Friday, August 31, 2007

Keeping the record straight

The rain finally stopped in New Zealand today, so I've been out doing a bit of sightseeing. Went to Auckland's Sky City casino last night and played some poker. They have a nice enough poker room, but the rake is a bit high. I played NL200, the game was as soft as a sponge, but luck was not on my side. There were about 6 people to every flop even after a raise, but I didn't catch any cards. They have a weekly tournament each Sunday, so I might give that a go. I'm working while I'm in New Zealand so don't have a lot of time for poker, but I'm going to try and play about 3 hours each morning before work. I played a bit of NL100 on Pokerstars this morning and was up about $100.

Today's Topic: Keeping accurate records.

Anyone who wants to take poker seriously needs to keep accurate records. Poker is a game with such large variance that it is hard to gauge your ability without carefully tracking your performance. A lot of losing players choose not to keep record because they don't like to amid to themselves that they are losing. Everyone is a losing player to start with, but to become a winning player you need to track your performance to see what parts of your game you need to improve most, and see what games you are winning and losing at.

The tools I recommend to track your poker performance are:

  • Small diary: Especially if you play a mixture of live and online games a diary is essential. It is the easiest way to keep accurate records on a day to day basis. This information can then be entered in to a database or spreadsheet later on. The details I keep in my diary are the amount of money I had on the poker site at the start and finish of the session, the start and finish time of the session, and the site or venue where I played. I then enter this information into Statking at the end of each week.
  • Pokertracker: Pokertracker is an essential tool for any online poker player. Pokertracker supports nearly all of the poker sites, and is invaluable for tracking your statistics and improving your game. Pokeroffice is also a good option for anyone who only plays on the major sites, and is better than pokertracker in many areas. Its main disadvantage is its lack of support for many of the smaller sites and networks, but if you only play on the major sites then it is a good choice.
  • StatKing: While Pokertracker is great for tracking the finer details of your game, it does not easily allow you to track things like bonus payments, live game play, etc. The best tool I have found for tracking every aspect of your poker money management and even general gambling is Statking. It enables you to input and customize all of your poker activities, and review your poker profit and losses in many different ways.
  • 2p2 SNG Spreadsheet: If you mainly play sit n go's then this is an excellent free spreadsheet for keeping track of all your sng results.

There are various online tools for keeping track of your poker result. I've tried using a couple in the past but have been concerned at having all of my results online. If the online site goes out of business or has an error then your records could be lost. I personally prefer to keep my records stored on my own computer.

It can sometimes be hard to keep an accurate track of your poker results, especially when you are in a downswing, but it will pay dividends and help improve your game in the long run.

Today's Link:

Sorry, but while in New Zealand I haven't had much time to search for interesting poker links, so I might not be able to post to many until I return to Australia.

Have a great weekend everyone. I'm off snowboarding for the weekend, so will see you all next Monday, and don't forget a dollar won is always sweater than a dollar earned.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

In the land of the long black cloud

I have just arrived in New Zealand. The plane was delayed by 6 hours (fun, fun) so didn't land until 4 in the morning. New Zealand is a beautiful country, but it sure does rain a lot here, hasn't stopped since I got off the plane. I'm hoping to get some skiing in while I'm here; the mountains are about six hours drive away, so might go down in the weekend.

Played a few hours of poker this morning and had another winning session. I think that since Neteller returned the American funds, online poker has been a little bit softer. Couldn't be sure but a few months ago online poker at the major sites seemed really tight.

Today' Topic: Poker in New Zealand.

Wide scale recognition of poker in New Zealand has been a relatively recent phenomenon. It has only been in the last three years that Poker rooms have opened in the Auckland and Christchurch casinos. Poker is shown on pay TV, and a local poker show has been played on free to air TV. More and more pubs and bars are offering free weekly pub poker competitions. Recently a lot of poker articles have been written in the local media mainly about the popularity of poker around the world.

Not many New Zealand players have had international poker tournament success. Probably New Zealand's best known poker player is "Lee Nelson" who has made around 2 million dollars on the tournament circuit.

Like most of the world, Poker seems to be going from strength to strength in New Zealand, and a healthy future seems assured.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Johnny & Larry

Not much news on the poker front. Played a bit of NL100 on Pokerstars (getting closer & closer to Supernova) and was up a little. Played a couple of satellites for Sunday tournaments with no success. I've gotten used to playing 7 cash game tables while having a couple of tournament tables running in the corner. It definitely helps break up the boredom that creeps in while playing cash games, it also helps me play a bit longer. If I'm still in a tournament I keep the cash games open, so I have been grinding out more hands overall.

I really want to improve my tournament play, so this seems like a good way to do it. Play a lot of satellites during the week, while playing cash games, then concentrate on just tournaments in the weekend. I'll start keeping a list of my tournament results to show you my progress.

Today's Topic: How long is too long.

I think that a lot of player when first starting out play as many hours as they can, to try and improve their game. While this isn't a bad thing, poker players need to be aware when it is a good and bad time to be playing. Playing quality time rather than quantity time will always pay better dividends.

  • When not to play poker:
    • When you are tired: One of the common mistakes is to play when tired. Either by starting to play after a long stressful day, or by playing a single session for too long. I find that when multitabling online the maximum amount of time that I can play without a break is 3-4 hours. After 4 hours my game and my results definitely deteriorate, even though I may not realize it at the time. When playing live in a casino I have no problems playing 8-10 hours at a time as long as I take a quick break every couple of hours. It has been proven in studies that gamblers who gamble when tired have a lower risk aversion and will be more willing to take foolish risks when tired. The same applies to poker. Work out how long you can play before your game deteriorates, and ensure you take a break at this point.
    • When you are stressed: If you have other things going on, like an ongoing argument with your partner, or lots on your mind, realize that it is a bad time to play. If you want to play to get your mind off things, then play at a lower level than you normally do.
    • When you are drunk: The amount of player that boast online about being drunk after midnight on a Saturday night, while donking off their stack, is amazing. I know that you are not always thinking straight when drunk, but under no circumstances should you ever play poker for money when drunk.
    • When you are not in the mood: Sometime I find that I am bored and while I'm not in the mood to play poker, I play anyway. Often in this situation I will play a bit looser and take more risks than normal to try and kill the boredom. This is not a good time to play.
    • When table conditions are bad: Sometime I'll log on and looking down the list of available tables I don't find many with flop seen % over 25%. When table conditions are tight either find another site to play on, or play a different game.

Today's Link:

This month's cardplayer magazine has an interesting article written by Daniel Negreanu. In it he looks at why some people climb all the way up the poker ladder and others don't. He uses two different players, Larry and Johnny" as an example. I am more of a Larry player, and want to be more of a Johnny sometime. Link to the cardplayer article here. Also there is an interesting discussion of the article at 2 + 2, link here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another day, another dollar

Hope everyone had a good weekend. I played a fair amount of poker over the weekend. I used up most of my Full Tilt $26 tokens, with little reward for my efforts. I run so bad in tournaments. I get my money in with the best hand, but that suckout is always only one river card away. Also played a lot of NL100 on Pokerstars. The tables were fairly soft over the weekend and I ended up a fairly decent winner.

