I once read that Sebastian Coe, one of the greatest ever distance runners, had the advantage of having legs of equal length (you may be surprised to know that most of us are not so lucky) and, in turn, the additional bonus of symmetry that is required to transform ‘normal’ running into a smooth, economical glide. If this is indeed true, as it will be for some amongst elite athletes, then Coe was – quite literally – born to run.
Regardless of factors such as dedication and the four-letter word that is work, it certainly helps to be naturally disposed to poker. After all, with so much literature, strategy advice and number-crunching statistical software around nowadays we’ll more than welcome a potentially key edge that DNA affords us if it means we’re more likely to pick up an extra pot or two here and there.
Who, then, possesses the natural attributes that are, typically, most conducive to a successful poker quest? And is having the natural skills that enhance our game necessarily more significant than not being weighed down by equally natural bad habits and permanently undiscovered misconceptions? Not everyone at the table was destined for profit, so it follows that some players are simply more genetically wired up for the game than others.
Of course this subject is absolutely specific to the individual and, as such, necessitates a potentially brutal level of honest introspection, but it’s well worth the effort. In poker – as in life – understanding our strengths is imperative if we are to make the most of them, while appreciating and addressing our weaknesses and their implications is no less crucial. Just one ostensibly irrelevant personality trait could have a major influence on how we play.
I have been told recently, for example, that I am prone to passively going with the flow rather than making decisions. In my defence I should point out that this ‘analysis’ stems from my being a gentleman and subscribing to the theory that the lady should decide certain matters. Yet she swept aside my protestations that I am, in fact, the epitome of assertiveness and, given that her legs are – allegedly – exactly the same length, placing her alongside Lord Coe and thus appearing to lend her assessment added gravitas, I was forced to entertain the possibility. Can I be passive when I should be pro-active? Do I allow opponents to dictate the course of a hand instead of finding ways to assume the initiative? When I think I’m being clever and tricky by merely calling bets, am I really achieving no more than being a passive calling station?
Regardless of the answers, the point is I’m now asking the right questions – prompted by something as far removed from poker as the theoretical (in)significance of my companion’s leg measurements.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
In my days as a pro chess player I never got around to playing in what was then the Soviet Union, despite being invited countless times. This was partly a mercenary attitude on my part, yet one I regretted upon retiring.
I didn’t want to make the same mistake since switching to poker, and although I would have found myself in the poker Mecca eventually it’s nice, when finally being able to play in Las Vegas, to have won my place in one of 32Red Poker’s qualifying tournaments.
My tournament, Event 33, started on Sunday, and looked set to be a minefield – as are they all, of course, to some extent. Meanwhile, it was only after two hours waiting at the airport (in the longest queue I have ever seen!) that the luxurious and – for Vegas – refreshingly tasteful Palazzo finally beckoned. The suite was on the 43rd floor, with a great view of the vista that stretches for miles into the hills beyond.
The first schoolboy error, at 6pm Vegas time (2am UK time), was to sleep after a long day crossing the Atlantic… so now – after waking up at 3am local time – I found myself writing these words.
A sensible Plan B would have been to get used to the time shift in readiness for Sunday…
Spent Friday 13th walking down the famous ‘Strip’… in and out of hotels (some were better than others, some rather disappointing) and shopping malls, and then back up again. The heat was relentless, and the accompanying breeze cruelly hot, so a key word in Vegas is, unsurprisingly, water!
One would expect to see a few strange sights in this city, and among today’s were a tiny boy breakdancing like Michael Jackson, a man in a Chewbacca suit standing around in the street posing for photos, comedian, film and TV star David Spade (Grown Ups, Rules of Engagement) coming out of the lift at the Palazzo… and American Football/Super Bowl legend Joe Montana at a book signing. I even managed to catch his eye when I was told – as I appeared rather craftily, I should point out, from behind shelves to take a photo – that I should stop and buy a signed photo instead (I say ‘catch’ his eye – the record-breaking star was kind enough to hide the ‘what a fool’ expression that my antics deserved).
