The three operators affected are Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet.
Friday 15th April 2011 is already being described as ‘Black Friday’ in the online poker world and is certainly the most significant event to affect online poker since the US UIEGA laws were passed in 2006.
UIEGA laws in the US changed the landscape of online poker with many operators refusing to accept US players following its introduction. However a number of operators continued to accept US players claiming that Poker was a game of skill and hence not covered under the UIEGA laws.
On Friday the US department of Justice brought charges against the founders of Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet with an indictment on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.
The charges centre on the poker companies using fraudulent methods to circumvent federal law to get US banks to process payments for their US players.
These are serious charges brought against the founders of these operators and soon after both Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker announced that they would no longer allow US players to play on their poker software.
Both Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker are reassuring their players saying that all player funds are safe and that it is business as usual for all players outside of the US.
So what can you do if you are a US poker player who now cannot play at the affected sites?
Alternative Sites accepting US players
There are a number of operators that still accept US poker players. Poker Professor recommends the two sites listed below.
Carbon Poker - formerly known as poker.com this is an established operator not based in the US and accepts US players. 100% deposit bonus up to $600.
Bodog Poker - one of the largest online poker, casino and sports betting operators and accepts US players. 100% deposit bonus up to $1,000.
Click on the links above to open an account with one or both of these operators.
Is anyone standing up for Poker Players and our rights?
I’m sure over the coming weeks as the impact of this action sinks in there will be a significant movement launched by poker players some of whose livelihoods are being threatened by this.
The Poker Players Alliance represents online poker players and has been fighting the impact of the UIEGA and no doubt will fight the impact of these latest developments. Head over to their website for more information and how you can lend your support.
If you are a US player affected by this action then we hope you find a new home at one of the recommended sites above and that you continue to enjoy playing online poker.]]>
The WPT World Championship is the $25,000 buy in final event of the Five Star World Poker Classic, a three-week series held at the posh Las Vegas hotel.
Hachem folded on the turn with the second nut straight, thinking his opponent held the nut straight. In fact, his opponent held top set, so Hachem was ahead, but could have been drawn out on.
Hachem was the named the 2005 world champion after winning the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. Although he had been relatively unknown in the poker world outside his native Australia, he has enough proven success since that WSOP win to be sure that his win wasn’t a fluke. He cashed first place for over $2 million in the December 2006 Five Diamond World Poker Classic, giving him over $10 Million in lifetime winnings.
Good player or not, most players (good and bad) disagree with the fold. Here’s the rundown:
It was day 1B of the six-day tournament (there are two “day ones,” with half the field starting on each day one). In the middle of the day, with blinds at 100-200, Jordan Morgan raised to 700 and was called by three players including Hachem on the button. The A74 flop was checked around.
The turn was a 6, and Morgan bet 2000. All folded to Hachem who instantly raised to 7,000 and Morgan quickly reraised to 12,000. Hachem 4bet to 22,000 and Morgan raised an additional 27,000, which was enough to get Hachem all in if he called. He went into the tank for a few minutes before asking, “You got 8-5 kid?”. Finally, Morgan called the clock on him, thinking he had Hachem beat, and wanted to pressure him into a call. Hachem showed his cards to the rail, to explain his difficult decision. The tournament director informed him that if he called, he would face a twenty minute penalty for showing his cards. Hachem complained, saying the words “all in,” but the tournament director ruled that he was only talking the hand out after Morgan questioned it. The fact that Morgan questioned this gave Hachem enough evidence (in his own mind) that his opponent held 85, the only hand that had him beat at that point.
Finally, he folded 5-3 face up, sending the crowd that had formed around the table into hysterics. On an A764 board, the best possible hand is 85. The second nuts is 53, held by Hachem. It is true that Hachem could have been drawing dead to half the pot versus an 85, and if Morgan had a set of aces, sevens, sixes, or fours, he would have had ten outs to beat Hachem on the river (about a 20% chance).
Stay tuned for Part two of this article tomorrow which contains analysis of the hand and more of the back story.2a68 ]]>
Not only is the convenience factor a great plus point for online poker, but also the fact that you can play at multiple tables at once has it own profitable advantages.
Whereas in live poker games you are confined to playing at one table at a time, online poker allows you to open up a number of windows and play at different tables simultaneously.
For those players that are new to online poker, or have yet to try out playing at multiple tables, it may seem like a technique that only the pros would use. However, multi-tabling is very popular amongst many players that are simply looking to help increase their win rate per hour.
