Counting Outs in Texas Holdem

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An "out" in poker is simply a card that can improve the value of your hand. For example, you hold JT in the pocket, the flop comes 389. At this point you have four consecutive cards (89TJ), which would form a completed straight with the addition of one of two specific cards (7 or Q). This kind of draw is called an open-ended straight draw. Since there are four 7s and four Qs in the deck, you have eight outs to complete your hand. An open-ended straight draw is a very common situation in Hold'em.

Another very common situation is a flush draw. Assume you have A(d)Q(d) in the pocket (a semi-strong starting hand). The board comes 4(s)T(d)J(d). With the two diamonds on the board you now have four diamonds, giving you a one card draw to a flush. Any diamond on the turn or the river will give you a five diamonds, a flush. Note also that you have the best possible flush because you hold the A(d) (unless a 7(d), 8(d), and/or 9(d) comes making a potential straight flush.) The best possible hand in poker, given the cards on the board, is called the nuts. With the above flop, you have nine outs to the nut flush, a very strong draw. (And, of course, you also have an inside straight draw with any K and a royal flush draw with the K(d). This is a very big drawing hand.)

Online Poker Seat Selection

Now to the matter of seat selection. A general rule-of-thumb in Texas Holdem (and online poker in general) is that you want aggressive players to your right and passive or tight players to your left. This helps you keep a closer eye on the players likely to raise up a hand. Because the action moves clockwise around the table, it's good to have the loose players act before you do. That way, you can see if they'll raise before you decide to call a bet. On the same token, having tighter players to your left gives your bets and raises a better chance of scaring out opponents who might outdraw you later.

This basic idea also applies to choosing your seat relative to the chip stacks of your poker opponents. In fact, the two go hand in hand. When you can, sit to the left of any player with a big stack of chips relative to the rest of the table. (In other words, this player will be on your immediate right.) Players with big stacks tend to play more aggressively than short-stacked players. Again, this gives you the benefit of acting after that player does, which is always advantageous.

Commonest Mistakes That Poker Players Make

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You might think you are the best poker player in town. Wait! Do not be in a hurry to pat yourself at the back. This article tells you about some of the commonest mistakes that poker players make and we are talking about smart players here. So, be smarter than them. Read this article and find out how many mistakes you were making till now. Fix them now and get ready to dig into crisp dollars in your next game.

Mistake 1: you play too many hands.
In the beginning of the game, poker players tend to be loose in their style and play too many hands. You must focus on premium hands. This is more important when you are at a table of 8-10 "monsters".

Another thing: avoid limping using bad cards in a bid to hit on a flop. You may add up the blinds, but it is not too worthy to die for. The best thing to do at a table of 8 players is to focus on playing pocket pairs, A-X suited, suited connectors, or two face cards.

Avoid hands like K-3, Q-2, J-8, and 10-7 completely. Simply fold them pre-flop.

Why do players play too many hands? The reason is simple: they are impatient players who want action fast. They lack the quality of a winner who waits patiently for good cards and then strike action.

So, would you like to be a long-lasting winner or an action lover who fades fast?

MISTAKE 2: you play your position wrong.
Ask any winner of Texas Holdem about the importance of positioning and they will tell you that it is everything in poker.

Why is there so much emphasis on positioning? Well, if you are in good positioning, you will be able to observe your opponent's move before you make a move. And once you are aware of your opponent's playing style, you can lay your trap accordingly.

Raising Before the Flop in Omaha Hi-Lo

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The biggest preflop decision you need to make, after whether or not to play your hand at all, is whether to limp into the betting or raise. This decision depends not only on the strength of your hand but also on what the level of your opponents' play is and how many opponents you're likely to face.

If you're playing at home with relatively inexperienced people, then it's OK to go ahead and raise with these types of hands every time, without attempting any deception. If you're playing in a casino with experienced people, you need to use deception to help shape the way your opponents act before the flop. Obviously, if you raise in early position, there will be fewer experienced opponents remaining in the pot to take the flop with you. If you just call before the flop, then you can expect more players to call one bet and take the flop with you. This is a key point, because when you have one of the top ten hands  (the premium hands), then you want a lot of opponents taking the flop along with you, so that you can win a big pot when you hit your hand.

For example, if you're in early to middle position with a premium hand that contains A-2, a useful play is to just call before the flop. (Don't raise yet!) This accomplishes two things: it allows your opponents to limp into the pot for just one bet behind you with their weaker low hands (A-3 and worse), while at the same time concealing the strength of your hand (concealing the possibility that it contains A-2). Once your opponents flop with the second- and third-best low draws or hands, they will usually continue to play for the big-money streets, when you will have them crushed with the best possible low hand! Again, just call with these premium hands, so as to trap your opponents and build a big pot for yourself when you make your hand.

Bankroll Management

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The money a poker player uses to fund his playing activities is known as his bankroll. If your goal is to improve as a player and move gradually from low-stakes play to higher-stakes play, your bankroll needs to be viewed as your working capital, and be kept as a separate account from your day-to-day expenses. When you win, your bankroll grows. When you lose, the losses come from your bankroll and don't affect your ordinary standard of living.

Growing and nurturing a bankroll is a key skill for a cash game player, perhaps as important as knowing when to raise and fold. Handle your bankroll well, and you need never go broke. Handle it badly, and you can be out of action pretty quick.

Who Needs a Bankroll?
If you're a casual player for whom the occasional poker game or tournament is just a form of entertainment, like going to a good restaurant, and the stakes are modest or even trivial compared to your income, then you don't need to worry about a bankroll. Just continue to play at stakes you're comfortable, and you'll be fine.

Another time you don't need to worry about your bankroll, when you are playing for more serious money, is if you're a losing player. If you don't have the skills to win, your bankroll won't last. This is true no matter what sort of "money management techniques", such as limiting your losses, quitting when you win a certain amount, or always playing an extra hour if you're losing, you may employ.

If, however, the game is your main hobby, and you have become a serious player, and you want to someday play for stakes that will not be trivial compared to your net worth, then bankroll management becomes important. Let's lay out a plan.

Strategy after Flop in Omaha Hi-Lo

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The flop normally indicates to the table what sort of high hand is likely to win the hand - and whether a low hand is possible at all. Consider the following possible flops:

1. If three unconnected cards appear, say A, 9, and 2, the best high hands are those that can make a set, a straight or flush, or a long-shot four of a kind. Failing that, having a pair of aces or kings among your downcards or the connecting J-10 with a draw for a straight leaves you inclined to bet.

Don't stay in by calling with only a draw for a low hand if the flop comes with two high cards, and don't call with only a draw for a high hand if the flop comes with two low cards. It doesn't pay to chase drawing hands, especially in a big pot where other players may have unbeatable hands, even if you do make your hand. And there's nothing worse than making your draw and still losing.

2. If a flush draw comes tip, consisting of two or three cards in the same suit, any time you have two high cards in that suit, you'll be inclined to stay in, and with the nut flush draw (the ace or perhaps the king of the suit among your hole cards), you should bet (especially if you're two cards are A-2 through 8 so you can win the high and low). Two low cards in the suit aren't nearly so attractive, of course; the odds are that someone can make a better flush than you.

When trying to calculate your chances of winning after the flop on a draw, realize that every successful draw, or out, gives you about a 4 percent chance of winning the hand either on the turn or the river. For example, if you have six outs, you have about a 24 percent chance of improving - less than 1 in 4 odds.

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Texas Holdem: Playing the Blinds

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Beginners and intermediates lose too much money playing their blinds. And we are not talking about the money you have already put in before the hand starts. That money is gone. It's not yours anymore.

Why is more money lost in the blinds? Several reasons. First, the inexperienced player calls a small blind because he can get in for what he perceives to be a cheap bet. Second, if he doesn't hit a hot flop, he tends to stay in the hand too long chasing. Third, even when he hits, his payout is less than if he were in late position. Last, and this is the most important reason, inexperienced players do not realize how much risk they have when they play a blind or any hand in any early position.

Risk is determined by how much information you have and how much you must bet. In the blinds, and obviously the big blind, your risk is low for the first round of betting. You actually have more information preflop and are required to bet either nothing or a small amount to stay in the hand during this betting round. Your preflop risk in the blinds is either nothing or extremely low.

Online Poker: Transferring Money

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The deposit process breaks into clumps with a few possible points where you have to just... wait. Be patient and begin the process with the following steps:

1. Pick a quality online poker room.

2. Select your transfer method of choice from the online poker room's cashier.

3. If the transfer method involves a third party (meaning any method that doesn't send your online poker room a real-life paper check), go to the third party's Web site and register appropriately.
Make sure to follow the site's directions for account creation and verification to the letter. (If you send a check straight to the online poker site, skip to Step 9.)
At this point you may encounter a time lag. If you use an online holding company, its tickle (the amount the company initially puts toward your account to make sure it has the correct bank info) and your verification of the account balance could take as long as a week.

4. Check your online poker room for first-time bonuses. Weigh this figure against how much you're willing to use as a poker stake and determine the amount you want to deposit into your online poker account.
Many sites give you bonus money to play with for making their site your room of choice.

5. Transfer the necessary funds from your real-world account (checking account or debit card) to your online third party (the ACH provider or online holding company).
Don't forget to move enough money to account for any service fees that the poker site or holding company charges you along the way. You may experience a delay of a day or two as your funds seep from one account to the next.

6. Verify that your online third party deposits the correct amount of money and that your real-world account reflects the withdrawal properly.
An error anywhere in this entire process is unlikely; but if one occurs, it may be something like a double withdrawal.

Tournament Fees and the Rake

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Your principal playing expenses in poker are the very chips you're wagering and the money that they represent. That's why it's called gambling. There are, however, some additional expenses associated with playing poker in any kind of organized setting, whether in a casino, an independent cardroom, or at an online poker site.

Some of the online-specific expenses have already been covered, such as the transaction fees and other costs associated with establishing a real-money poker account. Add to these a couple of traditional poker-playing expenses that have migrated from the real world to the virtual realm: tournament fees and the rake.

You've learned already that online cardrooms do not make their money by accepting wagers from players. Instead, their profits depend on charging a fee to all players for facilitating the games themselves. These fees come in two varieties, the first of which is known as the rake (or sometimes the table rake or the pot rake).

The rake is the amount of money that is collected by the house from each cash game pot (see figure). Each online poker room has different policies here, but they are stated up front and in fact are pretty similar. A typical rake is five percent of the pot, rounded to the nearest $.25, up to $3 per pot. Many online poker rooms have carefully calibrated rake charts that take into account the betting limits and the number of players in the game.The rake is often reduced when there are fewer players at the table; at some micro-limit games, there is no rake at all.

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