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Showing posts with label live poker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label live poker. Show all posts

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tipping the Dealer in Live Poker Games

One of the visitors at Low Limit Holdem Strategy and Tactics recently shared their tipping strategy with us and gave us permission to share it with you…

I am not a professional poker player nor do I play for leisure; I am somewhere in the middle.  As my passion for cards grew, so did the amount of money that I was putting at risk and, while I am able to responsibly maintain my bankroll in the discretionary column of the domestic balance sheet, I am very conscientious of its health.  This was not always the case.  A friend and I were exchanging thoughts on career poker players a while back and he posed a simple question - how profitable was my play.  I had read extensively from the literary canon dedicated to the subject, spent hours applying various strategies and refining my game and knew that the deal presidents had reproduced but I was unable to quantify the most basic business metric.  At that moment, it occurred to me that my favorite pastime just became more complicated.

How many well intentioned entrepreneurs with great ideas had their dreams go unrealized because they neither understood nor could apply the required business practices to manage a successful company?  The cold hard reality is that if you want to play for other than simple leisure, you need to make more money than you lose.  Read just one book on playing poker you will realize that the author’s focus is on explaining a wide range of issue a player needs to consider in order to maximize the odds of a particular outcome.  Now read ten more books and ask yourself how much attention has been dedicated to minimizing expenses.  I am not talking about probabilistic risk reduction; I am talking about non-poker theory related cost reduction.  Consider this: you drive 30 miles to play in your favorite game, when you sit down you are 60 round-trip miles in gas and 1 hour in time behind (whatever that translates to in monetary terms) and you have not even posted your first blind.

Read the rest of the article Tipping in Live Poker games on www.lowlimitholdem.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Limit Holdem: Making Fewer Mistakes Part 2 (Bad Draws)

In the first part of this article I talked about making fewer starting hand mistakes in Limit Holdem which isn’t as simple as playing aces kings and ace-king only.  The next most common mistake limit players make is continuing on the flop and turn with bad draws.

What is a bad draw?

A bad draw is a draw that will not win enough money when you win to offset your current and future contributions to the pot when you lose. 

30752590A beginner’s approach to this is to look at the pot odds for a draw compared to your odds of making that draw with one card.  For example if you can call a bet for $10 and the pot already has $100 in it then the pot is laying you 10:1 odds, therefore if the odds of making your draw are less than 10:1 the you should call and if they are greater you should fold.  Pot odds has some flaws, namely:

  1. It doesn’t take into account future action on the hand.  With some draws you are more likely to get paid off on the river (or even have your opponent raise you) when you make your hand.  This concept is called implied odds and basically means comparing your total contribution to the pot when all cards are dealt to the final (obviously estimated) amount of the pot.
  2. It doesn’t take into account the times that you make your draw and still lose the hand.  This concept is called reverse-implied odds.  A common example of this is drawing to a flush that isn’t ace-high (a non-nut flush draw).  Sometimes one of your opponents will have a larger flush draw and you will end up paying extra bets on the end when you make your draw.  Other common examples are drawing to non-nut straights or drawing to a hand like two pair (sometimes your opponent will have a set or even a full house when you make your hand)
  3. Many players don’t see all of the draws available to them in order to more accurately estimate their chances of winning when all the cards are dealt.
  4. The way you play the hand (perhaps by raising instead of calling) can affect not only your likelihood of winning the hand but also the amount of money that ultimately goes into the pot.

So ok that is a lot to think about and being able to accurately estimate the amount the final pot size and how much you’ll have to invest to get there is a skill that requires experience, however there are some mistakes that people make in limit holdem that are so bad they are quite easy to identify and take advantage of:

Mistake #1: the inability to lay down a pocket pair, especially in non heads-up situations

You’ve definitely seen this one if you’ve played any amount of limit Holdem…  There are certain players that absolutely cannot fold pocket pairs regardless of how unlikely they are to win.  You will see people call down to the river with pocket tens while the flop is Ace King Four against three opponents.  The general rule of thumb for pocket pairs is that you want to flop a set and in most cases if you do not you should fold your hand.  If your pocket pair doesn’t give you 1) a set, or 2) an overpair or 3) the high end of an open ended straight draw then in almost all cases you should abandon it on the flop vs. more than one opponent.

Mistake #2: weak straight draws while there is a flush draw on board

If there is a flush draw on the flop then you only want to be drawing at the top end of an open ended straight draw and even then you should often abandon this hand if there aren’t enough people in the pot.   You will notice some people that will draw with the bottom end of a gutshot straight draw when there are only one or two people in the pot.  You need to first mark these people with a little green dot in your poker client and then you need to take advantage of them by betting your stronger draws and made hands consistently against them.

Mistake #3: non-nut flush and straight draws heads up.

