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 Kd Td. Flop is Ac 2d 3d
You check call $25.

Turn – Js
You check call $60 with your turned gutshot and flush draw.

River Jc
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.

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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.

Rest Well

Poker is a tough mental 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.

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 out if you are interested in discussing and reviewing hands you’ve played. 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.

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.

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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.

Running Bad in Poker – How to Handle it

Running Bad in Poker

Play enough and you will experience it. A bad run happens to us all, particularly online. It’s probability maths 101.  If you haven’t experienced running bad in poker, you’ve not played enough or you’re very lucky.  Running bad can come in different was, you might be getting it in on the flop with a set and lose to 2 outs or you might be getting pocket kings and facing pocket aces too much.  Rather than just say “that’s poker”, this article will attempt to offer some solutions and advice on how to handle running bad in poker.

Review Results

One way to deal with running bad in poker is review your results over the last 3 – 6 months. If you’ve been doing well and continued to play consistently, take comfort that you are doing the right thing. Sometimes you can doubt your game and what you’re doing when you are on a bad run. I find it reassuring to know that I am a winning player and reviewing your results is testament to this. Remember, winning poker is about the long run. You’re not defined by the bad run you’re on so keep calm and carry on.

Take a Small Break

I’d like to emphasize “small” break. Don’t go away for weeks or months because you’re losing. If you’ve been playing well and its bad luck, then it’s good to take a break for a few days. If you feel the need to gamble still, try roulette or black for some fun. Look around and find the best casino online in USA and have a flutter. Don’t gamble too much though! Come back fresh and ready to play poker. Obviously if you’re tilt prone and running bad was affecting your game, feel free to take a longer break and keep your mind off poker playing for a little while.

Tighten Up

This is a contentious one but I think it has some merit still. If you’re game has evolved to a very fancy and bluffy style, it might be worth reverting back to a more solid approach. This will serve to reduce the variance element; ensure you are getting your money in better and have less of an impact on your bankroll. Don’t go too tight though – if your game has largely stayed the same as when you were winning, it would be foolish to radically change a winning approach.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

Why am I running bad in poker?

Poker has an element of luck you can’t escape. You signed up to it the day you chose to play poker. One can’t complain too much when you win a tournament then go on a bad run after. You might be on a bad run because you’re playing bad too. Anytime you think you’re running bad, punch in the stats of a hand into a poker hand calculator and see how far ahead you actually were.  

Running Bad in Poker

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 will be a 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.

Loosey Goose Image

These are ten a penny online at the casino. The player involved in every pot, playing too many hands. Often bluffing and paying off bets all over the place. The loose player image is a good one to have as it means you are likely to get paid. A strong player will often do their best to get this image without actually playing crazy. This can be achieved by playing many small pots and attacking many pots with small bets. You don’t actually need to be investing a lot of chips or money to obtain this poker table image.

poker table image
Photo by Markus Spiske @markusspiske

Tight Nitty Image

This is the player folding, hand after hand, round after round and 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 or 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. The reality is though, this isn’t the most desirable image as people will try to stay out of pots with you. Getting paid can be difficult and people 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 Poker 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 email us if you are interested in knowing more about table image and how to use it to your advantage.

Thanks,

Tilt Poker – What it is & How to Avoid it

Tilt Poker

One of the biggest obstacles you will have to overcome to being a consistent winner is tilt. The term that is used to describe a state of mind that all players want to avoid. Tilt is the anger and emotional distress that causes a poker player to play poorly. It usually occurs after a series of lost pots or bad beats but it is not limited to that. Tilt could manifest for a number of reasons specific to different people. Whilst one player may tilt because of a bad beat, another may tilt if he gets mocked at the table or shown a bluff. 

Why Do Players Tilt in Poker?

Players are not robots, everyone has triggers that get you off your game. People tilt because something is going on internally that has an adverse effect on your ability to play well. It might be something completely separate to poker. You may have had an argument at home and planned to play poker but guess what? Now you are thinking about the argument and not on your A game.
At its simplest, poker is a game of decisions. Making good decisions and better decisions in the long run will make you more money than your opponents. One of the most fundamental things to grasp is that you need to be at your best mentally, as often as you can be, to increase your chances of winning. Think about it, when you drink alcohol, it impairs your judgement doesn’t it? The analogy can be used for tilt and poker. If you get angered or emotionally distressed, you will feel the effect mentally and play worse as a result.

Tips to Avoiding Tilt

  1. Don’t start playing if you are not mentally prepared. Don’t fire up a session or go casino if you know you are already angry or distressed
  2. Get up from the table after a big lost pot or bad beat. Have a walk outside and get some fresh air
  3. Repeat positive messages in your head. If you’ve been shown a bluff or someone has cursed you at the table. Just repeat a positive message in your head that keeps you on your game. It can be something as simple as “you’re a great player” or “you’re better than him”
  4. Take a break for a few days. If you are on a bad run of sessions, don’t be afraid to take some time out if you sense you may tilt

Conclusion

Tilt is an extremely important obstacle to overcome at poker. It takes time, patience and humility to accept you are open to such a negative phenomenon that causes you to play badly. The best way to avoid it is knowing your triggers and being proactive so you recognise when you are likely to start tilting. If you can overcome your own demons of tilt, you stand a much better chance of making more money in the long run.

I hope you enjoyed this article; the mental side of poker is critical to being a winner. Feel free to email us at info@texasholdemquestions if you think you need mental game coaching or want more information.

Featured Photo by Christian Erfurt

What a Bad Beat is and How to Handle Them

What is a Bad Beat?

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 as 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, continuing 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 and even complain and moan to other poker players at the table.

Bad Beat
Photo by Tim Gouw @punttim

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 2-Minute Walk

Sometimes it’s better not being at the table then playing 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.

Playing for the Long Run

Remember, if you are losing to bad beats a lot this 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 as 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 and remember these are the people that are helping you make money.

Focus

This is so simple and obvious but a worthy reminder for all poker players. We often forget though; just how important it is to concentrate and focus. You’re following twitter, checking the football scores, chatting to friends and still playing poker at the same time?
Poker is hard enough now trying to overcome the tougher calibre players and bad beats without diminishing what edge you do have.

How many tables are you playing? Is this your optimum amount to play at or have you even thought about how many tables are your optimum for playing? Does it differ between tournaments and cash games? Perhaps you need more focus on cash games so need to reduce tables there but can play more tables with tournaments.

Players often just play on autopilot or robotically, don’t become complacent and do the same! If you want to win regularly and maximise your earnings, you need to focus.

I challenge you to do an audit of yourself and find out how focused you are. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest with yourselves.

  • Are you playing the optimum number of tables?
  • Are you doing other things whilst playing?
  • Have you played on “auto-pilot” in the last week?
  • Have you played whilst tired in the last week?

If you’re answering yes to any of the above questions then you are sacrificing some of your edge and costing yourself money. Don’t give up any of your edge, FOCUS!

 

Texas Holdem Questions