Archive for March, 2009

Prop Bets already released for WSOP

It’s getting closer and closer to the end of May and we all know that means World Series of Poker time!  But in case you’re not already aware of that fact, there are plenty of online poker sites that have been reminding people by offering lots of WSOP prize packages.  Bodog is offering those too, but they also have something even more unique than that in the form of prop bets.  Bodog has already released their prop bets for the upcoming 2009 WSOP and they are definitely interesting to say the least. 

If you’ve ever wanted to put money on whether or not Phil Hellmuth will win a bracelet then now is your chance since Bodog is offering +300 for wagering “yes” and -500 for wagering “no”.  If Hellmuth doesn’t win a bracelet then both Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan have a chance to tie him by winning their 11th bracelet. 

The seemingly most popular bet on the table is which player will take home the most money during the WSOP.  Among the players you can bet on are Phil Hellmuth 5:2, Doyle Brunson 7:2, Barry Greenstein 5:1, Mike Caro 12:1, Phil Gordon 10:1, T.J. Cloutier 6:1, and Daniel Negrreanu at 3:1 odds.

If you’d like, you can even place a wager on which game will be played when the final hand is dealt in the H.O.R.S.E. championship.  The available games are Hold’em, Razz, Omaha HiLo, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud HiLo.  Plenty of other prop bets are being offered too so it’s just a matter of looking at which ones interest you the most and laying the money down.

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PokerStars trying to prove Poker is Skill Game

By now pretty much everyone that pays attention to poker is tired of hearing the skill vs. gambling argument.  This has been in the news time and time again since lots of people in and around poker are trying to prove the game involves plenty of skill and is not merely gambling.  But I recently came across some interesting news about how PokerStars is on a quest to prove that poker is indeed a skill game so I thought I’d bring up the subject again.

In trying to prove that poker is a skill game, PokerStars hired Cigital to do a study on just how much skill is involved.  So Cigital analyzed 103,273,484 poker hands for their research and the findings they came up with were very interesting.  Their study found that over 3 quarters of the hands played ended without a showdown meaning that the winner was never forced to show their cards.  Basically this means that the actual cards people were dealt had less to do with the outcome than did skilled plays such as making reads and knowing when to bet and fold.

Before this, plenty of people have made the argument that poker involves too much skill to just be considered gambling.  But now there is some actual evidence to back up the argument in that most of the money earned in the game has nothing to do with actual cards.  It would be different if people were dealt cards and simply had to show what they had every time, but that’s obviously not the case here.  I’m not sure if the study will make a huge difference in the ongoing argument, but I hope that it will provide something extra in proving that poker isn’t just gambling.

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Poker Etiquette 101

With so many players learning to play poker by watching it on TV or learning online it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that many of the more subtle nuances of the live game are not known to the casual player. So many of the decisions are taken out of you hands in the online game, you can never make too little of a raise, act out of turn,  forget to post, or a whole slough of other faux pas made by the beginner to the live game.

Well, like eating with your hands when you are a kid,  if no one tells you any differently then how are you to know right from wrong?

Right.

So here it is, your first lesson in the continuing education of poker players for the live game, “table manners” if you like.

String Bet

This one came up in the Home Game the other night from one of the newer players and there was a pretty fine line to walk with this, but most would technically call it a string bet, or string raise.

First of all let’s go through what that is.

In poker, your first action is defined as you action.

What the hell does that mean?

Well, there are two ways to make an action in poker, verbally and physically

Verbally: meaning you can tell the other players what you are going to do and then follow through on that action. “I call” for instance and then place the appropriate amount of chips into the pot.

Physically: meaning without saying a word, you could call by simply placing the appropriate amount of chips over the “pass” line or into the pot.

You can not though make two actions on your turn.

Like saying “I call.” and then saying “and raise you $20″

The verbal first action of “I call” is accepted as being the binding action.

People that learned to play poker from watching old Western movies may make this mistake.

The same way, you can not make two physical actions.

You can not for instance place a bet equivalent to a call into the pot, and then go back to your stack and get more chips for a raise. If you are not going to announce that you are raising you need to place all the chips into the pot in one single motion.

What if I can’t get all my chips into the pot in one action?

Bless your little heart for asking and I truly hope we all have this problem sometime in the future. But lets just say that you are at the final table of the WSOP Main Events and sitting there with $20,000,000 in chips in front of you in about 50 stacks. Someone limps into the pot and you want to raise to $4,000,000 which is 10 stacks, you can’t get all those into the pot in just one motion can you? No, and you don’t have to, you would simply announce that you are going to raise, and then verbally announce the amount and then you could make as many trips back to the stack as you needed to.

Why does this matter?

Good question. String bets can be seen as a form of angle shooting.

What?

Angle Shooting

Part Deux.

Angle shooting is the practice of using tactics that are borderline legal in order to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent. In this case if the person to act was to say that they are going to “call” and picked up a tell on the other player that seemed weak and quickly said “and raise you $50″ they may be able to take down the pot right there.

Or say “raise” and throw out $50 and watch your reaction, if you looked questionable he would go back to the stack for another $100 or so.

Well there you go, your first lesson in poker etiquette, now practice it in real life and you are sure to be invited back for another fish dinner.

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Staking a player

One of the more interesting phenomena I have found in the Poker world is the practice of staking another player.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of staking, let me give you a quick description:

Shark is a good poker player, though for some reason beyond his control, he doesn’t have enough money to play poker, be it at a certain level of buyin, or in a certain tournament. Seeing as the entry fee for many of the top tournaments can exceed $10,000, it not hard to see why that may be a problem for some players.

Banker has a bunch of money and is willing to invest it with Shark, in return, should Shark win, Banker will receive part of the winnings.

This is just one of the scenarios, many other variations exist, but this is the simplest.

Why wouldn’t the Banker just play with his own money?

Well, a smart person realizes that there are other people out there that are more skilled at certain activities then they are and are not afraid to admit it and invest in that persons skills.

So how much does the banker get back?

That is really up to the two individuals, but I have seen ranges from 70-30 from the player to 70-30 for the Banker, it really is up in the air depending on the situation.

One of the more famous staking arrangements that I can recall in recent history was Steve Danneman at the WSOP main event in 2005. Steve split the $10,000 entry fee with his friend Jerry Ditzel 50/50 and in return Jerry got half of Steve’s $4,250,000 winnings for coming in second to Joe Hachem. Not a bad arrangement for the banker, 425 times his money in the space of under 10 days?

Other staking arrangements might include:

Poker pros taking a piece of each others action at a big tournament, that can reduce the variance of taking a bad beat and getting knocked out earlier. Some pros may spread that amongst a lot of players, taking 10% action in ten players for instance, if only one of them happens to go deep then can end up with a pretty good payday.

Poker coaches staking their students to play the style they direct them in, that may help those students to feel comfortable making changes in their game that they wouldn’t do if it was their own money out there. The term “playing with scared money” rings true here and would help to overcome that stepping stone to allow the player to move into a more agressive style.

Quite some time ago a friend of mine invested in one poker playing friend of his to start up his bankroll, they did it more like a company does with a stock issue and kept daily valuations as to how much your shares was worth, he didn’t do too well in the short run, I’ll have to ask him how it went later on.

All in all there are a lot of different arrangements around for staking, and the opportunities seem to present themselves when the time is right for the player. If you good enough to have someone give you their money to play with, they will find you eventually.

If there can be one word of advice for getting into a staking arrangement it’s this.

WRITE IT DOWN!

That way there is no misunderstanding as to what the arrangement is, it keeps friends friendly when the chips hit the cash out.

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