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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
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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.

Do You Know When it’s Time to Walk Away From the Table?

Poker can bring out the best and the worst of most people. One of the biggest things that separates winning and losing players is the ability to be honest with themselves when they are not playing their best. Here are four ways to know that you’re not at the top of your game and need to call it a day.

1. You’re Chasing Pots

Most people have an instinct to try and get something back if they lose it, and I’m not just talking about money at the poker table. It’s not surprising that when some players lose a significant amount in a session, they get more aggressive and often refuse to give up pots.

The result is throwing away money by committing too much with weak hands. It’s also hard to stop playing this way once you start, so even if you are fortunate enough to win a few big hands, it often goes right back.

If you notice that you called a bet you wouldn’t normally or made a raise that you shouldn’t, you’ve probably already started chasing pots. While this is something you can work on over time, the first step is realising the problem and walking away for a break.

2. You’re Playing to Beat Someone Else

Poker often becomes a personal game, but the best players avoid letting it degrade to that. If one particular person wins a few big pots off you, it’s natural to want to try and beat that specific player. You’re even more likely to feel this way if he or she was lucky to win those.

This is a matter of ego and pride. Instead of trying to get involved in every pot with your villain and trying to beat them to show your poker superiority, realize that there is incredible variance in poker and your goal should be to make consistently good decisions.

3. You Feel Distracted

Poker is often said to be a game of incomplete information. Winning players have a good ability to observe and digest important information to gain an edge and make better decisions. However, to maximize your information intake, it’s important to stay focused.

If there are other major things happening in your life, good or bad, it’s easy for your mind to start wandering at the table. If you feel like you’re not really paying attention to the game, stop playing, there isn’t much benefit to continuing.

If you really want to play, then take a break and clear your mind. Some people meditate, others go for walk. Do whatever you need to get focused for the game.

Walking away from the table when you’re not playing well is one of the most important skills a player can have. A disciplined approach to poker is needed if you want to maximize your win-rate and overall success.

7 Steps to a Great Poker Night

Hosting a poker night is a great way to have a good time with your friends and co-workers, and of course relieve them of some money as well. Don’t haphazardly throw together a game though, spend time planning it in order to improve the experience for everyone who comes. There are seven main things that you must do.

1. Schedule it

Make sure that you are allowed to host a poker night (Read: clear it with your significant other). Secondly, if you live in an apartment, let neighbors know there might be a bit of noise. Better yet, invite them to the game as well.

The biggest challenge is finding a time that works for all your friends. This is why it’s best to set a date well in advance, so everyone can make time for it.

2. Get the Supplies

Once you have a date, it’s time to get everything you need for a poker game. Note that if you host frequently, it might be worth investing in higher quality equipment. At the very least you will need:

  • a table (preferrably a poker table or at least a round one)

  • cards (at least 2 decks in case of damage or lost cards)

  • chips (the kind you play with, not eat)

3. Snacks

What would a poker night be without good snacks? Put some thought into these because you don’t want messy food. Certain chips are okay, but most are greasy or come with tons of crumbs, both things you want to avoid. Vegetables and dip are a great choice, as are most nuts or trail mixes. While alcoholic drinks are common, cater to your guests, there are really no wrong choices when it comes to drinks.

4. Collect the Buy-in

Part of setting the expectation for the night is collecting the buy-in or setting the stakes. It’s important to choose an amount that everyone can afford to lose if you want to keep a relaxed atmosphere and friendly game. Collect the buy-in and make sure everyone knows how it will be paid out.

5. Choose the Game

You’ll often have at least one person who is new to poker. Make sure everyone knows the rules to the game you choose, especially the hand rankings. There’s nothing more frustrating than an argument about a straight beating a flush.

6. Set the Blinds

If you’re playing a tournament, it’s important to move up the blinds at specified times in order to keep the game from dragging on too much. There are many free online blind structure calculators to help you do this.