Can't wait to start playing the NL200 tables, but since I'm heading off to New Zealand tomorrow for 3 weeks, I'll probably won't make a serious attempt at it until the beginning of October. In the meantime I think that I will play 3 tables of NL200 along the top of the screen and 6 tables of NL100 underneath, just to get me used to the NL200 tables. From my datamining the softest NL200 site I have found with a decent amount of tables running is Ipoker. I don't have a big enough bankroll sitting on Ipoker to play NL200 at the moment, and since they don't accept Epassporte I will have to play NL200 on Pokerstars for the time being.

Todays Topics: Satellite poker tournament strategy.

I've found that satellite play can be extremely profitable and is one of online pokers "hidden treasures", especially if you are on a smaller bankroll. I have started playing the multi table satellites to all the major sites big Sunday tournaments. I plan on making Sunday, Tournament day, and play in any of the big Sunday ones that I have won a satellite seat to during the week. So far I have won a seat in both the Pokerstars and Full Tilt Sunday games for little investment.

The most profitable satellites I have found are the ones where 10% or more of the players win a seat. The really cheap satellites where only the top one or two players win a seat become too time consuming to be profitable.

First thing you need to do is to see how many chips are in play, and how many you need to reach your goal. This is usually not the total chips/places paying, but less. That's because there will be some players with above average chips at the end.

In the first period it's like in any other MTT. There are weak players, and you want to get their chips. Remember though, that you can't bluff a weak player. You have to be patient and wait for the good cards. After a few blind stages the crazy all-iners are reducing, so you can play your normal style.

After an hour you should be a little above average. If you are less than 10BB, you have to try to double up, if you make it great, if you don't you've saved time, and didn't wait till the blinds eat you up. You shouldn't sit back in the middle of the tournament, even if you have more than average chips. You have to keep working, and take risks sometimes.

If you are near the end, you don't need to take risks. You have to watch for short stacks that don't defend their chips, raise them, and get little wins wherever possible. You don't need to risk half of your chips or more, because the goal is to be in the top X, no matter which place. Raising all-in when you are not short-stacked is a big mistake here. Even if you have KK, just raise 3-5BB, and if there's an ace on the flop fold and think about the chips you saved.
If you are out of the playing places, then you have to double up or try to steal the blinds that are not willing to play. Even the chipleader can fold to your raise, because he can feel that he's almost there. You will see who these people are.
You need to be really patient at the end. Someone WILL lose their head. You have to think before acting. The position, the players, is it worth taking this risk? You will reach your goal if you keep focused.

Today's Link:

I can't think of many links today. This one is a little bit weak but sorta funny. It's a picture of a guy who had been playing a cash game 48 hours straight at a US casino, and has build a huge chip stack. Link here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Are kings really king?

It's been a bit of a nothing week for me so far. I've been playing the $24 tourneys on Full Tilt and after 6 of them I've made one cash for about $38 and one for about $96. Cash games this week I've found fairly tight. It's strange how some weeks the tables seem tighter than others. I guess it's a case of continuing to grind it out. I played one table of NL200 along with my NL100 tables today. It's a very small sample so far, but I think the NL200 tables might be as soft if not softer than the NL100 tables. My theory is that most people playing live poker play NL200 live. As a rule the level of play at the NL200 live games is fairly poor. Because they play NL200 live when they decide to play online they choose the same level they play live (NL200). Of course the level of play is generally a lot higher at the same limit online so it makes for softer games at this level with these live players. People who started playing online usually start at a lower limit and work their way up, hence making the NL100 games tougher. It's only a theory and might be completely wrong, but from my play and datamining of the NL200 games I think that I should find little difference to the NL100 games. Fingers crossed.

Today's Topic: KK vs AA

A lot of No Limit players refuse to fold their KK preflop regardless of the action around them. Analyzing over 500,000 hands played at NL50 and NL100 I can say with certainty that not folding KK before the flop under any circumstances is a big mistake. Some might say that the only hand that can beat KK is AA, and what would be the odds of running into that? The odds would be roughly 1 in 24 or 4.39% of the time. So on average once every 24 times that you get KK someone else at the table will have AA. You get KK once every 220, so on average once every 5000 hand you will run into this situation of KK vs AA.

My experience has been in NL50 and NL100 games that if the pot is raised to you with KK you re-raise it and then get re-raised by either the initial raiser or another player and you are both deep stacked (more than 70BB) then unless you have notes or a read on the other player to suggest otherwise, the majority of the time you will be up against AA. It is overall an EV + decision to fold in this situation with KK. If the player you have raised, re-raises you and has less than 50BB, then because of the money already in the pot and because of their increased range of hands with less than 50BB's I have found it to be EV + to call in this situation.

So next time you're deep stacked opponent puts you all in when you are holding KK, as hard as it might be to fold those Kings, you will be making the correct decision in the long run.

Today's Link:

Brian Townsend known online as either ABA or SBRugby, has gone from playing playing .5/$1 nl holdem 2 years ago, too playing in the highest limit games available on the internet. In the last few weeks he has been on a massive downswing losing over 3 million dollars. Read all about it on his blog. Link here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I’m Back

Sorry for no post yesterday. It was my girlfriend's birthday. I took her on a romantic mountain picnic and got back a bit too late to work on the blog.

I've started a new arrangement for my poker time. I've collected over 20 $26 Full Tilt tokens, and I seem to be winning them quicker than what I can use them. So I've started running 7 cash game tables and 2 tourney tables simultaneously. I don't know if it is a good idea, and sometimes does get a bit confusing differentiating between cash and chips, but it does keep me focused and interested. Lately the cash games have become a bit of a grind (normally a sign that I'm ready to move up a level), so mixing it up a bit has really helped my motivation and interest. It probably isn't optimum profit wise, but I do want to improve my tourney play, so will keep at it for the rest of the week.

I'm off to New Zealand for 3 weeks next Tuesday. I'm taking my laptop with me, so hoping to keep playing and blogging while I'm over there, but I might miss a few days when I'm busy.

Today's Topic: 5 steps to No Limit Holdem success:

If you play small stakes no limit holdem full ring cash games, here are the top 5 pieces of advice from Ed Millers "No Limit Holdem theory and practice" to ensure success.

  1. Play tight: Playing tight is the easiest and most important step you can take to improve your game. Fold your trash hands. Most hands are trash. It's easier to define what's not trash, so I'll do that. The "Not Trash" list:
  • All Pocket Pairs
  • Two suited cards Jack or Higher (e.g., K J )
  • AK, AQ, AJ, and KQ offsuit

Ok, it's not quite that simple. I have another list, the "Sometimes Trash" list:

  • Suited Connectors (e.g., 8 7 or J 9 )
  • AT and KJ offsuit
  • Suited Aces (particularly the big ones like A T )

Everything else is trash. Don't play trash. (I'm not going to say this over and over, but I'll say it once here. These are the rules. Good players can and do break them. But you gotta learn the rules before you start breaking them.

