Monday, March 14, 2022


March, 2016

  • 14 March

    Jonathan Little - 2016 California Swing Video Blog

    This is the longest video blog I have made, but that is because a lot has happened in the last three weeks. I got drafted to the Global Poker League ...

  • 14 March

    Meet The People: Rachael Wood

    The partypoker blog chats to a member of the partypoker community, or a member of staff, every week as part of our Meet The People campaign. It is our chance to talk with the players and employees who help make partypoker what it is, the poker site for the people. This week’s Meet The People […]

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  • 11 March

    Facts v Feels: Cognitive Distortions And Poker

    I’ve been playing UKIPT satellites on PokerStars in the last couple of weeks. This is a two stage qualifying process for me because I can in no way afford to buy in for the round two stages at either £82($100)... Continue Reading →

  • 10 March

    The Burning Season

    My lease expired on Wednesday and rather than extend it for a week (Headed to California on the 14th), I decided to escape Chiang Mai’s ‘Burning Season’ and spend the final few days of my Thailand holiday in Bangkok.  Before this trip, I had never experienced ‘Burning Season’ but had heard horror stories from others. […]

  • 10 March

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 85

    In this episode of Weekly Poker Hand, I get tricky with A-A, hoping to induce a gigantic blunder from my opponents. Do you typically reraise in this situation or just ...

  • 8 March

    Moving From NL2 to NL5: What to Expect

    A question that I see very frequently on poker forums and in my inbox concerns the differences between NL2 and NL5 online cash games. Unfortunately there is a lot of bad advice out there on this topic though.They are not the same game. Not even close.A...

  • 7 March

    Jonathan Little - Should you ever fold pocket Kings preflop?

    I don’t usually write about spots that come up infrequently but recently I witnessed this hand I thought was uniquely instructive. Everyone started with about 150 big blinds. Player A ...

  • 7 March

    Meet The People: Cat Winch

    One of the great features of poker is that it attracts people from all walks of life. You may find yourself sat next to a professional poker player, a solicitor, or in the case of Cat “misscat87” Winch, a teacher. By day, Cat is a performing arts teacher who mostly teaches music. By night, Cat […]

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  • 6 March

    The Poker Academy - The Month of February

    It has been a busy month for me. The LAPC was in full swing for the month of February. The cash game section of the commerce is full of games ...

  • 6 March

    The Precious

    Earlier tonight, I was scrounging around the house, turning over couch cushions and sifting through a bowl of Thai coins for the precious (and most expensive) 10-baht pieces. Why?  Well, I was ‘Baht Busto.’ I’m not sure the word ‘busto’ has become mainstream but it’s a very common term in the poker community.  Basically, it […]

  • 4 March

    PKOs: Progressive Or Regressive?

    A good part of my normal micro-tournament schedule is made up of Progressive Knockout tournaments (PKOs). If you don’t know what they are, they’re a crazy form of bounty tournament where a percentage of the buyin is attached to each... Continue Reading →

  • 3 March

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 84

    In this episode of Weekly Poker Hand, I have to figure out how to get full value from middle set in a three-way pot. Would you have played this situation ...

  • 1 March

    The Groove

    After my girlfriend left on February 1st, I thought I’d jump right back into my grind routine, putting in the same kind of effort that allowed me to play 6,000+ games in December.  But that didn’t happen. I struggled to find that spark to sit for long sessions.  I’d put in an hour or so […]

  • 1 March

    Xuan Liu - I Only Write on Leap Days

    I actually wrote most of a blog post on my way home from Australia, but this finalized version looks almost nothing like the bizarre, poetic version I had in my ...

February, 2016

  • 29 February

    Jonathan Little - More ICMizer and SNG Coach Study

    I have been spending a lot of time working on my game recently, and one of my favorite tools to use is ICMizer’s SNG Coach feature. This program puts you ...

  • 26 February

    Poker Self-Deception: A Costly Myth

    In general, I prefer online poker to live. It’s faster, it’s cheaper, it’s easier to manage tournament variance when you can play 100 tournaments a week, and, above all else, I can play in my underpants. In addition, I do... Continue Reading →

  • 26 February

    Mike Sexton Receives a Lifetime Achievement Award

    A couple of hundred of North America’s most-prominent poker industry members and players gathered at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills on February 25 for the 2nd Annual Global Poker Index American Poker Awards where they celebrated the achievements of the past 12 months. Almost a dozen categories were voted for, including Breakout Performance of […]

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  • 25 February

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 83

    In this episode, I flop a premium draw, miss, and then have to figure out how to make my opponent fold a decently strong hand on the river. Would you ...

  • 24 February

    Barry Shulman - WSOP Schedule Adds More Events and Introduces Changes That All Players Should Like

    Once again, instead of resting on its laurels, the World Series of Poker has shown its stuff by making several tweaks that guarantee a huge jump in attendance and overall ...

  • 24 February

    Barry Shulman - 2016 WSOP Gets Even Better, Colossus To Be Biggest Tournament Ever

    Once again, instead of resting on its laurels, the World Series of Poker has shown its stuff by making several tweaks that guarantee a huge jump in attendance and overall ...

  • 23 February

    Padraig Parkinson - Mystery Envelopes

    Killiney Castle 1982 played a major part in the history of European poker. A planeload of the best players in the world flew into Dublin as guests of Irish bookmaker ...

  • 23 February

    Daniel Negreanu - Arrogance

    Many intelligent people do come across this way, and poker attracts intelligent people. Arrogance isn’t exclusive to smart people, but it’s often a character trait that comes along with having ...

  • 23 February

    The Moment Everything Made Sense For Me in Poker

    People like to talk about that "light bulb moment" in poker, business or whatever where they suddenly got it and then they were able to crush their competition. I have been playing online poker for over 10 years now and there have been several of them....

  • 22 February

    Jonathan Little - Combating A Maniac

    The following hand is from one of my newest books, Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games, Volume 2, The Practice. This book is a collection of 105 in-depth hand ...

  • 19 February

    Stop, Drop And Chop.

    "That said, I was not in a good place on the final table on this particular night, and I know how quickly it can go the other way."

  • 18 February

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 82

    In this episode, I find myself facing a river bet on a 4-flush board with only middle pair. Do you make the hero-call? Be sure to sign up for the ...

  • 18 February

    Daniel Negreanu - Don’t Play Tired!

    Last Tuesday I had people in and out of the house between 8am and 10am and I typically don't wake up until 10:42am each morning. Normally that's not going to ...

  • 17 February

    The Laotian Wedding

    When people ask me what I enjoy most about playing poker for a living, my mind races.  Well, for starters, the money is obviously great.  The analytical puzzle-aspect involved in each hand excites me, the freedom to set my own hours is fantastic, and avoiding the enslavement of an alarm clock is delightful.  But really, […]

  • 15 February

    Jonathan Little - More PokerSnowie Study

    I have been studying poker a ton recently and one of my favorite programs to work with is PokerSnowie. Since I strive to constantly bring you the best training material possible, I ...

  • 15 February

    Daniel Negreanu - The Elimination of Badeucy

    I put in another session of high stakes poker at the Bellagio on Saturday, my longest yet at 10 hours. The game is scheduled at noon, but if you showed ...

  • 12 February

    Daniel Negreanu - GPL and The State of Poker Sponsorships in 2016

    So a new initiative called the Global Poker League looks set to launch with their initial draft in a couple weeks in Los Angeles. It's a team format where players ...

  • 11 February

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 81

    In this episode, I flop a weak drawing hand and find a way to run a bluff by the river. Do you attempt the bluff in this spot? Be sure ...

  • 10 February

    Daniel Negreanu - Politics in High Stakes Poker

    So as I mentioned previously, my goal this year was to put in 200 hours of cash game poker in 2016 after not playing any at all for about two ...

  • 9 February

    Padraig Parkinson - The Irish Open: The Tournament That Was Too Much Fun

    From the beginning, the Irish Open was always a bit different. That it had its roots in the aptly named Eccentrics Club is a bit of a clue. When the ...

  • 9 February

    Bluffing the River Like a Pro at the Micros

    Bluffing the River Like a Pro at the Micros
    One of the best ways to increase your winrate at the micros is to become better at playing the river. The reason why is pretty simple. Bet sizes (and pot sizes) are higher on average on this street than on any other. Therefore, you stand to gain the most by mastering this street.

    Most people at the lower stakes are reasonably good at value betting the river. Maybe they miss a little bit of thin river value here and there but this is not a critical error at these limits.

    However, an area where most people still play well below optimal at these stakes is bluffing the river. More often than not they simply just don't do it enough. Or when they do, they pick the wrong spots.

    So this article will be all about how to bluff the river like a pro at the micros. The biggest keys are doing it against the right opponents and on the right boards.

    Let's get started!

    Always Be Playing the Player

    As usual at the micros (or any stakes for that matter) the biggest key to most technical situations is understanding who your opponent is. I have talked about my 6 different types of regs at the micros before. And I have 3 more for fish as well.

    However, this system is nowhere near perfect because every player has their own style of play and specific quirks. One TAG might play the exact same river situation differently than another TAG for instance.

    This is why you have to dig deeper especially into the less commonly used HUD stats for a specific situation like this. However, the river is a bit unique because it can take an absolute mountain of data in order to get statistically solid information on someone.

    This is why I am a big fan of the WTSD% (went to showdown) stat. It is a very simple measure of how often somebody goes to showdown. You don't need to have thousands of hands on somebody for it to be effective either. Typically 100 hands is good enough.

    Targeting Specific WTSD% Numbers

    When I am looking at whether or not to bluff the river the first thing that I want to know is how likely is it to work against my specific opponent. I obviously do not want to target the calling stations who can't fold bottom pair to save their life.

    So I use a very rough categorization such as the following:
    • WTSD% = 28 or more -- Do not bluff
    • WTSD% = 23-27 -- Bluff with caution. Depends on the board and situation
    • WTSD% = 22 or less -- Bluff them all day
    Keep in mind that issues such as frequency (i.e., have I already bluffed them 3 times in the last 10 minutes?) can come into play as well. And of course the board and river card are massively important as I will discuss in a bit.

    But overall, I am looking to avoid bluffing the players who are going to showdown in the high 20s or more, proceeding with caution against mid 20s players and bluffing a lot versus low 20s and below opponents.

    Board Texture and the River Card

    Another key component to bluffing the river is the composition of the flop, turn, and most importantly, the river card itself. Something that I talk about a lot in both of my books is perceived ranges.

    In very general terms the perceived range of the preflop raiser is big broadway type hands and big pairs. And the perceived range of the preflop caller is more geared towards speculative hands such as suited connectors, suited aces and mid and small pairs.

    So if you are the preflop raiser it is often not a good idea to be running a huge bluff on a board like this: 47962

    On the flip side, if you are the preflop caller, you probably don't want to run a big bluff on a board that looks like this: AK88Q

    Perceived ranges are not always accurate though (this is why they are called perceived). But there is some truth to them more often than not. And this is especially the case at the micros where your opponents will be the least creative.

    Bluffing is All About Telling a Good Story

    Not only should you try to stick to bluffing mostly on boards which hit your perceived range but you should also clearly be representing several strong made hands that you could easily have as well.

    This is the crucial part of bluffing, especially on the river, that so many people often miss. A good bluff is essentially a well orchestrated lie. Imagine yourself in the interrogation room.

    Does your story make sense given how you have played the hand up to this point? When your opponent looks at the board after you make your bluff can they think of multiple threatening hands which you could have?

    If you can answer yes to both of these questions AND you are targeting the right kind of opponent (as outlined above), then there is a reasonably good chance that your bluff will be successful.

    Let's run through a couple of examples to hopefully illustrate all of this better.

    Example #1 (6max)

    Villain = Nit, 18/15/2, 4% 3Bet with a WSTD% of 21 

    Hero raises preflop from MP with A9 and villain calls on the button

    The flop comes,


    Hero bets,
    Villain calls

    The turn comes,


    Hero checks,
    Villain checks

    The river comes,



    Let's go through this hand each step of the way. We make a standard preflop raise with a decent suited ace in MP. We get called by a passive looking nit who has position on us.

    His 3Bet is low for 6max at 4% so his hand feels a lot like some sort of small or mid pair here. He might have some sort of stronger ace that he doesn't want to 3Bet with from time to time. He might also have a suited connector or broadway type hand on occasion.

    We catch a great flop for our perceived range and make a super standard CBet. When he flats on this board his hand looks even more like TT, 99, 88, 77 or 66 now. There are very few draws and it is fairly unlikely that he hit the king.

    The 5 on the turn isn't really going to scare him if indeed he has one of those middle pair hands that we listed above. Therefore, we choose not to double barrel here. It definitely wouldn't be terrible though. It just depends on the player and any history.

    When the river lands with a Q we pretty much have a mandatory bluff against this player. We can now represent several strong hands here such as AQ, KQ or even AK or KJ which decided to pot control the turn. We would play these hands exactly the same way.

    This player does not like to go to showdown very often (WTSD% of 21). He will fold his TT, 99, 88, 77 or 66 a lot here. Easy bluff.

    Example # 2 (Full Ring)

    Villain = TAG, 15/12/3, 6% 3Bet with a WTSD% of 24

    Villain raises preflop from MP and Hero flats on the button with 89

    The flop comes,


    Villain bets,
    Hero calls

    The turn comes,


    Villain bets,
    Hero calls

    The river comes,


    Villain checks,

    So we flat preflop in position with a suited connector versus a decent looking TAG. Our plan is to try and flop something big or use our position to take the pot away.

    We catch middle pair with a backdoor flush draw on the flop. We know that villain here is going to CBet pretty much his entire range on this board. Raising doesn't make much sense. But we are always calling.

    The turn comes with a harmless 4 and we pick up a flush draw as well. So it is an easy flat again versus an aggressive TAG who could be barreling wide.

    On the river villain checks on the ace. There are a few things here. The first thing is that we don't actually need to bluff. This is one of those clear cases of WA/WB (way ahead, way behind).

    The large majority of the time here he has:

    • A king, a high pair or he backed into the ace. 
    • A complete airball double barrel that he decided to give up on. 

    He will make the call very often with the former and insta-fold the latter. We are basically never getting called by worse so we should just always take the free showdown.

    Just for the sake of argument though, even if we had nothing here (and therefore there was a point to bluffing), I would probably still decide against it. This is because of what we talked about before. The K and the A don't really hit our perceived range. It doesn't make sense for us to have these cards very often.

    This player goes to showdown a reasonable amount of the time at 24% and appears to be a reasonably competent TAG as well. Therefore he is probably smart enough to sniff out an ill conceived bluff attempt like this even with something like QQ or JJ.

    Final Thoughts

    Making good bluffs on the river (and avoiding the bad ones) can make a big difference to your winrate at the micros. And it really isn't brain surgery either. The biggest key is simply understanding why you are making a bluff, or why you are deciding not to.

    First things first, make sure you are making bluffs more often against the players who will actually fold. WTSD% is a great indication of this. Most fish will be the types who you want to avoid bluffing. The tight regs will often be the ones who you do want to bluff.

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, be aware of what the community cards are and who they likely help in the hand. Also, if you do decide to make a bluff make sure that you can think of several value hands that you would play the exact same way as we saw in the first example above.

    If you follow these simple guidelines, then you should be bluffing the river like a pro at the micros in no time. Let me know your thoughts on bluffing the river in the comments below. Do you have any tips that you would like to share?

    If you found this article helpful then please do me a favor and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter below!

    Poker bad beats and how to deal with them.

  • 8 February

    The 500

    The title for this entry shares a name with my favorite salad from Joey’s, a restaurant chain in Vancouver. Organic quinoa, barely, plenty of raw vegetables, watermelon radish, almonds, mint, avocado. Salad isn’t exactly photogenic, but trust me — this one is rather tasty.  Pro Tip: Add double chicken. In poker related news, I reached 500 […]

  • 8 February

    Jonathan Little - 5 hands from the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

    Due to the popularity of my recent blog post where I reviewed 5 hands from an EPT event, in this blog post I am going to share with you the ...

  • 5 February

    All Withdrawal Methods Are Now Free of Fees!

    Great news for those of you who use Neteller, Skrill, or Webmoney to withdraw funds from your partypoker account because they are free to use with immediate effect. Feedback from you, our valued customers, showed you were unhappy at having to pay a fee to withdraw funds from your accounts. In July 2015, withdrawal fees […]

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  • 5 February

    Daniel Negreanu - Good Old Fashioned Poker Blog

    One of the goals I set was to get back into the high stakes mixed games at Bellagio. A modest goal of 200 hours with the intention of making $250k+ ...

  • 5 February

    The Poker Academy - Poker Night in America at Thunder Valley Poker Room

    I am sitting here in my room at the Commerce Casino getting ready for our 12-Week Challenge webinar tonight. It is on session 4. I just finished re-watching the session ...

  • 4 February

    WPT National Event London Day 1a

    Foley Busted Jordon First Out the Door We’ve just found out what happened to Terry Jordon, with his earlier victim Keighly Foley eventually getting the ultimate revenge on him by showing him the exit sign. ‘I had pocket queens and he had pocket sevens’, she told us. ‘I raised him on the flop, but we […]

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  • 4 February

    The Coconut

    It’s been a few days, and I’ve yet to get back into my work-routine.  Started off well enough; put in 70 games on the first day with the goal of building on that the following morning.  Unfortunately, I woke up at 6 AM with terrible stomach pain. I tossed and turned for a bit before […]

  • 4 February

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 80

    In this episode, I elect to 5-bet preflop with K3s. Is this a standard play or have I lost my mind? Be sure to sign up for the FREE Excelling ...

  • 1 February

    The Excuses

    It’s been 2016 for more than a month and: This is my first blog post. I’ve only played seven hours And I’m full of excuses For the first week or so, I didn’t have much desire to play.  I spent most of my waking hours in December at the tables chasing Supernova Elite, and while […]

  • 1 February

    Jonathan Little - When To Skip Hands At The Poker Table

    I recently traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey for a World Poker Tour event at Borgata and I was shocked at how many players were willing to voluntarily miss numerous ...

January, 2016

  • 30 January

    Preparing Yourself For Success at the Micros in 2016

    Since we are already almost a month into 2016 I hope that many of you are achieving your new year's goals at the poker tables. But if you are not then this article is going to be a quick guide to help you get refocused for success.I have talked about h...

  • 29 January

    Defy The Enemy Within: I Am Tilticus

    This week I had cause to re-examine the nature of “tilt”. I’ve had a cold week, nothing mathematically impossible, it’s a likely situation for any regular MTT poker player, and nothing my bankroll can’t sustain, although with 40 average buyins... Continue Reading →

  • 28 January

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 79

    In this episode, I attempt a creative bluff versus a world-class loose-aggressive player. Was this too optimistic? Be sure to sign up for the FREE Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em webinars ...

  • 26 January

    Casey Jarzabek - The Moose is Loose

      Well its been a long journey absolutely – no doubt about that. As things finally begin to settle down, I want to send my appreciation to those people that ...

  • 25 January

    The Poker Academy - Recent Doings

    The last time I wrote, I was getting ready to go to the Commerce for a little poker. I have been there twice since then. On my first trip, I ...

  • 25 January

    Jonathan Little - Five hands from the first two levels in a €2,000 event

    Hello everyone! In this blog post, I am going to share with you every significant hand I played from the first two levels of a €2,200 buy-in EPT event in Prague. ...

  • 22 January

    Satellites: Mountains From Molehills?

    I’ve been playing a good few satellites in the last couple of weeks due to the fact that it’s the time of year for the TCOOP on PokerStars and I’m a micro-tard with a midget bankroll that can’t even think... Continue Reading →

  • 21 January

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 78

    In this episode, I decide to slow play QQ versus a tricky reg. Would you have played the hand as I did or would you have tried to maximize value? ...

  • 19 January

    Poker’s Craziest Prop Bets

    Poker players love to make prop bets with each other. Some of these bets are poker related, others, well, not so much. There have been countless prop bets by poker players over the years and the partypoker blog presents some of our favourites to you below. Antonio Esfandiari’s Lunge Bet This bet by Antonio Esfandiari […]

    The post Poker’s Craziest Prop Bets appeared first on blog.

  • 18 January

    Jonathan Little - 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Vlog

    In this video blog, I discuss the ups and downs of my 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. I also share some clips from the daily Breakfast Talks put on by PokerStars, ...

  • 15 January

    Poker: My Life Without Wizards

    "You can’t just be “addicted” to poker if you’re winning… can you?"

  • 15 January

    Padraig Parkinson - The Day The Music Lived

    Some races are more important than others. On a Friday night a few weeks ago I won one in a live game in Clichy in Paris to hit the front ...

  • 15 January

    The Theatre of Dreams

    Will Old Trafford be the Theatre of Dreams for us this weekend? Early start for me tomorrow, drop Numpty off at 9am, then shoot up to Manchester to meet my old pal, Kevin O'Connell, then over the Old Trafford to see how Nick and the DTD guys are d...

  • 14 January

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 77

    In this eposide, I make a turn bet with the nut flush draw and face a sizable. Would you have the courage to go all-in in this spot? To get ...

  • 12 January

    Vietnam - Trip Report

    I had previously visited Vietnam in 2011 but missed out on a lot as I'd only spent time in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Needing to leave Thailand again for a visa run and having a friend who lives in Hanoi, I decided to return to Vietnam to check out more of the country.

    I flew to Hanoi direct from Bangkok, in business class, with Qatar Airways on a short 90 minute flight. The return ticket cost me 18,000 Avios (British Airways miles) + £98 GBP in fees. Sure, for the same as I paid in fees I could have bought a cash ticket on a budget airline like Air Asia, but for much better take-off times and the opportunity to fly business class with one of the best airlines in the world I was happy to flick in the extra 18K Avios.

    The first thing I did when I arrived there was to buy cheap local SIM card with data from a kiosk at the airport and then book a ride to the city with the Uber app. I chose to use Uber Black and was driven to the city in a nice new SUV for 25% less than the flat fare of a standard Vietnamese taxi and also got a further large discount for using a first ride promotion code. Isn't technology brilliant?

    I stayed in a nice hotel in the old quarter. Just as well that the hotel was quiet, clean and nice because it was in contrast to the noise, dirt and chaos on the streets outside - the like of which you could only find in a busy city in a developing country. It was brilliant.

    Hanoi traffic. Good luck crossing the road. #Hanoi #Vietnam

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 5, 2021 at 10:01am PST

    I met my friend Kat and we went to eat at one of the best 'Pho' joints in Hanoi - Pho Gia Truyen. Pho is rice noodles, generally served in a broth with herbs and meat and is one of the most famous Vietnamese dishes.

    Best way to begin a trip to Hanoi. Eat Pho with a Vietnamese girl. #Pho #Hanoi #Vietnam

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 5, 2021 at 6:25am PST

    The joint was packed with locals so I knew I was going to be eating some delicious and authentic local food.

    Quite often when you eat cheap food in Asia it's very carb-heavy, but my 50,000 dong (£1.51 GBP / $2.22 USD) bowl of Beef Pho was filled with as much beef as noodles. Very delicious, nutritious and the perfect start to my trip to Vietnam. The fact that I was eating it with a beautiful Vietnamese girl made it only better.

    Apparently I'd been pronouncing "pho" wrong all my life though. It's not pronounced like "foe", it's pronounced like "fuh". Anyway, it was pho-cking delicious.

    From my experience of visiting Ho Chi Minh city in 2011 I held the opinion that Vietnam was one of the worst countries in the world for a tourist to visit as far as people harassing and trying to scam you goes. Of course I was staying in the middle of a tourist area and was much more naive back then but it seemed that everywhere I went I was being approached by shady characters and was constantly being overcharged or scammed in some way.

    On this trip almost everywhere I went in Hanoi I was with my local friend. Nobody approached us when we were together and I paid the local price for everything. I enjoyed the experience much more since I didn't have to keep my guard up all the time. There were a couple of occasions where Kat, who's a successful model, had to go for a casting or shoot for a couple of hours and so I'd go out alone. The motorbike drivers on the corner of every street were asking me where I was going and offering me weed and prostitutes but I just point blank ignored them and it wasn't a problem.

    After eating the pho we went exploring for more food and ended up at this classy joint:

    I had a big tasty sweet potato fritter for only 8,000 dong (0.24 GBP / $0.35 USD). I'm guessing it was so cheap because his overheads are about as low as they could possibly be.

    Next up on the food adventure was 'Banh Cuon' which is a sheet of fermented rice batter filled with seasoned ground pork and mushrooms.

    To me it looked more like the lady was making a haggis, but thankfully it tasted a lot better than that.

    People in the restaurant were looking at me and talking about me in quite an obvious manner so I asked Kat to translate what they were saying. Apparently they all thought I was crazy for wearing shorts and t-shirt. It was 18 degrees C with zero wind and every Vietnamese person was wearing a thick winter jacket like it was freezing. Incredible.

    With full bellies we visited the weekend night market, which is full of tourist tat. Although I did manage to find some quality gear there:

    Night market shopping. #Hanoi #Vietnam

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 5, 2021 at 8:47am PST

    Kat begged me to take off the hat and glasses because she was embarrassed to be seen with me, but I knew how brilliant I looked so I stubbornly kept them on. She threatened to leave me there if I didn't take them off, but I called her bluff.

    We then took a lovely walk around Hoan Kiem Lake where every local that we passed was staring at me, saying stuff in Vietnamese and laughing. I even had several fans ask for photos.

    "This is ridiculous." Kat said, "Everyone is looking at us. You're tall, you're foreign, you're wearing shorts and t-shirt in the winter, sunglasses at night and a really stupid Minions hat. PLEASE TAKE THEM OFF!"

    I told her that it was fine because "I don't live here. I'll never see these people again."

    "Well I do and I will!!! Please take them off!"

    I eventually agreed to take off the hat and glasses if she'd finally put on the cute bear hat I bought for her. Seemed like a fair trade - me looking stupid for her looking cute. People didn't stop staring at us though.

    Kat took me to a popular local ice cream shop called Kem Trang Tien which was like a big indoor car park, with about 100 people standing around eating ice cream next to their motorbikes.

    The ice cream was 10,000 dong per cone (£0.30 GBP / $0.44 USD) and tasted very ordinary although the experience of doing what the locals do at one of their popular hang-out locations was worth a lot.

    As we walked back to the hotel late at night I had the urge for just a little more food. Kat suggested I try a bowl of 'Bun Oc', which I didn't realise until it was served is snail noodle soup.

    'Bun Oc' aka 'Snail Noodles' #Hanoi #Vietnam

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 5, 2021 at 7:35pm PST

    Vietnam was formally a French colony as part of French Indochina (with Cambodia and Laos) from 1887-1954. That's why there's a lot of snail, frog, rabbit and baguettes in Vietnamese cuisine still to this day.

    The next morning we were back out food exploring. For breakfast I wanted to eat something that was uniquely local but that I'd actually enjoy eating - i.e. something without snails.

    Kat took me through a local fresh food market to a stall where she said the lady was famous for making the best 'Bun Cha' in the city. Bun cha is grilled seasoned fatty pork meat on white rice noodles. At this stall the meat was clamped between bamboo sticks and barbecued before being served in a soup.

    The bacon-y smell was incredible and I was salivating while waiting for my bowl to be served.

    I'd say that this bun cha, along with the beef pho I had the day before, was the best thing I ate on the trip. Top notch.

    We spent the rest of the day sightseeing, with Kat driving me around on the back of her motorbike. I'm so glad I didn't have to be the one driving in the crazy Hanoi traffic.

    The most interesting place we visited was Hoa Lo Prison aka the Hanoi Hilton. It was built by the French to hold political prisoners and then by the communist Vietnamese to hold prisoners during the Vietnam war. Now it's a museum.

    They proudly display the jumpsuit and gear of John McCain, that old American politician, who spent some time in the prison in the late 60's after getting captured during the war.

    The next day I travelled to Ha Long for a 3 day cruise in Halong Bay. I invited Kat but she had work commitments so I went solo.

    I had booked the cruise after doing a considerable amount of research using TripAdvisor and other resources. There are very many cruise operators and agents selling Halong Bay cruises but I decided to go direct with Indochina Junk.

    Indochina Junk have an exclusive license with the government to operate in Bai Tu Long Bay, which makes up about 3/4 of the Halong Bay UNESCO world heritage site. The other part of Halong Bay has literally hundreds of boats operating there at any one time, and that was a common negative comment that I read through all the TripAdvisor reviews.

    Please note that I was given a media discount when purchasing the cruise but that doesn't have any affect on my opinion.

    The itinerary I chose was a 3 day - 2 night cruise on their Dragon's Pearl boat. It has 11 cabins so it's large enough to make some friends but small enough to be a peaceful and relaxing experience.

    The rooms were basically like small hotel rooms, with air conditioning units and en-suite bathrooms with unlimited hot water. What made it better than a hotel room though was an ever-changing view from the window of one of the most beautiful places in the world.

    Living on this boat for the next couple of nights cruising Halong Bay #halongbay #Vietnam #indochinajunk

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 7, 2021 at 3:22am PST

    I was a little worried that I'd be lonely staying on boat for 3 days by myself but thankfully there was a good mix of good people on board who I got on great with.

    There was a newly married Aussie couple who both serve in the Australian army, a young Dutch couple who quit their jobs to travel the world for a year, another young couple from California who took a couple of weeks break from their tech jobs, an Aussie woman with her 14 year old son, a quiet girl from Texas, a guy from Hawaii with dreadlocks who runs a non-profit company that provides surfing lessons to underprivileged kids and a Singaporean family. Great mix of people.

    We spent the first couple of hours of cruising though the bay, with most of us on the sun deck marvelling at the breathtaking scenery. There were no polluted waters, strewn with garbage, like many of the reviews from people visiting Halong Bay had mentioned. As I previously mentioned, this was because the 99% of other boats in the bay are not allowed to sail through Bai Tu Long Bay where were.

    We were then given a cooking class by our onboard chef, who taught us how to make Vietnamese spring rolls.

    We made plenty and ate them straight after.

    We spent the last hour before sunset in kayaks, giving us some exercise and a lot of freedom to explore the bay independently.

    In the evening our chef made us a big dinner. My appetite is much larger than 'big' though, and I was nowhere near full. I'd been on a 3,500 calorie per day diet for a few months so going from that to eating the same sized portions as regular people would have been painful. The chef was very thoughtful though. After the waiter told him that I was still hungry he went back into the kitchen and made me an omelette.

    We spent the night time on the sun deck under the stars chatting. Most of the group brought their duvets out from their rooms which was hilarious to me as it was only about 16 degrees C and I was still in shorts.

    Everyone went to bed super early, like 9:30 pm, except for me and the Aussies who did some squid fishing from the front of the boat. We stayed up for hours and only managed to catch one baby, which we threw back. Shame because a calamari breakfast would have been lovely.

    On our second day we did more cruising and more kayaking.

    Kayaking in Bai Tu Long Bay #Vietnam

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 7, 2021 at 10:17pm PST

    This time we visited a hidden lagoon. There was a narrow path of water which led to a large enclosed area which was just stunning.

    We spent at least two hours in the kayaks, exploring the rock formations and small caves.

    When we finally made it back to the boat my arms were aching. I'd been paddling solo whereas everyone else had been in tandem kayaks. Good workout though!

    In the late afternoon we spent a couple of hours on a beach on a tiny island.

    Everyone was relaxing as they were so tired from the long kayaking session earlier. The only ones with energy left were me and Tom, the 14 year old Aussie kid. We were having sprinting races along the beach, and the dogs belonging to the few guys who live on and maintain the island joined in with us.

    We then took a tandem kayak out into the sea and tried to hijack one of Indochina Junk's small private boats. "Yar - har - fiddle-dee-dee, being a pirate is all right with me! Do what you want 'cause a pirate is free, you are a pirate!" we sang as we paddled.

    When we got to the small boat I screamed in my best pirate voice "Arrrrr, put your hands in the air. We are mighty pirates, we're here to rape and pillage!". The captain of the boat then ran and pulled up the ladders so that we couldn't board. We tried to board on the other side but they started the engine and took off, with everyone on board laughing. Pirating isn't as easy as you'd have thought. I guess I'll just stick to pirating episodes of Game of Thrones.

    By the time we go back to the island it was getting dark and spitting with rain. It turns out that everyone on the island had been waiting a while for us to paddle back so that they could board the tender back to the boat. "Where have you guys been?" Tom's mother asked. "Arrrrrrrrrr" I responded.

    In the evening we returned to the island. This time it was to enter the large cave where we would eat a special dinner.

    It's incredible what they've done with the cave. They have it all lit up with small candles and there's rose petals scattered everywhere.

    BBQ dinner in a small island cave in Bai Tu Long Bay. #Vietnam #indochinajunk

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 8, 2021 at 5:21pm PST

    We were served a large BBQ dinner. I lost count of how many courses there were. They served me a double portion of everything, without me asking, which was really thoughtful of them.

    With each course that was served they laid various ornaments that were freshly carved out of fruit on the table. Wonderful craftsmanship that took hours of work. They really put a lot of effort into making it a special occasion for us.

    As it was the Aussie couple's honeymoon they were presented with a surprise cake after the meal. "You're going to share that, right?" I asked.

    Waking up on the 3rd day I soaked in the fresh air and stunning view, sad that it was the last day on the boat.

    Waking up to this view never gets old. #halongbay #vietnam #indochinajunk

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:02am PST

    After checking out of our rooms we visited a small fishing village where the residents live on floating houses. Apparently they used to live in the caves until the government gave them grants to build the houses in recent years.

    It was fascinating to observe their way of life. This is a photo of their local supermarket:

    Back in Hanoi I spent another couple of days with my good friend Kat. We did a little bit of sightseeing, visiting Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, which contains his embalmed body.

    And the war museum which has some old Vietnamese and American planes from the war.

    I would have enjoyed the war museum much more if I hadn't already been to the one in Saigon which is 10x bigger and better.

    Of course most of my sightseeing time was spent doing more local food exploring.

    Feeling adventurous I tried 'Balut' which is a fertilised duck egg.

    I though this was going to be absolutely disgusting. I'd seen photos online where you could see the head of the embryo / fetus (type 'balut' into google images). The one I was served didn't look bad at all, with nothing that resembled a creature. I think the lady had chopped off the head when she de-shelled it for me.

    As for the taste, well it tasted just like an egg, but with the crunchy texture of the unborn bird to go along with it. I wouldn't say it was delicious but I'd happily eat it again. A decent protein snack.

    Something that I would say was delicious and I'd happily eat every day was 'Nem Cua Be', which is crab spring rolls, made by these two girls:

    Crispy fried pastry surrounding a large portion of delicious crab meat and vegetables.

    The final meal of the trip was also notable, as Kat took me to one of her favourite restaurants. They make five unusual variations of pho.

    We tried two. The first was 'Pho Cuon'. which is beef and vegetables wrapped like a spring roll with flat pho.

    And the second was 'Pho Xao', which is deep-fried pho.

    Very nice and crispy, like onion rings.

    This was my second visit to Vietnam but I still plan on returning in the near future. I'd like to do a mountain trek in Sapa when the weather is warmer as well as check out Nha Trang which is famous for it's beaches and clear waters, perfect for scuba diving.

    There's a lot of Vietnamese food I've still to try also!

  • 12 January

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December, 2015

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  • 22 December

    Taiwan - Trip Report

    Taiwan was one of the few countries in Asia that I hadn't yet visited.

    Needing to leave Thailand briefly for visa reasons, I saw some good value direct flights from Bangkok to Taipei with Tiger Airways and decided to fly there for a 6 day stay.

    From Thailand to Taiwan on a tiger.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Aug 31, 2022 at 6:39pm PDT

    Hotels are quite expensive in Taipei when compared to some other Asian cities. A room is around 3x the price that it is in Bangkok for the same standard and in the equivalent location.

    Fortunately I found some good value, thanks to Airbnb, in a small 4-floor apartment building that had been converted into hotel rooms. A real hotel room, in the same central location next to metro station and of the same standard would have cost over $100 USD per night. These privately rented hotel rooms cost only $64 USD (42.50 GBP) per night.

    I had $275 of free Airbnb credit from making referrals (thank you so much to everyone who signed up using my link) so I only had to pay $109 for the full 6 night stay.

    When I arrived in Taipei it was lashing down with rain - not the best start to the trip. I hung out in a bar until the rain stopped and was fortunate enough to make some friends there. When the rain finally stopped we went to a local restaurant together.

    I was very keen to try some local Taiwanese food. I'm a lot more adventurous now than I was when I first travelled to Asia. I have memories of myself and Amatay running around Hong Kong desperately trying to find a KFC or Pizza Hut because the local grub was unappealing.

    We were handed a menu which was just a bunch of Chinese characters with no photos. If I had turned up at this restaurant alone I'd probably be on my way out the door and looking for nearest American fast food franchise. So I was very grateful to be with friendly locals who explained each dish to me and ordered food that they knew I'd enjoy.

    We ate a bunch of different dishes including Mapo Tofu, Hainanese Chicken and something unpronounceable which was a stir-fry of squid legs, pork and vegetables. All very healthy and nutritious - a world away from Chinese restaurant food back in the UK.

    Made some local friends and ate some local food. #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 1, 2022 at 9:17am PDT

    After dinner we went for some Taiwanese Bubble Tea at a chain called 50 Lan. I enjoy drinking bubble tea a lot in Thailand so I was keen to try it in Taiwan, where it originated. It's iced tea with milk, flavourings and chewy tapioca pearls that you suck up through a thick straw. My favourite is green tea with taro.

    I tried to look cool, posing for a photo while drinking the bubble tea but goofed up and spilled it all down my front. I had spent all night avoiding the rain but still ended up wet.

    Epic Taiwanese bubble milk tea posing fail. #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 1, 2022 at 9:32am PDT

    The next morning I met with one of the girls, Karbo, for breakfast before she had to fly to Macau. We had a stroll through a fresh food market, sampling some food on our way, before going a small cafe to eat a typical local breakfast.

    Some type of pancake with bacon pieces in the middle, noodles. fried radish and soy milk - all made for a tasty start to the day.

    After saying goodbye to my friend I went straight to the gym in an effort to keep up with my workout routine.

    I found a very modern and well equipped gym called 1st Fitness that works on a 'Pay As You Go' payment model. Most commercial gyms either require you to sign up to a lengthy contract or have a very expensive daily rate. 1st Fitness, however, only requires a one-off payment of $100 NTD (£2 GBP / $3 USD) for a membership card which you can pre-load with credit. Use of the gym is then charged at $1 NTD (£0.02 GBP / $0.03 USD) per minute from the time you enter until the time you leave.

    While I was doing barbell squats I noticed a girl about half my weight in the rack beside me squatting the same weight as me. Rather than be embarrassed be this, I asked her if she wanted to work out together - since we're lifting the same weight. And that's how you make friends at the gym.

    After the workout I asked her to "show me something cool in your city" and she took me to Memorial Hall, which is a large national monument with a history exhibit inside.

    We raced from the flag to the top of the stairs and I can confirm that I'm much, much better at running than I am at lifting weights.

    We then spontaneously decided to hike up Elephant Mountain, which has the best view of Taipei. It should have been an easy enough hike, about 1 hour walking up mostly wooden steps, but we tried out best to get up there in half the time so that we could watch the sunset from the top.

    We made it with only 10 minutes to spare. As I stood at the viewing point, sweating and out of breath, I was constantly being bitten by mosquitoes.

    Fortunately there was a well prepared German dude, wearing all the right clothes and a backpack with all the right supplies for a hike. He made me feel like a daft Scotsman, wearing cotton shorts and t-shirt with my only supplies consisting of a bottle of juice and a banana I picked up from the 7 Eleven near the bottom of Elephant Mountain.

    He was nice enough to lend me some mosquito spray along with some information about Dengue Fever. "Taiwan has already had over 20,000 cases of dengue fever this year and over 50 deaths from it" he told me, "so it's really important to protect yourself".

    Free from being bitten literally to death, I was able to enjoy the view.....

    I'm up top of Elephant Mountain for the best view of Taipei. #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 2, 2022 at 8:27am PDT

    .... and take an awesome "selfie"!

