Archive for March, 2015

How to Deal With Annoying Donk Bets

Monday, March 30th, 2015

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

Friday, March 20th, 2015

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

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

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

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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.