Posts Tagged ‘poker strategy’

Dealing with Downswings – Poker Strategy from Doug Polk

Friday, October 7th, 2016

doug-polk-downswingsEverybody who plays poker is guaranteed to experience downswings, where nothing goes right and you just keep going deeper into the red. For some players, their downswing starts from the very beginning until they give up the game.

But no matter what your skill or experience level is, it’s important to know how to deal with poker downswings. And who better to learn from than high-stakes pro Doug Polk.

Polk just did a video where he discuses the two biggest downswings of his life – one was Black Friday, and the other was a period where he lost $1.7 million through high rollers.

“I have had two life-soul-crushing downswings I’ve dealt with,” says Polk. “They both lasted a year or two years. Luckily the in-between periods have been pretty good for me.”

So how did he survive these low points in his poker career and life?

“I’ve always been a big believer that when you’re on a downswing, it’s okay to move down in stakes that you might be very comfortably bankrolled for just to prove to yourself that you can still do this,” advises Polk.

He adds that you need to get over the feeling of downswings where “You feel like you’re always losing, you always lose the flips, always get in the cooler situations. You end up in these same spots where, you kind of start to get gun-shy.”

Polk also says that you might sacrifice some EV by moving down, but we’re not robots and you need to overcome these losing emotions.

If the losing continues, Polk says that it gives you an opportunity to really assess your game and see what you’re doing wrong.

“What do the best players do? Do these use these (bet) sizes? Use these hands? Get some analysis in there. Start to look at things. Look at the best people in your game, and figure out is this really the best strategy.”

This is only a fraction of what Polk discusses, so check out the video below to see his other advice.

Daniel Negreanu solves Poker Debate: New vs Old School Players

Friday, May 27th, 2016

daniel-negreanu-pokerstarsOne of the most-frequently discussed topics that we’ve heard over the last 6-8 years is how much better current poker pros are compared to those in the 1990s and before. Few would argue that the average pro today is better than old school grinders simply because poker strategy is so widely available. But Daniel Negreanu, who’s one of the few pros who’ve grinded in both eras, has a much-different perspective on the subject.

Negreanu doesn’t deny that modern players have more skill than earlier pros. But he also stresses that it was harder to make a living playing poker in the 90s and before. In fact, Negreanu believes that many of today’s pros wouldn’t have made it in poker back then because of the game’s conditions. Here’s one telling excerpt from his blog post:

“Doyle pointed out on Twitter that people who were drawn to being professional poker players in the old days did so because of the absence of any really good options in their lives. Most were not educated. Most were not qualified to get good mainstream jobs. Professional poker players back in those days were hustlers finding a way to make it in the world. For people like the guys I mentioned, they are educated and have all kinds of opportunities to get good jobs in the real world.

“The existence of online poker is what made this lifestyle accessible to young, brilliant, educated young people who saw an opportunity to make an ‘easy living’ from the comfort of their own home. I don’t think any of the three guys I mentioned would have been professional poker players in the 90’s! Again, not because they weren’t capable, but mostly because it would have been a bad decision. Professional poker players were misfits in that era. Hustlers, that were smart enough to find a way to survive in life despite limited options in terms of valid career choices.

“The reason this whole topic came up in the first place was a general feeling that there was a lack of appreciation for the level of skill and intuition that professional pokers of the 90’s and before had. This idea that, “If I could have played in that era I would have crushed the games.” No, you probably wouldn’t have. The learning that would have been available to you back then doesn’t resemble today in the least. The best players in that era, were just amazing poker players. The best players of today are amazing poker players.”

This is just the conclusion to a post that outlines the following five reasons why old-school poker pros deserve respect:

– Players saw a lower volume of hands because online poker didn’t exist.
– Players’ learning curve occurred on the table; not through watching low-priced training videos and reading articles.
– The game selection wasn’t great in the 90s and beforehand.
– Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas were the only viable options for being a poker pro.
– There were very few study tools back in this era.

Negreanu really does a good job of destroying the common thinking that, “I would’ve crushed the games back then.”

Again, Negreanu isn’t saying that old-school pros were more skilled. But respect should be given for the conditions they persevered through to become successful players.

Rebuy Poker Tournament Tips

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

In the average poker tournament, you are finished when your chips are all gone. This differs from rebuy poker tournaments, where you can buy back into an event after busting out, and add chips to your stack when the rebuy period is over with (normally one hour).