    Taipei 101 tower "selfie". #Tourist #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 2, 2022 at 9:05am PDT

    We hiked back down the mountain and walked to Taipei 101, which is the massive tower in the photos. There they have a branch of Din Tai Fung, famous for their 'XiaoLongBao' (soup dumplings) and the fact that two of their branches have a Michelin Star.

    Instructions were provided on how to eat the XiaoLongBao like a pro for maximum enjoyment.

    Munching on Michelin star 'xiaolongbao' (steamed buns) at Din Tai Fung. Foodgasm! #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 2, 2022 at 9:20am PDT

    The restaurant has a large glass wall between the seating area and kitchen so you can watch the team of chefs make the dumplings from scratch. The XiaoLongBao dumplings really lived up to the hype and were well worth the hour wait to get a table.

    My new friend, Claire, asked me if I was feeling tired due to all the hiking and eating. "Nope, not even close." I said, "Let's do a real hike tomorrow."

    And that we did. At 7am we boarded a public bus which took an hour to drop us off at the east coast of the Taiwan where we went to hike up Teapot and Banping mountains.

    Hiked in the mountains around Jiufen for 7 hours today. #Taiwan #Tired

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 3, 2022 at 10:59am PDT

    It was a hot and sunny day which made it a challenging hike but we stopped to rest and eat every half hour. We brought plenty of food and drink with us.

    The hike started off on a well trodden path but the closer to the top the more challenging it became and we frequently had to climb rocks or go through thick jaggy stuff. Not that much fun for me wearing shorts.

    Don't stop til you reach the top. #Hiking #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 3, 2022 at 11:10am PDT

    By the time we reached the top we were surrounded by thick fog, which was very unfortunate as it would have been an incredible and rewarding view from there.

    Top. #Hiking #Taiwan #HowDoIGetBackDown

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 3, 2022 at 11:17am PDT

    We decided to take a different path back down but due to the fog and some misleading signs we got completely lost. By the time we had eaten all our food and drank all our water we were still lost.

    We also had the misfortune to find two Taiwanese guys who were both hiking alone but got lost and were trying to find their way back together. They had seen some signs and now thought they knew the way back to civilization so we followed them for half an hour.

    I switched on my phone, which I had earlier turned off with just 2% battery life left, to quickly open up Google Maps. That's when I realised that we were heading in completely the opposite direction of civilization. One of the guys told me that he doesn't trust Google Maps and that we're going the correct way for sure. I do trust Google Maps so we argued about it for a while. It was very frustrating trying to argue with someone who doesn't trust a compass and a map just because the compass is inside a phone and the map is an app, so we eventually agreed to disagree and go our separate ways.

    A couple of hours later we reached civilization. I often wonder what ever happened to those chumps.

    At the base of the mountain there was a dessert stall selling bowls of brown sugar water with ice, tofu and tapioca pearls. A very simple, cheap and ordinary dessert, but at that moment in time it tasted like heaven. Water, ice, sugary food - each mouthful contained everything my body was craving..

    After the hike we boarded a bus for a short journey to Jiufen - an old gold mining town that's now a bit of a tourist attraction with very narrow streets lit by lanterns, famous tea houses with incredible views and small shops selling local delicacies.

    Everywhere you go in Jiufen you're wither walking up or down steep streets. Not exactly fun after walking up and down mountains all day. Fortunately everywhere you walk in Jiufen there's also food, so we did keep walking.

    We tried many of the local foods but my favourite was one of the simplest. Tea eggs are just boiled eggs that are cracked open and then boiled again in strong tea to add flavour. A nice tasty protein snack.

    To say that I slept well that night would be a massive understatement. With tired legs and a belly full of food I went to bed and woke up 12 hours later. With another 3 hours lying in bed watching Korean soap operas dubbed into Mandarin on Taiwanese TV, I was starting to feel guilty about wasting almost a whole day of my trip.

    I finally left my room at 4pm to go for a wander around the city. That's when I met a pretty local girl who had just returned to Taiwan after studying in USA. She asked me if I wanted to hang out and took me to her favourite night market - Raohe Street Night Market.

    Night markets are an important part of Taiwanese culture, where many locals go to socialise and eat good but inexpensive food. At Raohe Street Night Market the focus was very much on the food as more than half the stalls were selling tasty treats.

    Omnomnomnom. Night market snacking. #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 4, 2022 at 11:01pm PDT

    Other than the cute Doraemon style sweet red bean pancakes (Dorayaki) my favourite was a stall selling steak. The steak vendor would cut up and blowtorch the steak to cook it then cover it with a spicy seasoning.

    Tasty blowtorched steak. $100 NTD (£2 GBP / $3 USD). #Taipei #Taiwan #NightMarket

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 4, 2022 at 11:41pm PDT

    A delicious and excellent value protein snack for only $100 NTD (£2 GBP / $3 USD)

    I ended up spending my remaining 3 days in Taiwan with my new friend. My best experiences of travelling have always been when I've had a local friend to show me cool places, teach me about the culture and bridge the language barrier.

    After stuffing ourselves full at the night market we headed to the outskirts of town to her father's jazz cafe. It was a great atmosphere with live music and packed with locals dancing and having a good time. It was also the first time a girl introduced me to her dad on a first date, so that was a new and interesting experience.

    The next day we woke up in the afternoon tired and hungry. I suggested we eat something that's uniquely Taiwanese and was given a few options to choose from. I decided on the most unhealthy and delicious sounding food - Gua Bao which is a Taiwanese bun with pork belly meat.

    The meat was just pure fat. I really enjoyed the first one. The second one not so much and I was beginning to feel sick while trying to get through the third one.

    Our bellies were full and we were lacking energy. It was approaching evening so the best thing to do was a sunset cable car ride on the Maokong Gondola. It only costs 50 NTD (£1 GBP / $1.50 USD) each way and is a 4km long ride up a mountain to Maokong which is a small area with restaurants, tea houses and a food court - where we got some delicious fresh watermelon and milk smoothies to drink as walked around and admired the scenic view.

    We later visited the largest and most famous night market in Taipei, Shillin Night Market. For an idea of how big it is, there's around 600 food vendors there.

    Beef Noodle Soup is a popular local food and a lot more nutritious than the Gua Bao I had eaten earlier.

    Another local speciality that I indulged in was Hot Star XXL Fried Chicken at it's original stall. They sell one thing - famously massive pieces of fried butterflied chicken breast. The two of us could barely finish one piece and after we finally did there was certainly no more eating that day.

    Eating a piece of fried chicken that's bigger than my head. #Taipei #Taiwan

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 5, 2022 at 11:23am PDT

    On my last day in Taipei we visited the Taipei Zoo which has some cute pandas.

    Panda <3

    A video posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Sep 6, 2022 at 2:04am PDT

    The zoo is large, well maintained and very cheap at just 60 NTD (£1.20 GBP / $1.80 USD) as it's heavily subsidised by the government. For comparison, the zoo in my home city of Edinburgh in Scotland costs £17 GBP ($25.50 USD) to enter - that's FOURTEEN times the price.

    We spent about 5 hours enjoying the zoo so it was a really good value day out.

    One of my favourite things about the entire Asian continent is how easy it is to eat well and enjoy yourself without spewing money. I had so many enjoyable experiences and ate so much tasty food in my 6 days in Taiwan, and I barely spent any money.

  • 21 December

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  • 17 December

    Misogyny In Poker: History or Hysteria?

    "The argument that stimulated this blog post is: “Men making comments specifically relating to women are scaring recreational female players away from the table” and I want to work out how true that is."

  • 17 December

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 73

    In this episode, I flop a set blind versus blind but face a difficult decision on the river. Would you have made the call? Let me know what you think ...

  • 17 December

    Dusty Schmidt - Poker update/Twitch Schedule

    The past few days I have spent a lot of time with my kids, girlfriend and of course, poker. Poker has gone well the past week. It’s been a grind ...

  • 17 December

    How to Play More Online Poker Tables

    A question that I get asked a lot is "how the heck do you play so many poker tables at once and keep track of everything that is going on?" I don't think I have ever covered this topic in detail here on this blog so here goes.As many people know I used...

  • 15 December

    I am ALL-IN this Sunday at 5pm

    ALL-INThis Sunday at 5PM we have the first ever Online Leg of the Grand Prix - I am ALL-IN. When we orginally scheduled the $250,000 Online Leg of the Grand Prix, of course, it was intended to be a multi day 1 event but despite Ross at partypoker ...

  • 14 December

    Jonathan Little - I got married! Full wedding video!

    On 8/1/2015, I got married to Amie Broder, the most wonderful woman in the world. I posted a preview of our wedding video a few months ago and now, the ...

  • 10 December

    PokerStars Changes: Recs v Regs?

    "Players at all levels have given PokerStars this power, so none of us can cry when they use it, we should have thought about it earlier- all of us. Captain Hindsight is a total arsehole."

  • 10 December

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 72

    In this episode, I flop trips but face a huge amount of aggression. Trips on the flop is rarely a bluff catcher, but that what I think it is in ...

  • 9 December

    65 Ways to Increase Your Winrate at the Micros Right Now

    Increasing your winrate at the micros by even a little bit can make a huge difference in the long run. The reason why is that when you play online poker you can really get the volume in (i.e., play a ton of hands).With multi-tabling some people play as...

  • 9 December

    Daniel Negreanu - VIP Program Changes at PokerStars

    I know many of you have been waiting for me to post a blog about the controversial changes to the VIP program. Before I share my thoughts on all of ...

  • 7 December

    Dusty Schmidt - Sunday Million Update

    Sadly I played 5 tournaments yesterday on ACR and never even sniffed a cash. It was pretty ugly. I also ran bad at my cash games and was fighting tilt ...

  • 7 December

    Jonathan Little - Studying poker with ICMizer

    When I first started playing poker, I would spend 6 hours per day grinding sit n’ go’s and 4 hours reviewing my hands using a now-defunct program called Sit N’ ...

  • 5 December

    Dusty Schmidt - Grinding Hard At This Silly Card Game

    It’s been awhile since my last post. Almost 8 months in fact. But I intend to begin blogging a bit more. I took a break from it for awhile, but ...

  • 3 December

    A Desire to Talk: How iGaming has Become More Social

    Poker, if nothing else, is a social game. Behind the bravado and bluffing there’s an interactive element to poker that’s made it one of, if not the, most popular card games in the world. In fact, even when the game went digital and online operators began offering online poker tables, this interactive element was retained....

    The post A Desire to Talk: How iGaming has Become More Social appeared first on

  • 3 December

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 71

    In this episode, I use ICMizer to analyze an interesting spot from the 2015 WSOP Main Event Final Table. While raising in this spot is the “standard” play for most, ...

  • 2 December

    November Results

    I took great enjoyment in playing the UKIPT in Edinburgh in November. I was so eager to get out of the house that I even flicked in the £165 turbo too. Unfortunately nothing prevailed in either and when Saturday came I decided that the pub was a stronger option than the £2k highroller (which I’m […]

November, 2015

  • 30 November

    The Strike

    Recently I’ve been railing against  the proposed changes to the PokerStars VIP system, posting my own thoughts on the matter and linking the blogs/posts of others who share my concern.  If you’re unaware of the changes, feel free to catch up with a timeline, comprehensive list of actual changes, and a well-respected high stakes professional’s explanation of what […]

  • 30 November

    Jonathan Little - Excelling Webinars!

    I am extremely excited to announce the first Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em webinar will take place on 12/3 at 7pm EST. This webinar is completely FREE. All you have to do ...

  • 30 November

    Meet The People: Formula 1’s Simon Lazenby

    Simon Lazenby has one of the most interesting and exciting jobs on the planet. Here he tell you, the partypoker blog readers, all about it. Half a millennia ago Magellan, the Portuguese Explorer set off on his journey attempting to become the first person to circumnavigate the earth. Tragically and I should imagine much to […]

    The post Meet The People: Formula 1’s Simon Lazenby appeared first on blog.

  • 26 November

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 70

    In this episode, I discuss developing a limping strategy when you have a middle stack at a final table and there is an aggressive large stack on your left. These ...

  • 24 November

    Tips For Taking Notes at the Poker Table

    Knowledge is power, particularly at the poker table, and not only concerning knowing how to play the game optimally but also regarding holding information about your opponents’ tendencies. The more information you hold about an opponent, the more substantial your edge over them can be, and this means your chances of coming away from a […]

    The post Tips For Taking Notes at the Poker Table appeared first on blog.

  • 24 November

    Casey Jarzabek - Juggling Poker and Family!

      Hey guys and gals I just wanted to touch base with the people of the poker world as I have been missing in action for a while. So as ...

  • 23 November

    Stamford Bridge - Here We Go!

    We can all sit round and debate in detail the upsides and downsides of a project, analyse these on a nice pretty spreadsheet, do a slick power point presentation......but then some bright spark just needs to say 4 words... "He who dares wins" and thos...

  • 23 November

    Istanbul Food Tour

    When I flew from Thailand to Ireland this Easter to play in the Irish Open I broke up the journey with a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey. One night on the way there and another two on the way home.

    At the time I booked the trip I didn't know much about Istanbul or even what I actually wanted to do there, other than eating my weight in Turkish Delight. My main motivation for this itinerary was to save myself a lot of money. However I'm always glad for the opportunity to visit somewhere I've never been before.


    Tickets from Bangkok to Dublin were absurdly expensive at Easter and I'm allergic to spending money, so that was no good. Fortunately, I hold a decent number of British Airways miles (Avios) that I've collected from churning credit card sign-up bonuses and a bit of flying. Unfortunately, there were no rewards seats available on the BKK - LHR leg to get me to Dublin.

    So I started looking for routes from BKK to any city in Europe where a) reward seats were available, b) I had never visited before and c) had cheap direct flights to Dublin. Istanbul was the city that ticked all the boxes.

    At that time BA had just announced plans to effectively devalue Avios miles through some significant changes to their loyalty program. It's really crappy how you can save up loyalty points for years with a company only to have them slap you in the face and basically steal a third of the value back from you. I was at least glad for this opportunity to spend some of them in the short time before the devaluation was enacted.

    My outbound flight was BKK-KUL-IST with Malaysia Airlines in business class. The good thing about holding BA miles is that they can be used to buy reward tickets on any airline in the Oneworld Alliance, of which I can think of seven off the top of my head that fly out of BKK.

    This ticket cost me 65,000 Avios + £14.10 GBP in fees. Extremely good value as this would have cost 50% more Avios post-devaluation and the fees on reward tickets are rarely anywhere near this low.

    Bye bye Pad Thai, hello Turkish delights. #Istanbul #Turkey #Adventures

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Mar 31, 2022 at 5:30am PDT

    It was an overnight flight scheduled to arrive in Istanbul at 6am. My plan was that I'd get a good night's sleep as I was flying business class, would be waking up at a reasonable time so wouldn't get jet-lagged and would be checked in to my hotel, showered and changed before 9am so that I could make the most of my 24 hours in Istanbul.

    It was a pretty good plan.

    A two hour delay in landing and then another hour stood waiting at the baggage carousel before realising that my luggage was never going to arrive surely messed that plan up. Incredibly, after taking hundreds of flights in my life, this had never happened to me before. I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do about it but apparently none of the airport staff spoke English, or could help me or could give a damn.

    Eventually I found a lost baggage room and after a lot more waiting and dealing with their unfriendly and, to be honest, just downright rude staff I was told that my luggage was currently in Malaysia. Nightmare!

    Food Tour

    To make the most of my 24 hour stopover in Istanbul I booked a Culinary Backstreets food tour. The idea is that a local tour guide takes you though the backstreets of their city to their favourite eateries. Places that most tourists wouldn't find on their own.

    I joined the tour 90 minutes late because of my flying woes, resulting in me missing breakfast. Wearing just a t-shirt, I was cold and hungry. "Don't worry" the tour guide said, "we're going to go eat 'Kokorec' now".

    The way that she pronounced 'Kokorec' sounded just like "cockroach" to me. I suddenly lost my appetite. I asked what kokorec was and was told that it's roasted lamb's intestines, a common street food in Istanbul. Yeah, appetite still gone.

    Although kokorec is very common, our guide was quick to point out that there's only two vendors in the city that she would ever buy it from. It's very important that the intestines have been thoroughly cleaned and most street vendors in the city are severely lacking when it comes to food hygiene. Many of them also cheat by using intestines from grown sheep rather than lambs as it's much cheaper for them to buy.

    I was observing the vendor doing his thing when he carved off some meat - if you can call intestines meat - and offered it to me. The tour group stood and watched as Dale the guinea pig sampled the kokorec.

    My first bite of food in hours. Anything is delicious when you're hungry. Except for this - it tasted like absolute filth.

    I tried to force myself to chew it up so that I could swallow it quickly then nod my head politely but the vile taste made it difficult to maintain my poker face. The vendor and everyone else could see that I was disgusted. The game was up, so I spat it out onto the pavement.

    The rest of the group were given their kokorec in a bread bun with sauce and they all thought it was delicious. Which made me look bad for spitting it out on the ground. I tried to explain to them that all they were tasting was bread and sauce, disguising the dirty taste of intestines, but they were having none of it and made me feel like a killjoy.

    It seemed like every one of these 'foodies' commented on everything that we ate that day as being delicious. I've met a lot of people like this when travelling, who want to believe everything they see and do in a foreign culture is awesome and are quick to criticise anyone who has anything negative to say about anything. It's OK to actually have an opinion about things, and a personality!

    Fortunately the kokorec was the only food on the tour that I didn't like. Next up was another street vendor, an eccentric man in a narrow alleyway who sold meatless-meatballs. I prefer my meatballs to contain plenty of meat actually, but they were tasty none the less. Even better was the vendor's banter, although he nearly crushed me to death with a bear hug when I gave him a thumbs-up verdict after my first bite.

    We then went to a famous restaurant to eat Okra soup, which was somewhat decent. The wall proudly displayed dozens of photographs of Turkish celebrities who'd visited the restaurant. Being a smart ass I was quick to comment that I didn't know who any of them were, and that I couldn't even think of a single famous Turk. One of the lads there asked "You're Scottish right?", then pointed to a photo, "Do you know who he is?"

    I did indeed, it was Tugay Kerimoğlu who played for Rangers back in the days when they actually had world class players. Consider me put in my place.

    After a long walk through the streets of Istanbul we went to eat 'Pide', which is a Turkish pizza. "How is pizza a Turkish food?", I asked. Apparently what defines it as a Turkish pizza is it's long shape and the traditional topping of ground meat and vegetables. So not that much different from a regular pizza.

    The pizza restaurant, which we were told only opens from 11am - 3pm each day, was in a small nondescript shop, in a local street, with nothing written in English. So definitely not a place that many tourists will find. And that's exactly what I want when travelling - to eat where the locals eat.

    Inside, two men were busy preparing and cooking pizzas in a fire oven.

    Everything on the food tour was already paid for as part of the tour fee but I had a look at the menu which showed the price for one pizza as 10 Lira. That's just £2.30 GBP or $3.50 USD and represents good value in my opinion.

    We took our pizzas up to the roof of a nearby building. The sun was out and it was unseasonably warm at about 18C. Just as well for jacket-less me.

    Enjoying some takeaway Pide (Turkish pizza) on a rooftop in Istanbul. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 1, 2022 at 7:38am PDT

    I did expect to be eating food that was more exotic than pizza on the tour, but I was happy as it was some damn good pizza and the view from the rooftop where we ate it was incredible.

    Next up was a little bit of dessert to satisfy my sweet tooth. Our guide took us to a small bakery that sold her favourite dessert which she called 'angel's hair cake'. We then took the cakes to a small local tearoom and ate them there with tea.

    The cake was just finely shredded pastry soaked in syrup. It was extremely tasty, of course. It's basically impossible to make any combination of pastry and syrup taste bad.

    After another long walk to regain our appetites we visited a 'Dürüm' restaurant. Dürüm is more like what I'd consider a Turkish food. It's a flatbread wrap with kebab ingredients.

    The restaurant was packed so they set us up a table out on the street. The food was presented to us in a big tray with wraps, meat, vegetables and spices to assemble ourselves and eat. No sauce though.

    Feasting on Durum. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 1, 2022 at 10:13am PDT

    I asked the guide "Why no sauce?" and she replied that they never eat this food with sauce. I told her that I'd eaten similar food in Greek restaurants with some nice sauce. "Well, that's Greece. That's not how we do it here!" she informed me very sternly. Remind me never to mention Greece to a Turkish person again.

    Everyone was commenting on how delicious the food was, including myself, although I couldn't help but add "a bit of  'Tzatziki' sauce and it'd be absolutely perfect". I'll get my coat! Oh wait, I don't have one.

    We had another long walk through the streets of Istanbul before arriving at a small family run restaurant which was in the top two floors of a town house. This was type of restaurant is very rare, we were told, as the owner cooks fresh home-made food using only high quality ingredients. There are many independent restaurants in the city serving home-made food but they all eventually become focused on profit and start using cheaper ingredients than they would if they were cooking for their own family.

    At this restaurant the lady owner cooks the food in the traditional, often slow, ways, even if it means some ingredients need to be prepared the night before. "If she uses vegetables they will be fresh from local farms, if she uses olive oil it will be Tuscan olive oil" the guide told us.

    We didn't get to choose the food. The guide had ordered it the previous day. That's the only way that you can eat in this restaurant. You can't just turn up and get a table.

    Before the food arrived half the group had to leave as our tour was already running over schedule. That meant more food for the rest of us. Everyone was completely stuffed, except for me and my insatiable appetite for delicious food.

    The last thing to arrive was Manti, a pasta similar to ravioli with yoghurt sauce and spices. Making this dish the correct way is a very laborious processes and I'm pleased to say that I was the sole beneficiary of the fruits of that labour. Everyone's bellies were full so I had the full bowl of deliciousness all to myself.

    The tour ended about 5pm, so it was really a full day experience and a very enjoyable one at that. We were all given a free book with recommendations for restaurants in Istanbul so that we could continue food exploring on our own.

    The Culinary Backstreets food tour cost $125 USD, but I got a 50% media discount for owning such an awesome blog, and also because I contacted them and asked if I could join the tour for free and they met me half way. The discount didn't influence any opinions written in this blog in any way. As you know, I'm a man of integrity.

    I think that at half price it was good value but at the full price I'd consider it expensive. Most of the food was pretty cheap and we shared it. There were 9 of us on the tour and I'd estimate that the total cost of the food was in the region of $150 - $200. I would guess the guide gets paid about $100 for the day, so that leaves around $800 - $900 profit.

    Seems like a very profitable business. I'd like to do it myself if only the food in my native land was worth eating. I'm not sure I could convince tourists to pay me $125 each to show them around my favourite places in Scotland to eat deep-fried Mars bars, deep-fired haggis and Pizza Crunches (which are also deep-fried FYI).

    After the tour I was full of energy so continued walking around the streets of Istanbul. I found a street market where I was able to buy a pair of CK boxers and a Versace t-shirt for a couple of bucks each. Fake of course, I just needed some cheap clothes until my luggage arrived from the other side of the world.

    Having worked up an appetite again I was on the lookout for a tasty treat. Tasty treats are not hard to find in Istanbul and I quickly found myself a nice slice of cake consisting of sponge, cream and honey.

    Walking back to my hotel in the evening I must have passed more than fifty shops that sell nothing but Turkish Delight, or 'Lokum' as the locals call it, in the space of half an hour. I'd already eaten way too much but I decided to buy some to take with me to Ireland the next day. There were free samples of every flavour and I decided on the pomegranate and hazelnut variety as being the most delicious.

    Pomegranate Turkish Delight. Yum! #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 2, 2022 at 12:23am PDT

    Of course, I couldn't help but eat a piece right then, then another, then another. A sugar-induced coma ensued and I was dead until the next morning.

    I woke up too late for the hotel breakfast but found myself a nice big pastry full of pistachios for brunch.

    Breakfast time. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 1, 2022 at 11:50pm PDT

    I headed back to the airport. Fortunately my luggage arrived there from Malaysia two hours before I was due to check in for my flight to Ireland. Nothing like cutting it fine. I did receive a $90 USD compensation payment from Malaysia Airlines a couple of months later so I actually went from paying very little cash for the flight to being in profit for it.

    Second Stopover

    After a fun time in Ireland I was back in Istanbul for another stopover on my way home to Bangkok. The Sultanahmet Newport Hotel where I stayed previously was very comfortable and exceptional value at around $44 USD (29 GBP) per night on Agoda, so I booked it again. It was in the old town, very close to a tram stop which meant that I could get to and from the airport quickly and cheaply.

    The public transport system in Istanbul is excellent and very cheap. With an Istanbulkart RFID card, which costs 6L, you can load it with money and ride the bus, metro, tram and ferry for only 2.15L (£0.50 GBP / $0.76 USD) per ride and another 1.45L (£0.34 GBP  / $0.51 USD) if you're transferring.

    A trip from the airport to my hotel meant riding metro then transferring to a tram, taking about 45 minutes and costing 3.60L (£0.84 GBP / $1.27 USD). For comparison, a taxi ride would have taken between 35 - 75 minutes depending on traffic and cost around 50L (£11.62 GBP / $17.66). Of course taxing a taxi is more comfortable and convenient but there's also a fair chance of getting scammed when you're a foreigner.

    I arrived in the evening and went food exploring again. I visited a durum restaurant called 'Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi' that the guide had pointed out to us during our tour but we hadn't visited.

    Arrived in Istanbul hungry. Lamb kebab sqewers it is then. (Cag kebabi). #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 7, 2022 at 12:54pm PDT

    I ate some deliciously juicy lamb kebab for 16L (£3.72 / $5.65). That's considered expensive for this meal in Istanbul - it's a famous restaurant in an expensive part of town - but I still consider it decent value for some very decent grub.

    Exploring for dessert I was spoiled for choice with the many varieties of pastry-honey-nut combinations available but settled for this one. And by one I mean two.

    After an early night I woke up early to some beautiful weather and decided to explore the city by foot. I must have covered over 20 km that day (about half a marathon), not all of it on flat ground either. But what better way to explore a city and counteract my ludicrously high calorie intake at the same time?

    Beautiful day in a beautiful city. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 6:08am PDT

    I skipped the main tourist sights which were mainly religious buildings. While I do realise that religion has a massive influence on the culture of any civilisation, as someone who is strongly atheist I just have no interest in visiting these huge expensive monuments to religion. "Imagine all that money and time and effort had been put into something productive?" is what I think as I walk by them.

    I visited the Grand Bazaar, a famous indoor market close to my hotel in the old town. I took the advice of the guide from the food tour who said "Turkish people don't shop at the Grand Bazaar or the Spice Market. These places are for tourists, with tourist prices." So I went there to look around and eat copious amounts of free samples from the many Turkish Delight stalls.

    The sellers are quite pushy there and do get a little pissed off when you try six or seven samples and then leave without buying anything. Muttered words in Turkish as I walked away, probably calling me all the bastards under the sun.

    I kept walking until I was away from the tourist trash, to where everything is real and the prices are real cheap. I found a man making fresh pomegranate juice at 2L (£0.46 GBP / $0.71 USD) per cup. So sweet, so refreshing, I gulped it down in two seconds and asked for another.

    I drink pomegranate juice a lot in Bangkok but in Istanbul it's much better. It's a darker and sweeter fruit than they have in Thailand, who actually import from China, and it's also half the price.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 6:19am PDT

    Having walked up a bit of an appetite, I wandered into a small local restaurant in search of some sustenance. They didn't have a menu but the owner tried to tell me what they serve in broken English "Chicken soup, chicken *something*, chicken *something* and *something* chicken". OK I guess I'll have the chicken soup then.

    There were four tables in the joint, all of them empty, so I was a bit surprised when an old man walked in and sat directly across from me at my table. Maybe it was "his table" where he regularly sits, or maybe he just wanted some company. I don't know because he spoke no English, but we did our best to communicate with each other using hand signals.

    Sat in a local joint eating chicken broth and bread with an old Turkish bloke. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 6:29am PDT

    He ordered the same as me, chicken soup which was a clear broth with shredded chicken. We both gave it a thumbs up!

    The owner asked me if I wanted to dessert. Of course I did. I was given a fairly ordinary looking milk pudding that had a slightly unusual taste to it. It turns out that what I was eating was 'Tavuk Göğsü' - a dessert made with chicken breast meat. Everything in this restaurant really did contain chicken!

    After eating the chicken dessert I went on the hunt for some sweeter treats. I searched my guide book and it seemed that 'Karakoy Gulluoglu Baklava' make some of the best 'Baklava' in the city so I took a long walk over there.

    Crispy pastry on top, crushed walnuts in the middle and soft chewy pastry soaked in honey on the bottom. Mmmmmmm mmmmm mmmm mmm mm!

    The crispy, nutty sweetness of quality Baklava. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 7:03am PDT

    It seems like every Turkish dessert is just a different combination of pasty, nuts and honey/syrup. Still, that's no reason no to try all of them.

    More Turkish sweet treats. #SugarRush #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 7:07am PDT

    Full of energy I just kept walking without any idea of where I was going and eventually saw a big tower with a line of people outside it. It looked like it would be a nice view from up there so I joined the queue.

    It was Galata Tower which was built in 1348. The medieval dudes building it could never have imagined that seven centuries later some Scotsman would be using it as a vantage point to take an awesome selfie to post on Instagram.

    Up Galata Tower. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 9:49am PDT

    I ate some more kebab style food but it was very ordinary and disappointing to what I'd previously eaten so I returned to the dürüm restaurant where I ate on the food tour. I'm all for exploring new places but sometimes you just want a guaranteed good meal.

    My final food destination in Istanbul was to visit Haci Bekir's original shop. It has been there since the year 1777 and was the first is where the original Lokum (Turksih Delight) was sold.

    Shopping at the original Turkish Delight shop, established 1777. #Istanbul #Turkey

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 8, 2022 at 10:07am PDT

    I took full advantage of their free samples but this time actually did make a purchase. I don't usually buy souvenirs or gifts for people when I travel but how can you return from Turkey without bringing your friends back some Turkish Delight?

    Flight Home

    My flight home was business class with Royal Jordanian IST-AMM-BKK which I also bought with BA Avios miles. This ticket cost 65,000 Avios + £101 GBP, again excellent value.

    The first leg was only a couple of hours, then I had a few hours to relax in the Crown Lounge at AMM airport in Jordan. They have some nice facilities there such as a full size pool table and personal TV rooms with reclining chairs.

    Nice ammenities at the Crown Lounge at Amman aiport. Pool table, personal TV booths.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 9, 2022 at 4:23pm PDT

    After a hot shower (I was playing Tinder at the airport but unfortunately couldn't get anyone to join me) I returned home to Bangkok on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner where I ate some nice food and then slept really well, especially knowing that I'd paid a fraction of what people sitting in economy had paid for the flight.

    Baller on a budget. #ThriftyScotsman

  • 23 November

    Jonathan Little - Fun hand from a $1/$2 live cash game

    I was asked by a large number of my students to get some experience playing the small stakes live games so I could make a training product to help them ...

  • 23 November

    Darryll Fish - Sexism, poker, and growing the game.

      As I’m sure most of you know, there has recently been a lot of discussion about the prevalence of sexism in poker, why this is a problem for the ...

  • 21 November

    Jonathan Little - Strategies for Small Stakes Cash Games now on Audible!

    I am excited to announce that my new best-selling book Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games is now available in the audiobook format on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. ...

  • 20 November

    Master Classics of Poker reaches its climax

    Although the game of poker has many prestigious tournaments taking place around the world throughout the year, one of Europe’s top poker tournaments in undoubtedly the Master Classics of Poker. This annual event has been taking place in the Holland Casino in Amsterdam since its inception in 1992, and it manages to attract many top...

    The post Master Classics of Poker reaches its climax appeared first on

  • 20 November

    What to Do When the Fish Fight Back - Crushing the Aggro Donk

    How to beat an aggro fish in poker
    If you have been around the low limit poker tables long enough then you have probably encountered the aggro fish. This is the type of recreational player who for whatever reason wants to try and bluff you out of every other pot.

    Now as you might know I am a huge fan of hammering on the fish and isolating them every chance that I get. But the consequence of doing this is that they will inevitably get frustrated with you. This is actually a good thing though because it causes them to play even worse than normal.

    However, once the fish start fighting back it requires a different strategy to beat them. You need to be able to notice the signs of the aggro donk and switch up your approach.

    So in this article I am going to discuss some of the top ways that I go about exploiting the aggressive fish at the poker tables.

    Know the Difference Between a True Maniac and a Fish on Tilt

    One of the first things that you need to know is the difference between a true aggro fish (often referred to as a "maniac") and a regular fish who is simply on tilt.

    A maniac will have stats which look something like this:

    VPIP: 55
    PFR: 37
    AF: 5

    This means that this player is playing 55% of their hands and also raising with an astonishingly high 37%. This player also has an extremely high aggression factor which is even more insane given how many terrible hands he plays.

    Compare this to the regular fish:

    VPIP: 55
    PFR: 7
    AF: 1

    These are the classic stats of the regular fish (sometimes called a "drooler fish") that you will encounter most of the time. They play way too many hands like their maniac counterpart. However, when they come in for a raise it is much more likely to be with a strong hand.

    They also have the lowest aggression factor possible because almost all they know how to do is hit the call button. Their maniac counterpart is hitting the bet and raise buttons instead.

    However, if you apply enough pressure (such as raising them up with almost any two like I talked about last week) then they are likely to get frustrated with you.

    With most people (fish or regulars), the tendency is almost always to play more aggressive when they get frustrated. In the case of the regular fish, when they are on full blown tilt they play exactly the same as the maniac (bluffing up a storm).

    Let the Maniac Hang Himself

    Let's discuss the strategy versus the pure maniac first. A true maniac is very rare at the poker tables but you will encounter them on occasion especially on the weekends when they might be intoxicated. In some cases it might even be a higher stakes reg who is just blowing off some steam at the micros.

    There is really only one strategy that makes any sense against a real maniac. This is to let them do almost all of the betting. They are going to try and bluff you every chance that they get so it is to your benefit to try and keep the pot small and let them hang themselves.

    1. Do Not 3Bet/4Bet Them Light

    Hopefully you have position on them. But even if you don't it is important to avoid 3Betting or 4Betting them light. It is much better to just see a flop and let them bluff off their stack with some random nonsense.

    Unless you have a big time premium hand (AA, KK, QQ, JJ or AK) I prefer to just flat their initial raise or flat their 3Bet. This prevents me from getting into some ridiculous situation such as a 4Bet pot with 99 where the flop comes:


    ...and they keep firing away.

    Just because you almost surely have the best hand preflop with 99 against somebody who raises 37% of hands does not mean that you need to re-raise them every time.

    In fact it often makes a lot more sense to just let them have the betting lead, keep the pot size manageable and avoid getting yourself into some kind of ridiculous spot for your entire stack with 3rd pair.

    Instead, play "small ball poker" if you want to call it that and just flat preflop. Then call down lighter than you would against any other player.

    2. Do Not Ever Try to Bluff Them Postflop

    The same thing goes for postflop. You should never even bother trying to bluff raise the flop against these kind of players. Or even worse, some fancy crap like check/raising the turn with a draw.

    Why? Because they will call your ass down!

    The whole point of a bluff is to try and get your opponent to fold. But against these players you have literally no fold equity at all. So unless you truly have a massive draw (12 outs+) it is better once again to simply manage the size of the pot and let them have the betting lead.

    Hammer On the Regular Fish Until They Get Mad

    So as I talked about last week, I will be raising up the fish in passive micro stakes games with as much as half the deck, the top 50% of hands. I will also be sticking a CBet in their face the large majority of the time we go to the flop whether I have something or not.

    Any fish is going to eventually get pissed off about this. The bro will get mad.

    In their ideal poker world they should be able to limp their garbage hands to their hearts content and make their fish bets after the flop. I am instead forcing them to pay a price for this almost every single time and then pushing them around after the flop as well.

    They are going to start playing back at me. It is hard to say when this will happen because it is different with every fish. With some bad players they might put on their sheriff's hat and start calling me down after I beat them out of just a single pot.

    With some others it might take 10 pots. You never know.

    It is important to remember that most of these players are insanely passive by nature as well so the progression usually goes something like this:
    • Call you on the flop with anything
    • Call you on the flop and turn with anything 
    • Call you on the flop, turn and river with anything
    • Re-raise you preflop and postflop (donk bet postflop also).
    Basically what will happen is that they are going to start calling you down wider after the flop often with nothing at all. And they will take it further and further until eventually you can't get away with any bluffs anymore at all.

    After this (especially if you are running well and winning most of the pots) they will hit a point where they "snap" and become the aggro fish.

    You will know that they have hit this point when they start limp re-raising you preflop and raising you on the flop or later streets. They will also start making donk bets into you after the flop. 

    This transition is rarely subtle. Usually it will just happen out of nowhere and they are suddenly a maniac now.

    Adjusting to the Fish on Tilt

    So it is extremely important at this point that you adjust as well. You need to play them like you would against the real maniac. As we saw before this means a lot of pot control and letting them hang themselves with silly bluffs.

    Let's look at an example hand. I actually played this one just yesterday:

    Villain = 53/7/1 Fish

    Villain limps in EP and Hero raises on the button with 79

    The flop comes:


    Villain donks for 1/2 pot
    Hero calls

    The turn comes:


    Villain bets 1/2 pot again
    Hero calls

    The river comes:


    Villain bets 1/2 pot again

    So the key to this hand of course is the backstory. I had just sat down at this table a few orbits ago and I had no previous experience with this player. I had indeed just tagged him as a fish because he had all of the signs of a bad poker player such as a high VPIP, low PFR, constant limping, below 100bb stacksize etc.

    I had position on this player and I had won a couple of pots already by raising up his limps and then firing at the flop. He had folded on the flop the first time and folded to me on the turn the second time. 

    So I raise him up again in this hand because I have the 79 offsuit monster. I actually hit something this time (middle pair) and to my surprise he donks into me on this fairly non-descript board.

    Standard call. 

    The turn came with a fairly meaningless 4 and he donks into me again. This card actually does complete the 56 gutshot and possibly makes some fishtacular bizarre two pair hand. But other than that it looks pretty safe so I call again. 

    The river comes with the big scary king which also completes the flush draw. He fires again. Yikes, what do we do?

    Hero should...Call

    After deliberating for a few moments I figured that there were plenty of bluffs and hands that I beat in this bad player's range. This is especially due to the recent history between us and him very possibly already being on tilt against me.

    That fact that I am getting 3 to 1 on a call (and therefore don't need to be right all that often) also plays a role. So even though the pot had gotten reasonably big by the river this was a fairly routine call here for me with 3rd pair, weak kicker.


    Villain shows T3 and mucks
    Hero wins the pot with a pair of 7's

    It should be noted that after I made the call in this hand my opponent here went on complete monkey tilt and handed over the rest of his stack within a few hands.

    Final Thoughts

    Sometimes the fish are going to fight back. But it is important to make the distinction between the drunken Friday night maniac and the regular fish who is prone to tilt. 

    Versus the former you should let them have the betting lead the large majority of the time and widen your calling range considerably. This allows them to keep doing what they do best, bluff away their stack.

    However, versus the regular fish it is important to pound on them every time they limp if you have anything that is even remotely playable. You should follow this up with even more aggression after the flop as well. This will cause them to eventually snap and turn into an aggro donk just like their maniac brethren.

    As we saw in the example hand above, they will start running ridiculous bluffs for no reason at all. It is your job to realize when that switch has been flipped and call down wider.

    Let me know what strategies you use against the aggro fish in the comments below. Are there any specific scenarios which give you trouble?

    If you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter below!

    How to get a tell on your opponent in poker.

  • 19 November

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 69

    Do you check behind on the flop when you raise with big cards and the flop comes with middle cards? If you aren’t, I think you are making the standard ...

  • 17 November

    The Poker Academy - A Busy Month

    October is usually a pretty busy time for me. The kids have lots of school stuff and soccer games. Halloween comes. I have UW Husky season tickets (football). I hunt ...

  • 16 November

    Jonathan Little - Playing snug at the 2015 WSOP Final Table

    Hello everyone! The 2015 WSOP Main Event provided lots of excellent educational poker footage. Instead of typing out a long blog post explaining the concept of playing conservatively when you have ...

