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!

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.

How to Deal With a Poker Bully at the Table

Everyone has played against many poker bullies.

Not the kind of bullies who call you names, but the type that push everyone at the table out of pots by relentless aggression.

These players will bet and raise you until you feel you have no choice but to fight fire with fire. You start betting and raising back, but ultimately this only favors the bully.

“Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” – George Carlin

The whole point of the bully’s strategy is to rile up other players and cause them to play out of their comfort zone. This inevitably leads to massive mistakes that the bully can capitalize on.

Fight Fire With Water

Water is the element most closely associated with tranquility. Just like water beats fire in real life, patience beats aggression in poker. But how much is too much?

Most players realize that the bully is not playing a profitable range of hands, and then they make their biggest mistake – they tighten up…too much.

The result that can be observed time and time again is that a player will wait for ages for a good hand, finally call or raise the bully after being so patient, and the bully completely withdraws from the hand, either by checking or folding.

Why does the bully do so? Because he’s not stupid. He know’s that you think he’s an idiot and that you are just waiting for a good hand. So once you perk up and get involved, he’s done.

Then either two things happen:

  1. You return to being patient and keep folding bad hands and the pattern repeats itself

  2. You get frustrated from waiting all that time and getting nothing out of it, which leads to tilt and bad decisions

Neither of these are winning strategies. However, there is a third.

Play Your Regular Solid Game and Crush the Bully

Wait, isn’t this obvious? It should be, but because of the reasons we already looked at above, it isn’t intuitive for most players.

Here are the facts:

  • You play a solid tight-aggressive (or similar) game with good hand selection

  • The bully plays an extremely wide range of hands, many poor ones

If you just play your regular game, you will typically win over time.

The Right Adjustments and the Wrong Adjustments

Adjustments are very important at the table, but many players either make the wrong changes, or over-correct.

The wrong adjustments are to play too tight and try to trap the bully. This only works against the most careless bullies. The right adjustment is to play your standard pre-flop range, but to keep his range in mind post-flop.

Since you are getting involved in a decent amount of hands, he’s not going to automatically shut down if you play back.

Remember that his range is significant weaker than your average opponent. Here are the adjustments you should make:

  • Call less often with draws; either fold with weak draws or raise and commit with semi-strong draws

  • Call more with top pair and similar medium-strength hands: These hands act as bluff catchers against a bully

You will have to fine-tune these two adjustments to the specific bully, but as general principles they remain effective.

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.


 



FanDuel - WFBC
PokerTips Newsletter Sign-Up