  1. Don't play out of position: People playing out of position is the #1 mistake. Being out of position hurts you in every aspect of the hand. It makes it harder to read your opponents' hands, it makes it harder to bluff successfully, and it makes it harder for you to make money on good hands and get away from bad ones. Basically, it puts you at a big fat disadvantage.
  2. Don't over commit in small pots: No-limit decisions revolve around pot size. More to the point, they revolve around the balance of risk versus reward. How much risk you should take depends on what the reward is. When the pot is tiny compared to what's in the remaining stacks, like on the flop after two or three layers limp in, that's a small pot. When the pot is relatively large compared to what's in the remaining stacks, like on the river after there's already been a lot of betting, that's a big pot. Here's one guiding principle: Big hands deserve big pots, and small hands deserve small ones. If you have a super-strong hand like a set, then you want to get all the money in. If you have a weak or vulnerable hand, then you want to avoid a big confrontation. It sounds simple, but many no-limit players go wrong here.
  3. Bluffing: Bluffing is the most mystical aspect of no-limit. Bluffing isn't the be-all-and-end-all, but it's a very important no-limit skill. A lot of bluffing in no-limit is "smallball." You throw out a modest bet to try to pick up a pot no one else wants. A continuation bet after the flop can be an example of such a bluff. So are position bets, bets from the blinds after a checked flop, and so forth. If no one else seems to want a pot, often you should toss something out there and see if you take the pot down. With big bluffs some general practical guidelines for getting the most out of your bluffs are: be in position, and make the bluff enough to force a fold.

  4. Keep your head in the game: It's impossible to have no-limit hold'em success without tackling the mental side of the game.

Today's Link:

The above advice and more can be found in a lot greater detail at Ed Millers excellent website "Noted poker authority".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Satellite king

Had a bit of a downswing on the cash table's yesterday morning. Didn't feel like playing cash games last night so fired up some of the super soft $26 token satellites on Full Tilt. They cost $8 each and the top 5 of 18 win a $26 token. I can play 4 at once while doing other things, only playing premium hands. Doing this I won 6 tokens from 8 satellites in about 2 hours. I used 4 of my $26 tokens to play the $75 satellites (same structure) and won 2 $75 tokens. So in 3 hours I ended up with 2 $75 tokens and 2 $26 tokens for a $70 investment.

Using the tokens to play in tourneys I haven't found a big difference in the skill level between the $26 and $75 tourneys. Unfortunatel, while I consider myself fairly competent at both cash games and sit n go's, tourneys are my weak point. When I have a medium stack half way into a tourney I play way too tight. I can't quite get the adjustment right; when I try to change I get overly aggressive and end up pushing with average hands. At least with winning the tokens cheaply it gives me a good chance to improve my game without much expense.

Today's Topic: Moving up limits

Over the next couple of weeks I hope to be making a move to NL200, so I thought I would list my criteria for moving up a level.

  • Have a sufficient bankroll: First and foremost have a minimum of 2o buy-in's for the level you are looking to play at. So if you are looking to play NL100 have a minimum of $2000. If you fall below the 20 buy-in minimum drop back to the lower level until you have over the 20 buy-in threshold again.
  • Ensure you are a winning player at your current level: I like to win a minimum of 2bb/100 over 100,000 hands before I consider moving up a level. This is very conservative, but I would recommend that you are a winner over at least 20,000 hands before moving up a limit. Some peoples reason for moving up a level is that there are too many lucky donkeys at their current level to enable them to win. The logic is that if they move up to a higher level with better players, the lucky donkeys won't suck out of them constantly. Let me say that there are lucky donkeys at every level, and if you can't win at your current level, your chances of winning at a higher level are even less.
  • Don't multiable as many tables when first moving up: It takes a while to get use to playing the new betting structures at a higher level. I recommend if you usually play 9 tables, drop back to 6 when you first move up. If you usually play 6 move back to 4 until you get use to things.
  • If uncomfortable with the higher blinds, buy in short: When you first move up it can be a good idea to buy if for half the maximum until you feel comfortable at the new level. It will certainly make all-in decisions a lot easier, and lower your initial variance.

Today's Link:

Coverage of this year's WSOP main event starts tomorrow (Tue) on ESPN (US) at 8pm and 9pm EST. You can view it online via one of the free global live TV services such as TVU Player.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The history of poker

Moved back to NOIQ Poker to play over the weekend. The games are extra soft and they have a great bonus and VIP structure. The players are really passive which makes poker so much more relaxing. Feel free to use "dazza" as your signup code to get a $600 bonus and entry to their VIP system. I'm still playing at Pokerstars, but only between 1am – 4am EST. The games really loosen up during these hours at Pokerstars.

Watched a good movie over the weekend called "The Lookout". I would recommend it if you enjoy a movie with a bit more of a story, rather than full on action.

Today's Topic: The history of poker.

I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at the history of the game we all love so much.

There seem to be differences of opinion on the origin of Poker. Moreover, it appears there is no clear or direct early ancestor of the game. It is more likely that Poker derived its present day form from elements of many different games. The consensus is that because of its basic principal, its birth is a very old one.

Jonathan H. Green makes one of the earliest written references to Poker in 1834. In his writing, Green mentions rules to what he called the "cheating game," which was then being played on Mississippi riverboats. He soon realized that his was the first such reference to the game, and since it was not mentioned in the current American Hoyle, he chose to call the game Poker .

The game he described was played with 20 cards, using only the aces, kings, queens, jacks and tens. Two to four people could play, and each was dealt five cards. By the time Green wrote about it, poker had become the number one cheating game on the Mississippi boats, receiving even more action than Three-Card Monte. Most people taken by Three-Card Monte thought the 20-card poker seemed more a legitimate game, and they came back time and time again. It would certainly appear, then, that Poker was developed by the cardsharps.

The origin of the word Poker is also well debated. Most of the dictionaries and game historians say that it comes from an eighteenth-century French game, poque. However, there are other references to pochspiel, which is a German game. In pochspiel, there is an element of bluffing, where players would indicate whether they wanted to pass or open by rapping on the table and saying, "Ich Poche!" Some say it may even have derived come the Hindu word, pukka .

The game of Poker later evolved to include 32 cards, and eventually the modern day deck of 52, not counting the two Jokers.

The game of Poker has evolved through the years, through many backroom games to the present day casinos around the world. Its history is rich with famous places and characters. For example, during the Wild West period of United States history, a saloon with a Poker table could be found in just about every town from coast to coast.

Today, Poker is carefully regulated by gambling laws, and saloons have given way to casinos and cardrooms, but Poker is played more than any other card game in the world. It has grown into a sporting event, with competitions and tournaments all around the world. Tournaments take place almost every week of the year somewhere in the world.

