Posts Tagged ‘Poker Strategy’

When I began playing poker, I used to be a regular calling station and used to feel pretty depressed when I lost a hand with good hole cards. I called every such hand a bad beat, and it took me a while to realize that I was playing it all wrong. I wasn’t thinking. Poker is a skill game, and it requires a lot of thinking; and outthinking. It usually doesn’t work if you are calling everything that comes your way, and it takes you a while to learn that there is no shame in folding. It is then I learned about poker odds. Robert Border, my friend and colleague, later refined the technique for me and my game improved immensely.

Well, some poker players depend on bluffing their way to victory, while others try to guess what is in your hand. If you want a better strategy in your poker arsenal, you can utilize the power of mathematics to get an upper hand, this is what I learned the smart way. Calculating, counting and thinking about numbers in your head during a high tension game might seem quite daunting, but employing a “poker odds tactic” is actually pretty easy to learn, the only thing is that it may take some time to get used to. There are a number of very complicated formulae available for you to learn and try out, but as long as you comprehend the basic concept of poker pot odds, these techniques would be a lot easier to learn. Here are a few are poker odds tips that I tried to put in layman terms so that it would be pretty easiest to understand. A few minutes of reading them can give you a lifetime of triumphant poker battles, trust me.

Poker odds utilize the odds of winning when you are on a drawing hand. Its main purpose is to aid you in deciding of whether to call or not to call, rather than be a reckless calling station. This technique comes in handy when you are on a straight draw or a flush. Your decision in poker odds will be based on the probability of completing your hand, along with your bet and the pot size. There are two ways to utilize poker odds. The more complex way is the ratio method, while the other simpler way is called the percentage method.

The Ratio Method

For example, consider the situation of getting a flush in a game of Texas Holdem Poker. You have two cards of the same suit in your hand, and you fortunately discover two cards of the same suit on the flop as well. The difficult question is should you call or should you fold to a sizable bet? Books and forums often recommend the ratio method to calculate poker pot odds. So you have two cards of the same suit on your hand, and there are three cards on the flop, two of which have the same suit as your hand as well; what you need to do is to find out how likely it is for you to get a fifth card of the same suit on the turn or the river in order to successfully complete a flush. There are five cards in the table that you know of including your two hand cards, and the three cards on the flop. This leaves you with 47 cards on the deck that you absolutely don’t know anything about. In that deck of 47, 9 cards can complete your flop, while the other 38 will not. If we put that into a ratio: 38:9, or simplified 4:1. This is what you call the card odds. Now, compare the card odds with the pot odds. In order to calculate the pot odds, you should delve into the size of the pot. If your opponent bets $20 into a pot that is worth $80, the pot is now worth $100. If you look into this, it means that you have to call and bet $20 as well in order to win the $100. If you consider that in your calculations, it makes your odds $100:$20, simplified, you get 5:1 as your pot odds.

Now you have 4:1 as card odds, and 5:1 as poker odds. Here comes the trick. You should only call when the pot odds are larger than the card odds. In the long run, this will make you win more money.

The easier poker odds method which is actually a lot more plausible to use in a game is the percentage method. Here are the mechanics of this poker odds strategy.

The Percentage Method

  • You should now use the possibility of a straight draw in order to figure out if you should call or not. If you have a seven or nine in your hand, while the flop has 6, 8, and an ace. This means that you need a 5 or a 10 in order to successfully complete a straight draw.
  • The card odds: There are 4 fives and 4 tens in the deck that could complete our straight, which gives you a total of 8 outs. Outs are cards that can successfully complete your hand. In order to find out our percentage, you need to double the outs and add one. Calculated:
  • Double the outs: 8 x 2 = 16; add one = 17
  • Therefore, you have a 17% chance of successfully completing that straight
  • You should now compare the card odds to the pot odds. Your opponent bets $30 to make the pot $90. In order to win the pot, you have to call $30 as well, which makes you win $120. Always use the final amount when it comes to calculating percentages. Calculated.
  • $30 is twenty-five percent of $120
  • The card odds are 17%; the pot odds are 25 percent

The rule is to never call if the pot odds are greater than the card odds. The percentage of making your hand should always be greater than the poker pot odds. You can employ poker odds on a number of different card combinations, just always be smart about your calculations and you’re home free.

