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Jennifear’s Guide to Effective Note Taking


Talented poker players don’t make most of their money from being great. While brilliant play is certainly critical to our bottom line, the vast majority of our profit comes as a direct result of our opponents’ mistakes. Since that’s how we make our money, it’s best to know when those mistakes are coming, and from whom. Effective note taking is an asset that we can use to take advantage of these errors.

Why Intelligent People Sometimes Struggle with Poker

Like a great many things in life, poker success is more closely associated with hard work than intelligence. Many intelligent people come into poker planning to run over the game. After all, most strategic games are won by the smartest, and so they have had success playing games all their life. Unlike many other games, intelligent players face specific obstacles that hinder their poker progress and haunt them at the tables. At most poker tables, the best player and the smartest individual are different players.

This is not to say that a high IQ won't prime you for poker success. A good player is one who is disciplined, cunning, aware, open-minded, and studious. Excellent poker players also possess analytical ability, mathematical ability and people skills. Of those who possess all of the aforementioned qualities, the players with the most intelligence rise to the top. The best players in the world are usually very intelligent, and had to overcome these obstacles.

All players are predisposed to believe our opponents think like we do. This is often not the case. This is especially problematic for intelligent people; the gap in thinking between your below-average player and the most intelligent is often very wide. To illustrate this, let's look at the different levels of thinking in poker:

Level 1 – What do I have?

Level 2 – What does my opponent have?

Level 3 – What does my opponent think I have?

Level 4 – What does my opponent think I think he has?

Level 5 – What does my opponent think I think he thinks I have?

…and on and on, into the abyss.

To extract the most value from a good hand or lose the least (or win by bluffing) with a bad one, you must stay one level of thinking ahead of your opponent. Since smarter people also think their opponents are thinking about their hand on many levels, they often make a mistake that puts them two or more levels of thinking ahead of their opponents. The consequences of this are often terrible.

The most common example is playing with Level 3 thinking against Level 1 thinking players. Attempting to represent a hand is a play destined for failure in this scenario. Your level 1 thinking opponent is thinking "How well do my cards connect with the board?" and so representing a hand against this type of player has little deception value, if any. A Level 2 response of thinking about what your opponent has and acting accordingly is more likely to succeed.

Here's an example of what a smart guy, fellow PocketFives contributing writer dgillis, told me he struggled with:

"When I first started learning cash I went all the way to the bottom, .01/.02. I would use a continuation bet into a ragged board with an overpair and when he flat called my first instinct was that he's just flatting me to checkraise me off on the turn. What I really should have been thinking is that he knows nothing about position or starting hand requirements and just hit his two rags on the flop that he called with because he was bored. I ran into very few people who were even capable of understanding the "float" concept but I constantly looked for it, because it was a part of my game."

When thinking about a play, it's best to stay exactly one level ahead of your opponent's thinking. This is often a challenge, especially before you have reads, but stay on top of it. Playing two or more levels ahead of your opponent will cost you money.

People with high IQs tend to try advanced moves rather than simple moves, where simple moves are more appropriate. This causes a phenomenon called FPS, or "Fancy Play Syndrome." Fancy Play Syndrome is a term coined by the one and only "Mad Genius of Poker," Mike Caro, to describe players who are often trying to execute fancy plays without understanding when they will work, or when they will fail.

Smart problem solvers are taught to find the right solution, then look for a better one. In poker, the simplest solution is often the best. Playing your good hands fast and your bad hands slow is frequently the best solution. Some more intelligent players will assume that this is too obvious and transparent, and look for more deceptive solutions. This results in "Reverse Poker", where players both check their great hands, and bet their bad hands too often.

Beyond these examples, people with a high IQ often suffer with interpersonal relationships. Intelligent people are often less popular growing up, and because of this, have less social interaction and inferior social skills. Some bury themselves in books and studying. Since poker is a people game, this is an especially difficult obstacle. Support your theoretical intelligence with “street smarts.”

Those with street smarts are blessed with the gift of common sense, and have practical knowledge, especially concerning human behavior. Also, they are often hungier. To quote Gordon Gekko from the hit movie Wall Street, "Most of these Harvard MBA types – they don't add up to dogshit. Give me guys that are poor, smart, hungry – and no feelings. You win a few, you lose a few, but you keep on fighting." If you are hungry and ruthless enough, an intelligent person can succeed. Just be sure to learn the street smarts of poker.
Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006's Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of the site links.

Articles by Jennifear

Online Poker Strategy – Double or Nothing SNG Tournaments

Twenty Tips for Online Poker Professionals: Part 1

Twenty Tips for Online Poker Professionals: Part 2

Are you Getting Enough Sleep?

Advanced SNG Bubble Play Using ICM

The Mistakes Low Limit SNG Players Make are Making the Most

An Introduction to RestealingThe Four Ways to Lose a Tournament and How to Avoid Them

Talkin' About It

The Online Tells That Are Most Telling

The Truth About the Withdrawal Curse

Successful Speculating

The Myths and Falsehoods in Poker

Should You Play Turbo or Regular SNGs?

Examining Early SNG Play from a Different View

Online Poker Strategy – Double or Nothing SNG Tournaments

The latest craze in the ever-changing poker world is the Double of Nothing SNG Tournament. A Double or Nothing SNG is a tournament with 10 players that pays the last five players double their buy-in amount. Although it's not a new form of poker, the recent addition of this game type to the more established poker sites has caused this boom. Like any new game, there is little information available on proper strategy. The purpose of this article will be to give you an overview of how and when your strategy should change. If you have contemplated switching to Double or Nothings, but haven't made the move yet, the section of this article defining the advantages of playing these events will be of particular interest to you. While this article is geared towards poker players who are just learning how to play these events, I'm positive that many experienced players will learn something as well.

Pregame Strategy
– Before the game starts, check out the lobby. If the second SNG yet to go off has four or more players registered, you have found a table with too many regulars. If you sit here, the other regulars, plus the rake, will eat into your profit enough that this game is not worth playing. It is likely to go off with 6-7 regulars, and there may not be enough fish to spread the wealth between everyone.

– It is vital that you identify the regulars. Know who is who, because you are going to play one type of game against the regulars, and a totally different game against the random players.

– Have enough buy-ins in your bankroll to play your game comfortably. For professionals, that's about 40 buy-ins and for recreational players who can easily replenish their bankroll, that's about 20 buy-ins.

Before You Play: Basic ICM Strategy

– In a $10 SNG, your starting equity is $10 and should you double up, to 3000, it becomes $15.55.

Player Chips Equity
Player 1 3000 $15.55
Player 2 1500 $10.55
Player 3 1500 $10.55
Player 4 1500 $10.55
Player 5 1500 $10.55
Player 6 1500 $10.55
Player 7 1500 $10.55
Player 8 1500 $10.55
Player 9 1500 $10.55

What this means to you is that, should you end up all-in on hand one, the chips that you risk are worth $10, and the chips that you stand to gain are worth $5.55. $10/$15.55 = 64.5%, so you'll need to win an early all-in confrontation approximately 2/3 of the time just to break even! Try not to get committed in any pot that you don't expect to win at least 2/3 of the time.

Just to give you an idea of how tight that means you need to be, check out this fight between KK and {JJ+, AK}:

Hand Pot equity
KK 62.6%
{JJ+,AK} 37.4%

– When two players collide, the missing equity doesn't just disappear. It goes to the other players.

What this means to you is that, as in the example above, when two players collided, one player loses $10.00, and the other player won $5.55. That leaves $4.45 of "missing equity". That $4.45 doesn't just disappear from the game. It gets divided up among the remaining players. In this case, $.55 goes to each of the eight players that were not involved in the clash. So, if two players do battle on the first hand, and one doubles up, your 1500 chips that were worth $10.00 are now worth $10.55. As you can see, if there is one really bad player in your SNG, this nice benefit can basically eliminate the rake for you. Later, as more players are eliminated, the "missing equity" from these clashes becomes greater, and gets divided up among less players. This means that your benefit from watching two other players collide later in the game will become immense!

Early Game Tactics

– To open from early position, you need a very strong hand. I would recommend opening only with big pairs and possibly AK from very early position. Feel free to play a wider range of hands in late position if your opponents in the blinds are 16-tabling regulars that are only playing 10% of the time or less against a raise.

– It is very seldom correct to flat call. In general, re-raising or folding is the most appropriate avenue to take.

– Don't do too much set mining. In most games, set mining requires approximately 11-1 to 15-1 implied odds to profitably try. However with the difference between cEV and $EV being as great as it is (as in the example of risking $10 to win $5.55), you now need 20-1 to 24-1 implied odds to set mine! Therefore, as a general rule, don't set mine, even at the early levels, unless you are limping behind in late position in a multi-way pot.

– Your main motive at this level should be to preserve your stack, because if you succeed in doing so, this offers you the chance to threaten a large raise at the later levels. If you can maintain even just 1300-1400 chips, you'll really put the pressure on even a bigger stack to fold in the later stages. Also, tighter play may earn your raises some respect later in the game when that respect might make the difference.

Mid Game Tactics

– Once the antes have kicked in, the incentive to steal blinds is much greater. While the antes seem small, in relation to the blinds they are actually very great. By the time 50-100 rolls around, stealing blinds becomes an important strategy to preserve your stack.

– Be aware that the shortest stacks will need to make a stand, and as a general rule, avoid playing pots where you are not at least 70% to win. This is especially important in games where more than two players have busted.

– Fighting and losing against a big stack is a disaster at this point if your stack is healthy. With a healthy stack, you generally need to win 80-85% of your pots against them. Keep in mind that usually amounts to calling with AA only, and sometimes, not even that!

Endgame Tactics

– With 6 players remaining, so long as you are not in last place, the value of your chips is likely 85% of the final prize or greater. In a $10 SNG what that means to you is that your chips are worth approximately $17 to you, even though the prize is $20. Given this, calling shoves with even aces is often borderline, and definitely a no go if you are in 4th or better.

Player Chips Equity
Player 1 2500 $16.67
Player 2 2500 $16.67
Player 3 2500 $16.67
Player 4 2500 $16.67
Player 5 2500 $16.67
Player 6 2500 $16.67

– If you have a large stack, it is NOT your responsibility to eliminate players. Your responsibility to yourself is to finish top 5. Don't worry about calling with exceptional pot odds, or whatever. Your main priority is to avoid disaster. There will be times that raising or shoving is still appropriate, especially if a regular is sitting on a lot of chips behind you.

– Push wide into regulars who are intelligent enough to fold, and push very tight against loose players when your stack is healthy. It is your responsibility to range the potential caller(s). There are many situations where pushing any two is correct against regulars, and pushing only the top 15% of starting hands or so is correct against others. Therefore you cannot solely rely on proper ICM recommendations, and/or knowing the Nash Equilibrium of a situation. You must adjust, so the slightest difference in an opponent's calling range can often completely change the range you should be pushing with!