Some games will of course be easier to multi-table with than others. For example, Texas Holdem is a game that is frequently multi-tabled by players, due to the fact that there are a limited number of betting rounds, and a lot of the information needed to make solid reads can easily be picked up throughout the game. However, other games like 7-card Stud will be far more difficult to multi-table, as more attention is required to make the most profitable plays on each street.
As I have mentioned, the main reason for someone to play at multiple tables is to increase the amount of money you win each hour. If you are a regular winner at the 25c/50c tables earning 8BBs an hour, simple logic suggests that if you increase the amount of tables you are playing at one time, you should in turn increase the amount of money you are winning in a given time period.
One point that you have to factor in to multi-tabling however is that when you are playing a number of different hands simultaneously, your focus will be divided and split between each of the tables you have open. This will therefore have an adverse effect on your ability to make reads, and so the quality of your decisions will decrease with the more tables you open up. However, this is not necessarily as detrimental to your game as you might think, as multi-tabling may still help you to increase your earnings.
For example, lets say you regularly win 10BBs per hour at your desired limit. If you play at two tables at the same time and find that your win rate at each table has been reduced to 7BBs per hour, your overall win rate per hour has improved to $14, which is collectively higher than the amount of money you would be winning by playing at one table at a time.
On the other hand, you can go too far across the other end of the scale if you are opening up more tables than you can handle. If you decide to open up 6 tables at once and find that your win rate per table is reduced to 1BB, your overall win rate will only be 6BBs per hour, which is 4 less than if you had stuck to playing at one table. Furthermore, if you play at too great a number of tables, you may well find that you will be losing more money than you win.
The key to multi tabling is to find the ’sweet spot’, where the amount of tables you are playing at maximizes your overall win rate. For the majority of people, the optimum number of tables to play at is between 2 and 4. Some players are more comfortable with much more than this, but in general 2 to 4 tables is about right for players that are looking to increase their winnings from just playing at one table alone.
In general, the best strategy when multi-tabling is to stick to simple ABC poker, where you bet your strong hands and fold your weak hands. Because your attention is going to be divided amongst a number of tables, it means that you will not be able to pick up on as many reads as you would normally be able to, and your standard of play will be affected. Consequently, if you try and make extravagant manoeuvres to outplay your opponents, you will often land yourself in an unprofitable position. So stick to basic poker strategy and you should do just fine.
Multi-tabling is one of the greatest advantages of playing poker online. In addition to increasing the amount of money you can win, multi-tabling can also help to reduce boredom in between playing hands. For some, playing at one can be incredibly tedious, and so they find themselves playing more hands than is profitable just to overcome the boredom. This means that multi-tabling can be a great option for those looking for action, or those that find it difficult to just focus on one game at a time.
At the end of the day, for whatever your reasons, multi-tabling is something that all players should try out at one time or another. It may not be suited to some, but it is a great way to liven up your online poker experience and potentially increase the amount of money you are winning from the game on a daily basis.]]>
If the answer is zero, you’re either lying or one of the rare breed of poker players with the discipline to always stay within their bankroll.
The gambling instinct is strong in poker players. Many professional players are famous (infamous) for their prodigious betting on casino games, golf, sports, or prop bets.
All poker is gambling to a certain extent, but if you have the skill to mostly get the best of things, and the discipline to play that way consistently, you will come out on the winning side of those gambles more often than not.
When you play way above your normal limits, you are at the mercy of higher skilled players, fear of loss, and potential tilt. Assume you are a $5 tournament player. You have a $500 bankroll, and finish deep in a large field tournament, winning $500. Now your bankroll is at $1000. You have two options to move up: move up to $10 tournaments, or take a shot at a big buy in (several hundred dollars).
You could take the sensible approach and start playing $10 tournaments. If your skill level is really above the fields, you will move up soon enough. Trying to jump ahead a few steps by shooting for a big win works very rarely. The easy way out in poker, as in life, rarely works out for the best.
Risks of Taking a Shot
Higher limits usually have higher skilled players. Certainly this is not always true, as some $1/2 no limit holdem players are as good or better than some big stakes players, but considering that many higher-stakes players also worked their way up, the competition will usually be better.
Fear of loss affects anybody playing outside their bankroll. If you usually find yourself risking $50 in single pots, playing for $500 will likely make you play too conservatively. You can tell yourself you’ll wait for a big hand, but if that wait takes too long, you won’t get any action. Plus, some of the small investments you make preflop waiting for that big spot will wear down your buy in, and unlike the other players, you can’t easily reload your stack.
Potential tilt is the biggest danger of playing a big shot. You may limit yourself to a one buy in shot, but losing your buy in is the least of your worries. Changing your playing style when you return to your old limit, in order to try and get back what you “deserve” can put you on uber-tilt that is hard to recover from.
