Poker Slang Terms You Should Probably Know

Poker Slang Terms

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

ABC Poker

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

Bad Beat

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

Bounty Tournament

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

Cold Call

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

C Bet (Continuation Bet)

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

Cooler

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

Donk Bet

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

Downswing

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

Equity

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

Freeroll

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

Gutshot

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

Hand History

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

Heads-Up

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

Hero Call

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

Home Game

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

ITM

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

Jam

A poker slang term for moving all-in.

Kicker

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

LAG

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

Limp

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

Multi-Way

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

Nit

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

Open

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

Probe Bet

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

Queens

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

Rake

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

Rakeback

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

Showdown

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

Slow Roll

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

Snap Poker

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

String Bet

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

Tell

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

Tilt

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

Underpair

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

Value Bet

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

Variance

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

Walk

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

WSOP

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

Y

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

Zoom

This is the PokerStars equivalent of Snap.

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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.

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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Omaha vs Texas Hold’em – Which is Right For You?

Omaha vs Texas Hold’em

Omaha and Texas Hold’em are the most popular poker games in the world. Texas Hold’em is still the most popular (by some way). But as the game has got tougher, and there is far more material on Texas Hold’em, more players have been moving over to Omaha.

Texas Hold’em Questions is 99% focused on Texas Hold’em but that’s not to say there isn’t any value in learning the other games. In fact, we have coaches in the mixed games as well as Texas Hold’em. In this article, we are going to look at the core differences between Omaha and Hold’em so you can decide whether to invest time and energy in one or the other, or both. Let’s begin Omaha vs Hold’em.

Number of Cards

First of all, the biggest difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is the number of cards you start with. Texas Holdem is played with just 2 whilst Omaha is played with 4. This is a massive difference as you’re now playing with 9 cards instead of the 7. It’s also worth noting that whilst Texas Holdem permits you to use as few or many as your starting hand, Omaha requires you to only use 2 of your 4 cards. This means a hand like A-A-A-7 goes down in value as it’s better to having 3 in your hand is of no use to you.

Having more cards significantly changes the mindset and strategy as relative hand strength in Omaha is reduced. In Texas Hold’em, a flush is a powerful hand. In Omaha, it’s far weaker as there is a much greater chance of someone having a higher flush or full house. The difference here can’t be understated – as many Omaha players are weak enough to pay off bets that they would in Texas Hold’em then moan after citing it as a cooler. In reality, this is just the game of Omaha and something you must adapt to.

What’s the Edge Differences Between Omaha and Texas Hold’em?

Texas Hold’em has bigger edges, on any given hand. If you get your money in on the flop with a set against a top pair hand, you’re virtually assured of the pot. If you’re all in before the flop in tournament poker with a higher pair than your opponent, you’re around 80-20. Edges like this do not exist in Omaha. You will have a much smaller edge with an at best maths advantage of around 60-40. These smaller edges mean you can expect bigger swings, more variance and need to exercise even stricter bankroll management rules. Otherwise, even if you have an edge, you could see yourself moving down stakes fast.

An important thing to understand is that Omaha is a drawing type game. Having more cards in your hand makes for more straights, flushes and “wraps” (multiple straight draws). This means even with a hand as strong as top set, you have to fade a lot of outs to win the pot.

On the plus side, the apparent small edge in Omaha masks the deficiencies of poor Omaha players games. This means there are lots of players thinking they play well when they are actually the fish in the games. It’s also worth highlighting that many Omaha players are playing it as they play Texas Hold’em. Remember to read a poker tutorial before playing Omaha.

Reads and Bluffing

In Texas Hold’em, you can sit with a player an hour and have a read on them. You know the types of hands they play, in what positions and their tendencies. This information is invaluable as it means you an exercise bluffs and adjust your value bets accordingly. In Omaha, you’re not going to be making soul reads. The game is too complex with the possible holdings that you can only play the game.

Bluffing is also much harder in Omaha. This can be a good thing as you want fishes to pay you off. The downside is that you need the best hand to win – something you don’t have control over. This is contrary to Texas Hold’em where you can often have a weaker hand, but a good 3 bet or flop continuation bet may see you win the pot. As a coach and mentor, I can’t stress the value of this skill enough. It is something that separates the weaker and better players. P.S check out our recently launched continuation bet course for more information.

