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Large pots vs. small pots


The great majority of players make decisions at the poker table without considering the size of the pot. This is a large leak in their game, and can be the difference between turning a profit at the tables and not. There are many situations when it is extremely important to know the size of the pot, some transparent and others hidden.

To show a profit at the poker tables, one of the areas that you must have an understanding of is pot odds. To determine the odds you are receiving on a bet you must know the amount, or at least roughly know the amount, in the pot. This is one of the transparent situations.

The main hidden reason to consider the size of the pot is the way you play a hand. There are some hands that you will want to build the pot with while there are others in which you want to keep the size of the pot small. Often you will be able to manipulate the size of the pot with a well-timed bet or call.

By learning the importance of pot size and how to manipulate it, you will move beyond the abilities of the great majority of your opponents. The basic rule is to be more inclined to fold weak drawing hands in a small pot, because the payoff will be small, and tend to not fold when the pot is large. This does tie into pot odds, but you don’t have to know the exact pot odds to make good decisions.

Finally, the last consideration we have room for, is the decision to call or fold to a bet on the river when you are likely beat. Though this ties into pot odds somewhat, for most of these situations you don’t need to know them, you just need to know if the pot is big or small. If you are faced with a bet on the river and feel that you are probably beat, if the pot is large it will be more costly in the long run to fold than call.

For example, there are 20 big bets in the pot and you must only call one. For it to be profitable to call, you must win only 5% of the time. You may play in different games than I do, but in the games I play there is someone bluffing on the river much more than 5% of the time. On the other hand, when the pot is small, you must win a much higher percentage of the time, so you should be more likely to fold when you don’t have a strong hand.

One thing I haven’t mentioned that is very important, for these decisions to be correct, you must be heads up. If there is a bet and a call in front of you, it is very unlikely that you will be able to beat both players without a good hand. Even when there is a player yet to act behind you, calling a bet with a poor hand is usually incorrect.

Start considering the size of the pot when faced with difficult decisions and your game will quickly improve.

Until next week, good luck at the tables!

Betting a drawing hand?


One common tendency of players, especially at the lower limits, is to check and call with drawing hands. While this is of course often the correct play, there are situations that come up where it is correct to bet and raise instead of check and call with a drawing hand.

As an example, you are in a five way pot with QJs and the flop comes K T 6 with two of your suit. You have 15 outs to hit a flush or a straight by the river. In this case you are a favorite to win the hand even though you are on a draw.

Any time you are a favorite to win you have positive expectation for the hand, which means that in the long run every dollar you put into the pot will make you money. In addition, you will usually get action, especially if an opponent holds a King or better.

The other thing a raise can accomplish in the above situation is making the price for an opponent chasing a straight (if an opponent had QJ off suit) incorrect to call when one of the other players will bet and raise with you. If you can accomplish this, it can allow you to win the entire pot at times when you would otherwise have to split it.

The other situation involving betting a drawing hand is in combination with a semi bluff. I was involved in a hand a few nights ago that illustrates this. I was in the big blind with A4s with three limpers. The flop contained a four, as well as two cards of my suit. I checked and it was checked around to the player on the button who bet. I raised, forcing the two players in the middle to fold. My remaining opponent called.

The turn was a blank and I bet into my opponent, who called again. At this time I was rather sure that I was behind in the hand, but I wasn’t sure until now. This play was questionable on my part, but I felt he was weak because he didn’t re-raise my check raise on the flop and was hoping I could get them to fold with a turn bet. In addition, I had roughly 13 outs to improve my hand, even if I was currently behind.

I was fortunate to hit my flush on the river and win a fair sized pot, but the key point here is that if I had checked and called I would have had no fold equity. Fold equity is the possibility that an opponent will fold, allowing you to win the pot outright. Though fold equity is hard to translate into a number of outs, in the above situation when you combine my outs with the fold equity, I thought I was a favorite to win.

Don’t bet your weak draws unless you can win the pot immediately, but keep an eye out for drawing hands that allow you to become aggressive instead of passive. Moderate aggression combined with smart play is a winning formula.

Until next week, good luck at the tables!

Play money vs. micro limits


People often ask me if it is a good idea to play poker at the play money tables when they first start playing online. The answer to this is often more complicated than a simple yes or no, as it depends on what a person is trying to accomplish by playing at these tables. The first table I sat down at online was a real money table. Since then, I have played on play money tables many times, but never for practice.

