Crazy pineapple at the casino!

Casino Cosmopol in MalmöHi there! I’ve done it, finally! I’ve visited a real land based casino! I really didn’t think it would happen in many years, but I really want to play against real players and try my poker face… Well, it started as an more or less un-volontary invite by some friends. They were to go out and eat and have a bit of fun and I was invited. Although, I did not know that they had booked a table at Casino Cosmopol, the real casino we have here in Malmö.

So, now I’ve been in a real casino. We started by eating a really delicious three course meal, had some wine and beer along with that and just had a great time! We also watched a very exciting game of football on the TVs there, but I have absolutely no idea of what it was and if it was important. I’m more of a poker dude than a sports dude, as you know.

However, now we were at the casino and had payed entrance and all. So why not play a little? We went around inside first just to look at what they had to offer. Mikael, one of my friends, had already been there a few times so he guided us a bit around. Of course there was a lot of slots and machines, some black jack and some roulette tables. Not really my cup of tea, but I tried some black jack just for fun. The others really liked it, so I went away a bit on my own.

And what do I find? Poker! Yay! I got stuck at a table with Dealer’s Choice, that has quite a wrong name. The choice is the one that has the dealer button and one of the players chose to play “Crazy Pineapple”. I had never heard of ot before in my life! However, it it like Texas Hold’em, but in the start you get three cards instead of two. After betting after the flop you have to throw one card away and you’re back with a regular game of Texas Hold’em. It’s not really a big difference, but it gives a really fun touch to it!

My friends eventually joined me and we had a great time together! We also played a bit of Omaha and Oasis Stud Poker. Variation is really fun, but I think I mostly like the classic Texas Hold’em. Also, five card poker is quite nice from time to time. However, it was a really nice evening and I wasn’t home until very late. I will definitely go back to Casino Cosmopol, both for dinner and for playing at the casino!

WSOP history

In my last post I wrote about satellite tournaments. I will continue to write a bit about the subject in this post to. Satellite tournaments or online qualifiers as they also are called have contributed largely to the popularity and development of poker.

In 2003 Chris Moneymaker won a buy in to the World Series Of Poker Main Event in an online satellite. The World Series Of Poker is the poker counterpart to World Championship in football, and the Main Event is the most prestigious tournament in the tournament series. In 2003 Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event and became the first world champion who had qualified via Internet. The next year the interest for World Series Of Poker had increased enormously. In 2003 there where 839 buy in into the Main Event, in 2004 it had increased to 2576. A really impressive growth, and it would´t stop there as you will see.

The following years the entries kept increase and in 2006 it reached it´s peak level at 8773 buy in. To me it´s clearly how the success of Chris Moneymaker made both poker, satellites and live poker highly interesting to a large number of people. I and many others use to call these years a poker boom because suddenly everybody started to try to play poker and tv started to braodcast pokerprograms. In Sweden we always nominate a product or service to the christmas gift of the year, and in 2005 the poker set was selected as the gift of the year.

Since the record year in 2006 the participation has decreased and there has been between 7319 and 6352 buy in in the Main Event since then.

This was a little story from the poker history that explains a little about the satellite tournaments contribution to live poker development. I am really interested in the history of poker and likes to read and listen about big and small events from the past.

For me one of the highlights in poker history was when the swede Martin Jacobson became the World Champion in poker after he won the World Series Of Poker Main Event in 2014. It was a really big moment for all swedish poker players I think.

I also remember the first big one for one drop tournament in 2012, it was a charity tournament with a buy in for $1 000 000! By then no other live tournament had have such a bug buy in. The Big one for One Drop was one of the WSOP tournaments in 2012 and 11,1% of the buy in was donated to the organisation One Drop. I don´t remember how many players that bought in to the event, but it was many enough to get a first prize at over $18 000 000! Also that a new record that I think still stands strong.