Stakes and Competition

Another difference between the two games is the betting. Texas Hold’em is almost exclusively played in the no limit format. There are some fixed limit and pot limit games around, but they are far less popular. Some sites do not even offer this function. Omaha is played in the pot limit format. This is logical to me, otherwise the games would be even more insane and people would go broke all the time! The side effect of this is the inability to over bet the pot – another reason why Texas Hold’em is the Cadillac of poker.

Competition is softer on the Omaha tables though. This is because Omaha is years behind Texas Hold’em and has not yet gained enough popularity amongst the recreational players. Its also softer. There are players that transition from Texas Hold’em that have not been properly educated on how to play Omaha well. Even the bad players at Texas Hold’em are ok at it but the bad players at Omaha are truly terrible. This is somewhat negated by the edges difference mentioned earlier but with good bankroll management, there is a lot of money to be won at Omaha if you are patient and not susceptible to tilt.

Omaha vs Texas Hold’em – The Conclusion

Omaha is a great, fun game to play. There are lots of fishes playing it and there are always games available on the major sites. There is a lack of material and training on the subject available which means you can crush low stakes games, if you put in the work.

Texas Holdem is still the most popular poker format around. The attention it draws from recreational players is what makes it the most profitable game to play. The wide array of skills necessary required to get to a high standard may seem daunting. However, when you are dealing with much bigger edges, you learn to appreciate why it’s worth investing the time to become good.

I always say that it’s better to be really good at something than average at lots. If you own a niche or dominate at one thing, you will have success. If this rings true for you, then focus one game and master it. As long as you are confident spreading yourself across multiple games and have the time too, go for it.

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Cash Games or Tournaments? Take Our Test to See What’s Right for You

Cash Games or Tournaments

Many players devote time to both disciplines, trying to become a master at both. There’s obviously value to learning both well as it affords you flexibility. Being a hybrid will also help you when it comes to live poker. If you bust a tournament, there’s usually cash games running! But it is important to know which one is more suited to you. It may be that you play one 90% of the time and the other the rest. It is important to know which to dedicate yourself to as it will shape your poker decisions, the money you earn and how many hours you play too.

This article will explain what is required for both forms, asking you to answer which is relevant for you. I recommend giving a tick to each one that applies to  you, when you get to the end of the article, the one with more ticks should probably be the one you focus more time and energy on.  

Have a pen and paper ready for your tally of ticks.

How Flexible Are You?

Does your personal life dictate poker needs to be flexible? If so, cash games are probably can up your street. You can get up and leave whenever you want. You can sit and play 8 hours or 1, there are no rules or regulations when it comes to how long you play for. This flexibility is ideal for players who have commitments and do not have the free time to commit to playing long sessions.  

Tournament poker is a different animal. You register and you must stay for the duration. Whilst online poker is played quicker than live poker, it still takes a long time to take it down. Many online poker tournaments have thousands of entrants and navigating through them is no picnic. You get a 5 minute break every hour but is that enough?  

If flexibility is a must then it’s a tick for cash games, if it’s not a problem, a tick for tournaments.  

How Risk Averse Are You?

Every form of gambling has an inherent risk with it. Poker is a game of skill in the long run, but it’s subject to risk every session you play. The question of how risk averse you is relevant though as a person happy to gamble, is probably going to more suited for cash games. If you are nervous about losing tangible money, you probably will play scared in cash games. Tournament poker might be more suitable as you know what the buy in is when you register. It’s a fixed fee and if you bust, you know what you’ve lost and it’s capped.  

Cash games require a certain mindset. You need to separate the thought of money and see it as blinds or chips so that you can make the best decisions possible. If you are worrying about making a call or a bluff because it costs money, then you probably shouldn’t be playing.  

If you are naturally very risk averse, tournament poker gets a tick, if you are mentally fine with gambling for money, then it’s a tick for cash games.  

What’s Your Attention Span Like? Prone to Boredom?

This may seem an odd question but if you want to play cash games, you need an excellent attention span. Cash games can seem monotonous after a while as the blinds and players are the same. You’re at the same table and things may seem repetitive.  

Tournament poker is dynamic and changing. You’re moved tables a lot, the blinds are always increasing, and your stack is constantly changing. This environment is less likely to cause boredom. Let’s face it, when you lose interest and bored, you are prone to making mistakes. You want to avoid mistakes when playing so its important to recognise the differences between cash games and tournaments.  