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Sherlock Holmes seems to be my current flavor! As long as interesting lessons keep getting learned, all is good. Now, Holmes was extremely choosy and precise about his knowledge. Can you beat the fact that he did not know that the solar system existed and that the earth rotated around the sun! But whatever he knew, he knew it to perfection. Now for those who are less aware, poker is far from a gambling proposition. It is a game of chance, yes, however a calculated chance and probability and odds all of which are dictated by mathematical judgment. Thus one has to be exact and perfect with the technical knowledge of the game. One has to develop a keep sense of poker judgment. A number of tools are available these days to assist you and help evaluate your game. Find out just how much of a bad beat you suffered or whether or not you made a good call with the Poker Odds Calculator. Or you could try a poker stats tracker which lets you keep track of every single penny you win or lose playing poker and provides charts, graphs, and stats for tournaments and cash games! Will help in only enhancing your poker judgment.

PT3/HEM are even better software coming up now-a-days. By reading and gaining an understanding of the game you will be able to look at the HUD and think: well I hold x… He plays a range which probably beats me right now, however his post flop play is weak and he tends to fold to decent sized bets in this situation. Therefore my best option is to raise. He will fold x% of the time. I know that my bet has to only work y% in order to show a profit. Other than cards 1, 2, or 3 coming on the turn, if he calls I am done with this hand. The important aspect here is to be thorough with what you know and always in tune with the latest. There are many tools available and it’s easy to get lost in the swarm. One must not forget that these are tools after all and play a role in “aiding” your own original play and poker judgment. With a healthy mix of intuition and these latest software that technology offers, you’re sure to be on the roll!

The easiest way to make money online by playing poker is to maximize the productive output of every single resource you can lay your hands onto and increase your awareness of the game and your poker judgment 🙂

Being able to figure out what kind of poker hand your opponent has is the difference between winning and losing in poker. You usually make a guess based on previous behavior, how much aggression your opponent has shown so far, the position your opponent is in (acting first is a huge disadvantage) and so on.

Starting Hand Chart (Courtesy of pokerGTA.com)

If you make no estimate what kind of poker  hand your opponent has, you can only reason in three ways:
a) You assume he always has the best poker hand. So you throw away your hand.
b) You assume he always has the worst hand. So you put your chips in.
c) You bet big if you have good cards, and you throw your cards away when your cards are lousy.
Clearly (a) and (b) are bad strategies.

The last strategy is not as bad as the other two, but still terrible. More often than not your cards are bad. So your opponent will figure out you’re not willing to make large bets with lousy cards, so every time you don’t bet, he will, and every time you bet, he won’t. You’re going to lose your chips that way. This is basic game theory.

So you need to figure out what cards he could have been dealt so that his actions make sense. Then, from that range of plausible cards, figure out how often he has a better hand than you do. If you like your odds, you put your chips in. Otherwise, you throw your cards away.

It’s a lot more complex than this, of course. But the point is that “estimating your opponent’s hands”, as difficult as it may be, is absolutely crucial if you want to win.

Different players think of different levels.

A beginner will primarily focus on what his own cards are. An intermediate will focus on what his opponent’s cards are. A more advanced player will focus on what his opponent thinks his cards are and so on. The best poker players in the world are experts at figuring out which level you’re thinking on so they can think one level beyond you.

Once you estimate your opponent’s range based on his style, the cards, his previous actions, etc, you need to know what to do with that information. There are dozens of online poker software specially designed to help with the second part.

Estimating your opponent’s hands I assume means guessing what range of holdings he would play that way. For instance, if a tight player raises under the gun, you can narrow down his hands to just a few. It has immense value; in fact, it’s the hardest part of the game. Figuring out what to do once you’ve estimated someone’s hand is (with a little practice and the help of a good computer program) pretty easy.

The entire game is one big war to see who can estimate his opponents’ hands the best, while preventing his opponents from doing the same to him.

No, I’m not referring to a new shooting angle with my webcam here; nor am I talking about shooting at the nearest shooting range; nor about pool playing angles; I am talking about that set of actions undertaken by clever cheats which occupy a strange gray area in the game of poker.

Angle shooting is engaging in actions that may technically be within the scope of the rules of the game, but that are considered unethical or unfair to exploit or take advantage of another player. For example, an angle shooter might motion as if he were folding his hand to induce other players to fold theirs out of turn.

Angle Shooting

Angle Shooting Like the time when I was playing this online poker tourney where there were these two players who were taking 20-30 seconds every time it was their turn to play. They did it every single time as if they were in cahoots. One of them was continuously chatting in some foreign language and the other was constantly aiming abuse at the pot-winning participant, including me. Is the slow playing taking it away from me, I wondered….I figured the only advantage he was getting was by aggravating and angering everyone on the table and put a couple of them on tilt even.

Look at another setting: Arin, my friend, was at a showdown and this guy deliberately miscalls his hand – probably with the intention of influencing Arin who may have had a better hand, to muck! I mean, Arin had top pair, and Mr. Miscaller very likely had a lower pair, but he declares on the chat, “I have the straight”

Arin folds in anger and frustration. The whole table realized that Mr. Miscaller was lying but it was no use – Arin had folded a winner, the angle shooter guy took the nice big pot!

