Posted on 22 March 2011
Continuation betting is nowadays a well-known and widely accepted poker strategy move, which is an integral part of just about any poker player’s arsenal, regardless of whether we’re talking about beginners or fairly advanced players. The c-bet is an excellent way to tell the opposition that you still like the hand you committed chips on before the flop, and you’re willing to play for more money. The true value of the continuation bet lies in the fact that it often allows the c-betting player to win the pot without a fight. Sometimes, players become so addicted to c-betting though that they’ll resort to it every time after they fire out a preflop bet. Even though the c-bet tends to be profitable most of the time, there are situations when it can backfire.
Having a bunch of players tagging along is never good news for a person who holds a bet-worthy hand. This is especially valid when your preflop bet gets called by a whole bunch of opponents. Such a turn of events simply kills all the fold equity on which your healthy c-bets should be based. You normally create that equity through your preflop bet which is supposed to thin out the competition considerably. When it doesn’t though, that’s when the fold equity fails to surface. The texture of the board is obviously another clue that you should take into account when c-betting. It’s just that some flops are more favorable for c-bets than others. Flops which advertise a bunch of draws attract more callers, thus diminishing the odds on your c-bet. Of course, if you do have a hand on the flop, you shouldn’t think twice about firing out that bet. The situation we’re considering here is one where the flop doesn’t give you anything. Your perceived range is one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding whether to c-bet or not. Your opponent(s) may not be particularly skilled, but you still need to consider the hand that they put you on. If your perceived range is strong, you can obviously feel free to fire out that bet. If it’s weak though, you may want to think about it again. Remember that your perceived range will stem from the combination of the strength you projected through your preflop bet and the texture delivered by the flop.
Another bad time to rely on c-betting is when faced with a calling station. Some players will call you all the way just to see what you have, while hoping to fill their draw. Such calling stations will obviously be losing players in the long-run, as the approach is a more than detrimental one for them, but regardless of that, it makes them formidable foes for a poker player who likes to c-bet a lot. In Texas Holdem and in Omaha, position is everything. Position remains an important factor in c-betting too. It is a lot easier to fire out a c-bet from late position than it is from early position, having collected no information on your opponent’s hands whatsoever. Such c-bets are shots fired into the dark basically, and their efficiency is about the same too. Skilled opponents will probably take notice of your c-betting habits, and they will attempt to make your life more difficult when they have position on you. If one of these players happens to call your preflop bet while having position on you, you should reconsider the c-bet you would otherwise fire out without a problem on the flop.
The bottom line about c-betting is that it’s based on fold equity. When you have good fold equity, you should c-bet more often. When you don’t, you should hold your horses. If your style of play involves lots of c-bets and aggression, you should sign up for a rakeback deal that features a rake calculation method that suits that style. Poker prop deals give you even better rakeback percentages but they come with a few strings attached.
Posted on 22 March 2011
A few years ago – to some extent even to this day – there used to be an online poker myth about the US player base being made up almost exclusively of fish. Whenever you would read an online poker review, you would come across sections stating that ever since US access was pulled from the site, the games tightened up a lot, or that because US players were allowed to play there, the action was extremely juicy. Was there any truth in those affirmations? Are American poker players indeed worse than their European peers? Apparently not. As a matter of fact, at a closer analysis, things may turn out to be the other way around, although it’s arguable that none of the sides plays “better” than the other. There are just a few fundamental differences in style, which may or may not suit a player’s individual taste.
US players tend to play by the book. That means there’s more preflop action in US poker and players seem to have the fundamentals down better than Euro players. The way the majority of the US public plays resembles the style taught by most online poker training sites. Europeans on the other hand tend to call a lot more before the flop and there’s a lot more post-flop action. I’m not saying that either of these approaches is better than the other, they’re just different. For some players who get used to playing US sites, making the move to a European site can be a little difficult, and vice-versa. Another difference between US and European online poker is support. Most Euro sites don’t have nearly as good support as Full Tilt poker or PokerStars. In a European-based online poker room, it will often take the support staff 24 hours to reply to your emails. While some of the bigger European operations do feature live chat support, the knowledge of the support staff is often lacking and their English may be quite poor.
