10 Tips to instantly make you more profitable

In this blog post, I am going to share 10 tips with you that will instantly make you a more profitable player, especially in tournaments. While most players think that playing a fundamentally sound strategy is the only thing that matters, through diligent study and common sense, you will find that the game extends far beyond the felt. I hope this blog post enlightens you to some of these concepts.
Prepare for uncomfortable temperatures
Most casinos keep the temperature quite cold. For this reason, you either need to dress for cold weather or make yourself somewhat accustomed to the cold. During the WSOP, where parts of the tournament venue are freezing, I constantly hear players complaining about how cold it is. They fail to realize that if they prepared ahead of time and brought a jacket, they would be fine. They could also simply order a hot beverage from the cocktail waitress.
I have recently taken this concept one step further. I have started taking freezing cold showers every morning and also long walks outside whenever it is cold. These practices have allowed me to build up immunity to the cold. Even in the coldest poker room, I feel perfectly fine in a t-shirt. That being said, if poker rooms start making the environment hot, I could be in trouble!
Look at your cards properly
If your opponents can see your hand, you are going to have a tough time winning. You must use two hands when looking at your cards. If you only use one, your hand is likely visible from some angle. Don’t think that a chip stack can block your neighbor’s view. You want to make a deep cave with your hands and lift up only the corners of your cards as far back in the cave as possible.
Here are a few images to help you know if you are looking at your cards correctly.
This is not correct:
This is not correct:
This IS correct.

Believe it or not, but I actually had an impossible time finding a picture online of someone holding their cards in an ideal manner! I decided to take this one myself but even then, it was tough to show a good angle because if your cards are concealed properly, the camera should have a tough time seeing the cards. If you are right handed, simply turn the cards 90 degrees before peeking at the corners. If your cards are clearly visible to you and you don’t have to bend over a bit to look at them, you probably aren’t looking at them correctly.
Arrive on time
While some well-known professionals make a point to show up a few hours late to every tournament, I think that if you are in good physical and mental shape, that you should show up on time. There is a ton of value in being able to play short-handed and deep-stacked versus amateur opponents. If you show up late, you miss out on these opportunities. If you start with 30,000 chips in $10,000 buy-in event and can increase your stack to 33,000 on average within the first two hours, which is not too uncommon for a strong player at a soft short-handed table, you have won 10% of a starting stack, which is $1,000 in equity. I am not rich enough to turn down $500 per hour, so I show up and play these levels. Of course, if you are bad at poker, you should not show up on time and instead register as late as possible so that you are effectively gambling, which is much better than you will do compared to playing deep-stacked against good players.
Let your opponents know that you cannot be messed with
Playing in a blatantly straightforward manner is almost always a mistake. There are many reasons for this that I have discussed in my books, but one of the main ones is that your aggressive opponents will assume that they can apply a lot of pressure on you and make you fold unless you have a strong holding. Assuming you want to slowly grind up your stack, the last thing you want to do is induce your aggressive opponents to play back at you, making it difficult for you to steal pots on a regular basis. If at all possible, you want to make your opponents play straightforward against you. In order to do this, you will occasionally have to get a bit out of line and let your opponents know that you are not someone they can pick on.
In a recent WPT event at the BestBet in Jacksonville, I had a fairly aggressive kid directly on my right who made it clear that he was trying to push everyone around. When he reraised me for the first time, I 4-bet, and he called. I continuation bet the flop, and he folded. A little while later, he 3-bet me again. I again 4-bet and he folded. After that, he didn’t mess with me for the remainder of the day. These aggressive actions also induced the rest of the players at the table to stay out of my way because in their minds, it was clear that I was someone who was not afraid to play a big pot. When my straightforward opponents finally showed aggression, I simply folded. I ended up getting seven walks throughout the day, where everyone simply folds around to me when I am in the big blind, whereas no one else got a single one. If players are afraid of you, they will play in a blatantly straightforward manner, allowing you to have your way with the table.
Realize that the “average stack size” is fairly irrelevant
People love irrelevant stats. Just watch ESPN for a few minutes to see what I mean. You will constantly hear the commentators spew irrelevant stats such as “Their quarterback has won 8 straight games in the first week of November.” In poker, there are also a bunch of irrelevant stats. Perhaps the one that amateurs pay the most attention to is the “average stack size”. You instead need to be concerned with the effective stack size at your table and how that should alter your strategy. If the average stack size is 100 big blinds and you have 50 big blinds, there is no need to panic or feel like you are in bad shape. If the average stack size is 10 big blinds and you have 15 big blinds, you should not feel as if you are in a great situation. My best advice is to simply ignore this stat.
I once played in a $1,500 WSOP event where a guy was clearly concerned with the average stack size. Eventually it became clear to me that whenever he turned around to look at the tournament clock, he was checking to see if he had more or less than average. When he had less than average, he would raise with almost any two cards, hoping to get back above average. Once I figured this out, I started reraising him with an overly wide range. He didn’t last too long.
Don’t be distracted
While live poker gives you the opportunity to take in a huge amount of information about your opponents, it also provides you with lots of down time where little is happening. This results in most players becoming bored. They then turn to various distractions, such as their phone, sports, books, talking to their peers, and many other activates to occupy their attention. While it probably isn’t too big of a deal to occupy your time when you are on a break or there is no hand in progress, if you are constantly engaged with activities besides poker, you will not focus well. If you do not focus well, you will miss loads of vital information that will help you adjust to your opponents’ specific tendencies, allowing you to win significantly more money. When playing poker, turn off the distractions and play poker.
Plan your bathroom breaks
If you are anything like me, playing poker when you have to go to the bathroom is not ideal. This should lead you to plan your consumption of food and drinks to line up with when you will have a break in a tournament. For example, I know that after drinking a liquid, I have to pee around an hour later. This means that if I get a break every two hours, I should not drink anything during the first hour. I should also make a point to order my drink around 45 minutes into the level, ensuring it arrives roughly an hour into the level.
I usually have to go to the bathroom around 30 minutes after dinner. This is a particularly interesting situation because if I finish eating at the end of a dinner break, I will have to use the bathroom 30 minutes into the level, meaning I will have to hold it for 90 minutes, assuming two hours between breaks. Since that is obviously not a good situation, I instead make a point to scarf down my food on dinner break such that I am finished eating with 30 minutes left in the break.
By figuring out your tendencies, you will be able to better prepare. Is this too much information for you?!?
Recognize that you don’t have to win every hand you enter
It is important to realize and accept that you will not win every hand you enter. This concept often gives tight players a problem. They assume that since they only enter a few pots, usually with the best hand, that they should win all of them. This leads to them to stick around with obviously beat hands way too long, such as with Q-Q on J-T-7-K or A-A on 8-7-6-3-4. When you are likely to beat, you should get out of the way. If you think you have to win every hand you play, you will almost certainly end up broke.
Do not pay off tight players
This perhaps goes without saying, but if someone only plays premium hands, you do not want to invest significant money without a hand that is better than their range. This means that if a super tight player raises, you should be folding hands that are easily dominated, such as A-J and K-Q. Assuming your stacks are deep, you can play drawing hands, such as 4-4 and 8s-7s, but if you have around 26 big blinds or less, even these should be folded.
I wrote a blog post about this topic in the past. You can check it out here:

