Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Aggression - The Best Deception Of All

Have been very busy on the old keyboard the last few days, getting material ready for 2 new poker sites which will be up next month. Will let readers know that one will be a 'comedy' site... all this poker news is so darn dry and serious - and I'm going to put my head on the block by taking the p*ss out of all of it and with some 'all new' ideas involved too - stay tuned!

ok, not been playing too much lately - really enjoyed the Omaha Planet private tournament (and won it too - though there were only 9 of us!). Been having a few odd cash games on Carbon too, in between articles.

One thing I notice again and again (and again) is that the lower limit donkeys just looooove to slowplay. It is almost as if trapping someone with that set or pair of aces with a crafty check-raise on the end is the whole object of the game...

Let us get things straight - the object of the game of poker is to win money, the most possible money.

There are actually very few occasions in a deep stacked cash game where slowplaying will get the intended result.

In No-Limit games the bet sizes throughout the hand are 'usually' in some kind of proportion to the size of the current pot. That is to say that a half-pot, 3/4ths-pot or pot-sized bet on the turn or river (for example) are considered 'normal' by opponents while the all-in for 6 times the pot after showing no strength on any street is not.

But hang on... did Mark not just say that the object of the game is to make money... why does the 'normalness' of betting matter here then??

Well folks - normal bets get called by normal players with normal hands!

Yep, the 6 times pot overbet on the river will only be called by someone with a great hand, a great read or a severe lack of understanding... the half pot on the river which gets the remainder of your opponents stack is likely to be called fairly often (after all - you are giving them 3/1 on the call!).

Let me explain the title - making money in poker involves deceiving your opponents as to the strength of your hand, but it also involves building a pot. Say you spike a set and bet, only this time you had bet the last 5 hands you played... taking down the pot 3 times, giving up on the turn once and winning at showdown the other time.

Think about that a little harder... your objective is to build a big pot - one that will be called on later streets by big but not huge hands. You would also like to deceive your opponents about the strength of your own hand - what better way to achieve both objectives than by betting here!

Positive poker is undoubtedly winning poker, and for those who find being 'tricky' important, why not use your natural aggression as the best deception of all!!?!?

Gl at those tables, Mark

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Calling Against 'Obvious Aces' In Pot Limit Omaha Poker - Part #2

Ok, time to look into the decision making process when an opponent who you are sure would only raise (or maybe re-raise) pre while holding A-A-x-x in PLO Poker. I do not have an answer to todays question - How Deep Do You Need To Be To Call This Raise?? - instead wanting to look at some of the factors which might influence our decision against a single opponent.

Before starting this a final 'plug' for the Omaha Planet 'Omaha Try Out Tourament' on Sunday 27th on Full Tilt Poker at 15:00 Eastern (20:00 GMT* (I think!)... this has $50 in the pot already from yours truly and the idea is for everyone to have a cheap crack at a PLO tournament in a 'friendly' setting (we can all be PLO donks together!)... entry is just $2 + 50c and the password + info can be found via Omaha Poker Planet.

Omaha Planet - Omaha Try Out $50 Added Tournament

... right... back to those aces which our inexperienced PLO opponent has just told us he has before the flop by making an uncharacteristic raise or re-raise. Forgeting other players how do we decide what percentage of our stack we can profitably call?

- This question would be much easier to answer... or rather the relative influence of the various factors would be much easier to assess - if we could create some boundaries, a top and bottom limit which we can then work within.

For example, if the re-raise is 50% of our stack then we do not have the implied odds required, assuming our opponent pushes on the flop then we are seeing 3/1 and can call with any piece or any draw worth thinking of. If this were the case then we are more or less calling an all-in pre-flop against a hand we know has us crushed... not good.

If the raise is 10% of our stack (and we close the betting) we have an easy call with virtually any 4 cards. The knowledge of our opponents hand gives us the opportunity to represent a lot of flops that we miss... and those times we do hit (2 pairs for example) our hand is very well disguised and we may win a big pot...

While 10% seems an easy call I wanted to try and narrow this number a little.... 15% and 20%? Sure, we can fold when an ace comes or if we totally miss the flop - but hang on, once we are talking about 25% of our stack a pot-sized bet on the flop would be pot-committing right? So what percentage can we call, based on knowledge of our opponents hand alone (will get to our hand a little later!)

100 chips each pre-flop.... 25% in the pot pre:

bet / call = 25 chips (pot 50 remaining stacks 75)
Flop bet of 50 into 75 chip stacks = no room for post flop play.

100 chips each pre-flop...;. 20% in the pot pre:

Bet / call = 20 chips (pot 40 remaining stacks 80)
flop bet 40 into 80 chip stacks = little room for post flop play (after all, a re-raise offers our opponent 3/1 on the call... which he will usually (and often correctly) take).

100 chips each pre-flop.... 15% in the pot pre:

Bet / Call = 15 chips (pot 30 with remaining stacks 85)
flop bet 30 into 85 = some re-raise fold equity here, enough chips left for a meaning full turn or river bet too.

Well - I'm happy with 15% as a starting point - but we did not yet include the effects of some very significant factors including:

- Our position.
- Our Cards (after all a double suited rundown may even be a small favourite against those aces!)
- The tendencies of our opponent (will he bet any flop? capable of folding after the flop at-all?)
- Our table image (no need to get carried away with this at the lower levels...)

Wow, so many factors and we have not yet even included the influence of not closing the betting or other 'callers' in the pot ahead of us... after all relative position may be as important as 'button position' in this case....

Anyway, I digress... will put my head on the line with some rough numbers of what percentage of stack I would call pre-flop against an opponent who is 'marked with aces"

- No info, any 4 cards... Maximum 15%
- Position, any 4 cards.... Max 20%
- No-Position, unsuited rundown or pair + draw type hand.... max 20%
- Position + reasonable hand.... 25%
- No position, timid oppponent, reasonable hand... 25%
- Position, timid opponent, decent hand (double suited + connected cards) 30%

Well, I'm a 'learner' in the PLO game - would be great to see some thoughts on these numbers.

Plan to give them a try out over the next couple of weeks and see if there are any other factors / influences which show the need to change them... we will see!

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Business and Life and Life and Business and Poker

Life must be a breeze for some people right?

Throw a couple of tournament / SNG poker strategy articles together and stick them on a website, repeat for Omaha and then in Hungarian, throw a little rakeback into the mix and boom - a business is born!

Well, if only things were as simple as that.

March and April 2008 have seen my poker affiliate business interests reach an inflection point in more ways than one. Very happy to report that earnings are growing quickly - no complaints there.

The main issue is of separating life and business from business and life, let me explain...

Planet Corporation is basically me on the content / ideas and business planning and Erika on the web design side + SEO. We live together, work together and plan to get married in the not too distant future... we also work at home, with separate studies cleverly created within a small flat (we are about 50 meters from the river Danube!).

Business and life end up getting intermingled - time that could be spent either productively moving the affiliate business forward or for liesure ends up being half and half and actually fulfills neither goal... frustration starts to creep in because time is not spent usefully, yet that time was not spent on the separate (yet vitally important) goal of enjoying ones time here on Earth.

So, it was time for a decision... and after some discussions and deliberation a solution has been found. We are going to move the business out of home and into an office.

There are a couple of possibilites looming including sub-letting (sharing) and renting a room of our own. It will cost money, but I just know that this investment will be more than worth it for two reasons; To increase the productivity of the time spent on business activity, and to better separate life and business. Things are moving now and by the end of next month we should be in an office and reaching a level of productivity well worth the investment in rental fees!

Separately the big projects for this month are both going slower than hoped.

The translation project is now starting to get on track after a translator going AWOL, the next one having terrible spelling problems and a German translator who did not pass the test of a native speaker.... turns out we can get Hungarian translated into Russian + German much cheaper than we can get the English translated into these languages - so the current goal is to get SNG Planet in Hungarian first... going to be slower than I'd hoped but I still feel that this is the way forward for the business and will be pushing to get many languages including Central / Eastern European tounges completed by the end of the year.

