Poker Tournament Strategies

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Poker tournament strategies differ a lot from simple cash games.  Everyone starts with the same stack, unlike cash games where people can bring stacks of different sizes to the same table. Also, tournaments are all about survival. Once your stack of chips is gone, so are you. These strategies will help your survive the different phases of a tournament. 

Value of chips changes – at the start of the tournament you will have plenty chips compared to the blinds. For example, every tournament on 9stacks gives you a different starting stack. StackUp gives you a starting stack of 25,000 chips, which amounts to 500 initial blinds while The Multiplier gives you 12,00 chips amounting to 100 initial blinds.  But as the blinds increase, you will be left with fewer chips compared to the blind. Hence, always keep an approximate count of how many blinds you have left. When you only have 7-10 blinds left, wait for a monster hand and shove pre-flop. With a stack so small it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get value if you play more than 1 or 2 hands and if all the players end up folding, you’ll be able to steal their blinds. 

Be patient –Wait for the right hand to come. Play tight during the first few levels and avoid big pots unless you have a monster hand. This will allow you to maintain a healthy stack. You don’t want to get into massive pots and lose too many chips in the early rounds, as an increase in blinds later on will further reduce your stack relatively. A common strategy a lot of players use is playing multiple tables – while you’re playing a big tournament you can also play cash tables or 15-minute tournaments in parallel. This keeps you busy and doesn’t make you impatient. On 9stacks, you can add another table by simply clicking on ‘add table’ on the bottom left corner of your screen. 


Protect your blinds – DO NOT LIMP, i.e. do not just call the big blind with an average hand. Chances are other players will raise pre-flop if they have a good hand and if you limped in, you will definitely be folding. Only call the big blind if you can call the raise or raise if you can call the re-raise. As I mentioned earlier, increasing blinds will deplete your stack.


Don’t fear the Bubble Phase – The bubble is a poker slang used for the phase in the tournament where the players are only a few spots away from money. For example, if a tournament pays out top 5 players, the bubble phase would start when there are about 10-12 players remaining. As players enter the bubble phase, they tend to change the way they play and start stressing out. Some beginners don’t realize that your strategy should mostly depend on your stack. If you have a short stack, play cautiously. Make every move to maximize your chances of surviving and fold anything that isn’t a monster. If you’ve playing well and have accumulated a big stack, it’s time for you to punish the shorts stacks. Play aggressively and steal their blinds as often as possible. Put them all-in if you have a decent hand. They will be folding very often, giving you free chips to increase your stack. 


Hammer-Time! – When you’re ‘in the money’, i.e. you are guaranteed to win money, it’s time for you to hammer your opponents. The value of all hands go-up. Start playing a little aggressively irrespective of your stack. This doesn’t mean you go all in with 72, but you increase your range of starting hands and raise with suited connectors or even low pockets. If you wait a few hands for a monster, the size of the blinds would have already depleted your stack to a level where you won’t get enough value. 

In a nutshell, start by playing tight, adjust during the bubble phase (depending on the size of your stack) and then go all-out once you’re in the money. Go Stack Up!
 

#9stacksTeamIndia shines brightly at the World Series of Poker 2018, Las Vegas

#9stacksTeamIndia has had a roller coaster ride at the World Series of Poker 2018 and has managed to put up a performance that sparkles and shines brightly, firmly putting India as a very strong contender for dominance in the coming years at premium poker championship series like the World Series of Poker.

Ace poker players Nishant Sharma(DoJing BULLETS)  and Vivek Rughani (Ibeasteverything) led India into the top 100 ranks of the WSOP Main Event 2018. Nishant and Vivek are the only two Indian poker players in history to have made it so far. Vivek bust out at the 87th place on Day 6, but not before winning a Rs 53.5 Lakh in the tournament. We caught up with him after the tournament in an exclusive interview. 

Nishant Sharma however, went on to achieve greater heights and kept us all at the edge our seats on Day 6. On Day 5 he ended on a high note at Rank 15, then maintained his position for most part of the day before he finally bust out at Rank 34. It was an exhilarating experience to watch his game for all of us back home who have been railing for him and the rest of the team at the WSOP. Watch an exclusive interview with Nishant here :

Mayank Jaggi(AlwayslimpAA) final tabled the Wynn Summer Classic tournament and came 6th, winning  $56000 while Sanjay Taneja (Werewolf) finished 29th and in-the-money at the Little One for One Drop tournament. 

