BlackRain79
What to Do Versus a Big River Bet (3 Simple Tips)
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This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan. Playing the river optimally is what makes or breaks your winrate.  It’s the biggest money street and you often have to make a decision for your whole stack. The amount of money in the pot by the river often paralyzes players, because they are overly focused on the pot size, which affects their decision making process.  So what should you do versus a big river bet? Well, when you ask a broad question, you tend to get a broad answer, so here it is: it depends. There’s a lot of factors to consider here: your opponent type, previous action, board runout, pot odds, your relative hand strength, just to name a few. Not a huge help, so let’s try to break it down in this article. 1. Try to Bluff Catch Versus Loose and Aggressive Players Let’s start with the type of player we are up against. Most players will primarily bet for value when they fire off a big river bet, especially at the micros.  The only exception would be loose and aggressive players. This is true for both regulars and aggrofish. You can generally call wider against aggrofish than you would against LAG regulars. The looser and more aggressive the player, the wider you should call them down.  This is an advanced poker strategy that works extremely well in today's small stakes games. BlackRain79 discusses it in more detail in this video: So in practice, this means that sometimes you should call them down with hands you wouldn’t be comfortable calling with otherwise, like top pair weak kicker, second pair, two pair on a wet board and such.  It’s important to trust your judgment in these situations, otherwise you’re better off folding earlier if you suspect you’re going to get barrelled and pushed out of the pot.  However, just because someone is loose and aggressive, doesn’t mean they will have only bluffs in their range, especially on the river. The board runout is an important factor when deciding how wide you should call. Generally speaking, the drier the board, the wider you can bluff catch.  Why?  Because your opponent sees the same community cards you see, and if they bet huge on the river, they’re basically saying that the board doesn’t scare them and they don’t care what you are holding.  On the other hand, if the river bricks (i.e. a river card doesn’t change anything significantly, because it fails to complete any straight or flush draws, for example), your more observant opponents might put you on a busted draw and try to bluff you out of the pot.  They can also have a busted draw of their own, as decently winning LAGs know the power of semibluffing on earlier streets, and know a large majority of their opponents won’t have the heart to call down their triple barrel without a monster hand. In this situation, you should look for an opportunity to bluff catch with your top pair or second pair, for example. Bear in mind that this isn’t something you should try to do often, as these kinds of situations are more of an exception than the rule, but who doesn’t love a good hero call from time to time? If you’re able to pick off a huge pot with a mediocre hand, it can do wonders to your bottom line, as most players wouldn’t have the nerve to pull it off.  It will also make it more difficult to play against you, because you’ll show that you are able to call down in less than ideal circumstances, and won’t be pushed around.  Just a disclaimer:  Know that it’s a high-risk, high reward play, and should be attempted only in specific circumstances, against specific opponents, on specific boards and against specific previous action.  You should base it on sound information and tells you’ve picked up on, not just the feeling that this guy is bluffing, I’m gonna call him down with my Ace-high. Big River Bet Example Hand #1 Effective stack size: 100BB. You are dealt A♦8♦ in the BB. A LAG reg open-raises to 3x from the BU. SB folds, you call. Pot: 6.5BB. Flop: T♣7♠6♥ You check. Villain bets 3BB. You call. Pot: 12.5BB. Turn: 2♣ You check. Villain bets 6BB. You call. Pot: 24.5BB. River: A♠ You check. Villain bets 16BB. You: ??? You should call. This is a great spot to bluff catch based on our opponent type, previous action, and the board runout. Let’s break it down. A loose and aggressive reg open raises from the button. We assume their range is very wide here, probably close to 50% of all hands. We have a decent speculative hand. We can even opt to 3-bet light from time to time, but we decide to flat call. We flop a gutshot straight draw, and we expect the villain to fire off a c-bet with pretty much a 100% of their range, which he does. The turn doesn’t change much for us, except it puts a possible flush draw on the board. The villain double barrels, but since not much has changed for us from flop to turn, and are getting about 3:1 odds on a call, we decide to continue. The river doesn’t complete our gutshot, but we do end up improving to a top pair. Is it good enough for a call? Let’s look at it from the villain’s perspective.  We didn’t give him any reason to assume we are holding an Ace. In fact, we checked three times, so if they had to put us on a range, they would assume we have a Tx hand, a busted straight or a flush draw.  Conveniently, that’s a part of their perceived range as well. The river comes with a scare card, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they tried to buy the pot there. Are we going to be good a hundred percent of the time? Of course not, but we don’t need to be. This is something that BlackRain79 talks about in Modern Small Stakes. They have a significant amount of bluffs in their range for our call to be +EV, considering their player type, their open-raising position, our passive lines, non-coordinated board and so on.  When we take all of that into consideration, we can infer that we can call profitably. As for the aggrofish, aka complete maniacs, you can widen your river calling ranges considerably. It is also a high risk, high reward play, but these players are the only ones that will have a significant amount of bluffs on the river.  Why?  Because their ranges are already extremely wide on previous streets, so it’s fair to assume they will get to the river with all kinds of busted draws, Ace-high hands, fourth pair etc. While their aggression can certainly be profitable in the short term, as even they can occasionally catch a monster hand, they will be the most significant long term losers.  You can’t outrun math. So when playing against them, you should be making more hero calls than you would usually be inclined.  Be aware that their maniacal ways are usually short-lived, so you should try to get them to donate their stacks to you before the next guy.  And you usually won’t have the luxury of waiting around for the monster hand to try and trap them.  So next time you find yourself facing a huge river bet against them, go with your gut, take a deep breath and call them down. Your winrate will thank you for it. Make $500+ Per Month in Low Stakes Poker Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Are you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?  That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I used to create some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the lower limits, as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 2. Look for Possible Completed Draws As far as all the other player types are concerned, like fish who aren’t of the aggro persuasion (which is most of them) and TAGs, you should be very careful when calling big river bets. This is especially the case if they donk bet big into you. (A donk bet is a bet made against the previous streets’ aggressor).  Look for possible completed draws and ask yourself if their previous action makes sense that way. If the answer is yes, your overpair or top two pair probably isn’t good enough anymore.  Think of it this way: would you bet big out of position on the river against someone’s previous incessant aggression without a really strong hand? You probably wouldn’t. And neither would the majority of the player pool at the micro stakes.  Big River Bet Example Hand #2 Effective stack size: 100BB. You are dealt A♠Q♠ on the BU. You open-raise to 3x. SB folds, a loose passive fish calls in the BB. Pot: 6.5BB Flop: A♦3♦Q♥ Fish checks. You bet 5BB. Fish calls. Pot: 16.5BB Turn: 8♣ Fish checks. You bet 16.5BB. Fish calls. Pot: 49.5 River: J♦ Fish bets 40BB. You: ??? You should fold. Let’s break down the action street by street. There’s not much to say about preflop. We’re dealt a great hand on the button, and we can assume the recreational player will call us down pretty wide in the big blind. We flop top two pair and should start building the pot as soon as possible. We expect to get called by a bunch of Ax hands, gutshot straight draws, flush draws, you name it. The turn doesn’t change much, but it does add a couple of gutshot draws if our opponent called the flop with hands like JT, J9, or T9, for example.  We’re still miles ahead of villain’s range, so we decide to charge them a premium for their drawing hands. We can even consider overbettting, but we go for a pot sized bet. And we get one of the worst river cards possible. The fish fires off a huge donk bet. There is nothing left for us to do but bemoan our luck and fold begrudgingly.  The Jack on the river completes a number of straight draws and a flush draw. If we go back to preflop, we should expect this particular opponent to have practically all suited junk in their range.  Fish love chasing draws, and they love playing suited junk. Nevermind the fact that the chances of flopping a flush are only 0.8%. Now, we could argue that it’s a fish, they don’t know what they’re doing, they could be bluffing. Or they could have any number of two pair hands we’re ahead of. Fair enough. But if they did have a two pair hand, for example, wouldn’t they go for a check-call option, considering such a scary board?  Even fish can see three diamonds on a board. And yes, they could be bluffing, but there is nothing in their previous history that would suggest that. You should always be on the lookout for disrupting patterns when playing poker.  If an otherwise weak and timid opponent suddenly starts blasting off big bets, they didn’t just randomly decide to mix it up a little. They are politely letting you know they have the nuts. As a rule of thumb in poker in general, calling should be the last option you consider. As the old adage goes, if your hand is good enough for a call, it’s good enough for a raise. 3. Check Your HUD Stats to Make an Informed Decision But how do you know what type of player you’re up against? Well, the most accurate way would be to check their VPIP (voluntarily put money in pot), PFR (preflop raise) and AF (aggression factor) in your poker tracking software HUD.These are statistics which are placed right on your online poker table, beside each of your opponents, which tell you what type of player you are up against. This is highly useful information to have especially in the fast paced, multi-tabling, world of online poker.  These three poker HUD stats alone can give you a pretty good idea of the type of player you’re facing, and only after a hundred hands or so. Of course, the bigger the sample size, the better, but you can draw some general conclusions pretty quickly.  However, as we all know, most hands don’t get to showdown, and while we can make some wide generalizations about some player types, it’s better to have more info than less. If you are using a HUD, you might want to consider adding stats like WWSF, WTSD, and W$SD to accurately assess your opponent’s postflop tendencies. By the way, if you aren't using a poker HUD yet, BlackRain79 shows you how to set up your HUD in less than 5 minutes in this video: So, WWSF stands for Won When Saw Flop, and is a percentage of times a player won the pot after seeing the flop. The lower the WWSF, the weaker the player, meaning they play aggressively with very strong hands only, and conversely, the higher the WWSF, the more they bluff and fight for the pot post flop. Here is a rough estimation of the spectrum.Use These Specific HUD Stats to Make Optimal Decisions Versus a Big River Bet If their WWSF is less than 42%, they are weak and give up too much post flop. They don’t bluff enough, and if they give you action, especially on the big money streets (turn and river) they have a very strong hand. WWSF between 42% and 52% is the average. Of course, the higher the number, the more often they bluff. If their WWSF is bigger than 52%, they bluff way too often. You can call them down widely and use their aggression against them. WTSD stands for Went to Showdown, and shows the % of times a player, well, went to showdown. A player with a WTSD below 20% is an extreme nit, and goes to showdown with very strong hands only. A WTSD between about 24% and 27% is the norm for most winning players. Players with a WTSD above 30% are huge calling stations, and you should value bet them relentlessly. W$SD or Won Money at Showdown (or WSD) indicates the % of times a player won the pot after the showdown. It’s inversely proportional to the WTSD, i.e. a player with a low WTSD will have a big W$SD because they only see the showdown with very strong hands, and huge calling stations will have a low W$SD because they call down with a bunch of garbage hands. Nitty players will have a W$SD of about 60% or more, fishy players about 40% or less. Solid winning players will therefore be right in the middle with about 50%. One very important caveat, these stats require a huge sample size in order to be accurate.  You will need 500 hands at the bare minimum to make any informed assumptions. 1000 hands is a decent sample size, but they get really accurate only after 5000 hands or so. Needless to say, the more they tend towards the extremes of the spectrum, the less hands you need to be sure, and the more you can exploit them by either overbluffing or betting for value, depending on which side they fall. If you want to learn much more about all these HUD stats make sure you check out BlackRain79's popular optimal HUD setup guide. Summary In order to play the river effectively, you need to take into account a number of factors, including, but not limited to: the pot odds, your relative hand strength, board runout, type of opponent you’re up against, previous action and so on. You basically have to apply all of your theoretical knowledge at the same time. While it may seem daunting at first, the more you practice, the more automatic the process will become, and after a while you’ll be able to put your opponents on correct ranges, maybe even zero in on their exact hand. It will certainly take a great deal of practice, because as we know, most hands don’t even get to showdown, and river spots are so rare and unique that it’s hard to even try to answer what to do in these spots in a single article. However, there are some general guidelines you should adhere to: First of all, big river bets usually indicate a strong made hand, especially at the micros. Most players will bet for value, and aren’t really inclined to risk a significant portion of their stack without something to back it up. The only exception would be loose and aggressive players, and maybe some solid tight and aggressive players who know what they’re doing, and know that a well timed aggression can go a long way.  But again, these are quite rare at the micros. So against LAGs, you should try to bluff catch from time to time if you believe they have a significant amount of bluffs in their range.  Just bear in mind that it’s a high variance play, so be prepared to take it in stride when they actually had the nuts all along. Against aggrofish (aka maniac fish) you should widen your river calling ranges significantly, and be prepared to call them down with less than ideal holdings.  Don’t wait around for a monster hand, because these don’t come along as often, and try to take their stack before the next guy.  Lastly, if an otherwise weak and timid player starts making huge bets, your top pair hand probably isn’t good enough anymore.  Look for completed draws and assume they have it. Make a disciplined laydown and live to fight another day.  One bonus tip, be sure to practice hand history review off the felt. Filter for the hands that went to showdown, and try to narrow your opponent’s range street by street.  Talk to yourself out loud and tell yourself all the information you have. This will sharpen your decision-making skills in-game, and you’ll be able to accurately assess your opponent’s ranges in no time.  You’ll be able to read souls, make all kinds of huge laydowns and hero calls like a pro. Just remember, practice makes perfect. .
