Category Archives: Poker 101

Limping online poker

Is Limping a Good Poker Strategy

Is Limping a Good Poker Strategy?

A lot of poker players have moved away from limping when they play Texas Hold’em. It’s true that putting together intricate bluffs that cross several streets or putting down a three-bet is trendier, and limping has become a lot less popular than it once was. However, just because it isn’t popular doesn’t make it a good strategy.

Using Limping as a Poker Strategy

Some players say that if you never limp preflop, you’ll be a tougher opponent. However, when you take any weapons out of your arsenal, you make yourself easier to fight. Basically, you’re reducing your opponent’s worry down to the opening range.

Why have so many people come out against limping?

Well, the objectors talk about how limping represents a passive sort of play. They assume that limping before the flop means that the action after the flop will also be passive. However, if you use the “aggressive limp,” you can solve some of the other issues that may come up as you move through the streets and end up on top.

What is an “aggressive limp”?

It happens when you limp with the expectation that your opponent will do something in response, especially something aggressive. Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a skilled opponent directly on your left. He keeps there-betting you over and over. Most of the time, people will tighten their opening range to fight off these three-bets, pushing him into some four-bets that will either close him down for the night or make him a lot less aggressive.

Here’s the point, though. When you refuse to limp in this situation, you have to focus on that player to your left, so you can’t isolate any of your other opponents and steal pots before the flop. If you do limp, you can expect isolation from that opponent, but your opponent’s isolating range is going to make that three-bet range look pretty small. So if you can limp a range that is stronger that what that opponent has as his isolating range, you’ll be able to attack when the board is in your favor. So you’re not going to do some of the passive steps that people associate with limping, such as check-calling down to the river, or keeping lines consistent with the amount of risk and. Instead, you’re going to sprinkle some check-raises to your game and really shake the table up. This is one of the most aggressive defenses you can use in any hand, either live or when playing online poker.

Hold’em poker is one of the most sophisticated games in the world, and the deep stacks involved with live poker make it even more complex. Instead of trying to find ways to simplify this game, it is going to be more profitable for you over time to push the envelope and defy expectations. When you go against the grain you surprise your opponents and make an impact that will last for several hands, if not the entire night. So keep focused on evolving your game and keeping your opponents a step behind – and taking aggressive limps is a terrific way to do that.

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

Poker Freerolls

How to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls

How to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls

Optimal Multi Table Strategy

Want to know to take real advantage of Poker Freerolls? Before the arrival of online poker, you had to work to find a game. You had to go out of your house and head to a table or bring people over for a night of cards. It was also a lot slower, as you had to play one table at a time. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can play as many games at once as you want, so long as you don’t overload your own stamina (and your ability to pay attention). People who were playing 10-cent and 25-cent games didn’t have a chance of making serious money, but now if you can play 20 tables at once, you can bring in some bank (as long as you can pay attention). A lot of people think that multi-tabling is a waste of time and money, arguing that you can’t make smart decisions because your reaction time is cut down. While there is some validity to this argument, the other side is that since you’re playing so much poker at once, having a decent game running at such a high quantity means that you’re going to make more money than if you have your superior game going on one table. Let’s look at some tips to help you make money off multi-table play.

Learning How to Multi-table the Right away.

This is NOT for amateurs or novices. First try to build some confidence playing at the free online poker tables, start with one game at a time, and start increasing the number of tables until it feels easy and almost natural. Then, feel free to expand the number of games you are playing. When you have more hands per hour, you have more decisions — and a lot of decisions in a short amount of time. If you’re looking at aces on one table, but they time out because you’re considering making a huge river raise on another table, you’re burning money.

Prioritize your decisions.

When you have multiple tables going, your decisions are going to pile up. You have to sift through the easy ones, leaving the ones that require a lot of thought for more priority. If you’re playing ten tables, it’s unlikely that you’ll have more than one really tough decision to think about at once. However, you’re likely to have one tough decision and nine easy ones. It’s hard to block out the nine easy choices and focus on the hard one, but that can often be what separates those who make money from those who do not. Once you’ve focused on the tough choice, then you go back and make those other easy ones. Once you get good at this, you’ll be able to make those easy choices on autopilot while you’re still pondering the tough one, but don’t do that until you’re ready.

Know your limits.

Are you winning money playing four tables, but when you jump to six tables, you’re losing money? Stay at four. You might think that you need to push yourself to play six, but you’ll be able to do that when you’re ready. If you push yourself beyond what you can do, you’re going to hemorrhage cash.

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash!

What are Sklansky dollars?

Poker Strategy 101: What are “Sklansky dollars”?

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.

So what’s your equity?

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.

Put your poker skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need.

