learning the game

To Bluff or Not to Bluff!

To Bluff or Not to Bluff, That is the Question!

Welcome back my friends! I hope that you’re enjoying the change in seasons and the additional sunlight that comes with it. The season isn’t the only thing changing around here…when you have a moment, check out our brand new website! All the information you need is there, including our latest promotions, great offers, and current JACKPOTS!

Something I overheard at the tables the other day really caught my attention and caused me to think a great deal about the topic. A regular opponent of mine said, “You just can’t bluff in this game, no one throws away their hand!” It struck me for two reasons. First, I have successfully bluffed this particular person on several occasions (in LIMIT poker no less!) Secondly, while his perception is a common one, it simply isn’t true. It certainly has some credence to it, as bluffing in limit poker is no easy task, and not one I would often recommend. That being said, there is a time and a place for it, both in limit and in no-limit Hold ’em. It’s impossible to pin down exactly when you should or shouldn’t bluff, but there are a couple things that you want to keep in mind if you’re considering making a move.

Know your opponent(s)

If you’re going to attempt the most daring play in poker (outside of playing Omaha!), be sure to have a decent understanding of who you are trying to bluff. We all know the few players that simply never fold a hand like top pair or better. It just doesn’t happen and they want to see your hand no matter how badly they’re beaten. You see them make hopeless calls on the river all the time against other players. Despite knowing this, you may find yourself in a pot with this person on the river when you completely missed your hand. You will feel the urge to bet. After all, it’s the only way you can win now, and the pot is so big…what’s one more bet? You MUST fight that urge. Take a second, remind yourself of whom you’re playing against, and simply let this one go. Save that bet and live to fight another day.

Now take that same situation and replace Captain Calls-a-Lot, with Pondering Patrick. Patrick is a thinker at the table. He tries to make the best play and often gives his decisions a lot of thought. He prides himself on his solid play and isn’t shy about telling people about it. He might even show a fold face up just to impress the table with his hand reading ability and his knowledge. Here is your opportunity. Now that’s not to say that you go out of your way to bluff Patrick, but if you happen to find yourself in a situation like the one above and Patrick is your only opponent, a bluff just might be in order if other conditions are right. What other conditions? Glad you asked…

Know your situation

Simply put, your bluff needs to make sense in order for it to have the best chance of working. If you haven’t been taking any aggressive action when other people have shown weakness, and now at the end of the hand you bluff trying to represent top pair, you’re going to have a tough time. Especially against more observant players, you want to make sure that your bet/bluff AND your previous actions in the hand are along the lines of what someone would expect you to do if you had the hand you are trying to represent. This advice is especially important in no-limit. When your actions are inconsistent and things don’t make sense to your opponent, they are far more likely to call your bet. This advice also applies when you are facing a potential bluff. Think back through the hand. Does your opponent’s play make sense? If something doesn’t quite add up, chances are a call is in order.

If you find yourself considering a bluff, be sure that you’ve thought about who your opponent(s) are and if your previous actions in the hand make sense. If both of those variable are favorable, then you may want to take a stab at it. If one or both of those factors are out of whack, you may be better served by waiting for a better spot. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut and put yourself (and your chips) out there! Until next time, see you at the tables!

learning the game

Rules, Rules, Rules

Rules, Rules, Rules..Know Them!

Happy New Year poker fans! I hope your 2014 was fruitful and you rang in 2015 in style!

I’m usually not a fan of New Years’ resolutions, but this is the perfect time to make a promise to yourself to improve your poker game. Many people are hesitant to spend time improving their game. Some of the most common reasons I hear include:

1. Not having enough time
2. Thinking that improving one’s game is only for serious players
3. I’m just a casual player so why bother?
4. Simply not knowing how to go about it

Well let me solve those for you right now. You’re reading this article so you do have enough time. Everyone can benefit from improving their game. I’m going to show you a simple way to improve poker game fundamentals that will make you a better player by the time you’re done reading this post. Do we have a deal? Good.

