Depending on your playing style, you fall into one of the four types of poker players. Each of these styles is a combination of two attributes: tightness and aggressiveness and as a result there are the tight-passive player, the loose-passive, the tight-aggressive and the loose-aggressive.
Tight (plays very few hands) vs. loose (plays a lot of hands)
Aggressive (raises and bluffs) vs. passive (calls other players’ bets)
Once you’ve gathered enough experience you’ll be able to determine what type of players are your opponents and apply the most appropriate tactics against them. This is why it is important to analyze your opponents while playing and build their profile. Don’t forget, however, that there is a fine line between these playing styles and the most experienced players can switch between them very quickly to mislead their rivals. Here are a few of the main features of the four types of poker players:
A tight-passive player raises or calls only when they have a very strong hand. This type of player doesn’t usually take risks with weaker hands so, if you ever have to confront such a player and he calls your raise, make sure that your hand is strong enough to backup your bet.
Loose-passive players are also known as “fish” and “calling stations”. They call almost any bet you place even when they have weak hands so you should value bet your big hands against them. Don’t try to bluff because they will follow you with any two cards once they’ve seen the flop.
These players are also called “sharks” because they are very good players and bluff only occasionally. They wait for good hands and once they receive them, they’ll bet aggressively. They are feared for their ability to damage your chip stack.
This combination can be found at some of the most famous poker players. They go « all-in » as if this is the safest move in poker. The most experienced players mix up their aggressive and passive play to confuse their opponents and make their hands less predictable. You’ll see them go all-in sometimes with a pair of aces and sometimes with just a simple 7, 3. Loose-aggressive players are the trickiest to play against and this is why they are the high-rollers of Texas Hold’em tournaments.
This post comes as a continuation of my previous one on smart aggressive players and it is about maniac poker players. This type of players are found particularly at low-stake tables so they are usually beginners. It is very important, therefore, to know how to take advantage of their lack of experience in order to build your bankroll.
Maniac poker players make a lot of raises and re-raises despite the cards they hold, their position in the hand or the number of players that have already called in that hand. They are very active so it would be better to sit at their left at the table because this position gives you the advantage of monitoring his actions.
They are losers in the long-run but on short instances they can damage your bankroll. When playing with them you should forget about fancy play and creativity and instead start playing by the book. Basic poker theory is enough to help you handle them. If you are in a good position you should lead only with strong hands because they will call if they hit the flop. If your position is not good, then check/raise is your solution because a maniac usually bluffs at almost every flop. They will be most vulnerable when you have a strong hand on a dangerous flop so you should grasp the moment to have them fall into your trap. Never engage with them out of position if you have medium hands. Similarly, if your are out of position, never chase flushes and straight draws because a maniac will bet and overbet so it will force you to pay and pay and pay!
Maniacs love pots so you can lure them all in when you are sure that you have the best hand (only if it seems that they have a strong hand too, otherwise you should just consider betting). Stay away from all-in if you have top pair on flop because if they have a good hand they call and you will end up losing big pots and winning small pots. This is how they damage your bankroll.
« Setup play » is how you play at the beginning of a game in order to let your opponents believe that you are a maniac. This can be done when someone raises from first position and you make a re-raise from last position with any two cards looking for a show down. Let’s take the following example: a player raises from first position with A-K, you have 7-5 and re-raise in cut off position, your opponent calls. The flop brings 9,7,3 on the table. He bets, you call. Let’s say the turn brings 4; he checks, you check. The river reveals a 6; you either both check or he bets to try stealing and you call once more. At the end, when he sees the hand with which you had such a play, he will perceive you a maniac and treat you accordingly. You do this hoping it will pay off later in the game.
Another type of setup is the Phil Ivey/Gus Hansen-type who play hyper-aggressively at the start of the game and when their opponents react they gradually adjust their game. The thing with the setup play is that the image of aggression remains stuck in the player’s head and so it is very difficult for him to deal with the ‘setup-er’.
