I’m not too sure when the proverbial ‘good old’ days of poker were because today’s internet oriented game is so rich in variation and choice that it’s difficult to imagine a more appealing environment. What is clear, though, is that purists past and present would not consider turbo tournaments to be ‘proper’ poker. Yet not only are these the face of the modern game, but it is worth putting in some effort in order to take advantage of those players who believe the format to be lacking in skill and – fortunately for those looking for an edge – who play for fun or because they mistakenly believe turbo tournaments to be ‘easier’ than more traditional competition (or simply because they tend to be over quite quickly – always an attraction to those with limited time). Read more
Jackpots are good. The word in itself already conjures up a bit of excitement, and the prospect of hitting a jackpot adds a bit of spice to the game, whether it’s for a Bad Beat (when a big hand ‘loses’ to a bigger hand) or for finding yourself with a Royal Flush, as is the case for 32Red’s fun Flush Royale tournament, where a whopping €1000 is waiting for anyone who manages to hit poker’s magical hand using both hole cards.
One such player who did this – and on New Year’s Eve, no less – is LuckyRacoon (yes – someone called Lucky saw good fortune come his way; funny old world). No doubt happy to see in the New Year by playing in the well structured, €250 Guaranteed tournament, LuckyRacoon was dealt Ad Qd, got jiggy with it and the flop came Ah Kd 9s. His opponent had K9 and thus hit two pair, and the poker gods sent through the ether the Jd on the turn and then what must have been a beautiful looking Td to complete the royal flush. And with it a welcome €1000 jackpot.
He had this to say: It was a great start to my 2014, when on New Years eve, i played the 32Red Flush Royale tournament, starting at 9pm, and gaining popularity, day, by day, including a few 32Red regs, and thanks to 1 regular (Juicy-puice) hitting Her 2 pair on the flop, helped me to see the river card, and very fortunately, i hit my royal flush, and in so doing, i had a nice little bonus of €1000. I bubbled the prize pool, but felt only fair to the rest of the players; can’t be too greedy
A big thanks goes out to Nick Diaz, and all at 32Red, for putting on great promotions, and i hope they all continue. You have now got one great big fan
For those looking to get their hands on the jackpot, the Flush Royale tournament is held every night at 9pm (UK time) and has a buy-in of €5+1, 1500 starting chips, 8-minute rebuys, €5 rebuys (1500 chips) and a €7.50 add-on (3000 chips).
Good luck at the tables!Luck
Our Achievements system, which is designed to help players have fun while they learn and develop their game and, ultimately, receive virtual badges as a reward, is getting bigger and better.
There are three new Achievements to aim for, each with a nice twist. The first, entitled Royal Treatment, is described thusly: ‘One must have one’s butler deliver poker’s highest possible hand to earn this badge!’ Clearly the ‘Royal Bank’ task for this quest for the badge means making a royal flush (in any game), and it is understandably classed as ‘hard’ in terms of difficulty. The ‘Royal Flogging’ badge (have you spotted the theme?) involves losing at showdown to a royal flush and is also a toughie…
But even more difficult, and thus a bigger feather for your proverbial poker cap, is the ‘Lady Fingers’ badge, for which you must lose with a full house against someone’s straight flush.
The beauty of the Achievements system is that there is something for everyone, with some of the tasks (and their various components) being easier than others. There’s no time limit within which badges must be won – you simply learn and earn at your own pace. Another advantage of Achievements is that the incentive for badges means exploring aspects of both the game itself and what 32Red Poker has to offer.
Note that Play Money poker fans can also take part in Achievements.
Good luck at the tables, and earn those badges!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
There’s no need to wait until Christmas Day for gifts because we’re giving away over €10,000 in the form of a €10 Cash Drop every ten minutes, from 9-15 December! The promotion will run exclusively on our fantastic 6-max Blaze Poker tables. The lucky recipients are notified and paid immediately, and there is the added bonus of everyone at the table being alerted to the fact that you’ve just become €10 richer (there’s nothing like a bit of old-fashioned green-eyed envy to induce in your opponents a dash of tilt).
