2012 Poker Resolutions

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Instead of making broad, sweeping resolutions, I thought I’d narrow mine down to poker specific ones.

So, here they are:

1. First, and most important, I resolve to play MORE poker.  With the shutting-down of online “real money” poker in the U.S., I’ve only been averaging playing about twice a month in “live” games.  I do play play money games on PokerStars, but those don’t really count.  So, until our politicians get their heads out of their asses, I’ll just be trying to increase my time on the felt – much t0 my wife’s chagrin.

2. I also resolve to play more poker in casinos.  I’ve only been playing averaging about once a year in a “real” casino.  Despite my previous post about missing this year’s WSOP event in Tunica (which I’m seriously reconsidering), I am going to try and make at least two or three trips this year.  I have two free Southwest Airlines tickets, so maybe I can even make it to Vegas.

3. I’ve always played tournaments at casinos, so I resolve to begin playing Cash games also.

4. When I do make it to a casino game, and especially if it’s the Goldstrike in Tunica, I resolve to not get knocked-out of a tournament by being sucked-out on by some old geezer who bets half his stack pre-flop with something like Jack-Eight off suit.

5. I feel I’ve got a decent knowledge foundation of Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo, but I resolve to study and play it more, and to get much better.

Here’s some resolutions specific to some of the “regulars” in my home game.  These are all in “good fun”, and if anyone mentioned actually reads them, I hope they are not offended:

1. I hereby resolve to determine what time-zone Chris W. is using; because apparently it is not the same one I use, since “45 minutes early” in his time-zone equates to ”5 minutes early” in mine.

2. I resolve to change the start time to 7:30 one-time, so Kenny can actually participate in the first hand.

3. I resolve to buy two monitors to connect to my laptop for the tournament clock so Choo and Walter don’t have to bring their computers.

4. I will, at least once, remove a card from one of the decks before we start, so Chris H. will not feel his efforts to always count the cards are futile.

5. I will install sound-proof ceilings, for when Kevin K. plays. 

6. I will remove all Queens from decks when Kevin B. is playing so that he will not, was again, be knocked-out while holding Q-Q.

7. If still in the tournament, and an Omaha Hi-Lo cash game starts with Joey playing, I resolve to “sit-out” for the remainder of the tournament so I can play in the cash game.

8. I resolve to insta-fold anytime Randy W. is playing the hand.  Note – we have two Randy W’s; one is Randy “I only play A-A, K-K, A-K, and maybe Q-Q, and ONLY when on the button”, and the other one is known as Randy “Full House”, and this resolution applies to either one.

9. I resolve to not laugh at Andre when he is stomping around and mumbling to himself after he is knocked-out or lost a large pot when someone sucked-out on him, which often occurs.

10. I will continue to invite Derrick, Erick, and Brad despite them being fans of the teams from the state of beautiful horses and fast women.

11. I resolve to “watch my back” when Doc’s around.

12. If Robin RSVPs that she’s playing, I resolve to remember there is a solid 50% probability that she will actually show up.

13. I resolve to someday, have just a cash game and no tournament, just for Walter.

14. I resolve to convince Choo that the “Asian gene” is not a license to see 90% of the flops, thereby causing his Poker Journal chart to trend downwards.

15. I resolve to keep a stocked humidor for Matt so that he has something to do until the cash game begins.

16. I resolve to host a “Low Chicago” tournament for Kevin K.

17. I will continue to invite Jerry, even though he is a gator fan.

18. I resolve to someday figure-out which one is Erick, and which one is Derrick.

19. I resolve to have someone on “stand by” when Kyle says he’s going to play.

20. I will purchase a larger (make that a much larger) ashtray for Kevin, James, Chris, Robin, Charlie, and various other players.

21. I resolve to open a satellite location in China for Michael P. since he seems to spend most of his time there.

22. I resolve to not develop a craving for ice cream everytime Ben and Jerry play.

23. And finally, I resolve to become a real stickler of the rules. :)

Happy 2012 to Everyone!

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WSOP Tunica 2012

This past January, several players from our local poker group travelled to Tunica to participate in one of several WSOP Circuit events (which I wrote about, located here: http://theboblagio.com/?p=328).  A few of us had already starting making plans for the upcoming events that will take place in late January and early February, 2012.  I was thinking about hosting a satellite or two for a $345 buy-in tournament.  I was also hoping we could get as large of a group, if not larger, than this past trip. 

Win or lose the satellite, I was planning on playing in the Event #2 No Limit Hold’em tournament on Saturday, February 4th and 5th.  Notice I’ve been saying “was”.  Recently, I found out that the Super Bowl is February 5th, 2012.  As much as I would like to go back to Tunica for a WSOP tournament, I don’t really want to play on Super Bowl Sunday; I know the tourney begins on Saturday, but I was planning to still be playing on Sunday. :)   Unfortunately, Event #2 is the only $345 buy-in NLHE tournament scheduled that begins on Saturday.  So, since I don’t have time-off from work, I won’t be playing in any of the Tunica WSOP events in 2012. :(

It’s going to be difficult to become a poker star only playing in home games.  Maybe I can make it to St. Louis in April?

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WSOP Final Table Observations

Well, this is a little late.  I’ve been meaning to make some comments about the recent WSOP Final Table, and ESPN’s coverage of it.  Things have been kind of hectic, and I just didn’t get to it in a timely manner.  Even though most everything that can be written about it has been written, I’d still like to make a few random, belated observations.

