Poker Cooler – You Can’t Escape Them, or Can You?

Poker Cooler

We’ve all had them and they sting, don’t they? There are few worse feelings in poker than being on the wrong side of a cooler. You think you’re about to rake this huge pot and end up losing. Often, you can’t control anything to do with a poker cooler. You can control how you react to them. Some people will quit a session superstitiously believing “it’s not my day”, others will go on tilt whilst a seasoned professional or experienced poker player will shrug it off. This article will look at what a poker cooler is, a personal cooler story, examples of coolers, a brief look at probability and famous televised coolers.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Cooler in Poker

A cooler is a term used to describe a scenario where two or more poker players have very strong hands matched up e.g. flush vs full house. It’s a hand that will cost you money or chips, not because you’ve played badly but because of being on the wrong side of the luck element.

My Cooler Story

Many years ago, I was planning on playing what I considered a big live tournament (£1,000 buy in). I was only 19 years old and never played for these kinds of stakes before and wanted to get some deeper stacked, slower paced live tournament experience.  

I found a great £300 tournament in London that seemed perfect. An hour on the train, a few tubes stops and I was there at Gutshot poker club, eager to play. I was already thinking this tournament is perfect for me. I will play solid and let people blow up into me. Tournament poker rewards those who are patient in the early stages and the aggressive later on so I felt good about my chances.

The tournament begins..

It was about 15 minutes in and pocket threes are dealt to me. There was a raise and a few calls and I called from the blinds. The flop came out a beautiful 2d 3d 9c. I was going for the standard and predictable check-raise line. My plan was coming together, the initial raiser had continuation bet and I wasted no time in getting making a raise. You’d think most people would only flat with overpairs facing a check raise this early on.When my opponent put in a re raise of my check raise, I was still not concerned about pocket nines. I went ahead and got my stack in, instantly called and the first person out of the tournament. I paid £20 per minute I was in the tournament.

On the way home

I mulled over whether I played the hand correctly or not on the train home. It was a long ride. Was that hand worth £300 or should I have played it differently? Perhaps I could have played a little slower given it was so early on? Always perform an audit and examination of a cooler hand to find out whether you were unlucky or misplayed it.

Examples of Poker Coolers

Pocket Aces against pocket Kings

This is the most standard of coolers in poker. You have the second-best possible hand in Texas Hold’em. Few professionals have ever folded pocket kings pre-flop. Have you? It’s incredibly hard. Even when all the evidence points to them having pocket aces, you find yourself stacking off.

Set over set

As with my cooler story, flopping a set and being up against a higher set is incredibly unlucky. There are the odd occasion when the board run out may save you e.g. a flush possible or 4 card straight. But generally, you will just have to pay it off.

Flush against higher flush

I am referring to when the board shows 3 of a suit and you both have 2 of a suit in your hand. This is another one of those unfortunate situations. If you are the one holding a smaller flush, sometimes it’s best to be prudent, particularly if your opponent plays fit or fold and is betting and raising.

Swings & Roundabouts

On a positive note, volume in poker is the great equaliser. Play enough and you will see everything happen. Its simple probability isn’t it? You will be on the good side of coolers and be on the bad side too. When you get out of the way from a few spots when you’re on the wrong side, you’ve made money. After all, money saved is the same as money won, particularly in scenarios where 99% of players would lose.

Is it Possible to Avoid Coolers?

First of all, we need to establish that it is in fact a cooler. Most casino card-rooms and online poker forums are littered with poker players claiming “I lost to a cooler“. More often than not, it isn’t one, or, they should not have been involved in the hand in the first place. Calling a raise with K8 offsuit out of position, flopping K-8-Q and losing to K-Q or Q-Q is tough, but you misplayed the hand and had no business being involved.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you can’t easily avoid poker coolers. If you can’t handle them, feel free to look at other games online for your fun, but make sure you get a casino bonus. It’s the law of odds. On the other hand, facing a very tight opponent with no inclination to bluffing and also reads the board well, then you may be able to fold and avoid a cooler, but it’s not easy! It takes a lot of practice and gut instinct to avoid them.