  • 14 November

    Jonathan Little - Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em on ESPN!

    During the 2015 World Series of Poker Final Table, my best-selling book, Excelling at No-Limit Hold’em, got a nice mention. Congrats to Neil, who studied the book during the final ...

  • 13 November

    Padraig Parkinson - The Devilfish, A Bad Year Gets Even Worse

    If the Hall Of Fame people were trying to get a bit of bad publicity, they couldn’t have done better than failing to induct The Devilfish. Instead, they picked a ...

  • 12 November

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 68

    In this episode, I realize I look crazy to my opponents and adjust my strategy accordingly. Are you constantly aware of how you appear to your opponents or are you ...

  • 10 November

    History of online poker

    Poker revenues began growing at an incredible rate. Because Poker was well suited to the internet the expensive overheads involved in Casino Poker (Bricks & Mortar) were largely eliminated. Also the Casino profit margin was slim. Casinos charged an entrance fee or time charge and this proved unpopular with players. It simply became better business...

    The post History of online poker appeared first on

  • 10 November

    Isolating the Fish: A Complete How To Guide

    Raising up the fish.
    If you read this blog regularly then you will know that I am constantly preaching the importance of playing with bad poker players or fish as they are commonly known. But once you find them and get the right seat against them the game doesn't stop there. 

    Many people make the mistake of simply waiting for a "good hand" to get involved and win a big pot. This strategy will work of course but it is by no means optimal. The best regs will instead go out of their way to get in as many pots as possible with the fish in order to make sure that they get that stack before anyone else. 

    They do this by continually isolating the bad players with a wide variety of hands both in position and out of position. So in this article I am going to show you exactly how I go about isolating the fish at the poker tables and winning the maximum against them. 

    What Does it Mean to Isolate the Fish?

    First things first, what does it actually mean to "isolate the fish?" When you isolate somebody at the poker table it means that you target them in an effort to get the pot heads up postflop.

    The ideal situation is having the fish all to ourselves after the flop in order to exploit the myriad of mistakes that they are likely to make. 

    Typically we will try to isolate the fish after they limp preflop (just call the big blind). This is of course something that they love to do. You will see many fish for instance with stats that look something like this:

    VPIP: 53
    PFR: 6

    This means that they play 53% of the hands that are dealt to them but they only raise with 6%. So the vast majority of the time that they enter the pot it is by just calling the big blind. You should frequently raise up the pot when they do this.
    • I recommend raising it to 4x the big blind
    A standard open raise is typically 3x the big blind and I recommend adding an extra big blind per limper. Hence the 4x the big blind versus one limper.

    But isolating the fish can also refer to 3Betting them. Once again you are raising in an attempt to isolate them and get the pot heads up.
    • I recommend making it 3x their original open when you are in position (IP)
    • I recommend making it 4x their original open when you are out of position (OOP)
    If the fish comes into the pot for a mini-raise (as they often like to do) then I would recommend making it 4x IP and 5x OOP. By increasing the size of our re-raise we force them to play a regular sized 3Bet pot if they wish to continue.

    What Kind of Hands Should You Isolate the Fish With?

    This depends on the type of game that you are playing in. One of the biggest reasons why the very lowest stakes online (NL2, NL5 and NL10) are beatable for such high winrates is because the regulars tend to be very passive. 

    That is, they will essentially let you have your way with the fish unless they happen to have a good hand themselves. 

    This is not the case at higher limits. The regs there think about the game on a deeper level and therefore they know how important it is to get the fish's stack quickly and they will fight you for it. 

    But in this article I am going to assume that you play at the lower limits where you can get away with murder against the fish for the most part. 

    In these games I suggest isolating the bad players with a range as wide as:
    • The top 50% of hands in position
    • The top 40% of hands out of position
    What does this mean in terms of actual hands? 

    Isolating the poker fish in position
    Top 50% of hands marked in yellow
    Isolating the poker fish out of position
    Top 40% of hands marked in yellow

    Now it is important not to get too hung up on the actual hands listed above. I just plugged these ranges into Pokerstove (link to this free program on my resources page) and this is what it came up with. You could take some hands out and include some others.

    Also, it should be noted that I am talking about when the bad players limp here. I am certainly not 3Betting them with 40% or 50% of hands. It will be far, far less than this and include a lot of premium hands.

    The real takeaway from these two charts is just how wide I am willing to isolate the fish when they limp. I will be raising them up with anything that looks even remotely playable.

    Why the Difference Depending on Position?

    Now you might be asking yourself why I isolate with a slightly tighter range when I am out of position. The reason why is because when you have to act first after the flop it makes it much more difficult to value bet and bluff the bad players. 

    You are always going to win far more in poker versus any type of opponent when you are in position and get to act last after the flop. So in order to compensate for my positional disadvantage I will in fact "tighten up" versus the fish when out of position. 

    But something else I will do is increase the size of my preflop raise. So instead of making it 4x the blind as I mentioned before, I will make it 5x or 6x instead.

    By increasing the price that they have to pay in order to see the flop this allows me to take down a few more pots uncontested preflop. When we are OOP this is a perfectly acceptable outcome.

    3 Reasons Why You Should Isolate the Fish This Wide

    The reason why I isolate the bad players with so many hands (and sometimes even more) is because I understand that my winrate is directly attributable to how often I am playing against them.

    As I have mentioned several times before, you aren't going to ever turn a big profit against the regulars. These are players who typically take the game seriously like you do. 

    Even though this doesn't mean that they are necessarily good, they simply do not make the massive preflop and postflop errors that recreational players do. Therefore, your edge against even the very worst regs will never be close to what it is versus the fish.

    So I want to focus heavily on playing against the bad players but I can't sit around waiting for the nuts either because good hands only come around so often.  

    So here are 3 reasons why it is absolutely fine and recommended in fact that you play a lot of hands versus the fish. 

    1. They Are in There With All Sorts of Random Junk Themselves

    Have you ever really taken a good look at the kind of nonsense that fish usually show up with at showdown? They will regularly show up with hands like:
    • K2, 94, T5, 23, A4
    They aren't exactly waiting for the nuts themselves! So why should we?

    Even though we will be playing a lot of "trashy" hands (as you saw in the charts above) our opposition is playing at least as many bad hands. So therefore, we aren't putting ourselves at any sort of disadvantage.

    2. We Have a Huge Postflop Edge

    It isn't always about the actual hand itself though in poker. It is about the person playing the hand. The reason why the fish lose so much in the long run is because they constantly do dumb stuff like this:
    • Call down with bottom pair
    • Call down with ace high
    • Call down with a gutshot straight draw
    • Call down with two napkins
    It is almost like they aren't given a fold button and a raise button like the rest of us. They just like to call, call and call some more.

    Therefore they often end up calling down with too many losing hands and they rarely give themselves an opportunity to win the pot by bluffing. 

    They also have no clue about the importance of position in poker and therefore they end up fighting an uphill battle all too often. 

    Since we don't make these mistakes we already have a massive advantage over them postflop. This is why we can easily get away with playing a few crappy hands like they do.

    3. You Have to Get Involved in Order to Win!

    Probably the most important reason though why you need to play a lot of hands against the fish and isolate the crap out of them is because you can't win if you keep folding preflop. 

    There is a reason why the top winners at any stake are never nits. You simply can't win big if you aren't involved in the action. 

    The other thing (and I am going to talk about this a lot more next week) is that when you are constantly getting involved with the fish you are creating what I call a "dynamic" against them. 

    This means that there is a playing history between the two of you. And the more that you are involved raising them up and constantly sticking a CBet in their face the more that they are going to view you as a maniac who is abusing them. 

    There is absolutely nothing in the world that a fish cherishes more than his/her own pride. Fish literally live to make the big hero call and to show up the "bully" at the poker tables.  

    So some of my biggest winners versus these players actually come from terrible hands like T5. And all I did was hit top pair and go bet, bet, shove. 

    Someone looking from the outside might view me as a reckless maniac who just got lucky against a terrible player who could not find the fold button. 

    Nothing could be further from the truth though.

    What they didn't see is that I had been applying constant pressure for a dozen hands before this. I knew that the fish was absolutely fed up with me and therefore I could get away with massively overplaying what is normally considered a weak top pair hand. 


    Isolating the fish on a consistent basis is an integral part of your success at the poker tables. It is not enough to just find them and get the right seat against them. In passive micro stakes games you should be going out of your way to get in pots against them by isolating them with as much as the top 50% of hands. 

    But even when out of position you can still get away with raising the bad players up with a wide range as well. The key here is to get involved in an many pots as you can against them and utilize your superior postflop abilities. 

    An added benefit of constantly hammering on the fish is that it tends to tilt them very easily and absolutely nothing is more profitable at the poker tables than a fish on tilt. 

    Let me know how you go about isolating the fish in the comments below. Are there any trouble spots that you encounter when raising them up?

    If you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter below!

    How to get a tell on your opponent in poker.

  • 9 November

    Jonathan Little - 2015 EPT Malta Video Blog

    In this video blog, I share with you the trials and tribulations of my 2015 European Poker Tour experience in Malta. It was a rough 11 days! I hope you ...

  • 9 November

    The Link

    Wanted to provide a quick update about my last post regarding recent changes to the VIP Program at PokerStars.  If you’re not familiar with the developing story, you can get caught up here on Puyan’s blog. Here are some cliffnotes for people who chose not to click on that link: 1) PokerStars poorly handled an announcement of […]

  • 5 November

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 67

    In this episode, I attempt to bluff on a flop that should be great for my range and horrible for my opponent’s. I love this bluff. How do you feel ...

  • 3 November

    The Changes

    There’s a lot going on right now.  A lot. The thought of discussing all of it in great detail is simply too daunting.  I suppose I could close the laptop and try to start this entry another day, but I’m pretty sure that more important news will break in the next 24-72 hours and then […]

  • 3 November

    How to be a Poker Shark - Getting Ahead and Winning Big

    Poker is a lot more fun when you win big. I can tell you this from experience. My #1 goal in this game has always been to find out how to achieve the highest possible win rate. The top of the food chain. The poker shark.The problem with a lot of poker ...

  • 2 November

    Jonathan Little - Go listen to The Mindset Advantage podcast now!

    I listen to a lot of different podcasts, but the one I am excited to listen to each week as soon as it is uploaded is The Mindset Advantage with ...

  • 2 November

    The biggest opportunity in poker that everyone missed?

    I think it was roughly nine months ago that I sat in my office and felt the shackles that have bound me to this industry since I went solo in 2010 finally break. The reason behind this moment of liberation was a couple of announcements from different online poker rooms that confirmed to me, beyond a […]

  • 2 November

    October Results

    October ended up being a bit bittersweet. On the one hand I had a great month and ran above expectation – however the three big final tables I made I failed to convert any of them into a lot more. Shouldn’t moan too long though, November has started off with an awful Sunday session so […]

October, 2015

  • 31 October


    Here at the stats for the WPT 500, WPT Main Event & WPT High RollerWPT 500: £500+£50 buy-in £1M GTE# Entries So Far = 825# Entries Needed = 1175# Day 1's Remaining = 4 Day 1s Sunday 12pm Live Day 1 {Dusk Till Dawn} Sunday 5pm Li...

  • 31 October

    Poker: Getting the Balance Right Part 2

    If you've not read part one you can read it here. Part 1 

    Firstly let me apologise for the HUGE gap in time between parts one & two, I won't waste your time giving excuses as to why that is. Glad to finally get it done though as at least it will stop Daz Stather (G Cov dealer) from asking me every time I go in there when it’s going to be ready.

    Daz Stather
    My last post (Part 1) stirred some reaction. Normally I get about 100 visitors to the blog a week and that number goes up to 800 - 1,000 in a week when I put up a new post. When I posted part one though I had well over two thousand people read it inside 5 days.

    As part 2 is about dealers for the next four or five weeks after I posted part one every time I went into a cardroom three or four dealers at least would ask me when part 2 was coming out!

    Regarding Part 1, I was pleased to receive a great many positive comments about it via Facebook, Twitter and some via the blog itself, and also a great many FB messenger, and Twitter DM’s from people who don’t want their views made public. The privately sent messages in the main were from casino staff from a variety of different pay grades who’d rather not voice their comments publicly.

    Also for the first time (as far as I know) Rob Yong and Simon Trumper both read the blog and even though I wasn't 100% glowing in my praise of Dusk Till Dawn (DTD) Simon kindly put a link to the blog from his DTD Facebook page and was more than fair in his comments about my post. I think they (DTD) may like this post a little more.

    Getting the Balance Right: Part 2: Dealers

    The 2 main things I'm going to talk about on the subject of dealers are “Competence” (Competence = Knowledge & Skills) and “Attitude” (Their Authority, Table Management & Personality). Then I'm going to look at how players behave towards them.


    Competence is simply the mechanics i.e. speed and accuracy of shuffling/dealing, knowledge of the rules, being able to spot the winning hand at showdown, and handling all-in side pots and split pots correctly etc. etc.

    So let’s just briefly look at the 4 stages of learning that we all go through when we take on a task we've never tried before.

    So the Four Stages are 1. Unconsciously incompetent 2 consciously incompetent 3 consciously competent and 4 unconsciously competent.

    If we look at the task of walking, a new born baby is “unconsciously incompetent” when it comes to walking as although it can’t walk its blissfully unaware of the fact.

    When the baby is a little bit older it starts to realise that all the grown-ups are walking around but it can’t and that fact starts to bother it. At this point it’s “consciously incompetent”. Otherwise known as the “you’re shit and you know you are” stage.

    As the baby becomes a toddler and starts to take the first few steps it’s now at the “consciously competent” stage, where it can walk as long as he/she gives it their full attention. 

    Finally the “unconsciously competent” stage is where most of us are (except after a few beers) where we walk around without thinking about it. So to put the kettle on we don’t have to think “left foot, right foot” as we walk into the kitchen, it’s just auto pilot and we can concentrate on more important things like wondering if there are any biscuits left?

    All new dealers go through these 4 stages of learning, some quicker than others.

    Think of someone who has never played cards and not dealt a hand of cards in their entire life. Stage one for them is before they ever get a job in a casino they can’t deal but it doesn't bother them as they don’t need to. Then they apply for a job in a casino and get offered the position and on day one they see an experienced member of staff shuffle up and deal for the very 1st time and they suddenly think “Shit I can’t do that”.

    So now they suddenly realise that when it comes to dealing they are totally incompetent.

    Once they have been shown how and practised it over and over again they can deal but maybe quite slowly and they have to be fully concentrating all of the time otherwise they are likely to make a mistake. (Consciously competent)

    It’s the same with side pots etc they will need to concentrate hard to do it correctly at first, and it becomes very difficult when 4 players are offering 5 different opinions (3 of which are wrong) on how it should be done!

    Finally if they stick with it they become so skilled that they can shuffle up and deal very quickly and efficiently whilst wondering what their plans are for their next day off etc. (Unconsciously competent)

    When it comes to just shuffling and dealing there is no excuse for not being competent at this within a reasonable time period because they can practise over and over until they get better at it. If they are determined to get better they will, even if they need to take a pack of cards home and practise on their days off it can be done.

    Training for Staff

    Sink or Swim?

    This is an area where 99% of all casino cardrooms are sadly lacking in my opinion, though let me say that DTD are the 1%.

    Away from my hobby as a poker player I'm a qualified training and development consultant so it does annoy me when I see so many casinos have little or no training in place for new poker dealers.

    It’s down mostly to total apathy from casino management at the top levels. When I'm blaming management I'm not talking about cardroom managers (CRM’s) level but higher up the food chain that that. Most CRM’s at the casinos I go to are dedicated advocates of their cardrooms and do their best, but the higher management’s lack of interest in poker is the root cause of many of the poker room problems.

    Their failure to invest time/money in staff training does them no favours in the long term and it’s therefore left at a local level to organise dealer training which means a HUGE variance in what’s on offer to a new dealer.

    As far as I'm aware only DTD has a consistent structured approach to the training of new dealers and that fact shows if you ever go and play there. Considering how many dealers they have there the level of consistency is outstanding.

    How Much Training Do Dealers Get?

    The phrase “How long is a piece of string?” comes to mind. Different chains of casino vary as you’d expect but even casinos within the same group will vary wildly depending on the venue and who is CRM.

    In the last twelve months I've asked literally dozens of dealers, supervisors and CRM’s “how much training do dealers get” and one thing I can tell you is that the answer to that question varies HUGELY depending on who you ask. If I ask a supervisor or CRM about training then ask dealers in the same venue the answers are MASSIVELY different.

    I've chatted to one CRM who would have me believe he was practically running a poker dealers academy with in depth boot camp training methods lasting months. Strangely though when I've asked dealers who actually work there they paint an entirely different picture.

    Now nearly all the CRM’s I've ever asked know I'm writing a blog about dealers so I guess they want to show their casino in a good light so I tend to give a little more weight to the answers the dealers themselves have given me.

    The best training I've been told about was from DTD as you’d probably expect and also the person I asked doesn't even work there any more so I guess they had no reason to oversell the training offered.

    I was told the new dealers there get about 40 hours training prior to being “let loose” on the public which is probably about 36 hours more than your average casino gives its new poker room staff. As DTD is so busy they often take on groups of dealers together so I guess it makes training them more cost effective.

    Also having a group start together means they can shuffle and deal to each other as practise and the supervisors can also have chips at the practise table to deliberately do things wrong that the dealers should be picking up. The good thing about them all being trained together is they get a consistent message from the supervisors and they can discuss scenarios as a group and learn from each other.

    So DTD offers the best training but what of some of the others? When I asked one dealer at a G casino “when new dealers start here, how much training do they get?” I was given a very illuminating one word answer, and the word was “minimal”.

    I shouldn't have laughed at that answer as it’s quite serious but I did. It turned out that dealers with no previous experience whatsoever were starting work on day one about 4 hours prior to the evening’s tournament starting and when the tournament started they’d be dealing it.

    Basically most West Midlands casinos I play in if they take on a new dealer who has actually played the game before they get hardly any training at all before being let loose on a normal tournament. Once they can do that OK they then get a bit of training on the rake and off they go to the cash game!

    A non-player new dealer will get a bit more help but still not nearly enough. This sink or swim attitude is very short-sighted as well trained well motivated staff reduces the high turnover which all card rooms suffer from.

    Don’t Blame the Wrong Person.

    Some players annoy me when they get on the backs of novice dealers; this is totally out of order in my opinion. When casinos allow untrained or incompetent dealers to be thrown in at the deep end it’s important to remember that it’s not really the dealers fault, you should be aiming your complaints at management not the individual staff member. It’s the cardroom management who have deemed that person competent to deal, so speak to them about it

    I never take it out personally on a novice dealer, as I know the training has probably been either non-existent or inadequate. Also it’s important to remember that they are in the “consciously competent” stage at best but they will become pretty skilled pretty quickly. Most dealers after dealing 20 – 40 hours per week for a few weeks have improved beyond recognition and if they haven’t then maybe the job isn't for them.

    I also firmly believe that a novice dealer is always preferable to me or any other customer having to deal that’s for sure. In fact if a casino has any self-deal tournaments throughout the week, like an afternoon comp for instance, then that’s the best place to start them in a live environment as a slow dealer beats no dealer every time.

    Please Cardroom Managers! 

    One thing card rooms should do when they have a ratio of 4 experienced and 1 novice dealer working a five table comp is rotate the dealers much more often than normal. It’s isn't fair on one particular table to have a very slow dealer for two hours or more whilst the others have very quick dealers. By rotating them frequently it makes it fairer for all and reduces player frustration levels.

    As a general rule the average cardroom doesn't rotate dealers nearly enough and this is something that there is no excuse for in my opinion. So please CRM's rotate the dealers more often. It’s pretty standard practise (DTD aside) for dealers to start a comp and remain on the same table until the first break which is usually 2 hours. How much trouble is it to push the dealers around at the end of each level?

    Breaking them in Gently

    Most new dealers are blooded in tournaments and this makes sense and the lower the buy in the better. It really does annoy cash game regulars, with some justification I feel, when they get stuck with a newbie. It really isn't fair on the players if they are paying a session fee to get about half the number of hands in per hour that a really good dealer could handle.

    I always question the logic of casinos putting slow dealers on “raked” games as it’s costing them money in the short term and possibly future business as well if players just get fed up and go and play elsewhere.

    I always feel a bit sorry for new poker dealers as they really are at the mercy of how good, bad or indifferent the cardroom manager is. As players I think we owe it to them (the dealers not managers) to be as understanding as we can. Personally I do try and offer some help and encouragement to new dealers wherever possible.

    Recently at the G Cov one of the valets became a dealer and she’s a very bubbly character and I remember her saying something like “I'm not very good yet” to which I replied “well you’re dealing with a smile on your face so in my opinion that puts you way ahead of most dealers already”.

    That leads me nicely on to “attitude”.

    Dealers: “Attitude” ie: Authority, Table Management & Personality

    Once a dealer has been doing the job full time for 6 months their competence should be a given, but what about their attitude?

    This is the area of being a poker dealer where the biggest variance is in my view. As I said earlier competence is based on knowledge and skills, which can all be learnt and practised. Attitude though is a whole different ball game. Getting the balance right with this aspect of being a dealer is often where it goes wrong. 

    The dealer’s (and floor managers) attitude/personality has a HUGE influence on the game in so many ways and I'm going to try and cover some of the key areas as I see them.


    Without doubt the most important aspect of table management is keeping the game straight. The dealers and floor staff are the referee’s/umpires and they should be making absolutely certain that players are getting a fair roll of the dice.

    The reason why players play in a casino and not in some dingy illegal gambling den is because they want to feel safe and not worry they will get cheated. You have to remember that whenever there is money involved some people will always be looking to pull a stroke if they think they can get away with it.

    It’s very much up to the dealer to be the eyes and ears for the whole table and indeed all the other players in a tournament and make sure no player(s) are bending the rules, colluding, marking cards, or just generally trying to angle shoot in anyway.

    So let’s look at an example of a dealer ignoring their responsibilities.  I played at a casino that I rarely play at about a year ago and the dealer basically dealt the cards and then went into dreamland until it was time to deal them again.

    Two players who were sat in seats 3 & 4 and the guy in seat 9 were constantly talking about the hand in progress. That’s bad enough when they are just talking strategy or asking a player something like “are you flushing?” but their conversations were including things like what they’d folded and worse still they were getting dangerously close to saying things like “Shall I call him or are you going to?” 

    It wasn't quite that blatant but I knew exactly what they were doing inside two minutes. The dealer never even noticed, or if she did she couldn't care less.

    The first time I was in a hand with two of the three I had to say “is this a team game?” and they took the hint and cut it out. (well against me anyway) Now it didn't on this occasion but a situation like that could easily have escalated into a row but it would never have even got to the point of me having to say anything if the dealer had been on the ball.

    If the dealer or floor staff is the person who steps in and says something rather than a player to another player it diffuses any potential arguments. I could imagine in the later stages of that comp (I wasn't there then obviously) that if those 3 had still been in at bubble time etc other weaker characters at the table would not be getting a fair game.

    I haven’t named the casino as I was only in the comp up to about 5 mins before the 1st break and this was the only dealer I encountered that night so maybe the others are better? But this sort of thing needs to be stamped out or players who don’t play very often will simply not return there as they will feel there is a “clique” in the casino and they are not getting a fair game.

    I would guess that cardrooms the world over have regulars/locals/friends that to a greater or lesser degree have a “clique” within the room. Sometimes it’s just because it is a friendly place and the regulars all know each other and engage in friendly banter. However if the cardroom management and staff don’t keep a grip on its room then it can become something more sinister.

    I've visited some cardrooms round the country over the years though where the management has gone AWOL and the lunatics are running the asylum. All that happens in these situations is that normal decent punters stop going and the cardroom ends up with just these vermin in the card room and no one else.

    The reason I go to G Coventry more than any other card room in the Midlands is because in my opinion it is the fairest, friendliest card room around. A sure sign of this is the fact that G Cov has a pretty high percentage of female players in their card room, certainly higher than any other Midlands casino.

    It does happen occasionally and I've even had it happen to me a couple of times recently, but it’s still very rare to see anyone angle shooting in the Ricoh and first time visitors are generally treated well and get involved in the table banter quite quickly.

    Dealers Controlling the Pace of the Game

    Let’s deal with the simplest element of table control, keeping the game moving at a reasonable pace.

    It’s up to the dealer to clearly indicate who the action is on, and if a player is reading a magazine, chatting to someone, asleep, ordering food, or just drunk out of his mind, to give them a gentle “Action’s on your Sir” type of prod.

    Actions on your Sir. (pic from Rob Yongs blog)

    The type of game it is should decide just how much emphasis they should place on this. If it’s a “session” cash game then they owe it to the players to be really on the ball. If it’s a “raked” cash game they owe it to their employer to keep it moving and of course for all cash games the more hands dealt generally means more tips.

    If it’s a tournament there is a scale of urgency based on a variety of factors and this is where some common sense needs to be applied. How serious is the tournament in terms of buy-in, how long or short is the clock and at what stage is the tournament? Is it a table where everyone is there just to have a good night out, have some table banter and play a bit of poker or is it serious stuff?

    No one size fits all in terms of how strictly the game needs managing but really good intelligent dealers have a feel for this aspect of the game. A great dealer has to be able to adapt to the situation and act accordingly.

    During the Goliath the tables at the start of day one are for the most part some of the most sociable tables you’ll find anywhere for a £120 comp. Some of the agency dealers dealing them also deal things like EPT’s etc but the really good dealers amongst them know when it’s OK for the table to have a good laugh about something even if it means the action pauses for a moment or two.

    When it’s really sociable the dealers should be prepared to ease off just a little and let the game flow at its own pace.  Players playing socially don’t want to be admonished like naughty school children. Nothing sucks the fun out of the game quicker than a dealer who only became a dealer because they couldn't get a job as a traffic warden.

    On the reverse side of the coin, one thing that shouldn't happen is the players shouldn't have to be telling the dealer when it’s time to deal the turn or river no matter what the game is. Its bad form when they are half asleep or looking away to see what’s happening on a nearby table or chatting to another member of staff so they don’t know the action has finished.

    Poker is a Social Game

    Poker, certainly at the level I play at, is a social game and the only reason I play the game nowadays. My days of making any money, serious or otherwise, at the game are long gone.

    I could go to the pub on Friday night to socialise and spend a hell of a lot of money on drinks a meal afterwards and a taxi home which can be quite an expensive night out. Or I could play a variety of £20 - £50 comps in the Midlands and have something to eat/drink and drive home. (I personally don’t drink alcohol while playing)

    A poker night out like this is often a lot cheaper than going to the pub, but it shouldn't be any less “social”.

    When it comes to the average £20 - £40 comp dealers and floor staff would sometimes do well to remember they are in the entertainment industry as well as the gambling industry.

    Now this is only my opinion but I think before they start giving players a telling off they should ask themselves “is this guy trying to deliberately cheat” if the answer is yes then by all means knock yourself out, but if it’s clearly a novice player who’s transgressed then the next question they should be asking themselves is “has anyone been disadvantaged?”

    If the answer is again no then just a friendly explanation of the rule and why it exists is all that’s needed. Dealers often tell them the rule but hardly ever “why it’s the rule”. So the player is none the wiser as he/she doesn't understand the logic.

    For example we often hear dealers say to new players “big chips at the front please”. The player is being told off but doesn't know why so just moves them to the front but has a puzzled look on his face. If the dealer just explained that it makes it fairer if the other players can see roughly how many chips they have rather than having some big chips out of sight he could understand that and see the logic to it.

    Don’t get me wrong rules have to be enforced to keep the game straight, and even the most sociable game gets a little serious as the money bubble approaches. However I believe that the rules are there to protect players and should never be used just to beat players over the head with.

    5 Hand Penalty
    Dealers need to be careful not to get more power crazy than Kim Jong-un and give off this “my word is law attitude”.

    Without the social aspect, poker would quickly lose its allure with recreational players as let’s be honest no one plays £20 - £50 live tournaments to make a living do they? It has to be enjoyable.


    Normally I say it as I see it and name names but on this occasion I won’t be naming the good or bad. I enjoy playing live and generally have a very good relationship with all the dealers I interact with so I’d rather not cause ill feeling.

    However things need to be said about getting the balance right between “cold” dealers who sit like stone and do/say nothing other than what their job requires and have an absolutely rigid interpretation of the rules, zero personality and a downright bloody mindedness when they can clearly see what a players intentions were.

    I know one of these dealers.

    Then at the other end of the scale there are the dealers who think they are the ones on a night out with their mates (not the players) and are there to have fun, very often at the expense of a player they don’t like. G Hill Street has had some of these over the years.

    Equally annoying is when I'm clearly talking “semi” privately to just one player sat right by me and the dealer thinks they are entitled to voice an opinion on the topic being discussed.

    I remember once at the Broadway I was drawn side by side with an online phenomenon, (the guy had won over $1million playing cash on Pokerstars inside 3 years and was at the time a “supernova elite”.

    He’s from Exeter and no one else at the table knew who he was as he was in town visiting and had never played there before. He is a very modest and shy person and I was talking quietly to him and I was obviously totally enthralled by what this guy had to say.

    We were just talking to each other in little more than a whisper and to my total annoyance the dealer butted into the conversation. The poor guy just got embarrassed and just clammed up as he didn't want to be talking loudly about his play/winnings etc. I was so annoyed with the dealer I can’t tell you.

    Hill St Blues

    Let me say right away that I'm a big fan of the G Hill St and Jon Baker/Mike Swann in particular but the dealers at Hill St have on occasions needed to be reined in a bit.

    Things change of course and dealers come and go and I’d have to say things are better there now than they have been in the past.

    At Cov a lot of players ask me where is good to play in Birmingham as they know I play there occasionally and I always recommend Hill St as their comps are good seven days a week with around 100 runners each day.

    They have 2 tournaments a week that are 8 Max and one that is 6 Max and I think that’s terrific. I personally hate being crammed in 10 to a table. When players from Cov go there they always say to me afterwards how good it was, that its well run and the dealers are great etc.

    So what problem do I have at Hill St? Well one of its great strengths is also its weakness in my opinion.

    Hill St has a very loyal customer base and they have lots and lots of regulars. I only go once a month at most but when I go I see loads of the same players there every single time I go. They have lots of players who go there 3, 4, 5 or even more nights a week.

    There is an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” and this I believe is true at Hill St.

    Now on average the dealers at Hill St are top class and when they have their mind on the job they are as good as any around but occasionally some of them are just taking the piss and F’ing around.

    I think this comes about because the same dealers deal to the same players night after night and the “familiarity” causes a loss of respect.

    I have a degree of sympathy with dealers the world over as some poker players are complete arseholes and they fully deserve to be treated with total and utter contempt, but as a member of staff they shouldn't be the ones doing it.

    Some of the players at Hill St behave like nursery kids in the sandpit when they can’t have their way but even so the dealers should never be taking the piss out of players or goading them in anyway. I saw a dealer give a player the rub down there once when he busted a comp and that is just bang out of order even if the player is a knob.

    It’s a difficult thing to judge exactly where the line is sometimes and in my opinion it’s very good that a dealer can have a sense of humour and be pleasant when spoken to and join in with the banter. That definitely makes the game more sociable, but there is a big difference between a dealer joining in with the banter or being the one instigating it.

    G Walsall

    Now it’s been a year since I wrote my last blog update and if I’d done this review at that time then G Walsall would have got a total savaging from me. When I played the £100 Bank Holiday comp there about 18 months ago I was just appalled at how bad it was. When you have a player at the table swearing, being racist, sexiest etc it’s the dealers job to step on it but what happens when it’s the dealer who is doing it? It was without doubt the worst behaviour I'd ever witnessed from a dealer.

    Mainly for that reason I didn't go again for well over  a year but I’ve been to Walsall twice in the last month or so and thought things had improved dramatically, though in truth they couldn't possibly have gotten any worse. 

    They had a lot of new dealers and although they were in the consciously competent stage they all seemed keen and pleasant so I was really quite impressed.

    There were plenty of valets, the comp was busy and they had 3 full cash games and the dealers were being rotated every 20 minutes or so which is great.

    G Coventry

    G Cov’s dealers over the years have for the most part got the balance between approachability and authority just about right. One or two of them are right up there with the best dealers I've seen and as I've said it’s my favourite place to play.

    Consistency with rulings isn't Cov’s strongest point but generally speaking they are a good bunch. If I'm honest there is only one dealer who makes me a sigh a little inside when I see them approaching my table to take over dealing.

    NEC Resorts World

    I made the effort to go and see the new Genting casino on opening night and I played in a decent 50p/£1 cash game. The standard of dealing was good and the big difference there for the dealers themselves is that the dealers (who are on minimum wage) actually keep the tips they personally get given rather than pooling them.

    Resorts World

    Not sure how this will work out long term but I suspect that the best dealers will get the most tips and the bad ones with zero personality won't get any and they’ll leave.

    Dusk Till Dawn

    I've not been there for ages (about 2 years) but I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone moan about dealers or rulings there so I guess it’s still up to its usual standard.

    So Dealers in Summary

    On the whole I’d say the standard of dealers throughout the Midlands is about 8/10 and although poker players moan like F about dealers truthfully we shouldn't.

    Regarding supervisors I would say that inconsistency is the number one thing that annoys players. What really pisses players off is if they get called on a ruling then a few weeks later someone else does the exact same thing and gets away with it. 

    Other than that I’d say they do a very difficult job extremely well as lets remember poker players are never happy unless they’re moaning.

    I would say that generally standards have improved in recent years and probably DTD has had a lot to do with that as they have forced other operators to raise their game.

    What do Dealers think about Players?

    In the interests of balance let’s try and look at this from their point of view. When we hate a player at the table with a passion we can just get up and walk away but dealers can’t. They have to sit and suffer it.

    Some players are downright obnoxious; one legendary player who I won’t name is such an arsehole that I think he should just be banned from every cardroom in the country. If I ever see him come in to late reg I do a fist pump if I'm sat at a full table.

    Once he famously threw his hole cards in the dealers face and shouted “YOU'VE BEEN DEALING ME SHIT ALL NIGHT LONG”. (At the time he was heads up in a 100 runner comp having won about a dozen consecutive flips.)

    For those players that don’t know let me tell you that the dealer doesn't care if he’s dealt you 9-4 off suit 3 hands running and when you start telling him bad beat stories his head is just screaming inside.

    Players please don’t moan or berate them because you think a particular dealer is unlucky for you, as I have to say that pisses them off mainly because it’s utter nonsense. Most of the players at the buy in level I play at are pretty bad players and the fact that they are complete fish is a much bigger factor as to why they are losing than who is randomly generating the cards.

    Ranj Ferlance, one of my favourite dealers who has sadly left G Hill St, had a guy on our table once who was continually moaning that he always lost when she was dealing. He then lost a HUGE pot she dealt when he defended his BB with 6,2 off-suit and caught a piece of the flop

    So again he starts berating her, going on and on and eventually she said “it’s not my fault if you call raises pre-flop with 62 off suit, I'm a dealer not a magician”.

    Time-wasters are a particular irritant to dealers (and me) so just stop Hollywooding, it’s a £30 comp you’re not on the telly and EVERYONE at the table knows you’re not going to call.

    Antes difficult to remember for some as once they come into play you only have to post them every hand!

    Also it annoys dealers if the big blind is 400 and some twat puts in 16 x 25 chips in and then 2 hands later asks for change for the ante. How do dealers not throw something at that guy?

    Don’t go on about a hand that happened 3 hours ago, the dealer probably can't remember a flop he dealt 3 hands ago. Because he/she isn't invested in the hand like you are they just deal the cards!

    Dealers hate players who CONSTANTLY ask who raised? As a player you really should be able to work it out for yourself.  Just look at the player to your right, and if they have no cards it wasn't them. Keep going around the table till you see someone with cards that has pushed more chips over the line than the big blind. (That's the person who raised)

    Finally they REALLY DON’T CARE that you “would have won that hand”. Doh if only you'd called that 3 bet out of position with 8,3.

    Thanks for Reading

    OK so that was Part 2 of Getting the Balance right. I make no promises about when the next post will be done as I originally said part 2 would be done in “a couple of weeks” and it has been over a year.

    Hopefully I won’t have upset any cardroom staff too much.

    Since I started playing cards in the Rainbow casino in 1977 I've met and interacted with literally thousands of dealers over the years and I think 99.9% of them do a pretty difficult, poorly paid job, with little or no thanks very well indeed. So I'd like to thank them. 

  • 30 October

    Top 5 Grand Prix Rivalries

    With Dusk Till Dawn and partypoker’s Grand Prix Poker Tour hitting the road on November 28th when we head to London’s Stamford Bridge, we thought we’d delve into the history books and look back on some of the most famous Grand Prix clashes in Formula 1. From Schumacher to Senna, Piquet to Hamilton, the world’s […]

    The post Top 5 Grand Prix Rivalries appeared first on blog.

  • 29 October

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 66

    In this episode, I flop top pair and then check-fold for one more bet. Do you ever fold in this spot? Am I the tightest player you know? Be sure ...

  • 27 October

    15 Smart Ways to Get a Better Read on Your Opponent at the Poker Tables

    How to read your opponent in poker.
    Everybody knows the power of reads or tells at the poker table. But sometimes it can be difficult when playing online to make a read on a player until the HUD data starts rolling in. And a few poker sites these days disallow HUDs altogether so what do you do then?

    Similarly, when playing live there will always be an information gap when you first sit down to play. Furthermore, unless you are a really experienced poker player you might miss out on some important tells as well.

    So in this article I am going to discuss 15 ways to help you gain a better read on your opponents even if you have just sat down at the table.

    1. Stack Size Below 100bb

    You can tell a lot about a player just by looking at the size of their stack. Good players who are confident in their abilities will always want to buyin for the maximum or cover everyone at the table.


    Because if you believe that you are the best player at the table (which you always should) then having the maximum amount of money in front of you will allow you to maximize your skill advantage.

    Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody with a short stack is a terrible player. There are a variety of reasons why they might be low on chips. They might even be trying to employ some sort of “short stack strategy” as well.

    But by and large, when you see somebody at the table with a short stack it is likely that they are a weaker player. They may also have an insufficient bankroll and therefore be playing on scared money.

    2. Number of Tables

    If I am playing online and I am curious about a particular player one of the first things that I will often do is check to see how many tables they are playing on.

    Some poker rooms will allow you to block yourself from being searched but only good players are likely to take advantage of this. The fish (even if they know that this option exists) likely won’t care either way. So if you search someone and they are blocked this is actually a player type tell in and of itself (it's a reg).

    Most recreational players will be unblocked though and they will be on one or two tables at the most. While there are exceptions, most strong regulars online will be playing 8+ tables.

    3. Avatar Selection

    This might sound silly but there are dead tells in online poker based on the type of avatar or picture that someone uses. Common avatars that fish will use include:
    • Pic of their kids
    • Pic of their dog
    • Pic of a famous TV poker player
    Again, there will be some exceptions. There have been some hilarious cases of really strong online poker players using this to their advantage as well. But by and large these are dead tells that it is a recreational poker player.

    4. Age in The Screen Name

    This is another online poker tell which might seem silly at first. However, it is surprisingly effective. Many people will put their birth year at the end of their screen name.

    Now at the risk of sounding like I am age bashing here (I am not exactly a spring chicken myself) it is generally true that a lot of fish are older poker players.

    This makes sense of course.

    Middle aged men tend to have a lot more disposable income on average than younger guys. Also, they are more likely to come from an old school live type background and therefore they might struggle to adjust online.

    Again, there will be exceptions but when I see “1962” at the end of a screen name this is usually the type of player who I want to be playing against.

    5. The Super Quick Call

    Timing tells and betting patterns are some of the top ways to get a read on your opponent whether you are playing online or live.

    One of the easiest ones to spot is the super quick call preflop or postflop. This is almost always a mediocre hand such as a weak pair or a draw.

    If they had a really strong hand or even total air it is much more likely that they would take some time to consider the best way to get value or to run a bluff.

    So if I am getting insta-called the whole way this is a great spot to go for sick value on the river if I have a reasonable hand or to go for a bluff if all the draws missed.