One thing that European online poker rooms have going for them are rakeback deals. There are also many sites using poker props which means that the rewards they offer are even better. Many people who are not restricted to play on European sites, do so solely for these benefits. Mind you though that not all European-facing operations offer such rakeback or poker prop deals. Make sure you know where you sign up and for what, before you do. US poker rooms are much stingier with the rake rebate. PokerStars do not even offer rake rebate per se, but they do have a loyalty setup which is a pretty close equivalent. Full Tilt poker do offer rake rebate and that remains one of the biggest advantages they have over their competitors.
Posted on 11 February 2011
This article is addressed to beginners, so if you’re a fairly advanced player (even if you happen to be a TAG fish) feel free to move on: it’s not going to teach you anything new. You may have heard that poker (both Texas Holdem and Omaha) is a positional game. What exactly is position in poker? The answer: the single most valuable commodity you can have at the table. In poker, when you are “in position” you are on the button, which means you are the last to act in the hand. If you “have position on someone”, you’re basically seated on your opponent’s left, which means that most of the time you’ll act after him/her. Why does acting after someone offer you such a huge advantage? It’s quite simple really: by acting after a player, you’ll be able to make your move in possession of information you gather from your opponent’s actions. In online poker – where other tells are quite scarce – position gains an even bigger significance. Here’s a quick sum-up of why playing in position is always rewarding:
- Position offers you information on your opponents, while allowing you not to give away any sort of information on your hand and as you probably know, information is everything in poker.
- The information that your position freely offers you, gives you excellent and cheap bluffing opportunities. When you see that everyone in front of you checks, thus broadcasting weakness, you can pounce on the opportunity and fire out a bluff with excellent chances to succeed.
- Being the last to act allows you to control the size of the pot better. If you feel like you need to keep it small, you can do so with minimal counteractions on the part of your opponents. You can also size your value-bets more accurately, which means that when it comes to building the pot, you’ll yet again be in a privileged situation.
If you need an insight into just how important position is, get hold of the hand histories of poker players like Tom Dwan or Patrik Antonius. These guys play heads-up a lot, and when it comes to heads-up play, position is truly a black and white factor: you’re either in position or you’re not. There are no shades of grey. If – using those hand histories – you compare the amount of money these guys win and lose in and out of position, you’ll find a striking discrepancy in favor of play from position, which is likely to be the same from one player to another. That’s because these guys fully understand the importance of position and they take full advantage of it too.
The bottom line is: playing from position makes every single decision that you’ll have to make a simple one. Once you get past the flop, where the real poker begins, you need your decisions to be as simple as possible. Most of your winnings will come either from many small pots or from a few large ones. Every single large pot that you play for is a potential disaster for your bankroll, so make sure that every time you get involved in such a large pot, you do it from position.
Sign up for poker rakeback to get that pesky rake out of your hair. Don’t you – for a second – think that just because it’s apparently insignificant, the poker rake doesn’t set you back big time.
Posted on 07 February 2011
Every decent player knows that the impact the poker rake has on his overall performance at the online poker table can be a potentially devastating one. Good players also know that the best way to combat the hidden pitfall known as the poker rake is though rakeback deals or poker propping.
If you don’t know what rakeback is, don’t tell anyone: you’ll immediately give away your fish status. Instead, check out a website like www.best-poker-rakeback.net and read up on the matter. Educate yourself and become a better player through knowledge. There’s nothing particularly intricate about poker rakeback, and to understand how it works and what it does for you shouldn’t take more than about half an hour of your time. Rake rebate is based on the same fundamentals on which sign-up bonuses are. The only – though quite significant – difference is that rakeback and poker prop deals never expire: they’re basically for life. If you sign up with a poker room and you are given 30% rakeback, you’ll collect 30% rakeback at that site for as long as you play. Your deal is only voided if the site happens to go out of business. What exactly is the poker rake though? After all, the lauded rakeback I’m talking about is a percentage of it. Online poker rooms rake a certain percentage (3-5%) off every pot. That’s how they generate revenue. The poker rake is the fee they take for providing players with the facilities needed to take on other online players. Poker rooms often hire poker props as well (to whom they pay large – often over 100%) rakeback percentages. All that costs money obviously and poker rooms also need to pay their employees, support personnel etc…
The algorithms used for poker rake calculus differ from one online poker room to another. Some poker rooms use the dealt rake method, others use the contributed rake method and some use the weighted contributed rake method.
