# Category Archives: Texas Hold’em

## Poker Strategy 101: What are “Sklansky dollars”?

David Sklansky came up with idea of the “Sklansky dollars” (Sklansky dollars)  in one of his many books about poker strategy. It’s a term that you can put to work for you when you play Texas Hold’em.

Basically, “Sklansky dollars” indicate how much money you should expect to win out of the pot based on your equity at any point in a hand. They’re not real, of course, but they are a good way to evaluate the amount of money you win from your hands. Multiply the pot size by your equity, and then subtract the call amount from that answer. If this is starting to sound too much like algebra, let’s take a look at an example.

So, you’re playing an \$100 No Limit poker game with an aggressive counterpart. You have AA, and your opponent has A-Q. The opponent goes all in before the flop, and you call, excited about what’s coming. Unfortunately, the board shows up like this: Q-3-7-J-Q. No, you didn’t win, and your \$100 is gone. However, you’re going to win this situation a lot more often than you will lose it, based on that high pair you were holding, so this wasn’t a bad decision. A Sklansky calculation shows you what you can expect to win on the average.

Well, if you use a poker hand evaluation software, poker utilities or a probabilistic poker calculator, you’ll find that if you have A-A against an A-Q preflop, your equity is 87.9%. That final pot size was \$200 (\$100 for each of you), so if you multiply that by the equity, you get \$175.80. So you might have lost that \$200 pot, but you should expect to win \$175.80 on average every time you have A-A against A-Q pre-flop.

Get your earnings by taking out the call. So you take out that \$100 you had in the pot, and you see that you had \$75.80 in Sklansky dollars (your earnings).

Remember — real dollars and Sklansky dollars are quite different. In that last example, you picked up \$75.80 in Sklansky dollars, but your real stack went down by \$100.

### What is The real benefit of the Sklansky Dollars?

The real benefit of the Sklansky dollars is that they show you whether a decision was wise or not. You’re not going to use probabilistic poker calculators and run a detailed analysis in the middle of a poker tournament or when your are hitting the free online poker tables. However, when you’re feeling sore afterward, understanding that this is a situation that you would win almost all of the time, you can feel better about your judgment. If you start questioning your judgment, then you’ll start making bad decisions, following anger and frustration instead of logical principles. That’s the surest way to see your account drain in a fairly short amount of time. You’re going to have bad losses like the one described above. That’s why it’s called GAMBLING. But if you make decisions with the right judgment, more often than not you’ll get the results that you expect. And when you’re on a streak when the luck isn’t going your way, looking at the Sklansky dollars in each situation can help reassure you and keep you consistent in your strategy so that, when the luck turns, you’ll be hitting those expected outcomes.

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## Tips from a Shark: How to Destroy Beginners at the Poker Table

Want to know how to destroy beginners at the poker table? Disclaimer: If you’re sitting around the poker table with some friends who are new to the game, you might not want to try these tips. You’re likely to end up making some people really mad — because you’re going to walk away with all of their money and humiliate them in the process. However, if you are playing online poker against some people you’ll never see, or if you’re at a tournament and find a novice at the table (or if someone starts talking noise), these can help you.

These Tips will How to Destroy Beginners at the Poker Table

First of all, when a novice comes into the room, he’s either going to be really nervous, or really careless. It won’t take you long to figure out which he is, either. The nervous guy calls a lot and folds most of the time when others raise. They’ll almost never open the betting. The careless guy makes crazy raises even though his hands are weak. If you have the nervous novice at your table, use big bets to scare him away each time, and watch his stack dwindle slowly. If he does raise, tread lightly, because it’s likely that he has something solid. If you’ve got the careless guy, value bet with your strong hands. Use big pairs to call down the big bets.

Oh, and when there’s another solid player at the table with you, make sure you target the novices. Solid players avoid targeting each other and instead enjoy feasting off the rookies.

One misconception that novices have is that they’re going to have a ton of great hands. After all, when poker games show up in movies, somebody always draws to a royal flush or something. There’s even that Bugs Bunny cartoon where the rabbit wins blackjack on one card by drawing the 21 of Diamonds (gotta love Looney Tunes). Most of the time, your hands will miss. Getting a premium starting hand like A-K is something that almost never happens.

Knowing when it’s a good time to catch a fish will improve your chances of hitting a good pot. If you have a nervous beginner at your table, he will lay down a lot after the flop if they don’t get something solid right away, so you should bet just about every time. You can raise the other hands around you, and the novices will wonder why you’re getting all the good cards.

Another fun trick here is to make the minimum bet on the river. A lot of rookies don’t understand how pot odds work, so if they miss on the draw, they are likely to fold against just about anything. Finally, watch body language. Novices with good cards usually have problems controlling their emotional responses. If they have nothing, you can tell from their faces as well.

