Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Sometimes I feel that GTO poker strategy is almost a myth. Many players are not exactly sure what it means and, more importantly, when to implement it to achieve good results. Without going into complex explanations, I will try to define it in a very simple way.

GTO strategy shows how to balance your range and your value hands-to-bluffs ratio in a way that no one can exploit you. If you can execute GTO play most of the time, you are guaranteed to at least break even against the best players in the world.

GTO Poker Strategy

Therefore, your best bet is to learn GTO fundamentals and use those against very good or unknown players. So let’s figure out what advantages GTO play has and how you can improve your poker stats.

GTO Advantages

The reason top poker players utilize GTO play is that it carries some distinct advantages, namely:

• You’re guaranteed not to lose money

Using GTO play practically guarantees that you will not lose money even against the strongest players in your games. This is obviously a huge benefit and, if implemented correctly, could make you a very tough player. It is probably one of the greatest advantages of GTO play because not many other strategies can help you play profitably against excellent players.

• It’s great against good regulars

Game theory optimal is the best strategy to use when playing against top-level competition. First off, these opponents are not going to be making huge mistakes, so you will have very few chances to exploit them. Most of the time, irregularities in their game accrue because of the variance in their hole card distribution and, if you don’t stick to GTO strategy, you could end up making adjustments that will hurt you.

Moreover, if you drastically change your game to try and exploit someone, that makes you easily exploitable yourself. Obviously, good players will spot this very quickly and make you pay for it.

Using GTO strategy, you will be able to play even against the toughest opponents who try to exploit you. If you can balance your ranges, it’s only a matter of time until your opponents start making mistakes. Thus, it gives you a reliable way to win even against better players.

• It’s the best strategy against unknowns

Just as you are not able to exploit top regulars because they don’t make big mistakes, you are not able to exploit unknowns because you have no idea how they play. So, if you find yourself playing against new players (or at anonymous tables online), GTO is the best strategy to give you an edge over your competition.

• It’s perfect when you are not sure of the proper play to make

When you’re not sure of the right play to make in a particular situation, trying to balance your ranges is the best option and it ought to be your priority. It does not matter whether you are playing against a tough opponent or recreational player.

For example, if you’re considering betting the river as a bluff and are not sure if this is profitable because you don’t know how that player plays in this spot, simply balance your range, choose value-to-bluff ratio according to your bet size, and you are good to go. If you choose another route, you’ll have to guess what tendencies your opponent has and you can easily end up making the wrong decision. Thus, GTO play gives you a huge advantage in this spot and lets you make the most profitable play without making unreasonable assumptions about your opponent.

• Learning GTO can help you find ways to exploit your opponents

Even though GTO strategy is intended to help balance your own ranges, it allows you to exploit other players as well.When you know how a balanced range looks, it is much easier to spot deviations from it in your opponent’s game. Once you spot them, you can attack them. This alone can help you improve your game and considerably increase your win rate.

Conclusion
Now that you’ve read through all of the advantages the next step is to figure out why this approach is not always the answer, and I will cover that in my next article.

For now, remember that GTO strategy will help you make the best decision when you have no information about your opponents or are unsure how to exploit them. Stick to this strategy at the beginning and move to exploitative play only when you see massive leaks in your opponent’s play.

Texas Poker Store Nighthawk Poker TableLearn and practice GTO every time you take a seat at a poker table and your results will improve.

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Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Learning poker strategy, improving skills and mastering advanced topics is always rewarding and beneficial. However, many players forget that they are not playing alone and leave their good manners at home.

It is becoming a problem in online casinos, but even more so in live games. Now, when the whole poker environment is struggling to build the traction it had before, it is more important than ever.  That’s why it’s so vital to follow some etiquette rules, help new players feel welcome in the game and have some fun.

The following are some poker etiquette pointers to always consider.

Be friendly

Being friendly is especially crucial when encountering new players, who are likely just trying to have fun at the tables. It does not matter if they play badly, make random decisions, call your bluff when they should have folded or do anything else you do not like. You have no right to be rude or berate anyone just because they are inexperienced or play differently. To be honest, you should not do that in any case.

Firstly, you can scare them away or make them feel stupid and wind up discouraging them from playing poker at all. Obviously, this is a disastrous result for you and the entire poker community. It is enough that new players have a huge strategic disadvantage and lose their money at a fast pace; you should never make them feel bad about it.

Instead, try to be polite and open up conversations when you are playing. Have fun and make others feel good in your games.

Do not disturb other players

If you are not in the current hand, talking is almost forbidden. Obviously, you can speak with another player who is not in the hand as well, but that is just rude. You are undoubtedly disturbing players who are thinking about the hand and making their decisions harder. Would you like to hear someone sitting next to you chatting all the time when you’re trying to figure out what to do? Guess not, so do not do it to others!

Moreover, even if someone asks about the hand while it is still live, you should never say your opinion, how you would play it, or even worse, what you had. Saying any of these things while not playing can give away information to others and influence the outcome of the hand. Thus, whatever happens, do not comment on the hand while others are still playing it. If you want to say something, wait until the hand is over.