2nd Major project was a strategy site with a new 'angle' this is still in the very early stages and unlikely to be completed this month. Shame really - but hopefully worth the wait (for beginners to the game at least!).

A new idea has also come along this month - this is a 'quick' one and should be up by the end of the month... will do my usual business update in the first few days of next month and should be able to fill you all in on the details then.

GL at those tables, Mark

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Carbon Poker Bounty SNGs - Turning ICM Upside-Down

Carbon Poker have come up with the latest idea in the ever-evolving world of SNGs... while the concept of bounty SNGs is not new - the amount of 'bounty' compared to 'prize' is 50/50.

This makes a huge difference to your strategy (not to mention the calibre of players these games attract leading to still other adjustments).

The one 1 tried was a $10+$1 with $5 bounties and $5 towards the prize pool (so a 25/15/10 payout). With any-ace being a good reason to push all-in with 25 big blinds (!) it was a little on the crazy side. What I wanted to mention was how your bubble play might be adjusted:

- The $5 might make it seem like you can make a 5% mistake (in an ICM sense) and still break-even on a call... I disagree. The real prize pool you are fighting for includes the remaining bounties of the players in addition to the fixed prizes... by busting you forgo the opportunity to win any more bounties.

- Bounties are significant here, knocking out the small stacks is often worth the risk in chips (think 'block theory' those extra chips above a certain might not have extra utility on their own - since you are still close enough to the remaining players to be crippled in a confrontation - but the chance of taking $5 for knocking out a shorty +++ gaining a significant chip count that does threaten your opponents are together worth a small minus ev risk!).

Oh well, a couple of things to think about... we have more details on Carbon Poker over at SNG Planet (banner top right of this blog!), they have bounty MTTs too with equally large bounties (in proportion to the buy-ins).

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, April 21, 2008

Implied Odds vs 'Marked With Aces' In PLO...

Played a little PLO over the weekend and a common situation came up... as tends to be the case with poker this got me-a-thinking! So first the situation

Carbon Poker 25c / 50c PLO table:

- First back in time... 3 hands previously... after a flurry of limping pre-flop and a little mini-bettting on the flop and turn our villan takes a small pot with QQJ10 double suited

- The hand in question, villan in ep open raises pot ($1.75), effective stacks close to the $50 buy-in... 5 callers (!).

So, simply combining the action earlier (he had limped a lot including the qqj10) with an uncharacteristic raise this guy has just said to the table "I have aces, please outdraw me"

And you know what?

I did... small pair and slightly connected single suited hand, the kind of easy fold in PLO, hits enough of the flop to continue and ends up taking villans entire stack... standard against anyone willing to both define their hand too early and stack off with an overpair only in PLO games.

Well, fine - this is not actually the point of the post. That more of a question...

If you were sure your opponent had A-A-x-x pre-flop in PLO what percentage of your stack could you call off and still have a positive expectation in the hand??

Yeah, I know - it depends.

Let us keep it simple then, we are closing the betting, and have position on our single opponent (that would make it blind vs blind... ah well, just a hypothetical excercise for now!). Expecting your opponent to fire at least one pot sized bet on the flop...

Any thoughts as to how much you could call? 1/8th of your stack, 1/4th? How does your hand strength affect this (of course it does, but to what extent)? How about the tendencies of your oppoent and your opponent's image of you?? This is not quite as simple as it seems...

Going to wait to see what others thoughts are.... will do another PLO post later in the week to highlight some of the important factors which go into the decision making for me!

In the meantime GL at those tables, Mark

PS: Don't forget the 'try out Omaha' tournament this coming Sunday at Full Tilt, it has $50 of my own hard-won cash as a 'pot sweetener' details over at Omaha Poker Planet

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Enjoy Playing Poker?

Every now and again and article appears out there on the interweb which really hits the spot, the link below is to an article by 'Seal' at P5's... my view is that this is the best thing produced by that site in a loooong time (will open in a new window)

Seal Article on P5s

Actually ties into several subjects covered here at Plan3t Gong over the months. The key factor being the 'why do you play?' question.

Today I want to turn this question around... into several other mini-questions

When you first played poker on the internet did you feel a little disapointed if your cash game rate dropped below 5 PTBB's / 100 at the level you were bankrolled for??

When you first played poker were you content with your 12% ROI multi-tabling the $16 Turbo SNGs? and also happy multi-table these even though your ROI was slightly higher in the non-turbo games... since your hourly rate was better?

When you first played poker were you painfully aware that the guy who just called you with a non-nut flush draw and 1 overcard after the turn getting 1.5 to 1 on an all-in call made a giant mistake? Did it make you mad when he hit? Did that affect your whole day / evening - making you grouchy with friends / loved ones / family???

Ok - I don't need to know your answers... that is not the point of my post. My point is to get readers thinking about why they started playing the beautiful game... what was important at that point in each readers life.

You did not know about all the details... the potential profits... strategy tips... good / bad play... bankroll management... etc etc at that point right?

Back then you played for pleasure, it was fun.

Then, slowly but surely your primary motive changed from fun to money... let me guess, you won a tourney or two... ground some big profits at the cash tables, had the satisfaction of cashing out some nice sums.

Bang. Its gone... the reason you play changed to money, the game went from a pleasure to an obsession with winning cash. The beauty faded and all that was left was the anger, the frustration at almost reaching that final table... of losing that huge pot that was 80% favourite to be yours...

An exaggeration maybe - but does this ring true for you?

Read Seals article, he speaks a lot of sense... time to reflect on your motives and start to enjoy the game for the right reasons... before the beauty of the game starts to fade for you too.

GL at the tables, Mark

Private Tournament Today + Quick Articles Announcement

Pleased, yet somehow a little nervous, to be running the first private tournament organised by myself today! Details are below - I have added $100 in cash from my own account and a $60 token to the Carbon $20k gtd (which I actually won by taking down their affiliates tournament!)

Be great to see a few PG readers at the tables (details below) we also have an Omaha one next Sunday at Full Tilt!

*** Update *** Oops, I won the tournament. Which means we will have to try a little harder to give away the ticket next time... there were only 7 of us which gave an overlay of > $20 per person (well, you have been warned twice now!)... maybe a freeroll next time!

An announcement (or sorts!), we created a new section in the 'SNG' tab at Sit and Go Planet for Heads-Up SNG Strategy to kick things off we have 3 strategy articles from an online Pro, blogger and PokerXFactor SNG Study group moderator 'JackofHeartz'... I was very happy with how these came out (and to get some fresh writing talent onto the site too) take a look when you have a moment... the heads-up section is at the bottom of the SNGs page.

OK - Details of the 'SNG Planet / Poker Strategy Forums' Private Tournament Today

Where: Carbon PokerWhen: 13:00 Eastern Time (18:00 GMT) (will read 12:00 server time' which is Eastern -1) Sunday 20th April
Buy-in: $2+20cGame: No Limit Holdem
Password: 160SNG160
Overlay prizes come in two parts:- $100 in cash added to the prize pool + $60 Token for the $20,000 gtd weekly tournament. Awarding the token will involve 2 steps:

- Winner must send me a PM / comment with their hand history and contact details (including e-mail address registered with Carbon Poker)
- I will then mail Carbon and get the token manually awarded to your account.

Since this may take a day or two to complete the $20k tournament next Sunday may be the first you can aim for.

If you have not yet played at Carbon then you will find this an excellent smaller room with some great in-play features, they have a good range of deposit / withdrawal methods too and a 100% bonus of up to $500 with their code 100FIRST1K (+ freeroll entry). This overlay tournament makes this a great opportunity to check them out for yourself today.

Carbon Poker

Hope to see as many as possible of you at the tables!

Cheers, Mark

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #3 - Perception Of Chance

Written here before about chance... theme of the previous post was concened how getting your chips in as a solid favourite just 3 or 4 times in a tournament actually leaves you as mathematically favored to have busted!