– Never limp pre-flop with intent to trap someone into shoving, even with AA. In other types of poker, the advantage of trapping with aces is the strong edge it gives you when you fish someone in. In Double or Nothing events, if you catch someone, you are in a situation where you are 80-85% to win, but you need to win 65-90% of the time just to break even, so your edge isn't large enough to trap. It's hardly a disaster if you raise and win the blinds, and that result will usually be just as favorable to your winning chances.

– Time the blinds if you can. At key times, consider stalling to allow the blinds to move up. While this may cause the table to have a vendetta against you, if you can bring the blinds up to the point where someone else is all-in on their BB, you very well might be able to back into a top 5 finish, even with a micro stack!

– If you are in last place, and the player to your left won't fold to your shoves, it may be worth it to make a borderline call on another hand to save your skin.

Reasons to try Double or Nothing SNG Tournaments

– Along with Heads-Up SNGs, they are the form of poker with the least fluctuation. They are truly a game for grinders. This means that you will have less drastic fluctuations in your bankroll.

– The length of time it takes to play a Double or Nothing SNG is much shorter than a regular SNG. This means that your $/hr will still be good despite the fact that you'll be lucky just to maintain a high single-digit ROI. It also means that you will be able to generate rakeback at a quicker pace.

– With some experience, a Double or Nothing SNG is easy to play because you'll enter very few hands, and when you do, you'll often be quickly committed to your hand. This means that you will have few difficult decisions, and makes it easier to multi-table. Double or Nothing games are perfect for someone just learning to play several tables at once.

– The differences between Double or Nothing SNGs and MTT satellites are so subtle, that if you learn how to play these, you'll automatically know how to play MTT satellites as well. The transition will be easier should you decide to play a super satellite to your favorite live event some day!

– You need just more than half as many buy-ins in your bankroll to play a Double or Nothing SNG as you so a regular SNG. This means that you will be able to play higher levels of Double or Nothing SNGs with the same bankroll.

– If you are finishing third more than first in regular SNGs, then Double or Nothings are for you. Players who finish first a lot in regular SNGs may see a significant drop in $/hr in these events, because there is no additional reward for finishing first.

– There is much literature available about regular SNGs. A few books, and countless articles have been written about SNG bubble play, whereas the information about Double or Nothing SNGs has been limited to a few stray articles here and there. The lack of available information means that more players are unaware of what to do.

– They are still new on some sites. This means that there will be several players who aren't completely familiar with them, which you can exploit.

– They are growing in popularity and some sites still don't offer them! What this means to you is that the likelihood of one or more popular sites beginning to offer these sometime in 2009 is INCREDIBLY high! When this happens, players with experience will have a clear edge over players just learning the game. In this case, you may be able to find games with only 1-2 regulars sitting at them! It pays to know the popular new game that nobody else knows how to play yet!

I hope that you found this article enlightening, and learned something new. Have fun grinding!


Jennifearis a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006's Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of the site links.

Twenty Tips for Online Poker Professionals: Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

11. Playing poker for a living carries an incredible social stigma.

If you tell someone that you plan on playing poker for a living, unless they understand the game thoroughly, you may as well be telling them you are going to be a professional roulette player. There's a common belief that gamblers are compulsive losers and that it's a shady thing to do. To be fair, most people know someone with a gambling problem or have been falsely told by a few other people that they were professional gamblers. They also aren't aware that you can win long-term. While it's this ignorance of the math that will keep your wallet full, you need to learn to live with the fact that a certain percentage of the people you know, possibly even your own family members, will think you have a problem. Be proud of your career, and don't let this affect you. Don't fight back because they only disagree out of love and care for you, and they won't understand until you have the long-term results to back your decision up.

12. You may have to provide health insurance for yourself and your family.

This is easier if you are single or if you have a spouse with a job that can provide insurance for your family. This is especially important if you plan on having children or anyone in your family has a previous condition. It can cost as much as $2,500 per month to insure a family. If you are at a traditional job that offers health insurance, understand that they are likely paying a discounted group rate, and that your rate when you are shopping for health insurance on your own will likely be higher. There is a federal law in the United States that allows you to continue your health coverage after you leave your job in some circumstances. Information about that can be found here: Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA)

13. Poker has no built-in retirement plan.

Since you will likely suffer some loss of income after leaving poker, and probably won't be playing into your late-sixties, you'll need to set something up to ensure your future is solid. There's no 401(k) company match, so you'll have to look into your options here.

14. Playing poker for a living makes it difficult to obtain credit at times.

Looking to finance a car or a house? Sure! No problem! Just tell the guy underwriting your loan that you are a poker player and expect to bring in megabucks this year!! Don't forget to bring a cosigner, because you'll need one, especially if you have been playing professionally for less than two years, as you will have a difficult time proving that your income is stable. Even if you can obtain credit for large purchases, you will often need a substantial down payment to ensure that the bank takes on less risk.

15. If poker is your hobby, and you go pro, you'll probably need to find a new hobby.

Do you love poker? If not, don't go pro. If you don't love this game, it will be absolute treachery to play for a living. If you do love poker, you have a chance. The saddest part about going pro is that by turning it into a job, you'll effectively kill your hobby. You'll love poker less, and there will be times that you even hate it, now that it pays the bills and you have to do it. By turning it into a job, you'll effectively kill your hobby.

16. Losing money is very stressful when it's your job.

You'll have bad weeks, and sometimes those bad weeks will come back to back. Sometimes they will come back to back to back. And it's stressful. After three weeks of losing, it's hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed and login to play another eight hours of poker. But you'll need to do this at some point. Before you turn pro, as much fun as this game is, it's hard to imagine that motivating yourself to play could possibly be a problem. After turning pro, it becomes much easier to understand this. I keep this old PocketFives post handy to explain this to aspiring pros: Pro Poker Players Discuss the Problems of Going Pro

17. The best times to make money playing poker is when everyone else wants to go out.

Sunday, Saturday, and Friday, in that order, are days where you get paid "overtime" in poker. Your hourly rate is likely to be nearly double that of a weekday afternoon. You'll need to adjust your schedule in order to play most of these days, because that's when the general population (i.e. your worst opponents) are playing the most poker. Since your victims play right after they receive their paycheck, and mostly at night, your schedule should reflect that. Unfortunately that means that playing poker is a night and weekend job, and you may miss out on some social activities because you have to work.

18. Set up realistic but ambitious goals.

One way that sales firms motivate their employees is to set up sales goals for the week, month, and year. If you do the same for yourself, and you make a big deal out of it, it will be easier to keep yourself motivated. Be sure that your short term goals are small steps to your long-term success. Also, contests are good for your head. There are some good contests and rewards on every site, and you can often find good ones right here on PocketFives.

19. You must adapt to the changes in the game in order to survive.

If you look at who was on top of the online world three years ago, and look at who is there today, only those who are on both lists have withstood the test of time. It's a short list of players. Not only do all of them have great discipline, but they all share one key attribute. They never stopped being a student of the game. While the rules of the game remain the same, it's important to stay on top of the latest strategies and continue the learning process. You never know too much, and the more you learn about this game, the more you should realize that you don't know enough. Finding a coach or mentor is very helpful, and at the very least, find a few friends who are at least of equal skill for you to learn from. As soon as you don't make an effort to learn anymore, it's time to quit.

20. If you make twice as much money playing poker as you did in your regular job, you will live the same lifestyle….if you are lucky.

If your logic for turning pro is that you'll be able to make slightly more money playing professionally, I highly suggest that you reconsider. Taxes in the US can eat up to 40% of your income (Thanks mostly to the 15% self-employment tax). You may have to pay for large expenses, such as cars and home repairs, without credit. As previously noted, health insurance, life insurance, and money to grow your bankroll will eat away at your profits. Playing poker professionally isn't a glamorous lifestyle for most. Though it might be your dream, don't expect to start your professional career making seven figures per year, or living a limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheeling dealing lifestyle. It's a job where you'll sit in front of a computer, do some personal accounting, and then play 8-20 tables at a time for several hours with a break or two. That's not glitzy at all. Doing it for several hours a day is a grind. "Hard way to make an easy living," indeed.

In closing, I know that the article seems to have somewhat of a negative outlook and that's because this is not an easy line of work. I've enjoyed my life since "plunging." I wouldn't recommend turning pro to too many people, and it takes a very special person to turn pro and withstand the test of time. Don't get me wrong. If you are that special person, and you have balance in your life, you will likely find that playing professionally is very rewarding!

* Part 1 of this article can be found here.

Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006's Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of the site links.


Twenty Tips for Online Poker Professionals: Part 1

Hardly anyone who has played profitable poker for a long period of time smiles when the alarm goes off to tell them to get to work. The idea of working for yourself, on your own schedule, being able to take a day off whenever you need it, and playing a game that you love for a living sounds very appealing, and that’s because those factors ARE very appealing! Having the on-the-felt talent to be a pro is exceptional, but it’s not all that uncommon. That’s not all it takes, though. If you are considering “taking the plunge” then you may as well be prepared. This list of 20 things to consider will hopefully resemble a checklist, and never leave you saying to yourself….”Wow, I wish I had thought of that!”

1. To be a professional, you have to have a gross disrespect for the money on the felt.

Aggressive poker is good poker. It’s been long said that “There is a fine line between genius and insanity” and the best poker players are capable of straddling that line with seemingly reckless plays that cater to that aggressive nature. To be among the elite, you have to have the wherewithal to pull off very risky, high-variance moves at opportune times in order to gain a small edge. When the money that’s on the table is significant, and sometimes it will be, you need to be able to disconnect yourself from that fact in order to make the play that needs to be made. Since sharks exploit fear in other players, you cannot play in fear.

2. To be a professional, you have to have an extreme respect for the money you make.

Since you will be playing hard enough to press small edges on the felt, it’s equally important to ensure that the money on the table is not of great significance in the big picture too often. If you are a tournament player, sometimes this is unavoidable, as near the end of any given tournament, a hand or two may occur that could make or break your month, or even your entire year, even if your bankroll management is your highest priority! Therefore, it’s important to minimize this risk by using impeccable game selection, and managing your bankroll wisely. While this decision may not make you the most money per hour, it’s often wise to play with a few more buyins than you realistically need, minimizing your risk of ruin to nearly nil.

In addition, you are going to have very good streaks of variance, and when they occur, it’s important to not forget that a rough patch may be around the corner. Invest in your future and think carefully before splurging on luxuries because you never know when the games won’t be so easy anymore.

3. Playing poker for a living is only possible for those with the greatest of discipline.

How much discipline do you have on a scale from one to ten? If you answered 9.5 or less, or even had to hesitate before saying “ten”, you should take a long look at this next career move. If you can make it, it will be a struggle. Poker requires that you manage to balance life, physical activity, bankroll management, and tilt, all at the same time. Impeccable record keeping is not an option. You’ll need to keep good records for tax purposes, but also to keep track of what games are most profitable for you. If you have ever tilted a bankroll off, you are not alone, but consider doing something else for a living. One usually cannot fully understand the importance of this until the morning after making a few bad decisions the night before. Working for yourself sounds like a dream job, but since you have nobody to answer to, you’ll have to be a tough boss to yourself in order to succeed.

