Poker Table Image – Does It Matter?

Poker Table Image

How are you perceived at the poker table? Do you know or care? You should, because your image is an important factor when playing poker. Whether it’s trying to get a bluff through or getting paid off, your poker table image will be taking into account by your opponents.

Everyone has an image they are projecting at the poker table, whether they know it or not. Within an hour or so of playing, a strong and experienced player will already have tagged the majority of the table, almost entirely based on how they have played and appeared.

It doesn’t matter if you’re playing online or in a live cardroom, you are showcasing an image to your opponents based on how you play. It may seem more evident in a live setting but your poker stats are visible online too.

In this article, we will look at four common table images poker players project.

Loosey Goose Image

This is just a bad player. It is similar to a loose image, however, a loose player can still be a strong player. Where a loose player is involved in lots of pots and trying bluff, a fish/donkey is just playing bad poker. This image is not desirable as it a strong player will target you all day long. It is not in your interest to get into personal battles or be known as the worst player at the table. There’s a big difference between a loosey goose and a LAG.

Tight Nitty Image

This is the player folding, hand after hand, round after round. They are patiently waiting for the premium hands to come along. How these players think they will get paid is beyond me. But in low stakes online and great games live, they do! The benefit of having a nitty image is if you have the ability to change gears; you can pull off many bluffs (against the right opponents). The reason is simple, if you have folded for 2 hours and now 3 bet, your opponents will give you credit – and rightly so.

Fishy/Donkey Image

This is just a bad player. It is similar to a loose image, however, a loose player can still be a strong player. Where a loose player is involved in lots of pots and trying bluff, a fish/donkey is just playing bad poker. This image is not desirable as it a strong player will target you all day long. It is not in your interest to get into personal battles and be known as the worst player at the table.

Professional

On the face of it, having the image of a professional seems great. People respect you and how you play right? Ironically, this isn’t the most desirable image as people will try to stay out of pots with you. Getting paid can be more challenging. Opponents often want to impress you and will potentially fold big hands or try bluffs on you. If you’re on your A game and pick up on this, it’s fine, but the fact is, you won’t always be and you can be in a pickle sizing your opponent up.  

Tips to Improve your Table Image

Change up your style, don’t be predictable and be confined to one image. It’s important to be difficult to read and cause confusion for your opponents. Soon as they know how you play; you’ve lost the battle. It’s best to be aware of your current image and shift to another and exploit your existing image. This takes a lot of practice but it is essentially what the best players are regularly doing. They know you saw them pull off a bluff 5 minutes ago and have gone into lock-down for 10 minutes. You need to do likewise to be a big winner at poker.

I hope you found this article useful. Please contact us if you are interested in knowing more about table image. We can help you understand how to use it to your advantage. If this is something you’re interested in, why not try a hand history review session with us? Fill in your details below and will be in touch.

Hand History Review Session


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

Image Source: Unsplash

What a Bad Beat is in Poker and How to Handle Them

What is a Bad Beat in Poker?

A bad beat is the term given for a situation in poker when a player with a much stronger hand, and in a mathematically favourable position nevertheless loses. It typically occurs with an unlikely turn or river card.

A bad beat is usually associated with the idea that the player who got lucky made a bad call or play that should have been avoided. This is not always the case. A bad beat is often incorrectly referred to, when in fact the situation is a “cooler”, two incredibly strong hands battling.

For example, if player A has A-A and player B has K-K and they both move all in on a A-K-K board, that is not a bad beat as much as it is a cooler or cold deck. After all, player B is not playing poorly by playing the K-K is he?

How to Handle a Bad Beat

One of the differences between strong, winning players and weak, losing players is in their ability to handle bad luck and bad beats. A strong player will move on to the next hand and not let a bad beat effect their play. They will continue to play their normal game.

The opposite is true for a mentally weak poker player. They will often go on tilt and play poorly for a while, perhaps the entire session. They will fixate on the hand that they lost. A mentally soft player will complain and moan to other poker players at the table.

Don’t pull your hair out or let a bad beat effect your play. Try the tips below after you take a bad beat. You will have a better chance of continuing to play well.