The best approach is to take it slowly when moving up. If you are as good as your current results indicate, you will get the prizes you truly deserve. Most people who are good at anything in life - sports, business, family, poker - have worked very hard for it. There are very, very few naturals. If you really are a natural, it will be revealed soon enough. If you’re not, but you work for it, the taste of success will be even sweeter.24d4 ]]>
It’s true that bluffing adds spice to the game, and adds an element of fun; it would be dull indeed and a different game altogether if no-one ever bluffed. Everyone would know how you play your hand and you would never win a decent amount. All good players are always skilled in the fine art of bluffing.
A player bluffs when he is otherwise unlikely to win a particular hand, or when he wants to force other people off the hand. A skilful player figures out the profitability of a bluff by weighing up the odds of a winning bluff against risk resulting from the sizes of the bet that he has to commit into the pot. His chances improve if he can more accurately predict whether or not his opponents will give up, believing his bluff.
Some important points you should bear in mind before making a bluff are:
Let us consider these points. If your opponents are weak and will call anything blindly, avoid bluffing. Your rival should have the sense to fold! And if you are playing against more than three players; your bluff is less likely to work.
Your table image is relevant too. If you have been bluffing unsuccessfully, and your opponents have seen your previous bluffs, then any further attempt at bluffing is more likely to be called. The reverse psychology here also works though – if you have a tight table image, and your opponents haven’t seen you try to bluff, then you will get a lot more respect for your bets and will be able to introduce a number of bluffs to table and have a better chance of getting away with them.
If you’re a skilful, experienced player, you’ll know when and how to bluff – not an easy thing to learn. Try to bluff when there aren’t many draws or chances of your opponents improving their hand. Uncoordinated boards where there is a single scare card that you may represent have a good likelihood of helping you carry off a successful bluff. Be wary of big pots – your fellow players will be more likely to call your bluff in these cases – even though you will win more in such pots. Judge well!
A player in late position will have more information about his rivals’ hands as they are acting after everybody else and thus be able to better judge whether the situation offers an opportunity to bluff.
There are other techniques you can use while bluffing. Sometimes you can use a half-way bluff or sometimes known as a semi-bluff, when your hand still has possibilities or outs to win the hand, but you also give yourself a second chance to take the hand down there and then with a bluff. This is also a good way to mix up your play as it will confuse the others about your bluffing behavior, too.
Never try to out-bluff a bluffer and don’t try to fool a whole lot of people at once. Remember, it is impossible to fool all the people all the time, as the old adage says! Learn how others play; and use it to your advantage to pick your spots.
Think carefully about all these points before making a decision about bluffing and you will find yourself picking better spots and enjoying more success with your bluffs.]]>
If you’re playing in position, you have the maximum amount of information available to any player. You have the edge because you get an idea of what is happening with your fellow players before it is your turn to play, and you have to decide what you are going to do with your hand. Someone who is not playing in position is groping in the dark, trying to guess the value of his opponents’ hands.
If you are in an early position, you would be well advised to play very tight. Since you are not in position, you are at a disadvantage, so counteract that by reducing the time you spend playing out of position. This makes later decisions simpler to make.
Poker can seems delightfully easy when you’re playing in position. When you’re joining a table, spend some time observing the table and try your best to get the seat to the left of the weak players at the table. This way, you’ll get the most possible time being in position and can wield that positional power against the weaker players who don’t have the know how to recognize what you are doing or defend against it.
Because of the power and usefulness that playing in position carries, it is sometimes referred to as the “Jesus Seat”. You can walk on water or perform any miracle when you’re playing in position, with your enviable control over other players, and thus the game. Your rivals are forced into a defensive position and have to play what is called “scared poker”, ever apprehensive about the outcome of the hand.
A person whose turn comes just after the cards are dealt is said to be playing “under the gun”. This expression, however alarmingly is it, describes the situation well as it is the position that is most perilous and often proves to be very expensive for the player. Under the gun, you are the first to act before the flop and among the first to act after the flop, so you lose the opportunity to gather information from your opponents actions before you have to act - this opportunity is in the hands of the person who is playing in position. So you will usually find the players in position controlling and defining the way a hand is played.
There are some strategies and techniques to playing out of position. Only play really good hands. You should have cards comprising aces, kings and pairs. Secondly, if you have pocket aces, pocket kings or pocket queens or ace king, raise at a tight table, and limp in at a loose table.
You can try placing “feeler” bets in an early position to check out your opponent’s reaction to it, and gain some information on them. But in general out of position make sure that your game is extremely tight and play your hands carefully to make the best of playing out of position.2510 ]]>
You have to know when to leave a poker game, because if you’re keen, and sincere about winning, you’re focusing energy and emotion on the game, and that level of intensity and tension cannot be maintained for very long. You might be playing at your highest level at one point, but what happens when you start sliding down?