If you have excellent attention span, give cash games a tick, if you get bored quickly, give tournaments a tick.  

Are You Technical or Strategic?

This may seem like an unusual question to ask but allow me to elaborate. Technical poker is the ability to learn advanced, deep stack poker playing. Strategic poker is an overall strategy that guides your mentality. The former is ideal for cash games and the latter is required for tournaments. That is selling tournament poker experts short a little, but the underlying point is true.  

Deep stack poker playing is what cash games offer. They require advanced thought and poker playing. From river check raise bluffs to triple barrel bluffs and overbet bluffs. Cash games will often be played with 200 big blinds or more. This is not the case in tournament poker, where 50 big blinds is considered a great stack a few hours in! These stack sizes eliminate some of the advanced poker concepts that can be used post flop. To expand on this further, general short and big stack poker can help guide you through a tournament. Couple this with push/fold strategy and you can probably do well at micro stakes.   

If you are very technical then tick cash games, if you prefer general strategy, tournament poker gets a tick.

Money or Prestige?

People play poker for different reasons. Some play for fun, some play to play pass time. Most play to earn the most they can and some play for prestige and glory.  

It may strike you as unusual to ask which is more important to you. After all, if you win, money is there with prestige at the end. However, if money is your sole goal then cash games are going to be better for you. Cash games produce quicker results than tournaments and a more steady return on investment. Tournament poker bears results over time and is all about the long game. A good in the money rate is anything over 15% or so. That means 85% of the time, you won’t even get your money back. 

If the prestige of winning is more important, than tournament poker is perfect for you. Winning tournaments comes with a lot of prestige. It’s a great ego boost to best thousands of poker players and win hundreds of times your buy ins too. Prestige doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Many poker players use this as motivation to win. Look at the prestige that comes with winning events like the WTP or WSOP. You go down in history books as a winner. Prestige can come with cash games too but it’s definitely rarer. You can be a big long term winner at cash games and do so in anonymity.  

If money is more important than prestige, give cash games a tick, if prestige is just as important, give tournament poker a tick.  

Conclusion on Cash Games or Tournaments

Time to mark up your scores. How did you do? Did the results surprise you? Sometimes, people play poker out of habit and don’t know why they play one form over the other. Hopefully this article has helped you think about whether you are playing the right form and at the right ratio. Or, perhaps this article has re-enforced what you already do.

If you are a tournament poker, interested in improving at cash games. We’d love to hear from you. Check our cash games page.

If you are a cash game player keen to improve at tournaments, why not join our poker training video membership?

Final Table Poker Tips to Succeed

Final Table Poker Tips

Reaching the final table is no small feat. To do this, you will have had to best hundreds if not thousands of players. But making the final 9 is not the end. Everyone knows that once you reach the final table, you need to be planning for a top 3 or better finish. This is where the most lucrative pay-outs are.

Whether you have made few or many final tables, this article will look at final table poker tips that will help your chances of getting heads up in the future.

Identify the “survivors”

Everyone wants to win the tournament but there are some that just want to eek their way up the money. They are the type that will fold down to short stack if needs be, if it means an extra few hundred. You find these players at most final tables. It’s understandable to some degree. You make a final table, you don’ want to bust 9th or 8th. However, their mentality is easy to abuse. They are the perfect players steal blinds from and 3 bet if they open in late position.

Trust your gut

If you’re making final tables, you doing something right. One of the main problems players have is that they do stop doing what was working well for them. Perhaps the money or sight of top 3 makes them freeze – but they lack conviction and don’t pull the trigger. If you make the final table, trust your gut and stick with your reads. It is better to try than wimp out as it those that are assertive that get the win.

Learn to do deals right

Most poker tournaments end up in deals. Its important to recognise how many chips you have, how valuable they are and what price value you should be getting. Doing deals is part of final table poker. An easy way to work it out is to add the remaining prizes together to get the total pool. Now divide your stack value by total chips in play. Once you have your % , you work out the same % of the pool to give you a feel.

Research your opponents

Not everyone at a final table is an experienced player, some will even be losers at poker or break even. There are websites that help you know more about the other players by sharing their results. This is useful as it gives you more of an idea of them and their past results. If it is someone who never final tabled before – he may be nitting it up and nervous. This is something you can take advantage of.

