Poker Win Rate: What’s Good & How to Work it Out?

Introduction to Poker Win Rates

Some poker players are happy to know they’re winning and don’t give their win rate much thought. As you gain experience and take poker seriously though, you’ll want to dive into it and find out exactly how you’re doing. This is where we measure performance and results through a metric called “win rate”. In this article, we’re going to look at what a win rate is in cash games and tournaments, what a good win rate is and how variance impacts win rates.

Cash Game Win Rate

Most poker regulars do not need to compute their cash game win rate. It’s automatically calculated using their poker tracking software. However, with more poker sites banning the use of HUDs, calculating your own win rate will be more important.

The poker win rate in cash games is measured in big blinds. In order to calculate it we need to know the number of hands played and the total profit in big blinds. These two figures are needed as the typical win rate is measured as “big blinds won per 100 hands” AKA bb/100.

Cash Game Win Rate Formula:
Profit in bb/number of hands X 100 = cash game win rate in bb/100

So let’s say you played 10,000 hands and won 200 big blinds.

(200/10,000) * 100 = 2bb/100

And that’s all there is to it. The key to working out your cash game win rate is ensuring you know how many big blinds you’ve won and the number of hands you played. In online poker, you should be able to get this data from poker software or the client. In live poker, you will need to tally up your hands as you play.

What is a Good Cash Game Win Rate?

“Good” is a subjective term when discussing win rates in cash games. There are many factors to what contributes to a strong win rate; location, calibre of opponents, rake and stakes to name a few.

The table below is a rough guide on what a good win rate is in each setting.

SettingWin Rate (BB/100)
Live Poker Cash Games10 to 25 BB/100
Online Poker Cash Games3 to 10 BB/100

As you can see, there is a discrepancy between live and online poker cash games. It’s well established that live poker is far softer, with players lacking the same technical skills as online. Therefore, a strong cash game player can potentially win 10 or more big blinds per 100, with over 20 being extraordinary.

Conversely, with cash games online much tougher, a win rate over 3 is considered a strong win rate. The major online poker sites attract most of the better players.

If you want to maximise your win rate, stick to softer sites. Coral poker is very fishy with potential for high win rates. Click below and register an account to find out.

Tournament Win Rate

Your tournament win rate is simply the return on investment or ROI. To work this out, you simply divide your profit by the amount of tournament buy ins and multiply by 100%.  This is the common way to measure tournament success. The formula basically shows how much you earn per dollar. This is in contrast to cash games where you work out how many big blinds you win per 100.

Working out your profit is a simple case of taking your total cashes and deducting the amount spent in buy-ins.

Tournament Win Rate Formula
Winnings/Amount Spent in Tournament Buy ins * 100

So if you’ve won $5,000 and spent $6,000, your ROI is 83%. Please note – this means your cashes are $11,000. We deduct the amount spent first to arrive at winnings.

$5,000/$6,000 * 100= 83.33%

What is a Good Tournament Win Rate?

Like cash games, tournament win rates are dependant on the setting. Again, your ROI is likely to be dependent on the types of tournaments you play.

If you are randomly entering turbo tournaments or a bounty tournament where you lack the expertise in strategy, your ROI will suffer. The table below is a guide as to what I think a good tournament win rate is for live and online poker tournaments.

Setting Win Rate as ROI
Live Tournament Poker 50 – 80%
Online Tournament Poker 20 – 40%

If you’re generating over 80% ROI in live tournaments, you’re doing fantastic. Likewise, anything over 40% for online poker is exceptional.

The table above should give you a good idea on what strong tournament players can expect to achieve. Are you near it? If not, why not join our training video membership? Most of our content is tournament based and may help you increase your ROI a few percentage points?

The Impact of Variance on Win Rates

The word that most serious poker players hate “variance”. Most poker tracking software has the ability to show you where you should be after X number of hands based on your data.

If you’re on a heater and showing 15 bb/100 but run the simulation of where you should be without variance, you may actually be at 1bb/100. This is a huge thing to remember as sometimes players make decisions like moving up stakes on the back of a good run of cards.

On the flip side, a player may lose confidence and drop down a few levels when they’re running bad when they in fact should be crushing.

In the long run, variance should not play a big part. The laws of probability show that it’s unlikely to have a big influence on your win rate over serious volume. I’m talking over the course of over 100,000 hands plus, or a year of playing.

Hourly Rate

This article has focused on win rates for cash games and tournaments. Whilst bb per 100 and ROI are key metrics to measuring success, I think hourly win rate is the most important metric of all. It is possibly the easiest and simplest way to calculate how you’re performing.

All you need to do is work out how much you win a in a session and divide it by the number of hours played. So, if you played 8 hours and won $320, you’re averaging an hourly rate of $40.

This formula can be used in tournaments too. Naturally, it needs time to bear out in order to find out how much you can expect to make per hour from tournaments.

The key to understanding your hourly rate is to only judge it at intervals e.g. monthly or quarterly.

