What to Expect from California Online Poker Hearings

Will 2015 really be the year online poker is legalized in California?

The state of California currently has four online poker bills that have been introduced during this legislative session, but this is nothing new. Lawmakers in the state of California have been introducing bills to legalize and regulate online poker since at least 2008, but here we are seven years later still hoping that this will be the year when things change.

Online poker will be given the spotlight in Sacramento several times in the coming months as the legislative process moves forward and hearings on the poker bills take place, but do not confuse the process moving forward with the advancement of the prospects of online poker becoming legal in California. The upcoming hearings will be primarily for procedural purposes.

After all, what do we really hope that these hearings will achieve? Do we think that testimony provided will help sway the opinion of the public, and that will result in lawmakers representing their constituents and passing an online poker bill? Or perhaps, we believe that a technology demonstration will convince state congressional members that are looking out for the best interest of people in their district that online poker can be effectively regulated?

Let’s be clear, convincing the public and lawmakers in California that online poker should be allowed in the state will not result in the advancement of any of these bills to the governor’s desk. Gaming interests in the state have such a strong influence over the legislative process, that when it comes to changing state laws which impact their business, their support is crucial in order to do so.

Issues Preventing the Passage of Online Poker Legislation in California

As it stands, the two biggest issues that are blocking the way for legalized and regulated online poker in California are the inclusion of the state’s racetracks as eligible licensees, and the exclusion of assets that were used to offer wagers within the US after 2006—primarily PokerStars. These two issues have divided gaming interests in the state for years, but there has been progress.

And while that progress has been substantial—all but a small coalition of tribes led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians have compromised on their prior stance and are willing to allow the horse racing industry and PokerStars to participate in the market—the political clout of those few remaining naysayers is proving to be significant enough to block the advancement of online poker legislation.

Rumors that a Pechanga comprise could be in the works were recently dashed when Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro spoke at GiGse, an industry conference held in California.

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Source: Pokerfuse.com

Changing Gears: All You Need to Know

If you have ever driven a car with a stick shift transmission, you know that the terrain of the road, speed and torque dictates the gear that you need to operate. You can’t stay in one gear for your whole trip; otherwise the car will struggle mightily and you will take the risk of damaging the engine.

Something similar happens when you’re playing poker (Both online poker and at real tables). The ups and downs in poker mirror those of a long drive, in a way. As you attempt to win real cash and play through a number of sessions, you need to get ready to change your play, including “changing gears.” The strategy you have heading out might work for a time, but you eventually need to make a change, or your outcomes are going to start heading south.

So what is changing gears, exactly? You move away from your typical playing style so that others can’t predict your poker game as easily. Are you a tight player? Loosen those starting hand requirements and start being a little freer with your money. Are you a loose player? Start playing fewer hands and make your hand requirements more stringent. Just hopping back and forth from tight to lose isn’t changing gears, though. You need to show more subtlety by playing with degrees of looseness and tightness as the game goes on.

The most important reason to change gears is that, if you don’t, your opponents will figure out how you play and start guessing right. Then they’ll use these guesses against you. If you stay with that evenhanded tight style throughout a session, your opponents will eventually have an easy time putting you on a hand. However, if you are less predictable, your opponents won’t gain that edge. Instead, you’ll have it.

Think about tight aggressive play as being analogous to third gear in a car. You can use it most of the time, but there are some situations where it doesn’t work well at all. If you can change gears now and then and keep people guessing, you can slip back into 3rd gear when they lose the handle on you, only again to change later.

So when should you change? If your stack sizes change, as when you see yourself deep stacked or short stacked, it’s likely time to change. Have the table dynamics shifted? Have new people joined the game? Are you feeling static in your play? Have you hit the bubble in your tournament? Those are all signs that you need to shift gears.

Most people tighten up when they reach the bubble, because they want to keep their position and get into the money. You can take advantage of this by picking up some uncontested pots. Everyone else is trying to hold onto what they have, so why not pick up what people are leaving behind? You can follow the crowd and edge your way into the money with a lighter stack, but if you pick up the extra money now, your chances of coming in first are much, much higher. Following this advice will help you be the player that no one can figure out – and that no one can beat.

