Gambling strategies and stories.

Play part-time poker not full time

I know from personal experience just how tough it is to actually play poker full time. If you have only come from a background where you have been employed then you may just find things even tougher. The variance within the game can be similar to many types of businesses where you can end up losing over any given week or month. I always feel that many of the skills that are needed to play poker full time are in-built and in place long before a player even makes the decision.

I don’t think it is correct to say “I want to be a professional poker player” until you are fully aware of what that actually entails. Because the middle limits are very tough in which to make a living then you will probably need to play lower down the levels. Doing so makes the disparity between what you can earn from playing poker and what you could earn from a career too close. This would certainly be the case for graduates for example who could find a well-paid job between the £30k-£60k range that also had a pension and other benefits.

This is why I think that the majority of players that are playing the game full time are doing so out of necessity because they don’t have other serious career options in many cases. This certainly applied to me because my final years at school were something of a washout and so I left school with minimal qualifications. This led to a career in gaming which I ultimately left after becoming disgruntled with being passed over several times for promotion. Little did I know it at the time but that led to a successful change of career although I did have several false starts in between.

So the bottom line is that I arrived as a full time player not by design but by accident and necessity and I think that this applies to most players who play the game full time. The problem from my perspective was that all through my adult life, I have become disgruntled with certain jobs and careers when I have been doing them for too long. In some cases I have left jobs after a few weeks or months that I wasn’t enjoying. One of the key factors that prevent many players from succeeding at poker is “greed” or trying to make too much money.

The game itself will only allow you to extract so much money because as you increase the levels then your opponents will increase in skill, knowledge and sophistication. So to beat players at say the $1-$2 level in no limit Texas hold’em then you will need to be substantially better than you would need to be to beat opponents at say the $0.10-$0.20 level and so on. If you imagine poker as a sort of pyramid where the higher you go then the fewer players that you encounter but the tougher they are.

So do not allow greed or the desire to play for more money hinder your chances of success. There is a fine line in poker between not playing high enough for your skills and playing too high. You should curb the desire to want to test yourself at higher levels until you have categorical proof that you can make it. There are too many people who are gambling or shot taking as some like to call it for my liking. A good online poker player will be cold and hard in their attitude towards money.
Carl Sampson is a poker pro who plays online at

How to devise your own poker system

I have written before about the concept of poker systems but to a certain extent then we all have a “poker system” as we all do certain things in certain situations. However for a system to be useful then it has to find an edge. To find an edge then it has to take advantage of errors either in your opponent’s method of operation or in their conception of certain areas of the game. So to build a poker system involves a lot of fundamental poker knowledge and then an understanding of the game dynamics of the environment that you will be using this system in.

Many so called “expert” poker players deride “systems” in the belief that we are discussing set parameters that cannot ever change. However this is where an understanding of how trading firms operate can be very instructive. Many trading firms these days use what are called “algorithms” that help them to trade electronically and in much greater quantity. These algorithms or “algo’s” use pre-determined rules that allow the program to enter and exit trades electronically! The bottom line is that these programs are in most cases not left to trade in solitude without expert outside analysis and help.

In this respect then it isn’t too dissimilar to poker because we are implementing a poker system whatever we do. Even if you think that you are a “situational” player and that your style is totally fluid, you will still be using fixed rules in certain situations that repeat themselves. If your normal 3/betting range is say 10% but you think that an opponent is raising very widely and you expand that to 15% then you will clearly do the same again in the same situation given the same dynamics…….bottom line is that it is a system.

What we are looking at in this situation is a system that has more parameters to it and is thus more complex but we are still looking at a system. For a poker system to work then it has to find an edge somewhere. This edge can be obvious and clear or it can be subtle and deep. It is pretty obvious to say that the edges that are obvious and clear will also provide the greater profit potential. This is unlike the edges that are deep and subtle and require expert analysis.

This is precisely why it is difficult to make money at the middle stakes levels. Our opponents systems are designed to interact with our own and so it then becomes a battle of styles and systems. Whichever player has the greater level of experience and theoretical background will be a better position to adjust their own “system” in order to combat yours. To then get into a battle of system versus system is thus very difficult in this environment. The ideal environment for system based play is one where your opponents are not adjusting to your system, are slow to adjust or who adjust in small numbers.

If you can find a game or a level where this applies then you can build a very successful poker system. The advantage to having a system is that it is then easier to replicate the rules over a larger number of tables which should in theory give you a greater earning potential. However as we have said previously, we need to ascertain how our system is going to make us money.

If you don’t have any idea of how you are going to make money then what you are essentially doing is going into a game blind. Once you have the system parameters in place then you need to beta test your system. Unlike in electronic day trading then this will involve manually operating the system yourself which means playing poker and lots of it.

Carl Sampson is a poker play who plays online at

Does your mental state affect your results?

