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Poker Engineering

Where poker becomes a science

Cash Poker: Goal Setting to Achieve Long Term Success 28 Oct 2021, 2:46 am

Your ultimate and continuous goal when playing any form of poker is to be a successful, winning poker player over a large sample of hands or tournaments. In a cash game, the best way to achieve this goal is to focus on 3 specific parts of the game. We must remember that profitability in a single session isn’t always guaranteed, and neither is long term success.  To become a profitable player overall, you must have specific hand, session, and off-table orientated goals that you must be mindful of when playing.

There are three main parts of the game when playing cash to consider that will help you achieve the ultimate poker goal. Each of these sections will overlap and influence one and other. When playing cash poker, we should be mindful of different poker aspects in the following situations: in a specific hand, in the overall session, and then how to act off of the table to achieve long term success.

Let us first talk about your hand specific goals:

Goals in a Specific Hand

To play cash poker profitably in a single hand, you must consider each new hand independently of the last. This means your goal in a specific hand is one of the easiest to focus on when playing. Your goal in a specific hand should be to focus on playing the situation objectively in the most profitable way by selecting the action with the biggest profitability in the long-term. You should always play the game to your strategy and treat each hand as though it were played in a vacuum when you have no further information on the player you are in a hand with. This is the fundamental concept behind a GTO strategy. How you can change what you do in a hand based on extra information available will be part of your session goals.

Cash and tournament strategies will differ from each other in each specific hand. We use poker solvers to help us understand what the most successful long-term strategy in a hand would be. Fortunately, in a cash game hand there are no other external factors to consider such as ICM, blind level progression and the huge variety of stack sizes on the table. These other factors may change the way we play a specific hand.

In a solver, different actions in a hand are assigned an Expected Value (EV). Expected value can be defined as how many Big Blinds (BB) you will make in a hand on average if you make a specific action (bet, check, raise, etc.) as part of the overall strategy if the hand was played out infinite times from that point. If we go back to our long-term cash goal, this means we need to always be making the plays that have the highest EV, as in cash there are no other factors that should influence our decision.

In a tournament when there is great importance in mitigating variance, understanding ICM requirements and preserving chips, you will have to play differently. This may mean using a smaller bet sizing or a lower betting frequency to maximise the potential for profit in a tournament by increasing the frequency that you make the final table, a pay jump etc. But you are sacrificing long-term gains in terms of BB acquired in a situation.  This cautious and variance-reducing strategy is great in a tournament but will cause your overall profitability in a cash game to suffer.

So, while it may sound obvious, it’s worth reiterating: In a cash game, we are playing each situation to make the highest possible EV decision. We are assuming that we will be in that situation an infinite number of times in the future, and we don’t care about variance. Hence why bankroll management is so important.

Goals in a Poker Session

Your goals in a poker session are identical to your goals in a specific hand, however there are some extra elements to take into consideration that will influence the profitability of each hand, the profitability of your session and therefore your long-term profitability.

The first important alteration to make to your strategy is how you adjust to players on the table, the second is to really focus on your mental game and understand when to leave the table. We’ll talk about adjusting to players first:

Adjusting to Players

In GTO poker, one of the best strategies to help you achieve the goal of long-term profitability, you must treat each hand independently from the last and not adjust to the way that any of your opponents play. When you start playing against solid opponents, you will find yourself being unable to exploit them as they are too balanced. However, one of the ways you can make some extra BB in a session, particularly in live cash or at the lower online stakes, is to look for exploits that you can make against the specific players on your table.

Therefore, one of the goals for a session is to stay alert and note down what different players are doing on the table. Are players being too aggressive or too passive? Are players calling you too light or not light enough?

By asking these questions at the poker table, you can start altering your game plan deviating from a GTO strategy and start playing your specific hands more profitably with a greater edge.