This post comes from the observation that it is actually very difficult to play a session of poker these days without someone suggesting (be it explicitly or implicitly) that the site you are playing on is 'rigged'. This appears more prevalent the lower the stakes.... we have all seen it right?

'Only on Jokerstars'

'Knew That Ace was going to flop as soon as I called (with kings / queens / whatever), always happens on this site'

'Another donk play rewarded by poker-site-XYZ'

The 'Poker thought' for today actually comes in 3 forms, each of which may well deserve a longer look / separate post themselves....

1) The perception of how favoured you are in a dominating hand situation is often waaaayyy off to inexperienced players 33% of the time may seem like a small number to lose but really you are winning only twice for each loss in this situation.

2) The absurd (In my opinion) yet prevalent idea that poker is somehow rigged to reward bad / new players in order to keep them playing longer (and somehow make more profit). This irritates me just mentioning it!! Promise a post at some point in the near future to examine this ridiculous - yet widely held - belief on several different levels!

3) The effect of play - specifically the tendency of inexperienced players to slowplay too often on the number of 'suckouts'... you would think that if a donk decided to check trip 8's on a 8=9=10 board with 3 hearts rather than charge an opponent with the bare ace to see another card then they are taking an undue risk (and leaving money on the table those times a heart does not fall (another story!)).... this really happened just the other day and the player with the 8's thought that the site was rigged, that all his opponents were fish and that he was the unluckiest player in the world - and let us all know from the rail for a good 10 minutes!!

Anyway, that is enough to keep readers thinking for the moment... have a treat for you either later today or tomorrow with some 'guest articles' on heads-up SNG strategy about to go up on SNG Planet.

Oh - and don't forget that the $160 overlay Carbon Poker private tournament takes place tomorrow (Sunday).... details 2 posts below this one.

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When The Blinds Are Sitting Out...

Back to Poker-related things to think about! Actually had this post 3/4ths finished in draft and was going to put it up tomorrow... but I got 'outed' for putting up 20 room reviews and started to feel a little bad... (quick explanation to follow - actual post to start below the stars)

Have spent a lot of time (like 10 hours a day) writing over the last few days - some content for the sites, but mostly reviews and 'factual' type articles for a new project. I am aiming to become the number #1 source of 'poker-related PLR' (private label rights) material as well as a hub for poker writers and those who buy articles... over a 4 to 6 month timeframe - the trouble with this project is that it is a chicken / egg situation - I need a product to kick it off.

So, the articles are in my blog to get indexed by the search engines... rather than be read - once they are indexed I can start to package them up as PLR material without the first purchaser getting an unfair advantage over the rest.

Funny how writing 10 hours a day (and those are pretty solid hours too!) makes you not feel like writing blog posts... ah well, once the latest project gets going it will run itself!


When the blinds are sitting out.

Tournaments, reasonably big blinds compared to stacks (well, ok, even smaller ones) with the big blind disconnected or otherwise about to insta-fold to any bet creates an interesting dynamic at the table.

Anyone who raises, especially from late position, is assumed to be attempting to steal the 'dead blind'.

Anyone who re-raises, especially over the bet of a late position raiser, is presumed to be presuming that the original raise is a steal and '3-betting light' to steal both the raise and the blind.

There are 2 things to think about in these situations, the first is how we might adjust our play depending on the opponents yet to act and their capacity (courage!) to 3-bet us light (or just call). The second thing is a meta-game thought - but one that I find interesting, it concerns the dead blind dynamic being quantitively different from standard play... but actually not qualititively different (will explain below).

So, we could easily get mathematical here, but that is not my aim.

Imagine we are in the hyjack seat (2 away from the button) the big blind is dead... has been sitting out for over an hour and is not expected back. We would like to steal this blind but know that our 3 'live' opponents suspect this... what are the factors we need to take into account in making our decision?

- Stack-sizes: Could we easily raise-fold, if we get re-raised do we have enough chips to re-re-raise all in and still have fold equity?

- Opponent Tendencies: Are the 3 live players tight? aggressive? what hands are they going to re-raise with? what percentage of hands that they might re-raise with will they fold to a 4-bet all-in? Will we be flat called?

- Our image: Have we raised and folded to a 3-bet before in this situation, are we seen as tight? what hands do our opponents think we would bet / 4-bet here?

- Situation: Are we about to hit the bubble or are there 100's still to go? Is the chip leader about to exploit the situation in the tournament by raising with air? are these satellite qualifiers looking at their biggest ever payday?!?

- Our Cards (deliberately last): The strength of our actual cards are polarized here into 2 groups. Those we can 4-bet all-in with and those we can not. The other scenarios (calling a 3-bet or getting flat called) get a little more complex... for the purposes of this 'thought excercise' we are assuming that if we would not call a 3-bet all in (shallow stacks) or be prepaired to 4-bet with (for example) 9-9 then we might as well raise with 7-2 off suit.

Ah well, my return post is getting long... and I have much writing still to do today!

The second thought, the 'dead blind' gives an 'exaggerated' dynamic. But wait a second, think through the short list of 'things to think about', position, stacks, tendencies, cards, situation in the game and image... are these not what poker decisions are based on anyway?

Well, if we can not make those decisions in the exaggerated dead blind scenario - how can we make them outside of it??

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2 More Private Tournaments - PG Readers Welcome

Hey All,

I'm running 2 private tournaments this month... adding $210 of my own (hard won) cash to the prize pools too! Treating these like a mini-experiment, if they run well then there could be plenty more in the pipeline... if not then, well, plently of interesting ways of spending my money besides giving it to SNG / Omaha / Plan3t Gong readers!

Regular readers will know that the last private tournament (co-sponsored with the poker strategy forums) had an overlay of $17 per person... can not promise quite that much again, but should still be a decent amount.

- Tournament #1 - Carbon Poker - No-Limit Holdem MTT, $160 Added ($100 in cash + $60 token for $20k gtd) on Sunday the 20th April.... just $2+20c entry

- Tournament #2 - Full Tilt Poker - Pot Limit Omaha, $50 Added (all cash) $2 entry (+ 50c fee (did not realise this was more than the 20c 'standard' until too late, will redress next time but the $50 overlay should make up for it nicely for now!))

The details, including passwords and times etc can be found in this blog post over at SNG Planet

SNG Planet Private Poker Tournaments


If you are a high roller ($100 a week in rake or more) then it might well be worth checking out (with the dash)... I can offer the best available rakeback deals for both Full Tilt and Carbon through this site.

Back to normal here at PG poker in a couple of days.

GL at those tables, be great to see as many readers as possible in the tournaments, Mark

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ePassporte Alternatives - Emergency Guide To US Poker Payment Methods As Alternatives To ePassporte

Well, another one bites the dust. Yeserday saw ePassporte Poker Deposits Withdrawn. Some are suprised that they lasted so long... others relieved (with memories of the Neteller scandal) that withdrawals can still be made... the most pressing question on the lips of many US Poker Players at the moment is what Alternative Poker Payment Methods To ePassporte are available?

Will break this out into several of the larger US Poker Sites.... all of the links will do to the detailed review over at SNG Planet (going to take a couple of days to get all the ePassporte articles and mentions in the reviews covered... so please bear with me!)

1 - Full Tilt Poker Deposit Methods : Moneygram is the easiest (and cheapest) ways to make large deposits, you'll need to set up an account then e-mail customer services who send instructions. Pre-paid visa cards are fine for small deposits. (Got to mention our bonus code for the max available $600 deposit bonus = SNGPLANET)

2 - Poker Stars Deposit Methods : Western Union and eChecks can be used at Poker Stars for larger poker deposits. Again pre-paid visa is probably the easiest for smaller investments, though you can also get an 'old school' paper check or bank draft. ($50 Bonus with our marketing code )

3 - Bodog Poker Deposit Methods: With Bodog we enter the world of the instant bank transfer - think eChecks... currently one of the easiest sites to make a deposit with for US players and noticably 'softer' than the 2 sites mentioned above. Please note that we are currently trying to find out what happened to the 'NuCharge' phone card option! (no marketing codes required for the '2-stage' 110% to $550 bonus at Bodog)

4 -Carbon Poker Deposit Methods: Carbon Poker offer the triple-whammy of Fonelinx (pre-paid phonecard poker deposits), Eco Card and eWalletExpress Poker Deposits(alternative US-friendly electronic-Wallets) certainly ahead of the game - this site also have a reputation for speedy cash outs! Use bonus code FIRSTSUPER for a 200% to $500 first time bonus.