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What to Do Versus a Pot Sized Bet From a Fish
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This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan. Facing a pot sized bet can be a difficult spot to play.  We are faced with a big decision, often in marginal situations, and have to decide then and there whether or not to continue and potentially put our entire stack on the line on consecutive streets, or give up right away and relinquish our equity.  The problem becomes even more complicated when the bet we face comes from an erratic and unpredictable opponent, aka the fish. What the hell are they doing this with? Why are they donk betting? Do they have the nuts or complete air?  You want to find out, but it’s expensive to do so. And it’s very difficult to put them on the exact range, let alone narrow it down to a couple of hands. Facing a Pot Sized Bet By a Fish So what do we do in a situation like this? Unfortunately, the answer is all too familiar: it depends. But that’s not really helpful, so let’s break it down in this article. But before providing some answers, let’s first define the questions and narrow it down to make our lives easier. This article will focus on facing a pot sized donk bets in single raised pots and 3-bet pots from recreational players on the flop and turn, because:  A) it’s a spot in which players tend to struggle the most, and... B) because these situations are more common than facing a C-bet against fish, as fish usually call more than they raise. Also, when playing against fish, you should be the preflop aggressor most of the time anyway.  The article was written with cash games in mind, but is applicable to other formats to some extent as well. Definition of a Recreational Poker Player (Fish) For the purpose of this article, a fish is a recreational player that plays too many hands (typically 40% or more). If you play online you can use a HUD to show you this right on your screen. They also play fairly passively both preflop and postflop (with the exception of aggro-fish, more on that below) and makes huge fundamental mistakes and all kinds of crazy nonsense plays.  Or in other words, our most beloved customers.By the way, if you don't know the basic strategies to consistently beat these kinds of players, check out the brand new BlackRain79 video with the best 14 beginner poker tips: A few more quick definitions, so that we are on the same page here: A single raised pot (SRP) is a pot in which there was a raise preflop, and the other player(s) just flat call instead of 3-betting. A 3-bet pot is a pot in which a player re-raised the original raiser and other player(s) call. A 3-bet pot will usually have a much more shallow stack-to-pot ratio (usually 5 or less). By the way, if you need a reminder on SPR and how it affects your preflop strategy, BlackRain79 already has you covered in a recent article. What is a Donk Bet? In a broader sense, a donk bet is a bet made out of position against an earlier street aggressor. For example, you raise preflop on the button, villain calls in the small blind, and fires up a bet on the flop.   It isn’t necessarily a derogatory term, as there are situations where it might be a correct play.  But as this article will hopefully demonstrate, when fish make a pot sized donk bet, it’s rarely an optimal play. We already said that our decision on what to do against a pot sized bet depends on a lot of factors. So let’s break them down, starting with how committed we are to the pot. Make $500+ Per Month in Low Stakes Poker Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Are you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?  That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. SPR and Pot Commitment The smaller the SPR, the more committed we are. If the stack-to-pot ratio is 3 or less, we are committed with a top pair hand or better.  This will happen often either in 3-bet pots, or when fish are playing shortstacked (i.e. their effective stack size is significantly less than 100 bb, because they bought in for a minimum of 40 big blinds, for example).  So when we face a pot-sized bet against a fish on the flop with a made hand, we should be inclined to get all our money in the middle, preferably as soon as possible. Top pair hands go up in value in shallow SPR pots, as opposed to speculative hands that perform better in deeper SPR pots.   The reasons we shouldn't try to slowplay in this situation are abundant. First of all, implied odds are bigger on earlier streets than the later ones, so fish are more likely to call us down with all kinds of crazy draws, like gutshot draws, backdoor flush draws and so on.  They don’t care about the math, and the risk-reward concept is only vaguely familiar to them.   Secondly, the board runout might scare them off. If they have a top pair or second pair on the flop, they might end up with a third or fourth pair by the river, and won’t be as willing to pay us off.  And lastly, fish have extremely wide preflop calling ranges. The wider the range, the harder it is to connect with the flop.  Fish are also notoriously impatient, and if they have little money left behind, they’ll often just roll the dice and try to get lucky with their suited junk, fourth pair, ridiculous draws and so on. So with a top pair hand or better in a small SPR pot, your best bet is just get all the money in as soon as possible and hope your hand holds up against their nonsense.  It won’t always be the case of course, but as long as you’re getting your money in with a mathematical edge, you’re good. You did your job, and the rest is up to the poker gods. Example Hand Effective stack sizes: 80BB. You are dealt K♥Q♥ on the BU. A loose passive fish min-raises to 2x in the CO. You 3-bet to 7x. Blinds fold, fish calls. Pot: 15.5 BB Flop: K♠9♦7♣ Fish bets 16.5 BB You: ???  You should raise. Let’s consider the previous action, the flop texture and villain’s potential range. A fish min-raised in the CO, which means they probably like their hand somewhat, but since they play north of 40% of all hands, we can’t narrow their range too much.  We go for an isolation 3-bet and the fish calls. Their range is capped, meaning we can probably eliminate AA, KK, and AK. We flop top pair decent kicker and face a big bet. We need to make a decision right then and there. Commit or quit. Folding is out of the question, of course.  SPR is 4.7, i.e. on the smallish side of the spectrum. We aren’t necessarily automatically committed, but in this spot against this particular opponent we pretty much are, so we should play for their whole stack. A number of hands that would give us action against which we’re ahead of is through the roof. Any Kx hand, like KJ, KT, a bunch of drawing hands, like QT, QJ, JT, J8, T8, T6, 86, 85, 65, maybe even 9x hands like Q9, J9, T9, 98 and so on.  Remember, we are playing against somebody that plays nearly half of all hands, so they can have ALL of those hands in their range and then some.  Sure, there are some hands that have us beat, but those are just a small part of their overall range.  We are quite comfortably ahead most of the time, and should get our money in and let that edge play out.  We can call here as well, but a lot of turn cards can kill our action. Remember, implied odds are bigger on the flop than on the turn, so we should take advantage of that.  What About Drawing Hands? Having a top pair hand against a fish and facing a pot sized bet in a shallow SPR spot is pretty straightforward, and these hands basically play themselves. There’s not much more to do than get the money in and hold your breath.  But as we know, most hands miss most flops. We don’t have a made hand on the flop more often than we do. We usually either miss or have some sort of a drawing hand. Also, effective stacks can be quite deeper, particularly in cash games.  This is where it gets a little trickier, and we need to rely on math to make an educated guess on how to proceed. When we face any bet on the flop, it can be extremely useful to memorize certain pot odds in relation to the bet size. That way, you don’t need to waste any brain power to calculate the pot odds in every single situation.   Poker is essentially an extremely complex math problem, so it’s useful to use some shortcuts in order to make better in-game decisions. One such shortcut is to remember that when you face any pot sized bet, you are getting 2:1 pot odds on a call, which means you need to win the hand 33% of the time on average for your call to be profitable.  So if your equity is 33% or more against your opponents range, you can continue profitably.   But how the hell can you know if your hand is good 33% of the time? You can’t. In order to know that definitively, you’d have to know your opponent’s exact range, which is virtually impossible.  What’s more, that’s only the part of the equation, because you also need to take into consideration a number of other factors, such as implied odds, action on future streets, board runout etc.  Too many unknown variables, too little time.  To avoid such paralysis by analysis, let’s try to simplify once again and focus on what we actually know. We can’t accurately predict the fish’s range, but we don't really need to. We can rely on our intuition backed up with a little bit of math once more.  If we have a drawing hand, again, it might be worth memorizing how often we’ll hit our outs. The Rule of Four   We can use the rule of four to quickly guesstimate our equity, by simply multiplying our number of outs by 4. This rule becomes less reliable the more outs we have, but it’s accurate enough for most in-game situations. Here are the chances of improving your draws from flop to river you should have memorized: A flush draw completes 35% of the time. An open-ended straight draw completes 32% of the time. A gutshot straight draw completes 17% of the time. So we see that calling a pot sized bet on the flop with a flush and open-ended straight draw can be outright profitable.  Of course, we won’t always be drawing to the nuts, so even if we do improve, it doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily win the hand, so these percentages are only a guideline. There are many other factors that determine whether or not our play is +EV or not, but since a lot of those factors will be unknown, we can always fall back on the fundamental math to try and make an informed decision. But like we said, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. It still doesn’t answer the cardinal question of poker: what the hell are they doing this with?  We need to have at least a vague idea of our opponent’s ranges in order to apply our mathematical knowledge somewhat successfully.  To do so, we need to know what kind of opponent we are facing. Not all fish are created equal, and it would be a huge mistake to apply a one-style-fits-all strategy when playing against them.  While it’s true they might share certain traits, it doesn’t mean they all play the same in all situations. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.  First of all, the looser the villain, the wider you can call. The higher the villain’s VPIP (voluntarily put money in the pot), the more junk they’ll have, and it will be less likely they’ve hit the flop in any significant way. Also, when it comes to recreational players, the higher the VPIP,  the worse player they tend to be. A 90% VPIP fish is certainly going to play worse than a 40% VPIP fish. Next, the more aggressive the fish, the wider you can call. As we’ve said before, not all fish are of the passive variety.  Some of them like to spew chips around and make all kinds of wild bluffs, betting and raising erratically, and what’s worse, getting away with it a large chunk of the time.  While they can be frustrating to play against, these kinds of players can actually be your biggest source of income.  But only if you remain patient and keep your ego in check.  Also, from time to time you might need to call them down with a hand you won’t be quite comfortable calling with otherwise, like a second pair, or even an Ace high in some situations. Example Hand Effective stack size: 100BB. You are dealt A♣K♠ in MP. A loose and aggressive fish limps UTG. You iso-raise to 4x. Folds around, aggrofish calls. Pot: 9.5BB Flop: Q♥T♠3♣ Aggrofish raises to 9.5BB You: ??? You should call. As opposed to the previous example, we have a much bigger SPR of about 10, so we aren’t automatically committed to the pot, and we have a lot more maneuverability post flop. Folding is out of the question in this spot, as we are drawing to the nuts with four Jacks, as well as a TPTK (top pair top kicker) with any Ace or a King.  If we hit any of our outs, we can be comfortably ahead of the villain's range, which is extremely wide in this situation, considering their player type.  Like in the previous example, it can consist of any number of hands like top pair weak kicker, second pair, third pair, gutshot draws, backdoor flush draws and so on and so forth.  Too many to even consider counting here.  We aren’t necessarily ahead with our Ace high hand, but we have a large chunk of equity we aren’t willing to give up. We can consider raising, but if we do, we might only get action from hands that have us crushed. And what if the villain comes over the top with a shove?  Certainly not an optimal spot for us.  By flatting, we allow them to keep barrelling on future streets with all their crazy bluffs, while also controlling the size of the pot.  Then we can assess the best course of action on future streets. We have position and a skill edge in the hand, so we should utilize it. Answering blind aggression with aggression of our own should be done only if we can conclude with some certainty that we are comfortably ahead with our hand and that we can get action from weaker hands. What Should You Do Versus a Turn Pot Sized Bet?   Here’s where things get a little trickier, because there’s more information to consider. If you encounter a turn pot sized bet, you should consider all the info mentioned before, as well as previous action, but you should bear in mind that turn ranges tend to be stronger, and there’s a lot less junk in their range at this point. They will still rarely have the absolute nuts, and practically never have complete air. What this usually means is they probably picked up some equity on the turn.  You should tread carefully, but if you’re already pot committed, this shouldn’t change your plans too much. That’s why it’s important that you decide on the flop whether or not you want to take your hand to the felt. As a rule of thumb, if you call one street, you should usually call the consecutive one as well. So if you call a flop bet, you should be prepared to call the turn bet as well, otherwise you’re better off folding right there on the flop. Bear in mind that the higher their VPIP, the more ridiculous hands you can expect in their range. These are all just guidelines of course. No two players are completely alike. So take all this advice with a grain of salt.  So What is Their Actual Range? Finally, let’s answer the cardinal question, what are they doing this with? As we’ve seen, it depends on a lot of factors, and most of the time we shouldn’t overthink it and play it straightforwardly, especially in shallow SPR pots.  But if we’re playing in deeper SPR pots, we should take more factors in consideration, including our opponent’s range. Here’s the bottom line:  When you encounter a pot sized donk bet from a fish, they usually have a mediocre or a drawing hand. They probably don’t know what to do with it. They don’t want to fold it, but they aren’t particularly stoked about it either. So they try to “buy” the pot right there on the flop, hoping a big bet size would scare off their opponents.  They will almost certainly never have the nuts, and they will never have complete air either.  Why? Well, it all comes down to fish psychology. Fish have a strong propensity to be deceptive.  They like to slowplay their huge hands in order to trap their opponents, or make huge bluffs, because that’s what poker is all about, right?  Outplaying people and owning souls. It certainly isn’t about odds and percentages and all that boring stuff. So if they have a really strong made hand on the flop, like two pair or better, they will often slowplay it, because they don’t want to scare you off.  And if they missed the flop completely, they’ll just give up a lot of the time, because that’s about as far as their technical game knowledge reaches.  They see their hand, they have some rudimentary understanding of the flop texture (i.e. they can see if they hit or miss), and that’s about it. So when they fire off a bet, you can narrow down their range to something like top pair weak kicker, second pair etc. And if they have a drawing hand, they will rarely be drawing to the nuts.  They will usually have a gutshot draw, backdoor straight and flush draws and all other kinds of nonsense. Summary Facing a pot sized bet from a fish can be a difficult spot to play. We are often faced with a big decision with a limited amount of information, and their range is outright impossible to predict. Now, you don't necessarily need to study a bunch of advanced poker strategy to beat these kinds of players. But in these situations it pays to have a default plan and stick with the fundamentals. First thing we should consider is the effective stack size and size of the pot to determine our commitment to the pot. If we have a made hand (like top pair or better) in the small SPR pot we should aim to get the rest of our stack in the middle as soon as possible. Getting involved in shallow SPR pots with fish and trying to take their whole stack is something we should aim to do often anyway. If we have a drawing hand, we should memorize how often our draws complete in order to assess whether or not we can continue playing profitably. Counting our outs and using the “rule of four” will work in a pinch.  Some factors to keep in mind are our draw strength, the number of outs, implied odds, our opponent type and so on. The more factors work in our favour, the faster we can play our hand. As far as our recreational players’ actual range is concerned, it varies wildly. A lot of the time even they don’t know what they are doing. But when they fire off a pot sized donk bet, we can usually narrow it down to some kind of mediocre hand.  They will almost never have the absolute nuts, but they won’t be bluffing with absolute air, either. The reason for this is that fish love to be deceptive, so they’ll often slowplay their huge hands lest they don’t scare off their opponents. So you can narrow down their range to something like: top pair weak kicker, second or third pair, weak straight and flush draws and so on. Also, the bigger their VPIP, the weaker their overall range, so you can call them down more widely. If they fire off a pot sized bet on the turn, we should be more careful, but hopefully we’ve put the majority of our stack in by now. All the general rules still apply. When playing against recreational players in general, the best approach is always to keep it simple and stick with the fundamentals. Play your hands as straightforwardly as possible, and don’t worry about being too predictable. Save your fancy plays for players that actually pay attention.  Keep in mind that most of your money in poker won’t come from your superior skills, but from your opponent’s mistakes, so act accordingly. Lastly, if you want to learn the complete BlackRain79 strategy for crushing small stakes games, make sure you grab a copy of his free poker cheat sheet. .
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5 Insanely Useful Advanced Poker Strategy Tips
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This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan. Poker is an incredibly competitive game, and it’s no surprise by any means. Wherever there’s money, there’s people scrambling to get a piece of the action.  One great thing about poker is that, unlike many other endeavours, there’s a minimum barrier of entry. Anyone can play, and anyone can win, and it only takes an hour or so to learn. All you need is a "chip and a chair" as the old saying goes. The basic poker strategies are widely available online, and with a little effort, anyone can learn to be a winning player, or at least not a complete noob just waiting to give their hard-earned money away. But to be a successful long-term winner, you need a little more than the basic know-how, especially in today’s games, where the edges seem to be getting smaller and smaller.  It’s not enough anymore to just play tight, wait for a hand and get paid. After learning the fundamentals, it pays to keep building up on your poker knowledge, because that’s the only way to keep up and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive environment.  This article will give you five advanced tips to take your game to the next level and crush the competition who just wait around for the nuts all day. Let’s dive right into it… 1. Get the Jesus Seat What do poker and real estate business have in common? Location, location, location. Poker is a business, and where you choose to conduct your business will greatly influence your profitability.  So even before you sit down and play, you should consider choosing a seat carefully. Ideally, you want to grab as many Jesus seats as possible (if you’re playing online and can multi-table).  Jesus seat refers to the position on the direct left of the fish. If you have a recreational player (or more of them) on your right, you’ll have the most money making opportunities. The most profitable spots in poker are when we are playing in position, as the preflop aggressor, against one opponent. And all these conditions can be met frequently with the Jesus seat. When you are seated on the direct left of the fish, you’ll be playing in position against them most of the time.  You’ll be in a great position to take their money first, by isolating them if they limp in the pot, or even 3-bet them if they raise, which means you’ll be playing a heads-up pot with them with the range advantage post flop in most situations. By being in position, they’re going to have to be the first to act, so you can get better reads on them. Also, you’ll be able to control the size of the pot, get to showdown cheaply with your weak hands, and value bet them heavily with your strong hands. But there’s an even better variation of Jesus seat you should be on the lookout for. Jesus seat deluxe, if you will. It’s the seat that is directly to the left of the fish, and directly to the right of a nit, a supertight opponent.  Not only will you be able to isolate the fish all day long, you won’t need to worry about getting reraised yourself.  By the way, if you don't know how to spot the fish at the online poker tables, I highly recommend using a good poker HUD.Just look for the players on your HUD with a VPIP of 40 or more. VPIP by the way is just a fancy term used to indicate the percentage of hands that somebody plays.A VPIP of 40+ is a guaranteed recreational player (fish) in any poker game.Your HUD will tell you everyone's VPIP (and dozens of other highly useful stats) directly on your online poker table screen. BlackRain79 actually shows you step by step how to setup your PokerTracker HUD in less than 5 minutes in this video:You can download the free trial version of the PokerTracker HUD, right here. Anyways, as you move up in stakes, you’ll encounter more and more solid and aware players who will realize you’re abusing the fish, and they will start to make adjustments to your play.  They’ll start calling your isolation raises more widely, or start 3-betting you lightly. This can get quite frustrating quite quickly.  Fortunately though, these kinds of players are a minority at the lower stakes.  Most solid players still play pretty straightforwardly a large chunk of the time, and there’s a bunch of multi-tabling nits still populating the lower stakes.  They don’t make a lot of mistakes and you won’t be able to make a lot of money against them, but they aren’t that difficult to play against either. If they have a strong hand, they’ll let you know, if not, they’ll let you have it and look for a better spot. So having these kinds of players on your right is great for your bottom line.  Not only you need not worry about their incessant aggression, you can also pick up their blinds uncontested most of the time, which will add up nicely in the long run.  2. 3-Bet Resteal Anyone familiar with the basic poker strategy knows the importance of stealing the blinds. Winning poker players know that most money comes from playing in position as the preflop aggressor.  Conversely, playing from the blinds you are actually expected to lose money in the long term, no matter how good you are. It’s just how the game is structured, and there’s really no way around it.  So when playing in the blinds, your primary goal should be to lose as little as possible. The easiest way to go about this is simply folding a 100% of your hands in the blinds.  That way, you’re losing 1.5 big blinds per orbit, or about 25 big blinds per hundred hands if you’re playing 6-max, for example. So folding all the time is hardly an optimal strategy. One way to reduce that kind of negative outcome is to occasionally 3-bet light to steal attempts. When we say steal attempts in this context, we’re talking about open-raising from cutoff, button or small blind.  You can see your opponents stealing tendencies by checking their Attempt to steal stat in PokerTracker 4, by the way.  The beauty of this play is that it is insanely simple and can be outright profitable, because you’ll be able to win the pot right then and there preflop.  