A True Hourly Rate Needs Data and Time

You need plenty of data to properly account for short term fluctuations. A good day you may win $100 an hour and a bad day you’re losing $80 an hour. That doesn’t mean you played exceptionally and awfully, it could have been coolers or bad beats.

The hourly rate can also be impacted by number of tables you play. You may find that 4 tabling NL $50 is more profitable for your hourly rate, albeit it at lower win rate when compared against 2 tabling NL $50. I think generating the best hourly rate is far more important than being able to boast of earning X BB per 100.

If you’re keen to improve your hourly rate, I suggest taking a look at our poker excel dashboard services. We can create a dashboard and report to you on a monthly basis. The report includes various measurements of performance and recommendations too. Click below for more information where you can also download a sample report and get a FREE quote too.

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How to Make Money Playing Poker Online

How to Make Money Playing Poker

Most visitors come to Texas Hold’em Questions for help in one way or another. You’re all looking to improve your poker skills. I know some of you play regularly and some play very rarely but ultimately, you’re all looking to start earning or improve your win rate at poker.

 In this article, I’m going to lay out, simply and concisely how to make money playing poker. It is not for mid-stakes players who already crush the games. This article is for the beginners or intermediate players that struggle to make money consistently. If you dedicate one month to the tips in this article, you should have a good shot at making money.  

Play Micro/Low Stakes Cash Games

First things first, if you want to win money next month, you will need to dedicate most of your time and energy to cash games. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of money to be made from tournaments and we will discuss that shortly. But, if you want to increase your chances of regular income next month, start at low stakes cash games between NL $5 and NL $25.

Four Tables Maximum  

Don’t play lots of tables. If you’re used to playing 6 or more, this won’t be music to your ears but it will be worth it. Stick with a maximum of 4 tables. If you’re not sure how many tables is right for you, read our article on multi-tabling and take the quick test to find out.

Stick with 6 Max Games

I think the 6 max games are the best place to start. You will come across a range of players abilities from nitty regulars to the standard donkey. There will be a sprinkling of tough opponents too but you can recognise these within 20 minutes of sitting. If you ever find yourself on tables with more than two tough players, get up and leave. This is a very important rule you need to employ. There are plenty of games online so please take care with table selection. Need help with 6 max? No problem, download our free PDF guide in our 6 max poker strategy article.

Put in the Volume

Making money playing poker means playing regularly. That means playing a minimum of three times a week. You can’t play once or twice a month and expect to handle variance easily. To overcome short term fluctuations in luck, you’ll need to put in a decent number of sessions. I recommend playing at least 3 to 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.  

Play a Solid Tight Aggressive Style

Adapting to your surroundings is a necessary skill as you move up stakes. But at low stakes, TAG poker is the best form to use. It will strike the right balance of exploiting weak opponents who play the most overrated poker hands and the bad loose aggressive players who think they can run you over.

By playing a tight aggressive style, you will be able to get your bluffs through more often against regulars whilst continuing to get paid off from the fishes.

Playing in low stakes games can cause people to enter too many pots and deviate from solid strategy. Don’t fall victim to this mentality. Stick with the TAG style for the month and see what results it brings.

Play on Smaller and Softer Sites

There are plenty of online poker sites with many players around. You don’t have to play on the biggest sites just because there’s more traffic. The simple answer to “how to make money playing poker” is facing weak opponents. They are in abundance on the smaller sites that don’t offer poker as their main product.

Check out our Unibet Poker Review as a perfect example of this. I recommend registering an account with them. If you like the software then you’ll be happy with their competition. The standard is very low. I also find Coral to be a super soft site. You can register below.

Play Tournaments 20% of the Time (1 day)

Tournaments are still a great way to earn money online, particularly in games under $25 buy-in. Whilst cash games can be your bread and butter, there’s nothing wrong with investing time in tournaments too. In fact, it’s a good way to take a break from cash games. Tournaments can give a nice respite whilst also offer the chance to risk a little for a lot of gain. Assuming a working week is 5 days, try dedicating 1 day to tournaments.

Weekends Only

If you’re going to stick with the 1 day a week rule, please let it be a Saturday or Sunday? These are the best times to play online poker tournaments. Weekends tend to offer the best guaranteed prize-pools and also attract social players.

The weekend mtts are full of players lacking tournament poker strategy. They don’t care about m ratio or push/fold strategy, they are playing for fun. As such, they will be making a lot of mistakes! This is why you need to be playing with them.

Stick to Freezeouts

There are plenty of tournament variants about at the moment but freezeouts are the easiest format to follow. It may be tempting to play a hyper turbo or a bounty tournament, but remember, each variant requires revising your strategy. It’s much simpler and better for your ROI and ITM rate to stick with simple freezeouts.

Summary

As you can see, making money playing poker is very attainable. If you play low stakes games, focus on 6 max and use a TAG style, you’re on your way. Then, dedicate one day a week to tournaments and you’re all set.

The key to winning money from poker is treating it like a business. Make business like decisions in poker and you will increase your chances of winning.

