Phil Hellmuth & His Poker Animals

Hellmuth’s Poker Animals Introduction

I’m sure you’re all aware of Phil Hellmuth. Love him or hate him, you have to respect him. An acclaimed author and the unofficial King of the WSOP, he has been a figurehead for poker for decades. But, did you know about his classifications of animals in poker? In this article we’re going to share these animals and what their meanings are. The value in classifying players as animals is immense. By categorising your opponents, you will be able to modify your strategy accordingly based on their common traits.

The Jackal

Starting with the jackal, this is the typical bad LAG you find in low stakes games online. These players are reckless and have little to no regard for fundamental poker concepts like hand selection. Their stack will yoyo in tournaments from small to large due to the volatile nature of their game. A jackal’s tendencies can lead to them being the table captain. If they are at a passive table, they can run them over.

A jackal rarely does well in games above NL $25 due to the fact players can pick them off. A jackal will get called down lightly and bluff of their money to better players. Despite what other guides may say, the best way to beat a jackal is to set traps for them as they will predictably bluff if you check often.

The Eagle

This animal is one you’ll rarely need to use. This poker animal is the cream of the crop and considered by Hellmuth to be in the top 100. Suffice to say you’re probably not going to face off against any of these in the low stake’s games.

An eagle will be playing high stakes and winning. They’re the best players around and have studied poker for years. Not only that, they have off the table skills that separates them from everyone else.

An eagle is what you can aspire to be in the future. But, don’t feel bad if you don’t reach this status as it’s an elite club!

The Elephant

An elephant can be found in most low stakes poker games. They enter into the pot with a wide range of hands and essentially unbluffable. A lot of beginners start off this way, calling hands down until the river and finding themselves beat all the time. They are otherwise known as a calling station. 

There’s no point trying to bluff an elephant as they are not playing you or the scenario. They call down with as weak as bottom pair so don’t waste tournament chips or cash trying to get them off a hand. Instead, value bet these opponents like there’s no tomorrow.

An elephant is an easy player to beat as you can value bet thinly against them.

The Mouse

A mouse is a conservative poker player who only enters the pot with very strong hands. They seldom bluff and are only relying on their superior starting hands to win. A more recent title for a mouse is a “nit”, a player that is risk averse and rarely putting in a 3 bet or 4 bet.

This poker animal is very predictable and beatable even at the micro stakes games. An observant player will simply fold if a mouse raises. To beat this type of player, you can just bully them constantly, regularly picking up blinds and antes. It may appear boring work, but it’s the most effective way to beat a mouse. 

It’s worth noting that a mouse is not necessarily a losing player. This ultra conservative way of playing can actually make money in the lowest stakes games. This is due the fact some players don’t react accordingly and still give a mouse action.

A mouse won’t ever rise to the higher stakes games though as their uncreative way of playing won’t generate any winnings against competent players.

The Lion

A lion is an excellent poker player with solid overall poker skills. They are making their money from the other weaker poker animals. A lion typically adopts a tight aggressive poker strategy that works very well, even up to mid stakes. It will bluff at opportune moments and have solid starting hand entry requirements. They’re also creative enough to play speculative hands if the situation calls for it, thereby getting action from other players.

A lion can be found at most stakes online as the TAG strategy continues to be one of the most profitable ways of playing in the 2020s.

Conclusion on Poker Animals

There you have it, Phil Hellmuth’s poker animals explained. As you can see, there are quite a few, each with their strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve noticed yourself in any of the weaker poker animals and want to become a lion, why not get in touch? We’d be happy to offer a hand history review session or consultation call to see how we can help you develop?  

5 Reasons Not to Fear Live Poker

Fear of Live Poker

It’s very common for online poker players to fear live poker. Moving from one setting to an entirely new one can be challenging and make a player nervous. The transition from online to live poker puts the player face to face with their opponents. There are additional fears like embarrassment, worries about being too readable, fearing losing the cash or making live poker mistakes like string bets. Whilst these fears are not unreasonable, they should not deter an online poker player try playing altogether. In this article we’re going to share some reasons why you should not fear live poker and actually embrace it.