Go For a Walk

Sometimes it’s better not being at the table than staying and playing badly. Getting up and going for a short walk can centre you. It will also help you regain your focus so you are ready to play your A game. Having a walk is a great way to reset, relax and de-stress. Next time you’ve suffered a bad beat and worried it will ruin your session, go for a walk to calm down.

Take Comfort You’re Doing Something Right

Remember, if you are losing to bad beats a lot it means you are getting your chips in favourably in the long run. It stands to reason, that the good players will receive more bad beats. They are more likely to be getting their chips in mathematically strong positions. Take comfort from the fact that you are in this group and are doing something right. If you focus on the long run, you are less likely to get angry and play worse today.

Next time you take a bad beat, smile at your opponent. Remember, these are the people that are helping you make money.

Review the Hand

Players sometimes mistake what a bad beat and occasionally they can be avoided altogether. We recommend reviewing the hands you thought you suffered misfortune and judge whether you made any mistakes. When you’ve analysed it and realised it was an error on your part, you can do something about it by studying poker and ridding yourself of that leak.

If it was just plain bad luck and you did nothing wrong, you can confidently move on, safe in the knowledge you played the hand well.

Unsure and want independent advice? Why not trial our hand history review service? Fill in the form below and we will be in touch with more information.

Hand History Review Session

Featured Photo by Tim Gouw @punttim

*This article was originally published in December 2019 and updated*

Poker Psychology – Is it a Big Deal?

Poker Psychology

Psychology permeates the majority of jobs people work and the sports they play. It’s the mental state you’re in but much more than that. It’s also the relationship between you and another. When you hear someone use the term “mental warfare”, they’re describing a psychological battle. It should come as no surprise to you that psychology is an integral part of poker. In this article, we’re going to explore several aspects of psychology and how it manifests itself in poker. I will also offer a few tips.

Psychology in Poker

Your mental state is absolutely vital in poker. A players’ mood and how they’re feeling will impact decision making whether they know it or not. It can be positive, negative or neutral. Poker is all about decisions so it’s needless to say you need your mind to be on point.

If you have negative feelings, it’s very unlikely to help your decisions. On the contrary, you’ll be more inclined to make rash decisions, execute poorly timed bluffs and chase draws with bad pot odds. A player in a psychologically weak state is prone to tilting, taking shots at higher stakes and playing for too long, risking burn out.

A good mental state is conducive to playing well. You’ll be thinking clearly, free of stress and anxiety. These feelings are common when you’re on a heater, rested and enjoying poker. These are the best times to play poker. Those days where even if you have some bad luck and experience negative variance, you’re feeling great and not affected mentally.

What Causes “Bad” Psychology in Poker?

I am not a psychologist so I can only go from my own experiences and those of friends and players coached. So, take this with a pinch of salt. Most poker players on the wrong side of psychology suffer from a trigger or few that sets them off. These triggers come in various forms for different people. These are the most common:

A Bad Beat

Taking a bad beat is hard for some people to swallow. When you’ve got the best hand and get beat by an unlucky turn or river, it can eat away at some people. Seeing the chips/money go to someone else when it should be yours can act as a trigger that causes players to tilt.

Getting Bluffed

Nobody wants to get bluffed but for some people, it’s more than a lost pot, it’s painful. Knowing you hand the best hand and was outplayed is not a great feeling. Beginners and intermediate players struggle with being bluffed. Some players would actually be big winners if they let their ego go, but they hate being bluffed and will pay off instead.

Getting bluffed out of a pot is a trigger for a lot of players. They take it as personal insult and hurts their ego. How do they react? They go after that player or the next few pots, trying to assert themselves. This is not a good idea in 6 max or full ring poker.

Life Away from Poker

Players lives away from the table can be a cause of bad poker playing. An argument, tough day, money woes or relationship problems. They’re all psychological impacts that can trigger a player to play poorly. A player may use a session as form of escapism from real life. They may play on laptops, desktops and iPhone casinos to escape real life issues.

The problem with this is that you’re not really playing poker, you’re a robot or an empty chair. Playing winning poker requires a focus and a clear mind. This is not possible when you’ve just had a fight with your partner or in loads of debt. (See our responsible gambling page for info).

Poker Psychology Tips

It’s been pretty negative so far hasn’t it? Don’t worry, there are positive aspects to psychology too. Let’s look at some tips to help you be psychologically strong and prepared for poker.

