Sit and Go Madness at Full Tilt Poker

‘Sit & Go Madness’ has returned to Full Tilt Poker, giving single table specialists at all levels a chance to compete for bonus money and prizes all weekend long. This fourth edition of the Madness is set to kick off on Friday, August 1st and will run until Sunday, August 3rd, at which time Full Tilt Poker will have fully distributed an estimated bonus prize pool of $75,000 dollars.

Sit & Go Madness is special, in that $2 players don’t have to compete against $200 players. Players of all levels have a chance to win bonus cash, just by beating the regular players they play against all the time. Just rank highly on one of the weekend’s 24 two-hour block leader boards and regardless of the level you play, you’ll win cash.

Even casual players, who are unable to put in the time or money to win the leader board bonus cash, have a great opportunity to take advantage of Full Tilt’s Madness this weekend. Just by winning one of the designated Sit & Go Madness SNGs, players are automatically entered into “the Madness Raffle,” where players can win Full Tilt gear, poker sets, satellite tokens, and even $535 entries into the Full Tilt Online Poker Series Main Event – a free prize that could pay off handsomely, given the FTOPS Main Event has a guaranteed prize pool of $2.5 million dollars.

Listening to music while playing poker

Glued to your portable music player every hour of the day? Can’t get rid of them even while playing Poker? Well you don’t have to; recent studies have proved music and poker go pretty well hand in hand. The right song propels you to a perfect momentum and there you go, winning hand after hand and minting money all the way along. So is this the new mantra to cling to the Poker winning spree?

Why not give this thingy a try? Now to start with you would be wondering as to what type of music should you start listening that can land you up in the perfect momentum at the precisely right time at the Poker table? Sadly searching for this on the web, it’s pretty certain that you will partially succeed (that too with lots of pain) in finding any kind of significant piece of information or recommendations by anyone professional out there. Nevertheless there are some Poker-loving bloggers who set the stage for others by uploading their entire play list on the blog for your perusal. But then again the taste of music differs for every person and it differs from soul to soul. These play lists are often very biased and eclectic. Sometimes you might be amused to find a jangle pop from the sixties lined up with a rap on same person’s play list. But the aim of this article is much broader, after all what one player may use to relax his nerve may be highly annoying or distracting to the opponent. So this article will help you with some ground rules that can be generalized to all the poker players, you can add a tinge of your own taste whenever and where ever necessary.

The most crucial thing that one has to bear in his mind while selecting songs for his play list is the eclecticism that matters the most. The longer your game of poker lasts, the more prone you are to pass through different emotional and mental turbulence before you can cash-out your chips. So monotonous songs are a strict no-no. Bouncy and rap songs are good to start with or work at late night when you are passing out, to revive the enigma. Be considerate towards your opponent, blaring music even on your earphones can distract your opponent and prove to be unfair. You may miss on the bets and which can be highly erroneous. Beware of your unconventional behavior towards music, if you tend to sing a song along, stick to instrumental only. Mind your body language so that your opponent cannot even take the slightest guess of what’s rolling in your mind. Last but not the least, it’s a good move to keep your iPod on a very low volume, but giving an impression of being submerged in your own musical world, the opponent seems less defensive then and you can pick up on all the moves he makes assuming your unconscious behavior. This is your best bet to winning the game by the fairest means.

Skill and Exploiting Anti-Skill While Playing Poker

Every player sitting around a card table has some skill. How much skill is relative, and some are better skilled at some things than others. Developing our skills, refining them, and recognizing what we do and don’t do well are critical to refining our skills to be a winning player. One of the critical skills is being able to recognize and exploit the anti-skills of our opponents.

An anti-skill is the thing that the other player thinks he does really well, when in reality they are terrible at it. I don’t mean a genuinely terrible player who plays to the hilt with garbage hands. Those are exploitable, and should be exploited as much as possible. Exploiting anti-skills is about finding players who take actions that are actually extremely costly to themselves.

One of the most common anti-skills is folding on the “hammer down” in the final round of betting. These players pat themselves on the back for folding before a large raise in the last round of betting. I did this regularly in Texas Hold’em in college: The River is face up, and I hammer down a raise or bet. People would fold. In ten hands, I’d sweep the at least twice this way, my opponents would pat themselves on the back for avoiding the “hammer.” If only they knew all I had was a pair of threes…

The check-raise is a commonly misused tactics and is essentially an anti-skill when used poorly. Check-raising can be powerful and useful, but should not be a golden rule or “secret weapon.” I’m not going off on a tangent about this or “limping” before the flop. “Limping” means that you refuse to raise before the flop to “see where you stand.” I don’t tell other players what they are doing wrong. Everything they do wrong does me a favor and I thank them for putting more money in my pocket.

