Spot Light :  In Conversation with  #LFGVegas2.00 winner, Sanjay ‘Werewolf’ Taneja

We are in conversation with the Mighty Werewolf, Mr Sanjay Taneja who’s been cracking every promotion on 9stacks and is a Vegas veteran. Last year, Mr Taneja crushed level 42 as part of the #LFGVegas promotion to win the trip to Vegas and then went on to smash the Uranium Stack at Level 75 to win himself a ticket to the WSOP Main Event 2018.

This year, Werewolf crushed the Aussie100 promotion and has now won the Vegas Grinder package worth 2 Lakhs after making 50,000 LFG points for #LFGVegas2.00.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview :


Team 9stacks :  Congratulations Mr Taneja! You're the Vegas veteran. This is also the second time you'll be going to Vegas trip via #LFGVegas contest with 9stacks! How are you feeling, especially since this time WSOP will be celebrating it's 50th Anniversary?

Werewolf: Oh, I’m really excited to revisit Vegas on WSOPs’ 50Th anniversary , cant wait to see what surprises await us there. I am really kicked about participating in tthe 500$ buyin with 5 million guarantee tournament.

Team 9stacks :  How is your strategy for #LFGVegas 2.00 different from last year?

Werewolf: LFGVEGAS2.00 was a cakewalk compared to last year, and  there is a lot of action on site and players can grind on  stakes suitable to their bankroll. Last year I played on 10-20 and 25-50 tables mostly but this year point generation has  become really fast , thanks to the constant action on 100-200 and above stakes.

Team 9stacks :  For the new players joining the Vegas chase, could you give them some tips/hacks to win their trip to Vegas faster?

Werewolf: The new players may be new to the platform, but are used to playing PLO/HOLDEM, they will find it much easier to chase Vegas on 9stacks and much more rewarding since 9stacks keeps running multiple promotions simultaneously.

Team 9stacks : You've been to Vegas multiple times and would have covered a lot on your bucket list. What activities do you plan to cross off the list this time?

Werewolf : I would like to ship a big tournament this time.

Team 9stacks :You did exceedingly well at the Little One for One Drop tournament last time in WSOP 2018, which other tournaments do you want to crush this time?

Werewolf:Like I said earlier, the 500$ buyin tournament is going to be my  main focus this year. Although, I would also love to make a reattempt for the  Little One for One Drop title.

Team 9stacks : During the Vegas chase, who did you enjoy playing against the most? How was the action on the tables this time?

Werewolf: Most of the players on 9stacks have become good friends , it is great to see how hard each one is working on their game. The action is insane, kabhi kabhi aisa lagta hai ki table pe sirf apun hi machchhi hai.

Team 9stacks : You play on 9stacks regularly. Were you surprised by somebody's (newcomer or regular player) game this time? Is there a player on the platform  with a lot of promise according to you?

Werewolf: Like I said every player is working hard on their  game, I am really happy to see Sharmaji, Chocha and MohitZR giving the game their best.

Team 9stacks : Which famous players do you want to play against this time at WSOP 2019?

Werewolf :  Not star struck, but to learn from any good player on the table is a pleasure.

Team 9stacks : Which other games did you play in Vegas last year?

Werewolf:  Oh, last year, I was really LUCKY on slot machines. Most of the times if I busted the tournament early, I’d run to the slot machines in  distress and sure enough, the machines would reward me graciously , throwing back most of my lost buyins, in no time! ☺

Team 9stacks: What activities do you recommend (apart from poker ofcourse) , for the all the winners of the Vegas challenge to do, during their stay in Las Vegas.

Werewolf : Go to the shooting ranges, ride some Ferraris , see some of the most world renowned shows , do a lot of shopping at the north and south outlet malls if looking for good deals on big brands or just chill on the strip and Fremont street area in downtown Vegas.

Here’s wishing the Werewolf the best for all the other milestones available on the #LFGVegas2.00 board!

