How to get started for new poker players

Getting started as a new poker player can seem daunting. You will be up against a lot of players who have been playing poker for years and you need to be ready or they will eat you up for breakfast. Here are five steps towards making sure your first game isn’t a total disaster.

Step One – Know your Limits

Knowing your limits is very important because you could lose a lot of money very quickly if you play at the wrong limit. Ensure you start off with the small stakes and work your way up. This will also stop you from losing interest in the game if you lose a few games.

Step Two – Know your Poker Strategy

Any poker player of any level needs to know a little bit of strategy in order to be successful. Learn some basic strategy tips through us and you will go into your first few games knowing the signs of when to cash in and when to back out.

Step Three – Learn how to read cards

Learning how to read cards will put you in a much stronger position than other beginners at the same level. Reading cards is being able to quickly work out the percentages of a game and how likely you are to win a hand. This will help you win more cash and lose less.

Step Four – Learn your Poker Room

It’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time learning the ins and outs of the poker room you are using. If you don’t know what the options are, how the lobby works or what the graphics are like then you will feel very confused when you first sign up and play.

Step Five – Talk to Others

Don’t be afraid to approach other players and get some tips based on their experience. Most good poker rooms will now have an option which allows you to talk to other players in the middle of a game or even contact them away from the tables. This will help you in the long run.

Poker for Beginners: Using an Online Table

This part is going to cover what you will come across on a basic online poker table when you first start playing.

Design of an Online Poker Table

The design of an online poker table is very neat and simple. Most tables will be designed with the graphics at the top of the screen and your various options runni9ng along the base of the screen. Most poker rooms will show you the table surrounded by the maximum number of players at the table.

Normally you will see a name and the amount of cash that a player has. Occasionally you will get poker rooms which allow users to upload their own pictures or create their own avatar to play with for all of the time they are registered with that service. The design of an online poker table is kept minimalistic to ensure that graphics and game speed are kept high.

Example of a standard poker table with players, controls at the bottom and chat box on the left

User Controls on an Online Poker Table

There will be many user controls on an online poker table which allow you to control what you are doing while you play a game. There will be table controls which includes things such as your betting options, ability to fold etc. There will also be main options such as a link back to your account or the main lobby of a poker room.

For now you just need to focus on the table controls which most rooms will give you help with. Your table controls will display your options every time it is your turn to bet. Most rooms will give you betting options such as minimum bet, a quarter of the pot, half of the pot, three quarters of the pot or the whole pot. The option to call and fold will also be here.

Example of the poker betting controls you are likely to encounter

Extra Features of an Online Poker Table

Most poker rooms will include extra features on their poker tables which don’t have any impact on the game play. An online chat facility is a good example. This allows you to chat with the other players on your table, you can get to know them and also discuss tactics. This is a great way to get to know the players you are going to be competing against regularly.

Make the most of your Poker Welcome Bonus

Understand your Poker Bonus

This is arguably the most important point. You need to be able to understand your poker bonus in order to get the most from it. Your poker bonus will often be released in segments by your poker room which can mean you have to pay more to get it than the original deposit it’s based on.

Split up your Bonus

Split up your bonus so you can use it across a variety of different games. Even if you have a small poker bonus, you don’t have to just use it all in one go. Many poker rooms offer low stakes games which allow you to break down the bonus cash and spread it around.

Use the Bonus Wisely

Use the bonus to maybe play a couple of games you don’t normally get the chance to play. Alternatively you could save it up to buy into a tournament you wouldn’t normally be able to afford. This will effectively make your bonus a treat for your hard work and graft playing daily poker games.

 

Accumulate your Winnings

Any winnings you make through using your bonus, save them up and that will effectively become an extra bonus once you have used all of your poker bonus cash up. This can lead to a tidy amount once you have spent your entire initial welcome bonus.

No Deposit Bonuses

Consider a no deposit poker bonus even though it’s for a much smaller amount. You don’t need to deposit any money to get this bonus and you can use the same steps above to make the most of it, regardless of the fact that it’s a much smaller bonus.

How to Setup your Poker Account

 

So you’ve waded through the various offers on offer and you’ve found a poker room and  bonus which is right for you. Now it’s time to get your account setup so you can start taking on poker players from all over the world.

Step One – Register

The first thing you need to do is register your details which you can via the poker service website or once you’ve downloaded the software. Registration is always straight forward. All you need is basic personal information such as address, post code, date of birth and you will need to set yourself a username and password.

Step Two – Poker Deposit Method

You will need to register a deposit method after you have registered or as part of the registration. You do this by simply adding a debit or credit card to your account or using one of the other options available to add and withdraw money as you play. Bear in mind some poker rooms have different charges for using certain methods.

Step Three – Understand your Bonus

You need to understand your bonus because most rooms will ask you to earn points towards releasing chunks of your bonus. To do this you may need to play a lot more than you first thought you would need to which costs money. Make sure you understand this so you don’t feel blindsided by having to put in extra funds.

Step Four – Know your Poker Service

Different poker services have different interfaces and different promotions. One poker room may have a smaller welcome bonus but it could have a better variety of promotions available. Spend time reading up on how easy the interface, software and website is to use before you start playing poker.

