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!

27 Questions to Ask Yourself During a Poker Hand

Good players don’t just randomly make decisions throughout a hand, they have a methodical process for coming up with the best decision possible.

The underlying key is being able to ask the right questions, at the right time.

In this post, I’m going to go over the most important questions you should ask yourself during a hand.

I strongly suggest that you compile your own list (which may or may not include these), print it out, and keep it next to you while playing. After a while, you’ll have the process memorized and you’ll do it subconsciously.

Pre-Flop

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until there are big bets to start critically thinking about the hand. Here are some questions you should ask at this point:

  • Does the original raiser have a strong range?

  • Are there any limpers?

  • Are there any loose players in the blinds?

  • How many players flatted the opening raise before action got to you?

  • Can you steal the pot?

  • Are your hand and position strong enough to play?

  • Should you just call, or should you 3-bet?

The Flop

After you get to the flop, the hand gets a lot clearer. You now know 5 of your 7 cards, and you know who your opponent(s) will be for the rest of your hand. At this point, consider the following questions:

  • Who is the aggressor (original pre-flop raiser)?

  • What are you expected to do?

  • What do you expect your opponents to do with different parts of their range?

  • If you have a strong made hand, are there any draws that you should be aware of?

  • If you have a draw, what odds do you need to continue?

  • Can you steal the pot?

  • How do your opponents typically play the flop?

The Turn

The pot odds for drawing decline dramatically on a turn blank, which can influence your decisions significantly. Similarly, some turns can add unexpected draws to decrease the value of your made hand. Ask these questions to sort out the situation:

  • What hands does this card help? (if any)

  • Who currently is the aggressor in this hand?

  • What are your odds of having the best hand?

  • What are your odds of getting stronger on the river?

  • Do you have a strong enough hand to value bet?

  • Do you have a weak enough hand that you fold to further aggression?

  • Would a bluff be profitable?

  • How deep are all of our stacks? (useful for bet-sizing)

The River

With everyone’s final handmade, it comes down to putting everything together. Hopefully at this point, you have a good idea of your opponents range and can make a near-optimal decision:

  • With a made hand, how do you extract the most value?

  • With a busted hand, what is the likelihood you can bluff successfully?

  • Will your opponent(s) give up if they missed a draw?

  • Will your opponent(s) bet a mediocre hand?

  • What can you learn about your opponent from the result?

While you don’t want to get overwhelmed there are many questions you can ask throughout a poker hand. Start wit the ones you feel are most important, then expand over time. You will find that your decision making becomes much better and more consistent over time once you can articulate why you are doing things.

The 5 Best Poker Movies

While poker movies aren’t always accurate, they’re entertaining all the less.

After all, who wouldn’t enjoy poker being a critical part of an enthralling story?

In this post, I want to go over the 5 best poker movies (in my opinion), but I won’t spoil them.

1. Rounders

If you haven’t seen Rounders yet, do it immediately!

Rounders is a classic starring Matt Damon. He’s a talented poker player, and an intelligent law student. However, after some questionable bankroll management he finds himself out of the game. After his best friend is released from prison, Damon is put in a tough situation, and poker is the only possible way out.

2. High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story

If you’re more interested in real life poker stories, you’ll enjoy High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story. Stu Ungar was the real deal back in the day. During his poker career, he won 5 WSOP bracelets, including the Main Event 3 times. He had a fascinating career and life, all of which is revealed in this movie. It was released about 5 years after he died from a heart attack.

3. Casino Royale

Okay, poker may not be the sole focus of this movie, but who doesn’t love James Bond. Poker is fairly central to the plot of Casino Royale, where Bond must defeat a weapons dealer both on and off the table. While part of the newest generation (Daniel Craig), it’s an instant classic with all the features of a Bond movie that we all love.

4. Shade

While Shade might not be rated as highly as these other films, I personally loved it. The movie is all about poker hustlers and gangsters – what more could you ask for? Not that it is fairly recent (2003), even though it’s set a bit in the past.

5. Deal (2008)

Deal isn’t the best made movie, but I loved the premise and still thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s about a young kid, early 20’s who just graduated law school. He hates his job, but loves online poker. He quickly gets good, and with mentoring from the best player out there, he ends up entering the equivalent of the WSOP. It’s a fun movie that most young poker players especially will like.

