PocketFives Articles - Courtney Harrington[ return to main articles page ]


Courtney Harrington's ArticlesResults 1 - 1

Article Author Publish Date Comments
Farewell for Now

After two years of weekly articles and seven-and-a-half years of being involved with PocketFives, I have made the decision to step back. I am blessed to be in a situation where I have enough going on, both poker-related and otherwise, that I have to prioritize my time enough that stepping away just makes sense for me. I will continue to play poker and have even been getting the itch to play a ...

CourtDec 27th, 2013 16
Get Your Records Straight

The end of the year is quickly approaching. Now is the time to start preparing for how you are going to structure and track your play over the next year. If you aren't doing anything at all, you should. If you are already tracking your play and results, it is a good time to look at how well you are doing in terms of religiously tracking every session and what other data could be useful to you.

CourtDec 21st, 2013 2
Picking on Devo

Bryan badbeatninja Devonshire (pictured) is a great poker player and someone I consider a close friend. He is also a player and a person who I believe generally gets it and is great for the game. He is interesting, personable, and fun to be around. But, I want to pick on him a little bit today. I noticed a Tweet from him a few days back complaining about a floorman not reducing the rake to ...

CourtDec 14th, 2013 4
The Next Street is Coming

Poker, like chess, requires that you think a few moves ahead in order to be successful. The luck element of the game, though, can allow you to get away with not thinking ahead and can even reward you, in the short-run, for making faulty decisions. The most common place players don't think ahead is when playing from the small blind, but the concept applies to almost every decision in poker.

CourtDec 6th, 2013 4
Being Thankful for Poker

Poker can be frustrating, but for any of us who are in a situation to play poker at all, we have a lot to be thankful for. Poker has given me the flexibility to live a lifestyle that many don't achieve until later in life, has introduced me to an interesting and unique network of friends and acquaintances I'd have never met otherwise, encouraged me to travel around the world and expand my ...

CourtNov 30th, 2013 6
Back to Basics: Aggression

There are many different styles in poker that can be affective, but aggression is a key element in almost all of them. Adapting to the game and to your opponents is important, but if you play passively, you are putting yourself behind the eight ball, making it much harder to win and limiting your potential.

CourtNov 22nd, 2013 0
Back to Basics: Starting Hand Selection

More than anything else, the hands you choose to enter the pot to begin with will have a major impact on your bottom line. Starting hand selection is where our basic poker strategy development begins. Once we learn the rules and mechanics of the game, the next thing is coming up with a plan for which hands we will play and which we will throw away.

CourtNov 18th, 2013 5
Back to Basics: Position

Position is important. There's nothing new here, but going back to the basics is important. Having a strong foundation allows us to branch out as players, be creative, and try new things. But, over time, we can stray far enough off our base that we need to evaluate and make sure we are still grounded in strong fundamentals that allow for everything else we do to work. And position is a key ...

CourtNov 9th, 2013 1
WSOP Main Event: The Pinnacle of Tournament Poker

The World Series of Poker Main Event final table is coming up in a couple of days. I'm jealous. Most things in, around, and about poker I take in stride as well as anyone. I credit most of my success to my ability to see the long view: what is really important and what has the most impact, and then focus on those things while not getting caught up in the minutia. Part of that for me was ...

CourtNov 2nd, 2013 1
Folding the Best Hand

Sometimes you have to. Nobody likes doing it and finding out you have laid down a winning hand can be tilt-inducing and send many players into a downward spiral. But, if you are never folding the best hand, it means you are calling too often with hands that are not the best.

CourtOct 26th, 2013 2
Constant Pressure in Poker

By the time I found my way to playing poker, everything was No Limit Hold'em and then Pot Limit Omaha. Limit games were dying out and the "saving a bet" or "getting in an extra bet" techniques that had been so vital in Limit fell off as a "bet" changed from being a blind or two into potentially hundreds of big blinds. Over the years, I have played a little Limit poker, but still prefer the No ...

CourtOct 17th, 2013 1
Adapt or Get Run Over

The other day, I was reading an article totally unrelated to poker. It had to do with business concepts and growth strategy. A quote from the article caught my attention and made me immediately think of poker. It also took me back to my roots of playing strategy-based games long before I ever played a hand of poker.

