Starter Kit

Where are your Poker (Table) Manners?

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There are rules and there is etiquette. While the former are enforced, the latter is optional. And having good table etiquette makes for a more enjoyable game for you and for others around you. In some cases, these maybe enforced by the house, but usually, they are implicitly understood. Here, we list down what we think are the DOs and the DO NOTs of the game:

DO

  1. Keep big chips in front - The bigger denomination chips should always be in front of your stacks. This ensures that other players have complete information before they take any action, because often, decisions change depending upon a player's stack.
  2. Show the winning hand voluntarily - If there's a bet and a call on the river, the rule says that the bettor has to turn over his cards first. But, if you are the caller, and your opponent says, "You are good", feel free to turn over your cards first. After all, no one likes to show their big bluff.
  3. Keep your cards on the table - Some people have a tendency to keep the cards in their hands. This causes confusion and sometimes other players might not notice that you are involved in a hand too. So keep them on the table.
  4. Protect your hand - Once a hand goes into muck, even mistakenly (say the dealer mucks your hand by mistake), it cannot be taken out. So, ensure you protect your cards with a chip on top. 

DO NOT

  1. Hit and run - Don't be that guy who wins a big pot and leaves the table immediately.
  2. Act out of turn - Make sure to look to your right to see if the player before you has acted or not.
  3. Talk when others are in hand - Imagine being in a tough spot in a big hand and having to listen to incessant chatter on the table. Give others the space to think clearly and make their decisions.
  4. Discuss what hands you or the players currently active in the hand can have - This follows from the point above. Don't ever disclose information about your hand whether you are in it or not.
  5. Tank on every decision - It is OK to think for some time in tough spots. But, don't take forever in trivial decisions. It slows the game and makes it less fun for everyone.
  6. Splash the pot - When putting in your chips, don't throw them into the pot. Place them appropriately in front of your stack. It makes it easier for the dealer to count them.
  7. String bet - If you want to bet a certain amount, put in all the chips together. Don't do this: putting one chip, going back to your stack and then putting in more chips.
  8. Don't slow roll - This is one of the worst things you can do. When you have the nuts, and after all the action is over, you wait for a long time, pretending that you have a weak hand, and then slowly turn it over. It is heavily frowned upon.

Hope this helps. Leave your questions and comments below.

Love,

Team 9stacks

Live vs Online Poker

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Hey Guys,

God knows I love clicking buttons while sitting in my favorite undies on my cushioned chair, reclining all the way back, laptop connected to a big 32 inch monitor and the wireless keyboard and mouse at close access. Sometimes I just press 'Sit Out', do a few stretches, wander around the house, give my girlfriend a kiss, eat a biscuit, feed the neighbor's dogs and then come right back where I left and click on 'I'm Back'. 

This is the beauty of online poker. The freedom and flexibility it affords, is second to none. And this is why I prefer this format. 

But there's something to be said about LIVE Poker too.

The feel of the chips in your hands, seeing a big bluff go through, showing your hand to rub it in your opponent's faces, owning souls, banter, drinking - you have to agree, it is a lot of fun.

Before I got into online poker, I played LIVE. That is where my love affair with poker started. 

So, how do you decide which format to play?

Ideally, I'd recommend doing a balance of both, and then picking one as your preferred choice.  But, maybe, we can help you out a bit.  Here is a list of pros and cons.

Online

Pros

  • More hands per hours - The hands are dealt faster and you can play on multiple tables at the same time. This means more action, and a lot more fun.
  • Wider games to choose from - Let's say you don't like the table you are on. It is filled with strong players and you don't want to mess with them. Usually, there will be a lot of tables to choose from. You can just hop on to another one. There is a wider selection of games too - Texas Hold'em, PLO or Tournaments.

Cons

  • Can get boring sometimes - Clicking buttons on a computer screen all day, with no one to interact with can get dull. Your senses don't get stimulated as much as they would,in a LIVE setting.
  • You can't read people - If you are the kind of person who relies on reading people, you are at a loss online. People are hidden behind their screen names and all their emotions are invisible to you.

LIVE

Pros

  • Entertaining - As I mentioned earlier, playing live is a lot more fun. You are talking to people, moving about, and it being a social setting makes it an enjoyable experience.
  • Make friends - Taking cue from the point above, poker tables are a good place to make new friends. Most people are out to have a good time (and make money) and it is a good etiquette to make some light conversation.
  • Reading people is easier - Not everyone has a good poker face. So, if you are a good reader of people, your chances of winning big are higher.

Cons

  • Slow - It can be grueling at times. An average hand can range anywhere from 1 min to even 10 minutes. The number of hands you play becomes very less. Whereas online, it is common to play an average of 40 hands per hour.
  • Long hours - This follows from the point above. Since the number of hands/hr are less, you need to play for longer to be able to make a meaningful session.

I know this might confuse you a bit, but the key is to play both forms and then decide.

