Gambling strategies and stories.

The complexity of a poker hand

Quite often you can play the same hand in a different way and be correct on both occasions in online poker. Recently I have been coaching a player that has been active playing online poker that came directly into this game from an online casino.

He was having problems bluffing in the right spots and was paying off in the wrong spots. This guy played NL50 full ring games and let us look at one such hand example to show you what sort of trouble he was having.

Let us say that a player open raised in early position. He held the As-5s on the button and he was folding these hands because of fear of domination. If villain is raising with say AA-TT and big Broadway hands then our hero has around 36% equity against their range. If they flop an ace then this beats all big pairs KK-TT and also Broadway hands like K-Qs and K-Qo. So we need not always fear an ace falling. Also an A-5s can make the nuts with the flush and a wheel and so it has added equity there as well.

If the flop came say 8d-7s-4c then we could even peel a card off here with the prospect of facing just overcards to see what our opponent did on the turn. We have the backdoor flush draw and straight draws along with the ace overcard. However what we cannot do is re-raise pre-flop because our opponents range is too tight from that position. When our opponents range is tight then they are less likely to fold post flop and so we need to bluff less. However take that same hand on the button against a cut-off raiser and we do not get paid off with our big hands when we make them post flop.

So we can be more aggressive because we are facing a wider range. So you can see how we are playing the same hand in the same seat but differently based on where the action has come from. We are also keen to play our hand differently as well based not just on the position of the raiser but the type of player they are.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is an online poker pro that plays poker at 888poker

Thinking ahead in online poker play

Let’s face it; nobody likes being suckered into someone else’s strong hand do they? You bluff raise the river and get called and then when your opponent checks the turn and you then fire a second barrel which also gets called. Your opponent then checks the river and you feel compelled to stick the rest of your chips in the middle but your opponent calls with the nuts or some other strong holding.

However there is a very good tactic for figuring out if your opponent is strong or not but do be warned that this play really only works when you have position and also if your opponent is a very straight forward thinking player. Let us say that your opponent raised to 3.5 big blinds and you called with the Jc-10c on the button. Both blinds fold and you go to the flop heads up which comes 8d-7d-4s giving you a gutshot straight draw with overcards. The stakes are $0.50-$1.00 and the pot has $8.50 in the middle and your opponent makes a continuation bet for $5.50.

You raise to $18 on a semi-bluff and your opponent calls. At any one time in any hand of poker then we can broadly categorise our opponents hand into three types. We can thus say that they either have a strong hand, a mediocre hand or a weak hand. When our opponent continuation bets the flop then they could have either with the probability being that they are either weak or mediocre. However that picture changes when they call our raise.

Now they either have a mediocre hand that probably doesn’t want any more action or they have a strong hand. With either holding they will check again on the turn and here is where we can check it back. If they really have a strong hand then our opponent will be fearful of checking again on the river in case we check it back and they miss value…….this means that they will bet. If they check then they have basically told us that they are trying to play for a cheap showdown and here is where a full or near pot sized bet can take down the pot……if you have the nerve to do it that is.

Carl Sampson is an online poker pro that plays poker at 888poker

The history of online gambling

Gambling has had more than its share of negative publicity over the centuries.  Though gambling has existed ever since anyone can remember, many people still have an uninformed view about it.  For my part, I realize the negative things that can result from gambling.  Then again, I do know that there are certain steps that a person can take in order to ensure that these adverse effects do not happen to him.  Here are my top 3 tips for gamblers who want to stay on top of the game. These tips apply wherever you choose to gamble whether it is in the high street on in online card rooms.

Only gamble money that you can afford to lose Not everyone is rich and not everyone can be a high roller.  The basic premise is that one enjoys gambling because he enjoys the risk.  This means, however, that the risk is different for each person.  Just because another person is gambling more money than you does not mean that you have to do the same.  Always remember that you should only gamble money that you can afford to lose.  In that way, you will not find yourself in dire financial straits.  This is actually a method that will make it possible for you to continue your gambling activities in the future.

Limit gambling to a fraction of what you are willing to risk Talking about risks, you should set a limit as to what you are willing to risk.  Then take it one step further and cut that limit.  This way, if you lose your money, you will still have enough to gamble another time.

Don’t let greed get the best of you

Let yourself win a bit and then stop.  You can always gamble another day.  Do not make the mistake of keeping on wanting more.  That is the start of one’s downfall.

