Gambling strategies and stories.

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

Simple STT strategy

Single table tournaments or SNG’s are some of the most exciting forms of poker online at this time. They offer the player final table action at the flick of a switch. Simply turn on your computer and log on and within seconds you could be taking a seat in a one table tournament and playing a final table just like you have seen so many times on television. The key differences in these forms of poker are that the time limits increase very rapidly and so you cannot afford to hang around too long before you become aggressive.

The early levels are where you need to be cautious when you have a lot of big blinds in your stack. It is when you reach the middle levels of play and one or two players have been eliminated that you need to become aggressive. You need to do this for one clear reason and this is because the blinds are escalating so rapidly that you will be blinded away before long. This is why you need to protect your chips very well during the early levels because you need to preserve your valuable chips until the middle to late stages of the tournament.

It is at this stage where you will need to try and create as much fold equity as you possibly can and you can only do that by being aggressive and by raising and re-raising at the best times. You will not be able to cash or win an SNG by folding and so by carefully selecting the optimal chances to win chips then you can maintain or even increase your stack several fold. Some player’s play SNG’s seriously for profit and this form of poker does in fact offer the serious player the chance to make consistent money on a regular basis.

The really serious players take great care to select their games and to take notes on their opponents. This allows them to see at first glance which players are doing well in these games and which are doing not so well. Game selection is critical for success in any form of poker and SNG’s are no different. What makes this form of poker so popular is that they are very easy to play well. You can achieve this simply by folding all but the very best hands during the early rounds and then becoming very aggressive during the later rounds.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Taking on a professional poker coach

No limit hold’em is absolutely massive now and is by far the most widely played game online as we speak at sites like 888poker. Some years ago it was limit hold’em when I was first started playing online simply because the software wasn’t available to play NLHE. But NLHE can drag you away from having to play flops, turns and rivers unlike limit hold’em which forces you to play them. Because you can get away without seeing flops more often then you also get away without being raked more often and this is crucial.

Because NLHE is so widely played then it is also the most widely understood. But because of this then a very high percentage of the players who are active in the game begin to fall into identifiable patterns of playing the game in a very similar way. Sure they will raise pre-flop with their high cards and premium pairs and they will fold junk. They will also try small and frequent steals along the way.

They may call raises with speculative hands if the stacks are deep enough but they tend not to get out of line when the big bets go in. So what makes the Sniper a successful system is that it exploits conventional poker play. In no way is this a sit and wait and then shove all in pre-flop system like so many short stack systems are. That older system of play doesn’t work anywhere near as well for two key reasons. Firstly this way of playing is too well known and secondly many of the sites have increased their minimum buy in levels from 20bb to 30bb and even 35bb.

This is an attempt by the sites to get their minimum stack players playing more post flop poker. They wanted minimum stack players on their site because they wanted their action…..better to have a 20bb player than nothing at all. But when these types of players were shoving all in before the flop then they denied the site the chance to make any money on that hand. So when minimum stack players started to grow in number then the site had an increasing problem.

They wanted these players in the first place and is why they allowed them to only buy in for 20bb for a while. But it quickly became apparent that when these players started to grow in number that they were becoming a hindrance to their bottom line. So to appease the big stacked regulars and to improve their own profits they decided to increase the minimum buy-ins to a level that many short stack players would still go for but without driving them away.

So once again……get with the program here because the sites are not your friend or want to help you in any way except help you to make them money. Your goal as a user of this system is to see as few flops as possible. If you are forced to buy in for 35bb then you are forced to play a little more “poker” than usual but you are still looking to exploit conventional play.

Another key reason for selecting NLHE is the sheer volume of action. You will be able to go onto sites and move from game to game relatively easily and play poker without having to wait for action. So you will see many regulars multi-tabling these games and unlike in times gone by, The Sniper looks to exploit multi-tabling regulars because they tend to do one thing….. They look to exploit their position more than weaker players.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Working hard at the table

These days it is terribly easy to slip into a mode where you simply expect your opponents to pass you easy money. I believe that the majority of online poker players simply go about this in the wrong way. The best online poker players chase fold equity and dead money very aggressively. This is where the majority of your profits will stem from in no limit Texas hold’em ring games. Your profits once you reach certain levels will not come from waiting for the nuts or some other strong holding and then hoping that your opponents stack off.