The winner of that huge first prize was Antonio Esfandiari. One of the most well known poker players in the world. I wonder how it feels like to win a great sum like that. I mean, normally the first prizes varies between $50 000 – $10 000 000. Will you still feel that you have won a lot of money, or will you compare it with the $18 000 000 win and think your recent win is to small and pointless?

Anonymous poker and live tournaments

I think I have recovered from my loosing session the other day, both mentally and financially. After a discussion with a friend that plays poker I got some tips and a confirmation that I played those AA hands right. It felt a bit better after the conversation and I continued play the day after.

I have mostly played low stakes cash game in the last days, to try the new tips and to get my self confidence back again. I have also tried anonymous poker again, but I don´t enjoy it. It´s not fun when you can´t identify your opponents and then learn how they play and take advantage from it. The only time the anonymous game suits me is when I make a really embarrassing mistake! Then it´s a relief that no one knows that it was me who did it and I can just sneak out of the table and join in again as a completely new player.

Speaking of embarrassing mistakes, I hate to win a pot when I don´t deserve it. It makes the whole thing even more awkward when you win despite all odds.

The best thing is therefore to not make mistakes that can lead to embarrassing situations and that´s of course what I always strive for. In the next couple of days I will revert to my normal stake level, and I hope it will work out well.

I also think that I will try to play some satellite tournament for Unibet Open. It would be fun to play a larger live tournament but whitout paying the whole buy in by myself. For you who doesn´t know what a satellite tournament is, it´s a tournament where you can win a buy in to a big tournament, it can be either a live tournament or an online tournament. If you win a buy in to a live tournament you often win a so called tournament package. The tournament package often include hotel, travel money and buy in to the tournament. The buy in to the satellite tournament is much lower than the buy in to the live torunament. Thanks to these satellites people who can´t afford to play in live tournaments can get the chance to participate at a smaller expense.

There are satellite tournaments for many live events. You can for example play satellites to qualify for European Poker Tour tournaments, to WSOP and the Grand Live tournaments. Look what your poker site offer or keep an eye on the poker news sites that reports about interesting online qualifiers. I use to read to keep me updated on special offers and interesting satellites. They also have interesting fact articles about poker that are worth reading if you want to start playing poker or need to go back to the basics again.

Loosing streaks

Today I´ve been playing a lot of cash games and I eventually got so frustrated that I had to stop playing. I got into an unthinkable loosing streak that made me crazy. I lost three times with pocket pair of aces for instance. And after a while I was so tilted that I thought ”oh no, not pocket aces again!”

I think it´s both frustrating and fascinating in the same time. It´s fascinating how little it takes to affect the psyche and begin to doubt in things that you generally are very certain about, like how you play AA for instance. I can just imagine how hard it must be for professional players or professional sportsmen when they have a downswing, regardless if it depends on bad luck or their own mistakes.

Thanks to this experience I now understand the importance of mental training. I think everyone can benefit from it, not just the professionals. I also think it´s good to stop playing when you get frustrated because you won´t take good decisions when you are out of balance. Just calm down and gather new self confidence before you continue playing.

Poker shall be fun, and it´s not fun when you start to get irritated and loose your temper. Then it´s better to leave the table and to do something else. Maybe a chat with someone that have been in the same situation can help, then you can discuss and analyze the game and maybe get help to make up new strategies for your game. Such a conversation can also lead to a confirmation that you actually played your hands well and that bad luck is to blame, then you can get back you confidence again.

You can also do something completely else that removes your thoughts about poker like having a nice time with your friends, watch a movie or go for a walk.

If you plan to take part in a tournament or a big game I think you shall prepare with mental training. Martin Jacobson the world champion in WSOP Main Event 2014 prepared throughly before the final table. He trained both physically, mentally and at playing poker. He took the tournament very seriously and prepared like a real sportsmen. His efforts paid off when he won the Main Event and cashed in $10 000 000 in prize money. It was the second largest first prize in the history of WSOP, the biggest win is $12 000 000 and was won by Jamie Gold in 2006.

A good advice and mental preparation is to visualize the tournament in a positive way in your mind before the tournament starts. Imagine how you play your best and how it feels, hopefully you will then start the tournament with positive feelings and self-confidence.