To sum up:

  • Play NL $5- $25 6 Max
  • Play on a soft poker site like Unibet
  • 4 days a week cash games and 1 day for tournaments
  • Play tight aggressive
  • Play a minimum of 3 hours a day
  • Do NOT play more than 4 tables at once
  • Make your tournament day Saturday or Sunday
  • Stick to freezeout tournaments

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The Value Bet – Common Mistakes

Value Bet

It is an art that is difficult to master. The value bet in poker is perhaps the most important skill to develop in order to become a long-term winner. It combines the complexity of hand reading, understanding of opponent and maximising value.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Value Bet in Poker?

A bet that is designed to get called by a weaker hand. The sizing is irrelevant, it’s purely betting for value, hence value bet. It is usually at the end of the hand on the river. Although it’s technically possible to value bet all in before the river.

Common Value Bet Mistakes

One of the most prevalent errors an inexperienced or unconfident player will make is check back hands on the river that warrant betting for value. They will check back hands for one of the three reasons listed below.

1)Fear of Being Check-Raised

The river check raise is such an uncommon play and rarely ever done on a bluff that it is not to be feared, to the extent most players afraid. It takes incredible patience for an opponent to make their hand on the river then check raise for value. Few expert players have the discipline and skill to employ this and fewer online. The typical online player will often just bet their nut hand on the river. They do this even if their opponent has bet all the way through, purely because they are worried you will check back.

2)Lacking Conviction

Many players who miss out on value are doing so because they lack conviction in their own ability to know their hand is best and assign a range to their opponent. This is because they don’t have the confidence in their own game or lack experience. Perhaps they have suffered too many bad beats or read some hands poorly and it has affected them. Perhaps they are on tilt. Whatever the reason, they lack the conviction to put in the value bet they rightly should.

3)Wanting a Cheap Showdown

Some players just want to show their hand down. They don’t recognise that they are missing out on lots of value in the long run. They are happy to check back on the river and show the winning hand. This is extremely detrimental to their long-term ROI and profitability as they are costing themselves money. I contend that many of these types of players even know they are checking back the better hand, but do so anyway. Don’t be one of these players.

How Much to Value Bet?

This is the key question you should be asking every time you are considering a value bet on the river. One needs to think what is the most amount of money or chips I can extract from my opponent. This is a complex question. It involves assuming the perfect and maximum amount your opponent will call, given their likely hand range. Ultimately you need to have good hand reading skills to do this. This will come with experience and over time will be second nature to you.

Value Betting Against Regulars

A pot sized bet gives poor pot odds; thus, a strong, experienced player is less inclined to call with a weak hand. Therefore, you you need to offer a good price.

Seasoned regulars have the ability to fold stronger hands so you need to either give them lucrative pot odds or be confident they will call a larger bet through levelling themselves.

Value Betting Against Weak Players

On the contrary, a weak and inexperienced may be happy to call a huge over bet. If you assign a weak player a strong range, they will almost certainly call whatever you bet. So, it makes sense to put in a large bet to get the most.

If your opponent is a stubborn calling station, you can value bet thinly. To protect yourself from value owning yourself, you can value bet like 20-25% of the pot. This will elicit the calls from weaker hands whilst also ensuring you don’t lose more than necessary for the times you’re just beat.

Correctly judging the amount within a few seconds may seem impossible, but it isn’t. Over time you will develop intuition, developed from playing many hands. You can always refer back to hands you played with poker tracking software. If you don’t have one setup, visit our poker resources page for our recommendations.

Conclusion

The importance of appropriate value betting can’t be stressed enough. A winning player needs to understand when and how much in order to extract the most possible. This article has discussed the reasons why people miss out on value and to avoid the common mistakes. To become proficient takes experience, thought and intuition.

To improve your value betting, why not read one of the articles below? Alternatively, check out our poker training services.

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This article was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated.

What’s the Impact of Quick Internet Speeds on Online Poker Games?

For many online poker players, the Internet is a basic need. It’s a necessity for creating accounts at new online casinos. And they need to make deposits, participate in poker tournaments and research materials to improve their skills.

In other words, taking the Internet away from an online poker player is like suspending Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu from Las Vegas casinos. In that regard, this focuses on the impact of reliable Internet connections when playing online poker. Ready? Let’s get started.

#1: A Smooth Gaming Experience

Playing poker using fast Internet is not only enjoyable but it also provides a smooth gaming experience. No buffering, no disconnections, time wasted—games react instantly while streaming works out smoothly. This is the experience you deserve as an online casino player.

But it can only be achieved if you have a reliable Internet connection provider. Poker, like many casino games, isn’t demanding on data. So, for you to have a smooth gaming experience, you don’t really need to pay expensive Internet plans.

A smartphone with 4G Internet connections or a computer with access to 3Mbps to 10Mbps Internet speeds can deliver a buffering-free gaming experience. In turn, you can focus on the game and how to win without worrying about disconnections from the Internet.

