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How to Beat Beginners at Poker

You might think that you shouldn’t need any skill to beat a beginner at the online poker tables, particularly if you have a number of months or years under your belt. Unfortunately, just as in any game, luck can play an important role, even if you’re the most seasoned player in the world. That guy who just sat down for his very first hand just might have a royal flush. The odds are against it, but odds are always more than zero in this game.

You already know that you’re supposed to be making your choices on the basis of expected value (Or at least gained some expertise from playing free poker). Sometimes you can have bad luck against a beginner who makes his way to a stellar hand, even though he’s not following the “rules” of how to play. This might set you back occasionally, but if you remember the rules in this article, you’ll take the beginners’ money over time, night after night.

Consider the beginner who plays more hands than he should. You’ll see him doing the same in every poker game they play, showing down such easily beaten hands as K-8, Q-5, or any suited cards. They limp into a lot of the pots and call a raise just because they want to see the flop. They will also do things like calling a re-raise out of position while holding something like A-rag or K-Q. Depending on whether they can fold or are serving as a calling station, here’s how to handle them before the flop.

If they are capable of folding and you have position, raise using a wide range of hands, and bet the flop if they call pre-flop and then check to you. If they call, they generally have a draw or a piece, and you can adjust your strategy depending on your hand.

If they are a calling station, think about limping behind pre-flop with hand that you might raise in other situations in order to keep the pot small. You should not be doing much bluffing pre-flop.

Also, open up the range of hands which you normally would put someone on. You can’t assume that a new player is handling a standard hand for the situation.

What about a beginner who gets committed to a hand? Beginners often show up as table sheriffs or calling stations, so expect them to call bets on all streets that have hands that are easy to beat. Calling all the way with a hand like 8-8 on an A-K-T flop or calling large bets while holding a middle pair are typical strategies.

Never, ever, ever bluff a calling station. They pay you well enough when you do have a good hand. If your hand is strong, keep play rolling, and bet whatever you think they are likely to call. However, when they raise, it’s time for caution because this is often a sign of a strong hand in a beginner. If they have sucked out to nail two pair, this can be deadly.

Using these tips helps you retain your edge over beginners at the poker table. While they might luck out now and then, you’ll rake in the profits over time.

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!

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.

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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.

4 Steps to Improve Your Online Poker Game

What is the best way to improve your poker game?

K. Anders Ericsson is considered the world’s foremost expert on what it takes to become a world expert. He has studied world class musicians, chess players, and athletes to find out the process to become elite. As it turns out, the formula for success is remarkably similar no matter the domain. (Coincidentally, I was recently contacted by his office as they are interested in studying poker players!)

So what is it that world class performers do that their lesser counterparts do not? It is something called deliberate practice.

Most of us practice, but deliberate practice is not the same as ordinary, run-of-the-mill practice. It has several features that set it apart, and it turns out that the quality of your practice is more important than sheer quantity. Ericsson’s findings show quite clearly that expert level performance is the result of expert level practice. He also stresses that anyone can attain world class levels, regardless of natural ability, provided that they consistently and deliberately practice.

This is the good news. Now for the bad.

Deliberate practice is different from the simple repetition of a task. For it to work, it must have the following characteristics:

1. Your practice must focus on a very specific aspect that you are trying to improve.

For example, you should work on one specific kind of poker problem or issue at a time. Once you have mastered the basics, don’t go for general study as it will do you little good. You must have very specific and concrete goals for each study session.

2. The challenge of your study must exceed your skill level.

There is a human tendency to work on things that come easy to us, but that’s not the kind of practice that will yield improvement. You should push yourself. This will feel unnatural because in general people don’t like doing things that are hard for them. It takes you out of “flow” which is a very pleasant psychological state.

3. There should be immediate, accurate feedback.

This can be a major challenge in poker because there is often a lag between our performance and when we get feedback. You should be doing hand reviews, but these occur after a session. Also, sometimes you get rewarded in poker for doing the wrong things and punished for doing the right things! It’s not like playing a piece of music where hitting a sour note is obvious and you can replay the note until you get it right.

4. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

You can’t become “fluent” until you have repeated each skill many times. Your goal is to repeat a skill so many times that it becomes unconsciously automatic. Once you get to this level, standard lines become so instinctive that you can more easily look for altering lines and make adjustments.

If all of this sounds like a tall order to you, it is. Not being able to commit to the work required by deliberate practice is the main reason why few people attain world class status in any field.

I’d like to leave you with a few bits of advice if you are just starting out in the game and have hopes of becoming a top level player.

First of all, you cannot go from a shaky foundation to elite status. Make sure that you have mastered the fundamentals. Once you’ve mastered them, work on them some more. Your goal is to reach perfection. Also, don’t be tempted to move through the material too quickly. It takes a minimum of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to reach elite status and 20,000-plus hours is actually preferable.

Finally, keep in mind that deliberate practice is taxing. It takes a ton of mental power to concentrate fully on improving. That’s why even the elite only spend 2-3 hours a day doing deliberate practice. I’m not going to lie to you, there’s a certain amount of drudgery involved in learning at this level, but if you want to join the top ranks, there is no way around it.

Engage in deliberate practice often and over a long period of time your brain will physically reshape itself into that of a world class poker player!

(Source: Dr. Tricia Cardner,