    6. Location, Location

    Again, it might sound silly but there are certainly some real location tells online. There are a ton of Eastern European grinders these days for instance playing the lowest stakes online.

    These are typically countries where the cost of living and average wage is extremely low and a lot of these players are grinding out a side income or even a living. They are often tight regulars who can easily be bluffed but if they fight back you should proceed with a high amount of caution.

    Players from a country like the one I am from though (Canada) are much more likely to be fish. The same goes for many other prosperous Western nations. People from these countries tend to have more disposable income. Micro stakes poker is also much more likely to be a hobby for them since you can't pay the rent with your NL5 winnings.

    These are sweepingly generalizations of course (just like the age thing) but the location tell is certainly something to consider in many cases especially at the lower stakes.

    7. Sunglasses, Hoodie, Hat

    The live tell for the internet poker player is wearing attire like this. Often they will have the headphones in as well and tend to keep to themselves.

    If I am playing live I am not going to specifically avoid these guys. Just because someone is young and fits the internet poker player profile does not mean that they are necessarily good.

    But I do expect to deal with a lot more online poker style aggression. Therefore, I will do my best to make sure that these players are on my right and not my left.

    8. Limping

    Limping isn’t something that good players really ever do anymore in a ring game online. As soon as you see somebody limp in almost any situation you can peg them as a weaker player.

    Some decent regs at the lowest stakes might still limp behind or complete the small blind with a speculative hand especially after a limp parade.

    However, even this tells me that they lack certain aggressive attributes in their game. I will peg them as a weaker reg and probably try and run some bluffs against them in the future.

    9. Min Betting Postflop

    It used to be the case that mini-betting preflop online was a sure sign of a fish. However, times have changed and the mini-raise open is now very popular and actually standard at higher limits.

    However, no good player will ever make a minimum bet after the flop. A bet of $1 into a $15 pot for instance is only something that a recreational player would ever do. This is because it is a meaningless bet size which literally gives me mathematical odds to continue with any two cards.

    10. The Delayed Turn or River Raise

    There are very few players in small stakes cash games whether live or online who are capable of raising the turn or the river as a bluff. This is especially the case when they do the whole Hollywood thing (taking their time and pretending that they have a hard decision to make).

    When you get shown the nuts enough times in these spots you will realize how easy it is to throw away top pair or even two pair when the nit raises you. Small stakes players are notoriously passive and they are bluffing much less often than you might think.

    11. The Bizarre Buyin Amount

    One of the easiest ways to spot a fish online is when they buyin for a bizarre amount. For instance, $17.23 at an NL25 table.

    This is clearly their entire bankroll.

    Having your entire bankroll on the table is not something that any good player would ever do. Somebody employing a proper bankroll management strategy would buyin full and have at least 20 more bullets behind.

    12. The Big Table Talker

    Live poker is of course a fundamentally more social game than online. So being a big table talker is not always a sign of a fish. Many good live players will in fact use table talk to their advantage.

    However online it is almost always a sure sign of a recreational player. Most good players have the chat turned off altogether. They don’t have time to be socializing anyways with action on multiple tables going on.

    If you are playing online and somebody is constantly yapping in the chat box it is likely that they are a weaker player. This doesn’t mean that they are a huge fish but they almost certainly are not a strong reg.

    13. Isolating the Isolater

    If you see somebody who is constantly isolating a recreational player (raising up their limps) then you can often profitably isolate them right back with a few light 3Bets.

    Since I recommend isolating the bad players frequently you will know that I often have a less than stellar hand. So a quick way to pick up some easy pots against somebody who is pounding on the fish like this is to start re-raising them light.

    It is important as always though not to take it too far and force them to start playing back. We aren’t specifically trying to start a war with the reg here.

    Although, that is ok sometimes as well.

    14. The 3Bet Monkey

    3Betting up a storm has become all the rage in recent years especially online. Many people at the micros take it too far though.

    If you see somebody 3Betting with a high frequency then you can take advantage of this by flatting lighter in position and playing back after the flop.

    You can also toss in a light 4Bet or even a cold light 4Bet if you are extra sneaky from time to time. This works just fine in a live poker game as well.

    15. Timing Out

    If you see a player who is frequently running their timebank online just to fold 72o preflop this is a sure sign of a mass multi-tabling nit. They are usually playing on way too many tables and therefore they are often overly tight and easy to bluff.

    Like with all nits though it is important to proceed with a high degree of caution when they start to fight back. They have 18 other tables demanding their attention. They didn’t decide to just pick on you out of the blue.


    There are many ways to get a read on your opponent even when you have just sat down at the poker table and have no HUD data or history with them. Hopefully a few of the tips above will help you get a better read on your opponents in these situations live and online.

    Let me know in the comments below if you know of any other ways to get a tell on your opponents when you have limited information on them.

    Lastly, if you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter below!

    How to get a tell on your opponent in poker.

  • 26 October

    Meet The People: Danny Hammonds

    This week’s Meet The People segment sees us chat to 24-year old Danny Hammonds who calls Ellesmere Port home. If you’ve never been to Ellesmere Port, there’s a chance you’ve heard of it because it is where the Blue Planet Aquarium, National Waterways Museum and Vauxhall Motors factory are based, and of course, where Danny […]

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  • 26 October

    Jonathan Little - Introducing Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games

    I am excited to announce my newest self-published book, Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games. This book was inspired by my best-selling ebook (now available in audiobook and ...

  • 25 October

    Daniel Negreanu - The Civilian Life

    Just finished watching the latest WSOP main event episodes and reflecting on the last few months. I haven't taken this long of a break from poker since the year 2000. ...

  • 22 October

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 65

    In this episode, I attempt an aggressive bluff versus a loose, aggressive Asian kid. Is this a standard play or am I throwing my tournament life in the trash? Be ...

  • 22 October

    How to Survive a Poker Festival

    With the $5 million guaranteed Powerfest online poker festival, the £1 million guaranteed UKPC Main Event, and the $250,000 guaranteed Grand Prix Poker Tour St. James’ Park festival right around the corner, the partypoker blog has penned this little beauty of an article giving you tips on how to survive a poker festival. Everyone dreams […]

    The post How to Survive a Poker Festival appeared first on blog.

  • 20 October

    Don’t Get Left Behind: How to Outplay the Regs and Win More Pots

    Outplay the regs in small stakes cash games.
    One of the biggest keys to success in today's micro stakes cash games is learning how to outplay the regs (the regulars who you see every day at the tables).

    With the recreational players being fewer in numbers these days it is more imperative than ever that you develop strategies to beat decent thinking opponents.

    Most people these days essentially still just "play their hand" against the regs though. That is, they just play a straight forward ABC game, make disciplined folds and never really get out of line.

    This strategy leads to a lot of trading the blinds back and forth and ultimately a tiny winrate. If you want to win big then you need to find ways to start winning more pots against the regs.

    So in this article I am going to discuss a couple of key ways to outplay the regs in today's small stakes cash games.

    Outplaying the Regs - Know Your Enemy

    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    In order to stop trading the blinds back and forth with the regs you need to know your enemy. Once you discover their weaknesses then you can start attacking them and turn the balance of pots won in your favor.

    What are some of their weaknesses?

    1. They Are Overly Aggressive When Small Money is Involved

    Ever notice how crazy the 3Betting and 4Betting can get sometimes at the micros today even at very low stakes? You might have noticed a high amount of CBets on the flop and turn as well.

    This is because most regs get over aggressive when small amounts of money (relative to the overall stacks) are involved. This is not a bad thing in and of itself.

    The real problem is point #2.

    2. They Are Overly Weak When Big Money is Involved

    Most regs at the micros these days are like the little dog who is all bark and no bite. They put on a mean face and try to scare you out of the pot with frequent bets and raises on the small money streets.

    However, once a significant portion of their stack is at risk unless they have a monster hand they can't find the fold button fast enough.

    So there are a few different ways to exploit this.

    The Turn Semi-Bluff Raise

    One of the easiest ways to outplay many of the regs at the micros these days is to raise their double barrel with a wider range than normal.

    Most people will only raise on the turn if they have a huge hand like two pair or better. The problem with this strategy is that every reg out there knows this as well.

    Therefore, when you finally hit your set and raise them on the turn they just make the easiest fold in the world and you are left wondering why you never get any action with your big hands.

    Well, the easiest way to exploit their tendency to double barrel frequently but then fold to further aggression is to simply open up your raising range in these spots.

    So instead of only raising the turn with two pair or better try adding some hands like this:
    • Open ended straight draw
    • Flush draw
    • Middle pair
    • Bottom pair
    • Gutshot straight draw
    Skew it more towards the quality draws and pairs but I think you get my point. Raise the regs more often with hands that have some reasonable equity but aren't the nuts.

    By raising the turn with hands like this you will take down several more pots uncontested. This will also do wonders for both your winrate and your redline (non-showdown winnings).

    And don't worry if you get called from time to time. This doesn't mean that you can't still win the pot on the river with another well placed bluff.

    You could also simply outdraw them. This is why you should only make this play with hands that have some equity.

    Lastly, on the rare occasion that they re-raise you they clearly have a monster and it is the easiest fold in the world.

    The Double Float 

    You don't always have to raise the turn though. Another line that you can take is to simply float them twice (call their flop and turn CBets in position) and then bet the river when they check to you.

    Like I said before, most regs at the micros these days are all bark and no bite. This means that they will fire on the flop and the turn but if you can continue (even just by calling) they often won't have the heart to fire again.

    So you can take many of the same hands that I listed above and instead of folding to their double barrel just call again with the intention of taking it away on the river.

    This last point is extremely important.

    Many people forget that the entire point of floating is to take the pot away. Floating and then not betting when they check to you is like getting the hot girl's phone number and then not phoning her.

    Massive fail. Facepalm etc.

    So when you double float the turn and they check to you on the river you should be betting with all of your missed draws and bluffing with many of your weak pairs as well.

    Just like before on the turn, you will of course get looked up here from time to time. It is important not to let that deter you. Showing down a bluff or a bad hand on occasion versus a reg can actually be a very good thing because it gives you a bad image which leads to more loose action in the future.

    Don't Bluff the Sticky Regs

    It is important to note that you should look out for the calling station regs though. The WTSD% (went to showdown) stat on your HUD is a huge help in many situations like this.

    If the reg has a WTSD% in the mid 20's or higher then I am going to bluff them less often with many of these hands. If on the other hand their WTSD% is in the low 20's or less then I will be bluffing them all day.

    As I discuss at length in Modern Small Stakes I am often planning all of this ahead of time on the earlier streets though. I will often only double float a player who I know likes to barrel a lot but gives up easily on the river.

    If I see that they like to triple barrel or call down wide though then I will be much less likely to try and run a big bluff against them. I might call down wide myself or just give up on the hand on an earlier street.

    Final Thoughts

    Devising strategies to outplay the regs is extremely important to your success in today's micro stakes cash games. After all, these are the players who you are going to see by far the most at the tables.

    The biggest key to having success against them is understanding how they view the game, their tendencies and then creating counter-strategies.

    And indeed, this is what winning poker is all about. There is always a ying to every yang. Your opponent is too aggressive? Call down lighter. Your opponent is too passive/weak? Bluff them more often.

    It is important to understand that not all regs at the micros are created the same. But many of them these days do exhibit a tendency towards being overly aggressive on the earlier streets and overly weak on the later ones.

    The turn semi-bluff raise and the double float are two strategies that you can use to counter-act this. Try them out yourself at the tables and you might notice a few more pots coming your way.

    Let me know some of your strategies to outplay the regs in the comments below.

    Lastly, if you found this article helpful then please do me a big favor and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter below!

    Outplay the regs and steal pots

  • 19 October

    Meet The People: Paul Harrison

    For some people, poker is all about the money. For others, it’s the competition and pitting yourself against other quality players in a battle of wits. Some, like Paul Harrison, it’s a mixture of both with some travel and life experiences thrown in for good measure. Forty-two year old Paul lives in Oldham with his […]

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  • 19 October

    Sofia Lovgren: Dealing with bad beats and using a HUD

    888poker pro Sofia Lövgren is here to answer all of your poker problems. Email us at [email protected] or Tweet @pokerplayer365 now!

    The post Sofia Lovgren: Dealing with bad beats and using a HUD appeared first on

  • 19 October

    Jonathan Little - Getting There On The River

    The following hand is from one of my newest books, Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games, Volume 2, The Practice. This book is a collection of 105 in-depth hand ...

  • 18 October

    DTD Grand Prix : The Final Word

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    Numbers Update: Grand Prix at Dusk Till Dawn

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    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 64

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  • 14 October

    Online Poker: The Rise of the Machines

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  • 13 October

    How to Kick Ass in Poker, Business and Life - 12 Simple Actions Steps

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  • 12 October

    Meet the People: UK Team Challenge Winner, Adam Bone

    “The event was the best competition I’ve ever played.” Those are the words of Nottingham’s Adam Bone who in the early hours of Monday 12 October, 2015, emerged victorious in individual element of the partypoker UK Team Challenge at Dusk Till Dawn. Twenty-eight year old Bone, a director at advertising agency AM Media, outlasted 338 […]

    The post Meet the People: UK Team Challenge Winner, Adam Bone appeared first on blog.

  • 12 October

    Jonathan Little - Don’t let them push you around

    This hand is from the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event. I arrived to my seat on time, only to find four other players at my table. Everyone was playing ...

  • 12 October

    Daniel Negreanu - How Racist Are You?

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    Grand Prix Uncovered

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  • 9 October

    Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

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  • 8 October

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 63

    In this episode, I attempt to navigate a tricky spot with middle pair, bad kicker versus a loose, aggressive European kid. Do you think my play is too optimistic? Click ...

  • 7 October

    Premature calls for DFS regulation

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  • 7 October

    Padraig Parkinson - Probably The Finest Poker In The World

    Back in the days when the Merrion Club was the home of Irish poker, a Danish based American player who had honed his skills as a teenager in Vegas, and ...

  • 7 October

    How do you play poker with a big stack?

    One of the sweetest feelings in tournament poker is running up a big chip-lead and acting like you own the table, bullying and busting players with ease. But while building a chip mountain is the dream, holding onto a chip-lead has proved famously difficult over the years. Form is temporary, as are the premium cards, […]

    The post How do you play poker with a big stack? appeared first on blog.

  • 6 October

    Games Types and Tips for Playing at Online Casinos

    The world of online casinos in today’s scenario has become very vast with varied number of games to offer. As a bettor you can expect various types of table games available at the online casino where you can bet real money. Until and unless you are interested in specialist site for a particular set up...

    The post Games Types and Tips for Playing at Online Casinos appeared first on

  • 6 October

    Most Wanted Features Of Online Poker Sites

    Alongside this, there can be just about the most common systems for acquiring heavenly poker site. Top dealer inside of the referral advertising. You can inspect framework your associates and companions which may act naturally steady texas holdem players, only in light of the fact that they can make proposals completely through to the exceptionally...

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  • 6 October

    Beyond the skill gap – Making big edges work

    How do have the cake and eat it too? That is a question all people involved with player-vs-player skill games that feature a wagering element (such as online poker and daily fantasy sports) have to ask themselves. The more skill the more appealing the game is to competitively inclined hardcore players. The less skill the […]

  • 6 October

    A Step by Step Guide to Making Value Bets That Fish Can’t Wait to Call

    Value bets against fish in poker
    One of the biggest keys to success in poker is value betting against the bad players. Good hands are hard to come by and it is absolutely essential that you get the maximum value out of them.

    But you shouldn't be sitting around waiting for the nuts in order to get involved in pots against recreational poker players. There are many other situations where you can extract value with a hand as unimpressive as middle pair, bottom pair or even ace high.

    In this article I am going to discuss some of the top ways that I use to extract the maximum value out of fish by making bets that they simply can't say no to.

    Understanding Fish Psychology

    I have an entire section in my first book devoted to the topic of "fish psychology." I am not sure if I invented this term but I have never really heard anyone else discuss it before.

    Basically what I mean by it is getting inside the head of a bad player and attempting to see the game how they see it. Easier said than done but bear with me.

    Businesses in every industry do the exact same thing. When you know the customer's specific wants and needs then you can provide them with the best product or service and ultimately maximize your revenue.

    The same principle applies in poker. Since fish bankroll the entire poker industry I like to refer to these players as my customers. When I can figure out how they see the game then I can make bets which deliver the highest EV (expected value) to me.

    If there is one unifying trait that you will find among nearly all recreational poker players it is this: 

    They are deeply suspicious of everyone.

    Most people tend to think that everyone is bluffing them more than they should especially at the micros. Fish take this to a whole different level though.

    They literally think that everybody is trying to pull a fast one on them every single hand. This is why they are so in love with the call button. It doesn't matter if they get shown the nuts 9 out of 10 times. That one time that they catch you in a bluff makes up for everything.

    The Big Call is the Entire Reason That They
    Poker fish love to bluff and make big calls
    Play the Game

    A lot of this comes from movies and the way that poker has long been portrayed in popular culture. A lot of us tend to get wrapped up in the modern skill based game played on the internet where we talk about multi-tabling, long term winrates, HUDs and ranges.

    We completely lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of the population still views the game as some kind of luck based machismo contest played by gangsters in smoke filled underground clubs with guns on the table.

    Even if they have progressed from archaic Hollywood depictions of the game to tournament poker on TV these programs are still highly edited to only show the big exciting hands where a player is "put to the test for all of his chips."

    So it is important to understand that the vast majority of recreational players have a very distorted and inaccurate view of the game where it is all about the big pot, the big decision and the big call.

    So they love getting into ridiculously huge pots with a mediocre hand where they hope to catch you in a huge bluff. If they are tilted then they might try and make a huge bluff themselves.

    This is the very reason why they play the game. They get a huge thrill out of it. It is also the reason why they invariably end up losing big time in the long run.

    Value Bets Need to Always be About Value

    You have probably heard the mantra "don't bluff the fish" many times. It makes perfect sense when you understand how they view the game. Trying to bluff a player who is deeply suspicious of you and lives for the big hero call is obviously a really bad idea.

    So this is why our value bets versus the recreational players always need to be about value. But as I mentioned above, what often gets left out here is that you don't need to have the nuts in order to turn a profit.

    1. Thin Value is Key

    Most fish routinely make hero calls with ace high or worse even when they have no history with you at all. Many people make the mistake of waiting for two pair or better to value bet hard though like they would against a reg.

    This is a disaster and you already know why. Yep, it is because middle pair beats ace high. Bottom pair beats it too. Why not get value in these spots (which happen a lot more often) too?

    Anyone can value bet two pair or trips against a bad player. This takes no skill at all. It is the thin value bets with weak hands where good players get ahead.

    2. Size Also Matters

    The other mistake that people commonly make is not adjusting their bet sizes versus fish. They use a "one size fits all" approach towards all players.

    This strategy is a good idea versus reasonable thinking regs. When you always bet the same amount it makes it very difficult from a game theoretical perspective for your opponent to know if you have the value hand or the bluff this time.

    But we are not talking about reasonable thinking opponents in this article!

    We are talking about people who play the game for fun and to relieve stress after work. They are not paying attention to your bet sizes. They are not taking any notes on you. And they definitely aren't using any sort of a HUD.

    It would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of this by varying your bet sizes in certain situations in order to get the preferred reaction from them.

    So let's get into some actual example hands here because I think that will help illustrate everything that I have talked about so far.

    Example #1 - The Donk Bet Raise

    Hero raises on the button with A9 and gets called by a fish in the blinds.

    The flop comes:


    The fish donks out for 20% of the pot


    I have discussed donk bets a few times on this blog before. So you may know that I am a big fan of raising them with a wide range especially versus bad players.

    This hand is a perfect example of that.

    A recreational player calls us from the blinds preflop. Since these players often play something like 50% of their hands, our opponent here could literally have almost anything.

    This board is insanely draw heavy with a ton of different straight draws, flush draws and pair combinations. With middle pair top kicker we are well ahead of most of these hands. So instead of just calling the small bet we should raise here for value.

    What if we get called and he donks into us again on the turn?

    It depends a lot on the turn card.

    If it is a total blank like the 2 then I would just go ahead and raise a silly bet like this again. After all, this card changes nothing and he will likely call with all of his draws and worse pairs which we have even more equity against now with only one card to come.

    If the turn comes with an action card like the Q though then I will probably just call the small bet in an attempt to get to a cheap showdown since we still beat all of his worse pairs and a few draws.

    It should be noted that if he can make a real bet (i.e., 50% of the pot or more) I would likely just fold on this particular card since it hits so many draws.

    Example #2 - The Ace High Value Bet/Value Call

    Hero raises with AQ from EP and gets called by a fish on the button.

    The flop comes:


    Hero CBets and the fish calls

    The turn comes:


    Hero checks and the fish bets 30% of the pot


    As we talked about before recreational players love to get into silly situations with mediocre hands. This is one of them. They love to make bluffs and hero calls on double paired boards like this or bingo boards (i.e., 777).

    They rightly assume that you probably don't have anything very often on a board like this. Therefore if you bet they just assume that you are always bluffing. They love to make dumb bluffs on these boards themselves as well.

    So these situations are the perfect spot to just call down with ace high for value or make a value bet yourself with a hand like this. They will often be bluffing with worse and they will also call you down with worse.

    Sometimes they simply don't even understand the rules of Hold'em and they think that they have 3 pair on this board with their pocket 4's!

    It is important to note that I am once again referring to a spot here where they are making the typical fish bet of 30% of the pot or less. If they start potting it, it is probably a better idea to let it go unless there is some kind of crazy dynamic in place between the two of you.

    And likewise, when value betting with ace high you shouldn't be potting it yourself or anywhere even close. This is a spot where you know that your opponent likely has very little and can only hero call you with something ridiculous like king high or queen high.

    Therefore, you want to make a bet size that they just can't say no to. So as little as 30% of the pot is often a good idea for a value bet in these spots.

    Example #3 - The Action River Card Massive Overshove

    Hero raises on the button with 77 and gets called by a fish in the blinds.

    The flop comes:


    The fish checks
    Hero CBets

    The turn comes:


    The fish checks
    Hero checks

    The river comes:


    The fish bets 50% of the pot

    This is one of my all time favorite spots to get absolutely sick value.

    Many people make the colossal mistake here of just making a standard raise to 3x and allowing the bad player to happily snap call it with his straight or flush.

    This is truly an epic bad decision for your winrate because we already know that fish don't like to fold anything. Do you think that there is any chance on earth that they are going to fold a straight or a flush?

    Of course not, they would call it off for literally any amount. And that is why this is the absolute perfect spot for the massive overshove all in.

    I can't tell you how many times I have instantly turned a 40bb pot into a 400bb pot versus some terrible player at NL2 or NL5 by recognizing that there is a good chance that he has a huge hand which I beat.

    I probably don't need to tell you how good this is for your winrate either.

    Example #4 - The Over Sized Value Bet

    Hero raises in EP with AK and gets called by a fish on the button.

    The flop comes:



    This is obviously a no-brainer CBet. We flop top pair top kicker versus a bad player on a board with a few draws. But as mentioned before, the mistake that a lot of people will make here is standardizing their bet sizes.

    For instance, they will bet 60% of the pot here no matter what they have. This is a good idea versus the regs but it doesn't make any sense at all versus the fish.

    The reason why is that if the bad player has top pair or a draw on this board then he is going to call 80% of the pot just as often as he will call 60% of the pot.

    Since good hands are hard to come by, and we almost certainly have the best of it on this board, then why would we not opt for the higher amount?

    This is especially important when there is a dynamic in place. I often talk about the benefits of pounding on the fish in position and isolating the crap out of them.

    One of the main reasons is so that they pay out like a slot machine when you hit something good (doesn't need to be anywhere near as strong of a hand as this).

    So in some situations you could even get away with potting it here or even over-betting the pot if such a dynamic exists. Always remember that this is No Limit Hold'em. You can bet whatever amount you want.

    Don't Worry If They Fold

    Some people are hesitant to follow my advice to bet big in a situation like this because they are afraid of scaring the fish out of the pot.

    The reason why it is a mistake to think this way is because if the fish doesn't have anything then he is going to fold no matter what amount you bet. This is just how poker works.

    However, if they caught a piece (top pair, middle pair or a draw) then they are going to call nearly anything within reason. So it would be a serious mistake not to charge them the maximum.


    I hope that this article helped show you that there are many different ways to get big value out of the fish even with weak hands. We do this first by understanding the way in which they view the game and then by making bets that are tailor made to exploit their weaknesses to the max.

    It is important to note that the plays mentioned in this article will always work versus these types of players.

    The reason why is that when people talk about the games changing these days they are talking about the regs. Regs are the ones who are reading poker books, watching training videos and discussing hands with others.

    Fish however play the game for fun and never even think about improving. Therefore they make the same mistakes over and over again. Once you learn how to exploit these effectively, then it becomes just like printing money.

    Let me know your thoughts below on value betting versus the fish. Do you have any other strategies for getting the maximum value out of them?

    If you found this article helpful then do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    Getting the maximum value out of the fish in poker

  • 5 October

    Jonathan Little - I am now part of Pocarr

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  • 4 October

    How to win big at online slots

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  • 3 October

    The Pennies

    July was epic.  August was outstanding. On the heels of back-to-back $35k+ months, I felt pretty damn good.  And rightly so.  Each time I sat down to play, everything seemed to go right;  Bluffs got through, value bets got called by worse, my hands held in most of the critical all-in situations, and I even […]

  • 1 October

    Jonathan Little - Weekly Poker Hand, Episode 62

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  • 1 October

    September Results

    Being WCOOP there is somewhat an obligation as an online poker player to get away a shit ton of volume and grind your socks off. A week in and I was already fed up with how inundated my normal games were with a mixture of elite, decent, mediocre, and plain bad regulars. Unfortunately this wasn’t […]

September, 2015

  • 30 September

    The Top 3 Poker Tools Used by Online Pros

    Online poker tools and software
    There are several different types of poker tools and software used by online poker players these days. None of them are a magic wand that will suddenly turn you into a crusher over night. However they can make the playing experience a lot smoother, provide you with key information in real time and make studying the game a lot more efficient.

    These are all essential especially for professional online poker players. For instance, reducing the amount of clicks needed to perform mundane tasks such as sitting down at a table and buying in is a crucially important time saver. This allows them to allocate more time to things that actually matter such as making the right decision in a big pot.

    Being able to gain useful data from the massive amount of hand histories that they have collected by playing poker is also a huge benefit. This allows them to study the game much more efficiently and use this information at the tables as well in the form of a HUD.

    I Only Use What is Necessary

    However, anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I am very much a minimalist when it comes to poker tools and software. I don't like having unnecessary stuff all over my screen. And I don't use gimmicky programs designed to find your "leaks" or find the fish.

    So in this article I am going to discuss the 3 main poker tools and software that I think are necessary for all serious online poker players. I have used all 3 of these myself for many years and they have helped me have huge success playing online poker.

    PokerTracker 4

    1. PokerTracker 4

    All discussion of poker tools will always begin and end with a tracking program and HUD (heads up display). The Coke and Pepsi of the poker tracking software world have long been PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager. And these two companies actually merged together last year.

    What a poker tracking program essentially does is process the raw hand history files that you receive from the poker room after every hand that you play. A hand history is a small text file that provides information about absolutely everything that happened in a particular hand from the time, date, player names, stack sizes and the action in the hand. 

    What a poker tracking program does is read each of these hand histories and create useful information to help you study the game and learn more about your opponents. 

    For Instance:

    Say you have 100 hand histories where you played against Player A. The poker tracking program reads those 100 hand histories and is able to tell you that Player A decided to play their hand on 20 occasions. This means that the other 80% of the time they decided to fold preflop.

    Now when you look up that player inside PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager you will be able to see that the percentage of hands that they play is 20. This is very useful in determining player type for instance.

    Heads Up Display

    You can take this one step further and utilize the HUD feature as well. This allows you to place this information (along with many other stats) right beside their name at the tables like this:

    PokerTracker 4 HUD

    Studying The Game (Using Filters)

    The other great thing about having all of this information is the ability to study your opponent's tendencies away from the tables and compare it to your own stats.

    And really the greatest feature of these tracking programs is the ability to use filters. This allows you to look at specific scenarios (i.e., something as insanely focused as 3Bet pots where you check raised the turn all in).

    Having the ability to break down the game into such tiny little chunks and analyze your results as well as that of your opponents is an invaluable tool to improve your own game and study more efficiently. I have written much more about this topic before in my database review post.

    I have also written a comprehensive guide on how to set up your HUD which includes free download links to both of my custom PokerTracker 4 HUD profiles. It is still the most popular post in the history of this website.

    PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager?

    I personally started with PokerTracker many, many years ago when they were the only game in town. I then switched over to Hold'em Manager for a few years. For the past several years I have gone back to PokerTracker with their latest release: Pokertracker 4. 

    The reason why I think that Pokertracker 4 is currently the best tracking program and HUD on the market today really boils down to how easy it is to use. Installation is quick and flawless, the right options and stats are in the right places and the software runs very smoothly even when dealing with very big sample sizes. 

    Furthermore the HUD itself is highly customizable and easy to set up on all of the major poker sites. Lastly, I have found their support to be very good when I had any questions. 

    Many people use Hold'em Manager and it is also a top notch product. If it works for you then there is absolutely no need to switch over to PokerTracker. And, as mentioned before, they are both owned by the same company now so I think we can expect great things in the future as the strengths of both software teams are combined. 

    Also, if you are just starting out at NL2 I would not worry too much about getting a tracking program and HUD right now. Just focus on getting the fundamentals of the game down and getting used to playing poker online. 

    But if you are serious about online poker then I would highly recommend getting used to using a tracking program. They typically pay for themselves very quickly at the poker tables. And the ability that they provide to study the game and improve away from the tables is simply immense.

    Both major brands offer a free trial. PokerTracker 4 is Mac compatible while Hold'em Manager 2 is not.

    Here is the link to the free trial for Pokertracker 4. 

    Table Ninja II

    2. Table Ninja 2

    Another tool that is extremely important for all serious online poker players is multi-tabling software. One of the key advantages of online poker over playing in a casino is the ability to play as many tables as you want. 

    I have still played the large majority of my 7 million+ lifetime hands while 24 tabling on PokerStars. This number might seem insane to some of you and many people ask me how this is even possible. 

    Well firstly, I didn't just start playing 2 dozen tables at once over night. I slowly built up over the years as my decisions became more automatic with experience. Also, a heavy gaming background probably helped prepare me a bit for the fast paced nature and multi-tasking of online poker. 

    But a big key to my ability to play this many tables has always been to use software which helps me manage all of the tables better and cut down on useless clicks. 

    For many years I just used various AHK scripts that were created by other poker players and offered on forums for free.

    But there were always lots of headaches with these because they were difficult to setup and had limited options. And if the poker site decided to make any major changes to their software they might stop working altogether until the guy who created the script got around to providing an update for it.

    This is why Table Ninja entered the market several years ago as an inexpensive paid multi-tabling software solution with a dedicated development team behind it. 

    I realized that I was wasting so much time dealing with wonky and unreliable AHK scripts just to save a few bucks so I switched over to Table Ninja shortly after it came out. 

    Some of the key features of Table Ninja that help me multi-table more effectively are:
    • The ability to easily organize all of my tables where ever I want on my screen
    • Tons of hotkey customization abilities
    • Preset bet sizing (huge time saver)
    • Auto buyin and seat taking (another huge time saver)
    • Auto time bank click so you don't time out
    • Sit in and sit out all tables immediately by hitting one button
    Here is a short demo video which explains all of these features in more detail:

    Table Ninja is developed and maintained by the same company that manages PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager so this means top notch support and quick updates.

    There is a free trial with this product as well and the paid version is very affordable especially with an annual subscription. Table Ninja is not Mac compatible.

    Once again, if you are just starting out with online poker or you only play a few tables at the most then I probably wouldn't bother with multi-tabling software for now.

    However, if you are serious about online poker and do any amount of multi-tabling then getting Table Ninja is about the easiest and cost effective investment that you can make.

    Here is the link to the free trial for Table Ninja 2.

    3. PokerStove

    The last poker tool that I have used extensively over the years is PokerStove. This is a great little equity analysis tool that allows you to plug in specific hands and community cards and get the exact odds. PokerStove is also 100% free.

    The reason why PokerStove has been so popular over the years (and continues to be even when there are much more advanced free and paid equity analysis tools out there) is it's simplicity.

    PokerStove does exactly what it is supposed to do and nothing more. You can simply plug in some hands as shown below and get instant results over a ridiculous sample size in a split second.
    PokerStove Equity Tool
    Did you know that QQ is actually a 57% favorite versus AKo preflop?

    You can also add in community cards in the box on the top right to see what the equity would be like in any flop, turn or river situation that you want.

    Furthermore, you can also plug in entire ranges as shown below.
    PokerStove Ranges
    Not sure what an 8% range looks like? Now you know (hands in purple). 
    You can also quickly create a range with various types of hands like all pairs or all broadways by clicking the buttons on the top right.

    All and all PokerStove is an insanely useful tool for quickly determining the equity in any situation in Hold'em. People often ask me how I know the odds in a certain spot within a couple of seconds (give or take a few percentage points of course).

    It is because I have literally searched thousands of scenarios over the years in PokerStove. Eventually the odds just get imprinted in your brain.

    Unfortunately the developer no longer really supports this product (it's free, who could blame them?). But I have created a download link for you just to keep this great tool alive.

    Download Link

    You can download the latest version of PokerStove here.

    Some people have mentioned in the comments for this post that they are having issues installing PokerStove. If this is the case there is another free equity tool called Equilab which is popular and even has a few more bells and whistles such as pre-defined ranges.

    You can download the latest version of Equilab here.

    Mac Users

    Be advised that neither PokerStove nor Equilab are Mac compatible. You will have to use one of the numerous methods in order to run a Windows based program in Mac OS.

    But it should also be noted that PokerTracker 4 (as recommended above in this article) has an equity tool built right into it's software. So that is another option for Mac users.


    The poker tools and software mentioned in this post should be in the arsenal of all serious online poker players. I have used the tracking program, multi-tabling software and equity tool mentioned above for years myself.

    But it is important to note that none of these tools will turn you into a huge winner over night. They will not for instance tell you what the best play is. That would be cheating.

    If you want to get better results in online poker then you will need to work hard on improving your skillset both at the tables and away from them. I recently wrote an in depth article on the top 9 ways to improve your poker game.

    What these tools will do though is allow you study the game more efficiently and have more information on your opponents by making use of the data that you have collected by playing the game.

    They will also make multi-tabling online poker a much smoother experience. And they will also allow you to quickly analyze many situations better and know the odds.

    If you have any questions about any of the poker tools and software mentioned in this post please feel free to leave your comments below.

    If you found this article helpful then do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    Poker Tools and Software Used by the Pros

  • 30 September

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  • 28 September

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  • 25 September

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  • 22 September

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  • 15 September

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  • 13 September

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  • 6 September

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August, 2015

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  • 31 August

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    Live is Alive!

    It’s been a while. I’ve been blogging regularly on blonde poker - if you’re not a member, you should be, it’s a great forum, really friendly and full of characters. I’ve had a diary / blog there for over 4 years now. 

    But after a very lively summer I thought I’d blog here about what I’ve been up to, and some revelations I’ve had lately. 

    Poker is not dead!

    Live Poker, at least. I’ve just come back from Barcelona, where I spent 10 days playing unbelievable tournaments. Here’s a few numbers for you. 1700 in the 5k EPT Main event, a record. 500 in the 10k EPT Hiroller, a record. 3400 in the 1.1k Estrella main, a record. Staggering stuff. 

    100+ waiting for 3/6 and 5/10 cash games at all afternoon/evening times. With stakes running up to 100/200 both Holdem and PLO. Some jaw dropping hands witnessed, even in the 10k. 

    Needless to say I cashed in 0/7 events! I did win my seats to the 5k and 10k though which saved me a lot of money! 

    Neymar turns up to play a few events!

    And back home the action has been great too. London is finally living up to my expectations. Great hold’em games and omaha action buzzing too. I’ve played some of my biggest ever pots in the last few weeks, some good, some bad, been absolutely loving it whether I win or lose (actually, mainly win!).

    Vegas? Well, I had a very exciting time cashing in the main event for the first time. What a thrill that was. I was all-in with 1060 left and 1000 paid vs my roommate Scott! My 88 vs his AK. QJ on the flop, but it bricked off. I can honestly say that was the most nervous and sweaty and relieved i’ve been during/after a poker hand ever! 

    That was the highlight of an otherwise terrible trip to be honest!

    So Vegas, Barcelona, but you know where I’ve had the most fun playing poker? Yup, you guessed it, Dusk Til Dawn. A trip there never fail to deliver. The festivals there bring the most fantastic atmosphere, the staff that work there and people that I play with there are just so friendly and fun, and the action in the cash games and value in the tournaments are second to none. The WPT in November is the next big festival there, hope to see many of you there. 

    Revelation #1

    There is a big myth in poker - that the hardest people to play against are the best players. The best players are not the ones doing sick turn check raises or overbetting the river every hand. The best players are the ones that make money off you without you realising, and you never win it back. They fold correctly, call down correctly and value bet correctly. You don’t feel under it vs these guys, they don’t have you sweating every pot you play vs them. But you never win vs them, theoretically, of course. However, people much prefer to play against them than the “sicko’s” that put them in tough spots all the time. 

    Revelation #2

    Daniel Negreanu was asked about why all the super hirollers have more fun at the table than in regular events. I expected him to say because everyone knows each other, which is of course part of the reason, but he gave a much more interesting answer which rings true in my experience. You can check out the interview here

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  • 30 August

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  • 27 August

    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold

    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold
    When to CBet the flop and when to lay off is something that a lot of people at the micros struggle with. I get questions about it all the time. The reason why is that you have so many fish who don't fold and even regs who don't like to fold at these stakes.

    This creates a lot of problems since most of the time you are going to miss the flop or only catch a small piece of it. It can be very frustrating to keep making a CBet in these scenarios only to be called or raised again and again. 

    So in this article I am going to talk about how to approach flop situations as the preflop raiser versus calling stations. I will discuss when you should bet and when you should just give up. I will also have plenty of example hands at the end to make this all more clear.

    Make a Flop CBet 75% of the Time (Under Normal Conditions)

    Any of you who have followed my work (blog posts, books, videos etc.) know that I toss this number out there a lot. Make a CBet 75% of the time.

    The reason why is that people like concrete numbers to go by and I think that in a typical micro stakes cash game which has a lot of tight/passive regs this will be close to optimal.

    It is important to remember that you only need to get somebody to fold about 1/3 of the time in order to break even when you are only CBetting 2/3 of the pot . Basically everybody (even most fish) fold this often.

    But of course every situation is different in poker and so this number is only just a guideline. As I just mentioned, some games at the micros (especially NL2 and NL5) include a lot of these no-fold'em players. They will call you down with two napkins.

    Would it be a good idea to fire a CBet against them 3/4 of the time? Probably not. 

    Make a Flop CBet 60% of the Time (Against Players Who Don't Like to Fold)

    So my flop CBet is indeed a fair bit lower at these stakes (NL2 and NL5 in particular). I tend to fire a continuation bet about 60% of the time. Again, this is just a rough number because people like numbers. Don't take it too literally.

    But overall I will certainly be more selective in deciding when and who I CBet against at these stakes. You always have to be adjusting to the game conditions in poker.

    This one is really simple. If they aren't going to fold very often, then I won't waste my time (and money) firing endless CBets into them. I will make sure that I have something. 

    Keep in mind that at these stakes you will have more "family pots" as well. Once one person calls it often creates a domino effect where everyone and their dog wants in. It is of course much more difficult to get folds versus multiple players. So I will have to be even more selective in these situations.

    Not all games at the micros are like this though.

    If I notice that I am at a table full of nits who can't wait to fold to my CBets then I might be firing a bet 80% or even 90% of the time. 

    Perceived Range

    Before I get into some specific examples though let me talk a bit about some CBetting basics to make sure that we are all on the same page. If you have read my first book then you know that I talk about something called a "perceived range" quite a bit.

