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My first suggestion is to test out the free tables.  There is not a lot of competition on them and they are a good place to learn the speed of the game and the overall basic play of the site.  Once you are familiar with the site and the navigation you are ready to begin playing for real money.  

There are many different types of tables to play here along with types of games.  PartyPoker offers No Limit Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo and 7 Card Stud.  We will focus on No Limit or Pot Limit Texas Holdem.  There are many different types of tables also to play.  You can play tournaments or real money tables.  Tournements are good when you are begining because you can only lose your entrance fee.  They start at $5 a tournament and you can play for an hour.  Those usually have 10 players so you get good experience.  There are also multi table tournaments.  Those have more than 10 people , usually 100 to 1000 players.  The entrance fee is similar, starting at $10 going up to $1000, but you can win a lot more money.  However, if looking to make money, I would stay away from these.  They are hard to place in the money and also take a real long time to play.  They can be fun to play if you have the time and are interested in learning, but they wont make you the big money unless you happen to get lucky and win or place in the top few positions.  While Texas Holdem is based on skill, there is a LOT of luck involved.  Especially in large tournaments.  You can be the best player in the wolrd, and that doesn't guarantee you a top spot if you get unlucky on a draw.  

We are going to focus on Real Money tables.  This is where you can make the most money if you play conservatively and are patient.  The best tables to play are the $25 No limit or Pot limit tables.  The Regular limit tables keep you from making the big win, which is where you will make you money.  Also, try to avoid larger than a $25 table.  They have tables up to $200, but the better players play on the $50 and up tables.  You will make your money off of the less experienced players on the low limit players.  Everyone these days is learning to play Holdem and there are a lot of inexperienced players out there and this is where they start to play.  

The name of the game is conservative.  You will not make money bluffing people.  You will not make money playing 3-8 offsuit in the long run.  Sure, you might make a quick few dollars here and there, but remember, you are playing for the long run.  What you want to do is play only the best 10 to 15 hands.  Pretty much, if your lowest card is a 9 or a 10, then you want to play it, as long as the blinds are not raised.  When you have one of the top 3 hands (AA, AK or KK) we suggest raising slightly.  Most of our wins come from getting say KK on the flop, raising to $1.50 and then someone re raising to $3 or $4 dollars.  They feel their hand is strong but odds are, its not as good as yours.  Then you go on top of his raise and bet $10 or $15.  That will either take him out or get him to go all in.  You will make your money on the big wins.  You might lose 40 hands in a row and only be down $5, when you get a pair of Kings and you can double you money on one hand. 

Slow Play

Most people bet big when they have a good hand.  A trick I use sometimes is to slow play a good hand.  Say you are on the blind and you have 5-9 and the flop is 5-7-5.  You have 3 of a kind and probably the best hand.  I usually check in this position.  People might think you have nothing and bet to try to bluff you out or they might have a 7 and think they have the best hand out there.  There always is the possibility someone will catch something later on and pick up a flush or straight to beat you, but in the long run, this will win.

Don't chase

If you have something decent, like A-Q and the flop is J-J-10, I do not suggest chasing this,looking for a King.  When you are looking for one card, this will not get you money in the long run.  The odds are about 9% of hitting this.  That means 91% of the time you will lose.  If no one bets, you can place a small bluff to possibly knock people out, but small is the key word.  If someone bets strong, then fold.  There will be many more hands.  Don't get suckered into betting with A-K, even if you have nothing.

Study your Opponents

Another thing we suggest is to watch the players you are playing against.  Do they bet high off the flop and you later find out they have nothing.  Do they only bet once every 15 hands, showing they only play the best hands?  You can learn a lot from watching how your opponents bet.  When someone takes a long time, they usually don't have the best hand.  If you just bet something and they are real slow in calling but then eventually do call, then the next time, you raise your bet.  They probably are chasing something.  If a player bets a lot real quickly, get out.  They probably are not bluffing.  The bluffing I have seen has players taking a while to bet, then thinking they will bluff and then eventually bluffing.  That isn't always the case, but in the long run, it is.

Watch the big stack when he bets.  When someone wins a big hand and they get a lot of money in their account, they get cocky.  They will more likely try to place a larger bet to bluff because they have the money.  Never try to bluff the big stack.  They will almost always call.  