If you haven’t tried out our Blaze Poker tables already, the beauty of this format is that clicking on the special ‘Quick Fold’ button automatically folds your hand (without waiting for the play to reach you) and immediately sends you through the ether to a new table with a new set of hole cards, and a new set of opponents. Whenever you’re dealt a two-card helping of rubbish or you don’t want to play a further part in a hand, simply Quick Fold and move on to pastures new.
Apart from having advantages in terms of helping you tighten up your game (or avoid being too loose) because impatience should no longer be an issue, Blaze Poker also gives players more hands per hour with which to make the most of our excellent 30% Rakeback deal. Multi-table, and the rewards are even greater, of course.
Meanwhile, getting involved in the Blaze Cash Drop also means you have a chance to be transported to our fun Blazing Cannon video game – win 20 raked hands and you earn a shot at a €100 prize. Once you’ve played the game you’re dealt back into your cash game. Click here to find out more.
Good luck at the Blaze Poker tables!
For lots of people Christmas might be no more than visiting relatives we’d rather avoid, politely eating brussels sprouts at awkward family dinners and a couple of weeks on a diet of turkey and aging mince pies. Add to this an annoying blizzard of Christmas-themed television (even the cinemas join in) and tinsel and decorations and loads of other Christmassy stuff as soon as you set foot out of the house, and the chance to enjoy some poker will be a welcome oasis of calm.
Luckily for you, 32Red Poker’s fun-filled 32 days of Poker is here. Running from December 1st until January 1st, the extended Xmas festivities have something for everyone, from value-added tournaments to bonuses and, of courses, presents in the form of Freerolls.
It’s a lovely load of baubles… simply click here to visit our special advent calendar, with 32 baubles decorating our 32Red tree. Behind each bauble a surprise awaits for each of the 32 days. On Thursday 5th December, for example, there’s a €5+€1 buy-in €100 added Flush Royale tournament at 9pm UK time (hit a royal flush and win the €1000 jackpot!), while on Day 20 you can receive 50 bonus chips just by logging on!
The Xmas season’s specials culminate in the Goodbye €2013 Freeroll tournament on 28-29th December (9pm UK time on both nights; play 2013 raked hands during December to qualify) followed by the Hello €2014 Freeroll on Wednesday 1st January (5pm UK time).
If Blaze poker is your thing, the Blazing Cannon game will also have a Xmas theme (from Monday 2nd December). To qualify for the Blazing Cannon feature simply win 20 raked hands on any €0.05/€0.10 or €0.25/€0.50 Blaze tables and the game will launch, complete with snow and Father Christmas, and a chance to win €100…
Good luck at the tables! Have fun, and keep checking out what Christmas goodies are coming your way during the 32 Days of Poker.
Achievement is a word we tend to use rather rarely these days – usually because we don’t achieve as much as we would like. But that’s going to change now thanks to 32Red Poker Achievements. This is a system aimed at helping players have fun, learn and develop their game as they play and, with each milestone reached, enjoy a sense of achievement during their poker quest.
Everything and anything about poker is covered in Achievements, a set of varied tasks (each broken down into points, or ‘Pips’) being carried out to earn badges. The more you learn and experience, the more badges you are awarded as your Achievements list broadens. These are also badges of honour in that you can display a badge at the poker table when you play.
There’s also an added bonus for poker fans whose significant others might view their passion for the game with less than average enthusiasm – now you can say that your time devoted to poker has goals and meaning, that your efforts will be rewarded with ‘official’ acknowledgement!
As far as learning and experience are concerned, Achievements offers up tasks that mean you’ll find out all sorts of new stuff, both about the game itself and the snazzy features and facilities at 32Red Poker that you might otherwise not have discovered or appreciated.
