Monday, February 27, 2012

Back To Poker Basics: Knowing vs Doing

Another post for those on the start of their poker journey today… the last one looked at the gap concept, covering pre-flop starting hand selection. Here I will carry right on with the theme – though in a slightly different way. You see, it is all well and good knowing about poker strategy, and those things you should and should not do at the tables… the big difference between winning players and the rest concerns having the discipline to actually see thought the action based on your knowledge.

Let me start with the gap concept. You know you need stronger starting hands when someone has already entered the pot with a raise, yet still play those weak aces? You know what you should do, but in the heat of battle… well, you have not had a good hand in ages… but hey, you might get lucky with 2 pairs this time.

Stop stop stop.

What separates a winning player from the rest is that they are disciplined in their approach… only deviating when there is a solid reason (a mathematical one, not just a hunch!).

There are many more examples, the classic is an ICM mistake in Sit N Go Tournaments. Here a player might be experienced enough to know that calling with their ace-queen (for example) against a shove at the bubble is a losing play over time. Yet that hand feels so strong, looks so good and they are sure it crushes their opponents starting hand range… nope, you call here and you lose money, not some abstract ev measurement – we are talking real money.

That guy raises from the button again and you have junk in the big blind. You know in your clear thinking moments that you should fold, you will find a spot soon enough… or even steal some blinds yourself. Something still makes you call or re-raise… when he re-raises your turn barrel you know you are in trouble, yet he might just be pushing you around… of course discipline would have prevented this ugly situation.

I could easily come up with more examples here… no need for now, as I am sure you get the message.

It is no good just knowing what to do… you need to act on it too!

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: For a great introduction to winning $$$ from the poker tables check out my poker ebook course ‘the $16 per hour SNG blueprint’ over at SNG Planet now!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Do You Really Aspire To Becoming A Poker Robot?

Tongue-in-cheek post time… this one was inspired by reading through various poker forums and seeing the incredible exchanges between poker robots… erm, no, I mean between individuals who got good at multi-table grinding and are probably well balanced and friendly types with great social lives and no spots or greasy hair at all.

I love these kids, I really do. They got beaten and belittled at school, they got spurned by the ladies at college.. and now they are ‘free’ they are free to break even over 24 tables and make a comfortable living from points bonuses, they are free to act all superior in front of other nerdy losers who aspire to be just like them.. they are free to get snarky and act cool behind a keyboard towards those who are trying to be like them… they have escaped the world telling them what to do – but at what price?

The price is that they are trapped by their setups, trapped into spending 8+ hours a day alone, focusing on a computer screen, making thousands of utterly trivial dull decisions for every one which is even slightly interesting. They living in a world where the only change in the future might be higher buy-in level, or a new tool to bring in 0.001% more cash, at the mercy of poker sites who might decide to change their calculations in points or even run off with their bankroll completely. Their social interaction becomes a forum where instead of becoming friends with their peers they simply vent their frustration and anger at having such a monotonous and soul-destroying job.

Of course, they made their decision to be ‘free’ and will defend it until their dying breath. You fools who work for the man with your career prospects and social interactions… they will not be trapped into working in that cubicle all day, no way! Of course the irony is that the only jobs ex-grinders are capable of doing are the junior positions which their peers already worked their way out of to enter more challenging and interesting paths ahead.

Once they take the step to grinding freedom nobody can tell them they are wrong. As their friends disappear one by one, and they are left isolated with their computers and post-counts they will hold themselves tall and proud of examples of someone who ‘made it’… while those who once liked or loved them just look on in pity.

Hey, I love poker too.

Tell me though, do you really aspire to becoming a self-loathing online poker robot?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Chance For A Fishmarket OnGame Tournament Free Token!

Anyone who has read this blog for more than 5 minutes will already know that I am a big fan of OnGame’s RedKings Poker. There are a couple of different reasons for this… though it boils down to a combination of the soft tables (thanks to brands like Bwin and Betfair bringing sport bettors to the poker tables) and generous rewards (more on those below).

You can claim a freeby at Red Kings this week, in the form of their semi-regular ‘Fishmarket’ promo. The next one is on Feb 16th – at 20:15 CET (21:15 UK) so you need to act now!

This is a $10,000 guaranteed tournament with a twist. All new depositors get a free entry to this game worth $11. This keeps the standard super-super-super-soft (so soft they named it 3 times) which attracts many more of the recreational players from around the site… which gets the guarantee well beaten, big payouts for the last finishers… which attracts even more players to the honey pot.

If this sounds like a good combo, that is because it is!

RedKings are a cool site with multi-platform software and a great history of looking after their players well. You get to choose from 6 BIG welcome bonuses, and will also get an extra $300 bonus the first time you are dealt the 2 red kings in a cash game (goes up to $500 if you lose with them… now now, I know what you are thinking of!!!).


You can claim your token up to an hour before the tournament begins!


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Back To Basics, There Is Nothing More Important Than The Gap!

