Archive for the ‘Poker Lessons’ Category

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

The first decisions that you have to make in a hand are always pre-flop, and choosing the right path will make your life much easier on the coming streets. Many players make these decisions automatically without even thinking of alternative lines or adjustments that could increase their win rate, and that could cost a lot in the long run.

I strongly believe that you need to have a solid plan with balanced ranges as your starting strategy. If you still do not have one, make sure to grab my poker hands cheat sheet. However, to reach better results, you have to adjust these ranges versus different players,instead of playing it blindly.

Adjusting versus recreational players

One of the most common changes in your strategy should be loosening up and playing more hands when you are up against weaker competition. First of all, you can easily open more hands because these opponents will not 3bet you much as a bluff and play very straightforward post flop, giving you many chances to outplay them. Moreover, their strategy will be very obvious, and you will always know where you stand in the hand.

Thus, when you face a raise from a passive player on the river, you can easily fold all your medium strength hands knowing that it is the right move. Taking into consideration that these players will not give you a hard time post flop, will straightforwardly play their hands and make many mistakes, you can easily play more hands versus them and considerably increase your win rate.

Adjusting versus tougher opponents

There is a whole new story when you are up against someone good. Contrary to the first example, these players will punish you quite hard for any irregularities in your game, and you really do not want to get out of line against them.

The best adjustment is to play a bit tighter and try to gain range advantage over them. If you can do that and have better hands pre-flop, then you obviously will have more made hands post flop as well and can build your stack without taking enormous risks. Apart from tightening your ranges a bit, you should not deviate from balanced strategies. Your best bet is to play in an unexploitable GTO (game theory optimal) way and stay away from  trouble.

If you can do that and exploit all the mistakes of your weaker opponents by changing your pre-flop ranges, you will gain an ultimate edge and be on the right track for success at the poker tables!

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Bankroll management is one of the most fundamental concepts in poker. You will have many problems in poker, just like in real life, without learning to manage your money.

Over the years, I have found how important it is to keep your poker bankroll separate from the money you need to pay your bills. In other words, your “poker bankroll” is the money you set aside for poker only, and should not come out of the money set aside for living expenses or funds you need for other things.This is the only way to maintain your peace of mind. Knowing that you do not need to win to pay the bills will give you the time you need to concentrate on making the right decisions while playing. You will have more confidence in yourself even during times when you are running bad, or facing a big downswing, because even if you lose, your life doesn’t fall apart. You can easily come back to play the next day, which is what separates the winners from the rest!

Keeping it all for poker

However, if you are playing poker professionally and it is your primary source of income, you work it the other way. You decide how much money you need to cover your living costs and only withdraw that amount from your poker bankroll. In other words, you should keep the bulk of your money for poker.

This way you will be able to move up stakes quicker and win even more. Moreover, having extra money will help you with improving your game as well, because you will not only be able to play higher stakes but invest some of that in learning, coaching or even getting poker software that can help.

Bankroll based on your skill

You skill level compared to your competition’s is the most important factor to consider. If you are crushing the game and have a huge edge over your opponents, you can play with very aggressive bankroll management only having few buy-ins. Therefore, when an extremely weak player joins the game, you can easily justify playing higher stakes than your regular ones without having the required amount of buy-ins in the first place.

However, if you are barely beating the games, you will need a huge bankroll to outlive swings that will eventually happen. So do not make the mistake of taking this lightly, because everyone encounters downswings at one point or another in their careers so you better be ready.

Different strategies for different games

Obviously, every game requires different bankroll management strategy. If you are playing MTTs, you will need more buy-ins compared to paying single table tournaments or cash games, so you need to choose wisely. It is especially important for MTTs, where the requirements can be very different based on the size of the tournaments you play. Naturally, if you are playing  MTT with 100 entries, you will need much fewer buy-ins compared to someone who is playing games with 1000 players and more.

To learn more about strategies for different games you can read the full article about poker bankroll management and choose what best suits your needs.

Summing it up

As you see, there are many things you need to take in consideration, and there is no one answer fits all. Therefore, try to build your strategy based on your poker goals, your skill level, and games that you choose to play to reach the best results and protect yourself from going broke.

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Poker players sometimes miss a lot of value just because they do not think about the reasons for a particular play. For example; always know WHY you are choosing to bet or check. One of the most important decisions you will face comes on the flop (assuming you bet pre-flop) when you decide whether or not to make a continuation bet(c-bet). Most of the time it dictates the course for the whole hand so make sure to play it for the right reason.