With tasks and their components ranging from easy to achieve to the more taxing requirements, there’s something for everyone and – to emphasise the ‘each at their own pace set-up’ of the system – you simply tick off points and receive badges here and there as you go along.
From trying out different poker variants to winning a pot with each of the 169 Hold’em starting hand combinations, there’s a smorgasbord of poker to get your hands on and notch up achievements.
The one-for-all, everyman badges system is also available to those Play Money enthusiasts who have not yet ventured into real money games.
Good luck at the tables, and earn those badges!
Knocking on your neighbours’ doors asking for sweets is only going to attract strange looks this Halloween. Leave that to the kids.
The real fun will be had with a different kind of Trick or Treat. Every flop will be a scary flop at 32Red Poker during Halloween, as we have a gastronomical, ghoulish feast of monster prizes waiting for you in the shadows.
Spring terrifying surprises on your fellow poker players. Hearts and diamond flushes will be bloodier, clubs and spades will be blacker than a vampire’s cloak and we don’t need to mention the stakes (see what we did there?).
Here are the tournaments to sink your teeth into:
€666 Carnage Freeroll
The €666 Carnage Freeroll (7pm) freeroll takes the form of our popular Carnage tournaments, with players being put all-in automatically every hand until they’re eliminated (or glory beckons). The life or death scenario is particularly appropriate on deadly Halloween.
Note that with 666 seats available and free registration will be given out on a first come, first served basis.
€666 Guaranteed Bloodbath
The €666 Guaranteed Bloodbath (8pm) gets underway an hour after the carnage tournament so there should be plenty of time to get a bite before plucking up the courage to enter this €6.66 buy-in rebuy scarefest…
€666 Added Flush Royale
Finally, the €666 Added Flush Royale tournament (9pm) is going to be a great Halloween treat, assuming your nerves are still intact by then (but we know 32Red Poker players are made of stern stuff…). Buyins, rebuys and add-ons are sure to increase the initial guaranteed prize pool of €666, so prepare for potentially juicy winnings. Then there’s the €1,000 jackpot for anyone hitting a Royal Flush of any suit (Flush Royale rules apply).
Get a 100% Deposit Bonus this Halloween!
And our Halloween specials don’t end at the witching hour… our $/£/€ 666 Halloween Bonus will match the first deadly deposit made during Halloween, with a murderous bonus of up to $/£/€666 available!
Don’t be afraid – just play some scarily good poker!
In our third and final part of this Blaze Poker series we’re going to take a look at some specific hands, and how we might consider playing them, taking into account the ostensibly slight but nonetheless significant difference between Blaze and ‘standard’ cash game poker.
Let’s start with the two most ‘obvious’ strong hands:
Ideally we’d like to get all-in pre-flop, not come unstuck with aces, and not run into aces with kings (this will happen from time to time – c’est la vie)… To this end we should be raising from any position and not forgetting to 3-bet. When faced with a 4-bet in position but afraid a lone opponent might not fully commit it’s fine to call and await the inevitable continuation bet on the flop, at which point we pounce.
If there’s been a pre-flop betting battle we should be ready to push on the flop. With less action, and thus a smaller pot, alarm bells should start ringing if anyone gets busy. With very little/no action pre-flop, try for the pot and fold to unsubtle aggression. The golden rule is to not get carried away.
Awkward. Without additional information about opponents it would be folly to go all-in pre-flop. However, while these hands can be trouble, that isn’t to say we shouldn’t be aggressive with them. The key is knowing when to back off. Consequently, pre-flop aggression in order to pick up small pots and bully the opposition into submission is a worthy approach, as long as we think clearly when someone appears fearless. We might be on a level footing against AK and firmly in the driving seat against AQ or a lower pair, but serious consideration should be given to what kind of holding would justify someone 4-betting.
If we’ve priced the speculative hands out of the market we should be in a good position come the majority of flops to bet and push.