Rishab Jain(VegasBaby), Arsh Grover (BigggTymeR), Vishal Tulsyan(Spartacus) participated and fought valiantly against 7874 other entrants at the Main Event too.

The team, made up of 25 poker players from India who won a trip to Las Vegas via the #LFGVegas contest run by 9stacks has done all of us proud  and this is just the beginning.

9stacks has always aimed at being a platform that puts talent, skills and hard work of player above everything. We are moving towards a very exciting phase in Indian poker and we aim to be a platform that discovers encourages and facilitates the growth of good talent in the field.

Next up is the Money-LAAA!!! contest that ends on the 15th of July. Winners of this contest will fly to Manila and play at the Main Event! Keep playing and keep watching this space for more and more exciting contests and promotions!

Cheers!

Team 9stacks 

Nishant Sharma creates history by becoming the first Indian poker player to reach top 50 at the WSOP Main Event 2018

Ace poker player and #9stacksTeamIndia member Nishant Sharma created history by becoming the only Indian poker player to reach the top 50 ranks at the World Series of Poker Main Event 2018. 

Nishant played a fantastic, patient game , keeping calm and grinding for 12 hours every day. His entry has heralded a very exciting time in the field of poker in India right now. 

Nishant who's been playing professionally for the past 1.5 years, is an inspiration of for all the talented poker players who will now definitely look at taking up poker as a serious professional option. 

Nishant won the trip to Vegas and $10,000 Main Event ticket by crackign the #LFGVegas tournament run by 9stacks. He finished 34th in the tournament and has won a whopping 1.6 crore! He now gears up for the Venetian tournament and has been doing very well.

We spoke to Nishant after the MainEvent for a fun interview about his Vegas experience and here's what he has to say about the roller coaster ride it has been:

Nishant Sharma poised to take over the WSOP Main Event, #Bina Dare!

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While most 20 somethings are figuring out what to do with their lives, 26 years old #9stacksTeamIndia member,  Nishant Sharma is on his way to create history at the World Series of Poker 2018 in Las Vegas.

After smashing the #LFGVegas contest on 9stacks & winning the trip to Vegas as well as the $10k WSOP Main Event ticket, Nishant, AKA ‘DojingBULLETS’ has been giving a very tough time to all the WSOP veterans. All this on his very first foray at the WSOP Vegas! Whew!

Leading the Indian contingent into a historic moment at the World Championship, Nishant has just concluded Day 5 of the $10,000 Buy in Main Event (8.8MN GTD) with a very good looking stack of 5,800,000 and ranks at number 15 currently. The chip leader has a stack of about 12 MN, currently. Friend, colleague and fellow #9stacksTeamIndia member, Vivek Rughani is also going strong with a stack of 1,545,000 at rank 93.

Day 5 was brutal as it started out with 309 challengers and ended with only 109 survivors for Day 6. It has been a 40 hour plus grind and only the fittest have survived so far. 

Nishant started playing poker during college with his gamer friends and within a span of almost two years quit his job in event management to focus on poker professionally!
 

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Armed with his bright blue headphones and the famous mask, Nishant has been conquering major Multi Table Tournaments in India , as well as international tournaments in his characteristic, #BinaDare style. 

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 He has been playing a very focussed, consistent  game throughout the Main Event  and has remained completely unfazed and patient in high pressure situations. He has always preferred the MTT structure and  all that grinding for long hours over the years has led up to this moment. 

This is the first time any Indian poker player has gotten so deep in the Main Event.  Team 9stacks wishes the Nishant  and Vivek  the very best for day 6. Join us to cheer then on and watch LIVE updates tomorrow on our Instagram stories here :  

Good luck, Nishant, #LetsBringItHome  

No pressure, but yes pressure! :-p

 

 

Vivek Rughani ‘beasts’ it up at the WSOP Main Event 2018!

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Known for his beastly form on the poker tables, Vivek ‘Ik’ Rughani, AKA ‘Ibeasteverything’ on 9stacks has made a stunning entry into the top 309 grinders who have survived the brutal Day 4 of the  WSOP Main Event. 

9 Indian challengers took on the Main Event this time and Rughani is among the 3 who not only survived, but have also set the tables on fire  with their game. Rughani ends Day 4 with a flourish, bagging a good looking stack of 107,600 and coming In-The -Money ($37000 onwards) 

This is a historic moment for #9stacksTeamIndia as this is the first time anyone from the Indian contingent has made it so deep into the Main Event! Rughani outlasted  poker legends like Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth, along with other Indian poker greats like Jaideep Sajwan, Aditya Agarwal, Rohan Bhasin, Yudhishter Singh Jaswal , Sriharsha Doddapeneni and Apoorva Goel! 