I have been thinking about ‘strategy writers bias’ a lot lately. This is the fact that, by the time a writer is ‘qualified’ to talk about poker – they already have a ton of knowledge above and beyond the concepts they are trying to explain.

The result is often a loss of perspective in relation to their audience. For example they assume something is obvious when talking about a particular move… or fail to explain why something is important, assuming the beginner will just say ‘ok!’. I could come up with several examples of this, for example after playing for a while you know that playing ace-rag is a bad idea… however, just saying this without explaining the concept of ‘domination’ to a new player (even an intelligent one!) will make little sense.

See, I just made a strategy writers bias error myself… experienced people will understand the concept of domination, though the new guys will probably not!

Anyway, I thought I’d use this blog for a couple of back-to-basics posts. Each one of these will explain some simple concept that we take for granted in a simple and jargon-free way. This will serve 2 purposes, firstly to help the odd newer player who ventures by. Secondly, it will force me to put myself into the shoes of my core audience – the new and improving players – and hopefully my ideas for material and writing for them will improve on my bigger sites such as SNG Planet!

The Gap Concept – So Key To Winning Poker, Yet Hardly Even Mentioned

After you decide which starting hands you are willing to play pre-flop there is another huge factor which should influence your decision on whether to enter a pot. This is whether anyone else has already entered the pot ahead of you.

There are several possible scenarios here. Someone may have limped (called the big blind), someone may have raised, if someone did raise then there might be a re-raise or a call… and depending on the position of the players relative to each other, the option to make yet another raise could still be there.

What a beginning player should learn to do is factor the betting that has already taken place, how many players are still waiting to act and whether they will have to act first or last after the flop into their decision to play a particular starting hand or not.

This is where the ‘Gap Concept’ starts to become useful.

What this states is that you need a better hand to call a raise made by another player than you need to raise a pot which nobody has yet entered.

This makes sense on a couple of different levels.

Firstly, if someone has raised then your starting hand no longer needs to beat a random hand that an opponent might hold. It needs to beat the possible hands the person who raised might hold.

For example, if a player will only raise with Ace-nine or better, pairs 55+ and a few King-Queen type hands, then your starting hand needs to do well against this range of possible holdings. You might have been happy to raise a pot which nobody has entered with Ace-eight, however against this opponent you will be ahead so rarely that this is simply throwing money away… the ace-eight now becomes an easy fold.

Secondly, we look from the other perspective, if nobody is interested in the pot then you have an opportunity to get hands which you not like to play against when first to act after the flop (a disadvantage I will cover in a future post) to fold. For example you would not like to play a mid-pair against something like King-Ten when first to act, since it will be difficult to know where you stand on the flop. You use the gap concept to your advantage by raising more hands when first to enter…

If you are at the start of your poker journey the key phrase (first published by Sklansky I believe) to remember is this: You need a better hand to call a raise than you need to raise with yourself.

GL at the tables, Mark

Monday, February 06, 2012

Extra Special iPoker Jackpot SNG Offer

This is the 2nd time I have been able to announce an extra token for my readers at Titan Poker. This is really a promotion for my main site SNG Planet of course, however it all started here at Plan3t Gong – so what the hell, I’ll do a post here and keep readers topped up.

Here is what I am talking about in a nutshell:

New players joining Titan Poker in February 2012 using bonus code SNGPLANET can now claim an improved combo bonus… this is: 200% first deposit match + $20 extra cash (within 48 hours) + $6 ‘Maui’ Jackpot SNG token.

There is no catch, no hoops to jump through or sinister targets which remain just out of reach. All you need to do is make a first deposit of $30+, use bonus code SNGPLANET – and I’ll make sure the extras get to you within 48 hours.

Click here to check out Titan Poker for yourself now!

Here is a graphic we had made up for SNG Planet with the same offer.


For those who do not know about Jackpot SNGs, here are a few words on them.
The idea is that you win 6 in a row (or 4 or 5 for some levels) and scoop a big jackpot prize. This is between $2000 (for the $2.40c Dirty Dozen games) to $50,000 for the biggest (fort-knox) games… these jackpots are progressive, and I have seen them reach $75k in the past. These SNGs attract a lot of recreational players too – making them very easy to beat.

You can read more about these games over at SNG Planet here.

For those who are not familiar with Titan poker a couple of words on this site too.
Titan are the biggest site on the iPoker Network, a group of sites who share players too offer more games and tournaments, branding each site as their own. This network includes betting giants William Hill and Bet365 – and it is the large number of sports-betting players popping into the poker room which keeps the games very easy compared to other sites. Tournaments are especially crazy, though the SNGs are certainly easier to beat than at other *ahem* bigger sites!

Here is the bigger deal: 200% matched + $20 cash + $6 token this is valid for Feb 2012 only… so make sure you grab your extras fast! Click here to check out Titan Poker for yourself now!

Gl at the tables – if you win the Maui Jackpot, please let me know!

Mark