pokerbasics

How to read hands in poker

 Most new poker players begin their journey into the game by playing on the small stakes.

While that is a good way to begin the game, it is not something you should continue for a long time if you want to make serious inroads into playing good , skill based poker. This is because at smaller stakes, one tends to not be careful of their betting sizes as the initial investment is low.

Hand reading in online poker is one of the most important skills required in poker.

This is hard work. It requires all your attention , your patience and you will need to make quick decisions to master this skill.

In this article, we will attempt at jumping into the complex world of poker hand reading techniques and  figure out how to read an opponent’s hand taking into account all their tells.

 Before we start, we need to address the two common misconceptions:

 Myth 1 : All players on the table are ‘random’ and can have ‘anything’

It is true that there is some randomness to every player’s game strategy , however, it doesn’t stay that way too long.

Your opponents are can be truly arranged with their play, they could have “anything.” There are some hands that they will fold, and there are some hands they will never fold. Your goal is to assess their method or at least deduce enough about it to figure out how to capitalize on it. Remember this: There is always some method to their madness.

 Myth 2. : Hand Reading is the answer to all the problems in poker

 The second misconception is to do with the term “hand reading,” which is really a misnomer. As beginners, we are obsessed with only looking at OUR game and we tend to not look at the table and miss out key details about other players and their game strategies.

All good poker players know that to do well in poker your aim should always be to determine the hand ranges and not just read the hand of the opponent.

 This means that you should not know only care  about what exact possibilities your opponent has, but you must also worry about the possibilities and combinations that he could have and what move should be made by you to  get the best average result against all of the possibilities.

Hand Reading in Poker

 Consider the scenario where your opponents play half of the cards they’re dealt. How can you figure out what cards  they have precisely? But there’s a probability of guessing a couple of important things about what they don’t have. Your opponents who will call with half their hands still fold the other half and that folding range might look like unconnected junk hands.

 Your main objective while trying to read someone else’s poker hand , should not be to just  figure out whether they have something even better and find a fold, but should also be able to compare it with your hand to see if it is weaker than yours. You need to be especially aware of the ‘tells’  when your opponents put money into the pot despite having a hand worse than yours.

Every once in a while, you’ll find that you’ve gotten outwitted, or that you were ahead and then got outdrawn on your turn. As long as you have accurately determined that you would usually be ahead when the money went in, then you did all the hand reading you need to do.

This is only the introduction to hand reading in poker. We’ll be back with a more detailed version very soon.

Stay tuned!

Team 9stacks


Werewolf Speaks: WPT DIARIES

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The idea of playing live tournaments always excites me no end for multiple reasons.

For one, it gets me away from the computer screen that I perpetually stare at for more than 10 hours a day.

Secondly, because I feel it takes me closer to a purer form of poker , sitting across opponents , judging their moves, hiding your emotions  and holding real cards. The atmosphere is electric, with a lot of energy flowing through the poker room. You sit across people , looking at them , judging them , making mental notes. Who is afraid ? Who is flamboyant? Who is the thinker? Who will be easy to manipulate? Who to be afraid of? Evaluating people on their strengths and weaknesses, putting them on ranges and waiting for the right time to make the move.

Ahhh! Live is a different ball game.
So we started our second year of participation in the World Poker Tour, Goa.

Last year was a pretty successful year as we made two Final Tables , In Highroller Event and the Turbo Event.  In any case I feel I personally perform better on Live felts, so we went with a lot of positivity.
The first two events however did not go very well for us, Mostly card dead and getting suckedout out we could not make any money in the Kickoff event that took place on 13th November and the Deepstack event on 14th November.

Uncanny how it may be, we busted both the tournaments to Villain Holding A10 off, In the Kickoff we had AQ and Villain flopped two pairs , In Deep stack the villain went on to make nut flush with four diamond cards opening on the board.

But we did not let it dampen our spirits and in the bounty tournament managed to reach the Final table and ended the day the runner-up, nearly missing the trophy but making an Even Chop (splitting up the top two position prize money equally)  with the winner for the prize moneys. We went on to cash the Main event and making no money in the Highroller or Turbo event this year.

All in all a not so satisfying tour for me personally but can't complain either.

Now a little about the basic dos and don’ts at LIVE tourneys, for those of you yet to make your first live trip to a series/tournament.

1. Do not take unnecessarily long to make a decision.

I’m not saying don't give it a thought or be hasty but just don't tank on every hand. Usually, players are folding their hands and waiting for the next hand to be dealt so they can participate, there’s one player taking time on every hand for every decision (bet/raise/fold) is not so nice for them.
2. Always place your bet in front of you.