Do Not Pay Off Tight Poker Players


Attack the blinds of the tight players
While you should rarely give a tight player action, when the tight players are in the blinds, you should be prone to stealing with an overly wide range, especially if the players between you and the tight blinds are not overly active. It is not uncommon to find spots where you should raise with almost any two cards from the button or cutoff. If you pay attention and actively look for these situations, you will be able to profit with a much wider range of hands than normal.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Did you find any of these concepts to be interesting? If so, let me know about it in the comment section below. If you found this blog post to be helpful, please share it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. If you want more content about the aspects of poker that extend beyond the felt, I suggest you check out my book, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, Volume 2. Thanks for reading!

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GGPoker Adds More Variety to No-Strings-Attached “Daily Freebie” Promotion

Verified players can continue to play a real-money game, such as Flip & Go and Spin & Gold, for free each and every day.One of the most popular promotions for low stakes players on GGPoker has been further expanded.

During the software update on February 10, the Daily Free Spin promotion changed to Daily Freebie. Furthermore, UK players can now also claim the daily gift for a chance to boost their bankrolls.

All players, both existing and new, just need to have verified accounts and log in each day to claim their gift, which lets plays play real money tournaments—and compete for real money cash prizes.

The update has expanded what is given away. Now, there are Daily Freebie tickets for Flip & Go, the super-successful new format introduced in January 2021. It has also undergone some changes since its launch, with GGPoker increasing the frequency and adjusting the buy-ins as well as the maximum number of stacks for purchase.

“GGPoker is happy to confirm that we’ve relaunched our Daily Free Spin offer as the Daily Freebie; verified players can continue to play a real-money game, such as Flip & Go and Spin & Gold, for free each and every day. All they need to do is log in and claim their daily reward!” said Paul Burke, Head of Public Relations at GGPoker.

“We hope to continue to change up the rewards on offer in the future, giving all players the opportunity to try out GGPoker’s most exciting games, no matter their bankroll.”

For existing players, Daily Freebie is available immediately—just log in and claim.

If you haven’t yet signed up, you can do so today and enjoy the promotion as soon as you have verified your account. You can also take advantage of all of GGPoker’s generous welcome bonuses.