I think I will return to the poker tables tomorrow and hopefully my loosing streak is over by then. But now shall I relax with a good book and think about something else.

Odds in poker and blazing cannon

Counting odds is a important part of poker, if you want to win consistently. The odds helps you to make a decision if your a favour or not in a situation. If you don not know the odds but other players do, then you will not win as much over a longer period with many hundreds hands.

If you want to know your odds to win a pot in an all in situation you can use an odds calculator. You can also use it to calculate the odds for a specific hand afterwards. There are a number of different odds calculators to choose among, but they are quite similar and often easy to use.

Just type in your own cards and your opponents cards in the calculator to see what odds you have to win the pot. If there is cards dealt on the table, type them in as well to get the odds. It´s important that you type in the exact color and card value to get it right.

Often when you look at live poker tournaments via live stream you can see what the players winning odds are in a hand. A great way to see how you can utilise the odds in your favour and when to bet or not bet.

If you want to know what odds your starting hand has there’s also information about that. On the Internet you can see lists with the odds for various starting hands, this is perfect for beginners. Learn the odds and use the knowledge to your advantage when you play. At this site you can learn a lot about poker, both about odds but also about strategies which is important when you play.

You can also find information about the odds for getting a specific hand. The odds for getting a Royal Straight Flush is 649,739:1, or 0,000154%, or in other words very unlikely! You have much greater chance to hit a straight, the odds is 254:1 or 0,3925%. You can see all hand odds in the chart below.

Hand Distinct Hands Fre-quency Probability Cumulative probability Odds
Royal flush 1 4 0.000154% 0.000154% 649,739 : 1
Straight flush (excluding royal flush) 9 36 0.00139% 0.0014% 72,192 : 1
Four of a kind 156 624 0.0240% 0.0256% 4,164 : 1
Full house 156 3,744 0.1441% 0.17% 693 : 1
Flush (excluding royal flush and straight flush) 1,277 5,108 0.1965% 0.367% 508 : 1
Straight (excluding royal flush and straight flush) 10 10,2 0.3925% 0.76% 254 : 1
Three of a kind 858 54,912 2.1128% 2.87% 46.3 : 1
Two pair 858 123,552 4.7539% 7.62% 20.0 : 1
One pair 2,86 1,098,240 42.2569% 49.9% 1.37 : 1
No pair / High card 1,277 1,302,540 50.1177% 1 0.995 : 1
Total 7,462 2,598,960 1 0 : 1
Soure: Wikipedia

Poker odds is one of the most important things to learn for a player that want to be successful over time. If you frequently play when the odds are against you then you will loose money sooner or later. But it’s not only about the chance to win, there is also something called pot odds, and the short explanation of pot odds is that you take the pot size into your judgement weather you should bet or not. A big pot can make it worth betting for example. Read about pot odds here if you want to learn more.

Now to something completely different. I want to tell you about the minigame blaze poker that appears in the blaze poker once in a while. Blaze poker is the fast poker in microgamings pokernetwork. When Blazing Cannon is activated in the Blaze poker you come to a special game after you have won 20 raked hands. In this special game you fire a cannon towards a house of cards, if you shoot down golden cards you win between €1 – €100 in cash! The Blazing Cannon makes the fast poker extra fun according to me. But you have to watch out, it´s easy to start chasing winning hands to get to the minigame instead of playing good poker.

If you are interested in fast poker, i recommend you to try the blaze poker when blazing cannon is activated.

Criterions for good poker sites

What do you look for when you choose a poker site? I have a number of criterions that I want the poker site to fulfill. I mentioned it in an earlier blog post, but I shall explicate my thoughts in this post.

First of all i look for a serious bookmaker, that´s the most important criterion because I want to feel that my money transactions are secure, that my money on the poker account are secure and that the games are fair.