Mental Game

One of the most underrated areas of the game that will affect your winrate the most is your mental game. The two most important parts of the mental game to consider in your poker session are: Tilt and Focus/Confidence

Tilt in poker comes in many forms but objectively I would describe tilt as: “A state of mind and subsequent change in strategy that is significancy lower in expected value. It has occurred because of an outcome of a hand or actions that have occurred on the table.” The terrifying thing with tilt, is that you can be tilted, and you don’t even realise that you are playing differently. Therefore, it is vital you pay attention to yourself and remove yourself from the situation the second you notice you are on tilt- even pre-emptively removing yourself after losing a big hand. There is no cure for tilt except for time. One of the worst things you can do for your hand, session, and long-term winrate is to continue playing hands when you are on tilt.

Your Focus in a game is how I would describe the way that you are playing. Confidence is also a term I use to describe focus; it means how sure you are that you are making profitable decisions at the table. Are you second guessing your decisions frequently? Are you getting unhappy with the way you are playing certain hands? Confidence on the poker table can be affected for several reasons when you are at a poker table: bad luck, a lack of favourable post-flop outcomes, lack of study. It can also be affected by factors outside of the table: Sleep, nutrition, hydration, that meeting you have in half an hour. When playing poker, the best way to ensure long term success is by ensuring that you are playing each session with your brain working at full capacity.

Confidence can also swing the other way; you start to lose focus in a hand or make some significantly worse decisions because you have become over-confident. Now you have been winning several hands in a row or you have been running particularly well with some great variance. Now you have stopped playing each hand objectively based on the information available. This style of play is very difficult to control, it takes a great deal of self-discipline to stop yourself from getting carried away.

To achieve your long-term poker goals, your session specific goals are therefore to ensure you are collecting as much valid information on your opponents as you can, and then to control your emotional state to the best of your ability.

Off Table Goals and Long Term Goals

To keep you motivated when playing poker, you can set yourself some more easily attainable long to mid-term goals that you can start working towards for when you are on the table. Goals such as moving from the stake you play currently to a higher stake or noticing when you are playing poorly and leaving the table at the correct time in the session.

This goal setting keeps you motivated, and this motivation makes it more likely you will stick to your game-plan in a hand and focus on each session. Achieving these goals help you with your confidence and focus moving forward and are great for your mental game.  I would avoid setting specific financial goals, especially with a time limit.  These can have disastrous effects on your session or hand orientated goals if you fail to achieve them.

To see success in your cash poker career in the long run, you must be aiming towards the goals we set ourselves in each specific hand and your current session. You can make several steps when you are away from the table to make you achieve these goals more regularly. By getting better at the way you play your specific hands and improving your mental capability, you will increase the chance for success in these areas and therefore improve your long-term success.

Your goal when off the table is to improve playing specific hands and increase you confidence/focus while playing. This can be achieved by studying the game. Part of succeeding in your long-term goal is going to be achieved by studying away from the table. By studying a wide variety of poker situations, you will be more likely to make the positive EV actions in your specific poker hands. As a result of this, you will be less likely to become tilted and you will be more confident with the plays you are making at the table (as you will be sure you are making the right play!)

You can then do some work improving your mental game away from the table too, brushing up on some of your poker math, practicing calculating outs or even taking a break to come back refreshed can help you succeed in the long run.

Summary

To be a successful poker player you need to have specific hand, session, and long-term orientated goals. These goals all feed-into and support one another, the actions you take off the table to improve your long-term goals are the same ones that help you in specific situations and therefore also in your sessions. Things you do in a specific hand help you in the session and long run etc.