That said, rebuy tournaments allow players to be more aggressive because they can buy back in after being eliminated. However, it’s important not to get too crazy with rebuys, as you’ll see in the following tips.

Set a Limit on Rebuys

Some players get a little crazy in rebuys and will re-enter 4-5 times after busting out. And while this might give you quite a bit of action and excitement, it’s also a great way to burn through your bankroll. So the first tip for rebuys is to set a limit and stick with it.

The original buy-in will have a lot to do with this because rebuying into an $11 event is a lot easier than doing so in a $1,100 tournament. But as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t exceed more than 3 rebuys in a single event. Also, be sure to have enough money left for the add-on at the end of the rebuy period.

Don’t be a Maniac

Some players think that rebuys give them the green light to become a maniac and go all-in with pocket 3’s from early position. But just because you can re-enter after being knocked out doesn’t mean you should go crazy.

Instead, a better approach is to alter your aggression level slightly. If you’d normally only play AA through JJ, you could expand this to include AA through 99, and AK in a rebuy event. Of course, your observations of the table will affect this decision too.

Try Unconventional Playing Methods

In most cases, common poker strategy advises against limping in with marginal hands. But in a rebuy tourney, you can actually make unconventional moves like these work.

The reason why is because players are looser, and as long as they’re not being too aggressive before the flop, your speculative hand will pay off. After all, these loose players will be more likely to call big raises post-flop because they know that they can rebuy following a bust-out.

As you can see, rebuy tournaments are a little different from your average tourney when it comes to strategy. But you can definitely have some success in them through experience and hard work.

GPI Owner Alexandre Dreyfus only thinks Poker will get Bigger

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Most experienced online poker players have come to accept the fact that the game is no longer filled with easy money. Nearly all players know at least a little poker strategy, and information is readily available with just a few clicks of the mouse. This being said, many people are doom and gloom about the prospects for growth because the boom is over.

But Global Poker Index (GPI) owner Alexandre Dreyfus isn’t one of these people. The businessman has run several successful ventures within the poker world, including Winamax, GPI, iGamingFrance.com, Chilipoker, FantasyPokerManager, and his latest acquisition, HendonMob. Dreyfus agrees that poker is no longer offering the dream of quick money like it did in the mid-2000’s. However, he also doesn’t believe this marks a drop in the game’s appeal.

“I believe that, like in any industry or life, there are cycles. We are at the end of the golden age of poker, both online and live,” he said. “Does it mean it’s the end? Of course not. I wouldn’t invest millions, literally, if I thought so. It’s just different and we are now starting to build a real industry, one that will be there for another decade. There is no room anymore for easy money, it’s a challenge and only committed people will survive.”

If Dreyfus didn’t truly believe what he’s saying, then he wouldn’t have purchased HendonMob recently. This is the world’s most comprehensive poker tournament database and is accessed by tens of thousands of players every day. The businessman will also be busy keeping up with the GPI, which will help the European Poker Tour determine its Player of the Year.

As for what he sees happening within the US in the near future, Dreyfus thinks that we’re a long ways off from pre-Black Friday levels. But he does see some positive things happening on the US front and thinks there are still opportunities here. “Money was easy five or 10 years ago, now we need to be smarter and work harder to make it happen,” he stated. “I see poker evolving, growing and we need to stop comparing poker as it was before. It will never be. It will be better, in many ways.”

Dreyfus is definitely right in that poker is not the same as it was before Black Friday. But it’s exciting to hear him talk about the potential that’s still there and how the game should continue evolving and growing as a “real industry.”

Forgetting Poker Strategy Basics at the Table

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Many poker players strive to improve their game by reading articles, books and blogs, watching training videos, and even investing in coaching. But no matter how much time you put into learning poker strategy, it’s a given that you’re going to forget or overlook a basic concept at some point.

One of the easiest strategy aspects to accidentally overlook is table position. Sure this is one of the first and most important things you’ll learn through poker strategy. However, it’s safe to say that there’s not a poker player alive who hasn’t forgotten to consider their table position when making a bet.

Another basic that players commonly forget involves thinking about their opponents’ potential hand strength. By the time you think about your own hand strength, table position, your table image and bet sizing, it’s not unfathomable to occasionally ignore the people sitting across from you.

