Friday, July 23, 2010

Secret to Winning at Poker

Over time everyone at the poker table will get good hands the same percentage of the time.

To win at poker you have to develop a strategy that does not depend on your getting the best cards.

While this won't work very often, here is what happened to me recently.  I was dealt four of clubs and two of clubs.  Probably should fold, but, hey, why not?  I might get a flush.  I might get a straight.  I could flop trip deuces or flop trip fours.  Who knows, maybe the moon is really made of green cheese?

I called the seven dollars along with five others for a total of six players.  The flop comes out, it's club, club, trash.  I flopped a four flush.  That gives me a 35% chance of making a flush by the river.  Everyone checks to me.  I can feel runner, runner for trip deuces coming my way.  Seizing on a free card for my draw, I check.

The turn is a seven.  Everyone checks.  That extra club is out there somewhere.  I just know I'm going to win this pot one way or another.   But there is not much money there.  Only the $42 for the preflop bets.  I figure I better get some money in the pot - and of course push some people out of the hand.

I bet $20.  Everyone calls me.  I mean all of them with no hesitation.  I checked the flush draw, I guess I'm representing a pair of sevens.  This must mean everyone thinks they can beat a pair of zevens.  Technically what I doing is a bluff, maybe I will soon be "bluffing" a semi-bluff.  I am hoping to improve my hand, but my hand is so bad I'm playing the board at this point.

The river is another seven.  That's it for me, I have nothing.  Everyone checks to me.  But wait, if I was representing a pair of sevens, I am now representing a set of sevens.  Not a bad hand.  Without hesitation I quickly bet $40.

Everyone folds.  And I pull in a $162 pot with nothing.  I am sure that everyone had my four high beat.

You have to develop a way to win without having the best hand.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tourney vs. Ring - Differences in Poker

Difference number two in tournaments vs. ring games is in when you can get up from the table.

In a poker tournament you play until your last chip is gone.  In a ring game your chips have actual value and you can leave at any time.  If you are having a bad day just get up from the table and go home with what is left of your chips.

It is one way to stop your losses.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tournaments vs. Ring Games - Differences

The truth be told, I've only played ring games (aka cash games) once in the past two years prior to the casino in Charles Town opening this month.  I've been playing tournaments.  I play a lot of tournaments.

It's not quite the same.  Now that I am getting heavy into cash games, I am seeing differences.  I always knew they were there, but I wasn't sure I could verbalize the differences in the past.

In a tournament you play with your stack of chips.  In a ring game your stack takes on a different role and you play not with your stack, but with your bankroll.  There are a lot of implications.  If you have a short stack, but a large bankroll, then you can call large bets with good pot odds risking only your stack, not your bankroll.  The differences really increase if you are short stacked.

Take for instance you buy in with $100 at the $1/$2 no limit game.  You put in $6 for time (rake), $2 to post to get in the hand, and then call a $12 preflop bet.  Your $100 buy in is down to $80.  You hit the flop the bet is $20, pot odds say you need to call this.  You do.

If that $100 is all you have then you are practically finished at this point.  You have $60 left.  The turn is a $40 bet, you are still on a draw.  You call.  Five people total are in the pot.  The pot is now $72 * 5 = $360.  All you have left is $20.

There is no bet that would not give you fantastic pot odds on the river.  You have 18:1 odds no matter what the bet is because you are loss limited to your original $100.

If you lose, just dig into your bankroll and pull another $100 out.  If you win, you more than $360.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting Felted

I enjoy slow playing trips.  But it doesn't always work out.

Recently at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, WV, I flopped trips and slow played them only to lose to a straight on the river.  It was a big pot, in fact all the chips I had.  I looked down after the hand and saw no chips, only felt.

I bought back in and started playing poker again.

Losing all of your chips in a hand is as natural as breathing.  There is no reason to get upset about being felted.  It's part of the variance of playing poker.  Was I wise in my decisions?  Maybe not.  As time at the table passed, I got trips on the flop again.  You have to love those pocket pairs.  I slow played again.  Once agaon the river bit me.  I lost to a flush, but not all of my chips.

I kept playing and won back the chips I lost, then won back my original buy-in.  Then at some point in the wee hours of the morning I stood up with a profit for the day, despite my former losses.