Poker Strategy: Optimally Playing The Image of The Table Maniac

No-limit Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular form of poker played around the world. Many professional poker players play no-limit hold’em exclusively, and for a good reason. On the surface, no-limit hold’em appears to be a very simple form of poker that almost anyone can understand with a quick tutorial.

As a result of this small learning curve, many inexperienced players will try their luck at a no-limit table. These inexperienced players are the lifeblood ($) of the poker community, and the reason that poker can be a profitable game in the long-run for the more experienced players who can effectively employ an optimal strategy for winning in the long-run. Read more of this post


How to Develop Your Awareness at The Poker Table

This article deals with no-limit Texas Hold’em poker cash games. For an overview of how to become a profitable cash game player, please consult our extensive poker cash game strategy section.

For such a simple game to learn, poker is an extremely difficult game to master and experience a profit in the long run. Poker is played and enjoyed by individuals of all ages and demographics. While a fun and enjoyable time for some, poker has developed into a game that has the ability to be beaten in the long-run. In order to experience a profit in the long run, you must develop and possess a variety of traits that will enable you to take your game to the next level. This development requires (but is certainly not limited to): commitment, dedication, discipline, brutal honesty, and most importantly, awareness of your ultimate goal as a player. Read more of this post

How to Design an Optimal Poker Table Image For Maximum Profit

Achieving an optimal poker strategy requires you to develop a table image that will net you the most profit in the long run. Designing an optimal table image at the poker table is a necessity if you want to generate the maximum amount of profit you can from your poker business. What is the optimal table image to create?¬† There are a variety of different factors that come into play, and this article will help you understand the fundamentals required to become a winning no-limit hold’em poker player. Read more of this post

ONE DROP: The $1,000,000 Poker Tournament For Charity

Today marks the beginning of the single biggest tournament in poker history, and it is going to benefit a great cause. 48 players will pony up $1,000,000 to buy into The Big One For One Drop, and 11.111% of all of the buy-ins go to charity. Read more of this post

Phil Ivey 0-5 at 2012 WSOP Final Tables, Phil Hellmuth Wins 12th Bracelet

Phil Ivey has been on an incredible run in the 2012 World Series of Poker and there is no sign of him slowing down yet. Ivey has already made 5 different final tables already at this year’s WSOP, but has been unable to add another bracelet to his collection so far. Ivey is 0-5 in the hunt for his 9th bracelet, and the numerous 7-figure bracelet bets that comes along with it.

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Phil Ivey Might Be Good at Poker?

Phil is a complete sicko.

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My Complete Poker Manifesto, Part II: Prologue

Phil Ivey at the WSOP

Phil Ivey at the WSOP

Part I: My Poker Story

My complete focus has been on the “Cadillac of Poker Games” as poker legend Doyle Brunson describes it.

That game is No-limit Texas Hold’em.

I play both cash games and tournaments with sessions dedicated to each individual specific type of game.

I will hold nothing back about my approach to the game.

Like I said, I will give you the highs and lows of playing poker and also the reasons why I would never want to pursue poker full time professionally.

I have too many other interests in life to fully dedicate it to a game where you can win and lose large sums of money in a heartbeat. Read more of this post

Traits of Above Average Poker Players

Tom Dwan: The Most Aggressive Poker Player on The Planet

90% of all poker players are long-term losers.

Only 10% of people who play poker are proven to be winners over the long term.

Why is this?

What separates this small percentage of players from the rest?

The answer is simple. They have studied and applied their game more than 90% of their competition.

When I first started playing poker, I belonged in that 90%. I knew how to play the game, and I knew what it took to win, but my wins weren’t sustainable long-term. I knew I would have to study and constantly adjust my game to get better.

It was a long process, but it was well worth the time and I have gained a lot of life lessons from becoming a better poker player.

In order to be a long-term winner, you will need to develop the following traits:

1. An ability to maintain attentional focus for long periods of a time.

2. An understanding of the deeply statistical nature of the game.

3. A sense of confidence and trust in your abilities

and most importantly:

4. A near RECKLESS disdain for money.

Money has no value on the poker table. The game is played with chips.¬† Whatever money those chips represent doesn’t and shouldn’t have any effect on how you play the game.

If you are concerned with money, you wont be playing poker the right way. You will be playing with scared money and as the saying goes,

“Scared money don’t make no money!”

To be a big long-term winner in poker you must develop a SUPER-AGGRESSIVE playing style, sometimes known as LAG (Loose-Aggressive)

Here is my article on how to develop into a LAG.

Being aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean success. You have to know when to be aggressive, and when to slow down. Against certain opponents, especially ones who can’t fold a hand, being aggressive will lose you money.

Poker is always about adjusting. You need to adjust to each player at the table and your perceived table image.