So how do we rectify these brain slips that have us suddenly forgetting how we like to play J-T from middle position? Well there’s no magic cure since even the best players have an off-hand where they leave out some basic thought. However, just being aware of the potential problem is a good start. By constantly doing a mental rundown of what you need to consider with each hand, you’ll make fewer careless mistakes.

Another way to stop forgetting poker basics involves continually playing and learning strategy. Through repetition and thinking about the game on a normal basis, remembering poker strategy basics is a much easier process. Eventually, knowing what to do in each situation will almost become automatic.

Leaning and practicing fundamentals is the quickest way towards becoming a successful poker player. Of course, you also need to remember to apply these fundamentals on the table for your hard work to pay off. So always make a conscious effort to go through the basics in every hand.

Bankroll Management for Low Stakes Poker Tournament Players

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

We all know that big-time poker players get all of the attention since they’re spending major money to compete for huge tournament prize pools. But the truth is that the majority of the poker community is based in the low-stakes world, where players are spending just $1 to $5 per buy-in.

Many of these low-stakes tournament players are of the casual nature and aren’t trying to make a living with the game. Some are more serious and hope to eventually supplement their income, or even become a full-time pro. Whatever the case may be, it’s important for every low-stakes poker tournament player to know a thing or two about bankroll management. That said, here are a few quick tips.

Tip #1 – Divide your Bankroll into Buy-ins

A good general tip for managing a tourney bankroll is to divide your money up into buy-ins. It’s ideal to have 150-200 buy-ins for the stakes you play because of all the variance in online poker. But depending upon your skill level, you may be able to get away with anywhere from 50-100 buy-ins. Using our ideal example on a person with $300, they’d want to stick with $2 tourney buy-ins or less in order to survive the variance.

Tip #2 – Avoid Large Field Sizes

If money is an issue – as it is with most low stakes tournament grinders – you should stick with events that feature small field sizes. The reason why is because the bigger the field, the harder it will be to consistently cash. Sure the potential scores are bigger in large tournaments, but it takes the average player much longer to earn these big payouts. So you should definitely stick with smaller events in the beginning, then work your way up to bigger field sizes.

Tip #3 – Never stop improving

Just having good bankroll management isn’t going to guarantee you profits; in fact, it’ll just prolong the inevitable downfall of a bad player. You need to continually improve your skills along with exercising good bankroll management. Some of the different things that you can do to get better at online poker include joining training sites, hiring a poker coach, reading books, reading articles, browsing forums, and watching YouTube videos. The information is out there – it’s up to you to find it!

Broke Dutch Boyd using Kickstarter to fund Poker Book

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Just a few months ago, two-time WSOP champion Dutch Boyd was on Reddit.com talking about how he couldn’t find a regular job and was broke – despite earning over $2.1 million in live poker tournaments alone. Well little has changed since those days, but Boyd is trying to rectify the situation by writing a book.

Rather than getting a publisher for his work like many authors, Boyd is using the fundraising website Kickstarter.com to generate money. Dutch is trying to get $5,000 so he can self-publish the book, which is tentatively titled “Poker Tilt.”

Getting into the details of Boyd’s book, part of it is supposed to be an autobiography while the other part deals with poker strategy. He has also teamed up with a published author named Laurence Samuels, who’s probably on board to make sure the writing is good. Boyd discussed the project further on Kickstarter by writing:

After winning my first WSOP title, I was asked,  “What does winning a bracelet mean to you?” My answer: “Now If I ever go broke, I can always write a book.”

Well now that time has come.  So I’m setting out to write the greatest book ever. I’ve teamed up with published author Laurence Samuels to make sure this dream turns into a reality.

(continued later) If you’ve ever played poker, you are going to want this book. But even if you don’t play poker, there is going to be a lot in here that will be interesting to you. The things that make a poker player successful apply to all aspects of life. Plus, you’ll get to read an insider’s story of a world that is rarely exposed.

Just two days after posting the Kickstarter listing, Boyd has already drawn 23 backers and $1,135 in funding. He has 28 days to go to reach his $5k goal, or else all of the funding is returned. Those wanting to support Boyd’s project must pledge at least $1 to be considered a backer.

As mentioned before, Dutch Boyd has captured two WSOP bracelets and earned $2,122,906 in tournament winnings. Despite these accomplishments, Dutch is also loathed by many in the poker community. He ran an online poker room called PokerSpot, and when it failed in the early 2000’s, Boyd didn’t reimburse players for over $400,000 in deposits.

