Player Tips

The Information Game – Part Two

Welcome back poker fans! I’m hoping you enjoyed reading my last article on the Information Game. If not take a moment and read it now. Seriously it’s a keeper especially if you enjoy the game of poker.

All caught up? Good now we can address what we didn’t last time. In the previous article we talked about the information that we disclose to our opponents and why we shouldn’t do it. Now it’s time to look at the opposite end of the spectrum and how to take advantage of all the information our opponents give us. There is a vast amount of information available to us at the poker table. So pay attention observe” listen and focus. Every hand is an opportunity to learn something about our opponents and their game.

Here are three quick pointers to help you turn that knowledge into extra stacks of chips.

  1. Pay attention to the hands you’re not in! We all pay attention to the hands we play” but we’re often guilty of becoming distracted when we’re not in the hand. It’s easy to lose focus at the poker table. Sports on the screens chatting with friends at the table” and attractive waitresses are just a few examples of distractions that detract from you playing your best poker. Some of the best information can be gleaned from hands you’re not in.
  2. “Observe” listen and take note of other players at the table. Anytime there’s a showdown and cards are revealed at the end of a hand you should be monitoring the other players. Say at showdown your opponent reveals queen jack suited (QJs). You should immediately be asking yourself a few questions: What position was that person in when they played QJs? Did they open the pot with it? Did they raise or just call? Simply answering these three questions and making a mental note of your observations will give you a decent idea of your opponent’s style of play. Do this mental exercise with a few hands over the course of a session and you will have a much better sense of an opponent’s range and how they play” which allows you to make better decisions against them and ultimately make or save more money.
  3. Understand that your opponents will not play the same way throughout a session. So be aware of their moods” their actions their gestures and their demeanor. If you have an opponent at the table that is having a very unlucky session be aware of how that impacts their game and how it affects the other players. Keep in mind that players react differently to the same situation. Does this person tilt when they run bad? Do they play more or less hands when they are angry? Do they get more aggressive or tighter? If a person is doing well and getting lucky do they start to play more hands or get more aggressive? Being aware of these changing dynamics at the table will help you to strategically adjust your play against them

Taking advantage of all the information available to you at the poker table is a quick and simple way to improve your game. Notice that I didn’t say quick and easy because it most certainly isn’t easy. Most people are able to play their top game for the first hour or so at the poker table. After that they tend to fall back into their base game and go on autopilot for the rest of the session. Understand what your opponent’s autopilot game is while at the same time avoiding your own. This is an excellent way to improve your overall results and win the Information Game.

Until next time see you at the tables!


High Hand Promotion

California Grand Casino is Blowing Up Sundays with our New High Hand Explosion poker promotion. Whether you play limit or no-limit you don’t want to miss this Texas Hold’em Showdown at the California Grand Casino in Pacheco; where we will be giving away a total of $1000 from 8a-8p every Sunday!

Here’s how it works: We’re going to pay off the first $100 high hand at 11am. Then kick the prize up to $200 from 11am to 1pm! After that we give away $100 EVERY HOUR from 1pm to 6 pm for the best qualifying high hand each period. Then we’ll cap it all off with a $200 high hand paid at 8pm! So if you make a high hand between 11am and 6pm it only has to hold up for an hour at most to win at least $100! And if you don’t win the first one there’s another chance to win the next hour. We’re paying EIGHT prizes over a twelve-hour period! We want you to win! If no one makes a qualifying high hand during any time period Cal Grand will add that money to the next time period making the high hand payout even bigger! Bottom line: someone is guaranteed to win that money so why not you?

And there’s way more fun happening this summer at the Grand. Be sure to check in early for our Sunday no-limit hold-em tournament. We add $500 to the prize pool. For a $50 buy-in (plus $5 entry fee) you can win up to $1500! The tournament maxes out at 50 entrants and pays the top 10 finishers so be sure to get there early to assure you get a seat. If you make the final table you’re getting paid! Sign-ups start at 8 am for cash game players and 8:30 am for everyone else. After the tournament be sure to check out the Hold?em action and see if you can pick up some quick cash during the High Hand Explosion.

Your table is waiting! Come on down. Learn more about Poker at the Cal Grand.

learning the game

Continuation Betting

Opening Pots and Continuation Betting

Something I’ve noticed while playing in our games here is the frequency of people opening pots by raising and continuation betting on the flop. I see a large number of people that make a continuation bet literally every time that they raise before the flop. Continuation betting is generally a good play but if you do not understand why you are making that bet or what situations call for a different decision then there”s a good chance you have a leak that you can plug.