Being aggressive has a few benefits:

1. You will win more pots where you don’t have the best hand

2. You will make more money in pots that you have the best hand

3. Your opponents won’t be able to accurately deduct your hand-range

If you are playing tight, you opponents will know you have the goods when you bet, and you wont win big pots. You will also not be able to pick up pots where you don’t have the best hand because you won’t be willing to bluff a lot.

That’s the beauty of poker.

You don’t need cards to win.

In fact, cards are somewhat meaningless if you have accurate reads on your opponents and you can figure out what their cards are and they have no idea what you have.

Annette Obrestad

Annette Obrestad is a young professional poker player that proved this.

In one online tournament of 180 players, she covered her hole cards the entire time. She never once looked at her cards.

Guess what?

She won the entire tournament.

She demonstrated perfectly how important reading abilities are and how unimportant cards are.

Just imagine how good this girl is when she actually looks at her cards.

She built a bankroll from $0 to over $1,000,000 by the time she was 18. She never made a single deposit online. She won a free roll tournament to start her bankroll, then NEVER LOOKED BACK.

Quite amazing if you ask me.

When people argue if poker is gambling, they should consult Annette to see what she has to say about that.

Players like Annette, Phil Ivey, and Tom Dwan are perfect examples of players who EXCEL in the aforementioned 4 traits and love to play super aggressive.

They simply don’t care about money.

If you want to be OUTSTANDING at poker you must STAND OUT from the rest of the competition.

Phil Ivey was once quoted as saying “If I have to bet $300,000 on the river with queen high, I don’t care, I fire the trigger.”

Simply Doesn't Care About Money.


Phil Ivey is basically saying here that he is willing to slide in $300,000 worth of chips (the price of a house for some people) on a complete bluff.

I bet if Phil figures he has a 51% chance to win the hand by betting that much on the river, he will make that wager EVERY SINGLE TIME.

That kind of sickness separates the winners from the losers.

You cannot play passively to win in poker.

You must get in there and gamble, but realize when you need to switch gears.

Good luck at the tables! ūüôā

“Leveling” Opponents in Poker Tournaments

“Leveling” is a term coined by many poker players as a process of outsmarting an opponent through deductive reasoning and logic.

You try to determine where your opponent stands in a current hand, their current mind state, what they think about your holdings and how much you think this tournament and more importantly the money truly means to them.

All of these are factors if you want to exploit your opponents with aggressive moves deep in big tournaments.

The King of Leveling

As tournaments get deeper, the prizes get larger and many players start focusing on the different pay jumps at different levels.

I am only concerned about winning the tournament, and I will make moves that look super stupid to the average player, but I have to take calculated risks if I want to succeed long-term as a player.

I am willing to lose 20 straight tournaments to book a win in the 21st because the prize for the 21st will completely outweigh the buy-ins I spent on the other 20.

Because of the increasing blind levels in comparison to chip stack sizes, you have to attack pots and add to your stack or you will blinded out and have to rely on luck to stay alive. For this reason, I like to turn up the aggression as the final table approaches.

In order to effectively exploit opponents and “level” them, you need to develop a good read. You need to focus on how players act when you are in a hand, and while you are not in a hand. If you focus on anything except what is going on at the table, you lose the chance to pick up valuable information and tells.

Little details count, even how an opponent stacks his chips can help you determine what type of player they are. You have to size up your opponents if you want to make big moves to take down big important pots in the late stages of tournament play.

As I have talked about before in my previous articles, putting your opponent at a decision for every chip in front of them is the strongest move in tournament poker. Many players are afraid to bust their tournament life, and they are less likely to gamble. Finding these opponents and exploiting their passiveness can net you some easy chips to add to your stack.

There are times where I will shove all in with any two cards if I determine the remaining opponent or opponents in the pot to be weak and passive. 95% of the time they will fold unless they have AA,AK,KK,QQ,JJ and sometimes 10,10. Many players are afraid to even gamble with hands such as 99,88 and lower pocket pairs for their tournament life in spots where I will snap call with these holdings against another opponents all-in shove. Even against AA, my hand is never dead and there have been times where I shove J6o and crack aces by hitting two pair or a set.

No hand is ever 100% pre-flop, so you always have a chance to win. You never are getting your money in dead preflop.

You can also exploit solid aggressive opponents as well.

If You're Not First, Your Last.

Many good tournament players will open any two cards in late position hoping to take down the blinds and antes and add to their stack. If I am sitting behind them and I know them to be doing this, I will re-shove all-in over their initial raise. Deep in tournaments, you are usually sitting with 10-25 big blinds which is the perfect stack size to make this aggressive move. Your opponents will be forced to fold their mediocre holdings and you pick up their initial raise along with the blinds and antes barring an opponent behind you waking up with a big hand which wont happen as often as you think.