Your targets in for the different aspects of Texas hold’em should be as follows:

  • Individual Hand
    • Objective Decision
    • Plays that are the highest EV in the long run
    • Use good information collected over the session
  • Session Goals
    • Collect Information to help you in individual hands against opponents
    • Be mindful of your tilt levels
    • Monitor your focus/confidence
  • Long Term Goals
    • Set an achievable goal for yourself, such as moving up a stake
    • Become a profitable player by studying
    • Manage how you do in a session with mental exercises

 

Jacob Topley AKA Toppers1020


About The Author

Jacob Topley is a professional poker player, coach, and writer. He spends his time split evenly between playing live and online poker alongside his coaching. Jacob has been teaching students to play and beat since the end of 2020. You can find more information about Jacobs coaching and read some more of his articles on his website www.jacobtopley.com alternatively follow his Instagram @Jtoppers1020

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Online Poker increases its popularity thanks to mobile technology 28 Apr 2021, 2:34 am

Registering at an online casino is now easy and an accessible thing to do if you are willing to play online poker. Mobile technology has changed in many different ways this five-card draw game which now offers several exciting online poker variations and that leads us to one of the most common questions, is video poker better than casino slots in any way? Which are the main differences?

Let’s start by answering the main question, what is video poker?

Video poker, as you may think, has a lot in common with traditional casino slot machines. It´s an individual way of playing the game as you have no interaction with other players or a dealer, so there are no other hands to beat. The nowadays online version of this game offers the players quick access to several online casinos and an exciting way of winning real money.

Let´s see how to play poker machines, as we said the basic video poker game is designed as a five-card draw game. The paytable appears on the screen and the player can easily check the amount of money each winning hand will pay. You can either cash the money or save it as credits and cash it at any time. You can “bet one credit”, up to five credits are admitted, or you can push de “bet max” button. This way the machine will use all of your credits on that particular hand.

If you are interested and want to learn to play poker video you must know that the game is based on the traditional five-card game, as we said,  where the player is given 5 cards and can discard any or all of them. After the 5 cards are placed, you may hold them, with the hold button, or discard them by pushing the deal or draw button which will replace all the cards that were not held at first. New cards will be placed, if necessary, and that will be the final hand where your game will be compared to the paytable and determine if you are a winner.

Video poker vs slots

At first sight, you may think that these two ways of playing are much the same, it is true that they have many things in common, for example, it is well known that the card combinations are determined by a random number generator and that you are not playing against another player but against the machine.

Anyway, video poker has an interesting twist that adds more excitement to the game than the pure chance mode that we find in slots. In video poker, players have the possibility to make decisions that can affect the outcome of the game. How does it work? Skilled players can calculate the possible combinations if they pay special attention to their frequency, as well as by choosing the games with the best probability of winning. This offers the player the chance of making strategies and not rely everything on luck.

This leads us to the next most frequently asked question about how slot machines are programmed and how slot machine software works.

To begin with, we should say that slot machines are designed to be attractive, easy to use, and with showy graphics, most casinos also have themed games, which appear to be very popular and attract a lot of players.

The software works by using a mathematic algorithm that determines the result of that bet and there is nothing you can do, as a player, to change it. They are programmed computers that give the casino the exact information about how much money each slot machine would make during its usage.

The present of video poker games

Fortunately, we now have many online versions of the game which make it very accessible for players to reach their favorite casinos at a glance. Video poker mobile is an easy way to play the game because most of their software is perfectly adjusted to mobile devices and online gambling.

You just need a good internet connection and you can start playing online video poker on any screen, we highly recommend looking for positive reputation casinos and selecting your choice between legitimate video poker sites.

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Is It Wise To Become A Professional Poker Player? 21 Nov 2020, 5:05 am

Before you decide whether or not becoming a pro is worthwhile, you need to understand what the concept of a professional poker player implies. In essence, you will need to dedicate a lot of your time and energy to the game in order to become professionally competitive; because once you make the switch, poker will constitute your main source of income. Furthermore, pro players generally cannot afford to maintain a daytime job or continue their education because this “hobby” is incredibly time-consuming. Therefore, you should think very carefully and take into account the following aspects of the decision.