7. Set the Mood

Lighting and music can have a dramatic effect on the mood of the game. Low to medium light with some quiet music in the background is usually best.

Once you get the basics down you can add in some inventive twists in the future to make poker nights even more fun. For now though, get everyone introduced to the game and you’ll be having a great game in no time.

Getting to Know the Top Players of 2014 So Far

Just past the midway point of the year, it’s time to check-in with the performances of the best players in the world. Player rankings are calculated weekly according to the Global Poker Index, which takes into account past performances and wins.

1. Ole Schemion

Ole has managed to finish in the top 10 of an impressive four major tournaments this year, including coming first at the PokerStars.it EPT Sanremo High Roller Event. The German based player who has only cemented his place as one of the top poker players in the world in the last few years is firmly sitting atop the rankings at number 1. He’s a great player to follow for the rest of this year with a great chance at winning Player of the Year.

2. Daniel Negreanu

Year after year Negreanu consistently finishes near the top of the player table. He is one of the few original superstars to not only maintain his high profile, but also continue to achieve success at the toughest events. While he hasn’t managed a win yet this year, he’s had a slew of strong results to put him in the running for Player of the Year again. Notable finishes include a pair of second place results at the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop and $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship at the World Series of Poker.

3. Paul Volpe

A star on the rise, American Paul Volpe is sitting comfortably in the number 3 spot after taking home the title at Event #13 of the World Series of Poker, also known as the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship. Volpe is a chameleon, known to play several varieties of poker strongly. He has had solid finishes in events this year playing Omaha, Hold’em, Razz, and of course 2-7 Draw.

4. Bryn Kenney

While he doesn’t play too many events, Bryn Kenney has secured the fourth spot so far based off his tournament win at the $1,500 Six-Handed 10-Game Mix event at the World Series, highlighting his versatility. He played four events at this year’s World Series, finishing in the top five of an amazing three of them. If you’re looking to see consistent top quality performances, Kenney is the man to follow.

5. David Peters

Rounding out the top 5 is workhorse David Peters. While he still hasn’t cemented his reputation in the poker world, he has all the potential one could ask for and the work ethic to match it. He is known for playing a staggering amount of events. At the World Series this year alone he played in an impressive 8 events. While he was unable to win an elusive bracelet, his strong overall performance has allowed him to consistently stay near the top of the leaderboard.

Not only is there a lot to learn from all of these top class players, but you’ll have fun doing so as you follow them. There is still a lot of tournaments to be played, with many changes in player rankings to come.

The Loss of a Legend: What the Death of Chad Brown Means to Poker

Anyone who has ever had an interest in poker knows who Chad Brown is. The news of his death on July 2nd, 2014 sent shockwaves throughout the poker community. As an experienced poker player, Brown had faced heavy odds many times before and come out on top, but his three-year struggle with cancer was one he could not overcome.

Who was Chad Brown?

The man from the Bronx, born in 1961, was a man of many talents and a strong work ethic. He spent his teenage and early adult years as a minor league baseball player as well as an actor and model.

Poker didn’t seriously enter Brown’s life until he was 32 and had his first taste of success competing with the best in the game. He is one of the most accomplished World Series of Poker (WSOP) players, cashing a total of 38 times with 2 runner-up awards. You also might know him from several strong finishes on the WPT and EPT.

For all his efforts and success, Brown won more than $3.6 million in registered events. There were few that weren’t happy for him when he was named the 2006 Bluff Magazine Poker Player of the Year.

Sickness for Brown

The bad news started to come for Brown in February of 2011. Despite his reputation for being one of the fittest and healthiest poker players, regularly exercising and competing off the poker table as well, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called liposarcoma. Over the years he suffered through chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and even had five surgeries.

Despite this constant torture, Brown displayed the positive attitude and spirit that he always had, and continued to play and succeed on the poker table. He was able to come 2nd in a side tournament at the WPT Borgata Winter Open, and even had a solid run into the Main Event.