The Pros Are Jumping on Twitch: Get In On the Ground Floor

I recently wrote about a brand new poker streaming platform that is based on Twitch TV.

In that post, I predicted some pretty crazy results, and so far, they’ve not only been met, but exceeded.

Seriously, this is a chance to see exactly how a pro plays in real time without any holding back. It’s the best educational opportunity for a poker player that has existed online, and at least for now, it’s free.

Featured Streamer: Daniel Negreanu

Heard of Daniel Negreanu before?

The guy who’s been near the top of the player of the year leaderboard for over the last decade. He’s one of the few pros who have successfully transitioned from high stakes live games to high stakes online games. He’s not afraid to try something new.

Recently, he created his own stream on Twitch so that his fans could watch him as he plays on PokerStars. Not surprisingly, it quickly became one of the most popular streams, with 150,000 viewers and over 4,000 subscribers in his first week alone. Just a week later, he had over 200,000 viewers and more than 14,000 subscribers.

One of his sessions consisted of playing $400/$800 8-game. Even if you’re not familiar with that type of poker, the large wins and losses are still fascinating, and you get a little insight into how Daniel approaches the game. During this one session in particular, he won right about $50,000 – not too shabby.

Who Else is On Twitch?

New pros are hopping on every day, so Twitch is looking better and better every day. Right now, the most popular poker channel is Jason Somerville, who streams both omaha and no limit hold’em games. Somerville is a professional player who has also won a WSOP bracelet. He’s an amazing player and streams 7 days a week. He currently has over 95,000 subscribers.

One of the best things about Twitch right now is that you get to watch many professionals who aren’t big names. For example, Alex KP is a professional out of Denmark who focuses on Omaha. He has a solid 4,000 subscriber count and streams some really fascinating play.

Twitch is an awesome platform for both poker entertainment and education. Don’t be afraid to look beyond just the most popular streamers. Try to find players that you like and that play the games you like to play the most.

Life After Poker: What Jobs Can You Get?

Many players decide to play professionally for awhile, but eventually decide to rejoin the traditional workforce for one of many reasons.

There’s no shame in this. Perhaps a big unexpected expense came up and put excess financial strain on your family, or you lost passion for the game over time, or maybe the games got worse or became illegal. Whatever the reason, know that while it will be difficult, and you may have limited options, you do have a future after poker.

There are 3 main paths that former professional poker players are typically drawn to.

1. Investment Banking and Trading

Many poker players find their way into the financial industry. There are many similarities between poker, financial transactions, and trading.

All of these professions require a strong analytical ability, being able to dissociate emotions with your decisions, and knowing how to read situations.

These professions are some of the few where a hiring manager won’t dismiss you based on being a poker player. You’ll get a few interviews just because it sounds interesting, but you’ll have your work cut out for yourself to get the job.

2. Go To School

Even if you’re older, going back to school is still an option. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, consider an advanced degree like an MBA.

A new degree will help make you more appealing to a potential employer. The best part is, you’ll have some down time so you can still play some poker and help pay for school.

Getting a degree gives you more options than the limited jobs that are highly related to poker.

3. Entrepreneurship

Poker players are a rare breed, and share a lot in common with entrepreneurs. It’s tough for many poker players to go back to a standard 9-to-5 job. You get used to the control, the freedom, and the constant challenge as a poker player. All of these benefits can apply to being an entrepreneur.

But there are many types of entrepreneurs out there, so you have a fair amount of flexibility. Most poker players are best suited to bootstrapping their own company, which gives them full control of all the aspects of the company.

Realize that this option isn’t right for everybody. Starting a new company can take months or years of work before you start seeing significant revenue. If you have no backing or savings, your options will be more limited and less feasible.

Should You Put Poker on Your Resume?

For most jobs, it’s better to leave poker off your resume. The average hiring manager thinks poker is gambling, and doesn’t understand the skills that a good player has developed.

If you are able to explain the gap with any other freelance work or education, that is a much better option. If not, you’ll have to hope you get an interview and have a good explanation of the skills that poker has taught you.

This post isn’t meant to be depressing, just realistic. It is hard to get a normal job after having an unconventional job. The longer you’ve been out of the workforce, the harder it will be. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, just that you have to treat job hunting like poker and embrace the variance.