4. You should understand exactly what your expenses are before you turn pro.

Add it all up: your food, clothing, utilities, health insurance, taxes, accountant, money for retirement, unexpected expenses, splurging, and an occasional nice date. Then add 15% because you are probably forgetting something. Be sure that playing will cover those expenses. You should have enough money set aside to pay six months’ expenses.

Things don’t always go as planned, and you will inevitably have stretches of variance that seem to defy the laws of mathematics. In addition, health problems or other unexpected life events that keep you from playing poker can creep up on you. When things aren’t going as expected, what won’t change is that it will still be important to play your best poker. If you don’t have a cushion of some sort, you’ll be playing with money that really matters, and when the money on the table is too important to you, you may not be at your best! Also, the reason you probably are considering going pro is because of the financial rewards. If you don’t enhance your life with the money you make, there’s not much point in making the move.

5. You should understand exactly how much money you can expect to make.

Before attempting to go pro, know how much money you make per hour, and use a good sample size. If you have been playing recreationally for one year, 15 hours a week, that should give you an idea of how much you can expect to make in four months’ time, playing professionally for 45 hours per week. Add it up, then see if it’s more than enough to cover your expenses.

When you estimate what your income will be using this formula, don’t forget that if you have been playing recreationally, mostly on nights and weekends, you were playing at peak times, and you might not be able to reasonably make the same amount of money per hour during the day.

6. Allow yourself a path to career progression.

When you calculate your expenses, be sure to add to your bankroll as you go. If you are playing at one level, you probably aspire to move up someday. Working towards this allows you to escape the grind that playing professional poker is, to some extent. You’ll need motivation to keep going, and this provides you the opportunity to give yourself a raise or a promotion at some point once you have earned it.

7. You should create a plan for cashing out.

You will need to pay yourself, and paying yourself only when you hit big is too inconsistent. I recommend paying yourself by volume as a way to motivate yourself to play more often. Another idea is to pay yourself a weekly or bi-weekly salary. Always keep extra on hand, because poker sites sometimes have cashout delays, and you must be prepared to if you don’t always receive your money in a timely manner.

8. Getting back into the workforce after playing professionally is difficult.

The average career of an online poker professional lasts less than five years. While there are several reasons for that, some of which you can control, the cold, hard truth is that if you go pro today, it’s highly unlikely that if you turn pro today that you’ll still be playing poker professionally even in the year 2015. If you leave a job today, it’s quite possible that when you come back to the workforce in a few years, you won’t pick up your career where you left off. You’ll have to explain to an interviewer what you have been doing for the last few years, and usually “playing poker for a living” isn’t what they will want to hear. You’ll have a big, fat gap on your resume. When you leave poker, you’ll have to take your career in a totally new direction, and your annual salary will likely suffer in such a way that it wouldn’t had you stuck with another career for a lengthy period of time.

9. Playing poker is unhealthy.

Playing poker is a sedentary activity and isn’t great exercise, but it doesn’t just make you fat. Staring at a computer screen can affect your vision and cause squinting. Repetitive use of a mouse can lead to muscle aches, cubital tunnel syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other nerve compression problems. Bad posture can cause back problems. It’s important to set up an ergonomic workstation so that these effects are minimized. It’s also best to exercise regularly, which will not only help you physically, it will help your poker game and stamina.

10. Many people develop problems socializing as a result of online poker.

People who spend an inordinate amount of time playing poker can, if they are not careful, be a victim of social isolation. Social isolation can contribute toward many emotional and behavioral disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks and addictions. When it comes to physical illness, “The magnitude of risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and other major biomedical and psychosocial risk factors.” — Source: Article from Psychosomatic Medicine. Make a point of interacting with others, even when things aren’t going great and you feel the need to bury yourself in your work. Failure to do so can have far-reaching consequences.

* Read Part 2.

Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006’s Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of the site links.


An Introduction to Restealing

Several times over my tenure as a poker coach, I have been asked about when it's appropriate to try a resteal. Since my students are mostly low-limit players who specialize in $20 and under buy ins, I always used to tell my students that never restealing in the lower limits was a small mistake, if it was a mistake at all. I realized that giving too much advice on this topic could be detrimental to them because a lot of of the low-limit players they were facing couldn't imagine raising and then folding in the same betting round, as they often feel (wrongly) "invested" in the pot, thus making an attempt at a resteal too big of a gamble to be profitable. While that is still sometimes the case, the game has opened up now more than ever, especially at the low limits, and it's time for low-limiters to have this play in their arsenals.

Restealing (the act of reraising a probable steal-raise) can be a true difference-maker and vault you into contention, because you can potentially make three times as many chips than you can with a run-of-the-mill steal attempt. Using this tactic, you don't necessarily have to put yourself at risk as often as you do during a steal to stay ahead of the curve in a tournament. In fact, successfully restealing once in three orbits while playing no other hands is approximately a break-even proposition! This is especially important during those critical points in a tournament where you are getting no cards and no good steal opportunities. It is the ultimate chip accumulation tactic!

The first thing that is important to note about restealing is that it takes guts. In order to use the resteal, you have to put it all on the line. You need to own the idea that your tournament life, in itself, has no value whatsoever. You need to own the idea that this could be the last hand that you play. You need to own the idea that you are attempting to win it all, and that nothing less than first place is acceptable, and you need to own the idea that you may end up looking like a fool if you are called.

So let's look at when to consider a resteal!

– There must be a significant gap between the raiser's raising range, and his reraise-calling range.

You have to have reasonable suspicion in order to classify the original raise as primarily a steal-raise. In order to do this, you need to look at the raiser's position and the number of raise attempts he has been trying. If your opponent has been raising a lot and is now raising from late position, this may be time to try a resteal. He is likely raising a wide range. It is important to note that many players, especially at the lower-limits, will not fold a great deal of their range even if that original range is indeed as wide as it appears. So before you reraise with your 89s and get called by Q9o, be sure that the raiser is capable of laying a hand down. It helps a great deal to have seen a player raise and fold in the same betting round at least one time previously before you make this play.

– You should have a tightish table image.

Your opponent's reasoning behind folding will be that you likely have a monster hand and he doesn't want to race (or worse) against your hand for the win. If you have been raising frequently or have recently been caught stealing light, restealing, or bluffing, there's a good chance that your resteal will not get this kind of respect. If the thought that you are potentially restealing enters his head, he will call you somewhat light, and you may end up in trouble. Consider a fold instead.

– Your opponent will ideally have a mid-sized stack.

Giant stacks (more than 15 times the size of the raise) often feel like they can afford to gamble and will often call you lightly because they don't see you as a large threat to their survival. Short stacks (less than five times the size of the raise) may feel that if they don't gamble soon, they will likely be out anyway, so they may call. You would optimally like your opponent to have a stack between five and seven times their raise, but more than that (seven to 15 times) is okay if your stack size is right for the move.

– It's best if your stack size is between five and seven times the original raise, or very large.

If your stack is too low, reraising is not a viable option because even if the stealer feels "caught," he may understand that he has the pot odds to call with his steal hand here. If your stack is bigger than seven times the original raise, you are risking a lot to win a comparitively small number of chips. If you have 90,000 chips and your opponent raises to 10,000 at the 1500-3000 blind level, by reraising to 50,000, you are committing all of your chips to the cause because you cannot fold to a push, so you are risking 90,000 to win 14,500 here. You can accomplish the same with very little more likelihood of being called by risking 55,000 chips another time. It's best if you keep your exposure to a minimum unless you are absolutely dead certain that your opponent is stealing and willing to fold. If your stack is very large, this is not a problem for you unless your opponent's stack is in that danger zone of 7-15 times the original raise.

– It helps if you have the right type of hand, just in case you are called.

While you shouldn't try a resteal unless there are good reasons to do so, sometimes your read is going to be wrong and you will run into a monster, or your opponent will call you a lot lighter than you expected. If this happens, you should review the hand later to see if there were any clues that could have told you it was a bad time to resteal. When this occurs, it helps to have some backup in the form of good cards. Preferrably, you would like a hand that fares well (least poorly) against a monster hand. Lets look at a few calling ranges and some potential restealing hands, and draw some conclusions.

Raiser is risk-averse, respects your reraise strongly, and calls with only JJ+ or AK.

Hand Equity

77 33.31%
22 31.64%
ATs 29.83%
56s 29.79%
78s 29.32%
ATo 25.88%
23s 25.74%
78o 25.64%
A2o 25.55%
J9o 23.55%
K4o 21.18%
72o 19.92%

Raiser sees you as strong and calls with only 5% of all hands (88+, AJs+, AKo, KQs):

Hand Equity

ATs 35.69%
JTs 34.07%
77 32.64%
ATo 32.08%
22 31.23%
56s 29.02%
A2o 28.58%
78s 28.50%
J9o 27.96%
23s 25.48%
K4o 25.06%
78o 24.84%
72o 19.54%

Raiser suspects you are restealing or is a loose fool and calls with 15% of all hands (77+, A7s+, K9s+, QTs+, JTs, ATo+, KTo+, QTo+)

Hand Equity

ATs 50.08%
ATo 47.36%
77 45.75%
22 42.57%
A2o 39.56%
78s 35.45%
56s 35.37%
JTs 35.33%
K4o 34.09%
23s 32.20%
78o 31.93%
J9o 31.62%
72o 26.51%

So as you can see, if the original raiser isn't raising a lot of hands but also isn't calling with very many and is very risk-averse, suited and connected matters more than high card. Even 23s beats A2o in the tightest calling range example. However, if your mark's original range is loose (any two), but he is calling with 15% (still a good resteal because he is folding 85% of the time), or you are busted reraising and he is calling light, then high cards beat out the suited connectors because there's less likelihood of domination. Due to the fact that you want as much equity as possible to ensure survival in case the worst happens, choose weak aces over suited connectors against wide-ranged raisers, but suited connectors over weak aces against tight-ranged raisers when trying a resteal. You may insert your "but it was suited" joke here, but suited/connected matters when you are busted restealing. Note: Bad kings always fare poorly.

– Keep notes on players who vary the size of their raises.

It's still true that a lot of players at every level will size their raises for stronger hands or vulnerable hands at a different size than their steal-raise. If you keep notes on only one thing, I strongly suggest that it is this. If your notes on a player says:

4x=88, JJ, AK
3x=AA, AJ
2.2x=A9o, KTo LP

and then you observe that player raising 2.2x the BB, you can often determine that you are less likely up against a monster. Be aware, though, that a lot of beginning players do this, and they may be the ones that feel invested, so be extra sensitive to whether you've seen the raiser raise and fold in the same betting round previously.