Consider is whether the hand that beats you is more likely than any others. A nitty opponent who has raised from the under gun and putting in lots of raises and bets on a Q-T-J is very possibly sitting there with big slick, so 8-9 might be easier to fold than you think.

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Famous Televised Poker Coolers

To help you fee a bit better, check out a couple of famous televised coolers below. Even Phil Ivey runs bad sometimes!

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Sports Betting Tips for New Players

Sports Betting Tips

With lock-down measures easing around the world, sports are slowly coming back. With it, comes the sports lovers need to gamble on the events, have fun and hopefully make money. The football season may have just ended but it’s just a few weeks before the major leagues start their new seasons. The US Open is starting in a few days and boxing is thriving with Povetkin scoring an upset knock out over Dillian Whyte in Essex. Whatever sport you’re into, there’s something for you. But are you maximising your chances of winning? This article will provide some useful sports betting tips to help your chances next time you have a flutter.

Pick the Right Sportsbook

The gambling market is saturated with sportsbooks. There are so many options available it can be overwhelming to a new sports bettor. Sites like Bettinglounge are dedicated to providing information on the best betting sites around. This means the most ethical, best value and best operationally too. Don’t just pick the first sportsbook you come across, do some research and sign up to the one that will treat you as their number one customer.

Sign up for Bonuses

If you are signing up to a new site and not getting any bonuses, you’re doing something wrong. All the major sites should offer bonuses in exchange for your custom. This can come in the form of a free bet or matched deposit. Either way, you should be taking advantage of these bonuses. It’s free money! Why wouldn’t you? There’s nothing better than winning money on a free bet.

Find Your Niche

Did you know that there are over 200 recognised sports? It’s amazing that there is such a variety of games for people to play, watch and bet on isn’t it? This is a problem when it comes to betting though. Generally, those who win from sports betting know something about the field. They have a dedicated interest in it and know intimate knowledge that gives them some kind of edge. I recommend sticking to betting on a sport that you know well. Otherwise, you may as well just play roulette.

The old saying “knowledge is power” is true for gambling too. A football fan who knows that West Ham United are terrible at home with an injury to a key player can profit with astute betting. Stick to betting on sports you know well and you will have a better chance of earning.

Sports Betting Forums

There’s a wealth of knowledge available from other sports bettors. Some are professional and are paid for their tips. Sports betting forums are a great place to learn about betting, how to identify when a bet is good and when odds are in your favour. A quick google search brings up over 6.8 million results. Why not join a community and enhance your knowledge of betting?  

Know When to Stop

It’s easier said than done for some people, but knowing when to stop is an important skill in all forms of gambling. Don’t gamble with money you can ill afford to lose, when drunk or tired. These are all recipes for disaster and will almost certainly cost you money. If you want more information on this area, check out our responsible gambling page.

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Implied Odds – What They Are and How to Use Them

Implied Odds

When it comes to poker maths, there’s lots of curious terms you will come across. Implied odds are one of many that you will hear players use. Many players use the term to justify poor call or bad beats they inflict on opponents, you won’t though as you have this article to help you. This article will look at what implied odds are and how you can use them correctly.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What Are Implied Odds in Poker?

Implied odds is the amount of money or chips you expect to win if you have you hit your hand. This estimation can be used in conjunction with calculating pot odds to determine whether a call on the flop or turn will be profitable.

Problems with Implied Odds

One of the problems with implied odds is that people over-estimate the amount they will win if they hit their outs. My advice is to be conservative when predicting the amount you hope to win. You need to consider your opponent type, stacks sizes and board texture when making a “best guess” as to what you will win.

Player’s often defend a poor call by stating they had implied odds when they really don’t.

Example of Good Implied Odds

You’re heads up in position against a wild fishy player. Both of you have over $500. You’ve got to the turn with 6h 7h and your opponent bets $25 into $40 on a 5d 8s Kh 2c.

