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Pot Limit Betting

Posted on | April 10, 2009 | No Comments

PL is a betting structure that requires certain mathematical capabilities to master. Players need to be able to track pot sizes and they have to be able to calculate a pot-size raise instantly. In order to move on to PL strategy considerations, one first needs to understand how PL betting works.

Now then, even though PL betting isn’t quite as mathematically intimidating as it seems at first glance, it is still the most complicated betting structure, and you’d do better to whip your basics into shape, especially if you plan to play PL games live and there is no computer involved to do the calculus for you.

In PL, you cannot bet as much as you want, but you are not tied by a fixed limit either. In this respect, the structure is between FL and NL. The maximum that you are allowed to bet or raise, is the equivalent of the current pot size. That includes the money already in the pot, the bets and raises that players have already made and the call you make before you actually place your bet. Online, the software calculates the pot size for you, so all you have to do is to set the bet slider anywhere you want up to the maximum limit, which is determined and set by the software. Offline, you’ll have to do the calculus yourself if you do not plan on making a fool of yourself and blocking play with your incompetence.

The formula to calculating the pot size may seem a tad complicated, but in reality it isn’t. Let’s take a look at an actual example to set things straight:

If you are first to act on the flop and the pot contains $15, your calculus is easy. You can bet as much as you want up to a maximum of $15, because that is the pot size at the moment of your action. The minimum bet size here is that of the BB. You check and an opponent behind you bets $10. All the other players fold around to you. This is where it gets interesting. First, for the minimum bet: you must bet at least $20 if you decide not to fold. Why is that? Your bet needs to be the size of the previous bet at least, which is $10, but you also need to call the bet first, before you raise it. $10 (your call) + $10 (the minimum bet) = $20. Your maximum bet is $45. You can’t bet more than the size of the pot, which is $15 (the pot size on the flop) + $10 (your opponent’s bet) + $10 (your call) = $35. This is how much you can bet on top of your $10 call, which gives you a total of $45.

The PL betting structure is probably the least popular of the three standard betting structures. Some games (like Omaha) are well suited for this structure though and the biggest live and online events often feature PL Omaha. Take durrrr’s $1 million challenge for instance: Antonius and Dwan are playing PL Omaha in it.

PL games put players to the test from a variety of angles. FL poker is about mathematical odds and discipline. It basically requires levels 1-2 of poker thought. NL Poker is a reads and psychology based game with a heavy accent on implied odds. That game requires levels 3-4. PL, which is somewhere between the two as far as the betting structure is concerned, will require both analytical thinking and psychology skills. The possibilities offered by the PL betting structure will diminish the pure pot odds but its limitations will also diminish the implied odds.

Here are some of the most important aspects of PL Poker strategy: pot control is essential. Pot control is extremely important in NL Poker too, but because of the fact that the pot size will directly influence the size of future bets, it becomes vital in PL.

Every single bet matters in PL. A small bet can amount to a lot on account of how this betting structure works. Building up a large pot when in possession of a monster may seem more difficult than in NL because of the limitations, but a skilled PL player will achieve it by subtly opening the door for the betting with a small bet. The snowball effect than takes hold and before one knows it the pot size escalates radically.

Make sure you’re signed up to a rakeback deal when playing any sort of PL game. The presence of the poker rake will constitute a huge impediment to maximizing your winnings. Poker props earn even better rakeback percentages than square rakeback players. You may want to consider that option too.

Keep your made hands hidden

Posted on | March 29, 2009 | No Comments

Unlike most beginners believe, in poker you do not make your money off the good hands you’re dealt. Statistically, over the long-run everyone gets the same quality cards, provided the dealer or the online poker software is unbiased (which it is in the overwhelming majority of the cases). If you were to make your money off your good hands, over the long-run you’d end up with exactly the same amount of money you started on, it if weren’t for the poker rake. The rake cuts into your revenue (that’s exactly why you should always sign up for rakeback or become a poker props team member) and you’ll end up in the red.

Fortunately, that’s not how poker works (well, the part about the rake does work like that). You’re supposed to make your money off the mistakes your opponents make and by sticking to the correct choices yourself. How you achieve this is your own personal business, however one thing is certain: if your opponents will succeed in putting you on an accurate range of hands time and time again, they will almost never make a mistake, which means your chances for making money will not exist either.