    This is the the range of cards that you are "supposed to have" when you raise preflop. This would typically include big pairs, big aces and broadways. Hands like:
    • AA, KK, QQ, JJ and TT
    • AK, AQ and AJ
    • KQ, KJ and QJ
    But of course if you follow my advice then you will have plenty of other speculative but still reasonably decent hands in your raising range as well such as:
    • 22-99
    • JTs, 98s, 87s
    • ATs, A9s, A8s
    And many, many more hands especially as you get closer to the button. 

    So this perceived range of only having big cards isn't exactly true most of the time. However, this is what we should expect our opponent to believe. And that is the only thing that matters.

    This does of course assume that they are indeed thinking about this sort of thing. Most fish won't but most regs will. 

    Good Flops to CBet

    So given this perceived range (where basically we get too much credit) it will make sense for us to CBet most flops. The reason why is that our perceived range hits a lot of flops hard or it may be assumed that we have a big pair which didn't need to improve anyways.

    These are the types of flops that I am talking about:
    • Single Broadway (A82)
    • Double Broadway ( AK4)
    • Triple Broadway (AKJ)
    • Paired (TT3)
    • Raggedy (952)
    • Bingo (777)

    Calling Range

    The only boards where we should be a little bit hesitant to fire the CBet are the ones with a lot of middle cards such as:
    • 986
    • 875
    Boards like this hit the range of a lot of the types of hands that they will be calling us with preflop such as:
    • Suited connectors
    • Suited aces
    • Middle pairs
    • Small pairs
    The caller will usually have a few more suited cards in their range as well which means that a flush draw on the board probably hits their range a little harder than ours.

    This calling range is generalizing a bit once again. They will have some sort of ace or be slowplaying a big pair from time to time for instance when they call us preflop.

    However, these types of middle card flops hit a lot of hands and we should also expect them to have a lot of these types of cards in their hand as well.

    Flop CBetting 101
    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold

    So to sum up here is some of the general theory surrounding flop CBetting. 

    1) The preflop raiser is thought to have a lot of big cards and big pairs and therefore should CBet on most flops. 

    2) The preflop caller is thought to have more drawing hands and middle cards and therefore will probably continue more often on boards which hit this range. 

    3) As mentioned above, the situation changes quite a bit when facing several opponents. We can't rely so much on our perceived range in order to get folds. There is simply a much higher chance that somebody has something and therefore we should have actually hit the board in some meaningful way when CBetting. 

    4) Lastly, position does matter. We should be more inclined to make a CBet when in position. Poker is always so much easier (and more profitable) when we get to act last. However, it shouldn't be a massive difference. Whether or not you think that you can get your opponent(s) to fold a decent amount of the time should be the over-riding concern.

    Versus the Low Fold to CBet Fish or Reg

    All of this is great in theory. But as mentioned above there will be times especially at the lowest stakes when we know that we are up against a fish or a reg who does not like to fold to flop CBets.

    They will typically have a fold to flop CBet of 50% or less on your HUD. 

    Now it is important to make a clear distinction between the type of player who is only sticky on flops with the type of player who doesn't fold on any street.

    For instance, if you see a player like this: 
    • Low fold to flop CBet% (~40%)
    • High fold to turn CBet% (~70%)
    Then you should absolutely make a CBet and then fire again on the turn. This is a very profitable situation.

    However, if you see a player like this:
    • Low fold to flop CBet% (~40%)
    • Low fold to turn CBet% (~30%)
    Then it would be a big mistake to try and barrel this player off of their hand. It will be very bad for your win rate to keep firing with air versus a player like this. 

    The WTSD% (went to showdown) stat will help a lot here as well. The players who you can get to fold will typically be in the low 20's and the players who won't fold will be in the high 20's.

    Let's look at a few examples now in order to add some clarity to this discussion.

    Here is a quick legend:

    EP = Early position
    MP = Middle position
    LP = Late position
    IP = In position
    OOP = Out of position

    Assume these two things in all of the following examples as well:

    • All stacks are 100bb to start the hand
    • All opponents have a low fold to flop CBet% (50% of less)

    Example #1 

    Hero raises with 5♣5♦ in EP and a fish calls in the blinds

    The flop comes:


    The fish checks

    Hero should CBet here even if the fish has a low fold to flop CBet%. There is definitely no fist pumping going on though. 

    Oftentimes in poker when there is no clearly most profitable decision it is best to just choose the one that sucks the least.

    And that is the case here. 

    Even though we don't expect to take it down a lot with a flop CBet we can probably still at least break even. Our opponent has already checked to us which indicates some weakness and this flop hits our perceived range hard. 

    The other option is checking back and allowing the fish to hit his overcards or complete some ridiculous draw for free. It is difficult to see any benefit for us in this. Therefore, I would rather just try and take down the pot on the flop. 

    Since this spot is pretty close if I was OOP in this hand it would be enough to change my decision some of the time. I would indeed just check and give up more often. The fact that it is very difficult for my hand to improve plays a role in this decision as well.

    Example #2 

    Hero raises with A♥J♥ in MP and a reg calls on the button

    The flop comes:



    I think this is a spot where once again we should CBet even versus a player who does not like to fold. We once again caught a board that is very good for our perceived range. 

    It should also be noted that we have a lot more outs if called this time with potentially two live over cards, a gutshot to the nuts and the backdoor nut flush draw.

    Just keep things simple and make your standard CBet in a spot like this especially against a reg. Regs will also be more likely to pull one off on the flop but give up on the turn if you continue with the aggression.

    Example #3

    Hero raises with 2♠2♥ in MP and gets called by a fish in the CO

    The flop comes:



    This is the classic spot where there is no way on earth that I am going to waste a CBet. Let's look at all of the odds that are stacked against us here:
    • Opponent is a calling station fish
    • The board hits his range hard (middle cards and a potential flush draw)
    • We have very few ways to improve our hand on later streets
    • We are OOP
    This is a spot where you should be simply checking and giving up. Making a CBet here is just lighting money on fire. 

    Example #4

    Hero raises with J♣T♣ in LP, a fish calls in the SB and a reg calls in the BB

    The flop comes:


    The fish checks
    The reg checks

    Even though we probably won't get both players to fold all that often we should make a CBet here. We have an open ended straight draw and possibly two live over cards. Also, both players have already checked to us which indicates some weakness.

    As I mentioned before though, you need to be more careful in multi-way pots especially against players who don't fold to flop CBets. You should have hit the board in some reasonable way like we have here. 

    If I had complete air here with a hand like 87 or A5 against two players like this I would likely just check and give up. Against one opponent it would be ok to take a stab. 

    Example #5 

    Hero raises in EP with A♥K♥, a fish calls in MP and a fish calls on the button

    The flop comes:



    A spot like this in particular is really difficult for a lot of people at these stakes. You have a huge hand preflop but you completely whiffed the flop versus a couple of bad players. To make matters worse, you are OOP. 

    I know it might not be an overly popular choice but the best decision here (by far) is to simply check and give up.

    You have to forget about how pretty your hand looked before the flop and realize that in this spot it will be difficult to get both of your opponents to fold. We know that they are calling if they have any piece and even bottom pair with no kicker is a sizable favorite against us.

    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold

    We are behind against a simple flush draw as well.
    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold

    Versus one player OOP here it is definitely much closer. I would probably be CBetting some of the time. But against multiple opponents it is definitely a better idea to simply give up. 

    Final Thoughts

    CBet spots on the flop at the micros really aren't as difficult as some people make them out to be. As I have mentioned before, one of the biggest keys to my success against the throngs of bad players and calling stations at these stakes is to simply be more patient. This means that sometimes you will need to simply check and give up even with a hand as strong as AK. 

    Against the weak/tight regs you can just keep things simple as well by barreling hard on all of the boards that hit your perceived range. If they choose to call you down or fight back they will often have a big hand and you can safely fold.

    Against the tricky opponents at these stakes who will float and raise you with a wide range there is obviously a lot more to say. You will need to consider things like balancing your range and taking unconventional lines a lot more often.

    That honestly is a topic for an entire other article. But I have indeed already written that other article before. You can go check it out here. 

    If you have any questions or comments about any of the example hands above feel free to leave a comment below. What is your strategy versus bad players on the flop?

    If you found this article helpful then do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    Flop Strategies Versus Bad Poker Players Who Do Not Like to Fold

  • 25 August

    PokerStars is becoming an international sports betting brand

    Rational Group was for years a company dedicated to just poker with its PokerStars brand Isai Scheinberg, a former senior programmer for IBM Canada, built Pokerstars from nothing to become the biggest and most famous online poker outlet in history. Since its inception in 2001, PokerStars has become synonymous with online poker for millions of...

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  • 21 August

    Supersized UK Majors & DTD Tickets Changes

    HiJust a quick note on improvements we have made from Friday August 30th for players who play our UK online tournaments {Nanos, Micros and Minis} and our online satellites to win DTD Tickets;1 ) DTD TICKETS - "PRICES REDUCED & PLAYERS CAN USE FOR D...

  • 18 August

    Should You Play Full Ring or 6max?

    A question that I get asked a lot is if you should play the full ring or 6max poker tables. I think there are a lot of different pros and cons to each so I am going to address them here in this blog post.What people especially want to know about are th...

  • 17 August

    Meet The People: Shaun Blackshaw

    Each and every Monday, we open up our blog and invite a partypoker player or member of staff in for a quick chat as part of our Meet The People campaign. This week, it is the turn of Shaun Blackshaw to sit in the hot seat. Shaun is a 24-year old who calls Walsall home. […]

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  • 10 August

    $25,000 heads-up -.come and get it :)

    Hello from sunny Gibralter, where I am visiting my friends at partypoker. I was about to just nip for a dip in the pool but Gary emailed me from cold and dreary Manchester to tell me I need to do a blog update for him or I'm fired :( Here is quick...

  • 10 August

    Meet The People: Nottingham’s Damon Bancroft-Hall

    “Practice, study and keep playing” are Damon Bancroft-Hall’s three tips to budding poker players, “then keep repeating them forever,” he adds. Solid advice we’re sure you’ll agree. They are tips that the 29-year old, who calls Nottingham home, puts into practice and if you need proof that they work you just have to take a […]

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  • 7 August

    Young Poker Players: Balancing School With Going Pro

    A lot of younger poker players contact me with big dreams about becoming a poker pro. They are usually somewhere between the age of 18 and 22. On occasion they are even younger than this which means that they shouldn't even be playing poker for real mo...

  • 4 August

    9 Ways to Improve Your Poker Game in 2015

    There is an incredible amount of educational material out there these days to help you improve your poker game. There is so much in fact that it can probably seem a bit daunting at first to someone who is just getting started online. Also, to complicat...

  • 3 August

    Meet The partypoker People: Tristan Chaplin

    Have you played poker at any of the partypoker WPT National UK festivals? Were you at the Grand Prix Million at Dusk Till Dawn, Nottingham? If so, you’ve most likely bumped into Tristan Chaplin who seems to frequent these events more than most. The popular 36-year old forklift truck driver from sunny Essex has been […]

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July, 2015

  • 31 July

    July Results

    July was my first full month playing full time since ~2013. I took it upon myself to stream my sessions live on Twitch as a means of a) entertainment for myself b) potential income generator. Point ‘a’ has been considerably successful and I thoroughly enjoy trolling the trolls, and non-trolls alike. Point ‘b’ is a work […]

  • 29 July

    The Best

    For the month of August, I’ll be involved in a Prop Bet vs Andrew “L.A.Ruseman” Russel.  Details of the bet are as follows: Prop begins August 1st, 2015, 12:01 AM PST and goes until August 31st, 2015, 11:59 PM PST. All games *started* during that time window are included in the prop. Bet is between […]

  • 27 July

    Meet The partypoker People: Moyra Davies

    Here at partypoker, we’re proud of the diversity of our customers. Men, women, young internet grinders and so-called old school poker players all flock to the partypoker tables and help create this amazing community. Combined, they help make partypoker what it is: poker for the people. The latest partypoker player to take some time from […]

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  • 26 July

    DTD / Partypoker Update

    As always there is so much going on at DTD, since partnering with partypoker we have made a conscious effort to "do less but better" however there still seems to loads going is quick update;MONTHLY DEEPSTACK: Back to 2 day format -...

  • 25 July

    Zoom Poker Strategy - The Essential Guide

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  • 24 July

    The ICM Paradox

    For my sins I’ve been playing lots of tournament poker lately. I’ve have a varying amount of success: I won the Sunday Warm Up for $65k, the 888 Sunday Challenge for $18.75k, and some smaller tournaments. The headlines, of course, do not tell the full picture, and in fact since starting to play again in […]

  • 22 July

    Linda Johnson - Living the Dream

    Those once in a lifetime friendships seem to happen to me more often than anyone deserves. My ten-year friendship with the “Hold’em Hotties” from Tulsa is no exception. Having met ...

  • 22 July

    The Significant Changes

    Last year, I wrote many blog posts detailing the high stakes, variance-filled roller coaster that was my first attempt at Supernova Elite.  It certainly wasn’t easy by any means, but about halfway through November I reached my goal and celebrated by taking the rest of the year off. Most of my readers are likely aware […]

  • 21 July

    The Pudding

    And it’s another blogging hiatus by yours truly. I’m always a bit unsure about how to come back to the blog, it’s much easier if there’s something pressing that drives me to write an entry but currently that’s not the case.  My last post was about my record breaking results in May, so I guess […]

  • 20 July

    The Step by Step Guide to Dominating in 3Bet Pots

    One of the most common and difficult situations for people in micro stakes cash games is playing in 3Bet pots. They are often unsure which hands they should be making a 3Bet with. And then of course what to do when they miss the flop and their opponent...

  • 15 July

    My Two Mistakes from WSOP 2015

    As I've gotten older, more mature, and better at tournament poker, the mistakes I make are much smaller, but not any less significant. When you look at professional golf as ...

  • 13 July

    Meet Our People: Colette Stewart

    Every Monday, the partypoker blog reaches out and chats to one of our valued customers about all things poker and a whole host of other subjects. This week’s edition has a slight twist on it in that instead of talking to one of our valued customers, we’re sitting down with one of our key employees […]

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  • 9 July

    Mike Sexton speaks – potential brand ambassadors

    In my previous blog post, Let’s hear it for the WPT, I discussed the many difficulty associated with obtaining sponsorship from mainstream companies, even for the most long-standing and reputable poker entities. Today I will be writing about individual sponsorship for players. Numerous poker players have enjoyed sponsorship deals from online poker sites and hopefully […]

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  • 7 July

    When Irish Eyes Smiled

    We’ve had the “Year of the Irish” before. The 96 clean sweep at the European Championship. The 99 Main Event. The 2008 1 2 3 4 in The Poker Million. ...

  • 6 July

    Karl Mahrenholz takes a look at London’s new casinos

    The packed Schedule in London allowed me the chance to visit two of the capital’s newest poker hotspots. Neither the Hippodrome or Aspers disappointed. The contrast of the two venues is quite stark. The Hippodrome has carved a casino out of a building very much still identifiable as an old theatre. The maze-like layout has...

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  • 6 July

    Meet The partypoker People: Paul Lambert

    Every Monday we reach out to the partypoker community as part of our Meet The partypoker People and then sit and chat about all things poker with them. This week’s subject, for want of a better word, is 28-year old Liverpudlian, Paul Lambert. Paul was introduced to the amazing game of poker when he and […]

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  • 5 July

    15 Mental Tips That Will Double Your Results at the Micros

    I say it all the time on this blog and elsewhere. Your results at the micros are largely based around how you think. The truth is that most players at these stakes are just starting out at poker and aren't very good yet.A very simple TAG strategy plus ...

  • 3 July

    The most popular man in the UK this week is……

    Simon bamboozles some bloke called Shaun DeebThe talk this week at DTD is about Simon's 4th place finish in the WSOP $10K PLO for $270,000, seems like the whole of the UK was either railing him in Vegas or back home, although the most popular man in th...

June, 2015

  • 29 June

    Meet The People: Gareth “gazthehippy1” Smirthwaite

    Every Monday is Meet The partypoker People Monday where the partypoker blog reaches out to our valued players and chats with them about all things poker. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to play only freerolls or if you’re a regular in our highest buy-in tournaments, we love find out more about you. In the […]

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  • 28 June

    How to Play Optimally Against Unknown Opponents

    Playing against an unknown opponent in poker
    Something that a lot of people struggle with in poker is how to play against unknown opponents. This is especially the case for people who play Zoom because the player pools are often large and therefore you rarely see the same people.

    Unknown opponents are difficult to play against for anybody though because by definition we don't know anything about them. If you are using a HUD then you will have 10 or less hands on them. This is not a useful sample size for any statistic.

    However, I do think that there are some baseline strategies that can be effective at the micros in particular when dealing with unknown opponents. I am going to discuss them in this article.

    Do Not Give Unknowns Too Much Credit 

    The first thing that I always suggest is to never give anyone at the micros too much credit especially when you know nothing about them. Most people at the micros (especially the lower end) have several large and glaring leaks in their game. This is why I always take a "wait and see approach" before giving anyone credit for being more than another mediocre reg or recreational player.

    However, this does not mean that we should assume that they are maniacs and make huge call downs with weak hands. Nor does this mean that we should value bet them insanely wide like we would versus a typical rec player fish.

    It simply means that we should assume that they are the typical break even or slightly losing weak/tight opponent that you see everywhere in today's games. We should never assume that they are thinking about the game on any kind of deep level but they aren't completely clueless either.

    We can probably expect to get a street or two of value with our big hands depending on what they have and we can also get away with a few bluffs here and there. On the flip side, when they apply a lot of pressure or fight back in a big way we can usually expect them to have what they are representing.

    Play ABC Versus Unknown Opponents

    Now the standard advice has always been to play ABC versus players who we have no information on. What is ABC poker?

    ABC poker is a bare-bones TAG approach to the micros where we:
    • Play a fairly tight and position based game
    • Be fairly aggressive and in control of hands most of the time
    • Be able to fold good hands versus big pressure from a passive opponent
    I can't really argue with any of this advice.

    I mean, it obviously makes sense. You should always have a reason for everything that you do in poker. And of course when we don't know anything about our opponent then it is hard to have one.

    So I don't think that you can go wrong with this strategy and I think that it should certainly form the foundation of your approach to playing against unknown opponents. However, I do think that there are some tweaks that we can make which will get us playing closer to optimal.

    Play More Aggressively That Normal Against Unknown Opponents

    Unknown opponent in poker
    An idea that I discuss frequently in Modern Small Stakes is something that I call the "first encounter theory". This basically suggests that we are likely to get more respect from somebody when there is no history and no information. 

    So for instance if I have never played against somebody before (I am assuming that they have no information on me either by the way), then I might take a hand like 55 or A9 and make a 4Bet with it instead of flatting or folding. 


    Because I think that a typical weak/passive player at the micros is likely to give me credit the first time and move on. In fact I think that they will fold all sorts of better hands and only continue if they happen to have the nuts. This is a huge win for me of course.

    Important Caveats

    1) Adjust Fast

    It is important to mention that I will adjust and show up with a much stronger hand the next time that I 4Bet them. This is because I expect them to give me much less credit. Micro stakes players typically give too much credit the first time but too little the second or the third.

    The same idea goes for postflop situations as well. I might be more inclined to make that turn raise or river bet as a bluff with a weak hand. I might 3Bet the flop with a draw more often and so on. But only the first time. Next time I will have the goods. 

    2) Never Against Recs

    Another extremely important point is that I will never do anything like this if I have noticed any of the signs that they are a bad poker player. These include:

    • Limping
    • Posting a blind OOP
    • Buying in for less than 100bb 
    • Not using the auto rebuy feature
    • Making ridiculously small bets postflop
    • One tabling

    And so on. Recreational players are of course well renowned for their prolific ability to hit the call button. We don't want to be 4Betting them with small pairs and weak aces.

    Induce Bluffs and Make the Call

    Something else that you should be doing versus unknowns is inducing a bluff and then making the call. The reason why is because we don't really have enough information to triple barrel them for value with a hand like TPTK for instance. However we also can't rule out the fact that they might be capable of making some silly bluff on the end either.

    I just discussed how we should be bluffing them a little bit wider at first. It is safe to assume that especially given the right circumstance, they might be thinking the same thing as well. Somebody sent me a hand the other day which I think perfectly illustrates this situation.

    NL10 6max (Stacks are 100bb Effective):

    Hero opens to 30c from MP with A♦J♣
    Villain #1 (unknown) calls from the BTN
    Villain #2 (unknown) calls from the SB

    The flop comes,


    Villain #2 checks
    Hero CBets
    Villain #1 calls
    Villain #2 folds

    The turn comes,


    Hero CBets
    Villain #1 calls

    The river comes,


    Hero checks,
    Villain #1 bets

    All bet sizes throughout this hand were roughly 75% of the pot. So hero was facing a bet of about 35bbs (or 1/3 of a stack) on the river into a pot of nearly 50bb. 

    The person who sent me this hand ended up folding. I think he played it perfectly up until the river including his check. However I would have called the bet instead of folding.

    The reason why is because I think that in a situation like this an unknown opponent can have quite a few bluffs in his range and even a silly "value bet" with a worse made hand from time to time. The texture of the board is really important here. There are a lot of missed straight and flush draws and very few big value hands besides 9x or a flopped monster that he could have.

    If you remember at the top of this article I said that we should not give unknowns too much credit. This is a perfect example of that. I think checking the river here is good. It is a little bit unreasonable to expect that we can get three streets of value here against anyone who isn't a huge fish.  

    However, when we do check here with a hand as strong as we have (TPTK) and we are up against an unknown on a board with a lot of missed draws then we do need to realize that we are inducing a lot of bluffs here. For this reason it is important to go ahead and make the call. 

    Final Thoughts

    I hope that this article helped provide some guidance to you in playing against unknown opponents. Honestly though, there just isn't any super secret top strategy out there that I or anyone else can give you to crush these types of players. We don't know anything about them and therefore it is impossible to know what the highest EV line is much of the time. 

    This is why I suggest that you always assume that they are the typical micro stakes opponent, fairly tight and weak/passive. We can probably get away with opening up our bluffing range at first against these players.

    At the same time it is reasonable to assume that some of them might be thinking the exact same thing. Therefore on boards that include a lot of missed draws where we beat everything except a huge hand we should be willing to make a big call sometimes. 

    In general though, you really should just be playing ABC poker against these players most of the time. When you don't have any history or HUD stats to refer to then you don't have a strong reason to take a non-standard line.

    If you choose to make some play against them then you are really just guessing. This is not something that we ever want to be doing in this game.

    Let me know in the comments what types of strategies you use against unknown opponents. Do you think it is a good idea to try and bluff them as I suggest in this article?

    If you found this article useful please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    How to Play Optimally Against Unknown Opponents

  • 26 June

    Katie Dozier - How Playing Poker Helped Me Write 50,000 Words in 6 Days

    On first glance, this title might seem the equivalent of: “The Surprising Connection between a Pineapple and a Spool of Thread.” After all, writing must involve long evenings spent with ...

  • 25 June


    Hi, I must blog more regulary, there is so much going on, to be honest if the blog software was easier to use I would, but sometimes when you write a full blog it just deletes itself, so if this doesnt get deleted, here is a quick heads-up on what is g...

  • 23 June

    A Rather Large Eskimo

    I put in a lot of time at this year’s Paddy Power Poker Irish Open, having the craic over breakfast with old guys like Sexton, Harrington, Hansen and O’Dea. It’s ...

  • 20 June

    The Complete Guide to Bankroll Management at the Micros

    A key factor in successfully moving up the stakes these days is utilizing proper bankroll management. The reason why is pretty simple. You can't win if you go broke! Poker is inherently a game full of ups and downs and you need to have a suitable bankr...

  • 14 June

    Which Poker Site Should You Play At?

    A question that people ask me all the time is what is the best poker site to play at. Sadly though, I often feel like my response leaves them feeling a bit unsatisfied. The reason why is that there are so many different factors that go into decidi...

  • 11 June


    As I stated in a blog a while back that I was planning to move on from the gambling world and alas that time is nearly upon us, as a result myself and Boylepoker have come to logical conclusion to go our separate ways. I think I have been writing blogs for Boylepoker since 2008. […]

  • 8 June

    The Gifs

    I can’t find the words to describe last month, so perhaps a few gifs will do the trick.           If you guessed the third one was my favorite, you are correct. I’m sort of excited.  Last month was, to put it mildly, incredible.  When the dust settled, I had my most […]

  • 8 June

    See you next month (hopefully)

    Before this Deepstack, Simon posted the 3 month targets that I had given him for building the Monthly Deepstack to a sustainable 1000 runners each month; June 700 / July 850 / August 1000. I bet he now wishes he hadn't done this now...

  • 2 June

    Longevity in Poker: The True Measure of Success

    I used to watch a lot of poker on TV. I will never forget a particular hand in the 2008 National Heads Up Poker Championship. A young and mostly unheard of kid "from the internet" named Tom Dwan sat down to play against a giant of the live game with an...

  • 1 June

    The Monthly Deepstack reloaded

    Brief history of our DeepstackOur first ever 'serious' tournament back in 2007 was our monthly £300+£36 Deepstack £25,000 Gtd. For years, Week 1 of every month was known as "DTD Deepstack Week" but recently, this has been eroded -&nbs...

  • 1 June

    Barry Shulman - Colossus Payout Uproar Is Mainly Unwarranted

    Everybody, including myself, was surprised to hear that the Colossus first place payout was “only” $638,880. As soon as I ran some numbers, however, I saw that it was a ...

  • 1 June

    Shannon Shorr - WSOP 2015 + Where I Am

    Hello all! I just checked my blog and noticed I haven’t written in 2015. Oops, time really flies. This entry comes from a house I’m renting with my boys Mike ...

  • 1 June

    The case for a truly competitive F2P poker game – a comparative study of online poker vs leading competitive f2p games

    This week, the poker innovation start-up I am currently devoting my time to will the investment/partnership pitch trail for real. After a couple of months of intense work we feel ready to meet potential investors and partners to discuss or vision and showcase our early-stage products. In short, we are focusing on innovating poker in […]

May, 2015

  • 28 May

    Linda Johnson - Friends Make the World a Better Place

    Friends Make the World a Better Place About 16 years ago while I was owner and publisher of Card Player Magazine, I had the good fortune to field a phone ...

  • 27 May

    The poker world according to Tony Dunst

    Tony Dunst, as by now you’re probably aware, has played poker against people from every corner of the globe and the wily professional has agreed to share his opinion about an array of nationalities he has come face to face with at the felt. We like to call this segment, the Poker World According to […]

    The post The poker world according to Tony Dunst appeared first on blog.

  • 27 May

    The Euro TR: The Netherlands

    This will be the second part of a four country ‘Trip Report.’  Part one (Sweden) can be found here.  After two nights in Stockholm City, we boarded a plane and flew into Amsterdam. When I was 21 or so, I remember chatting with my girlfriend at the time about when she visited Amsterdam.  She was […]

  • 26 May

    A bad beat at the worst possible time

    The cliché response to hearing about a bad beat is, “that’s poker”, a response that’s half sorry about that and half shut up about it. It’s rare to find a bad beat that’s interesting to anyone but the person who experienced it, the best stories typically involving two players who are rivals, dislike each other […]

    The post A bad beat at the worst possible time appeared first on blog.

  • 24 May

    Grand Prix Final Word: If at first you don’t………………..

    Thank you to all the partypoker and DTD staff and you 'the players' for working so hard on this event. The next Grand Prix Million will be in December 2015, $1M GTD and $100+$20 buy-in with provisional dates the week of 14th - 20th December. This will ...

  • 24 May

    Should You Play Cash Games, Tournaments or Sit and Gos?

    When you first start playing online poker you have a choice to make: Should I play cash games, tournaments or sit and gos? They are all poker. There is no difference in the rules. However, they are vastly different formats that each require a completel...

  • 23 May

    The Spin

    Throughout my life I’ve made several decisions purely based on the potential for personal growth. Instead of going to law school at UC Davis (Where I attended undegrad), I chose a school in an unfamiliar city where I didn’t know anyone. Back in 2012 when I was deciding between  Australia or Thailand, I ultimately chose […]

  • 21 May

    Devilfish Unplugged

    A few years ago, when Fintan Gavin’s Irish Poker Championship was moved to Galway, I was given the job of persuading big names chosen by the sponsor to come to ...

  • 21 May

    Irish Open (Dublin) - Trip Report

    From Bangkok, Thailand to Dublin, Ireland. I made that long journey to play in this year's Paddy Power Irish Open and end my 10 month hiatus from live poker tournaments.

    The venue for the Irish Open was the Hilton Doubletree hotel, who got my stay off to a sweet start. When I was checking in I was handed a large, fresh, warm and extremely delicious chocolate-chip cookie along with my room key.

    I think more hotels should do this kind of thing. The financial cost is small compared to the resulting customer satisfaction level. Maybe I love cookies too much, but if I'm a customer of yours and you unexpectedly hand me a delicious freshly baked cookie, chances are I'll write good things about your business on the internet. (Contact me for postal address to send all cookie bribes.)

    It was the night before the event kicked off and the venue was already buzzing. There was a ton of cash game action going on as well as a huge satellite to the main event and the bar was packed. Of course the bar was packed. If it was empty I sure as hell wouldn't think I was in Ireland.

    For most people it would be a tough choice, whether to dive straight into the poker or head to the bar and socialise with all the familiar faces from the poker community. I always do things differently though. Instead, I left the venue and headed straight off to Nando's on the other side of town. You see, I'm a bit partial to their hot spicy chicken and this was the first time that I'd been in a country with a Nando's for well over a year. Priorities, priorities.

    When I got back to the Doubletree I spent the rest of the night in the bar catching up with a bunch of my poker pals who I hadn't seen in almost a year. Everyone stayed there well into the small hours and some great banter was had.

    Main Event Day 1

    With the main event starting at 1pm and with a 600 big blind starting stack there was no reason not to wake after noon and then head out for a bit of brunch. Poker is a tough "job". I finally took my seat in the tournament just before 2pm, near the end of the first level. Back to work!

    The tournament was very well run, with excellent dealers. It seemed to be most of the same dealers and floor staff who work at the PokerStars events. I believe all those guys and girls work in a freelance capacity, which is exactly what you should do when you're elite at what you do.

    I didn't recognise anyone at my starting table, never a bad thing. Based on my table and from what I'd heard from my friends on the breaks, it seemed like the standard of play in this €3,500 event was considerably weaker than a €770 buyin UKIPT event. Value time!

    I was splashing around, playing a bunch of small pots for about an hour before I got involved in a big one. Of course, I had the goods. I flatted a 3-bet out of position with 44 and flopped a set. Unfortunately, my opponent flopped a bigger set with TT.

    Set-over-set in a 3-bet pot is usually a tournament-ending situation but fortunately we were so deep at that stage of the tournament that I only lost a third of my stack. I still had 200 big blinds so I took the cooler on the chin and continued enjoying my poker. The tournament room was buzzing, the atmosphere was incredible and I was soaking it up.

    Incredible atmosphere here in Dublin. The place is buzzing. Love it. #PPIrishOpen

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 3, 2022 at 7:51am PDT

    I did have one tough player on my direct left but he made a dubious hero call to bust out. Not versus me unfortunately, but when he was tanking I was still sweating so hard for him to call. I knew that he was very likely beat, and I wanted him gone from the table and replaced by a random player.

    Unfortunately that random player happened to be a world class player, Dominik Nitsche. My first words to him were "oh, f*** off!!!". Fortunately he was smart enough to take that as a compliment and he replied "don't worry, I have a short stack. Take my advice and don't try to bluff anyone in this tournament, they never, ever fold."

    I couldn't help myself though. But yeah, it turns out he was right, I'd have had an easier job trying to take players off marginal hands at some stupid Zynga play money game than I would in the Irish Open main event. After spewing off a chunk of chips I sat with my tail between my legs and nittied it up until the dinner break.

    Every day we were given a free dinner voucher for a buffet in the restaurant. In these all-you-can eat situations I am completely obsessed with maximizing the financial value of what I consume. It's like a challenge.

    I estimated that the salmon fillets had the highest € per calorie value so I stacked half a dozen of them on a plate, along with some vegetables - which have a very low € per calorie value but you've still got to be balanced.

    With a full stomach I started to waddle out of the restaurant, before I noticed my pal Nick Abu Risk at one of the tables. I went over to say hi and that's when I noticed there was a dessert area with massive slices of chocolate fudge cake and fresh cream. Damn! On one hand I was full, but on the other hand I'm sure as hell not passing up on free chocolate cake, so I somehow managed to shovel a massive slice down my throat then wrapped up another couple of slices in some napkins and took them back to my room for later.

    Back in the tournament and I was playing a bunch of pots with one particular player. "Where are you from?", I asked him. "Holland", he said. Then followed Dominik with the wise crack "Oh, you should get on well with him Dale.....". Ha ha ha.

    The most important hand of the day for me came in the BB400 level. I was playing a 20K stack and with QhJc I 3-bet the player on my left. He called out of position and the flop came Qs9s8c. He checked. I bet, and he instantly check-raised me to half my remaining stack.

    That's a tough spot. JT, 99 and 88 are all in his range, But so are many more hands that have pair + draw or combo draws. It just felt like a draw with the speed that he bet and the sizing but I wasn't that confident getting my stack in. I was either going to be crushed or up against a big draw. I was never getting it in way ahead. But there was already a ton in the pot.

    After a couple of minutes in the tank my opponent called the clock on me. I shoved my stack in with 3 seconds remaining. He flipped over KTs for an over card, gutter and a flush draw.

    Fortunately I won the flip.

    Towards the end of the day there was a lot of noise coming from one end of the room. The players who had already busted were taking part in a sumo wrestling competition for €500 with the legendary Mad Marty MC'ing.

    (video taken by Christian Zetzsche)

    Great banter, just the kind of stuff that I was expecting from the Irish Open, although some of the older players were complaining about the noise. You can't please everyone I guess.

    I had one old geezer at my table actually call the clock on me because I was talking to the dealer during a hand. In my defence, I didn't realise that the action was on me, it was just 10 seconds and the dealer was really, really, really cute.

    I played out the hand and then said sorry to the bloke who called the clock, being the bigger man in the situation. "I don't accept your apology" he scorned, "You're wasting everyone's time, just shut up and play poker". What a miserable git.

    It looked like I was going to end the day with not much more than the starting stack but then on the very last hand I was lucky to pick up AA. I was even luckier than the guy on my right picked up KK. So I ended the day with a more respectful 72,400 chips, about 2.5 starting stacks.

    Doubled up with AA vs KK on the last hand of the day. 72k for tomorrow. #PPIrishOpen

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 3, 2022 at 2:58pm PDT

    It was then off to the bar for some more value as Paddy was running a "flip for your pint" promotion. You could order you drink then flip a coin. If you called it right then Paddy paid for your drink. Sound.

    There were loads of shrewd poker pros at the bar looking to maximise their expected value of the drinks promo. Jake and I got chatting to two of them, two legends of the game, Surinder Sunar and Mike Sexton.

    At the bar in Dublin with poker legends. #PPIrishOpen

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 3, 2022 at 5:03pm PDT

    Surinder was double-fisting with a pint in each hand, obviously getting the full value from the drinks promotion. Mike was fascinated with the idea of living in Thailand and the lifestyle there so was asking me tons of questions. I'm pretty sure I convinced him that he should at least take his next vacation there.

    Main Event Day 2

    I woke up with a couple of hours to spare before play resumed on day 2. So I sat in bed with the table-draw and google / hendon mob researching my opponents (another great table) then I went out for breakfast with my friend Cristin Maschmann to some poncy organic restaurant called Farm.

    She had been there plenty of times before and suggested that I try the best thing that they serve, Spanish Omelette. No, thanks. I didn't come to Ireland to eat some daft Spanish food, I had my eyes set on the Full Irish Breakfast.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 4, 2022 at 3:37am PDT

    No trip to Ireland would be complete without the full fry up breakfast.

    I returned to the hotel and found my table. I was full of energy and ready to start accumulating chips.

    And so I did. On the very first hand I picked up AK under the gun and 4-bet with it pre-flop versus the big blind who had a similar stack size of ~90BBs. He called. The flop came rags, he checked, I bet, he called. His range at that point is mostly overpairs and maybe AK and some flopped sets.

    There was about 45BB in the pot and we each had about 68BB behind. Fortunately the turn was a K. He checked, I bet again, about 20BB and he tank-folded.

    I think that I made a mistake there and should have checked back the turn to get another bet out of him on the river, given that I have a solid idea of his range. I think my line, 4-betting from UTG on the first hand of the day and betting flop and turn is just too strong to be a bluff most of the time and he can fold a hand like JJ. Whereas with JJ he may lead small on the river or check-call a bet. I also don't go fully broke the times that he flopped a set.

    It's funny how looking back on my own hands it seems so clear what line I should have taken, but at the time I make stupid mistakes. I guess not playing for almost a year doesn't help.

    I was doing well, with over 100K chips, putting me top ten in the chipcounts.

    Jude Ainsworth, the extremely aggressive Irish player, got moved to my table. He was getting into a 3, 4, 5 betting war with the young Finnish fella on my left every other hand. My own attempts at getting involved in these battles just saw me spew off chips.

    After losing a pot to Jude I picked up KK the next hand. The Finnish fella opened under the gun and I instantly 3-bet him. The action got back round to him and he 4-bet me.

    At that point I decided that the best way to play it would be to just call with the KK and keep my range wide. I think he'd be folding his bluffs to my 5-bet most of the time, although he's Finnish so you never know. By just calling I can get another big bet out of him when he c-bet leads the flop.

    The flop came all rags, rainbow board. He lead the flop and I decided to take my time and then just call. This left a pot-sized bet left in my stack for the turn. The turn was another rag, he checked to me and I shoved in my stack. He snap called with AA.

    There was no K on the river and he had me slightly covered so it was time for me to GTFO. I've never felt so bad busting a poker festival before. It's a fairly standard way to bust out and I didn't play the hand badly but it was more the fact that I was doing so well up until then, it was my first poker tournament in so long and I didn't know when the next one would be. Painful.

    I returned to my room in a daze. I had a good sulk for 10 minutes before I decided to pick myself up and deal with my pain in the gym. The Doubletree has an excellent gym on the top floor with brand new equipment and a nice view, so it was a good way to get off tilt.

    Awesome view from the gym at Hilton Doubletree in Dublin. #PPIrishOpen

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 4, 2022 at 9:44am PDT

    I was the only person in the gym. Meanwhile, downstairs, there were people in their hundreds at the bar. I prefer to drown my sorrows with food though and the free dinner buffet was just a couple of hours away, so I was busy working up as big an appetite as I possibly could. Which turned out to be five plates worth of an appetite.

    At night we had a lads night out on the town. We headed to some classy place but were turned away by the bouncer like we were riff-raff.

    I was wearing a Jaws T-shirt that I bought for something like two quid at a market in Thailand and Jake was wearing a pair of white trainers, but overall our group was reasonably presentable. So you'd think that it wouldn't be too much trouble for the bouncer to accept a €100 handshake? Nope, he refused. Unbelievable. How well paid are bouncers in Dublin that they can turn that down?

    So it was on to plan B, the nightclub across the road that I'm sure would have let us in even if we were all wearing Borat man-kinis. "This place is really scummy, but it's good-scummy!" Jake promised. And he was good to his word. It was exactly as described and we had a cracking night.

    Messy night out in Dublin with the lads. #Dublin #Ireland

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 4, 2022 at 8:48pm PDT

    It's been a while since I've danced to S Club 7, 5IVE, Coolio, Cotton Eye Job, Mambo Number 5 or that stupid Macerena song so I'd forgotten how much fun it was. Just as well that the DJ at Copperface Jack's hadn't updated his playlist in the last 15 years.


    The next day I attempted to make Easter Sunday a fun day by playing the PLO side event.

    Playing the four card game at the Irish Open. #PLO #Dublin #PPIrishOpen

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 5, 2022 at 7:15am PDT

    Unfortunately it wasn't much fun or very exciting. I lost half my chips when I was priced into calling pot sized bets down to the river with a wrap and flush draw versus what I believed to be top set of aces.