Step Five – Start Playing Poker

Now you can jump straight in and start playing some poker. Check out all of the options available via the main interface and make sure you don’t automatically start playing high stakes games. This is where the pros play and if you’re inexperienced, they will tear you apart.

Managing your Money in Poker

Money management in poker is something that I have already covered since I started this website. However, as we’re moving onto the letter m today, it seems as good a time as any to refresh your minds on this subject. You need to manage your money sensible and seriously if you want to play poker for a job and earn a living for yourself and your family.

Set Yourself Limits in Poker

One of the basic things you can do to control your money is to impose limits on yourself. Most online poker rooms and providers will have a function within the user controls which limits the amount of cash you can deposit each day, week or month. It’s a good idea to set yourself a limit because you will know that you are playing within your boundaries.

If your poker room doesn’t have this option then you are going to have to be a lot stricter with yourself and the way you play poker. Work out an amount of money you are going to play with and divide it up between each day. Stick to that limit and anything you win can go into a bonus pool which you can review at the end of the week or month.

 

Basic Poker Money Tips

One of the most basic poker money tips that I can’t stress enough is to not try and immediately make back a loss. Losses are never easy or nice to deal with but in the heat of the moment you will end up spending a lot more than you can afford. Never try and make back losses for a day by gambling even more because your weekly budget can soon go out of the window.

Another very basic but essential tip is to never miss out a level when it comes to stakes. If you lose a couple of times at a certain level then moving up will not solve the problem and you are only going to lose even more. Only ever move up levels when you are confident that your poker game is good enough and when you are starting to win regularly at a set limit.

Ultimately we all want to play poker and have fun while we’re playing. Be sensible with your cash and work out a way to get the most poker for your budget. There are dozens of tournaments which require small buy-in fees that can be played for a number of hours and there are many sit and go games you can enter for a small price, you can play tens and tens of these in a day.

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Texas Hold’em Getting Started Tips

Texas Hold’em is one of the most fun and most exciting online multiplayer poker games available on the internet. Experienced players can win quite a bit of money playing poker online, usually at the expense of inexperienced players that don’t fully understand the game. When I played at partypoker.com and pokerroom.com, I frequently witnessed people win hundreds of dollars within minutes. Even beginners win money at the beginner tables — all you need to know are a few basic tips.

Casino Sage wants to help you learn the basics of Texas Hold’em to make it easier for you to open a new online poker account and begin winning money right away. To get you started on the right track, this website has been dedicated to making your online gambling experience a profitable one. Here are some introductory tips for beginner players, to get you started on your way to becoming a great Hold’em player.

 

Basic Gameplay
When playing Texas Hold’em, each player is first dealt two cards and is allowed one round of betting. Once the first round of betting is finished, three more cards are dealt face up. This is known as the flop. The cards dealt face up are community cards, or cards that can be used by anyone to make their five card hand. Another round of betting occurs once the flop is dealt. Then a fourth community card is dealt face up, otherwise known as the turn card. Another round of betting occurs and then a fifth community card, also known as the river card is dealt face up. The last round of betting occurs and then you show your two cards. Whoever can make the best five card poker hand with their two cards and the community cards wins.

Choosing the right table limit
Limit Hold’em doesn’t require as much skill and experience than no limit Hold’em. I recommend that if you are a beginner, play limit Hold’em first before moving on to the higher stakes no-limit games. In No-Limit Holdem, people can bet as much as they want every round of betting. Therefore, if someone has $100, they can bet all of it even before they see the flop. In limit Hold’em, the stakes are limited by only allowing a set maximum bet when each set of community cards are turned over. A limit table is usually shown as $10/$20 meaning you can only bet or raise $10 before the turn card, and you can only bet or raise $20 after the turn card is shown. Also, don’t forget that one bet and three raises are allowed for each betting round. This is very important in advanced Hold’em strategy.

For beginners, the most important tip is to start playing at tables with lower bets. Tables with a lower limit will generally attract the less skilled players, and you will have a chance to learn how the game works. If you’re a beginner, start at a $.50/$1 and move up from there as you become more comfortable with the game. If you find that you’re easily winning money at that level, then move up to $1/$2 and so on, until you’re able to compete at the higher levels. There is no better way to learn Texas Hold’em strategy than through experience. Playing Hold’em frequently will not only improve your skills, but also improve your chances of making money.

More tips for Hold’em beginners
Knowing when to stay in and knowing when to fold is the most important aspect of Hold’em. You must have patience when playing Texas Hold’em. If you try to bluff and bet high on every hand, you will most likely lose quickly. Only bluff rarely, and wait for your cards to come. No matter what type of Hold’em player you are, whether experienced or inexperienced, there are a few basic rules to follow. Always fold your hand before the flop unless you have two cards that are suited connectors (for example, 6 of clubs and 7 of clubs), if they are both above 9, or if you have what is known as a pocket pair (2 of the same card). If your hand does not match one of the three scenarios, I suggest that you fold.

Most people who are inexperienced at Hold’em will stay in with a King or Queen, no matter what their other card is. If you stay in the hand with two cards above 10, and you match your high pair, you will often out kick the other players with your high card, and win. Staying in with suited connectors leaves you the opportunity for both a flush draw and a straight draw. Pocket pairs speak for themselves.