My personal favorite is actually those that try to play fast and loose – or at least try to, hoping to confuse the heck out of me. If you’ve confused me, you’ve actually done me a favor because you’ve restricted my choices to either calling your bet or folding and getting the hell out of dodge. So instead of thinking about whether to raise you, I’ve got a 50/50 chance of taking you down and 50/50 is pretty good odds. Confusion is yet another common anti-skill. It is deliberate acts of deception and trickery that makes a player a winner. Confusion is not.

So next time you’re at the table and you see someone buy in for the minimum, hold back the smile. Watch him: does he use check raise poorly? Does he limp like he’s already been shot in the foot? Does he call bets on the turn and fold on the river? Does he confuse the heck out of you? Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and when you are smoking out the anti-skilled to profit from, this is a golden rule.

The Tell is the raise

When you are sitting across the table from the other players in a poker game, you can learn to read their behavior and the tells that they give away, whether audio, visual or in their betting, because when you play online you just have their betting as a tell.

Reading poker tells is a blend of art and science as your only clue is the speed of their actions and the size of the bet to work with to figure out their betting patterns. Just bear in mind the golden rule: Strong acts weak, weak acts strong.

Long pause, followed by a raise (very strong): It’s a classic used by almost all online players, which ironically, is its own, tell, because it screams they have a strong hand. Don’t fall for this as sometimes a player legitimately thinks your bluffing and will raise you back, because he has the goods.

Instant automatic raise (usually very strong): he raised it so fast, the only way it could have been done is they had pressed the “bet/raise all” button. Sometimes used by maniacs and bluffers, it is most often used by players so sure of their hand that they’ll take on any and all comers. Consider folding or check-calling. This should ALWAYS raise a big red flag.

Instant automatic check (weak or folding hand): This is a no brainer tell as players only hit the “auto-check” button when they’re willing to fold. Some poker players will call or raise after an auto-check but it is rare to see a check raise after an auto-check. SO if someone auto-checks to you, you can take down the pot.

Odd number bet: $9.95 as opposed to $10. Internet games are often no limit and allow fractions of dollar. Do not read too much in to this. It means that their hand is average. Alternatively, they could just be bluffing because they have nothing, or they are trying to scare someone in to folding by psychologically making their bets look larger than they are.

Quick call on your bet: someone is chasing you, or has a marginal hand and does not want to look like they are scared of your bet. If they did have a strong hand, they would raise instead of making a flat call. Play as normal as you have the measure of them.

Those are the major betting patterns in an opponent’s behavior and recognizing these patterns is one of the key strengths in poker, online and in the real world. Once you have identified your opponent’s poker patterns, you will recognize when they step outside of their pattern. When they step out, it is often a sign that they have the goods to take you down

Just remember that if you can read your opponent, your opponent can read you. A good guide is to take three or four seconds before acting, even if it is to fold pre flop. You can think and your opponent gets no information about your tells.

Aggressive Short Stack Play

When playing in a tournament or even a ring side poker game, it will happen to every player: You wind up with a short stack. Most players bunker down and hope for the cards to turn your way in the next hand or two. But if you compare your short stack to an army surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, you have two options: Surrender or fight to the last. At the poker table, surrender is not an option. The odds are a million to one on surviving and winning, but that still beats zero in million.

Now consider the army that is doing the surrounding, outnumbering and outgunning. They feel confident that victory is within their grasp, then when faced with a suicide charge by those unwilling to surrender. They suddenly don’t want to die facing a suicide motivated assault force, vowing to take as many lives as possible.

Think of yourself, short stacked as the army on the verge of defeat. The lesson for poker is that you never surrender and always go out with your guns blazing. Those one in a million odds might break in your favor. In war and poker, you must never surrender and continue to fight because as long as you have chips you remain a threat that can hurt your opponents.

Just because you are at the final table in a tournament and look like the next one eliminated, does not mean you should quit. Take the fight to your opponents and make them seriously think about standing in the way of your suicide charge. This means making aggressive plays while you still have poker chips – your army – to be a threat. You want to be an army making a suicide charge, not a single soldier with three bullets in your rifle – or a poker player with three one dollar chips!

This of course, only works when you have at least two opponents left on the table. This is when suicide charges and aggression can make it seem that taking you down will hurt them more than you. Be aggressive and exude recklessness and do some damage. Even if they hold a hundred chips to your thirty chips, will your opponents play for the pot when you are going for it with all guns blazing? In all likelihood, they would cede the pot and fight it out in the next hand.

Of course, you sweep enough blinds and suddenly you’re back in the game and worse, your opponents now fear you. You attacked, they retreated, and now you’re back in as a threat, but possibly the major threat.