Want to give this a try? Sharpen your skills without having to put your own money at risk. Hit our free poker tables and get to know how to analyze, improve, and practice other strategies such as “reading” calls, bluffing, switching gears, and playing to win. No risks involved, just play for fun in a safe and secure legal online poker site.

Test our your skills at Poker.Cafrino.com!

Another First for Female Players as Michelle Chin Wins a WSOP Circuit Main Event

Chin’s victory points to an under-emphasized source of growth for online poker.

Michelle Chin’s victory in the WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Council Bluffs Main Event provided her with a first prize of $88,126 and the first ever female win in a WSOP Circuit Main Event.

“It means a lot to me ,” said Chin after her win. “There aren’t too many women in the poker community. We like to see more and more women play because it is a fun game. No matter what sex you are you should be able to enjoy it. It means a lot to me. I hope I encourage a lot of other girls to come out and play.”

The proportion of women playing online poker varies from market to market around the world. The latest report by the Italian Milan Polytechnic showed a remarkable 19% of online poker players were women. In France, the figures from ARJEL show a lower participation rate of 11% to 12%.

The big online operators have made a point of selecting female players as Team Pros, with players such as Liv Boeree and Vanessa Selbst providing superb role models to encourage more women to play poker.

Perhaps the best news about Michelle Chin’s victory is that there is one less “first” for women to aim at—one less reportable achievement which is defined by the sex of the player rather than the scale of the achievement. The industry’s equality aim must be to get to the point where a major tournament victory is reported because it is a major victory, not because it has been achieved by a female player.

One of the upsides of the addition of slots games to the PokerStars client is that they will bring more female players to the client, and with some marketing effort, many of them could be persuaded by the pleasure to be found at the poker tables.

The old timer’s smoky male-only poker rooms have virtually disappeared, and live events are now much more accessible to women than they were only a few years ago. The potential revenue growth that could be achieved by changing the gender balance of the player ecology surely exceeds that available from attracting more men to the game.

Vanessa Selbst is currently ranked 79 on the Global Poker Index of live tournament players, but she is the only woman in the top 100. Imagine what the poker industry’s revenues would be if the top 100 were split equally between men and women.

Test our your skills at Poker.Cafrino.com!

Source: Pokerfuse.com

How to Make Tricky Flops Profitable

When you’re playing online poker and you get caught in the throes of a tricky flop, it’s easy to panic. However, the way you react to these situations dictates whether you end up winning the pot or having to shake your head yet again and hope for better luck the next time. Here are some ways for you to exploit problems that people have with some tricky kinds of flops.

Monotone Flops

If you are in a poker game and you have two suited cards, you still have a less than 1 percent chance of flopping a flush. However, you’ll frequently run into a monotone board. If you are the initiator before the flop, then these boards are quite good to bet, because success rates are above average. If you do get called, the others at the table have a range that includes many pair-plus-draw hands, which is important to remember, even if you are value-betting. The equity of the calling range of your opponent means that value-bets on this sort of flop are always going to be thin.

If your opponent raises with a monotone board, he can see your cards when you’re bluffing or his hand is golden, so fold unless you have the nuts.

All you have to do is think about the calling range for your opponents pre-flop to conclude that it’s unlikely he’ll have only a low flush draw. How frequently doe she call pre-flop with off suit cards that aren’t pairs? When you bet in the role of the pre-flop raiser, it’s easy to connect with a monotone board. An ace-high flush draw is a perfect fit within your range.

So, with a monotone board, bet strong hands for their value and hope the weaker opponents call you down with worse hands of their own. Watch out for raisers, and be ready to make significant lay downs.

Paired Boards

These happen more often than you might think, so make the most of them. By the time you get to the river, the board is paired about half of the time. The flop will be paired about one time out of six. This means that you face a tricky situation almost one out of every five times. If you’re the aggressor, bet with a high frequency, because the success rate is higher than the average of about 60 percent. You’ll be bluffing the majority of the time, but if you have some equity, like with A-K on a 5-5-7 board, bluffing is a bit sager. If your opponent calls you, send out another salvo on most turn cards, either bluffing again or going for value if you hit the card you want. When players tend to call, they have top pair, medium pairs, under pairs, flush draws, straight draws and even just over cards because they think they’ll hit the turn.

If you’re out of position on these boards with a hand that is good but exposed, such as an over pair, keep the pot as small as possible. However, you should also bluff a good amount of time, particularly if you have two overcards.