Pre-flop: This is the interesting bit. Blaze Poker being fast and furious throws up AA and KK all over the place, and these are exactly the hands we want to be playing against when we hit a set, particularly when the extra solid strategy so many adopt can lead to players putting too much emphasis on these premium holdings. They won’t be playing as many hands and thus won’t be too keen on giving up on a chance to double up, in turn eliciting poor decisions post-flop.
A counter-intuitive but interesting strategy is to raise small to medium pairs from any position. However, any remaining action depends on position. It’s prudent for example, to call a 3-bet only in position or when stack sizes/pot odds so justify. Meanwhile, when facing a 3-bet out of position against a short stack we can strike back.
Flop: The easy bit regarding set-mining concerns the flop. Clearly, if we don’t hit with our pair of fours, for instance, there’s no point wasting any chips trying to be imaginative or tricky, especially when Blaze Poker means we can immediately embark on a new adventure.
Hitting our set is another kettle of fish entirely. Of course we need to put in big bets but it’s imperative we size them in such a way as to keep the opposition involved. We also need to remember not to allow cheap draws.
With non-pair hands position is, not surprisingly, paramount. AK can be played aggressively but we must respect significant aggression. Holdings like AJ should be dumped out of position and raised from middle to late, but folded under pressure. If we hit an ace on the flop we bet or raise and either pick up the pot or act accordingly. If we’re called it’s time to put on the brakes and concentrate on pot control.
In late position stealing blinds tends to be easier in Blaze Poker than usual and thus we can work with a reasonably flexible range. The sobering downside is when we come up against resistance from someone in the blinds, as there tends to be a reason why they haven’t clicked on auto-fold. With this in mind, throwing in the occasional steal raise with, say, 56 suited is a nice way to jazz it up a bit.
Good luck on the Blaze Poker tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
Players tend to treat Blaze Poker almost as an academic exercise, causing them to overdo their strategic adjustments in some way. This is based on the very reasonable assumption that most players – whether new to the format or happy with their approach – will adopt a more conservative methodology than in ‘normal’ games. Consequently, as in life, we yet again need to find a level of compromise. We should obviously take advantage of the facility to start a new hand immediately when we’ve been dealt garbage, but we don’t want to get into the habit of automatically folding anything but premium hands, or giving up too easily after the flop – passive play the loose aggressive players will feed on. Nor do we want to obligingly call against the rocks. We should find a balance across the board, from a not-too-tight starting hand range to flexibility post-flop.
Of course we should be fully concentrated anyway, regardless of what kind of game we’re playing. But we rarely practise what we preach, and Blaze Poker requires us to devote all our attention to the game. Compared to a normal cash game, when there’s often an opportunity to sit back and recharge the batteries a little during hands in which we have folded early (although we should then be observing what’s going on), in this format we’re constantly called upon to play. To think. It’s easy to slip into autopilot mode, insta-folding hand after hand and perhaps not being fully tuned in when the time comes to get involved.
It can also be draining when we play a series of consecutive pots, especially when sitting at two or more tables. Even one table can be difficult to handle.
But if the increased volume of hands played is one of the main attractions in terms of getting more out of 32Red’s 30% rakeback deal, we should at least put things in perspective when starting to tire or when we feel that the game is drifting away from us. As soon as this happens it’s time for a break – the tables will still be there when we are refreshed and ready to play at maximum capacity once again.
Blaze Poker as a Learning Tool
It can be difficult sometimes to both recognise and fully acknowledge our weaknesses, and Blaze Poker can be a good servicing tool in that it can throw an uncomfortable spotlight on to our play. Whatever leaks and holes we might have failed or been unwilling to identify before will be all the more conspicuous in this format, where the timescale we’re used to goes into overdrive. Moreover, if we’re doing badly when given the luxury of the instant fold, then we’re running out of excuses, and something is clearly fundamentally wrong with our game.