If you are not familiar with the term a continuation (or C-bet for short) is when a person who raised before the flop makes the first bet after the flop either when the player is first to act or after everyone else checks to them. It is called a continuation bet because the player that is taking the aggressive action before the flop by raising continues that aggressive action on the flop by betting. The C-bet puts pressure on your opponent(s) and can cause tighter players to fold if they missed the flop allowing you to win the pot without having to actually make or have a good hand. Keep in mind that 65% of the time a player with a non-pair hand does not make a pair on the flop. At first glance it seems that you would always want to C-bet to get those players to fold but there are also situations where C-betting is virtually the same as taking money out of your pocket and handing it to the other players. Recognizing these situations will help you to improve your overall results.

One of the most common C-bet mistakes I see being made is when the preflop raiser gets many callers and the flop comes out very coordinated or what is known as a wet board. A dry or uncoordinated board is one that has no reasonable straight draws or flush draws. An example of this would be if the flop came queen seven deuce all different suits (rainbow). A board of Q72 with no flush draws is a very dry board with no apparent draws. Boards like these are great boards to C-bet as most drawing hands missed and will throw away their hands. A wet board would be something like 987 with a flush draw (two-tone) or even cards of all of the same suit (monotone). Those are boards that if you missed with your hand you do not want to C-bet into multiple opponents. I have seen players raise with AK or AQ and then C-bet wet boards such as 987 all of the same suit despite them not having even a flush draw. Against one opponent this might be worth a C-bet but if you have been called by more than one your C-bet is unlikely to win the pot and your opponents are very likely to be going all the way to the river. Situations like these call for some discretion as the negatives far outweigh the positives. With a wet board and multiple opponents it is unlikely that they will all fold. Making a C-bet in this situation is practically giving money away when you consider the following:
You are at risk of being outdrawn on the rare occasions that you still have the best hand. Even if making a pair will give you the best hand two of those cards that pair your hand also make a 4 card flush on the board. You’re basically drawing at 4 outs. There’s also the possibility that you’re already drawing dead. For you to win this hand all of your opponents need to have missed all their pairs and all their draws. I have seen people make the argument for C-betting the flop and then seeing how their opponents react to the bet and evaluating the situation again on the turn. While this might be a decent strategy against one opponent it simply does not work often enough in this type of situation against multiple opponents to be profitable. You are much better off checking and folding when faced with a bet.

If everyone checks the flop and the turn card is a brick or a scare card and if there are only a couple of other players you might choose to bet the turn. With only one card to come anyone without a made hand or with only a marginal hand may fold. Some of the draws may fold if the pot odds are wrong the scare card may discourage others (for example an Ace comes and they have KQ) and players with middle or under pairs may fold.

If you find yourself in a situation that is similar to the one I described take an extra few seconds to weigh the pros and cons of your options and don’t just keep betting because you raised earlier. You will see your bottom line improve and your opponents will take notice and give your C-bets more respect winning you more pots without going to a showdown! Be aware of the texture of the board and give some thought before you fire out your C-bet and I promise your game and bottom line will improve.

Until next time see you at the tables!


$100 Free Match Play!

$100 Free Match Play Promotion Rocks!

I’ve been in marketing and advertising for over 20 years here in the San Francisco Bay Area. During this time I have conceptualized created and launched many ad campaigns and promotions for various clients including Safeway, Pepsi, Macy’s, the Fairmont Hotel, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Port Authority to name a few. None of these previous promotions quite captured the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds California Grand Casino’s recently launched Match Play promotion. Why? Simple. We are giving away a $100 in Match Play and Food to NEW PLAYERS just for stepping through the doors of California Grand Casino. Customers simply need to be a new player (over 21 of course!) bring their poker face to the table and get ready to get their game on.

New customers receive 4 FREE $10 Match Play Chips and $10 for food on each of their first two visits.  With our Match Play chips, we match your bets and you get the winnings.

California Grand Casino’s Match Play promotion is a hit! In the week since we’ve launched Match Play we’ve had players from all over the East Bay venture in and check out California Grand Casino for the first time. Little did they know Cal Grand Casino (as we are affectionately known) opened its doors back in 1854. We are the oldest continuously operating cardroom west of the Mississippi River. So if you like to play cards if $100 in FREE Match Play Chips and Food sounds good to you then pay us a visit.

Jack Straus 1982 poker champion has said he’d bust his own grandmother if she were in a pot with him. Some Cal Grand players can be intense like Jack Straus but not everyone takes poker quite so seriously. We have all levels of poker playing at Cal Grand-from novice to intermediate to advanced. The good news: There is money to be made here. Just three weeks ago one of our Cal Grand players won the Regular Bad Beat Jackpot of $96,200. It’s anyone’s pot! Including yours.

Come pay us a visit and be sure to ask the front desk about our Match Play new player promotion.