The majority of players even at mid stakes and higher fail to control tilting in poker and use proper bankroll management.
If you fail to understand and control these two aspects of the game, then you might as well quit poker right now. This may sound a little harsh but I am just being completely honest with you so you don’t blow your entire bankroll and wonder what the heck happened.
You could be the best player in the games you are playing in, but that doesn’t mean a thing if you continue to play poker when you are tilting, or play outside of your roll. I’m sure you have heard the poker stories before… stories like I have been playing well over the last few months and build up a nice size bankroll, only to have blow all my roll because I was playing tired, drunk, or on tilt.
Ask yourself this;
What is the point of trying to improve your game in an attempt to increase your win rate if you are playing the game seriously, only to lose it all in one night?
That would be really senseless and stupid and not treating poker in the same way you would any business designed to make money.
First of all, one of the first things you need to come to grasp with is your bankroll
You need to treat it like an investment which you can not touch. Think of it like a term deposit with a bank which you are not permitted to withdraw from. Obviously, every players financial situations are different, but if you are starting with a small bankroll, you can obviously afford to lose the money and the advice is applicable. Next, you never want to play with more then 5% of your bankroll at any one time. This will ensure that you can never blow all your money, and more importantly, it will make sure you don’t play in games which you are not comfortable playing in because you are playing above your means. If you let emotions get in the way, you are setting yourself up for disaster, because whether you like it or not it will negatively affect the way you play. You will be thinking about the money and bluffing at big pots because, instead of staying focused on making the correct decisions.
By adopting smart bankroll management, when you lose a buy-in to a poker bad beat or suckout, it will also ensure that you don’t go on tilt, because what is 5% of your bankroll compared to all your roll? It’s nothing in the scheme of things so your emotions won’t get in the way. If you have a strategy where you stop playing in a session whenever you drop 2 buy-ins or more, you will never put a huge dent in your bankroll and you will give yourself every chance of not going on tilt. Tilting is the devil in poker because good players will know you are on run you over.
If you play poker seriously, don’t just focus on your game and improving it. Adopt strict bankroll management requirements and keep your tilt under control. You know yourself better then anyone else, if you can feel yourself tilting get out of the game before you blow it all and regret it later.
What you need to know about playing shorthanded Texas holdem poker
You will have noticed that many online poker sites offer 6-max or other shorthand poker tables to play at, and more and more players are opting to play 6 max over the traditional full ring games. And with more players turning over to 6-max it means there is better poker table selection which results in a larger pool of fish to choose at the tables.
Why play short handed cash games?
Well, it’s pretty simple, these types of games offer players more action, and less time waiting to get dealt those premium cards that many full ring strategies demand. There is a lot less folding, and a lot more playing on a 6 max table, and which poker player worth his salt doesn’t want to get involved in more pots.
In addition, marginal hands, lets say like KTs, that you would be folding pretty regularly in early position at a full ring table can become very playable on 6 max tables. You’re not playing to fold, you’re wanting to play post flop, you want to mix it up a little, win some pots, and put all that knowledge you have taken from the Sklansky and Hellmuth books you treated yourself too to good use, am I right?
Spot the Gamblers
Due to the more aggressive nature of the game, it attracts more gamblers and bad players which is another great reason to play the short handed version of the game. Some 6-max tables will always have a few empty seats, so often times you will be playing against 3-4 players. If there is a fish at the table, it makes it easier to isolate them on 6-max tables, which is much harder to do at full ring where so many more players are required to fold. Isolating the fish is like having a license to print money.
Fundamentally, 6 max poker offers you more playing time. Even when you fold, a new hand starts within around 60 seconds, offering 60-80 hands per hour per table. And if you are multi tabling in poker you can play even more hands per hour.
One of the fundamental strategies when playing 6-max holdem cash games is playing more pots in late position (CO/BTN). On top that you’ll be playing 20% to 40% (depending on your playing style) or even more of hands, surely enough for even the keenest of poker players. You get to play more hands, and perhaps most attractively of all, you get to play them with some added aggression.
