Using Mcu Poker Charts

I devised MCU Poker Charts because there was clearly a need for a common method of presenting poker hands in printed form and on the Web. These charts are designed to be read from left to right and top to bottom, just like you're reading this book.

Actions take place in sequence. So, wherever you see a wager, a fold, or cards appearing, that's when it happened. Everything in the chart that appears earlier — reading left to right, top to bottom — happened earlier. Everything that appears later — reading left to right, top to bottom

For your convenience, each MCU Poker Chart has a legend at the bottom, briefly explaining how to interpret it, in case you forget. We'll use three flavors of MCU Poker Charts in this book

— one each for hold 'em, seven-card stud, and draw poker.

On the next pages are examples of each of these charts, beginning with hold 'em.

MCU Poker Chart

Game: Hold 'em Structure: $25 and $50 blinds, $50 bets on starting hand and flop, $100 thereafter.

*1*

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Pot

=501 = 1005^

= 1003

=1004

b50 ►—

$425

=50'^

50

=50

►V

$575

► V8 = 10010

V —◄

1009

$775

  • V ▲
  • 200"

=20012^

$1,175

WIN

Q

<<<

Chart key: Action reads left to right, top to bottom. Each betting round begins ► with and ends with Other markings and symbols: a (ante); b (blind bet); V (check); = (call); ▲ (raise); - (fold); • (dealer position, a.k.a. "the button"). A seat number surrounded by asterisks (for example, *1*) is your seat. Any wager not preceded by a symbol is a voluntary first bet. Wagers indicate the total invested on a betting round. The money in the rightmost column indicates total pot size after the betting

Here's a fuller explanation. At the top, you see what kind of game we're playing and the betting structure. On the next row, you see the seat numbers. If a number is surrounded by asterisks, such as "*1*" above, that's the seat on which we're focusing our strategy. Often, we will expose the facedown cards for this hand and not for the others until later in the strategy discussion. Private, hidden cards have a line beneath (underline) to differentiate them from exposed cards.

Below the seat numbers is the starting hands row. You can see that this is a full table, because everyone received cards. We're in seat #1, so we see only those cards.

The • indicates that the #3 seat has the dealer button, so wagers begin to the right with a small $25 blind, marked "b25" and a $50 big blind, marked "b50." Still reading left to right in the starting-hand action row (see rightmost column for description of betting round), you see ► in seat #6, meaning the voluntary action on this round starts here. After the starting arrow, you see a dash ( — ), meaning the player folded. You can always look upward from the bottom in any column. Where you see the dash, that's where the player exited the pot. You see nothing in the betting round columns beneath that fold indicator.

Seats #7, #8, #9, and #10 also fold (note the dashes). Now we skip down to the next line (just like reading a book, remember, left to right, top to bottom). Your seat, #1, says "=501"and is interpreted this way: The equal sign means call, the "50" indicates the amount (equal to the big blind), and the superscript1 means that you should look for that number in the comments following the table (omitted here) to see what is said about the strategy at that point in the action.

Seat #2 is marked " ▲ 1002" — and this means the player raised to a total of $100 for the betting round (a $50 raise) and that a strategy note (number 2) follows the chart. The rest of the action in this betting round, I'm sure you can follow. The ◄ symbol follows the very last action on the betting round. The cumulative size of the pot at the end of the betting round is shown last in the rightmost column. Here it's $425. The pot size, after the betting, is provided for every betting round.

Now we move down to the second betting round, the action on the flop. First you see the flop over in the right hand column. Then comes the wagering. The only thing you need to know here is that a check mark (V ) means that the player checked.

The betting round following the fourth communal board card ("Turn") and the final one ("River") are shown in separate rows. On the bottom row, you see the showdown to determine the winner — and the winning hand is indicated with the word, "WIN." (Those adopting the MCU Poker Charts can also use the bottom row to expose, for instructive purposes, other hands that did not reach the showdown. These should be marked as non-showdown hands, such as by including the word "FOLDED" at the bottom. These non-showdown private cards can also be revealed in the text following the table or they can be shown exposed in the table, instead of concealed, as they are dealt. The method used should be the one that is most useful for the purpose.)

Again, the strategy notes that correspond to the superscripts are not relevant for this example, and are not included here. In the charts used in conjunction with the tells in this book, any superscript numbers have corresponding explanations following the chart.

Optionally, the areas on the chart pertaining to a player's actions can be shaded for betting rounds after a hand is folded. This makes it easier to see who's still active, and that's the method used in this book.

Now let's look at a seven-card stud MCU Poker Chart.

MCU Poker Chart

Game: Seven-card stud Structure: $10 ante, $15 low card forced bring-in bet, $50 bets on starting hand and 4th street, $100 thereafter.

Pot a10

$80 Starting hands

$495

4th Street

$645

5th Street

$945

6th Street

$945

River

Hole cards revealed (river card last)

Chart key: Action reads left to right, top to bottom. Each betting round begins ► with and ends with ◄. Other markings and symbols: a (ante); b (blind bet); V (check); = (call); ▲ (raise); - (fold); • (dealer position, a.k.a. "the button"). A seat number surrounded by asterisks (for example, *1*) is your seat. Any wager not preceded by a symbol is a voluntary first bet. Wagers indicate the total invested on a betting round. The money in the rightmost column indicates total pot size after the betting

Now that we've walked through the hold 'em chart together, you probably already understand how to read this seven-card stud version. Because there are no communal cards, each player's cards are individual and appear as they are dealt.