How the GGPoker Daily Freebie Promotion Works

The operator has seen unprecedented growth in 2020 to become one of the leading online poker platforms for tournaments and cash games. GGPoker has achieved that with a plethora of promotions, innovations, and high-profile partnerships. Their continued success has led to a record $7.5 million in promotions given away in February 2021.

One of several promotions for players with smaller bankrolls is the Daily Freebie formerly the Daily Free Spin.

This was launched on September 7, 2020. It has given verified players the opportunity to claim one $0.25 Spin & Gold ticket every day ever since. The free ticket courtesy of GGPoker continues to be available under the new name three times per week—*but this rotates with other ticket types.*

Players can see the next six upcoming Daily Freebies listed under the “My Promo” tab. A new daily gift becomes available after each daily reset at midnight Pacific time. Each ticket will continue to feature an expiration date of 24 hours once the Daily Freebie has been awarded.

The current rotation of Daily Freebie is fixed for the time being. However, GGPoker hopes “to change the daily prizes on a semi-regular basis,” according to Burke. He also hinted at a strong possibility that the Daily Freebie will include the alternative currencies C$ or T$ sometime soon.

Newly included as a prize in the Daily Freebie is a $1 Spin & Gold ticket, which can be claimed once per week. Furthermore, five $0.05 Flip & Go tickets are up for grabs three times per week, giving players the chance at trying the new tournament format free of charge.

As a mixture between a Flipout and regular tournament, Flip & Go was launched on January 12, 2021. However, it only took a few days for the first tweaks to be made. Initially slated to take place once every hour, it was soon increased to once every 30 minutes.

The buy-ins were also adjusted and the lowest available stake was increased to $0.05 with a guarantee of $50. Players can now take a shot at their own leisure three times per week and enter this lowest tier with five stacks thanks to the Daily Freebie.

Upon launch, the Flip & Go featured a maximum of 10 entries for each of the four stakes. However, that number has been adjusted recently and the stacks for purchase are now capped at a maximum of eight. This makes the bonus stacks based on the holdings during the Flipout stage more valuable in comparison.

The overall feedback for the new tournament format has been very positive, as outlined by Burke.

“Players love it! We have been very pleasantly surprised by the positivity seen across almost all feedback, of course not all players are interested in a new game type but those who have tried it have mostly good things to say about Flip & Go. We’ve also received some constructive criticism, which is also valuable.”

Further tweaks to the Flip & Go format may very well possible, as GGPoker is constantly reviewing and optimizing its schedule. One such adjustment was made with the expansion of the popular Daily GGMasters earlier in February.

The changes to the Daily Freebie promotion went live on February 10. All verified GGPoker players in eligible countries can claim their daily gift under the “My Promo” tab after each daily reset.

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Is Hellmuth vs Negreanu happening?


We recap some stories you may have missed including a huge PKO event and how much of himself is Landon Tice playing for?

KidPoker vs the Poker Brat?
We hinted at it last week and now it seems confirmed that Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth will play heads-up. 
Given both men are traditionally live players it seems inevitable that it will be face to face and streamed on PokerGO. 
The early betting markets have suggested Hellmuth is the favourite, which seems ludicrous given how much Negreanu improved in his heads-up challenge against Doug Polk. 

Happy to play anyone on @PokerGo App’s “High Stakes Duel.” Looks like they are bringing me the GREAT Daniel Negreanu @RealKidPoker, the guy that studied heads up for months w coaches I respect, so be it. It will be a great challenge for me! Hoping I don’t look like THIS photo!! pic.twitter.com/EpE1BqRMWP
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) February 13, 2021

Tice has skin in the game
The other big heads-up match in the works is Landon Tice vs Bill Perkins, and it has been the subject of a lot of debate this last week.
Namely, how much does the poker wunderkind Landon Tice have invested in himself? Rumours circulated that he is playing for just 10% of himself in this challenge where he is already paying Bill Perkins $720,000 to play. 
Tice confirmed that he has sold a lot of action for this event but while his percentage is low, it still means he has a lot of his net worth on the line:

Let me make something clear that I’m sure everyone cares about regarding my challenge with @bp22 I’m selling a lot of action for it. A lot.I’m not rolled to battle at nosebleeds. However, I am putting a very large amount of my relative net worth on myself winning it.
— Landon (@LandonTice) February 11, 2021

MicroMillions the biggest PKO ever?
The MicroMillions Main Event was a PKO for the first time in its history and it (probably) automatically became the biggest field ever for a progressive knockout tournament. 
49,487 entries for the $22 Main Event, which was not quite enough to hit the $1 million guarantee. 
It did lead to one player bagging almost $60,000 for their troubles including $18,651.13 in bounties alone:

The final table

Table stakes only
OK, so this week’s meme classic from Reddit beats all those ‘toilet roll poker home game’ jokes from last year:
When Polaks Play Poker from r/poker

Will we see Hellmuth vs Negreanu heads-up? Let us know in the comments:

Barry Carter
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy and PKO Poker Strategy



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Pros Of Being A Professional Poker Player


pros of becoming a professional poker player
Being a professional poker player is a daring as well as exciting decision. If you’re successful at the game and want to quit your day job to become a poker pro, it’s an enticing opportunity. However, be warned: Poker rules are difficult to work, that isn’t for everyone. If you consider taking a risk to become a professional poker player, you should please ensure that it is an educated choice. 
Here are some pros of becoming a professional poker player that might encourage you to take the next step! 
Professionally Pursuing What You Love
One of the most prevalent desires in the world is to do something that you love professionally. For anyone in the poker community saying that there’s profit in this, they’re certainly not doing it only for the money. They love the game and have passion for it. For those who don’t have that, must understand that it is a skill game and requires practice to get better. This is what encourages them to put in the research time required to excel and achieve success through the downtrends.
Self Determination And Versatility
Poker players set their own schedules which is a great thing for any professional in any field of work or sport. To stave off poker exhaustion and keep you going, getting this independence will go a long time away. Also, you’ll only be accessible to yourself. Versatility is something that is quite limited in a number of professions nowadays and there’s nothing quite like poker tournaments when it comes to versatility. That’s not to suggest, of course, that it’ll be straightforward. The assumption is that when you do so, no-one will be blowing down your neck.
Earning Big Money
There is still a lot of profit to be gained by playing online poker if you can achieve a high level of experience. In terms of rake and playing rewards, there have been a few improvements in the market in recent years that have limited online poker’s profitability, but it is still possible to obtain a decent income playing the game. Getting in and getting out of micro stakes is one of the greatest obstacles facing emerging online pros these days. In present-day games, the high rake and low rakeback eat away at the winnings of a micro stakes player, making it difficult for them to achieve a good score overall.
On the other hand, live poker has been and is likely still a highly lucrative enterprise for professional players. The live player average is much lower than the online player estimate. This may be because, in casinos, live poker is practiced and thus encourages individuals who play poker to bargain instead of because they are successful at it. Or it could be because of live poker’s social aspect. It’s a mix of both, perhaps. 
For more interesting articles about poker or poker news, keep reading PokerShots! 

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I get an amazing hand & this always happens


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Learning from Phil Hellmuth Jr.

I was recently honored to host a live webinar with 13-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth Jr. While Phil is a bit of an enigma in the poker world because no one quite understands how he wins on a consistent basis in high stakes poker tournaments, I knew there were countless skills I could learn from him. When you have the opportunity to discuss poker strategy with one of the most successful poker players in the world, you listen!
Since the webinar, I have implemented numerous concepts we discussed, drastically increasing my profits at the table.
One of the most important concepts he discussed was the idea that if you have played poker for a long time and studied the game diligently, as I have, you should tend to trust your reads. Since our webinar, I have worked hard on my reading abilities and they seem to be paying off.
I recently played in a $13,000 high roller event in Barcelona. There was one player at the table who was obviously splashing around. Everyone was making a point to play pots with him. Even though he was clearly playing junky hands, he always had the nuts when his opponents decided to call his large postflop bets.
Eventually I raised with A-T from middle position, the splashy guy called in the small blind and the Big Blind also called. The flop came 4-4-3. The splashy guy made a bet and I decided to call. The turn was a J. He bet again and I called. The river was an 8 and he bet enough to put me all-in, which was around the size of the pot.
Seeing how he had only shown the nuts when he took overly aggressive lines in the past, this would normally be an easy fold. However, something did not feel right. I can’t quite quantify what it was, but he looked nervous. I thought he would play numerous busted draws in this manner. My main concern was that he could be bluffing with a hand such as 2-2 or A-Q, which would be a disaster for me.
However, I went with my read and called. He showed the 5-2 and I doubled up with my marginal A-high.
While this is certainly an extreme example, if I did not have the amazing learning experience with Phil, I would have folded. Instead, I won $13,000 in equity.
To get instant access to this enlightening learning experience with Phil Hellmuth Jr. where he discusses numerous other strategies he implements to constantly win poker tournaments, check out the webinar here: Learning from Phil Hellmuth Webinar

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The luck of the Irish has Ireland at the top of global gambling spend