5 - Ultimate Bet Deposit Methods: UB Recommend visa and mastercard deposit options for their US Players, and are able to take visa poker deposits from many banks! (prepaid visa a good option if your bank does not support this). Check by mail and bank wire deposit options are also available. (Use bonus code SNGPLANET for 111% up to $1100 first-time deposit bonus).

Well, hope this was helpful - I may be Europe-based myself but have maintained since the legislation first passed that the inclusion on the biggest market in the world is beneficial to all poker players... even more so since I started my poker business.

GL finding an alternative poker deposit method to epassporte, Mark

Friday, April 11, 2008

Annette_15 Robbed During WSOPE!

Shocking theft from Annette_15 in the WSOPE comes to light months later... thanks to this video - watch at around 2:30 as Annette's chubby hand knocks a chip off of her stack - apparently quoted as saying there is 'no way the guy gave it back'!

(cut off a little on the right hand side by the look of it... you can always try watching it at pokertube instead... )

Cheers, Mark

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sit N Go Starting Hands Guide - The 'Great Debate'


Written an article on SNG Starting hands.... It turned out quite well (even if I do say so myself!) and discussed many of the factors which go into determining whether to play a hand from each position...

Now at the stage of putting together an actual chart (or 3) for multi-tablers (turbo) and those who enjoy 1 or 2 non-turbo tables instead. Just kicked off 'The Great SNG Starting Hands Debate' over at my board at the Poker Strategy Forums... would be great to get some input from some of you SNG specialists out there - even if it is just to say that you agree with my thoughts (though I doubt there will be too many agreeing!)

The finished article + charts will go into SNG Planet in a few days time, will be happy to credit anyone who contributes to the debate in the article too (just ask!)

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ok ok

Well, thanks for the kind comments / e-mails and messenger messages folks - very humbling to receive them.

FYI - Also got the proverbial 'clip round the ear' from the lovely Erika too... something about being 'stupid'...

Well if nothing else it might have gone some way to fulfilling my promise of telling you who the 'real Mark' behind these posts is... sure I'm 'driven', not one of those folks who drifts on through watching life sail by, but many moments occour when those accumulated small doubts which I banish on a day-to-day basis combine forces to hit me with a vengence.

I see the reader stats going up on a monthly basis, should know better - yet - blogging is a strange beast, there is always that 'is anybody out there' feeling attached and, well, it hit me all at once.

No excuses, will take a couple more days to think about it then come back with a poll to ask what posts people prefer... after all - with all these commercial sites I'd like to have at least one which remains primarily for enjoyment, of you the readers that is.

Cheers, genuinely humbled and appreciate your support...


Monday, April 07, 2008

Break - Lack Of Interest

Ah well, 12 posts and not a single comment.

Decided that with this little interest it is time that Plan3t Gong took an indefinite break. Means I will be able to focus my writing on other areas.

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Information On Betfair Poker

Betfair Poker Review

Betfair are a European sportsbook (bookmaker) marketplace which allow users to both back and lay bets on sporting events. Their poker site started as part of the Cryptologic network before leaving to become a stand-alone site in 2007. Aggressive marketing including sponsorship of poker professionals and a solid poker offering hand contributed to the growth of Betfair into a busy online poker site.

The software client is a little ‘old school’ however this is extremely user friendly – allowing you to focus on the poker games. The popular Texas Holdem and Omaha Poker games are offered at Betfair, with a large selection of cash games, SNGs and multi-table tournaments to choose from. With over 5,000 players at peak times, and a good stream of new players from the large sports betting section of this site, there is always a large selection of tables to choose from. New players will receive a matched first deposit bonus of 100% to $150 – a great start to your online poker bankroll.

Betfair Poker Game Selection

Those looking for some of the niche poker games will be disappointed – Betfair poker only offer Texas Holdem and Omaha poker. These popular games are offered in a wide variety of betting levels and table sizes, and with no-limit, fixed-limit and pot-limit betting structures. No-Limit Holdem Cash game tables range from blinds of 5c / 10c right through to $250 / $500. Fixed limit Holdem tables go all the way to an incredible $1000 / $2000 betting. For both formats the tables at $2 / $4 and below are the most popular – with a wide choice available at the peak times of European evenings.

Tournaments are a strong point at Betfair poker with a wide selection to suit all buy-in levels as well as many special offers and promotions. The weekly ‘showcase’ tournament at this site has a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000 and has satellites running throughout the week to ensure a large field. Other notable tournaments include the $20,000 guaranteed ‘Annette Obrestad’ sponsored events on Fridays and the ‘Imperium’ Tuesday tournament – both with exclusive bounties on the respective pros.

Betfair Poker Software And Service

While the unique software client used by Betfair poker appears a little dated compared to the flashy graphics offered by some poker sites, this platform is actually one of the most user-friendly in the industry. There are actually 2 versions of the software, one with re-sizable tables and one without.

The main lobby splits cash-games and tournaments and then allows you to filter the tables on display using a number of options. Preferences can be saved for future visits and all the usual statistics are easy to locate and use.

The first table appears in the same window as the lobby at Betfair poker – while the 2nd and subsequent tables have windows of their own. The view is top-down and the graphics a little ‘blocky’, however the actual poker game is fast and the user-interface and features you would expect are remarkably simple and initiative to use.

Customer Service at Betfair can be contacted via telephone (free for UK users though standard charges apply for those outside of the UK) or e-mail. Betfair poker pledge to endeavor to answer e-mailed enquiries within 2 hours.

Betfair Poker Bonuses And Promotions

Betfair offer a 100% to $150 bonus for first time depositors – this clears very fast as you collect ‘Betfair Points’. The main reason that players stay loyal to this growing poker site is actually the ‘one-off’ promotions, which often revolve around qualification for the many ‘big buy-in televised events’ around the world. As sponsors of the World Series Of Poker Europe (WSOPE) there are many satellites to both the ‘Main Event’ and the European version.

Among the many other promotions for regular players are a generous freeroll schedule, guaranteed tournament payouts totaling $4 million every month, tournament leader-boards which pay monthly cash prizes and ‘Betfair Points’ which reduce your commission on sports betting,

Betfair Poker – Final Overview

A combination of aggressive marketing and the large sports-betting sections of this site ensure a regular supply of new (inexperienced) players – meaning those players with some poker specific skills and strategy should find this site a profitable destination. While the software is ‘plain’ it is extremely user-friendly. Betfair poker specialize in Texas Holdem and Omaha poker, with a great selection of both cash games and tournaments this site is sure to grow very fast indeed.

Information On Poker Room

Poker-Room Review

Poker Room is one of the largest sites in the ‘OnGame’ network, a group of poker rooms who pool together their players and use a common software platform. Already hugely popular in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, Poker Room are expanding fast worldwide – this network is not currently open to US players.

Poker Room offer a sense of community via their ‘Pokah forum’ - in addition to a great selection of poker games. They can boast an extremely loyal player base, the OnGame network featuring 50,000 simultaneous players at their peak time of European evenings.

While the sign-up bonus of 50% to $100 does not make the headlines, the many promotions and offers available at Poker-Room combine to make this site a profitable destination. Freerolls, satellite qualifiers and an excellent guaranteed tournament schedule (including overlays) are offered in addition to 3 ‘tournament tickets’ for each new player.

Poker-Room Game Selection

The poker game variations available at Poker-Room are Texas Holdem (No-Limit / Pot-Limit / Fixed Limit), Omaha (Fixed / Pot Limit Including Hi-Lo Split), Stud (again including Hi-Lo) and 5-card draw. As elsewhere online the no-limit Holdem tables are the most popular. 6-Max at the lower stakes ($100 NL and below) are the most popular of all with a wide selection of full-ring and heads-up games also available and a large variety of stakes. The large traffic volumes at Poker-Room mean there is always a great selection of tables to choose from. On-site statistics allow you to quickly find the most profitable table for your games.

