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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!

Online Poker - Sandwich Effect

Online Poker Basics: The Sandwich Effect

Online Poker Basics: The Sandwich Effect

It’s true that, centuries ago, the Earl of Sandwich (a British noble) loved to play cards so much that he developed the idea of bread around meat and other toppings so that he would never have to leave the table in order to eat meals. However, the “sandwich effect” doesn’t have anything to do with pastrami and rye. Instead, it has to do with the hand you should have if you plan on staying in a pot. So regardless that you love playing online poker, or you simply enjoy a friendly hand at the free poker tables, there’s always a chance to learn new tricks and get yourself informed.  So let’s talk a little about the Sandwich effect and how can you use this theory to start winning at the real cash poker tables.

How does it work?

Let’s start with an idea known as the “gap concept.” According to this concept, a player must have a better hand if he plans to take on someone who has opened or raised betting on the hand than he would if he were the one opening the betting himself. This is based on the notion that players try to stave off confrontations with opponents who have already shown signs of strength, and that calling only allows one path to victory (having the top hand). However, if you get to open, doing so can lead to victory because some opponents may fold just because someone else folded.

So where does the sandwich come in?

This kind of takes the other perspective from the gap effect, the “sandwich effect” indicates that you need a stronger hand if you want to stay in a pot if there are still more opponents who have yet to play. You don’t know how many of your opponents will play in the pot, and you don’t even know if a re-raise will be necessary, which means that you can’t calculate effective pot odds. So the stronger your hand, the less likely you are to fall prey to the sandwich effect.

One situation in which this comes into play is called the “squeeze play.” This happens when one or more players call their raise pre-flop. In that instance, an online poker player can re-raise while bluffing in what is known as a squeeze play. The first raiser must have a primo hand to stay on when some of the other players have shown that they may have something strong.

Understanding how much stronger your hand needs to be is really a function of understanding the style of play of your opponents. The more hands you play, the more savvy you will be when it comes to deciding when this effect comes into play for you. Picking up on such things as your opponents’ tells and making educated guesses so that you can read the hands of your opponents are crucial steps toward helping you play a more sophisticated game. So try to remember that the next time you play a friendly hand or a online poker tournament.

Are you 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. Click here to check it out.

Multi level thinking in poker

Multiple Level Thinking: Levels Of Thought In Poker

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.

Are you 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. Click here to check it out.

Value Betting vs. Bluffing

Poker 101: Value Betting vs. Bluffing

A lot of times you’ll see players who are new to no-limit online poker have one simple reason for making bets and raises: it has something to do with confidence that they had the best hand at the table.

Quite often this will work, particularly when you’re playing against low-skill players. There are all kinds of reasons to call if you’re a poor player with a lousy hand. This means that if you believe that you have the best hand, if you bet and raise, you are likely to succeed. However, if you’re playing against highly skilled players, raising with the best hand isn’t always the best idea, even more if you’re playing real money poker. To understand this, let’s take a look at an example.

Let’s say you’re in a legal online poker site and that you’re playing against an aggressive, tight opponent who makes a button raise. You have the King of Hearts and the Queen of Diamonds, and you three-bet him. He folds, and you carry away the pot.

But why did you three-bet with a KQ? You probably thought you had the best hand the majority of the time. That particular opponent had been stealing about a third of the time, which means that he’s doing it with some trash in his hand from time to time. You figured him for a decent player, which means that he folds a lot of the time. But why would you raise to get him to fold with a hand that was already worse than yours? If it’s worse, wouldn’t you want him to add more to the pot before leaving?

If you know that your hand is better, you want to keep the opponent in there with you instead of intimidating him away. The idea is to put the right bed to put the opponent there to call and follow his draw with faulty odds, rather than throwing the whole stack in and knocking him away.

After all, if you’re holding a KQ, and you look at his steal range (about 33%), you’ll realize that KQ will win about 52 percent of the time. So you were holding a favorite hand, but you weren’t holding a dominant favorite. The reason is that the range your opponent was stealing on includes hands with an Ace. Even a pocket pair is already ahead of you. So you were ahead of that range, but not by much. In fact, many possible hands for him were still ahead of you. So what should you do now?

Also, what else might he do against a three-bet? In the example, he folded. So in a way, that three-bet was really a bluff instead of a value bet. You were trying to get him to fold, in reality, when he might well have had a better hand that what you did. That’s a great result if you can get it – but you can’t consider it a value bet.

So what is the difference between a value bet and a bluff? A bluff is a bet that you make to get people who would probably beat you at call to fold without seeing your cards. A value bet is a calculation that you make on the basis of what you have – and what others likely have – to get the best outcome mathematically. There is some overlap, but if you’re not in a strong position, you use that bluff to get clear of danger.

