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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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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.

The Kryptonite of Online Poker Players: Casino Games

It’s no secret that casino games and poker go hand in hand, both in the real world and online. In fact, Full Tilt poker has recently signed an agreement to bring casino games to their platform, as many other major sites have already done. Even great poker players have a desire to gamble, and just like putting poker tables near slot machines, casino games online make it really easy to play. The problem is that many winning players lose their winnings playing slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and other fun gambling games.

The Problem with Gambling

blackjack casino game

Image via Flickr by Images_of_Money

The distinction of gambling is important when it comes to casinos. Poker is a game of skill where you are playing against other players, but not the house. All other casino games however do not allow you to gain an edge over other players, and they are mathematically set-up to favor the house. Some games like blackjack you can approach parity, but even optimal play will still cause you to lose in the long run.

On top of the fact that casino games are designed for you to lose money, they are also designed to allow you to lose a lot of money fast. The amount you can bet in a single poker hand is limited to what you have on the table, which is an amount you should be able to afford to lose. If you go to a blackjack table however, especially online, it’s usually possible to bring your entire bankroll to the table and theoretically bet it all at once if you wanted to.

The final issue, as you may have observed in poker, is that people get extremely frustrated when it comes to events of chance. If someone hits a few draws on you in poker, you might even go on tilt. Now imagine what happens when you’re playing blackjack and three or four hands in a row go against you, which is fairly common. If you happen to tilt at a blackjack table, you can practically kiss your bankroll goodbye. This happens time and time again to even solid winning poker players.

How to Deal with Casino Games

The ideal situation is to avoid them altogether, but as more of the major sites like Full Tilt poker incorporate them, this option is more difficult. Most poker clients allow you to go into settings and hide the casino games, which is the best option.

But what if you enjoy to gamble? As in, not to win money, you just like to flip a few coins or spin a wheel once in a while. The solution is to open an account on a separate site that offers casino games. Deposit a small bankroll of money you are prepared to lose and treat that as your recreation. It’s important not to confuse your poker bankroll that has all your winnings in it and your recreational bankroll that you have funded to play around with.

As long as you are a poker player you will be exposed to casino games. It’s important to keep your discipline and keep any recreational gambling separate from your poker activities to achieve long term success.

Poker is Coming to Crimea in a Big Way

Russia is a country where gambling and online poker is in jeopardy, but there are some interesting proposals for the latest Russian acquisition, Crimea.

This is far from a politics blog so I will skimp on the political acquisition of Crimea by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and however questionable it may have been, it is now an interesting new area.

When Putin puts his mind to something, he usually gets what he wants, and recently he has drawn up a draft law to allow a new casino to be built and operated in Crimea

Now that the study about a new gambling zone in Crimea has shown encouraging potential, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to present a draft law that will allow Crimea’s authorities to choose a location for a new casino.

For the economically torn nation, this could help a tremendous amount. There are international investors lining up to be involved in this project that is set to make over 10,000 jobs, a substantial boost for the weak regional economy. The starting date of the casino has not been names however, and could take a while before it is open to the public.

An interesting part of the design plan is that it is intended to be a major tourist attraction, and more than just a casino. The plan is for it to be a year-round resort, which is why major companies are interested in getting in on the ground floor. This casino plan extends far past just poker and casino games, and is intended to be the start of a revolution in the area.

Most casinos traditionally have some funding from a country’s government, but because of the substantial interest from outside investors, it’s likely that no government intervention will be needed. In fact over $1.5 billion has already been secured for the project.

Here’s where it gets exciting for poker players, the head of the Russian Association for the Development of the Gambling Industry, Samoil Binder, has recently said, “We will have to organize sports events like the world [poker] championship in Las Vegas.” More major tournaments to watch and play in can only be good for the global poker scene.

Russia has very few existing designated gambling zones, which would make a newly renovated Crimea a major attraction. The growth and development of the region will be exciting to watch in the years to come.

General Tips on How to Excel at Poker

Become a Regular in Strategy Forums

If you want to excel at poker you must go through the strategy forums and evaluate how better players are thinking. It would be a good idea to jot down specific difficult situations you came up against while playing and post them in the appropriate forum for others to evaluate. The number one most common concern from players who do not usually post in the forums is that they don’t know who is correct and who is not. To solve this problem, you can look to see how many total posts a specific poster has, and use this as a vague indicator of their reputability – if they have a lot of posts, it is probably safe to assume that they have also read a lot of strategy themselves. Make sure to get the opinion of a few of these reputable posters on the subject that you are discussing. Remember, there is not always a clear correct answer for every situation in poker – but there are definitely wrong answers and wrong ways to play in a specific situation.

Join a Skype Group

If you search the forums you will find plenty of players willing to join Skype study groups. By creating or joining these groups, you will hear the thoughts or players who are better and worse than yourself – you will quickly find out who has the most knowledge and you should strive to pick that person’s brain. Continually ask questions – even if you think they will make you look stupid. Remember, even Phil Ivey had to ask the simple questions at the beginning of his poker career, no one is born with this knowledge.