CourtOct 12th, 2013 1
Open Face Chinese Poker: Play in Moderation

Learning new games and taking on new activities is enjoyable, causes you to get out of your comfort zone, and often helps you improve in unexpected ways in other areas. Learning new variations of poker has helped me improve my Hold'em game and poker game in general. Open Face Chinese Poker, while very different from all forms of poker that involve betting, is still a game that causes you to ...

CourtSep 21st, 2013 1
Understanding Swings in Poker

It seems like my largest winning and losing sessions tend to come in clumps. Lose big one day, then win big the next. Put up a couple of big winning sessions, then have a huge losing day. Any time I am putting up big numbers either way, it makes me take an extra hard look at what is going on and the possible explanations for it.

CourtSep 20th, 2013 1
Three Tips for Open Face Chinese Poker

The top, the middle, and the bottom: three simple hands, but making them all work together without fouling and also beating your opponent, or multiple opponents, at the same time is the target that can make OFC so interesting and, at times, frustrating. I'm going to give you a simple tip for each line that I hope will get you on the right track with each hand and lead you to in-depth strategy ...

CourtSep 13th, 2013 2
Position in Open Face Chinese Poker

"Location, location, location" is important in the real estate world. In poker, it is "position, position, position," and in Open Face Chinese Poker, position is tremendously important. Position gives you a wealth of information from the start and an advantage on every street for the rest of the hand. The information is available to you, but it is up to you to pay attention and take advantage ...

CourtSep 7th, 2013 3
Controlling Your Opponent in Open Face Chinese Poker

Building your hand is key in Open Face Chinese Poker, but there are opportunities to alter your play in a way that changes how your opponent plays. This can be done on multiple lines, but to get the concept across I'm going to focus on how you can make a different play up top with the expectation of getting your opponent to make a play that gives you an advantage.

CourtAug 31st, 2013 0
Open Face Chinese Poker: Focus on the Middle

Making the best hand I could on the bottom was my first focus when I started playing Open Face Chinese Poker. Then, I quickly learned that if I could get a high card up to the top, I could often win that line pretty easily. It took me a little longer to realize that while I was focusing on the bottom and top hands, I was often using the middle as a dumping ground for cards I didn't want in the ...

CourtAug 16th, 2013 1
Intrinsic Value of Open Face Chinese Poker

Without money involved and the betting element of poker, the game quickly loses its appeal to many players. Once you have played poker for money, it is very hard to play just for fun and get any enjoyment out of it. Open Face Chinese Poker is a totally different ballgame, however. The framework of the game makes it just as good around the kitchen table with your kids as it does at the Rio ...

CourtAug 9th, 2013 6
Open Face Chinese Poker: Value of the Top

The top hand in OFC is where I see the most blatant mistakes from new and intermediate players. Usually, this comes in the form of putting low cards up top early on and quickly finishing out the top with some eight-high throwaway hand that has no value and can allow your opponent to quickly lock up a win with a simple high card. This allows him to then have a dumping ground for unwanted cards ...

CourtAug 2nd, 2013 3
Open Face Chinese Poker: Know What You Need

When players first start playing Open Face Chinese Poker, they tend to focus heavily on their own hand and are almost oblivious to their opponents' hands until showdown. Often, they are aware of the individual cards their opponent may have, but not the hand they are up against. For example, if a player needs the 9 of diamonds to make a straight flush, he may be aware that his opponent has the ...

CourtJul 26th, 2013 6
Preparing for Major Poker Tournaments

Coming off the Main Event, I have been amazed and honored by how interested people have been in my run that culminated in a 270th place finish. In a previous article, I detailed how each day went, mentioning key hands, some that went my way and I played well and a few I wish I could have back. Outside of hand details, one of the most common and somewhat surprising questions has been what I did ...

CourtJul 17th, 2013 2
Open Face Chinese Poker at the WSOP

The World Series of Poker is about tournaments and bracelets. That is the focus and where everything starts and ends. But, there is a lot more to it than that. There are satellites and cash games. There is seeing people you haven’t seen since the same time last year. There are games that you can’t find any other time of year. And this year there was live Open Face Chinese ...

CourtJul 17th, 2013 4
My WSOP Main Event Recap

Things went great, right up until the last level of Day 4. The field had dropped to fewer than 300 players from the 6,352 that started. We had cleared the money bubble earlier in the day and I came back with two hours to play in the day and 800,000 chips at the 6,000/12,000/2,000 blind level. A brief 30 minutes later, I was standing at the payout cage deciding if I wanted cash, chips, or a ...