It may not have originated in Ireland, but the phrase “the luck of the Irish” rings loudly in the country. According to The Irish Post, more money is spent, per capita, on gambling in Ireland than in almost all other countries around the world. Only in two countries – Australia and Singapore – is more spent hitting the slots and the tables than in Ireland.The media outlet doesn’t source its data, but indicates that the Irish love online gambling more than any other form. Online gambling spend is 60%, greatly superior to other forms gambling and sports gambling, which only accounts for 15% of the money. The lottery receives a 10% cut, the same amount given to gambling machines and slots. Casinos, of which Ireland has around 20, pick up 5% of the action.While Australia and Singapore may see more gambling spend per capita, Ireland is the hands-down winner in online gaming spend, with The Irish Post asserting, “Ireland takes the lead globally when it comes to online gambling.” It adds, “With almost 3 billion American dollars spent on gambling and betting every year, that means that each man, woman, and child in Ireland are spending roughly 500 [euros] ($607) annually on this type of entertainment.”The media outlet further indicates that online gambling is most popular in Ireland because the segment is more regulated. It cites “outdated laws” that some casinos are exploiting to attract attention, but the transparency and accountability afforded gamblers by online operators give them an edge. The Irish Post explains that, according to reports, many Irish would prefer to gamble in a British casino than in a domestic one, possibly as a result of the outdated laws.Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish loved to gamble online and the segment increased about 15% each year. Last year, with the coronavirus in full swing, the numbers jumped substantially and, with the introduction of live online casino games and live sports gambling, the online segment has skyrocketed in popularity. Online gambling is inarguably the future, looking down the road 20 to 30 years, but it’s never too early for casino operators to start preparing.Surprisingly, the U.S. ranks fifth in terms of per-capita gambling spend, even less than Finland. However, with a population of over 330 million, it’s the largest market available. $120 billion was spent on gambling in the country in 2019, while the Irish spent $2.7 billion through its population of less than five million.

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Adjusting to world-class players

