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Once upon a time when there were plenty of fish in the poker sea then good tight and solid play would get the money. At the lower stakes levels then that is still the case although there is substantially less fish money around these days and so any good player needs to be able to do one thing and that is to accept higher variance and greater swings to their bankroll. Some years ago I had a very low variance poker play in cash games like on 888poker but there is a vital clue here because if you are encountering low variance with your style then your earnings must by sheer definition also be low.
By earnings then I mean earn rate but the bottom line is that if you have played for say 50k hands and you have been feeling great about only dropping 3 buy-ins in all that time and your earn rate has been a measly $5 per hour then the likely reason is that you have been playing too tightly. If that continues to say 100k hands and you still haven’t dropped more than 2-3 buy-ins at any one time then you simply cannot and should not be expecting to earn more money in terms of your earn rate.
A player that earns say $1 per hour will on average encounter much smaller swings to their bankroll than someone who was making $40 per hour. This is where many players go wrong because they make it impossible for themselves to achieve considerable earn rates because their primary motive is to reduce the financial swings to their bankroll. Unfortunately there is a very powerful correlation between variance, standard deviation and earn rate in poker. The higher the earn rate that you aspire to then the greater deviation you need to embrace and accept.
This same concept applies equally so to all forms of gambling and sports betting. It is exactly the same in tournament poker, if you go into a large field poker tournament with a relatively cautious style then you should not expect dynamic results. There will be too many people in that field that are gambling more than you and so what right do you have to expect to attain a huge stack the same size as theirs or greater if you haven’t taken similarly sized risks?
The answer is that you have no right and this applies to whether or not you are playing cash games or tournaments. The bottom line is that if you want to earn more money in poker then you had better start preparing for greater swings to your bankroll because there is simply no other way to do it.
I still see many players failing to recognise big hands in poker when they see them. Hand strength in deep stack no limit cash games is different to other games like limit hold’em and tournament no limit hold’em for example and this then affects the overall strategy on sites like 888poker. In a deep stack situation like say with 150bb or more then there isn’t one single hand in no limit Texas hold’em that you could be dealt pre-flop that would require you to stack off or get all in with betting increments on every round when your hand has not improved.
That even includes pocket aces because if the pot starts to escalate with betting on the flop, turn and river then your aces are unlikely to still be the best hand at showdown. So here we have a relationship between hand strength and pot size which is highly instructive. If you take a hand like Ac-Ad then it is immensely powerful pre-flop as it is the nuts at that stage. The arrival of the flop weakens pocket aces considerably when they don’t improve and that effect is compounded even more by the addition of turn and river cards.
So we can see that a big pre-flop hand that fails to improve gets seriously weakened by the arrival of more board cards. So big cards that fail to improve or improve significantly are usually not helpful to us in big pots in deep stacked cash games and especially when our opponents are tight-aggressive. So when there is betting on the flop, turn and river then hands like unimproved premium pairs are not the types of hands that you want to be holding. Years ago the great Doyle Brunson started talking about suited connectors and such in his pivotal book SuperSystem.
Many people believe the book to be dated and while that is true, it still has vast amounts of poker wisdom inside it. There is no doubt that a thorough understanding of that book (and I do mean thorough) would elevate a player to a level that was higher than any player that they would encounter up to say NL25. For example that book teaches us to be wary of high cards because they frequently make second best hands. However it isn’t just that they make second best hands, they also make the types of hands that can get you into trouble when the pot starts to escalate.
Hands like top pair and top kicker or even worse…….top pair and decent kicker are hands that can keep you giving action past the point where you should have folded. Suited connectors may start out being weaker than hands like aces and kings but as the pot begins to escalate post flop through the streets then you are either done with the hand or you have made a big hand with it. In order to be a strong deep stack no limit Texas hold’em cash game player then you are going to need to restructure your thinking when it comes to hand strength.
I would now like to announce a project that I have been working on for quite some time in connection with Poker Pro Europe and Online Poker Pro magazines that I currently write for. This is “Project Poker Pro” or in other words, a coaching program that is designed by me to try and bring as many players as possible into being winning poker players using the very same system that I use and have used for many years…….a system that I affectionately call “The Sniper”.