Team 9stacks

My First foray into online poker made easy by 9stacks


I am not a poker expert. I am just a guy who stumbled upon the game during my college fests. It was fascinating , the LIVE format and even though i was initially lost a lot of money, I feel it was well spent. I look at that as phase an investment.

With time, I got pretty good at the game, or so I liked to believe. By the third year, college fests became too sporadic to satisfy my growing hunger for poker. I veered toward online poker. It was perfect! I could play all day! But I wasn’t able to play for long on most sites.

That's actually when 9stacks came into my life. I saw a couple of ads and I looked at their site. I couldn’t believe their offers and tournaments were so simple!

The joining process was pretty easy. After some simple verifications I was on a virtual table playing with real stakes.

It was love at first sight -the hands move smoothly, the interface is quite intuitive . The time that you get for each action is sufficient for a thoughtful decision and not too much that it bogs down the table. There are different alerts to grab your attention when it's your turn. And if that's not enough, you can play on multiple tables at the same time!

Ofcourse, this was no simple college fest game between friends , this was hardcore. Everyone was in it to win it and I was no exception.

I was worried people will learn my playing strategy and was afraid they would categorize me  as a frequent bluffer or a slow stacker. But 9stacks  had a solution for that. They have anonymous tables for so that no one else can learn and benefit from your style.

It took me a little time to really get used to playing here. It was tough. There is so much action on the site! Wo kehte h na "Pehla pyar ho ya pehla exam, Kabhi accha nhi jata".

In the first few games, my stacks dwindled pretty fast.I realized that skills required for online poker are pretty different from its offline counterpart. Online or virtual poker is all about reading the bets and creating strategies that work every time . I had to change my tactics.

That’s when I found about the skills dashboard they launched sometime ago.

Let's take a sample situation in a game of Hold'em. You get Queens. The guy before you goes all in preflop. Now in an offline game on poker, You might read it as a bluff by reading the guy and Might be tempted to call. When I started on 9stacks, this was one of the mistakes I made . Looking at my stats on Preflop ALL in calls when I had a pocket, (Yes, you can put that many filters in the skills tab, I checked) my win rate on such calls was an abysmal 32%. What ends up happening is online the experience is a bit different, as the stakes are higher, people's tendencies to bluff preflop are pretty small.

There are a host of such habits that I had carried over from offline tables to online version that I needed to change. The skills tab showed me all the data on my mistakes and strengths. I started to get some of my confidence  back as I started winning.  

As the college fests started approaching, I wanted to see how I compared in a time constrained scenario of tournaments. The hourly free-roll tournaments were a great help here. The more I played, the more I learnt.

This game is insanely fun. It feels so good to win and triple your stacks in one go. I think I am in it for the long haul!

Signing off for now,



“Molly’s Game” – A Movie Review


 I watched Molly’s Game, the movie a couple of days back, and believe me now, all I ever want to do is be Dolly, the Indian version of Molly Bloom, the woman who took the world of poker by storm.

Molly’s Game is the true story of Molly Bloom, former world class skier and ‘Poker Princess’.  Jessica Chasten of the Zero Dark Thirty fame is the actor that plays her, brilliantly, in this biopic. The film is based on the novel by the same name, written by Molly Bloom, herself.


When an accident destroys Molly’s sports career, she moves to LA to recuperate for a year before she starts law school.
She gets a waitressing job at a high end club where she meets her future boss, the obnoxious, “I don’t eat bagels from BlueBell because they are poor people bagels”, Dean (played by Jeremy Strong).

Dean introduces Molly to the poker world and has her set up a poker game which has a 10000 dollar buy in. The guest list of that game includes Hollywood stars, directors, business tycoons, politicians and the who’s who of America.

By the time the evening ends, Molly, the ever sharp, astute observer has learnt more than just the basics of the poker life, has earned a 3000 dollar tip and has hobnobbed with LA’s poshest glitterati. Molly is hooked.

