No Limit Hold’em: Show No Mercy at Loose Tables!

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, Featured, News, Poker School

We all have a favourite style of play, an approach that has proven more successful than others over time and is also best suited to our personality. However, flexibility is part of the game, and it’s imperative that we learn to both recognise the kind of players we’re up against and a table’s specific dynamic and so on and, subsequently, how to adapt in order to exploit others’ weaknesses.

One such example – especially in the modern game – presents itself when the table is populated exclusively by loose players. Many consider themselves loose-aggressive but, essentially, they tend simply to be much too loose because they get involved when they shouldn’t, constantly, and in so doing are losing players. Note that the psychological pitfall for these players is that when they win an enormous pot after filling a draw their mistaken logic supports the ill-fated notion that the ends justify the means when, in reality (in the long-run), the ends don’t come around sufficiently often to justify the accumulative investment in chasing big hands.

There’s a tendency when trying to profit from this common bad habit to revert to ultra-tight mode and get involved only when we find premium hands, but we don’t have to be so selective, and of course we must balance our game. But when we are in possession of a big hand we shouldn’t be afraid on a loose table to put in a big pre-flop raise – if the ‘standard’ is three big blinds, then doubling that with AA (and KK) won’t scare everyone off at this kind of table. We’re playing a bunch of loose players – they’re loose because they don’t worry about being tight and haven’t spent time contemplating ‘sensible’ bet sizes.

The key is strong bets with strong hands. If we raise with AK pre-flop and bring along two players for a flop containing an Ace and two suited cards, then we should remain aggressive and throw in a bet at least the size of the pot. Of course we could be pushing out of the hand a couple of opponents with lesser hands but there are worse things than picking up a three-way pot. However, habitually loose players can be more influenced by the promise of a draw than the fact they’re being asked to overpay for the privilege of chasing it and, while it might initially seem strange to practically announce our hand with a big bet, this is a good tactic on loose tables. What often happens against two players in this kind of situation is that one player will drop out and we will be left in a growing pot, with a significant lead, against a sole opponent erroneously committed to an over-priced cause.

We’ll see our big hands overtaken occasionally but that’s a mathematical characteristic of poker – as is the cast iron certainty that, over time, correct plays reward us with profit. Sets and other powerhouses should be bet big, with no mercy, the price we insist on the opposition paying being at least the size of the pot – otherwise we’re indulging loose players and justifying their poor play. Results in poker are determined by dealing with this or that scenario better than the opposition.

We should keep in mind, too, when contemplating value, that when we have small pairs or suited connectors, for example, we don’t catch the chasing bug by paying too much to see the flop. Position is yet again a major factor when looking to exploit the potential of speculative hands as cheaply as possible.

Good luck at the tables!

 

 

 

 

Angus Dunnington, 32Red Poker Ambassador

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No Limit Strategy: Draws on the Flop

March 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

Finding ourselves on a flush draw when the flop appears leaves us with a decision to make at a critical juncture of a hand. Given that it is by no means an uncommon situation it pays – literally – to have a logical strategy regarding flush and straight draws.

Of course there needs to be some level of flexibility as well as an appreciation of the odds but, essentially, betting is a worthy play because it has the advantage if ticking numerous boxes. We should be looking to avoid being predictable, finding value, throwing off the opposition’s scent as to what we might have, wangling ourselves a free run at the Turn and simply pick up a pot uncontested. Not surprisingly this specific semi-bluff is one of our favourite scenarios in No Limit Hold’em.

A key component in engineering optimal prospects here is position. It’s imperative to have the advantage of position on our opponents in order to afford us maximum control of proceedings – otherwise, betting out of position runs the risk of walking into a raise from a strong – and made – hand, a problem that is more likely to arise the more players we’re up against.

Therefore, in position, we can be happy to bet our draw on the flop, regardless of how many players are still in contention. Clearly we can’t expect to win the pot against multiple opponents as someone is likely to already have a hand and be in front at this stage (ideally we would prefer to bet when it’s checked to us, but incorporating an occasional raise into our strategy is fine, too).

The interesting psychological aspect of this scenario is that players tend to associate a bet with a concrete connection to the flop which, in turn, can make the rest of the hand difficult for our opponents to read should we make the draw. If the Turn brings one of our cards we can choose how to play depending on circumstances. Checking might well induce some juicy action on the river, while simply betting makes sense – a sizeable bet could be construed as protecting ourselves against the opposition getting a lucky fourth flush card.

Note that, having ‘purposefully’ bet the flop, we can contemplate an ostensibly confident bet on the Turn even if we miss our draw. If we subsequently fill a flush on the river we can then be sitting on a well disguised winner. This type of situation is ripe for confusing opponents (always a useful tactic) and inducing action when we hit a big hand, either through slowing down when we hit on the Turn or representing a (lesser) made hand by betting earlier in the proceedings.

Good luck at the tables!

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

Blazing Cannon is back!

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

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.

Good luck at the Blaze tables, and with Blazing Cannon!

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

No Limit Tournaments: When Tight Isn’t Right

February 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

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

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

Special Tournaments at 32Red Poker

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, News

We like to give our players special treatment at 32Red and, with this in mind, we have made sure that there’s an exclusive, Special tournament every day of the week.

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

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

What’s in a bet? (Part 2)

August 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

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

Flush Royale Jackpot Hit!

August 13, 2013 by  
Filed under News

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…

Showdown between -CR1ME_P4YS- and ooblio

Showdown between -CR1ME_P4YS- and ooblio

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.

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