Hopefully some of the students will be so successful that they become fully fledged poker pros’ and the ones that do well will be featured in either of these two widespread and widely read poker magazines. There will be an initial sign-up fee and that is both for my time and for access to the Sniper program and course lessons. Also I am available 24/7 to answer questions on the course and also to provide back up for any poker related questions full stop.
This in my opinion makes the sign-up fee almost irrelevant as I wish that I would have had the advantage of working with a professional poker player years ago back in 2000-2002 instead of buying countless books and going down numerous blind alleys. So the initial sign up to come on board with Project Poker Pro gets you access to the program and being able to work with me, access to the 130k word Sniper documents which will give you the entire blueprint for no limit hold’em cash games including my unique FERN system.
Also the student gets 24/7 back up while all the time being coached to a level where I will then stake them when the correct stage is reached. The staking will go up to a maximum of $2000 for the players that show the most maturity and the most talent. However these two requirements are not just what I am looking for. I am looking for commitment and the desire to not only play poker but to immerse yourself within the game totally.
These are the types of players that I want to work with and we then enter a new phase where players are playing on my money and I get a percentage split of the winnings. So you can see that I have total confidence in my methods and system and I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is and who can argue with that? However I only have so much time in any one day and I work on my own and so I cannot take on loads of students at any one time.
So now can you see that I am looking for people to be committed into not just playing poker but also studying and wanting to better themselves as players? I also understand that many peoples’ lives simply do not allow for such things and so anyone that merely wants to purchase Sniper and the coaching but without wanting the commitment of the staking afterwards then I am cool with that.
It is a totally flexible operation but if I am going to tie up $2000 of my money in somebody then that somebody needs to be playing poker with that money and for at least 15 hours per week. That should be plain to understand but anyone that wants further details then simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance to express an interest in either the Sniper professional poker system and or the combined system/coaching and staking on Project Poker Pro. Look forward to hearing from you.
No limit Texas Hold’em is one of the most difficult games to master for many novice and intermediate players for one very simple reason. This is essentially because hold’em is a two card game unlike the four that you have to work with in games like Omaha. So what are the ramifications of playing poker with only two starting cards in your hand? Well it is to do with the frequency of occasions where both you and your opponents hit the flop. In the games that I play in at www.888poker.com then I see bluffs and re-bluffs all the time.
Essentially then this is because of the fact that in heads up pots especially that both you and your opponents both know and understand that the other player is not likely to have hit the flop or to have hit it hard. When you know the basic mathematics of hold’em and that an unpaired starting hand will only make a pair one time in three on average then the pot is often won by the player who shows the most aggression. So often then the best games to play in with regard to running multiple successful bluffs are games where your opponents have a fair level of poker knowledge but are not top players.
When you are running multiple barrel bluffs in poker then you essentially do not want two types of player opposing you. The first is the novice who tends to call down weakly either because they overvalue their hand or because they simply like being in action. I have seen many a player attempt this and lose their buy in when their opponent simply called them down and tilt soon followed in many instances.
However you don’t want a really sophisticated player on the other side of the fence either because sophisticated players will soon deduce that you are raising and then betting every street and that players who exhibit these betting patterns tend to only do so with polarised ranges. So these guys will call you down for two reasons, firstly because they have read your bluff and secondly because they have the adequate bankroll to do so.
Geometric escalation in no limit hold’em
One of the key factors that affects why many novice poker players fail to make money is in the concept of geometric escalation. This is that an object has the capacity to expand at a much faster rate once it begins the process of expansion. Let me quote an example from a recent game that I played at www.888poker.com to explain what I mean. I raised with Q-J after two limpers had come into the pot and both blinds folded with both limpers calling. Each of us had a 100bb stack in what was a full ring NL100 cash game with $0.50-$1.00 blinds.
The pot going into the flop was 18bb (less the rake) and the flop came Q-10-7 rainbow. If I had limped along then the pot would only have been 4.5bb but now a pot sized bet on the flop isn’t 4.5bb but 18bb or so. This means that a re-raise would be committing in terms of stack size and we are only on the flop. This couldn’t have happened had I not raised pre-flop. So we can see then how just one simple pre-flop raise has changed the entire dynamic of the hand. It is for this reason why players need to be very wary of escalating the pot with hands that still have huge potential to lose.