#2: You Can Play Poker Live

Playing poker against RNG software is great, but you get a better experience playing the game with a fellow human being. You can see one another, talk and exploit each other’s weaknesses, all while using your cubicle desktop or iPhone.

The only condition is that you have quick Internet access and an account at a live casino. Of course, take time to select a great live dealer. Winny live Casino, which provides Texas Hold’em, Three-card poker and more variations of the game, is a great candidate. It also features quick payouts, has a mobile responsive website and welcome bonuses.

With that in mind, you can’t cherish live poker unless you have fast Internet connections. Any minor disruptions can mean losing your chance to call blinds or bluff. In turn, this can lead to unnecessary losses. If the Internet disconnections are rampant, a casino could even suspend you from a game.

#3: Increases Productivity

When you think about it, there isn’t much you can do online when your Internet service provider is terrible. You focus on loading web pages while you could be worrying about winning. What’s more, you waste a lot of time as your ISP provider takes ages to open web pages.

But with reliable Internet access, you can play as many poker games as you want. Better yet, you can play your favorite games with maximum concentration, allowing you to make smart poker moves and increase your potential profits.

#4: You Can Multitask

You might think you have quick Internet connections at home until you decide to download large files while playing poker. With the addition of an app to stream music, your Internet could become too slow that you can’t achieve any of the tasks you intended.

In light of that information, quick Internet access helps you kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, you can play Omaha or Hi-Lo at your favorite online casino. On the other, you can listen to soothing music because it increases your concentration.

Most online casinos don’t allow you to play different games at the same time, though. Otherwise, you could open multiple tabs to play slots, blackjack and poker without stretching your data traffic package.

#5: Spend Less Time at the Casinos

Casino gaming isn’t supposed to be something you do for hours. You should play poker for an hour or two when you’re in the mood and spend the rest of your day doing more productive things. Unfortunately, saving time at online casinos is easier said than done if you have poor Internet connections.

Between buffering and web pages that won’t open, you could spend a lot more time at a casino because your Internet speed is slow. This is time you could use to read a book, watch a movie or take your dog out. In other words, you can save valuable time by using fast Internet providers.

Another benefit of minimizing your time at poker sites is that it reduces the possibility of getting addicted to the game. When your Internet speed is slow, you’ll have an excuse for spending more time at the website. But if it’s fast, you spend as little time as possible gambling.

#6: Quick Banking Process

Unless your intention is to play free poker, you must deposit money at an online casino. The entire process is meant to take a couple of minutes. But if your Internet connection is poor, it could take up to half an hour. This means you can easily get frustrated and abandon the gaming process.

When you have stable Internet access, though, depositing money is a fast, stress free process. And as a result, you can save time, and enjoy poker with fewer frustrations. Withdrawing money after you win is also quicker when your Internet is quick. Otherwise, it could take days to get a payout processed if you can’t even make the request due to unstable Internet speeds.

#7: Reduces Stress

Saving time might be a good reason for upgrading your Internet package. But the main reason you deserve fast Internet is that it’s eliminates stress. This is not an opinion. A study done by tech firm Ericsson in 2016 shows that people’s heart rates rose by up to 38% when surfing the Internet through an unreliable ISP provider.

Worse, the study concluded that some people’s stress levels rose from 19% to 34% if their slow Internet began to buffer as they watched a video. For comparison, this is the amount of stress the average person gets while watching a horror movie.

Lesson learned: you can avoid stress by simply switching to an ISP provider with fast Internet. And because you can use the Internet on a lot more things than playing poker, you can enjoy your online work and social life without the stresses of slow Internet.

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The Pros and Cons of Poker Staking

Poker Staking

Anything that involves money interests’ other parties. I remember first playing live tournaments and being surprised when asked to trade percentages. I politely declined but it did make me think what motivates people give up potential earnings and get staked?

Poker staking is something that might be perfect for one and a disaster for another. It depends on several factors, which I will explore in this article. I hope by the end of it, you will have an understanding of what staking is and assess whether it’s for you.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is Staking in Poker?

Staking is where someone else invests the cash for your tournament or cash game. In exchange, you will pay them a percentage of your winnings. This could be up to 50%. Most staking deals run for a number of months or hands. The player being staked usually has to pay back any losses before chopping up the winnings.

The Pros of Poker Staking

There are several benefits to being staked in games. There are three obvious perks that I can see though.

1) No Risk

Playing poker without risk is very appealing to a lot of poker players. When you’re being staked, you are not financially invested. Regardless of your financial position, you won’t be impacted by a bad cash game session or tournament that you bubbled.

Playing poker without risk allows some people to play with more freedom. Not risking your own money also means you have free cash that you would have otherwise used for bankroll management.

2) Support

A lot of staking arrangements involve some poker support through coaching or general advice and support. A lot of the time the person who is backing you will be playing higher stakes. As they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed, they will be available for support, discussion, feedback and potentially coaching too. Learning from an expert for free is an attractive by-product of getting staked. Some backers recommend the best poker software to use or the where to go for the best poker blogs. These are helpful ways for you to develop.