One thing the play money tables are not good for is practice to improve your game. The play is so much different from real money play that it can actually hurt your game instead of improve it. If you want to improve your game without risking a large amount of money, I suggest playing at a room with micro limit tables.

Many internet poker rooms offer games starting at .01/.02 or .05/.10. These games play much more like real poker than the play money tables. They still aren’t the same as 10/20, or even 2/4, but you can improve your game and learn a great deal at these tables.

There are two areas where the play money tables can be very useful. The first is when you are learning the rules of a new game. For example, if you are a Texas holdem player and want to learn how to play Omaha/8, the play money tables are the best place to learn, and make sure you understand, the rules.

The other thing these tables are good for, and the reason I use them, is to familiarize you with the software at a new poker room. Each poker room network uses different software, and while they are all somewhat similar, they each are a little different. You don’t want to become involved in a real money game and have a hard time finding the correct button to push.

Getting back to the original question, and to sum up the answer in one sentence, the play money tables are very useful to learn the rules of a new game and learn how to use the software, but they are not a good place to improve your game.

Until next week, good luck at the tables!

Freerolling in Omaha/8


If you are even the least bit familiar with internet poker, you know what a freeroll is, or at least you know what most people think of when they hear freeroll. The most common definition for freeroll is a tournament that you can win real money in that doesn’t have a buy in. There is, however, a different definition as well. It happens in many variations of poker, but most often it takes place in Omaha/8.

Free rolling an opponent is when you have the best hand, often in a tie, but have a chance to improve while your opponent does not. In these rare cases, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. On the other hand, you need to avoid being on the wrong end of this situation as often as possible. Here is an example in Omaha/8 to make this a little easier to understand.

With a flop of Jc Qc 8d, you have 9s Tc Ac 2d and your opponent has 9h Ts 2h 3c. Both of you have the best possible hand with a straight. You however, have a chance to improve to a better hand with any K or Club, and your opponent can’t. In this situation you want to get as much money in the pot as possible. This can be extremely profitable in a pot limit Omaha/8 game.

For this same reason, if you are the other player, the best option is to restrain your betting to some degree until the river. You should still bet, because you don’t know what your opponent has, but if he or she shows aggression, you should just call on the flop and turn to make sure you don’t get burnt too badly.

Though these situations only happen occasionally, the way to set yourself up to be in them starts with your starting hand selection. Concentrate on starting hands that have suited cards and cards close together in rank. These are the types of starting hands that can give you redraws to better hands and let you freeroll your opponents.

Keep an eye out for these types of freerolls, and until next week, good luck at the tables!

How to play pocket kings


The second best starting hand in Texas Holdem is pocket Kings, or as they are sometimes referred to, pocket cowboys. Here is a short discussion about pre flop and post flop play, as well as a mistake that many players make with KK in tournament play.

The best way to play KK pre flop is often much like you play pocket Aces, but after the flop they can sometimes be a little more tricky. You want to play against only one or two players if at all possible. The more players who see the flop with you, the less likely you will have the best hand at the showdown.

In limit Texas Holdem, unless the table is very aggressive and you are positive that someone behind you will raise, you should raise. I will go so far as to say that if you raise pre flop every time you have KK in limit play that you won’t ever play them wrong. As you gain experience and move up in limits, you will start to see opportunities to trap with them, but even then a raise will not be incorrect.

In no-limit Texas Holdem, the best play is to raise enough that most of your opponents fold, but not all of them. It can be hard to know the correct amount, but usually three to four times the big blind is correct.

Post flop play is straightforward unless an Ace hits the board on the flop. When no Ace hits, you need to spend the rest of the hand maximizing your opponent’s contribution to the pot. When an Ace does hit, you must bet to give your opponent an opportunity to fold, unless a King also is on the flop. Then you can pretend to be weak / scared and give your opponent a chance to lose more chips.

If you bet with an Ace on the board and are called or raised, you will have a very tough decision to make. Until you reach the higher levels, where your opponents are capable of making a play at you, you should usually get away from the hand when called or raised.

