Deep Stack Poker 4 Reasons to Love it

Introduction to Deep Stack Poker

A cash game with 200 big blinds or more and a slow-paced tournament (1 hour or more blind intervals), where you start with 200 big blinds or more is generally considered deep stack poker. It is the opposite to the turbo paced tournaments available online and the short stack cash games around too.

1)Flexibility to Make Moves

Poker shouldn’t just be about learning how to play the short stack in a tournament. Deep stack poker affords players the opportunity to make advanced plays, big bluffs and try sophisticated lines in hands that short stack poker just doesn’t allow you to. If you try a check raise bluff with less than 15 big blinds, you’ve committed all your chips rendering the play useless.

deep stack poker
Photo by Steve Benedict

2)Implied Odds

With stacks deeper, you can take a few more risks before the flop and play hands you don’t get the opportunity to usually. This is why you see people calling raises with three six suited on high stakes poker against the fish at the table. They are risking a few big blinds to potentially win everything the live one has in front of them.

3)Improves You as a Player

By playing with larger stacks, you will find yourself in tricky, awkward and challenging scenarios that you won’t be accustomed to. Experience generally makes people better at things, by gaining experience in lots of different scenario, you will learn and improve as a result.

4)Increases Your Edge

If you are table selecting properly, you should be the best or second-best player at the table when you play. With deeper stacks, you are minimising the variance and luck element and thus your edge will increase. It is in your interest to maximise your edge whenever possible. Playing with more money behind you and your weaker opponents is always in your interest, assuming you are employing correct bankroll management of course.

Beginner Texas Holdem Question

What is a Deep Stack Poker Tournament?

A deep stack poker tournament is one where you start with more than 300 big blinds, slow blind levels and small increments. The major live tournaments are usually deep stacked and slow. Online is generally faster paced but there are deep stack tournaments available too.

Summary

Deep stack poker is arguably the best and purest form to play. It reduces the luck and variance elements of poker and increases the skill. It allows you to make moves you don’t get the chance to usually and play hands you may want to play but can’t with a shorter stack. If you have the time to play them, I highly recommend the deep stack tournaments available online.

Ace Rag

What’s Wrong With Ace Rag? Tony from UK

Dear Tony,

Thanks for your question. Ace rag is an ace with a number between 2 and 9 and usually off-suit in Texas Holdem. It is a hand group that is often associated with new players who often overplay it. They usually overplay it because they look at one ace and think they have a strong hand. The second card is known as the “kicker” and can be the key difference in winning or losing the pot. See below for example:

Board – Ah 3h 9d 9s 5d

On this board, a player with Ad 6d is beat by someone with Ac Jc because you are playing the best 5 card hand, in this case A-A-9-9-J beats A-A-9-9-6.

The Maths

To have a bigger kicker with your ace is quite a significant advantage in Texas Holdem. You will be at least 74% favourite if you both hold an ace and yours is larger. This is known as being dominated, this is particularly useful to know in tournament poker when you are all in before the flop. If you overplay an ace rag and are all in against an ace king, you are in a world of trouble and unlikely to win.

Playability

Remember, an ace is both high and low for straights. Therefore, a lower ace could be more of value than a middle kicker. This sounds counter intuitive but for the purposes of playability it’s true. I would much prefer to have an ace four than an ace seven. The ace four has straight potential whereas the ace seven does not. 

How Many People at The Table

The fewer players at the table, the wider range of hands you should be playing. In a full ring game, an ace ten is a mediocre hand at best from early position, four handed and it is a strong hand. In other words, the value of your ace goes up in value, the fewer opponents you have. If you are playing heads up, you will likely play every ace before the flop, with differing degrees of aggression, but you will play them.

Ace Rag Tips

Ace rag doesn’t have to be a problem hand. As long you are not wedded to it post flop if you catch an ace, exercise pot control well and are in position, the hand can certainly be profitable for you.