I’m sure you have all encountered smart aggressive players during your poker games and asked yourselves how to deal with them. Before going deeper into the issue, it may be helpful to emphasize some of the smart aggressive player’s characteristics.
The Smart aggressive player usually makes raises from cut off and button positions when everyone else has folded before him or when a tight player has called. His purpose is to steal the blinds. This type of player is very active so you should sit at his left at the poker and take advantage of the information his actions provide. If the position is not in your favour, then you should avoid getting into so many pots with him.
Nonetheless, if you sit on any of the first two places at his/her left, you will be disadvantaged when you are in small or big blind. Moreover, you must put a fight from time to time to keep him honest because his purpose is to steel the blinds, as mentioned earlier. The blinds are the soul of the poker game as they bring in the action (without them everyone will not put any bets and just wait for the best hand: pocket aces). When the smart aggressive opponent raises from the button and one or more players have already called, you’d better fold because you’ll be out of position. When he raises and everyone folds, you must analyze if he bluffs basing your analysis on the frequency of his previous raises from last position. If he does this quite often, you must protect your blind by calling only with hands that beat his range (the range are the hands that you believe he raises with from the button position). It’s a mistake to call if you don’t hit the flop. In this situation, when you don’t hit the flop, you can choose between: check/fold after his continuation bet on the flop and the check/raise bluff which makes him believe that you had hit big. The last option though can’t be used too often, as you may assume.
On the other hand, when you hit the flop don’t lead (i.e. don’t bet on the flop). If you lead, the aggressive player will most probably fold which makes you lose money in the long-run. Why? Because statistics show that you hit the flop 1 out of 3 times. Let’s consider that the first two times the aggressive player raises 3 times the big blind (BB) from the button position. You call but you don’t hit and after check/fold, you have a loss of – 6BB. Third time you hit, but if you lead you would probably win just the pot of 6BB, 3 yours and 3 your opponent’s. So you are still losing -3BB. Therefore, in order to be profitable you should check/raise. In this situation, he may bet 4BB in a pot of 6BB, you then raise to 10 BB, he calls and you win the pot. Your win this time is 7BB: 3BB (his initial raise preflop) and 4BB (his bet on the flop). At the end you will be left with 7BB-6BB(when you didn’t hit the flop)= 1BB on profit. Therefore, you should not lead when you hit the flop.
Of course, another option is to re-raise before the flop to compel the aggressive player to fold. Minimum raise in this spot is a mistake; instead you should 3-bet or more in order to throw him out of the pot.
« Poker’s a day to learn and a lifetime to master » according to Robert Williamson III, a great poker player nowadays. This may sound a little exaggerate given that poker is a game with only 52 cards and 9 strictly hierarchical hands. It is true that all the poker books out there are enough to fill up a few shelves in a library but why does Williamson talk about a lifetime of dedication to poker?
To answer this question is enough to take a look at today’s competition which is so fierce that knowing poker theory alone is not enough anymore. Nowadays you need something more if you want to become successful and make a living out of poker. Back in the 70′ s when poker was at the beginning of its development as a professional game, players such as Chip Reese, Doyle Brunson and David Sklansky used to win more easily than they do nowadays. This is because they were intelligent people (Reese had graduated from economics at Dartmouth and Sklansky was a great backgammon player) and were familiar to the mathematics of poker. Mathematical probabilities gave them a huge advantage against their opponents who were mostly uneducated or played just for entertainment.
Nowadays, however, poker mathematics is no longer a competitive advantage since almost every player knows it. So what is it that makes a poker player successful nowadays? The thing that works for Tom Dwan, for example, is a smart aggression and no respect for money style. Indeed, this may work. In my opinion, something that will also work is riding the weak opponent who allows to be manipulated and counteract his aggression. To become a great reader like Daniel Negreanu is another skill worth mentioning. To reach this level you need hundreds of thousands of hands and years of observing opponents’ games in order to distinguish between the true and false behaviour of your adversaries.