Become Disciplined

Discipline is all about routine, prudence and self-control. Practice good bankroll management to ensure you’re not playing above your means. It will ensure you’re not as stressed if you lose a few buy-ins. Bankroll management will mean you’re not taking big risks to move up stakes. It’s about patience and thinking about the long term, qualities that will help you in life too.

Discipline can come from a healthy diet and regular exercise too. Having a healthy body has countless benefits. Just because the typical older players were fat smokers that sat in a chair all day doesn’t mean you have to be. Eating well and getting exercise will give you endurance and stamina for cash games sessions and long tournaments.

Take Accountability

Most players that come to us for poker coaching have the same trait – accountability. They realise something is wrong or they’re doing something wrong and want help. Taking accountability is a positive psychological mindset as it means you’re not blaming others for failings. When you’re not pointing fingers and blaming bad luck, you’ll be less prone to mental fatigue. You’ll also look at any issues within your own game and be inclined to solve them through hard work. If you’re someone that blames everyone else but yourself, you need to look in the mirror and start taking responsibility. It will feel like a burden has been lifted.

Learn to be Humble, Not Egotistical

Humility is a amazing trait to have in life and poker. You’re unlikely to get many adversaries and you can still attain greatness. An ego is often described as a fantastic thing to have, but is it? An ego in poker can cause you a lot of grief. By letting go of your ego and remembering poker is a game, not life or death, you will be a bit closer to playing free poker.

Many that come to the table carry some baggage. The less weight you carry, the freer you are to play great poker. Don’t read this and think I am advocating a quiet, nitty approach to poker with no ambition. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am promoting an a pro-active, hard-working, disciplined and humble approach to poker. If you do your best to action these tips, you will become a better player. When will you start?

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, special discounts and promotions.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Featured image created by macrovector_official – www.freepik.com

5 Ways To Prevent Poker Burn Out

Poker Burn Out

Anyone who has played poker for a few years will probably relate to this article. Poker burn out is a real challenge that affects lots of poker players. It doesn’t just effect weak players or those who chase losses. In fact, it could be argued it is more prevalent among winning players and professionals. In this article, we will take a look at five ways to overcome burning out.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is “Burn Out” in poker?

To burn out is to play too much poker. So much so, that it affects your game negatively. You are physically and mentally exhausted from playing too much and it is causing you to make poor poker decisions. This almost always leads to losing money.

1) Play When “On It”

Most player who suffer from burn out follow the same routine. They play, regardless of their mental state. This is because they’ve almost become robotic in their poker playing. They play on certain days or times, irrespective of whether they are prepared for the game.

Poker is not an easy game to win money at. To give yourself the best chance, you need to be playing when you’re free of stress, and focused on the game. When you’re mind is elsewhere, and not on the game, you’re missing a massive part of winning. You will make poorer bluffs, stubborn calls and not pick up on opponents tendencies. Games will always be there so don’t feel obligated to play if you’re not ready.

2) Sleep Well

Some poker players seem to think the laws of nature don’t apply to them. How many players do you know that play at the casino until unholy hours, get 3 hours sleep then proceed to play the following afternoon? This is not an uncommon sight and never ceases to baffle me.

I don’t care what line of work you’re in – rest is key to functioning properly. Getting lots of sleep will ensure your mentally and physically ready for the day ahead. This is especially true if you want to play slow paced tournaments that span several days. Getting your full quota of sleep is an effective way to prevent poker burn out and will help your win rate.

3) Get A Second Opinion

People find it hard to judge themselves properly. Getting another person’s opinion is a good idea as they are more likely to be impartial. When you’re starting to creep into burn out territory, a friend or poker coach might be able to identify it. If you’ve played a lot recently, losing and unsure why – ask a trusted party whether they think you might be burning out. If they say yes, take a few days off and come back when you’re ready.

4) Explore Other Interests

One of the reasons players suffer from burn out is their only interest is poker. It’s important to train your mind and not focus on just one thing. The good thing about learning about other subjects is that it can compliment your poker game. For example, learning Excel spreadsheets , reading psychology or gambling on something else like sports betting. Whilst none of these subjects will mention poker rules or strategy, both have intrinsic value to your poker game.