  • Open raise from cut-off or button if folded to you
  • Call a raise from SB
  • Limped pot and you catch top pair
  • 3 Bet a loose aggressive player in position as you have a good blocker.



Ace Rag
Everyone loves an ace. Image by Aditya Chinchure

I hope you found this answer useful. Remember to tread cautious next time you look down at ace rag.

Thanks,
Narciso

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What Does Covid-19 Mean For Online Poker?

Covid-19

It’s on the tips of everyone’s tongues so Texas Holdem Questions could not avoid the issue and I had to write an article about the virus that has swept the globe and had an impact on lives everywhere. Who would have thought a few weeks ago that so many countries would be in lockdown today? Fish are seen in Venice canals; pollution is down and there are empty roads in countless major cities. Now, as of yesterday in the United Kingdom, pubs, clubs, theatres, gyms and shops are closed. Schools are closed and people are being asked to work from home. What is the impact of this? People will have to find things to do at home. One of the few industries that are benefiting from the Covid-19 outbreak is the delivery industry and grocery shopping, but what about online poker? There are no sports being played so there is less to gamble on. Those who like to gamble may turn to online poker as a quick win or maybe just for fun. Let’s face it, as long they know how to play poker and have the time, the poker rooms are going to start booming.

Covid-19 online poker
Image by freepik.com

United Kingdom Job Retention Scheme

The Covid-19 job retention scheme introduced on 20th March 2020 by Rishi Sunak means the UK government will prop up wages up to 80% for employees who are unable to work due to Covid-19. What will they be spending their money on? Well they won’t be going to pubs, restaurants or the cinema and they are confined to staying at home for the most part. This is where the poker rooms will be promoting and pushing their brands more than ever to open doors to new customers. There is every reason to think this could be at least 3 months isolation, which is a long time to be stuck indoors.

Final Thoughts on Covid-19 & Online Poker

Covid-19 is not going anywhere in the short term; we are all in this together and have to keep our distances, wash hands and be smart for the good of society. If you are likely to be indoors, off work and interested in playing online poker, visit our poker cheat sheet article where you can download for free too. Or perhaps sign up to our poker training video membership for £49.99. Use coupon code COVID2103 and we will give you 10% off. If you are going to be indoors for a few months, we want you to make the best of it, improve your game and bankroll, but most important of all, stay healthy and gamble responsibly.

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Pub Poker – What’s Better?

Introduction to Pub Poker

Did you know that poker is played in British pubs? They have grown in popularity since the early noughties and have continued to this day with various regional and national leagues. Texas Holdem is usually played in tournament format and whilst the essence of Texas Holdem doesn’t change whether you are in Vegas, playing online or in a pub, the rules and regulations do.

Pub Poker Law

The Gambling Act 2005 governs the laws around pub poker. Like most laws it is quite exhaustive and wordy but certainly worth a read if you are a pub owner considering opening a poker league. Here are some key points to remember.

£100 Maximum Prize Limit Per Person Per Tournament

A player cannot win any more than £100 in each tournament. This is why leagues are popular as it affords a player to win several hundred, over weeks. The prize may be awarded at the end of the league and can exceed £100, provided the player played the required number of events e.g. 3 tournaments would result in a cap of £300 for said player. The positive thing about poker leagues is that multiple tournaments and weeks of play mean less variance and generally the better players will come out on top. This is not always the case in a single tournament with a fast structure.

£5 Maximum Stake

The most a player can spend in a pub poker tournament is set at £5. That is about the cost of 1 pint in the South of England. The threshold is set so low to dissuade any chance of “high stakes” action developing and perhaps to remind players and pub owners that it is not a casino or card room with a gaming license.

No Rake, No Fees, No Charges

Pubs cannot charge entrants a rake or house fee for hosting a tournament. They are not supplying dealers and are not a casino thus are not permitted to charge entrants for the privilege. Their custom in buying alcohol and food and repeat business is what they are after. Poker is merely a means of advertising their services and to get footfall.