It’s surprising to many to learn that Brown was never able to capture an elusive WSOP bracelet, despite his consistent and strong performances. A classy gesture by the WSOP director, Jack Effel, was seen at the WSOP in 2014, just before Brown’s death. Effel awarded Brown with an honorary bracelet, a prize that we all know would have been won in the future if not for this tragedy.

There are few in the poker community who have not been affected by the passing of Chad Brown. He returned back to medical care in the Bronx, the same place where he spent so much of his life. Brown passed away with all his many close friends and family on the morning of July 2nd.

From Brown’s last blog post:

“I’ve had tremendous support from family and friends who have been in the know from the get-go on every aspect of my illness…Anyone wondering if I’m going through a hard time, the answer is no. This is just part of life and I’m okay with everything. I accept it. And right now I’m just looking forward to the next hand.”

Look like a Pro: Fun and Useful Accessories for the Poker Table

While not all players can pull them off, wearing and using accessories can increase your chances of winning at live events, and often at least add a bit of fun or humor to the occasion. You can opt for a ridiculous outfit or makeup, but try the following more practical accessories first.

Card Guard

A card guard does exactly what it sounds like it does: it protects your hole cards. Some players opt to use a chip as a card guard, but if you want to keep your chips separate so you can keep track of your stack size, you might want to invest in a card guard. You want something easily visible that is heavy enough to not be blown away or easily knocked aside. Most players typically use large weighted coins or a similarly sized good luck charm. The point is to prevent the dealer or other players from accidentally grabbing your cards, especially on a crowded table.

Sunglasses

It may look ridiculous on some players, especially considering that most games are played indoors in fairly modest lighting conditions, but sunglasses can be a great aid to your game. There are a few tells that even excellent players can’t fully eliminate, and your eyes are a source of many of them. For example, when a new card is dealt, most players can’t help but look to their chips with a quick glance if it helped them.

If you are worried about giving away any tells with your eyes, you can cover them with any pair of sunglasses. You don’t necessarily need to always wear them, but having them nearby will allow you to have some extra protection when the action heats up.

Black Hoodie

Anyone who has ever watched a poker tournament on television knows about the black hoodie and sunglasses combo. A hoodie is used for mostly the same reasons: to cover up tells. A loose hoodie will cover up shaking arms to a degree, as well as hide a good portion of your face. These are two areas that many players have difficulty controlling, even if they have past live experience.

Music Player and Headphones

Are you the type of player that gets distracted or thrown off by chat at the table? If so, you might want to bring a good set of headphones. Music is a great way to calm down if you’re not having much luck and can help you stay in the zone when you are focused.

In some cases, you may just be stuck at a table with a chatterbox you can’t stand. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones will not only block out a lot of what he or she is saying, but even without music they indicate that you don’t really want to converse.

There’s no right or wrong way to accessorize at the table, but if you have personal preferences that help you play better, accessories are one way of fulfilling them. Finally, don’t use accessories as a crutch, relying on them will establish bad habits over time.

Is the $4.9 Billion Acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker Good for Poker Players?

The big news on the morning of June 12th was that the owner of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, Rational Group Ltd., had been bought out by Amaya Gaming Group, Inc., along with other companies in the Oldford Group umbrella.

Adding these two poker juggernauts to other gambling properties, Amaya Gaming Group has just become the biggest online gaming company by far, gaining an approximately 85 million new players in this deal.

Could this be the Answer for American Players?

Due to events leading up to and following the day known as Black Friday to online poker players, it has seemed like poker in the United States may not return. However, with new ownership that has a stellar track record of being transparent and following proper procedures to meet regulations, there may just be a bigger hope now than before.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) fights for the rights of poker players and the availability of online poker in the U.S. Executive director of the PPA, John Pappas was optimistic about the big deal, saying, “Amaya’s acquisition should remove any perceived impediment for this popular brand to once again be available to players in regulated U.S. jurisdictions.  This is a positive development for poker enthusiasts and the potential return of the PokerStars brand will grow our game.”