Learning spreadsheets may help you with poker maths or record keeping. Psychology will help you understand your opponents better and probably help your hand reading skills. Understanding more about sports betting at sites like Free Bets India will strengthen your poker maths. By exploring other interests, you will be keeping your mind sharp while also taking the necessary time away from poker.

5) Have An Exercise Routine

I’m not a physical trainer but it’s common knowledge that exercising regularly helps your mental acuity too. There’s a lot to be said for staying in good shape. Having decent stamina levels and endurance will undoubtedly help the longer sessions and long tournament days. The mental and physical side of our bodies are twinned. If one succeeds, the other wants to.

Regular exercise is a great way to combat poker fatigue and help you avoid burn out. It’s also likely to make you feel better and happy, both of which will help your frame of mind when you fire up a session.

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, special discounts and promotions.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Image Source: Freepik

On a Poker Heater? Enjoy it. They Don’t Last Forever!

Poker Heater

Players love to moan their luck and complain how bad they run. When things are going right, they don’t praise the poker gods or claim they’re lucky, it’s justice to them. In this article, we will have a look at what a poker heater is, how to know when you’re on one and what to do if you’re on one.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Poker Heater?

A heater is when everything is going right and you’re winning everything. You’re winning coinflips in tournaments, hitting your draws and gaining coolers in your favour too. A heater is basically when you’re on the good side of variance.

Can’t Stop Winning? You Might be on a Heater

Often, players run good and don’t even realise they are on a heater. Poker tracker software is a way of seeing how bad you’re running, but is also a good barometer for the times you win. I recommend pulling up the stats every few sessions to see how far above expected value you are. Obviously, it’s great to keep winning, but it’s important to be making the best decisions for your long-term game. I’ve seen players run well, win 10 sessions in a row and move up stakes too soon. Had they taken a proper look at their stats; they would have realised that they were actually only a small winner at their current stakes. Long story short, if you’re winning every session despite not playing well at times – lady luck might be on your side. If it is, you may as well try other forms of gambling available at Live PowerPlay Casino.

Playing More on a Heater – Placebo Effect?

There’s some that argue heaters don’t actually exist. After all, it’s just simple probability so playing more or less won’t make a difference. It’s akin to roulette, the odds are independent so what happened before has no affect on the now. This is a fact and can’t be disputed, however, there is something to be said for the human mind. You can’t control the coolers or bad beats in poker much, but you can control how you play. This is heavily influenced by your mental state. If you are happy, positive and think you’re running good, you will more inclined to play better too. You will be free of stress and psychological burdens that you may carry.

The flip side is when you’re running bad, you play a bit differently. Perhaps you play cautiously or too aggressive. Either way, whether you’re on the right or wrong side of variance, how you play is important. The long-term results will be impacted on how you’re playing most of the time. To give yourself the best chance, feel free to play more when you’re on a heater. Not because you are going to continue running well, only cos you’re in a better frame of mind!

Final Thoughts

A poker heater shouldn’t influence your bankroll management decisions or make you move up stakes. Stay as objective as possible and ascertain how you’re really playing. That is key to your win rate and expected earnings in the future. Use poker software, monitor your results and stay positive and you will be in a better place for it.

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, special discounts and promotions.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Featured photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

Poker Variance – The Winner’s Enemy?

Poker Variance

When it comes to anything that involves chance, there are swings in fortune you can’t legislate for. Naturally, the smaller the percentage of luck, the less likely you will see pendulum like swings in fortune. But, even in sports like football, chance can have a big say. Whilst poker is largely a game of skill, there is an element of luck that cannot be ignored. This is particularly true when focusing on the short term. On any given day, a weaker player can catch great cards or bad beat or cooler their stronger opponents. In this article, we will seek to explain what poker variance is, how it affects players and how to deal with it.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is Variance in Poker?

Variance is the difference between what you expect to occur and what actually happens. These can be summarised as swings or ups and downs involved in poker. Poker hand analysis software can highlight the variance easily with graphs.

What Influences Poker Variance?

Variance impacts everyone. Like the rain, it falls on everyone and does not discriminate. However, there are factors that can play a part in variance.