Don’t forget that you don’t need to be an expert to win money. If you can master even a few of the strategies described here, you will be on your way to making money in no time. Good luck

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How to Play Caribbean Stud Poker

A favorite on cruise ships and beachfront casinos, Caribbean Stud Poker (also called Spice Island Poker) is an easy game to learn and fun to play online.

Game Play


Introduction: Caribbean Stud Poker (also called Spice Island Poker) is a variation of the classic five card poker game, but it’s played on a blackjack-sized table and you play against the dealer, not other players. Caribbean Stud, depending on the rule variations and payouts, generally has a house edge of about 5.2% and can be played effectively by using a simple three-step strategy.

The Ante: Before every hand, each player must ante (usually minimum $5) to be dealt in that round.

The Deal: Once all players have anted, the dealer will deal each player five cards face down, and will deal himself four cards down and one card face up, for the whole table to see. The cards that you have in your hand after the initial deal are yours for the whole round — you don’t get to draw. That’s why it’s called Caribbean STUD!

Betting: The goal in Caribbean Stud is to beat the dealer’s hand. If you think your hand can beat what the dealer has, you bet or raiseby placing exactly twice your ante on the table. For example, if your ante was $5, you would bet $10, and you would then have a total of $15 on the table.

Folding: If you’re not so confident about your hand, it’s best to fold. The dealer then takes your cards and your ante.

Winning: Once all bets are placed, the dealer will reveal his cards. Don’t get excited yet — the dealer’s hand must then qualify before any winnings are paid. To qualify, the dealer must have at least an Ace and King combo or better poker hand.

If the dealer does not qualify, meaning he does not have any poker hand, the dealer will pay every ante even money and push on every bet. Even if you had a royal flush in your hand, you win nothing on your raise if the dealer does not qualify.

If the dealer does qualify, meaning he has at least an Ace and a King, or any higher poker hand, then the fun begins. The dealer will compare his hand to each player’s hand. If you beat the dealer, you win! The ante pays even money, and your raise will pay according to this table:

 


If the dealer’s hand beats yours, you lose both your bet and your ante. Better luck next hand!

 

Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy


There is a general strategy that most good players follow to maximize their winnings and minimize the house edge. It’s simple to learn, and easy to remember:

 

1. Raise on a pair or better
2. Fold if you have less than an Ace & King
3. If you have an Ace & King:

A. Raise if the dealer is showing a 2 through Queen, and it matches one of your cards.
B. Raise if the dealer is showing an Ace or King, and you have a Queen or Jack in your hand
C. Otherwise fold.

Progressive Jackpot Side Bet


In most casinos you have the option of a $1 side bet for the progressive jackpot that’s paid out to the next player to be dealt a Royal Flush. Some progressive jackpots can get to hundreds of thousands of dollars! Usually, the casino will also pay 10% of the jackpot to players dealt a Straight Flush. You lose the side bet every time you don’t get one of these hands.

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Poker Strategy: Play Speculative Hands when Limits are Low

A player recently asked me, “When playing low limit hold’em like $2-$4 or $3-$6 I usually play tight, aggressive poker, but that approach seems to backfire sometimes when I’m at a table where four and five players see the flop each hand.  It seems that big pocket pairs or top pair is often not enough to take it down. So I’ve loosened up a bit on starting hands that can turn into straights or flushes.   I’m playing high connectors and suited cards that I would usually throw away … and I play them from pretty much any position.

I explained that unless you’re at a fairly passive table you shouldn’t play connectors from early position because you have no idea how many opponents you have, nor do you know how much it will cost you to see the flop.  Connectors need help from the flop, and even flopping a pair is usually not enough to take the pot, unless your connectors are big ones, such as A-K, K-Q, and Q-J.  Even then, if an ace flops when you have K-Q, or an ace or king appears when you have Q-J, you may be looking up at a bigger pair.

Fixed-limit hold’em is a game of big cards, and those are the kinds of hands most reasonable opponents play.  But connectors have value, although it’s determined more by the community cards that are dealt than from any inherent value associated with the cards you’re holding.  The flop has to help your connectors in order for them to gain sufficient value to contend for a pot, particularly when three or more opponents are active.

It’s best to see the flop at the lowest possible cost.  It also helps to know just how many opponents will take the flop with you. While a hand like Q-J can win by making top pair. Lower connectors gain their value by making straights or flushes, and because those are long-shot hands, it pays to play them against a large field so you have throngs of players willing to pay you off if you get lucky.

Acting late in the betting order also allows you to toss these hands away if the pot is raised.  Because a raise is likely to restrict the number of opponents you’ll play against even if you do get lucky this time, you probably won’t win enough in the long run to offset your cost of playing the hand.  Play connectors from late position, play them on the cheap, and make sure you have enough customers already committed to taking the flop so you can get paid off handsomely whenever you make your hand.

That same player also said, “I’m trying to get in cheaply and see the flop. If I hit it, great. If I don’t, then I’m done with the hand. The only problem is this: If I catch a piece of the flop, say middle or bottom pair. I don’t know what to do. I seem to be loosing a lot of money when that happens.”