The dealt rake method awards rake contribution (and thus rakeback as well) to all those who are dealt into a hand. Players do not even have to commit chips into the pot in order to earn rakeback in poker rooms which use this method. Does this mean that the dealt rake method offers an advantage to tight and passive players? That’s a bit more complicated than that and I’ll do into details on it in a different article. Full Tilt Poker is one of the poker rooms which use the dealt rake method.
The contributed rake method only grants rake contribution (and thus rakeback) to those who actually put chips into the pot, whether they do it voluntarily (through a voluntary bet) or not (through one of the blinds). Those who stay on the sidelines do not earn rakeback in such poker rooms. Those who do commit chips though, get the resulting rake contribution divided amongst them equally.
The weighted contributed rake method is mathematically the most accurate rake calculus method. In poker rooms which use this algo, only contributors earn credit for the resulting rake. The rake contribution is no longer divided equally though. Those who contribute more are credited for a larger percentage of the resulting rake. Those who contribute less, log less rake contribution and end up earning less rakeback too.
Posted on 25 January 2011
Downswings represent the most important test for every good poker player. You can learn and master poker strategy, various intricate moves and you can get really handy with the odds (the mathematical part of the game), but when a downswing hits, all that will be tossed right out the window, unless you have a bankroll that can absorb the swing, and an attitude that will help you rise mentally above the situation.
Great players know that downswings are inevitable in the game of poker. They sort of come with the turf: you can only avoid downswings by not descending into the green felt arena and playing. Great players also know how to deal with such downswings. As a matter of fact, I think it’s safe to say that being able to deal with downswings is what separates great poker players from the rest of the bunch. Great poker players understand that while it can indeed be exasperating to play several thousand hands worth of your best poker and lose, that does not create a need for the player to switch gears and to depart from his solid poker playing ways. Here are some tips to help you deal with these poker demons without tilting and falling victim to their devious ways.
Long lasting downswings have the uncanny ability to make players hate poker. If you find yourself loathing the green felt and the chips, literally sick to your stomach when you have to log into your online poker room, take a break. You may feel like you’re done with the game one day, but provided you use your time away from the table wisely, you’ll be surprised how easy and handy you’ll find it to recover emotionally. When you feel like you’re ready to go back to the action, take a little time looking at things from a different perspective. Explore loyalty deals such as rake rebate and poker prop deals, and try to gain a different view of the game. Keeping things in perspective when in the middle of a downswing is never a bad idea. You know you’re a long term winning player. Before your losing streak struck and you fell from Lady Luck’s grace, you were winning on a regular basis, weren’t you? All that was surely not just luck. You are a winning player because you have skills, skills which work just as well now as they always did. The fact that short term luck is trouncing you right now doesn’t mean a whole lot in the long-run.
Bankroll management is one of the most important aspects of dealing with downswings. You need to protect your bankroll so that it can tide you through rough times. In order to manage your bankroll properly in the middle of a downswing, it is a great idea to take a step down. Go down to lower stakes if needed and rebuild there. Remember what Tom Dwan did when Isildur1 took the majority of his stack back in 2009? He went down to stakes he hadn’t played for quite a while in order to rebuild and to rebound. Be absolutely frank with yourself and take a look at your game from the downswing plagued, downtrodden perspective of the loser. Are you really on your best game? Is your best poker indeed as good as you think it is? Browse around a few poker forums and catch up on the latest trends. Are you really as up to date with your general game plan as you think you are? Post your hand histories if needed and see if it’s really Lady Luck who’s getting the better of you.
Try to distance yourself from the financial aspect of the game by focusing on the Sklansky bucks that you make.
Play Poker online at the 5Dimes Poker Room and 888 Poker.