1] The Standard is Lower

It’s widely accepted that online poker games are of a higher standard when compared to live poker. A NL $10 game online can play like a NL $200 in live poker. The reason for this is possibly due to the generally higher limits that poker rooms impose on the games. Either way, it’s good news for online players. It means you can play for more money and against fishier players. This is arguably the biggest reason to try playing live poker. Your first trip to a casino will be an eye-opening experience. The amount of bad plays you’ll see is very encouraging and will soon put you at ease.

2]The Fun Factor

If you don’t try something you’ll never know what its truly like. The majority of online players that move to live shun their fear of live poker when they realise how much fun it is. In addition to playing generally weaker players, you get to enjoy the table banter and social aspect of poker. You also get to physically see the cash you win and read your opponents. There’s nothing quite like making a great read on an opponent in a live poker setting. Whilst this is fun playing at a live casino online, it’s amplified in a cardroom where you are face to face with your opponents.

3] You’re Unknown to Others

Most players who fear live poker are only thinking through their eyes and not others. Remember, when you are new to a game, it might be new to you, but you are new to them. You’re an unknown entity to the other poker players. This presents a new challenge to everyone, even the professionals. This mystique and unpredictability are a reason they may fear you at first. If you are a strong player, they will soon respect you and this will alleviate any fears you may have had at the start. Live poker players have a healthy respect for those that play online so you have little reason to worry.  

4] You Can Speak with Cardroom Manager

All live cardrooms will have a manager in control. They ensure the tournaments run smoothly, make decisions when the dealers need assistance and manage the cash game tables too. If you fear live poker and the challenges it presents, you can always call the cardroom and ask questions to the cardroom manager. They will give you all the answers you need, put your mind at ease and advise of any rules you may need to be aware of before playing. Cardroom managers are friendly and supportive so it’s definitely worth having a chat if you are still concerned after this article.

5] Start & Stop at Your Leisure

Like online poker, you have freedom in poker to play whenever you want. Granted, if you’re a tournament player, you may feel obligated to stay at the table all the time. But, in a live poker setting, you can start and stop at your leisure, particularly in cash games. If you are uncomfortable or not playing your usual game, get up from the table and go for a walk, or quit if you are on tilt. There is no pressure to sit and play for hours on end. The option to play when it suits you should help your fear of live poker. After all, you are the master of the games you play, when and for how long.


Live poker is an awesome experience. You can play with weaker players for more money and strut your game in a fun setting. The social aspect enhances the complexity of poker and puts an extra spin on it. It brings poker back to its roots of being a people game. We highly recommend you try it for yourself and hope the reasons in this article will relieve you of any fears of live poker you may have.

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The Advantages of Online Poker

Casino games have always fascinated people in different ways. Slots are easy to play but they can bring you great awards. Roulette is for those that are feeling extremely lucky. And poker has always been reserved for players who like a challenge and who think they are good at reading other people. 

The fact that poker is a new trend isn’t anything new. Ever since the first online casino appeared, there has been a massive interest among gambling fans for the virtual version of this popular game.

In this article, we’ll dig a little deeper into the world of online poker to see what are the advantages of playing this amazing game on the Internet.

Where to Play Online Poker?

The most important thing that most poker players already know is choosing the right gambling platform. Only the best fast withdrawal casinos with amazing welcome offers have the best poker games. The ultimate gambling experience can be achieved only by opting for the right operator. Here are some of the things that only the best online gambling brands have:

  • Gambling license
  • Welcome offers and various promotions
  • Great customer service
  • Safe payment methods

Playing online poker has made this game more accessible than ever before, and this is why many operators include it in their game selection. However, only with the best operators will the players have the perfect gambling experience they want.

Online Poker With a Live Dealer

Everyone thought that online poker reached its peak after the first online version was launched. However, in the past couple of years, online casinos worldwide have been adding another important feature to their gambling platforms. And that is poker with a live dealer. For players who enjoy a land-based casino experience, this feature has been really helpful during the lockdown period. Moreover, it also quite useful for players who want to play poker with a live dealer but can’t travel to another city or state whenever they wish to play.