These are some of the most used clichés with regard to how one’s mindset can help affect the turn of events. Do you believe them? Are they true? Do they have a place in the world of gambling in areas like online poker or even in any other online gambling arena for that matter or are they simply restricted to live casinos only?

Perhaps. To be honest, I am not totally sure. I think that to a certain degree, it just might be true. But this will only hold true if you believe that luck has something to do with gambling. Some people will vehemently react against this statement. I know some people who would state clearly that many card games have nothing to do with luck and that it is all skill.

I believe, however, that in most of these games, there is a degree of luck involved. I am not making little of the important role that skill plays, trust me. I know how important a card player’s skills are. However, I also believe that sometimes, luck comes into play. And sometimes, it might make the difference for players – skilled or unskilled.

So what do you do about luck? It is not something that you can control. It is something that comes and goes. Now back to the original question – does your attitude and mindset attract or repel luck? Is there any truth to the idea that if you think lucky, you will attract luck?

I think that there is no clear cut answer to this. I know a lot of lucky people who think lucky – it must be true for them. Then again, I know a lot of people who think they’re lucky but always end up bust.

What do you think?

Carl Sampson is a poker pro who plays online at

How to be a better online casino player

Online gambling is no doubt easier and more convenient than go to a land based casino. Yet it doesn’t mean that you do not need to have clear strategies when gambling online. It still takes skill and wit to become successful in online gambling. Here are a few tips to help you become a success.

First things first – just like with land based casinos, choose your online casinos well. There are probably more choices available online than land based casinos within your area. This works both ways – you can take your pick from a wide array of online casinos yet at the same time, you have no assurance that the online casino you pick is a good one. That is, unless you do your homework before joining the fray.

So what should you do? How do you go about it? Well, that is what the rest of the Web is for! Do research. Go to independent web sites which review online casinos and gather as much information as you can about the casinos you are considering. Join forums and exchange real and honest information with other online casino players.

If you already have some casinos in mind, do check their reliability and customer support services. Make sure that you read their terms and conditions very well and that there are no hidden clauses in there. The time you spend doing this will be worth your while in the end. The last thing that you would want is to play well and then find out later that you have been scammed.

That brings us to the other side of the coin – you may have the best online casino, the most reliable casino, yet your skills are below par. Then it wouldn’t really make sense, would it? I believe that before you go lay your money down on online casinos, you should make sure that your skill level is good enough.

One way to do this is to practice with the free games first. Most online casinos have them – take advantage of them. Once you are familiar with the modes of play and you are confident that you can take on people for real money, only then should you leave the free tables behind.

Another tip for you is to have a risk management plan. Whether you play off line or online, the idea is the same. Assess the game you are going to play and the risk as well. Do not feel overconfident, thinking that since this is online, it would be easier. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gambling is gambling – online or offline. The risks and odds exist in both set ups.

Keep these things in mind as you embark on your online gambling experience and hopefully, you’ll end up being successful at it.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Do you need to improve your gambling skills?

This question is perhaps one of the most debated ideas in many societies. Gambling has been in existence for as long as anyone can remember. Even today, gambling in its many forms is part and parcel of daily life. Remember that kid across the street who always says, “I bet I can race you to the net block!” Or perhaps your colleague who throws you challenges at work. These are both forms of gambling in a way. In general, these are accepted by most people.

Yet casino gambling and online gambling pose another story. This type of gambling is the past time of many people – it brings them excitement and entertainment. On the other hand, this type of gambling can also be addictive and in some cases, bring financial ruin. So where does gambling stand really? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

It would be easy to take a position and just stick with it but unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that. It is true that gambling can become a problem but it is also true that gambling is a good way to entertain one’s self. I believe the key lies in the person who gambles.

There are people who gamble regularly and yet do not fall into financial ruin. These people go to casinos on a regular basis, spend some money and lose some yet they remain above the water. How so? Because they are able to set limits on their gambling activities and are able to live their lives apart from the gambling.

On the other hand, there are people whose lives revolve around gambling. Everything follows their gambling schedule, they spend more than they have and lose more than they win. These are the problem gamblers.

The bottom line is that gambling is not for everyone. It is fun but it can also bring ruin. It is up to you to handle it.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

The Role of The Dealer in Blackjack

A dealer is required to play his hand in a specific way, and with hardly any other choices available to him. There are actually two very popular variations that would determine what totals the dealer must be able to draw to. In any given casino, you can tell which rule is being used by looking at the blackjack table. The table must have a clearly labeled sign that would indicate either one of these rules:* “Dealer stands on all 17s”

This rule is actually the most common. With this particular rule, the dealer must continue to take cards until he gets a 17 or higher. An Ace that is in the hand of the dealer is always counted as an 11 as much as possible without the dealer actually going over 21.

