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Do Not Pay Off Tight Poker Players

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Time and time again, I see people play overly tight, hoping to get paid off whenever they pick up a strong hand. While everyone probably knows to simply fold whenever a tight player enters the pot, it seems like the tight player often finds a way to get all-in before the flop with A-A. The easiest way to avoid set-up situations against the tight players is to simply never give them action.
Suppose a player who looks, acts and plays tight opens to 500 out of his 10,000 stack from second position in the second level of a large buy-in event. So far, he has only played one hand, which happened to be K-K. Everyone folds to you on the button. With almost your entire playable range besides A-A and K-K, you should call, not because you’re scared of your opponent or his hand, but because you want to play a pot in position against someone who will virtually turn his hand face-up on most flops.
The flop comes Ks-7d-4c. Your opponent bets 600 and you elect to call. If your opponent bets again on the turn, unless you have A-K or better, you should fold. If your opponent checks the turn, unless you know he’s capable of check-calling with a hand such as A-A or A-K, you should bet the turn and the river to try to get him off marginal hands such as Q-Q and 9-9. This should be your default line against weak, tight, straightforward opponents. If you think your opponent would bet most turns and some rivers with Q-Q, or if you think he would never fold Q-Q on a K-x-x board, you should probably try to flop a strong hand while simply getting out of the way if you miss.
While this seems easy enough, I constantly see players call the tight player’s raise with a hand such as Kd-Qd, flop top pair, then call down when the tight player fires three sizable bets. Suppose the same action as before happened and you have Kd-Qd.  If your opponent fires on any turn besides a K or a Q, you have a fairly easy fold. Even though you have top pair, second kicker, you have to realize most tight players will have a range of squarely A-A, A-K, and possibly sets when they fire twice, making K-Q an easy fold.
As stacks get shallow, look to fold to the tight players’ initial raises. Suppose you have As-9s on the button with 18 big blinds. If a player who hasn’t played a pot in an hour opens to 2.2 big blinds from early or middle position, you have an easy fold even though As-9s is normally an easy push against most active opponents. It’s important to always think about your opponent’s range and how your hand does when called. If your opponent’s opening range is the same as the range he plans on calling your all-in with, you need a strong hand to push.
Another situation that often occurs is when you raise to 2 big blinds out of your 18 big blind stack and a tight player goes all-in for around 18 big blinds. Say you’re playing 500/1,000-100, you have 20,000 and raise to 2,000 from middle position with As-Jd. A super tight player in the big blind goes all-in for 19,000. Some players would assume this is an easy call, but against someone who is only going all-in with a range of big pairs, A-K and A-Q, you have an easy fold because you only have 32% equity against this range.
What this all means is that you should rarely give a tight player action when you have low implied odds. If you can accurately pinpoint your opponent’s range and realize it has your normally strong hand crushed, you have to fold. It’s important to always compare your hand to your opponent’s range, not the range you, or anyone else, would play in a similar situation. As long as you know how your opponent will play in most situations, you will be able to make excellent folds, saving countless chips in the long run. Just make sure you don’t mistake a loose player for a tight player.
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Leveling Up