Carl Sampson is an online poker pro that plays poker at 888poker

Not just your poker future but your future

As a poker pro of eleven years then I am all too aware of the need to adapt and to change. Wasn’t it Charles Darwin that once said that the species that will survive wouldn’t necessarily be the strongest or the fastest but it would have to be the most adaptive to change? This is how my poker career has gone since 2002. A long constant stream of changing and of not being good enough to make money followed by being good enough and so on and so on.

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be multi-tabling NL100 for a living then I would have thought that they were crazy. I simply wouldn’t have wasted my time playing so low. However times change and I cannot afford to be so choosy these days. When you need the money then you have to do whatever it takes to get it. I don’t really want to play 40 hours per week but if I have to then I will.

These days I struggle to even hit 20 hours per week because I just have had enough of sitting around on my backside on a chair when I could be outside doing other things that I enjoy. To make money these days and to do it consistently means having a completely different game plan to what you needed some years ago. I recall a friend of mine going to Vienna in the late nineties to play cash games at the Concord. He came back and told me that the limit Stud games were the loosest and wildest that he had ever seen.

He didn’t end the trip a winner but that was purely down to variance and playing live over a two week period and especially when you are playing Seven Stud doesn’t exactly mean that you will be guaranteed to crush the level. I calculated that he had played in the vicinity of around 3k hands over a two week period…….this is nowhere near enough to guarantee a profit. However the way to beat this particular game dynamic is to learn the theory first and foremost and then play very tight-aggressive.

What happens in a game like this is that you lose a longish series of small pots when you fold and then fold while chasing drawing hands that don’t connect. What then tends to happen is that these consistent small losses are offset by big winning pots. However in a tight-aggressive game then this sort of game plan fails to work because sitting back is what everybody else is doing. Then when your opponents are educated enough to only get all in with big hands in big pots then sitting and waiting for such pots is no longer the correct strategy.

To make money in any game dynamic then you have to play opposite that particular game dynamic. If you play the same way as your opponents then you cannot possibly gain an edge. This is one of the biggest flaws in the games of most novice and intermediate no limit hold’em players.

They simply do not identify the current game dynamic and then play opposite to it. If your opponent is tight-aggressive then it becomes difficult to beat them by being even tighter and aggressive. It is much easier to beat TAG opponents by becoming a LAG. This is why my friend was massively +EV in Vienna because he was tight-aggressive in a game that was loose-passive on the whole. So he was tight when everybody else was loose and he was aggressive when everybody else was passive leading to value town.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is an online poker pro who plays online at 888poker

The art of stealing in poker

It is common knowledge that you will play the majority of your playing hands around the blinds. Whether it is in the blinds or on the button or the two seats to the right of the button! Stealing and re-stealing play a very important part of your poker strategy. Let us begin by looking at a couple of hands taken from a no limit Texas hold’em full ring game played at the $1-$2 level.

 
Your opponent makes it $7 to go in the cut-off seat after the table folds around to them. You hold the 7d-6d and decide to fold your hand. On the very next orbit you are also on the button with the 10d-8d and the same opponent makes it $7 to go after the table folds to them. Now it is perfectly possible that your opponent may have been dealt good hands on two successive occasions but two raises from a known steal seat are more likely to be with a much wider range.

 
At this time then there are $10 in the pot with three potential opponents in the hand if you enter the fray. However if you call then several scenarios can happen. Firstly you can get three bet by one of the blinds which essentially forces you to fold. Secondly you can three bet yourself and thus put the blinds and the original raiser to a decision. The blinds hold random holdings and so the likelihood is that your opponents will all fold and you will pocket $10 in profit.

 
Against observant opponents then you will need to try very hard to balance your ranges. Every time that you call a raise in position in online no limit Texas hold’em or three bet then you are taking action against a single opponent. This will not go unnoticed by observant players and so you need to be careful how often you decide to play back at them and with what holdings. More aggressive players will not stand for being pushed around.

 
The dynamics of the situation dictate that you must fight your corner and your opponents will also know that you know that. The strategy is clear, you will attempt and your opponents will attempt to steal whatever you and they can get away with. Both you and your opponents will also look to steal from other players who you strongly suspect of stealing. The biggest winners however at the lower level or the lower middle limits of online poker are the players who take this to another level and re-steal from the re-stealers.

