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!
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…
In Part 1 I mentioned that we can bet or raise in order to obtain information. Of course there tends to be a price for everything, but it’s equally important not to take this too far because we can often learn enough without having to part with much, or, indeed, anything at all. Moreover, our opponent’s bet in itself can be information enough, of course.
Here’s an example that helps differentiate between stereotypically wasting money ‘to see where we stand’ and making a genuinely purposeful bet.
Let’s say we’re dealt 9d 9c, for instance, raise on the button and are called by only the Small Blind. When our opponent then opens with a ¾ pot bet on a flop of Kh 8s 7h we have a typical teaser of a situation, with a decent pair, an overcard showing and an opponent willing to call our pre-flop raise out of position. Are we up against a bluff, and therefore well ahead? Is our opponent aggressively playing out a draw (perhaps with a suited Ace)? Were we called by A8? Or AK? It’s quite a conundrum, but not at all necessarily one that should justify our raising here for the sake of buying information. It’s true that doing so might result in us picking up the pot, but anything else is going to provide us with no more knowledge about the hand than the realisation that 99 isn’t looking too good, and that we didn’t get much for our money. In fact our subsequent folding in the face of a hefty reraise doesn’t seem to have been a worthwhile venture on our part.
Other than folding to the flop bet (a reasonably sensible option), simply calling allows us to remain in the hand while still giving us something by way of information in the form of whatever action (or otherwise) our out-of-position opponent comes up with on the Turn. Another bet on, for example, a Turn of Jd, and there is nothing wrong with stepping down, although we could still attempt a bluff if we so wished.
However, a check certainly piques our interest, and this is quite different in terms of decision making from the Flop scenario. If we invest money here then our bet has far more purpose in that it does more than seek to fill in a few potentially key pieces of the information jigsaw, and makes sense regardless of whether we think we’re ahead or behind. If it’s the former, we’re betting for value, while if we believe we could be behind but sense weakness, we’re trying to steal the pot – either way, it’s not purely for information. Moreover, the information part of the ‘aims’ is almost a secondary – albeit important – issue. Of course we could be walking into a big check-raise, but if that happens and we have to fold, at least this is a preferable (and cheaper) way to make use of bets (not only our own, remember!) than raising the Flop. We have also learned, of course, more about how this particular player thinks and acts.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
Our Flush Royale tournament goes from strength to strength. Held every night at 9pm UK time, the prize fund has continued to increase to the present €175 guaranteed thanks to the excitement generated by the Flush Royale progressive jackpot.
In addition to the usual battle for the top places (the tension being cranked up by the €3 + €0.30 rebuys and €5 + €0.50 add-on), this offers players the added incentive of showing down a magical royal flush for the lion’s share of whatever the jackpot is at the time, which is exactly what ooblio managed in our latest instalment of the tournament. At that point the ever-growing jackpot had reached a juicy €912.37…
With 50% (€456.19) of the lolly going to ooblio and 25% (€228.09) being used to seed the next Jackpot, 25% (€228.09) was then split between the rest of the players at the Jackpot table, meaning TrickyVi-275, juicy-puice, -CR1ME_P4YS- and Pkrzender trousered €57.02 each for being in the right place at the right time! Not bad for a €3 + €0.30 buy-in.
As with anything else that requires experience, we go through various stages of learning during our poker quest, and it starts as soon as we learn the basic fundamentals. Betting, of course, is what makes poker – without the opportunity to wager something of value the essence of the game doesn’t exist. But where so many of us fall short is in not putting enough thought into – nor appreciating the potential implications of – what this or that bet might mean, and how we can get the most out of our betting opportunities.
Poker being a game of information (or at least the search for it), we need not only to try to garner as much as we can from other players’ actions, but also be aware of how our own might be perceived by others. Playing literally face to face with the opposition in a casino (‘live’) environment requires a certain level of understanding of at least the physical, verbal and other discernible ‘tells’ that are a key part of the game but, online, the psychology of the information search is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Without the aforementioned sources of information at our disposal it’s necessary to seek out the potentially key elements of a hand, or – better still – an opponent’s overall strategy, by other, more pro-active means. One such is betting. New players quite naturally associate the size of a bet with the actual strength of their own hand, and tend to bet accordingly. With this in mind, when most likely not in possession of the strongest hand they might check, while another common play is to put in a modest bet, see it called in one or two places and then, at the next betting round, find themselves perhaps more in the dark. Similarly, when in position, they might be entertaining being in contention but, as soon as a sizeable bet appears, they give up the hunt. These situations all have one thing in common in that such (planless) passivity fails to help in finding valuable information. Moreover, apart from doing nothing to help with the decision making process, nor does it mess with that of the opposition (aggression, misinformation etc.).
In Part 2 we’ll take a look at the implications of betting in practice.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador
When’s the last time you were sitting playing a nice game of cash poker and suddenly found yourself transported to a classic style video game that even came with the prospect of instant cash prizes? At 32Red Poker such a scenario is now possible.
Blaze Poker is about to get more exciting thanks to a novel twist that introduces a mini video game feature which can see you winning cash prizes of up to €100. It’s called Blazing Cannon Poker, and all you need to do to gain access to the feature is play on the special tables (€0.05/€0.10 and €0.25/€0.50) and win 20 raked hands.