Meanwhile, within minutes of seeing adverts for 12-inch long hotdogs at $1.99, everything from authentic guitars to clothes to scraps of paper of some (very) famous/significant people was on sale in a memorabilia shop for prices ranging from $1,000 to $180,000 (this for the signatures of those who signed the US Declaration of Independence in 1776). It’s funny how money fills all manner of voids in Vegas…
Nothing much happened on Saturday as, having looked forward to watching England’s brand new football team make its effective debut in the World Cup, it was time to look for somewhere away from the drunken masses to watch the opener against Italy. This was the Palazzo’s fantastic ‘Lagasse’s Stadium’ which was by the far the best such venue, with a pleasant, people friendly environment.
Unfortunately the result was the wrong one, but I remained optimistic – after Uruguay losing to Costa Rica – that qualification was a realistic opportunity (so much for that wishful thinking…).
The highlight, incidentally, was my photo after the match with some cheerful England supporters who were prepared to wear all-over so-called morphsuits – 100% nylon body suits (quote: ‘I’m dying in here!’) for the cause (see photo).
I was equally upbeat regarding my giving Event 33 a good go as I collected my seat assignation at the Rio on Sunday. The playing areas are enormous, and the peacefulness an hour or so before the tournament began was in stark contrast to the noise once it got underway. I tend to sit with sunglasses on and earphones in, regardless of whether or not I’m listening to music. Even when that is the case, I’m always listening to everything that’s being said at the table as the information can be invaluable.
My table had more good players than I had expected, but the general level wasn’t too high. It’s difficult to assign it a definitive online equivalent, but it felt like a tournament with a buy-in only a fraction of the $1,000 people had forked out to enter. Of course this doesn’t necessarily translate to good news, but certain table characteristics were evident from the start. One such was universal limping, or global calling of a pre-flop raise, for example.
To cut a long story short – and thus bring you to the ultimately disappointing ending – here is a resume of my day that will nevertheless serve to encapsulate the tournament experience. I was dealt a total of two (yes – 2) pocket pairs – nines and fours. I was able to exploit most of the table’s approach to the tournament, which saw me progress from an initial stack of 3,000 to around 4,500. This was then cut down to just over 1,000 when I was dealt AQ and called a pre-flop raise from a player who was willing to take any Ace to the river. He’d already done so three times. Anyway, the flop came AQ3, I was hoping that his rag card for this hand was a 3, and I was partly right. Alas the bit I got wrong was that he was holding a pair of threes, and had struck gold on the flop, rendering my two pair an embarrassed bystander.
I managed to knuckle down and fold away for what seemed like eternity with my tiny stack (‘stack’ doesn’t accurately describe my sorry collection of chips), and was rewarded over a period of just 8 or 9 hands with a surge to just short of 5,000 – back in business with a stack that could balloon in this type of tournament.
I was moved tables (in fact, to another, cavernous room) and was lucky enough to be able to wait out a few hands, which allowed me to see that this table was slightly different to the other in terms of playing style, in that it seemed particularly loose, and with bigger stacks. My first hand was in the Big Blind, where I found KcQc. There was a raise to 500, three callers(!) and me. The flop came TcJc2h, giving me a (Royal) straight flush draw, open-ended straight draw and two overcards. The original raiser checked, the next player bet half the 2500 pot and the other two folded. I went all-in, the pre-flop raiser folded and the post-flop aggressor, just having me covered, called for a pot of over 11,000 chips. He had AdJd, which is the kind of hand I’d put him on – something that made me feel like I was destined to win the hand. Destiny shouldn’t play a part, of course, as I was anyway a 67% favourite to win. However, not a single club, 9, A, Q or K materialised (and just to add salt to the wounds, both Turn and River were black cards). And that was that. It’s a fine line.
… Of course I couldn’t travel well over 8000 kilometres from the UK to Las Vegas and not experience some good old-fashioned casino cash game poker. It’s not unusual in the city of sin to see people routinely walking up and down the Strip carrying alcoholic drinks, and my logic was to find a game during the witching hours when the opposition was more likely to be considerably worse for wear. With this in mind I set off at around 5am and settled for the famed Flamingo’s Poker Room, where a couple of $1-2 NL games were in full flow. I took advantage of the $300 max buy-in option and sat down, the lone non-USA player at the table. However, I wasn’t able to take advantage of anyone’s state of inebriation because everyone was stone cold sober.
