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…

Poker: Do We Help Ourselves?

June 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

Today’s poker enthusiasts have at their disposal a vast array of tools, information, books and various other means through which to improve their game. It’s tougher than it used to be but we have no excuses as far as fine-tuning our performance is concerned, especially when learning tends to be a fun exercise.

However, there is an area which – for just about all of us – leaves plenty of room for improvement, and it has nothing to do with statistics, pot odds, betting patterns or bluffs: life. Of course the way we live from day to day has far more significance in the real world than it does in terms of poker but, nevertheless, it really isn’t too difficult to address a few issues that would ultimately benefit our performance at the poker table.

From a practical perspective it’s worth reminding ourselves of a few home truths which we tend to either fool ourselves into believing we appreciate or – if we’re being honest – blithely disregard. We might study theory and put great effort into playing, but that’s essentially only half the battle. We tend not to adhere to other, important unwritten rules, and this consequently means – to borrow a term from elsewhere – that we’re essentially playing with a crooked bat.

For example we should get rid of outside noise and similar distractions when sitting down to play. Music – with lyrics that demand our (subconscious) attention – is a popular poker accompaniment but, alas, isn’t likely to be conducive to optimal concentration. Playing in a quiet environment might seem ‘boring’ but will lead to a greater level of performance.

Sleep. This is almost a dirty word nowadays as we are surrounded with so many forms of entertainment that we can feel like we’re somehow missing out on something if we go to sleep. But – of course (because we all know…) – if we don’t get enough sleep, we simply can’t expect to concentrate very well. It should come as no surprise that research proves time and again that people can’t function at full capacity on insufficient sleep. Concentration levels on too little sleep are on a par with those who have consumed too much alcohol, and we wouldn’t dream of playing poker while intoxicated (I hope). The recommended amount of sleep is eight hours, and if we could manage that consistently the beneficial results would be evident.

Another ‘awkward’ subject is that of exercise. Healthy body, healthy mind. Just because we’re sitting down to play, it doesn’t mean we should underestimate the importance of exercise. Enough said. The same goes for diet.

Play happy. There’s no point sitting down for a poker session if our minds are elsewhere. We should consider playing only when it’s fully justified, when it isn’t to the detriment of any other aspect of our life.

Poker, after all, is fun.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington, 32Red Poker Ambassador 

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

Following Up a Continuation Bet (Part 2)

May 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

Having seen our continuation bet called on the flop, it can be problematic choosing the best path when the Turn card arrives. In Part 1 we touched on instances in which no further investment tends to be the appropriate play. This will save money when betting isn’t justified, but should be a decision based on the circumstances and the key factors specific to that hand, rather than the fear of losing. Too easily putting the brakes on after a continuation bet doesn’t take down the pot runs the risk of making us predictable and, consequently, vulnerable to a steal from those players who have picked up on such a weakness, as well as aggressive players.

Fortunately, instead of slamming on the brakes we will have opportunities to press down further on the accelerator pedal. And we don’t need to have hit to bet. Scare cards are thus named for a reason, and we need to learn to evaluate how the Turn might change the ‘strength’ of an opponent’s hand. A typical holding with which to apply the Continuation Bet strategy is AK, for example, which has the advantage of offering us the ‘luxury’ of equity on many boards in the shape of two overcards. It’s important to keep in mind that, when we’re not sitting with a hand like AK, the opposition is none the wiser. From their perspective our aggressive play is likely to represent either a made hand or a holding containing a couple of overcards. Consequently, on an unco-ordinated board such as Jd 7h 2c, we can pretty confidently bet when the Turn brings the Ks, for example. Overcards are good! Putting ourselves in our opponents shoes, after calling initially with, say, Jc Ts and hitting and subsequently calling our continuation bet, not only will the king be an unwelcome visitor, but the third consecutive bet that follows it gives the hand a new dynamic. It’s absolutely not unlikely that we could be on AK and, with another bet threatening to follow on the river, staying around – and paying heavily for the privilege – with JT no longer appears to be a decent prospect. Betting a scare card on the Turn in the shape of an overcard is always going to give us a chance of taking the pot, although in terms of our perceived range, the higher the better. Note that by adhering to this continuation bet/second barrel strategy means also betting when we do connect with the Turn – betting when we miss and checking when we hit is a leak we’d better avoid.

Good luck at the tables!

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

Following Up a Continuation Bet (Part 1)

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

The so-called continuation bet is practically standard procedure nowadays. We raise pre-flop and continue the aggression on all manner of flops, regardless of whether we’ve hit. Much of the time, against a lone opponent, factors such as the flop itself or our table image might be enough to bring about a fold and give us the pot there and then.

But poker isn’t as easy as it once was inasmuch as players are now sufficiently well acquainted with the C-bet to not automatically surrender. The result is the rather awkward, frustrating situation we tend to find ourselves in when, after carrying out this popular play (and not connecting with the flop) our continuation bet is called and, when the Turn card arrives, with no direct link to our hole cards, it’s decision time.

We know that – in an ideal world – the consistent follow-up to the play thus far would be to bet in order to keep our foot firmly pressed down on the accelerator that we assumed control of at the beginning of the hand when we raised pre-flop. Unfortunately, executing this (‘firing a second barrel’) is easier said than done and, as usual, we have to take into consideration that there is a time and place for such a move. (Let’s assume, by the way, that the continuation bet made sense and thus formed the foundations to approach the hand logically in this particular context).

Before looking at scenarios in which firing a second barrel is the appropriate play, it’s worth considering those times when the prudent option is simply to face facts and not stubbornly throw into the pot money that we are unlikely to see returning home to our stack by the end of the hand. Of course this is a situational game and there are no set rules or watertight guidelines but, while we shouldn’t fall into the habit of putting ourselves off betting in fear of ghosts, it does no harm to get used to properly weighing up the pros and cons of this or that play.

Clearly, when we have no hand, with no potential, having no discernible battle-plan and betting for the sake of it because we’ve bet twice already, is careless, thoughtless poker.

Also unwise in this case is betting against an out-and-out calling station, which achieves nothing more than redistributing money. They simply won’t fold. They enjoy calling with a modest hand, and refusing to take the hint by betting from start to finish with nothing merely justifies their ‘strategy’ and walks right into their hands (reading the opposition, then, is a must – it’s imperative we concentrate on what’s going on, even when not involved in a hand!).

In Part 2 we’ll take a look at following up the Continuation Bet strategy by maintaining the pressure and firing the second barrel.

Good luck at the tables!

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

Blaze of Glory

May 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, News

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 Glorywe’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.

Good luck at the Blaze tables, and with Blaze of Glory!

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

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, 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

Qualify for the World Series of Poker

April 7, 2014 by  
Filed under News, WSOP 2014

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!

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

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