– Should you resteal in SNGs too? Or is this best for MTTs?

Yes, you may still resteal, but far less liberally, especially with just a few players left. When you get called, a fairly sizeable portion of the equity goes to the players not involved in the hand, so be sure to choose your battles with care! While a successful resteal in an MTT can catapult you to thousands more dollars, the largest reward you can receive in a SNG is merely 4.5-5 buyins, depending on if it's a nine or ten-player SNG. The upside is just not there as it is in a MTT. This doesn't mean that you can never resteal in a SNG. There are some great opportunities to do so. One good spot to take is when you have a lead on the bubble and strongly suspect that the second place player is raising light. You can put a lot of pressure on him to fold if he is aware that bubbling is a disaster.

I feel that this a good introduction for those who haven't been trying this tactic but need an edge in their game. While this article is certainly not exhaustive, it covers many of the basics needed to succeed at restealing. When in doubt over whether a raise is a steal, go with your gut instinct. It's right a lot of the time.

– Lastly, I would like to cover one defense against a restealer.

If you have a very good player sitting in the BB and you still want to steal, try staying away from his optimal restealing zone of 5-7x your raise. For instance if the BB is a good player and has 30,000 chips, with blinds of 800-1600 with 125 antes, contemplate raising to 8000 or 3800 rather than the usual 3-3.5x times the big blind which would put him in prime restealing territory. That is, unless you have the goods. In that case, size that raise to approximately 1/5-1/6 of his stack to trigger the resteal you want.

Have fun watching the chips fly, don't fear the reaper, and remember that one win is worth more than several cashes!


Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006's Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details atJennifear's Poker Palace. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of their links.

Examining Early SNG Play from a Different View

It's long been said that correct Sit 'N Go strategy is to play a tight game early when the blinds are small, opening up your game only when the blinds get larger. SNG experts have used ICM (Independent Chip Modeling) to back that argument up. While some players have attempted to propose an alternate strategy, none have effectively tried to counter the original argument that shows, mathematically, why you should play tight early on. I will counter that argument today, plus explain when it is correct or incorrect to switch styles.

I'll tell you some of my story, because I have a unique perspective on the game. I started to play poker in August 2002, never intending to play for real money. I won a very small amount of money, built it up to $100 playing .01/.02 NLH, then discovered the SNG five months after I started. Though gifted in mathematics, including probability and odds, I was not a natural.

I learned this game through trial and error, friends, and extensive reading of poker books. Every poker book I read suggested aggressive play, so I learned an aggressive style, completely unaware that what you were "supposed to do" in a SNG was play a tight game early. I managed to play a few thousand $5+.50 and $10+1 SNGs on Ultimate Bet this way before I ever learned that "tight is right" early in a SNG. Despite not knowing this information, I was highly successful. Even after obtaining this information, I never drastically adjusted my style. To this day, I am not a very tight player in the early going. Although I have become more cautious at times, aggression is still the rule for me. It's worked very well, as I have been tremendously profitable and have had several successful students who also employ an aggressive style, in position, early in a SNG.

Here is the argument I will counter today. I have seen it in various forms, but this is the classic argument used by experts for playing tight early, and even though I am not fully "on board" with this argument, it's very important that you understand the mathematics, reasoning, and concepts involved in it if you want to be a better SNG player:

The biggest reason you should play tighter early in a SNG is that it's a competition of survival. SNG's don't pay you for early leads, and you can't win the SNG at the beginning, but you can certainly lose it. You don't win any money unless you make it to the final three, and if you win all the chips at the end, you still only get half the prize pool, but if you lose your chips early, you lose your entire buyin, so the upside is not that high.

Your chips and your money are two different entities, and doubling your chip count doesn't double the amount of money you can expect to win:

For instance, in a 10-man $20 SNG, everybody's equity on paper is the same at the beginning:

PlayerChipsProb 1stProb 2ndProb 3rdEquity
Player 2
Player 3
Player 4
Player 5
Player 6
Player 7
Player 8
Player 9
Player 10

However, should you double up and defeat player 10 on the first hand, your equity on paper is:

PlayerChipsProb for 1stProb 2ndProb 3rdEquity
Player 2
Player 3
Player 4
Player 5
Player 6
Player 7
Player 8
Player 9
Player 10

As you can see, you only gain $16.89 in equity, so you didn't really "double up," even though youdid double your chip count. However, the equity you lost doesn't just "disappear". There is still $200 in the prize pool, so that equity still exists. It goes to the other players. The other eight players that did nothing each gained $.39 equity.

To get to this point, you had to risk $20.00 to win $16.89 in equity. To counter this, you need to win 54.21% ($20/$36.89) of your allins at this stage to make this a break-even proposition, rather than the 50% that would normally do.

As a result, it's best to play a cautious game when the blinds are small, playing only premium hands and limiting position steals, continuation betting, and speculative play, in favor of hanging onto your chips so you can reach the final stages of the SNG, where aggressiveness is more appropriate. Survival is the most important part of this stage of the SNG, much more important than chip accumulation.


The above argument is based on solid reasoning and mathematics, and because of this, it has become today's conventional wisdom. It's how nearly every SNG guide, article, post, or book written by nearly every SNG pro will teach you to play the game.

However, this argument has some holes in it.

Here are the holes in the reasoning:

– One of the most fundamental ways to increase your chipstack in a SNG is to play deepstack pots with bad players. If good players "know" to play very few pots and bad players play too many pots, then you are more likely to end up in a pot with a bad player in the early going. In a $20+2 SNG, the average player has a -10% ROI (because there is 10% rake), and the worst players sitting will have an expected ROI of -30% to -25%. Players like this generally fail to play good postflop poker, are easily read, make bad bets, and sometimes lose their entire stack with merely middle pair or a draw. Most of the time, this player will be among the first few eliminated. It behooves you to get involved with this type of player as often as possible. You want to be the one taking this guy's chips before they fall into a better player's hands and are tougher to get. You gain by losing less when you are beaten and gaining more when you are not.

– Due to conventional strategy, good players often won't risk it all without a monster hand and will often make a mistake by folding the best hand if you apply pressure. They are less likely to bluff out your continuation bet and less likely to continue with a medium strength hand, instead opting for the safer route of folding to survive. LAG play works best against tighter players that aren't ready to take a stand. You gain by earning pots at a higher frequency.

– Independent Chip Modeling shows that of your starting 1500 chips, your last chip is most valuable. When you accumulate chips, you cover more of your opponent's stacks, further protecting your last chip ("chip and a chair"). So later on in the SNG, if you take a bad beat or have a second-best hand against an opponent who slightly covers you, you still have a chance to sneak into the money with your small stack. Third place is a very important place in SNGs. By accumulating chips early, you gain by backing into third more often.

– You become less predictable. If your opponents recognize you as a good SNG player, they will often assume that you are only playing premium hands. When that assumption is wrong, you may get more respect for your hands than you deserve. If they know you as "too loose," they will pay you off with your better hands. I enjoy playing good twelve-tablers with 8-10% ROI when I sit, because I know I can steal their blinds with impugnity with a very small non-standard raise, and I know that when they enter a pot they have a premium hand, making them very easy to range and making it very easy to make an otherwise borderline laydown. This makes for easy chip accumulation.

Finally, the counter-argument against the math:

Here's a typical SNG bubble scenario:

PlayerChipsProb 1stProb 2ndProb 3rdEquity
Player 1
Player 2
Player 3
Player 4

In this instance, Player 1's equity on paperis $66.53. In reality, it's much greater! If these four players were on equal footing, this estimate would be correct. Yet these players are NOTon equal footing. Player 1 is in control, able to raise/shove more often and bully the table. Player 2, and to a lesser extent, Player 3 and Player 4, all have a big problem. Making the money is of the utmost importance. Their hands are tied trying to make the money, so they have to fold much more often than would be appropriate in a cash game where cEV and $EV are equal. This equity calculation is based primarily on the fact that since Player 1 has 40% of the chips, he will win 40% of the time. However, the player with 6000 chips here, if he is talented and knows how to work his stack, should truly be able to win this SNG as much as 50% of the time, depending on the quality of his opposition and their ability to play. So a more truthful equity calculation, taking this into account, would look like this (this is an estimate based on experience because you cannot, to the best of my knowledge tangibly calculate TRUE equity with so many variables):

PlayerChipsProb 1stProb 2ndProb 3rdEquity
Player 1
Player 2
Player 3
Player 4

As you can see, there is a substantial difference. Player 1, who is able to bully, gains nearly $8 in TRUE equity over the on paperestimate, whereas the medium stacks, with tied hands, lose about $3 each in TRUE equity over the on paper estimate.

Of course, if you double up early, you are much more likely to have the lead with four players remaining than you would be if you passed up the situation, where you would be more likely to end up in one of the other spots four-handed. Therefore, it is my argument that while, after you doubled in the first hand, your equity on paperis $36.89, your TRUEequity is a great deal more than that because you will win more than the 20% of the time.

Therefore, it's safe to say that if you double up early, you will win significantly more than 20% of the time, so your TRUE equity is more along the lines of $39.00.(Again, this is an estimate based on experience because you cannot, to the best of my knowledge tangibly calculate TRUE equity with so many variables.)

PlayerChipsProb 1stProb 2ndProb 3rdEquity
Player 2
Player 3
Player 4
Player 5
Player 6
Player 7
Player 8
Player 9

As you can see, this is still not a full double-up, and some of the equity is still going elsewhere, but the dramatic difference between cEV and $EV that was originally present is now gone. You only need to win that early all-in 51.28% of the time to show a profit in the long-run.

Here's what I am saying:

In a ring game, a $40 pot might be raked $1-2, yet nearly no expert advocates strictly nit-tight play. I recommend that you play early in a SNG like you would in a deepstacked cash game. Aggressiveness wins.

DO NOT pass up a 55-45 situation early in a SNG. You are at an advantage if you take this spot.

I expect this article to be highly controversial, and it's important to note that I am not saying that everyone should use a looser strategy. There are definitely qualifications, and if you ignore them, you are going to lose money trying this. Here are some DO's and DON'Ts, as well as a few replies to questions I often get from students learning this strategy.

DO use a looser starting strategy if:

– You understand how to play a chiplead late in a SNG. This strategy is especially effective at higher-limit games and against good players, because the endgame is more predictable.

– You are a good postflop player. Getting involved in early pots requires good postflop play and an advantage over your opponents in this area. If you can outplay them, you overcome the small inherant disadvantage in playing an early pot.

– There is a terrible player involved in the blinds, or in the pot. He'll be in a hand where he loses his chips soon, and it's nice if you are in that pot too.