3) Opportunity to play higher stakes

Most players who get staked are playing stakes they couldn’t afford on their own. That actually may be the sole reason why they are getting staked. Mike Matusow is one of the most famous faces in poker. When you see Mike playing big tournaments or high stakes poker, it’s usually because someone has staked him. This is a huge advantage to those who play smaller stakes or perhaps have poor bankroll management skills and need staking to play in bigger games.

The Cons of Poker Staking

Like most things, there are disadvantages and poker staking has some too. I feel obliged to inform you of some of these in this article.

1) Contract

The majority of staking arrangements involve an agreement between the backer and the person being staked. These is usually X number of hands or tournaments being played. This means you can’t walk away from a staking agreement easily. So, if you’re playing well and on a heater, winning lots of money, you have to see out your agreement with your backer regardless.

You may want to go it alone after 10,000 hands but if you’re contracted out to play 100,000, then your hands are tied. Good poker ethics dictate you should see out your contract, even if it means you are giving up a lot of your earnings.

2) Pressure

Being able to play without personal risk sounds fine but if you find yourself on a bad run, you will start to feel the pressure. Nobody wants to lose money but when you’re losing money that isn’t even yours, it feels even worse. This is true for the vast majority of poker players I’ve come across. They almost feel guilty if they bust a tournament or lose a few buy-ins.

Pressure can manifest itself in your play. You may find yourself missing value bets, bluffing less frequently or making bad folds. If you don’t cope well with pressure, poker staking is unlikely to be right for you.

3) Makeup

Makeup is embedded in practically every staking agreement. It is a way of ensuring the backer gets paid back any losses before their player can take some of the profit. For example, you’ve lost $500 in the first month, then win $700 on the second month. You are only entitled to $100 ($500 for the makeup, then the $200 split 50/50).

Makeup is a huge component of poker staking as it forces you to pay the backer his investment. It’s very difficult to get out of an agreement without paying them back. You either need to pay it back from your own money, quit playing or be released from your backer. As you can see, the freedom of staking is not so free after all.

Conclusion

You need to give it a lot of thought before entering into a staking contract. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. There are great benefits but also some serious disadvantages too. Texas Hold’em Questions doesn’t offer any staking arrangements.

When we play, we want to win money for ourselves and not share it. We adopt this mentality in our coaching too, wanting you to win money for yourself. This is why we offer various methods of coaching for players with different needs. If you are interested in staking, do some research, speak with backers, find out their contracts and weigh up if it’s right for you.

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Running it Twice in Poker – is it Worth it?

Running it Twice

Anyone who has watched the popular show “High Stakes Poker” will have been introduced to the concept of running it twice. When playing for hundreds of thousands, the idea of losing it on a peel of the deck or to a bad beat is pretty brutal. That’s why you’ll notice many players will run it twice or more, as an insurance policy against bad luck.

Phil Hellmuth, actually bets against himself as insurance too. This is definitely – EV and results in him being mocked and mathematical minded opponents happy to accept his wagers. 

Does Running it Twice Effect Table Image?

I’ve often thought that running it twice or more is detrimental to one’s table image. Players are more likely to stack off or shove on you if they know you are happy to run it several times if called. This is something opponents will be aware of both consciously and sub-consciously and they will use it to their advantage. I think it’s better to refuse deals, for the most part. It will act as a deterrent to those that like to gamble. They will definitely think twice before shoving on you, unless they’re sports betting poker sites like OlyBet. Players on sports betting sites won’t be put off like serious poker players.

Barry Greenstein famously refuses to run it twice. The Robin Hood of Poker understands how important image is in poker and will not jeopardise that for less swings of variance.

Bankroll Management and Running it Twice

Playing with a sufficient bankroll is critical to long time earning. However, we know that some people play beyond their means and this won’t change. If this is you, then I recommend running it twice in poker. Your bankroll cannot sustain the swings and to reduce the variance, you may want to give up a small percentage of edge to keep yourself in the game. This is not ideal approach for the long term, but I appreciate many players will play with under 20 buy-ins and that is not going to change.

If you’re playing with a large bankroll and generally very conservative you should almost definitely decline any deals with opponents and not run it multiple times. Why would you want to give up edge? Even if your hand is the underdog, you will win it from to time to time and scoop. But, if you accept deals with the weaker hand, you are almost certainly not going to scoop. So, refusing a deal is probably wise regardless of your odds of winning. I’m not sure if this mindset is accepted by all professionals, but it is my 2c for what it is worth.

Summary

Running it multiple times is ok if you’re anxious about money or taking a shot at higher stakes. But, if you’re employing good bankroll management, I recommend avoiding it. The whole point to running it several times is to reduce variance and insure yourself against bad luck. If you have the bankroll to sustain swings in luck, you don’t need to forgo some of your edge in the short-term.