CourtJul 13th, 2013 5
Bad Experience: High Limit Games at the WSOP

On the way out, I was excited. I was headed to Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker. Even after many years of being in the industry on many different fronts and playing a lot of events all over the world, there is still something very exhilarating leading up to playing in a WSOP bracelet event with a shot at the hardware and the big prize money up top every time you play. My schedule ...

CourtJul 5th, 2013 3
Good Times: The WSOP Seniors Event

The Seniors Event at the World Series of Poker was a booming success and something that everyone involved in putting on tournaments should take a hard look at. It's a glimpse into what a healthy and vibrant poker economy looks like. On the other hand, the $75/$150 Omaha 8 game running at the Rio during the WSOP is the exact opposite. I’ll get to that down the road, but for now, I want ...

CourtJun 28th, 2013 2
I'm Going to the WSOP. Are You?

I’m excited. For the first time since 2006, I thought I was not going to be a part of the World Series of Poker, but now it looks like I will get to go out after all, and likely go twice for the two tournaments I am most interested in. While I would like to play almost all of the No Limit events, Pot Limit events, and a few of the Limit Draw events, my schedule and responsibilities ...

CourtJun 21st, 2013 12
Managing the Grind

Poker players often refer to what they do as a "grind." I’ve never really cared for that terminology or the negativity that goes with it. For some, they use it as a way to say they are treating their play like a real job, putting in significant hours and really doing work. For many, though, it's just a way to complain.

CourtJun 15th, 2013 6
WSOP Tips: Smaller Buy-In Events

Everyone is abuzz about the World Series of Poker. Trips have been planned and, at every game, the “when are you going out'” conversation comes up at least a few times. Many players will be making their first trip to the series and it seems like a lot of people have chosen this year as the time to make the leap and play in a bracelet event. “Any advice for me' I’m ...

CourtJun 8th, 2013 9
Finked! Why Is Slowrolling a Big Deal?

He couldn’t keep a straight face as he said, “I didn’t see it. I don’t know him well enough to do that.” Everyone else was falling out of their chair laughing. Johnny Fink has a reputation for slowrolling and gets great pleasure out of getting someone. He is a nice guy, everyone likes him, and his goal is just to have a good time, but for whatever reason, he ...

CourtJun 3rd, 2013 21
World Series of Poker: Relish the Experience

Poker, for most players, is neither a profession nor a profitable venture. It is entertainment, and often very high quality entertainment, that has a lot of value beyond the money won or lost in the game. Most players aren’t pros and most never get the chance to play in a World Series of Poker event, much less the Main Event. Some don’t for financial reasons, but many feel they ...

CourtMay 24th, 2013 4
What Makes a Good Game?

“Sorry the game wasn’t any good; they just weren’t gambling last night,” a dealer from a game that I go to every once in a while told me after I had come up to play in one of the games that wasn’t as wide open as usual. The game was a $5/$10 round and round game with Hold'em and Omaha. Often, this particular game can be wide open with huge pots hand after hand ...

CourtMay 17th, 2013 3
My First World Series of Poker

It was the summer of 2006 and I was very much still in the early days of my “career” as a poker player. I had been playing a little more seriously and regularly, but by no means thought of myself as a professional. I was very much on the outside of the poker world. I was playing a lot of tournaments online and had transitioned into playing in some slightly larger live cash games, ...

CourtMay 10th, 2013 1
Bet the Blocker

Ever hear someone say they don’t like Pot Limit Omaha or PLO/8 because there is no way to bluff' If so, you have identified someone you want to be playing against who is missing out on a big part of the game. I play in some of the loosest games you can find with plenty of action and a mass of players who are getting to showdown with a high percentage of hands. Even with that, I find ...

CourtMay 3rd, 2013 3
Make Yourself a Better Poker Player: Do Something Else

Long before I had ever played a hand of poker, I spent many hours behind a boat on skis, wakeboards, and just about anything else you can tow. Water skiing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember and this time of year when the weather gets nice and the water temperatures in the lakes start to get back up to a reasonable level, I am doing my best to get out to the lake any ...

CourtApr 26th, 2013 6
The Color of Money

Pool and poker have always gone hand-in-hand, both serving as vehicles for gambling where a skilled player has an advantage and, in the right situation, can be profitable over time. The other night, I watched “The Color of Money,” in which Tom Cruise is an up-and-coming pool player with a lot of talent and Tom Newman is a wizened veteran trying to show him the ropes.