DO NOT use a looser starting strategy if:

– You are a multi-tabler and unable to read your opponents because of this. In this case, it's better to pass up a few small edges, because you need to make fewer decisions per minute in order to avoid mistakes and maximize your hourly profit. It's okay to sacrifice ROI for the sake of more volume if you are able to do so. If this is you, don't bother trying this unless you are a SNG phenom.

– If you don't understand late game play almost perfectly. If this is the case, much of your TRUE equity advantage is lost, and the on paper estimate is more accurate. Now your edge from playing pots early is nearly completely negated. Stay tight early while learning the game.

– A good player has entered the pot for a raise. Stay out of his way if you can. Due to conventional strategy, he is very likely to have a premium hand, and it will be harder to get him off of it, despite the fact that he may be more willing to fold than your Average Joe.

– If your ROI is less than 5%. While you may think that you are superior to your opponents, if you fall into this category, there are likely holes in your postflop game. Trust me when I tell you that you need to be a very, very good player to try a looser starting strategy.

– You are not a good postflop player. You need to be able to induce players into doing what you want them to do. In oder to do that, you must be able to put them on a hand and get inside their head to maximize value. If this is not you, stick to the conventional strategy.

Questions I expect to encounter:

Q: I have a skill edge. Won't my skill edge be more likely to manifest itself if I hang on tight early on?

A: Not at all. In fact, the opposite is true.

First of all, your skill edge is irrelevant when you consider that you can just join another SNG and have the same skill edge that you currently enjoy, should you lose.

Second of all, your skill edge is most effective in two spots:

– When the blinds are low, and the money isn't all in preflop or on the flop. At this point you are able to make more decisions and get more reads and reactions from your opponents. With each read, you are more likely to be able to determine the best course of action to minimize your losses or maximize your gains.

– When the blinds are high and it becomes push/fold. A chipleader with skill is very dangerous at this point in the game.

Q: How will this affect my ROI and $/hr?

A: You are going to see increases in three places on your SNG Finish Positions chart. 1st, 9th, and 10th (1st, 8th, and 9th in 9-man SNGs). You will also see a significant decrease in 4th and 5th place finishes. Your ROI will increase. Also, your average length of SNG will drop a little bit, allowing your $/hr to rise.

Q: What about my image? Part of the early tight strategy takes into account that you are tight early and catch your opponents by surprise when you switch gears. Before they realize what's happened, you have some of their chips!

A: It seems like a valid point, but it's false that your opponents are usually paying attention to your image. If you are playing in a game where they are, you should choose a different game. Also, if you are a regular at your game, your opponents will already know that you change things up later on, reducing the effectiveness of your gear-switch. In addition, a good player that sees you playing loosely early will assume you are a fish and act accordingly. It's also more likely that your truly good hands will get paid off. In addition, you will be able to see how OTHER players react to your raises now, so that you can prepare for how they will react when the blinds are substantial.

Q: Does this looser strategy translate well to 6-man SNGs?

A: Yes. First place gets a great majority of the money in these (65%-70% of the prize pool, depending on where you are playing). You need to win to profit, and to do so, you need to accumulate chips. Gathering some chips early can give you the edge you need to survive a bad beat or being card dead in the middle stages.

Q: Does it matter if the SNG is Turbo or Regular Speed?

A: Playing a turbo does limit the amount of time you have to try speculative plays. Try these only at the smallest blind levels. For more on this, check out my article: Successful Speculating.

Q: You mentioned that there have been other successful players who have adopted an alternate strategy. You just threw out a bunch of arguments but no guide on how to adapt. Could you explain in more detail what you mean by a "looser strategy"?

A: I'll present both sides of the story.

– Adam wrote this gem in 2005, but it still is a very good way to approach SNGs today, and it's still in the Strategy Archives for a reason: A guide to single table tournaments

– Alex (Epicatc) is a successful player who wrote this alternate strategy: An Alternate Take on Conventional SNG Strategy. This is a better guide to the types of plays and strategy adjustments that I am condoning/recommending under the right circumstances.

In closing, I'd like to point out that there is never a single way to play any form of poker. While many people suggest that SNGs can be a "solved game," there is no way that is possible. There are always thought processes to go through and counterstrategies to every strategy that is out there. There is also a meta-game. This game will evolve and re-evolve again and again, and keeping up with the times is necessary. This is more true now than ever, now that the gap in ability between players is smaller than it has been in a long time.

Good luck at the tables, and have fun experimenting!


Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006's Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details atJennifear's Poker Palace. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of their links.

Frühes SNG-Spiele aus einer unterschiedlichen Perspektive betrachtet

Es wurde lange gesagt, die korrekte Sit-n-Go Strategie wäre im frühen Spiel, wenn die Blinds klein sind, tight zu spielen und das Spiel erst aufzumachen wenn die Blinds größer werden. SNG-Experten haben das ICM (Independent Chip Modeling) dazu verwendet ihre Argumente zu stützen. Während einige Spieler versucht haben eine alternative Strategie vorzuschlagen, hat keine wirklich versucht dem ursprünglichen Argument zu widersprechen, das mathematisch zeigt, warum man anfangs tight spielen sollte. Ich werde dem Argument heute kontern und des Weiteren erklären wann es korrekt oder inkorrekt ist den Stil zu wechseln.

Ich erzähle Ihnen ein wenig von meiner Geschichte, weil ich einen einzigartigen Blickwinkel auf dieses Spiel habe. Ich habe im August 2002 angefangen Poker zu spielen und hatte nie vor um echtes Geld zu spielen. Ich gewann einen sehr kleinen Geldbetrag, baute ihn auf $100 auf indem ich .01/.02 NLH spielte und entdeckte dann die SNG fünf Monate nachdem ich angefangen hatte. Obwohl ich in Mathematik begabt bin, einschließlich Wahrscheinlichkeit und Quoten, war ich kein Naturtalent.

Ich habe dieses Spiel durch "Try-and-Error", Freunde und das ausgiebige Lesen von Pokerbüchern, gelernt. Jedes Pokerbuch, dass ich gelesen habe schlug aggressives Spiel vor, daher lernte ich einen aggressiven Stil, komplett unwissend, dass man in einem SNG „vermeintlich" im frühen Spiel tight spielen musste. Ich schaffte es, einige tausend $5+.50 und $10+1 SNGs auf diese Weise bei Ultimate Bet zu spielen, bevor ich überhaupt „tight is right" im frühen SNG, lernte. Obwohl ich diese Information nicht kannte, war ich höchst erfolgreich. Sogar nachdem ich diese Information erhalten hatte, habe ich meinen Stil nie drastisch angepasst. Bis heute, bin ich kein sehr tighter Spieler in den Anfängen. Obwohl ich manchmal vorsichtiger geworden bin ist Aggression immer noch die Regel für mich. Es hat sehr gut funktioniert, da ich enorm profitabel war und mehrere erfolgreiche Schüler hatte die den aggressiven Stil, in dieser Position, früh im SNG, angewandt haben.

Hier ist das Argument, dem ich heute kontern will. Ich habe es in verschiedenen Formen gesehen, aber das ist das klassische Argument, dass von Experten für das frühe tight spielen verwendet wird und obwohl ich nicht vollkommen „on board" mit diesem Argument bin, ist es sehr wichtig, dass Sie die Mathematik, Beweisführungen und Konzepte verstehen, wenn Sie ein besserer SNG-Spieler sein möchten:
Der wichtigste Grund warum Sie in einem frühen SNG tight spielen sollten ist, dass es ein Überlebenskampf ist. SNG zahlen sich nicht für frühe Führungen aus und Sie können ein SNG nicht am Anfang gewinnen aber Sie können es sicherlich verlieren. Sie gewinnen gar kein Geld außer sie schaffen es bis zu den finalen drei und wenn Sie alle Chips am Ende gewinnen, bekommen Sie immer noch nur den halbe Preispool. Wenn Sie aber die Chips früh verlieren, verlieren Sie ihr gesamtes Buy-In, der Vorteil ist also nicht so hoch.
Ihre Chips und Ihr Geld sind zwei verschiedene Einheiten und Ihre Chipzahl zu verdoppeln, verdoppelt nicht den Geldbetrag den Sie erwarten zu gewinnen:

In einem 10-Mann $20 SNG zum Beispiel, ist der Papierwert jedes Spielers am Anfang derselbe:

Spieler Chips Wahrscheinlichkeit 1. Whrs. 2. Whrs. 3. Wert
Held 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 2 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 3 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 4 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 5 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 6 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 7 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 8 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 9 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00
Spieler 10 1500 0.1000 0.1000 0.1000 $20.00

Sollen Sie aber verdoppeln und den Spieler 10 in der ersten Hand schlagen, war Ihr Papierwert folgender:

Spieler Chips Wahrscheinlichkeit 1. Whrs. 2. Whrs. 3. Wert
Held 3000 0.2000 0.1778 0.1556 $36.89
Spieler 2 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 3 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 4 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 5 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 6 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 7 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 8 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 9 1500 0.1000 0.1028 0.1056 $20.39
Spieler 10 0 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 $0.00

Wie Sie sehen können, gewinnen Sie nur $16.89 an Wert, haben daher nicht wirklich „verdoppelt", obwohl Sie Ihre Chipzahl verdoppelt haben. Der Wert aber, den Sie verloren haben ist nicht einfach „verschwunden". Es sind immer noch $200 im Preispool, sodass Ihr Wert immer noch existiert. Er geht an die anderen Spieler. Die anderen Spieler haben jeweils nichts getan und $0.39 an Wert gewonnen.

Um an diesen Punkt zu gelangen, mussten Sie $20.00 riskieren um $16.89 an Wert zu gewinnen. Um dem zu kontern, Sie müssen in dieser Stufe 54.21% ($20/$36.89) Ihrer All-Ins gewinnen um die Gewinnschwelle zu erreichen, anstatt der 50% die Sie normalerweise benötigen würden.

Als Ergebnis ist es am besten ein vorsichtiges Spiel zu spielen, wenn die Blinds gering sind, indem Sie nur mit erstklassigen Hands spielen und das Stehlen von Positionen beschränken, continuation bet und spekulatives Spiel damit Sie Ihrer Chips behalten, sodass Sie die finale Stufe des SNGs erreichen, wo Aggressivität angebrachter ist. Überleben ist der wichtigste Teil dieser Stufe des SNG, viel wichtiger als die Ansammlung von Chips.
Das Argument oberhalb basiert auf ordentlicher Beweisführung und Mathematik und deswegen wurde es zur gängigen heutigen Meinung. Beinahe jede SNG-Anleitung, Artikel, Posting oder Buch, das geschrieben wird bei beinahe jedem SNG-Profi wird Ihnen so beibringen das Spiel zu spielen.
Das Argument aber hat einige Löcher.