Get a Coach

Getting a coach is a great way to excel in any sport or game – poker is no different. Just like other sports, private coaching can be costly, and in the poker world you will see rates that range from forty-dollars per hour, to one-thousand dollars per hour. Obviously the coaches that are charging astronomical rates are coaching higher stakes and need to make their hourly rate high enough to cover their expected value of playing for that hour online. Find a coach that is suitable for your stake, and make sure that he/she proves their adeptness by showing you their graphs, win rate, etc. Make sure you come prepared with questions to every coaching session in order to get the most out of your time. If you are tight on cash you may find that you only need a few coaching sessions to have an eye opening experience. You will be amazed at how small adjustments will positively impact your hourly rate online.

Avoid Enduring an Expensive Learning Curve

Try to avoid having to go through an expensive learning curve. There are plenty of people out there that had to lose a lot of money online in order to come to the realization that they need to learn more in order to beat the games. Don’t be the guy that blows copious amounts of money before he figures out that he needs to get better.

Could Virtual Reality for Poker Be the Next Big Thing?

Virtual reality gaming has been the dream for first person shooter (FPS) game and massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) for ages, but it hasn’t been thought of as an addition to poker until now. Talks of incorporating the Oculus Rift with online poker have recently surfaced and are getting players excited.

Introducing the Oculus Rift

oculus rift virtual reality

Image via Flickr by Sergey Galyonkin

If you haven’t seen the Oculus Rift before, it’s a sight to behold. The product is essentially a pair of “goggles” that work seamlessly with certain games to provide an incredible virtual reality experience.

Just recently, the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 Billion, a major investment into the future potential of online gaming. Your eyes see a 1080p resolution on a 7-inch OLED screen. It keeps track of your head movements and relays them to the game, introducing some amazing possibilities. For the most part this technology is still in the testing phase of its development, only being released to game developers to work with, but should be coming out for consumer use in late 2014 or 2015.

How Does it Work for Poker

As noted initially, poker and traditional gaming doesn’t really go together, but virtual reality might just make it feasible. Not only would it be fairly simple to build a realistic poker game (compared to other video games), it would be able to add some of the environment that online players often miss.

Some players are unable to play live due to disabilities or sickness, while others are simply too far away or have no way of getting to a nearby casino or game. A virtual reality headset would allow you to immediately be immersed in a live poker situation.

Another way to think of this type of gaming is as a hybrid between live and online poker. You can combine the best aspects of online poker, with the look and feel of live poker, essentially getting the best of both worlds.

A likely setup would be to combine a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift (or any of its competitors) with a gaming system with motion-sensing capability like the Xbox One’s Kinect. This would allow you to not only look around and sense the environment, but to interact with real chips and hand movements. Until the holodeck from Star Trek is invented, this will be the closest you will get to immersive poker in your own home.

While all this could still be a year or two off before it comes a reality, the fact that pieces are in motion means that this is a very real and exciting possibility for poker players around the world.

Tips for Attending the Wsop/Las Vegas this Summer

As per my Weekly Shuffle article last Sunday, this article will hopefully provide some more helpful tips on the WSOP and Vegas living. The series is coming up and many aspiring players will be taking their shot on the felt in hopes of finally hitting that big score and attaining the financial freedom required to travel the circuit year round. If you are anything like most of the players living in Vegas for their first summer, or even just coming out for a week – you will definitely benefit from these tidbits of advice.

1) Make sure to pack shorts with deep pockets, or cargo shorts to hold your cash, tournament receipts, etc. After you have been deep in thought for a long period of time – or a gruelling grind on the felt – you are less likely to realize that something significant had fallen out of your pockets while at the table, and by the time you figure it out, it may be too late. Cargo shorts are the best option because they have multiple pockets and most of them have large pockets on the side that button up. The same goes for jeans and pants – make sure the pockets are deep so your belongings can’t fall out of them while you are sitting down.

2) Photo copy your passport, other personal forms of identification, credit cards, and anything else that may cause you to end up in a world of trouble. This may seem a little over the top, but you wouldn’t believe how many players lose their passports and wished they had made a photocopy.

3) Staying in a casino hotel for weeks at a time can become very expensive. If you are just staying for a week, there are some great deals on various travel websites that probably won’t cost you an arm and a leg for a two-way flight and one week’s hotel stay, but if you are staying for more than a week, you will be hard pressed to find an amazing deal. If you are staying for a month or more, look into renting a house with a bunch of friends – the housing economy isn’t doing so well in Las Vegas right now so it won’t be hard to find a good deal that you can split with your mates – get five guys together and you probably won’t have to pay much more than five-hundred dollars each for a decent house in a subdivision not more than twenty minutes from the strip. There is also the option of renting a condominium on the strip, which will still only run you about half the price than staying in hotels would.

4) If you are like me and live outside the U.S., you will probably find that it is super expensive to operate or pay for a plan to use your cellphone in Vegas all summer long, or even for a week. I would suggest making your way out to the nearest phone dealer and buying a pay-as-you-go phone. You can purchase the phone for as little as twenty dollars, and load however many minutes you need on it. I found that buying the phone and fifty-dollars in minutes was all I needed for a whole month – this is still much cheaper than what my service provider here in Canada would charge me if I were to work out a plan with them. So if you have a smart phone, you can still bring it to use for the free wifi that is provided by many of the casinos, but make sure to use your pay-as-you-go phone for all your calling, and disable everything else on your smartphone.

Be sure to check last week’s Weekly Shuffle article for more tips on attending the WSOP this summer, and good luck at the tables!


 



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