FanDuel
chips
Limit Hold'em:
1. Longhand Limit
2. Shorthand Limit
3. Adv. Shorthand

No-Limit Hold'em:
1. Intro to NL
2. Advanced NL
3. Who Pays Off
4. Stack Sizes

Omaha:
1. Intro to Omaha
2. Low Limit Omaha
3. Intro to PLO
4. Omaha Hi/Lo

Tournaments:
1. Tourney Overview
2. Single-Table NL
3. Advanced NL STTs
4. Multi-Table NL
5. Multi-Table Limit
6. Tourney Variants

Money Management:
1. Moving Limits
2. When to Quit
3. Short/Long Run

Other:
1. Intermediate Mistakes
2. Utilizing Promotions
Welcome to the

PokerTips Blog!

Overcoming the Fear of Losing

Fear is everywhere in life, including at the poker tables. Fear of losing can cause great players to be afraid of even playing, which results in procrastination and a habitually low hand volume.

Fear of losing can also force you to make bad decisions while you play. Loss aversion is a very powerful phenomenon which proves that people will make suboptimal decisions in order not to lose.

Ever been near the end of a session, with a stack just over where you began? I bet you noticed that you really did not want to go below that original stack, and may have made some cautious decisions because of that.

There are also other less common ways that fear of losing can affect you. Bottom line, it’s something that you should continually work on and try to reduce. We’re going to look at the process you should follow to do this.

Realize that Having a Losing Session is No Big Deal

Poker is a game of variance, even the best players have frequent losing sessions, some of which are large. If you haven’t yet, run a few simulations on a poker variance calculator. With a great winrate and low standard deviation, you’ll still lose in at least 30-40 percent of your sessions over the long-term.

Now really think of why you don’t like losing. Are you really that disappointed that you didn’t play perfectly? Or that you just didn’t make any big hands? Probably not.

At some point you’ll realize, you’re not afraid of losing, you are afraid of the consequences – losing money.

Now that you know what you’re afraid of, let’s look at how you can address it.

Have the Right Bankroll

Do you think when Warren Buffett invests in a company he’s worried that he might not get his money back? No, of course not. He fully expects that only a certain percentage of his investments will be good ones, but he has so much capital that one bad investment doesn’t even matter to him.

Whatever your bankroll is right now, pretend you’re sitting at a table 1/200th the size of it. For example, if you had a $1000 bankroll, pretend you’re at a 5NL table. Even if you had a horrible session, losing 3 buy-ins, or $15, would it really bother you? Unlikely.

While having a bankroll that large isn’t always feasible or practical, different players require different sized bankrolls. If you notice that you feel stressed by losing a certain percentage of your bankroll, simply drop down to a lower level or add more money to it. All of a sudden, you’ve eliminated a great deal of your fear.

Focus on Playing Well

This is perhaps the most difficult mentality-switch to make as a player, but the most important as well.

When you focus on the monetary gains or losses, you’re subject to the loss aversion phenomenon we touched upon earlier. The only solution is to focus upon something else.

The best thing to focus on in poker is decision making. You know that in the long run, if you make better decisions than your opponents as a whole, you will win money. Quite logically, your focus should be on making the best decisions you can, and money will be the result, not the cause of your decisions.

Making this switch isn’t always easy. Start by not checking how much you’ve won or lost in a session, just make a note of it once in a while after a session or time period (days or weeks even). If you have a tracking software, see if you can’t hide any display that tracks your winnings/losses for a session.

Next, take satisfaction and pride in making great decisions. When you review your sessions, don’t just go over the hands that you made mistakes in, go over hands where you made solid decisions (which may or may not be your largest winning pots). A good fold is just as important as a good bet. Learn to equate a good decision with long-term results and you will make a habit of focusing on making correct decisions.

How to Stay Motivated on the Grind

When you’re on a winning streak, motivation isn’t hard to come by, but when things start plateauing or going against you, you might find that finding motivation to play is more difficult.

