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 Attention Poker Lovers, #LFGVegas is BACK!

The biggest Vegas challenge is BACK and this time, we’re taking 200 qualifiers with us to the poker mecca of the world, during the 50th Anniversary of the World Series of Poker, 2019.

Oh yes! We have made this year’s grind more fun and rewarding at every step.   Peppered with easy to achieve goals along the way, reaching 50K points to win a trip to Vegas is going to be an awesome experience.

Grind on the ‘LFG’ tagged tables, hit milestone levels and  win crazy prizes. At 50K points you are eligible for the 2 lakhs Grinder package which includes travel and stay at Las Vegas.


Grind some more to reach 150K points and win the Crusher package that gives you the Vegas trip + 4.5 Lakhs BR in your poker balance.

Players who reach 300K points win the Baller hamper and get Rs 12.5 lakhs worth BR in their poker balance along with their trip.

G.O.A.Ts - The ones who hit 500K points before 31st of May 2019, win it all- the trip and a whopping amount of Rs 25 Lakhs worth of BR in poker balance. <Mr Bean Video>

This is not al! At every 25K points post the Grinder level, you get an additional cash rewards! Click here to check out our crazy rewards.

You know #LFGVegas is all about you, and so we have a lot of Boosters and Stake Multipliers available at every step to help you earn those points quicker!

For all those looking to make some extra bankroll, we suggest that you take part in the January #BRbuilders. Earn 25K points before 31st January 2019 and win Rs 1 Lakh in your poker balance. What’s more is  that if you make 50K points by 31st January, you not only redeem the Grinder package (travel and stay in Vegas) , but also an extra bankroll amount of 3 Lakhs in your poker balance!

As a testament to how easy this grind actually is, one of the 200+ challengers , @Jon$now just made 25K  points within 5 days of the launch of the contest and has pocketed Rs 1 Lakh in his poker balance!

We are only counting the number of days it will take for him to hit the 50K milestone.

We are only counting the number of days it will take for him to hit the 50K milestone.

Last year, when we launched #LFGVegas, we knew we’d be taking the largest contingent of poker players from India to the poker mecca, Las Vegas, during the World Series of Poker 2018.  42 qualifiers won a trip to Vegas and 12 of them won the $10,000 Main Event ticket. 25 out of the 42 winners flew with us as a part of #9stacksTeamIndia. the team made/Created history with Nishant Sharma  becoming the first ever Indian poker player to reach rank 34 at the Main Event.

Vivek Rughani entered the top 100  and announced the poker boom in India  on LIVE television.

Mayank Jaggi, Sanjay Taneja and Rishabh Jain stormed into the final tables of various  tournaments , announcing India’s growing dominance on the world poker map.

This year, we’re hoping to make it BIGGER, CRAZIER and clearly stamp India’s mark on the tables at the casinos in Vegas!

Participate now and make your Vegas dreams come true.

See you at the tables!

Cheers,

Team 9stacks


PS: Dont forget to like , follow and subscribe to us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for exciting offers, contests and updates.







Poker Ke Side Effects : Juggling Life and Poker

Juggling Life and Poker

Hi guys!

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by werewolf, maidumji, happyknight and betazoid over the past one year and was inspired to write one about my own poker journey. Believe me, it’s been a long and arduous one. Quite unlike my username, @easymoney.

I’ve been playing poker since 2010 ie 8 years  now. I developed a tremendous liking for cash games quite early on, but as all cash game lovers can vouch for, the grind is steep and full of surprises. Especially when it comes to balancing our poker selves along with our regular social selves.

I admire the game strategies employed by Tom Durrr Dwan and try to imbibe his aggro style into my game. I’m not going to lie to you, my rise in poker came with tremendous financial setbacks, especially in the beginning. Like all newbies, I lost money initially because I wasn’t ‘reading the table’ right, I was only focused on my game and did not really observe the other players and what they were doing. I got bad beats and unbelievable coolers and like every other newbie I got affected by them. There were times where my bankroll would get exhausted thrice a year and there were times when I would have to borrow from family, which i agree, isnt ideal.