CourtApr 19th, 2013 5
Big Bets and Amateurs

I feel like I am constantly running into players who think they are better than they really are. Often, I am trapped into listening to their grumbling about why they can’t beat the bad players or, more accurately, amateur players with less knowledge of the game.

CourtApr 13th, 2013 7
You Are Your Own Coach

“When you are hot, keep shooting,” and “The only way to get out of a slump is to shoot your way out of it” are the mottos of shooters and how I always viewed my role on a basketball team. A decent jump shot was generally what I brought to the table. If I was in the game, I was in there to take a shot when it came my way.

CourtApr 5th, 2013 13
Open Face Chinese Poker: Fantasyland Builds

Fantasyland in Open Face Chinese Poker is a variation in which you are rewarded for making a qualifying hand that has a pair of queens or better up top. If you meet the qualifications, you then get to set your next hand after seeing all of your cards, giving you a huge advantage. This variation has caught on and is being played by more and more of the Open Face Chinese community. You can play ...

CourtMar 30th, 2013 0
Open Face Chinese Poker: The Problem With the Flush

Often, I find myself going for a flush down low, as it is one of the most common royalties to make. But, sometimes going for a flush isn’t the right play, and there are some significant issues with playing for flushes in Open Face Chinese Poker. The four-point bonus is great, but trying to make it can often leave you with a hand that doesn’t build well and is all-or-nothing at ...

CourtMar 23rd, 2013 0
Open Face Chinese Poker: Scoop, Don't get Scooped

The strategy you should employ in Open Face Chinese Poker is based on the scoring system you are using. Because flushes are overvalued compared to straights, you see players going for them much more often. While this valuation seems intuitive to most, the value of a scoop compared to the value of winning only 2 out of 3 lines is often overlooked. You can play OFC using this mobile app.

CourtMar 15th, 2013 1
Open Face Chinese Poker: Unwanted Cards

Royalties are extremely important in Open Face Chinese Poker, and preserving the opportunity to make them as long as you can is a key part of the strategy of the game. At the same time, balancing the chance to make royalties with not giving away the other parts of your hand and opening yourself up to getting scooped is also important.

CourtMar 8th, 2013 0
Open Face Chinese Poker: The Backup Plan

We all like OFC hands where we make a flush on the bottom, two pair in the middle, and a nice pair up top. Those hands happen, but much more commonly, we are scrapping to get a high card or are thrilled to make a pair of fives in the middle so that we don’t foul, unless the case ten pairs us up top. By the way, you can play OFC using this app.

CourtMar 1st, 2013 0
Starting Hand Values, Daniel Negreanu, and Open Face Chinese

Each week, I try to figure out what will be the most interesting topic to write about. Usually, driving down the road or standing in the shower, I have a lot of ideas and start thinking about an outline for the article. I come across one key line of thought, usually a sideline of what I originally intended the topic to be. Around that particular thought, I am usually able to build out an ...

CourtFeb 24th, 2013 4
Don't Complain, Adapt

“I can’t beat him,” He’s so lucky,” “How does he do it'” - you hear that kind of whining all the time. A player with sound fundamentals and an intuitive feel for the game can be a good player. The great players are the ones who have the ability to adapt to their opponents. Instead of spending time complaining about their opponents' good luck or ...

CourtFeb 15th, 2013 10
Making the Standard Play

In the incomplete information game that is poker, it's all too easy to dismiss situations as standard instead of actually thinking about them and finding an edge. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of straightforward situations, but lots of times as players, we take the easy route and excuse a play that we pass off as standard when there was actually enough information ...

CourtFeb 9th, 2013 2
The Initial Set: Trips in Open Face Chinese Poker

The strategical evolution of Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC) is still in its infancy, and that is where my game is as well. But, as I continue to play and think about the game, I am starting to get a better feel for and understanding of the game, although overall I feel like my OFC game is at about the level I was at in Hold'em when I was playing the $40 Limit Hold'em tourney on Paradise Poker ...

CourtFeb 8th, 2013 1
Open Face Chinese Poker: Don't Forget The Top

For decades, gin was the game of choice for players waiting around for a card game to start. It could be played with just a couple of players, as a hand or game doesn’t take that long and is a great filler while waiting on enough players to get the poker game going. A few months back, all the rage about Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC) caught my attention. I did a little research on the ...