Pay attention and act in turn

Nothing is more annoying than someone consistently misreading the action and wasting valuable time at the table. If you are not able to see what is going on, or pay attention because you’re  listening to music or browsing your phone, then stop doing that. No matter where you are in a hand, you should know what happened before and when it is your turn to act. Otherwise, everyone ends up playing fewer hands just because of you.

Another crucial point is acting in turn. Even if you have a trashy hand that you are ready to muck, never do it before it is your time. It can easily give an unfair advantage to the players who are sitting before you and is considered one of the worst things you can do at a poker table.

Never slow roll

Here we have it, the most unethical, rude and disrespectful action – slow rolling. If you take away just one thing from this article, I hope it will be this one – never do it.

If you have a winning hand at the showdown, just show it. You should never tease other players and let them think that you lost when it is not the case. Moreover, you should never say anything misleading, making your opponent believe he won when you have the nuts. Just be a gentleman and play in a straightforward and fair way.

Although it’s still done occasionally by some players, I cannot think of any situation where slow rolling is ok, so avoid it at all cost or this might happen to you.

Summing it up

Playing straightforward and in a good manner will help you build a good table image, and you can easily take advantage of that. All weaker players will be more willing to play a hand with you than with someone who is rude or unpleasant, and that is how you can drastically increase your win rate.

Always remember that you are not playing alone and if you can make other players feel welcomed in the game, you will have a chance to get the best out of it!

Send me your comments or thoughts!

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris 

I just learned something today that totally shocked me. Did you know that the weekly poker game you host in your man-cave – the one with the brand new custom Lumen poker table that you’re so proud of — or maybe The Lumen Poker Table the game you attend twice-a-month after hours at the office, is actually ILLEGAL in some states? Seriously. I knew there were some pretty obscure laws still on the books, like dogs aren’t permitted to bark after 6 P.M. in Little Rock, Arkansas, or bear wrestling is prohibited in Alabama and wading in public fountains is forbidden in parts of Kansas. But not being able to play poker in your own home? Talk about intrusive!

So, for those of you wanting to know if you’ve been breaking the law during your weekly poker game, the answer might be YES, if you reside in:

Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi (where you can bet on dog fighting, but not a home game of poker!) Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of course, that still leaves plenty of states where hosting or attending a home or private poker game is perfectly legal. Take California and Colorado, for example, where you can legally play poker at home while smoking legal, recreational marijuana! (probably not a great idea, but still . . . it’s absolutely legal.) You’re also legal in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and North Dakota.

All of the above-mentioned legal “home poker” games, otherwise known as social gambling, abide by a set of guidelines that most of us accept as reasonable:

  1. The host, or homeowner, may not receive economic gain for hosting the game, only from personal winnings (no rakes allowed!);
  2. All players must have an equal opportunity to win and
  3. The poker game is played in a private setting (home, private club etc.)

I have no idea how these social guidelines are enforced, but you can add Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington to the list of legal states by that criterion. If you dig deeper into the laws for each state, you can find little quirks governing home poker games beyond the three social guidelines. For instance, in Colorado, Connecticut and Wyoming, players must be able to prove that they have a bona fide social relationship outside of a gambling setting. And in Florida, players are restricted to a $10 maximum limit on a single hand (known as “penny-ante” poker games.)

It’s all pretty confusing, especially once you get past the illegal states. That’s why, if you’ve been counting, there are only 48 states mentioned. The laws in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts don’t actually refer to home poker games at all, leaving it up to the residents to decide.

In fact, we’d be willing to bet (see how hard it is to avoid using gambling terminology?) that whatever state you live in, if you want to play poker at home with your friends you’ll find a way to shuffle up and deal. Good luck.

Send us your comments, questions or thoughts!

Pocket Bullets ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

If you were left feeling a little bereft after the World Series of Poker and need to have some more,  then you might wanna head to Los Angeles and check out some very serious poker at what has become known as the largest card room in the world.

Commerce Casino® is a card room located in the Los Angeles suburb of Commerce and is a Charter Member of the World Poker Tour. With over 240 tables on site, Commerce Casino is considered the largest card room in the world! They feature four Tournament Series that usually start in January and this year was no exception. The schedule is as follows; Los Angeles Poker Classic – January 9 – March 1, California State Poker Championship – April 27 – May,  The Commerce Poker Series – August 31 – September 16, and L.A. Poker Open in November.

Commerce Casino

In between the Tournament Series there are also lots of daily tourneys, as the Casino claims “There’s no end to the action with our daily Tournaments.”

Whatever form of poker is your favorite, or the one you think you play the best, or want to try for the first time, you can easily find some action at their tables, featuring some of the world’s most popular poker games, like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, Big O, Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, Lowball, Mixed Games, Razz, Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw, or Chinese Poker. We’re sure you’ll have some serious fun at this incredible Casino in Los Angeles, California.

So, if it’s time to feed your poker habit then head on over to the Commerce Casino. We promise you will find the right table to satisfy your cravings! Maybe we’ll see you there.

Send us your thoughts or comments!