First, I really enjoyed ESPN’s coverage this year, although Norm Chad’s role was somewhat reduced.  Since the telecast was so long, he probably had at least as many minutes “airtime” as in the past.  However, I would have preferred Norm doing the “play-by-play” with Lon instead of various poker pros, mainly Antonio Esfandiari.  Was it me, or was almost every prediction that Antonio made usually the exact opposite of what actually happened?  For example, Antonio would say something like “he’s going to fold here”, and then the player in question would raise.  Or, “I would raise now”, and then the player would call.  This seemed to occur time-and-time again when Esfandiari was commentating.

Of course, ignoring the Canadian accent, who doesn’t enjoy Kara Scott’s interviews?  And, I could care less who she’s interviewing. :D

My guess is that the non-poker players that just happened to watch the WSOP coverage because they were channel surfing, may have gotten a little bored with the “every hand” coverage, as opposed to the edited telecasts in the past that just mostly showed the “big” hands.  I’ve talked with several of my poker playing friends, and it seems the consensus is that most of us, with a couple of exceptions, enjoyed the extensive coverage.  It was a very useful learning experience to be able to see the player’s hole cards for every hand.

I think the single topic generating the most discussion was Ben Lamb’s all-in with King-Jack offsuit on the first hand of the “Final Three”, after Staszko re-raised him.  Antonio said: “It’s unlikely he [Lamb] calls, and plays this pot out of position”.  Then Lamb re-raised all-in; another Esfandiari “spot on” prediction.  There’s already been A LOT written about it; so, the only thing I can add is “Wow”!  I was rooting for Lamb, even though he seemed to have an aloof attitude.  I know it’s difficult to get a true read about someone by just watching them on TV, but Lamb just seemed arrogant to me.  There is a thread on the Chiptalk.net forums started by a guy that was actually an observer at the final table that somewhat confirms my view;  see here: http://www.chiptalk.net/forum/casinos-card-rooms/76735-my-2011-wsop-final-table-thread-updated-pics-vids.html.  There’s also a photo of Kara interviewing Pius Hines, and several comments agreeing with my previously stated opinion of her.

Since the “Final Three” went so long, and I had to go to work the next day, I set my DVR to record it, with the plan of watching the finish when I got home from work the next day.  However, the most disappointing thing for me about the telecast was the fact that my DVR stopped recording before the event was over.  Since it was a “live” telecast, I had the option to add time to the scheduled time for the show, which I did.  But the maximum that I could add was three hours, and that wasn’t enough, as my recording ended 29 hands before it was actually over.  I had to go to the WSOP website to find out that Pius Hines eventually outlasted Martin Staszko.

Maybe next year, I’ll be there in person. :)

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A Omaha Poker Quiz – Answers

As promised, here are the answers to the Omaha quiz.  I’ve included at least one location (there may be several) for finding each answer (dependent on my printing of the books). 

The abbreviations used are:
Omaha Poker – 21st Century Edition by Bob Ciaffone (Last Revision, 2008) = OP
Pot-Limit Omaha Poker ”The Big Play Strategy”
by Jeff Hwang (First Printing, January 2008) = PLOP

Here are the Omaha High questions with their answers:

  1. From a “profit” standpoint, which is more valuable: a hand that hits one-fourth of the flops and wins half of those or a hand that hits half of the flops and wins a quarter of those?
    A: a hand that hits one-forth of the flops and wins half of those is much more valuable (OP, p. 47)               

  2. What two cards are an opponent likely holding if he/she reraises an earlier raise?
    A: Aces (OP, pp. 43, 44, 45)            

  3. Which player has the winning hand:
    Player A:  K ♦ J ♦ T ♠ 9 ♠ 
    Player B:  Q ♣ J ♣ 8 ♠ 8 ♥   
    Board:      Q ♥ Q ♦ 7 ♦ 6 ♦ 6 ♣    
    A: Player A with a king-high diamond flush; player B has three queens only (OP, p. 11)           

  4. Compared to Hold’em, position is more or less important in Omaha?
    A: more (OP, p. 13)           

  5. More players normally stay for the flop in Omaha than in Hold’em, true or false?
    A: True (OP, p. 20)           

  6. When it was originally introduced, Omaha was played no-limit.  However, players quickly realized that pot-limit was the superior form.  Why?
    A: because the nuts are out so often that too many pots have all the intricate play removed by a giant all-in bet (OP, p. 23)           

  7. Over _____ of the time that you make a straight will it not be the nuts:
    A. 1/2   B. 1/4   C. 1/3   D. 2/3
    A: “A. 1/2″ (OP, p. 27)           

  8.  What American author once said, “Learning how to play two pair properly is about as expensive as a college education – and is worth about as much”?
    A: Mark Twain (OP, p. 30)           

  9. A normal bet at pot-limit Omaha is half the size of the pot, true or false?
    A: False.  A normal bet is the maximum, which is the size of the pot. (OP, p. 80)           

  10. With the following starting hands, should you Call, Fold, or Raise?  Assume you are first to act before the flop in a nine-handed pot-limit game:
    (1) K ♣ Q ♣ 6 ♠ 5 ♠
    (2) A ♥ K ♥ Q ♦ 9 ♣
    (3) J ♥ T ♥ 9 ♣ 7 ♣ 
    A: (1) Fold. Two Hold’em hands do not make one Omaha hand. (OP, p. 48)
         (2) Raise (OP, p. 48)
         (3) Raise (OP, p. 49)           

