Archive for May, 2015

How To Create A Great Atmosphere For Your Home Poker Game

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Sometimes we get caught up in the money.

Sure, you can win money playing poker, but more than anything, it’s a really fun game to play.

Combine poker with friends, and you can get a really enjoyable experience. However, there are some things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid any heated arguments and keep the mood light.

1. Keep the Buy-in Small

Playing for money is part of the thrill of poker, but if the buy-in is too big, players will fear scared of losing and it will ruin the whole night.

There’s no set amount for a buy-in, but it should be a small enough amount for you and anyone coming to the game that it’s not a big deal if someone loses, even if they do more many nights in a row.

For some groups, this might be $5, while for others, it might be $100. Find an amount that’s exciting, but not crazy.

2. Keep the Focus on Poker, Not Other Distractions

By all means, talk about anything at the table, but be at the table.

What often happens is that as the game goes on, players drop out and go watch TV or play video games while the poker is still ongoing. It makes it hard to focus on the poker and it loses some of its excitement when it seems like not everyone cares.

3. Have Some Table Rules

While the purpose of the night is for everyone to have fun, you need some rules to make sure that happens.

You don’t need to be overly strict, but before you start the game, agree on some simple rules. I recommend:

  • When someone has a tough decision, quiet down

  • No phones at the table

  • No crazy bets (adding cash from wallets)

4. Pick Smart Snacks

It’s hard to have fun when everyone’s hungry. But no one wants oily cards and poker chips, so don’t put out potato chips or chicken wings. Stick to foods like veggies and dip, or classic snacks like trail mix or bridge mix.

Alternatively take a break after a while and chow down on pizza or wings. You can leave the smaller snacks on the table.

A weekly poker night will likely end up being the highlight of your weeks, and one of your fondest memories. Take the precautions in this post to heart and you’ll make sure there’s no major problems.

Now if you want to take your friends’ money, head over to our strategy section.

27 Questions to Ask Yourself During a Poker Hand

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

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

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

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.