Knowing the hand rankings is obviously helpful

No matter if you are playing online poker, the WSOP or just a friendly hands of free money poker, beginners tend to commit the same mistakes. They often think that a straight should beat a flush (when it doesn’t) and that two pair are better than three of a kind (but they aren’t). This is an example of a way to make friends mad (because a friend would tell them the hand rankings). But if you’re not playing with friends, then don’t worry about it. You’ll only be able to win one hand for each of these misconceptions, of course, but hands add up.

Using tips like this will help you clean up…and teach those novices the same hard lessons you had to learn.

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## Poker Table: Easy Ways to Stay Off Tilt

Going on tilt at the Poker Table is pretty much the last stop on the way to disaster. If your opponents can tell that you’re getting angry and distracted, then your play is going to start turning into a dumpster fire of disastrous proportions. The principle of every poker game is to win, and while losing the grip it’s sometimes understandable, getting mad isn’t going to help you win real cash at the poker table.

Of course, if someone else is on tilt at your table, you are probably going to love it and use it in your advantage. When you cause other people to fall off the table, you can rake in pots left and right. If it hits you, though, you are likely to leave empty-handed. So how can you avoid it?

Don’t stress over what you cannot change

Guess what? Even the best poker players suffer bad losses now and then. That’s why what you’re doing is called “gambling.” There is always a risk when playing real money poker— and with reward also comes the chance for failure. You know that losing is just a part of it, because you’ve taken your own lumps in the past. Even after a lot of practice (and after learning from your mistakes) there is just no way around the fact that you will occasionally take the big loss. The stronger a player you become, the fewer times this will happen, but it will happen to you now and then, no matter how big your shark fin has become. So when it happens, just grin and bear it, and get ready for the next hand.

Know when it’s time to sign off for some Z’s

A lot of the time, if you sit down to play and you’ve had plenty of sleep; it’s a lot easier to stay off tilt. People who are tired have higher levels of cortisol (the hormone that triggers when stress comes). This hormonal shift can make a loss you would normally shrug off into a catastrophe. If you’re playing short on sleep, you won’t make decisions at the same level of quality anyway, so you will lose more — and you’re more likely to find yourself on tilt.

To go up, you have to come down

There is no one who has seen their account balance simply climb up and up throughout their poker career. Even the sharks don’t win all the time — if that were true, tournament play simply wouldn’t work. This game is a marathon, and as long as you can come out ahead every now and then and slowly build up profit over the long haul, you’re doing well. You can’t worry about the progress in each and every poker game. If you just think about the bad situation going on right now, you will go nuts over time, and you won’t be able to play the way you want to. Instead, look at your poker career — not just this game — and the losses will fall into perspective instead of seeming like bottomless pits.

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## Online Poker – The Continuation Bet

The “continuation bet” in online poker, also known as the cbet, is getting more and more popular among no limit Texas Hold’em players. Because the move is so easy to use – and works so often – players who are new to the game can pick it up and start incorporating it immediately into their strategy. If you’re watching a Hold’em session, no matter what the level, you’ll see continuation bets go down. If you’re playing, you need to know how to incorporate it into your poker game.

What is a continuation bet? If you were the raiser pre-flop, a continuation bet is that bet that you made on the flop, even if your hand did not get better with the flop. So if you made a pre-flop raise while holding the Ace of Spades and the King of Diamonds, but the flop gave you the 2 of Diamonds, the 5 of Clubs and the 10 of Hearts, you can still boost your chances of carrying home the pot by betting, even though you still don’t even have a pair.

Why does this work? The majority of the time, your opponents won’t get a pair out of the flop either. So if your opponent folded every time you put down a continuation bet and he didn’t make a pair with the flop, you will win more pots on the flop that you would if you just checked. This is the basic idea behind the bet, but there are some other factors to think of as well.

The right size of a continuation bet is between 2/3 and 3/4 of the current size of the pot. It is also important to get a read on your opponents before committing to that size, though.

So if the pot is \$12, you should bet \$8 to make a decent continuation bet. If you don’t bet enough, your opponents are likely to call because they have favorable pot odds if their hand is any good or if they are on a draw. When you make a continuation bet in online poker, you want to make it seem like you have a plus hand, such as a top pair or even better. The purpose of this is to intimidate the opposition from betting. Going between \$8 and \$9 in this situation is the right choice. If you bet even more, you’re risking more money that you need to, when all you need is \$8 to influence your opponents the right way.

You also need to consider the ability of your opponents when you are considering making a continuation bet. When you’re playing in a real money online poker table and you’re dealing with lower level opponents, you’ll notice that opponents will call no matter what kind of hand they have. The fact that they have not learned the benefit of folding means that your profit from continuation bets can actually suffer because you can’t frighten away those iffy hands that your opponents hold. Also, a continuation bet becomes less effective against opponents with more experience because they are also likely to know how continuation bets work and may call you knowing that your hand is likely to be fairly poor. So if you are playing against top-flight opponents, use the continuation bet infrequently.