How to Deal With Annoying Donk Bets

Have you ever been at a table where it seems like a horrible player is all over you the entire session? Facing donk bet after donk bet can get frustrating over time and can cause you to go on tilt and make major mistakes. If you just face donk bets once in a while, they can catch you off guard and confuse you, leaving you to make an unconfident decision.

You and I both know that good players almost never donk bet, so it’s really hard to get into the mind of a player who does. We’re about to walk through the thought process you should adopt when facing donk bets in future sessions.

Is this player a good player?

Sometimes, a good player might donk bet, especially if you’re playing heads up. There are 2 reasons a decent player might do this:

1. He thinks you have a weak range and likely missed a dry, unconnected flop (or turn). Donking out is a cheap way of trying to steal the pot when the stack sizes aren’t right for a check/raise and fold.

2. He thinks you will either raise or fold, which many players will if they’re the standard tight-aggressive player. He will donk in order to induce a bluff on a wet board that you might check back on, or donk to try to steal on a dry board.

Overall, a good player will be trying to make you uncomfortable. So if you’re normally going to bet when checked to, he’s trying to disrupt that action, which means he is probably weak. If you’re likely not to bet, because it’s a wet board that you’ll only make a continuation bet when you connect in some way, he likely has a good hand and is looking to get money into the pot.

Is this player a bad player?

It’s much more common to see donk bets from bad players. It’s often a main part of their game. The most important thing to realize is that their decision has nothing to do with you. They are solely making the decision based on their hand and the board.

So what does a donk mean? It means different things for different players. The most common mindset is that they have a weak hand that justifies a bet, or that they are scared of a big bet. Some will donk as a pure bluff, but in my experience it is rare.

What should you do? It’s up to you to decide what type of player the fish is. Some will donk, but call any raise. They want to see a cheap showdown, but it’s more important for them to see a showdown at any cost. Against these guys, you want to play your strong hands fast, let go of your weakest hands, and look to draw with usually good odds with the rest.

Other fish will fold if they get raised after making a donk bet the majority of the time. You can start picking away these donk bets and stealing the pots. Be relentless, but don’t do it every time or they may get frustrated and play back unpredictably, or simply stop donking. Of course you can adjust, but it’s much easier to effortlessly pick up the pot once in a while inconspicuously.

That’s all there is to it really. Try to get in your opponents head, like any other decision, break it down, and then disappoint your opponent. Don’t let donk bets frustrate you; be patient, figure them out, and then you’ll have a lot of fun exploiting them.

A New and Improved Form of Poker Training That You Need to Try

Big money stakes are nothing new in the world of poker. They are also nothing new in the world of business.

Amazon is a mammoth of a company that spends hundreds of millions on a regular basis to acquire promising up-and-coming companies. In late August of 2014, Amazon spent about $1 billion on a streaming site called Twitch.

What is Twitch and Why Does it Matter?

The people who are most familiar with the Twitch streaming service are video games. There are over 100 million users on Twitch, and the majority of them have signed up to watch other players stream gameplay. People usually watch if the streamer is particular entertaining or skillful.

Some streamers have so many followers that the actually make a living playing and commenting on video games.

Could Twitch Cause a Revolution in Poker?

Most recently, Twitch has announced that they wanted to start streaming live online poker. While making up a small percentage of overall Twitch viewers, several poker streamers have already attracted more than a million views. Considering this is still an extremely young platform, it is a promising sign.

If you head over to Twitch and search for poker, you’ll see a wide variety of players streaming their live play. The best players typically attract the biggest crowds, so start with the most popular channels.

How Does This Help You as a Player?

Live coaching sessions are incredibly expensive, especially if you’re a player at the micro stakes games. With these free Twitch streams, you can get a similar experience.

On top of the streamer typically commenting on his thought process, you can also interact with other viewers and the streamer in the chat box. This gives you a great chance to ask questions when you are confused or curious in real-time and get immediate feedback.

In this sense, Twitch streams could be considered as completely free group coaching sessions. It’s a great idea to add them to your plan to improve as a player. Streamers (the coaches) get paid when users click ads surrounding the video and chat.

Since poker streaming is still in its infancy, you have a unique opportunity to learn from good players in relatively small groups, which allows you to get more help before the best streams become flooded with players.