A word of warning though, I believe that 6-max poker certainly suits a more experienced player. A good 6-max player knows how to play well post flop. I would recommend a good grasp of full ring poker before migrating to 6 max, and make sure that you can hold your own in full ring before you do! I must admit that I went straight to 6-max because I didn’t mind playing against the maniacs. I also liked the idea of playing in more pots because you will gain experience and post flop play much quicker, just because you are playing so many more hands.
The swings/variance tends to be higher in 6-max than full ring because of the lowered starting hand requirement offering more outs and a greater variety of hands taking the pot.
Also realize that the heads up (HU) form of the game is also considered short handed poker. The emphasis of the article has been on 6-max poker because this short handed version of the game has proven to be much more popular then HU which is a tougher game.
Counting your outs is a very basic concept, but still very important.
This should be one of the first things you master as a poker player and the process should become automatic after a little practice. It is necessary to learn how to count your outs in order to apply the mathematical concepts introduced in our implied odds articles.
Here Comes the Flop
Counting outs becomes important after you see the flop, so it’s best we start by reviewing the kinds of hands you will have once the flop has been dealt. There are now 5 cards available to make your poker hand: the two hole cards in your hand and the three community cards sitting face up in the middle of the table.
At this point, you will have one of three hands:
A Made Hand: meaning a pair or better
A Drawing Hand: meaning 4 cards to a flush or a straight.
Complete Air: meaning no pair and no draw.
What are “Outs”?
“Outs” are defined as cards that will improve your hand to a stronger hand when the next card is dealt. Being able to quickly determine how many outs you have will help you decide the best course of action to take: whether you should check, bet, call, raise or fold.
Example of a Made Hand
For example, if you are holding 10s 9c and the flop is Ad 9h 4c, you now have a fairly mediocre, one pair made hand. In order to strengthen your hand, you are hoping for one of the two remaining 9s to make trips or one of the three remaining 10s to make two pair. This means you have 5 outs to improve your hand.
But wait, an Ace or a 4 would also give me two pair! While this is true, these cards would actually weaken the overall value of your hand. You should only count cards that will significantly improve the strength of your hand.
The Most Common Drawing Hands
These drawing hands can be usually broken into two categories: one-way and two-way straight draws. An example of a one-way straight draw would be if you held 6d 7d and the flop was 8h 4c 2s. In this case, you would have 4 outs, as any 5 would improve your hand to a straight.
An example of a two-way straight draw would be if you had 6d 7d and the flop was 8s 9h 2c. In this case you have 8 outs, as any 5 or 10 would improve your hand to a straight.
When you flop a flush draw, you will usually have two cards in your hand the same suit, such as two hearts. The flop will contain two more cards of your suit and a third offsuit card. At this point you have a four flush and have 9 outs to improve to a flush, because there are 13 cards of each suit (13-4=9). An example of this would be if you had Ah Qh and the flop came Kh 9d 4h.
Sometimes the flop will contain three cards the same suit and one of your two hole cards will be of that suit. In this situation, you still have 9 outs to improve to a flush, but your made flush will be much weaker.
Two Overcards – Semi-air:
Quite often when you have two big cards, the flop will contain three cards smaller than the two in your hand. For example, you are holding Ac Kc and the flop comes 2d 4s 7h. In the case, you have 6 outs (3 Ks and 3As) to improve to a pair. In general, when you have any type of “air” hand, you will have 6 outs to improve to a pair, though in many cases improving to a pair will not be good enough to win the pot.
Sometimes when you flop a drawing hand, it is possible that your opponent may also be drawing to a bigger hand. This is most common when you have a straight draw, but the flop contains two cards that are the same suit. For example, you are holding 7s 8s and the flop comes Jh 6h 5d. In this example you have flopped a two-way straight draw, but your opponent could have flopped a spade flush draw.
Usually when you flop a two-way straight draw, such as in this example, you should discount two of your outs, the 4h and the 9h. This is because it is possible those cards will give you opponent an even stronger hand than your made straight.
Why Count My Outs?
Counting your outs is important because outs are used mathematically to determine your chances of improving your hand. Simply put, the more outs you have, the more valuable your hand, so it is often correct to bet or raise. The less outs you have, the weaker your hand, so it is usually better to check or fold. Knowing your outs helps you determine your pots odds and your implied odds.