Pub Poker
Image by Freepik.com

Conclusion

Pub poker is a cheap fun. You get the camaraderie amongst the other players, cash rewards and entertainment while you have a cold beer and chips. I love the idea of pub poker leagues and think it’s a great way for friends to get introduced to poker and see what it’s about in a relaxed setting. The most you can lose in a night is £5 and you gain experience and have a lot of fun too. The friendly rivalry and banter amongst those in the league are awesome too.

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Why Texas Hold ‘Em Is The Best Poker Variant

If you’ve ever picked up a history book or played Red Dead Redemption you’ll be aware of the origins of poker. The globally popular card game was born in 19th century America and has truly stood the test of time.

Since the games invention there have been a number of variant on gameplay, the most popular of which was developed in Robstown Texas in the early years of the 20th century.

Texas Hold ‘Em is widely regarded as the pinnacle of poker as it test players’ mathematical and psychological capabilities as well as their card skills. In this article we delve down into the history of the game in an attempt to understand how, and why it became the world’s most popular poker variant.



(Poker has come a long way from how it was depicted in Western movies.)

Texas Hold ‘Em: The Beginnings

When poker was first played in 19th century America, players were dealt five cards which they could then bet on. As the betting progressed, players could swap cards from their hand with what remained of the deck.

The round would then conclude with a showdown in which the player with the best hand would win the pot. Whilst this variant was fairly fast-paced and accessible, it didn’t really reward skill and clever gameplay.

Nowadays this variant is considered so basic that it is rarely ever played in casinos and is usually limited to home games and video poker terminals.

So even in the early days of poker there was an obvious need for a more complex and nuanced variant. Texas Hold ‘Em was the answer that everyone was waiting for.

Texas Hold ‘Em starting hands were the first difference, with players only being dealt two cards. In addition to this, five community cards were dealt face up which players could use in conjunction with their cards to build a winning hand. Unlike the original variant of poker, Texas Hold ‘Em forced players to think explicitly about their opponents hands. A thorough understanding of the game was needed, along with a strong mental resolve as the concept of bluffing soon began to rise in popularity.

How Was Texas Hold ‘Em Received?

Initially many viewed Texas Hold ‘Em with suspicion and continued to play the original poker variant. Slowly but surely, the game did begin to grow in popularity and use, however that growth was mainly confined to the state of Texas.

For one reason or another, Texas Hold ‘Em seemed to be enjoyed only by Texans. That was until 1963 when a man with one of the most Texan names in history – Corky McCorquodale – introduced the game to the gambling Mecca of Las Vegas.

For the better part of a decade the Golden Nugget casino was the only place to play Texas Hold ‘Em in Las Vegas. When large crowds started turning up at the Nugget, other casinos cottoned onto the popularity of the variant and began offering it to their own customers.

The biggest moment in the history of Texas Hold ‘Em would come in 1970, when it was adopted as the official variant of the inaugural World Series of Poker, which it has remained as ever since.

This exposure catapulted the variant into the limelight and it soon became the most well-known and played poker variant throughout the world.

How To Play Texas Hold ‘Em

Like all variants of poker, Texas Hold ‘Em is based on the original card combinations with a pair beating a high card and a straight beating a three of a kind and so on. The community style of Texas Hold ‘Em, in which five cards are publically placed on the table, allows you ample chances to build a winning hand.

However, a good hand is not always a guarantee of winning when it comes to Texas Hold ‘Em. The four betting chances give your opponents the chance to potentially bully you through large, ever increasing bets, vice versa, it allows you to do the same.

Therefore the key to Texas Hold ‘Em is interpreting the community cards and working out the possible combinations that they could offer to your opponents. If you can do this relatively successfully, you will be able to see through bullying and bluffing tactics and ultimately win more hands than you lose.

A good understanding of basic human psychology is almost as necessary as a solid knowledge of poker hands and cards. That after all, is what makes the game so fun to play and watch.