If you compare the prizes of major sporting events around the world, you will find that the monetary outcome of any given event in Poker would (pardon the pun) stack up. Poker today is one of the fastest growing, but hardly recognized sporting events. The pinnacle of the poker world, The World Series of Poker, attracts players from all over the world every year to compete for money and titles as the world's top Poker players.

Poker will always be around and will continue to grow and flourish like so many other past times. There will always be a game to play, money to be won, and crowns to be worn.

Today's Link:

Cardplayer magazine is the world leading poker magazine. On their website they have a lot of great articles, videos, and interviews. Link here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Stars Bloodbath

Moved back to Pokerstars to continue with my Supernova quest. I got totally slaughtered today. Sets vs higher sets. Everyone hitting their draws etc. I really think that the level of play in the NL100 and above cash games is just that bit higher at Pokerstars than elsewhere. This leaves me with a real dilemma. I have just over 80000 vpp's so only need another 20000 to reach supernova. I was really looking forward to the perks that come with Supernova, but with the tables being so tight and aggressive, is Pokerstars the place I want to call home? I guess I'll battle through to 100000 and then decide.

Today's Topic: Don't tap the glass (looking after the fish).

With the general level of play improving across the board in poker, the true fish(bad player) is getting hard to come by. That is why it amazes me that when one finally decides to do his best to throw his money away, he often gets abused and berated by experienced players. If someone calls your all-in bet with a 3% chance of winning the hand, then hits his miracle card on the river, you should be congratulating and encouraging him. If he didn't win the occasional hand he would either give up on poker fairly quickly, or make a bigger effort to improve his game. Why abuse and let him know he only had a 3% chance of winning? All this encourages him to do is change his play next time. Let him have his odd bit of luck, say "nice hand" and move on to the next deal.

If you don't do your best as a winning play to make the game as enjoyable and fun as possible for the losing players, they will soon give up on poker and spend their money on other forms of entertainment. Remember that is what poker is to most people, a form of entertainment. It costs them money, but it is something they enjoy doing. The day it stops being enjoyable, is the day that there will be no losing players to donate their hard earned cash to you.

It is every winning player's duty to encourage and entertain the losing players, not berate and teach them the math's of the game.

Today's Link:

Today's link is a great Raw Vegas video from the WSOP lifestyle show, where they ask the promo girls if they know the meaning of common poker terms like "flop the nuts". Link here.

Have a great weekend everyone, and make sure you "Flop the nuts" every chance you get.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just a quickie

Just a short post today, as I'm just about to catch up with friends for a few drinks. Still no poker news to report. I've only play a couple of thousand hands the last 2 days so got some catching up to do for the rest of the week. Should be back playing on Pokerstars tomorrow, still chasing that Supernova.

Today's Topic: Poker site safety and precautions:

Today's topic was prompted by today's link below. I see a lot of people finding their funds disappear from their poker account, or getting their account locked by the poker site itself. This can be scary stuff, and with pokersites located in far away tax havens, you very often have little recourse. If you follow the precautions below, then the risks will be reduced significantly.

  • Safety and precautions:
  • Shut down your poker client software after every session you play
  • Install a good firewall program on your computer (I would recommend Zonealarm security suite)
  • Don't give your site password to anyone
  • Don't store your passwords in a file on your computer. Keeping them on a USB flash drive is a lot safer
  • If you are using a wireless internet connection ensure that it is encrypted to at least WEP standard
  • Play only on sites belonging to reputable networks. These would include, Pokerstars, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, Party poker, Bodog, Pacific, Everest, Ipoker network, Ongames network, and Cryptologic network.
  • Only keep as much money on any one poker site as you need to. Cash out the excess when it goes beyond a set amount.
  • Meeting pokersite obligations:

    If you don't want to get your account locked and funds possibly confiscated by a poker site follow the guidelines below. You can do some of these things on some sites safely, but your chances of having any problems will be minimized if you try to avoid them wherever possible.

  • Never open multiple accounts to clear bonuses twice on the one site. If you have a partner living with you, you will normally have no problems opening an account in their name from the same physical and IP address.
  • Try to avoid large transfers to and from other poker accounts.
  • Don't play in the same tournament from 2 computers from the same internet connection. Eg If a friend brings his laptop to your place, playing in the same tournament together can often cause problems
  • Don't use offensive language in the chatbox
  • Don't install or use prohibited programs while logged on to a poker site. These programs include PokerEdge PokerProphecy, StarSpy, WinHoldem, PokerSherlock, Poker Manager, Sixth Sense, PokerAndroid, PokerBot+, Holdem Hawk, Holdem Pirate, and Gambot. A full list of allowed and prohibited software at Pokerstars can be found here.
  • Don't withdraw all your money from a poker site instantly after clearing a bonus or making a deposit. You don't need to play a lot more, but a little extra play is always recommended.

If you follow these guidelines you should have no problems and little risk with any of the pokersites above.

Today's Link:

Hitler playing poker. If you play a lot of online poker you are bound to find the following link funny. Just be aware there is a lot of swearing in this link. Link here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random thoughts

Not much to report poker wise today. Didn't get much chance to play poker yesterday. It was a beautiful day here, so spent most of the day down at the beach reading a book, floating in the water and just relaxing. It's hard to get excited by the poker some days when the sun is shining and the beach is packed. Hoping to play a good number of hands tonight.

Today's Topic: Is it really random?

Something you read a lot of in the poker forums is posts on how online poker is rigged and you always seem to lose to that 1 outer on the river. Others talk about how it is impossible to have a truly random deal when a computer is calculating it. How do online poker sites create random cards and ensure a fair and unbiased shuffle?

Pokerstars and some other large sites use the following methods:

  • user input, including summary of mouse movements and events timing, collected from client software
  • true hardware random number generator developed by Intel, which uses thermal noise as an entropy source
  • Each of these sources itself generates enough entropy to ensure a fair and unpredictable shuffle.

It would be hard to argue that using the above two methods wouldn't create a random number. I think that it important to remember that when playing online poker that the sheer amount of hands that you play means that seemingly impossible situations occur sometimes. Secondly, the reason bad players keep playing and sometimes winning at poker is that the percentages usually give everyone a chance of winning in the short run. If someone goes all in with 2,7 and you call with AK they are going to win the hand with 2,7 three out of every ten times on average. The worst hand is not often that bigger dog in most all-in situation. In the long run the good players will always come out ahead. Lastly, a good player is only likely to earn about 5 BB/100 on average, so if you have just had a big day earning 20BB/100 then unfortunately you are due to have a bit of bad luck coming your way. It will all even out eventually. So next time you get sucked out on the river by that one outer, don't get angry about it and go on tilt. Be thankful that you got your money in the pot with the best of it, and if there weren't players willing to call you with small chance of winning then you would never make any money. Each time you get sucked out on, be happy that you are still playing better poker and getting your money in ahead. The days that you are doing the sucking out is the time you need to start worrying.