CourtFeb 1st, 2013 1
Breaking Down a Hand Pre-Flop: What to Do with Queens

Last night, I was out and about and decided to stop by a game for a couple of hours. The game was a $2/$5 Hold'em game and was a little slow when I arrived. There were a few chips on the table, but nothing out of the ordinary, and the play was pretty snug. I decided to come in and liven it up a little bit, if nothing else. I was straddling a couple times an orbit, raising and re-raising a ...

CourtJan 25th, 2013 18
Why You Should Play Smaller

Every once in a while, I go to a game that is smaller than what I usually play. Sometimes I do so for the purpose of being able to play differently and try some new things out. Sometimes I do so just to kill a few hours and see how the games are outside of the fairly tight circle I play in. Generally, it's a good experience. I can be the action player, get creative and run some bluffs I ...

CourtJan 11th, 2013 7
Evaluate Your Game the Right Way

There is almost no argument that to improve as a poker player, you need to constantly analyze and evaluate your own game to find areas where you can improve and leaks that you can shore up. Players who continue to think and question will not only see improvement in their own game, but they will also be able to adapt quicker as the game itself changes and evolves.

CourtJan 4th, 2013 0
Why You Should Bluff More

Gross generalization, right' How could I know if you should bluff more' I don’t even know who you are. You could be the most active, three-barreling, never-let-a-hand-go, aggressive player to ever play. You could be tighter than Allen Kessler on a money bubble. Well, you are right. I don’t know you and maybe you are the exception, but in general, most players don’t ...

CourtDec 28th, 2012 2
The Value in Value Betting

Ever bet the river, get called, and lose the hand' Have you then sat there thinking, “Why didn’t I just check behind and save that last bet'” Sometimes, checking behind is the best thing. Getting a grasp on the situations where the only time you are getting called is when you are beat and the only time they are folding is when you are beating them is an important step in a ...

CourtDec 21st, 2012 1
Poker Doesn't Stop When the Money Goes In: A Look at Pot Equity

Having the right mindset about winning, losing, and the reality of the odds and math behind poker is an important part of understanding the game and keeping yourself in the right frame of mind. Players who often complain about bad beats and bad luck are often just expressing frustration or showing that they really don’t understand, or even care to understand, the math behind the game.

CourtDec 14th, 2012 4
Playing Poker Out of Fear

Playing perfectly is the goal, although none of us achieve it. Remember, Phil Ivey mucked a winning hand deep in the WSOP Main Event. If he can make that obvious of a mistake, then everyone else is making plenty of mistakes too. In a game of incomplete information, playing perfectly is impossible to define, much less achieve, but it is still the goal.

CourtDec 7th, 2012 1
Goals and Tracking

2012 is almost complete. We have rolled into December and less than a month remains in the year. In poker and in life, setting goals is common and important, and many of those goals are evaluated annually. If poker is more than a hobby, then having some clear-cut goals is an important part of what you do, and working toward them should be something that lasts longer than the first couple of ...

CourtDec 1st, 2012 6
Why I'm Thankful for Poker

We all have many things to be thankful for. In my life, I have been blessed with a long list of things to be very appreciative of and very little to complain about. As I was making my way through a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with my family, my phone started to buzz with players interested in trying to get a game together for later on in the night. Talking to my poker friends in the ...

CourtNov 23rd, 2012 0
Playing Tight: When to Pull Back the Reigns?

Swings are part of the game. I have come to embrace them, but over the last few weeks, I have been all over the place. Luckily, I have followed big losses with big wins to balance things out, but all of this up and down variance has made me step back and take a look at what I am doing to cause it.

CourtNov 16th, 2012 5
Expecting Others to Act Rationally is Irrational

Expecting others to act rationally is irrational. What percentage of the people you know act rationally almost all of the time' I know that most of the people I come across on a daily basis don’t, and I’m sure the same could be said of me. In poker, we are constantly trying to anticipate how others will react and often their decisions baffle us. Sometimes we are faced with a ...

CourtNov 9th, 2012 2
Poker on TV: Time for a Change?

With Greg Merson winning the WSOP Main Event live on ESPN early Wednesday morning, poker on TV has been a hot topic of conversation this week. I missed him winning it, though. We watched all night while playing cards, but the game broke up sometime after 1:00am and I went home and watched another hour before calling it a night. Then, I had to be at my business the next day fairly early, so I ...

CourtNov 2nd, 2012 17
The Pareto Principle Applied to Poker

Oftentimes, fear and lack of knowledge or comfort with a situation can cause us to avoid making a decision or deliberate too long. In life, too much time and effort are put into decisions that aren’t important and not enough time and energy are dedicated to the decisions that really matter. In business, learning to be decisive and move on is a necessity for a majority of the day-to-day ...