Yet another form of angle shooting which is pretty exclusive to online poker is to abuse the disconnect protection (DP) rules most internet poker sites have in place. Disconnect Protection is a rule exclusive to online poker rooms whereby if a player is disconnected from the site in the middle of the hand his hand is played out as if he were all-in without the player actually having to put any more money in the pot. The online poker rooms that offer DP usually have specific tables set aside for this so that all players at the table are aware that the special DP rules will apply. How this is used by angle shooters is if a player is in a hand that he is unsure if he has the best cards and doesn’t want to invest any more money to find out. He can unplug his internet connection and then wait for the hand to play itself out. On a DP table the remaining cards in the hand would be dealt and the pot would be awarded to the player with the best cards. If there were multiple opponents in the hand then he would be eligible for a side pot, of course!Poker Cheating Device

Angle shooting is done to manipulate your opponents and gain an unfair edge in the game. And they are mostly lacking in evidence since the intention can never be proved and the defaulter can get away with it pretending or claiming that it was a legit error. Make sure that you observe and mark the pattern of such angle shooters clearly. You will find that inadvertently they will repeat their tactics and then you have them. File a complaint with the online poker site that you are playing on, or stay away from these compulsive cheaters.

There is no stopping the cheater who wants to have a go at his techniques – he will constantly re-invent himself and try staying a step ahead of normal honest players. Like the old poker story goes: “Stop cheating!” the dealer told the poker player. “I’m not!” claimed the player. “You must be,” said the dealer. “That is not the poker hand that I dealt you.”

1. Add fish to your Buddy List

This is a very popular suggestion, many good players on Party Poker. Checking out your list of friends and you can see when your favorite maniacs are logging on to play. Even if you do not see exactly where they sit at the table, you can manually search through the tables to find their target.

This tip is mainly useful if you are adding maniacs to your buddy list, as maniacs tend to create table dynamics that are much better for you than say, a calling station. With a maniac at the table and five calling stations for example, there will be serious pots being generated, so you can score big if you hit your cards. At the same token however, with so many drawers in the pot, your chances for getting outdrawn are very high. Just remember that.

2. Click between game tabs to refresh your table listings

This trick is useful mainly for SnG (sit and go / single table) tournaments, which are notoriously quick to fill up. Many times, you’ll see “Wtng for 5 players” as the table status, but when you click on the game, it will have already started. This is due to the table status not updating quickly, which you can force by clicking between tabs. Of note however, is that Party Poker has recently upped the refresh rate of the tables substantially, so this isn’t a major issue like it used to be.

3. Keep player notes on opponents

I cannot stress this enough. So much so that I will be writing an article on how to take some good notes in the future (updated: Player Notes page now up). While you always want to be paying attention to how people are playing, in online poker, players are always coming and going, which doesn’t give you time to feel them out. Taking notes cam help you when you play these opponents again. Even if you aren’t going to play this person it again, taking notes makes it much easier to keep a mental track of how each player plays and what to expect from them. The big things to note are: smart or stupid, aggressive or passive, tight or loose, straight up or bluffs, bets out a draw or not and what kind of hands do they play or pre-flop raise with. Yes, this is a lot of information to note, but it will help you in the long run.

4. Learn to leave the table

This is really just a general poker tip, but it still nabs even the poker pros at times. At Party Poker, if you find that you are being outplayed, outclassed or just unlucky at the table, it’s ok to leave. Don’t think about getting your money back or getting revenge on the bastard that rivered you for the 3rd time now. If you are losing money at your table, you do NOT have good table image no matter what you might think. Not only are you not in a good mood, which puts you on tilt (admit it or not), but other players will be more likely to make plays against you. This makes your game harder in more ways than you want. With so many tables at Party Poker, just get up and go, it’s that easy.

I can’t stress this enough if the game gets short-handed (6 or less players) and you are not familiar with short-handed play. This is an easy way to lose a lot of cash if you don’t know what you are doing. I see this happen all the time, when a table breaks up and I’m stuck with two solid players and three guys who don’t realize they are about to get run over. Don’t be road kill when all it takes is a single click.

5. Buy-in more than necessary at the poker table

If you’ve done your homework, you know you should always sit with at least 20 times the big blind at a poker table. The realities of online poker, this should be more like at least 40 times the BB. Personally, I like to sit with nearly 100 times the BB. You should consider doing so. Why? Firstly, never be able to keep the nuts and did not have enough money to raise the pot. I’ve seen it happen too many times where a guy is going to have flopped a full game in a $ 3 / 6, but only $ 12 bankroll. He could make a killing if it were not for the fact he was playing with a small battery.