Becoming a Professional Poker Player

Professional Poker Player

A professional poker player is someone who makes their primary living from playing poker. They may do this by playing in casinos, online or both. A few decades ago, it was a taboo career to tell people you had. I remember looking at an apartment for a 6-month tenancy and telling the agent that I was a professional poker player and she was taken aback. Since the poker boom and increase in popularity through poker on TV, professional poker has been a realistic and viable way of making a very good living for many people. Not everyone is going to make millions like Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu but there are many happy to turn over much better earnings than a job would afford them.

Whilst becoming a professional poker playing may be a dream for many, there are some very serious considerations before taking the plunge. My goal with this article is not to encourage or dissuade anyone from one becoming a professional poker player or not. This article is only designed to give you pause for thought and ensure you are taking all aspects into consideration before making such a grand decision.

How Much Do You Expect To Earn?

Sometimes a decent player with a year or so of consistent winning thinks he has enough to become a professional poker player. The truth is you need a lot of data and many months of consistent earnings in order to make an estimate on what you can reasonably expect to earn as a living. The other thing is how much have you played to draw the conclusion? It’s one thing playing once a week for 10 hours and it’s another playing 50 hours. My advice is to take 20% off what you realistically think you can make per month/year from poker. Is this figure an amount you are happy with?

What Are Your Monthly Life/Operating Costs?

You should already have a budget of your monthly outgoings, if you don’t, then draw one up. Look at the standing orders, direct debits and provide prudent estimates for costs like shopping and fuel. Once you know what your monthly costs, add on 10% for unforeseen items like car breakdown. Now you know the minimum need to bring in every month to pay for your expenses so you can reconcile this with what you expect to earn each month and see if going professional is a no go already.

Becoming a Professional Poker Player
Image by Freepik.com

How Mentally Tough Are You?

You may be a winning player but how do you handle a bad run or adversity? Do your crumble under pressure or on a losing run? Have you experienced a bad a run and came through it? It’s no good being a strong player but going on tilt easily and throwing away your winnings. Being mentally tough is a must for a professional poker player. A professional poker player knows they will have bad sessions, days and weeks. They are focused on the long run and know a bad session will happen.

What Does Your Family & Friends Think?

Going professional is a huge decision and whilst some player’s do it irrespective of what others think, its always a good idea to get feedback from your loved ones. If they think it’s a solid decision for you and give you support, it will make the transition easier and help you down the line, if you have a bad run. Have a chat with your friends and family and take on board their input before making a decision. They will want what is best for you so it’s worth hearing what they have to say, even if they have little technical understanding of poker.

What Is Your Contingency Plan?

You need to have a safety net, a back up plan if it all goes wrong or you change your mind. Think of this in advance and have one in place. Will you back to your old job? Will you look for something else or do you have a side income that you can monetise better? If you plan on going professional, have a contingency plan in place so you are not completely lost if it goes bad.

Can You Motivate Yourself?

When you are self-employed, no set hours and no boss, self-motivation is very important. You need to balance your work with life. Common mistakes are doing too much work but not at your best, or not doing enough and struggling to motivate yourself. Having a routine and sticking to it is a good idea, but don’t feel obligated to stick to it if you are playing poorly or distracted. The worst thing you can do is play for the sake of it.

Final Thoughts on Becoming a Professional Poker Player

Becoming a professional poker player is a massive decision, not to be taken lightly. There are very few long-term winners that have the other skills required to be professional. You need support, a plan, a budget, mental toughness, a love of the game and the ability to motivate yourself to pull it off. If you meet all these criteria, then becoming a professional poker player may be for you. If not, don’t worry! You can still earn lots from poker and have fun at the same time.

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Is a Poker Face Important?

Poker Face

Say poker face and you probably have Lady Gaga’s breakout tune in your head. A poker face is the look associated with a player at the table when playing poker. Some are bad, some are cringy, some are laughable and a few are great.

Without fail, any TV show or movie depicting a poker scene will overstate its importance. Usually the actors’ faces and expressions, whist acting masterpieces they may be, are actually irrelevant to the hand. Getting a flashback to Casino Royale yet?