To start playing online, you need to find a platform that is safe, reliable and easy to navigate. Why not try 9stacks.com?

Let us know in the comments below which one you prefer.

Cheers,

Mayank

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

Basic Poker Maths

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It's Day 1 of a Coin-Flipping Tournament. You place a bet of Rs. 10 on Heads. Your opponent tells you that he will give you Rs. 15 if you win. And you lose your initial bet of 10 bucks if it falls Tails. Should you accept that bet?

Yes - the odds of you winning the coin flip are 1:1.  So 50% of the time you'll win Rs. 15 and 50% of the time you'll lose Rs. 10.

Your net expected value = (50%*15) - (50%*10) = 2.5

So, on an average you can expect to win Rs. 2.5 in this situation. 

Another way to look at it is by calculating your bet odds and comparing it with the odds of winning.

Calculating Bet Odds: Risk/ (Risk + Reward)

Thus in this case it was 10/(10+15) or 1/2.5 or 40%

This is a profitable spot because the odds of you winning (50%) are greater than the odds you are getting on your bet (40%).

Similar concepts are used in poker in certain spots. For example, say on the turn you have a flush draw, and your opponent bets. So do you call or fold?

The first step is to NOT auto-call because OMG-I-Haz-Flush-Draw
The second step is to calculate the odds of your making a flush - A
The third step is to calculate the pot odds you are getting - B
Check if A>B . If no, fold. 

Even though, this is a gross simplification of a fairly common poker spot. But, we hope you get the gist. This was an introduction to what poker maths looks like,  and we've just touched the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, smarter people on the internet have already made useful explanations on poker maths. Here are the links:

The Poker Bank's articles on Poker Mathematics 
Or if you prefer a video, here is one on Basic Poker Maths

Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or concerns.

A Beginner's Guide to Common Poker Terms

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Rockets, Snowman and Solomons.

Do you know what these mean in Poker?

Poker can be a little tough to play if you are unable to understand the meaning of the words casually thrown around during the game. Don't worry, we're here to help you out.

We have listed  out all the common terms that are standard in poker parlance to help  you figure out the game


Pre Flop:

Pre-flop play refers to the action that occurs before the flop is dealt. A game begins with the small blind and big blind posting the blinds, and cards are dealt to each player.

Pre-Flop Betting :

The player to the left of the blinds and pre-flop betting occurs when the first round of betting, known as the preflop betting round, starting with the player to the left of the blinds, and the betting is going around the table in a clockwise manner, with the player in the big blind closing the action.

Flop:

After the preflop betting round, the dealer places three cards face-up on the table. This is called the flop.

Turn: 

The fourth community card. Put out face up, by itself. Also known as "fourth street."

River:

The fifth and final community card, put out face up, by itself. Also known as "fifth street." Metaphors involving the river are some of poker's most treasured cliches, e.g., "He drowned in the river."

Straddle:
An optional extra blind bet, typically made by the player one to the left of the big blind, equal to twice the big blind. This is effectively a raise, and forces any player who wants to play to pay two bets. Furthermore, the straddler acts last before the flop, and may "re-raise."

Ante:

A small portion of a bet contributed by each player to seed the pot at the beginning of a poker hand. Most hold'em games do not have an ante; they use "blinds" to get initial money into the pot.

Blind
A forced bet (or partial bet) put in by one or more players before any cards are dealt. Typically, blinds are put in by players immediately to the left of the button.

Dealer:

The player in a poker game who actually (or theoretically) is dealing the cards. When a professional dealer (casino or cardroom) or automated dealer (online) is present - it is necessary to identify the player who would be dealing the cards because the blinds and the betting action are to the left of the dealer. This is done by utilizing a marker called a dealer button which travels around the table in a clockwise manner, moving to the next player after each hand is completed.
Limp: 

To limp in poker is to bet the absolute minimum needed to stay in a hand. Limping is often used when the little blind simply calls the big blind instead of raising. It's also known as limp in, flat call, or calling the blind.

Burn :

To discard the top card from the deck, face down. This is done between each betting round before putting out the next community card(s). It is security against any player recognizing or glimpsing the next card to be used on the board.

Misdeal:

The following circumstances cause a misdeal, provided attention is called to the error BEFORE two players have acted on their hands. (If two players have acted in turn, the deal must be played to conclusion, as explained in rule #2)

The first or second card of the hand has been dealt faceup or exposed through dealer error.
Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer.
Two or more boxed cards (improperly faced cards) are found.
Two or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game.
An incorrect number of cards has been dealt to a player, except the top card may be dealt if it goes to the player in proper sequence.
Any card has been dealt out of the proper sequence (except an exposed card may be replaced by the burncard).
The button was out of position.
The first card was dealt to the wrong position.
Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.
A player has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand. This player must be present at the table or have posted a blind or ante.

Hands:

A hand is a set of cards that are generally in the order of the hierarchy established in Poker to  win the game. 