  1. Your passion for poker may fade, but your education remains

There is absolutely no guarantee that you will still enjoy the game of poker three months from now, let alone three years. Therefore, if the decision of becoming a pro also involves dropping out of high school or college to pursue your dream of making it to the WSOP finals, then it’s a terrible idea. Moreover, no matter how much you love poker and the amount of time spent on honing your card playing skills, are you absolutely certain you are good enough to win the nosebleeds? On the other hand, education constitutes an effective backup for the moment when the answer to the aforementioned question is no. 

  1. How will a potential employer perceive the gap in your work experience section of the resume?

You might argue that the game of poker improves several mandatory skills that are applicable in the real world, including risk management, effective decision-making processes, stress management, etc. However, you cannot be certain that your potential employer will view things in a similar manner. In fact, all he will see in the work experience section of your resume is a large gap. In addition, it is necessary to mention that aside from big tournament wins, the average poker player makes less than an entry-level employee.

  1. The poker income has a maximum upper limit

This is a common mistake for beginners and something that no pro will tell you. Unlike the real jobs where the possibility of promotions and raises exists, the income you earn from poker games does not exceed a certain plateau level. Sure, it might seem like you can increase your winnings by bettering your game, but your opponents have the same exact plan in mind, which means that the difference between you and them is constant.

  1. Do you have a plan B?

If you can pursue a poker career without making permanent decisions regarding your life, then you should give it a shot. As long as you can fall back on the education and work experience, there is no reason to discard your poker playing dream!  

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Learn When To Fire A Second Barrel On The Turn 19 Apr 2019, 10:46 am

Concerned with firing a second barrel on the turn? There are strategies that will help you become successful with this move.

Every poker player has experienced raising their hands confidently thinking they are on for the win but then there is nothing found on the flop. If the hand does not seem to look as great as it was before and a raise in the pot is at stake, what will you do? You cannot just end up hoping that your opponents flops have nothing in them too so that you get the pot. But just the same, you cannot just give up once you are called on the flop and not able to improve after the turn.

Firing a second barrel on the turn will be good to help you increase the chances of winning the game. How will you succeed in this case? You cannot use second barrels in poker any time you want. The following situations will explain when you should continue firing a second time or not.

Heads-Up During a Turn

You basically need to have the cards head-up at every turn. Never fire a second bullet up until there is one opponent left on the turn. Do not wait for several calls on the flop because you make your opponents stronger when this is the case.

The Cards Displayed on the Turn

As a preflop raiser, opponents will expect that all big cards on the turn will signal an improvement in the cards you are holding. Getting kings and aces on the turn will mean there is a better chance firing the second barrel.

Turns That Are Bad For Your Opponent

Second barrels work only if you are sure that the card on the turn is bad for your opponent’s own card. The last thing you want is to realize that your opponent is confident to invest more money into the pot. When there are overcards to the board, you should take advantage of them since they can dictate the need for firing second barrels. This is a signal that your opponent lessened his chances of improving his pair of cards.

Plausible and possible flush as well as straight opportunities will also be a good way to fire a second barrel. Your opponent may just simply be drawing to that possible flush you are holding and this can mean he is holding a weaker pair. This will make him chicken out as the board becomes more threatening to the weak pair he is already holding.

Passive Opponents

Big bluffs may be good but not when you are playing against the toughest player on the table. Remember that opponents calling preflop and are on the flop are more than willing to go all the way. Holding big bluffs against these players will cost you much money. Fire a second barrel only when you know your opponent is playing passively. Take note that when opponents have plenty of hands in their range, it is a sign that they cannot sustain aggressiveness. Picking on those players will make you succeed in the game.

Exercise caution against players that keep on calling others down even with weaker pairs in their hands. You can definitely bluff these players but if you are calling on a wrong timing, there is less chance you will be believable. Waiting for a decent hand will be better when this is the case because you will get paid off in the process if you do.

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Suck At Playing Poker Games? Go From Meh To Amazing! 19 Apr 2019, 10:16 am

Tired of losing in poker games? Find out how you can stop this streak of bad luck and start winning more chips!