Also, you’ll be able to pull it off quite frequently, because open-raise stealing situations are very common. It will also make you harder to play against, because your opponents will have to think twice before trying to steal your blinds. Rightly timed aggression can go a long way. The best players to target with this play are of the TAG and LAG variety. They tend to be positionally aware, and they widen their range considerably in late positions.See The Micro Stakes Playbook for much more on how to create optimal strategies versus TAGs, LAGs, and all player types in small stakes games.   But basically, these two player types will have a lot of speculative hands in their range, and even some borderline junk in some cases, like A6o or 85s, and a lot of these hands will fold to a 3-bet.  Remember, the idea is to get folds preflop, so your opponents have to have a fold button. Doing this against recreational players can backfire, and you’re better off 3-betting them mainly for value.  Example Hand You are dealt A♠3♠ in the SB. A TAG villain open raises from the BU to 2.5x. You should consider 3-betting to 10x.  An average tight and aggressive player will play about 40% of their hands on the button, and a lot of them will fold to a 3-bet, which makes this play outright profitable.  We have a great speculative hand that can flop a lot of monsters, and blocks a lot of villains' big hands (like Aces, Kings and Ace-King) as well.  Even if we do get called, we’re going to see the flop with the initiative and range advantage, and can often take down the pot with a simple C-bet. Learn All of My Best Advanced Poker Strategy Tips in My Free Poker Cheat SheetAre you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?   That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact advanced poker strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact advanced poker strategies by the way that I used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 3. Squeeze Preflop A squeeze is a preflop 3-bet where there was an open raise and one or more callers before you.  If someone open-limps and one or more players limp behind and you raise, this is not considered a squeeze. If someone open-raises and you 3-bet them, this is also not considered a squeeze. It’s called a squeeze because: a) you’re trying to “squeeze out” dead money, ideally from weak ranges, and b) because the original raiser and caller(s) are “squeezed” between two opponents and find themselves in hard to defend positions. The primary objective of the squeeze is to get your opponents to fold and pick up the pot uncontested preflop.  Here is a recent hand where BlackRain79 discusses the benefits of squeezing in more detail: If you 3-bet Aces after an open-raise and one or multiple calls, it’s technically still considered a squeeze, but in this case you are not looking to get folds, but rather get called by weaker hands and build up the pot with your value hand. But in this context, we’ll consider only bluff squeezes, where we intend to get all our opponents to fold and pick up easy money preflop. What makes this play so effective is that we’re ideally attacking a weak open-raising range and callers’ capped ranges, both of which are likely to give up when facing a 3-bet. Let’s consider the open-raising range first. We should ideally target opens from late positions (cutoff and button) because these tend to be the widest.  We should be more wary of attacking under the gun open-raises, because they tend to have more value hands in their range (like AA, KK, QQ, AK) and are less likely to fold to a squeeze. We should be less worried about callers’ ranges, because we can basically eliminate those strong value hands from their range.  Had they had them, they would have 3-bet them themselves instead of calling. That’s what we mean when we say someone’s range is capped.  Now, that’s not to say that some players won’t try to get cute and flat call with Aces preflop, but that’s a suboptimal strategy for a number of reasons, which we won’t be getting into here. Our target(s) should be weak players with loose ranges, because they typically can’t stand the pressure of the 3-bet, especially in a multiway pot.  It’s important to mention right off the bat that they also need to be able to fold to 3-bets, otherwise we run the risk of getting involved into a bloated multiway pot with a bluffing hand. Not a great look.  Example Hand You are dealt A♣J♦ in the BB. A LAG villain open-raises to 2.5x on the BU. A nit calls in the SB. You: ??? You should 3-bet to 11x. We can certainly call in this situation, but the chance of encountering a lot of gross spots postflop is through the roof.  We are playing a multiway pot, out of position, with an easily dominated hand. We also don’t have a discernible skill edge on our opponents.  Even if we do connect with the board in some way, we won’t be able to tell where we stand with our hand, and if we completely smash the flop, there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to extract max value from it. Let’s consider the alternative. We have a great 3-bet bluffing hand and can get easy folds preflop. The nit’s range is capped, and the LAG’s range is extremely wide.  The bet size and his position indicate he’s stealing the blinds more often than not. Also, we block a lot of value hands like Aces, Jacks and Ace-King.  We’re getting a great price for a squeeze and even if we get one or two calls, we still have a playable hand and we’re going to the flop with the initiative and range advantage. 4. Shove Big Draws As a rule of thumb, the stronger your draws, the faster you should play them.  It means you are better off getting as much money in the middle as soon as possible in most situations. There are a couple of reasons for this.  First of all, your drawing hand doesn’t have showdown value and can’t win the pot unimproved, so you have to rely on hitting your outs.  If you bet, raise or reraise, you don’t have to rely on luck, and can win the pot with Ace high, for example.  Secondly, even if you do hit your outs, there is no guarantee that your opponent will pay you off, because the board runout can scare them off.  Generally speaking, the implied odds are higher on earlier streets than the later streets, and players are more likely to pay you off on the flop than on the river. Some draws are so blatantly obvious that even the fish can see through them, and won’t be as willing to put the money in when the third heart comes on the turn, for example.  You often won’t get good pot odds to call a bet with your draw, so you can give yourself a better chance to win the pot by coming over the top with a bet of your own.  That way, you get additional fold equity versus your opponents, rather than just calling and hoping the draw completes AND praying that your opponent will pay you off if it does. That is, wherever you can rely on skill, do so, and count on luck only as a last resort.  Example Hand You are dealt A♥7♥ on the BUTTON.  A TAG villain opens to 3x in middle position. Folds to you, you call, blinds fold. Pot: 7.5 BB Flop: K♥9♣4♥ Villain bets 3.5BB You: ??? You should raise. Folding is far too nitty, considering you have a nut flush draw.  Calling is not the worst option, but even if you do end up improving on the turn, your opponent might not be inclined to keep barreling on such a wet board.  By raising here, you’re putting tremendous pressure on the villain, and he needs to have quite a strong hand to continue.  By continuing, he’s putting his whole effective stack at risk on consecutive streets. He’ll have to give up hands that he’s actually ahead with, like KQ, KJ, AQ, AJ, and maybe even AK. Even in the worst case scenario, let’s say that he’s only continuing or coming over the top with pocket Aces, Kings or Nines. We still have about 30% equity with our draw. So we see that it’s better to use aggression and put max pressure on our opponents rather than relying on luck alone. As they say, fortune favors the bold.  5. Overbet Jam the River Strong hands don’t come around very often in poker. So when they do, you need to make sure you win as much money as possible in order to make up for all the lost pots, busted draws, bad beats and so on. The majority of money you win in poker will actually come from a small number of huge hands.  The way these hands are played separate losing or breakeven players and solid winners, and will determine your long term profitability more than any other factor. If you are playing no-limit hold’em, make the best use of the no-limit part. Everytime you are in the hand, consider the effective stack size. If it is 150 big blinds, you should be aiming to win no less 150 big blinds. Always aim for the maximum profit. So the next time you find yourself facing a huge river decision with a strong hand, ask yourself: can I shove here? Here is a recent overbet jam hand discussed by BlackRain79 illustrating this more:   A lot of players start fretting about the bet sizing, especially on the river where there is usually the most money on the line.  When they have a huge hand, they go for something like ⅓ pot or ½ pot bet so they don’t scare off their opponents, or even worse, they try to get tricky and check in order to induce a bluff. While there certainly might be situations in which these lines are the most +EV, more often than not, people get in their heads too much and make things more complicated than necessary. If you’re playing at the micros, your balanced bet sizing with a polarized range is going to go completely over most of your opponents heads.  If you overbet jam the river, one of these things will happen: a) your opponent will think you’re bluffing and call you down with their third pair. b) your opponent knows you have it, but they just can’t fold their precious set or overpair and call you down. c) your opponent will have a busted draw and fold to any bet, regardless of the size. d) your opponent will cooler you with a monster hand of their own, which is least likely. The stronger your hand, the less of a chance there is for someone to have an even stronger hand. In any case, you are not really benefiting from a smallish bet size, but are potentially missing out on a ton of value. Even if you don’t get called, you’ll appear to be more aggressive, which is great for your table image.  Example Hand Effective stack size is 100 BB. You are dealt 9♠9♣ in the CO. You raise to 3x. A loose passive fish calls on the BU. Blinds fold. Pot is 7.5 BB  Flop: J♦2♦T♥ You bet 2.5 BB. Fish calls. Pot is 12.5 BB Turn: 2♠ You check. Fish checks. River: 9♦ You: ??? You should shove all-in.  Let’s consider the previous action. You open raise pocket Nines from the cutoff, and the fish calls. Totally standard and predictable.  We don’t get the best flop in the world, but we reckon the fish is of the fit-or-fold variety, likes to see a bunch of flops, and has an extremely wide calling range.  Most hands miss most flops, and the wider the range, the more flops it will miss.  So we go for a small C-bet, figuring we don’t need to get a lot of folds to still be +EV. Plus we still have a backdoor straight draw and some showdown value. Unsurprisingly, the fish calls. The turn doesn’t change a lot for us. We know we don’t have a lot of fold equity in this situation, and we certainly can’t keep barrelling for value.  We still have some showdown value, so we check and hope to see a free river.  And the river comes with a miracle action card. This is a spot to go for maximum value and forget all about balance, considering our opponent type and the board runout.  The number of hands that would pay us off here is huge. Remember, we’re playing against a recreational player, and recreational players love to make huge hero calls, and don’t fold a flush, ever.  They don’t care about the pot odds and ranges one bit. So we’re getting called by Jx hands, any deuce in their hand, any two diamonds, KQ, Q8, 87, you name it.  So going for something as ½ pot or ¾ pot bet would be a disaster.  Sure, a lot of times they’ll have complete air, but if they do, they’re folding, and if they have anything, they’re calling regardless of the size. They’re pretty inelastic that way, so we should make the most of it. Summary One thing all of these plays have in common is aggression. This is indeed a crucial component that you will find in any advanced poker strategy. Winning poker is aggressive poker. Every time you’re involved in a hand, make a habit of asking yourself: can I bet/raise/reraise here?  You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) do it every time, but at least being aware of the prospect can make you see a bunch of profitable spots you might have missed before. In short, you should try to position yourself in a way most conducive to exerting maximum pressure on your opponents, and you can do that even before you sit down at the table.  Look carefully and snipe that Jesus seat. Be on the lookout for steal attempts and try to resteal the blinds often. Also, look for squeeze opportunities and try to pick up easy money with a well-timed aggression. If you have a big draw, try semi-bluffing instead of only relying on hitting your outs and praying your opponent will pay you off if you do. Save luck only as a last resort. And finally, when luck finally does work in your favour, make the most of it.  Monster hands don’t come very often, so when they do, make sure you get paid. Forget about balance and go for max value. Your bankroll will be better off for it. Lastly, if you want to know the complete BlackRain79 advanced system for crushing the small stakes games make sure you pick up the free poker cheat sheet, right here. .
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5 Guaranteed Ways to Quickly Improve Your Poker Skills (2021)
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This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan. “There is no such thing as standing still. You either move forward or regress.” - Bohdi Sanders Mastering poker is a lifelong journey, and it’s never really complete. Poker is an incredibly competitive endeavour, and like anything else in life, success comes to those who are willing to work hard to outperform the competition. No matter where you currently are in your poker journey, the first step to improvement is willingness to do so. If you are reading this article, congratulations, you’re on the right path. Even if you are a solid winning player, there is danger in becoming complacent and thinking you have it all figured out. You don’t. Why is it Important to Always be Improving Your Poker Skills? Even the world class professionals continually strive to improve their game. In fact, this is what made them world class professionals in the first place.  If you are going to the gym and see a guy or a girl with perfect physique sweating and working their ass off, you might wonder: why the hell are they doing that? They’re already ripped. They don’t need to do it anymore. But the reason they’re in such great shape is exactly because they’ve worked their ass off. And sure, they can go out to enjoy life and be attractive, but they chose not to get complacent.  They’re maintaining their physique and their health. They enjoy the process, and are not overly focused on the end result (i.e., looking good). Improving in poker is no different. Improvement itself is its own reward. The end result (like making more money, moving up in stakes, winning a huge tournament , etc.) is just the byproduct. It is worth mentioning right off the bat that your motives for improving will be a major factor in determining how successful or unsuccessful you’ll be. If you want to improve in order to win more money, that’s certainly a legitimate reason. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be more profitable, and at the end of the day, how much we win is how we measure our success in poker. But if making money is your primary concern, you’d be better off finding some other more stable and certainly less stressful income sources.Why Hard Work Beats Poker Skill and Talent   Making money in poker comes in due time to those who work hard to improve, but they do so for other reasons, rather than prospective monetary gains. Above all else, they have a deep passion for the game, and want to improve because they want to be good in what they do. Money is just the icing on the cake. Another reason you need to improve is the aforementioned competitive component that’s inherent to the game of poker. Its evolving constantly, especially in today’s fast paced digital age. If you don’t improve, eventually you’ll be left behind the competition. Today’s complacent winner is tomorrow’s loser. Sure, you might be able to crush oblivious weekend players, but so can the other regulars. And the games are getting increasingly harder. In the post-Moneymaker era, money seemed to keep falling out of the sky, and you were able to make a decent sum of money if you knew what you were doing.  A lot of pros assumed easy money would keep pouring in, but there’s no such thing as easy money, and all good things come to an end.  Today the games are nowhere near the joke they were back then, and the pros that couldn’t keep up got left behind.  But not everything is bleak as it seems. As of writing this in 2021 poker can still be incredibly profitable for those who are willing to put in some time and effort to improve their game. By wanting to improve, you’re already ahead of the majority of the player pool.  This article will give you 5 ways to take your game to the next level. Let’s get into the actual tips, starting with the basics. 1. Get The Fundamentals Down When first trying to improve, it can be a daunting task. Maybe you started with reading articles such as this one, or watched a couple of BlackRain79 Youtube videos.  Then all these articles have links to other articles, you’re encountering a bunch of terms you’re not familiar with (as every other industry, poker has a language of its own). And then you soon find out that poker is an incredibly complex mixture of math and psychology (sprinkled with a dash of art for good measure) and there is just so much to learn.  It’s enough to make your head spin, and you’re left even more confused than you started off with.  In today’s information age, there’s so many sites, courses, books, articles and videos to choose from, and it can get quite overwhelming quite fast. There is such a thing as too much information.  Before the internet, information used to be rare and precious like gold. Today it’s common and useless like dirt. Fortunately, the basics of poker are not that difficult to grasp. The math part is no more complicated than what you learn in middle school. When learning about poker, it might be far more enticing to learn about advanced river check-raise bluffing strategy rather than boring odds and percentages, but that’s putting the cart before the horse. When you are building a house, you don’t start with the roof. You build a solid foundation first, and then you slowly build up on it. It’s the case with everything else you do in life, so poker should be no different. You should start with the basic TAG (tight and aggressive) strategy.  This includes mastering your starting hands selection preflop: About the top 15% percent of hands in a full-ring game and the top 20% in a 6-max game, playing tightly in early position and opening up in late positions (cutoff and button), playing in position (being the last to act) and playing fast and aggressively post flop in most situations. As for the math part, you need no more than basic multiplication and division. You should be familiar with pot odds, implied odds and stack-to-pot ratio (SPR). All of this information is readily available online, and all the topics are already covered extensively here on blackrain79.com Even though you might feel you have the fundamentals down, it’s better to assume you don’t have it all figured out. Being familiar with something and understanding it deeply are not the same thing.  If you think you have it all figured out, here’s a challenge for you: try to teach poker to somebody who doesn’t know the rules at all. You’ll soon find out that even something as basic as absolute/relative hand strength and blinds structure can be challenging to convey in a clear, comprehensive way, let alone all the other intricacies of the game.  Get the fundamentals down. Amateurs practice till they get it right. Professionals practice till they can’t get it wrong. 2. Focus on One Thing at a Time Poker is a game that takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master. So there is no need to rush anything, and no need to learn all at once. Slow and steady is the way to go, especially when we talk about learning and improving. It can be a long and tedious process, but knowledge is difficult.  So in order not to make it any more difficult than is necessary, you should avoid overwhelming yourself, especially at the beginning.  It can be demoralizing when you start to understand how little you actually understand and how much there is to know, but it’s actually a good thing.  It means you’re starting to realize how deeply complex the game is, and starting to grasp the areas with which you’re struggling with, and that is the first step to improvement. If you feel overwhelmed and terrified with the complexities of it all, give yourself a pat on the back. It means you are on the right path. The first step to understanding is figuring out what you don’t understand, so start with that. Ask yourself: What is it that I don’t understand? Be specific. Make a list. You might realize that you are struggling with a number of things, but again, this is to be expected, and it’s actually a good thing. If you have a list, rank order it, starting with the fundamentals (i.e., the things you’re struggling with most often). For newer players, preflop might be a good place to start.  Pick one thing from the list, and focus on it until you have it figured out. Then move on to the next thing. Rinse and repeat. A great way to go about this might be focus sessions. Before you fire up the software and sit down to play, you can start with a pre-game warmup. During the warm up, you study the concept you’re trying to implement in your game.  It’s worth noting that it should be something you are somewhat familiar with already. It shouldn’t be something that is completely foreign to you, or way beyond your current level of understanding.  Then, during the session, you look for opportunities in which you can apply the concept. You might be surprised how many profitable spots there are where you know where and what to look for.  Note the spots where you weren’t sure what to do, or where you think you’ve made a mistake. After a session, review the hands you were struggling with.  For example, one simple concept you can start with is SPR. After you have familiarized yourself with the stack-to-pot ratio, and how different SPR influences your starting hand selection, you can practice calculating it for every hand you play.  Keep doing it consciously and deliberately until you do it automatically. It’s basically a simple division math problem, so there is absolutely no excuse not to do it. Improve Your Poker Skills Quickly With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Are you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?    That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 3. Get PokerTracker The single best investment you can make in your poker career is Poker Tracker 4, guaranteed. It is an indispensable tool for tracking your hands and results, and has an in-built HUD (heads-up display) that keeps track of your opponents statistics as well.  It basically pays for itself, because the reads you’ll be able to get from your opponents will more than make up for the price of the software itself. BlackRain79 actually made a YouTube video showing you how to setup your PokerTracker HUD in less than 5 minutes.Also, PokerTracker offers a 30-day free trial, so there’s no excuse not to give it a try. But HUD aside, the real value of the software is that it helps you study and take your game to the next level. It automatically saves all your hand histories and shows you your results in a clear, comprehensive way.  It’s extremely user friendly, even if you’re not particularly technology savvy. And if you have any questions, it offers great customer support. The features of the program are too numerous to even begin describing here. It deserves its own article. But one that might be worth mentioning here is Leak tracker. Leak tracker shows you your stats based on your hand history, and shows you exactly where your skills might be lacking, and where your stats fall out of norm for solid winning players. This means the guesswork is completely out of the equation. It tells you exactly where you’re bleeding money. You can’ improve what you can’t measure, and PokerTracker 4 measures everything for you.  The beauty of the software is that you can go as deep down the rabbit hole you want, and can filter for any situation you want, no matter how specific. So how much value and knowledge you get out of the software depends entirely on you. You can download PokerTracker for Windows or Mac, right here.   4. Review Your Hands The most cost-effective way to learn is to learn from other people’s mistakes. But we all know that’s not how it usually goes. The biggest life lessons we learn usually come from our own epic failures and tragedies.  