30424363When you are in small pot situations and you don’t think there’s a decent chance your hand may be best right now it is often correct to dump many draws when you are playing heads up (for example the button raises and you are the only caller in the big blind).  Usually the flop call is correct and the turn call is incorrect if your opponent has a better made hand than you do (when drawing to a nut flush, for example, your ace high alone may give you the best made hand).  In these situations it is a matter of knowing your opponent and what range of hands they are likely to play to know if you should abandon your hand or play it more aggressively if there’s a decent chance you can get them to lay down a better hand than yours.

If you have a simple draw and decide that drawing (check/calling) is the correct move then you should often draw on the flop and fold on the turn if you haven’t improved and if your draw has less than 10 outs.  Keep in mind you may have other outs besides your main draw.  In a heads-up situation, for example, your ace may be good if you are drawing to the nut flush.

Mistake #4: Drawing with less than six outs with one card to come.

It is almost always wrong to draw to a gutshot straight draw or worse (most common worse draw is hoping to hit a set with a pocket pair) on the turn.  It is a rare pot that is SO huge that you can afford to chase your hand in this situation.  You’ll be plugging a big leak if you can get out of hands in this situation.


If you can learn to take advantage of other people making these four mistakes and avoid making them yourself you will see an immediate improvement in your limit results.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Winning a piece of the $10,000 Commerce Casino Jackpot

Last week, towards the end of an especially bad session, I was actually at the table when a jackpot hand was won! The losing player had 9s 9h with the other two 9's on the board and the winning player had Kd Jd with the Qd and Td also on the board for a King high straight flush. The somewhat depressing reality was that the table share is only 20% there and at the time there were 6 of us (besides the winner and loser of the hand) at the table so we got 2000/6 ($334) each and for that we had to wait around over an hour for them to validate the jackpot. It was enough to turn a losing session into a winning one though, to the tune of about $30 – lol.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Live Low Limit 2007

For the last few years most of the poker I've played has been online. Even though I'm a Southern California local and there are a half dozen poker rooms within a half-hour drive it is still more convenient (and less rake, and no dealer tipping) to play online.

The last week, though, I've wanted to get back into the live game and see what changes if any there are in the low limit arena. I played a total of about 30 hours at the following limits: $2-$4, $3-$6, $6-$12 and $9-$18.

Much of what was true in 2000 (when Low Limit Holdem Strategy and Tactics first appeared) is still true today about these tables. They're all very loose and many are very passive.

The difference now vs then is a slight reduction in the number of people that will see the flop, especially at the limits above $3-$6. While it's still very common to see 5, 6, or 7 people see the flop in the past there were many tables where every single person would see the flop almost every single hand. In terms of the starting hands for these loose/passive games that are listed on LLHSAT I'm considering a couple of revisions the most notable is to drop the unsuited connectors from the late position list of hands and perhaps some slight tightening in early position.

The drop (which is how the local cardrooms handle rake) ranges from $3 to $6 every single hand (!) at the low limits ($1 of the drop is for the jackpot and the rest is a fixed amount--unlike online rake which varies according to the pot size). What makes it possible to overcome this astounding charge is how badly many live players play both pre and post-flop (calling with 3, 2, and in many cases 0 outs to the best hand after the flop). If you haven't dipped your toes in the live poker action water it's definitely worth doing if only for the experience.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

$10-$20 Limit, Let's Get This Party Started

At UltimateBet if you want to play at the party 10-20 table you definitely have to sit at Tatooine. I'm not sure if it's the Star Wars theme or what, but there always seems to be at least one if not several wild players at the table.

Take this actual hand for example:

All fold to dealer button who raises with T9o. BB Calls. Flop is 834. BB checks, Dealer bets, BB raises, Dealer reraises, BB caps. Turn is a ten (!). BB Bets, Dealer Raises, BB reraises, Dealer caps. River is a 5 (no flush) BB bets, Dealer Calls, BB shows A2o for the rivered wheel.

Now without getting into some futile hand analysis about what these two players were thinking the definite bottom line is that they were both providing some great action which you rarely see at the lower limits. I'm not entirely sure why this happens at the 10-20+ limits so much, but I'm sure part of it is the gambling aspect for what many people consider to be 'real' amounts of money (a large multiway 10-20 pot can hit $500)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Stars and Stripes

Yesterday Heaven and took a trip up to Bell Gardens, California to play in the first event of the Bicycle Casino's Stars and Stripes tournament series (a middle tournament series with buy-in's ranging from $100 to $500 for each event). This particular event was $100+$25 (!) No Limit Holdem.

On the upside, everyone who registered got a free Stars and Stripes hat so it was really $100+$25-$7 or so as MellowYellow from the Low Limit Forum pointed out.