CourtOct 26th, 2012 4
Advantages of Making Poker Fun

This week, an article by Donnie Peters from PokerNews has gotten a little buzz about a topic that has been one of my top talking points over the years. His main premise is that the recent evolution of poker has led to the game being more serious and less fun, which is generally bad.

CourtOct 19th, 2012 2
Specialization Versus Jack of All Trades

Tournament poker was where I got my start and, for a long time, I was leery to jump into cash games. I liked the competitive nature of tournaments and being able to limit my exposure. But, between only playing No Limit Hold’em and only playing tournaments and sit and gos, I felt like there was a lot out there I was missing out on.

CourtOct 12th, 2012 0
Embrace Different Styles in Poker

Most poker players, like most people, don’t understand different. If it isn’t what we are used to and comfortable with, then something must be wrong with it. With the boom of online poker and online poker communities, the evolution of the game has increased exponentially. Players can quickly and effectively improve in a very short period of time by studying, reading, discussing, ...

CourtOct 5th, 2012 1
Dangers of the Snowball Effect

We all make mistakes. Both in life and in poker, decisions must be made with incomplete information, so mistakes and missteps are inevitable. The key is not to let one mistake lead to a string of increasingly compounding mistakes.

CourtSep 30th, 2012 4
Developing a Critical Eye in Poker

Most of my reading lately has been centered on small business and finance. Although neither of these topics directly relates to poker, I often find many correlations that get me thinking about my poker game. Recently, a weekly newsletter list I am on sent an article about looking at your business with critical eyes, or, as the author put it, with the eyes of a stranger.

CourtSep 22nd, 2012 4
How to Allocate Your Full Tilt Poker Bankroll

With the seemingly imminent disbursement of funds to U.S. players from their Full Tilt accounts, many players, both recreational and professional, will be coming into money that has been unavailable to them for 17 months now. I know that in that time, while never fully writing off the money I have on there, I was also well beyond the point of not counting on that money for anything and not ...

CourtSep 14th, 2012 20
It's a Poker Hit and Run

Players who sit down at a table, get a little ahead, and magically have somewhere they have to be are generally given a hard time by the others at the table for being “hit and run” artists, but a lot of times, these players aren’t only hurting the game, they are also hurting themselves. For live games especially, the logistics of getting to a game and taking a seat at the ...

CourtSep 8th, 2012 5
Track Your Poker Results

Money management is a huge issue for poker players. The first step toward appropriately managing your bankroll is to have a good idea of where you stand and keep good records. I have been surprised sometimes when I go back and look at my records sorted by which games I am doing the best in. Having this data available lets me make better decisions about when and where to play to maximize the ...

CourtSep 1st, 2012 2
Embrace Losing in Poker

Winning is fun, but for long-term winning poker players, embracing losing sessions and understanding their importance to your overall objectives can help as well. In this particular instance, I am focusing on players who play in regular live games with the same group of people on a regular basis, but some of the ideas will hold true even for casino games and online play.

CourtAug 25th, 2012 11
Taking Effective Breaks from Poker

Playing poker is something I enjoy and have been able to do for a profit for many years now. I still enjoy playing, but once you go from playing recreationally to playing for part or all of your income, your focus and motivation need to change. I encourage most people to play recreationally. That way, they can play when they want to and avoid the pressure of having to win.

CourtAug 17th, 2012 2
How I Handle Swings in Poker

The luck element of poker is what makes it such a great game. On any given day, any player can win. Over time, the skill element holds out, but in the short-run, almost anyone with a basic understanding of the rules can get hot and do well.

CourtAug 11th, 2012 5
Lose the Battle, Win the War

An issue with an Olympic team throwing matches to try to give themselves a better chance at winning a medal earlier this week led to a lot of talk about "losing the battle to win the war" strategies. There's no reason for me to get into my views on whether that was acceptable behavior in the Olympics, but in poker, strategy can take many forms. I often find myself doing small things that are ...

CourtAug 3rd, 2012 9
My Approach to Marathon Poker Sessions

The game was our normal $5/$10 blind Pot Limit Omaha game and started around 1:00pm. Around 10:00am the next morning, the game was still going strong and players had been in and out all day. The game was still good, or great actually, but I knew fatigue was starting to set in. If I were going to keep playing, I would have to focus just to stay at a reasonable level of play and not make a huge ...