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.

Taking advantage of poker outs

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.

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.

Debugging the Most Common Poker Myths

Understanding the difference between fiction and fact can make a difference when it comes to winning and losing at poker games. All it can take is buying into the wrong philosophy to leave you down hundreds of dollars – if not even more. Take a look at some of these common myths to get a handle on your own game, even more if you’re planning to make the transition from free poker to real money poker tables.

If you win the most pots, you’re the winner in a poker game.

It’s fun to win pots and rake in the cash, but the winner at the end of the night has the most cash. It’s one thing to win a lot of pots over the course of a night, but if someone else wins some of the biggest pots – and you’ve been one of those raising and calling all the way to the very end – then you can end up in a pretty significant hole, even if you’ve been raking in a lot of smaller pots.

It’s important to quit when you’re ahead.

There’s something to be said for stopping when you’re in the middle of a solid run at you’re up $500 – or $5,000. However, if you feel like you’re playing well, and you’re not in a time crunch – and you’re not gambling money that you should be using to pay for your bills – then keep playing to win more. If you feel like your luck is starting to turn south and you’re not going to win anymore, though, then that’s another thing – it’s time to think about packing it in and taking your winnings while you still have some.

The machine (video poker) you’re on hasn’t hit in a while, and it’s due.

This can be a dangerous myth for video poker players. You might have heard somewhere that royal flushes show up on average once every 40,000 plays. This doesn’t mean, though, that there is a running timer inside each machine telling it when to send out that royal flush. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since a machine paid out a jackpot, because the machine uses a random number generator to shuffle the deck, and that generator has no memory. This means that the probability on each play is the same – about 1 in 40,000. If it has been a while since that machine paid, the probability on that next play is still the same. It’s true that a game has the ability to develop cold or hot streaks, but trying to guess when that streak ends is only likely to cost you money.

The cards are all luck, anyway.

It’s true that luck plays a role in determining your hand. However, by learning the tendencies of the players around you and staying true to a strategy that you put in place before you sit down to play, you can minimize your exposure to risk and use the strategies that work to maximize your chances at a profit. This is why some poker players – over time – show themselves to be better at drawing profits out of the game than others.

Think what you have what it takes to win free cash? Test our your poker skills at Cafrino, the completely free and legal online poker!

Understanding the Importance of Initiative in Poker

Understanding the Importance of Initiative in Poker Games

In general terms, initiative has to do with undertaking active measures to achieve a goal. In poker games, initiative works the same way. If you’re in a legal online poker site and have an active interest in a particular round of betting because you think you have the best hand, you have poker initiative. Anyone showing some aggressive betting behaviors indicates that they feel like their hand is the best one at the table.

No matter whether you’re the one with the initiative or you’ve figured out that another player has it; the person with the initiative is the focus of the rounds of betting for the rest of that hand. The person who has the poker initiative is doing things such as betting, calling and raising, and everyone else is reacting, either by following along or folding.

If it’s possible, you should always try to seize the initiative, whether you think you have the best hand at the table or are in a position where you can convince the other players that your hand is the strongest. Frequently, the player who gets initiative does so at an early point, often pre-flop. The player who makes that strong pre-flop bet becomes the focus of the action, and everyone else defers to this player when selecting actions. This means that the biggest upside of initiative has to do with control, a concept that has multiple forms. Consider some of these factors:

Poker initiative boosts the perception of the strength of your hand from the perspective of your opponents. This perception is often more important than the real strength of a hand.

Initiative causes your opponents difficulty when it comes to limiting you to a particular range of hands because you are driving the action. The ability to predict a range of hands depends on your ability to look at a behavior pattern, which isn’t possible while the player is creating that particular pattern.

Poker initiative involves proactive behavior that sends your opponents into the sort of difficult situations that force them to make hard decisions and become more likely to make errors. The more errors your opponents are making, the better your chances are of winning.

  • If you are in the early position, taking initiative is easier, because no one else is in position to take it first.
  • If you are playing against passive, tight players, you have an easier time taking initiative because they are more likely to fall in line.
  • If you’re playing Texas Hold’em and have a good hand in front of you (or at least a good drawing hand) to support you, it’s safer to take the initiative.

Remember – if you have the resources in hand to support you, initiative is a valuable asset to have in poker. If you are aggressive just to be aggressive, you’re more likely to end up in the red, but if you use that aggressiveness when your hand justifies it, you’re more likely to end up winning instead of folding to the person who showed initiative first and convinced you to fold.

Think what you have what it takes to win free cash? Test our your poker skills at Cafrino, the completely free and legal online poker!