This is a common conundrum faced by many players, and I suggested that if he plays smallish pairs against a large field, he really has to hit his set to have a playable hand.  The odds against flopping a set are 7.5-to-1.  Failing to make a set generally means tossing that hand away, particularly when the board contains two overcards and there’s a bet into a field of three-or-more players.

Many players can’t seem to release hands, especially hands like small or medium sized pairs that may have been in the lead before the flop but are now staring up at an overcard or two along with a bet and a call from some opponents.  As long as this player can get away from smallish pairs that are not helped by the flop, and can see the flop with connectors on the cheap against at least three or more opponents, his strategy should work.

But he, like all of us, needs to avoid the all-too-common affliction of self deceit and be prepared to toss away his small pairs and connectors in the face of an unhelpful flop much of the time.

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Bluffing in Poker – The Basics to Keep in Mind

If a dollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned than a hand you win with a bluff is twice as sweet as a hand you won with good cards.

There’s nothing quite like bluffing someone out of a big pot and stacking their chips while you muck your ten high. Yet, few people seem to bluff well and it seems one of the hardest skills to master for women.  At least most men seem to think so.

Some players bluff too much, and some never bluff, while others only bluff occasionally but don’t seem successful when they do. I found it difficult to master bluff strategy when I first started learning to play, and it was frustrating at times. Like anything else you need to start somewhere, and everyone can always learn new ways to improve their poker strategy.

Where to Start

I think it’s because those huge all in bluffs look so good on TV that makes them so enticing and even sexy (depending on who is going all in).  So, my advice to you is not to rely on big allin bluffs. Its not to say that you might not want to be enticing and sexy at the poker table, but its because I have found  that the successful bluffing opportunities come in smaller pots and are less dramatic.

For example, let’s say you’re in the big blind, two people call and you check. The flop now comes K-8-2 with no flush draws. You really don’t even need to look at your cards, just bet. Nobody has raised preflop, there’s only two other players and there are no straight or flush draws. Unless someone has a king, you’re probably taking the pot down as your opponents fold. It’s from this simple example that you can learn a lot: look for opportunities like this when it is unlikely the flop has hit anyone. There aren’t too many players to bluff out, nobody has shown much interest in the pot, and it is hard for someone to call a big bet. with nothing on the flop If someone is holding Q-J for example, they would be hard pressed to call your bluff because they are drawing almost dead if you have a pair of kings.

Much of the bluffing you should be doing is based on the board and the texture of the flop as well the other player’s weaknesses. If the flop was 8-7-2 with 2 hearts, there is a large variety of hands with good draws. that are possible. Also, a flop like K-Q-T contains so many high cards that if 2 people have called in, they almost have to have hit something. This makes both of these situations harder to bluff and more dependent on the weakness of players. When you are first starting out, you should do fairly easy bluffs and then slowly test the waters for more opportunities.

Bluffing Odds

Yes, odds and math are useful. Let’s say I’m playing $5/10 limit and there’s $15 in the pot. I think I might be able to bluff and win and I figure I also have nearly zero chance of winning if I’m called. If I bet on the flop, I put in $5 and win $15 if everyone folds. This means if I win one time and they call me three times, I break even. From that, you can see that you don’t need to be successful most of the time or even half the time, just 1 out of 4 in this example.

When you are thinking about bluffing, take a look at how much is in the pot, how much you have to bet, and compare that to the chances you think your bluff will work. Now, most of the time you don’t need to think about this, but it can be helpful to remember your odds. This can make you a little braver with your bluffs and less worried about getting called as much. Your goal is to make a profit in the long run and don’t worry if they catch you bluffing a couple times along the way.

Check Raising

If you have check raised a few times in the previous hands you have played, its easier to use that to bluff later. If you’re in early position and the flop gets checked around it is a good time to think about bluffing on the turn. If an innocent looking card comes on the turn you should think about taking a stab at the pot. If the top or bottom card pairs, it can be a good card for you to buy the pot with as well. Its surprising how many times I’ve bet and thought to myself that it was completely obvious I was bluffing, yet everyone has folded and I’ve taken down the hand. Sure, once in a while a player slow plays a big hand but it’s more likely that nobody had anything to bet with in the first place and that’s why they checked.

Weak Tight is Best

All bluffs work best against players who are weak and tight. Some will even fold every cent they have and let you steal all day. But there are player types who aren’t so easy to rob. Loose players simply call way too often and they can be very hard to bluff. If you know you are laying a maniac or someone who is very loose and won’t fold, just check your garbage hands and be patient. On the other hand, if you know your opponents are tight but can also be aggressive, you should still bluff them but you should be more selective with your bluffs and less obvious. Players like that know about bluffing strategy as well, and if you are predictable they will not hesitate  to raise you back.

Don’t Be Afraid

You can’t be afraid and bluff well. If you think it’s a good opportunity to bluff, do it. If you don’t bluff because you’re afraid then you’re losing out on some winning strategy. If you get caught bluffing a few times, don’t worry about it and just learn from the situation. If you pick the right situations, you will make money with your bluffs .  Its an important strategy for your game

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7 Differences between Online Poker and Real Casino Poker

Because so many poker players begin as online aficionados, there are often some misconceptions about what flies and what doesn’t in a brick-and-mortar environment.  Having been a casino poker player for many years, I am often privy to these misconstrued malcontents’ outrage as they argue with the floor on sundry decisions, rules, and variations from house to house.

