August 15th, 2014 / No Comments » / by Grundy
The law of averages is often quoted for an optimistic view of a player’s future. When applied to poker, it basically says that after a string of bad beats or weak hands, you are due a lucky break or strong hand. This positive luck supposedly makes up for the negative luck (unluck?) and maintains average luck. I’m all for optimism, but lets be a realist here.
The law of averages is useless with small samples. If your memory alone can keep track of your poker hands, it is a small sample size. If you work with the statistics of months of quantified luck (I call this profits and losses) you will eventually see an average.
For example, if your long-term stats show that you typically win $5 in an hour of play, and your most recent hour nets you $50, you can expect the next hour to be closer to $5 then to $50. This is called regression towards the mean. $5 is the mean, or average. If you think of the “law of averages” in terms of returning your hourly profits to $5/hour regardless of what ever hot or cold streak you just came off, then you’d be correct. It’s just that no one thinks of the law of averages like this.
As a rule, disregard the waves of fortune and misfortune from day to day and focus on playing good cards. Only detailed records can give you any insight on what to expect in the future.
July 14th, 2014 / No Comments » / by Grundy
Liar’s Poker comes in a couple of different flavors. The first may be more comfortable as it is a tradition card game and the later is not. The game begins with each player starting with two quarters. Everyone is then dealt two cards down. The first player calls a poker hand. The next player has the option of either calling a hand which beats the previous hand or challenging the previous player’s call. If a person challenges the hand, then everyone’s cards are pooled to determine if the hand exists. If it does, the person who called the game loses one of his quarters and starts the next game, with only one card dealt to him. If it does not, the player who called the hand loses the quarter. After a player has their second quarter taken away, the player is out. Deck is reshuffled after each round. Game ends and the pooled change is awarded when only one person has a quarter left.
Liar’s poker is also a popular bar game that only requires a dollar bill to play. In the place of cards, the eight-digit serial number on the dollar bill (see below is blue) represents each “hand.” The object is similar to the card version–to make the highest bid of a number that does not exceed the combined total held by all the players. The numbers are usually ranked in the following order: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 (10) and 1 (Ace). For example, if the first player bids three 4′s, he is predicting there are at least three 4′s among all the players, including himself. The next player can bid a higher number at that level (three 5′s), any number at a higher level (four 2′s) or challenge. The end of the game is reached when a player makes a bid that is challenged all around. If the bid is successful, he wins a dollar from each of the other players, but if the bid is unsuccessful, he loses a dollar to each of the other players.
Both games are fun diversions that combine statistical reasoning with bluffing. The barrier of entry is small in that the most you can lose is a matter of dollars and cents. However, for you high rollers, currency substitutions are always an option.
If you practice any other variations on Liars Poker let me know in the comments. This is one game that can easily vary in rules.
July 6th, 2014 / No Comments » / by Grundy
There is one point in every tournament when every player should adjust their play. It is when the money is almost within grasp and the bubble boy (or girl) is about to be crowned. Most tighten up, some bet more freely, all have a number on their mind. The number of how many players are left.
On a micro-scale, we can deal with the easy numbers. My favorite games are single-table tournaments with the top three places paying out. (These are also known by the somewhat counter-intuitive name sit-n-goes. Once you “sit” you can’t “go” until the game is over.) The bubble here is fourth place. Out of the last ten games I’ve played I’ve been first, second, third or fourth–so the end-game strategy has been fresh on my mind. Be aware, this is on-line advice and my not apply in person.
Every time I reach the top four, everyone tightens up except for players with a significant chip lead. These players steal blinds with bets four or five times the big blind. I’ve found that when the blinds are high enough to significantly impact the smaller or mid stacks, that is overkill. The minimum raise is often enough to get the player to fold pre-flop. According to traditional advice, this is a weak play. I agree, it is weak, but if it works it works. I have been using this strategy over the last ten games and have been first or second most of them. In addition, when you do get a call, you are still seen as on the offensive for the hand. Most people will respect your post-flop bet assuming your table reputation is solid.
Disclaimer: The minimum raise has worked for me consistently, but only under specific circumstances. I’ve been min. raising (1) online, (2) with four or less players at the table, and (3) not in the big blind. I use the min. bet to steal the big blind, it is less likely to get anyone who has already called the big blind to fold. Also I’ve only tested this tactic with buy-ins between $10 and $30. Your mileage may very.
March 5th, 2014 / 5 Comments » / by Grundy
I’d wager most you readers know how to deal a hand of Texas Hold’em, but apparently not everyone knows that there is a reason behind why we deal like we do. In this case, the purpose of the burn card. Beginners may think it is just out of tradition that a card is burned (or discarded) before the reveal of community cards. Perhaps they just never thought about it. Chances are you know better, but if not, allow me to educate.