Hier sind die Löcher der Beweisführung:

– Eine der fundamentalsten Wege um Ihren Stack in einem SNG u erhöhen ist Deepstack-Pots mit schlechten Spielern zu spielen. Wenn gute Spieler „wissen", dass man sehr wenige Pots spielt und schlechte Spieler spielen zu viele Pots, dann ist es wahrscheinlicher, dass Sie früher in einem Pot mit einem schlechten Spieler enden. In einem $20+$2 SNG hat der durchschnittliche Spieler einen -10% ROI (weil es ein 10% Rake gibt) und der schlechteste Spieler wird einen erwarteten ROI von -30% bis -25% haben. Spieler wie diese schaffen es üblicherweise nicht ein gutes Post-Flop Poker zu spielen, sind leicht zu lesen, machen schlechte Einsätze und verlieren manchmal ihren gesamten Chipstapel mit bloß einem mittleren Paar oder einem Draw. Die meiste Zeit wird dieser Spieler unter den ersten wenigen eliminierten sein. Es obliegt Ihnen, sich mit dieser Art von Spieler so oft wie möglich in Berührung zu kommen. Sie möchten derjenige sein der den Typen die Chips abnimmt, bevor sie bessere Hands bekommen und schwerer zu schlagen sind. Sie gewinnen indem Sie weniger verlieren wenn Sie geschlagen werden und verdienen mehr wenn nicht.

– Gemäß der konventionellen Strategie, riskieren es gute Spieler oft nicht ohne eine Monsterhand und machen oft einen Fehler indem sie die beste Hand aufgeben falls man Druck ausübt. Es ist für Sie weniger wahrscheinlich Ihre continuation bet auszubluffen und weniger wahrscheinlich mit einer mittelstarken Hand weiter zu machen, da sie stattdessen den sichereren Weg des Aufgebens um zu Ãœberleben, wählen. LAG-Spiel funktioniert am besten gegen tighte Spieler die nicht bereit sind Farbe zu bekennen. Sie gewinnen indem Sie Pots in einer höheren Häufigkeit gewinnen.

– Independent Chip Modeling zeigt an, das von Ihren 1500 Startchips, Ihr letzter Chip der wertvollste ist. Wenn Sie Chips ansammeln, decken Sie mehr von dem Chipstapel Ihres Gegners ab und schützen Ihren letzten Chips daher („Chip and a Chair"). Später im SNG, wenn Sie einen Bad-Beat einstecken mussten oder die zweitbeste Hand gegen einen Gegner hatten, der Sie ein wenig übertroffen hat, haben Sie immer noch die Chance sich mit Ihrem kleinen Stack, an das Geld heranzuschleichen. Der dritte Platz ist ein sehr wichtiger Platz in SNGs. Durch das frühe Ansammeln der Chips, gewinnen Sie indem Sie öfter unter die ersten drei kommen.

– Sie werden weniger vorhersagbar. Wenn Ihre Gegner Sie als guten SNG-Spieler erkennen, werden Sie oft schätzen, dass Sie nur erstklassige Hands spielen. Wenn diese Ãœberlegung falsch ist, bekommen Sie möglicherweise mehr Respekt für ihre Hands als Sie verdienen. Falls sie Sie als „zu loose" kennen, dann werden sie sich mit Ihren besseren Hands abfinden. Es macht mir Spaß gute Zwölf-Tischler mit 8-10% ROI zu spielen wenn ich sitze, weil ich weiß, ich kann deren Blinds straffrei, mit einer sehr kleinen nicht-standardmäßigen Erhöhung, stehlen und ich weiß, dass wenn Sie sich an dem Pot beteiligen, sie eine erstklassige Hand haben, was sie sehr einfach einordnen lässt und es auch sehr einfach macht abzulegen, wenn es sonst grenzfällig wäre. Das macht Chipansammeln einfach.

Schließlich, das Gegenargument gegen Mathematik:

Hier ist ein typisches, spekulatives SNG-Szenario:

Spieler Chips Wahrscheinlichkeit 1. Whrs. 2. Whrs. 3. Wert
Spieler 1 6000 0.4000 0.3070 0.2027 $66.53
Spieler 2 4000 0.2667 0.2855 0.2672 $54.48
Spieler 3 3000 0.2000 0.2368 0.2882 $45.74
Spieler 4 2000 0.1333 0.1707 0.2419 $33.25

Zum Beispiel beträgt der Wert des 1. Spielers auf dem Papier$66.53. In Wirklichkeit ist er viel größer! Wenn diese vier Spieler auf dem gleichen Stand wären, wäre diese Schätzung korrekt. Noch sind diese Spieler NICHTauf gleichem Stand. Spieler 1 hat die Kontrolle und ist in der Lage zu öfter zu erhöhen/drängen und den Tisch unter Druck zu setzten. Spieler 2 und in geringerem Maße Spieler 3 und Spieler 4 haben alle ein großes Problem. Geld zu machen hat die allerhöchste Bedeutung. Ihre Hände sind gleichauf im Versuch Geld zu machen, daher müssen sie öfter aufgeben als es angebracht wäre in einem Cashgame wo der Chipwert gleich dem Dollarwert wäre. Diese Wertberechnung basiert vor allem auf der Tatsache, dass seit Spieler 1 40% der Chips hat, er 40% der Zeit gewinnen wird. Aber der Spieler mit 6000 Chips hier, wenn er talentiert ist und weiß wie er mit seinem Stack zu arbeiten hat, sollte wirklich in der Lage sein dieses SNG 50% der Zeit zu gewinnen, abhängig von der Qualität seiner Gegner und deren Fähigkeit zu spielen. Eine wahrheitsgetreuere Wertberechnung, die das berücksichtigt würde so aussehen (das ist eine Schätzung basierend auf Erfahrung weil man, meines besten Wissens nach nicht WIRKLICHE Werte mit soviele Variablen berechnen kann):

Spieler Chips Wahrscheinlichkeit 1. Whrs. 2. Whrs. 3. Wert
Spieler 1 6000 0.5000 0.3054 0.1498 $74.31
Spieler 2 4000 0.2222 0.2944 0.2902 $51.50
Spieler 3 3000 0.1667 0.2351 0.3083 $43.11
Spieler 4 2000 0.1111 0.1651 0.2517 $31.08

Wie Sie sehen können gibt es hier einen bedeutenden Unterschied. Spieler 1, der Druck ausüben kann, verdient beinahe $8 an ECHTEM Wert überhalb der Schätzung auf dem Papier, wohingegen die mittleren Chipstapel, mit gleichen Hands, etwa $3 an ECHTEM Wert überhalb der Schätzung auf dem Papier, verlieren.

Natürlich, wenn Sie früh verdoppeln, haben Sie viel wahrscheinlicher die Führung über die vier verbleibenden Spieler, als wenn Sie die Situation vorübergehen lassen würden, bei der Sie viel wahrscheinlichter auf einem der anderen vier-händigen Plätze landen würden. Daher ist mein Argument, dass während Sie in der ersten Hand verdoppeln Ihr Wert auf dem Papier$38.89 beträgt, Ihr WAHRER Wert wesentlich mehr ist als das, weil Sie mehr als 20% der Zeit gewinnen werden.

Daher ist es sicher zu sagen, dass wenn Sie früh verdoppeln, Sie deutlich mehr als 20% der Zeit gewinnen werden, daher ist Ihr WAHRER Wert mehr als die $39.00. (Hier gilt wieder, das ist eine Schätzung basierend auf Erfahrung weil man, meines besten Wissens nach nicht WIRKLICHE Werte mit soviele Variablen berechnen kann.)

Spieler Chips Wahrscheinlichkeit 1. Whrs. 2. Whrs. 3. Wert
Hero 3000 0.2141 0.1866 0.1597 $39.00
Spieler 2 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 3 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 4 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 5 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 6 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 7 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 8 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13
Spieler 9 1500 0.0982 0.1017 0.1050 $20.13

Wie Sie sehen können, ist das noch immer keine volle Verdopplung und einiges von dem Wert geht sonstwohin, aber der dramatische Unterschied zwischen dem Chipwert und dem Dollarwert, der ursprünglich vorhanden war, ist nun weg. Sie müssen nur das frühe All-In 51.28% gewinnen um einen Langzeit Profit zu zeigen.

Das möchte ich sagen:

In einem Ringspiel kann ein $40 mit $1-2 geraked werden und doch verfechten Experten nicht das strenge, pingelige tight spielen. Ich empfehle, dass Sie in einem frühen SNG spielen als wäre es ein deepstacked Cashgame. Aggressivität gewinnt.

Lassen Sie NICHT eine 55-45 Situation im frühen SNG verstreichen. Sie sind in einem Vorteil wenn Sie die Gelegenheit nützen.

Ich weiß, dass dieser Artikel höchst kontrovers ist und es ist wichtig anzumerken, dass ich nicht sage, dass jeder eine loosere Strategie verwenden sollte. Es gibt definitiv Bedingungen und falls Sie diese ignorieren, werden Sie Geld verlieren wenn Sie es versuchen. Hier ein paar Ge- und Verbote und auch ein paar Antworten auf Fragen die ich oft von Schüler, die diese Strategie gelernt haben, bekommen habe.

SPIELEN Sie eine loosere Startstrategie wenn:

– Sie verstehen eine Chipführung spät im SNG zu spielen. Diese Strategie ist besonders effektive bei Spielen mit höheren Limits und gegen gute Spieler, weil das Endspiel vorhersehbarer ist.

– Sie sind ein guter Post-Flop Spieler. In frühe Pots zu kommen benötigt ein gutes Post-Flop Spiel und einen Vorteil über Ihre Gegner in diesem Gebiet. Wenn Sie sie ausspielen können, überwinden Sie Ihren eigenen kleinen Nachteil indem Sie einen frühen Pot spielen.

– Es ist ein schrecklicher Spieler an den Blinds oder im Pot, beteiligt. Er hat eine Hand mit der er seine Chips bald verlieren wird und es ist netter, wenn auch Sie in dem Pot dabei sind.

SPIELEN SIE KEINE loosere Startstrategie wenn:

– Wenn Sie ein Multitischler sind und deswegen nicht in der Lage sind Ihre Gegner zu lesen. In diesem Fall ist es besser ein paar Vorteile verstreichen zu lassen, weil Sie weniger Entscheidungen pro Minute treffen müssen und so Fehler vermeiden können und ihren stündlichen Profit maximieren.

– Wenn Sie das späte Spiel nicht beinahe perfekt zu spielen verstehen. Falls das der Fall ist, ist viel Ihres ECHTEN Wertvorteils verloren und die Schätzungen auf dem Papier sind treffender. Der Vorteil Pots früher zu spielen ist beinahe komplett negiert. Bleiben Sie tight während Sie das Spiel lernen.

– Ein guter Spieler nimmt an dem Pot für eine Erhöhung teil. Gehen Sie ihm aus dem Weg wenn Sie können. Gemäß der konventionellen Strategie, hat er sehr wahrscheinlich eine erstklassige Hand und es wird schwerer ihm zu entwischen, trotz der Tatsache, dass er mehr gewillt ist aufzugeben als ihr Otto Normalverbraucher.

