Poker Experiments

Here’s a quick Seth Godin-esque nugget of wisdom, since I haven’t posted in 15 days somehow (I have 5 drafts that need some finishing touches).

Once you have the basics down and are winning at say 25nl, try something different. Pick a modification or two and apply it to your game for a day. Be biased towards aggressive modifications, because playing every hand passively is going to be lighting money on fire. You can do more than one modification in a session, just be sure that there is no overlap between the modifications.

For example, 3-betting every button open would work well with raising every river bet but not flat calling all open raises when you are on the button. If multiple modifications could trigger adjustments in the same area of your opponents’ strategy, it will be very hard to determine what modification is causing what change.

  • Raise to a different size preflop all of the time. Or some of the time.
  • Limp reraise from time to time.
  • Raise every continuation bet.
  • Float every continuation bet where you have overcards and raise on the turn when draws complete.
  • Make all of your postflop raises minraises (double the betsize).
  • Use your imagination.

Small sample size will limit the ability to actually see how profitable these strategy adjustments are, but the goal is not to see if these are good long term strategies. Almost all of them won’t be profitable, but what you will see is that it is very effective to do things that are non-standard and deviate from your normal strategy.

Some players will start playing crazy once you start doing things out of the ordinary and will take some time to adjust.

The other important takeaway is to learn how the average regular reacts to a specific play. I’ll illustrate this with an example.

Let’s say your adjustment for the session is to slightly overbet (bet larger than the size of the pot) the flop when you are the preflop raiser. If you do this 30 times against regulars and get folds 23 times, you will see that the default reaction to your large bet is to fold.

Sure, making a larger bet will deprive them of odds to call with some hands, but you are likely to be folding out some hands that should be continuing if your opponent knew how wide of a range you were betting with.

If you kept it up, eventually thinking players would start to call and raise your bets and see that you frequently have nothing with your large bets and would begin to adjust to how you play. But there is no reason you can’t do this play against a poker player that you have very little history with, now that you know how the average player reacts to your bet.

Or you could just do this infrequently, just often enough to make money from the play, but not often enough that your unusual play sticks out in your opponent’s mind and receives special attention.

And remember to stay fit if you want success to meet you at the poker table. Focus, focus, focus, these are the three foundations of profitable poker and you can never put your concentration down. If you are overweight use some liquid garcinia, which is the best supplement for lose weight fast and permanently. Good luck to you.


 
The options market

An option is a financial instrument that let you buy or sell an asset at a future time. What does it have to do with poker you may ask? The answer is that like poker the option market is based on expectations. The theoretical value of an option is the expected value of that position. Likewise the value of your hand in poker is its expected value.

By expected value we mean the weighted average of all possible future scenarios that could happen. To calculate the value of a hand in poker we look at all possible cases, like turn and river cards, and we calculate the average value of the profit or loss of that hand. Likewise the mathematical model evaluating option prices will look at each path the asset can take and will multiply the final value of the option along that path times the probability of that path occurring. Integrating over the probability distribution of the asset price gives the expected value.

Nowadays a lot of poker players or sports betters turn to the option market as a new source of fun and entertainment in the gaming world. Trading is very similar to gaming and in particular when you trade options or binary options. These contracts let you take a bet against the future market value of a currency or stock, and this is why gamblers used to making bets feel comfortable with these products.

The binary options market is a small section of the options market itself, but what is appealing to these new players is the simplicity coming from the fixed odds feature of binary options. Unlike any other option when you buy a binary option you know exactly how much you pay (how much you risk) and how much profit you can make (the ROI). These two numbers are predefined before the trade. For example a standard trade is if the trader is right he gets 80% of his bet, and if he is wrong he gets 15% back.

Standard options are much more complicated than that as the final value of the option can be any positive number or zero. Fixed odds let the trader make a calculated bet of such or such asset making such or such move before the option expiration. This is the first time in history the average Joe can make such a pure bet on the market, and this is why these products are exploding in popularity.

And you do not have to make large bets or send a lot of money to participate in the binary options market. Typically you just need to transfer a few hundred dollars and you can buy options as low as 10$ or even lower. And you can use demo accounts also, that let you try their trading platform without sending any money. This is the way to get started as you should first trust and like the product before you get financially committed.


