Dangers of Drawing on the Flop

August 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

NoLimitHoldem--Dangers-of-Drawing-on-the-Flop-588x300

Potentially pot-winning draws on the flop provide some of the most exciting, tense situations in No Limit poker. Decent looking odds and the prospect of a big payout should we hit against an opponent we will be ahead of when the chips hit the virtual felt tend to make flush and open-ended straight draws look particularly attractive. We will, after all, be getting 2:1 pot odds to hit our draw by the river simply by calling a pot-sized bet on the flop – poker made easy…

If only it were that simple! We are indeed on a flop-to-river 2:1 draw but that’s in an ideal, convenient world where the next two streets cost us nothing to see. In reality, matters are often quite different and, unfortunately, sufficiently confusing to elicit mistakes. Let’s say that one of the cards we need to hit doesn’t materialise on the Turn, and our adversary again bets the pot. Doesn’t calling allow us to maintain the same conditions we had on the flop thanks to our continued 2:1 pot odds? Alas, no. Our pot odds might have remained the same, but failing to hit from Flop to Turn means we now have one less bite of the cherry than when we undertook this typical poker challenge – in fact our draw odds are now 4:1, rendering the call impossible to make. Moreover, not only should we fold here when faced with a pot-sized bet, but our initial call on the flop should also have been avoided! This is the problem when we focus too much on pot odds while not fully appreciating the actual odds of hitting our draw. In this example the 2:1 odds to hit are redundant as soon as a comfortable ride to the river becomes unlikely. A sizeable bet on the Turn is going to throw an enormous spanner in the works, effectively forcing us to abandon what was probably a doomed mission.

Of course other factors should be considered when contemplating the initial flop bet, such as whether our opponent is bluffing or making a continuation bet, perhaps, do we have overcards to the flop that would put us in front should we hit a big(ger) pair, are we up against a player who tends not to maintain the aggression come the Turn?

We always need to weigh up an assortment of situational properties when making these awkward decisions but, generally, it pays not to get into the habit of misinterpreting true ost-flop draw odds. A crue truism in poker is how one mistake can quite naturally form the ill-judged foundation for a subsequent, increasingly significant error and, before we know it, instead of the hoped for successful resolution of a pot that was ostensibly affording us attractive prospects on the Flop, we find ourselves dressed up with nowhere to go, a little bewildered at how easily our chip stack has dwindled.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington
32Red Poker Ambassador

Stealing Pots (It might as well be you)

August 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

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!

Angus Dunnington

32Red Poker Ambassador

Let us know your best steal – our favourite gets a free €4+1 Flush Royale ticket…

Medium Pocket Pair with Overcard on the Flop

June 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

With poker being a game that revolves around information, it follows that we (all too often) find ourselves in awkward situations that mean we have some but, crucially, insufficient facts at our disposal. Of course some scenarios are more puzzling and frustrating than others, but a typical poker conundrum that we experience every session is when we hold a medium pocket pair against a lone opponent and the flop brings along an over-card.

Hands can pan out in various ways, but let’s say we have 9d 9c in late position and it’s folded around to us. We put in a raise and the only caller is the Big Blind, after which the Flop brings the rather irritating Kh 8s 7h… Just as we’re contemplating whether or not to make a continuation bet the BB peppers the virtual poker table with a bet of around two-thirds the size of the pot. This is somewhat inconvenient, to say the least!

There was a time when raising would be considered tantamount to a ‘standard’ means of garnering information in the hope of getting a clearer picture as to where we stand, but this automatic reaction can achieve no more than wasting chips. If the response were, for example, a simple call – or, worse: a raise! – the only additional details in this particular picture would tell us pretty clearly that the Big Blind is happier with his/her hand than we are with ours! Is it really worth paying for such clarity?

It’s far better, given that – for the sake of this article – we don’t intend giving up on the hand, to simply call the flop bet, particularly in view of the fact that we have the advantage of position. Depending on the Big Blind’s next play on the Turn we can decide on a course of our own. Another hefty bet should either set off an alarm bell loud enough for us to keep our powder dry and look to pastures new or, if various factors combine to justify it, we might attempt a bluff-raise. The BB slowing down and checking presents us with a couple of choices, one being wresting back the initiative with a bet (note that we shouldn’t be afraid to bet if the Turn throws up another overcard, for instance), which, remember, could be a value bet or, indeed, a bluff based on our pre-flop aggression and calling the Flop bet. While checking is another possibility, we shouldn’t scare ourselves into doing so through fear of running into a check-raise, which is simply part of the game and, in this circumstance, unlikely after the play thus far.

Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington, 32Red Poker Ambassador

No Limit Poker: When a Value Bet is a Loser

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

‘Value’ is often used in poker and, being such a sensible sounding word, tends to be incorrectly assigned to situations where ‘caution’ might be a more prudent subject matter. A very common example of this is when players, believing they have the best hand against a lone opponent, attempt to extract the maximum from a hand in which they have been making the running by raising the river for value.

Of course such a strategy may well add a few extra chips to the coffers but, alas, doing this kind of thing can be a recipe for disaster. Apart from laying ourselves open to a massive bet (bluff) that forces us to make an awkward decision, there is also a good chance that we are falling into a trap. And herein lies the crucial difference between value and a good old common sense slice of caution – a distinction that we come to appreciate with experience.

Here’s a typical example of this kind of scenario. We are dealt Ad Qd on the button and our standard raise is called by the big blind and a mid-position limper. The flop comes Ac 8d 5s, giving us top pair with an attractive looking kicker, a backdoor flush draw and, of course, we have the advantage of position. It’s checked around to us and we make a pot-sized bet which is called only by the big blind.

The turn throws up the 3d, which is both pretty innocuous and not exactly unwelcome as we now have a nut flush draw to add to our collection. The BB checks once again and, perhaps buoyed by the turn, we make another pot-sized bet which, again, is called. It’s by no means clear what our opponent is holding (maybe a flush draw), which is more troubling than we might assume because poker is all about information, and it can be more convenient to know we’re up against a strong hand than a complete unknown.

The river is the 5c and, breaking the rhythm of the pattern of play thus far, the BB bets around a quarter of the pot. If it was a – now unfulfilled – flush draw, this could be an attempted steal against our possible, albeit unlikely bluff. Alternatively, we might have been up against a poorly played pair of tens or even 8 9. Not only is this the kind of thinking we should adopt, but the process should have started earlier (in fact we should get used to it from the very beginning of a hand). It prevents us from, in a situation like this, now raising with our absolutely beatable top pair and being called by a holding like 8 5, thus wasting money. The possible hands we’ve just considered wouldn’t be calling a raise, and there’s a chance we could even finding ourselves calling a crafty re-raise here. Note that by raising we are also walking into hands such as AK. Moreover, even if we held AK ourselves a raise would still be foolhardy.

Essentially, a would-be value bet can end up being a losing bet, so beware, and listen out for those internal alarm bells that come with experience (and are heralded by a paired board!)

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador

The Transparency of the Minimum Raise…

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

No Limit Hold’em is so-called for a reason – unlike Limit poker, where our betting choices are defined by the limit put on how much we can add to the pot at each betting juncture, NL affords us literally unlimited flexibility.

However, when presented with such an abundance of choice we are also given the opportunity to make mistakes, and the minimum raise is one such fundamental part of the NL game that in some respects – for the vast majority of players – is best avoided altogether.

Let’s see why… Read more

Short-handed No Limit Poker Tips

January 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

Years ago, when first introduced to online poker, we would start off on the No Limit path by sitting down at full-ring games, where the conventional, solid ABC approach tends to be a good foundation on which to build a repertoire of strategies. It’s a good idea to do the same today, not least because it teaches us to have patience and appreciate the (relative) value of starting hands.

However, short-handed poker is so popular now that we tend to try out the murkier waters of 6-player tables earlier in our careers, and it’s important to appreciate the implications of there being fewer players at the table. Read more

Blaze Poker – A Few Thoughts (Part 1)

September 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

Like many people who first saw the ads for the new (video-) game feature at 32Red Poker that is the amusing Blazing Cannon, I fancied a go at earning a chance of winning €100 for simply firing a burning chip out of a cute little cannon and knocking down a bunch of cards (of course it’s pure, 100% luck but if we win a cash prize it seems otherwise).

The whole point of Blaze Poker is that we can avail ourselves of the incredibly convenient Quick Fold facility to immediately leave the table as soon as we fold, to be magically transported to a brand new table and find ourselves with two shiny new hole cards. No need to wait for the original hand to be played out because we’re no longer there any more, and we continue to be fast-tracked to a new table – and a freshly dealt hand – each time we fold.

The obvious advantage is time, and thus the attraction is being able to dispense quickly with the poor hands and experience stronger ones more often (time-wise), and of course get more out of 32Red’s 30% Rakeback deal in doing so.

Not having played Blaze Poker for a while, and busy enjoying the dinky features that accompany the actual poker table (a fuse that burns away with each raked hand won until it reaches a cannon and ignites to send us to the game itself), it took me a while to realise that I wasn’t giving the format, and how it differs from standard No Limit, the slightest consideration.