Most poker games players struggle to turn a profit at the table on a regular basis. If you find yourself somewhere around breaking even at the poker tables, just know that you are not alone. Sometimes to turn your games around, all you have to do is make few strategy adjustments that will take your game from mediocre to amazing. Check out these tips on how to take your poker games from break-even to crushing it.

Ditch Your Favorite Hand

Are you holding on to a favorite hand you have been using for quite some time now? There is nothing wrong with having a favorite hand. All you have to do is make sure that you don’t make bad plays with it and give it a preferential treatment. To win poker, you have to use cold hard logic and math. Don’t treat your favorite hand as something you have to do at every game, otherwise that is equivalent to relying on superstition to win your games. Know when it is wise to play your favorite hand and in what spots. However, if you insist on playing your favorite hand, make sure that you always fold in an early position.

Have A Clear Reason

Do you have a clear reason why you are losing at your poker games? Check to see if you have deviated from your regular strategy. Some poker players, especially big-time winning poker players, break from their successful strategies and sometimes break even for some reasons. If you are an average player but you constantly find that you change your regular strategy because you want to make something happen or just because you are bored, that reasoning has to go.

Avoid Playing In Bad Games

Why do people play poker? Obviously to win. In that case, in order to win you have to be careful who you are playing against. If you are an average player, you can’t choose an opponent who is a pro and expect to just win by luck. Unless you are looking for a mental challenge, you need to find somebody at the table that plays very poorly. This way you actually increase your chances of winning.

Stop Thinking About Hands, Think About Ranges

To tell if a player is average or elite, you need to find out what your opponent has. One mistake most players who are advanced make when observing their opponents is that they try to put them on a specific hand.  Processional poker players on the other hand think in terms of ranges. When you think about your opponents range that means that you need to figure out your opponent’s entire spectrum of hands. Once you figure out their entire range of hands, figure out their frequencies and then make the best play. Don’t rely on what your gut tells you and avoid putting your opponent on a specific hand

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the only difference between big-time winners and break-even players is strategy. You don’t have to be a pro to start winning at higher clip. All you need to do is make a few adjustments which you can learn over time.

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Will Net-Neutrality Lag Affect Your Online Gaming Experience? 8 Jan 2019, 10:28 am

Learn how the net-neutrality lag can affect your online gaming experience and what can be possibly done with this experience.

You are in the middle of an online game when suddenly other gamers suddenly you have not been making a move anymore. They start to be worried because the match is just intensifying and it seems like you have been ‘dead’ for some time already. This can be because of net-neutrality lag. Learn more about this and how it can affect online gaming experience in the long run.

What Has Been Happening with Online Gaming Over the Past Years?

Net neutrality might be repealed in the years to come and this can definitely have an impact in the online gaming world. In 2013, gamers have already experienced the slow-paced gaming experience from the ISP Spectrum-Time Warner Cable because the promised connection was not delivered to customers as advertised. This has caused delay in being able to play online with other gamers. It was only after Riot Games, the team behind League of Legends, paid a certain amount that the connection became faster. This is a case when obviously the provider took advantage of the situation. These bottlenecks in connections are deemed intentional and are considered a deliberate attack on the pockets of game providers and gamers alike.

What to Expect?

In order to come up with a better solution to this eventuality, Riot Direct was created by Riot Games. This service was made to ensure that the fans of League of Legends will enjoy playing the game with a faster connection. Other services have been coming out of nowhere to provide a better solution to any other issues with net-neutrality lag.

Gamers are given the access to these services on subscription basis. Examples of services where lower latency and lesser lag together with a more reliable connection can be experienced are Outfox from Golden Frog and Haste from Thalonet.

It is Not All about the Money ISPs Say

Connection issues have always affected the gaming experience of everyone who has been in the online gaming world. Providers say that the issue is not all about squeezing money from their customers. Analysis shows that the goals of ISPs are usually at odds to what gamers demand from them. Providers are deemed concerned with how they can run their traffic by correlating cost and effectiveness that is why they find it unnecessary to strengthen the service they provide as long as the performance is already good enough.