Here are three words that will make you a better, more skilled player:


Well thanks a lot captain obvious, how is that going to make me a better player? Let me explain. Knowing your rules means a lot more than simply knowing the rules of poker. Poker is not a black and white game. Poker is almost entirely played in the gray area. We seldom have all the information we need to make the most informed strategic decisions when playing a game of poker. Situations change and your decisions change with them. Rules are no different. Have you ever taken the time to read the rules of the game at your local casino? Any good casino will have them readily available. The California Grand Casino has fliers with all of the games, rules, and information available at the side of the information desk, as well as official copies that are laminated and chained to the right side of the main cage. If you’ve taken a look, it can be a bit overwhelming. Rules and interpretations of those rules vary from casino to casino, and rules even change at the same casino over time. The price you pay for not knowing the rules specific to your game at your casino can be steep. You might get away with making an easily correctable mistake, or it may end up costing you your whole stack! Here are a few quick examples of the types of rules that can vary from casino to casino, that you want to make sure you know before you sit down at the table.

Raising/String Bets

This is important in Limit, and even more critical in No-Limit. The things you want to make sure you know are:

1. Is there a betting line and how is it used to enforce bets?
2. How much do you need to put in the pot for it to be considered a raise? (Limit: Half of a raise or more? No-Limit: all of the raise? A specific percent of the raise facing you?)
3. Are you allowed to declare raise and then put out the call first while maintaining your ability to raise whatever amount you want?
4. How many raises cap the action (Limit only)?
5. Is it the responsibility of the players or the dealer to call a string bet?

Seat Changes

Where you sit at the table in relation to the other players is extremely important. If you don’t know why, I wrote about it here. You need to know if there is a seat change list (and how it works), if there are seat change buttons, if players cut for a seat, or if it’s simply first to request it or lock it up. Don’t be shy, speak up and ask a dealer, floor-person, or even a regular player.


The last thing you want to do is lose your seat in a game or lose a couple chips because you aren’t clear about what the lobbying rules are. Some places take a lobbying fee from your stack. Some places allow you to miss three orbits (the button moving around the table and returning to the same spot is considered one orbit), while others give you a set time limit (ask the floor-person if you need longer and they may cut you some slack). Be sure to know how it works where you play.


Some rules are different in tournaments than they are in cash games. Find out before you sit down or it could cost you dearly. In some tournaments, if you are on your phone or not in your seat when the cards are dealt to you, your hand is dead. Don’t let that happen to you. Swearing and other unseemly behavior can cause you to miss an entire orbit or sit out for a period of time as a penalty. Thankfully you would never do such a thing, but just in case…I thought I’d mention it.

Knowing the rules of the game is such a simple thing and yet many people don’t take the extra time needed to make sure they understand how things work where they’re playing. Always ask someone about the rules when playing somewhere new and be sure that you know the rules inside and out wherever you play regularly. You’ll avoid costly mistakes and that helps improve your bottom line.

Until next time, see you at the tables!

Player Tips

Table Talk – When to Walk Away

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you are staying warm and dry this season, as it sure has been cold and wet lately. The change in weather combined with people taking time off of work means that the action inside the California Grand Casino has been heating up! We’ve talked a lot about various aspects of poker strategy in the past, but something that doesn’t get covered very often is how to quit a poker game. How does a player know when it is time to get up from the table and call it a day? It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. When do you quit when you are running well and winning pots? When do you quit when things aren’t going your way? The reasons vary from person to person, so there’s no single right answer I can give you. What I can tell you is that there are some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get up from a poker game, and by taking a few moments to really consider your motivations and options, you should be able to figure out exactly what course of action is right for you.

In order to answer the question of when to walk away, you have to first establish why you started in the first place. Everyone starts because they want to play poker, but it goes beyond that. Why do you play poker? What motivated you to sit down at the poker table today? Let’s discuss a few of the main reasons that people play poker and when they should quit based on their individual motivations for playing.