This is my table from a recent $25,000 buy-in event.
Poker tournaments are interesting, especially compared to cash games, because the skill level of your opponents can vary wildly. While there will be winners and losers in a $1/$2 cash game, most of the players simply do not play too well because if they did, they would be playing for higher stakes. In tournaments, especially in major events where many players satellite in, you could be playing with a total amateur who got lucky to win his seat for a small amount of money or a high stakes professional who travels the world and buys in directly to all of the premier events. In fact, when you are playing the “smaller” main events, such as typical $3,500 WPT or $1,500 WSOP events, those could be considered “small stakes” to some of the pros who play $10,000 buy-in and larger events on a regular basis.
This creates an interesting dynamic because you should employ a drastically different strategy when playing against the total amateur compared to the pro. Since most of what I discuss is based on blatantly exploiting my opponent, I thought it would be helpful to use this blog post to share my thoughts about how to play against someone you cannot blatantly exploit. I do not mean for this blog post to be a comprehensive guide for beating world-class players. I simply want to let you know a few of the adjustments I make while playing against world-class competition that you can quickly and easily integrate into your strategy, allowing you to be competitive.
Where does the profit come from?
I have recently been playing primarily $5,000 and larger buy-in events because I have been making a point to travel to the European Poker Tour stops. It simply does not make sense to spend a bunch of time and money for me to travel to a $3,500 buy-in event in America. Because of this, I have been playing in more high stakes tournaments where very few players satellite in, such as the typical high roller events in the EPTs. This has given me the opportunity to hone my skills against some of the best players in the world when there are not many weak players at the table.
I want to make it perfectly clear that when you are at the table with one or two world-class pros and a bunch of amateurs, you should generally make a point to play very few pots with the pros and lots of pots with the amateurs. You make money in poker by taking advantage of your opponents’ mistakes. If your opponents do not make many mistakes, you will not make much money. Since amateurs make many more mistakes than professionals, you want to play most of your pots with the amateurs. That being said, you should not play like a super nit versus the pros. Simply play a fundamentally sound strategy that makes it difficult for you to get exploited.
I made this 1,000,000 chip stack in a $5,000 buy-in event!
When you are playing at a table full of pros and only one or two amateurs, you simply must get involved with the other pros because if you don’t, you will eventually blind off. In general, there is nothing wrong with playing a relatively tight, aggressive style where you pick your bluff spots intelligently. I think one of the major mistakes amateurs make when playing against pros is that they rarely bluff. When they do, it is often so obvious that the pros can make somewhat easy calls with a wide range. If you only apply pressure when you have a premium hand, you will blind off because the pros will not give you action.
Changing gears
If you happen to be implementing a tight strategy and you have not played many hands in the recent past, do not be afraid to get a bit out of line, especially by reraising before the flop and then continuation betting the flop for about the same amount as your preflop reraise. While this play is quite simple, it is super-effective if you have a tight image. Always be aware of your image and use it to your advantage.
If you happen to be at a table where everyone is playing a tight, aggressive strategy, if you realize they are playing too tightly, especially when the stacks are around 30 – 50 big blinds deep, an effective play is to raise when the action folds to you, even from early position, with an overly wide range. If your opponents will only call or reraise with premium hands, you will find that you will often steal the blinds or win the pot after the flop frequently enough to justify a steal attempt. Of course, once your opponents realize you are raising with a wide range, assuming they become willing to play back at you, you should revert to a tight, aggressive strategy. Old school players refer to this as “changing gears”. I call it “playing intelligently”.
Stealing the blinds
Speaking of preflop stealing, you will notice that in high stakes tournaments the “standard” raise size is venturing higher. In the past, people folded from the big blind way too often so strong players started min-raising preflop in order to be able to steal the blinds with a wider range with less risk. This play was quite effective for a few years, but eventually the best players figured out that they should be defending their big blind with a wide range. If you can put in one more big blind before the flop and perhaps two more big blinds on the flop and see a showdown, which is often against the case against someone who raises with a wide range, continuation bets with a wide range, then plays straightforwardly on the turn and river, you should call the preflop min-raise with almost any two cards.
To counteract this adjustment by the best players, you have two options. You can either fire more turn and river bluffs, which gets quite risky, or you can raise larger before the flop. The problem with firing more turn and river bluffs is that your strong opponents will figure this out and start calling down with a wider range. It should be clear that very few good players check-raise the flop when they defend the blind because they want to keep their check-calling range strong so that you cannot happily fire three bluffs. While amateurs make the mistake of effectively turning their hand face-up by check-raising, pros will keep you guessing. Of course, if your opponent will call the flop with his marginal hands that he will fold by the river when faced with intense aggression, you should happily fire lots of bluffs. However, if your opponent may or may not call you down because they do not turn their hand face-up when they have premium hands, bluffing becomes much less palatable.
Instead, you can simply raise a bit larger before the flop. With deep stacks of 50 big blinds or more, it is quite common to see the best players raising to 3 big blinds before the flop. As the stacks start to shrink, their bet sizes start to decrease, but not too much. With 35 big blind stacks, they will still raise to around 2.7 big blinds or so.
I have been experimenting with raising to 2 big blinds when a weak player is in the big blind and 2.7 – 3 big blinds when a strong player is in the big blind. I have been making this play with my entire range so I am not easily exploitable. It has been quite effective so far because it allows me to play more pots with amateurs and fewer pots with the pros.
River betting
One other adjustment I want to discuss is how to bet on the river versus an amateur compared to a pro. Against an amateur, I will often bet an amount that I think will induce the result I want. For example, if I think my opponent is a mediocre player who will assume a small bet is for value, I will bet small as a bluff. If I think my opponent will always call a small bet with a wide range because of his pot odds, I will bet small with my value hands and large with my bluffs. This strategy does not work too well against pros because you will often not be able to out-think them.
Instead, you should choose bet sizes based on the percentage of the time that you will be bluffing versus value betting with your entire range. For example, if you know that in a specific river spot you will have 20% bluffs and 80% value bets (this assumes that your value hands win every time when you get called), you should make a bet that gives your opponent 4:1 pot odds, which would be 33% of the size of the pot, because that way, he cannot make a profit by either calling or folding. You will often see pros overbetting the pot, perhaps betting two times the size of the pot, giving their opponent 3:2, when they have around 40% bluffs in their range.
Of course, this assumes you know how to think about your actual range in a spot. Most amateurs are much too concerned with their own hand. Against pros, you must realize that you are playing your range against their range, not your hand against their hand.  Unfortunately, poker is not quite this simple because you rarely know if you are purely value betting or bluffing.  As long as you are at least thinking about ranges, you will be able to tailor your bet sizes to specific situations when playing against strong pros instead of simply betting some fixed percent of the pot every time.
That being said, if you do want to bet the same percent of the pot every time, the proper adjustment is to set up your range such that you have the correct proportion of bluffs compared to value bets. For example, if you always want to bet 64% of the size of the pot on the river, you should have 28% bluffs in your range. If you can figure out how to construct your range such that you have exactly 28% bluffs every time, this will work, but you will find that it is often easier to figure out what percentage of your range is bluffs and then adjust your bet size accordingly.
As a quick example, let’s suppose you find yourself on the river after you raised preflop from middle position and the Big Blind, a world-class pro, called. You then bet on both the flop and turn on an Ah-7h-5s-3s board and your opponent called. The river is the (Ah-7h-5s-3s)-Kd.
You certainly want to value bet with your best hands, so you must also figure out which hands to bluff with in order to remain balanced. Perhaps you know that your value betting range is all hands A-Q and better. Let’s also assume that you can’t have K-K because you probably would not have bet the turn with that. You also cannot have A-7o, A-5o, and A-3o because you would not have raised with those from middle position. This leaves you with a value range of this:

Notice that this is 68 combinations of hands. Let’s assume that you want to bluff with all of your busted flush draws. There are 14 combinations of busted flush draws that you could conceivably have. I am going to assume that you will bet with the busted K high flush draws that improved to middle pair as a bluff, which may or may not be a good play.