You will be as likely to be on the wrong side of a big hand versus big hand situation as you are the right side. While your hand selection can go some way to negating this effect, the fact of the matter is that your profits or the bulk of your profits will not come from huge all in confrontations. Sure some wacky opponent may decide to stack off with fresh air or some weak holding every now and again but the fact of the matter is that it simply doesn’t happen often enough.

If your opponents are not stacking off in the same quantity and the number of players that are seeing the flop are small then your implied odds are going to suffer. This means that you cannot under any circumstances be playing your hand just to hit your hand. This means calling raises with hands like suited connectors, pocket pairs or anything else for that matter. You must always play your hand with two objectives in mind, these are to win the pot by making your opponent fold the best hand or fold a hand that could have won the pot by being aggressive or to actually make the best hand.

So this is why your ideal hands for entering into the action with are hands that can win two ways. While any pot can be won with a bluff, if you play 100% of your range then not only is this massively exploitable, it is also a horrible leak. The way to achieve fold equity and dead money is to make your bets and raises believable. When this is the case then your opponents can often make some amazing laydowns. For example your opponent could even fold a hand like top pair with an ace.

The biggest problem that many players have when it comes to making money is with their non-showdown earnings. There is really only one way that this part of your game suffers and it is to do with placing money into the pot and then leaving it there. This means that the amount of money that you win in the pots that you win without the pot going to showdown is being offset (or worse) by the amounts that you lose. This can be changed by making your opponents fold more and playing more aggressively post flop.

It also means that you should play fewer hands in a fit or fold way and especially when the implied odds are very poor. For example let us say that you have the 5c-5d in the UTG position, what should you do with this hand? Well firstly most of the players that I know would limp with this hand because of “implied odds”. This is fine but only if the implied odds are high enough. If you look at the “see the flop” percentages and how low they are then this is a clear indicator that your implied odds are nowhere near as high as what they used to be some years ago.


Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays online at

Play poker like a business

There is no way that you would ever run a business and even consider wasting money by paying more than what you needed to for stock. You would also take great care to reduce your overheads by as much as was humanly possible. Doing this would mean that you may then just be able to survive if and when a really rocky period comes.

This is no different to online poker and as a ten year industry pro then I know a little bit about what I am talking about. On poker sites then you will find thousands of players on that site at peak time and I have known as many as 20,000 during some of the times when I have played.

Clearly then not all of these players are going to be making money and there has to be losers in poker as well as winners. Unfortunately in the poker jungle then that is the way of things. So in order to catapult yourself into that Holy Grail of the top 10% of players who consistently make money then you need to do certain things. One of them is to take all of the external financial incentives that you possibly can.

This means taking advantage of rewards, sign up bonuses and even freerolls because these things have an EV attached to them. I have even known players make thousands of dollars from simply playing in these things and one only has to remember what Chris Ferguson did some years ago when he converted $0 into $10,000 simply by starting in a freeroll…..eventually cashing for $50 and then slowly but surely building that up to a level where he could play decent sized cash games. You do not have to be a great poker player to make money playing online poker but a healthy and strong dose of money management is essential.

So if you treat poker seriously then it will repay you but then again doesn’t that apply to any other field as well? Hard work pays off in this life and there is no place for idle minds.

Carl Sampson is a professional poker player who plays at

Using a bankroll in online poker

I have heard many people down the years go on about how bankroll management is the be all and end all of online poker and poker in general in cash games at sites like 888poker. This is both true and wrong in equal measure. No amount of bankroll control can turn a weak poker player into a winner.

If your overall play is –EV then you will lose money whatever bankroll control you elect to have. However this needs to be clarified because even being –EV can be fine if you dovetail good bankroll management with a process of education.

For example let us say that you want to start playing online poker and you want to use $1000 of your money to do so. We will also assume that you have absolutely no experience of playing poker at all. In reality of course then you really shouldn’t be playing poker.

Your best move would be to educate yourself by either buying a few good books or joining a good coaching site. It would be worth either using $500 out of that $1000 to educate yourself and then use the remaining $500 as a bankroll.

You will make $500 fairly quickly once you have the proper education and grounding behind you but without that then you could lose the entire $1k just as quickly as well. However if you do insist on playing poker then you are obviously –EV. This means that you should therefore be looking to lose the absolute minimum and this means playing the smallest micro levels that the site offers.