Online poker has made playing this game incredibly easy and simple. Once upon a time, people read an interesting article to dress up and travel to a land-based casino in order to play their favourite game. Others organized private card gatherings. But now, with online poker and live dealer, people can have all of that without leaving their homes.

How Do You Withdraw Winnings?

Another advantage of playing poker online is that players can have their winnings transferred to their bank accounts in a quick and easy way. Gamblers always prefer the best payout online casino Canada that offers the highest payout rates and safe transaction methods. The most popular withdrawal methods used by players worldwide are e-wallets, cryptocurrencies, and credit cards.

Are There Any Online Poker Tournaments?

The best online tournaments can be found on the gambling websites that have the biggest online poker rooms. One of the most visited poker rooms in the world is PokerStars, which in 2003 produced what is now known as the most important tournament in the world – the World Series of Poker.


Playing poker online offers many advantages to players, like the ability to play at any time and anywhere. Moreover, online players can benefit from special promotions and play their favorite game longer for less money. With the live dealer feature becoming available with almost every trustworthy operator around the world, even the brick-and-mortar casino fans can now enjoy playing their favorite game in front of the screen.

How Can You Learn to Play Poker?

Poker has always been one of the most iconic games at both land-based and online casino venues. Whenever we think about casinos or gambling the first game that pops into our minds is poker.

So for all gambling fans who want to become poker professionals, here are some tips on how to learn to play this amazing game.

Where Can You Play Poker Online?

Not so long ago, learning to play poker meant you had to visit the nearest brick-and-mortar casino or to convince a friend or family member who knows how to play to give you lessons. Nowadays, all online players can visit online casinos that offer the best paying online pokies and enjoy great slot machines while learning poker rules. Moreover, in this day and age, you can always visit YouTube or other similar platforms that have free to watch tutorials on how to play card games.

Learn Poker Hand Rankings

One of the first lessons that any poker enthusiast has to learn is all possible poker combinations. Some choose to learn these rules by visiting an online real money casino with the best deposit and withdrawal methods, others watch video tutorials or buy books on the subject. The basic combinations that all future players should know of are:

  • Royal Flush
  • Full House
  • Straight Flush
  • Flush

Moreover, there are also high cards, one pair, two pair, three of a kind, and straight. Professional poker players use these combinations with skill and a bit of luck to defeat their opponents.

Control Your Emotions

Another important lesson for all poker players is to learn to control their emotions. Giving up how you’re feeling is a basic mistake that one can make at the table. In this way, other players can read your emotions and tell which cards you have. Some of the best poker players in the world are actually experts in hiding their emotions. So, if you get a good hand, make sure you don’t show any enthusiasm, or if you get a band hand, don’t let your opponents notice what you have. In fact, if it suits you, you should make them believe the opposite is happening, so that they are never sure what cards you have.

Learn to Bluff

Learning how to bluff and hiding your emotions are actually the same lesson. You should learn how to make your opponents believe you have good or bad cards when it’s actually quite the opposite. Furthermore, it’s very important that you learn how to read other people’s emotions as well. Players who learn the skill to tell when someone is bluffing are some of the best players in the world because they can tell exactly what’s happening at the table at any given moment.

Play Correctly With Your Budget

Last but certainly not least is learning how to play within your budget in a correct way. New players can make the mistake of playing games with high stakes from the very beginning. However, you should give yourself time until you learn to play properly before you start investing large sums. And even then, you should be aware of how much money you’re giving per each hand, so you wouldn’t spend more than you have initially planned.


Playing poker can be fun, but there are many things that one should keep in mind. Learning the rules, how to control your emotions, and how to bluff are just the tip of the iceberg. But nevertheless, these are the basic lessons on the road to becoming the best poker player. Check out our cheat sheet for helpful tips.

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4 Common Texas Hold’em Mistakes to Avoid

Players should always strive to be their best and whilst I’ve said perfect poker is impossible – playing your best isn’t. We’ve offered coaching in various forms for over 3 years now and came across all kinds of poker leaks players have. There’s too many to list in one post but in this article we’re going to share four common Texas Hold’em mistakes to avoid. If you are a victim of any of these, reach out to us and see how we can help.