I have also learned some truths about casinos and how they are designed over the years, which are interesting to note as either trivia or simply helpful information to know.  So, read up on the following top “lucky seven” advisories, and you’ll be better prepared for your next casino vacation or outing.

 

English only at the tables . . . player or not!

 

Yes, I know they have this rule online as well, but it is weakly enforced and doesn’t apply to “invisible” friends who may be talking off-screen.  Pretty much every casino in Vegas allows no foreign language spoken by players or their friends (even if they’re not seated at the table) or to speak anything other than English. This is for the obvious reason of avoiding more than one player to a hand or the possibility of cheating.  It’s also, quite frankly, to your benefit to understand what the dealer and other players are saying, especially when it comes to action. So please, take the time to get your English reasonably polished before your next trip to a casino – it also helps when ordering food!

Don’t assume there are set “rules” that are the same in every casino you will play in.

This is a widely-held misconception among many tourists who come to casinos for the first time, particularly in a city with as many poker rooms to choose from as Vegas.  So, to set the record straight: every casino is its own mini “autocracy,” and can and will set its own house rules in every area of the casino, including the poker room.  Moreover, within any given room, one floor person may interpret a ruling slightly differently from another, and at times, to be blunt, existing rules are not enforced.  Basically, whatever the person in charge at the moment says, goes.  Yes, you could theoretically complain to some higher up, but this will seldom get you anything but bad future service, if you get my drift.  Let it rest – its their casino and their rules stick.

Shills are legal in casinos.

Most, if not all, poker rooms in Vegas have shills who are generally dealers or floor people who are paid a small hourly fee to play in games with their own bankroll.  They are usually pretty easy to spot because they play tighter than an old rock on Social Security.  Generally, if you ask the dealer if so-and-so is a shill for the house, they must tell you. They are usually only put into games that are short on players, or during slow times and really nothing to worry about.

Security is everywhere, so you never need to watch out . . . NOT!

Truthfully, most Vegas casinos probably have better security than you will find at many major international airports.  Between the eye-in-the-sky, uniformed and undercover agents, and a general alertness amongst employees, you are probably safer than almost anywhere else you can go these days.  That being said, nothing is foolproof, and the main purpose of the  eye-in-the-sky is to protect the house’s coffers, not yours or your personal safety.

Women, in particular, should exercise common sense:  use valet parking (which is always free, save the well-worth-it tip when you pick up your car to leave), and don’t get so plastered that you lose your ability to make intelligent judgments about who to hang out with.  You are always entitled to have security walk you to your car if you feel uncomfortable for any reason.  Use this great benefit without hesitation should you feel you are being followed or harassed.  Also, you can always walk up to the easy-to-spot security desks in casinos and they will generally assist you with any issues that fall under their purview.

It’s always hot in the desert so just pack shorts and swimsuits.

I am always amused at what people think the weather will be like in the desert.  Just because they put tall modern buildings and fancy restaurants on the previously tumbleweed-covered dirt, doesn’t mean the basic climate isn’t still desert. That means, temperatures tend to veer to varying extremes from morning into evening all year, but even more so in our “winter,” which is generally late October through February.  Expect morning and midday temps in the 60-80s F at this time of year; but evenings, you may be surprised by the nip in the air, as we’ve been known to get down to 30s and even occasionally upper 20s, and usually get a dusting of (usually non-sticking) snow for a few days every December.  And regardless of temps outdoors, the indoor thermostats are always set low in casinos to keep players awake and compensate for body heat.

Bring lots of layers so you can peel off or add on as needed.  And pack warm jammies for those winter nights, so you don’t end up spending too much on an impulse-buy flannel set at one of the overpriced casino gift shops!

The easier the game, the more likely you are to lose your shirt (and everything else you packed)!

When you get to any casino, take a look around: whatever you see the most of, is the most lucrative game for the house in terms of their edge.  That’s why slot machines are the mainstay of any casino’s gaming equipment.  After that, things like keno and roulette follow suit.  Another good rule of thumb is, the less time it takes to learn, the faster you are likely to rebuy.

And while it’s easy to say “set a budget and stick to it,”  few people who caught up in the ether of a casino environment (and surrounded by the ease of ATM machines planted every 10 feet,) are actually able to stick to that resolve.  Personally, I recommend you avoid the machines and table games as much as possible.  With poker, you at least know you only have to beat the other 8 or 9 players at your table; the house gets its share no matter what.

Remember, there’s lots to do in Vegas besides play poker or gamble!

Yes, we know most of you are virtually salivating before you even get off  the plane, you’re so excited to sit down in your poker game of choice once you arrive.  But Vegas also has some of the best shopping and dining on the planet.  It even has some beautiful surrounding scenery, should (gasp!) sunshine and fresh air appeal to you on occasion.  The good thing about most Vegas poker rooms is, the action is non-stop 24/7, 365 days a year.  So take some time to comb the boutiques or enjoy a gourmet meal, knowing that you will almost certainly find a seat when you return to the tables.

And there you go:  seven tips to make your next Las Vegas (or other casino) visit more enjoyable and safer.  Here’s to a wonderful time on your next visit!