That leads us to the conclusion that you need to disguise your hands. Again, it is up to you how you go about it, but there are two kinds of disguised hands. The first kind is the naturally disguised one. A naturally disguised hand is one that is so unlikely to be in your possession that your opponent will almost never include it in the range he puts you on.

Here’s an excellent example for a naturally disguised hand: you have 3s, 5s in your pocket, and the board runs Ah, 4s, Ks, 2h, Jc. Here, on the Ah, 4s, Ks flop, your opponent is probably going to put you on a flush draw, but as the turn and the river bring different suit cards, he will believe you missed your draw. The fact that you hit your 5-high straight on the river will elude 99% of players, even those who consider themselves skilled. In this situation, what you want your opponent to have is a set. His set will give him the confidence to consider value-betting you, in which case you hardly even have to make a move: he’ll serve his stack up to you on a silver platter. The beauty of your disguised hand is, that assuming that you’re chasing a flush, your opponent might call your value bets on less than a set, maybe even on a top pair.

The re-draw is another classic example of a naturally disguised hand. Take the following flop for instance Jc, 10h, 3h, while you’re holding Jh, Ah in your pocket. Here, you have top pair top kicker, which is pretty darn likely the best hand at the table on the flop. You already have the best hand, but you stand a pretty good chance to improve even further. Other players may have stronger draws, but the fact that you have that flush draw will replace a lot of your lost equity.

Now then, when you fire out your bet, your opponents will almost certainly assume you have top pair and the only thing they’ll be pondering about is how strong your kicker is. There’s not much sense in betting the flush draw, so their conclusion will in fact be correct. The beauty of the re-draw is that even as they make a correct read on you, they set a deadly trap for themselves. If your flush draw fills up, you’re going to take down some huge pots mostly filled up by guys who estimate that they have your top pair top kicker beat.

If your opponent has a strong draw and fails to fill it up, you’re going to win a medium-size pot. If he makes his hand, you lose a medium size pot, but if he makes his hand and your flush fills up as well, you’re going to take down a huge pot.

Not all hands are so conveniently disguised by Lady Luck though. Big hands which can be spotted easily need to be disguised through deceptive play. More on that though in another article.

History Of Poker: China to Texas Hold’em

Posted on | September 22, 2008 | No Comments

Ancient Origins of Poker

The history of poker is an interesting matter for study, and a question for debate among card game historians. Over the last thousand years poker has evolved from numerous different games which incorporated such poker specific aspects as card rankings, bluffing your opponents, and betting. Legend has it that the card game of poker has its origins in ancient China. During the reign of emperor Mu-tsung is said that he played a card game using domino cards. Poker can also have its roots traced back both to Egypt, and Persia. During the 12 and 13 hundreds it is known that the Egyptians had played card games with decks of playing cards. Additionally, Poker is also known to have resembled the Persian game of nas, complicated game which involved an extremely intricate 96 card deck, made from natural materials such as wood or ivory. This game resembled poker, especially the modern and popular form of Texas Hold’em, because both card games share similar features like multiple rounds of betting, subterfuge, and card rankings.

Poker’s European Roots

Poker can also be seen to have significant roots in Europe, particularly Germany, France, and Spain. During the 16th a card game by the name of “primero” was very popular in Spain. A large number of poker historians refer to the card game of “primero” as “poker’s mother.” This game involved the dealing of three cards to each payer, with betting and bluffing being integral aspects of the game. The popularity of this card game spread from Spain in the 16th to both Germany and France in the 17th and 18th centuries. These countries’s had game’s which closely resembled poker, Pochen in Germany and Poque in France. In fact the game of Poque was considered the national card game of France. This card game made its way over to the United States during the colonial era. French colonists brought it to Canada, from where this origin of poker made its way south into America, starting in New Orleans where French colonists set up shop, and traveling up the Mississippi river on the river boats, until the card game had infiltrated the entire country.

Poker’s Beginnings in America

Early references to poker can be found in the writings of Jonathon H. Green, where, in the 1830’s, he talks about a new card game that is sweeping the gambling circuit of the river boats which run the Mississippi river. This new card, referred to him as the cheating game, replaced the traditional game of Three Card Monte. In fact, it was Jonathon H. Green who originally termed the name Poker, as the game had not been officially titled previously. This game was perceived by the card sharks of the day as being venerably more honest, as opposed to Three Card which had a terrible reputation for being rigged. Additionally, the actor Joseph Crowell reported in 1829 that a game similar to poker was being played in New Orleans, with the participants betting on which of the other players hands had the highest value. The card game of poker spread throughout the United States during the period of westward expansion spurned by the gold rushes beginning in the 1840’s. Poker, with its gung ho atmosphere and wild abandon, became synonymous with the saloons card parlors of the American West. One of strongest lasting images in the American lexicon is the poker tables of the Wild West. We can all imagine the cowboy slamming open the doors of a saloon, throwing his dollars on the card table for some poker chips, and sitting down to test his luck and skill at the card table. These images, as well as many other facets of the card game, have become essential traits of the American cultural legacy.