Tournaments and SNGs are also popular, with many guaranteed prize pools offered in the extensive multi-table tournament schedule ranging from $4,000 to $50,000. The showcase tournament at Poker-Room is $300+$20 ‘Big Deal’ Sunday event, satellites throughout the week ensure that the prize pool is always large. ‘Specials’ such as the $500,000 guaranteed. ‘The Grand’ tournaments and satellite qualifiers to the EPT and WSOP events are held regularly at this site – along with a full tournament schedule starting at just a few dollars.

Poker-Room Software And Service

The poker software client shared by the members of the OnGame network is considered to be one of the best in the industry. Poker-Room (and each of the member sites) brand the client with their own color scheme and logos. The java version of the Poker-Room client is also widely acclaimed and makes this poker site very popular among Mac and Linux users.

The lobby is divided into Cash and Tournament sections with tabs for different games beneath. Selecting either a cash game or tournament will bring up summary information (including statistics where applicable) on the right hand side. Chat is available from the main lobby as well as in the individual lobbies for tournaments.

Tables look great, with a 3-d effect side-on view point. The avatars are detailed and the card movements fast and clear. As well as looking good the software is very easy to use – and contains some innovative features such as displaying the percentage winning chances when all-in before the river.

Customer service at Poker-Room are contactable 24 hours a day via Telephone, e-mail or the popular ‘Live Chat’ service. With many years of experience the staff are very knowledgeable and will answer your enquiry promptly.

Poker-Room Bonuses And Promotions

The first deposit bonus offer at Poker-Room is a 50% match to $100 plus entry into three tournaments. While this is not the largest bonus for new players, it is one of the faster clearing online poker bonuses around. The real benefits of choosing Poker-Room come in the form of the bonuses and promotional offer for loyal players – and in fact go a long way to explaining why so many players stay at this site long-term.

Poker-Room’s loyalty scheme is based on three ‘rooms’ representing different levels. These start with the ‘green room’, then silver and gold rooms follow. Perks include the ability to change player points into cash, freeroll tournaments (including satellite qualifiers) and an online points store.

Poker-Room Review – Final Overview

One of the first online poker sites, and still one of the most popular. Poker-Room offer a great client and wide selection of both tournaments and cash games. While their sign-up bonus is smaller than some other rooms the Poker-Room loyalty scheme and community feel to this site keep players very loyal. One for the shortlist for non-US players.

Check Out Poker-Room For Yourself Today

Information On Absolute Poker

Absolute Poker Review

Absolute Poker hit the headlines in 2007 for the wrong reasons – when an insider cracked their systems and created a ‘super-user account’. Despite the negative publicity, Absolute Poker remain firmly in the top 10 poker sites and have in fact continued to grow. Many commentators believe that this site is actually safer than many others as a result of the scandal.

This US-Friendly poker site are best known for their perpetual reload bonuses, which are offered each and every month. These bonuses stack on top of the generous 100% to $500 initial sign-up bonus with bonus code SNGPLANET.

Absolute Poker have a reputation for being a ‘rock-garden’ due to the large numbers of ultra-tight players clearing the bonuses at minimal risk to their chips. While this may be true in the lower to middle fixed limit Holdem games, the no-limit and tournament poker is actually some of the softest available at any US-friendly site.

The recent upgrade of their software client to ‘Absolute 8.0’ has brought this poker site largely up to date. Players tend to be very loyal to Absolute Poker, either for the monthly bonus offers or the many promotions available including the ‘Absolute Dream Package’ satellite qualifiers and many others besides.

Absolute Poker Game Selection

Several poker variations are available at Absolute Poker besides the popular Texas Holdem (no-limit, pot-limit and fixed-limit varieties). These include Omaha (fixed / Pot-Limit and Hi-Lo available), Stud, Stud Hi-Lo and Razz. Blind levels start at the 5c / 10c level for most games, going right through to $25 / $50 for the big-money players.

While the cash game tables are busy there is also a comprehensive tournament schedule at Absolute Poker. All of the poker variants are included in Multi-table and SNG format. The weekly showcase tournament unusually runs on a Saturday at Absolute rather than the more common Sunday slot. This $500+$30 event has a $150k guaranteed prize pool. Satellite qualifiers from just a few dollars run throughout the week for this event.

Freerolls and satellites to outside live poker events are regularly scheduled at Absolute Poker. These include WPT / EPT ‘Winners Choice’ satellites as well as the ‘Dream Package’ series which awards multiple live tournament entries for a year – worth over $100,000 to the winners.

Absolute Poker Software And Service

The software at Absolute Poker held this site back for many years. However, the recent update to Absolute 8.0 has transformed the site from being slow and ugly into one of the better online poker clients available.

Tables have a top-down view and are still a little ‘blocky’, however the speed and easy of use are now excellent with a re-sizing option for multi-table players to. The lobby is easy to navigate with the poker games available each having their own tab, while tournaments / SNGs have a separate view. The numerous tables on offer can be narrowed using a filter which can also save your preferences for future visits.

Customer service at Absolute Poker is via e-mail, there are actually several different e-mail addresses depending on the nature of your enquiry (all can be found on their website). Responses are both fast and accurate as you would expect from an established organization.

Absolute Poker Bonuses And Promotions
The initial sign-up bonus for new players at Absolute Poker is a generous 100% to $500 (with Absolute Poker bonus code SNGPLANET). This will clear in increments as you collect points by playing real money cash games or tournaments. While this is not the fastest clearing poker bonus, the advantage to players at Absolute is that you never need to run out of bonuses at all! Each month reload bonuses are offered, often giving existing players $100’s of new bonus money to claim.

In addition there are regular freeroll tournaments and a ‘bad beat jackpot’ which can reach more than $500,000. To win your share of this you will need to have quad 8’s or better beaten at one of the designated tables.

Absolute Poker – Final Overview

With the new software client Absolute are able to better compete with their US-Friendly rivals. While the regular (and generous) bonuses attract many players to this site the fixed-limit Holdem tables do have a reputation for being ‘rock-gardens’ and so not as profitable as some other sites.

Check Absolute Poker For Yourself Today Bonus code = SNGPLANET

Information On Carbon Poker

Carbon Poker Review

Carbon Poker are a smaller US Friendly poker site featuring loose tables and innovative software. Part of the ‘Merge’ network of poker sites, this site is growing rapidly thanks to some of the largest bonus and promotional offers available including a 200% to $500 initial deposit bonus with bonus code FIRSTSUPER.

Game selection is limited to the popular Texas Holdem and Omaha Poker variations, though many other games are offered. Tournaments are focused on the lower buy-ins and often feature guaranteed prize pools. Tables tend to be loose with many inexperienced opponents – particularly at the lower levels.

Carbon Poker offer numerous incentives and special promotions each month. While these are often unique ‘specials’, some of the longer standing deals include freerolls with prize pools of up to $50,000 and poker satellites poker satellites to televised events. This site currently feature more than 2,500 simultaneous players at peak times – and are growing rapidly.

Carbon Poker Game Selection

In addition to the No-Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha Pot Limit Omaha (including Hi-Lo) offered at Carbon Poker many other games including Stud, 5-Draw, Triple-Draw, Badugi and also mixed games such as HORSE and HOSE. The action is heavily weighted towards the lower buy-in levels ($1 / $2 Blinds and below) and table selection can be poor outside of the weekends and US evenings.

A quick look at the statistics in the lobby of Carbon Poker shows that the tables that are on offer are both loose and feature some large pots – an excellent combination for players with some poker experience looking for a profitable site.

Tournaments and SNGs are popular at Carbon and feature a wide variety of games, primarily at the lower buy-in levels. Bounty tournaments as well as turbo, re-buy and freezeout variations are available. The featured weekly tournament at this site is the ‘Sunday $20,000 guaranteed’ which can attract larger fields – satellite qualifiers are available for this weekly event.