If you want to succeed in poker, you will need to be able to automatically and accurately determine your outs whenever you are on a draw. If you are new to poker, a good exercise to help you practise this process involves: studying the flop after you’ve folded your hand, trying to think of hole cards that would have made drawing hands on the flop, and quickly determine their outs. The sooner counting outs becomes automatic to you, the sooner you will succeed at poker.
A continuation bet, or cBet, is an increasingly common moved employed by players on the flop.
This move has been popularized by the most famous habitual cBettor in poker, Mr. Barry Greenstein, who will usually employ it on any flop in which he took the preflop lead.
What is a continuation bet?
A continuation bet in Texas Hold’em refers to a bet made on the flop when you were the preflop aggressor. If you raised the action preflop, you continue playing the hand aggressively after the flop has been dealt by making a bet.
Why should I continuation bet?
Continuation betting is an important move to have in your poker arsenal.
The advantage of cbetting is pretty obvious: you can often win the pot immediately even when you miss the flop. Also, if you cbet frequently, it will be harder for your opponents to distinguish whether or not the flop helped your hand. Your goal when cbetting should follow the basic principle of betting: to either take down the pot immediately, especially when you have a fairly weak hand, or to start building a bigger pot when you flop a strong hand or a strong draw.
The reason cbetting is effective is because unpaired preflop hands fail to connect with the flop approximately 2/3 of the time. If you’re facing a weak player who will fold whenever they miss the flop, you are guaranteed to win roughly 2/3 of the hands that go to a flop. The opportunity often presents itself in shorthanded poker games because typically you are forced to raise more hands preflop.
When should I continuation bet?
There are 4 situations when it is profitable to continuation bet:
When you have a made hand and you are betting for value.
When you have a strong draw with significant outs to improve and win a big pot if called.
When you miss the flop but have position and your opponent will often fold to a single bet.
When you miss the flop but can realistically represent having a pair or better.
When you flop a good hand and want to start building the pot, the best place to start is by making a cbet on the flop. By mostly betting when you make a strong hand, you will be better able to disguise your cbet bluffs. You should also cbet your strong draws, such as straight draws, flush draws, and combo draws like a pair and a flush draw or over cards and a flush draw.
When you miss the flop on a dry board like KK2 or Q83, it’s just as likely to have missed your opponent as well. Using a continuation bet will often take down the pot immediately with a good rate of success, depending on your table image. If you are perceived to be tight, your bets will be given more respect, so it is generally a mistake not to continuation bet.
When shouldn’t I continuation bet?
When you’re out of position, you shouldn’t cbet very often. You should usually only cbet when you hit the flop or against very weak passive opponents. If you habitually cbet out of position, you’ll need to make sure you also frequently bet on the turn. Many aggressive opponents will float the flop against a habitual cbettor when they have position on a dry flop, and try to take the pot away on the turn, so it’s usually better just to save your chips.
When deciding if you should continuation bet, look at your opponent’s tendencies and try to put them on a range of hands so you can determine if the flop hit them or not. You don’t want to cbet very often against loose calling stations or aggressive players. Calling stations will call you down with bottom pair, so unless you have a made hand you should only continuation bet for value against these types of players. Aggressive players will also give you less credit for a hand when you make a continuation bet and often check raise the flop or call with the intention of bluffing on later streets. Against aggressive players you should cbet less and try to bigger pots with your strong hands.
Finally, even if you have position, it is often a bad idea to cbet on a bluff in a multi way pot. In hands with multiple players, there is a much greater chance another player has hit the flop. In these situations, it’s often a good idea to try a delayed continuation bet, which means checking your action and betting the turn if no one else shows any signs of aggression. Continuation bets on the flop are most effective against one opponent.
How often should I continuation bet?
As with most things in poker, it depends. You shouldn’t be aiming to cbet a certain % of the time, because the move is very situational. However, if you are cbetting more than 75% of the time, that would generally be considered continuation betting too often.
Adding the cbet to your gave should improve your profits, but it’s important that you use in the right situations. Continuation betting too frequently is a typical leak of many players who are new to the concept. Make sure you use it wisely and try your best to remember the rules of why we bet in poker. If you do, the cbet will help you become a force at the tables.