Ready to practice your new skills? There are plenty legal online poker sites and free poker services where you can try new plays and put your strategy under the microscope for optimum results. So what are you waiting for?

Test our your skills at Poker.Cafrino.com!


ACR CEO: “DFS Sites are Just as Unregulated as Offshore Online Poker Sites”

Americas Cardroom CEO Phil Nagy takes exception to the blind trust of daily fantasy sports players.

Daily fantasy sports operators are essentially the new kids on the block when it comes to internet gaming. Unlike online poker, daily fantasy games—where people wager real money in contests based on individual player’s performance in sporting events—are being offered legally in most states in the US.

Make no mistake about it, daily fantasy sports is big business. Disney recently decided to invest $250 million into the number two operator in the industry, DraftKings, which expects the payout more than $1 billion in prizes in 2015, according to reports.

And though daily fantasy sites are legal, they are completely unregulated—a point that CEO of Americas Cardroom, Phil Nagy, chose to highlight in a recent blog post warning players of “The Potential Downfall of Daily Fantasy Sports.” In the post, Nagy points to the inevitable industry consolidation as a reason for players to be concerned about the safety of their balances on file with daily fantasy sports companies.

Some onlookers found it strange that someone that runs an unregulated offshore online poker site would point to the lack of regulation as a reason to be concerned about the safety of players’ funds.

After all, players have lost tens of millions of dollars at offshore online poker sites such as Lock Poker, Absolute Poker and UB, and there are no reported incidences of players losing money due to the collapse of a daily fantasy sports site.

DFS Sites are just as unregulated as offshore online poker sites, but just because they’re legal, doesn’t mean they’re safe,” Nagy told pokerfuse. “I think it’s concerning that these companies have openly admitted that they are not profitable, and yet players don’t seemed to be concerned for the safety of their funds.”

When asked why players should have confidence that their funds are safe at Americas Cardroom, Nagy replied, “I have worked hard to earn players’ trust. We have made good on every dime we owe since we opened in 2001.”

Nagy also made the point that the cheating scandals that rocked the online poker world were detected because of players’ ability to analyze hand histories—a form of transparency that is not as readily available in the daily fantasy sports industry. While players can access their opponents’ lineups on the websites of many fantasy sports operators, some contests have tens of thousands of entries, and neither FanDuel nor DraftKings offer players the ability to export their opponents’ lineups for off-line analysis.

Nagy emphasized that his concern is about companies that are spending more money than they are making and the potential black mark a failed site could have on the igaming industry.

Interestingly enough, he does not have a problem with fantasy sports in general. In fact, he plans on adding fantasy sports games to his site’s offering. “First and foremost we are a poker site and our priorities reflect that, but we do plan on adding daily fantasy sports games at some point in the future.”

(Source: Pokerfuse)


Bluffing vs Folding: When’s the Best Time to Do It?

Unless you end up with  pocket Aces every time you play a  hand, there are times when you have to win hands even when you have nothing.  Whether you play online poker or at brick and mortal casinos,  you will always find players that consider bluffing a bad a highly risky strategy. However, it’s one of the basic elements in Texas Hold ‘Em. If you couldn’t bluff, you’d be left with luck to help you, and then you might as well be playing Crazy Eights.

The task behind a bluff is a simple one. You only have to get the other people at the table to believe that your hand is the best and that they should fold theirs, because they’re only going to be throwing their money away. Now that you know that, you’re ready to rake in hundreds of dollars per hour, let alone a day of poker, right?

Well, it’s not quite that simple. If it were, everyone would be able to do it. Instead, bluffing is an art that you have to master. Some players win real cash on constant basis, even though they’ve never really figured out how to pull a bluff off. However, you can’t be in the top echelon of poker players unless you find a way to really know when it’s a good time to bluff and when it’s not (My personal suggestion is to look for a free online poker site where you can practice your bluffing skills and master this strategy).

Bluffing gives you the most power of any play in Texas Hold ‘Em. You take total control in the game and can come out a winner even when your cards are junk. Anyone can become a better bluffer, no matter what your talent level is. Take a look at these three simple tips and try to follow them as you get ready to begin your journey toward becoming a master bluffer.