    I lost the rest when I 3-bet QJT8 double suited from the big blind versus a button open. He 4-bet pot which just about put me all in. The flop ran out nice 974 giving me a big wrap, the turn brining a flush draw but it was all a big tease as the river paired the board and my opponent's AAxx held up.

    That was it for me as far as poker went. The rest of the day was spent at the other type of green felt tables. Paddy had organized a speed pool competition where the winner got to play against 1997 snooker World Champion Ken Doherty for €500.

    John Eames and Charles Chattha made the final 6 so we had some good guys to route for. There were around 200 spectators around the table and the place was jumping. I've never seen that kind of atmosphere at a poker tournament before.


    I had one full day left in Dublin and wanted to get outside, away from the poker and do something fun. The previous days I could see big hills in the distance from the view out of the window at the hotel gym and thought it would be a good idea to hike up them. Some of the local lads told me that the easiest place for me to go do that would be Bray.

    Unfortunately I couldn't convince anyone to go with me. It's not easy getting poker players to do anything that doesn't involve gambling or drinking and the weather was really awful so that was no surprise.

    What was a surprise was the awesome weather when I woke up early on Easter Monday to take the trip to Bray. It was about 18 degrees C with no wind, which is about as good as you're ever going to get in Ireland at the beginning of April.

    Took a train down the coast to the seaside town of Bray. #Ireland

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 6, 2022 at 8:10am PDT

    There's a train that goes from the city centre directly to Bray in about half an hour, so that was easy. The town was just like those seaside towns in the UK that I used to visit when I was a little kid. I thought that all those places had kind of died but Bray was absolutely packed with people. The beach was made of rocks, not sand, and there were still people all over it. Every ice cream stand or fish and chip shop had a queue of people two dozen deep.

    I didn't stay in the town with all the day-trippers. I was eager to hike up the hills and enjoy some peace and tranquillity.

    Enjoying a sunny Easter Monday hiking up Bray Head. #Ireland

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Apr 6, 2022 at 8:27am PDT

    I was up those hills for hours. Filling my lungs with fresh air, getting some good exercise and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

    When I was hiking up the first hill I saw an Irish father putting sunscreen on his child's face. I remember laughing to myself "it's a lovely day sure, for the time of year, but even the Irish aren't going to get burnt in this weather".

    Well, after 6 hours outdoors, I returned to the hotel, had a hot shower, looked in the mirror and my face and neck were bright red. I got sunburnt.

    I can't remember a time during my 4 years living in Thailand when I got sunburnt, then I fly to Ireland at the start of April and............ feckin hell!

    The trip to Bray was a nice way to conclude my trip to Dublin. I always make the effort to do something fun and non-poker related when I travel for poker. Even if the poker goes bad I still have fond memories of the trip, and that was certainly true for this one.

  • 20 May

    Fixing Your Red Line: 9 Simple Ways to Increase Your Non-Showdown Winnings

    Fixing Your Red Line: 9 Simple Ways to Increase Your Non-Showdown Winnings
    People often ask me what their red line should look like at the micros. If you don't know what a red line is, it is an indicator of your non-showdown winnings in Pokertracker or Hold'em Manager. Basically, it tells you if you are winning the game within the game. That is, taking it away from your opponent without having to show the best hand.

    Now when people ask me about this I always tell them that at extremely low stakes such as NL2, NL5 and NL10 not to worry too much about their red line. The reason why? It is almost certainly going to be negative because these stakes are filled with calling station donkeys who don't fold anything! Frequently trying to bluff them out of pots is very unlikely to be a profitable strategy.

    And before you even ask, yes, my red line is negative at these stakes too. I am not just saying all of this to make you feel better. The green line is the only one that actually matters!
    red line graph pokertracker
    Lost the battle but won the war!

    However, when you get to limits above this (i.e., NL25+) the recreational players become harder to find and the regs understand the game quite a bit better. Therefore it is important that you start winning these smaller battles where no cards get shown down on a more consistent basis. This doesn't mean that you need to be the bluffing champion of NL50 in order to beat it. However, I do think that you should be aiming for at least a break-even result in non-showdown winnings by these stakes.

    So what are some ways that you can go about doing this?

    1. Steal the Blinds More Often

    This is really the most obvious way to improve your non-showdown winnings. Every time you take down the blinds uncontested your red line goes up. It's that simple. And even though you only win a small amount, when you think about just how many hands end on this street (preflop), you can see that this will quickly add up in a big way.

    Now it is important not to go overboard with stealing the blinds. Several years ago it became fashionable to raise it up with almost any two especially if the opponents in the blinds were nits. This strategy is not nearly as effective (at least at the upper end of the micros) in today's games because many regs are now aware of what you are up to. They have therefore adjusted by 3Betting you light more often.

    In most situations at the micros I think you should be aiming to steal the blinds with about 30-40% of your hands.
    how to improve your red line at the micros
    The yellow hands above represent roughly the top 35% of all hands.
    If you are significantly below this amount (or even significantly above it) then this could be affecting your red line results in a big way.

    2. Play More Hands In Position

    Another super obvious way to go about fixing your red line is to simply play more of your hands in position. In my first book Crushing the Microstakes I recommend playing at least 3 times as many hands from the button as from UTG. I also recommend a pretty tight range from the blinds.

    The reason for this?

    It is simply always going to be much easier to take the pot away when you are last to act. You get to see what your opponent thinks about his hand before you even do anything. Basically you are "wearing the pants" in the hand on every single postflop street. They don't know what you are going to do. They have to react to you.

    Now once again you don't want to get too crazy with this strategy at the upper end of the micros in today's games. Good regs will notice that you are abusing the crap out of late position and only playing the nuts in EP and from the blinds. They will make adjustments and easily exploit you because of this.

    However, you should still make sure that you are playing a solid majority of your hands when it is likely that you will be in position after the flop. To check your actual statistics by position in Pokertracker 4 make sure that you select the following at the top:

    non-showdown winnings pokertracker

    After that make sure you select these options on the left panel:

    red line pokertracker

    Change the drop down menu to "Position" if you are looking at 6max and enter the limit and the dates below. Your VPIP and PFR numbers by position should then appear in the center top panel.

    3. Float More

    The ability to float is one reason why playing your hands in position more often is so valuable. Many regs, especially at the lower end of the micros, still play primarily fit or fold after the flop. That is, if they don't hit their set, top pair or a solid draw then they fold versus the CBet.

    The problem with this strategy is that you are only going to make one of these hands about 1/3 of the time. This is why you see many of these regs with a fold to flop CBet of 70% of even higher in some cases. Believe me, the guy who is making the CBet (and improving his red line when you fold) does not have something good 70% of the time! These people are giving away a ton of free equity by folding a lot more often than they need to.

    So when you are in position you should be floating the flop a little bit more often when you have middle pair, bottom pair or a weak draw (gutshot etc.). You can even do it from time to time with ace high or king high. You should especially be looking to float more often if you are up against one of the regs who gives up a lot on the turn (big difference between flop and turn CBet).

    fixing your red line micros
    Float guys like this all day! CBets the flop 73%, only 38% on the turn.

    4. Play Your Draws More Aggressively

    A great way to take down more pots without showdown is to use your draws as a weapon, That is, semi-bluff with them. Instead of flatting on the flop with your flush draw or open ended straight draw why not raise with it instead? You need to always remember one of the cardinal rules of poker that I just alluded to heavily above:

    Most of the time in poker nobody has anything very good at all! Click to Tweet!

    Truly understanding this statement is really at the heart of improving your non-showdown winnings and red line. So therefore, when we have some reasonable equity (like we do with a flush draw or straight draw), then we should be using this as an opportunity to make our opponent fold.

    Now we do not want to do this every single time. We always want to make sure that we are mixing things up against thinking opponents in all situations. This allows our play to be much less predictable. I think raising 50% of the time sounds perfectly fine in this situation though. You could accomplish this by simply raising your flush draw or straight draw every other time regardless of the opponent.

    5. Double Barrel More

    Another way to improve your red line is to follow up with another CBet on the turn more often. As I mentioned above we can take advantage of people who give up on the turn too easily by simply floating more often. Well the exact opposite is true as well. We can take advantage of people with a high float flop CBet by sticking another bet in their face more often.

    non-showdown winnings at the micros

    Now again, we don't want to go too overboard with this. There has been a noticeable upturn in recent years of micro stakes regs suddenly turning into "double barrel monkeys." So much so that I have started just double floating these guys or even raising the turn quite frequently.

    The key thing here is to make sure that you have reasonably balanced CBetting numbers across all three streets. Your flop CBet is always going to be a bit higher than your turn and river CBets. But it should not be way, way higher like we saw above. I think a 20 point maximum difference is a good benchmark. 30+ is becoming noticeably unbalanced.


    NL10 6max

    Villain: 19/15/3, fold to flop CBet 55%

    Hero raises in EP with 4♥4♣ and gets called from the button

    Flop: J♠6♠2♥

    Hero CBets
    Villain calls

    Turn: K♣


    The king on the turn is just too irresistible. We should fire again. This player does not fold all that often on the flop either at 55%. If we keep applying pressure in a situation like this (and as long as there is no significant history) we should expect a fold more often than not from a fairly tight looking micro reg.

    > Hero CBets again.

    6. Triple Barrel Bluff More

    Disclaimer: Do not even think about using this tactic if you play at NL10 or below. You will get snap called...just because. 

    There is no quicker way to blast your red line upward than by taking down pots on the river uncontested. The reason for this is simple. This is the street where on average the pot size is going to be the highest. Now of course frequently bluffing on this street and getting caught is about the worst thing that you can do for your blue line (showdown winnings). And this will ultimately affect the only line that really matters (your green one).

    So when I suggest triple barrel bluffing more this is something that should be done very sparingly and your reasons for doing so should be very well thought out. However, this can be a highly effective tactic against double floaters because they usually aren't willing to go all the way with it at the micros. And even if you do get caught once in awhile it is amazing for your image!

    7. Value Bet Thinner

    The simple act of value betting thinner means that you are going to make people fold more often. This is always a good thing for your red line. Most regs at the micros are afraid to value bet too thin. That or they will only do it versus the recreational players.

    This is a mistake because you are actually missing out on quite a bit of value versus the calling station regs who will look you up with middle pair or worse (high WTSD%). This is especially the case if you have a bad image like I suggest you create versus them on a regular basis. Make them think you are a maniac!

    Frequently value betting thinner will actually in and of itself help you accomplish this. This is because it will increase your Total AF significantly on their HUDs. And any time you are simply betting more often will make others naturally assume that you are bluffing up a storm.

    "He can't have it every single time!"

    8. Semi-Bluff Raise the Turn More

    Again, this tactic is not for NL10 and below players. You will get called. Don't send me hate mail!

    Semi bluff raising the turn is a more advanced play that you still rarely see at the micros. You will see plenty of regs who are capable of it at NL100 and higher though. Basically it involves taking a hand such as a flush draw, straight draw or even just middle pair and simply raising with it.

    Now once again this is not something that you want to overdo or it could get really hazardous to your win rate. Do not for instance raise the turn with a draw against a high WTSD% calling station reg or recreational player. However, it can be an effective tool to use on occasion versus regs who have a high double barrel and a low WTSD%.

    9. Bluff Raise the River More

    Bluff raising the river is another advanced play that you need to be very careful in attempting. If you play at NL2, NL5 or NL10 don't even think about it.
    red line in poker

    But once again, when made for the right reason, against the right opponent and in the right situation this can be an effective tool to take down a few pots uncontested and increase your non-showdown winnings.


    NL25 Full Ring

    Villain: 14/11/3, WTSD 23% (no significant history)

    Hero flats an MP open on the button with AJ

    Flop: 852

    Villain CBets
    Hero raises
    Villain calls

    Turn: 3

    Villain checks
    Hero checks

    River: 7

    Villain leads

    We know that we have pretty much no chance of winning this hand at showdown by calling. Also, our opponent's hand feels like some weakish over-pair trying to get thin value. We also know that he doesn't like going to showdown very much and probably views us as fairly tight since there is no real history.

    We could just go ahead and fold. That is the easy way. And please make no mistake, this is what I would do here most of the time. I do think it is a good idea to be capable of raising with air in a spot like this on occasion as well though. It will do wonders for your red line also, that is for sure.

    Bluffing 101

    As I always mention when bluffing, it is very important to make sure that you are telling a story that makes sense. Always ask yourself, are there several strong hands given this action and this board that I might normally take the exact same line with?

    In this instance the answer is yes.

    I would raise the flop with a flush draw sometimes here and it got there on the river. There are several sets, two pairs or even a higher over-pair that I would commonly show up here with as well.

    > Hero Raises!

    Note: If you get away with something like this you better be damn sure to show up with the nuts against this guy next time. Regs tend to remember hands like this for a long time.

    Final Thoughts

    Having the sickest red line ever is definitely not necessary to beat the micros at all. And often your non-show down winnings will be largely determined by your style of play. There are many different ways to skin a sheep at the micros.

    And if you play at the lowest stakes (NL2, NL5 and NL10) focusing on your red line too much will probably negatively affect your bottom line. The green line (your overall winnings) is the only one that actually matters. Just win. Nobody cares how you got there.

    However, by the time you get to about NL25 I think that improving your non-showdown winnings and red line is something that you should be paying a reasonable amount of attention to. You will be playing more hands against decent regs and winning these smaller battles will play a bigger role in your overall results. Hopefully some of the strategies listed in this article will help you achieve this.

    Let me know in the comments below what you think about all this red line business and the ways to improve it in this article. If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    blackrain79 - micro stakes strategy

  • 15 May

    Alec Torelli: My One Piece of Advice

    Poker pro and coach Alec Torelli shares thoughts from his experiences teaching others, giving advice to those who want to improve but have failed to do so.  Share: Facebook Twitter Google+ Linkedin   

  • 15 May

    The Euro TR: Sweden

    Got back from my European vacation a little over two weeks ago and am overdue on a blog post. To my credit, I’ve tried to sit down and blog about the trip.  Several times.  And I just couldn’t do it. There’s simply too much to talk about — four countries, multiple cities, several flights, a […]

  • 15 May


    I’ve mostly been busying myself with seeing how many gin and tonics I can drink in a night and odd-balling around Edinburgh trying to find a reliable source of income. I did, however, manage to arrange a holiday to Japan and Thailand with two of my good friends that was an amazing experience all round. Except […]

  • 15 May

    The Poker Academy - Launch Day

    Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it?? Launch Day.  Finally.  This has been a long time coming and I’m excited.  Rep and I have put thousands of hours ...

  • 14 May

    From humble beginnings…….

    The first Grand Prix was in October 2010, £40,000 Gtd, £50+£10 buy-in needing 800 entrants, I was reading my blog post thinking how live poker has ch...

  • 14 May


    Back in Ireland grinding the SCOOPs. After really good SCOOP series in 2013 and 2014 I was hoping to make it 3 in a row. Only a few days in and it already looks like its going to be a success. A few cashes in some holdem tournaments was followed up by a 4th in […]

  • 13 May

    How to Deal With Poker Downswings and Tilt

    Downswings and tilt are the most difficult part of the game of poker for most people. But in many ways they are also one of the most beautiful parts of the game. This is because they are the proving ground upon which winners and losers and separated. W...

  • 11 May

    Modern Small Stakes is Now Available For Kindle and iPad

    I am very happy to announce that Modern Small Stakes is now finally available for Kindle and iPad! The mobi and epub versions of the book should also look way better than the pdf on most tablets, smart phones and other mobile devices.Also, as promised,...

  • 9 May

    Hear The partypoker People

    Every second Saturday, through one of our four new social media segments, Hear the People, we’re opening the doors to our partypoker players because we understand it’s you, our loyal followers, making partypoker tick. You play on the site day-in day-out and we want to ensure you have the best possible experience each time you […]

    The post Hear The partypoker People appeared first on blog.

  • 5 May

    7 Strategies Guaranteed to Boost Your Win Rate at the Micros

    7 Strategies Guaranteed to Boost Your Win Rate at the Micros
    If there is one thing that everybody agrees on in poker it is that they want a higher win rate. Having a higher win rate (or big blinds per hundred hands as we refer to it in online poker) simply means that you are more efficient at the tables. It would be like getting paid $30 dollars an hour instead of $20 for instance at your job. All of the sudden your time spent there is simply worth more money.

    Another added benefit to having a higher win rate is lower variance. The higher your win rate, the less downswings and losing days that you will have. As many know my win rates in past years at the lowest stakes were so high that I would literally almost never have a losing day. This isn't always the case anymore with the games tightening up a bit and recreational players being harder to find. However, with sufficient volume and by following the 7 strategies below I can still come close to that goal. 

    1. Reduce the Number Of Tables That You Play

    Without a doubt reducing the number of tables that you play is a guaranteed way to boost your win rate. I used to 24 table all the time and switched to playing 8-12 tables just a few years ago. My win rate has at least doubled at all stakes because of this.

    When you drastically cut the tables like this you simply have way more time to pay attention to the two most important determinants of your win rate at the poker tables:
    • Game selection
    • Quality poker decisions
    This is one of the main reasons why I never answer the "what is a good win rate" questions anymore (except for this post that I wrote last year). You simply can't compare the win rate of a 24 table player with an 8 tabler. Or even an 8 tabler with a 1 tabler. They are completely apples and oranges.

    The bottom line is that if you want your win rate to go up, then play less tables.

    2. CBet More

    The old raise preflop, fire on the flop and then fire again on the turn still works surprisingly well at most levels of the micros even in today's games. Some people have clued in for sure and will float you or raise you more often especially by the time you get to NL25. However, there are still tons of regs, especially at the lowest stakes, who will almost always give up versus this line unless they have a very strong hand.

    Now you don't want to go overboard with this strategy. Many people do use a HUD these days even at stakes as low as NL2 and NL5. If you are CBetting the flop and turn 90% of the time, this is going to stick out like a sore thumb. However, I think that something in the neighborhood of 70% on the flop and 50% on the turn is still very effective. It also isn't high enough to make it look like you are terribly out of line.

    3. Play More Hands

    If you don't get involved in the hand, you can't win. It's that simple.

    The highest win rates possible in any game are always going to be achieved by the best LAG (loose and aggressive) players. It is really easy to see why this is the case. They are going to win the same amount over the long run with all of their good hands as the tighter players.

    However, they are also going to be involved in a bunch of other pots with mediocre holdings, which if they can win in some manner, will allow them to tap into a profit stream that tighter players simply do not have access to (because they folded preflop).

    One of the easiest ways to start opening up your game is actually to follow strategy #1 above and play less tables. Every time I reduce the tables I see so many more +EV situations to get involved in. Please note that this is not the same as getting "bored" and playing a bunch of bad hands in a sub-optimal way like recreational players are prone to do.

    I am currently working on a huge post about how to open up your game which will probably get released next week. Of course, if you are on my newsletter then you will be notified the instant that it goes live.

    Wait, you aren't on my newsletter yet? Click here to fix that problem immediately.

    4. Snipe the Jesus Seat

    There is nothing more profitable in all of poker than getting the seat directly to the left of a recreational player. You can isolate the crap out of them preflop and value bet and bluff them non-stop after the flop. These players lose their money at a truly incredible pace and therefore having direct position on them in nearly every single hand is simply rocket fuel for your win rate.

    There are many ways to get the Jesus seat in today's games. One way that I have spoken about on many occasions is to simply start your own tables. Bad players do not like to wait around for a seat to open up. They have a limited amount of time to play poker and they want to start splashing around right away. You can just immediately rejoin if they happen to Jesus seat you.

    But an even better strategy than this is to simply observe a bunch of tables that a reg has started and as soon as the fish sits snipe the seat to their left. This and many other strategies on how to locate the fun players and get the right seat against them are included in my ultimate guide to table selection article.

    5. Value Bet More

    When I talk about value betting I am specifically referring to river situations. This street is hugely important to your win rate at all levels of the game. One thing that you should always do before making a decision on the river is check your opponent's WTSD% (went to showdown).

    Here are some rough rules of thumb:
    • 24% or less = needs a strong hand to go to showdown
    • 25% or more = will go to showdown with weaker holdings
    Now obviously there are different degrees to these numbers. You should not treat somebody who goes to showdown 18% of the time the same as somebody who goes to showdown 24% of the time. But in my experience you can kind of find a median point with most players at about 25%. Half are above, half are below.

    The ones who are above are going to look you up lighter and lighter especially as the number approaches the 30's and beyond. And in contrast the players with a WTSD below 25% are going to make more disciplined folds especially the lower the number goes. 

    So if you have a weak hand like middle pair, bottom pair or even ace high versus a 25%+ WTSD opponent you should be asking yourself if there is any value in making a bet on the river. Often you can get a crying call out of some ridiculous holding especially if you pay attention to your bet sizing. 

    6. Bluff More

    As you can probably guess then, versus the players with a 24% or less WTSD we should be looking for opportunities to bluff on the end. One of the most important things to keep in mind with bluffing though is that your story is believable. 

    For instance: 

    Suppose you have JT and check/call versus a tight player on this flop:


    It then goes check/check on the turn when a blank card hits:


    The river blanks out as well:


    You decide to fire out a bluff.

    This is not a very well thought out attempt to win the pot. You are probably going to get snap called by any ace here (and quite possibly some other hands too) because your line represents very little and your hand reeks of a missed flushed draw.

    If you had instead mixed up your play at some point during the hand though such as check/raising the flop and firing the turn then all of the sudden your bluff here might get a lot more credibility. You might get a tight player to even fold a strong ace with this kind of pressure.

    Bottom line when bluffing: Do it versus the guys who are capable of making folds (24% or less WTSD). But equally as important is making sure that your line makes sense to your opponent. Make sure that you are clearly representing several hands that beat him. 

    7. Take Pots That Nobody Wants

    Having a great red line (won money without showdown) is not something that is essential at the micros, especially at the lowest stakes. With many calling stations around it can be difficult to get away with a lot of bluffs. And so many of the biggest winners at NL2, NL5 and even NL10 show negative winnings in this category. However, it is still important at all levels to fight for the pots that nobody seems to want. 

    You will of course be in this situation a lot at the lower limits because you still have plenty of players who think that limping is a good idea. Now it would definitely be a mistake to fight for every pot when you check your big blind with Q2o. However you should certainly be capable of taking stabs at it from time to time when you think that your opponent is weak or making a call if you think they they are bluffing. 

    The same idea applies in most raised pots as well. Many regs at the micros these days are notoriously weak on the later streets and you can pick up pots that they have given up on by simply making a bet. On occasion you can also take a crazy line like raising the river because you know that they won't call you with their top pair. The key is not to overdue it or else they might start looking you up light. 


    These are a few of the ways that are guaranteed to boost your win rate in today's games at the micros. None of them are really ground-breaking but you would be surprised at how many regs these days still play way too many tables on auto-pilot for 1bb/100 or 2bb/100. 

    That would be most of them in fact. 

    This doesn't have to be you. Big win rates are still definitely doable at the micros these days. However, you need to cut down on the tables, think outside the box a little more and make sure that you are consistently getting the right seat in the right games. 

    Let me know in the comments below what you think of these 7 strategies. Would you add any new ones or remove any existing ones? If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    7 Strategies Guaranteed to Boost Your Win Rate at the Micros

April, 2015

  • 29 April

    Kite surfing in Dubai

    Popped back out to Dubai for a couple of weeks to sort a few things out and some clean living. The period from May to August is always the biggest of my year. My 3 favorite events fall in this period 1. The Scoop Series 2. The Wsop 3. The Seminole Hard Rock poker open […]

  • 27 April

    Dusty Schmidt - It’s Good To Be Back

    It has been a long time since I have made a blog post. A lot has happened since then. My two kids have sure grown up quite a lot. They’ve ...

  • 27 April

    The demographics of the poker ecosystem

    In the wake of my last post about the argument that recreational players are losing too fast, the old problem of defining the recreational player resurfaced. There is no unified view across the industry of what casual or recreational player means. There are many legit ways to approach such a definition and personal beliefs (and […]

  • 24 April

    A Foolproof Plan to Becoming a Professional Poker Player

    I think the most important aspect of dealing with kids like this is to have an honest, coaching conversation with them. One that illustrates the complexities involved in making a ...

  • 22 April

    Ripples: Taking the PokerStars Blog to points unknown

    This week, we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the PokerStars Blog with a series of articles looking back on the blog's history and the people who make it what it has become.

    On a pleasant day not too many years ago, we deplaned in Buenos Aires and found a kindly man with our names on a whiteboard. We'd been traveling for some 20 hours, and Kristin Bihr and I were both in need of a shower and a nap. The driver led us to his car and pointed the headlights toward Rosario. Our understanding was that we had another 180 miles to travel to the casino town. It would take a few hours, but it was a straight shot down the highway. We both dozed in the backseat as the drive began.

    Before long, the car stopped. We opened our eyes to find ourselves stopped on the highway, blocked by a workers' rights protest. The driver paused long enough for us to dread how much longer we'd be waiting but not long enough for us to predict what he would do next.

    He turned the wheel to the right, exited the highway, pulled into the grass, and steered the car down a steep embankment where he eventually landed on a side road. There was an explanation, but not one we could translate. Before too long, we were in the middle of the kind of poverty you don't see in many places, driving through towns with streets that might have been paved sometime around the beginning of the Cold War. Dogs ran in the mud, chasing homeless men with carts covered in the scraps of whatever the butcher had thrown out that day (I wrote further about the experience here in an article called Dogs at Large). Still, we remained confident we were headed toward Rosario, a confidence that waned when the driver pulled over to ask a child in the street which turn he should take.

    I don't know how long it took us to make it to Rosario, but when we got there, it wasn't long before the protestors arrived, too.

    "Go to Buenos Aires. There are two protests a day," said one of my Latin American friends.

    An American traveling the same route I did asked, "How long are they going to stay there?"

    The answer: "They put up inflatable jump-houses for their kids beside the road."


    The protest outside the casino

    Martin Sansour won that event for more than $300,000. It was the last time we reported from Argentina and just one of countless adventures brought on by our quest to cover poker around the globe. By our count, over the past ten years, we've been to 43 countries on five continents. Like the spread of the game itself, our reporting over the past decade has spread out like ripples in a pond and taken us to places we'd never thought we'd be.

    The mission has been simple, at least in its literal terms: if there is a PokerStars event to be covered, we'll be there.

    That doesn't mean it's always been easy.

    Our reporting teams range anywhere from a single reporter/photographer team on a regional tour to a team of ten or more for an event like the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. In any given week, I'm booking thousands of dollars worth of flights, hotel rooms, and airport transfers for our reporting teams. Within the span of a few days, we can have one team reporting from New Zealand, another in Nottingham, and another in Rozvadov. The action never stops, nor do any of our hard-working reporters and photographers. They work long days and hard nights in places where they often don't speak the local language or have any familiarity with the local customs. Even if poker is the world's game, clashes are inevitable.

    In 2011, the European Poker Tour went to Loutraki, a Greek seaside resort. It was the first time the tour had been there, and there was none of the streaming live coverage poker fans have come to love.

    Reporter Marc Convey remembers, "There were no TV or webcast teams to record the action, so the onus was on us to get across what was happening as best as possible. Play got down to three-handed between eventual champion Zimnan Ziyard, Hauke Heseding, and Joannis Taramas when things got interesting."

    Ziyard was the chip leader and had a lot of online experience. Instead of hanging around and waiting for the short-stacked Taramas to bust out, he went on the offensive, attacking Heseding, making moves that ended up benefiting Taramas.

    "Heseding's friends on the rail weren't happy with the tactics," Convey said. "German media - in the privacy of the press room - were mildly outraged, and the Greek media present were confused but grateful that their local hero was seemingly being gifted chips by his British opponent."

    Ziyard went on to win the event and avoid an international incident. It was the kind of story that might have otherwise gone unreported but for the hard work of the team on the ground.

    "Rick Dacey, Howard Swains, and myself were able to see that Ziyard was bringing his online game to the live arena, employing an ICM strategy to the situation that he found himself in, and we managed to get this across in the blog," Convey said. "We'd never seen that style employed so brutally in the closing stages on an EPT before, and we reveled in it."


    Zimnan Ziyard

    For the first couple of years of the PokerStars Blog, readers from around the world were forced to read in the only language I could write. Before long, we realized English wasn't enough. We needed to serve more than people who could read in English. Over the next several years, we established regional blogs in countries around the world. Since then, we have published in French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Greek, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian. We've also created speciality blogs for Brazil, Belgium, and everyone in Latin America who speak a different Spanish dialect. Doing so has introduced us to whole new worlds.

    Lina Olofsson was among the first people we hired. She knew the Nordic poker scene and players like nobody else. She spoke a language we dubbed "Hurdy Gurdy," the same one spoken by a group of young players who would take over the poker world. Like many of the other regional bloggers who we worked with, Olofsson was able to get inside big stories we could not. One of those happened during the first €25,000 High Roller in Monte Carlo.

    Someone going by the name Isildur1 had been running roughshod over the nosebleed stakes online games. Many people rightly assumed Isildur1 was a young man named Viktor Blom, but no one had confirmed it yet. The irrepressible and often vengeful Tony G had done his best, inviting Blom to play on Tony G's own TV show in disguise. Blom had agreed to do so, but then backed out at the last moment. That's not the kind of thing you do to Tony G.

    Shortly thereafter, Fate, being the funny little trickster she is, put Blom and Tony G together at that EPT €25,000 High Roller table.

    "I stood there just waiting for Tony's revenge. I've seen him so many times tilting his opponents, and I knew he was just waiting for the right moment," Olofsson said. "It took more than an hour, but I stayed to get the perfect story, and finally there it was: Tony made a comment on Viktor's play, and Viktor totally blew up. The more frustrated he got, the more Tony G showed his skills of getting his opponent out of control. Viktor was flushed, and Tony's acting paid off. He took almost all of Viktor's chips."

    Olofsson is just one of many people who have taken the mission of the PokerStars Blog and applied it to their home regions. From Sergio Prado in Brazil to Sergio Lopes in Portugal, from Reinaldo Venegas in Latin America to Jorge Iglesias in Spain, from Victor Saumont in France to Andrey Maksin in Russia, from Jenn Barr in Japan to Iacopo Bernardini in Italy, from Robin Scherr in Germany to Gaelle Garcia Diaz in Belgium, to all the other folks who have signed on with us over the years, we owe our thanks for what you have taught us.

    "I've learned so much and have had the chance to work with the best in this industry," Lina Olofsson said. "The bloggers and photographers PokerStars picks are truly amazing--every single one--and to be honest, I had to count on my fingers twice because the time has gone by so quickly I lost track and couldn't believe I'm on my eighth year doing this."


    Lina Olofsson

    This retrospective could go on forever, because the number of life-changing experiences we have had as bloggers is uncountable. Our travels and the life we were offered by our friends in other countries was a better education than we ever could've bought at a university. My friend and colleague Kristin Bihr put it best.

    "Until I started traveling on the LAPT, the most raucous rail I'd ever witnessed was the one for Jake Cody's first WSOP bracelet win. The decibel level in the Amazon Room was off the charts. Grown men were drinking beer out of their shoes, for Christ's sake," she said. "Then I went to Brazil. A Brazilian rail is like an indoor World Cup match, whether a marquee player like Akkari is at the final table, or it's eight guys you've never heard of. At this point in the game's evolution, American players are, frankly, a bunch of jaded tankers with few exceptions. Watching Brazilians embrace poker brought me back to the pure joy of the game and reminded me why we play in the first place."

    Our team has had too many experiences to list here. With that understood, there is one I shared with onetime PokerStars Blog reporter Dave Behr that changed us in a way we're both still struggling to explain. Our longtime online reporter (who read about it from home) David Aydt described reading our reports from that night like this: "There was one time when I wished Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking would invent a way to climb into a webpage and end up in the location of the live tournament story."

    Behr and I had traveled to Sao Paulo to cover the LAPT Main Event there, one that coincided with Carnival season. We didn't rank high enough to get seats with the bigwigs in the Carnival stadium. Our man in Brazil, Sergio Prado, did his best to keep us entertained.

    "We might find one place open in Vila Madalena," he said.

    We trudged along, expecting exactly nothing. What we got was better than anything we would've ever found in the high-dollar Sambodromo. We went to a place that served the best of food in the best of atmospheres. When the meal was finished, I looked out the open window, and something remarkable was happening. Behr immediately ran down to the street. The next morning, I wrote, "We looked closer and realized it wasn't a riot. It wasn't a protest. It was one of the greatest things we had ever seen."


    When we woke up the next day, we ignored the throbbing in our heads and gurgling in our guts. We agreed, no matter what happened with the poker in the next eight hours, we would tell the story of what had happened the night before. The result was these two stories.

    Baptism by bloco (by Dave Behr)

    The best thing I've ever seen on this tour (by...well, me)

    We didn't write those stories because they had anything to do with the poker tournament. We didn't write them as vanity pieces we could post on Facebook. We wrote them because they were the most unique things we had seen in recent memory, and they deserved to be recorded.

    When the PokerStars Blog began on April 24, 2022 it was more of an experiment than it was a mission. Since then, dozens of people have had a hand in what it has become. It started as a news site for what was then the #2 online poker site in the world. Since then, it has become so much more.

    It's easy as someone who has lived every day of it to slip into hyperbole about this little site's importance. I don't deny that. We write about PokerStars. That's our job.

    Still, when I see how far our initial efforts have rippled, I can't help but think we have something special here--something that transcends simple poker reporting, something that speaks to the importance of the worldwide appeal of the game we all love. It's something I can't help but hope continues to ripple for years to come.

    Yes, we have been to five continents, but we're still missing Africa and Antarctica.

    Even so, know this: when the call comes from Johannesburg or the South Pole, we have a go-bag ready.


    Thanks for reading all these years. If you'd like to play in the April 22th 6:00 ET PokerStars Blog 10th Anniversary freeroll, you can find it by searching "Blog" in the PokerStars lobby. The password is entertaining.

    is the PokerStars Head of Blogging

  • 22 April

    A Simple Yet Highly Profitable Strategy at the Micros That You’re Probably Not Using

    This simple little strategy that I am going to talk with you about today can provide a massive boost to your win rate at the micros even against the best regs. And yet nobody seems to really ever talk about it at all! Ok so enough with the posturing al...

  • 21 April

    IGNA2015 reflections – losers don’t lose too quickly

    A hospital appointment effectively killed any chance of me attending the IGNA 2015 conference last week. It would have been a long and expensive trip to take for a start-up on a shoe-string budget regardless, but considering the quality of the panels it might have been worth it. That, however, doesn’t stop me from discussing some of […]

  • 20 April

    2015 so far…

    It's been far too long since I updated this blog, due to an extremely hectic start to the year. I say hectic, I think if I ever got a real job then I'd find out what "hectic" actually means - a poker player's "hectic" is when they have to set an alarm ...

  • 20 April

    The PokerStars Blog’s eyes

    This week, we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the PokerStars Blog with a series of articles looking back on the blog's history and the people who make it what it has become.

    The best of them are ninjas, clad in black, skulking on the perimeter waiting to shoot you. Their speed and accuracy are unparalleled. If your face betrays a moment of emotion, don't even bother trying to escape. They'll capture you, and you probably won't even know it's happened.

    The PokerStars Blog has many weapons in its arsenal, but few are as powerful as the set of eyes responsible for the images you see here every day. Those eyes belong to the traveling band of ninjas known as the PokerStars Blog photographers, a group of people who have spent nearly a decade making the Blog's stories better.

    The PokerStars Blog wasn't always so pretty. In 2005 when PokerStars began its live reporting efforts, I served as the chief writer, statistician, strategist, coder, and, indeed, photographer. Not only were my photography skills not what you'd call "professional," but taking the time to work on photos took away from time I could've been reporting.

    In those early years, however, we noticed something very important: an image could make a story. Even if it wasn't a pro quality shot, sometimes one visual moment could tell a story better than 500 words of copy. I asked longtime PokerStars Blog writer Howard Swains to think back on a photo that did just that.

    "My long-standing friends and colleagues Joe Giron and Neil Stoddart are the best in the business. They have set the industry standard for poker photography, and consistently better it while pretty much everybody else gets nowhere near," Swains said. "But just to keep them on their toes, I'm choosing a picture taken by somebody else for my favorite snap."


    "This picture, taken at the 2006 World Series of Poker, is the moment the baton passed from the old guard to the new school," Swains said. "The popular veteran Minneapolis Jim Meehan found himself sitting next to a pint-sized Italian named Dario Minieri in the Amazon Room, on Day 1 of the Main Event. Despite finding himself a PokerStars T-shirt, Meehan was convincing no one that he was at ease sitting to the right of Minieri. This young Supernova Elite, playing his first World Series, was introducing to Meehan the kind of menace that would change the game forever."

    Our photography team has changed many times over the years since. Today it is, without question, as good as it has ever been. You may not know their faces, but Neil Stoddart, Joe Giron, Kenneth Lim, Mickey May, Carlos Monti. Tomas Stacha, and René Velli spend their days and nights turning our stories into something far better than they were when when typed them on a screen.

    PokerStars Blog contributor Martin Harris said, "Being able to work with creative, skilled photographers like Giron, Stoddart, and Monti has been a special treat when writing for the PokerStars Blog, as their considerable imaginations and abilities help inspire and broaden my own thinking when it comes to discovering new and interesting ways to tell the story of a poker tournament."

    Martin Harris_pokerstars_blogger.jpg

    Harris, thinking he's capturing a story, but in fact is being captured by photogapher Carlos Monti

    Technically, the PokerStars Blog photographers all have different skill sets. Some come from a background in portrait photography. Others come from news. At least one, Joe Giron, spent a majority of career shooting every rock band you have ever heard of. All of them faced the very same dilemma when they took a gig shooting poker: poker can be really, really boring. It's a game where people literally get paid to hide their emotion. The talent to find the perfect poker shot goes far beyond finding the right white balance. It's a matter of finding the emotion that tells the story.


    Will Molson celebrates with his dad after winning the 2011 PCA $25K High Roller tournament

    Giron shot that photo a few years ago on a night in the Bahamas. The first prize that night was more than a $1 million, but most of the players who had a shot at the biggest money were seasoned, grizzled pros who didn't care so much about the win as the money. Will Molson wanted the win more than any of them. In two previous years, he'd finished runner-up. That night, he won it, and Giron captured the moment better than anybody.

    "I love the sheer happiness and pride the father displays towards his son after the win," Giron said. "Will had finished second in the same event in 2010 and it was a satisfying victory for him to win the event the following year."

    While emotion is often in short supply, compassion is nearly extinct. Poker has long been a ruthless game, and in recent years, most players have been lucky to hear, "Good game," as their benediction. Finding a moment of compassion is like running across a dodo in the wild. Neil Stoddart did just that a few weeks ago in Malta.


    "Over the years I've witnessed some of the longest heads up matches ever and it's always devastating for who ever comes second after putting everything they have into winning," said PokerStars Blog contributor Marc Convey. "We witnessed such a duel at EPT Malta with Neil Stoddart capturing a touching moment between Jean Montury and Valentin Messina after the the latter was defeated."

    Latin America is perhaps the only poker region in the world where both emotion and compassion come cheap. Sometimes it's less a matter of finding the emotion than singling out the one scream that matters. Among my favorite milliseconds in PokerStars Blog history was the night Giron picked off Jyries "Chiquitita" Saba during the final table of the LAPT Vina del Mar Main Event in 2009. Saba, who died later that year, was probably my favorite player to ever make a final table, and this picture captures him perfectly.

    Our Latin American blogger Reinaldo Venegas said, "This Chilean really enjoyed poker. We all felt like our grandfather was playing poker, and he was having the best time of his life. He passed away months later, and most of us felt bad, but when we talk about him, we still feel that moment of true joy."


    Over the years, we have worked with many photographers, and they have all made our work better. Even those we don't work with all the time deserve our thanks. Eric Harkins (the only man I've ever known to travel with a margarita machine) did our WSOP work for several years. Jayne Furman recently worked with us in Vegas and proved herself a woman who could find the story within the story. Danny Maxwell has rounded the UK and Ireland for us over the years. Kim Curtain worked alongside Stoddart on the EPT for many seasons (and once infamously and vociferously defended us from what may or may not have been a padded bar tab). They and our current regular rotation of shooters have made this site stand out over the years, and without them, this would be one ugly place.