Against a wild player who is prone to bluffing and/or calling a future bet and deep stacks – this is a good implied odds situation. Your opponent has over $475 behind him and your hand is well disguised if you hit. Looking at the pot odds, you need 27% equity to call and make it break even. With just 8 outs you are around 17% so you don’t have the right pot odds. However, given we expect to get paid handsomely, we can make the call here. When you factor in that you have last action, it makes a call a little easier. As we are behind by 10% equity, we need at least 10% more of the pot to make the call ok. With $90 in the pot at the river, we can certainly expect to get called for more than $9 and thus make a call profitable.

Example of Bad Implied Odds

You’re heads up and out of position against a nitty reg.  You have Kd Jd on an Td 9s 8s 5c board. Your opponent has $120 and bets $20 into $30 on the turn. In this scenario, you have outs to a Q or 7 giving you 8 clear outs and 17% equity in the hand. However, the bet requires you to have 28.5% or more. Moreover, your hand is not well disguised if it hits. For a Q or 6 to come would bring an obvious straight on board. Do you really expect to get paid from a nitty regular?

Things required for good implied odds

  • Disguised hand
  • A nice pay off
  • In position
  • Deep stacks
  • An opponent that is likely to call you

Conclusion

Implied odds are a great tool to have at your disposal. They are primarily used for cash games but have merit in slow paced, deep stacked tournaments too. I think there are many players that make money from poker without using this concept – but it is one that will enhance your game and give you a better appreciation of accurate bet sizing, value betting and poker maths in general.


Who Are The Most Famous Poker Players?

Famous Poker Players

Poker has generated interest from lots of different specialisms. Many an actor, sportsman and comedian have sat at the felt on equal terms with professionals. The beauty of poker is the opportunity one has to sit with the best, albeit without a handicap. There are few professions where this is possible. This article will share information on some famous poker players with you, please accept our apologies if your personal favourite is not in the list.

Johnny Chan

Johnny will forever be remembered for his role in the 1998 movie Rounders with Matt Damon and Ed Norton. He was cast in the role due to winning the WSOP main event in back to back years (87 & 88) and shared an acting scene with Matt Damon. Johnny Chan is one of the best players around and currently has 10 WSOP bracelets to his name.

Doyle Brunson

Doyle or “Texas Dolly” has been around the poker world for some time. He has been through the different poker eras and is still playing today at the ripe old age of 86. Doyle is known for his aggressive style which was unique at the time. He authored the bible of poker “Super System” which is a must for all poker enthusiasts. Doyle also has 10 WSOP bracelets to his name.

Phil Hellmuth

Love him or hate him, you can’t get away from the “poker brat’s” charisma. There are countless videos of Phil blowing up on camera but the truth is, he’s an amazing tournament player and successful businessman. Phil has 15 WSOP bracelets to his name with a win as recent as 2018. Phil has authored several books with relative success and is, despite his tantrums generally loved by most who make his acquaintance.

Daniel Negreanu

At 46 years old, he isn’t “The Kid” anymore, but Daniel Negreanu certainly sits in good company as one of the most famous players on the planet. The face of PokerStars for 12 years, this Canadian-Romanian has 6 WSOP bracelets. He has gained popularity for his likeable nature and ability to call out opponents’ cards on TV. A skill many professionals have of course but keep quiet, Negreanu has used this skill well to market himself. He is also famed for the small ball poker strategy which exploded in popularity in the last decade.

Phil Ivey

Last but not least, the one and only, Phil Ivey. This man eats, sleeps and breathes poker. He has been known the world over as the best poker player on the planet. For this reason, he has to make the list. The man has been cleaning up cash games for decades and is pure business when it comes to poker. No gimmicks, no showmanship, just business. The fact this man has 10 WSOP bracelets despite his attention solely on cash games is testament to his skill. Simply the best.

Special Mentions

  • Tom Dwan
  • Amarillo Slim
  • Chip Reese
  • Stu Ungar
  • Chris Moneymaker

There are lots of famous poker players in the world. Dislike our list? Contact us and leave feedback.

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Poker Leaks and How to Fix Them

Poker Leaks Hurting Your Bankroll?