After the hole cards are dealt and the players are contemplating the strength of their hands, the deck is typically out there for all to see. In the event of a marked deck, the back of the card gives away as much information as the front. Poker players, being the suspicious lot that they are, invented the burn card to take the card in question out of play. After the flop, the same deck visibility applies, so before the turn there is a burn card and likewise for the river.
How do I know other players don’t get this? The example here is a peeve of mine that has made itself apparent on too many occasions. The player on the button deals out the hands as normal then immediately burns the following card and sets the deck down. Pre-burning is completely useless and missing the point. An even better example is the amateur who burns and sets aside all the community cards in advance, usually proud of his more efficient approach to dealing.
This tidbit is another illustration of when knowing the “whys” of life are more important than knowing the “hows.” It is sometimes in the best interest of a good player to keep a bad player in the dark, but please, if you see someone making these kinds of mistakes it is in the best interest of everyone to say something. Knowing is half the battle.
February 1st, 2014 / 4 Comments » / by Grundy
The sucker bet. (n.) A small bet made with a strong hand to increase the pot size. Usually made knowing that other players intend to fold to a large bet, but are willing to stay in for the cheap.
Most players know this definition and may fold over cards and low pairs to avoid falling victim. This over compensation allows for the cheapest bluff in poker. I bet small every once and a while and the most common response goes something like this: “Now, that’s a sucker bet! I’m not falling for that.” And fold. They don’t always state their thought process, but often they do. I suppose to show their “superior” read and justify their fold to a weak bet.
This tip works best against tight players, both passive and aggressive, and when you have established yourself as a tight player. I recommend it when you are heads-up and post-flop, best as a continuation bet. I tend to throw out my small bets when I have absolutely nothing.
Try it, you may be surprised at the results. It doesn’t work all the time, but you are only losing a little more than you would have with a fold. The beauty of the sucker-sucker bet is that it doesn’t have to have a high success rate to still be worth it.
July 8th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
US on-line, real-money poker is becoming a reality again…in some states. It’d be nice if there was a site that informed of laws (and in some cases loopholes) that allow for citizens to regain their right to wager on games of skill while pointing to sites that offer legal and mutually beneficial promotions…oh, wait, there is! UnitedStatesofPoker.net
If you live in the USA, aren’t sure of your gambling options, and want a place to dive back into the game; give this site a shot.
USOP.net provides an all-out guide for poker players from the United States. With reviews, bonus code and free rakeback at all of the reputable online poker rooms still open to US players, the UnitedStatesofPoker is the one-stop shop for all US poker needs.
Concerned about the poker laws in your state? You should be! The United States of Poker provides an in-depth breakdown of the US poker laws in each state that provides a solid opinion on what the laws actually mean. Many poker players would be surprised to learn that playing poker in the privacy of their own home is legal in over 25 states–which many experts believe also correlates to online poker. Don’t let the mis-information available on the internet convince you otherwise… poker players in every state have a reputable online poker option available to them 24 hours a day.
Each month, the UnitedStatesofPoker provides a detailed traffic report and analysis, providing players a resource by tracking trends in the US player market. If you ever want to know how your favorite US poker site compares with its competition, the monthly USOP traffic report is your best resource.
Considered about payouts like the rest of us? USOP.net also provides a monthly payout analysis that provides real-time analysis on payouts for all of the US poker sites still open. This report is especially important today because while some poker rooms will only pay out players in 4 months or longer, there are still poker rooms available where players can receive their funds in hours or days.
The traffic report and the payout report, combined with detailed reviews and news on each of the US poker sites, makes UnitedStatesofPoker.net one of the best resources available for poker players in the United States. With an attention to detail and drive that has only compounded over the past 6-12 months, we believe USOP.net will only improve as time goes on this year and in future years.
March 6th, 2013 / 1 Comment » / by Grundy
I’ve seen the following game referred to by a few names; Holy Cross and Iron Cross to name a couple. It is a game in which players are dealt a five hole cards to play with community cards, this time in to configuration of a cross.
The version I am most familiar with uses five community cards laid out in the form of a plus sign. The cards are revealed one at a time, each followed by a round of betting, with the middle card revealed last. The player makes the best hand possible using the two in their hand and either the vertical or horizontal line of three cards from the cross. The picture, for example, depicts a full house beating a straight.
This game allows for many variations such as having the middle card as a wild, each player dealt two hole cards instead of five, or having one side of the cross longer than the other.
I like this game because of the high number of betting rounds and the little differences that make people who think that it is just like Texas Hold’em lose. However, like most game variants I highlight, I don’t like playing it continuously, but rather use it as a break from the standard poker games I play.