Today's Link:

If you are a sit n' go player a site that might interest you is SharkScope is the most complete database of online poker sit n' go tournament results available for most poker sites. Analyze your statistics to find out where you make all your money or use our Tournament Selector to find the easiest tournaments on the internet. You are allowed 5 free searches per day. Currently the database contains the results of 63,357,423 sit n' go tournament.




Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ride the Donkey

The last few nights I've been doing work on a spreadsheet for activities outside of poker. While I've been working I've constantly had a couple of satellite poker tourneys going on my second screen. I never realized how weak the competition is in these things. One of the weakest I've found is the $8 turbo satellites on Full Tilt to win $26 tokens. My simple strategy is to only play AA,KK,QQ, AK, AQ, and low pairs cheaply, unless my stack gets low, and if the flop comes out good get all my chip in the centre. By using this simple method so far each $26 dollar token costs about $15.50 on average. Since I only play them when I'm busy doing something else on the computer I use very little of my time. I've also won a few $75 tokens doing pretty much the same thing (they are tougher though). The thing to remember with satellites is that you are not playing to win the thing, just to get enough chips with the least risk to get into a prize place. If you don't have a big bankroll satellites are the perfect thing to play.

Today's Topic: Donkey Stacking

If you are having trouble beating the low level online NL Holdem cash games, then a strategy you might want to try is one called "Donkey Stacking". "Donkey Stacking" is a system where you play only the best hands and if you flop a huge hand try and get all the money into the centre. Hopefully a donkey (bad player) will call off his entire stack with either top pair top kicker or some sort of draw (hence the name donkey stacking). It's a low variance system ideal for NL10 or NL25. The system works as follows:

  • Preflop: The hands you raise are AA,KK,QQ, AK, AQs. The hands you call are any pocket pair. This will mean that you end up playing about 11% of all hands.
  • AA KK: Always reraise AA, KK before the flop. Reraise at least 15% of your stack so you are not giving people the correct odds to call with their small pairs and hit a set on the flop. A lot of the time everyone will fold to you but it will pay off in the long run
  • Pocket pair: To call a raise with a pocket pair you need to make sure when calling that both you and your opponent have at least 10 times the amount of the raise remaining in your stacks. In NL25 you don't usually want to call a raise of more than $1.50 with a pocket pair.
  • AK AQs: Only call raises of a maximum of 4 times the big blind before the flop with these two hands.

  • On the flop:

  • AA KK: If you raise 15% of your stack preflop with these 2 hands and the flop comes out low, then bet the pot size on the flop, and get all-in on the turn. If you have KK and an Ace flops bet ¾ of the pot, and if called or raised check or fold on the turn. If you have AA and a king or queen comes on the flop then play the hand a lot slower. Often the only hands that will call 15% of your stack preflop are KK, or QQ.
  • Pocket pair: On the flop your aim is to flop a set from your pocket pair. This will occur about 8% of the time on average. Even if on the flop your pair is an overpair to the board, still fold to a bet. If you do flop a set the goal is obviously to try and get as much money into the pot as possible. If you are against an aggressive opponent this can sometimes mean letting him do the betting for you. If against a calling station you obviously want to do the betting yourself. If you are unsure, always play the hand aggressively even though people will often fold to you, you will get a better payoff in the long run. If there are any sort of flush or straight draws on board also play the hand aggressively. Often when you make an oversized bet on the flop a lot of people think you are weak and will reraise.
  • AK AQs: Play both theses hands slower on the flop, even if you hit an Ace you don't often want to get your entire stack into the centre with just top pair, top kicker.
  • Big Blind: If you get to play any hands from the big blind then try not to get too much money into pot unless you have a minimum of 2 pair. If you drawing to a flush or high end of an open ended straight draw then never call a bet of more than 2/3's of the pot size to see the next card.

The real art to "Donkey Stacking" is extracting the most profit out of your opponents when you hit a set. This can take a while to master, but always remember to play your sets an AA aggressively most of the time. A lot of the time you will fold a hand that you know is the best hand, don't worry that is just part of "Donkey Stacking". Because you are playing so few hands and have a fixed strategy for these hands, then "Donkey Stacking" allows you to Multi-table a lot easier. Try to build up to at least 6 tables at once when "Donkey Stacking". While "Donkey Stacking" can work well up to NL50, at NL100 and beyond it is a lot harder to get opponents to commit their stack with just Top Pair, Top kicker. At this level you have to play a more pure form of poker to win. The idea behind "Donkey Stacking" is that once you are winning with this method then you slowly increase the range of hands that you play, and change your playing style to become a top player with a good solid base.

  • Profit's from donkey stacking: A good "Donkey Stacker" would expect to make at least 2BB/100 at NL25. If you are playing 6 tables then you will play about 400 hands per hour. This works out to a profit of around $4 per hour. If you add in bonus clearing of about $4 per hour as well, then you will average about $8 - $10 per hour. Yes, you are never going to get rich with this method, but if you are currently a losing low limit player, then it will give you the basis to improve your game while making some money at the same time.

Today's Link:

#1 Poker search is today's link. It is a poker search service that only indexes the best poker websites. There is a lot of great poker information on the web, but it can sometimes be hard work finding it. #1 poker search will help you find information a lot quicker and easier.

Monday, August 13, 2007

+ EV

Yes another week is upon us. Had a steady weekend on the poker tables. Played in the "raise the river" poker league tourney on Sunday morning for a bit of fun. Ended up going out early with my QQ getting outdrawn by a flush draw (yet again). When I left, Yorkshire pudding was way out in front, hitting everything and going for his second win.

Today's Topic: +EV Hands.

Just out of curiosity I ran some simulations on Pokerstove over the weekend. I wanted to find out what hand you would need to be a favorite over the rest of the table if everyone went all in with random hands before the flop. Obviously this isn't likely to ever happen (except maybe heads-up) but it is interesting to see if everyone has folded to you 2 before the button what hand you would need on average to have the best hand. It is especially usefully in a Tournament when the blinds are getting bigger and your stack is getting small, what hands you should start pushing with and have a good chance that you have the best hand. Here's the result:

Heads-up    Q6o

3 players    K5o

4 players    K7o

5 players    K8o

6 players    K9o

7 players    K9o

8 players    K9o

9 players    K9o

10 players    K10o

So interesting enough there is not a big difference between 4 players to 10 players, in this situation if you are holding king 9 or better then on average you are likely to have the best hand at the table. Lower than what I thought it would be. So next time you are low stacked in a tournament and look down at a K9o it could be worth pushing with.

Today's Link:

Pokerstove is a great little free application. If you are ever unsure if you were ahead or behind in any given poker hand, just enter each person's hand and it will compute the win percentages for you. Great to use when reviewing a session. Download it here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Things going too well!

I really don't want to jinx myself but…. Things are just going really well for me in poker lately. I'm consistently beating the NL100 games, placing in a few tournies, and feel like my game is still improving.