If these are $1 games then play those levels or $2 games or whatever. Even losing a hundred buy-ins may only cost you $100-$200. While you would eventually lose your entire $1000 doing this, you would at least be allowing yourself valuable time in which to improve while losing the minimum.

I am a big believer though in education first and poker playing second. There is little point in trying to gain “experience” by playing when all you are doing is gaining experience at doing the wrong things.

If you can educate yourself to make $5/hour which isn’t difficult and you play 20 hours per week then you will have made the $500 back in five weeks if that is the figure that you have spent in order to educate yourself. Then when you have reached a winning game at a low level can you then set about using bankroll management.

You will often hear some people say that having twenty buy-ins is the minimum requirement for playing no limit hold’em. Well that kind of depends on your own skill levels, the skill level of your opponents and how aggressive the table is and your own style.

As a novice player (assuming that you are one) then you need to adjust to playing online poker. If all you have ever played is live poker then you will be immediately struck by the fact that the games are raked. This means that a fee is taken from each pot and paid to the house as payment for running the game.

This is different to say a live home game where there will likely not be any fee for playing the game at all. So bankroll management is very important if used within the right set of circumstances.

It took me an awful long time to realise this at the start of my poker career and I lost far more money than I really should have done. At the end of the day then poker is a lifelong game and you need to plan for the long term and not the short term.

Be aware of your opponent’s HUD

These days many of your online poker opponents at 888poker will be using tracker programs with HUDS. However in my experience then most players either do not interpret this data correctly or through laziness do not delve into it deeply enough. There are lots of knock on effects to using a HUD and one such effect is that it can often make the player lazy at the table. No tracker program will do your entire job for you. It is there to assist you in playing poker and not to almost “replace” you as a poker player.

You also need to remember that HUD’s merely represent historical data. Players change and the averages can be very misleading. For example a player that has a very high VPIP attached to a small sample size may have been playing that way against more passive players in the blinds.

It doesn’t mean that they are playing loose-aggressive from early position. Because the statistics are averages then they can be largely discounted…….I said discounted…….not eliminated! The fact of the matter is that extra information can be both harmful or helpful and it is what we do with that information that matters the most.

Most players will use pre-flop guidelines to influence their views about a certain player in cash games on . This means looking at their VPIP/PFR/AF stats. These basic tracker stats tell us or your opponent how many times we place money into the pot voluntarily and if we do that in an aggressive or passive way.

There is one common denominator that binds all online poker players; this is that we all have to see the same number of hands pre-flop. So in a nine player full ring game then whether you are loose-aggressive or tight-passive or whatever, you will see nine hands before the flop and whether you fold, limp, call or raise is up to the individual.

This then means that your opponents can build up a very reliable sample size of your VPIP/PFR/AF statistics within a very short space of time. This is even more so if you or your opponent happen to be multi-tabling. The pre-flop betting round is not only the easiest round to play well but it is also the betting round where your opponents will have the most data on you. This means that to get around the bulk of your opponents HUD stats that you should be playing more post flop poker.

Your opponent will have less flop data on you, even less turn data and far less still on the river. They may have showdown stats and non-showdown stats but they may not be aware of any patterns that you have on the turn or the river and especially so at the lower levels of play. This means that there is far more scope to outplay your opponents from the flop onwards. At the end of the day then there is only one thing that should concern you at the poker table…….this is how well your hand does against your opponents range.

This can happen in many different ways and you often do not need equity to make a play at a pot. For example let us say that you have the 7d-3d in the big blind and three players limp in. Clearly none of them have a raising hand otherwise they would have raised. While it is certainly possible that someone could have limped in with a big hand, this is not likely.

The flop comes Ad-Kh-Js and you check as do your three opponents. The turn card is the 4s and now most players would check here and checking certainly isn’t wrong because the absolute value of your hand is very low. However your opponents checked and so you have a chance here to bet a sizeable amount on the turn even into three opponents.

If you get called then you have to be willing to fire another barrel on the river of at least the size of the pot. What you are doing in actual fact is attacking your opponent’s wide range and the fact that they likely have a hand that is only mediocre that probably wants a cheap showdown.

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