Malta Gaming Authority

“Leveling up” refers to when you make a breakthrough in your thought process about poker that allows you to take your game to the next level.
Poker is awesome because every player has the capability to get better, assuming he is willing to put in the requisite time and energy, studying the game diligently both at and away from the table.
In this article, I am going to list a few of the concepts I have learned during different stages of my career that propelled me from being a weak tight nit who was scared to put money into the pot to a top professional.
When I first started playing poker, I thought I was supposed to look at my cards and put money in the pot when I had a strong hand, as all of the 20 year old books suggest. I was sadly mistaken.
You must be able to pay attention and figure out why your opponents are making specific actions. There are many spots where you have to fold top pair because it is clearly beat. There are also times when you have a marginal hand, such as A high or bottom pair, and should not fold. The only way you will ever learn to recognize these situations is to stop worrying about exactly your own two cards and start thinking about the numerous other aspects of the game, such as hand ranges, your opponents’ tendencies and stack sizes. While poker is a very dense game, if you refuse to get the least bit out of your standard poker routine, you are almost guaranteed to be a consistent loser.
After a while, I became a small winning player. Eventually, I made it to the top of the online sit n’ go world by playing a robust strategy based purely on game theory, which works decently well as long as you are playing with short stacks. As I ventured into deep stacked tournaments and cash games, I quickly realized playing a predetermined strategy will leave you broke.
One of the biggest realizations I made was that my opponents do not have the same thought processes that I have. I frequently hear mediocre players discuss hands as if their opponents have the exact same strategy as they do. In order to win at poker, you have to figure out what your opponents are doing incorrectly. While they have some of the same flaws as you, they likely make mistakes you could never dream of. You have to pinpoint exactly what they do incorrectly then adjust your strategy drastically to take full advantage of their errors.
Once I become a professional, supporting myself financially entirely from my poker winnings, I quickly realized I had to work on my life away from the poker table. In order to succeed at poker in the long run, you must be well rested, clear-minded and ready to play your best poker whenever you step up to the table. This means not partying too hard, getting adequate sleep and maintaining a balanced life. If you spend all your time playing poker, you will quickly burn out. If you spend all your time spending your winnings, you will find you have no winnings left.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to do is maintain the hunger for poker. It is easy to stay motivated when you are constantly learning new skills and playing only a few hours per week, but all of that will change when your learning plateaus and you start putting in 60 hours per week at the table.
I have found that playing poker “full time” around three weeks per month and taking the other week off works best for me. Other professionals tend to put in 30 hour weeks all of the time with no problem. I have found very few professional poker players who play at a high level and play more than 40 hours per week, every week. In order to figure out what works best for you, you must experiment with various routines and see which works best.
In order to continue improving both as a person and as a poker player, you must keep your eyes and ears open, especially when spending time with enlightened people. I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas to better my poker and my life. If you never think outside of the box and only learn what is spoon-fed to you, you will constantly remain behind the curve. In order to be an innovator, you must work hard to see things other people do not see. Once you learn to truly observe the world around you, you will be better able to figure out ways to improve, allowing you to continue to learn and progress.
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Understanding the Three Player Types

ข้อผิดพลาด 5 อันดับแรกที่เกิดจากผู้เล่นโป๊กเกอร์สมัครเล่น

In poker, and most other games, there tend to be three types of players. In this article, I am going to tell you how to give each of them what they want so they will eventually give you what you want.
One type plays mostly because they enjoy the social interactions. The second type likes to test the boundaries of the game. In poker, these players enjoy running insane bluffs or making huge folds that most players would never consider. The third player type loves to win. While you are almost certainly a blend of the three player types, it is important to realize who you are playing against in order to extract the maximum amount of profit in the long run.
The first type of player, who plays the game mostly for the social interactions, makes up the majority of the player pool, especially at the small and middle stake games. While these players say they care about winning, they actually do not care if they win or lose, as long as they don’t lose too much. They tend to develop a simple strategy and follow it religiously. While most of these players lose relatively small amounts, they provide much of the money that eventually trickles up to the high stake games.
(As a side note, it is important to understand that players who beat the small stakes occasionally move up, only to get crushed at the middle stakes before returning back to the small stake games. That process repeats itself at all levels until most of the money ends up either in the hands of the casinos, which they take in the form of rake, or in the hands of the best players in the world.)
When you encounter the players who crave entertainment, make a point to show them a good time at the table. Feel free to chat with them and be sure to congratulate them on their winning hands. It is mandatory that you do not sit like a statue and ignore them. Ideally, you want to make these players as happy as possible while they play in a game they can’t beat.
The second type of player gets a thrill out of pushing the boundaries of the game. While these players can be either loose or tight, they are usually polarized to one extreme or the other. Some of these players take great pride in folding powerful hands when they suspect they are beat. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these players frequently run insane bluffs whenever they think their opponent does not have the nuts. While most of these players study the game and try their best to win, they get so far out of line that they become greatly unprofitable.
These players are fairly easy to play against once you figure out their tendencies. If they fold when you apply a lot of pressure, apply pressure. If they bluff off their stack any time they sense weakness, try to look as weak as possible when you have a strong hand and don’t fold. All you have to do is set a trap and let them fall in. When one of these players shows their “amazing” play, make sure you congratulate them and reconfirm that they should be looking to make these ridiculous plays as often as possible. These players tend to make up the majority of the middle stake players because they are thinking enough to beat a player using a simple system but are not capable of playing a fundamentally sound game that is required to crush the high stakes.
The third type of player plays purely to win. They are not looking for social interactions and tend to not get excited over the outcome of any individual hand. They make a point to play their best every day. They go home happy whenever they play well, regardless of the outcome. These players make up the vast majority of the high stake players, even though they make up only a tiny percentage of the entire player pool. You will find most of these players are thinking at a high level and generally don’t make too many mistakes. Obviously these are the players you want to avoid whenever possible.