More recently, Boyd was sued by the popular forum TwoPlusTwo.com for cybersquatting; he used a domain name that was very similar to TwoPlusTwo without permission.

Why Most People don’t succeed in Poker

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Pretty much everybody starts out in poker with aspirations of being a successful player who makes lots of money. Interestingly enough, most people don’t even get close to this vision, and they can’t seem to figure out why either. The truth is that there are actually plenty of reasons why one doesn’t experience the level of success that they’re hoping for in poker. And here’s a look at some of the most common factors that prevent one from poker success.

Not putting enough work into Poker Strategy

The most obvious reason for not doing well in poker involves putting little time into studying strategy. Now quite a few players will at least study some strategy; however, with the way that poker has evolved today, it takes lots of hard work. If you have the time, spend at least 45 minutes a day learning strategy and/or watching training videos.

Playing Sporadically and Infrequently

As with anything, poker takes time and practice before you’re good. Unfortunately, too many people take huge breaks in between when they play the game. So if you grind for one week and take two weeks off, it’s going to be pretty hard to be successful. A much better idea is to play as consistently as possible and hope to improve over time.

Not using the Resources at your Disposal

There are a lot of ways to get better at poker including forums, coaches, poker training videos, books and articles. Not we’re not saying you have to use every one of these resources; however, it’s important that you at least use some of them to get better. Many players benefit from training videos and coaching, but cheaper/free options like books, articles and forums can also be really helpful.

All in all, the biggest aspect you need to consider when trying to improve in poker is putting some time into the matter. The more you care about getting better, the more likely you are to experience success.

Moving up Cash Game Stakes

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The ultimate goal of online poker is to keep moving up stakes so that you can earn more profits in a shorter amount of time. Of course, this is easier said than done because as you move up in cash game limits, the competition gets collectively tougher. So if you’re going to do this successfully, there are a few different factors to keep in mind.

Starting Bankroll

The first thing to consider before moving up in stakes is your bankroll amount. Suggested advice is that you have at least enough money to cover 20 No-Limit cash game buy-ins. With max ring game buy-ins at 100 big blinds, you’d need $2,000 for $0.50/$1 NL Hold’em.

However, it’s worth mentioning that every player is different when it comes to a starting bankroll. For example, some skilled grinders are completely comfortable even after losing 8-10 buy-ins and will keep their composure; however, others may feel stressed after this and start making -EV plays. So it’s important to consider what type of player you are in this regard.

Move up Gradually

When you have a solid bankroll and are ready to move up, be sure to gradually make the transition. In other words, don’t make the move all at once and never look back at lower stakes. So if you were moving up from $0.05/$0.10 to $0.10/$0.20 NL Hold’em, you could play three hours of 5/10 and one hour of 10/20 in the beginning.

Have Realistic Goals

While playing at new limits, temper your expectations in the beginning and don’t immediately expect to make the same amount of money. Sure you may start off really well and earn the same, if not more, profits than before. However, the average grinder is going to struggle a bit when making the transition to a higher, tougher limit.

Above all, keep learning poker strategy and try to figure out how the new opponents you’re facing are different from previous stakes.

Why Tournament Players have Trouble with Cash Games

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Most great poker players are able to go back and forth between cash games and tournaments without much difficulty. But the majority of tourney players aren’t great, which means they struggle when making the switch to ring games. And there are a host of reasons why certain grinders struggle to make money in cash play. That said, here are a few things poker tournament players need to realize when making the transition.

Pressure from Blinds

Unless you’re playing cash games with a severely-limited bankroll – which we definitely preach against – the blinds aren’t going to provide any pressure. They stay the same throughout play and don’t increase like in tournaments. But in tourneys, blinds increase in levels, which forces you to make aggressive moves to accumulate chips and stay alive. In short, you don’t have to play with as much urgency in cash play.

Deep Stacks

When you get into the middle and late stages of poker tournaments, having 100 big blinds is a gift and will give you a huge advantage. But in cash games, nearly everybody is going to be playing with 100 big blinds since players can reload whenever they want to. Much like the blinds, you aren’t pressured by stack sizes, which generally makes a tighter approach necessary.

No Limit

One thing players really need to be aware of when they play poker cash games is that there’s no limit to losses. Unlike a tourney, where the most you can lose is a buy-in, cash games see no cap on the amount of money that can be lost. This being said, you need to constantly review sessions and study poker strategy to improve. Also, make sure that you’re studying strategy appropriate to the states you play.