CourtJul 28th, 2012 3
Power of Perception in Poker

Have you ever been riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle, glanced over at the instrument panel, and noticed the car you are in is about out of gas' Mention that to the driver and he will likely say, “Nah, we are fine, we have a quarter of a tank still.” The difference in the angle changes the perception of where the needle is on the gauge and gives the passenger an inaccurate ...

CourtJul 21st, 2012 4
Massive Value in WSOP Satellites

When I go to the World Series of Poker, I plan out a schedule of events and know ahead of time that those are the tournaments I will be entering. I often buy in early to avoid waiting in lines. But just because I am playing the events doesn’t mean I don’t take advantage of the opportunities available in the satellites that are constantly going on around the WSOP.

CourtJul 14th, 2012 3
My Frustrating 2012 WSOP

After staying away from the WSOP for the first part of the series, I finally made my way to Las Vegas in time for the $3,000 PLO8 event that I had targeted as the tournament I thought I had the best shot in and that I was really looking forward to playing. I sat down in the four-seat and until Scott emptyseat88 Fischman took his spot in the 10-seat, I didn’t know anyone else at the ...

CourtJul 6th, 2012 8
Should You Mix Tournaments and Cash Games?

In a few days, I am headed to Las Vegas and planning to play three or four World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournaments, including the Main Event. The trip is not with the intent of it being a vacation or “for the experience.” While I have some other reasons for going out, one of the main factors is my perceived positive expectation playing in the tournaments.

CourtJun 29th, 2012 2
How I Prepare for Poker Tournaments

Cash games are my thing. I started playing poker tournaments, but since I started playing seriously and for a portion of my income, cash games have been where I spend most of my time. In the last 18 months, I have played very few tournaments and a lot of live cash games.

CourtJun 22nd, 2012 1
2012 WSOP from a Distance

For the first time in over five years, I won’t be spending much time at the World Series of Poker. In years past, I was usually out there for a majority of the Series and felt like I was connected and part of the inner circle. This year, I won’t be heading to Vegas until early July when a majority of the events are complete and the feel of the Series changes as everyone shifts ...

CourtJun 16th, 2012 0
False Assumptions in Poker

In poker, players are constantly making assumptions and putting their opponents on ranges of hands. Anyone who plays for a little while does some sort of range calculations in their head even if they don’t consciously think about what their opponent could be holding.

CourtJun 10th, 2012 0
Drive, Motivation, and Poker Tournaments

Today, I was sitting in the driver’s seat of a 1995 MasterCraft Prostar 210 looking down the glassy calm lake at a slalom course. The sun was beating on my shoulders and a longtime friend and skiing partner of mine was pulling on his vest and getting ready to hop in the water for his second slalom set of the day. I had my phone in my lap and happened to see a few congratulatory Tweets ...

CourtJun 1st, 2012 2
When Not to Play Poker

To play at or near your best in poker, you have to be hitting on all cylinders. Just last night, I made a big mistake in playing when I shouldn’t have. The game is a good one and I almost never miss it, but on my way yesterday, my throat started hurting. I know a few people who have had a bug lately that kept them pent up for a few days feeling sick and it seemed likely I had caught ...

CourtMay 25th, 2012 11
A Different Kind of Bad Beat Story

Everyone has bad beat stories and most people get tired of hearing them. We all know someone who just can’t help but tell them all the time, while others make hands into bad beats when they were really just bad plays. I’m sure I've told my share of bad beat stories too.

CourtMay 18th, 2012 1
Memory Lane: 2007 WSOP Main Event

The end result was sitting in a rental car in a driveway in Henderson, Nevada with no recollection of driving home. It was one of those “How did I get here, what happened to the last 20 minutes” moments. I’ve always been pretty even-keeled and my emotional swings are minimal. My highs aren’t that high and my lows aren’t that low. So, finding myself sitting ...

CourtMay 12th, 2012 3
Don't Limp in Poker

The topic for last week’s column was by request, but writing it got my mind turning and led to a lot of other ideas. Some of those will pop up down the road, but I closed my previous column with my two-word strategy tip for beginners: “Don’t Limp.” There is a lot of value in that little tidbit, but in poker, you should always understand why you are doing something ...