1) Not thinking decisions through

This mistake is not unique to only newbies who barely know how to play Texas Hold’em poker. It’s also grinders and even professionals who are guilty of this mistake. It’s easy to do when you’re multi-tabling or on the backend of a long session but there’s no excuses for rushing decisions.

Texas Hold’em is a game that requires methodology and your brain to work out what is the right action. If you rush decisions you will make bad plays that cost you money. This happens a lot in tournaments where some poker players turn off and are basically playing on “autopilot”.

2) Only playing your own cards

The beauty of poker is when you’re “playing the player”. A common Texas Hold’em mistake is to just play your own cards and not assign ranges to your opponents. This is especially true for inexperienced poker players who are focusing on what they have in their hand and how good or bad it is and not giving attention to those around them.

A strong player is using GTO or exploitative poker strategy to beat their opposition. They are not just looking at the fact they have king four in the cut-off. Hand reading opponents is a critical skill to learn and starts with pre-flop and assigning ranges. It means narrowing your opponents range based on their playing style and position. As you progress throughout the hand you can eliminate certain groups of hands which will lead you to good decision making.

3) Playing too many hands

Whether its impatience or watching their favourite pros bluff with deuce seven – the most common Texas Hold’em mistake is to play too many hands. The experienced poker players make the mistake of thinking they can outplay everyone post-flop or get away from a solid holding if they’re beat. In reality, they will always lose some money with top pair if they connect.

The fishier players are just impatient and overplay certain hands. They love their ace rag and suited kings because they have big cards or are suited. This mistake is often the first one we eradicate from a new player looking to improve their game.

4) Reacting poorly to bad luck

Humans are emotional beings and don’t handle adversity all that well. This is amplified when money is involved at the poker table. Tilt is a challenge that many poker players have to deal with.

Tilt is the term coined to describe a player’s behaviour at the table. Tilting is typically associated with erratic behaviour, raising too much, going all in and just playing bad in general. It hits poker players when they lose to a bad beat or perhaps a cooler. It can happen for many reasons, even as mundane as losing a single buy in.

We can’t control the luck aspect of poker, we will get unlucky at times but you can control how you react to it. If you can’t keep your emotions in check and stay playing well, you need to get up and leave to protect your bankroll. We recommend setting a stop loss limit so you don’t tilt off your profits.

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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.


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.


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


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


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.


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 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.


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.


A poker slang term for moving all-in.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


This is the PokerStars equivalent of Snap.

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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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6 Max Poker Strategy Guide 2021

6 Max Poker

6 Max poker or short-handed poker is the most popular form in cash games. It’s popularity has surged in the last 10-15 years. This is probably due to the fact it combines the appeal of fewer opponents with rewarding a looser playing style. Look on any poker site cash game lobby and you will see the numbers – players prefer 6 max to full ring.

The sharks tend to prefer this format too and will prey on weak opponents who do not make the necessary adjustments when moving from a nine or ten handed game. This article is dedicated to those of you new to 6 max or considering playing it. This 6 max poker strategy guide is mostly focused on cash games but can also be applied to tournament poker.

You Must 3 Bet More

There are some schools of thought that advocate a 3 bet or fold playing style. I do not subscribe to that theory being the best way but there’s no question you must 3 bet more in shorthanded games. You need to be aggressive, particularly in position. You will be playing more hands and you only connect on 1 in 3 flops so it is necessary to mix in some 3 betting to ensure you have the aggression. You can’t be reliant on hitting the flop to win.

Looser Hand Selection

If you are uncomfortable playing more than the very best hands, 6 max isn’t for you. You will lose too much in blinds and antes if you are not prepared to play more hands. Throw away your hand charts, as you won’t need them for 6 max. With fewer opponents, you are less likely to walk into premium hands as often. In a full ring game, you are folding your ace ten from under the gun, not in 6 max. Remember, if you open under the gun in 6 max, you only need three folds to your left to be playing in position.