    The reason is simple: when we're out on the road in search of a story, we have ears, notebooks, and voice recorders. We even have the ability to see. But in the end, the photographers are our eyes, and often those eyes offer the shortest path to our hearts.

    Here are a few more of the photos from over the years that still make us smile.


    Kenneth Lim captures the joy of winning on the APPT


    South America breeds passionate fans, ones Carlos Monti knows very well

    Probably the best champion's portrait we ever had, as created by Neil Stoddart


    He's down!


    He's up! An over-excited Hidenari Shiono as captured by Joe Giron at APPT Seoul


    Rene Velli captures Chris Jonat in a moment of reflection (and manages to get some of that sweet branding in the process


    Talk softly and carry a long stick, especially when covering the bubble like Neil Stoddart


    Photographer Carlos Monti gets caught up in Team Mexico's World Cup of Poker celebration


    Who needs to see the smiles? Not Neil Stoddart.


    Leo Fernandez gets excited, and Carlos Monti is there for it


    George Danzer celebrates winning a WSOP bracelet, by Joe Giron


    When two champions like Vanessa Selbst and Rafa Nadal sit down together in a pretty place, it's good to have Neil Stoddart on your team


    Meanwhile, if someone is about to go crazy like John Dibella, Joe Giron is your man to shoot it

    Neil Stoddart captures Danny Maxwell and a crouching Rene Velli on the job


    Thanks for reading all these years. If you'd like to play in the April 20th 3pm PokerStars Blog 10th Anniversary freeroll, you can find it by searching "Blog" in the PokerStars lobby and using the password accurate

    is the PokerStars Head of Blogging

  • 16 April

    Memories of David “Devilfish” Ulliott

    Poker icon David “Devilfish” Ulliott, from Hull, England, succumbed to cancer quietly and with class last week. He won WSOP, WPT titles and was a legend in high stakes cash games. Out of respect for Nolan Dalla and Stu Ungar, I won’t call Devilfish ‘One of a Kind’ – but, like Stuey, it would certainly […]

    The post Memories of David “Devilfish” Ulliott appeared first on blog.

  • 16 April

    The Irish Open

    Where does the Irish Open go next? The word on the ground seemed it was quite likely to be Paddy Powers last year organizing it. No official decision has be taken but its certainly odds against they will be running it next year. I think what’s key is that the field seize increase to at […]

  • 15 April

    Dinosaurs, Dancing and Hysterics at Grand Prix Poker Tour Newcastle

    We’d be remiss, with the Grand Prix Poker Tour heading to Newcastle from February 20-21, if we didn’t offer some advice of what you should be doing when you’re away from the tables. Here’s half a dozen ways you to make the most of the city that never sleeps but don’t blame us when you […]

    The post Dinosaurs, Dancing and Hysterics at Grand Prix Poker Tour Newcastle appeared first on blog.

  • 15 April

    Ellie Biessek: Tournament tactics #5 – taking advice

    Getting help with your game is good, says Grosvenor Poker pro Ellie Biessek, as long as it’s from the right person

    The post Ellie Biessek: Tournament tactics #5 – taking advice appeared first on

  • 14 April

    Devilfish Was One Of A Kind

    It was some time in the early nineties. I was playing poker in Dublin’s Jackpot Club a couple of hours before the Irish Open was due to start. Some guy ...

  • 13 April

    Time to quit?

    If you follow me on PokerStars, you might have noticed that I haven't been playing Pot-Limit Omaha lately. I moved back to high stakes sit-n-gos! Why? Let's go back a few weeks on time... As you know, I was sharing an office with Katerina and some of...

  • 12 April

    Linda Johnson - Senior Poker Tour at Cherokee, West Siloam Springs, OK

    Senior Poker Tour at Cherokee, West Siloam Springs, OK It’s midnight and I just returned to my room at the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma, after cashing in ...

  • 12 April

    Can You Win at Online Poker Without Using a HUD?

    A lot of people want to know if you can win at online poker without using a HUD. I see this question on forums all the time and I get emails about it as well. As someone who has played over 7 million hands of online poker now, both with a HUD and witho...

  • 10 April

    Health, Family, and Happiness

    Recently I got involved in a twitter conversation about health. When I go on road trips I like to plan ahead and make sure I do everything I can possibly ...

  • 9 April

    WPT champion Tony Dunst on reading your opponents

    Tuesday’s just got a whole lot more fun and educational thanks to the launch of the Teach the partypoker People. Our customers are extremely important to us and if we can increase your poker playing skills while having a great time then everyone is a winner. Follow us on Twitter where we’ll be using the […]

    The post WPT champion Tony Dunst on reading your opponents appeared first on blog.

  • 9 April

    End of an Era? Irish Open 2015

    Last weekend was my tenth Irish Open, having first played the tournament in 2006 I did feel this years would be my last one. My love for the game has steadily declined over the last few years but I was still well up for this one. The dream was obviously to ride off into the […]

  • 8 April

    Should Women-Only Tournaments Exist?

    There’s been renewed discussion within the poker community on the topic of women-only tournaments and other female focussed marketing strategies, generating a lively 2+2 forum debate on whether they should ...

  • 7 April

    Darryll Fish - Epic slowroll, or epic misunderstanding?

    As most of you probably heard/saw, there was a hand that took place today at the final table of the Irish Open that has caused quite an ruckus in the ...

  • 7 April

    The European Vacation

    Wednesday is when I’ll be saying good-bye to Playa del Carmen and starting my next chapter.  Adios Playa!  I’ll do a full recap tomorrow, complete with pictures of all (at least some) the food I ate, things I saw, and my overall impression of this place, but for now I wanted to focus on what […]

  • 6 April

    Linda Johnson - Happy Easter

    Happy Easter Easter is one of my favorite days of the year; I think it has to do with my upbringing. I am lucky to have an incredibly wonderful mother ...

  • 5 April

    Are you an unlucky person?

    I was watching the final round of the Shell Houston Open PGA tour event and saw Jordan Spieth on hole number 18 hit a really bad bunker shot that cost ...

  • 5 April

    How to Play Against the Fish Who Doesn’t Fold Anything

    How to Play Against the Fish Who Doesn't Fold Anything
    We've all encountered them. The recreational player who does not fold to any bet. It is as if they do not have a fold (or even a raise button) like the rest of us. They just like to call with anything and everything. These types of players can be extremely frustrating to deal with when you are not running well. There are simply going to be times when you are up against this type of player and you can't hit a flop to save your life. It is very important not to get over aggressive here and try to bluff a player who cannot be bluffed.

    You will see these players most often at the very lowest stakes with stats that look something like this:

    64/5/1 (VPIP/PFR/AF).

    These are the limits where a typical bet size often isn't even as much as the price of a coffee. Therefore, if they have any kind of a draw they are calling. If they have bottom pair they are calling. If they have ace high, king high (hell, sometimes even 8 high), they are calling! You need to remember that these players play the game in order to catch you in a bluff or make their long-shot draw to win a big pot. Logic and mathematics be damned. They get a thrill out of playing sheriff or making something ridiculous on the river.

    There is no point in getting mad at these players, or even worse, trying to educate them. You need to accept them as they are and realize that their existence at the tables is one of the biggest reasons why this game is so profitable. If you look at long term win rates (loss rates in this case) these players pay a heavy price for their terrible play. Often they are losing at 20bb/100, 30bb/100, 50bb/100 or more! They are literally giving away their money (at a very fast pace) in the long run.

    So since we know exactly how these players think about the game the only thing that we should be concerned with is how to most profitably counter it. There are two main points with regards to this that I want to cover in this article. The first one is mental, the second one is technical.

    Do Not Get Frustrated

    As mentioned it is extremely important that you do not to get frustrated when playing versus fish who don't fold anything. We already know that they are going call if they have any piece of the board so what is the point in getting annoyed when they go ahead and do just that? Let's be honest here. The only reason that it is frustrating sometimes is because either a) you aren't hitting anything or b) they are hitting their long-shot draws much more often than they should. It is important to remember though that neither of these two events are normal.

    When you are playing fairly good cards like most regs do these days (I suggest about 15% of hands in full ring and 20% in 6max) then you are going to have a decent hand after the flop a good amount of the time. Statistically you will make at least a pair after the flop around 1 out of 3 times with a completely random hand. Since you are playing much better than a random hand you will hit the flop even more often than this.

    Sometimes though you will have one of those sessions (or even a couple of them in a row) where you just cannot hit a flop, turn or even a river no matter what. On the other hand, sometimes you will have sessions where you literally knock it out of the park every single hand. Curiously we tend to remember the former much more vividly than the latter. That is a topic for another post though. What is important to understand here is that neither of these two events (hitting nothing or hitting everything) are normal.

    Also sometimes you will experience a session (or a few of them in a row) where these recreational players will hit every ridiculous draw in the world. We call them "long-shot draws" for a reason though. We all know that mathematically you don't hit a gutshot straight draw very often for instance. It is roughly 11 to 1 with one card to come and 5 to 1 from the flop to the river. Same thing with bottom pair. Guess what normally happens when you call down the whole way with bottom pair? Yup, you guessed it! You still have just bottom pair on the river.

    However, just like we discussed above, sometimes they will hit their ridiculous draws with a much higher frequency than they should. On the flip side, sometimes they will hit even less often than the odds would dictate. Once again, we tend to recall the former much more vividly than the latter. And also once again it is important to remember that neither of these two events are normal.

    Value, Value, Value

    So from a technical standpoint what is the most profitable way to counter the fish who doesn't fold anything? Well clearly trying to bluff them will be the worst strategy possible. We already know that these players love to call with anything and one of the very reasons that they play the game is to catch you in a bluff! Trying to bluff these players is pretty much like kicking the ball directly into your own net.

    This is why I stressed above that we need to stay calm against this player type when things aren't going well. This is because the tendency can be strong to get over-aggressive and "make something happen." They can't have it every single time! I will show them what is up!


    Their bottom pair is still way ahead of your ace high. And guess what? They are going to call the whole way with it. By attempting to bluff them off of their hand you will simply lose much more money than you should have and also manage to tilt yourself even more!

    The correct and most profitable strategy versus the fish who doesn't fold anything is to value bet the living crap out of them. And then value bet them some more! Now it is important here for me to define what I mean by "value bet." The reason why is because this is a relative term. Betting the turn or river for value against most nits for instance requires a very strong hand. This is because these types of players often will not go past the flop without something really strong like top pair, a solid draw or better.

    However, we already know that the whale described in this article will call you down with two napkins. So therefore we can lower our standards significantly when value betting against them. Any strong hand like top pair or better is an easy three streets of value. Middle pair can often be good enough for three streets as well versus a complete drooler with no fold button. There are even some spots where we could get some really thin value with hands as weak as bottom pair or ace high.

    Super Thin Value!

    One of my favorite spots to get thin value on the river versus this player type is on a double paired board like this:


    I will always bet the river here with 99, 88, 77, 66 or 55. This is because they will never fold ace high on this board. I will also frequently make a bet here with ace high as well because sometimes they won't be able to find the fold button with king high either. We chop at worst.

    Boards where there is an obvious missed draw is another spot where you could go for some super thin value versus a recreational player. On this river for instance:


    You could often make a profitable value bet versus the doesn't fold anything fish with Tx, 6x or any pocket pair such as 99, 88, 77, 55, 44 or 33. The reason why is because this player type will often call down with a hand like AK or AQ the whole way here. And with the river pairing a low card they will be even more inclined to look you up. Sometimes they won't even be able to fold the most obvious missed draw here which is KQ. It is important not to bomb the pot in cases like this. We want to toss out that teaser bet of half pot or so which will make them just curious enough to hero call you with their ace high or king high.

    Keep Calm and Value Bet On

    So I hope this article helped prove useful to some of you guys battling these crazy fish at the lowest stakes. They show up all the time at the NL2 and NL5 levels and frequently in low stakes live games as well. It is important to remember two things when playing against these player types.

    1. Stay patient 

    Stay patient when you can't hit anything and they are hitting all of their crazy draws. Remember that this is not a normal occurrence and these players pay a heavy price in the long run for their terrible play.

    2. Full Value

    Make sure that you are always getting full value versus these players with your big hands. My first book, Crushing the Microstakes, is also literally ALL about this topic.

    But also make sure that you are getting that thin value versus these whales as well. This is about effectively countering their style of play. We often do not need anything close to the nuts in order to extract value from them.

    Lastly, make sure that you look out if they ever do find the raise button especially on the later streets. We often have a tendency to dismiss the actions of fish altogether. But the fact remains that they get to hit their flush, straight and two pair sometimes too.

    They get dealt strong hands just as often as we do as well. These players are typically about as passive as you can get. When they finally decide to wake up you would be best served to give them a little bit of respect sometimes.

    Let me know how you approach playing against huge fish in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    How to Play Against the Fish Who Doesn't Fold Anything

  • 4 April

    The Normal Day

    In the near future, I want to start video blogging.  I’ve seen a few other guys do it and it seems more fun, interactive, and would be a nice change of pace from all those big blocks of text I end up posting.  There’s a phrase in the internet community known as tl;dr which means […]

  • 2 April

    Malta/JP Masters/Irish Open

    Malta was a series of day 2’s but no joy. Made day 2’s in all the holdem tournaments I played but just couldn’t run good on day 2’s. Pretty frustrating stuff. I jumped in the 3k plo turbo despite thinking these turbo live events are a complete waste of time espc in plo where the […]

March, 2015

  • 31 March

    Lots of Poker

    It’s been busy enough for me on the poker front this month. Boylepoker have really upped their live game presence in recent times with the season’s series and a number of other excellent partnership games. The Connacht Poker Open in Galway was another very successful tournament that I attended two weeks ago. No run in […]

  • 30 March

    Linda Johnson - 2015 Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship

    2015 Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship There was no shortage of great poker action and fun at the fifth annual Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship held at the Peppermill in ...

  • 27 March

    The Interview

    If you would have told me, six years ago,  that Collin Moshman would be interviewing me for PokerStrategy’s website, I would have laughed right in your face. Moshman?  Collin Moshman?  The author of several successful SNG books?  That guy?  Interviewing me?  Yeah, right.  Sure thing.  But lo and behold, on Wednesday afternoon, it happened. The […]

  • 27 March

    How Your Physical and Mental State Affects Your Results in Poker

    A topic that gets discussed a fair bit on poker forums, in books and the like is tilt. I have even written about it a few times myself (here for instance). These conversations typically revolve around recognizing the signs of tilt and creating effectiv...

  • 26 March

    Card Player Free Poker Blog - Win WSOP Colossus Seat With Card Player Poker

    Right now, you can win your way into the $565 Colossus event at this summer’s World Series of Poker, which is guaranteeing a whopping $5 million prize pool, with Card ...

  • 26 March

    Caption Competition

    Enter your comment to WIN a €20 token to the €1,000 Added Deepstack! Congratulations to Paul Gill on winning last week’s Caption Competition with his comment: “Tony the Tiger is out cold after playing Boylepoker for 3 days straight. He will never stop playing with Boyles, he thinks “They’re Grreatttt” If you are not registered with BoyleSports Poker, you can […]

  • 25 March

    Linda Johnson - Love Poker? Love to Travel? Let’s Go!

    Love Poker? Love to Travel? Let’s Go! One of the things I like best about traveling to poker events is meeting new people and reconnecting with out of town friends ...

  • 23 March

    The Churro

    I’m a fairly happy, positive person.  I tend to see the proverbial glass half full, am able to laugh at myself, and don’t take life too seriously.  But none of that applies while I’m grinding. While I’m a talkative person in real-life, it’s not the case during sessions, as I only speak to accomplish one […]

  • 20 March

    Ellie Biessek: Breaking bad

    Running badly affects every poker player. Grosvenor Poker pro Ellie Biessek explains why it’s crucial to keep calm and carry on making the right decisions This month, rather than talk about situations in poker, I thought I’d choose a different subject that will affect everyone from time to time – running badly. If any poker player...

    The post Ellie Biessek: Breaking bad appeared first on

  • 19 March

    Making the transition from online to live poker

    To play poker or not to play poker, that is the question? It’s not a trick question and the answer is, of course, yes. With the $32,000 promotion well under way in the partypoker UK community Facebook forum, many of you are winning seats and starting to get nervous about playing in the “Grand Prix […]

    The post Making the transition from online to live poker appeared first on blog.

  • 19 March

    Innovating poker for Twitch and e-sports

    A Twitch craze is sweeping across the poker industry. A fairly recent change in the game streaming provider’s policy has switched poker’s status from regulatory pariah to being viewed as a logical next step for the game streaming movement. And it is. But poker and Twitch is not a perfect match. Hopefully the change will […]

  • 19 March

    Extended Thank You’s from WPT creator Steve Lipscomb

    So Steve asked me to get this out to the poker world so I figured the best way to do that would be via my written blog. Steve won an ...

  • 18 March

    Linda Johnson - Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

    How do you have a successful poker cruise without chips or poker tables? You’d better be creative and able to think on your feet! I am a stickler for details. ...

  • 16 March

    When a dream becomes real

    I would've played poker anonymously for the rest of my life, and I could've been happy doing it. That didn't stop me from dreaming, however. I dreamt of what it would be like to get the call that I was going to become a member of Team Online. At 22-yea...

  • 14 March

    It Depends…

    When that  fateful moment comes when we all go to the great poker room in the sky, they could do worse than inscribe on our tombstones this epitaph – “It Depends”. Because let’s face it, poker players seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in life giving it as a reply to every question so we […]

  • 14 March

    The Maldives - Trip Report

    This trip report from my visit to The Maldives in December will be rather different to most other Maldives trip reports you will read online.

    It will also be difficult for me to write. If you read until the end you'll see why. But I won't let that get in the way of me documenting my travels.

    Last year I got into what I'd call my first serious relationship in as long as I can possibly remember. I was happier than I ever had been in my life. Life was awesome. Except for one problem. My girlfriend had to leave Bangkok for 4 and a half months to do an internship at a hotel resort island in The Maldives.

    I knew it was going to be be difficult because we had spent every single day together up until then. I promised that I would fly over to visit her halfway through, to make the temporary distance-relationship easier to handle.


    A trip to The Maldives for most people would be for some kind of special occasion such as a honeymoon and would involve staying in an overwater bungalow on one of the resort island. Those places are really nice, but hugely expensive. Anything from $450 - $12,000 per night. That's the price of paradise.

    It wasn't all paradise for me though. For my trip to The Maldives I had to stay in Male which is the big dirty capital city island, or it's sister island Hulhumale. Not just because I didn't want to spew thousands of dollars on somewhere to sleep at night. It was so that my girlfriend would be able to commute from her resort at Centara Ras Fushi to visit me after working her shift. Fortunately she did manage to get 4 full days holiday over the 8 days that I visited.

    As for hotels in Male, I did days of research to try to find somewhere suitable. The cheapest rooms in Male and Hulhumale were $80 - $150 per night and all were rated 3 or less on TripAdvisor. Overpriced crap basically.

    Somehow one of those places was only £26.75 GBP ($40 USD) per night on the American Express UK Travel site, even though it was more than double that on all the main booking sites like Agoda that are usually always the cheapest. So I made an easy value call there.

    Not only that but I was able to take advantage of an American Express / TripAdvisor "£50 off £150 spend" promotion if you linked your Amex Card to TripAdvisor (for what reason I don't know, or care). Therefore, 8 nights in the hotel total worked out at £164 GBP ($245 USD).

    I was also really lucky when it came to buying the flights. As you may have heard, Malaysia Airlines were having a bit of bother last year and nobody wanted to fly with them. That meant ridiculously low promotional fares.

    I booked Bangkok to Male via Kuala Lumpur for £167 GBP ($250 USD). I was also able to use the "£50 off £150 spend" Amex / Trip Advisor promotion a second time as I happened to have two different Amex cards at that time (I only get them to clear the signup bonuses for air miles and then cancel them). That brought the total cost for the return flights to Maldives down to only £117 GBP ($175 USD).

    I also got entire rows to myself on all 4 legs of the return journey and my gold status with Malaysia Airline's Oneworld partner Cathay Pacific meant that I got full use of the business lounges with my economy ticket. What a result.

    About to board a Malaysia Airlines plane that's going to a remote part of the Indian ocean. #Maldives

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 4, 2021 at 3:07am PST

    Combined, flights and hotels only cost me £281 GBP ($419 USD) for an 8 night stay in Maldvies. I challenge anyone to do it cheaper than that!

    Of course I was in a basic room in a basic hotel on a local island that had nothing fun or exciting to do, but that was OK. I didn't visit Maldives for it's incredible beaches. I have access to plenty of incredible beaches in Thailand. What I didn't have access to in Thailand was the most important person in my life. That's the one and only reason I visited Maldives so really nothing else mattered.

    But I did find a few cool things to do there.

    Scuba Diving

    On one of the days when my girlfriend was busy working I decided that rather than stay in my room, lonely and bored, I'd go out and lose my scuba diving virginity. It's something that I'd always planned to do and have travelled to so many amazing places that, looking back, were huge missed opportunities to go diving. I certainly wasn't going to leave Maldives without going below sea level.

    For a PADI Discover Diving course with two boat dives it cost just $105 USD (£71 GBP) with a local dive operator. All the equipment was new and in great condition. Everything felt safe.

    Breaking my scuba diving virginity. I've been saving it for The Maldives. #Maldives #Scuba #Diving #FirstTime

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 8, 2021 at 2:09am PST

    I can say without a doubt that diving is one of the coolest things I've ever done. It completely exceeded my expectations.

    After explaining to me how all the equipment worked, my instructor wasted no time getting me into the sea. He took me slowly down to the sea floor, reminding me to equalise my ears every few meters. There was beautiful coral everywhere and so many kinds of tropical fish swimming amongst us. There was so much life and activity. It felt like I had discovered a new world.

    With my instructor basically dragging me around, we came across a massive sea turtle that was eating some sea plants. The instructor pulled me right up close to the turtle, grabbed a handful of the plant it was eating and handed it to me to feed the turtle. Wow. What a magical experience. I never imagined that my first dive would be anywhere near that awesome.

    Under the sea. #Maldives #Scuba #Diving #FirstTime

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 8, 2021 at 6:29am PST

    After a rest on the boat we went for a second dive. I saw that one of the crew had an underwater camera so I asked if we could use it. There was normally an extra cost for that but my instructor took the camera with us in the water, took all sorts of cool pics, sent me the files and didn't charge me a cent. Thanks mate!

    This time we went into deeper water and I was able to swim around completely unaided with my instructor just swimming beside me. We found a really cool looking eel and I got up close to play with it while my instructor took photos. It was another incredible experience, but in the back of my mind I was thinking "I wish he had the camera when I was feeding the sea turtle instead."

    Making friends. #Maldives #Scuba #Diving #FirstTime

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 8, 2021 at 6:37am PST

    Just before we were about to return to the surface we spotted some manta rays. The instructor got up close to take photos. I followed him, but not all the way. I wasn't sure if they were safe to be around. I was thinking "Didn't one of these things kill Steve Irwin?". It turns out they are quite safe and that it was a stingray that killed The Crocodile Hunter.

    Consider me hooked on diving after just one day. I plan to continue my diving adventures back home in Thailand.

    Male / Hulhumale

    The Male and Hulhumale islands where most of the country's local population live are big dirty concrete jungles with nothing fun or interesting to do.

    Alcohol outside the resorts is illegal as The Maldives is a Muslim country. People just tend to hang around in cafes and coffee shops. It just seems to be all men. I don't know where all the women hang out. At home probably.

    There were very, very few tourists in Male. Nobody has any reason at all to stay there unless they maybe got in on a late flight and need to stay overnight to get a ferry or seaplane to where they actually want to go the next day.

    Everywhere we went in Male every single person that we walked past would stare at us. Well, they were mostly staring at my beautiful blonde-haired girlfriend than they were at me.  I think a lot of guys would be uncomfortable with having their girlfriend stared at like that but I just felt like I was the man and they were all jealous of me. They would stare at her, I would stare back at them and smile, and she would stare straight forward. That happened absolutely everywhere we went.

    One time we were standing outside her colleague's house talking to her for 30 minutes and I noticed a young guy a few meters away standing against a railing and looking at us the whole time. When we walked off I looked back and saw that he was following us, still a few meters away. So when we turned the corner we just stopped against the wall. The lad got the shock of his life when he turned the corner, did a sharp u-turn and ran away. Weirdo. I don't know if he was just bored or up to something sinister.

    The main reason that Male and Hulhumale are so dirty is that people litter like it's a completely normal thing to do. I'd see people chug a can of juice and just drop it right where they stood. What the hell is wrong with these people? Have some love for the place you live.

    Even on the bus, as soon as people were handed their ticket they would drop it right on the ground. Every single person did that. The whole floor of the bus was always covered in tickets.

    If I saw anyone casually tossing litter on the street in my country I'd pick it up and stuff it down their shirt. Assuming they looked weaker than me, of course.

    I guess in Maldives littering is just their culture. It's socially acceptable. And it is their country after all. If they want to live surrounded by garbage then it's up to them.

    Kuda Bandos

    After four days in The Maldives I was getting really sick of Male and Hulhumale. So, when my girlfriend got a whole day off from work we went on a boat trip together to a nice island called Kuda Bandos. It's a 'picnic island', meaning that nobody actually lives there, it's just used for day trips.

    Spending the day on Kuda Bandos island. #Maldives

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 9, 2021 at 1:31am PST

    We got there very early and had a whole section of beach and crystal clear water to ourselves. It was great to finally get a taste of the Maldives you see in magazines and on TV, rather than Male which is the polar opposite of that.

    At lunch time one of the boat crew barbecued some fish for us on the beach. I was on an island paradise, eating delicious food with the girl I love. Life really doesn't get much better than that.

    Lunch on the beach, fish BBQ. #Maldives

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 9, 2021 at 2:42am PST

    After lunch we went back to relax on our sun loungers. My girlfriend fell asleep immediately. It reminded me of watching movies together in bed,

    After a few minutes I was bored just lying there doing nothing so I went barefoot jogging around the island.

    I tried to relax again. Too hyper. I went snorkelling in the shallow waters.

    I tried to relax again. Was looking at the sand. Decided that building a sandcastle would be fun.

    Lying on my back relaxing at the beach all day..... or at least until the ADHD kicks in. #Maldives

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 9, 2021 at 2:09am PST

    Confirmed big kid.

    Dolphin Cruise

    We managed to get a free sunset dolphin cruise. The crew that was taking us back from Kuda Bandos told us that the other couple who joined us had paid for the full boat for a dolphin cruise, so we'd be welcome to come along for free. Nice one.

    We were in the boat trying to find dolphins for almost an hour. It wasn't long until Sunset. I thought it was never going to happen. But eventually we found these amazing creatures.

    Sunset dolphin cruise. #Maldives

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Dec 9, 2021 at 5:25am PST

    They swam alongside us, jumping out of the water and doing flips. Dolphins are extremely smart and I'm pretty sure that they were well aware of our presence and were trying to entertain us. And they surely did just that.

    Final Day

    On the last of my eight days in Maldives I had a late evening flight and had to check out of my hotel at midday. My girlfriend was working until 6pm so I stored my luggage at the airport and tried to keep myself occupied for 6 hours on my own in Male. That's a difficult thing to do. Especially on a Friday when shops don't open until 2pm.

    I walked the full length of the island down the middle and then the full radius of it. It's pretty small at only 5.8 square kilometres

    The most interesting thing I found was the harbour market.

    And then I found the local's Friday market. It was huge, and I got stuck in the middle of it. There were so many people there that there was no space to walk.

    All the stalls were selling absolute garbage and yet it seemed like the whole population of the island had turned up to buy it.

    What a nightmare. By then I was completely sick and fed up of Male. I had conflicted feelings at that point. I was looking forward to leaving Maldives and returning to the city I love, Bangkok. But the girl I love was staying in Maldives. So sad.

    I met my girlfriend at the pier after she finished working and enjoyed her company for the last couple of hours of my trip. We went to a nice local restaurant at the fake beach and had some delicious local food. We both sulked as we ate it though, knowing that it would be another 2 and a half months before we'd see each other again.

    Off we went to the airport. We sat together outside until it it was time for me to catch my flight. And had a final kiss goodbye.

    And that really was a final kiss goodbye. Not just for the trip. Forever.

    I won't go into details but, rather brutally, we're no longer a couple.

    It's one of the most difficult things I've ever had to deal with.

    And that's why this was a difficult blog post to write.

  • 14 March

    Inspirational Poker Players - Who is Your Hero?

    I think it is important to have someone who you look up to in poker especially when you are just starting out. These are people who inspire you to achieve the success that they have and maybe even go beyond. These people have the power to show you what...

  • 13 March

    Returning to live poker at the Irish Open

    It's been 9 months since I played my last live poker event. I lost a coinflip on day 2 of the UKIPT Marbella main event and proceeded to get involved in a bit of football related light banter later that day (Oh sorry, did that celebration offend you?).

    To be honest, I never was much of a live poker player. I much prefer clicking buttons on a laptop where I can happily play poker in my underwear without people complaining. I decided after what went on in Marbella that I'd only play live poker from then on if the event is held somewhere that I actually want to travel to and that I know a lot of my poker friends will be attending.

    As I've mentioned before on my blog, my favourite place in the world to play poker, other than "the internet", is Ireland, and the largest Irish event of the year is coming up soon. The €3,500 buyin Paddy Power Irish Open.

    My plan is to make the long journey from my home in Bangkok all the way to Dublin to participate in the Irish Open this coming Easter weekend (Friday 3rd April - Monday 6th April).

    Ireland is my favourite poker destination simply because I've thoroughly enjoyed myself every time I've played there. There's just never a quiet table. There's always some sort of banter going on, even from the pro players, who are obviously still taking the game seriously, but enjoying themselves at the same time.

    You just don't see that any more in most other countries. Most tables are filled with young guys cocooned by their hoodies and headphones not saying a word to each other. That's not how poker is supposed to be. It's supposed to be fun and social.

    Check out some of my previous trip reports from playing poker in Ireland:

    UKIPT Cork
    UKIPT Galway
    UKIPT Dublin

    I've been playing the satellites on Paddy Power Poker to try to get in on their €50,000 last longer promotion for Paddy players in the main event.

    Every night they're running a Last Chance Saloon with guaranteed seats (72 in total) and they are incredible value. Not only is the rake just 1 cent but there's been some decent overlays in the sats and feeder sats for them.

    Last night I played the €199.99 + €0.01 sat with 10 seats guaranteed. There were only 153 entries so we had an overlay of €4,400, which is an extra 14% on top of the total buyins.

    I was getting fairly deep. There were 35 players left, so we were close to one of the 10 main event seats.

    Unfortunately I was short stacked after losing a big flip with AKs vs QQ and I had to make a standard +ev shove with 22.

    I got snap called by JPMcManus. (Not sure if the real JP or an imposter.)

    And couldn't find a duck to crack aces.

    A little bit frustrating but never mind. I'll have plenty more shots at it this week. I'll be playing the main event whether I satellite in or not, but I obviously want to get in on this €50,000 last longer prize for the last Paddy qualifier standing.

    If anyone fancies a punt, Paddy have me listed as 50/1 to win. All I can say is I'm flattered.

    Looking forward to seeing some old friends and making some new ones in Dublin this Easter weekend. See ya there!

  • 13 March

    Hoping for a Miracle

    Well I ended up staying on Dubai for a couple of reasons. 1. There wasn’t much poker on between now and Malta. I decided this year I’d go for quality over quantity. I have pushed on in years, now at the tender age of 30 I have noticed that live trips have become  both mentally […]

  • 12 March

    A Very Irish Open

    The weird thing about Ireland and Irish poker in particular is that no matter where you come from we can have you behaving as illogically as we do in no ...

  • 11 March

    Penang, Malaysia - Trip Report

    As every foreigner who stays in Thailand for a while knows, you have to get your foreign ass out of the country every now and again when your visa expires.

    For some that is a major hassle, but for me it's a good opportunity to visit some cool places. Penang in Malaysia is my favourite place to do my Thai "visa runs".

    On my most recent trip I checked into my hotel and immediately walked over to Chulia Street. It's pretty much a mini version of Bangkok's Khao San Road. That's not a good thing. I hate Khao San Road with a passion. Basically wherever Lonely Planet says is the "hot backpacker spot" in a city is somewhere that I'll do my best to avoid staying in.

    I did have a good reason for going to Chulia Street, which was to visit my friend Jim who runs the Jim's Place guest house. He's the go-to man when it comes to getting a Thai visa with no hassle in Penang. Well, unless you consider the hassle of trying to get past the dozens of aggressive trans prostitutes that litter that street at night.

    All I need to do is give Jim a little bit of cash, my passport and a few details then he fills out all the visa forms, takes the application to the Thai embassy and comes back with my passport and a shiny new Thai visa.

    Jim is quite the character and his cynical Thai-related rants are worth the trip to his place alone. Not to mention the hilariously politicly-incorrect notices that he's posted up in the guesthouse lobby wall.

    With "Sir Jim" taking care of my Thai visa I had a lot more time to explore, have adventures and eat the glorious food in Penang.

    National Park

    Penang National Park is my favourite place on the island. It's 10 square miles of forest and sea, making it the smallest national park in the world. That means you can trek around the bulk of it in a single day. It's free to enter and just a cheap public bus ride away from civilization.

    Trekking through Penang National Park. Whole beaches to myself.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 21, 2022 at 12:06am PDT

    I've been to the national park twice, on separate trips, and loved the experience just as much the second time around.

    I enjoy trekking through the forest in the heat and humidity and coming across beaches where I can take a break and cool off in the sea. Most of the beaches are completely deserted. Not a single human there. Plenty of crab-eating macaque monkeys though!

    Monkey see, monkey do.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 21, 2022 at 12:20am PDT

    Penang National Park - a great place to hang out!

    Hanging out in the rainforest at Penang National Park. #Penang #Malaysia

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Oct 17, 2021 at 8:51pm PDT

    Penang Hill

    Penang Hill is the highest point of Penang island and can be reached by a quick ride on a funicular railway cart.

    It's a great place to escape the heat and humidity of Penang and get some beautiful views of the island.

    Up top of Penang Hill.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 19, 2022 at 3:46am PDT


    Other than the main sightseeing places it feels like I've spent most of my time in Penang eating. Penang has a reputation as a food paradise. Basically there's food everywhere you go and it's all great.

    The best places to sample a bunch of different foods  are the big outdoor food courts with dozens of hawkers such as Red Garden Food Paradise, which also has live music.

    Red Garden is where I first sampled Char Koay Teow. It literally means 'stir-fried rice noodles' and is something similar to Pad Thai. Just as Pad Thai is in Thailand, Char Kway Teow is a national favourite dish in Malaysia,  A tasty bargain at only 5.5 MYR (£0.98 GBP / $1.48 USD).

    Penang Char Koay Teow. Stir fried ricecake strips with egg and prawns. Tastes incred.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 18, 2022 at 6:11am PDT

    I finished off the Char Koay Teow with a plate of Penang Rojak for dessert. It is chopped fruit and veg with dried squid, honey and sweet peanut sauce. All sorts of flavours and textures going on there but it somehow works.

    Penang Rojak. It's chopped fruit and veg with squid fritters, honey and sweet peanut sauce.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 18, 2022 at 5:35am PDT

    Talking of desserts, I was eating plenty bowls of Cendol and Ais Kacang in the hot afternoons to cool down.

    Cendol is jelly noodles with coconut milk and flavoured shaved ice.

    Cendol. Another ice cold dessert to get me through a hot afternoon in Penang. #Penang #Malaysia

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Oct 18, 2021 at 11:58pm PDT

    and Ais Kacang is flavoured shaved ice with ice cream and all sorts of sweet treats.

    Ais Kacang <3 #Penang #Malaysia

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Oct 19, 2021 at 11:05pm PDT

    The main types of foods that can be found in Penang are the same as the main ethnicities. Malaysian, Chinese and Indian.

    I had this incredible bowl of Chinese tofu soup for 10 MYR (£1.79 GBP / $2.70 USD) back at Red Garden.

    More cheap Penang eats. Yong Tao Foo at 10 ringit. Some kind of Chinese soup. Yum!

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 21, 2022 at 8:19am PDT

    And an all you can eat Chinese 'Steamboat' buffet for just 22.90 MYR (£4.13 GBP / $6.19 USD). At a steamboat

    All you can eat BBQ buffet. #Penang #Malaysia

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Oct 16, 2021 at 8:05am PDT

    And as far as Indian food goes, I found place that's very popular with the locals called Restoran Jaya on Penang Road where most meals are around 5 MYR (£0.90 GBP / $1.35 USD). I've had many delicious cheap eats at that restaurant throughout my visits to Penang.

    Cheap eats in Penang.

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Jul 17, 2022 at 11:23pm PDT

    One thing Penang does have a lack of is pork. Malaysia's populations is almost 2/3 Muslim so that would be the reason.

    If you look hard enough you can find it though. Mostly in the Chinese places.

    Finally found some delicious pork. Been sick of eating chicken sausages at breakfast. #Penang #Malaysia

    A photo posted by Dale Philip (@daleroxxu) on Oct 19, 2021 at 10:31pm PDT

    I always leave Penang with a full stomach. :)

  • 11 March

    Tanking in Tournaments

    So last night I got involved in a twitter discussion that started with poker pro Jordan Cristos condemning the WPT's structure change to one hour levels at the final table. ...

  • 10 March

    5 top tips for turning pro

    Are you thinking of going pro? Karl Mahrenholz has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt – here are his five top tips

    The post Karl Mahrenholz: 5 top tips for turning pro appeared first on

  • 9 March

    Bad Play in San Jose

    So I just busted my first bullet here in San Jose at Bay 101 casino. It's the only tournament I show up on time for. Normally I wake up around ...

  • 9 March

    Hand Reading at the Micros

    Hand reading is a term that has been around in poker for a long time. It basically means exactly what it sounds like, reading somebody's hand. But the usage of this term has decreased in popularity in recent years at least in online poker parlance. The...

  • 8 March

    The Price of Poker

    Mid stages of a tournament, we’re on the flop holding Ks 8s, which we’d called from the big blind, and we saw a pretty flop, As 2s 6h. We’ve got the nut flush draw and our opponent has just moved all in, we put him on top pair, therefore we have 9 spades to catch, […]

  • 5 March

    Poker legend Mike Sexton calls out the WSOP!

    I’m a partypoker and WPT guy and have no grievances against the WSOP. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The opinions expressed in this article are from an old-school poker player who has always had nothing but love and respect for the WSOP. I seriously doubt that anyone has loved, supported (I’ve been to every […]

    The post Poker legend Mike Sexton calls out the WSOP! appeared first on blog.

  • 4 March

    The Teacher: Not just another basement kid story

    I remember the day when I got told that Ryan Firpo and his crew would be coming over to my place to start recording my Team Online Short film. It was a very weird feeling, to say the least. Years before I joined Team Pro Online, I watched those littl...

  • 3 March

    Another evolutionary step

    "He's a one-trick pony - one trick is all that horse can do.
    He does one trick only - it's the principal source of his revenue."
    - Paul Simon

    It can be pretty seductive to have one trick that you do very well. You've got that one trick down, do it better than most people, and understand every nuance of it. And that one trick, it takes good care of you for a long time.

    So what do you do when the one trick starts to fail - when everybody can do that one trick? Well, one player called "Bighusla" on PokerStars decided he'd try a new trick - he headed off to the Spin and Go lobby, intending to (1) play 5,000 $30 Spin and Go's in a month, and (2) maintain a chip expected value* ("cEV") of 8.5%.

    A cEV of roughly 8.5% might look something like this

    Not surprisingly, a lot of the 100 big-blind six-max no-limit-hold'em grinders said, "That's impossible - Spin and Go's are just gambling. You can't get a decent edge, the rake is too high, and people will always prefer film to digital storage in their cameras." Well, they didn't say that last bit, but you get my point. The point is that the game changes and you have to be ready to change with it if you expect to continue winning. Just because you don't know how to beat a new form of poker doesn't mean it can't be beaten.