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The History of Poker Broken Down

History of Poker  

Whilst I am an advocate of planning, looking forward and adapting to changes in poker, it’s sometimes good to look back and reflect on the past. Poker has changed drastically in the last two decades but what about before that? In this article, I decided to do some research and look back on the history of poker, going back to it’s origins to find out where this great game came from, how it was played and by whom. 

Where Did Poker Start?

Most historical sources point to poker originating from USA in the early 1800’s. Interestingly, the name finds it’s origin from “poque” in French which may indicate that it started in a French speaking parts of United States of America, possibly New Orleans? This is not accepted as historical fact but certainly plausible as it’s widely accepted that there was gambling dens in New Orleans and French was the spoken language.  
 
There are sources indicating a game of poker was played in Germany earlier than the 19th century. This was a bluffing game and is said to be the original card game that was later developed into poker.   

What Was the First Poker Game Played?  

History is a little murky on the first poker games played. As-Nas, a card game with 20 cards was said to be played first. This card game that had no draws, just best hand wins. Later, when 52 cards were played, we had the first game that has carried forward to modern times, stud. So, if you’re a mixed game poker player and expert in 7 card stud, you can feel privileged to know you’re playing one of poker’s original games. It has lost popularity in recent times due it’s fixed limit and monotonous nature, but still features in major events and WSOP every year.  

How Did Poker Stay Popular?

Poker survived and remained popular due to the changes in formats, rules and introducing money to the game. Its likely the original forms had no money wagered and was just a game to pass time by. However, the gambling dens and saloons housed many poker games with the opportunity to take money from opponents. This is why people love the game. The chance to win money from others. You’ve heard the old stories coming from saloons and the west right? The “dead mans hand”, aka Ace-Eight was titled this due to Wild Bill Hitchkok purportedly holding aces and eights at the time of his death, when he was shot in the back of the head.  

With the introduction of more games in the 20th century including Texas Hold’em (most popular form today) and the World Series of Poker, it’s no surprise it’s stuck around in culture.  It has also been helped by countless Hollywood movies depicting poker games. There’s an element of coolness to poker playing and manliness that appeals to a great many.  

History of Online Poker 

We’ve covered the history of poker in live setting but what about online poker? Despite the internet being introduced in the mid 1990s, online poker took a few years to get going. Whilst I found sources online showing poker was played online as early as 1994/95, it appears this was only for play money. The first real money poker site wasn’t available until January 1998. It was called Planet Poker. It held all the cards (pardon the pun) as there was no competition. Despite bugs, software crashes and other issues, it was the number 1 game in town until Paradise Poker launched.  

The Golden Years

As with all marketable products, more competition arrived with major sites launching like Ultimate Bet, Party Poker and PokerStars. The government did not have it’s eye on online poker and it truly was golden times. Then, online poker took got a huge boost that changed things forever. Chris Moneymaker won the main event of the World Series of Poker, and online poker became an international sensation that swept the world. He’s currently of thes face of America’s Cardroom – make sure you use America’s Cardroom bonus code if you want to play there! Amateurs saw a Chris Moneymaker qualify online for a few dollars and become a millionaire. Everyone saw that it could be them next. Online poker, for a few years, boomed like you wouldn’t believe. The best part was, everyone was pretty bad and few had really “solved” poker yet.  
 
I don’t want to go into what happened post 2005. This article is only dealing with the history of poker and online games, the beginning, not recent times. Perhaps in a future article we will deal with the last 15 years.  
 
There you have it, a brief history of online poker. It may not be the exact game it was once was, or booming like it was in 2004, but it’s still here and one of the most popular online past-times available. With new forms being introduced and money games available, there will always be money to be won from the game we love so much.  

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Poker Slang Terms You Should Probably Know

Poker Slang Terms

Poker is a fascinating game which almost seems to have it’s own language. If you spend any time in a poker room, you’ll hear dozens of phrases and terms with no idea what people are on about. Have no fear! In this article, we will provide an A to Z on the most common poker slang terms used. So, when you next join a forum, chat with poker friends or visit a card-room you will be fluent in poker lingo. 

ABC Poker

This is straight forward basic poker. It is used as negative term at high stakes as it implies solid, fundamental poker and no more. ABC poker can be enough to win a low stakes game though.

Bad Beat

If you’ve ever lost a hand as a huge favourite, you may have taken a bad beat. There’s sometimes confusion between novices what a bad beat actually is. Read our article on bad beats for more information on what they are and how to handle them.

Bounty Tournament

A type of tournament that rewards players with cash prizes if you knock out an opponent. In order to offer this, a percentage of the buy-in acts goes to the bounty prize pool. Check out our bounty poker tournament guide.

Cold Call

Anyone who calls before the flop when they’ve not invested anything yet. It is commonly associated with a call from someone after there’s already been a bet and raise. Our article on cold calling explains more.

C Bet (Continuation Bet)

A bet made on the flop by the initial raiser, hence continue to bet. This is an essential part of poker. We have created the most in depth course on this. See below for more information.