Poker Cash Games

Poker Cash Games vs. Tournaments vs. SNG’s

Poker Cash Games vs. Tournaments vs. SNG’s

A lot of people who are new to poker have a hard time choosing among poker cash games, poker tournaments or Sit N Go’s (SNGs). If you’re just in this for some fun, then it doesn’t really matter which one you play, as long as you are enjoying what you do. If you want to make some money, though, there are some poker strategies unique to each type of game that will determine which is the best choice for you.

Poker Cash Games

A lot of poker players look at poker cash games as providing the biggest edge and the most reliable income stream for a player who wins regularly. Tournaments and SNG’s have a number of all-in situations, many of them flips that don’t give you control over how things turn out. You can get an edge from tournaments and SNGs, but it generally is not as big as what you can get playing poker cash games going per hand or per game.

Players in cash games often have a bigger percentage of winning sessions, and if you tend to win, your income will be more reliable over time. You can win real cash and make steady profits in the other formats too, but you have to play a ton of games or hands.

If you look at the number of successful players in each format, there are a lot more in the cash games than in the other two. A lot more people have figured out how to turn cash games into a money maker than those that have in tournaments and SNGs.

Also, the cash game will teach you skills that you can take to tournaments and use. Most of the best cash game specialists right now also do really well in tournament play. However, the top tournament specialists generally are not as skilled in cash games.

Multi Table Tournaments

Even though the edge in this format is smaller than what you can get in cash games, it is still bigger than what turns up in SNGs. The best SNG players bring back an ROI of no more than 10 percent, but in the MTT format you can go over 100% in your ROI. You do get a bigger variance in tournaments than you do in cash games, but a lot of the tournament players that engage in online poker are willing to post the additional volume to compensate for this difference.

Sit N Go’s

There are some poker insiders who think that the SNG format is becoming a thing of the past. Not as many recreational players are entering them, and the edge that you can get is really small, particularly if you are playing with a group of regulars. The best way to make money here is to wander outside the traditional SNG format. Heads up SNGs give a bigger edge to savvy players, and the double or nothing SNG seems to draw in more novices than the standard setup.

All you have to do is look at one of the big sites to see that the best nine-man SNG players are only making a small percentage of what the best cash and tournament players are raking in. So if you’re an SNG specialist, it’s probably time to develop your skills in one or both of the other two formats to get your winnings back up again.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Avoiding Common Poker Mistakes

Avoiding Common Poker Mistakes

Avoiding Common Poker Mistakes that will Affect You in the Long Run

When you sit down to play Texas Hold’em or any other variety of poker games, you’re going to make poker mistakes. That’s just part of the process. The wisest players reflect on their poker mistakes, learn and improve over time. The people who don’t learn simply end up paying their money to the people who do. Check out these steps so that you hold on to more of your money.

Don’t play too many starting hands

Of all the poker mistakes that people who are new to Texas Hold’em make, this is the most common by far. Some people hit a losing streak and think that playing hands is the only way out; others think that the best way to keep a winning streak going is to take more risks and play more hands. You might just be angry at someone at the table — or someone who made you mad earlier in the day — and just play more hands to get back at that person.

Playing more hands means risking your bankroll, and with the easiness of online poker, people tend to believe that engaging in a dozen hands at the same time will increase their chances of winning. So you are going to need to win more hands (or win bigger hands) if you want to win over time. Unfortunately, you’re very likely to hit the number of hands you can expect to win (thanks to the law of averages) fairly soon, and keeping on after that, playing hands just for the sake of playing them, will drain your stacks. What’s the key? Pump more money into the strongest poker hands instead of trying to prop up semi-strong hands and playing them more often.

Don’t lose patience

Sometimes you can go several hands without getting cards that are worth playing. This can make you get impatient and play simply because you think you need to play, not because of the quality of the cards that you have. Then you’ll look up to see someone else raking in your chips, simply because you got bored and wanted to play.

Some people find this to be a real problem when they transition from play money poker to real cash poker games or live poker tournaments. Online, the games go much faster, and players get used to the rush of the speed of action. Then they sit down to play at a table, and it feels like they’re watching the paint dry, even if the games are high stakes. So they push hands they shouldn’t, simply so they get the feel of action — and then they lose money. Don’t let that happen to you.