I don’t want to be too critical of the poker face. Your demeanor at the table is certainly a factor and anything you can do to help your chances of winning or earning more is worth considering. I think it is important to make a distinction between a poker face and poker tells (which we will write about in due course). Let’s explore some techniques that can help your poker face and ability to conceal your hand to your opponents.

Consistency

Having a consistent look, whatever that may be is important. Poker players, like a predators hunting for any prey they can get, are hunting for information, whenever it is there to be taken. One of your goals in poker is to obtain as much information as possible, to make better decisions, but also give away as little as possible. If you’ve found a look you like. Stick with it and don’t stray.

Blinking

This may seem trivial but it isn’t. Please remember to blink when you are being tared down. If you don’t, you will get nervous, anxious and your face will involuntarily give off information to an attentive opponent.

Poker face
Image by Freepik.com

Eye Contact

Keep eye contact with your opponent(s). Looking people in the eye is a psychological move that suggests you have nothing to hide. The flip-side is avoiding eye contact reveals you are afraid to look at your opponent. Perhaps you’re bluffing or doing a reverse bluff. Either way, eye contact is n important and again, should be consistent.

Practice

I am not a fan of developing a poker face but If you’re going to do something. Do it right. Look in the mirror, practice it. A good poker face should not require much work or facial contortion. It should be a comfortable and relaxed expression otherwise you are probably doing more harm than good.

Warning

The live poker environment is far safer than a few decades ago but remember there are still unsavory characters around. I don’t recommend developing a mean poker face and staring at these types. Your goal in poker is to win money and play well, not make enemies, have fights or anger people. 

What is Rakeback?

Introduction to Rakeback

Firstly, let’s look at rake. You know how the gambling sites make their money right? The rake is charged on pots in cash games or on top of a buy in an MTT. Every pot or tournament played by an individual contributes to the site’s revenue in the form of rake. You play a $10 tournament and they will probably charge $1, win a cash game pot and they will take a percentage too. Rakeback is kickback from the website to you as an incentive to play more. It is essentially commission paid back to the player.There are two main forms.

Contributed Rakeback

The player’s rakeback is proportional to the pots they are involved in. For instance, if you are involved in a pot that is $25 and the rake is $2, you will receive a percent of this back in form of contributed rakeback. The percentage is dependent on the agreement but often around 25% so you will receive $0.50 for that pot.

Dealt Rakeback

This is where the rakeback from a pot is split evenly by those on the table. For instance, a pot of $25 on a 9 handed table, the rake of $2 with 25% agreement is split between the players, entitling you to approx. $0.22c. This scheme is more beneficial for the tighter player as it rewards you whether or not you are directly involved in the pot.

Who is Rakeback for?

Anyone can sign up. It is of most value to those who play regularly and play a lot of volume. It can turn a break even player into a winning one, and a losing player into a break even one with sufficient volume. It also makes a winner, a much bigger winner. In short, it is free money and every poker player should be involved in a scheme.  There are millions of players playing that are turning down free money.

What is rakeback?

Do You Play Turbo SNGs?

You absolutely need to get on a rakeback scheme. There are lots of sites out there that offer good deals. Turbo SNGs are notorious for high rake, signing up to a rakeback deal will mitigate this and help your ROI. It’s also worth pointing out that there are players around the world that are playing thousands of turbo sngs on rakeback deals. They don’t need to play high or even medium stakes due to the currency conversion.

Conclusion

Now you know, sign up for it. It’s an essential to any and all poker players. Whether you are playing recreationally or professionally, you want to make money from poker and rakeback is way of contributing to this, for free.

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How to Host a Poker Night

What is a Poker Night?

A poker night is a cash game or tournament hosted between friends at someones house. It can also be called a “home game”. Whilst the basic rules of Texas Holdem don’t change, the nature and flow of a poker night is radically different to the environment of a casino. This article will explain what is needed for a poker night to both run effectively and be fun.

poker night
Card photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Planning a Poker Night

For a poker night to run smoothly, certain things need to be established before anyone walks through the door. If not, you will soon see disagreements, delays in starting and people complaining they are hungry or thirsty.