Picking good spots to take calculated risks to add to your stack is absolutely essential if you want to win big tournaments. You simply cannot sit back and wait for aces if you want to win. You might min cash with this strategy, but who cares? If you spend $100 on a tournament to just win $250 for a min cash you are leaving a lot of value on the table. You should be shooting for the first prize which could be in the $10,000s.

One big tournament win can change your life financially.

Why would you settle for less than first place?

Top 5 Reasons Why You Lose at Poker

Poker is not an easy game.

It has been said that close to 90% of people that play poker are long-term losing players.

Why is this?

In this article I will outline the top 5 reasons why an overwhelming majority of players don’t show a profit in the long run. This article¬† is geared toward short-handed 6-max No-Limit Hold’em cash games, but generally can be applied in tournaments as well.

5. You play far too many hands out of position.

A flaw that many players have is they play far too many hands out of position. When you play out of position, you give your opponent the advantage of seeing how you act before they have to act.

This gives them an informational advantage and can use that advantage to exploit you. I am a huge advocate of playing in position and I think it is more important then the cards you hold. It is a lot easier to deduct an opponents hand range when you are in position and this will enable you to pull off more successful bluffs and more importantly maximize your value bets when you have a good hand.

One of the best poker players Phil Ivey has been quoted saying “he would not even want to play his grandma out of position.”

¬†4. You don’t make smart bets.

Making proper bets is essential to be a successful no-limit player. You want to maximize your value on your big hands and defend your hand properly when it is vulnerable to being drawn out against.

You don’t want to give your opponent good odds to chase his hand when you have him beat already. When you make a big hand, your main goal is to take your opponents entire stack. To do this, you have to size your bets properly on each street so it is easy to get stacks in on the river without over betting the pot.

I notice a lot of players with big hands bet too small because they don’t want to scare their opponents away.

Likewise, they also try to bluff with small bets that give their opponents good odds to look them up. Missing value in bets is the same as losing money and in the long-run it will negatively effect your win rate.

3. You check/call more often than bet/raise.

Most good players are very aggressive. They would rather bet or raise than simply check or call. Aggression is key for a winning poker player.

It gives you initiative to pick up pots when you don’t have a hand and it allows you to maximize value on your made hands. It also makes it hard for opponents to develop good reads on your play because you are always betting and raising and they will often be confused by what those bets and raises mean when you do it in a controlled aggressive fashion.

When you only check or call, you give your opponents the opportunity to take pots away with their own aggression, and you lose value on your good hands by not raising. Timed aggression is key, and it can win you more pots than by playing too passively.

2. You don’t practice proper bankroll management.

Proper bankroll management is essential if you want to play winning poker.

Without a proper bankroll, you will eventually go broke.

Luck plays a big factor in poker and a bad run of cards can wipe out your entire bankroll if you don’t manage it properly. Standard bankroll management says that you should not put more than 5% of your entire roll in a single cash game or single table sit-n-go tournament and no more than 1% of your entire bankroll in a multi-table tournament.

Even the best players in the world would go broke in the long-run if they didn’t abide to these rules because of the natural variance of the game. The more buy-ins you have for a single game, the better and there is no such thing as being too conservative with your bankroll.

1. You are prone to tilting. 

Tilt is quite possibly the biggest bankroll killer in poker. Tilt occurs when your play deteriorates due to your emotional state.

This can result from a string of bad beats, losing big pots and not being in the right mental state during your poker session. During a session, there should be no other focus besides poker. Any lapse of focus can cost you money.

Tilt causes you to lose focus and concentration. You may begin to make bad decisions to chase losses or simply due to the fact that you are not playing level headed. You cannot be results oriented in poker. Being results oriented will make you disappointed when you lose a pot you were supposed to win. You have to focus on making the proper decision regardless of the outcome. Letting your emotions factor into your play at the tables will ultimately negatively effect your results.

 Work on eliminating mistakes to improve your overall game and bottom-line:

Solid winning players have put in a lot of time into studying the game and more importantly applying good strategy and observation to their play at the tables. They carefully analyze their play and are brutally honest with themselves about where their skill level compares to their opponents. They wont invest in games they know they simply cant show a profit in.

Simple mistakes will cost you money. Eliminating mistakes is essential for any aspiring player. In the long run, if you make less mistakes than your opponents, you will come out ahead. Poker is a long term game and should be treated that way.

Your results in the short term should have no effect on your emotional state if you can come to terms that eventually you will come out ahead if you are making correct decisions. Studying and evaluating your own play and eliminating the common traits of losing players will propel you in the right direction and net you a profit in the long run

More Poker Strategy:

The Poker Trance

Developing a LAG (Loose-Aggressive) Strategy for Maximum Profit

My Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Booking the Win at Final Tables

Top 10 Reasons You Should Play Poker

How to Play AA For Maximum Profit

How to Overbet For Massive Value

Additional Strategy, Sports Betting:

The Three Tenets of Profitable Sports Betting


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