It is really essential to have a feel for the right time to leave the game, depending on your own weaknesses, or the way the luck is running. This is the mark of a good player and it is what differentiates the amateurs from the professionals. Undoubtedly this is a skill best acquired in time and by playing many games of poker.
If you know your own game of poker well enough and its strengths and weaknesses, and can learn to assess your situation at any point, you’ll avoid losing a lot of money. And this is the most important aspect of playing the game.
In fact, quitting is a fine art. It’s not a good idea to quit just because you’ve run out of money or because everyone else has left the table!
Don’t set limits if you’re winning, though. If you’re on a roll, stay on it! You’ll find that the confidence and power you get from being on top will help you win even more. Even if you’re losing, but know you’re playing well, you shouldn’t necessarily quit – your luck could easily change.
There are times when you should leave the game, such as when your making lots of mistakes that you know you don’t normally make. And if losing upsets you on an emotional level, if you’re the kind of person who gets deeply involved in the game, don’t hang around winding yourself up more – and this is always a sure case to carry on a downward spiral.
Fatigue is another reason to stop playing. Freshness and general well-being are always conducive to winning. Poker is a game of patience and concentration and the more fatigued you are the less you will perform in these two areas.
When you play, your performance will be enhanced if you are physiologically and psychologically fit. Breaks refresh you and bring you back to the game with new energy.
Try and develop and master your own techniques of quitting, of leaving a game gracefully and at the right time, and you’ll find an amazing difference in the size of your winnings. Good luck with your quitting!]]>
Since the River comes at the end of the hand, you will already have built up a picture about the kind of hand that your opponent players are holding and whether it is safe for you to raise the bet. Mentally figure out what hands can beat you and if it’s possible that one of the players at your table is in possession of it. This will help narrow down the possibilities and give you an idea of whether you should make a raise or call the raise of your opponent.
In making your assumptions you need to use all your concentration and consider objectively all prior moves made during the hand in order to determine whether a raise made is a bluff or whether it’s genuine and if the poker river raise you are facing is backed by a strong hand.
This is an area where many players make mistakes, as they fail to effectively calculate what hands could take them out. Such expertise in decision making while facing a raise on the river comes with experience and learning from past mistakes.
However, there are some difficult situations while facing a raise on the river that will allow you very few options for making a move. For instance, if many players take the river, and you end up with just a marginal hand you will need to be extremely cautious while facing a raise.
If a player goes out to make a raise at this point, it means that he or she is very confident of their hand or they are trying to move you off your hand with a bluff. You can work out what likely hands you opponent may have by looking at the community cards, for example if they show that you opponent cannot make a full house or a straight, then it means that if they have a strong hand then likely it would be a set or similar. If this all makes sense with the way your opponent has acted throughout the hand then you can confidently put him on this hand or a similar strong hand and you will find it very hard to move him off the hand with a bluff – so in this situation you should be looking at getting away from this hand and cutting your losses.
On the other hand, if you are in a rather weak game and you are not up against particularly skilful poker players, then the range of hands your opponent may be making River raises with may be a lot bigger and a lot weaker and you should consider this when deciding whether to call or raise on the river as often even if you only have a marginal hand you may still be ahead.
Another tight spot for players at this stage of the game is when at the River there it is not heads up. This is when more than two players are still involved in the pot and it gives you a lot more to process and consider. If a player makes a raise and then another makes a call then unless you have something strong in your hand, then you have few options but to fold. You have to really understand your opponents and how they play and really be able to interpret their actions in the hand to be able to either call a raise in this situation, or re-raise to try and move them both off the hand.
The overall thought process on the river should always be the same. First you look at the range of hands that could be in play from the community cards on the board and then assess whether any of these hands tie in with the actions of your opponent throughout the hand to try and put your opponent on a hand or range of hands. Once you have narrowed down what you believe your opponent is holding then you can decide what to do on the river, with either call if you believe your hand to be ahead (or raise!) or a raise to try and move your opponent off the hand if you think their hand is marginal enough to be able to do this.
Take this into account when facing a raise on the river and you should reach a logical conclusion.2c5e ]]>
This is a game where you play hard and aggressive if you want to win. Remember aggression does not mean that we leave the brain power behind. In fact heads up strategies call for a player to be extremely alert.
One strategy of heads up play is to be very aggressive and keep leading out with bets and raising your opponents bets. Unfortunately many players become far too aggressive while playing heads up and do not consider the board and the possible hands that their opponents might have. This leads to a situation where the player wins lots of small pots with their aggressive play, but then loses big when they run into their opponent with a strong hand.