Even though poker is a phenomenally fun game, it’s extremely mentally and emotionally taxing, which makes it very easy to burn out. But when you’re trying to improve as fast as possible, or make a certain amount, putting in a significant amount of quality playing hours is crucial.

Here are some ways to stay motivated on a regular basis.

1. Create a Hand Bet

Competition often breeds hard work. What many players do is bet with other players, either individually or in a small group, to play a certain amount of hands in a month. Everyone puts up their share of the bet before hand, which should be a significant, but not huge amount. Everyone that hits their target for hands played splits the pot, while those who do not make it get nothing back.

You can decide before hand how many hands you want to play. Sometimes everyone in the group aims for the same amount, other times everyone can choose their own. The bet gives you that little extra motivation to gear up and play when you could easily just slack off.

Do this for a few months in a row and you will have developed the habit of playing a serious amount of hands on a regular basis, which will lead to long-term success.

2. Base Expectations Off Limits, Not Desires

Every player has done it. Thinking, “If I have a winrate of 3BB/100 and can play 500 hands/hour, I can make $X/hour. Then if I play X hours/day, I can make $X,XXX a month!”

The amount that you need to play in that situation is typically dependent on how much you would like to make. The problems come when you determine that you would need to play 30 hours a week on a consistent basis, and you’ve never played over 20 before. It’s a lot easier to say you’re going to do something tough, than actually do it.

What generally happens is that a player realizes they need to take a break or they can’t play their A-game. As you get behind your “schedule”, it becomes even more daunting and can cause even experienced players to seize up.

Instead, start with a low goal of quality time at the table, say 5 to 10 hours a week. Do this consistently for a month and re-evaluate. If you feel you can play more, bump it up slightly, an extra few hours a week. Each month re-evaluate until you get to the point where you feel like you’re playing the right amount on a personal basis.

3. Play for the Game, Not the Money

I’ve yet to meet a good player who didn’t enjoy the game when they first started playing. At some point, instead of just playing for enjoyment, the game turns into a job where money is the goal. Once you start playing for money, every bad beat and downswing hurts even more and takes an emotional toll. You set yourself up for a lack of motivation.

Instead, focus on playing well and enjoying the game. If you do that, you’ll improve faster, and the monetary results will come as a by-product. Realizing this is one of the keys that all winning players make in one way or another during their career.

2 Poker Sites You Should Avoid

The last few years have seen some of the poker industry giants fall, with a slew of smaller competitors rising in their places. PokerStars has been the only site to continually grow and dominate the industry.

While competition is good, you also need to be very careful as a player, where you take your business. Smaller sites often offer more rakeback and often softer games, but many are sites that you should avoid. We’re going to look at a few sites you definitely want to avoid.

1. Poker MiRA

Poker MiRA actually has pretty great looking software, along with a mobile platform as well. On top of that, there are a substantial amount of fishy players as well. So why are they on this list? For something I have never heard of before: unlimited rake tables.

These featured unlimited rake tables do not feature a maximum rake. So if you’re involved in a large pot, you’re going to be paying a massive amount. The typical rake is 5 percent, which even in a decent sized pot at 100NL, could have you paying more than $10 in rake for one hand.

What is the justification for this? Poker MiRA wants to give players the opportunity to earn their loyalty points faster, which are correlated with the amount of rake paid. Yes, that’s right. They’re saying that they’re doing you a favor by letting you pay more rake.

Of course, losing players actually do love the loyalty points and are drawn to these tables. Which means that if you want to play on this site, your incentive are the soft games, and you have to play in these games too. Can you overcome the insane rake? Unlikely enough to make it worth your while.

2. Lock Poker

Poker MiRA being a bit unappealing is one thing, but Lock Poker is simply the sketchiest of the sketchy sites.

Long story short, most players have been waiting for withdrawals to go through for over 2 years.

Despite this, the room is still open for new players and they will gladly accept new deposits. Despite many broken promises over the 2 years, there doesn’t seem to be any real intention to pay players back anytime soon. Do not deposit on Lock Poker under any circumstances.