A few days ago, on 16th December, Miramax has made an announcement that rekindled the hope of poker fans for a quality poker movie. After 12 years since Rounders was first shown in cinemas, it seems that time has come to meet again with Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) and Worm Murphy (Edward Norton).
Though the plot and the title of the movie are not yet determined, Miramax seems to be committed to the project as you can deduce from their statement below:
“Miramax and The Weinstein Company (TWC) today announced an agreement to create sequels to some of Miramax’s best-known properties and to partner on potential new television shows and special edition home entertainment products. The first films to be produced under the agreement will be sequels to Bad Santa, Rounders and Shakespeare in Love.”
“We are very close to these films and the new management of Miramax also feels that we are in the best position to create sequels that are at once worthy and compelling in their own right,” declared Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the founders of Miramax who named the company after their parents.
According to IMDB, Rounders 2 is due to be released in 2012. The casting is not yet established but Matt Damon and Edward Norton have expressed since long their desire to participate again in this project along with the original producer John Dahl. In fact, it is so early in the process that there is no certainty that the film will ever be made.
The plot of the original film had Mike Dermott, a law student, in the main role. He returned to poker after quitting the game in order to help his friend, Worm, to settle his debts. The movie was rendering quite realistically the game of Texas Hold’em as it was in 1998, that is less of a household name as it is today. Another famous actor that was part of the original casting was John Malkovich.
Ilari Sahamies, the Finnish poker pro also known as “Ziigmund”, has been struggling for some time now with what he calls in his blog ”the longest downswing” of his life. A short analysis of his performance over the last two months reveals a staggering loss of around $3 million (since the beginning of October) with no sign of improvement envisaged for the future.
A few days ago, the 27 year-old pro played Cap PLO online on Full Tilt against Rami ‘Arbianight’ Boukai and Marcello ‘luckesxpress10’ Marigliano. The results were again unsatisfactory for Sahamies who helped enrich his adversaries by six-figure sums. Further details about how Sahamies feels about this whole situation can be found on his blog. Below is a fragment from what he wrote:
“I’m f done with poker, sickest downswing ever. Basic downswing, not in the mood for playing, but still playing, whatever”
Since he began playing online on Full Tilt in 2007, Ziigmund has succeeded in reaching a peak of $6.8 million but currently he has left only $1,654,112.
A poker player grows to be accustomed to impressive swings. In a poker player’s life, ups and downs permanently alternate and it is important to know how to handle them emotionally and to have the motivation to go on. Sahamies is known for being a hyper-aggressive and eccentric player and consequently he is used to having massive swings. As for how he handles them, he declared:
“I really don’t know how I handle those. Sometimes I feel I don’t handle those at all but it’s just money…nothing serious.”
According to poker theory, when a player is in a downswing it is advisable to stop playing because the exhaustion and the negative state of mind will do nothing but drag him/her even lower. Hopefully Ziigmund will remember this basic advice from poker theory and will take the a decision that puts him back on track.
2010 was the worst year in terms of winnings for Daniel Negreanu since 2001 and EPT Vienna was an occasion for him to turn around the wheel of luck. Unfortunately, despite being the chip leader from the first to the last day of this event, Negreanu had a great fall at the final table.
Daniel entered the final table of the 2010 EPT Vienna Main Event holding more than a quarter of the chips in play, that is over 5 million. All odds seemed to be on his side until he entered a pot against Luca Cainelli and Martin Hruby.
The flop and the turn brought to the board Ks 8h 5h 9s and all their money went into the pot. The three players had the following hands:
Negreanu: Kd 9d (two pair)
Hruby: 7c 6d (straight)
Cainelli: As Ad (pair)
When the 5c appeared on the river, Cainelli was out on the 5th place, Negreanu’s chip stack was seriously crippled while Hruby seized the chip lead with almost 10.8 million.
With only 2.6 million chips left, Negreanu managed to double up once, but soon saw himself defeated by Hruby and exiting the table on the fourth position. For winning fourth place, Negreanu pocketed €175,000, a modest sum in comparison to his previous winnings.