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Bet365 Unleashes Sprint Poker

What is Sprint Poker?

Sprint poker is quite simply an even faster version of poker. It allows you to play hundreds of hands per hour in sit and go or tournament format which decreases the amount of time sat in front of your PC which means you have extra time to do other things.

The speed is created by reducing the amount of time that players have to make decisions while they’re playing. When the betting position moves to you, you will only have a few seconds to make your decision over whether to check, bet, raise, re-raise or fold.

Sprint poker is also brilliant for playing poker under pressure. It gives you an idea over the sort of high pressure situations you are going to face while playing the game and it will also make you a quicker thinking player.

How to Play Sprint Poker

To start playing sprint poker you will need a Bet365 account. If you don’t already have one then please use the banner at the bottom of this page to sign up. Registration is quick and requires a few basic personal and financial details which are protected by encryption software.

Once you are inside Bet365 poker it’s just a case of looking through the games on the interface to find the sprint format. There is a tab on the left hand side of the main interface which shows you all of the active sprint games at any one time. Use this tab to find the game you want to play and you’re away.

Once you have clicked on this tab you will be presented with a list of active and up and coming games. The screen will show you details such as how many players are at a table, how much it will cost you to play, the level of that game and the format of that game.

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When Not to Play Your Position in Poker

There’s a saying where I come from (a place where I make up all the sayings): “The second liar never has a chance.” In this article, we’re going to examine how we can use this truth about lying to our advantage when defending our blinds.

Conventional wisdom has it that position is critically important in no-limit hold’em, and that the later your position is, the better off you are. While I always say that conventional wisdom is for conventional thinkers, for the most part this insight is right on. There are times, however, when position is irrelevant — times, in fact, that early position can come to your aid in stealing pots that would not otherwise be yours.

Consider this example: In a typical low buy-in, capped buy-in ($100 or $200 maximum, say) no-limit hold’em game, you find yourself in the big blind holding… well, for this play it really doesn’t matter what you hold. For the sake of conversation, we’ll give you the Numpty, 6-2 suited (yes it’s a hand – it was named in the same place where my sayings come from), if only to demonstrate that sometimes the cards you hold matter as little as the position you’re in.

It’s folded around to the button, a fairly good, fairly tight-aggressive player. You’d expect her to raise, wouldn’t you? And she does. Why not? She’s only got to get through the small blind and you, and you’re both on random hands. From her point of view if you fold that’s fine, but then again she wouldn’t mind inducing action from your random hands, because she thinks she can take the pot away from you on most flops, thanks to her position and her tight-aggressive style. She’s right on the first point, but wrong on the second, as she’s about to find out.

The small blind, a conventional thinker if ever there was one, folds, leaving it up to you to decide how to play your Numpty. Remember, your foe puts you on a random hand. In other words, she doesn’t have a clue what you’ve got! What do you think she has? She raised from the button, the precious button, where any half-a-hand is good for a raise if no one has already entered the pot. So let’s put her on exactly that: half a hand. Maybe K-T. Maybe 6-6. Maybe some real egregious cheese like 9-6 suited, but probably something a little more coordinated than that. She wants to have at least a little something-something to go to war with on the flop, should you happen to call. Which you do.

Now here’s the cool part: No matter how the flop comes, she‘s an odds-on favorite to miss it. Do you know this? Are you aware of it? Any time a player holds two unpaired cards, she’ll pair the board only roughly one-third of the time. Fully two-thirds of the time, then, any given player will whiff the flop, completely swing and miss it. This is crucial to our understanding of what comes next, because while it’s true that you’re every bit as likely as she is to miss the flop, your position gives you first crack at this one! You get to speak first; the second liar never has a chance.

What you’re specifically looking for here is a certain variety of orphan flop, the sort of flop that’s unlikely for your foe to have hit, and one that doesn’t offer much in the way of attractive draws. 8-8-3 is an orphan flop; so is T-6-2 rainbow. T?-9?-8c? is not an orphan flop. That’s a super-textured flop, just dripping with straight draws, flush draws, and weak made hands like A-8 or A-9. If you bet into that scary flop, or one like it, you’re just asking to get played with, and you don’t want that.

So don’t make this play on just any flop. Save it for orphan flops, very dry, very non-threatening boards. Lead into them. Bet them like you own them. Be the first liar. Remember, your foe puts you on a random hand. And what kind of flops do random hands hit? Why, random ones, of course. You, meanwhile, can put her on a slightly less random hand. You can give her credit for having some sort of coordinated holding, and coordinated holdings hate uncoordinated flops, especially when they miss them completely — as your foe will two times out of three!

So go ahead and bet. Bet about two-thirds the size of the pot. This is a large enough bet to be taken seriously, and not look like a weak steal attempt. It’s also big enough to preclude deny the right price to any draw she might be on. Yet it’s a small enough bet that if she comes over the top with a big bet, you can get away from your hand fairly cheaply. Go to school on this two-thirds pot bet. It’s a real workhorse, and should be a standard weapon in your arsenal.