Cooler

A hand where two very strong hands match up e.g. quads against a full house or aces against kings. Coolers are part of poker and hard to escape but it’s nice when you’re on the right side of them!

Donk Bet

A flop bet made from out of position into the raiser. The donk bet is scorned at by many but can sometimes be a genius bet.

Downswing

This refers to a run of losing sessions for a prolonged period of time.

Equity

This is the share of the pot based on the odds that you will win the pot at some point.

Freeroll

This is a tournament that costs nothing to enter, hence “free”. They offer cash prizes for the top spots or loyalty points with that website. A freeroll is commonly used by new players to learn how to play.

Gutshot

Despite it’s name, it’s not nothing to do with guns. It refers to an unlikely straight where one needs one card to complete the straight. It’s otherwise known as inside straight. I assume the name was given as it’s like a shot in the gut to be hit with a straight that unlikely. An example of a gutshot is holding 8c 10c on a 6h 7d Ac flop where only a 9 will complete your straight.

Hand History

Most poker sites let you download the hands you’ve played. This is the “hand history”. We offer hand history reviews to players keen to analyse and discuss hands they’ve played.

Heads-Up

Heads up is just one on one poker. This is how most tournaments are finished, with two players left facing off. However, online also offers heads up SNGS and cash games too.

Hero Call

A brave call made despite holding a hand that appears relatively weak e.g. ace high card or bottom pair. Making a hero call takes guts.

Home Game

Have you ever played poker at a friend’s house? Then you’ve played in a home game. They involve your own dealing, snacks and no house fee.

ITM

This is an abbreviation of “in the money”, the part of a tournament where one has reached the money places. Check out our ITM article for more details.

Jam

A poker slang term for moving all-in.

Kicker

This is the second card used when two hands are similar strength e.g. an ace king against an ace three on an: A-4-J-6-7. The king would form part of the hand and is a bigger “kicker”. Our article on poker kickers explains more.

LAG

An abbreviation for the “loose aggressive” poker playing style. A LAG plays a wide range of hands with an aggressive mentality.

Limp

To enter the pot with a flat call i.e. just completing the big blind. This is a common trait amongst weaker players, our article on why limping is bad explains why.

Multi-Way

If you get to the flop with more than one opponent, it’s a multi-way pot. It simply means several players are involved. 

Nit

This is a nasty term used to describe very conservative players. They play very few hands and have a risk averse approach. We explain why nit poker is losing poker these days.

Open

An “open” is when someone enters the pot with a raise. 

Probe Bet

These are smaller sized bets designed to win the pot now or elicit information. A probe bet is likely to be under 40% of the pot and is a common trait of small ball poker strategy.

Queens

A pair of queens in your hand. They’re the third best starting hand in Texas Hold’em.

Rake

This is the fee charged by the casino or poker-room to make money. It’s taken as a percentage of cash game pots or a fixed fee from tournament buy-ins.

Rakeback

A great way to get some rake “back” from the poker room you play on. You can sign up to rakeback schemes that pay back a percentage of rake to you.

Showdown

This is where the hand has no more betting involved and players must show their cards. It can be on the river after a bet and call, or in an all-in scenario in tournaments.

Slow Roll

An unethical move where a player with the winning hand slowly reveals their hand to the opponent. This is poor etiquette as we explain in our article on slow-rolling.

Snap Poker

A fast form of poker where you are moved between tables after folding. Snap poker the fastest form offered on 888 poker.

String Bet

A live poker move where one reaches back for chips multiple times instead of making a bet in one motion. This is sometimes unethical, but mostly accidental. The string bet article explains everything you need to know.

Tell

The tick or pattern of a player that indirectly reveals the strength of the hand. This is more common in live poker but there are online poker tells too.

Tilt

If someone loses a pot then proceeds to play terrible, they are known to go on tilt. It’s a terrible feeling as it can cost a lot of money.

Underpair

A small pocket pair is almost always going to be an underpair to the board. For instance, pocket twos on a board of K-3-J is an underpair.

Value Bet

This is a bet designed to extract value. Accurate value betting is fundamental to being a long term winner. We’ve explain the common mistakes of value betting before.

Variance

This is the difference between what you expect to win and what actually occurs. It is the short-term luck element that can be expressed through your poker tracking software. Variance is what keeps the bad players in the game so you should be grateful for this, if you are a winner.

Walk

Ever had the entire table fold to you in the big blind? This is otherwise known as a walk.

WSOP

This is abbreviation of the greatest poker tournament series, aka “World Series of Poker”.

Y

We couldn’t think of any poker slang terms for Y.

Zoom

This is the PokerStars equivalent of Snap.

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The Main Differences between a Poker and Bridge Deck

The two most played card games in the world are the bridge and poker games. A huge number of people play these games for leisure and entertainment. But many people still cannot tell the difference between the poker playing cards and bridge cards.