Also, you’re more likely to succeed if you’re just playing one opponent instead of multiple opponents because the more opponents you have, the more likely it is that one has connected on the flop. It also helps if you are the last to act, so you can see your opponents’ decisions and know where your own continuation bet will succeed.

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## Multiple Level Thinking: Levels Of Thought In Poker

Anyone who’s involved in poker games has to remain focused on coming up with the best way to out-think the opposition. This means seeing several steps ahead of where you are – just like you would if you were a champion chess player. This is why players that win real cash have the analytical mind to take a look at situations objectively and then take the right action at the right time. If you can’t put together different things in your mind to view a more detailed picture of how each hand ends up, you will not make a lot of money when you play poker. It’s essential to be able to figure out why opponents are doing what they are doing in a game if you are going to win. If you can use that to determine what your opponent is probably holding, you can make the best decisions for each situation.

Here is a look at some of the different levels of thought that you should apply to poker. In his book “NL Texas Hold’em Theory and Practice,” David Sklansky introduced an idea called “Multiple Level Thinking,” and here are the categories he came up with:

Level 0: No thinking

Level 1: What do I have?

Level 2: What do they have?

Level 3: What do they think I have?

Level 4: What do they think I think they have?

Level 5: What do they think I think they think I have?

Once you get beyond that complexity, you’ve left the vast majority of the poker players in the world behind. However, if you look at those levels, you can probably guess that the newest players to the game are probably at Levels 0 or 1. The very best players in the world can operate at Level 4 and 5 – if not even higher.

Level 0 – these are your newest players (or those who have taken too many drinks from the waitresses).

Level 1 – This is still fairly basic. This includes players who are still getting all of the rules down but are pretty familiar with the different ranks of hands. So they spend most of their time determining the strength of their hand and whether they can win overall. They won’t bluff well because they’ll only be thinking of their own hands instead of considering the hands of others.

Level 2 – This is the most common category. Some experienced players are in here, but they haven’t yet started winning regularly. They will think about what their opponent is likely to have in his hand, but they don’t have enough game knowledge yet to make the right play on the basis of the situation’s strategy or the math involved.

Level 3 – These players start to win more regularly because they are always focusing on what their opponents are thinking, and so they can pick up the right time to bluff and the best amount for a value bet more frequently. The difference between playing at Level 2 and at Level 3 is the difference between winning and losing regularly.

Level 4 – Now things are getting complex. However, the best players will be able to manage these thought processes. It’s less likely to need this to win, but you can win more often if you can get here.

Level 5 – If you come across someone who is this ingenious, you need to pick a different table.

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## Tips for a Successful Poker Bluff

It is just about impossible to overstate the important of the right bluff in poker games. In very basic terms, a bluff happens when you put up a false move (and a false face) on what you have in your hand. You’re trying to get your opponents to respond in a particular way. To be a good bluffer, you need to understand the basics of the game you’re playing (Let’s say Texas Hold’em) and spend some time sharpening your reading skills. You have to be able to read the thoughts of the players around you so that you can put together an optimal plan for the win. You also have to know what types of players are at the table with you and have built the right sort of image for yourself at the table so that the bluff will work. Here are some tips to help you succeed when the time is right for a bluff.

Be selective with your hands (No matter if you play free online poker or real money poker).

If you’re going to have legitimacy with your bluff, you can’t play every hand. You should keep your bluff ready for the times when it gives you the highest chances of winning. This keeps some people from developing skill with the bluff because they simply don’t want to fold – because they just want to be part of the action. They will lose a lot of money. If you develop a reputation for folding unless you have a quality hand, they will start folding when you bet.

Don’t try to bluff a bunch of people at the same time.

When you have more than two opponents, bluffing will almost never work successfully. You’ll never be able to scare more than two people off the pot. Why? Because there is a higher probability that someone else at the table has a solid hand. And then you will be exposed.

Do not bluff against rookies.

Rookies are new to the game and want to play every hand to its resolution. No matter how strong (or weak) their hands may be, they will keep calling and keep going to the end. So if you have a pair of 3s, that rookie could just have a pair of 4s and play all the way to the end – and end up beating you. They do this because they still don’t understand how poker works. There are ways that you can take advantage of this, but bluffing isn’t one of them.

Act like you have the winning hand.

If you are making a bluff, you should always act like the person who has the winning hand – and be cognizant of the pot odds. Players are less likely to fold if the pot is bigger, because they have some more to gain by staying in. If the pot is already small, people are more likely to fold and wait for the next hand which could have more money. So if the pot is large, don’t bluff. Remember – you can only bluff so many times before people see it coming.