  • Start Time – Everyone needs to know when you are starting otherwise you will get people rocking up at different times and disrupt the flow
  • Poker Table & Chairs – One of the most fundamentals and basics of running a good poker night. If you are planning on running a regular poker night, perhaps consider investing in proper poker table
  • Poker Chips – Needless to say you will need chips, but ensure there is enough for the game to operate and that people will understand the denominations
  • Format – Is it a cash game or a tournament? If cash game, what are the blinds going to be? If tournament, what are the blind increments, starting stack and pay-outs going to be? Ideally, this needs to communicated to attendees in advance
  • Buy In – It’s very important everyone understand how much they are likely to need when playing a poker night. There is nothing worse than people having “IOUs” because they didn’t bring enough cash
  • Dealer – Who will be dealing throughout the night? Sometimes it’s a given it will alternate each hand but when you have certain people who are terrible at dealing, it slows the game and intensity
  • House Rules – This may seem a bit a bit strict but trust me it relieves pressure and potential arguments if house rules are printed and visible. We are living in the digital age so you can even PDF it and send round in advance so people are aware. The house rules should inform on etiquette and ad hoc rules including whether a tablet or phone is allowed at the table. We will write an article in the future on good house rules
  • Snacks & Drinks – It’s always a good idea to have food and drink bought in advance to appease the guy who loves coca cola and Doritos while he is playing.

Final Thoughts

Poker nights with friends can be a lot of fun. The banter, food and pride of beating friends makes them an enjoyable and memorable experience. It’s important to remember that there are varying degrees of ability between home games and the players that play them too. Not everyone is proficient and experienced as you may be. Ensure the stakes are reasonable and the intensity of the poker night is fitting of the players that are attending.  

I hope you found this article useful. Remember to have fun, win money and gamble responsibly.

Is Freeroll Poker the Best Way to Learn?

Introduction to Freeroll Poker

A freeroll is a poker tournament at no cost to the player. It usually has a guaranteed prize pool, rewarding the final table with varying amounts. They are often recommended to beginners as a cheap way of learning to play poker. This article will look at the validity of that claim and whether freerolls are actually a good way of learning poker.

Are They Really “Free”?

Whilst it doesn’t cost you cash to play a freeroll. You do have to invest your time to enter them. On the one hand, you don’t lose any money if you bust out but on the other you can play hours for very little gain. Time is one of the most important things we have and one must ask, is playing this tournament worth the time? Freerolls typically have hundreds if not thousands of entrants and navigating your way through that for a few dollars is not very appealing is it?

free
Photo by William White

What are You Actually Learning?

It should not come as a surprise that most of the entrants to a freeroll are either beginners playing poorly or micro stakes players playing wildly (and poorly). Therefore, it stands to reason, you are unlikely to get the legitimate experience of a “real” tournament. You will quickly find that freerolls become all-in fests. Not much actual poker goes on and you can forget about ever trying to do a bluff. Any mildly sophisticated poker strategy you have learnt is wasted in a freeroll.

How Much Can You Win?

Prizes vary between the major sites, there are some that will pay $100 for a win but keep in mind this is 1st place with thousands of entrants. You are more likely to cash for $3 for 5 hours work. The truth is there is not much money to be won from freeroll poker. There are some more lucrative weekly and monthly freerolls that are offered to players who build up enough loyalty points, however, this involves playing for actual cash to be eligible.

Conclusion

Freerolls are not ideal for someone interested in earning or learning quickly. It is perfect if you don’t know the rules and have lots of time. Move all in, embrace the madness and learn the basics at the same time. If you actually want to learn and play well, you need to get experience playing for money. There are lots of micro stakes cash games and tournaments available online. You can invest as little as $25 starting out and it is plenty to play with and gain experience. Please remember to exercise good bankroll management and gamble responsibly too.

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