My very first hand put me straight into action thanks to a pair and a straight draw which I opted to bet up to and including the bluff on the river after missing the desired cards. Alas I was (eventually) called down by a middle-aged man (he had a pair of aces) who then immediately left, followed a few hands later by four others. Fortunately the second table had places open up and the new companions made up an almost stereotypical cross-section of American society. Had social commentators been in my chair for the three hours or so I played they would have garnered a wealth of material. As it was, I was able – ‘listening’ to music and ostensibly oblivious to, but in fact closely following, their constant chatter – to cut a path through the ultimately exploitable, global style and leave for a well earned breakfast with over $400 profit. And, to be honest, I felt a little unlucky not to be cashing in considerably more.
Despite being primarily an online player, I’d seriously consider going to Las Vegas to concentrate on playing cash (and maybe tournaments) in the casinos for a while.
Indeed, I’ll certainly be going back…
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red Poker tables)
Human nature is a fascinating thing, and poker is full of it. Intuition, habit, how we perceive both ourselves and others, projection, interpretation, wishful thinking, caution and countless other thoughts/thought processes and emotions play their part (often collectively) at some point or other.
What makes the game so rich is that these factors can have such vastly different significance from one hand to the next, and it’s a constant battle – the more we become involved in a session – as we strive to zone in on the various aspects of table dynamics.
However, some potentially profitable situations are easier to recognise than others and, just as much as players try to be flexible, they can be predictable. One such scenario is the pot to which nobody wants to commit for one reason or another. Often this is simply because a player’s cards and the board don’t match up as per desired, at which point any interest in continuing (i.e. parting with any more chips) ends. Some people are almost transparently predictable in this regard, but it is such a common element of the game that this particular opportunity crops up time and time again in online poker, where it is not unusual for a table to get through 100 hands per hour.
Indeed it is the speed of the game (where the potential for volume can mean quantity is given as much priority as quality) that helps create these ‘abandoned’ pots as players keep their powder dry for the next, soon-to-come hand. This is where we come in. Not untypically, we might have missed the flop but be in the same boat as our opponent, or they might have a pair of 4s or 5s, for example, with a couple of overcards showing. It’s imperative to be in ‘thief’ mode at all times so that we don’t slip into the same automatic (negative) frame of mind, and are thus ready to round up whatever chips are going unclaimed. Unless the opposition has a specific reason to stay in the hunt for a modest pot, it’s time to act with a purposeful but not enormous bet which, most of the time, will suffice to scoop up those chips. Note that it is ‘natural’ for people to view these chips as heading elsewhere as soon as it becomes apparent that they have no realistic chance of taking down a pot based on the strength of their hand.
Good luck (stealing) at the tables!
Let us know your best steal – our favourite gets a free €4+1 Flush Royale ticket…
If you haven’t tried Blaze Poker yet, you’ve been missing out! The point behind this nifty format is the so-called ‘Quick Fold’ facility. Clicking on the Quick Fold button automatically folds your hand without waiting for the play to reach you, and then automatically sends you to a brand new table, with a new set of hole cards, and a new set of opponents. This means there’s no waiting for play to come around to you and, when you have a trash hand or simply don’t want any further involvement in a pot, you can get straight into a new hand immediately. Over the course of a typical session of poker, the Blaze version allows you to get the most out of your time.
Maximising your time at the tables means more hands per hour, and more hands per hour, of course (even without multi-tabling), means being able to fully take advantage of our excellent 30% Rakeback deal.
Add to this the fact that this format also helps maintain a higher level of solidity compared to the standard format where we tend to be less patient and thus a little looser than we’d like to admit, and Blaze Poker is a noteworthy alternative to the traditional online experience. Knowing that it’s possible to immediately start a new hand certainly makes it easier to get rid of bad habits!
Play on our Blaze Poker tables now and take advantage of the Blaze of Glory – we’re giving away €500 in cash prizes and an exclusive freeroll, every week! Check out the dedicated leaderboard that keeps track of the Redbacks you earn on Blaze tables from Monday to Sunday. If you manage to finish in the top 12 you’ll receive a share of €250, while simply making it on the leaderboard (minimum 100 Redbacks) is enough to earn free entry to our weekly €250 Blaze of Glory Freeroll.
Vegas, Baby! They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but not if you go there and win a WSOP event. That’s every poker fan’s dream, and you could be winging your way to this poker extravaganza courtesy of 32Red Poker thanks to our flexible choice of qualifying tournaments.