The "a10" stands for $10 ante. The "b15" stands for the forced low-card "bring-in" bet (or "blind" if you prefer).

And, finally, we use five-card draw (both high and low) MCU Poker Charts. Here's one for five-card draw ...

MCU Poker Chart

Game: Jacks-or-

better draw, joker added Structure: $5 ante, $25 bets before draw, $50

after.

1

2

3

4

5

6

*7*

8

Pot

a5

a5

a5

a5

a5

a5

a5

a5

$40

K*

K

Hands

before

A*

the

B

draw

ox

ox

<<<

J*

Joker

=25

V

▲ 50

25

$165

=501

► 1

card

card

(discard

2*2 )

K*

K

A*

Joker

+

+

The draw

4*

<<<

▲ 100

► 501

After the

= 100^

draw

<<<

$365

A

K4

9—

K

4V 3—

Joker

<<<

WIN

44

Chart key: Action reads left to right, top to bottom. Each betting round begins ► with and ends with ◄. Other markings and symbols: a (ante); b (blind bet); V (check); = (call); ▲ (raise); - (fold); • (dealer position, a.k.a. "the button"). A seat number surrounded by asterisks (for example, *1*) is your seat. Any wager not preceded by a symbol is a voluntary first bet. Wagers indicate the total invested on a betting round. The money in the rightmost column indicates total pot size after the betting

By now, the previous chart also should be fairly easy to understand. The starting hands are shown as they are dealt before the first round of betting. Then you see the cards kept, followed by a + sign below. That + sign separates the cards held from the new cards received on the draw. Put together, the cards above the + sign and the cards below it (if any) constitute the final hand held. The showdown, if present, appears in the row below the final betting.

OTHER DETAILS

MCU Poker Charts don't require the graphical cards shown above. You can substitute other graphics or text symbols to define a card. So you can, alternatively, present a starting hand like this: J« 10^.

Those symbols don't need to be used, if unavailable. Substitutions may be needed on web sites, for instance. In such cases, these are the sanctioned changes:

  • Use * instead of • for the dealer-position button.
  • Use > instead of ► to indicate the first voluntary action.
  • Use < instead of ◄ to indicate the last action on the betting round.
  • Use r instead of ▲ to indicate a raise or reraise.
  • Use k instead of V to indicate a check.
  • Use -- (two hyphens) instead of — (typographical dash) to indicate a fold.
  • Use c d h s instead of * ♦ ¥ 4, if the card symbols are unavailable.
  • Use (1), (2), (3), and so forth, instead of \2,3 (superscripts) to indicate places in the action that match comments following the MCU Poker Chart.

The table format, with bordered rows and columns, should be maintained. This is standard fare for the web as well as almost all word processors.

IT'S FREE TO EVERYONE

Finally, I have given the concept and the design for these MCU Poker Charts to the public. I am not claiming any rights to them. Anyone can use them. I hope they become universally accepted. I also hope nobody changes the concept or the specific way information is presented. There may be ways to improve these charts, but if everyone goes their own way, we won't have a universal way of communicating poker strategy. And we need one.

There is also a Type II MCU Poker Chart (the one we're using is Type I) that I won't describe in detail here. It depicts a clockwise spiral pathway leading toward the pot at center. Superimposed on the spiral is a geometric "pie" with each slice representing a poker seat. All the action takes place in order, within the appropriate player slices, including wagers and cards received, as you mentally travel along the spiral toward the pot. It is worthy of future use, but deemed too cumbersome to employ in this book.

I'm open to suggestions for future improvement in the MCU Poker Chart standard. Any improvements accepted will be formally announced periodically, and none should be so radical that people reading older charts cannot easily understand the new ones. This is my dream. I hope other publishers adopt MCU Poker Charts as their standard, that they comment freely on the design, and that they become a part of the team behind this minor improvement in our united effort to popularize poker worldwide.

Note: Publishers, instructors, and others wanting to adopt the MCU Poker Charts as a standard can find Microsoft Word templates at www.planetpoker.com.

"CARO'S LAW OF LOOSE WIRING" AND POKER TELLS

First I'm going to share a secret with you. Then we'll put our heads together and figure out what it has to do with poker tells. The secret is so powerful that it applies to real-life situations you encounter many times each day. It has special importance to poker generally and to tells specifically — as we'll see later.

First, let's look at a version — specially edited for this book with MCU Poker Charts included — of something I wrote for Card Player magazine early in 1999. The heading was ...

"Caro's Law of Loose Wiring" — Possibly Poker's Least Understood Concept

I've been talking about this concept for a long, long time, but few people seem to understand its significance. In fact, many players tend to plot strategy as if the phenomenon I'm about to discuss didn't exist.

I'm talking about Caro's Law of Loose Wiring. It's an extremely important law, but you'll have to trust me when I tell you that it's worthwhile for you to wade through this discussion. Eventually, this will all make sense. But first, we need to look at two separate hold 'em pots, beginning with the blinds and following through until the showdown.

Betting round one: Seat #1 puts in $50 small blind; seat #2 puts in $75 big blind; seat #3 raises to $ 150; seat #4 folds; seat #5 calls $150; seat #6 reraises to $225; seat #7 folds; seat #8 folds; seat #9 folds; seat #1 calls to $225; seat #2 folds; seat #3 calls to $225; seat #5 calls to $225.

Four players stay for $225, making the pot $975, including the surrendered big blind.

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