times to request payment for the event from them.

The website is very basic, contains no tournament structure information and does not include any terms & conditions. The listed phone number does not appear to work when called.

Overall it doesn’t appear that a lot of thought went into this tourney.  If i got a call from a rep asking for my credit card to pay for this tourney, i probably wouldn’t give it.  I’d much rather place my money into a reputable online poker room, or just go to a casino.  Much less risky, and probably much better pay off.

To win the tournament, one player will win all the tournament chips in play.


That’s right, I’m talking about the WSOP main event.  It started today.  About an hour ago actually.  So if you’re in Vegas, and are a bit hung over and trying to get there…you should get there quick..Late registration is closing over the weekend!!

There are more than 1,100 players trying for the top prize at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino this year (In the first day last year there were 1,297 registered players).  Pros,Amateurs, Celebrities (I’m looking at you Jennifer Tilly) anyone who has won a ticket online or just had the cash sitting under their mattress is there and the blinds have already started counting down.  Will it be a “moneymaker” year or more of a Raymer year?  It looks like Pro’s are at the top of the betting line to win the main event this year, with the co-favorites being Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, and Tom Dwan. Each is listed at +12000, and as a close second are Andrew Black, Juha Helppi, Ivan Demidov, John Juanda, Barry Greenstein, and Allen Cunningham at +17000 (according to betED).  But hey, anything can happen in poker right!

Last year’s winner, Peter Eastgate, took home $9.15 million after topping a field of 6,844 players — including eight others who had a four month break before the final table in November.  Raphael Zimmerman, a 27-year-old poker player from Oneonta, N.Y., was the first player eliminated from last years tournament when his aggressive play on a straight draw ran into three queens after the first three community cards were dealt.  Zimmerman hit his straight on the turn, but his opponent hit a full house on the river to end Zimmerman’s tournament. “Next year, I’m going to be last out,” said Zimmerman, who said he regularly plays cash games with $50 and $100 blinds. “For a minute, I thought I was going to win anyway.”

I guess we’ll see soon if Zimmerman’s prediction will come true.

Who do you think is going to win this year?

Online Pokers effect on Big Tourneys


Every year Bluff Magazine puts out a list of top “amateur” players to watch.  It’s a great list with some fantastic talent, but that’s not really what this post is about.  What i noticed about the list is the fact that it’s all WSOP Rookies, or to put it another way, they’re all 21.  Young players with very little live experience is becoming the new norm for WSOP final tables.  They are starting when they’re 18, honing and really translating their online skills to live games.

Starting Young

Players who start playing online at 18 years old are able to make the mistakes all newbies make, but do it in a way that is very minimal risk to them.  By the time they’re 21 and able to play in major live tourneys in the states, they have had 3 years to correct those mistakes and are already well past the nerves of most first time players.

The other advantage to playing online early is all of the tournament entry’s possible to be won.  A lot of these players are able to not only win entry into tourneys in the Caribbean or Monte Carlo (or Canada), but they’re able to cash.  These tournaments have as wide a variance as any tourney in the states, and gives these players a real look at what live poker is all about (not to mention some nice paydays).

Translating their Skills to a live Game

I don’t care what anyone says, online poker and live poker are 2 different monsters.  Translating your skills from sitting in front of a computer to sitting across from someone at a major tourney is a huge challenge.  Even the most  veteran online player has bad habits that need correcting and new skills that need to be learned before becoming a really successful live player.  But i think this discussion is something for a different post.

Overall i think that starting young, online is the way to go.  It really gives you the ability to, at 21 years old, walk in and sit across the table from any of the big names, and realize that everyone is playing the same game…and you know it as well as they do.

“I’m just preparing for the live poker grind. Six weeks of live poker is a shit ton, so I think getting in the right mindset and trying not to burnout,” – Harder

Link to the article

Pokerstars Record Breaking Weekend


This past weekend many records were shattered for online poker in general and for Pokerstars.com.  The biggest record of all was Pokerstars set a new record for most people playing in an online poker tournament when their $500k guaranteed tournament reached its capacity of 35,000 people!  A player under the alias stan34powa went on to win the tournament and the $30,000 that was guaranteed for first place.  Not bad for an $11 investment!  This record will go down in the Guinness Book Of Records but you can guarantee that Pokerstars will do their best to shatter it again in no time!

The next big record that was shattered at Pokerstars was the most people ever online at a single poker site.  At approximately 3:30 PM EST yesterday, Pokerstars had a total of 250,540 people on their site playing poker!  This is twice their daily average and a HUGE accomplishment for the site and online poker in general.  I guess the whole “global recession” isn’t slowing down poker players!

Pokerstars also set some personal records with their big Sunday tournaments.  The Sunday warm-up had its biggest field ever with 5,836 players and a prize pool over $1.1 Million Dollars.  Also, the Sunday Millions tournament guarantee was raised from $1.5 Million to $2.5 Million, but this was shattered again when 16,260 people registered bringing the prize pool up to $3,252,000!  In the end, a player from Sweden under the alias lp_SakiSaki took 1st place and $331,378.80 in cash without a chop at the final table!

If you aren’t playing at Pokerstars.com, then you really don’t know what you are missing!

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