They’ve been caught in numerous lies during this time period, and have tried to rebrand themselves multiple times to escape scrutiny. You can follow along with the latest developments in this TwoPlusTwo thread.

As a poker player, you need to be vigilant about researching where you play. Other than the biggest rooms like PokerStars and certain iPoker skins, there aren’t many sites with pristine reputations. Always search for the latest news about any room and see if any scandals have occurred there in the past. You shouldn’t be scared to play at all small sites, but do some research into the owners and the site’s history, and never keep too large at a bankroll anywhere.

Turning a Snowball into an Avalanche: Don’t Compound Mistakes

Compound interest is one of the most important fundamental concepts of personal finance and business. Invest money in a vehicle that earns 10% a year (as an example), and keep re-investing the earnings, and the account will grow at an exponential rate.

You earn 10% of your original amount, plus 10% of that 10% of earnings, for a total of 11% the next year (compared to the original amount). It doesn’t take long before you’re doubling your original amount with no extra effort.

Mistakes in Poker

Most mistakes in poker are small. They’ll end up costing you a fraction of a big blind every hundred hands or so. However, if it’s a situation that comes up often, it can cost you more than a big blind every 100 hands, which is going to have a massive impact on your winrate.

Many of these are simply playing the wrong hands at the wrong times. As you improve as a player, these mistakes have less of an effect due to better decision making both pre-flop and post-flop. Regardless, they are still mistakes.

How Mistakes Compound

Maybe you make a loose call pre-flop with a small pair or suited connectors in a bad position. Unless you’re playing against awful players, it’s going to be hard to play either profitably out of position in most situations. This means that it was a mistake, but a small one.

Now the flop comes and you hit a draw or still have your low pair. This is where mistakes start to snowball. It’s really easy to convince yourself that you have implied odds to try and hit your draw, even when it’s not true. In reality, you likely don’t have the right odds to simply call a continuation bet (ignore for the sake of example that raising might be an option). This is another mistake, and a mistake that is going to cost you a significant amount more than pre-flop, because now the pot is much larger. In other words, you’ve compounded your mistake.

Now we’re at the turn and you’ve missed your draw. Again, you convince yourself that if this player fires two rounds, there’s a good chance they’ll fire three if you hit. You call another large bet, which is also a mistake. This bet is now somewhere in the range of 6 times larger than the pre-flop raise. Your snowball is now much bigger, you’ve compounded your mistake again.

Finally, the river comes. The first situation is that you hit your draw, but now you check hoping to shove all-in over a bet, but the player is scared of the potential draw that completed and checks back. Oops, your implied odds may have been way over-estimated. This confirms your previous mistakes.

The second option is that you whiff on your draw, but now feel an inkling of fancy play syndrome creeping into your clicking finger as you realize how much money you’ve already committed. You start to reason that he could also have a missed draw or weak pair and make an untimely large bet that seemingly came from nowhere. You’ve created an avalanche. What started as a very small mistake, costing you a fraction of a big blind over time has cost you most of your stack. Making an avalanche like this once in a while can turn a solid player into a losing player.

The Takeaway

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you cannot under any circumstance compound your mistakes. Pots get exponentially larger in poker, especially in no-limit, which can turn small mistakes into huge ones.

Treat every decision independently of any previous decisions in a hand. Don’t worry if you’ve already made a mistake, just don’t compound those previous mistakes.

Negreanu and McClelland Join Exclusive Club

The Poker Hall of Fame is a big deal, in fact, it only had 21 living members until this year. Daniel Negreanu and Jack McClelland were the two poker players selected to join the hall of fame this year out of 10 nominees.

The other 8 nominees were:

  • Bruno Fitoussi
  • Bob Hooks
  • Ted Forrest
  • Jennifer Harman
  • Humberto Brenes
  • Mike Matusow
  • Chris Bjorin
  • Huck Seed

Any poker fan of the last decade can recognize the quality of those nominees, but even so, Negreanu and McClelland made strong cases for induction into the hall of fame that could not be passed over.