Carbon Poker Software And Service

The software client is a strong point at Carbon Poker. Serious poker players will find it easy to use and handle, while recreational players will enjoy the extra features such as ‘animated smileys’ at the tables. The lobby at Carbon Poker is nicely organized, with the primary division between ‘Poker Tables’ (cash) and ‘Tournaments’ (which includes the numerous SNGs and satellite qualifiers).

Action at the tables is fast, the bet-sizing slider takes some time to get used but works very well and the extra features make this site a pleasure to play poker at. Tables are resizable to suit those wishing to play several tables at once.

Customer service is via e-mail or live chat support – thus available instantly. Staff are very helpful and will be happy to assist with deposits for players worldwide. Withdrawals from Carbon Poker are one of the fastest in the industry (ID verification required) with several methods available.

Carbon Poker Promotions And Bonus Offers

The rapid growth of Carbon Poker is party due to the excellent sign-up and subsequent loyalty bonuses that they offer to players. The first deposit bonus is a generous 200% to $500 (use bonus code FIRSTSUPER) to claim the full amount. This will be regularly boosted by numerous other bonuses and promotions including reloads and many ‘one-off’ specials on a month-by-month basis.

Recent examples of the monthly special offers have included randomly doubling the prize pools of SNG tournaments, offering special bonuses when you have aces beaten and a large number of freerolls with some large prize pools ($10k and $50k) and comparatively small fields.

Carbon Poker – Final Overview

Excellent software, loose tables, great bonuses and a desire to grow fast to challenge the larger sites make this a good choice for those who enjoy the lower to middle limits of online poker games. We expect to see great things from this site as the months go on and would recommend that players seeking a profitable alternative to the larger sites check them out for themselves.

(use bonus code FIRSTSUPER for the 200% to $500 Sign-up Bonus)

Click Here Now To Check Carbon Poker For Yourself

Information On Party Poker

Party Poker Bonus Code (max $150 Bonus) = SNGPLANET

Party Poker Review

Party Poker’s brand was synonymous with online poker for many years. Then in late 2006 they pulled out of the US – losing their number #1 spot in the process. Vigorous marketing has seen Party Poker’s player base boosted considerably, making this poker site the 3rd largest online with over 70,000 simultaneous players at peak times.

The poker games available at Party Poker are Texas Holdem, Omaha and Stud – Unlike many poker sites the fixed limit games attract large numbers of players. The SNGs and Multi-table tournaments are also popular and include innovative variations including ‘Steps’ and ‘Helkat’ SNG games.

New players at Party Poker will receive a 30% to $150 first deposit bonus. While this is smaller than some other sites, Party look after their regular players with ‘reload bonuses’ almost every month. There is also a VIP Program and numerous freerolls and satellite qualifiers available.

Party Poker Game Selection

No-Limit Texas Holdem cash games are very popular at Party Poker and are available 24/7 with levels starting at just 2c / 4c blinds going through to $25 / $50 for the high-rollers. Fixed Limit Holdem is also popular. These cash games are what gives Party Poker a reputation for ‘fishy’ opponents, with many opponents having little or no knowledge of good poker play.

Tournaments and SNGs are also popular – though the selection in terms of sizes and buy-in levels is not as wide as some other large sites. Re-buy, Satellite and Turbo tournaments are scheduled with the weekly showcase being the $300k Guaranteed. SNG tournaments have high fees at the lowest levels but do have the advantage of high player volumes, especially at peak times. Helkat (timed) and Steps SNGs are very popular, the latter giving players the opportunity to climb a ladder to a huge prize for just $3 entry.

Party Poker Software And Service

The software client at Party Poker set the standard for the industry when online poker was relatively new. In the meantime others have improved vastly on the Party client and left this site behind. However, what Party do provide is a clean and effective software platform that lets you focus on the important task of taking the money from the loose opponents.

Contact with the Party Poker customer service is via either telephone or e-mail. Their staff are experienced and knowledgeable and will help you resolve your queries quickly.

Party Poker Promotions And Bonus Offers

New players at Party Poker will receive a 30% to $150 sign-up bonus with Party Poker bonus Code SNGPLANET. This clears very quickly and will be released into your account as a single lump-sum once you collect the required ‘Party Points’. New players will get access to beginners tables and entry into numerous freerolls and ‘lucky dollar’ tournaments for the first 30 days after joining.

Regular reload bonuses are awarded to players, with some poker money management it is possible to be clearing a bonus each month. The points that you earn clearing the Party Poker bonus will also count towards your VIP level and can be exchanged for cash or tournament entries at favorable rates.

Party Poker – Final Overview

While the software is functional rather than attractive, Party Poker have a number of benefits which more than make up for this. The loose (or just plain bad) opposition at the tables make this a profitable site for anyone with some poker skills. Generous and regular bonuses will also give your poker bankroll a boost. A potentially profitable choice for all players based outside of the US.

Check Out Party Poker for yourself today by clicking here (Bonus code = SNGPLANET)

Information On Full Tilt Poker

$600 (max) Bonus code = SNGPLANET

Full Tilt Poker Review

Full Tilt Poker are marketed at the ‘Home of the Pros’. You will find big names from the poker world playing at the tables of this US-friendly poker site including Phil Ivey, Mike Matesow and Gus Hansen.

Launched in 2004, Full Tilt have grown to become the 2nd largest online poker site due to their excellent software, wide game selection and generous bonus offers. More than 80,000 simultaneous players can be found online at peak times enjoying the many cash games, tournaments and sit n go poker games available.

First time players at this site will receive a 100% match on their first deposit up to $600 with bonus code SNGPLANET. This is cleared by collecting ‘Full Tilt Points’ by playing real money cash games or tournaments – and will be released into your account in increments. The points you earn can later be used for entering numerous freeroll and satellite tournaments, or to buy goods from the Full Tilt Poker online store.

Full Tilt Poker Game Selection

As you would expect from one of the worlds largest poker sites the selection of both cash games and tournaments is very large. While Texas Holdem is the most popular choice there are many poker variants including Omaha Poker, Stud and Draw poker – there are also a number of mixed game formats.

The cash game selection at Full Tilt Poker is weighted towards the short-handed (6-max) tables – though full ring tables are also available. Lower buy-in tables are the busiest at all times of day with games ranging from the micro-stakes right through to those with $1000’s in each pot.

Tournaments are a strong point for Full Tilt Poker with many poker variants, field sizes and buy-in amounts covered. The feature tournament at this site is the ‘Sunday $750k Guaranteed’ which attracts large fields each week. Knockout, re-buy and turbo tournaments – as well as a huge selection of SNG tournaments – make this a popular site with tournament players worldwide.

Full Tilt Poker Software And Service

Full Tilt’s software client is considered to be one of the best around. It has a ‘Cartoon-Like’ look and feel and can be configured with a number of backgrounds and avatars. The lobby is easy to navigate and search via tabbed sections. Tables show clear action buttons and fast play and feature some handy features including a ‘bet pot’ button and graphical hand history.

Customer Service at Full Tilt Poker is generally fast and effective. This is via e-mail and queries are usually answered within 1 hour. Your security is protected with 256-bit SSL software during play – in fact Full Tilt offer a pledge that they are committed to having the most secure environment for their players online.

Full Tilt Poker Promotions And Bonus Offers

In addition to the generous 100% up to $600 first-time deposit bonus $600 first-time deposit bonus for new players there are always a good selection of bonus and promotional offers at this site. These include freerolls and satellite qualifiers – both to the larger internal tournaments and televised external events. The monthly ‘Iron Man Freerolls’ give regular players the chance to win up to $100,000. In addition Full Tilt Poker run an online event called the ‘Full Tilt Online Poker Series’ (FTOPS) which involves a 10 day online event of big buy-in tournaments.