Now despite that optimism, the CEO of Amaya Gaming has claimed that this acquisition was not dependent on obtaining a license in the U.S., although that may be a possibility in the future. For now, the company is set to license their industry-famous software to New Jersey online poker platforms.

Amaya and the Rest of the World

Amaya Gaming has extensive experience and presence in many major global markets across the world. The CEO has already stated that the primary goal of this acquisition is to grow the already over $1.1 billion in revenue these two massive poker sites generate on an annual basis.

Plans to accomplish this include introducing casino games and sports betting. With a new customer base of over 85 million customers, these new introductions could have a profound effect. While that $1.1 billion in revenue may seem impressive, making up about a quarter of the online poker industry, the casino games industry comes in at a hefty $25 billion a year. Gaining a substantial portion of that market could take the two online gambling sites to previously unknown heights.

Amaya’s Background

Rational Group was always based in the Isle of Man, not exactly the most regulated “country”. This contributed heavily to the stigma and wariness of Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.

Amaya Gaming on the other hand is based in Montreal, Canada. This instantly adds a significant amount of trust and credibility to these tarnished giants, that suggests a more legitimate organization. Most of Amaya’s business is not online, but physically based in casino and lottery solutions. This is the first major only foray for Amaya, and it promises to be an interesting one.

The deal should be completed by September, so stay tuned for further developments and details.

2014 World Series of Poker Bracelet Recap

Thousands of poker hopefuls have came out in droves to attend the WSOP this year in hopes of winning a coveted bracelet. However, there can only be one winner in each event and so far 23 bracelets have been awarded to the following individuals:

  1. Roland Reparejo – $500 Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em
  2. Vanessa Selbst – $25,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em
  3. Brandon Shack-Harris – $1,000 Pot Limit Hold’em
  4. Kyle Cartwright – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em
  5. Tuan Le – $10,000 Limit 2-7 Limit Triple Draw Lowball
  6. Alex Bolotin – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout
  7. Ted Forrest – $1,500 Seven Card Razz
  8. Jonathan Dimig – $1,500 Millionaire Maker No Limit Hold’em
  9. Jeff Smith – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em
  10. Brock Parker – $10,000 Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or Better
  11. Justin Bonomo – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Six Max
  12. Gregory Kolo – $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em
  13. Paul Volpe – $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball
  14. Nick Kost – $1,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or Better
  15. Davidi Kitai – $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Max
  16. Todd Bui – $1,500 Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball
  17. Dan Heimiller – $1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold’em Championship
  18. George Danzer – $10,000 Seven Card Razz
  19. Ted Gills – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em
  20. Kory Kilpatrick – $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout
  21. Dominick Nitsche – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em
  22. Christopher Wallace – $10,000 H.O.R.S.E.
  23. Douglas Polk – $1,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em

This is the 45th annual World Series of Poker and contains a total of 65 bracelet events. The Series began on May 27, 2014, and will run until July, 14, 2014. The series culminates with the $10,000 Main Event which draws thousands annually and has a guaranteed first place prize of $10,000,000. This years defending champ is Ryan Riess who took down the event last year for $8,361,570.

Ryan “The Beast” Riess stirred up quite a bit of controversy last year after he had won the Main Event, by stating, “I just think I’m the best player in the world.”

It’s almost impossible to truly quantify who the best player in the world actually is, but if Ryan is able to defend his title this year, it would definitely give his comment a lot more merit.

Protecting Your Winnings: 6 Safety Tips

Have you heard horror stories about poker players winning large sums of money and having it stolen? This happens both online and in live games, and while it is rare, it’s something that you should protect yourself against. Here are six tips to help keep your winnings safe.

1. Keep Private Information Private. No one should know your password or how you fund your online accounts. Even your personal information used as routine security checks by poker and online wallet sites should be kept as private as possible. No one should ever ask for your information from a poker site unless you have contacted them first, if you see someone asking for it in a chat box, ignore it.