Playing for fun

You love poker. You’re the type of player that plays to relax, unwind, socialize, and have a good time. You come after work to de-stress and sometimes come in on the weekends to enjoy some friendly competition. Poker to you is simply a fun game that provides recreation, interaction, and occasionally a little extra spending cash. When should you get up from the game? Get up from the game when the game ceases to be what you want it to be anymore. If you came to enjoy yourself and relax, and yet find yourself getting frustrated by bad beats or irritated by the chatterbox sitting to your left, then it’s time to take a break and consider cashing out. Maybe a break or a quick bite to eat is all you need and you can get back to enjoying the game. If not, then perhaps it’s time to end the session.

Another reason a recreational player may want to quit the game is when he or she simply has other responsibilities to attend to. If you are someone with a lot of things to take care of, I would suggest giving yourself a time limit and sticking to it. You can be a bit flexible if things are going extremely well and you’re having an absolute blast, but for the most part you should keep your promise to yourself and abide by your self imposed poker curfew.

Playing for keeps

You are a serious player. You’re competitive, better than most, and came to win. Don’t let others be fooled, you love a great time on the felt just as much as the next guy, but the chips are what brought you here and you plan to walk out with a ton! You work on your game and discuss strategy with your peers. You even read a small poker blog to see if there are any pearls of wisdom hidden among the verbosity! When should you get up from the game? That can be a bit of a trickier question than it is for a recreational player because there are factors outside of yourself to consider. Firstly, do you have the time to continue to play? If deciding to continue to play puts you on the clock and you’ll have to leave by a certain time, then it’s definitely best to call it a day. Playing with a fixed time limit looming can throw even the best players off of their A game. Speaking of playing your A game, that’s another reason to cash out. Any time you’re not playing your A game and you become aware of it, take a quick mental break. Ask yourself why you slipped from playing your A game and answer yourself honestly. If you can get back to the top of your game, then it’s safe to carry on. If other factors are contributing to your sub-par play such as being tired, tilted, or tense, then perhaps you would be best served heading to the cage.

As poker players there are so many things that we have little control over; our opponents’ actions, what cards will come, and any number of other variables in a card room. One of the few things we do have control over is when we get up from the game. A little bit of self reflection and honesty is all that is needed to help you arrive at the conclusion that’s right for you. Until next time, see you at the tables!

Player Tips

A Poker Life – Part 1

A Poker Life at California Grand Casino-Part 1

I hope your summer has been full of fun, adventure and huge pots! Mine sure has been.

Some of you have been asking me what it’s like being in my line of work…what a loaded question! I took some time recently to reflect on my growth and experiences in poker, and open up a bit about how I got my start, how things progressed, and some of the skills it takes to move your game from casual hobby to serious financial pursuit. In part one of this series I’ll share with you my personal poker journey, from a baby faced 21 year old, all the way to a casino employee with a poker blog…with several large bumps along the way.

The very first time I played cards competitively was not in a smoke filled Nevada casino or a friendly California card-room. I played heads up gin rummy against the most skilled player and most ruthless competitor I knew at the time. I was about 5 years old and at the mercy of my wonderful grandmother. While no money changed hands, score was meticulously kept and no punches were pulled. She never took it easy on me and she taught me the basics, as well as how to keep score. I owe her a great deal of gratitude for always playing to win, as I was forced to learn and develop skills in order to compete and improve.

My introduction to poker didn’t come until my college days. My fraternity brothers had a weekly game that they would play, mostly small tournaments, that drew my attention. I wasn’t the best player in the house when we first started playing, but by the end of my college days I was winning a great deal of free beer! My 21st birthday led to my first authentic casino poker experience at the now defunct Frontier casino on the Vegas strip. They had a grand total of two poker tables and I had the choice between seven card stud, or…seven card stud. Not a lot of choices and not exactly an environment that I was familiar with. Keep in mind this was back in 2001, a few years before the softening of poker’s image and the widespread acceptance that came along with the poker explosion fueled by Chris Moneymaker, PokerStars, and a booming economy. I was staring at a table full of cigarette smoke and players at least twice my age. Nevertheless I was very intrigued and sat down to play my first hand. I picked up the game quickly but must have looked like a complete rookie handling my chips and placing my bets. I didn’t leave the table with chips that day, but what I did leave with was an inner desire to play again. At the time I couldn’t figure out why, but now I understand completely what kept drawing me back to the poker table.