And these packages are well worth trying for – each includes entry to a $1000, $1111 or $1500 2014 WSOP event, plus 7 nights’ accommodation in the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas and spending money ($1500, $1389 and $1000 respectively).
To start with, there are three all-inclusive packages to be won in our exclusive Freerolls. The first takes place at 7pm UK time, Sunday 13th April and has a requirement of only 1000 raked hands in the 30 days prior to the tournament. WSOP Freeroll No2 will be held at 7pm UK time, Sunday 4th May (2000 raked hands requirement) and, finally, Sunday 25th May at 7pm UK time sees WSOP Freeroll No3 (3000 raked hands). Each tournament has 5000 starting chips and 15 minute blind levels.
Another route to the WSOP is offered via our online satellites, the quest starting with buy-ins as low as €4 + 0.40 for the 6-max Turbo rebuy. For details of our satellites see the poker lobby: Tournaments> Satellites> Live Events… good luck!
If you missed it before you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy its re-introduction to 32Red Poker because it’s here until the end of March.
The attraction of Blaze Poker is the Quick Fold facility. Clicking on the Quick Fold button automatically folds your hand – without waiting for the play to reach you – and immediately sends you to a brand new table, with a new set of hole cards, and a new set of opponents. Not having to wait for play to come around to you and, subsequently, for a hand to finish when you have too poor a holding to get involved, can make a considerable difference to a poker session in terms of time. And herein lies the beauty of Blaze Poker – Quick Fold allows you to simply get on with it and make the most of your time.
Moreover, this format also helps maintain a higher level of solidity because in a ‘normal’ game we tend to be less patient and thus a little looser than we’d like to admit – such a weakness is less likely when we know that we’re maximising our hands per hour and can trade in a trash hand for two new cards in a second or two. And more hands per hour, of course (even without multi-tabling), means being able to fully take advantage of our excellent 30% Rakeback deal.
As for the fun Blazing Cannon itself, simply win 20 raked hands and a video game opens in which you have a chance of winning up to €100! Fire a burning chip from a cannon into a house of cards – avoiding pesky birds and UFOs, and see if you’re in line for a cash prize. When the game ends you’re simply dealt back into your cash game.
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
Poker is such a rich game that, depending on the specific format we’re playing, a successful approach is by no means guaranteed to have the same results in an ostensibly similar scenario.This is true, for example, when considering the No Limit cash game and tournament scenarios. The conventionally accepted tight-aggressive strategy might be well suited to No Limit cash games (albeit not the only worthy approach) but, in today’s modern tournament environment – particularly online – we’re going to struggle to do better than make a minor cash if we adhere to this style too strictly.
Apart from the fact that strong holdings, by definition, come around all too rarely in this context, when we are ‘fortunate’ enough to be dealt a premium hand there is, of course, no guarantee that we are going to be rewarded with any significant action. For one reason, we have hitherto been inactive, which is already a good indication to the opposition that we’re holding something when we suddenly get involved, so they are likely to avoid commitment. And thus the cycle could well continue as the blinds inexorably rise and our stack diminishes. To compound the problem, there inevitably comes a point as the tournament progresses at which our waiting, safety-first policy seriously puts our tournament survival in jeopardy, let alone the prospects of finishing among the top prizes.
It’s simply not possible to realistically expect any level of success with a pure tight-aggressive approach. Indeed it is imperative to loosen up and experience the liberating experience for ‘too’ tight players that is broadening our starting hand range and indulging in the occasional bit of such delights as speculation and even slow-playing, for instance. This – enjoyable – strategy can begin as early as the opening stages, when the low(est) blind levels afford us considerable flexibility to mix up our game. Note that this also gives us the advantage of being able to engineer a deceptive table image.
As the blinds increase the pressure on just about everyone it makes sense to step up a gear. Instead of being overly cautious the key is to put yourself in other players’ shoes and appreciate that much of the opposition is going to be afraid, and rather than join them it’s much more important to exploit them. The phrase ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ is particularly apt when it comes to NL Hold’em tournaments…
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
There’s something for everyone:
Begin the week with our €50 Guaranteed Multiplicity Monday (8pm UK time), which is well worth being a regular fixture in your poker entertainment. Finish in the money in consecutive tournaments and earn the luxury of being able to multiply your latest winnings by the number of consecutive cashes! For example if you manage this three times you can triple your latest winnings. 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