She slowly builds a rapport with one Hollywood star at these games called Player X played by Michael Cera ( it is said that it is depiction of Toby Mcguire). He is a skilled poker player. Molly continues being Dean’s assistant till he kicks her out. But she only moves on to set a higher stake game where she is now the house, with the support of Player X.

Her games have a rolling of millions of dollars. (Yours truly, Dolly, would be happy with a few lakhs and SRK.) 

The movie takes you to the kinds of players there are, the kinds of hands there are and the kinds of drugs there are. There is enough poker vocabulary to keep the poker enthusiasts well entertained –nuts, fourth street, tilt, flop, full boat, etc…. As the movie unfolds, she becomes the Poker Princess and moves from LA to NYC where she holds the highest stake games in the world. 

She does this for 12 years, earns millions of dollars without playing herself, till the FBI arrests and indicts her for conducting illegal gambling. She is defended by the dishy hunk Idris Elba (of the Luther fame) who plays her lawyer Charlie Jaffey.  The portrayal of the case left a lot to be desired. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay could have been fine tuned to include some entertaining courtroom scenes that this script so demands. What makes up for it though, are the scenes between Jessica and Elba, where you get a peek into her inherent decency and his deepening respect for her. 

Aaron Sorkin does good justification to the poker hands and on his hands is a good directorial debut. It is a must watch for poker enthusiasts if only to realize how much it is a game of skill and not so much a game of luck. Of course Dolly’s main take away was, don’t let your epitaph say you died trying to recover. Watch it to know why! 

It’s not yet out on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Google Play but here’s the IMDB link. It has a 7.6 rating.


A Beginner's Guide to Hand Reading

Hand Reading.jpg


Hand reading is a poker skill that basically allows you to predict and correctly assign a range of hands  that your opponents might have at the poker table.

This is a very important skill which helps you make better decisions, and of course, make more money in the game.

Given the fact that it such an important aspect of poker, hand reading is a complex topic which players keep working at throughout their career.

In this post, we'll try and simplify this topic for people new to the game.

A word of caution - like everything in poker, hand reading is extremely player dependent. If you have played with an opponent for a long time and know his common tendencies, then go with that read. But if you are playing against an unknown, or you are unsure about a spot, then revert back to these basics.

1. Pre Flop Action

Entering the pot pre flop by raising, instead of limping is a proven profitable strategy.

If your opponent deviates from this by limping in, what does this tell you?

It tells you that they don't have premium hands like AA, KK, QQ or strong aces like AK or AQ. 

What do they have instead?

Suited connectors and gappers, broadways, weak Aces, Kings and Queens, sometimes even complete garbage - hands that they want to see a cheap flop with.

Essentially, this tells us that their range is wide and is devoid of the topmost hand categories.

Caveat: However, some tricky players might like to trap with premium hands pre-flop. More often than not, they are hoping that someone raises over their limp, and then they can reraise when the action comes back to them.

2. Bet Sizing

Weak players give away the strength of their hand based on their bet size. Their bet size is directly proportional to the strength of their hand.

The way to exploit this strategy is by folding more when they bet bigger, and calling/raising more when they bet smaller. To ensure that we don't make the same mistake, our bet size should be based on the range of hands that we can have, and not on our exact hand.  

There is also a segment of players who employ a complete opposite strategy - betting small when they are strong, and betting big when they are weak.

This is not a strategy we would ever recommend,because what you are doing here is essentially making less money when you have a strong hand and losing more when you bluff. 

3. Timing Tells

The amount of time a player takes to call a bet is a reliable source of information.

If a player calls a bet quickly, this means that they have a hand which doesn't require too much thinking - medium strength hands (like second pairs) and draws.

Think about it this way, if you had a very strong or very weak hand, you would at least take a few seconds to consider whether to raise or not (either to extract value or bluff out better hands).