I am  the third type of player. I am not looking to hang out and have a good time at the poker table and I certainly do not get a thrill out of bluffing someone out of their seat. Unfortunately, there have been times where I was overly quiet at the table, providing little to no interaction. This flaw is something I have to work on. It is important to recognize what you do incorrectly so you can work to improve it.
In general, you will find most excellent players are primarily the third player type with a little bit of the second player type mixed in. Very rarely will you find someone who is playing purely for social reasons in the high stake games and for that reason, I have relatively little experience playing against that type of player. Most of the negative expectation players at the high stake games are the second player type.
In order to keep your game profitable, you must be nice and make the experience of playing poker enjoyable for the other players at the table. While you may not want to talk at the table or be congratulated when you run a wild bluff, you must recognize that your opponents crave those things.  If you give your opponents what they want, they will continue to play the game and eventually give you what you want.
So, what type of player are you? Did this article help you understand the motivations of some of your opponents? Let me know in the comments section.
Thank you for reading!

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Evaulating Top Pair

Sex and the City Odds: ซาแมนธาอยู่ที่ไหน

Since top pair is the most common “value” hand you will make after the flop, it is important to fully understand how to play it. Despite the frequency with which you make top pair, most amateur players misplay this holding on a regular basis. It is important to realize that all top pairs are not created equal.

For example, Kh-Qh on a Ks-8c-3h board is much stronger than 9d-6d on a 6h-5h-4c board. If, in your mind, you think both of these hands are equally strong, you will make gigantic errors that cost you a lot of money in the long run.
Suppose someone with a 100 big blind stack raises to 3 big blinds from middle position, someone calls from the button, and you call with Qh-Th from the big blind. The flop comes Td-7c-5s.
You must first decide if you should check or bet.  While you may think that you should either always check or always bet in this situation, your play should depend entirely on how you expect your opponents to react. If you think they will play in a straightforward manner, raising with better hands and calling or folding with worse hands, leading is an excellent option. If you think your opponents will make your future decisions tricky by not playing in a straightforward manner, you should probably check.
If you check, the initial raiser bets, and the Button folds, you should either call or check-raise, depending on how you expect your opponent to react. If you think he will fold most worse hands to a check-raise, which will usually be the case against most competent opponents, calling is vastly superior to check-raising because check-raising will result in your opponent playing well. You never want your opponent to fold when he is drawing thin. By calling, you give him the opportunity to make additional mistakes on future betting rounds. If you think your opponent will assume you must be semi-bluffing when you check-raise, perhaps because he thinks you like to call with your marginal and strong made hands, check-raising becomes an excellent option because it will extract a huge amount of value from your opponent’s marginal made hands. Of course, you need to think about how you will proceed if your opponent re-raises your check-raise.
If you check, the initial raiser bets and the other player calls, you have to figure out if you should call, fold, or check-raise. You should usually call unless you have specific reads about your opponents’ tendencies. If you are confident that at least one of your two opponents has a strong hand, you should fold. For example, if one or both of your opponents happen to be overly tight, you should certainly fold because you are probably already crushed and if you aren’t, both of your opponents likely have a large number of outs. If both of your opponents are overly active, meaning they could have anything, it is probably smart to check-raise to an amount that worse made hands can realistically call. Notice that check-raising to a huge amount is not a good idea because it allows your opponents to easily play perfectly; continuing when they have you beat and folding when you have them beat. If you are unsure where you stand, calling is probably best.
Notice how all of this thought goes into playing what most players view as a mundane top pair situation. Imagine if instead of Td-7c-5s, the board was Td-7c-5d. The presence of the flush draw will make your opponents assume that you have a decent amount of draws in your range if you decide to take an aggressive line, completely changing the situation.
While you should probably play the hand with the Td-7c-5d flop as outlined above, you now have to consider the fact that everyone has some amount of flush draws in their ranges.  This greatly complicates things because your opponents may now assume your aggressive lines could also be semi-bluffs instead of mostly value bets.
As you can see, this is a tough situation. I strongly suggest you spend a significant amount of time away from the table formulating how you should go about playing this, and all situations, based on your image and overall game plan. If you are not constantly thinking about all of the intricacies that go into a hand, you will make costly errors in the long run, costing you a lot of money.
If you want to more information about how to master playing top pair, I strongly suggest you check out my advanced webinar, The True Value of Top Pair. I discuss numerous situations that will make it clear when to go for maximum value and when to pot control. If you learn to play this common situation correctly, you will see an immediate increase to your win rate. Check it out and let me know what you think on twitter @JonathanLittle. Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

