Archive for the 'Poker Strategies & Tips' Category

The Final Table: Part 2 the big M

A very important part of any tournament is keeping a close eye on the M factor or ratio of both you and the other players at the table

Simply put the M factor of simply M, is the ratio of your stack size compared to the number of rounds the table it would take you to go bust if you didn’t play a single hand.

M=                             Total Stack                    

      Big Blind+Small Blind+Total Antes

The term was invented and named by Mr. Quack Quack Paul Magriel, although the concept was described much earlier in Dolye’s Super System.

In short, the higher your M the better position you are in for the tournament, Dan Harrington has a rating system for the types of plays and hands you need to consider given your M position. A quick breakdown would be:

M=20+: Freedom to play aggressive or conservative as the play and opportunities dictate

M=10-20: Need to start taking more risks, hands with smaller pairs and suited connectors lose value

M=1-6: Two moves, fold or all in

M=<1: Need some luck, you have no choice here, push with anything that resembles a hand

You will need to consider your M at all times with the other discussions about the final table. Both as True M and as Effective M which is the ratio of your M depending on how many people are left at the table.

Assuming a 10 person final table, your effective M is

Effective M=M*(                Players at Table                )

                                                          10

So  M of 20 against a 5 person table is only half, or 10.

I will try and break down the choices that you will need to make given your M in all the following posts.

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How to avoid poker burnout

For people that only play poker as a hobby, getting burnout on it might seem like an impossible feat.  After all, it’s a game that is meant to be fun and the fact that you can win money with it is only an added bonus.  However, the same people that don’t believe in poker burnout are the same ones that only play when they feel like it.  In doing this, poker always remains fun to them since they’re doing it purely as a hobby.

The people that do get burnout on playing poker are the ones who are trying to transition from being a recreational player to being a full-time player or just regular pro.  For these people, it’s very important to take preventative measures to ensure that they are not going to lose their passion for the game.

The first and most obvious way to avoid getting burnout on playing poker is to take breaks at different points.  When you’re not running so good a week-long break away from poker can definitely be the ticket to renewing your interest in poker and can even help improve play.

Another thing to do to keep poker fresh is to try different variations of the game besides Texas Hold’em (or your featured game).  Most poker rooms offer a variety of games such as Omaha, Omaha HiLo, 7 Card Stud, Pot Limit Hold’em, etc.  Even if you don’t intend on making money with these variations it’s still an excellent idea to play them for something different.

One more way to keep poker fun is to help someone else get better at it.  When you teach another player the basics of the game it exposes you to their enthusiasm and this can be very contagious.  Hopefully, it will be contagious enough to keep you happily playing again and again.

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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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Tipping in Live Play

The great thing about playing poker online is that you don’t have to know any etiquette rules.  Sure it’s nice when you can complete your turn in less than the required amount of time, but that’s nothing to remember compared to what you need to know in live poker.  And tipping is one of the sketchiest parts when it comes to live poker etiquette.

The first thing you need to know about tipping in live games is that you definitely need to tip dealers.  That’s because dealers are much like waiters in that they rely on tips to make a decent wage since the casinos themselves don’t pay dealers good enough.  Sure they make enough to live off of, but a good dealer can make the game go much smoother and they should be rewarded with the service they are providing. 

Now that the decision of whether or not to tip in live play has been made it’s just a matter of knowing how much to tip in which situations.  If you’re someone that plays limits of $2/$4 and you win something like a $10 pot then you obviously can’t tip too much or you won’t make any profit.  If you flip the dealer a quarter or even 50 cents in this situation then you should be alright on the tip.

But if you’re somebody that plays stakes of $10/$20 and you win a pot of $300 then it might be a good gesture to tip somewhere in the range of $1 - $5.  If you win an extremely large pot then it is a good idea to tip even more depending on how generous you feel that day.  The key is to make sure that you make an effort to tip though so that you’re not shorting someone that doesn’t make a whole lot of cash to begin with.

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