Style of Play

Playing a LAG poker style is likely to incur more swings and greater variance than playing a tighter game. This is because of the inherent risk of playing more hands and less than premium hands.

Tournament Type

The more entrants, the greater luck involved. This is especially true when blind increments are quicker too. Think about it, SNGs with 9 people are far less swingy than playing the Sunday Million with thousands of entrants.

Format

An obvious one here but worth making the point. No limit is more volatile and swingier than limit games. With the option to bet larger in relation to stack sizes, variance goes up.

The Negative Impacts of Variance in Poker

Variance takes it’s toll on lots of players. From micro to mid stakes, many can’t handle it and negatively impacts them:

Tilt

Many players suffer bad luck then proceed to go on tilt and lose even more, thus making it worse. This is a big problem for players at low stakes. They have the potential to be great players but tilt off buy-ins at the first sign of bad luck.

Moving Between Stakes

There’s a lot of players that have no clue on bankroll management. They continuously move between stakes due to variance and take hits to their confidence. If you exercise a cautious approach and have plenty of buy-ins, you should be able to handle variance. I suggest setting up a poker spreadsheet to keep on top of you results and monitor performance.

Changing Your Game

Some people go the other way when variance hits. They question their game and strategy. Instead of tilting, they go into a shell, bluff less, value bet wrong and play too nitty. This is just as bad as tilting as it has longer lasting consequences. You may lose less from playing conservatively but remember, money you fail to pick up through accurate value betting and bluffing is the same as money lost.

How to Overcome Poker Variance

People deal with negativity in different ways. I always say it’s best to think of the long term. If you are doing this and not focusing on the most recent session, you will be better for it. Professionals accept that not every session will be a winning one. This is the burden that pro’s bear for playing a game with chance involved. If you can’t handle it, forget about playing professionally.  

Overcoming variance can be achieved by playing a happy song after a tough session to help your mood. Or, saying to yourself you will get the same fortune. My suggestion to think of the long run is ideal for consistent winners.

Variance isn’t All Bad

We’ve focused on the negative aspect until now, but remember, variance isn’t just the bad swings. Simple probability maths dictate you should receive your positive swings too. This means you will run good and win more than you ought to aswell. This is a comforting thought, particularly if you’re on a downswing or usually win. As stated earlier, poker variance doesn’t have favourites per se. The sun shines on all, just as the run falls on all.

It’s important to recognise when variance has been on your side. If your software is showing that you actually should be losing or breaking even, you need to work on your game. Good players cannot be results orientated in the short-term and variance can’t always bail you out. That’s why continuing to work at your game is important. I recommend regular hand history reviews to our students, so they can have impartial feedback on how they are playing.

Final Thoughts

Remember, poker variance is what keeps the weak players coming back. Occasionally, they win and that hope of winning again is what keeps them in the game. This is an incredibly important point and worth remembering if you moan about the luck in poker. You don’t want to only play against strong players, do you? Winning money is your goal and to do that, you need to take it from inferior players. They won’t want to play if they never win and the game was 100% skill based.

Featured image created by kjpargeter – www.freepik.com

How to Tilt Opponents

Tilting Poker Opponents

This is a contentious topic for me. I rarely employ tactics to tilt opponents but there is no denying that it has its merits. Poker is war and any advantage (within the rules of the game) are permitted. In an age where poker is increasingly tougher to earn well, your edge is likely to be smaller. Tilt is a big reason why some people are not long-term winners or even professionals. If you tilt less and can make your opponent’s tilt more, you will have a greater edge. This article will look at ways to tilt opponents at the poker table. 

Constant 3 Bet

Most poker players like straight forward hands. They want to raise, and continuation bet as they wish without resistance. Nobody wants to get 3 bet much. It’s not a nice feeling is it? You know this to be true, particularly if you are getting 3 bet a lot.  Being put to the test pre-flop constantly, particularly out of position is tricky, awkward and can lead to costly mistakes. If you are 3 betting a specific opponent a lot, it will annoy him/her. Depending on the calibre of opponent, they will either tighten up, 4 bet you back or continue the same routine (raise/fold). Either way, it’s to your advantage as you have increased the likelihood they will tilt and pay you off post-flop. 