Daniel Negreanu’s Contributions to Poker

Negreanu has had a legendary career thus far, and there are no signs of it stopping any time soon.

There are few players with the passion and ability that Negreanu possesses, which is part of the reason why he is loved by most of the poker community. Affectionately named “Kid Poker”, the Canadian has won 6 WSOP bracelets, and has a whopping 31 WSOP final table appearances.

Negreanu is the last of a generation of players. He dropped out of school in order to play in underground games, and despite failing multiple times, his passion and determination was rewarded with the accomplishments as a professional poker player that we see today.

On top of being a great player, Negreanu has also served as an ambassador of the game, especially once onine poker exploded. He has been a PokerStars pro since 2007, one of the longest serving sponsored professionals.

Jack McClelland: A Poker Legend

The younger demographic of poker these days knows Jack McClelland as a prolific tournament director. He has hosted hundreds of tournaments and was the driving force behind the expansion of poker through much of the United States and other countries like Russia and Isle of Man.

After 5 decades as a poker director and player, McClelland called it quits in 2013. He’s seen it all during his career, from launching the first ever WPT event in 2002, to seeing it off as his last event, knowing that he had a great impact on its success.

While McClelland’s calling was in the administrative side of poker, that doesn’t mean he was a terrible player. McClelland had a solid 9 tournament cashes and one win during his career. While they aren’t Negreanu-esque numbers, most players would be thrilled to share similar accomplishments.

The Poker Hall of Fame is the ultimate acknowledgement of skill and passion in the world of poker. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t believe that Negreanu and McClelland do not belong.

More Changes for Zynga Poker – No Real Progress

For years poker players have been waiting for Zynga to convert their massive free poker user base, built on Facebook, into real money players. A stimulus like this could revitalize a, frankly, stale state of online poker.

While there’s still money to be won in online poker, the margins keep getting smaller as players learn to play more optimally. An influx of inexperienced players who learnt the game playing on a free platform would significantly soften the games. Zynga currently has the most play money poker players of any site, with Pokerstars not even reaching half that amount.

However, so far Zynga has only launched a real money platform in the U.K., using the same software as PartyPoker. That was early in 2014, and there has been little progress since then.

The Latest Change

Instead of focusing on converting more players (in different countries) into real money players, Zynga has recently overhauled their free money skin and setup to try and retain their players. The new Zynga poker platform created mixed feedback since its launch in September.

After just over a month of feedback (a substantial portion negative), Zynga has decided to split their user base into two sections.

Players have the option of using the newest Zynga poker platform, but they can also play Zynga Poker Classic, which is the exact same platform as players formerly used. While the two groups of players are not allowed to play directly against each other, it is a fairly simple process to switch from one platform to the other, and can be done as often as a player likes.

Why choose one over the other? If you’re still a play money poker player, and still not ready to take the jump to real money sites, the new Zynga platform offers a little more competition. There are leagues and other competitions that were created to add a little more variety and entertainment, although it pales in comparison to the entertainment that real money poker provides.

For experienced players: Don’t expect Zynga to launch any new real money platforms any time soon outside of the U.K., they’ve already shown that they are expanding extremely slowly, if at all.

For current Zynga poker players outside of the U.K.: If you’ve been looking for more fun and competition, there are many real money options out there, you’ll just have to get used to some new software.

Full Tilt Says Goodbye to Gus Hansen and Viktor Blom

There are few poker fanatics that don’t appreciate the absolutely insane hands that Gus Hansen and Viktor Blom have been involved in over the years due to their unique and ‘crazy’ playing style.

However, it seems that Full Tilt is headed in a different direction with their sponsored pros lately, which started by letting go Tom Dwan earlier in 2014.

After Hansen’s and Blom’s contracts expired in mid-October, Full Tilt opted not to renew them.

Before you get worried about never seeing Hansen or Blom play online poker again, don’t worry, they’re still around. In fact, Blom won a massive $261K pot just a few days after being let go from the pro team.