CourtMay 4th, 2012 20
We All Started Somewhere: Tips for Beginning Poker Players

Even players who are naturals at poker had a steep learning curve early on in their careers. The growth and improvement that can be experienced in the first few months of serious play is tremendous for players who dedicate themselves to improving and have some natural ability for strategy, mathematics, and psychology.

CourtApr 27th, 2012 2
Why the Weekly Live Poker Game is King

The growth and explosion of online poker mirrored my own growth in the game. I came into poker as the online boom was beginning and although I started playing in small live games with friends, I quickly added online play to my routine.

CourtApr 20th, 2012 1
Knowing Your Limits

After last week’s column, “Act Like You’ve Been There Before,” there was enough feedback from readers who thought I wasn’t accurately giving credit to different financial situations of players.

CourtApr 13th, 2012 3
Act Like You've Been There Before

During the first level of a $300 buy-in tournament, a guy wins an all-in and celebrates like he just doubled up with four people left in the WSOP Main Event. It seems all too common in poker, and many other competitive activities, for massive overreaction to events that don’t warrant that sort of emotion.

CourtApr 6th, 2012 17
The Professionals: Life After Poker

When I first started traveling to poker tournaments, I knew exactly zero people. I showed up to the first event I was covering at the Bicycle Casino in August 2006 with the name of a PR person for the WPT and a list of about 10 members of PocketFives that had let us know they were playing

CourtMar 30th, 2012 1
Learning Poker by Teaching

A few years back, I had the opportunity to be an instructor for one of the two-day poker seminars. I took the job thinking I would be able to make a few bucks and have a new experience. At the time, I didn’t expect the largest benefit would be how much it would improve my poker game. At the seminar, the coaching was pretty basic and along the lines of what I expected, but the kicker ...

CourtMar 23rd, 2012 0
NCAA Brackets: An Exercise in Game Theory

Sitting around a poker game last week, the conversation turned to NCAA brackets and strategies for filling them out. Like anything else, there are a lot of elements to take into consideration and significant game theory behind how and why you make the picks you do. For most people, it is a very base-level process: pick your favorite team to win it all and then fill in the rest of the spots by ...

CourtMar 17th, 2012 1
Heads-Up Poker: How it Made Me Better

Although I got my start online, a vast majority of my play has been live poker. Other than in tournaments, I think I have only played live poker heads-up on one occasion, and never really sought out heads-up games online. However, I recently ended up playing a decent amount of heads-up $5/$10 cash games online.

CourtMar 9th, 2012 1
Memory Lane: My First Trip to the Commerce Casino

My tenure on the business side of the poker industry started in August 2006, which meant when the LAPC rolled around in 2007, I had about seven months under my belt and was in the sweet spot of still being excited for not only every tournament stop, but also getting comfortable enough with the job to be able to start enjoying the trips a little as well. I've been traveling less over the last ...

CourtMar 3rd, 2012 0
Learning a New Game: When and How?

Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things. After last week’s column about taking a leap and learning a new game, I received a few e-mails from players saying they wanted to learn a new game, but were unsure how to go about it. Some of the common questions were along the lines of, “How experienced should I be at No Limit Hold’em before I try a ...

CourtFeb 24th, 2012 1
Learning a New Poker Game

Three years ago, I was a Hold’em player only, a No Limit Hold’em player only. And honestly, I couldn't really get my head around the fascination people had with learning new games. Everyone else was getting into HORSE, and Pot Limit Omaha was gaining in popularity, but I felt like I had developed a strong Hold’em game, was doing well in the games I was playing, and was ...

CourtFeb 18th, 2012 4
Why Do We Play Poker?

For as long as I can remember, strategy games have been part of my life. I grew up with Rook, Spades, Chess, Checkers, Risk, Monopoly, and all sorts of other card and board games where, to me, figuring out the optimal strategy for winning was the objective. Add to that a few turn-based and real-time strategy computer games and you can see where my view of games comes from. I always wanted to ...

CourtFeb 10th, 2012 3
Don't Project, Predict

"How can you call there," one player said to another incredulously. "Don't you know my reputation'" The speaker in this case is a very tight player and in a group where everyone plays together on a weekly basis and his reputation is known by all.

CourtFeb 4th, 2012 5
Get More Out of Poker

Live games are much more enjoyable to me than online games. Driving to games, getting there early, having to wait, getting into a game that is full and not being able to get a seat for hours, and the sometimes brutally slow pace of play are all among the negatives of playing live poker. For me, that is all made up for by the social aspect of the game that is lost online.

CourtJan 28th, 2012 17