We can read strategy articles and watch youtube videos for days and weeks on end, but some things just won’t go through our thick skulls until we get burned personally in one way or another. And even then, most people won’t get it. They’ll blame something external, as one usually does. Personal experience is the greatest teacher, but only if we are willing to admit our own mistakes and recognize our shortcomings. And what better way to do so than with hand history review. What makes this exercise so effective is the fact that you’re not just passively absorbing information, as is the case with reading articles and watching videos, for instance. Not that there's anything wrong with articles and videos, but it’s only a part of the learning process. It is also about applying what you learn. When you review your hands off the felt, you force yourself to think and ask questions, and this is where true understanding comes from. The best hands to review are the ones that went to showdown, because not only can you study the lines you took, but also try to estimate your opponents’ range and narrow it down street by street. That way you’re basically studying multiple things at once. While reviewing your hands, talk to yourself out loud, and tell yourself all the information you have. This forces you to apply what you know already, and highlight the areas where you might be struggling.  Also, by doing so, you’re training yourself to think actively on the felt, which will make you more likely to think about the game on a deeper level. Make it a habit, and you’ll be making better in-game decisions in no time.For more on how to fix your leaks and review your hands check out this article by BlackRain79.   5. Play More Poker Poker is a game of skill. Like any other skill, you get better at it with practice. Taking the time to study and improve off the felt is invaluable, but at the end of the day, you need to take that knowledge to the felt. Like they say, theory without practice is empty, and practice without theory is blind. You can play poker all day every day without so much as reading a single article, and you’ll stay a fish forever. On the other side of the spectrum, there are people who approach poker with a scientific devotion, read every book, watch every video, have hundreds and thousands of posts on different forums.  They know all about cutting edge strategies, 4-bet bluffing, blind defense and polarized river ranges, yet they barely play any poker at all. All talk and no action. There needs to be a balance between the two. Most people would benefit from more studying (because let’s face it, nobody likes to study, and we all love playing), but there’s only so much you can learn in theory. Putting it into practice effectively is where real knowledge comes from. It’s like weightlifting. Sure, it’s important to know how to do the exercises with the proper form and learn a thing or two about a healthy diet, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t put the reps in.  Progress takes time, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Action is the greatest teacher, and there’s no better way to learn than through direct experience.  So go out there and practice. But practice consciously and deliberately. You won’t see any progress day to day, week to week, or even month to month, but when you look back, you might be surprised how far you’ve come. Summary Improving in poker is not an easy task, but being willing to do so is certainly a step in the right direction. It may be daunting at first, but that is precisely the reason most people won’t bother with it in the first place.  They just want to have fun. And this is where the opportunity lies for those who are determined to go the extra mile and put in some time and effort in their game. In order to do so successfully, it’s important to start with the basics and building up from there. When you build a house, you need to build a strong foundation first. Focusing on one thing at a time allows you to progress at a comfortable pace and not get overwhelmed with too much information.  Also, you’re more likely to celebrate small victories along the way and keep the momentum going, instead of getting discouraged and throwing in the towel before even giving yourself a chance to succeed. If you’re serious about improving your game, investing in poker tracking software is a must in today’s competitive environment.  Not only will you be able to get better reads on your opponents, you’ll also have a reliable tool at your disposal to plug your leaks and learn from your mistakes. It will also allow you to tag hands during your session so you can review them later while you are studying off the felt.  Hand history review is arguably the single best exercise, because it allows you to study multiple things at once, and trains you to make better decisions in-game. And lastly, if you want to improve, go out there and get the volume in.  If you want to learn to swim, you can read a hundred books on the topic, but you’re going to need to go into the water eventually. So go out there and start flailing.  So there you have it. None of these tips are exactly groundbreaking stuff. No quick and easy hacks to get great results fast, but that’s because they work. It isn’t sexy, but there are no shortcuts to success. It’s about repetition and perseverance. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. And that’s a guarantee. .
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Upswing Poker Lab vs Masterclass – Which One is Best For You?
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One of the most common questions I get asked these days is: Which poker training program is better, The Upswing Poker Lab or the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass? Both of these poker courses are among the very best poker training material available today in my opinion to get you quickly beating the low stakes and mid stakes poker games. By the way, Phil Ivey also has a Masterclass which I have actually already reviewed in the past as well, right here.However, since I get asked about the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass quite a bit more often, I will be focusing on that Masterclass in this article. Now, I do want to mention right off the top though that neither of these poker courses are going to turn you into a high stakes poker pro over night. That takes years and years of dedication. But for somebody who is motivated to learn and improve their game at the low and mid stakes, The Upswing Poker Lab and The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass are both excellent choices in my opinion. And they are both taught by some of the best professional poker players in the world. So let me break it all down for you in this article. Upswing Poker Lab vs Daniel Negreanu Masterclass. Let's find out which one is better for you! Best Poker Training For Beginners - Daniel Negreanu Masterclass Alright, so if you are a total beginner to poker, I am going to give the edge to the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass here. The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass is aimed more at the beginner level poker player. There is not a lot of super advanced math and theory in this course, unlike The Upswing Poker Lab. Instead, Daniel focuses on teaching you the basics such as: What hands to play How to use position When to bet, raise and fold How to read their poker hand Basic (and a bit of advanced) poker math Fundamental strategy for both cash games and tournaments How to use table talk How to pick up tells Basically, Daniel Negreanu gives a poker beginner an excellent crash course on the basics that every beginner or struggling low limit player needs to know.Through dozens of video lessons, Daniel teaches you the fundamentals of winning poker strategy for both online poker and live poker in simple terms and language that anyone can understand.In fact, this is one of the key strengths of the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass in my opinion. First off, you know that you are learning from one of the best poker players of all time. Daniel Negreanu has over $40 million dollars in career winnings in live poker tournaments alone. But even more importantly, Daniel does an excellent job of explaining how to play a consistent winning poker strategy in the simplest terms possible for beginners. Unlike many other poker training programs, which include tons of complicated jargon, advanced math and complicated theories, there is none of that in Daniel's Masterclass.This is why it is perfect for poker beginners in particular. In fact, for anyone who is struggling to beat the very lowest stakes cash games or tournaments online or live, I would recommend enrolling in the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass. I actually made a complete walkthrough of the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass on YouTube to give you a better idea of what is inside this poker training program. In this video you will learn more about how the video lessons from Daniel work, along with the course workbook ("homework") that you get. And also, you will learn how to contact Daniel directly through his "Office Hours" component of this course where he personally answers your questions. This is something that also sets this course apart from many others. The personal touches like this. You can enroll in the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass right here. Best Poker Training For Novice and Advanced Players - The Upswing Poker Lab Now, as much as I recommend the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass for complete beginners and those struggling to consistently turn a profit at the very lowest stakes, some people need something a bit more advanced than this. Many poker players out there already have the basics down and maybe they have already had a bit of success either at the online poker tables or the live ones. If this sounds like you, and you are looking for something that is quite a bit more advanced, then I would definitely give the edge here to The Upswing Poker Lab. Hundreds of Upswing Poker Lab video lessons just like this are included, taught to you by today's top pros, where they break down complex situations and provide you cutting edge poker strategies often with the aid of solvers and equity tools. The Upswing Poker Lab has been my #1 most recommended poker training program for many years now because it is unequaled in the amount of high level poker theory and cutting edge strategy included.While The Upswing Poker Lab does have plenty of material for struggling beginners (tons actually), there is so much more for mid stakes and high stakes poker players who are looking to take their game to an elite world class level.This is something that you will generally not find in The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass. The Upswing Poker Lab currently has over 250 hours of some of the highest level poker training available anywhere today taught to you by some of the best poker players in the world. These are a few of the main instructors for The Upswing Poker Lab: Doug Polk (3 time WSOP bracelet winner, One Drop winner for $3.7 million dollars) Ryan Fee (world class mid and high stakes online and live pro) Fried "mynameiskarl" Meulders (one of the best mid and high stakes Zoom players in the world) Daniel "Danmerr" Merrilees (nosebleed stakes cash game legend) Mo "MuckCallOK" Dietrich (online and live tournament crusher) Matthew Janda (wrote the most famous book ever on GTO poker theory) In fact, this in my opinion, has always been one of the key strengths of The Upswing Poker Lab.That is, unlike other poker training programs, they ONLY hire the very best poker players in the world to teach you. In the "Play and Explains" section of the Upswing Poker Lab you can actually  just watch these elite level pros play high stakes poker games as they explain all their decisions to you (every hand revealed!) And there is also new material being added all the time, with tons of new videos every month.This is also what separates The Upswing Poker Lab from every other poker training program out there.The advanced poker strategies that you are learning are always the very latest and most effective for today's games.There countless video lessons made by these coaches teaching you both basic cash game and tournament concepts as well as advanced theory and strategy such as: GTO poker theory Advanced solver analysis How to use blockers How to count card combinations How to check raise bluff How to play a loose and aggressive style How to read ranges and crush good players And tons more. It would actually take you months to properly go through every video lesson included in The Upswing Lab.There are also 400+ preflop hand charts for cash games, Zoom, tournaments and more which actually tell you exactly what hands to play in every situation imaginable.You can actually just download these charts on your phone and view them in the custom Upswing Poker app.Honestly though, there is so much basic and advanced material covered in The Upswing Poker Lab that it is difficult to even scratch the surface in this blog post.This is why I also made a comprehensive walkthrough video on YouTube for the Upswing Poker Lab so that you can see for yourself exactly what is included inside: Bottom Line:If you are a serious poker player looking to take your game to an elite world class level, then there is no better advanced training available today than this. You can enroll in The Upswing Poker Lab right here. Which is Better For Tournaments? Upswing Poker Lab vs Masterclass How about for all you tournament players out there? Which one is better, The Upswing Poker Lab or The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass?In this comparison, it is honestly really close.Daniel Negreanu is one of the highest winning poker tournament players of all time with north of $40 million dollars worth of live tournament winnings alone, and countless WSOP bracelets to go along with it as well.In fact, if you have been around this game for awhile, you might remember Daniel Negreanu crushing the World Poker Tour as well on TV, along with many other prominent tournaments.Daniel Negreanu has quite literally been the face of poker for the last decade or two, and his incredibly consistent results have a lot to do with that.On the other hand, The Upswing Poker Lab has some of the best online poker tournament coaches in the world with millions of dollars of earnings in their own right.And Doug Polk himself is a multiple time WSOP bracelet winner and took down the One Drop a few years ago (beating all the world's top pros) for $3.7 million dollars.So with all of that said, and despite Daniel's impeccable tournament results, I am still going to have to give the edge for poker tournament players to The Upswing Poker Lab.And this is simply due to the amount of high level tournament strategy included.There is comprehensive advanced strategy advice and analysis for every stage of a poker tournament: Early stages (80+ big blinds) Middle stages (30 big blinds to 80 big blinds) Bubble Final Table (30 big blinds or less) This includes a complete breakdown of how to play optimal tournament poker at each stage depending on your stack size, the ICM considerations, solver analysis and more.There are also complete Final Table analysis (hand by hand commentary) for some of the biggest online tournaments in history such as the $100k WCOOP main event.You get to see first hand what goes into winning the biggest online poker tournaments, with every hand revealed.What if you play live poker tournaments though like the World Series of Poker?In terms of live poker tournaments, you might be able to give a slight edge here to The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass because he is such a well known live poker champion.Daniel includes his expert advice for example on many subtle details of live poker tournaments such as picking up on physical tells, table talk, how to put people on tilt and so on.So if your goal is specifically to win the World Series of Poker, then I might give a slight edge here to The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass.But for an overall primer on how to take your poker tournament game to an elite world class level, I would have to give the edge to The Upswing Poker Lab. Which is Better For Cash Games and Zoom? Upswing Poker Lab vs Masterclass If you are a cash game player (and you are not a total beginner), then in this comparison, it isn't very close in my opinion.The Upswing Poker Lab is a far better poker training program for cash game players, and this especially includes fast fold style games like Zoom, Snap, Zone, Fast Forward and so on.The Upswing Poker Lab includes some of the best cash game instructors in the world including: Doug "WCGRider" Polk (#1 heads up NLHE nosebleed stakes player in the world online for many years) Daniel "Damnerr" Merrilees (nosebleed stakes 6max cash game legend online) Fried "mynameiskarl" Meulders (one of the best Zoom poker players in the world) This 8 part "River Raising" series for example was released by Danmerr recently.He has millions of dollars in winnings in some of the highest stakes 6max cash games online. And you get to learn first hand the strategies that he uses to crush other world class pros.This lineup of coaches (especially for cash games) is simply unmatched by any poker training program available today.And since The Upswing Poker Lab is updated with new videos on a weekly basis, you are always getting the most advanced cash game theory and strategy.You will learn: How to play a cash game short stack, mid stack and full stack How to balance your ranges perfectly in cash games How to apply basic and advanced GTO theory Advanced solver analysis for preflop, flop, turn and river How to play optimal poker in 3bet, 4bet and 5bet pots Advanced deep stack poker strategy for cash games And much more.All of these concepts by the way are taught to you in 10 minute to 30 minute video lessons. Sometimes there is also some additional study material included.However, as mentioned already, a decent chunk of the course material is also taught in the form of "Play and Explains."This is where you can actually just look over the shoulder of one of these top cash game pros as they explain every single decision they make to you.This includes fast fold cash games like Zoom, Zone, Snap and Fast Forward poker.I think this hybrid style of learning is excellent for both beginner and novice level serious students of the game.Not to be outdone, the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass has plenty of basic (and some advanced) cash game strategy to help you quickly improve your game as well.Many people forget that Daniel Negreanu is actually a highly successful cash game player as well. And once again, his expertise in a live cash game environment specifically is just unparalleled.For example, his breakdown of live physical cash game tells and live hand reading is the best I have ever seen in a poker training course.Also, as a 20+ year poker pro, Daniel is able to break down the mental side of the game (surviving the ups and downs), from a level of experience that is simply unmatched by nearly all other pros.However, for an overall complete system for crushing today's cash games both online and live, including the latest cutting edge strategies, I am going to have to give the edge here to The Upswing Poker Lab. Upswing Poker Lab versus Masterclass - Which One Has Better Free Bonus Content? Both the Upswing Poker Lab and the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass include plenty of free bonus content and coursework to help you absorb all the strategies and begin implementing them in your game right away.For example, the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass comes with a highly in-depth 120+ page course workbook, which helps you understand every single lesson that Daniel teaches you along with lots of additional insights.As mentioned, the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass also includes "Office Hours" where you can personally ask Daniel questions yourself.However, not to be outdone, The Upswing Poker Lab also includes over 400 preflop strategy charts which basically tell you what hands to play in every situation imaginable in a cash game, Zoom, tournament or a live game. Enter the preflop situation in cash games, tournaments, Zoom or live games and the Upswing Poker Labpreflop charts tell you exactly what hands to play. This is literally unheard of in any poker training program that I have ever seen before, because these charts give you almost a "cheat sheet" for what hands to play in all preflop situations.And, as mentioned also, you can just download these right to your smartphone using the custom Upswing poker app.Inside the Upswing Poker Lab you will also find tons of extra worksheets and bonus strategy guides to help you through the mountain of advanced poker content included in this poker course.Lastly, The Upswing Poker Lab includes perhaps the best private poker study group found anywhere online with it's Facebook "Engage" poker group.In this private member's only study group, you can personally ask the coaches your questions about poker situations that are giving you trouble as well as get advice on your poker hands.You can also benefit from a community of thousands of other serious poker players who are also students in the Upswing Poker Lab and very determined to improve their own game as well.So in the end, both The Upswing Poker Lab and The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass include plenty of bonus material and study guides to help you improve your game even faster.But when you include the 400+ preflop "cheat sheets" into the mix, I am going to have to give the edge once again here to The Upswing Poker Lab. Upswing Poker Lab vs Masterclass Price Breakdown Comparison Finally, let's have a look at the price breakdown between The Upswing Poker Lab and the Daniel Negreanu Masterclass.Which poker training program offers the better bang for your buck?The Upswing Poker Lab is a monthly based subscription membership starting at $99 per month, although it is cheaper if you enroll for the semi-annual or annual plans. The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass on the other hand is a one time payment of $90, or you can access the entire Masterclass library (which includes the Phil Ivey Masterclass, Gordon Ramsey, Steph Curry etc.) for $180.As for which one is a better bang for your buck, I am going to have to give the slight nod here to The Upswing Poker Lab even though it is a subscription based poker training with a slightly higher price.And this is simply because the amount of high level elite poker instruction in the Upswing Lab is frankly more than any other poker course ever created.And as mentioned, there are brand new cutting edge poker strategy lessons and live play videos being added every single week.This includes all the latest GTO poker theory and solver analysis, which is stuff that you will NOT find much of in The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass.However, Daniel's Masterclass still offers a pretty solid value as well especially for the newer poker player who wants a complete package of video lessons from one of the game's all-time great players, that will help them start winning immediately.The bottom line is that the price of enrollment for either of these poker courses is literally just a buy-in or two in any micro stakes poker game.But the poker knowledge that you will learn in either The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass or The Upswing Poker Lab is worth thousands of dollars at the very least for a serious poker player. Final Thoughts So what is the final verdict here? Should you enroll in The Upswing Poker Lab or The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass?Well, I think both of these poker training programs are among the very best ways to quickly improve your poker game these days.However, they do appeal to different skill-sets and levels of poker experience.The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass is the best poker training option for poker beginners.If you are quite literally brand new to poker or you are still struggling to turn a consistent profit in the very lowest stakes games online or live, then I would recommend starting with The Daniel Negreanu Masterclass.You are learning from arguably the best poker player of all-time and Daniel has a unique ability to explain highly complex poker theory and strategy in simple bite size pieces that any beginner can benefit from.The Upswing Poker Lab is a much better advanced poker training option for anyone who is not a complete beginner.However, if you are an experienced poker player, who has perhaps seen a little bit of success, and you are looking for something a bit more advanced, then there is no question that The Upswing Poker Lab wins here.The Upswing Poker Lab is the most comprehensive poker training program ever created with 250+ hours of video lessons from some of the best poker players in the world today.This is why it The Upswing Poker Lab has been my #1 rated poker training course for several years in a row now. Simply put, if you are a serious poker player looking to take your game to a world class level, then there is no better answer than The Upswing Poker Lab.Anyways, I hope this breakdown and analysis between these two top poker training programs was helpful for you.Quite frankly, I don't think you could go wrong with either of them. This is why they continue to be at the top of my list for serious poker players looking to quickly improve their game.Like I always say. This isn't the "old days" anymore where a handful of poker pros greedily hang on to all the elite poker knowledge.It is readily available today, and taught to you by some of the best players in the world.And there is no faster way to skyrocket your poker earnings, than by investing in a world class training progam like The Upswing Lab or Daniel's Masterclass. --- Please note: The links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to enroll in either of these poker training programs. .