    Let's get back to Bighusla. He played 5,054 Sp&G's (as I like to call them), and ended up with a cEV of 8.8%. Oh, he made a profit of almost $11,000. This doesn't prove that Sp&G's are beatable, but it's a data point that indicates that they are.

    Is it possible that Sp&G's are just another step along the evolutionary path that poker is taking? I checked in with Jim McManus, a well-known poker author, who knows a thing or two about the history of the game. He said, "Much as nineteen-century stud players switched from five- to seven-card variants, PokerStars' new Spin and Go's suit the tastes of a new generation of players who grew up multi-tabling on the virtual felt. And some of these players will convincingly beat the new format."

    It was five-card draw, it was stud. It was no-limit hold'em, then it was limit hold'em, and then it was no-limit hold'em again. It was "regular" speed S&Gs, then turbos, then hyper-turbos. It was Zoom, and now Spin and Go's have taken a place on the path. I promise you that as each of the new games became predominant, some players didn't adapt and fell by the wayside. Some new people came along who, for whatever reason, were better suited to the new game than the old one. And of course, some experts of the existing variation adapted and became experts at whatever the new version was.

    Player "Bighusla" has staked his claim in the new territory. I'm pretty sure there's room for others out there.

    * "Chip EV" is simply the number of chips you expect to make when you make a particular play in a tournament. It's the equivalent of what a cash game player would simply refer to as EV. If you push all-in for 1,000 chips with AsKd and I call with AhQc, then you have plus chip EV of 434 chips.

    Lee Jones is the Director of Poker Communications at PokerStars. He first joined the company in 2003 and has been involved in the professional poker industry for over 25 years. You can read his occasional tweets at @leehjones.

  • 2 March

    A Bankroll challenge & twitch

    After a wee break from poker I’m now back playing and broadcasting as I play on the super dooper fantastical eSports streaming site. I have no real reason for doing this other than, everyone else is… Rather than just play for random wealth, I’m setting myself a bankroll challenge. From a bankroll of […]

February, 2015

  • 28 February

    The Audible

    In order to keep Supernova Elite and that precious 68% Rakeback, I’m required to earn 50,000 VPPs per month with up to two ‘buffer’ months where I don’t reach that total.  It shouldn’t  be that hard, considering I averaged almost double that last year.  But thanks to my Thailand/Disney-world excursions, I missed it in January. […]

  • 28 February

    9 Quick Fixes That Will Improve Your Bottom Line at the Micros Right Now

    Many people struggle at the micros these days. And the hardest thing, especially for a newer player, is to be able to pinpoint exactly where the problems are. I hate having to give a generic answer about how to approach these stakes when somebody email...

  • 27 February

    The Signing of Jason Somerville

    The signing of Jason Somerville represents exactly the kind of changes that I think will help broaden pokers scope, while spending less time focusing on recreating the TV boom of ...

  • 26 February

    It’s nice to win Poker Awards but now back to reality - sweating guarantees

    British Poker Awards  SWEAT 1: Sky Poker UKPX £1M GTD   We have a real sweat on for this £1M main event! The original qualification program agreed 4 months ago was to qualify 600 unique players, Sky have done their quota of 150, ...

  • 25 February

    My Favorite Word: Integrity

    Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. That is the literal definition of the word. A man of integrity is honest with himself and ...

  • 24 February

    Poker and Traveling the World - Taking Your Game on the Road

    Boracay, The PhilippinesOne of the best things about playing online poker professionally (or just working online in general) is that you are location independent. Your office is anywhere in the world that has an internet connection which is basically a...

  • 21 February

    Katie Dozier - An Open Letter to PokerStars

    If someone were to ask me in chat on your site right now, “U Mad Bro,” unfortunately the answer would be “Yes.” I’d like to preface this by saying I’m ...

  • 20 February

    A List of Players Who Should be Barred From WSOP?

    WSOP 2015 is around the corner and rumor has it that we may see some faces we haven't seen there in a while. I've always been of the position that ...

  • 19 February

    #Good4Poker List – Unibet, Matt Savage and Winamax

    What is this about? You can read about the #Good4Poker List of Commendable Achievements, Initiatives and Personal Accomplishments here. Here are the first three candidates. In no particular order. UNIBET Unibet is one of the many major online European sportbooks that could easily consider online poker as much as a liability as an opportunity. While stile […]

  • 18 February

    Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

    I had dinner in London last week with the lovely Maria, who dealt the first hand of poker I played in the Eccentrics Club, and the legend that is Mr ...

  • 18 February

    A reality check on the true potential of the US online poker market

    It’s been a rough road for regulated US online poker so far Online poker returned to the United States in 2013 when Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey legalized state-wide online poker to its residents. To say the profit projections for the return of online poker were high would be an understatement. New Jersey Governor Chris...

    The post A reality check on the true potential of the US online poker market appeared first on

  • 18 February

    The #Good4Poker List of Commendable Achievements, Initiatives and Personal Accomplishments

    Award season is upon us! Left, right and center companies and individuals in the e-gaming space are being handed awards for a job well done or sometimes – frankly – for having funneled advertising money into the right pockets. Next up is the GPI American Poker Awards in two week’s time. Votes for the Bluff’s […]

  • 14 February

    Why You Need to be More Patient at the Micros in Order to Succeed

    photo credit: lot of the people who read this blog are fairly new to the game or have been struggling at the lower limits for awhile (NL2, NL5 and NL10 in particular). If you are one of these people then I bet...

  • 12 February

    Poker’s next big story

    Throughout its decade long journey from a game enjoyed by a few degenerate millionaires and colorful pros in dark-lit casinos, to a game loved and played by millions online, poker has relied on great stories to keep its momentum going. First there was the idea of playing online itself.  Then there was the Moneymaker rags-to-riches […]

  • 12 February

    Rob Tinnion on deals and doubles after winning second Sunday Million

    Nothing wakes you up on Monday morning quite like a lot of noise coming from somewhere in the house. It'll rattle you out of deep sleep in no time at all. But Rob Tinnion's parents knew not to reach for the cricket bat ready to chase out an intruder. For their son is a poker player, a good one actually. And while the reason for it was not always clear, the noise was all perfectly normal. The only question was whether it was a good noise or a bad one.

    "They knew from past experience this was a very polarizing result," said Tinnion. "Either I had just lost a massive pot in a high equity situation, or I had just won a lot."

    In this case the answer became obvious when he walked downstairs with a smile on his face. It's always a good start to the week when you win $200,000. It even excuses as Tinnion put it, the "Facebook Sunday Million win brag post".

    But this sometimes happens to players like Rob "robtinnion" Tinnion, who from his room either grinds big wins or teaches others to earn similar success through his coaching site. Actually not always in the case of Tinnion, for this was his second Sunday Million title in the space of six months. That makes him one of only seven players to do that.

    As with many things in life, it came when he was least expecting it. By Tinnion's own standards his game had entered, if not a slump, certainly a phase that had prompted him to ask questions about his confidence and performances.

    "The early stages on Sunday didn't turn out to be much different," said Tinnion, 25, who has been playing poker seriously for the past three years. "I felt I was playing terribly, so I stopped registering normal speed freezeouts (excluding the million) shortly after the Bigger 109 (6pm). I also skipped some of the higher buy-ins as I felt I was just burning money. It could have been variance but when I'm not on my A-game I don't want to be playing against better players who are."

    rob_tinnion_interview_12feb15.jpgRob Tinnion pictured after winning a £1,000 side event during the EPT11 London festival

    As Tinnion put it, that sort of thing fast becomes and unprofitable investment. But whether it was about focus, or variance, or just a subtle rediscovery of form, Tinnion found himself going deep in the event that mattered. And not only going deep, but playing well, destroying his table on the final table bubble, leaving everyone with around ten big blinds (he had 70).

    Going into the final he couldn't have been more focused, but that would prove a different challenge entirely.

    "When we got to the final table I immediately 4-bet/folded from UTG vs. ministerborg (Simon Ravnsbaek), who is very aggressive. I figured he had to have a very strong hand to pull it off, so it didn't faze me too much as he just got lucky to be dealt AA, which I later saw on the replay (which you can watch here). I then became extremely card dead and made a couple desperate plays which didn't work out."

    You can read the report of the final to get a good idea on how things played out. But what it won't show is how Tinnion was by now battling fatigue as well as frustration, having been playing for a solid 17 hours. But somehow he kept his target in mind.

    "Once I finally regained the chip lead going into three-handed play, the finish line was in sight and I had no intention of losing."

    The rest is Sunday Million history. As the highlights from the final table show the heads-up contest was compelling stuff, with Tinnion gradually pulling away from the experienced Ravnsbaek. But the Dane had put up stiff opposition, both in terms of play and when it came to discussing a deal.

    "If I wasn't already established and knowledgeable on the subject I probably would have buckled under ministerborg's pressure and given in to some of his demands," said Tinnion. "But he was extremely greedy and deluded with the amount of money he deserved."

    Tinnion looked up Ravnsbaek record and figured he was asking too much. So he dug in, relying on experience gained by grinding online and studying every part of the game - including deal making.

    "I knew he was deluded with his demands as no well-rounded regular would ever risk so much money at the stack depths during the discussions, given everyone's skill edge in that spot is very small in proportion to the amount of money being thrown about.

    "Chopping tournaments is a skill game and not about what you think you deserve. You can go for more if you think you can get away with it, but you should also be prepared to take a mutually beneficial offer. That day wasn't his day but he is a very tough opponent and congrats to him for the score."

    With a deal nixed Tinnion overcame the Ravnsbaek threat to collect another significant payday, one that he naturally compared to events last year.

    "This one was a lot more satisfying as (I like to think). It shows I'm not just a one hit wonder," he said. "The first time the money overshadowed everything. This time there was a reputation/bragging rights for the win. The first one, the average stack was a lot lower resulting in more all-ins and generally a higher variance nature to the game, this time we actually got to "play poker".

    Tinnion learned to play poker at University in Oxford, when introduced to the game by an American friend. It was mostly for fun in the early stages but pretty soon he has something of a breakthrough.

    "I was in a thermodynamics lecture looking at work input/work output equations and I realized poker was the same."

    Now, we're not going to pretend we understand this bit, but Tinnion wouldn't be the first to bring outside experience into poker and profit from it. Whatever that moment was it gave him the motivation to work hard and soon the results followed (as well as the Degree). Before long he had signed up to the Pocarr backing group. From playing $11 freezeouts he's now the company's third biggest shareholder and makes several coaching videos each week.

    "I'm coaching/running what is likely the largest online poker backing stable in the world," said Tinnion who is quick to credit those he works with for making that possible. "We have over 100 people playing for us from all across the world which is an amazing experience as I now know people in virtually every country I want to visit. Having been part of the stable for 2.5 years and working my way from the bottom to the top of the company in that time, I want to be able to help people do the same by maximizing their potential and giving them the freedom that comes with playing poker for a living successfully."

    Tinnion already splashed out on a new Audi RS5 a few weeks ago, so he's good for luxuries for now. But the money may well finance another summer in Las Vegas, as well as a trip to EPT Malta next month. And who knows, maybe even shot at the EPT Grand Final. One thing is certain, that lack of confidence is beginning to look more like a misread.

    For now Tinnion returns to the daily grind and to his poker school as a double Sunday Million winner and $200,000 up for the week. Not a bad way to keep your customers satisfied. And your parents.

    Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.

  • 9 February

    Unboxed memories

    I am not the kind of person who loves traveling. Even though I like visiting new places and meeting new people, after a few days I already want to be back home. It doesn't matter how expensive or luxurious the destination might be. After a while I miss my modest apartment and the mundane things of life, like lying on the sofa with my cats or a nice homemade meal. However, going to the Bahamas was a completely different story: I wanted to stay there forever.

    Celeste Orona_2015 PCA_HU4Rollz_Giron_8JG9758.jpg

    "Working" in the Bahamas

    There were many reasons for that. It was my first time in the Bahamas and the first time I met most of my fellow Team Pro Online members. And let me tell you this: they are awesome! Everyone on the team is very nice I had a great time hanging out with them. I was pleasantly surprised to see how down to earth some of the best poker players in the world can be, something that might be rare in a sport like this. It was a huge learning experience for me and it has inspired me to work even harder on my goals and projects. But there was another reason why going back home wasn't the most attractive option this time. As soon as I arrived I had to start packing again, because I'm moving house.


    Home sweet home

    It is often said that moving is one of life's most stressful events after the death of a family member. I have already moved a few times in my short(?) life and honestly I don't think it is that bad unless you are an extremely unorganized person and accumulate tons of trash over the years (ok, maybe I'm guilty of this). But the idea of trying to make your life fit into boxes is never a pleasant one no matter how many times you have done it before. If you hire a mover like I did, you need to coordinate a group of people, and there are deadlines to meet. As a poker player I am not exactly proficient in any of those skills.

    But this post is not about how much I hate moving. Every cloud has a silver lining, and for me it was something I found while checking old paper piles:


    No set, no bet

    Among my college notes and books I found my very first opening ranges chart. It is so ridiculously tight and outdated it makes me feel ashamed of myself, but that piece of paper brought back so many memories. Only a couple of years ago I was living a double life: I had a serious corporate job, but when I was home I was grinding the micro-stakes trying to make my poker dream come true. I didn't have much free time, so I had to make the most of it. I printed some charts and poker articles to read on the bus on my way to the office. It was a busy time of my life, and there were many times when I thought it was too difficult and I was not going to make it, but I was very motivated and kept going. 

    A piece of paper is just that: a piece of paper. It means nothing in itself. But having it in my hands brought back lots of emotions and renewed that motivation I once had. It reminded me that I've come a long way from where I was and that there is still a lot to come. Today it's a new house, but I'm really curious to see what tomorrow brings. Hard work and big dreams are the key.

    Celeste 'LadyMaCe86' Orona is a member of Team PokerStars Pro Online

  • 7 February

    What does Malta matter?

    What does Malta matter? It’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves as hundreds of eager poker players, three of whom qualified with partypoker, pack their shorts and t-shirts, and head to the tiny country situated in the Mediterranean Sea. And tiny is no exaggeration. The three Maltese islands have an area of a piddly 122 square miles – compared […]

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  • 6 February

    ‘Ain’t Got No Soul Brother

    Times Have Changed In the past week or so I’ve found myself reminiscing about the early days of my gambling career, for a couple of reasons I think, firstly and most prominently myself, Pab and Middy (my housemates) have recently moved into an unfurnished apartment, after locating the ideal spot for our huge tele, then organizing some lavishly comfortable sofa’s, that niether go with carpets nor really fit in the room, to sit on and watch it we kind of slacked off on buying anything else for a while, as the essentials were very much catered for. After purchasing blinds and curtains we decided the next port of call would be a dining table, we all knew that we would likely spend very little time at the dining table but just felt that if you want to be a “real” person, then you should have a dining table. Then we had an even better idea – lets buy a poker table instead! We’ll use it probably equally as infrequently as the dining table but it will look cool and will be easier to justify in our heads spending money on it if its multi-use (savvy consumers to the end.) After … Continue reading

  • 5 February

    Men Who Play Ladies Events Are “Idiots”

    If there’s anyone entitled to have a say on pretty much anything that relates to the European Poker Tour, it' Victoria Coren-Mitchell. Don't miss this interview from Deaville.

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  • 5 February

    WSOP schedule

    The WSOP schedule got announced the other day and it seems to have been met with a lot of positivity. There are loads of cool events on it this year. Seems they are catering for a wider Bank roll, both high and low. The event that caught my eye is the inclusion of a $25k […]

  • 4 February

    partypoker and DTD…………..

    Dear DTD Members, Since announcing the partypoker DTD agreement Nicola and Glenn (right) have been inundated with emails and messages so they have prepared these FAQ’s for you. This blog post addresses the questions that I am most likely to be as...

  • 3 February

    The Perspective

    Early Friday morning, I dragged myself out of bed to do a coaching session.  While I’ve drastically cut down on my coaching hours in the last year, when I do sessions they always seem to revitalize my interest in the game.  Each hand is like a puzzle to me and once I “solve” a few […]

  • 2 February

    Happy Poker Day

    We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot What do you mean, you didn’t know today is Poker Day? You missed the memo? You didn’t see it marked in big red letters on […]

  • 2 February

    Something Strange Happened

    Rarely do crazy things happen to me. I actively crave stability and consistency. You know, hence choosing one of the more volatile professions and lifestyles out there. Due to having a variety of domains as well as being a somewhat early adopter to Gmail, I often get emails that are not intended for me. For […]

January, 2015

  • 30 January

    The Gripes

    New year, same old gripes. Variance is inescapable, but alas I had been away from the game for so long that I mostly forgot about it.  No worries though, the poker gods were around to remind me.  Through ~2000 games this month I’m down $3000 before rakeback.  Yuck.   Games do appear rather reg-infested and […]

  • 29 January

    Approaching poker like a runner approaches a marathon

    I just got home after a three-week trip to the PCA and traveling a bit around the US. While the whole trip was fantastic (and a proper trip report is in order), I'd like to hone in on one particular part. Every year at the PCA we have our Team Pokersta...

  • 29 January

    Hell on Earth

    I said India wasn’t really a place I ever wanted to visit from what I heard about it I knew it wasn’t really my kind of place, but when you need to get sick………….. Me and the 3 Lads headed over late Thursday evening, the 2 Daves and Ross. On the way over I asked […]

  • 28 January

    Meet Alex Jäger, the Serial WPT Qualifier

    Have you competed at one of the World Poker Tour National events during the past couple of years because, if you have, it is likely you’ve bumped into Alex Jäger at the tables. You see, Alex has a penchant for satellites tournaments at partypoker and has qualified for five WPT National Main Events at a fraction of […]

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  • 27 January

    The Art of Bluffing at the Micros: When to do it and Why

    The Art of Bluffing at the Micros: When to do it and Why
    One of the oldest rules in the book at the micros is to "never bluff." So why would I write an article about bluffing at the micros then you might ask? Well, because poker as we know it on the internet has changed a lot over the years and bluffing is now profitable against some opponents at these stakes. Long gone are the days when literally every single player is incapable of folding anything. Many regs have long since realized that frequently finding the fold button (especially against other tight regs) is vital to their success at these stakes.

    But the great thing about poker is that for every adjustment there is always a counter-adjustment. Many micro stakes players have taken this folding thing way too far and some of the better regs have taken advantage of this by being more aggressive and bluffing more. The prime target for these bluffs is a player type that I have discussed many times before, the "TAGfish." They typically have stats that look something like this:

    Full Ring: 13/10/2 WTSD 22%
    6max: 19/16/2 WTSD 22%

    The first set of numbers is VPIP/PFR/TotalAF. If you are unfamiliar with what these mean go check out my mega article on HUD setup here.

    Basically this player type is tight, fairly passive and doesn't like to stick large amounts of their stack in the middle without the nuts. We can notice this most especially by their relatively low WTSD% (went to showdown %). The average is about 24% among regs according to my database. These players are the perfect opponent to run a big time bluff against on the later streets. I will go through a couple examples of how we can do this shortly.

    However, first I want to be really clear about something. If you are table selecting properly at these stakes (a horse that I have beaten to death on this blog, in my books and elsewhere) then you should be running into a whole bunch of other bad regs who are calling stations and who you should not be bluffing very often. They will have stats that look something like this:

    Full Ring: 13/10/2 WTSD 27%
    6max: 19/16/2 WTSD 27%

    As you can see the WTSD% is the crucial stat here once again. Even though this player type is only going to showdown 5% more often than their TAGfish counterpart this is actually a huge relative difference. Every session we all face many close decisions on the later streets. Some regs just won't fold their small over pair, top pair or even their middle pair though. On the other hand, plenty of the weaker TAGfish regs frequently fold all of these hands.

    This is where most of this 5% difference comes from. You don't want to be bluffing these calling station regs very often whose WTSD% is in the high 20's. Players who are in the low 20's though should be a prime target.

    If you are table selecting well then you should also be playing with plenty of the standard SLPs (semi-loose passive) and fish at these stakes. These players of course don't fold anything at all. They will have stats that look something like this (Full Ring or 6max):

    SLP: 27/8/1 WTSD 29% 
    Fish: 52/8/1 WTSD 33%

    You are simply not going to turn a profit trying to run a big bluff against either of these player types. You should almost never try to bluff these players on the later streets. It is often simply winrate suicide because they will call you down with any piece, even no pair hands on occasion.

    So therefore, when bluffing at the micros, we should be squarely focused on the weak TAGfish regs who do not go to showdown very often. Let's go through a couple examples of how this will work in practice:

    NL2 Full Ring

    Villain is a 13/10/2 TAGfish with a 22% WTSD

    Hero raises from UTG with A♥Q♠
    Villain calls from the BTN

    The flop comes,


    Hero CBets,
    Villain calls

    The turn comes,



    We have all seen this position many times before. It is the classic double barreling spot against a weaker reg on a turn scare card. When he calls preflop we put him on a range of mostly pairs trying to set-mine us and the occasional slow-played big ace or big pair. Very few of these hands hit this flop hard and very few of them will be happy about seeing that king pop up on the turn either. Suppose we double barrel and get called on the turn though?

    The river comes,



    This is a spot where you could think about firing another shell. It really looks like our opponent is probably hanging on with some sort of mid pair hand like 88, 99, TT, JJ or QQ. Even if he somehow hit the king on the turn we can expect a player like this (22% WTSD) to think long and hard about folding it too if we can fire the third bullet here. Unless he literally flopped the absolute nuts with 66 or 77 there is a good chance that we get a player like this to lay down the entire rest of his range.

    NL5 6max

    Villain is a 19/16/2 TAGfish with a 22% WTSD, 75% Flop CBet, and a 60% Turn CBet.

    Villain raises from UTG
    Hero calls from the CO with 8♣8♠

    The flop comes,


    Villain CBets
    Hero calls

    The turn comes 9♠

    Villain CBets

    Here is another spot versus a weak reg where we could consider running a bluff. Once again we should ask ourselves what our opponent can have in a spot like this. When he raises from UTG in a 6max game a tight reg like this is probably on a range of the typical 22-AA, AK, AQ, AJ and KQ. We can also see that this player follows up with another CBet on the turn fairly often at 60%. However, we know that given this range and this board that he rarely has a nut hand. He would have to have exactly JJ, 99, 66 or 22 to feel extremely confident here.

    Since this is another weak reg this looks to be a good spot to turn our hand into a bluff on occasion by raising. I should mention that once again our actual hand value doesn't really matter that much because we are simply playing the player and his range here. We know that he can't be very strong all that often on this board and that he often folds when faced with big pressure.

    I should also mention that like the previous hand my plan is to fire a lot of rivers if called on the turn. When I find an opportunity to bluff like this I do not like to give up without firing the final shell as well. This is because he is going to call our raise a lot on the turn with hands like AA, KK, QQ and AJ. A TAGfish reg like this though will often check all of these hands to us on the river unimproved and make a tough lay down if we can fire another substantial bet.

    Final Thoughts

    Like I said before, my intention with this article was not to get you all to start bluffing up a storm against the typical regs that you find at these stakes. This would be terrible for your winrate against most regs especially at NL2, NL5 and NL10. This is why I zeroed in on the very specific TAGfish player type who is relatively tight but typically won't put big amounts of his stack in the middle without a huge hand.

    When pushed around enough though even these players will eventually adjust so it is important not to bluff them every single time in spots like this. Many regs at these stakes will simply start spite calling you if they think that something fishy is going on. The key is to walk that fine line where it is just believable enough for them to keep letting you have it.

    The old adage "don't bluff at the micros" is still mostly true these days especially at the lowest stakes. However, hopefully this article helped show you that there are a few spots where you can boost your winrate against the right opponent in the right situation.

    If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

    The Art of Bluffing at the Micros: When to do it and Why

  • 26 January

    Always learning

    Since I started playing professionally, I've been playing mostly sit-n-gos, making Supernova Elite five times, and playing tournaments during my $100k charity challenge for a year.

    Tournaments are very exciting but require huge sessions that can be very tiring. Sit-n-gos on the other hand are great to grind a steady income, but they got a bit repetitive after so many years, and I feel like it's time for a new challenge!

    The Goal

    As you might be guessing at this point, I will be playing cash-games in 2015, to be more precise Pot Limit Omaha cash games. I feel like this format will provide me with a great challenge and has more potential in the long term since you can make bigger wagers in cash games than you can in the other formats.

    My main goal for the year will be to get a bit better every day, and the way to do that is to keep learning and improving. This way I can keep the game fresh and exciting!

    You can also think about the brain as a muscle that you can either try to build up by constant learning or let it grow weak by being lazy. Poker is a game of inifinite depth, so there is always room for learning and it can be a great tool to keep the brain in shape!

    I've also hired Jared Tendler as my mental game coach and I'm looking forward to working in the mental game arena as well. I believe that even a small change in that area can make a big difference in the results and I expect to be able to improve a lot!


    With Jared Tendler

    The Plan

    I've never played cash-games seriously, so I will start by slowly playing micro-stakes, but hopefully I´ll steadily move up in the stakes as I improve my understanding of the game.
    Regarding studying, I will start by watching some videos where professionals explain their plays and try to takes notes of everything I find interesting. Then, I will use my playing sessions as a way of trying out the stuff I learned during the videos and test myself. If I come up with any questions or doubts while playing, I will mark the hand for review and either try to figure out the solution by myself while away from the tables, or ask other players what they think is the best play.

    This is my plan for this year! I will write a monthly blog post for pokerstarsblog describing how things are going, tweet the most interesting hands and stream some sessions on twitch.

    See you at the (cash games) tables!

    Andre Coimbra is a member of Team PokerStars Pro Online

  • 26 January

    The Direction

    After having way too much fun, I’m back in Playa del Carmen and back to work. The transition from leisurely vacation to structured grind hasn’t exactly been seamless.  Flew into town on the 20th and figured I’d wake up the next day and bang out eight hours of work like I used to.  Nope.  I […]

  • 24 January

    Regrets? Oh I’ve had a few….

    I was at a dinner party recently when one of the guests proclaimed, “You should never regret anything! Regrets are poison to the soul! Drop them and be free!” Clearly the person to whom he was giving the advice seemed pleased with this thought. But as with any absolutist statement, I felt uneasy about this […]

  • 22 January

    Regulated online poker to hit California in 2015?

    California is a huge market for regulated online poker and is seen as a game-changer if and when the game is allowed back – could 2015 be the year it happens? Towards the end of 2014, the general consensus was that only one state would move to regulate online poker in 2015 – California. Several...

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  • 21 January

    The Undiscovered Country

    I was at a launch the other evening for the new book by Charlie Morley. Charlie is an expert on Lucid Dreaming which as you may know is the phenomenon whereby while sleeping, you become aware within the dream that you are dreaming and actively shape whatever course of action that you then choose to take. It’s a fascinating […]

  • 21 January

    Goa’n to the IPC

    Yes I know the IPC is over, sure wasn’t I writing about the Cookie Jar’s success a few weeks ago. I am looking further a field than the Emerald shores. When all the big Dogs are off in the at PCA and Aussie Millions washed up poker players like myself have to look elsewhere for value. […]

  • 20 January

    Mindfulness in Poker

    I recently watched a 60 Minutes piece by Andersoon Cooper on the topic of mindfulness. In it, Andersoon Cooper does a three day mindfulness retreat which included various types of ...

  • 17 January

    Happy New Year!

    I’m Back! Hello everyone A few years ago my blog was inherently part of my identity, I remember when i used to play live poker tournaments from time to time and I’d make the updates (usually for walking in the building over doing any good in the tournament!) and it would say things like “blogger extraordinaire” “online poker blogger” David Nicholson. Jesse May who is one of my all time favorite people in gambling even once referred to it as “the best thing on the internet” (obviously Porn is the best thing on the internet!) This wasn’t something that bothered me at all, the fact that i was known for the blog over my poker achievements, in fact i actually loved it, created a bit of mystique about me, people started to think i might be kind of a big deal, but no-one knew why! That is actually way more of an interesting character to play than the guy with a 26% ROI over 11,000 online tournaments, and a shiny picture of you on a magazine cover with an EPT trophy.   This worked nicely with my personally, I’ve never been a naturally braggy person – I find it a … Continue reading

  • 16 January

    Eleanor Gudger: How to win a WPT

    PKR Pro Eleanor ‘Elz442’ Gudger had the biggest score of her life when she topped a field of over 2,000 players to win the WPT500 for £140,000. Here she explains how she did it – and how you can win big too

    The post Eleanor Gudger: How to win a WPT appeared first on

  • 16 January

    NHL Hockey Blog

    This blog will be all about hockey but from the perspective of an analytical poker player. 1. Solving the 3 point game debacle- Currently in the NHL when you win ...

  • 13 January

    The Worst Poker Room I’ve Ever Played In

    I’m going to break my Las Vegas trip report down into two parts. The second will detail how I managed to get a trophy and a $49,000 pay day. This ...

  • 13 January

    Sure tiz great craic in Galway

    Belated Happy New Year to Boylepoker blog readers. The Christmas period went very well for me with Silviniaco Conti being a particular Highlight on Stephens Day.     It was good to start the New Year with a poker festival in Galway again. The buy in for the Irish Poker Championship (IPC) may have dropped off […]

  • 13 January

    Setting Poker Goals for 2015 - Your Guide to a Breakthrough Year

    Hey everyone, I hope you have had a great start to the new year! I wanted to wait a little bit before publishing this post because right after new year's eve is when everybody is in a frenzy about their resolutions and emotions are guiding their action...

  • 11 January

    Lobster and Steak in a College Home Game

    In a four-part series Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein tells us his life story. In the first part Greenstein talks about growing up in Chicago, learning the game of poker and hosting a college home game where lobster and steak were being served.&nb...

  • 9 January

    Inside PokerStars: “When I’m playing online at PokerStars where do the games take place?”

    Like other leading technology companies, PokerStars invests heavily in the technical infrastructure of our platforms. Like others, we need to continually develop cutting edge software to deliver a compelling consumer experience.

    And that software must sit on a dependable network infrastructure to handle the extraordinary needs of a global poker site. On average, we deal 700 poker hands every second of every day with as many as 20,000 hands being played concurrently. We have 3,500 daily scheduled tournaments contributing awarding more than $25 million of guaranteed prizes into the online accounts of hundreds of thousands of players each week. We've even had 481,488 players seated at the site at the same time; that's more than the population of Sacramento, California.

    In an era where bandwidth is at a premium and network congestion is common, we've done something very few companies would dare to: we replicated the interwebs. Who does that? Well, companies just like Google, Microsoft and Amazon because they want to make their search results faster, their servers more reliable and their platforms less dependent on telcos.

    And PokerStars does because we know that delays in game play are not only frustrating, but can literally cost players money. So we do our best to minimize the risk.

    As our Director of IT Operations explains in the video below, just like Microsoft and Google have done, we've built an internet on top of the internet. Dedicated lines spring out of the PokerStars Data Centre in the Isle of Man across to Ireland and the UK, then on to Europe in the east and North America to the west.

    That's how serious we are about being the best. We stay focused on the fundamentals and execute as close to flawless as possible. Just as we make sure the PokerStars bank is safe, that the PokerStars deal is random and that the game is fair at the PokerStars tables, we want to make sure when the cards are in the air they land as quickly as you expect them to.

    We don't want players to lose connection during a key hand or to be sat out in a tournament so that someone else can enjoy your big blind. Desktop or mobile, we make sure that connection holds firm day or night wherever you may playing; a café in Italy, a bar in Germany or an apartment in Rio. Your service provider might not always play ball on that front, but we certainly do our part. The video below should go some way to showing how important we take connectivity and our technological infrastructure.

    Of course, all online security is not rooted in the physical aspect of the servers, but we do hold that to our usual high standards, too. Biometric clearance is needed to access the server room with each and every entry point indelibly logged; as is every single hand that's ever been dealt on PokerStars, which is now more than 128 billion.

    We're committed to providing the best poker experience and to growing the game. Having the best poker network in the world makes that a whole lot easier.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for inside_pokerstars_launch.jpg

    Eric Hollreiser is Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars and Amaya inc.

  • 7 January

    Ireland’s Greatest Ever Dead Poker Player

    Of all the ghosts that haunt the Paddy Power Poker Irish Open,Jimmy Langan stands out as Ireland’s greatest ever dead poker player. Some say that’s a title they’d rather not ...

  • 6 January

    Should of stayed on the Threadmill………

    My intention to grind online over the Christmas was aborted after a heavy defeat online. Instead of ruining my Christmas I decided to enjoy the festive period and start again in the new year. So spent the next 2 weeks getting drunk, spending a day recovering, rinse and repeat. All in all pretty enjoyable. I […]

  • 6 January

    PCA Super High Roller Day One

    Just wanted to share quickly about my first day at the PCA in 2015. For those following the poker news, PokerStars has decided to rethink the rake increases and have ...

  • 5 January

    Attention all bloggers: crush 2015!

    What better way to tackle poker in 2015 than by setting goals, discussing your progress with fellow PokerStrategists, and crushing the limits?

  • 1 January

    2015 Annual Poker Goals Blog

    Before we move on to my 2015 goals, let's take a look at how we did with our 2014 goals: 1. Cash for $2 million- With all of the $100k ...

December, 2014

  • 31 December

    Poker Issues Part III: $500 buy in WSOP Bracelet Events

    My stance on the $500 buy in colossal event at this WSOP isn't a popular one, but I wanted to shed some light on the reasons why it concerns me, ...

  • 31 December

    Poker Issues Part III: $500 buy in WSOP Bracelet Events

    My stance on the $500 buy in colossal event at this WSOP isn't a popular one, but I wanted to shed some light on the reasons why it concerns me, ...

  • 30 December

    PCA Stories That Won’t be in the Brochure

    This is the time of year when a PokerStars rep emails me and asks me to provide memories from previous PokerStars Caribbean Adventures. Of course, what they really mean is they want me to provide something positive to put in their brochure or up on the...

  • 30 December

    Poker Issues Part II: The $10 million WSOP Guarantee

    So last year the WSOP decided to try something to inspire more entries in the WSOP main event. Glitz it up and make it look a little sexier. It was ...

  • 29 December

    Poker Issues Part 1: Multi-Entry Tournaments

    I recently attended a player forum for the WPT where they covered various aspects relating to tournament poker, from proposed payout schedules, multi-entry tourneys, and even the GPI as a ...

  • 24 December

    Avoiding Flop Trouble in Tournaments

    Low card hands and the lower half of all pocket pairs can be tricky to play post-flop unless you flop a lot of equity; meaning things like two pair, a set, a straight or a strong draw. When I say tricky I mean that whatever equity you might have with a weak pair, it will […]

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  • 23 December

    Visiting the next home of poker

    After the traditional EPT London, I was lucky enough to be able to go to Macau this year again, for the Asian Championship of Poker Series (ACOP). The ACOP is the biggest annual tournament Series in Macau. Macau is certainly the gambling capital of the...

  • 23 December

    Power Trips Are My Least Favourite Kind Of Trip

    As humans, we often do things that are in direct opposition to the outcome we want. We’re not always the most rational of creatures and the desire to feel powerful can get in the way of us reaching our goals. This is never more clear to me than when watching someone berate a new player […]

    The post Power Trips Are My Least Favourite Kind Of Trip appeared first on blog.

  • 23 December

    How to Value Bet Effectively at the Micros

    Value Betting Micro Stakes Poker
    It has often been said that one of the biggest keys to success at the micros is value betting. I really couldn't agree more. If there is one thing that stands out to me from playing millions of hands at these stakes it is that most regs do not know how to get the max value from their good hands. This is especially the case when they are playing against fish. I thought it would be a good time to revisit this topic because the holiday season is upon us and this is the time of year when you will find some of the biggest whales on earth at the poker tables.

    So let's get back to basics here.
    • What is value betting?
    • Why is it so important? 
    Value betting is simply the act of making a bet when you have the best hand. It is usually pretty easy to tell when you are ahead in poker. You have a strong hand such as top pair and your opponent is just calling. Your opponent probably has a draw or perhaps some worse made hand that he is hanging on with. If your opponent is a recreational player then he could be calling you with anything including no pair/no draw hands. It is even easier at the micros to know where you stand because most players are extremely passive. When they raise you on the big money streets in particular (turn and river) they are very often letting you know that you are behind.

    Value betting is extremely important in poker because as you may have noticed by now it is really frigging hard to make a hand like top pair or better! You need to be getting the maximum value out of them when you do. Also, many of your opponents (especially at the lower end of the micros, NL2, NL5 and NL10) are incapable of folding. They are literally begging to call you with whatever junk they happen to have. You need to give them the opportunity to do just that.

    One of the biggest ways that people shoot themselves in the foot at these stakes is by thinking that pots will magically build themselves. This is not going to happen in most cases because extremely passive players don't like to bet without a big hand. They will call you down all day but if you give them the opportunity to check with their middle pair, gutshot or queen high they will usually take it. Therefore, please remember this: If you want to win a big pot at the micros you almost always need to build it yourself. Let's look at a couple of common value betting scenarios at the micros versus bad players.

    NL2 Full Ring

    Villain is a 26/7/2 SLP (semi-loose passive) with a 30% WTSD (went to showdown).

    Villain limps from UTG+1
    Hero raises from the CO with K♥J♠
    Villain calls

    The flop comes,


    Villain checks

    First off this should definitely be a standard preflop raise. I don't want to get into a deep discussion of preflop strategy in this article but as I have discussed many times before you should be isolating bad players like this frequently and especially when in position. We actually have a reasonable hand in this example. I would isolate this player with far worse here, half the deck for sure.

    So we flop top pair, now what? Well again, this should be a fairly straight forward CBet after the villain checks. As I noted above it is important to build the pot at these limits and not expect a passive fish like this to do it for you. Checking back here to be "tricky" is a huge mistake at these limits. You don't need to balance anything against a player like this whose only concern is his own two cards and what he thinks of them. Just value bet 100% of the time here.

    I also don't want to get into a big discussion of bet sizing in this article. When value betting versus a recreational player it should almost always be 75% of the pot or more. Check out a recent article of mine for more on optimal bet size amounts at these stakes.

    Hero CBets

    The turn comes,


    Villain checks

    This isn't the greatest turn card in the deck. It completes a few draws such as 97 and Q9 and perhaps makes a few two pairs such as T8 or JT. However, we always need to remember that these hands only represent a small portion of this player's overall range. He has plenty of other hands that we beat and he would love to call a bet with them. These include, T9, QJ, QT, J9, A8, K8, Q8, 98, 87, 99 and any two diamonds. I think I am being conservative here. With a bad player like this there definitely could be more hands added to this list.

    Hero bets

    The river comes,


    Villain checks

    Once again the river isn't the best card in the deck for us because it completes the flush but it certainly isn't the worst card either. A lot of regs at the micros will freeze up here though and choose to just check behind for the showdown. This is a major mistake. You are throwing away EV (expected value) by not making a value bet here. Remember that villain can still have any of those one pair hands that we listed above on the turn. And what do SLP fish with a 30% WTSD like to do? Call of course.

    Please don't worry about being check/raised in this spot either. If the opponent here check/raises us we are folding 100% of the time. Why? Because passive players at the micros do not check/raise the river without the nuts. Most regs today at the lower end of the micros are still not making the bet on the end here. Don't throw away easy money like this. Always value bet here.

    NL5 6max

    Villain is a 52/12/2 Whale with a 34% WTSD with a 0% Fold to 3Bet.

    Villain raises from the CO
    Hero 3Bets on the BTN with 9♣9♠
    Villain calls

    The flop comes,


    Villain checks

    It is certainly not a crime to just flat preflop here and maybe let some other bad players in. However, since we have a pretty strong hand in position against a fish who doesn't fold anything I would prefer to just juice up the pot here a little bit. Once again on the flop this is not the time to be getting tricky. Yes there is one overcard but there are simply so many hands that a bad player like this will continue with including ace high.

    Hero CBets

    The turn comes,


    Villain checks

    The turn isn't the best card in the deck but it is not the worst either. While it is another overcard to our pair it does seem odd why somebody would ever have a queen in their hand here though. However, you should never put something like that past a huge whale like this. We know that a player like this could have easily floated the flop out of position with plenty of no pair/no draw hands which may have a queen in them.

    Since this is a 3Bet pot I would recommend just checking