Full Tilt Poker – Final Overview

An increasingly popular choice for both cash-game and tournament players, Full Tilt Poker continue to attract new players month after month and keep existing players loyal too. The combination of a wide game selection, regular bonuses and incentives and great software interface make this a top choice for online poker fans worldwide.

Check Out Full Tilt Poker For Yourself - Click Here (Bonus / Referral Code for the max available 100% to $600 bonus = SNGPLANET

Journey Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #2 - Calling

Another Part #2... this could be a longer series of intermittent posts thinking about it, a lot of characteristics manifest themselves when you take the journey into the mind of a donk! Here is a link to the first installment which was about slowplaying:

Todays journey is into the reasoning a donk might give for constantly calling, making those calls before the flop, and indeed on every street - whether there has been a raise (or even a re-raise) and however slim their chances... instead of looking at specific scenarios I'd like to try and get 'into the heads' of our foolish (small ' f ') opponents a little here and look at how they justify all this calling activity.... just in case you do not already know I will then finish the post with a couple of (choice!) words as to why winning players are not, on the whole, callers (though, calling has its place at times for all).

The Mind Of A DONK - Why They Call...

1) Since entering a pot in No-Limit Holdem (or any game), even for a raise - is so cheap compared to the depth of the stacks, they only need to hit a hidden monster now and again to justify calling bets many times. This leads to calling with weak and marginal hands.

2) Donks (by their very nature) over-estimate the strength of ace-x hands and suited hands, leading to calling with these.

3) Combine the 2 reasons above with a lack of awareness of position, whether the betting will be closed by their call (and protected pots in general), tendencies / ranges of those already in the pot and stack sizes and you can see that the reasons for calling are strong... for example how many times have you seen someone call a 3bb raise with Ace-rag only to face a 5bb re-raise from a desperate short stack and be forced to call due to the odds (yep, I read blogs + forums, it upsets people when they hit!!)

4) Slowplaying, in order to get the maximum payoff they deserve each time those aces, kings or ace-king appears these hands are called with too... think about that for a minute, calling a raise in bad position in a multi-way pot with ace-king, and then wondering why their stack quickly disappears.

5) Well, after you have limped it is only a few more chips / dollars to see a flop, does not matter if the implied-odds are there for that tiny-pair... after all the player who raised might be bluffing!

Enough reasons for the moment, feel free to drop a comment if you can think of any more!

What your average donk misses is how powerful the alternatives to calling are. Folding is great, this can prevent you losing your stack (or having to buy-in again in that cash game) with a weak hand in bad position... it is a habit that can save you many nasty post-flop decisions when excercised correctly.

Raising... now this one is beyond great - it is the true mark of a winning poker player. You get to take pots when you raise, since your opponents will miss the flop the majority of the time this is actually remarkably easy to do. All those pots add up to a healthy stack, which means you can revert to folding once resistance gets heavy.

All that stuff about slowplaying to disguise your hand, how about a raise for disguise instead, how about building a pot over several streets with those aces instead of checking with them... by the time the river comes and you finally get those last chips in then your opponent will be committed to the pot.

How about raising to define your hand, at the low limits you rarely see a 4-bet without a monster (and in PLO Games almost never). How about raising to sweeten the pot, make the turn bets a little bit bigger when you have a small pair that could turn into a big hand on the right flop. How about raising with suited connectors, mostly you'll win without a showdown, but those times you do hit nobody will give you credit for the straight - leading to a very big payoff.

There are 100's of perfectly good reasons for raising... either with the best hand, as a profitable (semi) bluff or simply to take yet another small pot on the flop.

Sure, there is the place for a 'flat call' in any balanced strategy - but when we travel into the mind of a donk we can easily see why calling can both seem correct and be so very wrong!

Hopefully something to think about!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Information on PKR Poker

PKR Poker Review

The 3d graphics at ‘next generation’ poker site PKR actually feel so much like a video-game that it is easy to forget that you are playing online poker for real money. Settings, avatars and ‘camera-angles’ can all be changed to give you the closest thing to a live poker experience that it is possible to have online. PKR are not currently available to US players.

Amazing game-play and graphics have seen this poker site grow fast, there are up to 6,000 players simultaneously online at peak times enjoying a selection of Texas Holdem and Omaha poker games. The nature of this site mean that those attracted to it are recreational players rather than the ‘pro-grinders’, ensuring profitable play for those with some poker strategy knowledge.

With several bonus deposit options for new players up to $600 free is available – the larger the bonus the more play required to clear. Regular reload bonuses and freeroll tournaments also help to keep players loyal to this unique poker site.

PKR Poker Game Selection

Both cash games and tournaments (including SNGs) are popular at PKR and are available in Texas Holdem and Omaha Poker variations. Large numbers of primarily recreational poker players mean that there are very few high-stakes games. Below the $1 / $2 level it is possible to find a table with a betting structure to suit you at most times of day. Peak times for PKR are weekday evenings European time and of course weekends.

Tournaments are also weighted towards the lower buy-ins, games from $5 up to around $30 are the most popular by far. There are a wide selection of both SNGs and Multi-table tournament including bounty (knockout), re-buy, turbo and satellite qualifiers. Seats at major televised events such as the WPT and WSOP are regularly given away via ‘supersatellites’ which in turn have satellite qualifiers.

PKR Poker Software And Service

Software is the number one reason to play at PKR, the graphics and game play are absolutely amazing – if a little resource intensive on your computer. Not only does the software look great, there are some great features such as the ability to show cards as you fold and to show emotion via your uniquely constructed avatar.

Even the lobby at PKR has a ‘future’ feel about it, though the tabbed interface also makes it easy to locate the table of your choice. Many players recommend spending some time getting to know the interface and configuration / view options before starting the real money games. This will allow you to focus on the all important poker once money is involved.

The resource-intensive nature of the software make it difficult to effectively multi-table at this site. This factor deters many ‘online pro grinders’ from the tables, making the average skill level of the opposition lower than at some other poker sites.

PKR Poker Bonuses And Promotions

There are a choice of three ‘standard’ sign-up bonuses available at PKR for new players. The larger bonus you choose the more points are required (proportionally) to clear this, for example the $50 sign-up bonus requires 7500 points (150 points per dollar), while the $600 sign-up bonus requires that you earn $225 points for each dollar.

In addition to these generous sign up bonuses PKR poker have a loyalty program based around points collected for raked hands and tournament fees. Accumulated points can be turned into cash, spent on tournament entries or used to by goods at PKR’s online store.

Satellites to live events, regular freerolls, bounty tournaments also contribute to the promotions on offer at this excellent new poker site.

PKR Poker – Final Overview

Certainly special in terms of the software, which easily matches their claim of taking online poker to the next level. This site offers some loose action at the lower limits due to the largely recreational player base. Combine this with some above average bonus and promotion offers and it is easy to see how PKR have grown so fast – we expect this site to continue that growth and hope to see a wider selection of poker variants and tournaments alongside this.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Poker Affiliate Business - End Of Month Update #3 (Part #2)

Right, the rest of the business update started earlier today... kind of dived straight into the next big project without a highlights of March and Plans for April summary - to redress:

March Business Highlights

- Finally got the HU bonus / room info site up and running. Poker Bonusz Klub is now indexed and ranking nicely for some decent terms, not too much traffic as yet, but early days.
- Rakeback-Planet (with the dash!) is up, idea with this is to send already rakeback-educated players from SNG / Omaha Planets (and maybe Plan3t Gong!)... working as a sub for an established RB provider so as to be able to offer the maximum available %'s right from the start.
- Started my partnership with the Poker Strategy Forums seems to be good progress so far, enjoying working with some experienced poker affiliates - and the quality of posts is high. The forum is gaining momentum all the time and I can see growth being exponential once we gain enough members.
- Traffic up at all sites and some nice Google ranking boosts for SNG Planet in particular and Omaha Poker Planet starting to do well for many terms too.
- New Look SNG Planet was released around the 12th... idea was to be both 'cleaner' and 'easier to navigate', feel that we achieved both of these - not bad for a team who had little idea how to make websites 1 year ago!!