Hruby managed to take out his next opponent, Konstantinos Nanos, who won 3rd place. That left Hruby, holding a large amount of chips, against the 20-year old German Michael Eiler who has played with a short stack all along the entire tour. But Eiler put on a good fight and managed to take the lead when he showed AJ against Hruby’s A3 in a palpitating all-in challenge.
The final hand brought Eiler’s Ad Td against Hruby’s 2c 2h in yet another all-in confrontation before the flop. When the flop was shown, Eiler was the happy winner of €700,000 and of the European Poker Tour title. Hruby received €470,000 for finishing second.
The final table results are detailed below:
1. Michael Eiler, Germany, €700,000
2. Martin Hruby, Czech Republic, €470,000
3. Konstantinos Nanos, Greece, €265,000
4. Daniel Negreanu, Canada, €175,000
5. Luca Cainelli, Italy, €140,000
6. Andreas Wiese, Germany, €105,000
7. Matthias Lotze, Germany, €76,000
8. Bruno Launais, France, €60,000
This was Eiler’s most significant cash win in a live event. His previous big event success was in 2009, when he won a Sunday Million tournament on PokerStars, taking home $260,000.
Poker prodigy Steven Silverman has retired from the poker career at the age of 22. Playing poker since he was a teenager, Silverman has now come to the conclusion that life is good without so muck poker :
« I’m a lot happier being a real person, with a normal routine, » he declared for Washington Post. « When poker’s the only thing in your life, your happiness is totally dependent on whether you’re winning or losing, which is basically out of your control. »
Steven Silverman started his online poker career under the nickname “Zugwat” with only $15 that he received as bonus from an online poker room. It wasn’t long until that tiny sum transformed into $30,000. At that point, he took the decision to drop college and pursue poker full-time.
« I knew that I should stay in school, » says Silverman, « but in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘This is so easy, why wouldn’t I just do this?’ »
Soon, Silverman became feared by the online poker community who considered him an aggressive player. Then, he started traveling the world in search of real-life poker challenges. He won $106,000 with the occasion of a Latin American Poker Tour event, $128,000 in Monte Carlo and $350,000 at an online « Full Tilt » tournament. He was robbed in underground Maryland poker games. During his stay in Las Vegas, where he was accompanied by online superstars Andrew Lichtenberger and Dan Smith, he raised $1 million. He became known to the public when he appeared on a poker reality show on TV.
In spite of all the money and fame that poker brought along, Steven realized he wasn’t happy. That realization made him change his lifestyle almost radically: he enrolled again as a biochemistry and nutrition student at the University of Maryland, he now has a girlfriend and a dog. He even bought furniture, whereas before, his apartment would contain only an air mattress and a laptop.
He still has moments when he logs in and plays poker but this is rather rare. Steven Silverman continues to be a feared poker player but he is a born-again man.
Event no 4 at WSOPE 2010 has just started. Before the start of the event, the organizers had expressed their fears concerning low attendance at this £10,350 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller Heads-Up. They were hoping to welcome 64 participants while more pessimistic voices would speculate on even a lower attendance of only 50 players.
Finally, the participants list counted 103 players at the first edition of this High Roller where the prize pool is more than £1 million and the winner will pocket £288,409.
Today, only 32 of them returned to the poker table. Phil Ivey succeeded in taking out of the game two important and dangerous adversaries, namely Sam Trickett and Eric Sagstrom. Mike Matusow had a great performance against Sam Stein only to be eliminated a little later by Ilari « Ziigmund » Sahamies in the second round. Many other Full Tilt pros have fallen victims in Day 1 of the event: Andy Bloch (1st round), Erik Seidel (1st round), Chris Ferguson (2nd round), Tom Dwan (2nd round) and John Juanda (2nd round). Jason Mercier, who couldn’t sleep after his victory at the WCOOP, was also eliminated.
The two British phenomena, Neil Channing et Chris Moorman have continued their ascending and spectacular evolution and will be back on Day 2. Similar evolutions are present also in the case of Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu and Howard Lederer.
Today, the event has continued in order to determine the four semi-finals.