The New Setup with Secondary Internet Services

Basically Outfox and Haste establish their respective network infrastructures and decide whether they will own or rent one. Proprietary network software will then be placed on top of these so that game traffic routes are managed, monitored, and optimized in the most efficient way possible. This will give you, online players the opportunity to get the best connection times depending on network traffic and where you are located while also paying attention to lesser jitters, pings, and lags. You can download the software for these services and while you continue enjoying your game, the software will calculate how you can enjoy the game at the quickest connection speeds possible.

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Pick’em8 – A Novelty Game By 888poker 23 Dec 2018, 10:51 am

Move aside PokerStars, because 888poker will be launching Pick’em8 soon. Find out how this novelty game works before it is released!

Have you grown accustomed to the poker games that PokerStars releases? If you think it is time for a change, your wish has been granted. 888poker is working toward launching its own novelty game very soon. The game will be called Pick’em8. Well, it is a not a full-fledged poker game, but it is a casino game that utilizes poker as a vehicle.

Current Phase of Development

If you visit the Pick’em8 landing page, you will be greeted with a “Coming Soon” message. Next, the game is not yet featured on 888 poker’s main lobby. Hence, you will have to wait a little longer for more updates.

Core Game Mechanics of Pick’em8

To give you a head start, here’s how the game is slated to work:

– Card selection

When you join a game of Pick’em8, the system will lay out eight possible hole cards in front of you. All of these cards will be face-up. The first step is to select two of these cards as your pocket cards. There is a time limit, so you have to act decisively. If you do not lock in your selections in time, the two cards that you have highlighted will be chosen for you. If you have not selected anything from the start, the game will automatically pick two for you.

– Buy-ins

Pick’em8 buy-ins, at least at the outset, will be $1 or $0.25. The buy-in of each competing player—in the current round—will be put into the prize pool. The monies will then be split among winning players, i.e. players with the strongest hand. Currently, the scaled commission fee taken by the cardroom is a bit steep. For example, Player A bought in for $1. However, the prize pool is only $0.91. That is why playing by oneself would prove to be counterproductive. To put it candidly, a terrible idea. Game testers hope that the pre-game wait time (to wait for a certain minimum number of players to join the game) can help reduce the chances of winners earning less money than their initial buy-ins. Our fingers are crossed.

– Automation

Pick’em8 is designed to be completely automatic. The game is unlike most Casino-style poker-based table games. There is no dealer hand to beat and minimum hand strength needed to win. The game deals five community cards and determines a player’s best five-card hand right away. As mentioned, players with the strongest hands win. The prize pool will be divided equally among these players. You can rest assured that nobody is an automatic loser. If you choose wisely, you have a chance to win. After all, every player is given the same eight possible hole cards. Makes sense doesn’t it?

– Opponents

When you play Pickem’8, you are competing mainly against the house. You should also expect to face some indirect competition with other players. According to 888poker, they state that there are no direct opponents in the game.

– Rounds

A new round will start at least every few minutes. This means that you can hop aboard pretty much whenever you want. If you are looking for some high-speed action or a fun way to pass some time while waiting for your next poker tournament to begin, Pickem’8 is a fantastic game for you. In most cases, each round happens very quickly. However, that depends on how much time the game gives players to make decisions as well. Additionally, new rounds will not necessarily start immediately after the current one ends. It will still be timed to give other players, who are waiting in line, a chance to enter.

Pray that Lady Luck is On Your Side

It is pretty obvious that the game will be dominated by luck. Players never know what community cards will be dealt. A player can choose the best two-hole cards but still lose several games in a row. Looking from another perspective, it is simply an equivalent of an all-in shootout. Each player is blindly all-in. While there is room to make your own decisions, where a sliver of skill can be used at the outset, Pickem’8 is all luck.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a game that offers decent entertainment during your free time at a low cost, you can never go wrong with Pickem’8. It is a game that’s worth looking forward to.