  11. Your hand: J ♥ 7 ♥ 7 ♦ 2 ♣    The flop: Q ♠ 7 ♣ 3 ♦
    You are in the big blind.  Five other players see the flop.  You bet, and a little old lady on your left raises.  All the other players fold.  Should you give her credit for a set of queens and fold your set?
    A: I put this question on the quiz because I love Mr. Ciaffone’s answer: “Fold, and keep your mouth shut.  In one hundred cases, she will have three queens ninety-eight times, three crabs and buy the case crab once, and have misread her hand but backdoor a straight once.  She will never show you a bluff.”  (OP, p. 54)          

  12. What is a crab?  (Hint: you will need to know this to completely understand the answer to the previous question)
    A: Nickname for a “3″ (or a trey). (OP, pp. 54, 122)          

  13. What is a freeroll, as it pertains to Omaha?
    A: When two players have the same hand, but one player has a draw to a bigger hand. (PLOP, pp. 13-14, 320)          

  14. In pot-limit Omaha, if there is $25 in the pot before the flop, and the first player bets $25, how much can the next player raise?
    A. $50  B. $75  C. $100  D. $25
    A: “B. $75″.  The pot size includes the amount a player must put in to call the bet. (PLOP, p. 19)          

  15. True or False, eight-card straight draws are trash?
    A: True (PLOP, p. 24)          

  16. In contrast to Hold’em, there is more or less unadulterated bluffing in Omaha?
    A: Less. (PLOP, p. 28)          

  17. What is a wraparound straight draw?
    A: There is a difference between Ciaffone and Hwang about this.   Mr. Hwang says “Technically, any straight draw bigger than an eight-card straight draw is called a wraparound straight draw…though we will reserve that designation for the bigger straight draws in the next section for the time being.” (PLOP, pp. 38, 324)
    Mr. Ciaffone states: ” The number of ways to make the straight is higher if you have the flop “surrounded”, in other words, have the card immediately above and below the flop cards in rank, instead of all above or all below.  When you have the flop surrounded, you are are said to have a “wrap-around straight draw.”  And then a little later, he states: “I have heard the term wrap-around incorrectly applied many times to draws such as these nine and thirteen way straight-draws.” (OP, pp. 36, 37)       

  18. In order to flop a wraparound straight draw, your hand must have a _________ in it.
    A: gap. (PLOP, p. 41)          

  19. True or False, you should pretty much never draw to a non-nut flush when it is not your primary draw:
    A: True. (PLOP, p. 51)          

  20. One of the two best starting hands in PLO is A-A-K-K double-suited.  What is the other one?
    A. A-K-Q-J double suited  B. A-A-A-A  C. A-K-Q-Q double suited  D. A-A-J-T double suited
    A: “D”  (PLOP, pp. 54, 72)          

  21. As a general rule, any hand consisting of four cards ____ and higher is playable and is a premium drawing hand – especially when suited?
    A: ten (PLOP, p. 56)          

  22. All top-gap (i.e. 9-7-6-5, no “8″) hands are _________, unless they contain an Ace.
    A. premium  B. marginal  C. trash
    A: marginal (PLOP, p. 57)          

  23. Which rates as the better hand?
    A. A-K-Q-7 or B. A-K-Q-5
    A: “B”, because of the wheel card adding an extra straight potential (PLOP, p. 60)          

  24. When holding two pair you will flop a set what percent of the time?
    A. 10  B. 32.3  C. 21.4  D. 18.5
    A: “C 21.4″ (PLOP, p. 61)          

  25. When playing out of position, your first priority is to keep the pot multi-way pre-flop.  True or False?
    A: True (PLOP, p. 72)          

  26. You are on the button with A ♦ 8 ♥ 7 ♦ 6 ♥.  There is a raise and reraise to you.  Do you reraise, call, or fold?
    A: fold (PLOP, p. 82)          

  27. What is a blocker?
    A: A pair in your hand that are key cards to a straight, making it less likely that someone else has a straight (PLOP, p. 99)          

Here are the Omaha High/Low (aka Split) questions and their answers:

  1. If there is an odd chip left when the pot is split between the high and the low hand, who gets it?
    A: the high hand (PLOP, p. 181)        

  2. Few hands are playable without this card, what is it?
    A: An Ace (PLOP, p. 186) (OP, p. 59)        

  3. If you have A-2 and a couple of high cards, two low cards have come on the flop, with two cards to come, what are your chances of:
    (1) making any low?
          A. 25%  B. 48%  C. 59%  D. 33%
    (2) of making the nut low?
          A. 15%  B. 38%  C. 49%  D. 23%
    A: (1) “C” (OP, p. 58)
         (2) “C” (OP, p. 58)        

  4. Your hand is T ♥ 9 ♥ 8 ♣ 7 ♣, regardless of position, you should: raise (or reraise), call, or fold?
    A: fold (OP, p. 59)        

  5. What does quartering mean?
    A: When two players tie for one of the pots, usually the low. (OP, p. 64 & PLOP, pp. 214, 322)        

  6. Is there any time when you have flopped the nut straight, and there is not a three-flush on the board, that you should fold to any bet?
    A: Yes (OP, p. 65)        

  7. What is the most important principle in Omaha High-Low?
    A: Build hands that can scoop the whole pot (OP, p. 66)        

  8. Your hand is A ♥ K ♠ Q ♥ 2 ♦, the flop is 8 ♣ 7 ♦ 4 ♥. The pot is three-handed, there was a small pre-flop raise, and a bet and a raise after the flop.  What should you do?
    A: A fold is clear (OP, p. 71)        

  9. What are the only two starting hands with trips that you should even remotely consider playing?
    A: A-A-A-2, suited or A-2-2-2, suited (PLOP, p. 188)        

  10. What is the best starting hand in Omaha Hi/Lo?
    A: A-A-2-3 double-suited (PLOP, p. 192)
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A Hold’em Poker Quiz – Answers

As promised, here are the answers to the Hold’em quiz.  I’ve included at least one location (there may be several) for finding each answer (dependent on my printing of the books). 