Could you check-raise bluff here? Sure, you could. In one sense, the situation seems to call for it, since many players (especially aggressive ones) are strong believers in the continuation bet, and feel a moral obligation to bet at any pot they’ve raised preflop. Generally, this is sound thinking – never surrender the lead! The way you’d like it to go is this: You check, she bets, you raise, she folds, next case. And yeah, that could work. A lot of times it will work. But I’d still rather take the lead away from her, for four reasons that I can think of. First, you minimize your financial risk, getting the most bluff-bang for your buck. Second, she might not oblige you by betting, and if she checks behind, you’ve given her a free chance to hit whatever draw she might be on. It might even be a real slim draw, like a two-outer to trips, but she’s paid exactly nothing for it, which means that even a slim draw just got a great price. Third, if the action goes check-check, and you then bet the turn, she can more reliably read your bet for the bluff it is.

Fourth, most important, your goal here is to win the money that’s already in the pot. Be satisfied to do that. Go ahead and make your move now, when the time is right. Bet into that ragged flop, knowing that most of the time your conventionally-minded foe won’t be able to call, and that the times she does call, you can confidently put her on a hand and back off your steal attempt. Plus, if you show a player on the button that not only will you call from the big blind but also seize control on the flop, it won’t take her too long to conclude that she’d be better off attacking other players, less frisky ones than you. This means she’ll stop molesting your big blind when she has the button, and what’s not to like about that?

One last thing: Though you might be tempted to show her how you stole a pot with the Numpty, please resist that urge. Don’t show your cards! You might want to use the trick again sometime (maybe even next time). Let your foes think you’re always lucky enough to pick up a big hand in the big blind and their precious button will become useless to them, at least against someone who knows how to put in the first lie.

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Poker Strategy: Finding the Maniac at the Poker Table

In poker, just like Like Monty Python’s memorable sketches, “Spot the Loony”, maniacs are almost too easy to identify. They stand out from the crowd so much because they want to stand out. Maniacs need to be the center of attention. Woefully lacking in any kind of self-discipline or control, they have a childish need for instant gratification. That gratification comes from provoking and upsetting their opponents, from making themselves in the center of the poker universe, and most of all from the action they create with their relentless bets and raises.

This shows in just about everything they do. Right from the start, poker loonies are apt to dress in bright colors, speak in loud voices, use dramatic forceful gestures, and buyin for much more than the normal amount, to arm themselves with a massive stack of chips. And as we all know, that’s only the beginning.

The real fun begins when the maniac starts raising. And raising. Pre-flop, post-flop, early position, late position, with good cards, marginal cards, total rages – it just doesn’t matter. Any time, any place, any circumstance, he’s in there jacking it up.

And let’s just get this out of the way right now: the majority of maniacs are men. More often than not, they are young men. Maybe it’s because of the way men are raised in our society, or maybe the poor guys are just slaves to their testosterone, who knows. Okay, so it’s easy to spot the maniac. But how do you read him? How do you make sense of his betting patterns?

Conventional wisdom says: you don’t. After all, how can you possibly read his cards when he’ll always raise the pot anything? One of the maniacs’ greatest strengths is that he is so impossible to figure out. Well, nearly impossible.

There are a few things you can look for. Not all maniacs are created equal. There are degrees of poker lunacy.

Some maniacs are true rampaging berserkers who seem to care about nothing g but their own overwhelming need to create as much action as possible. Others can exhibit a bit more control now and again. A few “maniacs” are just regular players on tilt. Some maniacs are furiously aggressive per-flop, but back off a little after the flop. Then there are some who stay relentlessly aggressive throughout the hand.

One thing you can watch for is what Jo-Ellan Dimitrius (jury consultant and author of “Reading People”) refers to as “rogue actions.” That is, whenever you see a person do something that is noticeably different form their usual routine – pay extra attention. It’s very significant. All of us, even maniacs are creatures of habit. Perhaps especially maniacs. Their normal routine is really very rigid. So if you see a maniac call a bet instead of raising or check instead of betting, put a flag on that action.

It’s also worth noting that since maniacs as a rule have such poor self-control , they are more likely than usual to telegraph their intentions. If you are sitting to the right of the maniac, it’s always a good idea to glance to you left before acting. Quite often, you can tell what that poker loony is planning to do nest.

But perhaps even more important to watch for is how the madman’s behavior will affect the rest of the players in the game. When a maniac sits down at a poker table, everything changes. Starting hand requirements need to be adjusted and strategy must be altered, but more than that, the presence of a maniac will have a tremendous emotional impact on everybody in the game.

All that hyper-aggression makes for a stormy, contentious atmosphere. It’s a rare poker player indeed who can remain totally cool, calm, and collected in the face of this.

Generally speaking, one of two things will happen. Some players will react by becoming very timid – barely ever entering a pot, never raising, etc. They morph into poker turtles, retreating inside their shells. (Getting back to rogue actions, if you see a player like this entering a pot against a maniac, that should be a huge red flag right there.) Quite a few other players will get fed up with being run over by the poker loony, and will respond by playing more loose and aggressive themselves. The mild version of this would be someone who makes a handful of bad frustration calls against the maniac. The extreme version would be a player who is so fixated on “getting” the maniac that he goes on severe tilt and starts playing like the maniac’s mirror-image.

In this sort of atmosphere, virtually all players at the table will become more emotional. This makes them easier to read. It’s one of the hidden benefits of having a maniac in your game.