This applies to any hand that you could possibly be dealt pre-flop in no limit hold’em including A-A which after all said and done is still only one pair unless it improves. One of the key ways that players try and stack weaker players is by slowly sucking them into gradually escalating pots. In this hand when the board was Q-10-7 then my hand is more marginal than what it first appears in a pot with 18bb in it and me only having top pair with a mediocre kicker.
In fact if I was to bet this flop and it gets called then I would be very careful from there on in. My opponents checked and I bet 14bb which was called by the initial limper. This made the pot 46bb and a further bet and call on the turn would have possibly led to me losing a lot of blinds if my hand was second best. Had the situation been played out in a limit format then my hand would not have had the same potential weaknesses that it had in no limit.
I have become a very keen student of financial trading over the past few years and this is an area that I am slowly but surely moving into. The similarities with poker are striking and pricing options and no limit ring games have many of the same redeeming qualities and characteristics. So much so that I was reading about an ex-professional poker player who moved across into trading options and then teaching and coaching who used poker as part of his coaching methods.
What is immensely striking in these two fields is in how they rapidly evolved due to technological advancements. There were always massive amounts of money floating around on the financial markets but as soon as electronic execution systems became available then the liquidity went through the roof. The same happened in poker because the amount of money being wagered in poker was miniscule compared to the total amount in the post internet era. The total amount of global liquidity in online poker is staggering now but this has attracted very large numbers of people to the game.
The natural knock on progression of this is that the average skill level and understanding is higher as a result of people being more serious because of the financial implications of becoming good. There is no easy money these days in online poker because our opponents are no longer making huge obvious errors. In one aspect then online poker is tougher than financial trading because as you move up to serious levels then your opponents have the capability to be able to watch you very specifically and they can also use software to track your play as well.
This is not so in financial trading to a large extent and you can pretty much come in under the radar far more easily. However there is one common denominator that all leading traders adhere to and this is that they are very careful not to use strategies that are too well known to the masses. Using an unconventional strategy doesn’t necessarily make it bad and it certainly doesn’t make it sub-optimal. It is fast reaching the stage with online poker that one of the primary uses of education is to avail yourself of the knowledge that other people have and then design strategies to combat that.
You need to start with one very important assumption in poker. You know the old saying about assumption…….I won’t repeat it…….but in the right circumstances then assumption can be a good thing as it can keep you safe. The assumption is that your opponents are tougher than what you think and your edge isn’t as great as what you think under normal circumstances. Once you understand that then you can begin making the necessary alterations to your conventional ABC game that will give you an edge over the masses who only know one way to play.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson plays poker at www.888poker.com
Raising on the turn is the best place to raise from in most limit circumstances for several reasons:
1) It’s the big bet and will cost twice as much as a raise on the flop
2) Chasers are really losing pot odds on a 2-bet on the turn
3) It takes control of the hand for the last card, the river
4) It can take the hand down right there
I’m going to detail a hand I played last night in $1/$2 limit hold em last night on 888poker. I called a raise from the cutoff (1 from the button) with 6[spades]6[clubs] and the flop came down 10-8-4. The original bettor bet, I called, as did the big blind. The turn paired the board 4s and the original bettor bet again. My read on him was high cards, but the read really isn’t that important. I know that I’m going to call another bet on the river and see if my sixes are good (unless maybe an ace falls), so why not put that bet in now? There are a lot of reasons for putting that bet in now, and I lot correspond with what I said earlier.
1) If you’re reraised you can lay the hand down and be all but certain you’re well behind.
2) If they call and you miss you can check-check the flop and see if you’re ahead with the same amount of money, but…
- They might fold right there on the turn and give you the hand
- You could hit a miracle card, say a 6, on the river and get in another bet.
In my case when the original bettor bet I raised on the turn and he folded. I didn’t allow him to see another card where he could have hit a higher pair and taken the hand, and if he had called he was still drawing, and I could check it with no extra cost than what I would have paid for.
You don’t always have to think you have the best hand to raise on the turn. I like to make this play the same way when I have the nut flush draw, and especially if I also have a straight draw and think a pair might do it. I can either win the hand right there with the worst hand, improve to hit one of my outs and get another bet out of my opponent, or miss and have the oppurtunity to bluff or just let go of the hand.
The only time I really like to raise right on the flop is with top pair, and I like to raise there to get more people out of the hand behind me, but next time you start getting into the call-down mode with some hands, throw a raise in there at the turn and see what happens, the results might surprise you.