– Wenn ihr ROI weniger ist als 5%. Während Sie vielleicht glauben, dass Sie Ihren Gegner überlegen sind, falls Sie in diese Kategorie fallen, gibt es sehr wahrscheinlich Löcher in ihrem Post-Flop-Spiel. Vertrauen Sie mir, wenn ich sage, dass Sie ein sehr, sehr guter Spieler sein müssen um eine loosere Startstrategie versuchen möchten.

– Sie sind kein guter Post-Flop-Spieler. Es muss Ihnen möglich sein Spieler dazu zu bringen zu tun was Sie möchten. Um das zu tun, müssen Sie sie in die Hand bringen und in ihre Köpfe gelangen um ihren Wert zu maximieren. Wenn Sie das nicht können, bleiben Sie bei der konventionellen Strategie.

Fragen die ich erwarte anzutreffen:

F: Ich habe einen Wissensvorteil. Kommt dieser Vorteil nicht besser zur Geltung wenn ich am Anfang tight durchhalte?

A: Überhaupt nicht. Tatsächlich ist das Gegenteil wahr. Zuerst einmal ist Ihr Wissensvorteil irrelevant, wenn Sie bedenken, dass Sie einfach an einem anderen SNG teilnehmen könnten und den gleichen Vorteil den Sie gerade genießen haben, sollten Sie verlieren. Zum zweiten, ist Ihr Wissensvorteil an zwei Stellen am effektivsten:

РWenn die Blinds niedrig sind und das Geld nicht im Pre-Flop oder im Flop, All-In ist. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt sind Sie in der Lage mehrere Entscheidungen zu treffen und bekommen mehrere Reaktionen von Ihren Gegnern und k̦nnen Sie besser lesen. Jedesmal, wenn Sie sie lesen, ist es wahrscheinlicher, dass Sie in der Lage sein werden den besten Handlungsverlauf festzustellen um Ihre Verluste zu minimieren oder Ihre Gewinne zu maximieren.

– Wenn die Blinds hoch sind und es zu einem push/fold kommt. Ein Chipführer mit Geschick ist an dieser Stelle im Spiel sehr gefährlich.

F: Wie wird das meinen ROI und $/Stunde beeinflussen?

A:Sie werden Erhöhungen an drei Stellen Ihrer SNG End-Positionen Tabelle sehen. 1., 9. Und 10. (1., 8. Und 9. In 9-Personsn SNGs). Sie werden auch eine deutliche Verminderung der 4. und 5. Platz-Finisher sehen. Ihr ROI wird sich erhöhen. Auch die durchschnittliche Länge des SNG wird ein wenig abfallen und dadurch Ihre $/Stunde erhöhen.

F: Was ist mit meinem Image? Teil der frühen Tight-Strategie berücksichtigt, dass man am Anfang tight spielt und seine Gegner mit der Überraschung fängt, wenn man dann die Gangart wechselt. Bevor sie wissen was passiert, hat man einige ihrer Chips!

A: Es scheint ein gültiger Punkt zu sein, aber es ist falsch, dass Ihre Gegner Ihrem Image Aufmerksamkeit schenken. Wenn Sie in einem Spiel spielen wo sie sind, sollten Sie ein unterschiedliches Spiel wählen. Auch, wenn Sie ein regelmäßiger Spieler in dem Spiel sind, werden Ihre Gegner bereits wissen, dass Sie die Dinge später ändern und reduzieren damit die Effektivität des Wechsels. Zusätzlich, ein guter Spieler, der sie anfänglich loose spielen sieht, wird glauben, dass Sie ein Fisch sind und dementsprechend handeln. Es ist wahrscheinlicher, dass sich ihre wirklich guten Hands sich auszahlen werden. Zusätzlich, werden Sie in der Lage sein wie ANDERE Spieler auf Ihre Erhöhungen jetzt reagieren, sodass Sie sich darauf vorbereiten können, wie Sie reagieren werden, wenn die Blinds gewichtiger sind.

F: Lässt sich diese Loose-Strategie auch auf 6-Personsn SNGs übertragen?

A: Ja. Die ersten Plätze bekommen bei ihnen einen beträchtlichen Großteil des Geldes (65%-70% des Preispools, abhängig wo Sie spielen). Sie müssen Gewinnen um zu profitieren und um das zu tun, müssen Sie Chips ansammeln. Früh einige Chips anzusammeln gibt Ihnen den Vorteil den Sie benötigen um einen Bad-Beat zu überleben oder in der Mitte des Spiels card dead zu sein.

F: Spielt es eine Rolle ob ein SNG ein Turbo oder ein Spiel in regulärer Geschwindigkeit ist?

A: Turbo zu spielen, begrenzt die Zeit die sie haben um spekulatives Spiel zu versuchen. Versuchen Sie das nur bei den kleinsten Blind-Stufen. Mehr darüber, lesen Sie in meinem Artikel: Erfolgreiches Spekulieren.

F: Sie haben erwähnt, dass es andere erfolgreiche Spieler gibt die eine alternative Strategie übernommen haben. Sie haben nur einen Haufen von Argumenten hergeworfen aber keine Anleitung wie man sie anwendet. Können Sie es detailreicher erklären, was Sie mit einer „looseren Strategie" meinen?

A: Ich werde beide Seiten der Geschichte präsentieren.

– Adam schrieb dieses Juwel im Jahr 2005 aber es ist immer noch ein sehr guter Weg sich den SNGs heute anzunähern und es ist immer noch aus einem Grund im Strategiearchiv: Eine Anleitung zum Singeltischturnier

– Alex (Epicatc) ist ein erfolgreicher Spieler der diese alternative Strategie geschrieben hat: Eine alternativer Ansatz zur kontroversen SNG-Strategie. Das ist eine bessere Anleitung für Spielarten und Strategieanpassungen, die ich unter den richtigen Umständen empfehle.

Schlussendlich möchte ich betonen, dass es niemals einen einzigen Weg gibt irgendeine Form von Poker zu spielen. Während viele Leute vorschlagen, dass SNGs „gelöste Spiele" sein können, ist das keineswegs möglich. Es gibt immer Denkprozesse um durch die Gegenstrategien zu jeder Strategie die es da draußen gibt, zu gehen. Das ist auch ein Meta-Spiel. Dieses Spiel wird sich entwickeln und wiederentwickeln wieder und wieder und mit der Zeit Schritt zu halten ist notwendig. Es ist nun mehr wahr als jemals zuvor, nun da der Spalt an Fähigkeit zwischen Spielern kleiner ist, als er es vor langer Zeit war.

Viel Glück an den Tischen und haben Sie Spaß am Experimentieren!


Jennifear ist eine bekannte Autorin, die bei Pokerfives.com mitwirkt und Gewinnerin des Presto Awards 2006 für den „wertvollsten Poster" der von den Lesern von PocketFives gewählt wurde. Sie gibt private Pokerstunden und Sie können Details über sie auf Jennifear's Poker Palacefinden. Einen Preisnachlass auf diese Pokerstunden können Sie erhalten, indem Sie Pokerfives.com dadurch unterstützten, indem Sie einer der Pokerseiten durch einen ihrer Links beitreten.

Talkin’ About Tilt

Tilt happens to you every day if you play poker. Many people think of tilt strictly as a major emotional blow-up that causes a loss of control. Though that is certainly the most dangerous form of tilt, much of the tilt we experience comes in the form of smaller, seemingly minor tilts, which, if unchecked, can lead to blow-ups. The consequences of a major tilt are heavy. It can destroy your emotional state for months if it leads to you tilting off your bankroll. Many of you have been through this already. This crazy but inevitable state of mind can be controlled, and often prevented.

Tilt is a form of anger, so it’s important to understand what causes anger. This way you can understand yourself better.

What causes anger:

Anger is often caused by an irrational perception of reality. The biggest irrational perception of reality is a lack of control. A good example would be when your aces lose after being all-in preflop. If this upset you, the reason it did is because your irrational perception of reality is that you are supposed to win with the best hand all of the time, or possibly that your irrational perception of reality was that you couldn’t have possibly played the hand better, so you should have won. Your lack of control over the situation can cause you to lash out!

Emotional reasoning causes anger. For instance, someone bluffs you out of a hand, then shows you his cheesy 23o that didn’t pair the board. Someone who makes a personal attack on you, often if this attack is often only perceived, can become the target of your emotional reasoning, to his great benefit! You take this as a personal attack. Your lack of control of the fact that you cannot go back and make the right decision can cause you to make a move that is too aggressive and unprofitable. Slowrollers, people who have an avatar or name you don’t like, people who use chat as a weapon, people who play too slowly, people who raise a lot, people who call too much, or people who use illogical reasoning can all become this type of target.

What escalates anger is breaking afrustration point. An example would be somebody raising your blind three times in a row when you have no hand and no fold equity for a reraise. The fact that he seems to think you are weak by raising you all of the time, coupled with the fact that you cannot change his thinking is a lack of control, and you may be inclined out of anger to steal his blind with nothing next time or fight back with less than the required hand value.

A lot of outside factors lower your frustration point. Lack of sleep, drinking, pain, stress, anxiety, and hunger are factors that can cause your frustration point to start lower than normal, meaning that it won’t take as long or as many of the above factors to get you going. While you may normally be able to take five bad beats before losing control, on a given day when some of these factors are going against you, it may only take two.

While recent irritations don’t lower your frustration point, they may bring you closer to it. The little irritations that occur during the day lower our tolerance for frustration. While you may require five bad beats to lose control, a fight with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a flat tire, or spilling food on your shirt can count as three of those five. Then you only need two more to lose it. A recent losing streak can provide this type of problem as well.

When you first reach your frustration point, you will have a “little tilt.” You may say something stupid in the chat box, play a level higher than you should, or make an ill-timed overbet. Taking out your anger with a bad decision actually helps you temporarily lower your frustration if the results aren’t bad. However, it won’t take much to put you over the edge again, as once again you are only slightly below yourfrustration point. What takes you deeper into “major tilt” is when your frustration greatly exceeds your frustration point. This usually happens when one of your “little tilts” doesn’t work out, which is inevitable. Once you’re well past yourfrustration point, if you don’t stop playing poker, very bad things will usually happen. You could lose a lot of money and even lose your entire bankroll chasing down the desire to feel okay again (chasing losses).

Now that we’ve talked about how your brain works, let’s solve the problem before it occurs.

Tilt Prevention:

Keep good records, and write down the buyin before you register. If you are forced to write down every screw-up you make before you make it, you may catch yourself when it might otherwise be too late.

Play well-rested. If you have a tendency to tilt, you already know that it usually happens at the end of the night when you are most tired, and often after a short night’s rest.

Don’t mix alcohol and poker. I’m sorry to even bring this up as it is so obvious, but drunken tilting is something that frequently happens to people. One drink is one too many.