The abbreviations used are:
Harrington on Hold’em Volume 1: Strategic Play (First Edition, Fifth Printing, September 2007) = HoH
Harrington on Cash Games Volume I (First Edition, Second Printing, March 2009) = HoCG  

Here are the questions with their answers:

  1. What is the “Gap Concept”, as defined by David Sklansky?
    A: You need a stronger hand to call than you would need to open the pot yourself from that position.” (HoH, pp. 38, 70, 188)
    Note: In HoCG, p. 170, Mr. Harrington writes: In Cash Games, for hands designed to play small pots, the Gap Concept applies in full; However, for hands that benefit from the massive implied odds in deep stack poker, the Gap Concept doesn’t apply.
     
  2. What is the “Rope-a-Dope technique as applied against a super-aggressive player?
    A: “With genuine strength, you can just call a super-aggressive player, rather than making what would be normal raises against another player. …  When employing this strategy, you make only one raise, at the very end of the hand.” (HoH, p. 47)
     
  3. When pursuing a “balanced strategy”, which means to vary your raises, calls, and bet sizes, what tool can be used as a random number generator to insure you’re acting truly random?  For example, with a premium pair in early position you want to raise 80% of the time, and call 20%, how can you accomplish this in a simple truly random way?  Hint:  Dan Harrington mentions this method in both of his books that I’ve listed previously.
    A: The second hand of your watch (HoH, p. 53 & HoCG, pp. 138, 250-251)
     
  4. A. What are the three categories of physical tells?
    A: 1. Facial expressions  2. General body language  3. Hand motions (HoH, p. 85)
    B. According to Harrington, which category is the most reliable and revealing?
    A: Hand motions (HoH, p. 85)
     
  5. Naturally, you should pay attention to all players at the table, but for beginners, which 3 players are the most important to watch?
    A: The two players on your left and the player on your right (HoH, p. 89)
     
  6. When should you limp into a pot against several players with a high pair?
    A: When you are expecting a raise behind you (HoH, p. 91)
      
  7. What is a “Backdoor Flush Draw”? 
    A: You need two running cards (the turn & river) of the same suit to complete your flush (HoH, p. 273)   
     
  8. When calculating pot odds, if you have a backdoor flush draw, how many “outs” should you count?
    A: About 1 1/2 outs (HoH, p.273)
     
  9. According to “Harrington’s Law of Bluffing“, the probability that your opponent is bluffing when he shoves a big bet into the pot is always at least what percent?
    A: 10% (HoH, p. 132)
     
  10. In relation to pot size, how much is a “normal” continuation bet?  (Note: your bets should vary to conceal your actions; however, there is a normal size).
    A: about half the size of the pot. (HoH, pp. 277-279, 293)
     
  11. What position at the table is the last to act pre-flop?
    A: The Big Blind (HoCG, p. 162)
     
  12. When you play low pairs like 3-3, what is it called when higher pairs appear on the board?
    A: Counterfeited (HoH, p. 182)
     
  13. You will get dealt pocket Aces about once every how many hands?
    A. 98  B. 150  C. 220  D. 378
    A: “C. 220″  (HoH, p. 210)
     
  14. What is The Sandwich Effect?
    A: The pot has been opened, you are next to act, and there are several potentially active players behind you.  You’re caught in a sandwich.  (HoH, p. 189)
     
  15. In a tournament, when the blinds are very small relative to the chips stacks, is the theoretical correct way to play very tight or very loose?
    A: Very tight (HoH, p. 205)
     
  16. What group of starting hands gets beginning players into more trouble than any others?
    A: Two Face Cards without an Ace (e.g. KQ, KJ, QJ, suited or unsuited) (HoH, pp. 185, 225)  Also, KT and QT are included with these hands in HoCG (HoCG, p. 155)
     
  17. When you have pocket Kings, the odds that someone at a full table (9 players) has pocket Aces is:
    A. 1 in 12?  B. 1 in 24?  C. 1 in 36?  D. 1 in  48?
    A: “B. 1 in 24″ (HoH, p. 241)
     
  18. What range, compared to pot size, does Harrington recommend for a Value Bet size?
    A: Vary between half the pot and the whole pot  (HoH, p. 275)
     
  19. What is The Rule of Two?
    A: “If only one card is still to come [i.e. the "river"] multiply your number of outs by two to get your winning chances.”  (HoCG, p. 38)  For example, you have an outside straight draw (e.g. you have K-Q-J, there’s a T on the board, so you need an A or 9), you are pretty certain your opponent has a pair, and there are no flush or full-house draws, so a straight will win the hand.  You need either one of four Aces, or one of four Nines.  So, you have 8 outs.  8 times 2 (i.e. “the rule of two”)  = 16; so you have about a 16% chance of winning the hand. 
          

