Advanced Strategy

Tactical Concepts:
1. Expected Value
2. 2nd Best Hands
3. Hand Value
4. Adv. Drawing

Psychological Concepts:
1. Changing Pace
2. Mind Games
3. Tells
4. Adv. Mistakes

Game Choice:
1. Game Selection
2. Your Best Game
3. Multiple Tables
4. Poker Ecosystems

Site Guides:
1. Party Guide
2. Pacific Guide
3. Noble Guide

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Guide to Empire & Party Poker, Part 2

Please Note: As of Oct. 8, 2005 there have been major changes to Party Poker and Empire Poker. Details can be found in this news article. We will be monitoring the situation and updating these articles as more information becomes available.

Empire Poker and Party Poker (they share the same live games and single table tournaments) make up by far the largest online poker room. Like most online poker sites, Limit Hold'em is also the most popular game there. While there are many people that play and it is hard to keep good track of individual players, Party and Empire's Limit Hold'em games can be quite lucrative if you play them correctly. Recently, I have been playing a lot at Empire and Party's $15-30 Limit Hold'em games, and I will give out a couple of helpful hints in this article. While these hints are from the vantage point of the highest limit offered there, they will probably be helpful for all limits.

First, there are a wide variety of players that play at Empire and Party. Most online sharks have an account there, but so do most online fish. Good game selection is a very valuable asset at these sites. Unfortunately, Empire and Party make it tough to do this by their stats alone. They do not display the flop percentage, and basing your game choice from average pot is not always a wise idea. A high average pot could mean a lot of fish calling to the river, but it could also mean a game full of tight-aggressives. The average pot also could be highly inflated due to a recent hand or two, and a high average pot may induce a lot of sharks to join the game, killing the point of joining the game in the first place!

The best long-term solution is to keep notes on as many possible players as you can. Like most poker rooms, Party and Empire poker allow you to keep individual notes on each player. These notes do not need to be long to help you; 'calling station' or 'shark' is sufficient.

Simply put, if you find a soft game, stay there. If you are in a tough game, leave! There are plenty of softer games on Party/Empire to be found!

Another tip that I think is often overlooked is that you should generally play the longhand games instead of the shorthand ones. The shorthand games tend to attract more sharks. Generally, fish like to play what they are used to playing in the casino: longhand. Also, if you learn to play shorthand well, it will come in handy in a longhand game. Longhand games often stay full, but they also often become short at times. If you learn to play short well in addition to having a good longhand game, you will have a huge advantage over your opponents who may only know how to play longhand. Anyone in the 6-max rooms is there to play shorthand, so chances are they are just as good as that as they are a longhand game. However, people in the full games often are very poor at shorthand games, but end up playing short for stretches while they wait for the game to fill back up.

Finally, a very important tip is also basic poker strategy: starting hand selection. You don't want to get caught playing dominated hands. If a good player raises in early position, fold your AT, KT, etc. The fatal flaw of most Party and Empire players is they just play their own hand preflop. They think about the Sklansky charts and don't consider the relative strength of their hand versus their opponents'.

However, you should generally play more hands if the game is loose. AQ, AJ, and KQ can generally be played even for a raise by a bad or medicore (many players will raise with QJ and stuff like it). Suited connectors and mid to small pairs can generally be played as well, especially in late position. Also, if there are many players at the flop (5 or more), assume that someone has top pair or better. Somone may be bluffing but chances are someone has something. This is not always the case when the flop is heads-up or three-way. In these instances, you need to play your opponent and vary your style. For example, if you have top pair, sometimes play aggressively with check-raises and such but sometimes let them bluff into you by calling down to the river (and then betting if he checks).

Finally, I would like to point out that most players at Empire make too many postflop mistakes. They miss a lot of value bets or call with hopeless hands on the turn/river. Two ingredients to success are fully value betting your hands, and making a clear decision on the turn if you will call down through the river (read When To Fold for more information about this).

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