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The fine art of bluffing 8 Aug 2018, 12:21 pm

Even if one of the most common strategies, the bluff is certainly one of the most thoughtful, evolved and complicated actions you can make in poker too. The basic concept is simple, you must stage a well-orchestrated plan in which your cards must appear different from what they really are and you must be very good in doing that since your opponents must believe it.

Everyone knows that to win at poker you are supposed to bluff at some point. Making someone fold a better hand is a necessary goal and there is no long term strategy in poker that can disregard the right handling of this aspect. Poker after all is a wise mix of reality and deception. In a bluff, like an illusionist, you must design a reasoning to fit your will and then believe your own lies and forge them into a truth, until the reality lies before the defeated eyes of your opponents. This is the fine art of the game, its true spirit.

But let’s start with some basics facts about the bluff. There exist two main types of it – the pure bluff and the semi-bluff. The first one is pure magic. There is just tiny air in your hand, no chances of winning at any stage of the game. There is only one opportunity to win the pot: your opponent must fold. The latter is a more subtle kind of illusion based on the reality of a speculative hand and unlike the pure bluff you can either win if your opponent folds or if you hit your hand at some point of the game. Semi-bluffs are actually extremely popular in poker. Think about when you have a 4-card flush or straight on the flop. For the semi-bluff your hole cards are very important, and you must manage your bets properly.

Position is a key factor in any kind of bluff. You can certainly bluff from early positions, but it’s definitely more effective to restrain yourself until you hold position on your target. A bluff exploited from a late position is always more frightening, because your opponent knows that if he calls, then he will have to make his action first on the later streets, something which will make his play definitely more fragile.

If you are doing a pure bluff from an early position, you are doing a “probing bet”. These are blind bets as you know little or nothing about the hands of your opponents. If your main goal is to steal the blinds, sometimes probing bets offer a decent success rate in doing that.

Late positions are very fruitful in the “floating” strategy instead, that happens when you follow closely the actions of your opponent like calling with a trash hand the classic continuation bet on the flop just to see whether or not the other player shows weakness on later streets and then, if he does, hit to kill. Many times continuation bets are nothing more than pure bluffs or at least semi-bluffs themselves. Thus all becomes nothing more than beating a bluff with another one. Do you think the odds are good that the flop missed your opponent? Then call and see what he does on the turn. Does he bet again? Does he check and show weakness? Then it’s time to take advantage of this weakness and bluff. But be careful, this is a mind game, a deception inside a deception, covering another deception. He might check only to make you bet and then raise. A whole new plan, a whole new illusion is on the stage.

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Molly’s Game – the complex story of Molly Bloom 12 Apr 2018, 9:27 am

By Source, Fair use, Link

Molly’s Game is a recently-released movie based on the real events surrounding aspiring Olympic skier and poker nights organizer, Molly Bloom. To ensure the validity of the facts presented in the movie, debut director Aaron Sorkin worked with her and relied on her written memoir, a book titled “Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World”. This movie is filled with stars; the leading role is played by Jessica Chastain, and others such as Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner make their presence felt throughout. Despite it being Sorkin’s first movie from a director’s perspective, it has received nominations at high-profile events, such as The Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and The Golden Globes (which also nominated Jessica Chastain for her performance as an actress in a drama film).


Photo by Christie Guevara / CC0.