A Look at Hansen’s Online Career

Gus leaves the Full Tilt team after losing approximately $20 million during his time. This has earned him the title of one of the most losing online poker professionals of all time.

Hansen is known for his wild playing style and playing a wide variety of games. Despite his outrageous online losings, Hansen is still respected overall in the poker world, largely due to his endurance as a player at the highest level and his 3 WPT titles, along with 1 WSOP bracelet.

A Look at Viktor Blom: AKA ‘Isildur1′

Blom took the poker world by storm in 2009, eventually being signed by PokerStars in the following year. The amazing thing was, that for almost everyone in the poker world, no one knew that it was Blom playing as Isildur1 on PokerStars and Full Tilt.

While professionals lined up to get their shot at the crazy-playing ‘fish’ at first, they soon learned that he might have been better than initial stats indicated.

Blom moved over to Full Tilt and joined their team of pros late in 2012. He finishes his sponsorship deal with net losings of approximately $3M on Full Tilt.

The Future of Online Professionals

It seems that both major sites owned by the Rational Group, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, are moving away from the professional branding that they have used so extensively in the past.

Both sites are trimming down their list of sponsored professionals, perhaps in an attempt to shift their player recruiting strategy.

Remember that until recently, the two poker giants competed against each other. There was always a heated competition to sign the best and most popular professionals in the game. Once combined however, there aren’t many other sites that have the funds to sponsor professionals at this level.

It’s possible that it’s just not worth it on both sides of the deal to continue these types of sponsorship deals.

Wherever online poker and its high stakes professionals is heading, don’t worry, there will always be action at the top of the game to give you the thrill of watching hundreds of thousands of dollars being won and lost in single hands.

4 Reasons You Should Start Playing Poker (or Taking it More Seriously)

Poker is an intimidating game when you are first introduced to it. Remembering the hand rankings and rules of the game takes longer than might be expected, and if you had any idea of the thought process behind strategies of the professionals, you might be discouraged. Luckily, you don’t have to play against professionals right away, and if you have the right personality and ability, poker might be a game that you could excel at if you take it seriously. Time and time again, beginner players with the right aptitude have risen through the levels quickly and competed with some of the best in the game. 

Think about if the following reasons resonate with you. If one or more do, you might be suited to take a real shot at being a (significantly) winning player.

1. You Naturally Think Logically

People that see the world in an organized manner are fairly rare. If you are the kind of person that makes rational decisions on a regular basis in your life, regarding purchases, relationships or career moves, you will likely excell at poker.

2. You Enjoy Problem Solving

Poker is the ultimate puzzle to be solved. Every hand starts with limited information, but a chance to learn more about other players and put the pieces together to make the optimal decision. Decomposing a hand and figuring out what an opponent’s hand range is based on their actions in the hand and overall session takes immense concentration and an enjoyment of problem solving.

3. You Can Control Your Emotions

Somewhat related to #1, controlling your emotions is one of the most important abilities a winning player can have. Just a single bad session on occasion can take from a winning player to a losing player. Take an honest look at yourself while playing poker and determine how well you can not only notice negative emotions, but also control them. While this can be learned, it takes a lot of time and is difficult.

4. You Enjoy Simple Math

Were you one of those kids that enjoyed math? I know I was. It’s not a surprise that many top poker players have strong math backgrounds. While you don’t need a PhD to be a great player, ideally you should have at least a basic aptitude for statistics and basic algebra. It’ll help you at the table as well as off the table when you are analyzing the game.

Big Changes in UK Online Poker as Regulations Come Into Effect

September 16th marked the passing of the first main deadline associated with the newest UK gambling regulations. This Tuesday marked a deadline for online poker rooms to apply for a UK online gambling license. 

The deadline is in anticipation of October 1st, when the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act becomes active. Online gambling companies of all types – poker rooms, casino games and sports betting sites - must all obtain a UK license before the start of October if they wish to continue operating.