The blind increases at this tournament were every 30 minutes and all 429 players started with 1000 chips. Heaven busted early when her straight on the turn was beaten by a boat on the river. I lasted until about 60/429 but still out of the money.

Two interesting hands came up. In the first when the blinds were 25-50 I raised in late position to 200T with QsJs. The BB, who I had covered by about 500T reraised to 500T (about a third of his stack at the time) and I called. The flop came As Ks 5c (!) and the BB instantly went all-in. I thought about this for a while. The instant all-in seemed like a move he had planned before ever seeing the flop so it could mean pretty much any pocket pair and maybe a hand like AK. Some of these hands are monsters on this flop but I had at least 12 outs to win and more if he had a hand like 99 or less. On the other hand I'd be down to 500T if I lost. After about 30 seconds I called the all-in because even though it was a gamble, with the 1050 already in the pot + my >40% draw to the nuts I felt it was a good time to gamble and get a larger than average stack. We turned up our hands and it turns out he flopped a set with 55 so it was off to the race. A turn Q and river Q left me with losing trips and a tiny stack.

I had to make a few all-in moves after this with Ax and won or chopped them all and managed to build my stack a big -- enough to keep up with the blind increases for the most part when the final hand of the evening for me came up with blinds at 300-600 and 100 antes and seven players in the hand (the pot before any action was 1600). I had was in the SB with 2800 left and a stack smaller than me went all in. Another player right after him with a medium-large stack went all in and I looked at my cards and found 88. Now I'm looking for a spot to put my money in but of course calling my chips off after two people had gone all in before me. I thought about this hand for a little bit also, but my feeling was that the first person was desperate and they most likely had an Ax hand like A4o and I also felt the player that went all in after them knew that and had an Ace with a larger kicker or perhaps a medium or small pocket pair and wanted to shut out the rest of the actions and kill the blinds. If both players had an Ax hand my pocket 8's were looking pretty good. I called. Player one turned over A9o and player two turned over AJo so my call definitely was worth it and if I won the hand I'd be an average chip stack. Unfortunately the flop came 9KT and the turn came a Q killing my hand entirely as the AJ made the nut straight. Still I was happy enough with that play and enjoyed playing live for a change.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Maybe they should revive those Budweiser commercials where everyone is talking to each other on the phone saying 'wasssup', 'wwwwaaaaassup' only for the WSOP. 'wssoop', 'wwwwwssssop'

Ok it was funnier before I actually wrote it. Now suffer.

Remember last time when I was beating the rake by .1 big bets for the month. Well I decided to do something about that and promptly lost about 50 big bets in two sessions on UltimateBet by skillfully combining a run of bad cards with astoundingly bad play! Then while still on tilt I took $100 over to PokerRoom where they "meeted me and beated me"... I thought about it and laughed so hard the gun fell out of my hand so I'll have to shoot myself another day.

Still there's a point here and that is I don't plan to go back to the tables thinking of myself as 50 big bets behind. That's suicide and a recipe to lose 50 more. Start every session as if you were even whether you are ahead or behind. Your goal is simply to make good decisions. If someone gets lucky on the last card and wins that can really hurt your stack, but you should note it (in writing, on paper) as a win. If you make a dumb mistake note THAT also and don't make it the next time. Poker's a game of eternal improvement.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

WPT Legends of Poker

I got to watch a bit of the final day (before the final six tomorrow) action of the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker event at the Bicycle Club casino in Bell Gardens, California.

I wasn't there to play--at least not to play in the $5000 event--more as moral support for my significant other (SS) who was participating in the Ladie's Poker Party (first place would win a spot on the WPT Ladies Invitational event which is filming September 1st).

Before she went in to start her tournament we spotted Clonie Gowen and Evelyn Ng milling about and I was almost run over by Shana Hiatt and a small group moving with her (she would also be playing in the ladies event). Access to the final few tables of the WPT main event was suprisingly easy to get and I was able to watch Doyle Brunson and Jennifer Harmon play a few hands from my vantage. I didn't get to see any huge deciding pots or exciting races but I did get to see a lot of pots won without anyone ever showing a hand. Now that's good poker.

Pokerwise I did put in some obligatory time in the 3-6 holdem game and ended up a 10 big bet loser (the deciding hand was when my AA was cracked by 88 on the turn when his third 8 miraculously appeared) after three hours when SS was eliminated during the 5th blind escalation from her tournament when her all in with TT vs another player with 77 ended in tragedy when the person in question hit a 7 on the turn. She did pretty well and felt she was playing well the whole tournament and managed to eliminate Kathy Liebert with her JJ vs KL's 77.

I can definitely see the lure that the WPT has brought to poker. The air of the poker room was charged with excitement and it was pretty neat to be surrounded by celebrities (even if they are "just" poker celebrities). If you get a chance to participate in a WPT event (or even just railbird one for a little while) I highly recommend it.