I would avail bonuses and rakebacks offered by most sites, but at the end of the day, I’d  lose everything on the cash table. To gain back some money, I would participate in cash grinds and somehow would never be able to ‘make the cut’ on the leaderboard.  I would be playing day in and day out. My sleep schedule suffered, my personal life also got a little haywire. My wife and I would go out for dinner or for shopping and I would be playing on my phone all the time. Balancing life and poker together was getting very tough.

But it wasn’t all bad though. The more I played, the more I learnt and the better I got.  As I played on various sites and got exposed to different strategies used by more serious players. I observed the game more carefully, read up on the internet, watched videos on YouTube and slowly I began to win. I still had a long way to go before I got really good at the game.

Very soon, 9stacks launched their Skills Dashboard, which promised to pinpoint the problems in my game minutely. I would be able to understand what hands I win on, which type of stakes  I am better playing on.

I had played on 9stacks earlier and did have quite a good time on not only their cash tables would also participate in their tournaments and win!  Some of the best players in the industry played here and won. There were other players doing so well on the platform, I wanted in on all that.

So when the Skills Dashboard happened, I was thrilled.

Through the Skills Dashboard analytics, I realised where the leaks  in my current game really were. This analytical, data driven approach to my game helped me realise which hands and in which position did my raises help me win. I could see how I have performed across the number of hands I have played. I realised that I was a better cash game player and my tournament strategy was also beginning to improve.

Once I got on this wagon, I decided to up the ante in terms of developing myself as a serious poker player. I allotted strict hour limits for my poker playing time. I ate better, I tried to focus on my health. Started yoga and meditation inspired by some players . I have seen the change in my game now. I come  in the money regularly. I am able to get into the top ranks of the cash grind contests on 9stacks. This boosts my confidence and every poker player will agree that winning a poker game definitely is the best high. Ofcourse, personally, my life is much less chaotic and much more relaxed.

During the #LFGVegas challenge on 9stacks, I won an iPhone8, I won the trip to Vegas worth 2.5 Lakhs, a hefty rake back , because these guys do have the best offers, rake back deals and and achievable contests.

In the current Aussie100 contest, I’ve currently locked in about 75K and Im hoping I can make 50k points before 15th December to win my trip to Melbourne and play during the Aussie Millions in January next month.

I’m glad to share that I have done better as a poker player here on 9stacks and have been trying to develop as a serious one. I like how the platform has made it easy for me. I have my bad days but  I don’t feel the tilt as badly now. I am glad to say that I’ve begun playing more responsibly now.

My advice for everyone who’s wanting to do well at poker:

  • Play WITHIN your limits

  • Have a life BEYOND poker

  • NEVER take  loan from friends to play poker

  • MAXIMIZE on Rakebacks and Promos

  • On a bad day CHANGE your Login and password :p (That’s the only thing you can change in the tilted state, right? )

Signing off for now,

@easymoney


Poker diaries: The Art of Bluffing- A Noob’s guide to the Poker Land

The Koi is back!

Now that I have learned to compartmentalise poker players, I must say that I am really enjoying myself. No huffs, no whining, no getting irritated.... just play the hands you are dealt! How you call, judge, raise or fold is what makes one a good poker player.
People often crib about cards like 9-2, 8-3, Q-4 in hand. They are vague combinations, to say the least, unless the Flop reveals a double. How to deal with cards like that – just fold them or pray for the River to Turn your luck or simply bluff your way by going all-in? 


Before I begin waxing eloquent on the subtle art of bluffing, a word of caution - bluffers, bullies and agros BEWARE. The Kois (I mean newbies) are fast acquiring skills to penetrate the fine art of deception.


I have often wondered, cribbed, sulked and gotten frustrated with all the posturing, bullying and bluffing that goes on endlessly in poker games. Grrr. Why, oh why all these dramatics? Why can’t people be straight forward and play hands trusting Ms.Luck faithfully?

Wait a minute!

