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When Facing Aggression

In no limit Texs Hold’em then it is so difficult to get a hand that is strong. This is especially the case in six handed games where the short-handed nature of the game dictates that you simply have to play more hands and get involved more often. So your average hand will be no pair, one pair and sometimes two pair type hands. The emphasis though will be on hands where you have not paired or you only have one pair. So this means that if you have a philosophy where you base hand strength with how much money you are going to put into the pot then you are going to have a big problem facing short-handed opponents who are very aggressive.

If you have been used to playing full ring games for example then you are going to be used to low blind pressure and only getting your money in when you have the best of it. Unfortunately at higher levels and against aggressive opponents then it simply will not be possible to do this. If you only get all in for 100bb with the nuts or very close to it then you will get run over in six handed play.

Likewise if you value say two pair or trips as only worth say 50-60bb then you are going to have a problem if your opponent keeps on firing barrels. Let us say that you have A-9 on an A-10-J board and your opponent raises your flop bet or bets the flop, turn and river while all you have is one pair with a weak kicker. You have a problem here but you really only have a problem in this individual hand. This is because you should be adjusting for the next hand but also taking notice of how this opponent plays hands against other players.

When you play more tables then you have something of a problem because getting to really know your opponents is very difficult. It is also more difficult to balance your own ranges as well when you are playing so many tables at once and you are rather hoping that you are compensating for not being able to decipher your opponent’s strategy by extracting smaller value from more tables. But you absolutely need to accept greater variance when you play against more aggressive opponents and also that you need to start calling them down far wider.

It is when you go up against players who think on multiple levels do you then need to think about how they are balancing their ranges and what hands you can call with. For example a very aggressive but unsophisticated player may blindly triple barrel and this makes calling easier when you have weak pairs because these hands beat bluffs. But the situation gets more complex when your opponent knows to balance their range and also triple barrels with one pair hands as well instead of going into pot control and this is where you can end up paying three streets of value if you are not careful.


Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com

When to call raises out of position

Small to medium pocket pairs are tricky hands to play when out of position in online poker and especially no limit hold’em. This article discusses ways to play these trouble hands in a couple of key areas.

I will start this article off with an example, you limp in the UTG+1 seat in a full ring NL200 game with 4c-4h and it is folded around to the button who makes it $9 to go and both blinds fold. The pot is $21 when you call and you both have fairly deep $200 stacks. Your decision to call the raise here cannot just be on pot odds and implied odds because the pot odds are simply not there to make the call and if your opponent is a good solid player then neither will your implied odds to hit your set either.

So you need back up plans to continue but those back up plans do not involve making the same play all the time because that would be horrendous at this level and easily exploitable. You can make any play you like really in a vacuum because it will be potentially profitable in the right situation. Like if the flop comes 8c-6c-2s and you have 4-4. In this situation then a lead could well take your opponent from the hand or wrestle the initiative.

You could even check and go for a check-raise to try and blow away hands like big cards that have few outs and may not in the eyes of your opponent even be the best hand if they hit. In this situation then the 4-4 has a fair chance of being the best hand and you need to take the opportunity. What you cannot do 100% of the time is check-fold because that is terribly weak poker. Your opponent simply steals all pots where there are overcards to your fours and you do not make a set. You simply cannot compensate for that in the tough modern online environment by making a set.

Using a combination of past history, position and flop texture can assist you in coming to a pretty good decision on the flop. For example let us look at another situation here where the raise has come from a relatively early position player and the rest of the table folds and you call with the same hand. The flop comes As-Kd-5h and now you have to decide what to do. I think discretion is the better part of valour here as the ace and king has hit a very big part of your opponents range.

Here I would simply check fold but there are many types of flop that allow you to take the initiative in the hand or to get your opponent off a better hand. Let us say that you decide to check-raise with 4-4 on a 7-7-3 board. In this situation then your opponent could even fold a hand like 8-8 or 6-6 fearing that you have a seven and this could especially be the case if they were somewhat risk averse.



Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at www.888poker.com

Taking Your Game to a New Level

In online poker then limit hold’em is a much simpler game to play than it’s no limit cousin. The fact that the betting is structured reduces the complexity of the game enormously.

However you still need to adjust very well to how your opponent is playing. At the end of the day then poker is poker when all said and done. If you opponent or opponents are using obvious strategies then you need to adjust. As you move on up through the levels then your opponents will be more aggressive on average. They will be aware that aggressive play works and that aggressive play can really run over timid opponents or players who have a bias towards passivity.