  20. In deep-stack cash games, which hands will generally win larger pots: premium pairs or small pairs?
    A: Small Pairs (HoCG, p. 131)
     
     
  21. When making a Continuation bet, if you bet half the pot, what percentage of your bets do you need to win to break even?
    A: one-third  (HoH, p. 258)
      
  22. How is a Probe Bet different from a Continuation Bet?
    A: A Continuation bet is a bet made after the flop by the player who took the lead in betting before the flop.  a Probe bet is a bet made when you were not the leader before the flop, but the leader has declined to make a continuation bet.  (HoH, pp. 277 & 282, 309)
     
  23. Is a Continuation Bet more effective against one or two opponents?
    A: Against one opponent (HoH, p. 286)
     
  24. True or False – weak means strong, and strong means weak?
    A: True (HoH, p. 86)
     
  25. What is it called when you make a play that you wouldn’t have made if you knew what your opponent’s cards were?
    A: This is Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker: An error is a play you wouldn’t make if you knew what your opponent had.” (HoCG, p. 117)
     
  26. If you are dealt Q-Q, with nine players behind you, “about” what percent of the time will one of those players have A-A or K-K?
    A. 23  B. 10  C. 8  D. 38
    A: “B. 10%” (HoH, p. 210)
     
  27. What is THE most important skill for a player to have in tournament no-limit Hold’em?
    A: “As the blinds and antes increase relative to your stack, your approach must change“.  Harrington calls the places where your strategy changes inflection points.  An understanding of these points, and how to adjust your play accordingly, is the most important skill in tournament NLHE according to Mr. Harrington. (HoH, p.376)
     
  28. According to “The Betting Principle“, a successful bet must accomplish one of three things.  What are they?
    A: 1. force a better hand to fold,  2. force a weaker hand to call, or  3. cause a drawing hand to draw at unfavorable odds (HoCG, p.20)
     
  29. What is The Rule of Four?
    A: “If two cards are still to come [i.e. the "turn" and "river"] and you will be able to see both cards, multiply your number of outs by four to get your winning chances in a hand.” (HoCG, p. 37)
     
  30. What is “M”?
    A: The ratio between your stack size and the total of the blinds and antes. (HoCG, p. 51)
    Note:  There’s a good article on the M-ratio here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-ratio
     
  31. In comparing hand values, is the “value” of A-K unsuited vs. 8-7 suited the same, regardless of whether you’re playing in a tournament or a deep-stack cash game?
    A: No.  In deep stack cash games, hand values normalize; the gap between strong preflop hands and weak preflop hands shrinks as the stacks get larger. (HoCG, p. 58-59)
     
  32.  Is “fold equity” how much you’ll lose in the hand if you fold?
    A: No.  Fold Equity is the value you have from the fact that your opponent can fold to your bet. (HoCG, p. 231)
     
  33. Which carries more weight, a pre-flop bet, or a post-flop bet?
    A: a post-flop bet (HoCG, p. 105)
     
  34. What is the Metagame?
    A: It’s the sum of everything that you know about the other players, and everything they know about you.  In order to craft the metagame image you want, you will sometimes have to play hands in strange and non-optimal ways. (HoCG, pp. 107-116)
     
  35. If you are a winner over time, you win because your opponent makes more ____________ than you.
    A: mistakes (HoCG, p. 117)
     
  36. What is Solomon’s Rule?
    A: Solomon’s Rule is similar to the The Rule of Four, but gives an even more accurate percentage.  It states: “With two cards to come, [i.e. the "turn" and "river"] multiply the number of outs by four, then subtract the number of outs in excess of eight to get your winning percentage. (HoCG, p. 39)
    For example, if you have 12 outs: 12 * 4 = 48 – (12-8) = 44%
     
  37. Harrington’s First Law states: The gap in strength between strong hands and weak hands is inversely proportional to the _________  _________.
    A: stack sizes (HoCG, p. 131)
     
  38. Is a “paired flop” a good bluffing flop in heads-up play?
    A: Yes (HoCG, p. 231)
     
  39. In general, in a cash game, which will be a bigger money-maker over time; flopping top set or flopping middle set?
    A: flopping middle set (HoCG, p. 266)
     
  40. Harrington’s Second Law states: The likelihood that a player’s betting action represents his true strength is directly correlated to the number of _________ in the pot.
    A: players (HoCG, p. 341)
     
  41. True or False?  Strong starting hands, like A-A, become stronger as more players join the action.
    A: False (HoCG, p. 342)
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A Omaha Poker Quiz

Here is the follow-up to the Hold’em quiz.

The Omaha related questions are either from Bob Ciaffone’s Omaha Poker or Jeff Hwang’s Pot-Limit Omaha Poker.  Just as in the Hold’em quiz, don’t be mislead about the contents of these books based on the questions here.  The books contain a wealth of knowledge, and these questions just barely “scratch the surface” of the information contained in them, and were partially chosen because they could be stated rather simply.  The books contain complex problems and extensive explanations that the understanding of which will serve to make one a better player.

The questions vary from easy to difficult, and again, are in no particular order; except that the Omaha High questions are grouped together and listed first, followed by the Omaha High/Low questions.