That thought process triggered something so intrinsic and minimalistic that I simply couldn’t believe the answer – it would be boring! How could I even ignore the fact that bluffing, duping, hoodwinking, misleading and whatever else you call the art of deception, is the innate human trait upon which civilisations were built. Stupid me 


Once that piece of jigsaw fit into the larger picture, I began analysing the intriguing art of bluffing and bluffers. Over the past few weeks I set myself out to categorise the different types of bluff. Here is a small list (the search continues)


1.    Royal Bluff: Usually happens when the shark has a Broadway hand (AKQJ). Most sharks go for a handsome pre-flop raise. Now, if the Flop turns up sad cards like say 925 the sharks usually go for bloating the pot.  Whether to call or not rests solely upon your hand.
2.    Straight Bluff: This is a tricky one. No matter what hand they have, some sharks just raise and raise and raise, even if the hand is 72 in different colours. Fold works best possibly, but risk can double or triple your stack! Not recommended for the faint hearted.
3.    Flush bluff: This is a straight forward bluff when there is a flush draw. Unless you have a pair in the draw or a strong flush card, this is dangerous to continue. Learnt this the hard way, having lost to bigger cards. 
4.    Double Whammy Bluff: The most misleading of all the bluffs. The shark has met your call up to the Turn, giving no indication of a winning hand. Suddenly on the River, no matter what card, the shark raises ridiculously. He will be holding a full house or a flush and he has given you no clue. You confidently raise on your two pairs and plop you go.
5.    Lag bluff:  When no one is keen on calling, just checking their way to see the next card, this joker suddenly disgorges a crazy amount or goes allin! 

6.    One-upmanship bluff: This is probably the most common among bluffs. Ahem, the younger lot is prone to this, especially in a short duration tournament. At least, it works for one of the racing lot  
7.    All-in Bluff: This is most common in low buy-in 15 minute tourneys, done either to up the stack or go in for rebuy. Go for it if you are in the ‘take a chance’ mood.
8.    Serial bluff: This is a habitual compulsive disorder. Defies all logic and usually the pretenders are out and someone’s stack gets fattened. They are easy to spot 


The search continues, and all said and done, though I have bluffing jitters, I have come to accept bluffing as a natural part of poker. Whether I have learnt to bluff or not, call and see 


Betazoid signing off...

An Introduction to Game Theory in Poker

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A quick look up on the internet, gives us the definition of Game Theory as:

The branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of strategies for dealing with competitive situations where the outcome of a participant's choice of action depends critically on the actions of other participants. 

Having a game theory optimal (GTO) strategy means that we find the best solution for our situation irrespective of what our opponent does. A standard example is the Prisoner's Dilemma. Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry and a YouTube video if you didn't know about this already.

What does GTO mean in poker?

Being a good poker player means making the best decisions based on the incomplete information you have. To bridge this very chasm between incomplete information and the best decision, we take the help of game theory. Just like in the Prisoner's Dilemma, we do not know what the opponent's strategy is. So we make the most optimal game theory decision in a vacuum. Then, as we gain more information about an opponent, we adjust your strategy based on this new information.

Two Examples:

1. Bet Size
On the flop, your opponent bets 1/3rd pot. What do you do with middle pair? Most likely, you would call. What if he makes it 1/2 pot? Or 3/4 pot? Or 2x pot? 4x pot? At what point do you decide that you won't call this bet?

As your opponent's bet size increases, the odds that you get become worse. In order to not get exploited, we have to start letting go of some hands. So we start folding our weak pairs, then middle pairs good kickers, then middle pairs strong kickers, and sometimes even top pairs with weak-medium kickers.

2. Bluff catching
Similar logic goes into bluff catching. For example, say you have JTo and board runs out Jack high - you have top pair medium kicker. Your opponent, whom you don't know anything about, bets big all three streets. What do you do? If you always call down with just a top pair, you will be often up against QQ+ or better top pairs. If you always fold, you open yourself up to getting bluffed. To find a balance, we use a GTO approach.