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PokerTracker vs Holdem Manager, DriveHUD, Hand2Note, Poker Copilot (Pro’s Pick)
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People often ask me what is the best poker HUD these days. And it is no secret that I have been using PokerTracker for nearly 10 years now and throughout most of my poker pro career as well.In fact, nearly every single online professional poker player I know also uses the PokerTracker HUD when they play online, and also to improve their game away from the tables.But I still get asked all the time about PokerTracker vs Hold'em Manager, PokerTracker vs DriveHud, PokerTracker vs Poker Copilot, PokerTracker vs Hand2Note, PokerTracker vs Jivaro and so on.Why do the large majority of online poker pros still choose PokerTracker over all of these other poker HUDs? There are in fact many clear reasons why.So in this article I am going to explain why PokerTracker 4 is still the clearly undisputed leader for online poker HUDs these days and the #1 choice of online poker pros.And even more importantly, I am going to explain how the PokerTracker HUD can help you win more at the online poker tables as well.So let's jump right into it! PokerTracker vs Holdem Manager, DriveHUD, Poker Copilot, Hand2Note, Jivaro - Why is it the Choice of Pros? Why is it that the majority of online poker pros, and even serious amateurs out there, prefer PokerTracker over other HUDs like Holdem Manager, DriveHUD, Poker Copilot, Jivaro, Hand2Note and so on?Well, there are a few reasons why. First off, there are more HUD stats in PokerTracker that you can possibly ever imagine.The biggest reason why people choose to use PokerTracker, Holdem Manager or any of these online poker software tools is for the HUD.A HUD by the way stands for "heads up display" and it basically gives you information on your opponents (displayed directly on your screen), based on hands that you have already played against them.An example of me using the PokerTracker HUD below (player names shaded out to protect their privacy):So as you can see above, HUD stats can be placed right on your poker table right beside your opponents, while you play online poker.And these HUD stats provide you with information on: What percentage of hands do they play preflop? How often do they raise preflop? If you make a bet on the flop, what percentage of the time will they fold? If you bet again on the turn, what percentage of the time will they fold? And so on.In the fast paced world of multi-tabling online poker this is absolutely crucial information to have, because it is often impossible to keep track of every single player and develop reads on all of them.The HUD helps do that for you, by giving you actual data on every facet of their strategy. And this will ultimately help you make much better poker decisions against them.If you play a fast fold version of poker like Zoom, this is even more important, because you might only see a certain opponent once every 20 hands.There is no way that you are going to remember your reads on him/her!So this is why nearly all online poker pros, and most serious amateurs, make use of a poker HUD, while playing online poker.And the PokerTracker HUD is the overwhelming choice of online poker pros. It is the poker HUD that I personally have relied on as a 10+ year online poker pro as well. PokerTracker Has More HUD Stats Than Other HUDS Now, the thing that has always made PokerTracker stand out from the rest, is that there are simply more HUD stats than you can possibly ever need to have.You can get information on your opponents down to the very finest details such as: How often do they check raise the river? What percentage of the time do they 3bet an early position raise from the small blind preflop? How often do they float the flop in position and then bet the turn when checked to? Basically the PokerTracker HUD allows you to get detailed information on literally any facet of the game and put it right on your screen beside your opponents.And if you want to dive even deeper, you can run filters to see how your opponents play individual hands like Ace King for example (more on that in a bit).Furthermore, if the HUD stat that you want isn't available on the HUD itself then PokerTracker also includes an incredibly detailed popup display, as shown below:You can also bring up this popup display directly on your poker table as you play, by simply clicking on the HUD box beside a specific player.And as you can see, the popup display tells you any other information about your opponents that you could possibly ever want to know.For example: How do they play versus a 3bet from the blinds when they open from middle position? What is their went to showdown percentage from the blinds as the preflop caller versus a button preflop raise? How often do they check/raise the turn out of position in a 3bet pot? Basically, every piece of information that you could ever possibly want to know about your opponents is available at your fingertips while you play.And this in a nutshell is the #1 reason why most poker pros rely on the PokerTracker HUD day in and day out at the poker tables to help them make better decisions and ultimately win more money.PokerTracker simply gives you more real time data on your opponents than any other HUD out there, and in the fast paced world of online poker, knowledge is power.But in reality, the HUD itself is actually only the tip of the iceberg for how PokerTracker can help improve your poker game, and therefore, your results.So in the next section, let's dive into how it helps you find your leaks at the poker table, and fix them. Finding Your Leaks and Fixing Them - PokerTracker vs DriveHUD, Holdem Manager, Poker Copilot, Hand2Note, Jivaro The next area where PokerTracker really leads the pack for me is in the ability to study your own game (and your opponents) away from the table, find your leaks, and ultimately fix them.This is the #1 reason why I have been able to consistently stay ahead of the competition when playing online poker and continue to win year in and year out.And this is something that you are simply unable to do (to this extent) in Holdem Manager, DriveHUD, Poker Copilot, Jivaro, Hand2Note or others.PokerTracker allows you to study your game and find your leaks through its extensive cash and tournament filter system.This basically allows you to bring up any hands from any situation that you have previously played, and study them and learn from them.You do this by bring up the Cash Filters or Tournament Filters box (as shown above), and filter for the exact situation you are having trouble withFor example:Playing pocket jacks from the blinds versus a short-stack.It doesn't matter how specific the situation is, PokerTracker allows you to filter for it and study those situations.It also provides you with detailed stats on your profit/loss in these situations, which gives you a clear indication of whether of not this is a problem area for you or not. Study Your Opponents in PokerTracker (Copy Their Winning Strategies) Alright, this next one is a bit controversial, but it is also something that I have been doing for years in PokerTracker.That is, learning directly from my best opponents by studying their game directly in PokerTracker (you can do this on the My Reports tab), and just straight up copying their strategies in some cases.Because why not?This is something that I have discussed many times on this blog before. And nobody else seems to talk about it, which is totally crazy to me!One of the most vital keys to my success in poker over the years is studying the biggest winners in the games that I play in.Because, after all, who better is there to learn from than the players who are actually crushing the games that you yourself play in right now?!And luckily PokerTracker allows you to do this by searching for them by name and then reviewing how they play their hands in every situation possible.I just load their hands directly into the replayer window as you see below and study how they play:This has been how I have consistently stayed on top of the games over the years, by incorporating what the biggest winners are doing right into my own game.For example:Maybe I am having trouble playing Ace King from the blinds versus a preflop raise.So I will go into PokerTracker and lookup Player X (who I know is a big winner), and find out how he plays his Ace King versus a preflop raise from the blinds.Then I will pull up a bunch of my own hands where I have Ace King in the blinds versus a raise preflop, and compare it to how they play it.See how this works and how easy it is?Compare your own strategies to the biggest winners in your games. Find out what they are doing better than you.And learn from it!Heck, even just straight up copy what they do. There is no shame in it, believe me.Or, as I often also do, find their weaknesses and create the strategies to crush them next time I play against them.PokerTracker allows you to do all this and more. You can get started with the 30 free trial right here. PokerTracker is the Easiest Poker HUD to Setup and Start Using in Just a Few Minutes Another huge reason why most poker pros and serious amateurs choose PokerTracker above all the others like Holdem Manager, Hand2Note, Jivaro, DriveHUD, Poker Copilot and so on, is the ease of use.Unlike most other Poker HUDs out there, PokerTracker can be setup on most of the major poker sites in a matter of minutes.And there is no complicated software of computer "nerd talk" that you need to understand.PokerTracker has instead focused on creating a simple and easy to use product that anybody can quickly figure out how to use.It is a very simple process to get the PokerTracker HUD up and running on your poker tables, in quite literally, a matter of minutes.In fact, to prove this, I even made a video on "How to Install PokerTracker in 5 Minutes or Less:" You can download the 30 day free trial of PokerTracker right here. PokerTracker Works on a Mac, Most Other Poker HUDs Can't Run on a Mac Another important reason why PokerTracker is the HUD of choice these days for most people, pros and amateurs alike, is that the program can run on both Windows and Mac computers or laptops.And this is a big deal for me personally since I switched over to a Mac several years ago. So I needed to make sure that my poker HUD was fully compatible with iOS.Here I am reviewing some hands on my Mac recently with PokerTracker, while sitting by the ocean (Although, I must admit it's a little bit hard to see because of the sun!)PokerTracker is one of the few poker HUDs out there that is fully compatible for both Windows and Mac machines.So it doesn't matter what kind of computer or laptop you use, PokerTracker will run smoothly on your machine.You can download the free trial for PokerTracker (Windows or Mac) right here. PokerTracker Offers the Best Customer Support and Software Patching The final reason why most poker pros prefer PokerTracker over other HUDs like Hand2Note, Holdem Manager, DriveHUD, Jivaro, Poker Copilot and so on these days is superior customer and tech support, and software patching.One of the biggest issues when running a piece of computer software (which is what a poker HUD is), is tech issues.Something just won't work right, no matter what you try to do.PokerTracker has the best customer support that I have ever seen for a poker HUD to walk you through any tech problems that you may have.They also, have the best step by step tutorials on their website and the best dedicated online forum for a poker HUD as well.So, unlike other poker HUDs out there, you don't need to worry about being a "computer genius" in order to use PokerTracker.The other very important reason why most poker pros continue to use PokerTracker is superior software patching.Online poker sites are known to make changes to their software frequently and even their rules and regulations regarding third party software.PokerTracker is always quick to patch you up to the latest version in order to keep your HUD smoothly running on which ever poker site you play on. PokerTracker is the Proven Best Poker HUD for Pros and Serious Amateurs PokerTracker has been the industry leader for poker HUDs and the #1 choice of pros and serious amateurs for as long as I can remember.And it is the only poker HUD that I have chosen to rely on consistently throughout my 10+ years as an online poker pro.Unlike other poker HUDs out there like DriveHUD, Hand2Note, Jivaro etc. which are all new to the scene, PokerTracker has literally been around forever.In fact, as far as I know, it was the original poker HUD. I have personally been using PokerTracker 4 for nearly a decade now as a pro.In fact, it is a large part of the reason how I was able to create results like this (some of the highest winnings in small stakes online poker history):There is no other poker HUD that I feel offers me the best real time data while I play and the ability to study my game (and my opponents) down the finest detail away from the tables.I have spent countless hours finding my leaks and fixing them away from the tables in PokerTracker over the years.And anytime I am playing online poker, the PokerTracker HUD is the one that I rely on to help me make better, more informed poker decisions, and ultimately profit more. What Poker Sites Can You Use a Poker HUD On? Before you start using a poker HUD, it is important to make sure that you are allowed to use one at the poker site you play on, and that that poker site is supported by the HUD as well.Once again PokerTracker leads the way in this category these days with custom options and the ability to use the HUD on more poker sites.You can actually setup your poker HUD within PokerTracker itself at popular sites like PokerStars, 888 and so on.However, even if you do currently play at a poker site that does not allow HUDs, the ability to study your game and fix your leaks (as I discussed above), still makes using PokerTracker worth it, if you take this game seriously.You can download the free trial version and check it out for yourself, right here. My Custom PokerTracker HUD (Free Download) People often ask me what HUD stats I personally use on my PokerTracker HUD as 10+ year small stakes poker online pro.So I have decided to give away my personal custom PokerTracker HUD profiles for free, for readers of this poker blog.I created two different custom PokerTracker HUDs that I use for low stakes cash games.It includes all the HUD stats that I personally use myself as a decade long pro. You can start using these exact stats for yourself.Please Note: I am pretty sure you need to be using the full paid version of PokerTracker in order to use my free custom HUDs below.You can download the Lite version of my custom Pokertracker 4 HUD, right here.(recommended for NL2, NL4 and NL5).You can download the Full version of my custom Pokertracker 4 HUD, right here.(recommended for NL10 and higher).They are both hosted on Google Drive and they are ".pt4hud" files (i.e. they will only work with PokerTracker).Once you have downloaded my free custom PokerTracker HUD above:Inside PokerTracker 4 just go HUD Edit HUD Profiles Options Import Profile.And that's it!Next time you load up your poker tables, you can start using the actual custom PokerTracker HUD that I personally rely on as a 10+ year small stakes online poker pro. Final Thoughts So why is it that most online poker pros still continue to choose PokerTracker hands down over new rivals like Hand2Note, DriveHUD, Jivaro, Holdem Manager, Poker Copilot and others?Well, it's pretty easy actually.The PokerTracker HUD is still the best poker HUD available today. It has the most stats and you can literally get it setup and running on your poker table in a matter of minutes.PokerTracker also has the best (and easiest to use) database analysis tools which allows you to deeply study your own game, find your leaks and fix them.It also allows you to study the best poker players in your own games, find out what they might be doing better than you, and incorporate it into your own game.Or, to find their weaknesses and crush them the next time you play against them!Lastly, unlike most other poker HUDs out there, PokerTracker works natively on both Windows and Mac computers and laptops.And they have the best customer and tech support out there if you encounter any problems running the program on your poker tables.As a 10+ year poker pro, PokerTracker is the poker HUD and tracking software that I have personally used for nearly a decade now.The HUD alone has no doubt saved me thousands of dollars at this point. And the ability to study my own game, and fix my leaks, has also made me countless more profit at the poker tables.If you take online poker seriously, you owe it to yourself to at least give a good HUD like PokerTracker a try.You can try out the 30 day free trial of PokerTracker right here. -- Please note: The links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase the full version of PokerTracker. .