Any pair in your hand - Pocket Pair

AA (Double Aces) - Rockets, Bullets
KK (2 Kings) - Cowboys, Solomons
QQ (2 Queens) - Ladies
77 (Double Sevens)- Walking Sticks
88 (Double Eights) - Snowman
22 (2 Twos)- Ducks, Deuces
AK (Ace and King) - Big Slick

Seat Positions (+1 indicates the seat to the left, -1 indicates the seat to the right):
SB - Small blind
BB - Big Blind
BB+1 - Under The Gun (UTG)
SB-1 - Button (BU)
BU-1 - CutOff (CO)
CO-1 - Hijack (HJ)
HJ-1 - Lowjack (LJ)
These positions are also dependent upon the number of players in the game. In general, the positions between UTG+1 and HJ can also be referred to as Middle Positions (MP).

Hand Strengths:

Aces Up :

A hand that contains two pairs, one of which is Aces. Usage: This phrase is used when a player has two pair, one of which is Aces. Since Aces are the highest possible pair, one says Aces up or "Aces over" (meaning they are higher than the second pair).


Full Boat :

This is a slang for a full house. A full house is a completed five card poker hand containing three of a kind plus a pair.


Wheel:

A wheel or bicycle is the poker hand 5-4-3-2-A, regardless of suit, which is a five-high straight, the lowest-ranking of the straights. In ace-to-five low poker, where aces are allowed to play as low and straights and flushes do not count against a hand's "low" status, this is the best possible hand

Hand Situations:
Cooler :

The term “cooler” refers to when you are dealt a very strong hand in poker only to be up against an opponent with an even better hand. Usually there is no way you can avoid getting away from the hand in situations like these.


Suck Out: 

A slang term referring to a player drawing out an opponent to win a hand after having been an underdog to do so. For example, a player goes all in with and is called by an opponent holding .


Bad Beat:

A subjective term for a hand in which a player with what appear to be strong cards nevertheless loses. It most often occurs where one player bets the clearly stronger hand and their opponent makes a poor call that eventually "sucks out" and wins.


Runner Runner :

Runner-runner is a slang term gaining credence as a common descriptor. It describes a player catching two running cards in a row in order to make their hand. This is generally only used in games with a flop, turn, and river, to describe a player needing to catch a favorable turn and river in order to make their hand.

Backdoor:

Making a hand other than the one intended. 

For example, having J/10 of Clubs with a flop of A of Clubs, 5 of Clubs. 6 of Spades. The turn and river are K & Q of Hearts. You made a straight instead of the intended (and more likely) flush


Gutshot/ Belly Buster / Inside Straight Draw:

Gutshot, bellybuster and inside straight draw are all terms used to describe a hand in which the player is drawing at a single card rank to make a straight. By definition, this is at best a four-out draw (there might be fewer outs if one or more of the necessary cards is already dead).


Nuts:

In poker, the best possible hand for any arrangement of cards is known as the ‘nuts’. Sometimes you will be fortunate enough to hold the nut hand after all the cards have been dealt. In that case you would be in a completely unbeatable position. However, it is sometimes possible that someone else may have the same hand as you, in which case you will split the pot.


Monster:

In poker, a "monster" is a very big hand. For instance, let's say that you are dealt 33 on the button. The action folds around to you. You put in a standard pre-flop raise, and the SB and BB both call.


Air:

In poker, the term “air” refers to a hand with no value, like is the case with non-paired hands. The word is used to describe situations when you raise or call a bet with no hand to bluff or setup a bluff on a later street.


Brick:

A card that did not have an impact on the outcome of a particular hand or that is expected to have no impact on the outcome of a hand in progress, especially in reference to a face-up card dealt to a particular player rather than a community card.

General Terms


Bankroll: 

Bankroll is the amount of money you set aside exclusively to play poker


Rake:

Rake is the scaled commission fee taken by a cardroom operating a poker game. It is generally 2.5 to 10 percent of the pot in each poker hand, up to a predetermined maximum amount. 


Tell:

A tell in poker is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player's assessment of their hand. A player gains an advantage if they observe and understand the meaning of another player's tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable.


Tilt:

Tilt is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive.


Railbirds:

A railbird is someone who watches poker games. They get their name because generally observers of poker games must stand behind a rail. Sometimes, railbirds are poker players who are broke and want to get back into the action.


Rounders:

A rounder is synonymous with a grinder. These are players who make their living or a significant amount of their income from playing poker. They tend to play mid or low stakes games and win money bit by bit.

Variance:

"I'm running bad," is a phrase you will often hear poker players use to describe periods of bad luck or variance. In poker, it sometimes just feels as if the cards are conspiring against you and that you can't win a hand. These periods can go on for weeks or even months, resulting in your bankroll taking a nosedive.

These are some terms you should know when you are trying to learn how to play poker. 

We will be coming up with more such terms very soon. If you want us to explain a certain term that is boggling your mind, write to us int he comments below and we'll help you out!

Love,

Team 9stacks