As we move from flop to turn and to the river, we start folding the bottom of our range. This means that out of all the hands that we could have in this spot, we start folding the worst ones. If we find ourselves here with top pairs often, we start folding the ones with the worst kickers. If we call with every Jack on the flop, we fold some like J9, JT on the turn. On the river, since we arrive with QJ+, we have to fold some of these and call with some. So we can fold the worst Jacks - QJ, KJ and call down with AJ.

In the first example, we did not know what our opponent bet-sizes meant. In the second, we do not know when our opponent is bluffing or when he is value-betting. Hence we chose a strategy that allows us to make the best decision no matter what he does. Does it mean that we will win every pot? No. But it does mean that in the long run, after playing thousands of hands, and facing the same situations many times, the summation of all our decisions will come out to be a profitable number.

How does GTO compare with Exploitative strategy?

Exploitative strategy means that when you have absolute reads on your opponents, you deviate from the GTO approach to make the best decision in that particular instance. For example, if you know that the villain never bluffs when he bets big all three streets, but you are at the top of your range, it maybe a fine GTO call, but you can make an exploitative fold knowing that you are always beat.

No single strategy is better than the other. Usually a combination of both is the way to go - because even though GTO style is profitable, mixing it with exploitative might be even more profitable. This is especially true when you are playing against weaker opponents. They have certain tendencies and leaks that are better suited for an exploitative style of play. But against stronger opponents, who have fewer obvious leaks, a GTO style is much more favorable.

As the poker software and poker AI has become better, more and more players are employing a GTO approach, especially when the stakes are high and the competition is good. But since no player is playing a perfectly GTO strategy, adding an exploitative style to your game is a good idea.

Hopefully, this primer was useful and may it help you make more profitable decisions in the future. And next time try employing this strategy in any one aspect of your game - value-betting, check-raising, bluffing etc. 

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.

Maidumji's Poker Chronicles- Part 2

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Hello again, my poker peeps!

Maidumji brings you more observations from the poker table and is here to spill the beans on the different kinds of players I have encountered so far. Now I don’t know if technical terms exist for these kinds of players, but I am sharing what I saw for myself. 

So here’s meeting maidumji’s poker rivals, up close and personal!
 
    The Photo Card Slave – There are 2 people I have played with frequently, and by God, give them a photo card (even if accompanied by a 2) and they are truly married and off on their honeymoon with that card. No matter what the bets, no matter how many players claiming the pot, they CANNOT put a King down. Sometimes they get lucky and hit their pair, but mostly, they give you a lot of money!

    The Tight Mr. Right – I would like to become one and God knows I try! But these are people who are patiently waiting for premium hands and refuse to give in to any bets unless they have AA, KK, AK and only sometimes, QQ. Nothing less works for them but the good thing is, when they re-raise you, promptly fold, yes, even a 10-10 is a FOLD because they have a seriously good hand up their sleeve!

    The Aggressive Killljoy – This is the kind of player who is fearless, will raise on any 2 cards, or call on any 2. Sometimes I think they do it just to mess with your head and sometimes I feel like shoving them off the table with an all-in. Seriously, either you play or I play,  because playing with them is a pain! But hey, no points for guessing, they are my least favourite players to indulge!

    The Newbie – These are the cute ones who are learning the ropes of the game and I call them cute because so many times, they don’t even know the strength of their own hand and end up fooling others by their small/lack of appropriate raises. Sure they make a lot of money this way, and end up giving a lot too!

    The Chronic Crybaby – Hates when he loses, whines about it for minutes after, and also lectures you on why you shouldn’t have called his bet. Seriously, grow up already, and learn to take it on the chin!

    The SHARK  - Ohh this is the real deal, peeps. The kind of players who are completely unpredictable, and the scariest thing is, they have such a good read on people that they adapt their game effortlessly based on who they are up against. I am sure I am their favourite bait, because I am more transparent than a glass door, and most predictable in the way I play the game. I prefer when they bully me and make me fold, but no, they are smart enough to make just the kind of bet you would call, thereby extracting the maximum they can from a hand.