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The Phil Hellmuth Guide to Stop Tilting
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Phil Hellmuth is perhaps best known for his famous rants and blowups at the poker table whenever he takes a bad beat.This is why he even earned the nickname "The Poker Brat."In fact, some of the most popular poker videos on YouTube have titles like "Phil Hellmuth loses it once again." Or "You won't believe what Phil Hellmuth did after this bad beat!"And while we all get a good chuckle out of these famous Phil Hellmuth blowups is this really the best way to handle adversity in this game? Should you react to bad beats just like this?Now don't get me wrong, Phil Hellmuth is a legendary poker player. In fact, he will be the first one to tell you about that! (with his 15 WSOP bracelets is it?).Bottom line is, there is absolutely no denying the man's incredible talent at the poker tables.But imagine just how great he might be without this tilt problem? Without his propensity to fly off the handle and go on a tirade after every bad beat?Or perhaps I am just the totally clueless one here and these tirades are actually a part of his grand overall strategy to help him play great poker?Perhaps we will never know!In any case, I know that tilt really is a major problem for most poker players in my experience, and it adversely affects their game is a very negative manner.In fact, having coached hundreds of students at the lower limits in particular, I can say without a doubt that tilt is the #1 reason why they have failed to succeed in poker thus far.This madness has to stop.So without further ado, here is The Phil Hellmuth Guide to Stop Tilting! Step #1 - Take a Deep Breath If you want to stop going on monkey tilt like Phil Hellmuth every time your aces get cracked, the first thing you are going to have to do is take a deep breath.Yes, just forget about the cards completely for a moment and take a few deep breaths, the type that go deep into the pit of your stomach.The reason why this is so important is because learning how to control your physical and emotional reaction when you take a bad beat is always going to be the first step towards handling it better.If you have ever taken a particularly brutal beat, perhaps right before the final table, then you know exactly what I mean.You patiently waited, for what seemed like hours, for those pocket aces and finally the aggro fish who has been pushing you out of pots all day, goes all-in.You proudly snap call him and table your pocket aces: A♣A♠The board runs out: J♠9♣4♦2♥7♣And of course the donkey sheepishly flips over his T♥8♥ scooping the entire pot and sending you to the rail!Now, the first thing you may want to do is throw your computer out the window or perhaps fling your chair across the room if you are playing live.Believe me, I get it.I have been there!After some particularly vicious bad beats online, I have destroyed several computer mice, hockey sticks, cookbooks and many other things that I am too embarrassed to even admit here.But what good does this actually accomplish?Nothing of course.In fact, you will probably just end up feeling even worse afterwards (and have a considerably lighter wallet if you broke something really expensive!)The bottom line is that bad beats (and even brutal bad beats right before the final table), are bound to happen in this game, and you must control your reaction to them better, if you want to succeed.And the first step towards controlling your emotions better is to simply breath deep a few times and learn to relax yourself and calm your mind in the moment.If you are particularly disturbed by a brutal bad beat, then I would suggest just walking away from the tables for awhile or even for the rest of the day.This truly is more important than anything.Because if you can't learn to control your reaction better to the constant ups and downs that will come your way in poker, then there is no winning poker strategy on earth that can help you win.That's why this is step #1 in the Phil Hellmuth guide to finally stop tilting! Step #2 - Ask Yourself If You Played the Hand to the Best of Your Ability So now that you have successfully calmed yourself down, and taken control of your immediate emotional response, the next step is to ask yourself if you could have played the hand any better.By the way, please continue to ignore your opponent through this step as well. This isn't even about them at all.Don't pay any attention to them. Just turn the chat off if you play online. Put on your headphones if you play live and ignore them.In fact, we will get to them, and how you will choose to react to them, in the next step.For now, this is still just all about you, and learning how to improve your response to a tough poker hand.So you need to ask yourself, did you play this hand to the absolute best of your ability given all the information that you had at each stage of the hand?And ultimately, did you get all the money into the middle as the mathematical favorite?Because remember, this is the only thing that we actually control at the poker table.If you got the money in good, you win. End of story.So for example:In our imaginary hand above where we had pocket aces and the bad player shoved preflop with his T♥8♥ we can see that we had a huge edge in equity:By the way, if you don't know how to quickly figure out your equity in many common spots like this, you can just use the equity calculator in a HUD program like PokerTracker.Now as alluded to above, the one thing that we don't control in poker is the outcome of individual hands.The other cardinal rule about No Limit Hold'em in particular is that they almost always have some sort of equity, no matter how small.Even if you get all the money in the middle with a 95% chance to win, that 5% chance that they have is still going to come through sometimes.And believe me, the "poker gods" do not care if you are right before the final table of a million dollar tournament!I am sorry to tell you but poker is cold hard math, statistics and odds.Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.But honestly, the same thing could really be said for life. Sometimes really bad things happen to really good people.All we can do therefore is learn to control our reaction to this negative stimuli better.And with regards to poker, all you can do is consistently get your chips in the middle with a mathematical edge and the rest will sort itself out over the long run.This is something that many other big name poker pros like Daniel Negreanu teach as well. My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Teaches You How to Crush Small Stakes Games Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker "cheat sheet" to give you the exact strategies to start consistently crushing the low stakes poker games right now.These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free little guide.Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. Step #3 - Sincerely Congratulate Your Opponent on a Hand Well Played! The final step in the Phil Hellmuth guide to stop tilting is to congratulate your opponent on their fine play.There is probably nobody in the history of poker who has played a T♥8♥ this well.That was a brilliant decision to shove all the money in the middle and put a man to a decision for all of his chips!Alright seriously, you don't actually have to say any of this, and you probably shouldn't, because it may just rile you up even more.The best thing to do (*at most*) is to just quietly and sincerely offer a "nice hand" or just type "nh" if you play online.There is no need to go any deeper into it than that.We already know that we had way the best of it when all the money went in the middle.Therefore, we already know that if we run this exact same hand 10 times, 100 times or 1000 times, we are going to destroy this player.Because the one thing you can't do in poker is fight the math.You can buck the odds in one hand like this (or even several times in a row), but as the sample size increases their odds of winning go down considerably.And once we get to the real long run in poker, they literally have no chance at all.So the best thing you can do is just quietly (and like I said, sincerely) offer the player congratulations on a job well done. Don't Tap the Glass Because here's the other thing.Most poker players who shove all-in preflop with a hand like T♥8♥ are recreational poker players.There can be a time and a place where a good player will have a killer read and shove a hand like this against somebody (because they know their opponent will fold).But for the most part, good poker players will usually have a much better hand than this when they decide to go all-in.So, you already know that the guy (or girl) who just took all your chips is probably the table "fish" and you will see them again later on down the line.These are also the types of players, as I have discussed many times on this blog, who quite literally bankroll the entire industry.So the absolute worst thing that you can do is berate a bad player like this or "tap the glass" as the old saying goes.Because let's think for a moment about what this will accomplish:1. The bad player realizes how bad they play and decides to study and improve their game. 2. The bad player is demoralized by getting berated and quits the game.I hope you can see that BOTH of these outcomes are absolutely terrible for you.This is why you should never berate the recreational players and instead either say nothing at all, or give them a simple compliment.And this is because you need to realize that these players are in fact your best customers.Like I said, the recreational players literally bankroll the entire industry and I have personally made an entire career out of taking their money.Because these are the players who ultimately end up providing all of the fat profits in the long run for the poker sites and the pros.And so it is absolutely crucial that we as a poker community be good hosts for them and make them feel comfortable at the poker table at all times.Because we want them coming back again and again, and making the same bad plays.Let them get lucky once in awhile. In fact we need them to get lucky so that they can continue to blame all their poor results on "bad luck."As they say "denial runs the entire industry" and I never want to take away their ability to keep denying why they get the results that they do.This is the brilliant part about poker, that very few other games have.So you don't need to take it so personally when they get lucky against you sometimes. Because believe me, they end up paying dearly for all this bad play in the end.Don't tap the glass. Final Thoughts So what can we learn from this Phil Hellmuth guide to stop tilting?Well, first of all, it is really important to control your physical and emotional reaction to a bad beat before anything else.Take a few deep breaths.Heck, even leave the table completely for awhile as Phil Hellmuth himself has been known to do himself.Control your immediate knee-jerk reaction to a poker hand that you feel you lost "unfairly."Next, check the math.Did you play the hand to the absolute best of your ability given all of the information that you had at the time?And furthermore, did you get all of your chips in the middle with a statistical advantage?If you can honestly say yes to these two questions, then there is absolutely nothing for you to worry about, because you did your job.And the math will take care of the rest over the long run.Lastly, if you choose to interact with your opponent at all, just offer them a sincere "nice hand." You are of course free to say absolutely nothing to them at all as well.This is usually what I do (chat is always turned off when I play online anyways), and it is probably the best reaction for most people as well.But if you do choose to interact with them, do not resort to berating them about their bad play because this will never lead to a good outcome for you.When you say nothing at all (or compliment them), you achieve the best long term positive results because this will keep them coming back again and again to make the same bad plays.And eventually, their "luck" will run out and reality will set in.Or hey let's face, you could just forget everything that I said in this article and call them a "goddamn stupid donkey" and ask them "what the hell they were even doing in the hand?!?"I think we both know that they probably can't even spell poker!Anyways, your call.This has been the Phil Hellmuth Guide to Stop Tilting.Thanks for reading!I am a huge fan of Phil by the way. He's a living legend.You can go follow him on Twitter, right here. --- Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy that I used to crush the micro stakes games online for some of the highest winnings ever, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet. .
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The Truth About Being a Professional Poker Player
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Many people ask me about what it is like to be become a professional poker player. And as somebody who played poker professionally online for 10+ years, I have a little bit to say about it!Is it all about sitting at the beach sipping pina coladas living the easy life while you hop online for a couple hours a week, crush some souls and print money?Or maybe you hop in your private jet to play in the big game in Vegas after a relaxing weekend in the French Riviera?Unfortunately, the reality for most poker pros is quite a bit different than this.And unfortunately there are also tons of myths and even downright misinformation out there about what it is truly like to become a professional poker player.Short Answer: No, the life of a poker pro isn't like what you saw on Instagram or YouTube, with million dollar tournaments and a life of total freedom traveling the world. In fact, for most professional poker players, their day to day life is nothing like this at all, and it is a lot less glamorous than you might think.So in this article I am going to finally dispel some of the ridiculous myths out there about what it is like being a professional poker player, and give you the reality of it, from someone who has done it.This is the truth about what it is like to be a professional poker player. 1. You Probably Won't Win at Poker Let's start with the most important point of all. And hey let's face it, nobody really wants to talk about this!But I think it is rather important.And that is the simple fact that most people don't even win at this game in the first place over the long run.Poker is a hard game to beat these days, and for a variety of reasons, most people end up losing more than they win.In fact, as I have discussed before, at least 70% of people lose at poker over the long run.And the large majority of those that actually do manage to win are only very small winners, just above break even.If we are talking about "going pro," it is probably 5% or less of all people who play poker who are significant enough winners in order to even consider it.Bottom line:Most people don't even win at poker over the long run.It should of course go without saying that a major pre-requisite of becoming a professional poker player is being a proven long term big winner.So for the large majority of people who play this game, becoming a professional poker player will just never be possible. 2. You Probably Won't Survive as a Professional Poker Player But here's the other perhaps far more important part about becoming a professional poker player that nobody mentions very often either.Even if you do manage to become part of that small group of elite winners in this game, it's really tough to stay on top and survive in this game over the long run.I can't even begin to tell you the number of so called "poker pros" that I have seen come and go over the years.For a variety of reasons (which I will discuss later on in this article), most of them didn't last. In fact, most of them don't even last one year before it is too much for them.You need to be 100% self-driven and have a superhuman work ethic in order to survive in this game as a pro. You also need the mental stamina and the emotional control of a Buddhist monk.You also need to be constantly studying and improving your game if you want to stay on top.For example, you need to be putting in the long hours away from the tables finding your leaks and fixing them in PokerTracker.The bottom line is that for most professional poker players, the game is all-consuming if you actually want to stay ahead of the competition and make it in this game over the long run.This is why most don't last. 3. Being a Poker Pro Can Be Really Lonely The other thing they never tell you about what it is like to be a professional poker player is that it is really, really lonely most of the time.Poker is simply not a team sport and the sad truth is that at the end of the day nobody actually cares about your wins or losses. They only care about their own.And so most online poker pros end up spending long hours in a room (often by themselves), with nobody to really interact with or ever feel like they are part of something bigger.For somebody like myself who is fiercely independent and doesn't really require too much company or interaction with others in order to be happy, this was never a huge deal.But I am well aware that this isn't the case for most people. Most people enjoy being part of a "team" and they also enjoy the camaraderie of the office for example, at least to some degree.If this is the kind of person that you are, becoming an online poker pro is probably not going to be the best choice for you.What about live poker though?There is more social interaction if you are a live poker pro, playing in a casino. With that said though, nobody at the poker table is really your friend.While you can get more face to face human interaction in a live poker game, at the end of the day, you are there to take their chips, and they are there to take yours. 4. Becoming a Professional Poker Player Requires Incredible Mental Strength As a professional poker player, your entire life will become one big emotional roller coaster. In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons why most don't make it over the long run (5 years, 10 years etc).What do I mean by this?I am talking about the never-ending ups and downs that are inherently built into the game of poker. And it doesn't matter how good you are, they will always exist.By the way, if you want to know the mental habits of good poker players, I discuss it more in this video: Here's the reality of being a poker pro though.It is really difficult to win one day, lose the next day, and I am talking large sums of money for most professional poker players, sometimes 10k+ swings each day.It is very difficult to just mentally remove these results from your mind each day and carry on as if nothing happened.Because one day you are on top of the world and the next day you are down in the dumps. And this cycle of emotional ups and downs never ends.This is why I always suggest being extremely well bankrolled as a professional poker player, and ignoring your short term results completely, if possible. 5. Lengthy Downswings Crush Most Poker Pros But most real poker pros can actually handle the day to day swings. It's not the end of the world. You still ride the emotional roller coaster, but it is manageable.The real danger for professional poker players is actually lengthy "downswings." A downswing by the way is what we refer to in poker as an extended losing streak.These soul crushing downswings happen to everybody. You hit a really bad patch of variance (poor short term luck with the cards), and you literally can't win a hand for days, weeks or even months.If you are a tournament pro, downswings can even last years!As a cash game pro I have personally had multiple 100k+ hand stretches during my professional poker career where it felt like I would never win another hand again.And I have some of the best results of all time at the micro stakes online!Ya, variance can be absolutely brutal in this game. Much worse than most people think.And the longer these downswings go on, the more difficult it is to handle it mentally as a pro without a good support network.And like I mentioned already, unfortunately most professional poker players don't really have a great support system. For the most part you will be on your own to deal with it. Learn How to Make a Good Side Income From Poker With My Free "Cheat Sheet" Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker "cheat sheet" to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now.These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide.Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 6. The Game Isn't Nearly as Fun for a Poker Pro Compared to an Amateur One of the biggest things I noticed when I first became a professional poker player in 2007 was that the game was not nearly as fun as it used to be.Because after all, now I played poker to pay the bills.And this quite frankly, changes everything.It wasn't just a hobby anymore. And this meant bad beats hurt a bit more and I found myself getting frustrated with amateurs more easily.The bottom line is that when you change poker from a hobby to a profession, there is something fundamental that changes about the game for you.It is no longer just idle entertainment or a fun hobby to pass the time like watching Netflix or playing video games is for example.No, poker is now a job to you and you also have to win.Now, hopefully you didn't rush into going pro and you actually are a proven winning poker player, but regardless, you will still never look at the game in the same way. 7. Making Good Friends in Poker is Difficult Alright, I don't want to throw all poker players under the bus here, as I have met a lot of really good people, especially in my travels. And some of my very best friends are poker players.But I would be lying if I tried to say that everybody in poker is a fine upstanding individual. In fact, I usually go out of my way to avoid making friends with most poker players!Because the reality is that poker does tend to attract a lot of people who are looking for a get rich quick scheme, instead of viewing poker as a serious long term pursuit.Also, as I just mentioned above, most poker players are on a permanent emotional rollercoaster depending on how their results have been lately, so they aren't the most mentally stable people either.There is also a ton of money that gets liberally tossed around (lended) in poker and, well, it doesn't always end well let's just say.People sometimes disappear with your money, and it seems like there is a new scam of the week at times, whether it is multi-accounting, super-using, collusion or some other form of cheating in poker.Heck, sometimes the poker rooms themselves are even in on some form of cheating!The bottom line is that if you are looking to surround yourself with a bunch of morally upstanding well adjusted happy people, you might want to find another game.It is an unfortunate truth that poker simply does not typically attract the best sort of people. 8. Most Professional Poker Players Are Not Rich Another common misconception is that most professional poker players are rich. This also couldn't be further from the truth.Firstly, as I just mentioned, borrowing or pooling money is so prevalent these days, especially in high stakes poker games, that very few poker players actually have 100% of themselves (or even close to it for that matter).For example, most of the time when you see that guy win the $5 million dollar tournament he will actually be lucky to keep $1 million himself after he pays off all his backers and the taxman (depending on the country/jurisdiction).This is not even to mention paying off all the losses for all the tournaments that they didn't even cash in, along with travel expenses like hotel rooms and flights.The bottom line is that most poker players are not nearly as rich as they make it out to be and most of them are highly leveraged in the games that they play in.In fact, there are many well known professional poker players who are chronically broke and only appear to be "rich" on their Instagram profiles. 