Vivek Rughani participated in the 9stacks #LFGVegas  contest where all those who cracked Level 42 , the Platinum Stack, won a trip to Vegas and bankroll worth $999 to play poker during the WSOP.  Playing  and winning at the World Series of Poker had been a cherished dream for Rughani and we, along with him, wait with bated breath to watch him make it come true!

Rughani,a  professional poker player along with his friend and contemporary, Nishant Sharma started his WSOP journey earlier than the rest of the #lFGVegas pack, by playing the Monsterstack Venetian in June. After stunning the tables there, he moved on to dominate the tables at the Main Event and has been holding his own very well ever since!

Team 9stacks and every one back home wishes the ace the very best and we hope Vivek brings back home that beautiful bracelet!

Watch the LIVE UPDATES on our Instagram page and stories every day and cheer the G.O.A.T on ! Click here to follow us now!

#9stacksTeam India on a roll at the World Series of Poker, Las Vegas!

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Join us to cheer #9stacksTeamIndia at the World Series of Poker 2018 as they set the tables ablaze with their talent! 

9stacks had launched a 4 month long #LFGVegas challenge  with the aim of taking  a team of talented and passionate poker players across the country to Las Vegas during the WSOP season this summer.

The participants had to reach level 42 to win a free trip to Las Vegas, and level 75 for a WSOP Main Event ticket worth $10,000! 

We got an overwhelming participation from the Indian poker community with more than 40 players winning the Vegas package and 12 of them, winning the WSOP Main Event tickets. 

Over the last two weeks, 23 players flew to Las Vegas and have been on a roll every since! What is extremely exciting to note is that most of these players are playing the WSOP for the very first time AND have left an indelible mark at the tables with their game!

WSOP first timer and #LFGVegas qualifier Mayank Jaggi warmed up by grabbing the 6th spot at the Wynn Summer Classic 1 Million GTD NLHE tournament on the 28th of June 2018, winning a cool 56K in USD i.e about Rs 38 Lakh INR! Mayank plays the Main Event this week and we’re cheering him on to bring home THE bracelet! 

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Pros Nishant Sharma and Vivek Rughani, both terrific strategists on the tables, started their WSOP journey early, by playing the Monster Stack tournaments. From the updates we’ve been getting, both have made everyone in the arena sit up and take notice of their game! 

Both played the WSOP Main Event Day 1C and made it to day 2 with some very good looking stacks! Good Luck, boys!

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All of us lesser mortals back home can only wait for more updates on the fun they’re having at the tables. Watch the LIVE updates on our Instagram channel, @9stacksgaming and never miss out an important moment from these guys!

Arsh Grover aka @BigggTymeR and Vishal Tulsyan aka @Spartacus also battled valiantly  against thousands of Main Event participants but could not make it to Day 2. Well played and GG, Guys! Let’s crush the other tournaments!

First timers Aditya Pratap Singh and Rishab Jain are having a blast the casinos, playing smaller tournaments and winning big. 
 

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Rishab Jain made it to  Day 2 of the Main Event with a happy looking 97900 but busted out last night.

Aditya Pratap Singh (@muck_u) cashed $1000 in the  Goliath 500K GTD tournament &the Nuggets 500K GTD each on his maiden venture at the WSOP 2018. Aditya is now on day 2 and here's wishing him the best for an awesome run at the tables!

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9stacks co founder Pratik Kumar has also been killing it at the tables. This is his first time at the WSOP as well and  @Lazybones has lost no time in making the most of it by indulging himself in doing what he loves doing best- play poker all day! He has already landed in-the-money at one of the tournaments at the Aria casinos, with a great looking stack of 4,30,000!

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Sanjay Taneja (@Werewolf ) and Dinesh Singh (@FI$H) also join him in Vegas for all the fun as they hit the cash tables and participate in the innumerable tournaments that make up the WSOP. The trio makes for a deadly THREE OF A KIND, indeed. :P

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Keep watching this space for all the madness, the fun and 9stacks Team India 2018 is having in Vegas only on 9stacks!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram on our handle: @9stacksgaming

Cheers,

Team 9stacks
 

5 rookie mistakes every poker player makes in the beginning.

Just starting out as a poker player? Know the basics of poker but don’t win as much as you thought you would? Check out a few tips to know what are the few common mistakes every rookie poker player makes in the beginning.