    The Clueless  - I don’t know what name to give to this variety of poker players, but I think they end up on a poker table by sheer accident.  They don’t seem to know the game at all, and just sit there going with the flow, serious! They just do what the instructions say, so they check  when the prompt asks them to check, and if there is a bet, they call. If they hit something, good for them, and if not, so be it!

    The Position Ranger – Arre, now this dude will take his “position” very seriously and raise, even with a 3 and 5. Works for me, because I know it is compulsive and at least 50 percent of the time, will work in my favour! Also, they are smart enough to recognize spots for stealing the blinds. Now that is one skill I would love to master!

    The Math Geek – The almighty knows what they eat, but they talk about pot odds and 3x raises as “appropriate” based on position and number of blinds left, like they were reading from a teleprompter.  Makes me think of Sheldon Cooper from the big bang theory and never fails to amuse me!

    Mister All-In: the guy who will always go all-in when he's down to say his last 5 big blinds, regardless of the cards he's holding. I almost always call these guys blah blah.. and especially so if it's a tournament that allows rebuys, because all Mister All-In wants to do is finish his stack and buy in again - there, I helped him out of his misery! Aren't I kind?


    And finally, the best of all – The smart players, the women – Because there are so few of us right now,, I totally believe we deserve our own category.  We root for each other, indulge in fun banter  while winning away chips from other players in what is mostly considered a man’s game!
 
What do you think? What kind of players have you encountered at the table? Hit the comment space!
 
Next time, I am going to tell you about all the poker table conversations I hear and am sometimes a part of.  Quite a bit of learning there too!
 
And as always, see you at the table!
 
Cheers,
Maidumji
 

Ego Is The Enemy - Applications in Poker

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Ego is the Enemy is a highly acclaimed book by Ryan Holiday. It talks about how our ego often leads us on the wrong path in our pursuit of success. While reading the book, I couldn't help but notice its implications in poker. Allow me to start with a recent personal experience.

A few weeks ago, I was running deep in a live tournament. I busted on the final table after losing a flip. The guy who busted me wasn't someone I knew, but during the course of the day, we had developed a less than cordial relationship because of a few altercations. Later, we did shake hands and put it away as water under the bridge. 

Fast forward to yesterday when I found him on my table again in an online tournament. The first hand I played against him, he cracked my Aces. That hurt. Immediately, I felt a surge of emotions, clouding the logical part of my brain. I sensed an irrational desire to outplay him. And a few hands later, I busted against the same guy after making a sub-optimal play. I went on tilt and played worse for a couple of hours after that.

What happened here is a classic case of letting your ego guide your decisions rather than your poker knowledge. It is perhaps the most common mental game leak. I've been on the other side of this situation too when my opponents are not able to adapt to my playing style, and they go on tilt and give all their chips away. Their ego told them to fight to defeat me, instead of defeating my play. This led to bad decisions and a negative output for them.

It often happens that you end up playing more hands against a specific opponent. You think he is playing bad but getting lucky. Perhaps he is 3-betting every time you raise. Or maybe he is calling with all his gutshots even after getting bad odds and getting there. It makes you tensed up. You berate him in the chat box and you want to punish him. But how do you go about that?

The most common response I've seen from players is that they start becoming more aggressive, which ends up hurting them even more. Or they become too passive, waiting to trap with their most premium hands. None of these strategies is correct. The right approach would be to stick to your fundamentals. So, if your opponent is 3-betting you light, then you can tighten your opening range so that you can defend his 3-bet more often with a stronger range. If he calls with bad odds, then punish him by increasing your bet size, perhaps even overbetting flops/turns.

We chose a fundamentally sound counter-strategy which will give us the best chance of defeating our opponent. By separating the play from the player, we could identify the correct course of action.

This is what I mean by saying that ego is the enemy. Detach your ego from the results. It is fine if you are not able to defeat a particular player. Perhaps he is getting lucky, or he is playing better. If his play makes you feel awkward, then kudos to him. He shouldn't be expected to play in a style which makes you feel comfortable. Whatever be the case, you have the right strategy to deal with it - playing solid fundamental poker.

See you around,

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.

Confessions of a Poker Noob

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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