When your opponents snap call your bets, it allows you to exploit them by applying pressure on some turns and rivers and forcing them to fold their medium strength hands.

4. Player Type

The hands a player can have in a spot changes based on his type.

  • Loose-Passive - They play a lot of hands by calling instead of raising. This makes their range wide and allows us to value bet more hands.
  • Loose-Aggressive - They play a lot of hands by raising. Their range is still wide and we can bluff-catch and trap with more hands. They'll make more betting mistakes than calling mistakes.
  • Tight-Aggressive - This is the default play of a good player. Their range is narrow and we have to be careful with the hands that we chose to play because they will regularly apply pressure and will show up with the goods quite often.
  • Tight-Passive or Nits - They play very few hands and do so by calling instead of raising. We should bluff-catch less and value bet only strong portions of our range.

5. Meta-Game

Good player not only play a good strategy, they also try to get into the head of their opponents.

  • Level 1 thinking - what do I have.
  • Level 2 thinking - what does my opponent have.
  • Level 3 - what does my opponent think I have.
  • And so on.....

We always want to be one level ahead of our opponents. Against most players, Level 3 is a good place to be. If we are facing a good thinking player, we might have to go further into this meta-game. 

Hand reading is an ever evolving topic that cannot be covered in a single post.

What I have given you here are some of the basics that should come in handy.

If you find this useful and feel that you are making better decisions, let us know in the comments below. And maybe we'll do a series of these. 



This article was written by Mayank Jain. Mayank is a writer who plays poker for a living. He writes at on mindfulness, travel and art, among other things.

Confessions of a Poker Noob



Hi, I am Betazoid. I am a total noob, newbie, novice or whatever one calls a clueless person in the intrigue that is Poker.  I got hooked onto the online version of the game within a span of 2 weeks! Yes, that’s how long I have been playing poker.

Is it an addiction, is it a compulsion, is it a challenge, is it a distraction or is it all about the moolah ... well, I really don’t know. All I can say is that I am enjoying myself playing tourneys or playing with friends or making new friends.

I am not justifying the game which I have come to enjoy. I had played a couple of times with some of my young friends visiting Bangalore. They taught me the basic rules and added me to their poker buddy list.

Now I can keep in touch as well interact with my poker friends.

Everyone knows the good old proverb all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy... Not counting video games, which I don’t know why, have been classified under games!

When a friend of mine introduced me to 9stacks recently, I thought ...  hmmm me a techno-dunderhead learning to play poker, that too online, fat chance I would take to it. But, here I had a chance to play with my poker buddies even if they were in other cities. And, I could play every now and then, depending on mutual convenience. Nice opportunity, I thought.

Here I am a week later, playing with the pros and friends on a daily basis, and generally learning to deal with the trauma of losing a dear friend under tragic circumstances. No, poker is definitely not the cure-all elixir, but in my case it was just what I needed!

I still blink stupidly at the lingo so liberally used by the pros, trying to figure out a rocket from a pocket or flipping on the flops or blindly bleeding. Imagine my shock when I was dealt four cards instead of two in one of the tourneys.  But a friend very patiently explained the difference and told me to read up on poker. All while playing the crazier game. I still have no clue about PLO, but I can choose what to play and what to avoid now.

The 9stacks website is very user friendly, the guys running the show welcome suggestions to make it more interactive. I won a couple of tourneys (beginners luck I guess) lost a number of them trying to understand whether it is just luck or strategy or anticipation or gauging one’s opponent. I guess it is a bit of all, I still haven’t figured it out!

Money is an important factor in playing poker. It is definitely not for people who gamble on racing animals. Poker requires skill to make instant decisions, not succumb to temptations and play under pressure of time. Multitasking is simply not possible while playing online poker (learned the hard way).

I decided to gift myself some money for my birthday to play poker, and am enjoying the gift to myself. How long it lasts, I don’t know. When the gift dissipates, I will probably still play poker... at a slower pace anyway!

-          BETAZOID