Since you have a total of 82 total combinations of hands (68 value hands and 14 bluffs) you should bet an amount that gives your opponent 68:14 pot odds, which would be 26% of the size of the pot. Of course, if you want to bet larger, you have to find more hands to bluff with. If you want to bet smaller, you should bluff with fewer of your missed flush draws (the ones with a pair of K’s in this example) or add in a wider range of value hands, assuming your opponent will call with worse made hands.
It is worth reiterating that real-world play is not this simple because you will occasionally value bet and get called by a better hand. You will also rarely know every aspect of your opponent’s strategy. The main takeaway should be that it is important to get out of the habit of blindly betting some percentage of the size of the pot on any betting round simply because that is what you think you are supposed to do. Always make a point to figure out why you make each of your actions.
While this strategy works well against the best pros, it is not a good idea against players who will simply never get to the river with a made hand worse than an A. While the best pros are thinking in terms of range versus range, the vast majority of players, most pros included, simply look at their hand and see if it is near the top of their range and then act accordingly. In the hand above, suppose you know that your opponent would almost always check-raise the flop with a flush draw, meaning that once he gets to the river, he has only top pair. If you know he will never fold his top pair to any reasonable bet, you should bet an amount that your opponent will call when you have a hand that is better than his calling range, which will most likely be around A-T or better. If instead you know that he will call up to a 60% pot bet but fold to larger bet sizes, bet 61% with your bluffs and 60% with your value hands. Of course, this again assumes we know a decent amount about our opponent, which enables us to play in an exploitative manner.
I hope this blog post has enlightened you a bit about how world-class pros play against each other. The deeper you think about poker, the better decisions you will make. To get started with this process, always make a point to think about your opponent’s range, your actual range, and what your opponent thinks about your range.
If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with your friends! Also be sure to follow me at twitch.tv/jonathanlittle to watch me play live in real time for free. You can sign up for my PokerStars Home Game using #1976954 and Password: playpoker. My PokerStars Home Game will be on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 5pm EST. The Home Game is not for real money, but I will give away prizes. That way, everyone can play (even Americans!) I will stream the tournament on Twitch so everyone can watch. I hope you will join me on the live stream at twitch.tv/jonathanlittle. Thank you for reading.
 

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GGPoker launch Flip & Go tournaments


Flip your way into the money right away with a new format from GGPoker for people who just want to play the end game.

Another new poker tournament format with the recreational player in mind has just launched at GGPoker.
Flip & Go tournaments promise to get you straight to the money stages of the tournament. The tournament begins with everybody being forced all-in on the first table until one player remains. Once every table is complete the tournament slows down and becomes a normal MTT after the bubble has burst. 
It’s not a complete gamble at the first table. Players will be dealt three cards instead of two and discard one before going all-in, so you have a chance to pick the hand that plays the best multi-way. 
Players who get dealt a strong three card starting hand preflop and go on to win the flip will see their stack increased. x1 if they get a straight, x2 if they get a flush, x3 if they get dealt trips and x4 if they get a straight flush. 

Discard one card in the Flip & Go stage

You can also buy a bigger stack in the flip stage, up to x10 your starting stack. So in a $5 MTT you can pay as much as $50 to get a x10 bigger stack, meaning you have a better chance if surviving the flip stage. It also means that the money stage of the tournament begins with different stacks in play. 

This format could prove popular with recreational players and professionals alike. Casual players don’t have to play all night only to miss the money. Serious players already like to late register and could easily justify these tournaments if the early gamble they go through means they get to play against recreational players in the money stages. PokerStars have previously tried something similar called Bubble Rush where the fast structured tournament slows down after the bubble bursts. 
Will you play this format? Let us know in the comments:

Barry Carter
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy and PKO Poker Strategy

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Seefeld’s Winter Poker Open!