Ancient people used to place holy cross near their bedding. This was done in order to avoid home lighting from calling the evil spirits. Today we have such innovations as art in our outdoor furniture.
February 25th, 2013 / 2 Comments » / by Grundy
I find that the tells I read most are in the eyes. I admit that I cannot look into my opponents’ souls, but I don’t really have to. Their eyes betray them with nervous twitching. An opponent with out of character eye-contact—either too much or not enough, will generally lose the hand to me. It is a tell that is easily remedied, as I do, by wearing protection.
If you find me at a big-money live game, you’ll find me in shades. Your eyes are a hard tell to conseal without sunglasses. Sure, I suppose if you practice your poker face enough you could minimize the tell, but for me that would require constant awareness. I want all my mental resources devoted to playing my cards and reading my opponents, not damage control.
One complaint about shades is that they interfer with your vision. I don’t think they have to. Your glasses need to be either tinted or mirrored to conceal your eyes, and I agree that tinted glasses used in an already dim room will make gameplay difficult. Mirrored glasses, on the other hand, don’t have to be dark barely at all. Even the infamous holographic specs of the “Fossilman” barely darken the view. If you have trouble viewing your cards, you can always try wearing your glasses upside down like TV’s Marcel Lewis. He knows the importance of shades is so much that he completely sacrifics style. Nowadays you will find him wearing poker-specific glasses that open at the bottom for easy hole-card access.
Personally, I wear Oakley half-jackets. Nothing about them is specially better for poker then any other good pair, but the ability to easily switch out lenses was a draw for me. I have both a dark tinted lense and the lighter mirrored “fire” lense. If I ever made it to the WSOP main event I’d take the shades off for the camera, but there is no way I would go against the pros without them.
February 19th, 2013 / 2 Comments » / by Grundy
I was going along playing cards at home and abroad with my merry band of rounder buddies. My own personal “Tilt Boys.” Time went by and some of the guys I traveled with moved away, the poker scene in Athens started to declined, and I got engaged. At this point in my story, my poker life took a back seat.
A new relationship with the girl who would become my wife obviously derailed my poker train, and I couldn’t have been happier. The game was starting to feel more like work than fun and I knew I was on the verge of being burned out. I still got out to play from time to time, luckily my girl also played.
We both graduated and had little reason to stay in Athens. Upon moving closer to Atlanta, my finance and I took up jobs as dealers for a new poker night promotion at a restaurant/bar owned by my parents. The poker night grew into four poker nights a week with a full cast of regulars. At times it was hard to watch instead of play, and even harder to avoid table talk. Some of the players were fish, and I felt someone needed to educate them. Occasionally someone did.
That was then and this is now. I no longer work as a dealer, and have since turned most of my time to on-line poker rooms. I started at Party Poker where I was very successful, went to Pacific Poker where my results varied, and went back to Party Poker. Maybe I didn’t give Pacific enough of a chance. Now I’m on Fulltilt exclusively.
Congratulations, you are now up to date with my gambling exploits. Thanks for reading and may the poker gods be with you.
February 16th, 2013 / No Comments » / by Grundy
In Parts I and II of my poker history, you may think I just like to brag. I don’t, but it is necessary to give you an accurate account. I very rarely loss up to this point. But rest assured, I can’t be quite as high and mighty from here on out.
While I was winning in my out-of-town game, I started finding new places to play. Coincidentally, they were all on the city limits of Athens. It became known to my friends that if I didn’t answer the phone, I was out at a game. Not because I didn’t want to interrupt play as much as I never had reception.
I played at one house that had a decommissioned fraternity feel. The field was all college students or the recently graduated. I only knew a handful of the 30 to 40 usually in attendance, in addition to guy I traveled with. I still felt I was better than the majority, but there a few that, in retrospect, could out-play me. My difficulty winning here was also due to the wide range of styles played. There were some maniacs, some conservatives, and some solid and very aggressive players.
They played a five or more table tournament once a week. I usually went out near the bubble. I only remember placing in the money on one occasion, which is why my friend had a more profitable experience by going out early in the tournament before cleaning up at the subsequent ring games. There was nearly always more cash circling the ring tables than in the tournament pool itself.
It was an exciting time when we knew every game it a poker-addicted town. We would get knocked out of one game at 10:30 to jet across town to win another by two in the morning. Poker was at its highest popularity then, everyone played whether they knew how to or not.
The original crew I played with were never out of the picture. They would join me from time to time when they could afford a buy-in. Once the games I attended started to die-down in attendance, or shift to a crowd I wasn’t fond of, I decided to bring it back to basics. I started a home game.