 
Women love poker too

Yes even our favorite desperate housewives lead the trend with their weekly poker party. But now beyond a private party over tea, women are becoming more and more power in this environment famously macho. Cards, money, strategy, poker bluff, it was thought to be a male specialty. But overcoming their status of decorative dolls, women have emerged as serious competitors in this game. Laura a former candidate for poker reality TV broadcast is now the feminine touch of Party Poker. She explains her daily life of a poker player.

The poker world is known to be very masculine. In view of the pretty young woman she is, how to survive in such a macho environment? Indeed, it is a world renowned for being macho. But she does not particularly feel that and she feels pretty good. She landed on the poker tournament circuit just one year ago. She made her debut in a poker TV show, and then she joined Party Poker. If she had to do a little review she would say that she easily integrated with both men as with women in the poker world.

Women are still in the minority around the poker tables. Are there advantages and disadvantages to being a woman in this very male environment? For her part, she only see advantages! The men think women are very tight (playing only when they have two good cards in their hands). Therefore they can quietly get away with a lot of small bluffs! In addition, men often tell her they are delighted to have a girl – and yes they are very few – at the table, so they want to keep them as long as possible. And they can take advantage of that!

On her last tournament, they approached the bubble (in a tournament, it means the time when it remains only one player eliminated before the money for everyone) and she was short stack (when there are only a few chips to the player). One of her opponents told her that if everyone folded, he would leave her his blind (the forced bet before the cards)! Sometimes they are very generous with such small gifts.

More and more tournaments are organized for ladies. What is the mood of women in poker? Can we talk about female solidarity in the world of poker? Tournaments ladies have always nice moments. The atmosphere is very good and relaxed. On the solidarity side, there is a general solidarity in the world of poker, not just women. It’s a real community. What advice would she give to young ladies wishing to participate in a poker tournament? Do not be afraid of anything and try your luck!


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How to adjust against TAGs

How should you adjust your play when you are facing a TAG? The following concepts are both difficult and essential because they are such tough opponents.

Don’t play unless you are at your best. This point is related to the general advice to avoid the TAG. Since they are so tough, don’t play against them if you are the slightest bit on tilt, distracted, short of money, or anything that harms your game. You would not play golf for money against the club champion when you’ve got the flu or your back hurts; just apply the same principle to poker.

Mix up your game. Being predictable is always a weakness, but it can be deadly with them. They read cards well and will push whenever they can. If you don’t mix up your game, they will soon learn how to read you, then beat you mercilessly. And mix up your game randomly rather than try to use your judgement against someone with greater judgement than you. For reference read about game theory in Getting The Best of It and The Theory of Poker both by David Sklansky.

TAGs are found anywhere at online poker rooms. For example if you take a bonus code titan poker and register at the leading Playtech poker room, you will be confronted will all sorts of poker players, including TAGs. This is why you must know how to dominate them.

Make fewer pure bluffs, but be willing to semi-bluff. It is usually easier to bluff good players than bad ones, but TAGs study players intensely. They read tells well, and they have enough confidence in their skill to call with weak hands. Of course, that is just a general principle. Perhaps this TAG can’t read you. Try him out a couple of times, and follow the principles of sold poker. For example, bluff early if the board is all small cards since they are not apt to play them. If your bluffs work, fine. If not, you’ve been warned.

Don’t bet marginal hands for value. There are four reasons. First, a TAG would not be in there without good cards; he may well have you beat. Second, if he has a better hand, he will probably raise. Third, if you have him beat, he will probably fold. Fourth, TAGs can make plays that cause you to make mistakes. You’ll save money over time by checking marginal hands.

Finally don’t raise without a great hand. The same logic applies to re-raises. He may have you beat and reraise. If you have him beat, he will often fold. Follow the same rule you would apply to a rock, but be even more careful because of the danger of a reraise.


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An introduction to mixed games

Mixed Games are tables or tournaments that are set up so that you can play several different variants of poker in one convenient place.

They are great for those who know how to play more than just one game because the action is loose and frenetic. The reason why? Not many people know how to play many different variants of poker well (or at all). Therefore, mixed games are very lucrative for those with a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of skill.

Mixed games often have funny sounding titles like HA, HO, HOSE and HORSE. Here’s a chart for what each letter stands for so you can determine which games you’ll be playing, especially if you sit down online where it’s not always quite so crystal clear.

• H – Hold’em

• O – Omaha Hi/Lo
• A – Omaha Hi
• R – Razz
• S – Seven Card Stud
• E – Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo

Most mixed games run on the limit tip. They’re not usually no-limit. This gives you more time to play. In a tournament game, each time the blinds go up, the game changes. In a cash game, the variant will change at a set interval of time.