2. Don’t Play on Shady Sites. The most common way for players to lose their money is to play on some unknown site with a small player base. When they go to cash out their money is either seized for some obscure rule or takes months or years to finally receive. Stick to the well-known sites with good reputations, check out the editor’s picks on the PokerTips homepage.

3. You Can’t Cheat at Poker. If you are a struggling player, you might come across a tempting offer to cheat on online poker sites. You’re only human, it’ll probably be tempting, but know that online sites these days are very secure and if someone could cheat they wouldn’t be telling anybody. These typically turn out to be scams or viruses that will try to harvest your information.

4. Don’t Loan Money to Other Players. While there are probably a few legitimate reasons to do so, there are also many scammers online who will try to take advantage of your generosity. If you send money to beggars online, you aren’t likely to get it back.

5. Use an RSA Token. Most major sites offer RSA token authentication for a miniscule cost, even certain e-wallets do too. These tokens generate a one-time password as needed when you log-in to your poker account. This makes it virtually impossible for someone to hack into your account and steal your money. As you accumulate more winnings in your account, this is more important.

6. Don’t Click Links in Emails. Phishing emails are one of the most common attempts at theft out there. People can create emails that look almost identical to the ones your poker room sends you. They include a link to a site that looks legitimate, but isn’t, and try to either infect your computer or get you to type in your password. If you ever need to contact support based on an email, type in the website yourself or search for it on Google.

Don’t let online theft deter you from playing online poker, just keep a watchful eye on the security of your accounts. If you follow these six tips you are very unlikely to ever have any problems protecting your winnings.

Understand Your Emotions, Don’t Ignore Them

It’s no secret that the best players rarely tilt, they know how to play their best, or at least close to it nearly all the time. The mistake that many make when observing the elite of the poker world is thinking that the best players simply shut down their emotions. This short post will hopefully help you shift your paradigm of the role of emotions in poker to a more successful one.

The Consequences of Shutting Down Emotions at the Table

The misunderstanding comes from viewing good players as robots, and robots as we know them have no emotions. There’s one huge problem with shutting down your emotions, which is that you can’t selectively turn off anger or frustration. When you turn off your emotions, or perhaps putting them on mute temporarily is more appropriate, you also turn off the passion and enjoyment that is driving your play.

The consequence of muting your emotions tend to be that you lose interest at the table, lose focus, put less thought into decisions and care less. People are motivated by emotions at a deep level, and it’s not something that’s going to change.

The Solution: Understanding

poker psychology understanding emotions

Image via Flickr by deltaMike

The goal of eliminating anger and frustration is still desirable, but it’s clear that simply becoming ‘dead’ at the table isn’t the answer because we simply need our emotions too much. Logic dictates that we must find ways to control certain emotions or selectively eliminate them.

Psychologists have long known the benefits of understanding your thinking and the resulting emotions, in fact there is a whole field of psychology dedicated to it called cognitive therapy. Many top players have personal psychologists to help them delve into the thoughts they have at the table.

While you may not be able to afford your own personal psychologist, you can apply many basic techniques and get great results at the table. Start by making note of your thoughts leading up to an episode of anger or frustration. After a while you’ll start seeing patterns and will be able to walk away from the game before you do any serious damage.

Secondly, you can start to change how you think so that you don’t get angry. For example, if you suffer a bad beat and think something along the lines of “they hit their card EVERY SINGLE TIME!”, you need to spend time thinking about the long term results and maybe even learning about statistics. For this specific example you could grab a deck and set up this situation and play it out several dozen times. Even though sometimes the villain will hit their outs a few times in a row, over time it will even out. The more you accept and understand these things, the less you will find yourself getting frustrated during a game.

Understanding and controlling your emotions in a positive way is one of the most difficult things to do in poker. Don’t expect to become Gandhi over night, just make continuous improvements that result in better play in the long term.