1. Playing All or Most Hands

Are you laughing at this one? We’ve all been in this position when we started out playing poker. We learn the basics and couldn’t wait to start being in the midst of the action. After all, we thought, this is how you learn, how hard could it be?

You over called your low pocket pairs, overbet a mediocre hand on the turn, hoping for fates to ‘Turn’ the river to your advantage. That’s not skill, that’s not the strategy, that’s gambling because you are waiting for luck to turn the tides in your favor, instead of really playing and getting value on a good hand.

2. Marrying a Hand

Everybody has a favorite hand, one that they have always won with, historically and have become attached to it.

Because poker is such a competitive game, we often think, especially in the beginning, that ‘giving up’ or ‘folding’,  when we have in hand our favorite set of hole cards, is a bad thing. We get emotionally attached to a hand because we don’t want to necessarily get bluffed out of the pot, or if we are bluffing, let the other people know that we have a weaker hand with respect to the cards on the table.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work in your favor because by continuously calling bets you are never sure of where you stand in the hand before it is too late. You may have an AceKing up your sleeve, but if the board is not with you, and the others have better hands that respond to the 5 cards laid out on the table, you cant really do anything about it.

3. Improper Bet Sizes

Learning how to correctly size your bets in poker (no limit and pot limit games) to manipulate the table comes with the experience of playing poker regularly. Most newbies either underbet or overbet, always hovering on the extremes and giving away their hands to the more experienced players.

For example, newbies often raise the pot 5x-6x the size of the blinds preflop or when they are out of position.

Miss sizing bets also happen after the flop where newbies with big hands under bet even though there are many hands in the game, allowing them to cheaply draw to a better hand. Sometimes overbetting is done to ‘Protect’ the hand, In most cases, this behavior on the table is incorrect as ideally, you would want to bet an amount that maximizes how much one can win and minimize the loss.

4. Buckling under Table Talk

Table talk is an art that of course, the poor poker noob takes time to get used to. The more experienced player applies various subtle techniques to intimidate his opponent and get to know more about their hand by just, talking and creating a certain kind of pressure. Most noobs buckle under the pressure and either fold their hand or over call/ wrongly bet to reveal their hand to the rest of the table.

5. Playing on Scared Money

Scared Money in poker is the amount /chips that a poker player is reluctant to use even though it is part of his bankroll because he is nervous about losing it while playing.

In the beginning, all newbies are scared money, and that can be because they haven’t played the game too much, don’t understand the strength of their hand or haven’t planned their bankroll funding properly and are unsure of how to curb their loss while playing the game.

What one needs to understand is that the amount you have kept aside as bankroll, cannot be expected to be recovered each time and the beauty of the game is in remaining in the present and playing the hand dealt to you, as skillfully as possible. Scared money never really gets you anywhere. You will not be able to focus on reading the table or plan your next move against the player next to you.

Position strategies for beginners

 

Position in poker refers to where you’re sitting on the table in relation to the dealer button. It is one of the most important factors in a game of poker. Playing out of position is one of the most common mistakes made by amateur poker players. It often makes them vulnerable to moves made by players in position. Similarly, playing in position allows one to impose his/her will on others. 

What “Playing in Position” Means
Playing in position means, that you are the last one to act. In a game where no one straddles, the person holding the dealer button is always the one “playing in position”.

In Texas-Holdem, there are 169 starting hands. As a beginner it’s best to keep it simple by only playing when you have a really good hand given your position. As shown in the picture below, there are generally 4 positions where one could be categorized. One’s starting hand/pre-flop range depends on which category one belongs to.  Sticking to these starting hands will also make your post-flop decisions much easier.

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Blinds
There are a lot of factors that affect the range of your starting hand when you’re in this position. Hence, for beginners, I would suggest that you refer to the early position starting hand range to make things easier and less complicated. 
  
Early Position
This is the worst position to be in as you’re the very first person to act. In this position one should play less than about 7% of their hands. This might sound a little conservative, but as a beginner or even an intermediate player, it’s best to fold anything but JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AK or AQ.

Middle Position
As your position improves you can increase you range of starting hands as there will be less people left to act and your position will improve after every betting round. In this position you could play any middle range pocket pair, i.e 7 pair and higher, and A10, AJ, AQ & AK. It doesn’t matter if the combination of your face cards is suited or not. Your position is decent enough for you to get into the pre-flop action with them.