  1. Never bluff the short stack.

The player at the table with the short stack is not the one you should be teasing with your bluffs. He’s going to be slightly more desperate and much more prone to calling or even re-raising you down the line. Instead, fold before this gets out of hand. There are some instances where this might not be the truth. For example, if people could buy pots from the short-stacked guy, and you’re in a bad spot or miss a draw, a bluff might work. In general, though, I strongly recommend you to stay away from this guy.

  1. Watch out for bluffing bad players

Some players are just too tone-deaf to understand what you might have, so they keep following their own inclinations. Some of these will keep calling you even though you carried off the bluff fairly well and their hands are only iffy at best. Skilled players can lose a ton of money trying to bluff mediocre guys who were holding a pair of threes. A bad player calls a bluff more often than a good player, so don’t bluff bad players unless you simply must.

  1. Don’t use calls and small raises to bluff.

Do you always get caught when you’re bluffing? You’re not betting or raising enough to make people worry about your hand. People who have a ton of chips in the pot are not going to fold in the face of a small raise. Make your commitments large enough to make the other players think twice, even after they have put a good amount of money in.

Essential Tips to Win More Cash in Poker Tournaments

When beginners enter real money poker tournaments, just the excitement of playing and the idea of making cash cause them to make a lot of mistakes – and a lot of money. Once you know the mistakes you’re making, you can turn those poor results around almost every time you hit the online poker tables. You’re not guaranteed to win, but your odds are a lot better, not least because you have an advantage over all the players who are still making those beginner mistakes. This article covers some of the rules you need to follow in tournament play and some of the signals you need to recognize in order to win real cash.

  1. Stay as tight as you can early on, win real cash

Similar to free online poker, some tournament poker players tend to play many more hands than they should in the initial stages of a tournament. They have a ton of chips and they can handle a lot of flops hoping that those suited connectors or small pairs will bring in the big money for them. However, over time, you’ll lose money this way. The simple fact of a big stack of chips is not an obligation to throw them away with bad hands. For example, if you have a 75 hand, calling a preflop raise almost never works out. You’re not going to see something like a straight or even two pair with enough regularity to justify this call ahead of the flop.

If you’re a beginner, you’re even more likely to mess up a bad hand after the flop. The possibility that you run into a very costly hand and say goodbye to a lot of your chips is quite high. Early on in a tournament or poker game, you’ll have deep stacks. However, the mistakes tend to pile up just as high.

You need cards that are simple to play and that give you a solid chance when you go to showdown. You need to have these types of cards:

Big pairs – you’ll either hit an overpair which is generally the best, or a second or third pair which you can discard

Medium and small pairs – you’ll either get a set or you’ll have junk.

AK/AQ: You’ll either get top pair or you won’t have a thing.

These three types of hands let you know what’s likely to happen after the flop. With weaker hands, such as J10, you might get top pair with a J-9-2, but there are a lot of ways to lose, such as a better kicker or an overpair, and finding out who has that can be quite costly. Use the early stages to pursue your monster hands but let the others die out quietly, learning more about the players around you.

  1. Turn it up when the antes begin

After the initial levels, most tournaments bring in antes, forced bets that everyone has to place in the pot before the start of the hand. Once you have to ante, it’s time to loosen up your play. The reason for this is that the antes make your winnings larger. The stacks are generally shallower by this point, so winning the antes and blinds gives your stack a big boost.

Here’s an example. You’ve made it to a tournament’s fourth level. The antes haven’t started yet. You have 8,000 chips and 100/200 blinds. At the button, you have Q6. It’s folded to you, and you think about swiping those blinds with an admittedly weak holding. If you win, you’ll take away 400 chips, or about 5 percent of your stack, a nice payday.

However, is it worth having someone re-raise you so that you have to fold, in order to hazard getting this gain?

Let’s look at the same scenario with antes. With all other numbers remaining the same, every player has put in 25 chips. Now, instead of 400 chips, you’re looking at 650. Stealing now boosts your stack even more, and so now it’s time to consider swiping the pot. Once the antes begin, taking those pots before the flop becomes a much better idea.

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Tips for Improving Your Bubble Play

Have you ever wondered why players in the know bring in so much money from tournaments? After all, doesn’t luck play a role after a while? The key comes from the huge overlay. Picture a 180-person Texas Hold’em tournament. You only have about 100 opponents, and sometimes the number is way lower than that. That means that you only have, at most, about 100 competitors. The rest only want to win real cash, which means the strategy is different for them. They’re not there to take home the big prize, after all, they just trying to cash some money.