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Do not be afraid to go all-in

เรียนบทเรียนจากเกม

Sometimes your opponents allow you to win a pot by making a clear mistake. I recently played this hand in a $1,500 preliminary event at the WSOP. A player who had been fairly aggressive from late position raised to 1,600 out of his 35,000 stack at 300/600-100 from the cutoff and a loose, passive, weak player with 40,000 chips called on button.
I am confident they could both have a fairly wide range, as they are both loose and active. I expect the initial raiser to have a decent mix of premium and medium strength hands in his range while the caller should have mostly medium strength hands, seeing how he didn’t reraise.
I elected to make it 6,600 out of my 50,000 stack from the big blind with Qs-Tc. Both players called. With a hand such as Q-T out of position, reraising is almost always a better play than calling because when you call, you have to connect well with the flop in order to win unless you plan to run a huge postflop bluff. When you reraise, you give yourself the chance to win preflop as well as postflop whether or not you connect with the board. I was quite surprised to see both opponents call, although once the initial raiser calls, the loose, passive button will probably continue with almost every hand he called the initial raise with.
The flop came Kd-Qh-3c. I bet 7,000, the initial raiser called and the Button folded. My plan was to make a cheap stab at the pot and fold if either player raised. If either player called, my plan was to shut down on the turn unless my hand improved. The initial raiser surprised me again by just calling, as most players would either push all-in or fold on the flop. I generally expect the initial raiser to show up with a K, J-T, or perhaps a marginal made hand such as Q-J. I am in terrible shape against most of this range, which means I should give up on the pot. If my opponent’s range had a decent amount of draws in it or weak made hands such as 6-6, I could go into bluff catching mode, but since I think he would fold the small pairs and can’t have too many draws, my only play is to give up even though I have middle pair.
The turn was the beautiful (Kd-Qh-3c)-Ts. Seeing how the initial raiser only had 20,000 chips left and there was already 35,000 in the pot, I decided to go all-in. I don’t really see how he can fold any hand he called with on the flop, as even J-T made a pair and is now getting decent odds. He instantly called with A-Q and I ended up winning a nice pot.
You should notice that if my opponent went all-in preflop or on the flop, he would have forced me off my hand and picked up a nice pot. Instead, he allowed me and the Button to see a cheap flop, which gave both of us a chance to outdraw him. While I am all for letting your opponents stay in when they are drawing to three outs, when the pot is large and you have a hand that is decently strong, you should almost always try to pick up the dead money. Also notice that if the flop was K-9-3 instead of K-Q-3, I would have made the same continuation bet and probably forced my opponent to fold his A-Q. My opponent turned a super profitable all-in situation preflop, which would have allowed him to profit 7,500 chips with little risk, into a disaster where he went broke.
In tournaments, putting yourself into simple spots is a way to avoid making devastating blunders. In this situation, my opponent did the exact opposite.When you have a strong hand and there is a lot of money in the pot before the flop, don’t be scared to take a little risk and go all-in.

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Maximizing marginal top pairs