Because the maniac is so good at making himself the center of attention, it’s easy to get so caught up in watching him that we forget to keep watching each other. Don’t let his happen. The maniac is providing you with an opportunity. Because of that annoying poker loony, the other players are liable to let their games deteriorate. Their control will slip. They will become more readable. Now is the time to exploit their maniac-induced weakness.

Anytime I see a belligerent maniac at the poker table, buying in for a colossal stack of chips, raising every single round to the max in an effort to run over the whole table, I am reminded of a line from the movie Shrek. When Shrek first views the excessively huge castle belonging to the evil Lord Farquaad, he comments “Do you think he’s maybe compensating for something?”

Yeah maybe. But in the end it doesn’t matter. All that matters I show we can use this overweening aggression – and the effect it has on everyone else – to our own advantage at the poker table.

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Get Grinding: How to Play 12+ Hour Online Poker Tournament Sessions

Every tournament poker player in the world has at least two things in common: they want to win as many tournaments and make as much money as possible. Once a player has established that they are winning, playing a volume large enough to reduce the length of downswings and maximize profit is key.

The easiest way to maximize profit is to figure out how to be most efficient in terms of time spent playing.  Playing the most possible tournaments in the fewest hours is very important to your hourly winrate.

mousenailsSince multi-table tournaments (especially those boasting a guaranteed prize pool) occur at staggered times throughout the day, it is most efficient to play long sessions. The danger of playing short sessions is that you may only have the time to load up a few tables in order to stop playing by a certain amount of time.  This generally leads to a lower hourly win-rate since you can play many more tournaments in one twelve hour session than in three four hour sessions.

Hypothetically, the most efficient division of playing forty hours a week would be in one long, grueling block.  Obviously this is not realistic, but what can be achievable for most players is playing very long sessions—clocking in at twelve plus hours.  This way, you can play just 4 days, and focus your play on Saturday and Sunday, since they are widely regarded as the days with the highest guarantees and the largest percentage of recreational players.

Tips for enabling yourself to play the longest sessions:

1.      Create a space you will be happy to spend over 12 hours in.  Keep things around your desk that will help keep you in a happy mood even in the most tilt-inducing sessions, such as family pictures, and photos of things that inspire you. Having a tidy and inspiring desk will go a long way in helping your mind to play optimally.

2.      Playing long sessions can be tough on your body. Invest in an ergonomic chair to help avoid back-pain. Away from the tables, indulge in massages. To reduce eye-strain, play on high resolution monitors. Keep preservative-free eye drops handy, as well as any item that you find yourself reaching for a lot (for me, that means cherry Chap Stick and a nice hand cream with a pump for quick access).

3.      Have a plan for eating and drinking.  In my office I have a small fridge stocked with water and iced tea. It takes only a few seconds to swivel around and grab a drink.  I eat a meal before I play, and then keep nuts and berries around to snack on if I get hungry.  Finger food is obviously a ton easier to eat than anything with a knife and fork when playing, and the temptation is to reach for chips and other junk food.  However, this should be avoided as a sugar-crash can make you feel very tired when you need to maintain your energy.  It helps to have a nice husband or roommate willing to bring you an easy-to-eat healthy dinner to keep you going! I also love having a vegetable “party tray” since it is easy to pull out of the fridge and have access to fresh veggies. If you like coffee, keep a small machine by your desk.

4.      Plan your work space so that it is easy to run to the restroom.  My office is set up in a bedroom in my house, and the bathroom is only about 10 feet away.  It may sound crass, but as a multi-tabler proximity to a bathroom should be one of the biggest factors when deciding where to put your grinding setup.

5.      Make the most of the synchronized 5 minute breaks. I like to run outside for some fresh air, and do a few jumping jacks to wake my body up (I also find it a good idea to get some exercise before I start my session as it helps me feel focused and keep myself healthy.) Play with your dog for a minute, and do a mental check to insure that you have put any hands you misplayed or bad beats out of your mind.

6.      Make the most of all the available tools that can help you make the best decisions in the least amount of time.  Utilize a Heads-Up Display (HUD) to give you important statistical information about your opponents that will influence how you play against them.  Play with a calculator that has a large display.

7.      Make sure to get plenty of sleep.  Staying out until 5am and having a wild night doesn’t mix well with a long grinding session.  Schedule your fun nights so that you are not playing much the next day, and do not start a session (if you can help it) without feeling mentally and physically energized and able to play your best.

8.      Schedule a poker study session before you start your weekly grind, during your days off from poker.  Use this time to be critical of yourself and evaluate what you can do to continue to improve as a player.  This is a good time to have a coach or poker buddy to help you honestly evaluate your play. In lieu of that, review your tournaments in a replayer, post and respond to other’s hands in poker forums, or watch online poker training videos. Use this time to question what you can do better so that you do not have to use any undue mental energy while playing.

9.      Allow the length of your sessions to be somewhat flexible.  If you are three hours into a session that you planned 12 hours for, but feel very tired, tilted or for any other reason unable to play your best, then stop loading games.  Use the time that you would have spent playing to address what stopped your session short.  Have tilt issues?  Read one of the many great psychology poker books. Tired? Take a nap and figure out how to go into your sessions with more energy.

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