It may sound a bit corny, but what really appealed to me (and still does!) about poker is equality. Sure I love the competition, the strategy, and of course winning money, but the fact that everyone that sits down at the poker table is an equal is what I really love. Everyone at the poker table shares a common interest and there is an instant camaraderie that is formed. It doesn’t matter what culture you’re from, what native language you speak, how old you are…we’re all equals on the poker table. When you buy into a poker game, you’re instantly accepted. Obviously this should always be the case, but life doesn’t always work that way. Poker does.

It’s amazing how small events and accidental roads traveled can lead us down a certain path. Had my grandmother not introduced me to competitive card games at a young age, I may never have found my way to a game that has provided me with countless amazing experiences and a profession that I enjoy every day. Thank you grandma!

Part 2- Next time I’ll share how I went from novice player to semi-professional poker player (getting laid off from a job and blowing out a knee in a soccer match were big game changers!).

Until then, see you at the tables!

learning the game

Poker Table Etiquette – Part Two

Poker Table Etiquette – Part Two
I hope you have all been enjoying the summer and the hot weather that comes with it! It is by far my favorite season with all of the fun activities that can be done. When I need a break from the heat there’s nothing better than playing some poker in our nicely air conditioned cardroom here at the California Grand Casino. Relaxing. joking with familiar faces and dragging some pots always puts me in a great mood. You just can’t duplicate that feeling that you get at the poker table anywhere else; it’s why we play the game.

What doesn’t put me in a good mood is seeing players chastise and berate one another over perceived poor play. In my last blog posting Table Etiquette: The Flow Is Good For the Game we talked about appropriate etiquette at the tables,basic good manners and self-awareness. Today’s article takes that a step further.

It’s completely understandable to feel upset after suffering a bad beat but it’s not OK to verbally attack the player that put the beat on you. It makes that person uncomfortable and kills the mood at the table. We’re all here to have fun and win some pots but taking your frustrations out on another player accomplishes neither of those things. In fact it actually hurts your ability to do both. If you find yourself feeling the urge to let someone else know that they made a bad play at the poker table I have two techniques that will help you let go of that hostility and get your head back in the game where it belongs. I use these techniques all the time and have found them to be quite effective. Hopefully they will work for you too.

Inject Logic

Technique One: Inject logic. I use this phrase all the time. I use it at the poker table as well as in my everyday life outside the cardroom. There’s no hidden meaning here. The phrase means exactly what it says. When you encounter a situation at the table where your emotions seem to be getting the best of you use your mind to inject logic into the situation. Ask yourself What will I be accomplishing by giving this player a hard time? Don’t just stop at the question, answer it! One correct answer is you will be making the player feel bad and killing the mood at the table for everyone else. Another correct answer is that you are pointing out a mistake (or so you think) that your opponent made which may help him avoid making that same mistake in the future thereby improving his or her game and making it harder for you to win money off of them.

When you simply look at the facts it’s easy to see what the right decision is: Keep your thoughts to yourself and do your best to let it go. Not only does this help keep the game fun for everyone but it also keeps your head in the game and doesn’t help to improve your opponent’s play. I understand that this course of action is much easier said than done which brings me to my other point:

Know Thyself

Technique Two: Know Thyself. No one knows how you react at the poker table better than you. You know what triggers frustration and anger for you. You know how well or poorly you deal with it. You know what makes you tilt and play less than you’re A-game. I can give you all the advice in the world but it may not be perfect for you. Find out what is. If taking a break from the table for a bit helps you get back on track do it. If you feel you need to stay at the table and muscle through it do it. If you need to vent to feel better do it-but not AT the table!

The bottom line is: the only person that knows how you tick and what truly works for you is you. Understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie and manage them accordingly. By keeping your emotions in check everyone will have a friendlier game and your own poker game will improve.