Showing Bluffs

This is not something I advocate for very much. I tell players I coach that it is rarely to your advantage to show cards and reveal information. However, if done correctly, it is an effective way to tilt opponents. There’s probably 1% of the poker population that don’t mind being bluffed. The rest, hate being bluffed. That doesn’t mean everyone tilts when showed a bluff, but many do! It hurts their ego, pride and makes them question their hand reading ability. This is a tactic that can be employed both online and live. Be careful who you do it against in live poker though. Some people will take such offence they may want to take matters outside.  

Stealing their Button

This is a strategy that seems to tilt opponents too. It doesn’t work against those who are playing 8 tables and don’t notice but in a live poker environment, it works a treat. Playing the cut-off is becoming ever important and raising from there often means you are preventing the button playing. This is something that many players hate. They have the mentality “it’s my button”. They almost think they have a right to play the hand and will take offence if you steal it from them.

Stealing their Blinds

You can tilt opponents in tournaments by attacking their blinds. It never ceases to amaze me when I see players stare you down and curse as they give up their blinds. Sometimes it happens even when you raise from under the gun. They seem to think you are attacking them when you raise, and they are in the big blind. Again, this is not a primary function to tilt opponents but watch out for it at the casino. If the big blind is a donkey who tilts easy, they will probably tilt if you raise their blinds a few rounds in a row. 

Check Raise their Continuation Bets

This works less than it used to tilt opponents. The perception of a check raise has changed in the last decade, but it still works against older poker players. They think it’s tricky, deceptive and almost unethical to check purely for the intention to raise them. They think “why don’t you just bet if you have a hand” as they muck their big slick on a low wet flop. This is not a tilt inducing move online, the play is far too common to achieve that. It only works in casinos and against senior citizens (no disrespect). 

Taking Your Time 

Poker is a fast-moving game and people want to play as much as they can. They don’t want to wait around for ages while you timebank with ace rag. This is especially true in casinos where you only get to play around 30 hands an hour. Think how frustrating it is for opponents when you are taking 1-2 minutes over every decision. I want to point out – I am not a fan of this move, but I can’t deny its advantages when considering ways to tilt opponents. I’ve never done this in my life but if you want to increase your advantage over opponents, it’s a plausible strategy to employ. Just look at Tom Dwan on High Stakes Poker. Granted, most of the professionals on there don’t tilt as a result but put a few inexperienced players there and they will tilt more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa! 

Table Chat 

Engaging in table chat is a way to tilt opponents too. There are various ways to tilt opponents through chatting e.g. mocking how they play. Be prepared to have a target on your back if you do implement this though as other players will want to take you out too. Professionals have used this to good effect for years e.g Tony Guoga. Perhaps it’s because they feel they do not have a skill edge so rely on their tongue to help them win. Either way, it’s a strategy that takes time to master as you are likely to give away information about your own cards when you start chatting. 

Disclaimer

This article is an educational piece on ways to tilt opponents, within the rules of the game. There are other ways to tilt opponents not mentioned here e.g. slow-roll or string betting. I do not condone either as ethical ways to tilt opponents. I also do not employ the plays in this article as a sole function to tilt opponents. Whilst poker is a war, it’s better to utilise your technical skills and strategy to earn money. Rather than make your opponents play worse, you are better served spending your time improving at poker. This is something we can help you with. You can sign up to our poker training video membership below for only £49.99 for 1 year. This gives you access to every video I upload with insights and tips on how to play winning poker.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy “ways to avoid tilt” and “poker ethics“.

Featured photo created by jcomp – www.freepik.com

Hero Call – Trust Your Gut

The Definition of a Hero Call

A hero call is basically when a poker player makes a very marginal call for the last bet in a round of poker. It is usually greeted by annoyance by the player trying to get the player to fold and gasps from other players at the table. A hero call relies on gut instinct and a good read more than anything else. The fact the term has been given “hero” implies the rarity and brave nature of the play.

Example Hand

It’s $3/$6 at the casino. A wild player opens to $20 from late position and we call in the big blind with:

The flop comes:

We check call $25.

Turn:

We check call $60 with the turned flush draw and inside straight draw.

River:


You miss and check. Your opponent fires again for $200. You make the call with king high.