With this in mind – and ‘inspired’ by my showing the game insufficient respect and being duly punished – here (and in Part 2) are some recent thoughts about Blaze Poker.

Time

A bit obvious, this one. We save quite a lot of time being able to start a new hand only seconds after clicking on the Quick Fold button compared with however long it usually takes for a hand to finish. In the modern day game of rakeback and volume of hands and so on, this can make a difference even to a casual player in the long-run.

There are also time-related tells to keep an eye out for. A quick call, for example, tends to suggest someone is either on a draw or perhaps has a made but ‘weak’ hand.

Table Image

It has been said that in rush poker there is no such thing as table image because every player gets a new set of opponents every hand. This is true, but not necessarily to such an extent that we can’t cultivate some kind of image, as we tend to come across the same players over time as we constantly flit around the tables. Moreover, the nature of Blaze poker affords us a unique way in which to generate multiple table images. There will be a few very observant players but, typically, only our opponents in a hand will be taking any notice of what’s happening. Remember, too, that in a heads-up scenario, for instance, others will have folded and be long gone. Therefore, since we can bump into a specific player in one hand, then again some time later, it’s worth bearing in mind that whatever information they garner will be used when next we meet. Of course this works the other way round, too, although generally whatever we pick up could come in handy.

More in Part 2.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador

No Limit: Playing an Underpair

April 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, Featured, News, Poker School

Calling a pre-flop raise with a medium pair against a single opponent is clearly a decent play and tends not to be too difficult to handle when the flop comes because the combination of the board and the opposition’s action (or lack of it) gives us quite a bit of useful information.

Facing a bet from the raiser on a flop containing an ace or king isn’t good news, but at least we can give up the chase with a clear conscience (we could be up against a random pre-flop raise and subsequent continuation bet but – particularly at the lower levels – it wouldn’t exactly be a shock to be up against top pair).

But what happens, for example, when we have called with 99, there’s a queen-high flop such as Q 7 2 and our opponent opens with a bet? This is indeed something of a poker conundrum. Of course there are numerous factors to take into account that will be specific to the situation, but this is one of the many scenarios that we can contemplate in advance to make life so much easier.

It is possible we are dominated by aces, kings, AQ, KQ and even QJ, which is why previous history can be important. But if we are dominated by a pair of jacks or tens, a hefty enough raise should be enough for us to steal the pot. We will also take the spoils if our opponent has thrown in a c-bet with AK (again, more than a fair share of similarly aggressive plays will help us come to this conclusion).

Either way, with a flop that doesn’t quite tell us as much as we would like in terms of where we stand, a call here might very well not be the most practical of our options.

Good luck,

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador

Multi-Table Tournament Tips: Early Level Mishaps

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, Featured, News, Poker School

Inexperienced tournament players who try too hard to be solid and patient and concentrate on premium hands can be at their most vulnerable during the early stages when, ironically, they have the most chips in front of them. And to add to their confusion, one of the most dangerous hands to be dealt when everyone is sitting so deep is AA. Read more

No Limit: The Probe Bet

March 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. On the (virtual) poker baize, it would be ideal to be able to see everything but, of course, this isn’t possible and information is limited. While much of the game is based on experienced guesswork (indeed second-guessing opponents is a useful skill) we should anyway be trying to garner as much information as we can, and we should be prepared to pay for it, too.

A (dual-purpose) way of doing this is with a so-called probe bet – typically up to a third of the pot or, feasibly in some circumstances, half the pot  (betting too little isn’t going to trouble anyone and therefore won’t induce a ‘serious’ response). An added bonus in getting used to making probe bets (within reason, obviously, like lots of things in poker) is that these can also become indistinguishable from stealing the pot and, ideally, in some circumstances such a bet can simultaneously play each role.

Some players find it difficult to make a ‘sacrifice’ and hope instead to find out useful info for free. Apart from this being too optimistic an approach, by holding back we deny ourselves the possibility of assuming the initiative, and generally we risk creating a table image that is too passive and susceptible to being exploited.

Furthermore, taking into account the fact that the pots we win as a result of probe bets should heavily outweigh the investment, and it should become easier to incorporate this tactic into our overall strategy.

Remember that betting only the minimum, for example, isn’t enough to do the job and can lead to confusion (and invite bets that put us on the back foot). A half-pot bet, on the other hand, tends to achieve more because we’re going to put the opposition under enough pressure to either commit them into making a meaningful declaration of intent, or to give up the fight (perhaps with a stronger hand than ours). Importantly, the former response might provide sufficient information to save us money, as even this way of doing things is cheaper than cumulative smaller bets that lead to our losing the showdown.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador

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