Understanding what hands to play from the various positions can be tricky. That’s why we’ve created a pre-flop guide for you. Our pre-flop guide offers the benefits below:

  • Use online while playing
  • 4 pre-flop charts
  • Cut out pre-flop leaks and increase your win rate
  • They’re free!

Download 6 Max Pre-Flop Charts

Fill in your name and email and you can get our 10 page guide for free.

Bluff More

Playing short-handed affords a lot more bluffing opportunities. You will quickly realise that weaker hands will win at showdown. In a full ring table with multi-way pots, a strong hand is often needed to win. Not so for 6 max games – one pair will often be sufficient. This means you can run more bluffs and try more moves to win. I am not suggesting you go crazy and re raise every flop bet but feel free to some flop check raises against those who c-bet too much or 4 bet the LAG who keeps 3 betting you. Bluffing effectively is a must for 6 max poker so look for opportunities.

Learn Continuation Bet Strategy

A shameless plug for our continuation bet course but it’s true, you need to c bet properly in 6 max. In most low stakes games, there are 2 types of mistakes players are making. They’re either not c betting enough or c betting far too much! Don’t fall into either category. Consider the opponent, flop texture, your hand strength and position before firing a c bet. You need to identify whether it’s a c-bet that is likely to work. This is not easy to do, in an instant. With our course, you will learn all this and more and it will become intuitive.

Thin Value Betting

Value betting is absolutely essential to winning poker. After all, you need to extract more from your opponents than they do from you, when you have the better hand. You need to value bet a lot thinner in 6 max poker games. A softly softly approach will not do you any good. If you’re checking back rivers in spots when your hand is best, you’re probably making a mistake. A thin value bet can be a small bet or an over-bet. If you are on unsure which is appropriate, err on the side of caution and value bet small. This will protect you from the bigger mistake of overplaying your hand. As you gain experience, you will be able to identify scenarios where a larger value bet will work. 

Take More Notes

As you’re playing against fewer opponents, there’s even more reason to know them better. Watch them closely, pay attention to the hud stats, and take notes diligently. If you have more information, you are more likely to make better informed decisions. You will know their strengths and weaknesses and can react accordingly. They fold to 3 bets a lot? Great! Three bet them like there’s no tomorrow. They fold overpairs to wet boards? Fantastic, an over bet bluff is likely to work! They don’t 4 bet bluff? Don’t stack off with pocket jacks! As you can see, note-taking will significantly impact your decision making. It may seem tedious to type up notes but trust me, it’s for your benefit and your bankroll too.

Play Fewer Tables

Short handed poker is going to take more of a mental toll. You’ll be involved in more pots, taking more notes and in more awkward situations. This is in contrast to the monotonous nature of full ring poker which affords you the chance to play more tables. One of the first tips I offer players I mentor is to find the right balance of game type and number of tables. Most prefer 6 max but are handicapping themselves by playing too many tables. This varies player to player but suffice to say, you will play better with fewer tables. This doesn’t mean you have to one table, perhaps you’re intelligent enough to play 8 tables and maintain a high win rate (rare). The key thing to remember is that each table you add on, the less concentration on each table on average.

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Ace Queen – A Trouble Hand or Myth?

Ace Queen

You hear the phrase “trouble hand” banded around a lot in poker circles. It basically means a hand that looks nice but actually costs you money. Ace Queen is one of the hands in Texas Hold’em that is said to be a trouble hand. Whilst I’ve expressed it being an overrated hand in the past, it’s by no means a trouble hand to strong players. In this article, I will explain why it’s a trouble hand for some, but not others.

Ace Queen Trouble for Beginners

One of the problems beginners have is going too far with hands. This is especially true for medium strength or 2nd tier “strong hands”. I’d group Ace Queen with that group. Hands like mid pocket pairs and king queen are in this category too. They can be trouble because they will raise or re-raise post-flop when they should be exercising pot control or value betting when they are more assured they have the best hand. Often, it’s a trouble hand due to the fact they are not considering context. They see a big ace, perceive it as a monster hand and will bet and raise if they hit top pair.