 
I often refer to that as level 3 game strategy and this is a factor that I mentioned or have mentioned in other articles. In full ring online cash games then the early seats tend to be played routinely and so this makes them easier to read. However it is when you get to the final three seats to the right of the blinds that you then need to be a little creative. Unfortunately this means that variance will increase because playing hands against raises in raised pots with less than premium holdings will increase your losses when you lose some of those hands.

 

 

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at 888poker

What is their hand range

Let us start off by looking at a hand example. You are sitting on the button with the Jh-10h and you have a stack of 112bb in online no limit Texas hold’em poker. It has been folded around to the cut-off who raises to 3.5bb and they too have a stack of 100bb……what is your play here and do you fold, call or re-raise? Well if your poker strategy is to re-raise then you have to remember that not only are you three betting a raiser but your hand isn’t all that strong either.

 
So you need to try and assess what sort of range your opponent is raising with to then estimate what your correct response should be. Let us look at an extreme example that shows the correct deviations at work. Imagine that your opponent raises with 100% of their range and now we have to assess how a hand like J-10s fares against a range like that. So now we introduce PokerStove into the equation which is a wonderful piece of software that is free to download online.

 
PokerStove shows us that we have 57.5% equity against a random hand and when you figure that we also have position on our opponent then we clearly cannot fold. This means that we can either call and use our positional advantage post flop or three bet our opponent and look to win the pot immediately. Both lines are viable online poker strategy. However there are two problems here and the first is that we cannot be certain that our opponent has a 100% range and secondly that very few opponents will range that widely.

 
So doing a little research will reveal to you what the average range is from certain seats but only close analysis of each opponent can really help you here. So let us try and construct our opponents range from downloaded data using say PokerTracker. After 5000 hands on our opponent in no limit Texas hold’em then you see that they open raise with 38% of their total range. Once again using PokerStove then we can see what a 38% range represents. So we then input our J-10s hand to see that we have around 45% equity against that range.

 
Now it isn’t possible to make these sorts of online poker calculations at the actual table. But using simulations and data like these give you a feel for certain situations that arise. Because 45% equity is much less the previous total of 57.5% equity that we saw against a 100% range then three betting becomes less attractive.

 
So calling the raise may be the best option here but what actually underpins everything is that you took the time to understand your opponents range and what that actually meant in terms of your own online poker strategy. Imagine also that your opponent was a rock and after 5000 hands you knew that their opening range was only 3% from early position.

 
This is roughly AA-JJ and AK and so now we know that a J-10s only has around 28% equity against that tight range. So we have a clear fold and calling can really only be justified if we know that our opponent is capable of making absolutely horrendous post flop mistakes.

 

 

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at 888poker

Interesting UK Gambling Statistics

It’s known that many people living in the UK love themselves a good gamble, whether it’s gambling on slots, table games, video poker or other gambling games. We did some investigation to try and find some UK gambling statistics, which would serve to provide validation for the stereotype. Below, you’ll find some fascinating information you could not have possibly guessed about UK gamblers. We dive into the numbers illustrating the UK gambling habits among men and women, young and old, all throughout the land. All in all, we think you’ll be pretty surprised by some of the things we discovered in our research about the UK gambling market.

Gambling-infographicSource: Titanbet Casino

Don’t let gambling trick you

I am sure that you have heard of the gambler’s fallacy before.  But just in case you need your memory to be refreshed, let me state it in simple terms.  The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that something that the odds can increase and decrease depending on previous occurrences, even for something that has a fixed probability.

The most common example used to illustrate the gambler’s fallacy is the flipping of a coin.  The probability of getting heads on any toss is 1 out of 2, or 50 percent.  Statistically, the odds will remain the same, no matter how many times you toss the coin.  However, the gambler’s fallacy dictates that perhaps if you flip the coin 9 times and each time, it turns up heads, the chances are that it would turn up heads on the 10th throw.  That is because the first 9 flips were heads.

Though at first thought, the idea makes sense, it really does not make any sense at all.  No matter how many times you flip that coin, there are always two possibilities – either heads or tails.  Hence, the odds remain at 1 is to 2.

Now some people extend this fallacy to other gambling activities like the roulette.  For example, they think that if the roulette has showed red for the past several spins, the next should still be a red.  You do not have to have much experience playing the roulette to know that doing so would be disastrous.  The odds of a red coming up are the same, no matter what.

The next time that you go to the casino, make sure that you know the real odds and that you do not bet on something simply because “it is due.”  Remember the gambler’s fallacy.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online poker at www.888poker.com

Gambling in the Far East

Gambling has been part of China since the late part of the imperial dynasty from 1644 to 1912. The areas famous for liquor and gambling then were Canton, Macao, Shanghai and Hong Kong which were inhabited by foreigners (Americans), mostly males. Not only were the Americans involved in gambling as the Chinese natives also joined in. Currently though, not all states in China have legalized gambling. Only Macao allows gambling of any kind while Hong Kong only allows horse racing at its Jockey Club.

China’s popular gambling games are Mah Jongg and Pai Gow. Mah Jongg is an ancient game originally developed for the rich sector. This game, which means sparrow, is believed to have been invented by a fisherman who wanted to prevent sea sickness while in the middle of the sea. Though it went through several variations, Mah Jongg was standardized in the 1990s.

gambling

It consists of 136 to 144 tiles and is somewhat similar to rummy. The tiles bear unique names such as “heavenly peace,” “moon from the bottom of the sea,” and “thirteen orphans.” Mah Jongg uses two dice and chips and needs four players. Although banned in Communist China before, this game is now the most widespread form of Oriental gambling around the globe.

Pai Gow makes use of a bank that has one woodpile. One of the players perform the banking duties while the others get four tiles of the woodpile. The aim is to group the tiles in pairs of two so that the player’s pair has a greater value than the bank. Pai Gow is actually a Chinese domino game. Baccarat is based on this Chinese game.

Sci Bo is another gambling game that means two dice. The game is played with three dice and players bet on the total of their dice. The dice are placed inside a cup and are shaken after which the cup is turned upside down. Players then place their bets before the dice are revealed. The casino has its own mechanized version with a table marked with numbers for the bets. A vibrating platform shakes the dice and the results are shown on a screen.

Keno is a bingo-type game that traces its roots in China. It is now a common game in lotteries and casinos around the world.

Pachinko is a pinball type of game that has become so popular in Japan.

Fan-Tan is a traditional game of counting pebbles. Fan actually means to turn over a bowl or a certain container that holds the stones while Tan means to spread out the stones.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com

Gambling all over the World

Europeans like their American counterparts are also fond of gambling. The latest form uses digital or interactive TV where betting, gaming (bingo and casino-style games) and lotteries can be done online.

Lotteries are popular in Europe and national lottery operators are, in fact, eyeing to provide online services. In Germany, lotteries generated a record high of 25 million Euros in December 2004 alone.

Online gambling is also flourishing in the United Kingdom notably in the island of Alderney where two electronic betting licenses, 14 interactive gaming licenses and one bookmarking license are in existence.

Casino gambling should not be taken for granted. In Western Europe, 20 countries have casinos while four countries have pari-mutuel facilities that involve horse racing and dog racing. They also this so-called “racinos” (combination of racing and casinos) which feature slot machines or video poker terminals within easy reach of the gamblers betting on horses and dogs.

What's the matter with Kansas? Nothing, anymore, if you like to gamble.

Horse racing tracks in Europe are located in Eskilstuna and Taby, Sweden and in Bad Doberan, Baden-Baden, Bremen, Beckingen, Dortmund, Dresden and Cuxhaven, all in Germany. In the U.K., horse track racinos are located in Manchester. In Eastern Europe, the pari-mutuel wagering system is used in races involving horses, boats, bicycles as well as lotteries.

Horse racing can either be harness racing or thoroughbred horse racing. Harness racing is more popular in many parts of Europe. In the U.K., horse racing may involve obstacles called national hunt racing and the unobstructed races over a certain distance known as flat racing.

People in Europe also enjoy placing their bets on the ever famous poker game especially at sites. Poker tournaments are held in the continent from time to time. Poker is enjoyed by those in Eastern Europe, too. Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, for instance, enjoys banana poker and matrix poker. Sweden hosted two tournaments that benefited the tsunamis victims in Southeast Asia. Online poker is also popular in the U.K. with people betting up to $1 million.

gambling

Gambling on cell phones is also on the rise in Europe. This has attracted businessmen involved in the mobile phone and the gambling industries from all levels. It is expected that the cell phone gambling industry will generate $19 billion by 2009. In fact, the first mobile gambling summit held in 2005 was a big success with 150 cell phone gambling experts attending the seminar. Those who took part included mobile network operators, gambling operators, software providers, legal firms, payment and billing specialists and leading analysts.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at www.888poker.com

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