I was asked a few days ago how to react to a player who kept on doing the following. Our hero was on the button in a limit hold’em cash game and every time he raised on the button, he was three bet by the player in the big blind who then bet the flop. Our hero found this very hard to handle. Well it is very hard to handle if you let your opponent put you into a position where you have to hit flops.

This was precisely why the villain was playing in the way that he did. In fact despite his simple strategy he could in fact have been a very sophisticated player. But you certainly do not need a strategy with a high level of sophistication when your opponent will allow himself to be pushed around like this.

There are many differences between low level poker and middle stakes poker. When you play say $1-$2 limit hold’em then the games will be less aggressive. It will mean smaller pots on average. This knocks on to you making less money of course although not necessarily less on a ptbb/100 basis. But less aggression means lower variance because the outdraws and beats that you will endure will come in smaller pots.

However when your opponents become more aggressive or you yourself become more aggressive then the escalated pots will mean a greater monetary swing. Let us say that your opponent raises in the cut-off and you know that they are a very aggressive player. You hold Q-J on the button and want to play the hand and so you three bet.

However this hand is basically a coin flip against his range and so you will be flipping coins for the blind money less the rake. If the stakes are $1-$2 then there will be $1.50 in blind money in the pot and so you and your opponent have $1.50 in dead money in the middle to fight for. You need to adjust to what your opponent is doing and do that very quickly to be able to optimise your play in online poker these days.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com

Looking through the looking glass into world class poker

An analogy with poker and the true secret behind what can only be deemed world class play can be seen in the movie “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves (remember Game Theory). In that movie, there was a scene if you were not aware where Reeves character “Neo” is waiting inside a room to see a lady called “The Oracle” that will tell him all that he wants to know about his future.

In that waiting room, Neo observes a boy with very special powers bending a spoon with what appears to be mind power. When he tries to replicate what the boy has done, he fails and then asks the boy how he did it. The boy reveals to Neo in some cryptic Zen like quote that it is not the spoon that is bending at all but their thoughts because “there is no spoon”.


Playing world class poker is a bit like this and the overwhelming number of players simply go through life never ever reaching the real goal of discovering what poker is actually about. They think that it is about mathematics and making big hands but they are wrong. There is surprising little maths in poker and making big hands is purely a bonus. It does not take skill to recognise a big hand and then have the patience to wait for it or to wait until you can cheaply flop the nuts and hope to trap someone.

This can be learnt in an incredibly short time frame by anyone and is how most people play and actually what they aspire to many of them. I mean, I could teach my young daughter to play like that in a day. If you can skilfully recognise situations that will be advantageous then you do not need cards it is as simple as that. The players that wait for the better hands are too transparent in their play, they may as well play with their cards turned up. Sure, they get to bust someone once in a while who has not been paying attention but those events do not come around all that often.

There should be a phrase that is etched into your memory and it is this,


It is pointless waiting for aces and kings and then misplaying them and losing your entire stack because you could not lay the hand down on the flop after someone had called your pre-flop raise and out flopped you. Yet this is what millions of players do, wait for the hands that they cannot even play properly when they arrive.

Just to get one thing clear here, I do not go around betting and raising like a lunatic and calling raises all over the place trying to get cute. Doing anything too often is counter productive, I try and create a balance where I am stealing constantly whenever I a in a hand but I am not playing every hand. Other players are not stupid, they will know that you will not have flopped a hand every time. Also because players at the lower levels are weaker on average then bluffing and pressure betting can be less effective sometimes for several reasons.

The main two being that they have less money on the table and are likely to go all in and the second one is because they do not have the skill to recognise when they are beat and will call with marginal hands where a good player would lay it down. But once you get your head around the idea of Flow theory then you do not have to wait for a hand to play. Certain things will align themselves and you will start to recognise a situation that can be exploited.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com

Using Pot Control When Multi-Tabling

These days I think that there are three main ways to make money playing cash games. The first is to play deep stack and to only single table and to exploit the players who multi-table. Any strong poker player should increase their bb/100 doing this but will also decrease their $/hr figure while increasing their variance.

It is more than possible to make up for your opponents being solid if you can feel their game out much better. There are several downsides though to playing in this way and one is that if your opponents balance their ranges reasonably well even though multi-tabling then your edge may not be as great as you may think in some cases.