Molly Bloom came from a skiing background—constantly surrounded by either coaches or other professionals—and was pushing to become an Olympic skier before eventually walking away from the sport in 2002. One year later, after taking some time off and accepting that her skiing career had come to an end, she found a job as a waitress in a club in Los Angeles. It was in this context that she was introduced to the world of poker after an unsuccessful real estate entrepreneur (who had a side business of organising poker nights for a group of celebrities) employed her as an executive assistant. Initially, she was not so keen on the game, but she quickly learned all there is to know in order to increase her income, which was mainly based on tips from the players. Seeing her improvement—as well as the fact that she was gradually earning more money—her employer, Dean, tries to control her, but he fails to do so and ultimately fires her from the job. Now armed with the knowledge of how to organise such game nights, Molly starts her own business and uses her contacts to gather celebrities around her tables. One of the most notable characters taking part in these events was played by Michael Cera, under the name of “Player X”. In the real world, Cera’s character is based on a collective of Hollywood stars who attended the games, but most of all, the famous Spiderman actor Tobey Maguire.

After a few ups and downs during the game nights, things get out of hand when members of both the mafia and the FBI get involved, definitely complicating the situation for Molly. Without giving spoilers, one could easily say that the plot is as unpredictable as Molly’s road to getting in that position. Although it was recently released, Molly’s Game has already attracted attention. Renowned poker commentators James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton included the movie into their podcast, “Poker In The Ears”. Movie critics have given it generous ratings. The film has earned a 7.2 out of 10 on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes and a 3 out of 4 from Rolling Stone magazine; it was also appreciated by the critics at The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie portrayed the image of a strong woman in a man’s world and the evolution from a waitress to becoming a host for some of the most exclusive, high-stakes poker nights of that time. It can serve as an inspiration to those who lack the courage to pursue their wildest dreams; the story proves the fact that anything can happen, given the right amount of confidence.

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How Poker Is Referenced Throughout Popular Culture? 20 Sep 2017, 10:17 am

Poker’s place in our day-to-day culture is well-supported by its inclusion in typically ‘non-poker’ contexts in TV shows, films, books and music. One of the most notable ways that this has been achieved is through the many poker-themed songs that have been released over the years.

As fans of poker, we are always pleased to see our favourite game referenced in popular culture. Did you know that there are certain theories that posit that listening to music will make you a better poker player? Whether you favour punk or rock, or like cheesy pop classics, music can get your adrenaline going, increase motivation and create a rhythm of play.

We often wonder what kind of music these players are listening to, as so many songs seem to be referenced in popular culture — for example, O.A.R’s ‘That was a crazy game of poker’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’. And who doesn’t love the classic rock anthem from Motorhead, ‘Ace of Spades’?

You could also include Ray Charles ‘Losing Hand’ and AC/DC’s (She’s got) the Jack’. Lady Gaga’s hit ‘Poker Face’ also has to be mentioned; the lyrics, coupled with its quick harmony and tempo, make it an ideal tune for poker players to listen to. Pro players like Robert Williamson and Phil Gordon play different genres of music when playing poker. Essentially, by choosing different songs and different genres of music, the players are choosing tunes that suit their mood at the time. Having the mental discipline to stay focused is a much-required skill in poker, and the pros can achieve this with the help of music.

Poker is also referenced in TV shows. Do you remember that episode of Friends ‘The One With All The Poker’ when the girls take on the guys? Another TV show that focuses on poker is Tilt, an American drama TV series that is set against the backdrop of the World Championship poker tournaments in Las Vegas. The tagline for the show is ‘You’re playing poker. They’re playing you’.

On the silver screen, there have been countless films that reference poker. One example is ‘Rounders’, a 1998 American film about the underground world of high-stakes poker that features Edward Norton and Matt Damon. The term ‘rounder’ refers to a poker player who travels from city to city seeking out high-stakes cash games.

Another well-loved poker film starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore is about a poker player who is trying to win a poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Whether watching these films and TV shows make you laugh, cry or even give you food for thought, it’s clear that these scenes featuring poker might give you a helping hand.

From music and TV to films and books, the world of poker is continuously referenced throughout popular culture. These mediums redefine the game for new generations of fans and demonstrate that poker is not just defined by the table, absolutely resonates with a wider audience other than just poker players, and has earned its place in popular culture.

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