Nobody is perfect. This is a universal truth for the real world and poker world. Poker is a complex game that requires a wide range of skills. You are unlikely to be proficient in all of them. Perhaps your strengths mask your weaknesses. Or maybe you’re playing games that are soft enough that your poker leaks are not costing you lots of money. Either way, you have leaks in your poker game whether you want to admit it or not. This article will look at common poker leaks and potential solutions to help. Whilst you won’t ever be perfect, you can strive for it still.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Poker Leak?

A leak is a part of a poker players game that they are particularly weak in. It leads to them consistently making errors that will cost them money in the long run.

Leak – Not Value Betting Thin Enough

This leak is more common than you imagine. Think of it this way, every time you check back a hand on the river which beats your opponent, you’ve allowed the worse hand a free showdown. Realistically, we can’t expect to value bet correctly 100% of the time but the point still stands. Think of your last session. How many times did you check back the best hand on the river? Expert players are experts because they realise the times when their hand is likely to be best and will try to extract value from it.

Solution – Make Small Value Bets on the River

The problem a lot of players make is wrongly assuming they don’t want to bet in case they get check-raised. Look, if your opponent is strong enough to check raise bluff the river, then kudos to him. That’s no reason to check back. In scenarios where you think you probably have best hand, throw out a 20% value bet. As you gain experience and find yourself getting paid off by weaker hands you will begin to take your game to the next level and identify when you can value bet more even when it’s for thin value.

Leak – Calling Small 3 Bets Out of Position

Flat calling a small 3 bet out of position is one of the most common poker leaks players come to me with. They justify it by saying “I had odds” or “I won’t overplay post flop”. Either way, it’s a big poker leak that will hurt your bankroll in the long run. The scenario typically goes like this:

With blinds at $1/$2 in a full ring game, you make it $6 with Ks 9s from middle position, the cut-off (a strong regular) makes it $15 to go and action falls back on you.

This is one of them spots where you have a hand of value that you want to play but the context has now changed. You no longer have the aggression, are out of position against a strong opponent and likely to have the weaker hand.

Solution – Don’t be afraid to Fold

Most players continue here because they don’t want to appear weak or timid and end up flatting more than they should. Don’t be that player! Fold and move on to the next hand. Naturally, there are some hands where it’s profitable to call the 3 bet but often the ingredients are not there.

Every decision in poker can be converted to represent the long run. In the example with Ks 9s, you are spending an additional $9 before the flop. Disregarding what can be lost on the flop, turn and river for a moment, we can assume you will probably win the pot 1 in 4? That means you are losing this pot 75% of the time. If this scenario or a similar one happens 4 times a month on average, you are losing $324 per year from this leak alone. You can do a lot of things with $324!

Leak – Open Limping Before the Flop

It’s staggering that there are still so many players adopting a limp in style of poker. It doesn’t work. You will find yourself getting bullied around and losing lots of big blinds by limp/calling or limp/folding. Players that open call before the flop usually do so to try and hit big on the flop. The truth is, you will only pair up one in three and even than you can’t assume your hand is best. This passive style of poker just doesn’t work. Have a look at our limp in poker article if you want a detailed analysis of why this style is bad.

Solution – Play Less Hands But More Aggressively

Instead of trying to limp with hands and hit your monster hand, play fewer hands but aggressively. This will mean you will win more pots before and after the flop and also earn more money when you do hit. It’s well established that a tight aggressive poker style can win money at low stakes and up.
Have you noticed the players that play fewer hands seem to be raising and winning the pots that they do contest? They usually have the positional advantage and mathematical advantage too.

Leak – Playing Too Many Hands

It’s irrelevant if you’re raising or not. If you are playing too many hands at 6 max or full ring poker, you are going to be spewing and leaking money all over the place. It’s practically impossible to play too many hands in heads up format but in the more popular 6 max and full ring games, you will get punished for open raising too much. You will find yourself getting 3 bet, playing against opponents with better cards and be out of position too often to expect to overcome this leak. No amount of skill post flop will counter act the fact you are playing poor cards. Other poker sites like BeastsOfPoker will attest to this too.