Evolution of Poker

The game was very popular during the Civil War, with soldiers for the North and the South both playing the card game in their spare time. It was during this period of time, after the end of the major gold rush era until the end of the 19th century, many important advances came in the game of poker, the first of which was the introduction of the 52 card deck during the war. The new deck allowed for new types of hands to be included, for example the flush entered into the picture around this time. It was also after the initial introduction of the 52 card playing deck that new variations of the game emerged. Draw poker and stud poker, the first five card version, began in this period. Additionally, in the mid 1870’s the concept of the wild card first emerged, signified by the addition of the Joker to the poker deck.

Popular Forms of Poker

5 Card Draw was the most popular version of poker in the United States for almost a century. It was characterized by its unique combination of luck and skill, an advantageous trait which prevented it from being banned in California under anti-gambling laws-though the 5 card stud version of poker was banned due to it being solely a game of chance. Ironically, Nevada banned 5 card draw from the mid 1880’s until 1931 when it legalized casino gambling.
During World War II the 5 Card Draw version of Poker was replaced by 7 Card Stud as the favorite variant of Poker. This style was remained popular until the 1970’s, mainly as a result of the growing prestige of Las Vegas. However, it was not until the emergence of the World Series of Poker in the 1970’s that poker really became mainstream. The world series of poker used Texas Hold’em, poker’s supposed “Cadillac” as the vehicle for its tournament play.

Brick and Mortar

Posted on | September 20, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: Brick and Mortar

Poker slang for a real physical location for a poker game. It normally refers to a casino or cardroom that has standard poker amenities like tables, dealers, poker chip centers etc. This is different than an online poker room on a poker website.

The Bubble

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: The Bubble

The bubble is a specific point in poker games, particularly hold em poker games, where the card game has become stagnated, and a player needs to bust out so that his poker chips can enter the pot and the other players can win some money. The “bursting the bubble” is a strategically crucial part in a poker game because it frees up poker chips for the rest of the players, changing each players poker chip count, it shifts the dynamic at the poker table which causes everyone to change their poker strategy to account for their being one less player. In online poker, especially online poker tournament play, the bubble is particularly important, because it can signify the time in which you can make your move, increase you poker chip count, and win some money.

Bottom Pair

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: Bottom Pair

This is basic poker terminology for having the lowest card that turns up on the flop in your poker hand. For example, if you hand consisted of a King and a 5, and the flop came up, Queen, 10, 5, you would have the bottom pair. In Hold em poker this can be dangerous position to be in because of how easy it is to quite easy to be suckered into a bad poker bet in which the playing odds are against you. Make sure that when you do play texas poker you are very careful every time you have the bottom pair.

The Button

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: The Button

The button is an essential tool for any poker table. It is a small, generally white, acrylic disk which indicates which poker player is the dealer. On a standard poker table the person who has the button in front of them is the player who has to deal the cards. During poker play at a casino or online poker play the button is significant because it identifies which players are the blinds, therefore having make a bet in the pot before any poker cards have been revealed.

Poker Shark

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: Poker Shark

A poker shark is a smooth, aggressive, intelligent, shrewd, and ruthless poker player who dominates the game, and takes the chips of the other players, the “fishes”. He often ‘baits’ the other players into making moves which play directly into his superior poker strategy. A poker shark knows when to play the hand, when to fold, and when it is time to move his chips onto the card table. Whenever you “walk” into an online poker room, you want to be that tables Shark, not a fish.

Uber Donk

Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: Uber Donk

An Uber Donk is an extreme form of the poker slang donk. It is used for somebody who is playing very very poorly. You are an uber donk if you can’t execute anything close to intelligent poker strategy.


Posted on | September 19, 2008 | No Comments

Poker Help: Donk

Donk is shortened poker slang for donkey. It is generally used as a noun to complain about poor poker play. For example I’m playing like such a donk right now.

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