ข้อผิดพลาด 5 อันดับแรกที่เกิดจากผู้เล่นโป๊กเกอร์สมัครเล่น

In December of 2014, I had the pleasure of traveling to Prague for both the World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour events. Compared to the players in the United States, European players are generally much more aggressive. The following hand, from a €1,000 buy-in event, beautifully illustrates how to take advantage of these aggressive players without opening yourself up to losing a bunch of chips when they happen to have a premium hand.
The blinds were 75/150. A relatively tight, aggressive kid who seemed to play a straightforward strategy raised to 400 from first position out of his 20,000 effective chip stack. The player in 3rd position, a splashy, somewhat wild French guy, called. I decided to call with Ah-Qh in the cutoff seat. While most players would reraise before the flop, I called because I would be quite unhappy if the initial raiser continued in the pot because I expected him to only raise with premium hands from first position. Calling also has the added benefit of ensuring I get to see a flop in position with a disguised hand against the wild player.
The flop came As-6d-2h. The initial raiser checked, which probably means he missed the flop or has an underpair, such as K-K or 9-9. The French guy bet 1,000 into the 1,425 pot. I decided to call. Calling allows me to easily fold if the initial raiser decides to check-raise while also forcing the French guy to continue to the turn with a likely wide range. While raising both for value and to protect my hand from various draws may seem like the most obvious play, it allows the French guy to fold his marginal hands I have crushed, such as A-4 or 6-5. The last thing I want to do is allow the French guy to get off the hook with hands that are drawing thin. As expected, the initial raiser folded.
The turn was the (As-6d-2h)-3c. The French guy bet again, this time 1,800 into the 3,425 pot. I decided to call because, as on the flop, I feared that if I raised, he would be able to easily fold most worse hands. That being said, raising may have a bit of merit because my opponent may view a marginal hand, such as A-9, as the nuts and pile his stack into the pot. However, since I would have no clue how to proceed if he reraised or even called, I think calling is by far the best play.
The river was the (As-6d-2h-3c)-6h. My opponent quickly bet 3,200 into the 7,025 pot. Even though I could easily be crushed, I also beat a lot of hands, primarily worse top pairs. I made the easy call. I was surprised to see my opponent turn up 10-8 offsuit for absolutely nothing.
If I raised at any point throughout this hand, either my opponent would have folded his hand that was drawing dead or applied a huge amount of pressure, perhaps resulting in me making a snug fold with my strong, but not premium hand. By calling, I forced him to stay in the pot out of position with a hand that was drawing dead, which is always an excellent result. I also gave him the opportunity to bluff off a lot of chips, which fortunately for me, he did. The next time you find yourself in a pot with a strong, but not premium, made hand, consider calling instead raising, especially against players who are capable of attempting a bluff.
It is important that you get well out of line in order to take advantage of the mistakes that you think your opponent is likely to make. If you fail to see what is likely to happen ahead of time, you will not be able to properly adjust. If you try to play a solid default strategy against everyone, you are certainly leaving a ton of money on the table. For a more thorough analysis of how to get well out of line in order to exploit your opponent’s tendencies, such as bluffing too often or playing too passively, be sure to check out my best-selling book, Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Tournaments.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.

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Are You Getting in the Way of Your Poker Success?

เรียนบทเรียนจากเกม

By Dr. Tricia Cardner
Are you your own worst enemy at the poker table? Have you ever made a final table with a large stack only to make a series of silly mistakes to blow the chip lead and end up with a disappointing finish? Or perhaps you have a goal to create a stringent study plan, but it never gets under way. These are a couple of common examples of how we can undermine our own best interests in mundane and often unconscious ways. Of course, some players engage in dramatic self-sabotage. Consider the case of Stu Ungar.
Stu was arguably one of the best gamesmen who ever lived and if you don’t know his story, I’d encourage you to read One of A Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey, “The Kid” Ungar. He engaged in self-sabotage at an extreme level (including plenty of drugs and reckless gambling), and while most of us won’t fall to those depths, most poker players do engage in small acts of self-sabotage.Consider this common sense definition of self-sabotage offered by Alyce Cornyn-Selby, “Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.”
Even those who play the highest stakes often exhibit minor emotional difficulties that decrease their profitability. These difficulties include emotions like fear or guilt that are by and large irrational and outside of conscious awareness. Irrational thinking plays a role in supporting our self-sabotage, too. The problem is that players seldom mean to sabotage themselves. We don’t generally make a conscious decision to spoil things – and that’s a problem. We can be left with the feeling: “Why did I do that?”
Let’s take a look at irrational self-talk – the basis of most self-sabotage. If you’ve ever thought things like “there’s no way I’ll win this tournament” or “poker math is too hard for someone like me to learn”, then you’ve engaged in negative self-talk. What we subconsciously tell ourselves is a strong determinant of how far we will go in this game. What we say to ourselves leads directly to our feelings about our chances for success. People often erroneously believe that feelings lead to thoughts, but it’s actually the other way around. Keep an eye on any irrational self-talk and do what you can to reduce it.
Fear is a predominant emotion that surrounds less than stellar results. The two main categories of fear are: fear or success and fear of failure. Most people deny fearing success; after all, who doesn’t want to be successful? But with a little digging, you might find it.
Generally speaking, fear of success is the result of messages we picked up as a child. If you heard adults denigrate the rich as “crooks” or if you were told to not get “too big for your britches”, then you might have unconscious fears of success. There is a strong tendency to internalize the attitudes that were directed towards us by our parents or other important caregivers.
You might even fear increased levels of responsibility that come with higher earnings like being responsible for taxes or supporting family members. These can be tremendous emotional weights and it is human nature to do what we have to in order to alleviate real or imagined pressure. Keep an eye out for fear of success. Observing yourself and becoming aware of such tendencies is the first step in containing the fear.
Fear of failure is like the opposite side of the coin. If we have a deep down fear that we can’t be successful, we’ll often set up conditions so that we won’t be successful. We may say to ourselves (and others), “I could be the greatest poker player of all time if I had the time to devote to the game.” Procrastination on studying then becomes our built in “excuse” for why we aren’t more successful. If you think that you’re too old, too young, too (fill in the blank) to be good at poker, then you are likely to have an irrational fear of failure and it is likely holding you back. Again, the key is to become aware of these tendencies in yourself so that you can take active steps to putting a stop to them.
As author Elizabeth Gilbert put it, “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to observe yourself to see if you are engaging in irrational thinking that is the causing you to shoot yourself in the foot. With some careful attention, it is possible to stop engaging in these behaviors.
Dr. Tricia Cardner is the author of Positive Poker with Jonathan Little, available in paperback, audio, and e-book formats. (You can get the audio version for free!) She also co-hosts The Mindset Advantage Podcast with Elliot Roe, available for free on iTunes, and you can follow her on Twitter @DrTriciaCardner.