Aggression is good
Because there’s going to be lots of folding – both through the use of the ‘instant’ fold facility as well as after a little more thought – we shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate into our strategy open raising, regardless of position, with considerably more than just the premium hands. Small pairs (see Part 3) and suited connectors are fine, and when we don’t steal the blinds we’re assuming the initiative with tricky, potentially monster hands. Of course against a couple or more callers it’s subsequently a rather risky tactic to bluff a missed flop, but when heads-up a decent frequency of continuation bets is feasible.
Should we run into aggression ourselves, then it’s generally a play backed up by a strong hand (particularly a check-raise). That’s not to say we should automatically give up without a fight every time we come under pressure, and not properly take into account any relevant factors that might be available, but aggression in Blaze Poker is more likely to be ‘honest’ than is the case in standard cash games.
Given that the majority of players can be expected to be more patient, as well as the fact that we’re playing considerably more hands than on normal tables, we should note that in all-in situations we’re going to find ourselves facing bigger hands more frequently. It’s less of a surprise in Blaze Poker for KK to lose to AA because those who usually might have been tempted to shove with KQ, for example (or simply gamble), will now be trashing those hands in eager anticipation of aces coming along.
Consequently, with this in mind, not only must we be prepared for such eventualities, but this should be factored into our bankroll considerations, too. Any swings are going to be happening over a shorter period of time.
In Part 3 we will consider the implications in Blaze Poker of certain starting hands.
Good luck at the Blaze Poker tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
The island may be tiny but it ended up hosting a big poker game!
The Battle of Malta tournament got off to a great start at the Portomaso Casino, with the number of entries meaning that the final prize fund more than doubled the originally advertised guarantee of €200,000. Poker remains a massively popular draw, and Malta was a great place to host such an event.
32Red Poker‘s interest was in the form of qualifiers Cornelia Lupu (Romania), Dimitar Dimitrov (Bulgaria), Szabolcs Szigeti (Hungary), Roger Deans (UK) and Marko Vukic (Bosnia & Herzegovina)…
A bit about Malta
Thanks to its location, the tiny island of Malta has for a long time been important strategically, with the Romans, Arabs, the Knights of St John, French and the British being amongst the numerous powers who have ruled over the years. Having being admitted to the United Nations in 1964 (the same year it began independence from the UK), Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and, being a very popular tourist destination, is sure to be a fun poker venue.
Having already hosted the World Poker Tour and other such high tournaments, the Portomaso Casino’s reputation precedes it as an excellent poker venue. Apart from having the biggest poker room in the country, the hotel is also well placed for players to relax both during and after their time battling away for survival.
Calendar of Events
|Thursday, September 26|
|9am||Players started to arrive at Malta Luga Airport and were transferred to their respective hotels.|
|2pm||Main Event (€500+€50), Day 1A.|
|8pm||Satellites to BOM 2013. Buy in €50 + €5|
|10pm||Opening reception for package holders.|
|Friday, September 27|
|2pm||Main Event (€500+€50), Day 1B.|
|Saturday, September 28|
|1pm||Main Event, Day 2. Location: Portomaso Casino.|
|6pm||Siege of Malta “Second Chance” Tournament (€100+€10), Day 1.|
|11pm||Official BOM Party opens its doors.|
|Sunday, September 29|
|2pm||Main Event, Day 3 and Final Table.|
Claiming a player-friendly structure, the organisers were satisfied that the 20,000 chip strong starting stacks and 60-minute blind levels provided the participants with a nicely balanced tournament structure over the four days’ play.
Battle Of Malta – Day 1a
Day 1a saw 417 players battling it out for fame and fortune, an impressive number given that the previous year’s tournament had a total of 349 players in total. 110 of them managed to survive the opening day, but, unfortunately, Dimitar was not one of them.