If you are a beginner or even intermediate player and find yourself losing a lot with Ace Queen, you need to rethink your strategy. Ace Queen is a strong hand and should be a winning hand for you. Let’s take a look at why this hand is a big winner for professionals and recreational winners too

Ace Queen for Professionals

Any professionals reading this can take a look at their poker tracking software and pull up the stats on Ace Queen. They are almost certainly profitable in every spot in poker. The reason is simple, they can adapt and change their strategy based on the factors involved. If it’s a LAG opening, they can profitably 3 bet and maximise earnings. If it’s a nitty player, they will cold call or even fold, depending on the positions involved. This is a key concept to understand and can be applied to any poker hand really. If you look at any poker hand in detail; opponents, stack sizes, table image, positions and bet sizing, you see things differently. Poker is not just about choosing the top 20 hands to play and playing it the same every time.

Final Thoughts

Depending at what level you’re at, Ace Queen can either be a great hand or a trouble hand. Any hand can be a trouble hand if you misplay them. If you invest time in your game and want to improve, Ace Queen won’t be a trouble hand for you. I hope this article makes you think and question your strategy moving forward.

Finally, if you are using poker software detailing your earnings with each hand, pull up your stats on Ace Queen and see how you’re doing. If you are losing in any position, please contact us to see if we can help you. Alternatively, if you don’t have tracking software, check out our poker resources page for our recommendations on software to use.

Poker Shark – What One is and How to Become One

Poker Shark 

The poker world loves using animals as a way of categorizing players. I’ve written articles in the past on donkeys and nits, and now I’m concentrating on sharks. A shark is the one creature you should aspire to be. They are predators, attacking their prey and top of the food chain. If a fish is a weak player, a beta, then a poker shark is surely the alpha. In this article, we will look at what a shark is, how to become one and more importantly, how to remain one.  

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question 

What is a Poker Shark? 

A shark is a term used to describe an excellent poker player. A shark is a winning poker player that dominate the opposition. They will strategize, plan, hand read, bluff well, use math and play aggressively to win money and tournament chips. Like a shark in the sea, they will exercise patience, circle their prey and know the exact time to strike. At the poker table, this might mean waiting patiently for 2 hours to bust their opponent. A shark is to be feared and respected.  

How to Become a Shark

It’s impossible to become a shark poker player upon starting the game. Like the world we live in, one must evolve to become a shark. You need to acquire lots of different skills to become a shark.  

It’s worth noting that being a winner doesn’t necessarily make you a shark. You’ve heard the expression “big fish in a small pond”. This true in the poker world. After all, a table with 9 fishes will have someone winning. That doesn’t mean they are the shark. They are simply the best fish of the lot. Put that fish in with larger, dangerous predators and they will be eaten up and spat out with little effort.  

To become a shark, one must become proficient in the skills below: 

  • Poker Math
  • Hand Reading
  • Bluffing
  • Bet Sizing
  • Emotional Control
  • Continuation Betting
  • Value Betting
  • Hand Selection
  • Table Awareness
  • Patience
  • Bankroll Management
  • Game Selection

As you can see, there are at least 12 skills required to becoming a shark. In certain games, you can skirt by and win by having just a few of the skills above. But how far will that take you? If you are keen to become a shark and to develop the skills, it’s not over. One must maintain that level…  

Staying a Shark

As previously stated, poker is like evolution. The only difference is, once you reach a level, it’s entirely possible to go back. It’s logical that if you stand still and others evolve and improve, you are essentially going back. If you’re going back and others are going forward, sooner or later you will get overtaken.

Complacency is a challenge that all poker sharks must deal with. It doesn’t take much for it to set in, hand selection to widen too much, bluffing attempts to be too frequent or an arrogant approach to game selection. 

 To avoid this happening to you, I recommend something that most professional fields advise – continued professional development (CPD). This is something professions such as accountancy insist upon in order to maintain current level of knowledge. You can do likewise by dedicating time to self-improvement. You could try reading poker books, using poker training services, investing in new poker software or following the best poker blogs. Whatever method you try is up to you, but if it keeps you a shark, then surely, it’s worth it? 

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