* “Dealer hits soft 17″

There are some casinos that use this rule variation instead. This rule is actually identical except for what actually happens when the dealer has a soft total of 17. Examples of soft 17 hands are (Ace, 6), (Ace, 5, Ace), and Ace, 2, 4). The dealer hits these hands and then stands on soft 18 or higher or on a hard 17 or higher. When this particular rule is used the house advantage against the other players is actually raised a bit.

It must be reiterated that the dealer really has no choice to make in the play of his hand. He cannot split any pairs, and he must instead simply hit until he reaches at least 17 or he busts by going over 21. The most important role of the dealer is to act second because it is this that enables the house to have an edge over the player.

Every time the player acts first and busts and then the dealer also busts then the player still loses. This is the pivotal advantage of the dealer over the player and even knowing and implementing accurate basic strategy doesn’t overcome the house edge in casino blackjack.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at


The SNIPER professional poker coaching and staking partnership

My name is Carl Sampson and a few of you may be already aware of my pen name of “The Dean” as I have authored several books on gambling and written for numerous main poker magazines in the past like the WPT and Bluff Europe and hundreds of websites. I am currently a poker pro at 888 and you can see my blog at I would now like to announce a project that I have been working on for quite some time in connection with Poker Pro Europe and Online Poker Pro magazines that I currently write for.

This is “Project Poker Pro” or in other words, a coaching program that is designed by me to try and convert one hundred people into being winning poker players using the very same system that I use and have used for many years…….a system that I affectionately call “The Sniper”.

Hopefully some of the students will be so successful that they become fully fledged poker pros’ and the ones that do well will be featured in either of these two widespread and widely read poker magazines.

I am now taking inquiries from interested parties who would be willing to strike up a deal with a professional poker player and coach to be coached and then staked to play cash games. There will be an initial sign-up fee and that is both for my time and for access to the Sniper program and course lessons as well as permanent ongoing back up. This is also to show commitment and to prevent people from simply “stealing” the course data.


Also I am available 24/7 to answer questions on the course and also to provide back up for any poker related questions full stop after the sign up process and coaching begins.  This in my opinion makes the sign-up fee almost irrelevant as I wish that I would have had the advantage of working with a professional poker player years ago instead of buying countless books and going down numerous blind alleys, it is also rather unique to be able to work with a professional player and coach in this way on a permanent basis and so this project brings a lot of new things to the table as it were.

So the initial sign up to come on board with Project Poker Pro gets you access to the program and being able to work with me, access to the 155k word Sniper documents which will give you the entire blueprint for no limit hold’em cash games including my unique FERN and WOM systems for hand reading.

Also the student gets 24/7 back up while all the time being coached to a level where I will then stake them when the correct stage is reached. The staking will go up to a maximum of 2000USD for the players that show the most maturity and the most talent. However these two requirements are not just what I am looking for. I am looking for commitment and the desire to not only play poker but to immerse yourself within the game totally.


These are the types of players that I want to work with and we then enter a new phase where players are playing on my money and I get a percentage split of the winnings. I also need to say that in no way is this connected to 888 and players are at liberty to play poker wherever they wish and at what times they choose.  So you can see that I have total confidence in my methods and system and I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is and who can argue with that?

However I only have so much time in any one day and I work on my own and so I cannot take on loads of students at any one time. So now can you see that I am looking for people to be committed into not just playing poker but also studying and wanting to better themselves as players? I also understand that many peoples’ lives simply do not allow for such total commitment and so anyone that merely wants to purchase Sniper and the coaching but without wanting the commitment of the staking afterwards then I am cool with that.

It is a totally flexible operation but if I am going to tie up a potential 2000USD of my money in somebody then that somebody needs to be playing poker with that money and for at least 15 hours per week. That should be plain to understand but anyone that wants further details then simply e-mail me at in the first instance to express an interest in either the Sniper professional poker system and or the combined system/coaching and staking on Project Poker Pro.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Make sure you play strong poker

One of the biggest factors that lead to players losing money in online poker or recycling money is poor non-showdown winnings. These refer to the amount of money that is won or lost in the pots that you play that do not lead to showdown. Most competent poker players have decent showdown earnings. All that you have to do to make sure that you have good showdown earnings is to play big pots with big hands and only go into escalating pots with very good equity and very strong holdings.

However this is a part of the game that you will be able to correct very quickly. One area that is often difficult to correct or to notice in the first place is non-showdown earnings. It often takes the use of tracking software like PokerTracker or Holdem Manager to spot this. You may or may not have heard of the now famous “red line”. This is a line that reflects how much money you win or lose in pots that do not go to showdown. If your red line is sloping downwards then you are losing money in pots that do not go to showdown.

This is a major leak in the games of many poker players but we now need to examine why you are not making money before the showdown. So what are the reasons for players not making money before the showdown in games like no limit Texas hold’em? Well you may not be stealing your fair share of blinds, which could be one reason. Another big and powerful reason could be that you are relying too much on implied odds in situations where they are very low. For example calling a raise with a small pocket pair and relying on hitting a set is one such example.