It is true that such a play can get you eliminated earlier. I am not advocating reckless play. I am saying that you should make your last stand earlier, where your short stack can still bluff and make believable, real aggressive plays. Make that last desperate battle for your survival as unappealing as possible for your opponents and you could survive and emerge victorious at the end.

The New Trump Card in Online Poker

There is little doubt if any that the online poker business has grown by leaps and bounds over the years especially in the United States. However, as yet there are scant laws to regulate fiscal transactions resulting from play which is considered to be legal by some and illegal by others. As yet the online poker business stands in muddy waters and needs legitimacy to prosper. Although, the United States government has not come down hard upon sites hosting online poker matches, but it has given some trouble to companies dealing financially with online poker websites.

A bill was moved to Congress last year in a bid to legitimise and regulate the online cards game business (read poker) but the move failed to bring any results. In an effort to create legitimacy and in another bid to enter online poker arenas, both online poker websites and brick and mortar casinos are joining hands through mergers of one kind or the other.

One of the recent mergers that occurred in this respect was between Station Casinos which is a chain of casinos in Nevada and Full Tilt Poker which is an online web poker enterprise. Although, Station Casinos is not exactly a backwater in the casino business but nonetheless as yet it is a small guy trying to grow larger. The management of Station Casinos under the Fertita brothers has landed it quite a few accolades especially with the expansion and rejuvenation of UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). On the other hand, Full Tilt Poker is the second largest online poker operation within the United States.

Given the nature of these developing affiliations it is highly safe to assume that there will be further concentrated efforts to legitimise online poker businesses and the fiscal transactions that come with them. It remains to be seen however, just as to how the question of legitimacy shall be answered both on the Congress floor and in the eyes of the people playing online.

In another similar poised move, the competition to that is Poker Stars has teamed up with Wynn Resorts in an effort to earn legitimacy for its ambiguous legal position. The merger is trying to expand its operations first within Nevada and then outside the state of Nevada. Both Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker have long held that online poker and its resulting financial transactions are not illegal in any given respect. However, most states across the United States are putting together mechanisms to regulate and hence legalise online poker in particular and online card games in general.

The new mergers on both the virtual and real side of the poker story mean that both camps understand and need each other well enough to lobby for legislation. Moreover, business operations on both sides will likely increase too as both the online and physical markets are merged together to create a larger pool of players.

Success however is still far away and until Congress does not ratify legislation dealing with online poker, there are little chances if any that the online poker businesses may succeed in expanding beyond Nevada’s state line.

Be THE Threat in Poker

Snipers versus “One Man Armies:” Be THE Threat in Poker

I don’t like using analogies much as they can be confusing but in this case, think of playing poker as being a specialist in an army – let’s say a sniper. Work with me here, and it will make sense.

Give our sniper his rifle of choice, and tell him the target and odds are he will hit it 99% of the time. Give that same sniper a .50 Calibre Browning Machine gun and he’s in trouble. Some players are like that sniper: They can only handle certain kinds of situations. They specialize in playing one style, one type of hand, and these players are one dimensional and vulnerable to those who can play all styles. The best poker players can play any hand, and occasionally sweep the pot with bad cards or fold because it’s the right thing to do.

If you can’t sweep that pot with bad cards, it’s a sign you’ve become that sniper: Unless you get that small range of hands – the sniper rifle – you are not a threat, because you got the machine gun, meaning you are an easy target. If the enemy knows there is a sniper out there, they will take steps to counter. You are a predictable, weak, sitting duck even if you have good cards (AA or KK) because they’ll be waiting with the counter sniper: To fold or come after you out of the big blind with a speculative holding where they can win if they hit and fold if they don’t.

This is why people who only play one game, such as $15/30 hold’em are weak players. They are a consistent known quantity. They are the snipers who stick to what they know best and miss out on everything else, because to them the rest of the game does not exist.

Now imagine that same sniper, who shoots great with his sniper rifle but also knows how to use the aforementioned .50 caliber machine gun. You enemy now has doubts in his head: He doesn’t know what he faces. What he faces is neither a sniper nor soldier but the feared “One Man Army.”

Let’s be clear. I am not suggesting that you should go from playing what you play to playing mediocre cards under the gun, playing different limits or try every other game in the casino. My point is that the sniper is one dimensional. He does only one thing well. The “One-Man-Army” Commando type knows rifles, shotguns; he can snipe when necessary, defuse mines and man that machine gun when needed.

The greats of poker are feared at every session and in every hand because they can play every hand. They have watched, learned and worked to be the threat at every table and in every game they play because they know how to play to win.

Are you the sniper with counter-snipers waiting to take you out or that “One-Man-Army” that everyone fears because you can take on and wing, whatever they throw at you?