Until next time see you at the tables!

learning the game

Poker Table Etiquette

Poker Table Etiquette: The Flow Is Good For The Game

I’m sure you’ve all experienced playing at a poker table where everyone is having a great time. People are in good spirits cracking jokes (okay not all are funny) and enjoying each other’s company (and money) all while playing the game that we love to play. Not every player gets dealt a winning hand on each draw but everyone is enjoying good times. The personalities the mutual enthusiasm and some good cards help make poker great for all involved. Yes ALL of us even the dealers enjoy Good Flow.

From the casual low limit player to the serious player looking to pay his or her rent a lively table full of good vibes is good for everyone and helps create the flow. It’s easy to see why a full table of players enjoying themselves is good for the recreational mindset. It may not be as apparent why it’s good for a serious player looking to make a profit. The serious and winning poker player relies on the flow to consistently achieve positive end-results. If players are getting nothing else out of the game won’t they eventually lose interest and look for better flow elsewhere? It’s a collective effort. Nobody is here to play solitaire. We all have it in us. With that in mind knowing and exercising good poker etiquette and bringing your best flow to the table is something everyone can strive to do. Here are a few common situations I’ve come across at the tables that relate. They may seem obvious to some but being aware of these situations and knowing how to act accordingly makes for Good Flow.

Pay Attention!

Be aware of the flow. If the dealer has to remind you that it’s your turn to act take that as a friendly reminder to pay closer attention. You’re not only missing critical information that can help you win the hand but you’re slowing down the flow for the other players at the table. Be considerate and keep your focus on the game while you’re in the hand. Post your blinds when it’s your turn to do so. Improve your odds of play by keeping your mind on the game in addition to keeping up with the flow.

Playing poker from seats 1 and 10

The seats on either side of the dealer are generally not the most comfortable as they tend to afford the player less physical space. It can be more difficult to see everyone at the table especially the person directly across the table from you. Pay extra careful attention when you’re playing in either of these seats. We see players fold out-of-turn when you can’t see around the dealer however the end seats have tremendous advantages of seeing more cards turned before your play. If you cannot see the player that acts immediately before you watch the dealer to know when it’s your turn. Dealers will often let you know it’s your turn simply by turning and looking in your direction. Not sure if it’s your turn? Simply ask. Playing from seats 1 and 10 has a perceived challenge but good advantages so be aware of that when you take one of those seats and make great flow a part of your game.

The Phone

Phones are a tricky topic since many people use phones for different purposes at the table and many card clubs have different rules on what is and is not allowed at the table. The first thing you need to know before sitting down in any poker game is exactly what the cell phone rules are (if any) at that specific card club. Secondly and perhaps most importantly respect the rules. You may or may not agree with the cell phone rule at whatever club you play at but you’ve chosen to play there. Everyone else is required to play by the rules and you’re no exception. Trying to bend or get around the rules of the club makes other players feel uneasy and forces employees to police you which I can promise you kills the good flow. Even if cell phone conversations are allowed at the table none of us likes to hear another person’s phone conversations. Been there. Excuse yourself from the table when you get a chance and finish your call away from the table. If you simply must stay at the table while you’re on the phone keep your volume to a minimum so the flow is not disrupted.


Table chat is a good part of the flow! The camaraderie and social aspects of poker are a big part of what makes it an enjoyable hobby and a large reason many people come to play regularly. That being said if you’re talking to your buddy a couple seats away and there’s a person in between the two of you that’s in a hand pause your conversation until he/she is done with their play. Poker is a challenging game and to play it well requires concentration. Be respectful of the other players around you and keep loud conversation to a minimum during play.

What constitutes a positive poker experience may vary from person to person but everyone wants to have an enjoyable experience when they take the seat at the table. Keeping some of these basic etiquette tips in mind will help to achieve Good Flow for everyone. Hopefully the next time you sit in a game it will be full of happy and respectful players looking to enjoy themselves!