I also look for good rakeback deals and that the pokersite often arrange campaigns that give value back to the players in various forms. A new thing I have added to my criterion list is that I want to have the ability to play online qualifiers to live tournaments. As you know I recently tried to play my first live tournament, and now I think it would be fun to qualify for a bigger live tournament.

For me it´s important that the pokersite offers fast poker, various cash game levels of Texas Holdem NL and many tournaments at all hours. I don´t like to have to wait for an hour before I can play a tournament, I want them to be held at least every 30 minutes, but preferably more often than that.

It´s also a must that the pokersite offers 24/7 online support, preferably via chat. I want to know that I can get answers whenever problem may arise.

These are the major criterions when I choose an online poker site to play at. Do you have other criterions and what´s most important for you when you select poker sites? That would be interesting to learn about, so send me an mail if you want to tell me.

Setting up criterions is one step to find a serious bookmaker that suits your requirements, but you also have to do the research to find out which gambling sites that fulfill the criterions. Here are my best advices in how you do that.

A good start is to read what serious websites like, and has to say about the bookmakers and the poker sites and what they recommend. They often have reviews about interesting poker sites. You can also read in poker forums to see what other players think about specific bookmakers. When you have a couple of poker sites you are interested in, then do a google research for more information and more player reviews. If you´re still interested after that, then visit the poker site to find out more.

At the poker site you should look up the rules and conditions and after that look up if the site match your criterions. If it feels good you can register and look at the account functions, in the poker lobby et cetera. If it still feels good you can start to play, but if you´re not satisfied just look for another site that feels better for you.

Remember that you are the customer and you have the right to choose and deselect the sites that you gamble at.

Proposition player

One way to get good rakeback deals from the pokersites is to sign up as a proposition player. Not all pokersites use proposition players and it´s a secret which sites that does.

A proposition player is a player that get good rakeback deals in return for being a game starter. The proposition player shall start new tables and play at levels and games that need to attract more players. Even real casinos use proposition players, at least they did before. The idea with this concept is that many players doesn´t like to be the first who sits down at a table, and that´s where the proposition player comes in to start new tables to make sure these players doesn´t leave the pokerroom when the tables are full.

If you wan´t to be a proposition player you almost always sign up via a third party affiliate that has a deal with the pokersite. The terms and conditions for proposition players varies between the pokersites, so does the rakeback deals. Some offer up to 135% in rakeback, and other just 70%. Some pokersites just want proposition players for games at a specific stake level, which then make the proposition player obligated to just play games at that stake.

As you see, being a proposition player can be profitable if you get a really good rakeback deal. If you are interested in becoming a proposition player, also called a prop player, then make a search on google and you will find affiliates that offer deals with pokersites.

I have never tried to play as a prop player, but I´ve heard about non winning players that becomes winning players and make profit or break even when they play as prop players with a rakeback deal over 100%.

Remember that all proposition players gambles with their own money. You won´t get any other payment or gambling money from the pokersite except for the rake back.

Fast poker is fun!

I promised to get back with a report about the outcome of the small online tournament I signed up for. Sadly I have to say it didn´t came out well for me. I was eliminated early in the tournament when I got three of a kind on the river. The last card on the river was a queen of spades, which meant there where three spades on the table that gave my opponent a flush with spades. I was out and after some time of reflection I decided to play a couple of heads up games before I finished playing for the day.

The heads up matches was more successful. I won five of seven matches. I think I played quite well so I am pleased with my performance.

I really enjoy playing heads up. But sometimes it can be really irritating if your opponent is slow and always wait until the end of the turn until he or she makes the decision and play. That really annoys me, I don´t know if they do it on purpose or if there is something wrong with the Internet connection that makes things so slow. I think some of these players play at multiple tables at the same time and therefore are playing slowly. But playing on many tables at once, with a lot of browser windows open at the same time, do not work for me that well. Instead I have moved on to fast poker instead.

This is also one of the reasons why I like fast folding poker so much, I like the tempo. I don´t think patience is my strongest side which is negative when you play poker because it´s a game with a lot of waiting. The problem with fast poker is that you dosen´t get more patience of playing it. Once you have started to play fast poker, it´s really hard to go back to the ordinary format of cash game because you think it´s too slow.