Practice short-handed and heads up

Final table poker is great as it combines so many skills at poker. You cant just be a full ring specialist. One needs to know how to adjust to short handed. There is no better substitute than practice. Fire up some 4 or 6 max SNGs and some heads up. The jumps in pay are substantial so its critical you know what you are doing, what hands to open, 3 bet and defend blinds with. Otherwise, you will get eaten alive.

Final Thoughts on Final Table Poker

Unless you play loads, final tables won’t come natural to you. You need to get as much experience and knowledge ahead of it so you take advantage. By practising short handed, researching your opponents, sticking with your reads and being brave, you will have an improved chance next time. The best players fight for a top 3 and will risk an 8th place to get there because it’s worth it.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in a poker tournament strategy article or article about ITM rates?

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Why Tight Aggressive Poker Wins at Low Stakes in 2020

Like a lion waiting to attack prey, tight aggressive poker players are patient but deadly!

Tight Aggressive Poker (TAG Poker)

The poker world, much like the real world is an ever changing place. New moves, strategy and technology shape ideas that can change the way poker is played. There are some things though that are a mainstay and no amount of technology or innovation will change that. One of these is the tight aggressive style being one of the most profitable styles for low stakes poker. This article will highlight and explain why tight aggressive poker still wins.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What does TAG mean in poker?

“TAG” is the shortened definition of tight aggressive. To be a TAG or tight aggressive means to play few hands but play them aggressively. It essentially means you are the aggressor when you enter the pots you play.

Playing fewer hands give you maths edge

Players at lower stakes make the mistake of playing too many hands. This is not a winning strategy for any stakes of poker. You will run into premium hands too often and be fighting an uphill battle trying to outplay opponents who have strong hands. Please note, I am not referring to Loose Aggressive (LAG) which can be a profitable strategy. I am referring to playing like 50% of hands or more at full rung. Playing fewer hands will give you a mathematical edge on your opponents. It stands to reason that if you are playing better hands, you are more likely to have top pair or a better kicker. This edge can’t be understated at low stakes. It’s one of the core factors that will separate winning and losing players.

Aggressive poker wins

Being aggressive means you are going to win more pots you contest. Whether by winning it uncontested before the flop or after the flop, more pots can be won when you are betting and raising. In the 15 years I’ve played poker, I’ve never heard of anyone who wins in the long term adopting a passive style of poker. Every professional I’ve spoken with, every book I’ve read and every video I’ve watched have all recommended aggressive poker. The amount of hands you play is less relevant than the fact you need to be aggressive in poker. Poker is a battle and passive poker does not win battles. 

More successful bluff rate

One of the best consequences of employing a tighter style of poker is the way you can pull off bluffs better. Playing a looser brand of poker is more fun but also gets you caught more. Tight aggressive poker gives you a solid image. People will believe you. With the right balance, this is a fantastic image to have. This means you can raise more liberally, particularly on the button and still get respect. A successful bluff rate doesn’t just mean the big bluff representing big ovepair on a low board. It also means having a success steal rate or a high continuation bet success rate too. 

Easier decisions & less mistakes

Poker players don’t like being out of the comfort zone or awkward spots. This is where big mistakes can be made. The risk of this is significantly reduced when you are playing premium hands and the first in bettor. A tight aggressive poker style means you won’t be playing hands like J 7 offsuit and wondering what to do on a 10-7-5-6 board. When you are playing stronger hands, you will typically be hitting top pair type hands. This makes decisions quite straightforward. This is music to the ears of beginners and intermediate players. 

Downsides to TAG Poker

I want to provide a balanced article and provide all the information on this style of poker. TAG poker comes with limitations too. There are a couple below.

Predictable Playing this style means people can read you a little easier than if you played more hands. Consider a flop of 2d 5d 6s. A capable opponent will recognise this board is unlikely to hit your range of hands. Sure, you can have an overpair or possibly a set, but that’s it. Please note though, there is a big difference between TAG poker and being a nit. A nit plays far fewer hands and not necessarily aggressively either.
Lost ValueIt’s great to have c bets and bluffs work, but the downside to this is that you may not get full value with your strong hands. Don’t worry too much though, low stakes poker is littered with bad players that still pay you off. 