Don’t force yourself into a strong table

It’s important to know when you’re at a table where everyone is better than you. It’s true that it’s good to challenge yourself now and then, but if you’re the fish at a table of sharks, you’re going to be the prey. As you advance in the game, there will be fewer and fewer tables like this, but you should always give yourself a chance to win. Get up from tables where you’re going to get shredded and head for a table where there are some fish and maybe a couple of players at your level — and a shark or two. So you can learn — and still have a chance of winning some yourself.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Home Poker Game

Simple tools to improve your home poker game

Simple tools to improve your home poker game

Improving your home poker game is easy. These days, there is more material out there than ever to help you better your skills at poker. If you’re just starting out playing poker for fun, all of the information might seem a little intimidating. Also, not all of the information is really that solid, so you can actually end up losing money if you follow bad advice. Different people have different playing styles, so make sure you are getting the best tips for yourself. This is a list of tips that have helped people improve their own home poker game. Take a look and choose the ones that work for you.

Play as much poker as you can

You can read as much as you want about poker, but until you start playing, those tips just won’t make the same amount of sense. There is no way to replicate being in the different situations without actually having to play the game. You’ll make plenty of mistakes early on, but then you’ll learn from them and you will get better. Then you will know which advice you have read out there works for you — and which advice does not work. Over time, you will find yourself in the same situations time and time again, and you’ll feel more comfortable playing in a variety of scenarios.

Reflect on the hands that you play

The best way to keep from repeating mistakes is to take a mental look back at the hand you just played. If you just move from hand to hand without thinking about what you just did, you’re likely to end up back in the same situation — and making the same mistake. This is why casinos pay players with free drinks, so they will get careless over time and give more of their money to the house. Stay focused and take time to think about why you lost when hands don’t go your way.

Watch some training videos

When the first videos came out, they turned the poker education system on its head. They remain one of the best ways to enhance your chances of winning real cash. Watching the best players as they go through live play, and understanding what those players are thinking, combine to give you a huge advantage as you brush up your own home poker game. There are quite a few solid training websites out there. Many sites offer free poker strategy and poker guides, but the best way to start is to research information about the different coaches and then using the free trials to start. That way you can figure out which sites regularly create solid videos from coaches who play around the stakes that you want to play yourself. Why watch someone going over NL2000 strategies when you never get above NL20? Those stakes are like comparing apples…and ants.

Also, don’t just watch the videos like you would watch that new Godzilla movie. Watch them like you’re in a lecture hall. Try to take some notes and implement your newly acquired skills the next time you play online poker. Remember that ever new trick requires time, but if you have questions at the end, email them to the coach at the end.

percentage of poker hands

What Percentage of Poker Hands Should I Play?

What Percentage of Poker Hands Should I Play?

Many beginners at the real or online poker tables wonder how loose or how tight they should approach the game, more particularly the percentage of poker hands they should play before the flop comes? There is no simple answer, simply because poker is a game that is always in flux. When you are playing, you will hit opponents who have different tendencies, which means that you will often need to vary your strategies to compensate. However, there are some rules that you can take into just about any situation. So let’s review the strategy you must apply whenever you’re ready to make the transition from free poker to the real cash poker tables.

Did you call? Then raise.

Has the action folded to you, but you want to play your hand? Then it’s time to go for some aggressive poker strategy and raise. If you’re not holding a raise-worthy hand, then you just fold too. That means your opponents won’t know that you had a weak hand (and won’t get the satisfaction of knowing how things look when you limp, and the players also have to add more chips into the pot before the flop if you have a strong hand.

Starting your poker hands in early position.

Are you in a 9-handed cash game? If you’re one of the first three to act, you are in early position (EP). Here you will be going with at least six more players to act after you, so you will need a solid hand if you want to play. Generally, solid players raise triple the big blind when they have something like 77+ or AK+. This might seem like a tight strategy, but you are putting three big blinds at risk with the reward of just 1.5 big blinds coming back if all six of your opponents decide to fold. Also, you might find yourself out of position after the flop if someone calls you. Because of all of these potential problems, if you’re going to play, you need a strong hand pre flop.

Starting your poker hands in middle position

If you are in the second and third positions to the button’s right, then you are in middle position. There are fewer people behind you waiting to act, so if a call comes, you find yourself still playing in position more of the time, so you can play a bit looser. The key players now are the ones between you and the button, because you will have to face them out of position after the flop, if they decide to call. If they are playing tight, though, you can play more poker hands. If the people on your left are loose, though, you need to stay tight.

This might seem like a drawback, but you will end up making more money with the poker hands that you decide to play. As you develop confidence in your post flop strategy, you can add poker hands such as QJ/A9/KT/J9/QT/K9 to your range of poker hands that you will play. Remember that when the players to your left are quite loose, you will need to tighten up a little more. However, if someone has position on you but only folds rarely, you don’t want to add to the pot with something marginal, as you are likely to lose.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Poker opponents strategy

Poker Opponents | Strategy for driving out player with best hand

Strategy for driving out poker opponents when a player has best hand

So you’ve finally picked up a big hand, and you’re ready to win real cash. So how do you manage the process of getting your pot as large as possible so that you can drive your poker opponents out of the game with your good fortune?