Eat. Hunger causes frustration, and you don’t need any of that!

Have a respected buddy to whom you e-mail your results. If you’re a $20 player and you have to e-mail your results to your friend, who may chastise you if you play a $100 game, win or lose, you may be less likely to chase those losses when things are bad.

Spread your bankroll over a few sites and e-wallets. If you already have a tendency to tilt your whole bankroll off, you should seriously consider quitting poker. However, since you won’t, this is the next best thing. It’s harder to tilt off your whole roll off at one site after another than it is to tilt it all off if it’s in one place.

Don’t keep your whole online bankroll online if it’s large. You can’t easily tilt off what’s in the bank.

Don’t engage in hate-chatting. While it may temporarily make you feel better to put an opponent down, major tilt can happen if he then beats you. If you insulted him for playing loose, you may feel the need to not attempt a loose play against him, for fear of getting caught playing loose. Don’t even say “well-played” if you don’t mean it. If people get to you when they attack your play in chat, turn the chat off.

Stay away from grudges. The guy who got you mad has no more worth to his chips than anyone else at the table. Everyone’s chips are of paramount importance to winning, not just the dumb donkey who rivered himself your chips.

Take time off after something frustrating happens. Since a hand of online poker happens in about thirty seconds, it can only take ninety seconds or so to send you from normal to completely over the edge! If you notice you are frustrated, stop playing.

Stop immediately if you notice alittle tilt.” DO NOT wait for the big blind in a cash game. Get off right away. If you are making bad plays, you aren’t missing out on positive value by leaving.

Teach poker. I do this, and it helps me play my best game when I know that one of my students could be watching anytime.

What to do if you can’t just decide to stop playing:

Once in a while you will find yourself on tilt or on the verge of tilt in an MTT or SNG. An example of this would be that you’re the chipleader in an MTT with 200 players left and you get bad beat three times in a row, then lose KK to AA. You are still in the middle of the pack though, and you need to play sharp.

IMMEDIATELY adopt a normally sub-optimal uber-tight preflop strategy. If you are going to have “little tilts,” you may not want to try a raise that could fail and leave you in a spot where you should fold to a reraise. Also, playing a tight strategy can minimize the hurt of deviating from that strategy, as is likely to happen on a “little tilt.” If you play a loose aggressive strategy on tilt, you will often end up busted, because good loose aggressive players, by nature, are very close to the fine line between genius and insanity. It won’t take more than one “little tilt” to cross that line.

Try play-by-play commentary. Pretend a lot of people are watching and call everything you see, a la Mike Sexton. This will keep your focus on the game and the actions of the others, rather than the beat you just took. I swear it works!

Make yourself laugh. There are plenty of places to find funny videos online. Pranks and practical jokes help you get back into the fun-loving mood you need. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t winning. Next time you take a bad beat, try this and tell me if it desn’t help. Someone in a thread recently suggested making a goofy smile at yourself in the mirror. It worked for me!

Get a friend on Instant Messager or the phone right away. You won’t be as likely to screw up badly if someone else is watching.

When you are on a losing streak:

Drop in stakes. This has a double-effect of keeping you further from the games you shouldn’t be playing and increasing your chances of winning, which lowers your current frustration level and helps you regain confidence.

Keep on hand a video or two of a game you dominated with superior skill.This has an artificial effect on your brain which helps you restore confidence. Watch it after two consecutive losing days.

Don’t tell your friends about your bad luck. This reinforces that your streak might be about luck, which it might. However, you are better off looking to change things you can control. People don’t want to hear it anyway.

Stop playing immediately if you do any of the following:

– Play a higher level than you should, even if you win.
– Fight in chat.
– Exceed your stop-loss for the day.
– Get tired.
– Make a bad play out of frustration.

Failure to stop when one of these things happens can cause great damage to your bankroll.

Why chasing losses hurts you so much and what to do about it:

You are a $20 SNG player with an 8% ROI. You are having a losing session, and you decide to step up to the $100 level to “make it all up.” You play frustrated and inevitably lose your $100. Since you average $1.60 per $20 SNG (8% of $20 is $1.60), it will now take you, on average, SIXTY-THREE $20 SNGs to make up for this mistake. In addition, over those 63 SNGs your frustration level will be higher, making it more likely for you to tilt again. It’s a vicious cycle, and winning players CANNOT afford to be stuck in it. Some of the most fundamentally talented players I ever knew have had this problem and failed because of it.

If you chase a loss, you should impose a stiff penalty on yourself, such as no poker for a week. In case of a second offense, no poker for a month. If you routinely engage in this sort of behavior, I recommend quitting or even contacting Gambler’s Anonymous at (213) 386-8789 for assistance. It’s a gambling problem, and winning poker is not gambling.

Good luck folks and keep playing with a clear head!


Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006’s Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available if you support pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of their links.

Should You Play Turbo or Regular SNG’s?

One of the most frequently asked questions in Poker Discussion has to do with a player wondering if Turbo (Speed) SNGs or Regular SNGs are more profitable. I also get this question a lot from my students. In this article, I will address the most typical response given to this age-old question and give you a different look. I will then show, comprehensively, why the answer is different for everybody, and why the ever-changing climate of poker might make tomorrow’s decision on this topic different than it is today, even for more experienced players.

The most common answer from experienced players is this one:

– You can expect a better ROI at regular SNGs, but your hourly rate will be greater playing turbo SNGs.

This answer is given based on the fact that it takes approximately 1.5-2 times as long to play a regular speed SNG than it does a turbo. The theory is that if a player can play more SNGs in a shorter period of time, he can make more money per hour, and since profit is the name of the game, turbo is the way to go.

There is one big problem with this theory. The average ROI of all players in a SNG is about -10%, figuring in the rake. The faster the blind structure is (turbo), the closer everybody’s true ROI gravitates towards that number. A good study that I did of my stats as well the stats of several different players who have played many SNG’s of each style gave me an interesting result.

The average SNG player will lose 1/5 of however much their ROI is over the -10% average at the faster game. What this means is that a player with a 10% ROI (20% over the average) in the regular games will drop to 6% ROI (16% over the average or 20% x 4/5) in the turbos.

What this means to you is that if you are not beating (or barely beating) regular SNGs, your hourly rate will actually drop into the negative if you switch to the turbos. The break-even point in turbos is approximately equivalent to a 7.14% ROI in regular SNG’s.

Heres a chart as it relates to this, assuming $10 SNGs, an average regular SNG time of 54 minutes, and an average turbo SNG time of 30 minutes (these figures vary slightly by site and your ability to play poker):

ROI in reg/hourly rateExpected Turbo ROI/hourlyBest game

*If your ROI in regular SNGs falls within 0% to 15%, or your ROI in turbo SNGs falls within -2% to 10%, it’s too close to tell which game is best for your hourly rate without looking at the other factors below.

+There is no question about it. Turbos are better for your overall hourly rate. Even if the other factors involved show that you are a better regular SNG player, if you play regular SNGs, you are just burning money.

The great majority of winning players out there who ask this question fall into the “*” category. If they are players who fall into the “+” category, they are accomplished players and would generally know that turbos are better for them on an hourly basis. So my argument is that for most people who pose this question, the answer given so far is not yet an appropriate response!

Other factors to consider:

– Rake reduction on some sites for turbos.

Some sites have a reduced rake for turbo SNGs. PokerStars charges between 6.67% and 9.38% rake for turbos, whereas the comparable regular SNG rake is 10% of the buy in. Full Tilt Poker charges 9.09%, generally. Depending on the reduction, if you are close to the break-even point, you should generally switch to turbo.

– Are you good at playing with high blinds?

In a turbo SNG, you will often find seven players remaining at the 75-150 blind level, all with a low “M.” If you understand how to play in this situation, lean toward turbos. Some players get desperate out of position or tighten up too much in this spot. If you have a good feel for who’s who, when to shove to preserve fold equity, and the appropriate level of aggression needed when you consider your stack size, lean towards playing turbos.

– Are you a good deepstack player?

Regular SNGs, especially at the lower limits, are rife with opportunities to double up with not-so-great starting hands and minimal risk. If you are good at speculating with a wide variety of starting hands to take advantage of these opportunities, or you’re a good set miner, lean towards regular SNG play.

– Are you a better preflop or postflop player?

Turbo SNGs put an emphasis on stealing blinds at the right times, where regular SNGs have a greater focus on postflop play. If you are a better preflop player, lean toward turbos. If not, lean toward regular.

– Which type of fish is easier for you to catch?

Fish who are older (and weak-tight) generally prefer regulars, where loose young players who are in it for the action tend to prefer turbos.

– Playing against experienced multitablers.

Experienced Multitablers play turbos for the most part, as their hourly rate depends on it. If you know how to locate and exploit this type of player, you are better off playing in the turbos. If not, lean towards playing regulars.

– Bankroll considerations and variance.

Turbo SNGs have slightly more variance than regular SNGs. If your bankroll is close to exactly the minimum of what you need for the level you are playing (30-40 buyins), you should really consider playing regulars to reduce this variable.

– Do you multitable?

If so, you want to be able to make as many of your decisions as possible automatic. Since there is less postflop play in turbos, more of your decisions are no-brainers. Strongly consider playing turbos. If you can’t maintain a positive ROI playing turbos, you shouldn’t be multitabling anyway.

The future of SNGs:

One of the biggest changes to the online poker climate has been a sharp increase in the quality of play in the low-limit games. The mainstream poker boom appears to be nearing it’s end. The sheer number of new people playing in the online game has dropped significantly. TV advertising in the United States is down, so people are less aware of where to go to get involved. The average recreational player in the United States has found it more difficult to deposit, and, more importantly, to quickly redeposit after he goes broke. People who once found a bigger game profitable have been forced to drop a level. If you are a good player, this has probably already shown you a drop in ROI, and if not, it will likely contribute to a significant ROI drop over the next few months.

For instance, I have an ROI of over 40% in low-limit SNGs over a 10,000 SNG sample size. The truth is that since the passage of the UIGEA, I don’t believe I could maintain that rate over my next 10,000, even though my game has improved. My opponents are much better than they used to be, and they are getting better daily.

A lot of players who have had double-digit ROIs will now become single-digit ROIers, and this may affect the game they should be playing. Without dropping a level, the next best option for these players may be to make a move to regulars or move up to two-table or five-table turbo SNGs to maintain a good hourly rate. If you fall into this category, be sure to keep good records so that you will know if and when to move.

I hope this guide helps you decide where you should be, especially if it’s something you’ve wondered about. Hope you all make big bucks at the tables!


Jennifear is a proud Contributing Writer for Pocketfives.com and a Presto Award Winner for 2006’s Most Valuable Poster, as voted by the readers of PocketFives. She teaches private poker lessons, and you can find the details at Jennifear.com. A discount on these lessons is available by supporting pocketfives.com by joining a poker site through one of their links.

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