Despite both being card games, there are numerous differences between the two games. The bridge community are die hard fans of the game. Some say you never stop learning new strategies to win. Poker is much more globally recognised. It can be played for real money at online casinos by using Paysafecard, debit cards and many other casino payment methods.

Similarities between the Bridge and Poker Cards

Before we delve into explaining what the differences are, we have to first of look at where these cards are similar. Apart from the jokers, plus the extra cards, each of the decks involved in poker and bridge comes with 52 cards. So, this means that players can play poker games with bridge cards, and can also play bridge games with poker cards. It is good to note that this gesture is very common among card players. But once it comes to the dimensions, the differences are noticed.

Differences between the Bridge and Poker Cards

If you take your time to study the cards involved, you will notice that the poker cards are not as narrow as the bridge cards. The bridge cards are narrower. This is because bridge games demand that you have the cards for a longer time in your hands than you would hold cards in poker. They designed the bridge cards in such a way that they won’t be a burden to the person holding them, hence the reduction in the size of the width.

When measured, the length of the bridge cards is 3.5 inches, while the width is 2.25 inches. When the poker cards are measured, the length returns 3.5 inches, while the width is 2.50 inches.  The simple explanation is that the poker decks are wider than those of bridge games. It is also worth nothing that most of the playing cards available come in the same size as the poker deck.

How to Store and Take Care of the Cards

The bridge cards are mostly made of plastic. You can take care of these cards in a specific manner. For example, to store these cards, a constant temperature is needed. The best temperature for cards of this nature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. You must place the cards into their packages whenever you are done playing with them. It’s best to place the jokers and extra cards on the top while the others come below them. This will avoid any form of warping.

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Typical Poker Mistakes to Avoid

Poker Mistakes

You cannot talk about casinos without bringing up poker. The game is synonymous with casino gambling. Therefore, it makes sense that poker is among the top offerings available to gamblers. Regardless of your gambling experience, you might want to try staking money on poker games. Before you do, though learn some of the mistakes you could commit if you are not careful.

Poker has many varieties, and as much as those options make the game interesting, they also open up more chances for missteps. Even when you have been playing poker for a while, you can still end up miscalculating certain moves. One thing that gamblers should keep in mind is that learning about poker is a continuous process. In this guide poker players find out what matters.

Playing Too Many Hands

Both beginners and experienced players can be guilty of this mistake. Playing too many hands or playing loose drains your bankroll. This issue is common among recreational gamblers. Players have many reasons for playing loose. One motivation is trying to hit the flop with the best hand. However, just because you have several hands doesn’t guarantee that you hold the best one. When searching for quick and helpful poker tips one element you will encounter in every guide is to have discipline. Players should know when to fold, regardless of how much they want to keep the action going. Smart poker decisions require you to look beyond the cards.

Focusing on One Strategy

Poker requires both skill and chance. Having a decent poker strategy can tilt the winning probabilities in your favour. However, it does not mean that you should restrict yourself to one tactic. Consistency might not necessarily be a good thing when playing poker. Gamblers are always looking to get an edge, and one way is anticipating their opponents’ moves. So, the longer you play, the more the other participants learn your strategy. It means that after a while, your opponents can adjust their playing styles to counter yours. So, what is the best approach? Flexibility goes a long way in poker. Be ready to alter some aspects of your gaming style to keep the other players on their feet.

Trying to Be Too Fancy

As much as you need to be smart about your poker moves, do not overdo it. Some gamblers attempt to use reverse psychology to get the best of their opponents. For example, a player might call strong hands while betting on the weak hands. Do not make your strategy more complicated than it needs to be. You might end up backing yourself into a corner with no moves to play. Whatever poker variant you are playing, stick to the basics. Avoid overthinking. Fancy play syndrome can obliterate your bottom line.

Playing Emotionally

Poker games can get passionate. However, do not allow that passion to affect your decisions. Getting angry, desperate, or cocky can land you in trouble. Poker is about making one good decision after another. Therefore, if you let emotions cloud your judgement, you could end up with a bad hand, and no way to fix it. You want to avoid rash decisions at all time when playing poker.

On the same topic of gambling emotionally, avoid playing while in a poor mental state. Poker can be an excellent way to relieve stress. However, if you are too mentally drained, sleep-deprived or distracted, then you will have trouble making concise judgements.

Failing to Watch the Bankroll

Even though the topic of bankroll management is popular, some gamblers still do not give it the importance it deserves. Before you even log onto a poker site, know your budget. Decide what amount of money you are comfortable losing. When searching for poker games, stick to tables that are within your budget. Whether you are joining tournaments or betting on cash games, ensure that the buy-ins are a percentage of your bankroll. Remember that wins are not guaranteed. So, use your bankroll with the knowledge that it might not generate any profits.

Poker has evolved dramatically in the last few decades, especially as online casinos became more accessible. Now poker enthusiasts can play different variants of the game from anywhere, whenever they choose. Before indulging in your preferred poker game, learn some of the pitfalls that you could fall into. As much as mistakes provide learning opportunities, try to avoid the reckless ones when you can.

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