An Elite Class: 3 Players Who Have Won 3 WPT Titles

There have been numerous cases of amateur players winning big poker tournaments. This possibility is a good thing. Not only is it exciting and draws attention to the game, but it gives bad players a reason to keep playing, which is good for the overall health of poker.

But some players consistently have great tournament results, showing that they are the real deal. A much smaller pool of players from this already small group of players have exceptional results and end up winning multiple tournaments.

There isn’t a much bigger poker tour than the World Poker Tour (WPT). As of now, there are exactly 3 players that have won 3 separate WPT events, thanks to recent wins by Anthony Zinno.

Who are the members of this exclusive club? Read on to find out.

1. El Matador: Carlos Mortensen

Carlos Mortensen 2007

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 9,600 + 400 No Limit Hold’em 2010 Hollywood Poker Open, Lawrenceburg

  • $ 25,000 + 500 WPT – No Limit Hold’em 2007 Fifth Annual Five Star World Poker Classic, Las Vegas

  • $ 10,000 + 200 The 2004 Doyle Brunson North American No Limit Hold’em Poker Championship

Carlos Mortensen is not only a great poker player, but also a bit of an artist at the table. He is known for his creative chip stacking displays.

He is traditionally a very loose and aggressive player, known for being fearless at the table. His success at the WPT has been spread out over time. Mortensen has also captured 2 WSOP titles.

2. The Great Dane: Gus Hansen

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 7,500 No Limit Hold’em 2004 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Caribbean

  • $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship – 2003 L.A. Poker Classic

  • $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em – 2002 Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Las Vegas

Gus Hansen might be the craziest poker player in the modern era. He is known for his extremely loose and extremely aggressive play, both in cash games and tournaments.

He was the first to accomplish the feat of winning 3 WPT tournaments, and has had numerous cashes throughout his career, although he has not won a WPT tournament since 2004.

3. The Newest Member: Anthony Zinno

Past Tournament Wins:

  • $ 3,300 + 200 No Limit Hold’em Main Event – Borgata Poker Open 2013, Atlantic City

  • 2015 Fallsview Poker Classic, Niagara Falls

  • $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship – 2015 L.A Poker Classic, Los Angeles

The new man to this exclusive club is Anthony Zinno. Incredibly, he has achieved his 3 wins in just about 2 years.

His final two victories were also back-to-back, which also makes him one of only 3 players to win back-to-back WPT tournaments.

Zinno is the first of the new generation of poker players to achieve this feat, and likely has many more victories ahead of him. Can he become the first player to win 4 WPT titles? Only time will tell.

3 Useful Strategies to Deal With Variance

The variance in poker is extreme; it’s common for good winning players to go on 30 or 40 buyin downswings. This can amount to a loss of anywhere from $3,000 or more.

On top of the financial loss, players also suffer on the mental side of the equation. After losing so many sessions in a row, it’s tough to still have confidence that you are a winning player and are making the right decisions. You start to question everything you do, which can lead to a poker-esque case of the yips.

1. Create a Separate Poker Bankroll

To deal with the financial suffering from variance, it’s always a good idea to keep your poker bankroll separate from the money you need to live.

When you think of your bankroll as part of your current liquid assets, you add a lot of additional pressure to your play. You’re likely to worry that the money could be used for your family, friends, or to pay bills.

Instead, create a separate poker bankroll with money that you can afford to lose. Create a separate bank account if needed. While losing still sucks, every losing session won’t feel like such a stress-inducing catastrophe.

2. Find a Mentor or Study Group

When you’re losing your mind after yet another losing session, an outside perspective of another good player you trust is priceless.

It’s hard to objectively review your play when you’re close to punching a hole in the wall or to tears. If you have a friend who will be brutally honest, you’ll not only get feedback on if you are making uncharacteristic mistakes, but you will also improve regardless.

You should be able to find a mentor or study group through any online poker forum. If you’re not already a member of any, start at Two plus Two and get to know some players.

3. Take a Break

If you feel that you are getting inside your own head and second guessing yourself, you need to stop playing. There’s no way to play profitably if you can’t play decisively.

Additionally, it usually gets worse the longer you play, so not taking a break could actually hurt you more, both in terms of confidence and your bankroll.

For some, taking a break of an hour is fine to cool down and clear their head. For other, they might need to take a break of a day…a few days…maybe even a week. Take as long as you need until you can open up a table and sit down confidently.