Poker is a funny thing. When things are going well, hitting your draws, bluffs working, hitting flops, I feel like the best poker player in the world. My confidence skyrockets and I think I'm ready to take on the pros at the Bellagio. It only takes one or two days of suckouts, missed draws, and your bluffs being check raised constantly, to bring you straight back to reality. It's one of the things I really enjoy about poker. The constant challenge, knowing no matter how much you have played, how many books you have read, that there is still so many things to learn about and improve your game.

I'm hoping to start taking shots at the NL200 games at the start of September. From what I have read the level of play isn't that much higher, the players are just a bit more aggressive. The next level NL400 is apparently where the level of play increased a lot, and playing ABC poker is no longer effective. I find when moving up a level I feel more confident buying in short (half the max) for a little while, until I have a good feel for the new limit.

Today's Topic: Computer setup.

If you are just a casual online player playing one table at a time, then any computer is a good computer. If you want to move up and start Multi –Tabling and run various poker software aids at the same time then your setup becomes a lot more vital. If playing 6 tables or more then these are the minimum specs that I would recommend:

  • 2 Ghz dual core processor (dual core is essential for multi-tabling some sites).
  • 1 GB ram (2 GB recommended but I have 9 tabled fine with only 1GB)
  • 100 GB hard drive (you don't need a lot of HDD space for poker but if you are using the computer for other uses then make sure you always have at least 10GB free to stop slowdown)
  • 21" monitor with 1680x 1050 resolution (a 24" monitor 1920 x 1200 resolution is ideal but a lot more expensive, I can 12 table on a 21" okay but the cards are a bit small)
  • Second monitor (this monitor can be anything 15" or bigger but is essential for displaying all your other poker software while using the main screen for poker tables)
  • Any current graphics card with dual monitor output is sufficient.
  • Evoluent ergonomic mouse (essential if multi - tabling more than 3 hours per day)
  • Windows XP (while Vista works fine with most sites and software, it still has major problems with some applications)

A computer with the above specs can easily be purchased for around $1000 these days so it makes multi – tabling online poker accessible to almost everyone. If I had extra money to spend I would firstly look at a notebook with the above specs and secondly the 24" monitor does make a big difference if getting serious about the game.

Notebook vs Desktop: While a desktop computer will do everything required, a notebook computer is certainly a lot more versatile. If you want to play while on holiday it is easy to take the notebook with you. I can 9 table on my notebook while laying in bed on cold mornings, and with a 3G data card you can play poker virtually anywhere. I have found the Telstra 3G data service to be rock solid, and at $49 per month good value (poker sites don't use a lot of bandwidth, when 9 tablling roughly 20mb per hours) so a 1GB plan is sufficient. The notebook computer I own is the Dell Inspiron 1720 notebook with upgraded screen (1920 x 1200). This notebook is perfect for a serious online poker player.

Link of the Day:

Today's link is a free autohotkey script called "Bigpotgrabber". If you multi – table you aren't always able to keep track of all the big hands happening on all tables. This program will graphically shows you all the big hands plays, enabling you to make notes on the involved player tendencies. Essential for all low limit grinders. Link here.

Have a great weekend everyone and remember Hold'em is a game of calculated aggression: If your cards are good enough for you to call a bet, they are good enough to raise with.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What does it all mean?

With Pokerstars latest update yesterday all my AHK scripts stopped working. While I can still play 9 tables okay without hotkeys, I find it to be a bit like hard work. So until I get it sorted out I'm back at Full Tilt for a few days. I played in one of their $24 tourneys last night. I don't often play tourneys so was surprised to see that even when people have a sizable stack it was pretty much standard practice to jam it all in with top pair and a decent kicker. I used a couple of new strategies I learned from the "Full Tilt strategy guide" and managed to finish in the top 10, out of over 400 players for a nice little payout. I finally got all my money in before the flop with QQ but was called with AK and saw both an Ace and King come on the flop. More cash game action today and I still say that the low limit cash games are softer at Full Tilt than Pokerstars.

Today's Topic: Pokertracker Stats. What does it all mean?

A lot of people use pokertracker (if you don't, then you should), but very few players know what to look for when analyzing their Pokertracker stats. The first thing you should always do is at the end of each poker session you should use the Pokertracker replay hand history feature to look at the 10 hand you made and lost the most money on in that day. See what mistakes you made and if you had correct odds for making calls. Also check if there were any opportunities to have made more money off your winning hands. While there are many different styles and ways to make money playing poker, the following range of cash game figures is a good start to see if you are playing well.

  • Voluntarily Put $ Into the Pot % (VP$IP%) This statistic is how often you put money into the pot when you have nothing in the pot so far. In general, you only want to be playing hands when they'll make you money in the long term. In general, a VP$IP% of 16-20% is considered reasonable, with 16% being incredibly tight, and over 24% being somewhat loose.
  • Preflop Raise (PF Raise) Raising pre-flop gives you a few advantages. First, it gets opponents to fold. No matter what cards they fold, your odds of winning the hand increase. It may even force a better hand to fold. In general, raising between 9% and 13% of the time is reasonable. A percentage below that is usually to tight, and a percentage above that is too reckless.
  • Aggression factor (Total AF) our aggression factor is calculated by (Raise % + Bet %) / (Call %), which means an aggression factor of 1.00 means you Raise or Bet as often as you Call. In general, an aggression level between 2.0 and 2.5 is considered quite aggressive. A low aggression factor means you are a passive player, and are probably not making the most out of every hand.
  • Went to Showdown (Went to SD%) This figure reflects how often you played a hand past the river. This figure should sit between 25 -35%. If it is below 25% then you are probably folding winning hands too often. If it is above 35% then you may be paying off with too many losing hands.
  • Big Bets per 100 (BB/100) This figure represents the amount of big bets that you have won (For NL holdem a big bet in Pokertracker is 2x the big blind, so for .5/$1 a BB is $2). A good player is expected to win between 2-5 BB/100, over a large number of hands (at least 20000)

For the above statistics to be most relevant you need to have a minimum of 10000 hands recorded in your Pokertracker database, and preferably over 20000 hands of data. If you are unsure where to find these figures in, or are having difficulty setting up Pokertracker then I would definitely recommend the "Pokertracker Guide" by Iggy.

Link of the Day:

This link is an Utube video for anyone interested in poker history. It is called "One of a kind" and follows the life of "Stu Ungar", who many consider to be the greatest poker player of all times. A sad story which chronicles the reality of gambling, not just the glamour. Link here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

No news is good news

Not much poker news from me today. Started my day off badly with a few suckouts going against me on Pokerstars, but pulled it back and ended up ahead for the day. In poker any day in the black is always a good day.

Topic of the day: The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition (Book Review)

Just finished reading this new book over the weekend. The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide (Tournament Edition) features a dozen world-class poker players who tell you what it takes to make the final table at a major tourney and how to up your game to a higher level. Included in the dozen players are two World Series of Poker winners—Huck Seed and Chris Ferguson. The others are Howard Lederer, Phil Gordon, Gavin Smith, Ted Forrest, David Grey, Mike Matusow, Andy Bloch, Rafe Furst, Richard Brodie and Keith Sexton.

