Archive for November, 2011

DOJ Fails to Confirm Agreement with Group Bernard Tapie

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday failed to confirm with Card Player Magazine that they have reached an agreement with Group Bernard Tapie (GBT) to allow for the takeover of Full Tilt Poker.

Last week, a deal between the DOJ and GBT was announced and reported by the Wall Street Journal and CNN Money that would pave the way for the repayment of Full Tilt players worldwide. Yet in a statement to Card Player, a DOJ spokesman said, “We have no comment and are not confirming or denying an agreement with Groupe Bernard Tapie.”

It’s hard to say whether the DOJ’s failure to confirm a deal with GBT as reported by the WSJ is mere standard procedure or perhaps an indicator that the deal is not as set-in-stone as previously reported.

Knowing When to Continuation Bet

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Continuation betting is the act of making a bet on the flop in a pot that you raised preflop. You are “continuing” your aggression in the hand by betting on the flop, hence the term ‘continuation bet’. By now, most players are pretty aware of the benefits of continuation betting and do so regularly even on flops that they missed. But it’s tricky for players, myself included, to always know when to continuation bet and when not to continuation bet. There are a few factors you’ll want to consider when making this decision.

1. Number of opponents

I’m much more willing to make a continuation bet versus just one opponent than two. And versus three or more opponents, I’ll almost never make a continuation bet with a hand that didn’t improve on the flop. You’re just spewing away money in that case because there’s a pretty good chance one of your opponents likes their hand on the flop and is going to give you resistance. Against two players, you can still continuation bet sometimes, but you want to cut out a sizable chunk of hands you’d make that play with facing just one opponent when you are facing two. For example, if I raised with Ace-Jack and one player in the blinds called, I would probably make a continuation bet on a flop of like King-Eight-Seven. Against two players, I might just check, especially if there is a flush draw on board as this makes the continuation bet even less likely to work.

2. Flop Texture

There will be plenty of times when your hand misses the flop but the flop is still perfectly suitable for a continuation bet. For example, if you raise with pocket Threes and face just one caller from the blinds, you should totally go for a continuation bet on a “dry” flop of Ten-Seven-Two. Even though that flop missed your hand, there’s such a high probability that it missed your opponent’s hand. Additionally, there are only two overcards on the board instead of three which is nice. You can go ahead and bet your pair with confidence. However, on a flop of like Queen-Jack-Nine with two of one suit, I feel like you’re kinda wasting money making a bet because such a high percentage of your opponent’s likely holdings are going to be interested in continuing with that flop.

When evaluating flop texture, you want to ask yourself, “how likely is it that this flop hit my opponent’s hand?” The drier, the better, assuming you are hoping to just win the pot with a bet on the flop. Some “action” flops like Ace-Ace-Nine are good to continuation bet even if you don’t have an Ace since the flop will dissuade your opponent from trying to do anything cute against you. The more poker you play, the better feel you’ll eventually have for knowing what flops are okay to continuation bet and what flops you should just swallow your pride and check-behind on. In general, I would say players have an overall tendency to continuation bet slightly too much. While it is true that you only need a pot-sized continuation bet to succeed one-third of the time or more in order to justify making the bet, I think continuation betting has become almost a little too standard and to be expected. For this reason, I like to mix in check-raising as a bluff sometimes when I call a raise preflop from the blinds. Basically, a good rule of thumb is that you never have to continuation bet and so don’t do it on flops that seem kinda bad just because you think you’re supposed to.

3. Your table image

It’s important to have some degree of awareness of your image at the table. If your opponents view you as some erratic, loose cannon, they will be less likely to fold to your continuation bets. Generally, continuation betting is more likely to work if your opponents perceive you as tight and solid.

4. Stack sizes

It’s important to observe stack sizes when determining whether or not to continuation bet. Continuation bets tend to work best when the players in the hand have medium sized stacks. By this, I mean stacks in the range of about 20-75 big blinds. Less than this and continuation betting can be a bad idea; you don’t want to make the bet if your standard sizing for it is half of your opponent’s stack. I prefer checking with the plan to fold if the turn does not improve your hand and your opponent bets. All too often, when you continuation bet against a short-stack, they will raise all-in leaving you pot committed to making the call with a hand that is clearly beat.

Players with deeper stacks have more maneuvering room to do things like check-raise on the flop as a bluff or call a bet with something marginal like bottom pair or a gutshot in order to see what happens on subsequent streets.

5. Your opponent’s tendencies

It’s good to know a little something about your opponent before continuation betting against them. Some players literally never fold so there’s no reason to continuation bet on flops that badly missed your hand since they’re probably going to call with whatever two pieces of paper they were dealt. It’s better to deal with these “calling station” type players by just waiting to make a hand against them and then punishing them with large value bet after large value bet.

Savvier, thinking players are, ironically, much easier to continuation bet against. The best player to make a continuation bet against are the ones that are only concerned with their own hand and nothing else whatsoever. Since most hold’em hands miss the flop more frequently than they hit the flop, it’s really easy to slowly siphon chips off of players like these due to their lack of creativity.

6. Bet sizing

One final note is to think about the size of your continuation bet. You want it to be large enough that your opponent will respect it as a “real” bet and not just call or raise you with anything. If the size of your continuation bet is equal to or less than the amount you raised to preflop, you can expect your success rate to be pretty low. Your opponent already called one bet larger than that, so why not call again? You want your continuation bet to be somewhere in the range of 20% larger than the size of your preflop raise up to the size of the pot. If you bet the pot or even more than the pot (which for some reason people basically never do in no-limit strangely enough), you can expect your opponent to fold everything but the hands that they legitimately like. Sometimes these larger-sized continuation bets are nice because they are really polarizing. You are sending a strong signal to your opponent that you like your hand, so if they continue with the hand, you can narrow their range down pretty good to only strong stuff and not a ton of speculative garbage. I would definitely recommend mixing in a full pot-sized continuation bet from time to time, certainly sometimes on flops that didn’t even improve your hand, just to keep your opponents off balance.