When the game is slow and I get frustrated then I tend to play sloppy as well. I like the high tempo more than the slow pace of cash games, long tournaments or six handed. I want action all the way else I get bored and can not concentrate on the game. Now I can not play anything else than fast poker.

Do you also like fast poker? Or do you prefer ordinary cash games? I think almost every poker network offers some kind of fast poker to their players, so if you haven´t tried and are interested in testing you should give it a chance! But if you decide to try it, do it at a time when there are high player traffic in the poker room, otherwise it can be boring when there are only a few players at the table and when you almost have to wait for a new game because no other players are available.

Rakeback system in Ongame Network

One of the bookmakers that offers high rakeback is betsson. Depending on your player status you get between 8% – 40% in value back. The value back is paid in bonus money and are useful in special campaigns. Visit betsson and read more details about the rakeback system in the ongame network.

At the ongame network there is often so called rake races that lasts for a week or a month. During these rake races you collect points while you play at selected games (i.e. Cash Games), and the players that collects the most points during the race period are awarded with prize money.

Until recently you played with dollar in the ongame network, but now I think you can use euro in the ongame poker network regardless of where you play.

But of course the rakeback system isn´t all that makes you decide where you want to play. You also want to play at a pokersite with a lot of traffic and with a good range of games that you are interested in. The best thing is to combine all these criterions and other criterions you may have when you search for a pokersite that suits you.

For me it´s for example very important with fast fold poker and that you can get in touch with the support 24/7. I feel much more safe when I know that I can get help around the clock. But more about my requests of pokersites in another blog post. I shall soon play a small online tournament and I must make coffee and sandwiches before that. I will tell you about the result in my next post.

I end this post with a poker quote that I like: ”People would be surprised to know how much I learned about prayer from playing poker” By Mary Hunter Austin

My live poker debut and PokerStars boycott

The pokersites rakeback system is very important for the players. When the big pokersite PokerStars announced changes for the worse for the high stakes players in the rakeback system the reactions came immediately. On the poker forum 2plus2 players organized a three day long boycott in order to show their dissatisfaction. The reaction I think shows the importance of the rakeback system for the players.

Another pokersite took advantage of the boycott and offered lower rake fees on certain tables to attract the dissatisfied players. Kind of smart I think!

Enough about that. I want to tell you a bit about my first live tournament experience! Until recently I hadn´t played in a real live tournament, but now I took the chance to play a beginners tournament. It was really fun, but I have to say it´s a lot easier playing online where you don´t have to count the chips all the time to know how much you have in your stack or how much that´s in the pot or how much chips your opponents have. It´s also easier to bet online, you just click bet half the pot, or bet three times the big blind and so on. But besides that it was really fun to gamble live.

One big issue for me was the pot odds. I was not prepared that I just had to count the pot odds for my self, since I did not have I computer that counted the odds for mer, and that was a kind big issue. I realised that my computer has made me to a lazy and to convenient poker play, with all the tools you have available online. Now days i try to play even online poker with less and less tool without disrupting my play. I think it has made me a better player over all with a better understanding about the game.

To play live was a more social experience and you could also try to read the other players body language to determine if they were bluffing or not. That was quite hard and I think it would take years of practice to be good at it. I will most certainly try playing a live tournament again. Not because I was particularly good at it, but because it was so fun and that I want to improve and learn.

Readin body languages and pot odds you can practise on, but one thing that will be really hard for me is all the trash talk. Some guys just talk and talk all the time, especially when you have a tense situation where I really need to think and focus… That annoyed me very much, next time I will listen to music with a large headset or something that covers my ears completely. I am used to be able to take my time without anyone disturbing me in front of my computer.

I think it´s fun to try new things and learn new stuff. Recently I also tried anonymous poker for the first time, I didn´t really like it, but I guess I have to give it a second chance.