Never throw it in the pot directly, let the dealer collect it when the action on that street completes. Just to make sure every player has bet or called the right amount and avoid controversy.
3. Always act when it's your turn not before it.

You mucking your card before your turn gives an unfair advantage to the player on your left.
4. Make your bet or raise by compiling the pile of chips in front of you then move them over the betting line.

Throwing chips in one after the other is called STRING BETTING and is not allowed. Its best to announce your action and then put in the chips, for eg. Say "I BET X AMOUNT" or " I CALL" or "I RAISE TO X AMOUNT".
5. Remember to put in the antes in time.

Most of the online players forget to post the antes when they kick in and have to be reminded every hand. Better to learn it beforehand and not delay the action on the table. Online the antes/blinds are automatically posted but live players have to learn to post them in a timely manner.
6. Don't Lift your cards from the table.

One reason is it tells the table who all are in the hand, Secondly you reduce the chance of other players accidentally seeing your cards.
7. Don't abuse the players or the dealer.

Many people end up cussing when they lose or get a bad beat. Please understand its the nature of this game and abusing can get you barred from the games. Keep the conversation healthy. Give everyone the respect you expect from them.
8. Never discuss your cards when the hand is still in play.

Whether you are in that hand or have folded, revealing your cards is a strict NO NO.

So go ahead and have fun playing LIVE poker. If you have any queries about tournaments in Goa, feel free to comment below and I will try to address it as soon as I can. Ill be coming up with something for all the noobs in my next blog. Stay tuned!

Cheers
Werewolf



Werewolf Speaks- Why We Play Poker

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Hello there!

Here I am, with my debut poker blog on 9stacks!

A small disclaimer first - I don't consider myself an expert or a Guru of poker, I am learning it along with a lot of you.

In this blog, I am sharing what I have learnt rather what I feel about poker at this point in time.

What a wonderful time it is for poker in India with so many poker sites springing up offering so much value to not only the pros, but also to the recreational regs! Whether you enjoy the Multi Table tournaments (MTTS) or the cash grind there is enough action and multiple options for you. Not just that, there are enough poker rooms both B&M and online with various tables to offer you the stakes that you prefer. Micro to nosebleed whatever works for you.

Add to that, the variants that online sites offer you and you have a complete fun package available at the comfort of your home. Texas Holdem, Omaha, Open Face Chinese are some various forms that you can easily find online.

A few years back (in 2013 if you must know )I chanced upon this fabulous game on Zynga poker online and immediately fell in love.

It was competitive, it appealed to my mathematical abilities, gave me a high I didnt think i’d have, it was amazing!

I got so fiercely hooked onto it that during festive times around Diwali that I became a pain for my friends, thanks to me insisting on playing poker whereas everyone around was happy and comfortable with the regular teen patti game. :p

Well, the times have changed and Poker is replacing the normal Teen Patti games in most friendly house games, and not just during Diwali but the whole year around!

You can imagine how happy that makes me-I am not a social outcast anymore.

That got me thinking as to why do people play poker.

Now, if you ask a POKER PRO, they will tell you it’s to make the most money out of every hand you play, but that's not true for mere mortals like us. Yes we do want to win, but poker appeals to a lot more in people than the need to make a fortune.

People play poker because it is a game of skill, It gives their ego a boost, it is fun to play, they think they can beat it, it makes them feel cool, it gives them a high- the reasons can be numerous. Give me your reasons in comments below.

Once we have established the reasons that appeal to the poker player in us comes the hard task of learning the game and I say hard because most of us have a job, some hobbies, maybe families to look after and other social obligations.

Now one thing is certain, not all of us are thinking of beating the Giants in World Series of Poker (WSOP) so we don't need to take the pressure of mastering the game, it can remain fun for us. But those who do have bigger poker dreams have an uphill task. You see like most other sports poker also needs learning, practice and a disciplined approach. If you want to pursue poker seriously then you will also need to draw out short term and long term plans towards the success of the same.

In the next editions we will talk about various topics like the fun poker terms, the learning curve for beginners, poker etiquette, what all the poker sites in India are offering to the players in terms of gaming experience and promotions etc. and how to make the most of it. If there is any topic that you would like to read about feel free to comment below and I will try to incorporate it too.

Cheers and keep grinding.

-Werewolf

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.
 

A Beginner's Guide to Hand Reading

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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. 

Cheers,

Mayank

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