Pocket Bullets ParisBy: Pocket Bullets Paris

We have written about this topic before, in fact it was approximately 5 years ago. To this day we still get the same question asked consistently; “Can I become a professional poker player.” So we decided to repost this again.

I talk to a lot of casual poker players almost every day. I define casual players as those around the world who may love poker but really could never become professionals, mostly because they just ain’t that good, don’t have the kind of money necessary to hit the pro circuits, or probably could not stand the pace. However, there are some casual players I have watched and thought, now they could be good enough to play professionally, but they just don’t have the money. These guys could do well if they had backers, but backers are hard to get. And, if they did get them could they really handle it? I mean, if it was you, could you handle the rigorous schedules? Could you become a world-class poker player?

Poker game time at our man caveDo you think you could hold your own at the poker tables for prolonged hours, even days against the likes of a Phil  “Unibomber” Laak, who set the world’s record for playing 115 consecutive hours at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. More than likely the answer would be, “of course not.” After all, Phil did it to get into the Guinness Book of World Records and that really isn’t about poker. However, the real schedule of most poker pros is anything but a walk in the park.

Take our favorite player, Daniel “Kid Poker’ Negreanu; in 2014 he played a total of 56 events for a combined total play time of 505.5 hours. He cashed on 13 of those events including the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic where he walked away with$36,947, nine events at the 45th Annual World Series of Poker for total wins of $8,545,408, two events at the Aussie Millions bringing in another $1,611,022 and lastly one event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that earned him $89, 560. All together he picked up $10,282, 937 give or take a few dollars. To accomplish that, the buy-ins  for the 13 events that he cashed in totaled $1,395,170 and the buy-in for the remaining 43 events that he failed to cash in amounted to an additional $1,788,756. That still gave him a profit before payout for action sold to backers, swaps, taxes and, not to forget, traveling expenses to Vegas, Australia, the Caribbean, etc… of more than $7 million dollars. But that’s the exception. He could have just as easily lost his buy-in money and gone home, since less than 5 percent of poker players can actually make enough to “make it.”

Now think about that for a minute. If you wanted to try that in the hopes of netting the $7 million, you would have to travel and spend sleepless nights in foreign lands, invest more than $3 million dollars, play hundreds of hours, withstand the pressure of tens of thousands of people scrutinizing your every move, accept defeat about 80 to 90 percent of the time with dignity, and move on to the next tourney.  Reality is that only a very small percentage of people who try can really become professional poker players . Can you afford it? Are you a good enough poker player? Or are you satisfied enjoying your life as a casual poker player?

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Lynn "Queen of Hearts" Paris

Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

It seems almost impossible to believe that it was a year ago when we had to write about the postponement or cancellation of the majority of World Series of Poker circuit events around the world due to the Coronavirus. At the end of March, we still weren’t sure whether or not the flagship event, the summer’s 51st annual WSOP tournament would be held. Ultimately, of course, the world-famous tournament was played completely online, satisfying some, but disappointing the vast majority of poker fans.

So fast forward through a dismal year unlike any other, including an embarrassing hybrid WSOP “World Championship” event held online in December and here we are at the end of March again, wondering if there will be a LIVE 2021 WSOP. The powers that be at the World Series know that the biggest event in the poker world HAS to be live so they are spending most of their time figuring it all out.

Vaccines will definitely be the key to all major live events, and the tremendous success of the vaccine rollout is extremely encouraging. Still, it’s likely that the tables will continue with the Plexiglas and only allow 8 players per table. And, it’s very possible that everyone, including players, staff, dealers etc. will need to wear masks the entire time.

It seems likely that the WSOP might require a valid COVID-19 vaccination upon registering for events, although that may preclude many foreign players. How the vaccination question will be dealt with is yet to be determined, but at this point we can be relatively certain that there will be a live, but definitely not back to normal, 2021 WSOP.

Lumen Poker TableLet’s all hope for the best, in the mean time dust off your poker table or order a new one from the Texas Poker Store and have fun while we all wait for further news.

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Pocket Bullets Paris

During a recent poker game, I took a pretty large pot with a 7 of hearts and 2 of clubs. A novice player, who was watching the action, asked me a frequently asked question in poker. He wanted to know  “when is it a good time to bluff?” I gave him a couple of tips and after thanking me and patting me on the back for taking that hefty pot with just a 7 and 2 off suit, he left. 

I thought about his question and decided that although bluffing has been a topic in many “How To Play Poker” books and I had written about it and talked about it many times, I would revisit the topic once again. 

Best times to bluff:

  1. Bluff if you only have one other player still at the table.
  2. Hit it hard if the board cards or  the cards you have showing allow you to represent a winning hand.
  3. When your image at the table is that you are a very strong player.
  4. If you are in late position and no one has represented any kind of strong hand.
  5. If you can read your opponents and you really believe that they will fold to your bet or raise.

But you have to tread carefully through the bluffing canyons or you could slip and fall pretty heavily. You really need to try to read your opponents and especially pick up on how they played any of their winning hands.
There are very definite times when you should not bluff:

Worst times to bluff:

  1. If you know of any player still in the hand who will always call even when he has nothing. When you meet a player like this it’s best to let him or her shoot themselves in the foot!
  2. If one of the players has raked in a huge pile of poker chips and he can easily cover your bet or raise without much damage to him. Stay away; play it safe!
  3. If there are still  a lot of players at the table. Don’t do it!

Texas Poker Store Custom ChipsJust remember these simple do’s and don’ts and be a winner! And while you are wondering about bluffing, remember that we co-wrote the song “I May Be Bluffin’ “. Here it is for your enjoyment:

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Pocket Bullets ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris
We are constantly being asked about playing position in Texas Hold Em . We know that question has been asked and answered a gazillion times but it still confuses a lot of players. Here is a brief description on the positions in Hold Em. Naturally the number of players tends to change the importance of positions, but generally speaking, when a table is full with nine or ten players as in our illustration below, the positions are usually titled Early Positions or EP,  Middle Positions or MP and Late Positions or LP. And as their name implies, EPs act first, then MPs and last players to act are LPs.

Early position players:

  • The small blind is usually considered the worst position after the flop. This player is always the first player to the dealer’s left.
  • The big blind is to the left of the small blind and his position is usually considered just as bad.
  • Under the gun is the player who acts first pre-flop. He sits to the left of the big blind and many consider this to be the worst position pre-flop because he must bet or fold first without having any advantage of knowing what everyone else might do.

Middle position players:

  • These players have a very slight advantage but they are basically in about the same position as EP players. They  just get to see a little more action before them and can act accordingly.

Late position players:

  • Hijack  is to the right of the cut off player and has the ability to steal the blinds but needs to be careful because he still has 2 more players to act after him.
  • Cutoff is a solid position and has the advantage of “cutting off” the dealers chance of stealing the blinds; that is if they haven’t already been hijacked.
  • Dealer or Button is the absolute best position because this guy has the advantage of acting last on the flop, the turn and the river.

Texas Hold 'Em Poker Positions

These are your basic positions but how you play them really varies according to your style of playing and, of course, the style of every other player at your poker table.  How to play your position, based on the layout of the playing field is entirely up to you. So the question is; do you really know your position?

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