Here are the Omaha High questions:

  1. From a “profit” standpoint, which is more valuable: a hand that hits one-fourth of the flops and wins half of those or a hand that hits half of the flops and wins a quarter of those?
  2. What two cards are an opponent likely holding if he/she reraises an earlier raise?
  3. Which player has the winning hand:
    Player A:  K J T ♠ 9 ♠ 
    Player B:  Q ♣ J ♣ 8 ♠ 8    
    Board:      Q Q 7 6 6 ♣  
  4. Compared to Hold’em, position is more or less important in Omaha?
  5. More players normally stay for the flop in Omaha than in Hold’em, true or false?
  6. When it was originally introduced, Omaha was played no-limit.  However, players quickly realized that pot-limit was the superior form.  Why?
  7. Over _____ of the time that you make a straight it will not be the nuts:
    A. half   B. a fourth   C. a third   D. two-thirds
  8.  What American author once said, “Learning how to play two pair properly is about as expensive as a college education – and is worth about as much”?
  9. A normal bet at pot-limit Omaha is half the size of the pot, true or false?
  10. With the following starting hands, should you Call, Fold, or Raise?  Assume you are first to act before the flop in a nine-handed pot-limit game:
    (1) K ♣ Q ♣ 6 ♠ 5 ♠
    (2) A K Q 9 ♣
    (3) J  T 9 ♣ 7 ♣
  11. Your hand: J 7 7 2 ♣    The flop: Q ♠ 7 ♣ 3
    You are in the big blind.  Five other players see the flop.  You bet, and a little old lady on your left raises.  All the other players fold.  Should you give her credit for a set of queens and fold your set?
  12. What is a crab?  (Hint: you will need to know this to completely understand the answer to the previous question)
  13. What is a freeroll, as it pertains to Omaha?
  14. In pot-limit Omaha, if there is $25 in the pot before the flop, and the first player bets $25, how much can the next player raise?
    A. $50  B. $75  C. $100  D. $25
  15. True or False, eight-card straight draws are trash?
  16. In contrast to Hold’em, there is more or less unadulterated bluffing in Omaha?
  17. What is a wraparound straight draw?
  18. In order to flop a wraparound straight draw, your hand must have a _________ in it.
  19. True or False, you should pretty much never draw to a non-nut flush when it is not your primary draw?
  20. One of the two best starting hands in PLO is A-A-K-K double-suited.  What is the other one?
    A. A-K-Q-J double suited
    B. A-A-A-A 
    C. A-K-Q-Q double suited 
    D. A-A-J-T double suited
  21. As a general rule, any hand consisting of four cards ____ and higher is playable and is a premium drawing hand – especially when suited.
  22. All top-gap (e.g. 9-7-6-5) hands are _________, unless they contain an Ace.
    A. premium  B. marginal  C. trash
  23. Which rates as the better hand?
    A. A-K-Q-7 or
    B. A-K-Q-5
  24. When holding two pair you will flop a set [corrected typo on 10/24; had "straight" should have been "set"] what percent of the time?
    A. 10  B. 32.3  C. 21.4  D. 18.5
  25. When playing out of position, your first priority is to keep the pot multi-way pre-flop.  True or False?
  26. You are on the button with A 8 7 6 .  There is a raise and reraise to you.  Do you reraise, call, or fold?
  27. What is a blocker?

Here are the Omaha High/Low (aka Split) questions:

  1. If there is an odd chip left when the pot is split between the high and the low hand, who gets it?
  2. Few hands are playable without this card, what is it?
  3. If you have A-2 and a couple of high cards, two low cards have come on the flop, with two cards to come, what are your chances of:
    (1) making any low?
          A. 25%  B. 48%  C. 59%  D. 33%
    (2) of making the nut low?
          A. 15%  B. 38%  C. 49%  D. 23%
  4. Your hand is T 9 8 ♣ 7 ♣, regardless of position, you should: raise (or reraise), call, or fold?
  5. What does quartering mean?
  6. Is there any time when you have flopped the nut straight, and there is not a three-flush on the board, that you should fold to any bet?
  7. What is the most important principle in Omaha High-Low?
  8. Your hand is A K ♠ Q 2 , the flop is 8 ♣ 7 4 . The pot is three-handed, there was a small pre-flop raise, and a bet and a raise after the flop.  What should you do?
  9. What are the only two starting hands with trips that you should even remotely consider playing?
  10. What is the best starting hand in Omaha Hi/Lo?
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A Hold’em Poker Quiz

My previous blog was about reading poker books to enhance one’s poker knowledge and skill, and hopefully winnings.  I thought I’d follow-up with a quiz made up of questions using information entirely from the books listed.

The Hold’em questions are either from Dan Harrington’s Harrington on Hold’em or Harrington on Cash Games.  Don’t be mislead about the contents of these books based on the questions here.  The books contain a wealth of knowledge, and these questions just barely “scratch the surface” of the information contained in them, and were partially chosen because they could be stated rather simply.  The books contain more complex problems and extensive explanations, and the understanding of them will serve to make one a better player.

The questions vary from easy to difficult (as I deem), and are in no particular order.