There is one area that I see many inexperienced players make a mistake in tournament play with pocket Kings pre flop. Especially early in a tournament, it may not be best to get all in pre flop with KK. I do not have enough room in this column for a complete explanation, but because of the nature of tournament play, as in if you lose all of your chips you are eliminated, early in the tournament if you can raise enough to isolate an opponent without getting all in, you will have the opportunity to survive when the flop contains an Ace.

If you get all in pre flop, many times you will be up against a hand that contains an Ace like AK, AQ or even AJ. Now I will agree that over the long run you will win these all in confrontations most of the time, but even when you are not all in pre flop, you will still win big hands when your opponent hits a Queen or Jack for top pair / top kicker but they still have the second best hand to your Kings.

The good news is that over time, you will make money with KK even if you do make a few mistakes when playing them, so it is usually better to be too aggressive with them as opposed to too weak.

Until next week, good luck at the tables and may you look down to find cowboys often.

$500K Poker Race Trophy


Europe’s largest poker site, PokerRoom.com, announced that as of February 11th, EveryPoker.com members who use bonus code top250, will play for one slot to the offline semi-finals and play for a stunning $500,000 prize in the exclusive Poker Race Trophy tournament.

A total of six semi-finals will be held across the world, ranging from exotic countries like Brazil, to sunny Spain and the rainy United Kingdom. Each of the six semi-finals will be claimed by a winner who gets to play for $500,000 at the televised grand final. Only six finalists will play for not only the money, but also the fame that surrounds the global coverage of Europe’s largest sports channel EuroSport.

How do I join the Poker Race Trophy Freeroll?
To participate, you must first sign up on PokerRoom via EveryPoker.com (just click any of our links) and make sure to use bonus code top250 to get the best sign up bonus. On Thursday the 24th of April at 20.00 GMT, PokerRoom organizes a freeroll exclusive to EveryPoker.com visitors. The winner of this freeroll will get an all-expenses-paid trip to Spain and participate at one of the six offline semi-finals.

And remember to hurry up! The free registration for this freeroll closes on April 23. Also note that you must deposit at least $10 to your account in order to be eligible to this freeroll. More information on the tournament can be found under Promos on the PokerRoom site. The tournament ticket will be added to your account one day before the tournament starts.

For more information about PokerRoom.com, please visit our extensive PokerRoom review and don’t forget to read all about the PokerRoom bonus code.

UPDATE: PokerRoom informed us that due to technical difficulties, some players were unable to view this exclusive tournament. This should now be fixed.

Annie Duke


How far would you go if you played at World Poker Tour for the first time? When Annie Duke made her first major public appearance in the poker scene, she showed the world that females can play poker too. Many years of experience with cards and competition made her last until 14th place, and a total of $70,000 richer.

Annie was born in Concord, New Hampshire and educated in the prestigious St. Paul’s prep school. Feeling like she never fit in there, she matriculated at Columbia University and tried her luck in the big city. Following her parents steps, she decided to become a teacher, but instead, she ended up at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in cognitive psychology.

In 1991, she married her old friend Ben Duke and decided to leave everything behind, including the studies. She moved in with Ben and began playing poker at local poker rooms to pay the morgage on their very first home.

Full Tilt Poker Bonus CodeThis is how her story began. Her first victory at World Poker Tour made the Dukes realize that they had to move to the city of gambling, Las Vegas. Since her big WPT debut in 1994, she has attended numerous events and even finished at 10th place in World Series of Poker 2000. Inspired by her success, online poker room Ultimate Bet signed a contract with Annie who became a spokesperson for the company (and still is).

In 2004, Annie Duke became a super poker celebrity after winning a $2,000,000 event in the inaugural World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. A total of 10 players participated, including her own brother Howard Lederer, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and more. Additionally, she won the 2004 State Poker Championship of California and tutored Ben Affleck, who came to win the State Poker Championship of California the year after that. Annie Duke appeared on the David Letterman show a few times, which boosted her career even further.

Annie Duke plays poker until today and is involved in numerous activities, owns a poker camp and participates in tournaments. And if you’re lucky, you’ll play her on Ultimate Bet.

Clonie Gowen


How would you feel if you were the son or daughter of a poker loving mother? Probably very good if your surname was Gowen and your mother’s name was Cycalona. That’s right, we’re talking about Clonie Gowen, one of the most successful female poker players in the world.

Clonie grew up in Kiowa, Oklahoma, and spent her early years growing up as a high school jock. She was one of the best players in the state championship basketball team and also a success in the high jump in track and field. She was also crowned Miss Teen McAlester, Oklahoma.