Conclusion on Tight Aggressive Poker

Tight aggressive poker is one of the best strategies you can employ at low stakes. You may be a little predictable, but most players at low stakes don’t care and still make mistakes. Playing this style allows you to win more pots you contest, steal more from late position and manipulate pots the way you want. As you develop as a player and move up the stakes, you can incorporate more hands and creative plays, but at low stakes TAG poker is winning poker. If you are a low stakes player keen to improve, read out latest review on a soft poker site. If you register via us, you can also get 75% discount on training video membership.

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Texas Hold’em Strategy for Beginners – 8 Practical Tips to Winning

Texas Hold’em Strategy for Beginners

If you’re new to Texas Hold’em and still learning the basics, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with the information around. Don’t worry, every professional started the same place you are now. There is an abundance on information available to you that can help you improve but there’s no use running before you walk.

This article on Texas Hold’em strategy for beginners will provide 8 practical tips to help you start crushing the low stakes games online.

One Table

As you’re new to poker and learning the rules, it’s wise to stick to one table initially. This may seem a little boring or tedious but trust me, it’s in your interest. Texas Hold’em is more complex than you think and requires full attention. Once you have mastered one table and play to a decent standard, you will be able to start increasing the number of tables but please play one to start with. Your bankroll will be all the better for it.

Table & Game Selection

You are probably a cash game or tournament player but not both yet, right? Either way, select your games carefully. Don’t just jump into any game. Like anything, if you are worse, you are more likely to lose. Instead, pick the cash games with higher % of players at flop and bigger pots. If you’re a tournament player, stick to the sites that are softer. These are the smaller sites that perhaps offer sports betting as their main product. They are rife with new players who barely know the rules. Our latest review was on a super soft site, click below for our full review.

No Limping

One of the most common traits of a beginner is to flat call before the flop. This is known as “limping” and is widely considered poor poker strategy. Presented with 3 options before the flop, open limping (to enter the pot with a call), is the worst of all 3 options. It’s much better to raise and take control of a pot or just get out of the pot than to enter with a flat call.

Without going into great detail, limping will get you into lots of difficult situations and cause you to get run over by regulars. If you are keen to learn more about why limping is bad. Read our article “Limp in poker and why it’s almost always bad”.

Use Late Position

You may have heard that playing on the button is the best, without understanding why. Simply put, it’s the best position because you’re last to act on every round of betting post flop. This privileged position means you get to see everyone else’s actions before deciding to invest more money or tournament chips. This means you can play more hands than you would in other positions.

When I say “use late position”, I mean raise from it, call more raises from late position and bet flops when checked to. It’s the best seat at any poker table and will make you more money than any other position.

Be Careful with Ace Rag

Beginners get a little too excited when they are dealt an ace. Whilst it’s the best card to be dealt, the card that comes with it is equally as important. There’s no use playing big pots with ace two off suit as you’re always going to be at a disadvantage.

If you are playing ace rag, be careful if you hit top pair, the second card (kicker) will often fail you and cause you to lose more money. This is arguably one of the biggest reason’s beginners lose to nitty low stakes regulars. They can’t get away from ace rag. Check out a previous article on ace rag here.

Play Small

Like most things in the 21st century, there are almost too many options available. Login into any major poker site and you will see countless games running at different stakes. As you’re new to Texas Hold’em, don’t get excited and play higher stakes than your ability. Instead, start small at the micro stakes. Work up a bankroll and move up gradually, in line with your ability.

Winners at low to high stakes will prey on beginners who take shots. Don’t be one of them. Your day will come when you will be playing with them and hopefully have an edge.

Watch Poker Training Videos

A little plug for our poker training video membership here. Watching, listening and learning from experts will undoubtedly help you improve at Texas Hold’em. Our poker training video membership is exclusively focused on Texas Hold’em. With over 18 hours of video content, you can learn tips, secrets and insights that will help you beat low stakes tournaments and cash games.

It’s an efficient time saving device as you can learn effective strategy that might take another beginner several years to learn properly. You can pay by card below. One year membership is £49.99.

Be Aggressive

One of the most important pieces of Texas Hold’em strategy I can impart is to be aggressive. There are lots of ways to be a winner at poker but none of them, to my knowledge, involve playing timidly. You need to be aggressive when you play pots.

A tight aggressive style will help you beat the micro and low stakes games still. Tight aggressive poker means playing fewer hands but assertively. It requires you take control of pots by open raising and betting post flop. This Texas Hold’em strategy for beginners is mathematically sound. If you are playing better hands than your opponents, for bigger pots, you should expect to win in the long run.

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