Step one: Analyze the situation and pick a poker strategy. The first step is to determine whether you have a small-pot hand or a big-pot hand. Do you have a pair or two? You’re looking at a smaller pot. If you have a straight, flush, a full house, or even better, now you’re willing to throw in the whole stack for the chance to drive a poker opponent out of the game. This is harder than it sounds, even more if you’re playing online poker. Regardless of the game or platform, you are facing poker opponents who want to protect their stacks and stay in the game. So take a look at his perspective — just like you, he doesn’t want a big pot unless he feels confident he can win it.

So the job now is to trick him into thinking that he has a better hand than you do, which is harder than it sounds. You have that huge hand and what do get things all-in, because you can’t knock your opponent out until you put your entire stack on the line. But if you do this right away, you won’t get called. If you throw $300 into a pot that has $15, no one will call you. They will know that you have a primo hand and will fold right away.

So you have to work more gradually. You have to bet and keep betting, putting money on the flop, the turn and the river. If you’re playing no-limit poker, you know that bets always take shape in proportion to what is already in the pot. So as each street comes and goes, the pot will start growing exponentially. The pot might be paltry at the flop, but if you stick around and stay consistent, it could be mammoth by the time you get to the river.

Here’s an example. You’re playing $1/$2 No-Limit Texas Hold’em, with $300 effective stacks. You have AK and raise to $12 on the button. The big blind calls, and the flop shows QJT. So the big blind checks, and you bet $20 into $32. He calls again, and the turn shows 3, and the big blind checks again. You now put $55 into $59, and he calls again. The river shows a 7, and your opponent checks. So you look down and see $161 in your stack, and the river has $170. You now have a chance to go all-in, and you won’t have to make a massive overbet to do it. If you’re working against weaker players who follow the calling stations, this bet is likely to work like a charm every time. If you’ve been caught in a bluff lately (or have lost some big pots recently), your opponents might think you’re on the tilt and are overbetting anyway, which will make it extra sweet when you rake in their stacks.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Identifying Fish - Cafrino Online Poker

Identifying Fish at the Poker Table

Identifying Fish at the Poker Table

Need to know the best ways of identifying fish at the poker table? No matter what you’re playing, there is always an immense gap between the pros and the rookies. If you’ve ever watched pickup basketball at the playground and then gone home to turn on the NBA game, then you know what I’m talking about: the action goes a lot faster, the players have a lot more strength and ability and the whole tenor of the sport is different. In poker (Online and live poker), you can’t always tell right away between the sharks — and the little fish.

Where does the difference come from? Sharks put a ton of thought into every move and have a sophisticated understanding of how the game works. Have you ever watched high stakes poker online? You can see the pros raising and re-raising hands, people calling with their second pairs, just like you might see in the cheap games. However, you’re really watching pros who have played against these same opponents thousands of time. That means that they recognize their opponents’ game as well as they recognize their own. Here are some signs that you’re playing against a shark — or against a fish.

Marking Detail

Fish pay way too much attention to their own details when you sit at a poker table. What do they have? What do they need? The sharks aren’t looking at themselves; they’re looking at everyone else. Even after they have folded, they keep an eye on everyone else and they watch every bit of the action. Even if they don’t seem to be paying attention, they are soaking up as much data as they can.

Fish don’t notice things like your reaction to turn raises, or how often that you bet out with a big hand. You can get away with the same tricks over and over against them because they just aren’t paying attention. Take a look at their eyes: they will be on their own hands the vast majority of the time. The sharks, on the other hand, are looking at you.

Fish get “Emo”

No matter whether they have a royal flush or a pile of junk, sharks know how to behave. They know that overreacting is a bad poker strategy. They always look calmed and keep the same facial expression. Fish, on the other hand, often have visible reactions depending on what they pick up. If they win a hand, even if they are playing a friendly session of free online poker, they act like they’ve never raked in a pot before. You can use these reactions to gauge which players are the most vulnerable to your strategies — and the least likely to spot your mistakes.

Fish don’t balance their ranges

Sharks know that they should not make the same move all the time. Fish tend to make the same play over and over once it works. If you don’t want people to recognize that you’re a fish, you have to play so that your opponents will have no idea what you have. Do you check-raise the flop with a huge hand? Then you have to show you will do that as a semi-bluff, or even a bluff. Keep altering your play, or you’ll be caught on a big hook and end up watching your poker bankroll disappear.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables at Cafrino and get all the practice you need while winning real cash. Good luck!

Poker Strategy

Strategies That Are Useful In Poker

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.

Ready to put your skills on the line? You can practice as much as you need on the free online poker tables and get all the practice you need before making the transition to legal online poker sites.