9. Most Professional Poker Players Actually Make a Pretty Average Salary In fact, if you really want to know the truth, most poker players make a very average salary of say between $20k and $100k per year.On the bottom end of this scale, you can barely survive these days in any first world Western country. This is why many online poker pros move to a much cheaper place like Thailand or Mexico for example.But even on the higher end of this scale, $100k per year is not exactly amazing money anymore these days, again, assuming you live in a Western country like the UK, USA, Canada etc.The other thing is that most professional poker players do not have much of a safety net. They don't have a college degree for example or any other real world skills.Professional poker players also don't get a medical plan, a retirement plan or any of the other perks often associated with a more traditional career.So it is quite a big risk to take to become a professional poker player when the potential ceiling on your earnings for most poker pros is not even very high these days.It is really only a handful of nosebleed stakes poker pros that actually can afford to live the wealthy lifestyle with the exotic cars, world travel, buy that NYC penthouse apartment and so on.The large majority of poker pros are actually stuck grinding out minimum wage at NL25 online or $1/$2 live. I did it for years myself, as I talk about in my latest book, The Micro Stakes Playbook.And believe me, while it does give you a bit more "freedom" than a traditional office job for example, it is far from glamorous and feels like a never-ending grind just the same. 10. Your Freedom is Limited This next point is perhaps one of the biggest ridiculous myths about being a professional poker player, especially if you play online.Sure, in theory, you can travel the world, play whenever you want and where ever you want, sip pina coladas on the beach all day and so on.After all, I do post this sort of lifestyle on my Instagram a lot these days.But what most people don't see is the 10+ year buildup to get to this level, and all the blood, sweat and tears involved.The millions and millions of hands played. The endless hours studying, improving and working on my game. The 15+ hours a day, 7 days a week grind for years and years with next to zero social life.They also don't see the incredible amount of work that went into creating the teaching business I built (thousands of blog posts, three published poker strategy books, hundreds of videos etc).Because I knew that putting all my eggs in one basket like most poker pros do (only relying on poker winnings), is a pretty bad idea.I have discussed all this before by the way in my big "10 years as a poker pro" post.The bottom line is that most people are simply just not willing to put in this level of commitment in my experience. But this is the price to be paid if you want real long term success in this game.Secondly, you can't just play poker from anywhere in the world anymore.With online poker for example, you are limited in what sites you can play on in many jurisdictions like America or Australia.And if you play live, while there are casinos all over the world, realistically if you want to be a live professional poker player, you need to be in a few select places like Las Vegas or Macau.This is because this is where you will be able to find the most consistent action and games running at any time of the day.But you still won't be completely "free" as a poker pro because there will always be better times to be playing than others. You need to be playing in the best games (most fish), in order to maximize your winnings.For example, I live in SE Asia most of the year (Thailand, Bali, Philippines etc), and so I can't just online poker play any time I want.And this is because most of the fish are from North America and Europe (i.e. not my timezone!), and so I often need to play either very early in the morning or very late at night.Even if you play live poker for a living in Las Vegas, there are always going to be better times to play than others.Such as a Saturday night for example, when all your friends want to go out and have a big night on the town.As a professional poker player though, you need to be at the poker tables grinding out those tourist dollars instead. 11. Poker is Not Easy Anymore This last point is arguably the most important of all especially for all you younger aspiring professional poker players out there who are reading this.Poker is a lot harder today than it was when I was first coming up in this game over 10 years ago.No longer can you just hop on a couple low stakes games online for example and expect to be surrounded by a bunch of huge clueless fish waiting to give you all their money.Quite the contrary actually.Even in very low stakes games these days (both online and live), you can expect to encounter many serious poker players, some of whom are even full time pros.Many of them will be using a poker HUD to get stats on you and fix their leaks away from the tables. This is something I have been recommending for years, especially if you are a serious online poker player. Some of them may also study to improve their game away from the tables and even learn some advanced poker strategy just like you do.So it is by no means a walk in the park anymore to crush these games. It is a lot of work to stay ahead of these players and average winrates have generally decreased as a result of this as well.Rakeback programs have also declined in recent years if you play online. And the player pool has been split due to government regulation, making it harder to always find good games.Bottom line: Is poker still profitable? Sure, for those willing to work really hard and put in a lot of work improving their game away from the tables as well.But the "golden era" easy money days are long gone. You gotta really want it much more than the next guy these days. Should You Become a Professional Poker Player? So should you become a professional poker player? Is there any bright side here?Honestly, I would say for 99% of the people reading this right now, the answer I would recommend is no, keep you day job or stay in school.Heck, if you really want to be smart, start an online business, learn about digital marketing, learn Amazon FBA, learn content marketing, start streaming on Twitch, start a YouTube channel etc. (by the way, here is my poker YouTube channel).Because honestly, there are many much easier ways to make a good to great income these days online (if this is your goal), besides online poker.But hey believe me, I get it. Many poker players have a big dream of making it as a poker pro one day. It's totally natural, especially once you start winning to at least harbour the thought.However, many poker players also tend to over-estimate their abilities substantially. This is especially the case if they run hot for a few weeks or a few months.Many of them also severely under-estimate just how big of a mental toll this game will take on you when you choose to play it for a living day in and day out.The cold hard reality is that most people don't even win at this game in the first place. And if if they do manage to turn a profit, almost nobody survives as a poker pro over the long run.Now with all of that said, I was that stubborn young kid once and there was nobody on this earth who was going to tell me that I couldn't make it as a poker pro.I will move mountains, I don't care what they say.My own family told me I was crazy and that I was throwing my life away. I just used it as fuel for my fire.And if this sounds like you who is reading this right now, then don't listen to me.Follow your dreams instead.Because the reality is that some people do make it in this game. Some people do manage to win big over the long run and make it as a professional poker player.I hope this article has given you a bit of perspective about just how hard that is. I nearly quit/lost my mind countless times.That would be a story for a whole different article that I may write one day.But through all the insane ups and downs, the torment, the self-doubt, the haters, the brutal downswings, I came out the other side on top.And this game did in fact change my life.I have been traveling the world non-stop for almost 10 years now. I also haven't had an alarm clock or a boss in over a decade now.And I live my life the way I want to live it, every single day.Because a long time ago I had a crazy dream and goal to become a poker pro. And there was nobody on this earth that was going to tell me that I couldn't do it. Final Thoughts The truth about what it is like to become a professional poker player is often far removed from the fantasyland of million dollar final tables and a life of fame and total freedom that many people think it is.The reality is that most people do not even win at poker in the long term, and most professional poker players do not last either, for a variety of reasons.One of the biggest of those reasons is that playing poker professionally is a constant emotional rollercoaster and the lengthy downswings may even have you questioning your sanity at times.Furthermore, poker does feel much more like a job when you choose to go pro, it is difficult to make quality friends in this game, and the financial ceiling isn't nearly as high as most people think.Lastly, the games are quite a bit tougher to beat these days, and you need to put in a lot of long hard hours both at the tables, and away from them, in order to continually stay on top.This means a continued commitment to learning and studying the latest cutting edge advanced poker strategies.Now with all that said, I don't want this entire article to be all doom and gloom though. Becoming a professional poker player does in fact work out well for a small amount of people.It changed my entire life for example and gave me the ability to work for myself (be my own boss) and travel the world as well, two things I cherish deeply.But it has been anything but "easy" and it is difficult to put into words the emotional toll it took at times and the amount of work that went into it.The reality is that most people should just keep…
How Long Does it Take to Become a Professional Poker Player?
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People often ask me how long does it take to become a professional poker player. And as somebody who made a living as a poker pro for many years, I can provide some insight here on how long it takes for the average person to quit their job and be a poker pro. But I must warn you that the amount of time to become a professional poker player is still going to vary tremendously from person to person depending on their skill level, work ethic and so on.Nevertheless, I am going to break it all down for you in this article. Here is how long it takes for a typical person to become a professional poker player. What is a Professional Poker Player? I think before we even begin though, we do need to define what exactly a professional poker player is. Because many people get it confused. A professional poker player is simply: Somebody who pays all or the majority of their bills and expenses with their winnings from the poker table, rakeback and any other poker related endorsements or revenue. As I have mentioned many times on this blog before, all smart professional poker players these days have realized the need to create several streams of income through the game. This is why you will see many poker pros streaming live on Twitch these days for example. They are essentially killing two birds with one stone here. They are making money playing poker and creating an income stream through Twitch subscriptions/selling merch/affiliate deals etc, at the same time.  The same principle applies for somebody who is a "sponsored pro" at a poker site. The famous poker pro Daniel Negreanu was a long time sponsored pro at PokerStars for example.The poker site paid him to promote their brand while he plays poker. As a relatively unknown online poker pro, I have even had several sponsorship offers from well known poker sites myself.So you don't need to be some world famous pro like Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey to do this. Anyways, I am not going to go into this any deeper in this article, because it is beyond the scope here.But I did want to make it clear that most poker pros actually make a substantial part of their income away from the poker tables these days. Many people do not realize this. A professional poker player is somebody who makes the large portion of their income from poker related activities, including playing poker, as well as sponsorships, branding and so on.Those who do not branch out and just try to make it in today's (often tough games) with their poker table winnings alone, usually don't last.Smart poker pros have multiple income streams, not just playing the game. How Long Does it Take the Average Person to Become a Professional Poker Player? So with that definition of a poker pro out of the way, let's get into the topic of how long it takes a typical person to become a professional poker player these days. And I need to warn you right away, that this isn't going to be the answer that most people reading this want to hear. But in my experience, it will take a bare minimum of one year for the average person to become a professional poker player.  This is the amount of time it will take both to learn the game at a world class level, and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are a consistent winning player. Many people rush into becoming a professional poker player these days because they ran hot at the poker tables for a few weeks/months and in some cases they hate their day job as well. This is almost always a terrible idea because a few weeks or even a few months is not long enough of a time period to prove conclusively that you are a winning poker player. In fact, as I have mentioned many times before on this blog, I think you need to play a bare minimum sample size of 100,000 hands before coming to any conclusions about your poker results.Many people (most people actually) simply do not want to hear this. And that is fine, but it has absolutely no impact on the veracity of this statement.The long run in poker is much, much longer than what most people think.For many people who play online poker, playing 100k hands will take several months and for somebody who plays live, this might take them an entire calendar year. But I have run the numbers over sample sizes in the millions in PokerTracker though over my 10+ year career as a pro.And I am confident that 100k is the very minimum sample size I would even consider before making any real conclusions about my poker results.And for me personally, I would play 500k hands, minimum, before deciding to make a life changing decision like becoming a professional poker player.By the way, for reference, when I first turned pro in 2007, I had already played over 2 million hands of poker at that point in my career, with consistently dominating results.Your Lifestyle and Expectations Are Big FactorsNow with all that said, I need to point out as well, that everybody has a different situation in life, different levels of expenses and so on.A single guy living in a low cost city like Bangkok for example is going to have a much easier time becoming a poker pro faster than a guy (or girl) with a family in an expensive city like LA.Why does this matter?Because the lower your expenses, the lower the stakes you will have to play to make it as a pro. Lower stakes games are always much easier to beat and therefore you can become a poker pro much faster. You also have to factor in your lifestyle and how much you need to feel comfortable.Are you cool driving a 15 year old Toyota or do you need to drive the latest BMW? Do you need to live in a luxury condo/huge house with a huge pool or can you get by in a small apartment?These are all factors that will influence how long it takes for you to become a poker pro.I have lived for as little as $500 a month before in a small city like Chiang Mai whereas when I go back to my hometown of Vancouver I could very easily spend $5000 per month.Guess which city it's going to be easier for me to be a poker pro in?Poker Pros Must Have a Large Financial Safety NetYou also need to factor in your savings and investments. I always suggest having a large rainy day fund of at least 6 months living expenses or reasonably liquid assets on hand.This is completely separate from your poker bankroll and poker related expenses by the way.The reason why you need this is because it does not matter how good you are, poker is a very swingy game and you will go through extended losing streaks at times.You poker "salary" is not guaranteed, nor will you be receiving any benefits like medical, dental, retirement and so on that often come with a more traditional career path.So this is why it is extremely important that as a professional poker player you are better prepared financially than the average person in case of emergency (liquid assets/savings). All of this is stuff that only you know the answers to, your cost of living, your lifestyle expectations, how many mouths you have to feed, your current savings/investments and so on.This is why it is difficult for me to say how long it will take you to become a professional poker player. It might take 5 years for some people, it might take 5 months for another person. Make $1000+ Per Month in Low Stakes Poker Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet. Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent full time income playing these games?That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now.These are the exact poker strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide.Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. How Can You Speed Up the Time it Takes to Become a Professional Poker Player? Now with all of that said, there is some good news if your goal is to become a professional poker player in a shorter period of time. And that is, you can speed up your learning curve towards becoming a professional poker player tremendously by investing in your knowledge and understanding of the game early on in your career. For example, I have written several best selling poker books like Crushing the Microstakes which are specifically targeted at beginners to help them quickly crush the lowest stakes games.There is even a 6+ hour video course that comes along with the book now where you can essentially just watch me play live while I crush my opponents and explain every single decision I make to you.By learning my proven strategies to crush these small stakes games you won't have to waste months or even years of your time like most people do, struggling to figure out how to even win in these games. When you learn to start winning right from the very start you will also be much more motivated to continue learning more advanced poker strategies and climb up the limits even faster. This is going to help the average poker player tremendously in achieving their goal of becoming a professional poker player much faster. Once you have learned how to smash all the "wild" players at the lower limits, you can continue on with your poker education for high limits by enrolling in a more advanced poker training program like The Upswing Poker Lab. This is my #1 recommended advanced poker training program these days that will give you the cutting edge tools and strategies to start beating mid and even high stakes poker games. The Upswing Poker Lab includes tons of advanced material like GTO poker theory, balancing your range, intro to solver analysis, understanding how to use blockers, count card combos and so on.Should You Hire a Poker Coach?And if you still want to take your game even further after all of this, you can also consider hiring a personal coach. This is something that I used to do.I have coached a lot of players in small stakes games in the past myself, 100+. And I have also hired high level technical and mental game coaches to help me improve my own game as well.In fact, many of the top poker pros in the world do a bit of 1 on 1 coaching on the side these days (this is also an extra form of income like I mentioned above).But this is also one of the absolute fastest ways to quickly improve your game. You are learning from the very best after all and getting custom advice from them as well, which is huge.There is one big downside though. It won't be cheap!Many of the top high stakes poker pros these days will charge $1000 or more per hour because their knowledge and understanding of the game is in extreme high demand.Even hiring a coach for small stakes games is not cheap these days. Any qualified small stakes poker coach will charge at least $100 per hour. I do not personally coach anymore but I would charge a lot more than this if I did.So the bottom line is that hiring a coach isn't cheap, but if money isn't an object for you, then this is the absolute fastest way to quickly improve your game and become a poker pro yourself. Is It Easy for a Normal Person to Become a Professional Poker Player? Now with all of that said, I must say that it is still going to be pretty difficult for a normal person to become a poker pro these days. Most will simply not succeed. And one of the biggest reasons why is because the games are not nearly as easy as they were several years ago. This is because there are many people out there now who take this game just as seriously as you do, and also work hard on improving their game away from the tables. This is why game selection has become so crucial. You need to be paying a lot of attention to what tables and poker sites you are playing on these days You need to make sure that you are actively searching for the "fish" (bad players) and playing as many hands against them as possible. Because whether you are an amateur or a pro, the large majority of your profit in poker is always going to come from these players. Don't make the mistake of consistently playing at tables full of other strong players! This is seriously one of the biggest mistakes that I see people making these days.They just play on any poker site and hop on any poker table that suits their fancy. This is a total disaster and it is why they don't win.You need to choose to play at the easy poker sites instead. Because if you consistently play against the weak players you will profit a lot more.You also need to be chasing the fish around and making sure you are getting on their left. This is not earth shattering news to any poker pro reading this. In fact, they already know that it is part of the job.Most amateurs totally miss this absolutely crucial part of the game though. If you don't take game selection seriously, your results in poker these days will suffer massively. Final Thoughts So how long does it take to become a professional poker player these days? Well, I would say that for the average person, it will take at least a year. This is because it is important to be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a long term winning player before deciding to go pro.You can speed up the process by learning some advanced poker strategy. But being a poker pro is not a decision you want to make rashly. Take your time and make sure that this is the right path for you to go down. As somebody who has successfully done it for 10+ years, I know it can be tempting to want to take the leap as soon as you see some early success. But believe me, this is a hard game to make it in. You need to make sure that you are ready, both from a technical understanding of the game, and from the mental side as well. Because while the freedom and the money are both great parts of being a professional poker player, handling the swings is the most challenging part of it.You can't learn that emotional and mental control over night. It takes time and experience. It is important to make sure that you are completely prepared.You should also have a deep war chest of savings and investments (rainy day fund) which is totally separate from your poker bankroll and poker related expenses.This is because poker is a very swingy game and therefore you need a large financial safety net to back you up during the extended losing streaks that all poker pros go through at times. For the vast majority of people reading this article, I would recommend that you focus on creating a solid side income from poker while keeping your day job or staying in school. My free poker "cheat sheet" gives you a complete strategy guide on how to start quickly making a nice part time income from poker. You can get a copy of my free poker cheat sheet, right here. .