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Fun hand from the 2014 Main Event

Malta Gaming Authority

The WSOP is right around the corner! You can expect lots of educational content from me to help you prepare for the WSOP (or any major tournament series) over the next month or so. For those who do not know, I managed to cash in the 2014 WSOP $10,000 buy-in Main Event for $22,678. I somehow had the chip lead early in day one but couldn’t hold onto it for seven more days. Bad beat! I transformed my experiences at the table into a hand history book, which ended up being a best-seller on Amazon, detailing every significant hand I played throughout the tournament. The following hand example one of the key pots I won that allowed me to cash. If you would like to get the book, you can get it here: The Main Event with Jonathan Little. The book is set up in a quiz format so you can test your skills as you follow along. If you are playing the WSOP Main Event or any other deep-stacked tournament, I suggest you check it out.
Hand  A♣-A♦     Stack  100,000     Blinds  2,000/4,000/500     Position  Button
Everyone folds to me.
What did I decide to do?

Call 4,000
Raise to 8,000
Raise to 9,500
Raise to 12,000

I raise to 8,000. The big blind South American maniac reraises to 19,000.
Pot = 33,500
What did I decide to do?

Call 11,000 more
Reraise to 40,000
Reraise to 54,000
Go all-in for 81,000 more

I call.
I decided to call preflop because I thought the BB, the same LAG guy from the previous few hands (he was bluffing a lot), could easily be bluffing with a wide range. The last thing I wanted to do was four-bet and let him off the hook. Remember, when your stack is somewhat short, you do not have to take aggressive lines that turn your hand face up as “strong” because you will easily be able to get your stack in by the river with a passive, weak-looking line.
9♣-8♠-5♦
BB checks.
Pot = 44,500
What did I decide to do?

Check
Bet 16,000
Bet 20,000
Bet 42,000

I bet 16,000. BB calls.
When my LAG opponent checks, I decided to make a small bet, hoping to look weak and induce him to do something silly. Also, if he happened to have a made hand, I thought he could be looking to check-raise all-in, which would be fantastic for me. I did not think he was looking to check-fold.
(9♣-8♠-5♦)-5♥
BB checks.
Pot = 76,500
What did I decide to do?

Check
Bet 21,000
Bet 32,000
Bet 42,000

I bet 21,000. BB instantly goes all-in for 41,000 more.
Pot = 159,500
What did I decide to do?

Fold
Call 41,000 more

I call and beat T♠-3♦.
I decided to make another small bet on the turn to hopefully induce him to make a mistake. Luckily, this time he did.
Against this specific player, there is absolutely no merit at all in folding to his turn check-raise. If he was weak, tight, and passive, I could see finding a super tight fold, but even then, I would probably call off reluctantly.
If you want to get access to the 53 other key hands I played during the 2014 WSOP Main Event, be sure to grab the book. You will even get to see a mild meltdown where I made a few speculative (bad) plays in a row. While I certainly did not play perfectly, I think I played reasonably well. I would love to hear what you think about my play.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. Good luck in your tournaments!
 