For example, Joe’s playing in a HORSE tournament. He starts at 5/10 blinds in the game of Limit Texas Holdem. 10 minutes later, the game changes to Omaha Hi/Lo. The blinds also go up to 10/20 and so forth and so on.

If you’re adaptable, intelligent and able to pay attention, you can do really well in mixed poker games. They’re springing up all over the net these days. Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet and Full Tilt Poker have mixed gaming options for their players. Other rooms are sure to follow suit if they haven’t already. Some pros even want to make the Main Event a HORSE tournament. They think it tests the true mettle of a poker player.

Who knows? Mixed games just might be the future of poker.

Full Tilt has recently added a Mixed Games tab to their online poker room. You can play HA, HO, HOSE or HORSE in a variety of different formats including heads-up, single-table ring games and even tournaments. Why not test your skill today?


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The Mathematics of Poker

A very good book that you should read to better understand poker odds is ‘The Mathematics of Poker’, by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman. You can get a free copy with your frequent players points at Pokerstars. If you have not yet registered, note that there is no pokerstars rakeback, but instead they have a great VIP Club.

I found it to be an informative and challenging read. Short review: This is one of the most important books about poker ever published. For a longer review you can read Terrence Chan’s great early review of the book.

Few books on gambling take a truly analytical approach. In fact, the only other book in my library which comes close is ‘The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic’, Revised Edition, by Richard Epstein. Unfortunately, that book has very little real poker content. Chen and Ankenman do the world a service with their thorough analysis of poker. Their methodology is clear, the problems and solutions are interesting, and their insights into the game are remarkable. They’ve also done an excellent job of keeping most of the mathematics accessible to anyone who has a solid grasp of algebra.

Here is an example of the kinds of insights you can get from reading and understanding this book. They have a topological representation of the solution to the one street heads-up finite pot game with a maximum of two bets.

The strongest hands are at the top of their chart, and the weakest hands are at the bottom. The action maps as: f=fold, k=check, c=call, b=bet, r=raise. Each column represents the optimal strategy for the game. The strategy for the first player is in the X column, and the strategy for the second player is in the Y columns. If X bets, then the Y(b) column is used, if X checks, then the Y(k) column is used. It’s important to note that the actual location of the boundaries are not illustrated here, only their relative ordering.

Some basic insights from the solution: You need a stronger hand to check-raise with than you bet-call with. You should fold some of your value bets. Your bluff raises should be done with hands which are stronger (not weaker) than your bluffs.

This is just one example of how deep the book goes, so this is not for you if you are not mathematically inclined.


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Poker luck

In any game, it is very evident that hard work rewards the dedicated players. Luck does affect your emerging as a player, but hard work rewards much more. In some games but not all, the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Good luck results from deliberate and strategic hard work and planning. People do not get lucky on their own. They turn lucky when they put in hard work, and that is how they need to be if they want luck to favor them. The scenario is pretty much the same in poker also. This is very similar to the situations in other games as well. But in poker, luck is not all that you need. It is believed that the luckier you get, the worse you tend to play in fact.

Every player appreciates poker luck, and would want to save it for a rainy day as well. But, luck is actually the opponent of a poker play. A weaker player wins a pot and we believe that he has the luck to get it. A bad player does not open up, always comes from behind most often, make perfect catches, and so on. A bad player can seek to become lucky at any time. So, they are considered to be much lucky when compared to others. They have several ways of obtaining lucky.

Good players are sometimes showered with luck, as can be seen at the WSOP. But actually they choose the mathematically correct action. Sometimes certain players are accused of having poker luck. Sometimes a player feels like what his instincts tell him. The luck of the good player is actually due to his preparation. The good player often obtains luck because of the mistakes of his opponents.

Good players may also be accused of being with a player who overbets his hand and gives them five or four extra bets. You are also lucky that the other rivals would have given you extra bets. But the point is that a good player will induce and extract extra bets from rival more frequently than a bad player.

When playing poker you would also want to obtain luck from your opponents and it will be like receiving it on a silver plate. Poker luck is very essential especially when you are holding a very high hand and you would want your opponents to increase the pot size for you. This is the normal poker luck that is obtainable by the good poker players, but luck would never come upon you if you are expecting to beat your opponents while you are holding a very low hand.


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