“I made it to 55k chips, but in a hand with AKo I 3bet an agresive player … I had position and the flop came QJ3, he checked and I decided to check after him. A 7 came on the turn and he made about 2/3 pot bet. I almost folded but a voice inside my head said “call him – he’s bluffing!” I called thinking that all AK and 10 was good for me plus I also had a chance to catch him on a bluff. The river card was an Ace and he went all in for about 8k. I called and saw 77 in the hand and so I dropped to about 30k. After that I lost about 15k with a good starting hand but nothing on the flop … I pushed with 44 on my last hand.”
- Dimitar Dimitrov
The Opening Party was held at the luxurious Villa Rosa Palace in St. Julians, Malta, where we all got a chance to relax and meet other players. While a local DJ kept us entertained with the latest in dance music, friendly waitresses kept our glasses full with free champagne!
Battle Of Malta – Day 1b
Day 1B proved equally as popular as the opener, with the Portomaso Casino welcoming another 471 hopefuls into the arena and generating a massive prize fund of €440,000! Three of the 471 were from the wacky television stunt group The Dudesons, although only Jukka survived.
Battle Of Malta – Day 2
The other four 32Red Poker players all made it to Day 2 – Marko with 66,500 chips, Szabolcs 39,700, Roger 29,200 and Cornelia 32,400. Cornelia exited first when her AJ ran into queens. Szabolcs followed, queens being overtaken by AK.
Roger, meanwhile, was experiencing the dubious thrill of being the short stack as the money approached, succeeding in making it into the last 100 places after finding himself down to a mere three blinds with 106 players remaining! Surviving to finish 83rd and cash for €1,100 is quite an achievement.
This leaves Marko, who finally busted out after a valiant effort when his Jacks were downed by Queens, his 69th place a testament to a well played tournament that might have been more fruitful were it not for the cold deck curse.
Everything kicked off at the much anticipated BoM Party on Saturday night. Hundreds of poker players who’d taken part in the Battle of Malta were invited – it gave players a chance to let their hair down and it was great way to celebrate the massive success of the event…
Battle Of Malta – Final Day
In the end, it was Germany’s Louis Cartarius who took 1st place in the biggest Battle of Malta event yet. Cartarius outlasted just shy of 900 players (a BoM record) and banked a tidy €80,000 for his efforts.
“My experience in Malta was something unique and amazing, an adventure from the beginning till the end. The unexpected was all around during the tournament, creating emotions and feelings so new to me. I was lucky to be part from a great team that was lead by a person who loves and knows very well what he is doing, a fact that kept us together. So, a very big ” Thank you” to Nick … Battle of Malta rate: 10+”
- Cornelia Lupu
“Great experience, 8 … once again, a big thank you to 32Red Poker for everything”
- Marko Vukic
“The organisation of the trip hotel and other things was the best I ever seen and I want to thank U again Nick about that.”
- Dimitar Dimitrov
“Hi Nick. Ty for the blog and for all of our trip, it was great work like all you done for us. I wish you to be happy whole year, like me and my family were in Malta ”
- Szabolcs Szigeti
“I’d like to say a big thank you to you for all your efforts in making the 32Red player’s trip to BOM so enjoyable. It must have taken a lot of work from you behind the scenes over a long time and your thoughtfulness and attention to the players whilst in Malta really made all the difference and made it into the great experience that it was … PS, Great BOM blog. Your diligence with the camera paid off!”
- Roger Deans
“Yours was by far the most personable group of the whole event. Absolutely perfect when you consider that everyone in the industry is trying to appeal to the casual and recreational player.”
- Mark Spurr (Microgaming)
“Great job, best blog coverage of a fun poker tourney I’ve seen”
- Ivonne Montealegre (BoM2013 Tournament Director)
The Battle of Malta was a great experience for both those who made it to the tournament and the many 32Red players who battled it out in our exciting qualifiers. No doubt the prospect of taking part in such a prestigious big money event, in such pleasant surroundings, with the delights (for example) of a champagne party thrown into the package, will have us all chomping at the bit for the next live event we get involved with…