Playing Texas Holdem Online The Professionals Guide

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if I were, I'd probably be somewhere making much more money. However, I do seem to be placing in the money in half of the single-table tournaments I play, so maybe there's something to be said for that.

The next chapter is for you if you've already played a few tournaments and want to figure out why you are ending up short stacked into th e mid levels (3-5) and then end up getting ran over by the loose betters who seem to hold nothing. If you're a maniac and find yourself loosing more often than not, you may find this section useful too.

Remember - players are eliminated when they run out of chips. That's the key survival technique at this stage. Make it to the six- player level by holding on to the chips you have. At midpoint in the game, once the table is reduced to six players, revert to a Barracuda strategy. Follow the pre-flop strategy carefully.

Once you are down to three players, Shark strategy is the rule of the day. Aggressive play is an absolute requirement to win in tournaments.

The most important thing to understand about tourney play online is that it is fast. I'm not talking about the speed at which players play, but I'm referring to the blinds structure. You only have 10 hands before the blinds go up a level. The limit levels look like this:

  • Level 1: 15/30
  • Level 2: 30/ 60
  • Level 3: 50/100

Level 4: 100/ 200

Level 5:200/ 400

Level 6:300 / 600

Level 7: 400/ 800

Level 8: 500 / 1000

Level 9: 600 / 1200

What this means is that when the deal has gone around the table four times, you're already betting a significant percentage of your starting bankroll (800 chips to start). Let's say you played ultra- tight to level 4, that is like playing a $1/2 game with $7, not really fun! But c ritical to successful play in tournaments.

Level One to Two

There are a lot of theories floating around regarding a play strategy for the early rounds. Some experts claim the secret is to play loose and hope for a monster pot at some point to shore up your stack. (You won't find the word 'hope' in our Poker dictionary at the end of this book -

so I can't really help you there.)

All the latest research we have looked at supports playing super tight, staying under the radar and saving all the money you c an for the later levels when it really matters. The idea behind the first strategy of seeing as many flops as possible, is based on the sad truth that tournaments go by very quickly. We've all seen the g uy who manages to win chips early on with garbage hands based on the fact that the rest of the players are playing very tightly. He obviously ends up in a much better position into the later levels.

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In the long run, this person will lose, but in the short run, it can be f rustrating to see such loose play rewarded. Don't let these short-term gains affect your style of play. Stay tight. Keep to your plan.

The Food Chain School of strategy says play tight in the early rounds. With 7 or 8 callers in a pot, many of whom are novice players and will draw on you, it's very difficult to win pots in the early rounds with mediocre hands. The top pocket cards are what you need to win. Facing a straight or flush draw, you can almost be su re someone is going to chase after you. Bets to get people out and careful checks on the river will pay off. Note: Bluffing at this stage in the game is nearly impossible. Don't waste your time.

The most important thing you should be doing in the first two rounds is taking notes on your opponents. Note what hands people pre-flop raise with, what hands they play, do they re-raise flush/straight draws, anything that will help you out later. If you do this often enough, you'll find that you'll naturally form your own player profiles and realize how you should play this individual.

If they're tight, then they can be bluffed. If they're a bluffer or liar, y ou'll want to call down questionable bets or re-raise them if you have anything. Common sense stuff, but most people just hunker down and play their hand. Don't do this! Pay close attention to everyone's betting habits when you're not in a hand. Be intense about your poker, don't watch TV on your off hands.

Level Three and Four

The big change once the game hits level 3/4 is that bluffing now becomes an option. As the stakes become higher, you'll find your opponents less willing to draw on you unless they truly are weak players.

This is a double-edged sword as aggressive players will become much more dangerous into these rounds. This is why player observation is absolutely key. Against a tight table, with a major threat on board (possible straight, flush, trips), betting out under the gun or near last position are very possible options. Bettin g out early usually signifies some kind of strength when tight playe rs do it, so if you have a tight table image (established in the early rounds), most players will respect that and fold.

Remember looking at the pros and cons of bluffing online? In a tournament game, your big advantage is a captive table. (Sure, players are leaving but at least new players aren't coming in.) There is an opportunity here to 'train' the other players and set them up.

For instance, if the board shows Q/Q/6 and you come out betting, most people will figure you for a four of a kind.

Tight players won't want to draw in this situation and fold. If they c all, you should figure them for a four of a kind, pocket pair and of c ourse, the possibility of Queens.

A raise should easily make you realize know they have it (or are out-playing you), which in any case should be an easy fold.

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