This is why during heads up play you need to be selectively aggressive – you need to use all you skills at reading your opponent and assessing the range of hands they may have and know when to be aggressive and when to back down. The aim is to carry on winning all the small pots, and larger pots where possible, but to avoid taking that big hit, by not running into your opponents trap who may be using your aggressive play to draw you deep into a hand when he is holding something very strong. This requires a lot of concentration and knowledge about the game and the possible outcomes and hands that can beat the one you have.
Use your position in the game to your benefit. A player, who is the last to play after the flop, has the advantage of having the most amount of information about his or her opponents. They can assess the actions of their opponent before they have to make a decision or action and this is a huge advantage over a player who acts first who has to make his move with limited information.
So use this to your advantage by putting pressure on your opponent who is acting first with limited information, make them even more unsure than they already are. This can become a real mind game in heads up play and you should be considering your position and then how you can manipulate the information you are sending out.
This can also be applied in reverse though when you are acting first. It is up to you what information you want to send out and what you want to represent with your actions, whether you want to send information to your opponent that suggests you have a strong hand, even when you don’t, or whether you want to disguise a strong hand you do have.
It’s all about creating a story and making your actions consistent with the story you are trying to present. It takes some practice but once you have mastered this art then it is a huge advantage to be able to present a believable story to you opponent to manipulate him to take the actions that you want him to take.
So to recap on this brief introduction to Heads up play:
If you can work on the above three points and master them then you will have a massive advantage when you find yourself in heads up play.
You can find some great Heads Up games over at Pokerstars.]]>
Playing with pocket pairs is also one of the most troublesome areas for players as the decisions they make with these cards can often prove to be the turning point of their entire game. What we are going to talk about in this article is middle pocket pairs, which are basically pairs from pocket 8’s to pocket Jacks.
The most crucial time for middle pocket pairs is before the flop. At this point players are unsure whether they should raise, fold or simply call with their poker pocket pairs. This is where strategy comes in and by gaining knowledge about this; players are able to make smart decisions with their cards and stay in control.
When to Call
Making a call before the flop can catch opponents unaware and gives little away to them about the hand you are holding. By just making a call before the flop you are both limiting your exposure to the hand (by committing less to the pot) and also masking the potential strength of your hand. The opposite side of this is that it allows your opponents into the hand cheap with what maybe a weaker hand than yours and gives them the opportunity to overtake you by hitting on the flop.
By simply calling before the flop you can re-assess the situation after the flop has been dealt – if the cards delivered on the flop are dangerous and include one or two overcards and you feel your middle pocket pair is no good then you can get away from the hand and avoid committing any more money into the pot.
It also retains a lot of potential in your hand, by disguising the strength of your hand and making it a sleeping giant, so this way if you hit a big hand on the flop by catching trips then you may be able to get a better payout.
Calling before the flop is good in games where raising doesn’t really limit the field, where your opponents are consistently calling raises. Remember that your call keeps the pot small and controllable, so see how that works for you and use it to your advantage.
When to Fold
Throw away your middle pocket pairs when you feel that your opponent has a higher pocket pair. I know this is obvious but do this before the flop or you will end up paying heavily.
Sometimes you may get it wrong and discard your pairs for nothing, but it is better to be safe than sorry, and middle pocket pairs can be the cause of many a big loss if you are not careful. Go with your instincts on this one when the play indicates a higher hand in play and you are confident in your read then dump the cards – they can’t hurt your bankroll in the muck.
When to Raise
Raises before the flop can work well with middle pocket pairs; however this does not mean that you should make a raise just because you think you have a good pair. It is essential to evaluate the playing field and see if the raise would be beneficial by thinning out the field.
The thing about middle pocket pairs, is after the flop you are often faced with difficult decisions as more often than not there will be at least one overcard on the flop and you are always left trying to assess if your opponent has hit that overcard (or whether he has a higher pocket pair!).
The more opponents in the hand, the more likely that one of those opponents has connecting with the overcard(s). So this is where taking control of the hand before the flop, making a raise and thinning the field of players in the pot is beneficial.
The overall thing to remember is that although middle pocket pairs are a good starting hand – they are often beaten by the end of the hand, and it is up to you to control the hand to both minimise your loses when you do lose and maximise your winnings when you hit big with trips or better.
I can’t stress this enough, but middle pocket pairs are one of the most dangerous hands for beginners to play, because they look pretty, but can get you into so much trouble and cost so much money, if you don’t play them with caution and be aware of the dangers.aa ]]>