Professional Poker Players
Many professional poker players are not as recognizable as they might appear. Many are also not as successful either. Playing poker as a career is not easy. A good professional poker player understands that poker is a business and treats it as such.
Poker Basics: All about the Bluff
Texas Hold’em and other types of poker are exciting because of bluffing. Imagine poker games wherein every player knew each other’s cards… wouldn’t that kill all the fun? Since poker is a game wherein everyone receives incomplete information, you can win the game just by simply acting and making your opponents believe you have the best hand. Once you master this, you know exactly how to bluff. To bluff simply means “to raise or bet” even with a weak hand. Bluffing is an important element and a needed skill for any poker player wishing to hit it big. However, bluffing is not as easy as it may seem because you need to know when and how to bluff in order to fool your opponents. Since the odds of being dealt with aces every hand is next to impossible, the only way you can win poker frequently is to learn how to play inferior cards. Bluffs come in two forms – a pure bluff and a semi-bluff. When your opponent makes a pure bluff, he raises with an inferior hand that has little or no chance of becoming a good hand. On the other hand, a semi-bluff occurs when a player raises with a hand that is not good, but has a possibility of improving later in the hand. It is important to know when to bluff because if you do this all the time, it will lead you to more losses than you’ve planned on. The best times to bluff are when you are facing only one opponent, when you are in late position and no one else before you represents a strong hand, when you have read your opponents’ tells and believe they are weak enough to fold to a raise or bet and when the cards you have shown allow you to represent a superior hand. However, some of the worst scenarios to make a bluff are when there are still many players in the hand, when you detect that your opponents who are still in the hand is the type who never folds and when a player has a lot of money in the pot that nothing can force him to fold. Be aware that bluffing involves plenty of training, but should be mastered in order to win poker. However, bluffing is not part of any poker rules. You will not have points every time you bet or bluff, but by how often your bluffing works.
Playing your sets in NL Holdem cash games…
Successful cash game players all know that exploiting the implied odds to the maximum is where the greatest value lies in these games. Pocket pairs carry excellent implied odds, especially if the table happens to be short handed. Many of these cash players – provided they’re acting in the shadow of a large chip-stack – completely reduce their strategy to set mining. Set mining is the habitual playing of small pocket pairs, solely with the purpose of hoping to be hit by a set on the flop. In order that you should really understand how set exploitation works, you need to understand the concept of implied odds. Let’s consider that you are playing a pair of 6s from the cut off, with several people staying in the hand. At this moment, you are well aware of the fact that your hand is most probably not the best one at the table, but you do see the flop nonetheless hoping that you’ll land a set. You are also aware that you will miss your set most of the time, and only make it on a few lucky hands. It would seem like you’re pouring chips into a negative EV value play. This situation – if contemplated from a strictly mathematical perspective – is indeed a negative EV one, but you – as a skilled player – know more about the nature of the game than cold-hard math does. You know that on the few occasions you fill up your set, you’ll take down huge pots, because your set is going to be next to impossible to read. You’re bound to get a lot of money off people on a top pair, and even more off those who hit two pairs. In the long-run, the money that you win on such hands will not only make up for all the money you spend seeing the flops in vain, it’ll also hit you with a nice profit. The implied odds turn this apparently negative EV setup into a positive EV one. It is theoretically possible that you will lose on your set, in case one of your opponents gets hit by an even higher set on the flop. The odds of something like that happening though are small enough to make getting all your money in on your flopped set very profitable in the long-run. Upon hitting your trips, your sole goal should be only to get as much money into the pot as possible. You want to felt an opponent or double up at the very least, so be prepared to go for the kill when the opportunity presents itself. Whether or not such set-oriented strategic approach is correct depends on a few key factors. First of all: the size of your stack. You need to be deep stacked to exploit this strategy, which means you need a minimum of 100BBs in your stack, but 200BBs is more like it. You need the large stack because: you will be spending chips on seeing all those unrewarded flops, and your stack needs to be able to take that strain. On the other hand, you need the large stack so that you can “milk” your sets (when you do hit them) to the max. You will only be able to take as many chips from your opponents as your stack size allows you to. This is the reason why set mining will not be a viable strategic approach in tournaments, where being deep stacked is a luxury you won’t really be able to rely on. The exact way you need to play your small pairs is also dependent on a few things. On one hand, you need to put as little money into the pot preflop as possible, because you know you are going to lose the majority of that money, so you want to minimize your losses. On the other hand, in aggressive short handed games, betting or raising preflop on your pairs gives you a much bigger spectrum of possibilities to take the pot down. Whether you mine sets as a part of your cash game strategy or not, you should always play with a rakeback deal backing you up. A rake rebate setup will open up an entirely new revenue stream for your online poker effort.