There are 19 meaty chapters to this book. Subjects include no-limit play and the Theory of Leverage; Play Before the Flop; Play After the Flop; Big Stack Play; Short-Stack Play and Online Tournament Strategy. Chapters also focus on pot limit hold'em; limit hold'em; Omaha eight or better, and pot limit Omaha. Chapters also discuss seven card stud tournament play; seven stud eight or better and one on razz.

Even though I don't play a lot of tournaments this book still had a lot of very interesting material and was well-edited. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to improve their tournament game.

Get it from

Today's Link:

Poker Player magazine is a free magazine distributed in cardrooms throughout America. While some of the articles are aimed more at Americans there is still a lot of great advice for all poker players. Download the latest issue in PDF form from here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Another day another dollar

I went and saw the movie "Mr Brooks" last night, and it was really good. I'm not a big Kevin Costner fan, but he did an excellent job of playing the role of a psychotic killer. If you enjoy thriller movies make sure that you check it out.

Another steady day playing at Pokerstars. Just lately things have been very smooth no big upswings, no big downswings. I know that I'm tempting fate by saying it, but things actually get a bit boring when you happily run along at a 2bb win rate. I'm sure someone will flick the doom-switch any day now.

Today's Topic: Bankroll Management

I get asked by friends that if they have a $500 bankroll what limit they should be playing. The first thing to bear in mind is that if you are just a social player who enjoys playing poker and if you happen to go bust then you just wait to reload with next week's paycheck, then bankroll requirements are fairly irrelevant. Play at a level you enjoy, can afford, and are comfortable at is my best advice. Secondly if you are a losing player then regardless of your bankroll you will lose it eventually if you are not good enough to beat the game.

If you are a semi serious winning player who doesn't want to lose their bankroll by hitting an unlucky losing streak then the following guidelines are the general recommendations:

  • Tournaments: If you play MTT or STT tournaments then you should have an absolute minimum, 100 buyins in your account. 200 would be preferable. For all serious players, 100 buyins is the standard, although there is nothing wrong with taking shots at a higher level with less. You can make adjustments for this depending on how willing you are to move down in stakes after a downswing. If you don't mind jumping around stakes, as few as 30-50 buyins might be enough. However, it is preferable to only move up once you have 100 buyins at a given level so if you DO happen to go on a bad run, you won't have to move down to recover. So if you want to play $10 tournaments it is recommend that you have a minimum $1000 bankroll.
  • Ring Games: A bankroll of 300 Big Bets is the standard recommendation. If you are playing $1/$2, you should have $600 available in your bankroll. If this bankroll cannot be replenished, then you should often have more than 300 BB's available for your current stake. You can certainly take shots at a limit with less than 300 BB's, but be prepared to drop down if you hit a downswing. If you are playing 6-max tables, you will need an even larger bankroll to survive the higher variance.

These guideline might sound overly cautious to a beginner, but once you have experiences the inevitable losing streaks that everyone encounters at some stage, you will understand the reason for these recommendations.

Today's Link:

Today's link is one that I found on Iggy's blog that is a great prop bets to try on your friends some time. Link here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

If it’s free it’s me

Hope everyone had a good and profitable weekend. I find the weekends can be a funny time to play online poker. After about 9pm EST I find that most of the recreational players have gone out to party on Friday and Saturday nights, leaving the tables full of solid, dedicated poker players. Not a good time to be playing. If you can wait until about 2am EST (about 5pm Australian time), things seem to loosen up considerable as a lot of drunk recreational players come home after a big night out, and decide a bit of online poker is a good idea. I find as a general rule the most consistently soft times to play poker are Monday and Tuesday night EST.

I spent a bit of my weekend going around all my poker accounts cashing in poker points for worthless merchandise. I've got poker books, pokers T's, Beach towels, Caps, and software all coming my way. While I'm sure a lot of it will end up in the bin, it's always nice receiving a package in the mail.

Today's Topic: Poker Hand Nicknames

You often see people using different nicknames for poker hands when discussing poker in the chat boxes. If you are unsure of some of the nicknames, below is a list of Texas Hold'em starting hand nicknames that have stood the test of time.

AA     Rockets; Bullets; American Airlines
KK     Cowboys
QQ     Canadian Rockets; Canadian Aces; Siegfried & Roy
JJ     Fishhooks; hooks
88     Snowmen; Doggie Balls
77     Sunset Strip
66     Route 66
55     Presto; Speed Limit
44     Canadian Presto
33     Crabs
22     Ducks

AK     Big Slick
AQ     Big Chick; Walking Back to Houston
KQs     Marriage
KQo     Mixed Marriage
KJ     Kojak
K9     Fido; What a Dog
K3     Commander Crab; King Crab
Q7     Computer hand
Q3     Gay Waiter (queen with a tray)
J5     Motown; Jackson Five
T8     Golden Dan
T5     F&W Woolworth's; Five and Dime
T4     Broderick Crawford; Convoy; Good Buddy
T2     Texas Dolly
98     Oldsmobile
96     Big Lick; Dinner for Two
95     Dolly Parton
92     Montana Banana
83     Most feared hand in Holdem
7T     Split
76     Union Oil

72    The Hammer

Today's Link:

For any users of Pokertracker the following free software is a great program which calculates and graphs how lucky or unlucky you have been in any given timeframe. It's always interesting to know if you have been unlucky in any given session of just played badly. This program will help answer this question. Link to Poker-EV here.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Let’s cash those points

I cashed in my Full Tilt points yesterday for a bunch of useless merchandise. I didn't have enough points to get anything worthwhile, and couldn't see me earning enough in the future to make it worthwhile saving them. I got myself a Poker book, JVC headphones, Poker Set, and a beach towel. It got me thinking that I've built up a ton of loyalty points at various sites over the last couple of years. The plan was to save them up, but I think I might spend the weekend going round the various sites cashing in my points for worthless merchandise, should be a bit of fun.

Had another good day on Pokerstars. As I've mentioned before the NL50 Pokerstars games after 1am EST are some of the softest around. Often after a day of work I'm a bit tired to concentrate on playing my A game at NL100. The Pokerstars NL50 games are perfect for these times. If you are Australian the soft time is between about 3pm and 7pm before all the games die off.

Today's Topic: Online payment processors

If you plan on playing a decent amount of poker and want to clear bonuses on various poker sites then it is essential to setup an online ewallet. An ewallet is sort of like an online bank account where you cash money to and from each poker site. The advantage of the ewallet is that payments between the poker sites and your ewallet happen relatively quickly so it makes moving money to various poker sites quite simple. The three main ewallet options are Neteller, Epassporte, and Click 2 pay.

  • Neteller is the granddad of online poker ewallets. At one stage they pretty much dominated the poker scene. Because of this the US government took exception to them during their online gambling crackdown and has done their best to cripple neteller. To their credit Neteller has done their best during this difficult period, and now might be making a comeback. Neteller is a listed company on the London AIM exchange (they have just been relisted), which help ensures their integrity.