Late Position/On Button
This is undoubtedly the best position to be in. I would suggest not just calling the blind but raising with any pocket pair, J10+, Q10+, K8+ and A and any other suited card. But if someone has already raised before you, I would reduce my range and only call with, 55+ A8+ and any combination of face cards. 

In lower stake games players usually tend to raise out of position with mediocre hands that they overvalue. It is situations like these that being conservative and playing hands within your range will lead you to win these hands. For example, players siting in middle position often tend to raise with A and a low kicker. If you have position on them and play within your range, sitting with A too, most of the time you’re going to be dominating their hand just because of your kicker.

Once you get a bit more experienced and start to sense how tight or loose your opponents are, you can start increasing the range of your starting hands. But till then, do yourself a favor and only stick to the basics. 


This article is written by Sai Dutta, an advent poker player, who plays  72 as pocket A’s.
 

‘MOLLY’S GAME’ – Why the entrepreneur in you must read this book .

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I teach Strategic Management ( Competitive Strategy in Poker ) at the Indian Institute of Management- Kozhikode.  I know, really cool. However, with so many grading assignments and other pending tasks, reading a book  has become a luxury.

Recently, I treated myself to a book that i had been wanting to read for quite some time. It is sort of a poker biography of poker entrepreneur and author, Molly Bloom – her introduction to the world of high stakes business folks, running high stakes cash games under the radar, and the inevitable fall from grace.

 Okay, this is not a book where hands would be discussed.

It is more about the business of LIVE poker. Molly’s reference to her talented brothers and how she felt she’d come up short was unexpected and kind of endearing. The folks in Bloom’s life, with the exception of one Hollywood star, are spoken about with fondness. Whether they are aggressive business folks, superstars, law enforcement or game staff, I finished the book coming to like these inhabitants of the poker world.

Bloom’s book gives us a sense of what makes for a high-society poker game – comforts, ease, action, proximity and glamour of every bit of the experience – from playing to collections. Just as she builds a unique poker experience and starts counting out her first big profits, the reader begins to wonder how long the good time would last. Bloom rolls with the punches, taking her game from coast to coast, somehow making an equally good show of it irrespective of the location. Be they Hollywood celebrities or Wall Street biggies, they co-occupy rarefied felts with the other rich and wealthy.

The business and competitive (not in poker, but the business of running a poker game) aspects that struck me are: first, how a rank outsider – Bloom – finds a niche for herself; second, how she goes about making this niche profitable; third, how or what defends this profitable spot; and finally, what might drive the heavy handedness of law enforcement. Let me elaborate.

How the astute business woman navigates the high testosterone world of the poker business is fascinating in itself. While men dominate this world, their alpha-male territory defense instincts and how all that testosterone overdose may be an entrepreneurial opportunity is fascinating to read. A powerful man bossing the game is nothing to be fearful of, just as far as you can find at least other power thirsty man – seems to be Bloom’s mantra. It made me wonder if I could use sections of the book as reading material for an entrepreneurship class.

Bloom’s CRM (customer relationship management) is fascinating. Fulfilling the silliest of customer desires goes a long way in the poker business, it appears. She recollects fascinating experiences that had her scurrying around so that the boss wouldn’t throw a fit. While painful in itself, in this helter-skelter she makes friends and gets a shot at love. Like a professional wrestler, she turns and throws the collections problem with the promise of the next, even better, even sexier, game.

Bloom’s careful documentation of her players and their needs creates a database which would take a potential rival many years to emulate. This gives her a shot at running this profitable business for a longer time. In her book lie fascinating secrets of how a poker business ticks. It takes 9 to have a game, but for Bloom any 9 wouldn’t just do. A careful selection of the 9 players is important for the experience to be fun, profitable, less of a collections headache, and a source of repeat business. Again, as you read the book, these poker business insights jump at you.

Notwithstanding the plethora of evidence of poker being a skill game, poker in general and live poker in particular, is exposed to the vicissitudes of the legal system and its enforcement. In the US, those like Bloom who run the game may sometimes find themselves in prison, a choice of cooperating or long prison sentences ahead of them.

Having taken the former way out, Bloom has had the opportunity to tell her story. It is a fascinating one. Not only poker lovers – anybody with interest in service businesses, entrepreneurship, or a woman navigating ‘a man’s world’ of poker would find this book good to read. 

Write to me in the comments below and we can discuss the book at length using the business management lens further.

-Deepak Dhayanithy, Assistant Professor, Straegic Management, Indian Institute of Management- Kozhikode