One other method that many players use on big sites is to play a minimum stack. Many sites these days have increased their minimum stack buy ins and it is really only a matter of time before the rest of the sites follow suit otherwise they are going to end up being swamped by minimum stack regs. The third way is to play deep stack and play as many tables as you can.

However to do this requires that you play a lot of pot control in pots. Unfortunately this tactic is massively exploitable in the right circumstances but the fact is that many players will fail to exploit it. If you are going to play pot control when multi-tabling then I think you at least need to take notes on which players may be trying to exploit you.

It would be difficult for any player to adjust rapidly in such a situation and you would never expect an opponent who was playing twelve tables to have adjusted against a single opponent as rapidly as that.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online poker at www.888poker.com

Learning to play Hi-Low Split Games

O/8 like it’s cousin Omaha high is basically a drawing game and if you are drawing then you had better make damn sure that you are drawing to something that is worth drawing to. The fact of the matter is that an A-2 by itself is simply not worth the effort most of the time. Even if you hit it then you are only getting half of the pot at best. But someone else could easily be holding the same low and especially in a multi-way pot. Then you can make your hand only to lose it again if an ace or a deuce arrives.

Many a time in full ring games and especially in a limit format then O/8 can actually get very boring because an awful lot of folding can sometimes be involved and the game is nowhere near as complex as hold’em but yet the split pot nature of the game seems to confuse an awful lot of players.

In games at the lower end of the spectrum then tight is right as it is in most low stakes games irrespective of the form and drawing to non nut hands especially on the low side can prove fatal to your bankroll. But creativity and aggression will be rewarded in higher limit games and especially in pot limit play. But as I said earlier, you can play a very dull and unimaginative game in low stakes O/8 and actually do quite well.

As well as playing professionally online I also coach poker and what I have found over the past year to eighteen months is an increasing number of players coming to me wanting to learn about O/8. Of course you cannot approach any kind of coaching with a “one glove fits all” attitude and what I tell them is highly dependent on what type of experience they have and what levels they currently play at and how much they actually understand poker.

These are key elements, it is no good showing a player how to beat low limit ring games at O/8 if they have been playing $25-$50 No Limit. They just would not be interested in playing at that level and this would certainly mean them losing money even though they could be technically the best player in the game at all round poker. If you are a very good poker player and actually have a very firm grasp of what poker is and the underlying concepts of it then you will quickly find your feet at any form of poker.

But when players do not understand the game then they have nothing left to fall back on other than learning what constitutes a good hand from a bad one and playing very tightly and grinding it out. But many players cannot even manage that in the low stakes O/8 games where multi-way pots are common and players are coming in with all sorts of junk. An example, someone limps into a multi-way pot because it is cheap with A-4-J-8 rainbow…..what in god’s name is that?

You are drawing at a third nut low even if you make it and some kind of straight….crazy! Somebody out there is likely to beat you not only for low but for high as well. You need to go both ways and try to scoop but you need to exercise a great deal of caution in exactly how you go about it.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com 

How To Keep Winning

It’s impossible to win or lose constantly. Sooner or later, any player (even the most experienced one) loses. However, those players who are concentrated on the game itself rather than on the idea of winning are always successful. In this article, we will tell you how to keep winning at online casinos.

We recommend you following these rules:

  1. Make a bet amounting to 10% from your bank. Slot machines at online casinos are software programs that are designed to make the player make as large bets as possible. In such a way, they perform a psychological influence on a person. Gaming software lets the player know that it’s quite possible to win. Most professional players base their gambling strategy on this fact, i.e. they make small bets, and a slot machine returns to them around 60% of their bet.
  2. Miss a bet deliberately. You can use it when playing roulette. Professional players recommend to miss bets, e.g. to bet in every two or three rounds. Combine this tip with the first one – and your chances to succeed will increase.
  3. 10% bet. By following this tip you will keep wining for a rather long time. There is a drawback, however: if you lose three times in a row, it will be pretty hard for you to get back your initial bank. Apply this tip with extreme caution.
  4. Try to withdraw your winnings as soon as possible. In order not to lose your winning, withdraw them from the system right after you received them. Your goal is to win, not to lose.

Don’t rush to spend all your money. If you have a significant amount of money on your account, try not to spend all of it at once. This is done in order for casino administration to consider you a loyal customer. This will also allow you to save your money and nerves.

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