Solution – Slow down, Focus on Situation and Position

Poker rewards patient players in the long run. I am not advocating playing a nit style of poker but you need to pick your moments. You can afford to play a wider range of hands in the later positions, but if you’re opening hands like ace rag from under the gun, you’re in trouble. Slow down the aggression and you will find you get will get 3 bet less, face less resistance and will have a higher continuation bet success rate too.

Final Thoughts

This article has focused on 4 common poker leaks. There are loads more that may be appropriate to you, including poor bankroll management, no table selection, tilting, playing when tired and not bluffing enough. If you are a small winner or worse and would like to find out your leaks and resolve them, feel free to contact us at pokermentor@texasholdemquestions.com . We will help identify areas of your game that need working on and offer practical, timely advice to help fix your poker leaks.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d like to read our article on “how to handle running bad” or “dealing with bad beats“.

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Do You Take Notes on Opponents? You Should…

Take Notes on Your Opponents to Increase Profit

You might have heard of the phrase ‘Play the player, not the cards.’ The idea behind the statement is a little outdated because poker has moved on a great deal since poker faces and picking up on tells were the big thing.

While many tells – signs that a player subconsciously gives off to reveal the real strength of his or her hand – are indeed true, good players know this and can double bluff by deliberately showing a tell to confuse an opponent. For example, taking a sip from a water bottle was once supposed to be a sign of anxiousness or weakness. A good player might, therefore, drink in this way, hoping his opponent believes him to be weak… only to walk straight into a full house.

The whole debate about live tells means nothing in online poker, of course. Here, you don’t get to see your opponent, hear them talk, or see how they handle their chips.

Watch for Betting Patterns

What you can do is study their playing patterns using a HUD, which will help you better predict what they might do next. But while HUDS are all well and good, not everyone has them. And anyway, nothing beats good, old-fashioned note-taking on players to build a picture of how they play.

Every online poker room has a note take facility. You simply click on the player avatar or name and see the option to take a note. When you add one, the avatar always has a label to show you a note is in place, perfect for when you stumble upon the player again weeks, months, or even years later.

What Notes Should You Take on Players?

While you would think the more notes you take, the better, it’s not that simple. You might not be a fast typist, for one thing, and spending too long trying to write a note, even in abbreviated form, means you may miss out on an essential piece of the action.

It is best to keep things as straightforward as possible. Certainly, enough to have a basic idea of how a player performs. If you are new to the game, then start practicing with notes immediately, so it becomes a habit. You can do this risk-free if you play free poker games to gain confidence.

Colour Labels

Some poker rooms provide a coloured label system you can apply to a player name. You might, for example, have green for a calling station fish, blue for a rock who only puts in a bet with a monster, and red for a tight-aggressive player who could get you in trouble.

Colour labelling players at your table is fine, so long as you update the colours as you learn more about an opponent. Where once you had the player down as a calling station, you might find after a few hundred hands on the same table that, in fact, his range is tighter, and he does not get involved in so many pots.

Just relying on colours is not ideal. You should train yourself to write occasional notes, too, which should be an essential part of any poker coaching. There is no point in recording everything you notice. After one or two long sessions against the same player, you will have made so many notes that making sense of them if you meet again weeks later will take far too much time.

Example Questions for Note-Taking

It’s best to keep your notes to top-level ones that you can use to help future decisions. Here are some examples you might add to your list:

  • Does the player pay too much for draws, and too often?
  • Does he call out of position with weak hands?
  • Does he always min-bet monsters pre and post-flop?
  • Does a check-raise always mean the nuts?
  • Does he semi-bluff bet flush or straight draw?
  • Does he routinely open-raise on the button or cut off?
  • Does he always make a continuation bet, even if missing on the flop?

If you manage to build three or four of these notes on a particular player, you are in a much stronger position to make profitable calls or folds when you play them next.

Sometimes the difference between losing or making a profit in poker is wafer-thin. Some solid note-taking might be just what you need to move you into profitable play.