Here are the questions:

  1. What is the “Gap Concept”, as defined by David Sklansky?
  2. What is the “Rope-a-Dope technique as applied against a super-aggressive player?
  3. When pursuing a “balanced strategy”, which means to vary your raises, calls, and bet sizes, what tool can be used as a random number generator to insure you’re acting truly random?  For example, with a premium pair in early position you want to raise 80% of the time, and call 20%, how can you accomplish this in a simple truly random way?  Hint:  Dan Harrington mentions this method in both of his books that I’ve listed previously.
  4. A. What are the three categories of physical tells?
    B. According to Harrington, which category is the most reliable and revealing?
  5. Naturally, you should pay attention to all players at the table, but for beginners, which 3 players are the most important to watch?
  6. When should you limp into a pot against several players with a high pair?
  7. What is a “Backdoor Flush Draw”? 
  8. When calculating pot odds, if you have a backdoor flush draw, how many “outs” should you count?
  9. According to “Harrington’s Law of Bluffing“, the probability that your opponent is bluffing when he shoves a big bet into the pot is always at least what percent?
  10. In relation to pot size, how much is a “normal” continuation bet?  (Note: your bets should vary to conceal your actions; however, there is a normal size).
  11. What position at the table is the last to act pre-flop?
  12. When you play low pairs like 3-3, what is it called when higher pairs appear on the board?
  13. You will get dealt pocket Aces about once every how many hands?
    A. 98  B. 150  C. 220  D. 378
  14. What is The Sandwich Effect?
  15. In a tournament, when the blinds are very small relative to the chips stacks, is the theoretical correct way to play very tight or very loose?
  16. What group of starting hands gets beginning players into more trouble than any others?
  17. When you have pocket Kings, the odds that someone at a full table (9 players) has pocket Aces is:
    A. 1 in 12?  B. 1 in 24?  C. 1 in 36?  D. 1 in  48?
  18. What range, compared to pot size, does Harrington recommend for a Value Bet size?
  19. What is The Rule of Two?
  20. In deep-stack cash games, which hands will generally win larger pots: premium pairs or small pairs?
  21. When making a Continuation bet, if you bet half the pot, what percentage of your bets do you need to win to break even?
  22. How is a Probe Bet different from a Continuation Bet?
  23. Is a Continuation Bet more effective against one or two opponents?
  24. True or False – weak means strong, and strong means weak?
  25. What is it called when you make a play that you wouldn’t have made if you knew what your opponent’s cards were?
  26. If you are dealt Q-Q, with nine players behind you, “about” what percent of the time will one of those players have A-A or K-K?
    A. 23  B. 10  C. 8  D. 38
  27. What is THE most important skill for a player to have in tournament no-limit Hold’em?
  28. According to “The Betting Principle“, a successful bet must accomplish one of three things.  What are they?
  29. What is The Rule of Four?
  30. What is “M”?
  31. In comparing hand values, is the “value” of A-K unsuited vs. 8-7 suited the same, regardless of whether you’re playing in a tournament or a deep-stack cash game?
  32.  Is “fold equity” how much you’ll lose in the hand if you fold?
  33. Which carries more weight, a pre-flop bet, or a post-flop bet?
  34. What is the Metagame?
  35. If you are a winner over time, you win because your opponent makes more ____________ than you.
  36. What is Solomon’s Rule?
  37. Harrington’s First Law states: The gap in strength between strong hands and weak hands is inversely proportional to the _________  _________.
  38. Is a “paired flop” a good bluffing flop in heads-up play?
  39. In general, in a cash game, which will be a bigger money-maker over time; flopping top set or flopping middle set?
  40. Harrington’s Second Law states: The likelihood that a player’s betting action represents his true strength is directly correlated to the number of _________ in the pot.
  41. True or False?  Strong starting hands, like A-A, become stronger as more players join the action.

You can find the answers to these questions in the books listed :) , or check back in a couple of weeks (after the Omaha quiz) for the answers.

Next time, an Omaha quiz.

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Three Players and Reading Poker Books

This post is just some observations about three distinctly different players who regularly play in my games.  The reason that I chose to write about them is that of the three, two of their approaches to poker really puzzles me.  The reason I included the third one will become evident later in this post.  I believe they’re fairly representative of players from almost any home game.  Even though only one (I think) reads my blogs, I’ll give them ficticious names.

The first one, “Houston”, is a very good player.  His style of play seems to make him a much better cash game player than tournament player.  His stated main purpose in playing poker is to make money, and I think that overall, he is a winning player.  The thing that puzzles me about Houston is the fact that he doesn’t read about or study poker.  He has become a very good player mainly by playing a lot, but I would think that if one’s express goal is to make money, especially a lot of money, in an endeavor, then they would want to do everything possible to improve.  I feel “pretty competent” at poker, but realize that I still have A LOT of room for improvement.  Consequently, I play as much as I can (which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like, especially now that online poker is shut-down); I read about it, watch poker on TV, and discuss strategy with fellow players whenever I can.  I read somewhere once, that Phil Ivey thinks about poker all-of-the-time; probably one of the reasons he’s widely considered one of the best players, if not THE best, in the world.

Another player, we’ll call him “Sam”, is really bewildering to me.  Although, I think I do understand his viewpoint somewhat.  He is probably one of the biggest “fish” in our game.  He plays almost every time, yet has never cashed in the tournament (he has cashed in other’s small home game tournaments), and usually loses money in the cash game.  Occasionally, he will make some money in the cash game when the “deck hits him in the head”.  He does know the basics, and plays quite a bit, but knows nothing about the game outside of the home games he plays in.  He has “no clue” who Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, or Phil Helmuth are.  He’s the typical novice that will call an all-in bet with any Ace if there’s an Ace on the board.  He even commented to me once that he seems to have the second best hand a lot – really! LOL!!  He’s never read a word about poker.  I think that most people, when they take-up a new hobby try to learn about it.  So, it’s difficult to understand people like “Sam”.  I can understand this kind of mentality from someone who just plays poker a few times a year or uses it as an excuse to drink, but Sam plays on average a couple of times a week.  Even though he’s not a serious player, I would think that Sam would just get tired of loosing money and at least try to improve a little.  I suppose I just need to accept the fact that his attitude is that he’s just spending money for entertainment. 