Wow, what a month.

So, onto plans for April... will divide these by site:

- SNG Planet:
- First 2 translations (maybe 3) each of 100 pages minimum.
- Lots More Content... at least 15 articles to go up during the month.
- Private Tournament (in plan for 20th April, just a $2 entry with a huge $160 over-lay... details to follow about a week to 10 days before hand as to exactly when / where - stay tuned!)

- Omaha Planet
- More Content Here for sure, smaller site so not going to go crazy with pages but at least 1 article per week from now onwards.
- Considering a private tournament for this site too... just a small buy-in and $100 extra or so into the prize pool for those who want to give PLO a try in a fun environment.

- Plan3t Gong Blog
- Keep on keeping on! ok, want to become a little more active in the 'blogging community' than I have been of late... going to have a regular slot in my schedule to read others blogs and find new ones to recommend on my 'blogs of distinction' list. Always happy to exchange links with quality blogs - just drop me a comment... same if you have a recommendation for a blog to read.

- Poker Bonusz Klub / Rakeback-Planet (with the dash!)
- Not much action with these this month, will let them get established with the search engines for a month and make a plan for each for May... will get a couple of inbound links each week for them but little else.

- XYZ Planet(s)!
- A new strategy site is on the way... going to be the best yet. Hope to have it ready this month... if not we will at least be ready to announce, stay tuned.
- Also thinking of a '' site targeting some specific bonus terms we identified from the keyword tools... this is dependant on time spent with other projects... call me old fashioned but I prefer the projects that 'add value' in some way to readers rather than just fishing for the targetted clicks (yeah, I know - should be both!).

- Writing Content
- Well I gave up my writing service last month but have had a new idea for selling content. Again this will largely depend on time spent on other projects... but Mark's unique article 'packs' could be hitting the shelves some time soon!! We will see.

Ok - thats the business update done... even more plans in the trusty notebook but trying to be realistic as to what I can achive with my time. We are already 'sniffing' around how much offices cost etc here in Budapest and it is becoming clearer all the time that we will look back in a years time and see how these loooooong days in early 2008 set us up for the future.

GL at the tables, Mark

Poker Affiliate Business - End Of Month Update #3

Another month gone, seemingly in the blink of an eyelid, and time for another business update. A couple of changes to the format of these, no more actual numbers / results - well not specifics anyway... will still publish my interim targets and whether I made them or not.

Last months target of at least one player each day is now complete... so time to set the sights a little higher - or rather a lot higher. Many small things combined to make business successful during March, even with a huge 'gap' of no signups for over a week... the main change was psychological...

I have wanted to 'hire' outside help for some time now (after all my main 'skills' (other than writing) are in the people management + project management areas). Until now my view was this:

' While there are still hours in the day I am not working then we can not justify paying someone else to work'.

It did not matter whether I worked 8, 10 or 14 hours... if there were more hours available then I needed to fill these up first - and fill them productively too (checking google analytics does not count!!!). Actually had one of those enlightened moments during March and, after some discussions with Erika, have changed my approach completely.

' We hire a team, paying other people to work for us will motivate and drive me to get 110% productivity from my own time' (you see the difference... in some ways it is minor - however when we look back at March 2008 in a years time then I'm convinced that this will be the time we point to and say 'that is when we stopped being good and started the road to being great!!')

So, this in turn has lead to a big shift in approach and project scope... and the introduction of what I am calling ' Project East '

Not that it is just east...

The idea is that I am going to have my sites translated into several languages, starting with 100 pages of SNG Planet into 2 or 3 languages each this month... we have already lined up some help with the dreamweaver updates for this and are looking to hire some local translators to get the job done...

'East' comes into the picture with the languages we are looking at, Russian is top of the list, Romanian also high along with Polish... these are emerging poker markets and there is plenty of room for ranking highly in the country Google searches here. German is widely spoken too (as common as English here in Central Europe), I'm also going to look at Dutch, French and Italian, Hungarian. I'm not going to ignore the Nordic languages or Spanish / Portuguese... however these are in the 2nd priority category for me for slightly different reasons.

- Having worked on projects with the Nordics (Denmark / Sweden / Norway and Finland) in my previous corporate life I have yet to come across someone from these countries who does not speak excellent English!

- For the Hispanic languages the reasoning is slightly different... translations usually cover these first (the 'obvious' choice for those based in the US I guess??)... leading to more competition, I believe that the way to go is 'east' where I will have a good deal of 'first movers advantage'... then we look at South America / Spain etc

Ah well, this is only one plan of many for next month and already this post is getting too long.

Will continue my business review tomorrow.

In the meantime if anyone out there would be willing to translate 100 pages of SNG Planet into one of the languages I mentioned please send me a mail with your quote (for the whole job, pages are between 500 and 700 words (some a little longer)... I'm not interested in per-word quotes etc)) to - we are recruiting locally here in Budapest so you'll need to be competatively priced!

GL at those multi-language tables, Mark

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Playing Against 'Calling Stations' In PLO

A quick '5 thoughts' post today, covering some 'things to think about' while playing against habitual 'callers' in PLO Games.

The first thing we need to mention is that this is actually most opponents in the lower level (50c / $1 and below) online pot limit Omaha games - maybe even higher in live PLO... those types happy to call, call and call some more trying to hit that hand (whether a nut hand or not), regardless of position, stack sizes, image / tendencies of raiser and texture of the board these opponents will be happy just to call, call and caaaaaaaaaaallllllll some more.

Before we get to the list, one more point. I do not want it to sound like a complaint... these loose / passive opponents are actually the most profitable out there!

Playing Against Callers In Online PLO Games

1 - Tighten up in EP... sounds obvious when it is written but 'speculative' hands need to be mucked more often pre-flop. The danger is that you find yourself 4 or 5 handed on the flop, out of position with a hand that has very few nut possibilities and opponents who will not fold - not such a great combination. Stick to premium omaha starting hands only from EP.

2 - Raise And Re-Raise From Position: While most PLO callers who have limped into the pot will call and see a flop there are still good reasons for raising. For a start loose passive opponents will usually 3-bet (or 4-bet) you with a real monster such as a quality aces hand, giving you valuable information. Secondly, while the limpers may call, you are reducing the chances of those players behind you entering the pot... and slightly reducing the propensity of players to limp in front of you in future too. If you never raise and re-raise pre-flop you are giving the loose-passive types a 'licence to limp' which is exactly where they feel the most comfortable!

3 - Bet Out On Both 'Dry' or 'Scary' Flops: Uncoordinated flops such as 3-8-K unsuited should usually be bet against a small number of opponents, you'll often win immediately and can safely fold if you have missed and get re-raised. Scary flops such as paired boards or single suits (especially when you have the ace of that suit) can also be bet a large percentage of the time. If you do not win immediately then be cautious!

4 - Draw Heavy Flops And Calling Stations: With several draws on the flop your bets will be called, what is more you will have no idea where you stand in the hand. That is not to say you should never bet a draw-heavy board into a caller, just be aware that the reasons for doing this are to build a pot when you have the best of it and / or make it too expensive (in terms of implied odds) to draw on a 'safe' turn (you can bet enough to make calling for the draw a clear mistake against all but the most stubborn calling stations!). If you are called on a draw heavy board and the draw comes in then think twice before 'representing' the hand on the turn... you could easily find yourself pretending to have the exact holding you are up against.

5 - When They Bet, You Should Often Fold: Loose / Passive opponents are characterized by their tendency to call your raises and chase long-shots. When such a player re-raises later in a hand, when the pot (and so bet sizes) are large... then alarm bells need to start ringing! Folding ess you have a nut hand will probably save you chips over time, of course adjusting to the individual opponent may have even bigger expectation. Of course a loose / passive opponent raising pre-flop is a great sign, you face aces (or maybe quality kings) and can call with some excellent implied odds against a 'face-up' hand.

Well, thought of a few more, including noting which passive opponents call with non-nut draws and how to react to a turn 'scare card'... but will save these for another time.

GL at those PLO Tables, Mark