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The Ultimate Guide to Poker Staking (2021)
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So, for the most part, no experienced backer is going to give a full stake to someone, and assume 100% of the risk, for a small sample of tournaments.But when you do see it, it is normally used when there's a big poker series around the corner like the World Series Of Poker (WSOP). This can also involve a big online poker tournament series such as the World Championship Of Online Poker (WCOOP).By the way, if you want to learn how to start crushing major poker tournaments like this, I have already reviewed the #1 advanced poker tournament course available today, taught by the best tourney pros in the world.In package staking deals for a big tournament series both parties have to discuss the terms and conditions which are not all that different from the ones outlined above.However, there are some that are typical of this particular type of staking agreement. These terms and conditions will often include: The number of SNGs/MTTs that are included in the package If there are MTTs around the same time that are not included in the package If for some unforeseen reason the player/stakee did not play a tournament what happens?  Can it be replaced with another MTT that wasn't in the initial agreement?  Or is the money from that buy-in to be returned to the backer? Through what media outlet/communication method will the stakee inform/update the backer? How are bonuses, rewards and any other “extra” money going to be distributed? I am sure there are many other questions and it will be impossible to cover them all as there are many unforeseen situations that can occur that we can't possibly always know in advance.This is why good communication between a stakee and the backer is absolutely vital to ensuring the success of any type of poker staking agreement. Long-Term Poker Staking Deals These are the most common poker staking deals and normally last between 12 and 24 months.There's a good reason why this type of staking agreement is the most commonly used and it is due to the fact that staking a poker player carries a very high risk.This is because of the variance involved in poker (routine ups and downs that can sometimes last for months), and therefore many stakers prefers longer agreements to compensate for this.In other words, when the staking agreement lasts 12 months or more, there is almost no mathematical chance that the stakee can "run bad" over this time period.Therefore, assuming that the stakee is a long term winning poker player, there is almost no risk involved here for the backer.Also, if coaching is offered within the agreement, the backers need to compensate for this by extending the agreement for a longer time period.This helps to recover all the time and resources invested in the development of the player.Because, at the end of the agreement, the player will leave the partnership as potentially a very solid and consistent big winner, allowing them to continue playing on their own bankroll, while keeping 100% of the profit. So if the backer helped get them to this level of development via coaching, then there needs to be some sort of compensation agreed on about this before the staking deal begins.High quality poker coaching isn't free just because you got staked! Selling Action - Buy-A-Piece (Also Mostly Used for MTTs and SNGs) This is another type of staking agreement on which the player is looking to sell a portion of his/her “action," also known as Buy-A-Piece.This means if a player is looking to spend $1,000 in SNG and MTT buy-ins he/she can sell a percentage and partially cover some of that money.For example, let's say I am putting together a package for the weekend that involves a certain number of tournaments totalling $1,000 in buyins. I then set a minimum amount others can invest in me specifying at the same time what is the maximum amount I am putting up for sale.Continuing with our example above, I can then say something like I am putting up for sale 40% (meaning $400) of this weekend's action for these specific tournaments and the minimum buy is 5% (this would be a piece), meaning $50. In summary, I can sell up to $400 and if someone wants to invest in my package it would be for a minimum of $50.If for any reason I can't reach the pre-required amount money I have planned to spend on buyins I need to state that in the terms and conditions of the agreement. I have the choice of either assume the full risk myself and carry on with the deal or reimburse everybody that decided to participate.Now, in the event that I end up running good and binking some big tournament scores, all money won will be distributed proportionally based on the percentage people invested.For example, if someone bought 10% (meaning $100) of the package he's entitled of 10% of the total amount of cashes. By that same token, if I end up cashing $1,500 in total (remember I spent $1,000 on buyins) then I need to send that person $150.Selling action is an extremely common type of staking found on many poker forums and on staking arrangement sites like youstake.com for example.You basically invest in a good poker player over a series of tournaments and even though you do take on a decent amount of risk, you are riding on the coattails of the high level of poker skill possessed by the horse. My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Teaches You How to Make $1000 Per Month in Low Stakes Games Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?Want to actually create some real consistent profit so that somebody will want to stake you for much bigger limits?That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $1000 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now.These are the exact poker strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide.Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. What is Markup in Poker Staking? And Why Do People Charge It? Markup is an additional percentage good players charge based on their previous results for these same types of tournaments, because it proves how profitable they are in that format.It's basically calculated by determining the player's Return On Investment (ROI) for these same tournament types. For example, let's assume I have played around 4,000 of these same tournaments from my package and I have sustained a 20% ROI.This would mean that I have an EV (expected value) of $1,200 so, it is normal to charge up to 20% markup or 1.2 markup. This means that the entire package value is now set at $1,200, and NOT $1,000, because we added the markup in.So, if someone wants to invest in the package at the minimum buy of 5% WITH markup this would be $60 instead of $50. What is a Standard Staking Deal? What Should I as a Player Expect? In my many years of experience under a staking agreement, I can say for sure that the most common terms and conditions for any staking agreement regardless of the format you're playing are:1. At least a 50/50 deal for both sidesObviously the more the better, but this would depend on your experience, past results and your reputation in the poker community.2. Weekly coaching sessionsThis can be either 1-on-1 type of sessions or as a group. Normally they last for 1 hour and during that time the coach will utilize a hand replayer going through the hands of a tournament and/or any hands marked by another player on the team.Nowadays it is common for many stables to offer training videos, accessible through a forum or private section of their website where only team members can access them with a username and password.By the way, if you want to know where to find the best poker training sites available online today, taught by world class elite pros, I have created the ultimate guide for you right here. Poker Coaching Videos for the Stable (Horses) These videos vary in terms of content but in general, they are grouped in:1) Theoretical videos2) Live sessions or Live Sweats (where a coach has recorded himself playing while commenting on their reasoning and the decision making behind each decision)BlackRain79 did this recently with his NL2 Mastery Course for example. You get to watch him play live and explain his decisions as he crushes the games.3) Hand history reviews. It can be an isolated hand a player has some doubts about or it can be an entire tournament.4) Technical videos (where the use of any software programs used in poker to evaluate and analyze decision making is taught, for example, PokerTracker which is widely used by serious online poker players.)5) Psychological videos that touch on the mental aspect of the game which is so often underestimated yet it's easily one of the most crucial elements of any winning poker player. Makeup in Poker Staking Makeup is another common concept in poker staking. Basically it is the amount owed to the backer and it has to be cleared before chopping any profit.For example, let's say I hit a downswing and lose $200. And on the next session, I end up with +$1,500 in profit and I request a profit chop.I need to first deduct the $200 from the $1,500 and chop the difference. What Are Backers Looking For in a Potential Stakee? I hate to state the obvious but backers are mostly looking for a player that can generate consistent profit at the poker tables without having to invest that much time and money in developing their skills.You should be clearly versed in the fundamentals of winning poker strategy for example.Because this of course is the entire point of the staking arrangement for the backer. Just like somebody investing in the stock market, they are doing it to make a profit.So this usually means that the player: Has a proven winning track record at the stakes he or she is requesting to get staked for Has a solid reputation in the poker community Has a positive attitude, willing to work with groups, and help other players Has no problem following guidelines and schedules Why Are Winning Poker Players Looking to Get Staked in the First Place? So why do winning poker players even need a stake anyways? Well, there are a few reasons why.Firstly, these deals make sense for both the player and the backer and I can summarize why in one simple word: Variance!Variance once again are the natural ups and downs in the game of poker that can last months or even years in some extreme cases with tournaments in particular.Staking arrangements help reduce the impact of variance tremendously for the player being staked in particular. The financial support allows them to simply focus on what they do best, playing good poker. Additionally, the vast majority of staking agreements are for MTTs and for one good reason also. Many tournament poker players do not have the discipline to apply the basic concepts of bankroll management (BRM).Because when you use proper bankroll management it can actually to take your risk of ruin (RoR) to a minimum, almost zero. The rules are there for a reason!Why don't many tournament poker players exercise proper bankroll management? This is due mostly to playing outside their limits.And more precisely entering tournaments at higher stakes than they should. In other words, taking shots in tournaments that are well above their average buy-in (ABI).By contrast, cash games typically have much less variance in comparison to tournaments but it still plays a very significant role.Cash game players often have to deal with the emotional distress that causes (inevitably) tilt and prolonged downswings. And, even proven winning players over a large sample, with a healthy bankroll and the right mindset, decide to take on a staking deal for the sole reason to be able to play at higher stakes than usual.This way they can “taste the water” without risking their own hard-earned money nor falling into the emotional abyss that negative variance can cause.At the same time, they can work on their game, studying the high level strategy and poker solver theory necessary to crush these games, without all the pressure of bankroll concerns.There are tons of excellent advanced poker training programs that they can be learning on the side in order to battle the tougher players at higher limits as well.Lastly, in some rare cases a solid winning player may enter into a staking deal due to an unforeseen personal situation causing them to have to spend a large chunk of their bankroll (medical bills for example).And a staking agreement can offer him/her the chance to continue playing at the same buyin levels without having to start building up a bankroll from lower stakes again. The Pros and Cons of Poker Staking Alright, let's briefly break down the pros and the cons of poker staking starting with the pros: Not having to risk your own money. Chance to play at a higher stake/limit than you normally do. Try a new format/variant of poker you are unfamiliar or inexperienced with. In some cases you will get “free” quality coaching. Network inside a community of serious winning poker players. Just focus on your game, you don't get so emotionally distressed by downswings. And now let's look at the cons of poker staking: You're not your own boss anymore. The negative mental impact when being under significant makeup. You have to give away a big chunk of your profit. You can't always play the games and formats you want. You have the contractual and moral obligation to fulfil the agreement including volume requirements. The pressure to generate consistent profit. Should You Consider Get Staked as a Poker Player? Ultimately this is only something that you can decide for yourself. There are many advantages and disadvantages as I just listed.At the end of the day though almost all long term successful poker players get staked at some point in their poker career.[BlackRain79 - I have been staked for higher stakes games at multiple times during my own pro poker career, even though I have rarely discussed it here on my blog].Sure, it is pretty easy to smash the lower stakes games yourself with a simple proven winning strategy.But once you make your way to up to the high stakes games, almost everybody is getting at least partially staked these days.This is something that most casual poker fans don't know. All those million dollar tournament wins you see at the WSOP. Very, very few of them are actually taking it all for themselves.They have to pay their backers back first, because that's why they are playing in that high stakes tournament in the first place. Where Can You Get a Poker Stake? Ok, so you have decided that you do want to get staked as a poker player. Where can you actually get a stake these days?I would say that poker forums are one of the most obvious places to start looking. Most of the big ones like 2+2 have entire sections dedicated to staking.Additionally there are many websites dedicated to poker staking that can easily be found with a quick google search (i.e. youstake.com, chipmeup.com etc).But for me personally, relationships are key within the poker industry. If you want to get the best staking opportunities, it is best to start networking among good players.Social media and forums are usually the best place to do this. Start getting your name known a bit. And more importantly, get some solid results behind you.If you do this, you won't even have to go looking for a stake. Backers will come knocking on your door. Should You Consider Becoming a Backer? (Staking Other Poker Players) Again, this is something that only you can decide for yourself but as an investment opportunity, I think there are some great returns to be made here.Sure the variance is absolutely through the roof in large scale tournaments for example. But who wouldn't want to have say 10% of Daniel Negreanu in the WSOP Main Event?This is one of the winningest live tournament poker players of all time and even though he won't even come close to reaching the final table the vast, vast majority of the time, Daniel has a large edge over nearly everyone else in the field.He even has a new MasterClass poker course showing people how he created more than $40 million dollars in winnings playing tournaments like this.So therefore, there is no question that this is a highly, highly profitable investment even though you will lose your money and receive nothing the overwhelming majority of the time.If you do your homework and research as a backer (just like you would when investing in the stock market or crypto for example), then there is no question that becoming a poker backer can be a highly profitable thing to do.Make no mistake about it. There is big, big money to be made in the poker staking business.There are many people who have quietly made massive amounts of money backing other high profile poker players. Most of them prefer to remain anonymous or under the radar.But there are also many well known legendary backers like Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy for example. Cliff is actually a highly accomplished poker pro himself, famously placing 3rd in the 2016 WSOP Main Event for $3.5 million. He also has numerous large cashes especially online. Poker Staking Terminology and Glossary ACTION This refers to the percentage a player is offering to sell to potential investors. BACKER / STAKERIs the person funding a player so he can go and play. BANKROLLNormally applies to the amount of money set aside for playing poker. CUTRefers to the percentage of the profits an investor is due from the player at a particular time and whenever he/she is in the black. DEGENAlludes to a player who gambles away their money by playing without control and reasoning ability. ESCROWMeans a third party who is tasked with holding money for two other parties to guarantee a secure transaction for both. INVESTOR / STAKER / BACKERInvestor is a term used to describe a person who is backing a player. PACKAGEWhen a player puts together a stake that involves more than one tournament it is commonly called a “package.” PIECEHaving a piece of a player simply means you have a certain percentage of a player’s action. PLAYERThe “player” refers to the person being staked. RAIL THREADA rail thread is posted at an online poker forum to allow backers and fans to follow along with the player’s progress in their stake. RESERVEIs a term used when a potential backer wants to lock-up a certain number of shares in a player’s stake before they officially go on sale. ROLLEDThe term rolled in staking parlance refers to being scammed by a player; typically “rolling” is used when a player absconds with the stake money. SCAMMERScammer refers to any person (backer or player) who has a reputation for underhanded dealings. Scamming can range from non-payment, to running phony stakes, to an investor free-rolling a player. SHARESShares are equal percentages of a player’s stake. SHARKSCOPESharkScope (www.sharkscope.com) is an online poker tracking site that specializes in Sit & Go tournaments. SharkScope is useful to check a player’s track-record, as well as for monitoring their progress in a stake. STABLEA Stable refers to the entire contingent of players a backer stakes, and goes along with the term stakehorse. STAKEHORSEStakehorse is an alternative term for the player being staked. SWAPPING ACTIONSwapping action is when two players exchange percentages of themselves instead of each person paying the other. Common Acronyms Used in the Staking Business ITM –In the Money MTT –Multi-Table Tournament ROI – Return on Investment S&G or SNG – Sit & Go tournaments STT – Single Table Tournament MU – Makeup BR – Bankroll BRM – Bankroll Management BI – Buy inABI – Average Buy in EV – Expected value Final Thoughts I hope this ultimate guide to poker staking gave you a good understanding of this sort of underground economy within the poker world.Truthfully, poker staking is something that rarely gets talked about openly in the poker world. So much of it is kept hush hush behind the players and the backers.But it is important that aspiring pros in particular know that staking is a huge part of the game especially once you move up to higher stakes.Most people would be shocked to learn just how many high stakes pros are at least partially staked. It is an overwhelming majority.There are many reasons why this is the case. But the most important is to reduce the variance incurred in high stakes games.Staking is kind of like a match made in heaven for a solid winning player and their backer. Because the player can just focus on the important part, playing good poker.The backer takes on all (or part of) the short term risk for them but at the same time gets to have a share in the profit of a long term winning poker player.Lastly, if you want to know the complete poker strategy that BlackRain79 uses as a 10+ year poker pro, make sure you grab a copy of his free poker cheat sheet. --- This article was written by blackrain79.com guest contributor Roger Marquez. Roger is a small stakes semi-pro from Venezuela with a strong understanding of the math side of the game and poker HUDs. .
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