How to Make a Hero Call

In the example above, you notice something smells fishy by the river. It’s possible he has a 4-5 or a full house but the sizing of his bet and your understanding of how he plays makes you think he either has the nuts or nothing.
In order to make the call, you need to have be brave and not care what your opponents think. Trust your gut, you’d be surprised how often it is right. Most of the time, logical reasoning, intuition and even a poker tell will lead you to making a call as in your head you know “this player doesn’t have it”.

Hero Call

Potential Problems With a Hero Call

There are a few things to consider when making the call. Make sure your hand, whilst always a bluff catcher, has enough value to make a call. If it is not strong enough to win by showdown, you need to bet or re raise it! In the example hand above, it’s entirely possible that the opponent could be bluffing with K-Q. How annoying would that be? Often, a hero call will be with bottom pair or similar, but you’d be surprised how often a player makes the call, deserves to win but the other player rakes in the pot, almost apologetically after getting found out.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is the difference between a hero call and a bad call?

Hero CallMaking a marginal call with sound logic and expert hand reading to make a brave and correct call.
Bad CallMaking a marginal call with no reasoning, pure stubbornness and an unwillingness to fold.

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, special discounts and promotions.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Good Poker Habits to Get Into

Good Poker Habits

In addition to learning poker strategy, gaining experience and developing as a player, there are some good poker habits to get into. They will increase your hourly win rate and ROI. This article will detail 7 good poker habits to take your overall game further.

Get Lots of Rest

Poker is a mentally tough game that can take its toll on you. Ask any tournament player at the end of a tournament day. They’re shattered. Getting plenty of sleep is necessary in order to ensure you’re mentally sharp so you can make good decisions. Playing tired will increase chances of mistakes, tilt and ultimately cost you money.

Track and Monitor Results

Many poker players just play. They don’t actually record keep or monitor performance one month to the next. I was like this at the very beginning. Whilst this mentality doesn’t impact your actual technical game, it is still a good poker habit to get into. You should be able to compare month on month and year on year so you can gauge progress. If you are winning less than 12 months ago, then you can look at reasons why and tackle the problem.

Tracking your results is a must for anyone playing reasonable volume. Check out my poker excel spreadsheet article. It shows how you can use spreadsheets to track results. We also offer monthly reporting as a standalone product if you’re interested.

poker spreadsheet

Hand History Reviews

Most online professionals don’t sit on their winning game and assume they’re the best. They continuously review and think about their game, looking for ways to better themselves.

A hand history review is where you download hands or record a session and watch it back. It’s a great tool for improving as you see things after that didn’t come to you in real time. Perhaps you incorrectly calculated pot odds or didn’t pay attention to the flop bet from your opponent. This portion is not meant to be a plug for our hand history review service, but feel free to check it out if you are interested in discussing and reviewing hands you’ve played with Texas Hold’em Questions.

Most of the players I perform hand history reviews with record hands from a session and upload. I then watch and narrate, pause and give advice and insights to help. Check out our hand history review page for more information or fill in the form below and we will be in touch.

Hand History Review Session

Understand Odds Better

Drill down into it and poker is a game of numbers, maths, probability and odds. You need to familiarise yourself with the odds so much that they become intuitive. There are different types of odds you need to learn (pre-flop showdowns, calculating outs and pot odds). They are all important and will help your long term ROI.

If you are interested in other forms of gambling, you should already be familiar with odds. These skills are transferable to poker. You can bone on up these skills at the most reliable and trustworthy sports betting sites according to SportsBookAudit.com.

Take Notes on Opponents

Taking notes on poker opponents is a must. We recently wrote an article dedicated to this topic. It helps you make better decisions and will undoubtedly increase your ROI. Without notes, you are playing only on memory and it’s almost like playing a stranger. With notes, you have more of an idea of how that player plays. I tend to colour tag players based on what I see. It’s a simple and effective way to categorise players. Obviously, you must be open to amending their notes as you know more.

Take Your Time Over Decisions

Online poker is very fast paced and it’s easy to play quickly. This is a blessing and a curse. Yes, you want to see more hands and earn more money, but sometimes it’s better to stop for a moment and think. When you act fast, you may miss the trees from the woods and make mistakes. If you take your time, you are more likely to give proper consideration to the situation and make the correct decision. This is an important skill to develop and a great poker habit to get into.