Until next time see you at the tables and keep up the Good Flow.


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!

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!

Player Tips

The Information Game


Happy New Year and welcome to 2014 everyone! I hope 2013 was a wonderful and prosperous year for you all. The New Year is a time when many people take the opportunity to make resolutions and fresh starts. I have never been one for resolutions myself but when it comes to poker and improving my game I make an exception. No matter how good we get and how much we learn as poker players we can always improve and we can always get better. People will naturally re-evaluate and analyze things when they are losing but you also can become complacent about your poker game when things are going well. A very good poker friend of mine once told me if you stop trying to improve your game the others that are working hard will surpass you. With that in mind one area that most everyone can improve across the board is what I like to call the Information Game.

Some players do it subconsciously and others do it with intention and purpose but I strongly believe that showing your hand as well as talking about your line of thinking after the conclusion of a hand is a huge mistake and a leak in one’s game. The most common times I see these mistakes are after winning pots. A player will bet on the flop or turn perhaps making what the rest of the table may perceive as a continuation bet causing their opponent(s) to fold. They will then flash or expose one card or both showing top pair or better as if to say to everyone: I had it! I’m not bluffing! I play solid! If you’re someone that finds yourself doing this ask yourself why. If it’s because you care what other players at the table think about you and your game you may want to adjust your priorities. You shouldn’t care how your opponents perceive your level of play; in fact you want them to think that you are worse than you actually are as that will earn you more money in the long run. I would much prefer to be known as the luckiest player at the table as opposed to the best player at the table…which one do you think is likely to get more action?

If on the other hand you’re showing cards with the intention of bluffing or playing a similar hand differently you’re still giving up more than you’re gaining. First of all the rest of the table gets to see your hand not just your opponents in that particular hand. They will all see what you played how you played it and in what position. Secondly the players that pay attention enough to take notice of what you played and how you played it will not be fooled by you when you attempt to mix it up and deviate from the style of play that you exposed. They know exactly what you are trying to do. The players that are not as sophisticated will not be changing how they play no matter what you do so it ends up being a waste of time on them as well. Not showing your cards is one of the easiest things you can correct to improve your game.

Another common mistake in the Information Game is someone at the table explaining their thought process of an entire hand or telling someone why they played something that at first glance appears that they should not. If you catch yourself doing this at the table again ask yourself why. If you’re looking to discuss lines of thinking and genuinely trying to solicit poker advice you shouldn’t do it at the table! Make a mental note of the hand and have one or two poker friends that you respect and trust talk with you about it away from the table. The players at the table are the people you are trying to beat; don’t share with them! Letting a good player know exactly how you think about a hand or a situation is one of the single worst things you can do. If you find yourself explaining why you played a certain hand or why you played it a certain way because you got lucky or are trying to save face you should stop. Maybe you made a mistake and got lucky maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were balancing your range or maybe you had a read on a situation. Whatever the reason is keep in mind that when your opponents think you play differently than you actually do it is profitable for you. They will be making decisions based on flawed or incomplete information which in turn means mistakes for them and more chips for you. This is another simple and quick fix for your poker game.

As I played my first session of 2014 I made the decision to eliminate these negative table behaviors from my poker game as I am just as guilty as anyone else of making these mistakes. In 2013 I would sometimes catch myself showing a card or discussing strategy at the table when I knew that I shouldn’t. I knew better and yet I still committed these poker sins occasionally. If you join me and adopt my poker resolutions you will become more self aware at the table and instantly become a better poker player. Until next time see you at the tables!

learning the game

Poker Lore ….The Nuts

Ever wonder why “the nuts” refers to the best possible hand? The phrase comes from the Old West when not only chips and cash were used at the poker table but any other good that could be valued. A player could end up betting his horse and wagon which were represented by the nuts and bolts of the wagon wheels. You wouldn’t want to put the wagon nuts in the pot with the second best hand. The stone cold nuts must have been the nuts taken off the wagon during a cold night or winter game. Walking home on a cold night was probably even more reason not to go all in with the second best hand.