The last player, “Dolph”, is just about the exact opposite of “Sam”.  He’s been playing less than a couple of years, but has cashed in at least a couple of WSOP events and regularly makes money in tournaments and “cash games” in both home games and casinos. What’s so different about Dolph?   Not only does Dolph play a lot, he also reads and studies poker A LOT.  I think he’s the only one mentioned here that reads my blog. :D

Why are players like Sam and Houston ( :) ) unwilling to read poker books?  Is it laziness, or just an aversion to reading?  I read somewhere that the degree of difference between being good and great at anything is actually relatively small.  So, I would think that anyone wanting to become great (or even really good) at something would seek out every possible resource at their disposal.  In any endeavor, there are a lot of people who say they want to be successful, but relatively few actually succeed at becoming truly successful.  I also just heard recently that to become really good at anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours studying/practicing/participating in it.  Of course, especially in poker, there is some luck involved,  but as the old saying goes, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”.

Will Dolph win, or at least go very deep, in a large tournament someday?  Truly, it’s hard to say, but IMHO, he has a lot better chance than Sam or Houston.

There are so many good poker books, it’s very difficult to name just a few; but, here are some I’ve read or will soon be reading:

And, for Omaha:

Thanks for reading!  And, please feel free to leave a comment naming any really good poker books that you would recommend.  I’m always anxious to learn more about poker to gain any “edge” against the sharks that I play with.

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Chip Tower

Okay, so this is pretty much a frivolous post.  Plus, it’s good to add a little variety to the blog. 

I’ve seen some chip towers posted on the web, and thought I’d play around and do one also.  I haven’t had the opportunity to play much poker lately and thereby the chance to use my chips; so, this gave me an excuse to get them out.

Here’s a couple of photos of my chip tower with The Boblagio tournament chips:

Next time, photos of Kim Kardashian’s custom wedding poker chips. :)

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Bargain Garage Sale Poker Chips

While visiting her parents in Florida, my wife went “garage-selling” with them.  Meanwhile, I stayed home.  Early on that Friday morning, I was at work, but away from my office.  I almost always have my phone with me; however, on this particular morning, the battery was low, so I had left it charging on my desk.  Upon returning after a only a few minutes away from my office, my phone displayed five missed calls, and two messages – all from my wife or her brother’s phone. 

Thinking something was seriously wrong (because I’ve NEVER had that many calls from her in such a short period), I frantically called her back.  She quickly explained that she had been at a garage sale with her family, and had discovered a set of about 500 poker chips in varying colors ”just like mine (aka The Great Wall, Wallsons, or China Clays), only they didn’t have Boblagio on them” for a very inexpensive price.  She was wanting to know if she should buy them.  But, they had moved on to another sale. 

Although not Paulson’s, my chips are decent.  Here is what they look like: 

Boblagio Tournament Poker Chips

I’ve read on chip collecting websites like www.chiptalk.net, about people scoring finds on rare chips at places like garage sales and craigslist.  So, knowing my wife’s limited knowledge of poker chips, I started envisioning that maybe she had come across some Paulson’s, perhaps even some Paulson Vineyard’s.  At worst, since I know they make generic chips like mine, here’s what I assumed the chips at the garage sale looked like: 

So, envisioning the possibilities, like adding Red chips (even generic ones) to my set since I wish I had some, owning a set of high end Paulson’s, and/or flipping the chips for a tidy profit, I begged her to return to the house with the chips and buy them ASAP, before they were sold. 

They did in fact return, and the chips were still for sell.  She informed me that she was going to try and bargain and offer the seller $5 less than the asking price.  She called me back and said he was unwilling to reduce the price from the original $15 :P , so should she still buy them?  Based on what I had paid for my chips, I calculated that the “generic labeled” chips were worth at least $100-150.  Becoming impatient since I was afraid someone else would snap-them-up, I admonished her to quit “bargaining”, and just buy the chips, already.  You should know, The love of bargaining runs in her family; her Dad will spend a half-hour trying to get a seller to reduce the price of a 25¢ item to 20¢. :)  

After a few tense moments, she called back, and informed me that she (I) was now the proud owner of these chips, plus a carrying case.  She had also purchased a suitcase at a garage sale to bring the chips, along with other garage sale items home.   

The weekend seemed to last forever, as I could not wait for her return on Monday morning.  After picking her up at the airport, I drove her home.  Then, with the excitement reminicient of a Christmas morning when I was a child,  I quickly opened the suitcase containing the chips.  I extracted the case containing the chips, took a deep breath, and opened it. 

Here’s what I found: 

For my readers that are not poker chip aficionado’s, these chips are what are known as “dice chips”, generally considered “the cheapest of the cheap” chips, and rate just slightly ahead of matchsticks (IMHO)  for playing poker with.  I now realize that a short course in “Poker Chip Appraisal” is in order for my wife.

Despite my disappointment in the chips, I will forever remember that even while “garage selling” hundreds of miles away, my wife was thinking about me, and was aware of my poker chip passion.  I think that in the years to come, the memory of  ”the great bargain garage sale poker chips” will always cause me to smile. :-D

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