When you manage this the game launches and your task is to fire a burning chip from a cannon into a house of cards, winning €1, €10, a whopping €100 or nothing depending on how successful you are in knocking down the cards. It’s a game of pure chance (you get to choose which of three positions from which to fire the cannon) and the animated adventure comes complete with typical video game features, such as birds scuppering your chances by colliding with the chip before it reaches the desired target.
Once the game is over you’re automatically returned to your Blaze Poker cash game and dealt in at the earliest convenient opportunity, and any winnings you might have picked up are simply added to your stack for your opponents to see. If, for example, you’re playing at a €0.05/€0.10 table and had a stack of €5 when you entered the Blazing Cannon feature, striking lucky could mean returning from your cannon-firing escapade to subsequently play with a mighty €105 stack!
Blazing Cannon tables have a special theme to make it easy to keep track on how many pots are required to win for a crack at the game. A counter is displayed on a cannon, and each time you win (or share) a pot the cannon’s fuse gradually burns down until the 20th and last pot won launches Blazing Cannon.
Good luck at the Blazing Cannon tables!
The latest promotion at 32Red Poker will add spice to an already intriguing form of the game – Blaze Poker. For those of you new to 32Red, or if you’ve not yet reached veteran status and therefore haven’t tried Blaze, it is a modern, pacy twist on the game that some would argue is the perfect format. When not involved in a hand, instead of sitting and waiting for the other players to make their decisions and so on until the hand is played out and you’re finally dealt in again, Blaze provides you with a ‘Quick Fold’ facility that allows you to be transported through the ether to immediately be dealt in on a brand new table (and with a fresh deck, of course).
The advantages of this format are clear: you’re always going to be involved in the action, your play won’t be heavily scrutinised during a session by the more dangerous, observant players because you’ll be transferred to a new table as soon as you fold and – crucially for more experienced cash game players – the fact that you can multi-table means being able to take advantage of 32Red’s 30% Rakeback deal at a much quicker rate of play than is usually the case (without losing any thinking time!). Note that you don’t even have to avail yourself of the Quick Fold option.
The Blaze Cash Drop takes place between 30 July and 6 August and, quite simply, throughout this period a €10 Cash Drop will happen every five minutes somewhere on a 6-max Blaze cash table, with €20,000 ultimately being given away exclusively to Blaze Poker players.
If you’re one of the recipients of this free money you’ll be paid immediately and all other Blaze players will see that you’re the winner for that 5-minute slot.
Blaze tables can be found by clicking on the Cash Games tab in the Poker Lobby.
Good luck at the Blaze tables!
Many poker strategy articles start with something along the lines of there being countless strategies, tricks and traps ‘but this particular subject is especially important’ etc. Well, there are indeed countless important aspects of the game… but understanding Expected Value (EV) is absolutely crucial if we have any intention of actually playing poker properly, because it is the subject about which decision making revolves.
Expected Value is the bedrock of poker thinking. As far as poker is concerned, it is – as its name suggests – the average amount (of chips/money) we expect to win/lose on our bet. Whether it’s a raise, bet, call, check or even a fold, any action brings with it an expected value. Clearly, depending on the outcome, these values will not only be both positive (win) and negative (lose), but there will also be varying degrees and extremes of expectation.
Note that it’s not merely a case of maximising our gains, but that we should also endeavour to be prudent in terms of minimising our losses, and thus have respect for the significance of EV each time we are faced with these important junctures of the decision making process.
Ideally, then, we would like to approach each situation with a view to making the play that has the greatest EV over time, +EV being how we describe a positive expectation play and -EV a negative expectation. Those who make +EV decisions make money in the long-term, and those prone to -EV decision making are long-term losers.
EV can be well explained in the context of the traditional coin flip game. Normally this 50-50 proposition (let’s say the stakes are $1 per flip) represents neither +EV or -EV as the heads/tails distribution over time is going to be evenly split.
But what if our opponent offered us $2 for Tails and we have to pay them $1 for Heads? Of course we’d be more than happy with this +EV situation because, over time, we’d come out on top.
But what is our expected value per coin flip? To calculate EV we simply multiply the results of the possible outcomes by their probability and add them together.
In this case:
Heads – we lose $1
Tails – we win $2
Each outcome is 50% likely and thus has a probability of 0.5
Therefore we have the following EV (Heads + Tails):
EV = (-$1 x 0.5) + ($2 x 0.5)
= (-0.5) + (1.0)
Thus for each coin flip we will win an average of $0.50 – note that the whole point of EV is that we are not concerned with a one-off outcome. We don’t care in this situation if Heads comes up a dozen times consecutively (remember we must have a bankroll big enough to survive such a bad run) because over time we will come out ahead. After 10 evenly shared outcomes, for example, we will lose $5 but win $10 for an overall profit of $5, which is $0.50 per flip.
Of course this is a rather simplistic illustration but, essentially, it is exactly what we are aiming for when playing poker – in other words, recognising and extracting maximum value for ourselves over time while trying to engineer situations in which our opponents are getting poor value.
In Part 2 we will see EV in action.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador