Avoiding Chip Leaks

Let’s assume for a second that you were holding a very large bucket.  In that bucket were all of the chips from your bankroll.  The obvious goal as a poker player would be to fill the bucket until you needed a bigger one.  But what if there were a huge hole in your bucket?  Your chips would start leaking out which is what happens to many poker players due to the way they play.  Obviously, you don’t want leaks in your game so let’s look at some solutions for stopping those leaks.

Drawing for 2nd Best

Some players get really excited when they can limp in with a straight draw.  However, that straight draw is only the second best hand when there is also a flush draw on the board.  So never draw for a hand that is likely to be second best!

Folding to bets on the River

People follow the rule of not wasting money on the river far too religiously.  If you are in a situation where there is just a single bet on the river, and you’re getting great pot odds, you should definitely call.  For instance, if $40 is in the pot, and you only have to call a $4 bet to see the showdown, you should do it since you’re getting 10:1 odds.

Calling when Behind

Assuming you follow the general rule of paying attention at the table, you’ll know who the tight players are.  And when you know who the tight players are, you also know not to call them when they raise like crazy.  Unfortunately, many players call in hopes that this will be the time when the tight player is bluffing.  You might get lucky and catch a bluff from time to time, but you’ll leak far too many chips on other occasions.

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Poker Player strangles Opponent

Many poker players are notorious for getting angry after losing a big hand.  But Tony Korfman took this a step too far and actually strangled an opponent after being rivered on the bubble of a tournament.

The tournament Korfman lost his cool in was a $1,000 re-buy event at the Bellagio.  After being rivered on a huge hand, Korfman started yelling at his opponent and screaming obscenities at him.  Korfman got even angrier and ended up choking the opponent before security grabbed him to escort him out of the casino.

Several players tried to calm the irate pro poker player and author down, but it was futile.  Noted professional player Bryon Devonshire was one of the players who was trying to intervene…..but maybe not in a calm way.

In his post on the TwoPlusTwo forums, Devonshire wrote, “I did not bubble. said punk bubbled then slammed his stack toward the guy that won the hand. punk was pissed because guy rivered him with a gutterball. then he had the balls to question weather the guy had him covered with part of his chips in the pot, part on the floor and part in the guy’s stacks. I then mother ****ed him for being a prick and chaos ensued. I always defend the dealers, floormen and players that don’t defend themselves. these types of punks should have been spanked when they were a kid. actually I’m sorry I didn’t pants him and take him over my knee. that would have been a great lesson for him. Tk”

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When Playing Scared is Right

One of the worst things you can do in poker is play scared.  When playing scared, you aren’t aggressive at all, you avoid making risky plays that could earn lots of chips, and you give the advantage to other players at the table.  In short, playing scared is the opposite of how a good rounder plays.

Most people know not to play scared since this is the worst way to play.  But despite knowing this, many people will still play really tight when it comes down to the tournament bubble.  These people don’t want to have all of their time wasted in the form of a non-money finish, and so they fold everything until cashing.

The problem with this though is that you aren’t playing to win by folding everything.  You are merely playing to survive and only playing to survive is a sure sign of a losing poker player.  Plus, the bubble represents a great time to take advantage of other players because they’ll also be playing very tight. 

However, playing scared can work to your advantage in certain situations.  One of these situations is when you’re in line to make the kind of money which could change your career.  For instance, if you satellited into the WSOP Main Event and were sitting on the verge of a $21,000 cash, folding everything in an attempt to sneak into the money would be acceptable - especially if you only play small buy-in tourneys.

One more instance where playing scared is the right way is when you’re in a satellite tournament.  The reason why is because satellite tournaments give the same prize to whoever finishes “in the money”.  For instance, if the satellite you’re playing offers WPT prize packages to the top 5 players, finishing in 5th place is the same as finishing in 1st.  So the obvious goal is simply to finish among the top 5 and playing scared to make it here is alright.

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Tips for Multi-tabling

One phenomenon that online poker has brought with it is the concept of multi-tabling.  Multi-tabling sees people playing multiple tables in an effort to play more hands per hour.  By playing more hands per hour, players are able to earn more cash in the process (assuming they’re good enough).  But many multi-tablers don’t know how many tables is a good number for them to play. 

In fact, many multi-tablers lose money because they are playing the wrong amount of tables at one time.  But figuring out the right number of tables isn’t so difficult because you just need to do a little math to determine how many tables are right for you.

Study Winnings

The first thing you need to do in order to find out how many tables you should be playing is study your winnings.  The best way to do this is by tracking sessions over a set time period, and then figuring your winnings per hour.  For example, if you earn 9bb/100 hands in $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em, you’ll be making $18 an hour.  If you added another table, and made 7bb/100 hands, you would make even more cash per hour since you’d make $28 an hour (over 200 hands).  But if your win rate dropped to 3bb/100 hands over 3 tables, you’d want to move back to two tables because this would only leave you with $18 an hour.

Consider Effects of Multi-Tabling on You

Playing multiple tables can be really tough on poker players.  It can cause a person to become fatigued quicker, and it is also stressful.  Since multi-tabling is harder on a player, it will cut down on the length of poker sessions.  So if you can only play a 3 hour session with 6 tables, as opposed to a 4 hour session with 5 tables, you’d want to stick with the 5 tables.

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Winning Hands with Middle Pair

When you’re holding a big pocket pair before the flop, you know that you are in a position of strength.  Even if you don’t improve your hand by the river, you still have a shot to take down the hand.  However, things become a lot more complicated when you have a middle pair.  That’s because the middle pair is tempting enough to call with, yet not normally big enough to win hands. 

But that doesn’t mean you should try to limp in, and then immediately fold if you don’t hit a set.  There are just too many opportunities available for you to win with pocket pairs.  So instead of folding, you should be trying to use middle pairs whenever the situation arises.  After all, middle pairs might not be the best hands, but they are at least a made hand.

An example of a good time to play middle pairs arises when you’re in late position with an unraised pot (especially in Limit Hold’em).  Obviously nobody has indicated any strength at this point, so it would be a great time to make a call and see the flop.  Assuming your set doesn’t come on the flop, you’ll be faced with a difficult decision.

If nobody raises the pot on the turn, it would be a good decision to call once again.  You should especially be making a call if there is a weak board, and nobody is showing any kind of hand strength!  Make a call on the river again if nobody raises the pot because there’s a good chance you could have the best hand at this point.  Sure you might not win every time with middle pair, but it’s worth showing some unpredictability with this hand if the pot isn’t too big.

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