Another great trip with Intertops has come and gone! The Winter Poker Championships (CAPT) in Seefeld, Austria!!It’s a small ski village that’s filled with spectacular sites, all the winter activities you can think of and plenty of poker action! Great locations, great fun and poker action is what Intertops is all about and this was no exception! This trip had it all! Amazing views, wild aggressive players, TheTrooper97 ski crashes and, of course, schnitzel! It was yet another experience of lifetime!An 18 hour trip from Ft Worth to London to Dusseldorf to Salzburg then drive 21/2 hours to Seefeld! It’s a test to even experienced travelers, but well worth the journey once you see those snowcapped mountains. I can’t believe I got to travel back to where it all began! When I was here year last, I was beyond thrilled to experience what I thought was a one in a lifetime trip! I never expected that I would be able to return, never mind have it be my third time to Austria now! Beyond fortunate! For the people who haven’t been following from the beginning of this journey, I won a satellite on Intertops to play in this tourney last year! After quitting my job in November of 2015 to take a shot at playing professionally, I managed to win an event on the site that started this whole amazing adventure. Flying overseas for the first time, meeting the Intertops crew, playing my first $2k+ tourney, and eating A LOT of schnitzel! Here’s the start of it all if you want to catch up to speed! www.2Fit2fold.com/seefeld. Last year is also when I met fellow satty winner and Intertops player Chris Perkins. He and I were amazed and overwhelmed by the whole experience. We didn’t do as well as we had hoped in the tourney, but it was hard to be upset for too long in such a great place.One of the reasons we didn’t do as well as we wanted last year was due to the surprisingly aggressive play of the European players! I mean, I had never seen so much 4 betting EVER! lol It was a little bit confusing to us because this was also one of the best structures we had ever played, with 50k starting stacks and 1 hour levels! I had thought it would be an easy waiting game for good hands and good spots, I mean 50k starting, c’mon there’s so much play there! WRONG! lol What we didn’t take account for was the fact that these players are used to this structure and know how to take advantage of all the players with my same strategy. So many players pour on the aggression, knowing they can keep hammering tighter players and force folds. It’s a good plan, until you realize many of these guys also have that same idea AND play against each other fairly often. It makes for a crazy dynamic that I still have yet to see anywhere else! The closet thing might have been some of the WSOP Vegas events, but still not quite as aggressive. It proves to be a difficult adjustment to make and requires another level to your poker game! So this year, armed with that knowledge and more experience of playing against such aggro players, I was prepared to have some revenge. lol Unfortunately though, the European players had other ideas!! It was a tough table draw again for me this year, but at least I had position on the most aggressive players! Still even with the 3 most aggro players on my right, I was often hand-cuffed by the 3 and 4 betting before I even got to act! It was an interesting dynamic as I had a few calling stations on my left. I had thought I would be able to take advantage of them but that backfired as well, because strangely enough, every time I put in a raise or re-raise to combat the aggros on my right, the donkeys on my left would cold call!? lol Ever have one of those tourneys were you feel like everyone’s out to get you!? Well this for sure felt like one of those for me! I lost almost 15k in the first 30 minutes of the tournament! I had AA, KK x 2, AKo and AJo all lose on the river. With the majority of the chips going in the hand where I had KK for the second time in 20 minutes and had to fold the river to an all in shove after the 3rd flush card hit! It was brutal, as obliviously had that sick run of starting hands all had gone in my favor, I would have enough chips to coast to bagging up for day 2. Not only that but given how early it was, a good chance to bag up a significant stack for a real shot at going deep on day 2.It wasn’t in the cards for me again this year at Seefeld and history repeated itself when I played all of day one, just to bust out on the VERY LAST hand of the night!! Watching my KQs lose to AQ suited on a queen high flop! BOoooo! Oh well, what can you do right? I will put up some hand histories in the next post and maybe we can figure it out together! And of course winning would have been nice, but poker is always just PART of these trips with Intertops! There are worst places to bust tourneys for sure! Being out of the event meant I was able to head up to the top of the mountains the next day and enjoy everything else Seefeld had to offer! Not to mention we still had a day back in Salzburg waiting for us! Seeing Salzburg again is always a treat. The history of Old Salzburg is so impressive. Seeing a castle at the top of a small mountain from literally right outside your hotel window is pretty bad-ass. Not something you see every day huh? lol The birth place of Mozart and apparently Red Bull lol, you see those two things everywhere you go. Along with buildings built right into (or from?) the mountain, with dates on them showing just how old they are, it’s like stepping back in time. The oldest one I remember seeing was a church with the date 1409 on it?! How cool is that?! Being surrounded by all that really is quite the site to see and a pretty great way to put things in perspective (especially after busting a poker tourney lol).There’s plenty more to write about from this one, between hand histories, views from the top, weird Euro poker chips and TheTrooper97s brutal ski crash! So I’ll get to another blog to fill you all in, but if your too impatient for that (and really wanna see Trooper crash lol) check out all his videos of our trip here! Be sure to give him a like and a follow! And let us know what you would like to read and see more of in the future! Don’t forget to check us out on Twitch for give-aways and upcoming promotions from Intertops. Maybe you can win yourself a seat and come along for the next adventure!Til next timeRun GoodTim 

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