If your opponent isn’t weak enough to stack off and the game is too tight meaning that each pot tends to be heads up then the implied odds will be very low. Not striving for fold equity is another reason and failing to bluff your fair share of pots also leads to non-showdown earnings being poor. Fundamentally then there is only one reason as to why your non-showdown earnings are poor and that is by constantly placing money into the pot and then leaving it there by folding.

This is a leak that would totally wipe out any advantage that you have in showdown pots. To make sure that you don’t play weak poker in the modern game then you need to forget about implied odds and fit or fold poker. There are two key areas that you need to focus on and these are equity and especially fold equity and maintaining a mental equilibrium at all times. If I call a raise with a small pocket pair then it is never with just the intention of making a set.

For example if it has been folded around to the cut-off seat that makes it 3.5bb to go and I am on the button with pocket fours then I will call the raise. I am calling because I have position, a semi-decent hand and an opponent with a relatively wide range. If the pot is heads up and the flop is 7c-7d-3s then I am certainly calling the c-bet because I expect my opponent to c-bet most of their range. If I sense any sort of weakness on the turn then I am going to attack that weakness. That could be them either checking or betting a lesser percentage of the pot that they did on the flop.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Too Many Chiefs

In many professions then only certain people are allowed to train others and to coach. For example within the medical profession then it would be unthinkable for anyone other than trained medical staff and doctors to pass on knowledge to medical students. In online poker and poker in general then there is no formal educational structure and no legislation as to who can write articles, produce coaching videos and so on. This leaves the prospective poker student with somewhat of a problem because what it means is that anybody with a voice can be heard.

However in poker then these so called “voices” are not only harming the student when it comes to learning but they are in many cases holding them back from reaching their full potential. It is a fact that you can simply read too many poker books, too many articles and watch too many coaching videos. It can simply get to a stage where too much conflicting information (and it will almost certainly conflict) just confuses you. I know that it used to confuse me some years ago. In poker then you need to learn how to learn and this isn’t easy.

There are several key stages of this process and the first is to discover what type of poker game fits your personality. Once you have done that then the next step is to get advice from people that have a proven track record in beating the game that you want to play at the stake levels that you want to play it at. The third key stage is to disregard all other information except the material that is coming from this one learning source. If that learning source be it a book, coach, poker videos or whatever is giving you what you need then you simply do not need anything else.

As a keen fan of Sherlock Holmes then I am aware of how the great detective had gaping holes in his knowledge in normal everyday subjects. This was a deliberate measure because Holmes knew that taking time to read other topics that were unrelated to crime simply diluted the time that he had available to study the one subject that was important. So Sherlock Holmes decided to reduce the number of “voices”, “topics” and “opinions” that he listened to and concentrated on crime. He built up such a voluminous knowledge of criminal history that he could tell when certain crimes fitted into certain categories.

The bottom line is that this is something that you must try to emulate if you are to succeed as a poker player. I know from painful experience how much more difficult it is to succeed playing online poker when you read too many books and listen to too many opinions before you have the knowledge base and the confidence to form your own. They always say that knowledge is power but I am not terribly sure about that.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Taking your NLHE game to the next level

To make money these days playing NLHE then you need to play differently to the masses. To do this means that you need to know just how the masses play in online poker games. Let us look at full ring games for example to show what I am talking about here. Just how does a reg make money at these levels from say NL25 through NL200? Well I think that there are an awful lot of tight-rakeback pro’s at these levels or semi-pro’s. These guys are doing nothing special but churn as much volume as they possibly can.

They will profit from rakeback and value from weaker players but will not be making much from other regs. So they need to multi-table to make as much as they possibly can. I think one of the keys to beating these players is to play differently to what they are doing. This year I played a lot of NL100 full ring and this was my normal playing level. I have had a good year but I have also felt this level tightening up and the soft money has become very hard to get.

I have devised strategies to attack and try to extract extra money from the regs but to be honest then I don’t think that they have been overly successful. There is a very important reason for this and it is because on many sites then many regulars flock here because of the player volume and so more pro’s play at this site than anywhere else. What we have here is a trade-off between volume and player quality because there are less pro’s per 100 head on smaller networks but the volume isn’t there to be able to game select.

So the regs are getting smarter and so playing too many tables means that it then becomes difficult to balance your ranges. It has also become a way of playing poker that has bored me senseless at times and this has been a problem with me putting the hours in. I have made a good hourly rate this year but I have only been playing around 10 hours/week and so I could have simply run good although that makes a nice change for me. However next year I want to play more single table poker but at higher levels…….I think I am pretty much burned out 10-12 tabling full ring and making auto-decisions and want to start playing “poker” again.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

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