There is one further main consequence of this legislation, which won’t come into effect until December 1st. There will be a point of consumption tax on gross profits from any online gambling operator. This tax is 15%, and while it is unclear how this will affect poker room operations, it’s possible that they will increase rake or cash out fees.

What are Poker Rooms Doing?

The added expense and licensing process has already forced many small operators to shut down their poker and gambling platforms. However, most of the big brands will continue to operate as normal, so players will not see too much of a change as a whole.

Pokerstars, Full Tilt, Partypoker, 888 and Unibet are all expected to continue operating in the UK, assuming there are no hiccups with the licensing process.

Sites on the iPoker network on the other hand are choosing both options. Most of the major sites plan to continue operating, most notably Winner and Titan, which have both launched a localized version of their site on .co.uk domain extensions. Mansion poker, however, is one of the first well-known casualties so far. The popular iPoker site closed down right before the application deadline, as of September 15th.

The iPoker sites that are adapting to the changing situations, Titan and Winner so far, are both owned by PT Entertainment Services, a subsidary of Playtech. Playtech is known for their poker software and ownership of poker rooms. The current users of the sites have been transferred over without any significant difficulties.

Due to the structure of the legislation, the rooms continuing to operate need to have an intermediary license until the UK applications are evaluated and accepted or rejected. Titan and Winner Poker are bth using an Antigua license, which is one of a few different valid options for now.

Online poker in the UK is changing in a major way behind the tables, but if all goes as expected, there shouldn’t be too many differences for the average player. We will keep you informed if rake, fees or related operations are changed in the future because of this legislation.

Betfair Faces New Obstacles in New Jersey as Trump Casino Closes

Betfair has been well-known in the online gambling industry since its inception. However, the legislation associated to online poker (and gambling) across the U.S. and many other countries has had a big impact on the success of Betfair’s revenue and options. The company was set to team up with Trump Plaza, a New Jersey casino, but it has recently been revealed that this casino is set to close. 

Operating an Online Gaming Site in New Jersey

New Jersey has always been a popular place to gamble, which is why it’s one of the main centers of attention in the battle for online poker legislation in the U.S.

Due to recent legislature, online gambling sites must currently hold an Internet gaming permit (IGP) in order to operate legally. The problem, however, is that only land-based casinos are eligible to apply and receive an IGP. The solution that online gaming sites have to employ is to partner with existing casinos and work out a licensing deal.

Originally there were 12 casinos that were permitted to apply for an IGP in 2013, the year the legislature was passed. This number has already been drastically cut down in 2014, projected to be at only seven casinos by the end of the year. The limited amount of casinos in the state compound the problem for Betfair.

With the closure of Trump Plaza and its casino, Betfair now needs to find a new partner if they want to continue operating in New Jersey. Given the overall presence of Betfair in the state, along with how much money they have invested, it’s likely the Betfair will attempt to find a new ally. However, this may not be easy or feasable.

The company has several obstacles in its way now. There are no casinos left, of those seven that have not paired with online gambling sites or are. Of these casinos, most have no incentive to enter a partnership with Betfair, as they already have significant exposure for their brand. Considering that Betfair’s main asset in this situation is their brand recognition, it is unlikely they will want to operate under a different name.

On top of these challenges, Betfair hasn’t had great success in New Jersey so far. For this year, they have achieved a revenue of $3.6mm, which may sound impressive, but is actually the worst in the New Jersey iGaming industy.

With very few options and not being able to bring too much to the table, Betfair may have to pay exorbitant licensing fees to potential suitors in order to continue operating. That being said, there is still room for growth in New Jersey’s poker and gambling industry, so future earning projections may make a deal that is difficult in the short term a good long term decision for the gaming giant.


 



FanDuel - WFBC
PokerTips Blog Recent Posts
Overcoming the Fear of Losing
JTringer
January 20
How to Stay Motivated on the Grind
JTringer
January 10
2 Poker Sites You Should Avoid
JTringer
December 30
PokerTips Newsletter Sign-Up