Extreme variance is a part of the game; possibly the most unpleasant. Those that deal with variance proactively will have shorter and smaller downswings, and an overall better results and a more enjoyable playing experience.

The Most Common Tournament Mentality Mistake – Playing Not to Lose

Tournaments are a strange beast; one that most beginner poker players get their start in.

While there are many mistakes that beginners make, the most common mistake (even for more experienced players) is playing not to lose.

Why Playing Not to Lose is a Sure-Fire Way to Lose

Let me make this very clear, playing “not to lose” is not the same as playing “to win”.

Playing not to lose is the strategy of pure survival, whether you have 10 big blinds or 100 in your stack. The real goal of this strategy is to make it into the money, so that you at least win something, and then try to survive as long as you can and advance up the pay ranks.

While you may make it to the prize money a decent amount of the time, you will likely limp in as one of the short stacks. Unless you get incredibly lucky, you won’t make it up the prize money much further.

It is very tough to become a winning tournament player if you are only winning the smallest cash prizes. Even if you make it into-the-money (ITM) 30 percent of the time, if you bow out soon after, those prizes won’t even cover your buy-ins.

The Fundamental Problem with This Approach

The biggest problem with this approach lies in how a tournament is structured. They are very top heavy, which means that almost all the prize money is paid out to the top few players.

With a playing not to lose strategy, it will take a miracle to ever make a big cash. But the big wins are what are necessary to become a profitable tournament poker player.

Winning is the Objective

So what’s the solution? It’s not playing not to lose, or playing to lose, but playing to win.

This means making the correct decision even if you have to risk your tournament life. This means not letting your stack dwindle, but making moves with a calculated risk to try and put yourself in a strong position.

This also means that when everyone else is terrified of being knocked out before the bubble, that you are smartly picking spots and bullying other players in order to put yourself in a position with a large stack.

Sometimes you might find yourself knocked out of the tournament early, but when you get into the money, you have a real chance of winning.

Ask any professional and they’ll say that they’d rather be knocked out on the first hand unless they were going to make a very deep run. The return on your time and buy-in just isn’t there unless you play to win.

Is Live Poker Dying for Good?

12.

That is the number of live poker rooms that have been shut down in just over 2 years in the United States. The most recent victim is the room at the Linq Hotel & Casino.

Poker has been a mainstay of the modern casino since its inception, but it’s becoming a less important part over time. Are people losing interest in table games? Perhaps. But the problem likely runs deeper than that.

Poker Rooms Have Never Been Cash Cows

Poker rooms have never been incredibly profitable for casinos. Compared to slot machines or other traditional gambling activities, poker generates a pittance of revenue.

There’s really no way for the room to make a substantial profit considering that there are typically 30 hands or less dealt per hour at a live table. Add in the wages of the dealers (albeit small) and you aren’t left with much.

However, people used to go to casinos to play poker and stick around to play casino games. According to the extensive calculations by each of these 12 casinos, this added revenue isn’t worth the space that the poker room takes up.

What’s Killing Live Poker?

So if it’s not limited revenue that’s changed in recent years, what could it be?

The Commercialization of Poker

With the popularization of online poker came an increased interest in poker by the general public. TV shows were created (and heavily watched), and Americans signed up and played online at an incredible rate.

This didn’t hurt the casino industry for years, so the mere presence of online poker probably isn’t taking casino players away from the table. In fact, the two markets don’t overlap too much. Casino visitors are there to gamble, and they may or may not play back home.

Are People Burnt Out?

When something gets popular, it often gets overdone to the point that people’s interest simply burns out.

While there are a ton of televised tournaments and online training sites these days, online poker is still going strong. If anything suffered from player burnout, it would be online poker, not live.

The Remaining Possible Cause: The Economy

Digging below the surface reveals that the casino industry is in trouble. In 2014, casinos had revenues of just $2.7 billion. While that sounds like a lot, it’s only about half of revenues in 2006, which were $5.2 billion.

People still like to gamble, but the recession has hit everyone hard. It seems like a logical step to take that having less disposable income means that frivolous gambling and vacations would be the first expense to be cut out.

On the bright side, while it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of poker room closures, when the economy does finally rebound, it’s also likely that we will see many poker rooms spring back to life.


 



Free Money Offers
$88
Create an account and get up to $88 no deposit required, use our link.


PokerTips Newsletter Sign-Up