Early on, of course, you’re all trying to rack as much chips as possible. Even though their play may send some of these players into –EV, their strategy isn’t designed to do so. Once they hit the money, they feel golden and often gamble up.

When they are on the bubble, though, players start using tight techniques and fold too many times. If that leaves a pile of cash, then your job is to get into a spot where you can grab as much as you can. This is the very best way you can amass some chips when you’re facing a bubble situation. So let’s check out some of the tips and strategies players can use to notch some extra chips.

  1. Aim for the weak.

The choice to open raise comes from three factors. Who’s in the blind? What’s your position? What cards do you have? Start finding people who are only playing for cash before the bubble even starts. Keep focusing on those who don’t defend their blinds and make big lay downs.

  1. Raise, raise, raise.

You might already know this, but you still probably need to do it more often. Never, ever open limp, not on the button or under the gun or at any other time. The odds that you will walk away with it without a showdown are simply too high, and you don’t want to take the risk of hurting your bankroll.

  1. Always take a look around you.

When playing real money poker, your competition is not the play-to-cash crowd. At this point in time, they are handing out free cash, and you just have to pocket it. However, the other play-to-win people at the table are your competition. They’re after those fat stacks of dead money too. These kind of players are a lot more apt to steal raise and re-steal, among other tricks, so change your own game accordingly.

  1. Watch the chat box (When playing online poker tournaments).

Reading players is hard when you play online poker. Although, the conversations you see on the chat box can provide some information as to who’s looking for cash, and about the atmosphere of the table. Sometimes players notice the frequency with which you’ve been raising and sometimes threaten to call the next time. Watch out for these clues, because they can help you decide what to do about a re-steal.

  1. Share the pain.

A lot of players get offended if you raise their blinds. If you keep taking advantage of the same player, he’ll eventually get mad enough to play straight and win. On the other hand, a lot of play-to-cash people will see that you’re stealing but won’t care as long as you don’t steal from them every time.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to taking advantage of the bubble. Those big piles of money are going somewhere, so why not bring them to you?

Test our your skills at Poker.Cafrino.com!

Tuesday’s 20 Questions with Petra

Hello Cafrino poker players!! It’s time for a new promotion. We all know how important reading poker players is. Every move, word spoken, bet made, heartbeat, and eye blink can indicate a poker players hand. So today will be the first 20 Questions with Petra (no, that’s not me in the photo).

  • Prize: 500 Cafrino Chips ($500 regular tournament buy-ins)
  • Rules: Typical 20 question game rules apply, with one exception… we’ll keep going until it’s guessed. 1 Question per share, per player (you must share to have your question answered). The first person to guess the object I’m thinking of, wins.

How to Play:

  1. Petra is thinking of a mystery object.
  2. Players ask a Yes or No question.
  3. Players continue asking questions, hopefully ones that build on answers already given.
  4. Players may guess the mystery object at any time.
  5. The first player to guess the mystery object wins.
$500 Level 10 Online Poker Update

Congratulations to the Winner of our March $2000 Level 10!

We caught up with sdknifeguy to find out more about his experience, what he plans to do with the prize money, and more. Here’s our interview with the winner below!

Q: How long have you been playing on Cafrino?
A: Since September, 2014 (beta launch).

Q: How often do you play?
A: 4 or 5 times a week.

Q: Do you play live events?
A: Yes, I play live daily.

Q: Which do you like better… live or online?
A: Prefer playing live to online.

Q: How difficult was it to make it to level 10?
A: Like walking through a mine field!

Q: Have you won cash from Cafrino in the past?
A: Yes.

Q: Have you played in a previous Level 10 Championship?
A: No.

Q: Did you feel confident going into the level 10 game?
A: No more or no less then any other.

Q: How did you feel when you won?
A: Great! I played pretty solid poker.

Q: What do you plan on doing with your winnings?
A: Pay bills.

Q: What advice would you give to players just starting on Cafrino?
A: Play smart , And build up those chipies!

Q: What is your favorite thing about playing on Cafrino?
A: Well its free and you use Paypal.

Q: What is your least favorite thing about Cafrino?
A: I feel your number generator favors flush draws.