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Finding folds at the WSOP

Sex and the City Odds: ซาแมนธาอยู่ที่ไหน

Those who know my game well know I don’t particularly like to fold reasonably strong hands. While being a bit of a calling station works well against most good, aggressive players who almost always have at least some bluffs in their ranges, against weaker opponents who play blatantly straightforward and rarely bluff, calling down with good, but not amazing, hands can get you in a ton of trouble. This WSOP has provided me with numerous examples where I should simply lay down a hand to a weak, passive player that would be criminal to fold against someone with a balanced range.
The first example took place in a $1,500 WSOP event. The blinds were 25/25 and everyone had around 4,500 chips. I raised with Kc-Qd to 75 from middle position and both the small blind and big blind called. Both of my opponents were around 55 years old and had yet to take any sort of an aggressive betting line. The flop came Ks-Ts-6d. My opponents checked to me and I bet 150. Only the big blind called. The turn was the (Ks-Ts-6d)-2c. The small blind checked and I decided to bet 300 for value. To my surprise, he made it 1,000 with little thought. I reluctantly folded and he proudly showed me his Kh-Th.
While most good players could, and likely should, have flush draws and marginal made hands they decided to turn into bluffs in their range, a tight passive player is almost never bluffing. Knowing this, which hands would he realistically check raise large for value and, in his mind, protection? I imagine the worst hand he may think is a “premium” hand on this board would be K-J. If that is the worst possible hand he can have, K-Q is in awful shape. It is worth noting that you will occasionally fold the best hand but against his tight value range, K-Q is crushed. Even if he had a few premium draws in his range, K-Q still simply must be folded.  When your opponent’s range is almost entirely premium made hands, if you have a good, but not premium, made hand, you should usually fold.
Another hand came up a little while later in the same tournament. This time, the blinds were 150/300-25 with 15,000 effective stacks. A tight, passive player raised to 750 from the small blind and I elected to call in the big blind with Js-Tc. The flop came Jh-Jd-9h. My opponent bet 900 and I called. The turn was the (Jh-Jd-9h)-6c. He checked and I quickly tossed in 1,500, hoping to look as if I was trying to blatantly steal the pot. When he check raised to 4,000 with confidence, I assumed the way I put my chips in the pot induced him to run an optimistic bluff. I elected to call, hoping he would shove the river. The river was the (Jh-Jd-9h-6c)-8s. My opponent instantly went all-in for 9,000 and I called with little though, losing to his 6d-6s.
So, where did I go wrong? Some people may think I should have raised the flop for “protection” but if the opponent only has a few outs, you should not be concerned with getting outdrawn, especially if you suspect you will be able to extract an additional street of value later on the turn or river. I was also concerned that he would fold almost all hands worse than a 9 if I raised, which would be a disaster as I certainly want to keep him in the pot with various A and K high hands. Finally, I wasn’t entirely sure I could profitably get in 50 big blinds against this specific player if he elected to reraise on the flop.
I messed up badly on the turn. I thought he would view my splashy bet as a bluff whereas in reality, he probably wasn’t paying attention to how I put my chips in the pot in the least bit. If he had nothing, he would fold and if he had a good hand, he would call. It is as simple as that. I then compounded my error by assuming my opponent would lose his mind and attack my splashy bet, which he probably wasn’t even aware of. This made me think my opponent’s range consisted of almost entirely hands I crush. In reality, he simply has a J or better every time. When he instantly pushed on the nasty 8s river, which improved Q-T and J-8 to better hands, I should have found a fold because I lose to all value hands besides perhaps a vastly overplayed overpair. I leveled myself about as hard as possible.
I know that most players know to not pay off tight, passive players, but I seem to forget it from time to time. When someone who hasn’t put a chip in the pot in an aggressive manner all of a sudden wants to stick his whole stack in, you need an overly premium hand to continue. Don’t forget it.
If you are going to the WSOP, I strongly suggest you spend some time preparing. If you simply show up and expect to succeed, you are almost certain to fail. I recorded a six-hour long training series for you that explains all of the preparations I make in order to ensure I have the best chance to do well. I also discuss how to play with the wildly varying stacks you will be forced to play with at the WSOP. Check it out here: Jonathan Little’s WSOP Coaching Series
Thanks for reading and good luck in your games!
This article initially appeared in CardPlayer magazine.

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Figure out their range (then do something about it!)