Heinz, Lamb, Staszko Remain in 2011 WSOP Main Event

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Yesterday, the November Nine played down to the November Three. Pius Heinz of Germany, Ben Lamb of the United States, and Martin Staszko of Czech Republic survived the day and will return to the Rio tomorrow to determine the 2011 World Champion.

The story of the day was the assent of Pius Heinz. Players started the final table with the following chip counts:

Martin Staszko (Czech Republic), 40,175,000
Eoghan O’Dea (Ireland), 33,925,000
Matt Giannetti (United States), 24,750,000
Phil Collins (United States), 23,875,000
Ben Lamb (United States), 20,875,000
Badih Bounahra (Belize), 19,700,000
Pius Heinz (Germany), 16,425,000
Anton Makiievskyi (Ukraine), 13,825,000
Sam Holden (United Kingdom), 12,375,000

The chip stacks going into play for tomorrow are as follows:

Pius Heinz (Germany), 107,800,000
Ben Lamb (United States), 55,400,000
Martin Staszko (Czech Republic), 42,700,000

Heinz is the first German ever to appear at the WSOP Main Event Final Table and is now poised to win it all with more than half of the chips in play.

The fourth through ninth place finishers were as follows:

4th: Matt Giannetti (United States), $3,012,000
5th: Phil Collins (United States), $2,270,000
6th: Eoghan O’Dea (Ireland), $1,721,000
7th: Bob Bounahra (Belize), $1,314,000
8th: Anton Makiievskyi (Ukraine), $1,010,000
9th: Sam Holden (United Kingdom), $782,000

PinnacleSports.com is offering the following odds on who will win the 2011 WSOP Main Event:

Pius Heinz, -106
Ben Lamb, +210
Martin Staszko, +392

As they were yesterday, every hand from tomorrow’s action will be broadcast “semi-live” (on a 15 minute delay) on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

How 2011 November Nine Betting Odds Have Shifted Since July

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

In July, we published a 2011 November Nine preview that focused each player’s odds to win the tournament as offered by PinnacleSports. Let’s see how those odds have shifted in the more than 3 months since that article was written.

Interestingly, all but two players odds have gotten shorter since July and by a much wider margin than the two other players’ odds got longer. In other words, Pinnacle basically increased the overall amount of vig they are taking on this prop by shortening 7 of the 9 player’s odds (some of them considerably) while lengthening the odds of only two players (and not by much).

Biggest Gainers

A huge amount of action must have gone on Ben Lamb in the past few months as his odds have dropped all the way to +434 from +620. He is without a doubt the public’s favorite bet for the 2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table. Taking him not to win at -534 is probably the best bet on the board right now (sorry, benba!)

The first-ever German to make the WSOP Main Event Final Table, Pius Heinz, has seen some love from the betting market. His odds have dropped from +1100 down to +881.

The Englishman on the short stack, Samuel Holden, has dropped to +1208 from +1525.

Apparently there are some people who think it will be in the air next week; Phil Collins’ odds have dropped to +566 from +679.

Mostly Holding Steady

Part of the young American contingency, Matt Giannetti, has seen his odds shorten a bit to +603 from +621.

The wild card of the final table, Ukrainian Anton Makiievskyi‘s odds have shortened a bit to +1083 from +1262.

Young Irishman Eoghan O’Dea‘s odds have also shortened slightly to +429 from +483.

Slightly Longer

The Czech chip leader, Martin Staszko has become a bit better value since July. He is now listed at +423 up from +414.

The elder statesman of the final table, Badih Bounahra from Belize, would now generate a win of $1,086 on a bet of $100 as opposed to just $1,026 had the bet been placed in July.

The final table resumes this Sunday, November 6th, from the Penn and Teller Theater at Rio in Las Vegas.

Full Tilt Buyers Strike Deal with DOJ

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Subject: Poker is reporting that Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to allow the French investment group’s acquisition of Full Tilt Poker to continue. The deal will allow for payment of all players worldwide if Full Tilt’s current shareholders approve of the GBT acquisition.

Subject: Poker posted the following email they say was sent from Ray Bitar to FTP shareholders this morning:

Dear members,

I am pleased to announce that today the Department of Justice and Groupe Bernard Tapie have reached an agreement in principle regarding the acquisition of the companies comprising FullTiltPoker. My understanding is the deal provides that in exchange for an agreed upon payment by GBT, and a GBT commitment to assume responsibility for payment of ROW players, DoJ will reimburse US players and settle the outstanding civil litigation with the companies comprising FTP. Beyond these conditions, issues like the time frame and process for repayment of players remain unclear at this point and time.

With DoJ’s consent now in hand, GBT may now proceed to finalize an agreement to acquire the companies or assets that comprise FTP. That agreement will very likely address the status of your shares or interests in the successor company. When I receive that agreement, I will coordinate with our attorneys to ensure the terms of that proposed agreement will be shared with the membership and voted on.

-Ray

If Full Tilt shareholders agree to GBT’s proposal, GBT will assume responsibility of debt to non-US players and the DOJ will create a fund to repay U.S. players. It’s anyone’s guess as to how long this might take.

This news makes the possibility that players will receive the entirety of their Full Tilt balance, and that Full Tilt may one day reopen for business, begin to appear rather likely. However, there still appears to be a long way to go before the deal is complete. Two-thirds of Full Tilt ownership interest must vote to approve the GBT acquisition.