Tuesday, February 2, 2010

WSOP and Poker Tournaments

The World Series of Poker first started in 1970 at Binion's Casino in Las Vegas and today is considered the most prestige's poker tournament held any where in the world. In the last few years the field of players has been enormous in number and the prize money has been several million dollars to the winner of the tournament.  They have been showing the poker tournaments on TV and the camera view of what each player is holding has helped to gain a huge TV audience.  Three factors have attracted the large number of players to tournament poker.   The many televised tournaments that are now shown on TV are one factor of the growth.  Another factor is the many satellite tournaments where a player can pay a small entry fee and win the entry into the tournaments.   The final factor is the popularity of Internet poker and the many tournaments that offered daily at these online poker casinos, there are literally thousands of them to choose from.  This has allowed many young players to gain experience and they now make the final table at many tournaments that are shown on TV.

There is a significant difference between tournament poker and cash game poker.  When you lose all of your chips in a cash game, you can purchase more.   In a tournament when your stack is gone, you are over in that tournament.  So the secret is to maintain your chip total at a good level and try to make the final table where the prize money is the highest.  When the blinds are low, the player can take some flyers with suited connectors and lower pairs.  When the blinds get really big, the better hands may not come and you need to be more aggressive or you will be blinded out of the tournament.  It is easier said than done to wait for really concrete starting hands in tournament play.   Aggression is rewarded and the art of the bluff is a big part of the way the game is played.  Calling significant raises in tournaments must be done only when you have a solid hand or have many outs that can give you a winning hand.  Gambling early on in the tournament on marginal hands is a sure way to get eliminated from the tournament.  Of course if the cards are running over you, then you can play almost any two cards in Holdem. For new players the budget tournaments that are held daily on virtually all the sites are a superb place to learn to play tournaments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thoughts From The 2008 Online Poker Player Of The Year – David “The Maven” Chicotsky

When your average person thinks about Las Vegas, certain things come to mind: the neon glow, nightlife, luxurious room service, and probably first and foremost, the gambling.  The enticing game of chance, where you can spin the ball for your whole paycheck and hope it lands on your favorite number or lose everything in a hand of blackjack.  But beyond the annual leisure trip, lies a continually increasing group of males and females alike who don't rely on the luck of the draw, but rather use serious strategic planning and intense psychological warfare to have an edge over what most people believe to be a game of chance.

The World Series of Poker was premiered to the world in 1970 by Benny Binion.  Throughout the next forty years, the World Series of Poker has turned the weekend basement game into what has become a career choice for many, but yet is dominated only by an elite few.  As the game has progressed, so has the level of skill and strategic thinking amongst players.  It has become far less a game of luck and more a battle of the minds. In fact, poker is more like two coaches moving their teams onto the field.  Their strengths and weaknesses are tested intensely and a strategy is developed that the team commits to in order to come out on top.

Although a small amount of luck plays into poker short term, the various abilities of the players are what ultimately create the outcome of the game.   Knowing a few "moves" may get you through some tough spots, but in order to dominate the poker game over and over again without fail entails a full comprehension of the game. 

Improved insight into the game will boost your confidence, which is a key winning quality of poker.  If you begin a game feeling pumped up about your ability to win, that confidence you display to your opponents already gives you an edge.  Although bullying is not allowed on a playground, the harsh streets of poker necessitate, and even promote, the mental shake down of your opponents.  When you can map out a player in a way that allows you to take full advantage of them and exploit their tendencies to your own advantage, you have made your first stepping stone toward the top.

Focus is the other major component of winning at poker.  During poker tournaments, distractions flash by on TV screens, the jingle or catchy tune of slot machines, the presence of a desirable member of the opposite sex, and the conversations between players, or even spectators.  When every small tell guides you to successfully mastering your opponents, the last thing you want to do is lose your focus; it can be a very costly mistake.  So you must learn to calm your mind from everything surrounding you and enter every game with a one-tracked resolve to take down the win.

Learning exactly what to examine is a perfect focus for keeping your mind where it belongs.  Recognizing opponents patterns, understanding math and odds, and changing gears to adapt to the players will help to your game become a smoother ride.  Watching the professional poker events on television helps, because they show statistics for each hand.  It allows the viewer an insider’s look into the professional player’s considerations when they place their bets.  With these statistics arranged neatly in your head, the advantage you have over the players distracted by all the sights and sounds is tremendous.

Another thing to remember is that poker tournaments typically last hours at a time, and if you play well, days on end as well.  Comfort is a huge influence on making the right decisions.  Eating a light healthy meal keeps the mind sharp and the body running.  Having to worry about an upset stomach is counter-productive to optimal poker playing.  Adequate sleep also contributes to keeping the mind sharp.  Get a good night’s rest and you’ll already be ahead of the other players that chose to party all night and are diverting energy to just staying awake.   Stretching between hands is also a great way to refresh alertness.  It also shows the other players that you feel at ease in this poker house, which further upholds your confident image.  Arriving at your tournament location early will free you from worrying about rushing or being late. It additionally allows you to get comfortable with the space rather than trying to settle in simultaneous to trying to play.

Networking is also an important way to boost your game.  Everyone likes to think they are the greatest, but recognizing that you are not and competing against superior players will assist you in honing your poker skills.  Making your way around the card room during the breaks and socializing with some of the leading players is also a smart way to make your presence known at the tournaments, in addition to cracking the mystery of some of these great players.

Becoming a significantly winning player requires serious effort.  Applying the basic rules and leaving the rest to luck will leave you falling short to the competitors.  Genuinely grasping the game by training with a poker coach or doing an intense amount of study is the only option for contending with the leaders of the game.