Think Ahead

You can distinguish the great chess players by how far ahead they can accurately predict their opponents moves. This foresight and forward thinking skill can be transferred to poker. One should already be planning ahead for the hand. For instance, you may lead out with Qs 9s on a Kd Qd 8c with intention of folding to raise on flop, betting again on a non diamond turn and giving up on diamonds or Ax turns. Notice the line of thinking. You already have a plan for most reactions from your opponent.

Already considering the next play is a great poker habit as it means you are prepared. You won’t be taking aback and will have a good idea of what to do next. This skill can really help your game.

Featured Image Source: Freepik

Online Poker Tells to Give You an Edge

Online Poker Tells

A poker tell is a behavioural habit or demeanour that a player gives which indicates the strength of his/her hand. It is not exclusively for weak hands. Poker tells can often be a powerful hand too. We will write an article in the future on the typical poker tells that you can pick up in live poker – and there are many! This article will focus on the online poker tells that players exhibit. Many of these tells will be generalised and be true to the majority of players online. Naturally there is the rare genius player that might just be smart enough to reverse them on you, so be careful.

“Insta-raise” – Strong

The instant/automatic raise is often an indication of strength. It is an easy tell to pick up as it’s usually from new players that have clicked the automatic button available, players that are playing too many tables and need to get the raise in or newbies too excited. If a player is raising fast without need to think, chances are he has a very strong hand so be careful. Naturally, if the player is a donkey, he could be overplaying his hand and your hand could be good but you will need to use your discretion in this case.

Fast Check – Weak

Again, if a player is checking so fast you didn’t realise it’s your action, it’s a powerful clue that he is check/folding. This isn’t a universal truth as some players will check to the raiser but more often than not, the very fast check is a sure sign of weakness and ready to fold and move on to the next hand. Players are not going to be putting on Hollywood acting performances with rubbish holdings. They want to fold fast and move on.

Large Looking Bet – Weak

This tell is not applied to everyone as many people have their custom bet sizes ready to click. It’s more for those that are clearly manually entering their bet sizes. Those players who are betting $99.99 instead of $100 are trying to make the bet look big. Why? More often than not, it’s to look intimidating and bigger than it is. When you see all those numbers and chips, it’s designed to look like a big bet that should cause you concern. Whilst this online poker tell is not seen as often anymore, it still applies to the majority of those who are manually entering their bet amounts.

Delayed Raise – Strong

This is one of the most common online poker tells you can take to the bank. I, myself am guilty of this sometimes. The delayed raise is often a monster hand. I don’t mean a delay of a few seconds – I am talking at least 5 seconds or more. If someone is taking this long to make a decision then chooses to raise, it’s nearly always the nuts or close to it. Sure, there are rare occasions a player will bluff but that is seldom. Most player’s who take ages and consider a bluff end up giving up as the tension and pressure builds.

Eliminate Your Online Poker Tells

In order to eliminate your own poker tells, you need to assess where you may be giving away information that reveals the strength of your hand. Are you changing your bet sizing based on the strength of your hand? Are you acting too fast or slow over decisions? The table below is some basic tips to eliminate online poker tells and make you even harder to beat.

Take the same amount of time on all decisionsTry to take the same amount of time over your decisions. If you are taking ages with weak holdings and quick with strong hands, a competent player will recognise this and have you pegged. Once they know this, they can play you blind.
Consistent bet sizingThis is really key. If you bet big with strong and small with weak, any player who is paying attention can tell what you’re up to. It’s very important you stay consistent and hard to read with your bet sizing. This also balances your range; ensures you get paid off and have successful bluffs.
Don’t be predictableAvoid people picking up on anything by throwing curve balls. Mix it up, make unorthodox moves every now and then to avoid people reading you easily.

Conclusion

Online poker tells are another way of reading your opponent and making better decisions. By being aware of them and incorporating them into your playing, you will have a greater chance of winning money. Remember the tips to eliminate your own tells and you will have the upper hand on most of your opponents who do not give online poker tells much attention at all. Finally, the tips in this article are not universal and don’t apply to every online poker player. They are simply my own observations from many years playing online that appear to be true for many poker players.