Ideally, you want to c-bet in one of these situations:

  • Betting for value. If this is the case, better make sure that your opponent can have some worse hands with which he would call. Otherwise, it is not a value bet and you can end up overplaying your hand.
  • Betting for protection. If you have a medium strength hand, which is vulnerable to over cards, betting for protection is a definite. You deny your opponent’s equity and don’t give away free cards.
  • Bluffing. Like in the first point, you need to make sure that you can potentially make your opponent fold a better hand. I see many players who choose to bluff with showdown value hands, which is usually a mistake because your opponent is unlikely to fold a better one. In this case, you’d be better off checking.

When you know what the purpose of the bet is, it is much easier to plan the hand ahead and choose the right play. Moreover, this way you will make more educated decisions, which will add up to a bigger win rate, and that is something everyone wants to see.

Missing a c-bet and checking instead

You should adopt a similar thought process for checking as well. Just like before, understanding why you are checking will help you build a better strategy. Here are the main reasons for making this play:

  • You have a very strong hand on the board which completely misses your opponents’ range.
  • You block many value hands of your opponent.
  • You are not afraid to give free cards.
  • The board is much better to your opponent, and you are just giving up.

If any of these statements is true, you are probably better off checking instead of making a continuation bet. In a case where you have a strong hand, you let your opponent catch up, giving you a chance to win more on later streets. On the other hand, when you have nothing, you can see the turn and hopefully improve your holding or even bluff, which gives you an additional chance to win.

Summing it up

Obviously, it is not that black and white and to make the best possible decisions, you need to consider other factors as well. You need to understand how to play on different boards, when you are IP (In Position) and OOP (Out Of Position), when to use GTO (Game-Theory Optimal) or exploitative strategies and much more. Luckily, you can learn all of this reading my detailed guide to making a continuation bet to master this aspect of your poker game.

Check out this video on C-Betting and Barrelling …

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

While more and more players are turning to live games, I decided to revisit a crucial topic for live play – poker tells.

Tells can be a powerful source of information if used correctly and help take your game one step further. However, poker players often miss the opportunity to build their stack by not noticing some obvious signs. I will just touch the surface and highlight the most common and trusted signs in live poker games.

Watch for poker tellsTiming

Timing is very player dependent, but when you spot some tendencies, you are likely to have a dead-on tell. People cannot change their habits very quickly, and you can use that to your advantage.

If you see someone taking a lot of time with weak hands and then checking, while checking much faster when trapping with a strong holding, it is not likely to change anytime soon. So, if you notice players taking different amounts of time to make decisions with strong and weak hands, it will be one of the most reliable tells you can use.

As a rule of thumb, when people think for an extended period and then check, they (usually) have a pretty weak or medium strength holding and almost never a nut type hand.

When someone bets big almost at once, it means they have made up their mind about betting before even seeing the following cards, and it (usually) indicates strength.

Bet sizing

Similar to the timing tell, sizing is also player dependent and is essential to use against weaker players. Regulars can easily manipulate bet sizing and will tend to remain fairly balanced unless they’re trying to trap you, but either way, you should not go out of line versus professional or more experienced players.

However, when you are up against recreational players, you can get pick up on a few signs. First, they are very unlikely to bluff with small sizing so if you face lower than ½-pot size bet, most of the time, it is going to be for value.

Second,  when you face a huge bet on a dry board, the vast majority of the time it indicates strength. However, this is not the case on connected boards so you should not make your decision based on bet sizing in that situation.

Talking

I can assure you that very few players talk while they are running a big bluff. Most likely, you will see them trying not to show any signs of weakness and staying quiet. They don’t want to risk talking and giving up the strength of their hand with a shaky voice, so many prefer not to say anything.

Therefore, when someone starts talking while in the hand, they are much more likely to be confident with their holding, and it is (usually) an indication of strength.

All things considered

Obviously, you should be aware that poker tells can give you a lot of information about recreational players, but not so much about regulars. Moreover, some of them can be faked, so you want to treat tells  as extra information without making your decision based entirely on a perceived tell.

There are many other signs you can notice and take into consideration both live and online. Therefore, I encourage you to learn more about poker tells and make more informed decisions with that extra information.

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!