Reverse Engineering

While observing and taking notes on opponents is undoubtedly a good thing, don’t concentrate on it so much that you forget what image you are portraying to them. Your own play might be so robotic that a skilled opponent will be making notes on your style. This negates any advantage you had.

Take a cue from top players like Daniel Negreanu. He will mix up  play so that opponents can never easily classify him one way or another. Sure, min-bet with aces or kings one time, but open with a bet of four times the big blind on another occasion. Semi-bluff with a flush draw occasionally but elect to check to see a cheap turn or river another time.

Suited Aces & How They Make You Money

Suited Aces

It’s a fine line between playing the right hands and too many. One of the biggest mistakes a beginner will make is overplaying ace rag but this article is focusing on suited aces. One of the hands that intermediate players probably fold too often and give up potential to earn a lot of money. This article will explore the benefits of suited aces, both in cash games and tournaments.

How to Play Suited Aces in Cash Games

Generally, you want to play suited aces in position and with deep stacks. There’s no use playing it out of position to a 3 bet because you won’t hit often enough to make it profitable. Instead, try to be the initial raiser or at least flat calling when you are likely to be the last person to act post-flop. A common thought is that it’s “bad” to flat call a raise these days but I am not of this opinion. Check out my cold call is ok article for breakdown of why.

With suited aces, you usually want to play top pair for 2 streets of value against a tight player and value bet thinly for 3 streets if the board helps you against a loose player. This is very generic advice but the fact is, tight players are likely to have a low ace beat if they are check/calling flop, turn and river. The same is not true for a loose player. They often level themselves or are too stubborn to fold second pair. This makes betting small on the turn and/or river profitable. A bet of around 20% of the pot will often get called by worse.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What are suited aces?

Suited aces are where you have an ace and second card of the same suit e.g. ace of hearts and 5 of hearts.

Lower is Better

This may sound counter intuitive, particularly if you read our poker kicker article. The fact is, when you play suited aces, you are not necessarily playing it for kicker value. You either want to hit a flush or straight. This is not possible to do with both your hole cards if you hold an ace 6 through to 9. This means that the low suited aces (A-2 to A-5) are of more value to you. They work well because your hand is well disguised on low boards. Players don’t easily put you on A-3 or A-4.  They also work well when the flop comes with 2 of your kicker. Few can get away from an overpair when you have hit a heavily disguised 3 of a kind.

How to Play Suited Aces in Tournaments

Suited aces don’t have the same benefits in tournaments as they do in cash games. With shallower stacks comes less opportunity to play post flop poker. You can play suited aces for small raises from the blinds, early in the tournament or if you are raising from late position. They work well as a hand to steal the blinds with too as you have a blocker to an ace.

You can also look to 3 bet shove suited aces with less than 20 big blinds. If the initial raiser is opening from late position or is an active raiser and opening from middle, you can profitable re-shove suited aces. Make sure you have decent fold equity though.

A suited ace will also work well in a limped pot. They can be a good hand to bluff catch top pair out of position or semi bluff flush or straight draws with. Consider a limped pot and having the nut flush draw. You have great equity to check raise or bet/shove with. An overcard and 9 outs to a flush means you are likely to be a coin flip if called. This makes suited aces one of the better hands to play in tournament poker.

Final Thoughts

Many of the players I coach and mentor were never fans of aces, unless they had a big kicker. They often thought it was a leak to play them.Whilst beginners will make mistakes and bet too much or get stubborn with top pair, a confident, capable player can get away from tricky spots. A good player will also find great spots to make money with these hands. Which are you? Are you earning lots of money in cash games with these hands and raking in lots of pots in tournaments too? If not, feel free to get in touch with us at pokermentor@texasholdemquestions.com and I can help you.

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Is Poker Gambling or Skill?

Is Poker Gambling? Skill or Chance?

It’s a question asked by many around the world. In order to answer the question in entirety, we need to look at several questions. Does poker player’s decision making significantly influence the result/outcome? How much skill is required to win? How does poker compare to other games of chance? What does the law say? We will look at each question separately before answering the question “is poker gambling?”.