    • Pros: Are accept by most online poker sites, Reasonably secure, able to link to a Neteller Mastercard (for easy withdrawals at any ATM around the world) , good customer service
    • Cons: Processing fees are not cheap, Neteller could find it harder to survive now they do not accept American, or Canadian customers.
  • Epassporte is a lesser known ewallet. They offer a similar service to Neteller, but are accepted by less poker sites. They have high fees for getting money into your account, but low fees for poker site transfers and withdrawals. So if you are a winning player and don't need to keep loading new money on to your Epassporte account, then they are by far the cheapest ewallet.

    • Pros: Cheapest ewallet once funds are in your account, linked to an Epassport visa card (for easy withdrawals at any ATM around the world), can link to a US bank account for fund transfers.
    • Cons: Not
      able to be used at a lot of poker sites, average customer service, high fees for initial deposit, low transfer limits.
  • Click2pay is a German ewallet which offers a fairly similar service to the above two.

    • Pros: Easy account setup, accepted by most poker sites, good customer service.
    • Cons: The most expensive fees of the three, average web site account management features.

My recommendation is to get both an Epassporte and Neteller account. If you only want or need one account then stick with neteller as it is accepted by nearly every poker site. If you are a winning poker player (Don't have to reload often) and mainly play on Pokerstars, and Full Tilt, then I think that Epassporte is the best option. Also I would recommend to keep only as much money as you need to with any ewallet. While I feel the 3 ewallets above are all reasonable secure, they will never be anywhere near as safe and secure as your bank account.

Today's Link:

I can't find any interesting links today, so today's link is Yes here. If you have any questions or queries about anything to do with online poker, place it in the comments field below and I'll do my best to answer it.

Have a good weekend everybody and remember you can lead a horse to water, but only a donkey will follow you to the river.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Supernova here I come

I'm back playing on Pokerstars for the month. I 'm determined to reach Supernova level and I'll be going out all month to achieve it. I have stepped back to playing 9 tables at a time on Pokerstars. The tables seem to act really fast at Pokerstars, and I think trying to keep up with 12 tables was leading to some costly mistakes for me. The only site I've found where the action moves faster is Ultimate bet.

All the American players with suspended funds in Neteller for the last 6 months have started to have those funds paid to them finally. I am hoping this will loosen up the tables a bit. I think many Americans had given up on ever getting their Neteller money returned so some of them may see it as free money and play a bit looser with it. Fingers crossed.

Today's Topic: Professional No-Limit Hold'em (Book review)

I have just finished reading a new book called "Professional No-Limit Hold'em" by Matt Flynn and Ed Miller. Ed Miller was responsible for writing one of the classic books on poker called "Small Stakes Hold'em", so I have been looking forward to reading this for a while.

This book really teaches you how to play and think like a professional. It shows how to size your bets, manage the pot, manipulate your opponents, know when to go all-in, and avoid the big mistake. It includes critical no-limit concepts like The REM Process, The Commitment Threshold, and Stack-To-Pot Ratios.

I found this book extremely well written and easy to read. Very complicated subjects are explained very simply and in a manner that is easy to understand. I'd have to say most of the materials in the book are geared towards play with "aggressive" or "tricky" opponents which as you move up limits you will find more of. But you will find benefit from this book no matter what blind level you play. You will just find more benefit from certain parts of the book when facing different types of opponents.

I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to improve their poker game.

Get it from

Today' Link

If you ever want to know how many players are playing any level of game on any site then the place to find it is

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What to play

Hi everybody. I Didn't feel like playing cash games today, so played in a few tourneys instead. I hardly ever play tourneys and often find them frustrating. It's hard when you spend 3 hours getting close to the money to lose to a 2 outer. I didn't cash in any of the tourneys except to win a satellite to pokerstars Sunday millions. It was fun for a change of pace though. Also did a bit of online casino whoring. 7 sultans is offering a $50 no deposit bonus at the moment. Ended up turning it into $90 after a few hours play. Gotta love FREE money.

Today's Topic: Cash games, Sit n Go, or Multi Table Tournaments.

A few friends just starting out playing poker have asked me what format of poker they should play, and what they can earn more money playing. Personally I prefer cash games, but the first thing to consider is what you enjoy playing. Some people make better tourney players while some are better at the cash games, just play some of each and see what you prefer.

  • Sit and gos (SNG): SNG's are basically a single table tournament. Each player buys in for so many chips and usually the top 3 places divide the prize pool. 2 years ago there was a lot of bad play and making money from SNG's was fairly easy. Today there are a lot of people multi-tabling the SNG's who play very well and getting an edge has become harder. SNG's are a fun format and certainly at the lower levels (up to $20 buyins) the level of play is still low. I recommend SNG's for beginners to play before moving on to cash games or tourneys. The risks are low and it is a cheap way to learn poker.
  • Multi Table Tournaments (MTT) In a MTT each player buys in for a set amount to get a set amount of chips. Normally the prize pool is distributed to the last 10% of player remaining. The great thing about MTTs is that the prize pool can be quite large with first place prizes even for $30 MTTs exceeding $10,000. This is the only form of poker you have a chance to win this sort of money for a small investment. The downside is that it normally takes at least 2-3 hours before you reach the money, and getting knocked out after 3 hours for no money can get frustrating.
  • Cash games: In cash games you buy in for real money and each bet you place is for real money, rather than chips. The upside to cash games is that your rewards are instant and for skilled players it is possible to have a large edge over worse players. The downside is if you play above your level, or have a bad run, cash games can become very expense. If you are a new poker player I would recommend starting off playing micro stakes and only moving up a level when you are a proven winner at that level.

Which one can you earn more money at?

I'll try and answer this by looking at it from a mathematics point of view. Say for example you had $600 to play with each day for 4 hours then the equation would be as follows. I'll look at the return on investment (ROI) for each form of poker.

  • Sit and goes (SNG) A good player can play 6 SNG's at once and on average a SNG averages out to about 45 mins each. This mean that for a $600 investment you could play 26 $20 SNGs in a 4 hour period. The ROI for a good $20 SNG player is about 17% or $3.4 per SNG on average. So a good player would expect to earn $3.4 x 26 = $88.40.

  • Multi Table Tournaments (MTT) A good MTT player expects about a 75% ROI and on average. I would say that a normal MTT session would be about 3 hours. If you multi-table 4 $20 then you could average about 5 MTTs in 4 hours. So $20 x 70%=$14 ROI per MTT. $14 x 5 = $70.
  • Cash games: With $600 daily investment you could 9 table the NL50 games. An average ROI on investment is about 3 PTBB per 100, which is $3 per table per 100 hands. Normal speed of online poker tables is about 75 hand per hour, so playing 9 table then you could expect to play 2700 hands in 4 hours. $3 x 27 = $81

In conclusion all games offer a fairly similar ROI. The main advantage I find in cash games is that there are always plenty of games running, and lots of levels to move up. Also the cash games clear the bonuses at a good rate. But find out which one you enjoy most and stick with it.

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