พอดคาสต์ทั้งสามของฉัน

In my new book, Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em, out of the 500 pages, quite a few are dedicated to in-depth range analysis. While most advanced players know how to put their opponents on a range of hands, it seems like very few of them actually get out of line and take advantage of their range assessment abilities. I recently played a hand in the $3,500 Borgata WPT event where I was fairly certain I knew both of my opponents’ ranges. The only problem was that one, if not both of my opponents had me in bad shape.
To start this hand, I had 340,000 at 600/1,200-200. I was crushing the table and running hot. The average chip stack at this point was around 90,000.  I imagine I had a fairly loose image although in reality, I was simply getting a good run of cards. A loose, passive player with 170,000 limped from second position. He was limping with his entire range, both with premium and trashy hands. He would occasionally fold his limps to preflop aggression. Knowing this, when I woke up As-3c on the button, I decided to make it 3,500. I expected him to either fold preflop or call preflop then play in a fairly straightforward manner postflop. To my surprise, a tight, aggressive middle aged man with 150,000 called in the small blind. The initial limper also called.
The flop came Ac-Ks-2d. My opponents checked to me. At this point, you must realize that it would be relatively difficult to get much value from my hand. At the same time, if I checked behind on the flop and someone bet the turn and the river, I would be in a nasty spot because my hand would be fairly face up in a large pot. Because of this, I decided to bet 6,000 into the 13,500 pot, hoping to either pick up the pot or get called by a worse hand. Notice if I bet around 10,000, my opponents would likely only continue when I am crushed. By betting 6,000, I allow my opponents to continue with some worse hands. When you have a weak value hand, it is important to make bets that allow your opponents to stay in when they are behind.
The player in the small blind raised to 12,000 and the player in 2nd position thought for a while before calling. At this point, I thought the small blind had a strong hand, probably A-J or better. I was not sure if he was raising with A-J to “find out where he is at” or if he was raising with a premium hand such as A-2 to try to get all the money in. All I knew was that he had something he thought was strong. Given what I knew about the player in 2nd position, I thought his range was at best an Ace and most likely a hand such as K-Q. Notice there are already 3 Aces accounted for, one in my hand, one on the board and one that is probably in the small blind’s hand, making it fairly unlikely that he also has an Ace.
Knowing I am crushed by one opponent and probably in mediocre shape against the other, what should I do? While this may seem like an easy fold because I am behind, I think it is an excellent spot to reraise. I thought the small blind would view 2nd position’s call as strong although to me, it was clearly weak. I thought the player in 2nd position would certainly fold if I reraised unless he was somehow trapping with a premium hand such as 2-2. In the end, I decided to reraise to 36,000. Notice this sizing gives me an excellent price on my bluff while forcing both of my opponents to risk a significant amount of chips in order to continue in the hand.
The player in the small blind thought forever before folding, flashing an A in the process. The player in 2nd position also thought for a while. As he was thinking, I was trying to decide if I was going to call if he went all-in. It may sound insane to play a 300 big blind pot with top pair, bottom kicker,  but given that he knew an A was in the muck, I thought he might think I could only call a push with a premium Ace or better. He eventually decided to fold and told me he almost pushed with a King. I had pretty much decided I was going to call if he pushed, so I suppose my thought process was at least somewhat reasonable.
I think most players simply throw their A-3 in the muck when facing the flop raise simply because they think they are beat. While it is nice to always have the best hand, you will find it quite difficult to win, especially at the medium and high levels, if you only win the pots that belong to you, even if you win slightly more money with your big hands than your opponents do. When getting way out of line, always think about your opponent’s range, how he views your range, and how he will react if you apply extreme pressure. You will find that most of the time, unless your opponent has a premium holding or is a world class hand reader, he will simply get out of the way and give you the pot. The next time you are playing, try to find spots where your opponent simply cannot continue when facing a raise. This will usually be when you think they have a strong, but not amazing hand, such as an overpair or top pair with a good kicker, on a scary, draw heavy board, such as Ts-9d-7s or 8c-7c-4d-Tc. As long as you know your opponent is capable of folding, these plays will show a huge amount of profit. However, you must be careful. If your opponent is a calling station, these plays will quickly turn your bankroll into a pile of ash.
For a thorough treatment of range analysis, I strongly suggest you check out my new multi-author book, Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em. There are a few chapters in the book detailing how to put your opponent on a specific range and also what you can do to get out of line and exploit your opponent. I will also be hosting lots of free webinars with the authors of Excelling starting at the end of this year and in 2016. To sign up for free, check out HoldemBook.com.

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