If you are regularly betting according to the same philosophy, mix it up now and then by throwing in a bluff. The bluff should not be your primary strategy – or method. However, every now and then it makes sense to throw in a bluff. Your opponents will not be expecting it, and it will force them to alter their perception you. If they are confused about your intentions, this could make it easier for you to pick up pots further into the game.

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## Poker 101: Strategies That Are Useful In Poker

If you want to become a better player and win real cash quickly, here are some ideas you need to keep in mind. Most of these tips are aimed at players new to the game, but even if you’ve been hitting the free online poker tables for a while, some of these could help you to improve your game and get to the next level.

Don’t play every hand.

The biggest make that novice poker players make is refusing to fold on hands. If you are a beginner, you really want to play the game, which means that you stay around in hands that are fairly bad just to be in the action. However, if you stick around, you’re more likely to lose more money. People who don’t fold at least half the time are throwing money away on the real money poker tables.

Don’t play when you’re drunk.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with knocking back some cold ones while you are playing poker. However, there is a point where the alcohol kicks in and paralyzes your poker judgment. All of a sudden, your whole stack of chips has disappeared. This is OK if you’re just playing for fun or for low stakes with your friends. At the casino, though, you need to keep an eye on this because those stakes aren’t “funsies.”

Don’t bluff just to do it.

Bluffing is a major part of the game, but a lot of novices do not understand just how it works. There is not a hard and fast rule that you have to bluff a minimum number of hands during a game, but a lot of players feel like they have to try a bluff to win. There are some situations and opponents that make bluffing favorable, but if you run up against a player who will always call all the way to the showdown, you are going to lose bluffing every time.

Don’t play when you are angry, sad or just down.

Poker is not an escape from an awful day or from depression. You will start out playing with your feelings instead of logic, and your performance will suffer as a result. If you’re in the middle of a big game, and you just get hammered on a big hand and you feel yourself spiraling out of control emotionally, it’s time to stand up and take a break for a few hands. If you calm down later on, get back in the game. Your opponents will sense your loss of control and make you pay for it.

Do watch the cards that are on the table.

When you’re a new poker player, it’s hard enough just to focus your attention on the cards that you have. However, once you have that in mind, you also need to pay close attention to the table. If you’re playing seven-card stud, you have to know what is showing – and who has folded – when you think about calling your opponents. If you’re playing Texas Hold’em, determine what the best hand would be if you want to fit the flop – a lot of people overlook straight and flush possibilities when they are new.

These are some tips to help you get the most out of each poker game – both in terms of enjoyment and cash.

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# Poker Outs: What they are and how to take advantage of them

If you are playing any type of online poker game that features more than one round, then you should start paying attention to the “Outs”. So let’s start by explaining the concept. An “out” is an unseen card that, if you draw it, it will increase your chances of ending up with a winning hand. If you know how many “outs” there are, you have a leg up in terms of poker strategy. For example, if you have Ace-2-3-4 (but if different suits), you have four “outs” to a straight, as there are four 5s that would finish that for you. If your Ace-2-3-4 are all the same suit, you have four “outs” to a straight and one “out” to a straight flush, as the matching 5 would give you that straight flush.

Sometimes you will see players using the number of outs to describe that drawing hand. They might say they had a “three-outer” to describe a hand that needed one of only three cards to become a winner. If you hold 5-8 (different suits), there are eight “outs” to a straight, because you only need one 4 or one 9 to show up, and there are four of each in the deck.

So how do you make the best use of them? You normally will figure this out after the flop is dealt. At some times, they can become important before the flop as well. If you end up AA pre-flop, you have more outs out there than anyone else, so in pot limit and no limit games where it is possible to manipulate the pot odds, outs like that can mean it’s time to raise pre-flop and get an advantage by pushing the odds in your favor.

Then, you want to figure out the number of cards are left in the deck after the flop that would give you what you want. If you are sitting AA and there aren’t any on the flop, there are two remaining – giving you two outs. You might not need either of them to win or to have top hand at the river. If you have two clubs pre-flop, and you see two pop up on the flop, you only need one more for the flush. There are nine clubs left in the deck, so there are nine outs for you. So figuring out the number of outs that you have is crucial for your strategy, even more if you’re playing real money poker or if you’re trying to win real cash.

Once you see the number of outs you have at the flop, multiply that number by four to get the percentage of your odds of getting a needed card at the turn or river. So if you have nine outs, your odds are 36%. Two outs? Just 8 percent. So now it’s time to decide whether or not to call. If the pot is \$500 and you have to call \$250 to remain in, you’re asked to put half the pot in. If your odds are less than 50 percent, you might consider folding. If you only have to put \$100 in, now that’s 20 percent. That’s a lot more reasonable if you have a 36% chance of getting the card that you need.

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