Poker Strategy

Poker strategy is important whatever type of game you enjoy. The beauty of online play is it's accessible nearly all over the world. German players have plenty of choice of sites.
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Twister March Madness

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Pot Equity

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Pot equity is a term which has too many different meanings. Some players say pot equity when they really mean pot odds or Expected Value. Others use pot equity to express a player’s share of the pot. Some say it is how much investment a player has in a pot. We will define pot equity as a method of comparing a player’s share of the current round of betting to the probability of that player making a hand.

There are three steps for using this concept of pot equity: First, a player estimates how much he must put in — that is his share — during the current betting round and compares that to what he thinks his opponents will put in — that is their share. He then calculates his share compared to the total and arrives at a percentage.

Second, he calculates the probability of making his hand.

Third, he compares the percentage of money he is putting into this betting round to the probability of him making his hand. If his percentage is greater than his probability, he folds. If his percentage is less than his probability, he calls, or may raise. The easiest way to understand this concept is with examples.

Behind a Raise in a Normal Game

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In a perfect world, no one raises at the table but you and you always control the action. Well, the last time I looked, this wasn’t a perfect world. For the sake of having a complete pre-flop toolkit, then, we have to give some thought to how to respond when others raise. Fortunately, like everything else we’ve looked at, we can break this down. We can examine it logically and consider it in light of the fundamental goal of making our decisions easy and the other guys’ hard.

The most common raise situation you’ll face is when someone opens the pot for a raise and it’s folded around to you. Forget about the blinds for now and think only about what to do when you have position on the raiser.

Game Selection

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Game selection is very important in poker and this is especially true as the number of players decreases at a table. At a full table if there is one really bad player the benefits of his lack of skill will be shared by the entire table. At the other end of the spectrum is heads up play where 100% of the equity an opponent gives up will go straight to you.

Additionally, at a full table it will take more time to reap the benefits of playing against a bad player because everyone plays so many fewer hands with more people at a table, and thus there are fewer occasions when you and the bad player are in the pot together where you are earning money because of his mistakes. Of course, the opposite is true and if you are the inferior player in a heads‐up match you will lose your money faster. Therefore, especially in heads‐up play, it is important to find the good tables and to leave the bad ones alone.

Just how important this is, is obscured by the idea of win rates. Take the amount of money won and divide by hours played and this is your hourly rate. It is helpful information but it is an aggregate of other information, and thus misrepresents what really happened. It can be used productively, but must also be used carefully. This is because the notion of “hourly rate” makes it look like for every hour played the expected value was the stated amount, and that for any given hour in the future the same expected win rate holds true.

Texas Hold'em Tournament Tips

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Avoid Drawing Hands
Suited cards and connected cards are less valuable in a tournament than they are in a ring game. In a tournament, if you lose all your chips you are eliminated. Your chance of winning becomes zero. Not so in a ring game where if you miss a few of your draws you simply reach into your pocket and get out more money. In a tournament, you want to have the best hand right now or you want to be bluffing. You do not want to turn into a calling station. In tournaments, bluff or have the best hand, but avoid drawing hands like the plague. It is not unusual to miss three or four drawing hands in a row. In a ring game this is OK, but in a tournament you are eliminated. Good drawing hands are high variance. This means that although they are profitable in the long run, they will result in big swings over the short term. If one of those down swings breaks you, then you are out of the tournament.

As the Tournament Progresses, Players Get Tighter
In the early stages of a tournament, players have a lot of chips relative to the size of the antes or blinds. Consequently, the fear of going broke and being eliminated is not all that immediate. Most players will be playing their usual ring game style. As the tournament progresses, the size of the blinds and antes gets bigger and bigger to the point at which they feel oppressive. The fear of going broke becomes very immediate. Players get scared. When they get scared, they tighten up. They play fewer hands.

Practical Tips for Tournament Play

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Protect your hand
It should go without saying that you must ensure that no one else can see your cards. Even at huge buy-in events, you see people who do not know how to look at their cards without showing them to their neighbors.

Practice protecting your cards by sitting around a table with a friend and taking turns looking at your hands. Have your friend sit on either side of you so he can tell you if there is any angle at which he can sit and see your hand. If he can see your hand, you aren't looking at it correctly. Practice different ways of looking at your hand until you get it right.

I should also talk about using card protectors to cover your cards once you look at them. Card protectors, when used by nonthinking opponents, can lead to hugely profitable tells. Some players always cover their hand when they plan on playing it and some only cover monster hands. I suggest not using a card protector. I never have and never will. As I mentioned before, anything extra you do can give away information.

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Poker Winners Focus on Power

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Poker is all about picking on the weak. It may be weak hands, weak players, or just weak play (Barry Shulman).

You may dislike Barry Shulman’s position because picking on the weak seems immoral, and it’s certainly not chivalrous. If it bothers you, poker may be the wrong game for you, but Barry accurately described its essential nature. It’s predatory, but so is life in general. The strong eat the weak everywhere, not just at the poker table. Winners recognize that reality, while losers deny, minimize, or ignore it.

Because they are so competitive and realistic, winners focus on power, not luck, justice, morality, personal relationships, or fairness. Poker and life are “unfair.” The best poker player doesn’t always win, nor does the one who “deserves” it for other reasons. Cancer, traffic accidents, and other tragedies happen to wonderful people, while drunken wife beaters win the lottery. That’s the way poker and life are, and you should accept and cope with that painful reality.

Winners constantly strive to increase their power, aka their edge. They want the best seat in the best game, and they wait until they have the right cards and situation. Your edge shifts constantly. You may have had an edge moments ago, but it can disappear immediately. Winners always want to know how strong their position is now.

All-in Odds

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Particularly if you are a no-limit hold 'em player, and especially for tournaments, you need to know the odds of many heads-up all-in confrontations.
Often in no-limit tournaments, you will be faced with a decision as to whether or not you should bet or call when doing so would either put you or your opponent all-in. Forget about implied odds or reverse implied odds, you usually know the exact pot odds you are facing. Now all you need to know is the hand you are facing. These confrontations often occur before the flop. Card combination odds are important to your analysis. But maybe the most important knowledge is how certain hole cards match up vs. other certain hole cards when they are going to be played all the way to the river.

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