Does poker players decision making significantly influence the result/outcome?

Texas Hold’em requires players to pick from several options at any one time. There’s no question that the decisions they take influence the result of a pot, cash game session or tournament. One can decide whether to check, fold, call or bet. This freedom of control is an important thing to remember and can’t be understated. Not only can a player decide on this, they also have control over the size of the bet. This means they not only exercise control over whether they continue in the hand but also to what extent and for how much. That’s a lot of influence. Poker player’s bets can affect the result/outcome as a bet can directly result in opponents folding or calling, thus, decision making impacts the result, every hand.

How much skill is required to win at poker?

It’s irrefutable that skill is required to win at poker. When I mean “win”, I don’t mean one hand in isolation. I mean a sample size that would satisfy a jury of sufficient volume. The definition of skill is “the ability to do something well; expertise”. Clearly, anyone who has a decent ITM tournament rate, a positive ROI or is a consistent winner at cash games has expertise in that format. With poker getting harder to win every year, one needs to improve and enhance their skills to continue winning. That aside though, let’s break down a Texas Hold’em hand to deduce many of the skills required in decision making.

Pre-FlopChoosing what hands to play requires understanding of maths, position, table awareness and an appreciation of starting hands value. There are 169 hand combinations (assuming K7s/K7d are the same). Each hand and in a different position pose the same question. Are you playing and if so, how much for?
Flop & TurnOnce you get to the flop, your hand is beginning to come together. Now the game becomes more complex. You need to understand what hand ranges your opponent is likely to have. You also need assess what they perceive of your hand. One needs to quickly identify the relative strength of their hand. Finally, a poker player may also need need to calculate outs – what % you have of hitting your straight.
RiverIf you’ve continued past the turn, you are now at the final round of betting. Now you need to make a decision on whether your hand is best or likely to be best. If you are facing a bet, you need to quickly calculate the pot odds and whether calling is profitable in the long run. Alternatively, you may have missed your draw and consider a bluff. This involves calculating an appropriate bet size, factoring in your opponents’ likely hand and the probability they will fold.

Clearly there is a lot of complex decision making involved. The more complex an event is – the less impact chance has.

Skills required to play poker well

  • Maths (pot odds)
  • Psychology (reading opponents)
  • Mental toughness (ability to not tilt)
  • Budgeting skills (bankroll management)
  • Shrewdness/Ruthlessness (game selection)
  • Accuracy (knowing how much to value bet or bluff)
  • Recall (memorising hands to make informed decisions)
  • Attention to detail (watching opponents to pick up patterns)

How does poker compare to other games of chance?

There’s little comparison between poker and the other casino games. Poker and other games of chance involve money being wagered, the house takes a rake and some use a playing deck e.g. blackjack. That’s where the comparisons end. Other casino games involve very little decision making. They are usually limited to 1 or 2 decisions; how much to bet and which number to bet on. To compare games like roulette to poker, is akin to comparing Snakes and Ladders to Risk just because they are both board games.
There is an exception to the other forms of gambling in sports betting. It’s a combination of skill and chance. There is undoubtedly a lot of skill in learning teams form, finding the best odds and picking the best sportsbooks. Whilst very few make a living from casino games, many are professional tipsters and sports betting professionals.

What does the law say about poker?

The UK gambling commission cites poker is a card game which involves elements of both chance and skill and is therefore classified as a game of chance under the Act by virtue of s.6(2). The law is pretty clear it views poker as a combination of skill and chance.

I contend it is a game dominated by skill with elements of chance. UK law answers yes to the question “is poker gambling?”. The selfish benefit of this is that poker winnings in UK are not subject to tax, unlike many other countries. But this judgement is still painful. When a professional poker player wants to buy a house or get a loan, stating “professional poker player” on their application will always be scoffed at.

is poker gambling

The problem with legality over poker is that those who judge it seem to understate the complex nature of the game. Mike Sexton famously said “poker is a game that takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master”. This is one of the truest poker statements. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can learn the rules in a few minutes (check out our how to play article) and sit and play but in order make consistent winnings, you need to become an expert.