Before she got hooked on poker, she moved to Dallas, Texas, where she is living today. She then started traveling to Shreveport, Louisiana on weekends and made a few hundred bucks enough to make a living out of it. But her success in poker was only a fraction of what she got out of entering the World Poker Tour Costa Rica Classic. She finished the top 10 and got an invitation to World Poker Tour Ladies Night 2003. Despite top-class players such as Annie Duke and Jennifer Harman, on top of millions of eagerly watching viewers, she proved she was the best by winning.

Full Tilt Poker Bonus CodeToday, Clonie is an active team member of the Full Tilt Poker along with players like Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and Phil Gordon. In fact, this poker room was founded by professional players to give regular people a chance to play against the big stars. It is not uncommon for Clonie Gowen to sit down at mid stake tables and give the other players a run for their money something she’s usually pretty good at.

Besides cooperating with others in a poker room, Clonie is a regular columnist for the acclaimed Bluff Magazine, a poker paper that is circulating in hundreds of thousands of copies. And as if that wasn’t enough, Clonie assists the United States Poker Association (USPA) with her knowledge.

Clonie Gowen’s winnings exceed $250,000 although we can tell for sure that she has other sources of income, let alone her position as a member of the Full Tilt Poker team, which surely brings in a buck or two. In other words, Clonie is a successful and beautiful woman who knows how to bet and bluff.

Courtney Friel


“In West Philadelphia born and raised, on a playground is where I spent most of my days”.. Yes, we’re obviously quoting Will Smith’s introduction to his TV show breakthrough. But as you can see on your right, we’ve got a hot, white female, not a black hunk. Meet Courtney Friel, the new World Poker Tour host.

Courtney Friel is a versatile television journalist. Previously you have seen Courtney working with “America’s Most Wanted”, “E! News”, “Trackers” and various Nickelodeon shows. Today, she works with Travel Channel’s World Poker Tour as a TV host. That’s right, this is Shanna Hiatt, just a bit different.

When not working with the WPT events in Paris, Aruba or Las Vegas, she reports for the CBS affiliate in Palm Springs, where she hosts a video game show seen in EB Games stores in the United States and Canada.

In her youth, Courtney constantly annoyed her friends and foes by interviewing them. Whenever there was a video camera around, she would make sure to expose her pretty face. But as far as success goes, this was not apparent until her first breakthrough on television. Before that, she had almost given up on journalism because public school did not offer what she wanted.

When Freil finally got her first job, he was hired as an anchor and reporter. Her duties included everything from camera adjustments to editing as well as writing and story-telling. Unfortunately, her first day in the air became her last one, too. A deadly tornado struck the studio at 4 in the morning and leveled basically everything, including her car.

Evelyn Ng


Evy, Evybabee or Eveybaby. You’ve problably heard at least one of these names before, unless you’re just browsing for very hot women. Evelyn Ng is in fact one of the most good-looking women in the poker community that we know of.

Evelyn was born in 1975 and raised in Toronto, Canada. When she discovered her true love of her life, gambling that is, she moved to Las Vegas. That’s where she lives today, single, attractive and no children.

Before she moved to Las Vegas, she was well acquainted with poker and blackjack. When she got there, she started working as a blackjack and poker dealer. This is also where she picked up her skills with chips. Besides being a natural beauty, she entangles opponents with her smooth chips tricks.

Full Tilt Poker Bonus CodeA few years later, she had her first big shot at the world of poker celebrities. She qualified to the Ladies Night World Poker Tour event in 2004 and managed to score a very respectable second place, which earned her glory and fame.

Since Evelyn’s breakthrough, she has participated in numerous tournaments. She finished at 22nd place in the main event of World Poker Tour 2005, as well as a 29th place at Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic in December 2004. Evelyn has not had any major winnings in her life, but attracts a lot of media coverage and exposure, and makes a living out of it.

If you want to see Evelyn from a 3D-ish perspective, make sure to check her out in the game “Stacked”, featuring Daniel Negreanu. And for those of you who did not know, Evelyn is tutored by Daniel.

Today Evelyn plays with Team Poker Stars and you can even find her at the tables, under alias “evybabee”. Besides playing poker, she also works as a sports commentator for NBC, commenting poker, of course.