Is Poker Gambling? The Conclusion

I concede poker is gambling when taken in isolation on one tournament or hand. This is the extent of my concession. As with many endeavours, the greater the volume, the less impact chance has. Many sports have elements of chance that can impact one result. It’s one of the reasons we love football’s FA cup. To see a minor team, score an upset as an underdog is thrilling. Who would win if they played 10 or 20 times? We all know the answer. You can apply this thinking to poker. The experts can have losing sessions, even a losing month. Have a look at their results at the end of the year and you will see a common pattern. They all win. My conclusion on whether poker is gambling is founded in logic and backed up by personal, empirical evidence too. I have never had a losing year.

Crypto Poker – Have You Heard of it?

Crypto Poker

First of all, let me preface this article by stating Texas Hold’em Questions does not encourage cryptocurrency gambling. This article is an educational resource for those interested in learning more about crypto poker and it’s existence, together with it’s advantages and disadvantages.

A few years ago, crypto currency swept the world by storm. You remember the news right? The gambling industry took notice too and saw another medium to make money. Online poker was not exempt from this. Some saw a loophole and way to bring back poker players who were thrown out of the market or otherwise dissuaded from playing. Legislation in some places in the world heavily regulate online gambling and make playing online poker very difficult. This led to new websites popping up, offering the chance to play poker with cryptocurrency.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is digital money or currency that is secured by cryptography. A clever, complex model that makes it practically impossible to fake or counterfeit. Most cryptocurrency is based on blockchain technology.  Bitcoin was the first famous cryptocurrency, founded in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. It gained significant jump in share prices in 2013 jumping to $770 by January 2014. At the time of this article, 1 bitcoin is currently valued at $11,272.

How to Buy Cryptocurrency?

In order to gamble on a crypto poker site, you need to have cryptocurrency to gamble with. It’s quite straightforward but there are a few steps. This means registering an account an exchange. There many options here including Binance or Coinbase. After opening an account, you can then open a e-wallet. Most allow you to deposit money with usual methods like Skrill, PayPal or card.  Then, you can buy the cryptocurrency and move it from the exchange to your e-wallet. FYI- The most popular cryptocurrencies to buy are Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin. With cryprocurrency in your wallet, you are then ready to gamble. Sign up to the online poker site you want to play on and transfer from your e-wallet and you’re ready to gamble.

Crypto Poker Sites

There are numerous crypto poker websites around. A quick google search will reveal this. Do your due diligence and read the reviews before depositing. It’s always worthwhile checking to ensure they operate safely. Nitrogensports, Ignition, CoinPoker and Fair Poker are some of the major, trusted cryptocurrency poker sites around. They offer flexible options, pay out fast and offer a decent range of games. There are sites dedicated to proving reviews of these sites. Check out Cryptomaniaks for advice on the best crypto poker sites.

Pros and Cons of Cryptocurrency for Online Gambling

Pros of Cryptocurrency Gambling

Pro – Privacy
It’s far easier to be anonymous with cryptocurrency than the normal cash method. This has some advantages for those who like to gamble without big brother watching.

Pro – No legal restrictions
Where some countries banks won’t allow you to deposit on a poker site, they will allow you to process deposits and cashouts via cryptocurrency.

Pro – Low fees
Generally lower than bank fees to process.

Pro – Softer sites
Most professionals are earning on a living on the major poker sites with real money. This means crypto poker sites are filled with weaker players who view poker as a bit of fun or recreational income.

Cons of Cryptocurrency gambling

Con – Volatile value
Unlike real money currency, cryptocurrency value tends to move more. They are more volatile and increase and decrease in value regularly. This may be stressful for some and increases the overall risk of gambling.

Con –  Less security
Be wary of scams or fraud with cryptocurrency. It’s well established that cryptocurrency is used for malevolent reasons.

Con –  Refund problems
I have not found anywhere where you can claim refunds or chargebacks. I don’t think crypto poker sites have a policy on this.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a real money poker site or a crypto poker site, you need to play well to win. Sign up to our poker training video membership and start improving your game today.

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