 Pay attention also to the little stack.  If someone is down to $3 or 4 left on the table, the will go all in when they get a real good hand.  They will probably fold all their marginal hands, just trying to double or triple up. 

Multiple Tables

We suggest also playing 2 or 3 tables at once.  One table can get real slow if you are only playing the top hands.  You might only play 1 in 10 hands, so if you play 2 or 3 tables at once, you can double your profit potential.  however, do not do this if it is too confusing to you.  This will take some time to work up to but the rewards can be great when you do this.

Final Words

Finally, we'd like to say, good luck and stay conservative in your play.  When you are the little blind, we suggest almost always calling the $.25.  If there is a raise though, drop.  Poker is a game of ups and downs.      Some days you will lose.  But remember, you are playing for the long run.  Stay conservative, never chase anything and stay within your limits and we guarantee this approach WILL make you money.


--Q
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Poker Strategy

Daniel Negreanu Never Judge a Book by Its Cover
By Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu is an instructor at PokerSchoolOnline.

The year was 1998 and I'd just had a very successful tournament at Foxwoods, building my bankroll up to $60,000 from $2,000 a month before. The Rio was holding its annual Carnivale of Poker tournament in January, and now that I had money, I wasn't going to miss out on any of the fun.

Before I'd even entered the tournament room at the Rio, I'd already spent more than $5,000 in the shops. I bought a Versace jacket, a pair of shoes, and a pair of pants. Ah, no big deal, I'd just go win it in the live games, right?

I sat down in a $75-$150 hold'em game and bought in for $5,000. The game appeared to be really good; some young blonde girl who didn't look old enough to get into the casino was in the game, and so was this other young hotshot who raised every pot and never shut up.

I had my strategy all figured out: I wouldn't bluff the crazy young kid, but I'd attack the poor little blonde girl. I thought, what is she doing playing so high, anyway? Well, she probably won't last long, so I'd better get some of that money before it's gone.

Well, about an hour had gone by and I was already losing more than $3,000. That annoying little blonde girl was crushing me! Every time I raised, she reraised me, and every time I bluffed, she called. I shook my head after she called me once again when I had nothing, and she said, "Ace high."

Ugh, how annoying. Oh well, be patient, she'll give it all away - or so I thought.

I was now stuck a little more than $9,000; all I had left on the table was $300, so it was time to reload. My hotel was across the street, so it gave me a chance to take a little walk - and it was a good thing, too. All the way to the hotel, I talked to myself. What the heck was going on? So much for paying for my clothes, at this rate I'd have to return them! I started to go over all of the hands I'd played with her throughout the evening. Then, it finally dawned on me: This was no novice little rich girl; she was playing better than I was.

I finally made it back to the poker room and the little blonde pro was racking up her chips. I couldn't imagine why - with me in the game, she was bound to win another $5,000. I asked the loud, crazy kid, "Who was that?" Layne Flack responded, "Who, Jennifer? That's Jennifer Harman." Oh, yeah, I was in a good game, all right; I was clearly the worst player in the game!

Luckily for me, Layne also quit and went to play in some humongous pot-limit Omaha game. Layne and Jennifer were replaced by a couple of older guys I didn't know (Berry Johnston and Ray Zee). Little did I realize that I was still the worst player in the game.

The poker gods were very nice to me that day, though; they let me out of the trap and I won the $5,000 that I'd spent on my new wardrobe.

More important than the money I won that day was the lesson I learned: Never judge a book by its cover. I mean, this little girl looked like she had to be about 17 years old. How could she possibly be a professional poker player? Well, she wasn't 17 - but she'd been playing poker for about 17 years.

As for the wild and crazy Layne Flack, that too was a mirage. There was method to his madness, but I was blinded by all of the talking and raising he was doing. He was playing very aggressively, but he was no dummy.

We all know Jennifer Harman to be one of the best all-around poker players in the world today. (I won't say, "for a woman," because that doesn't apply at all). You could never in a million years guess that by looking at her, yet inside that 103-pound frame lies poker talent and knowledge that most people could never dream of having in a lifetime.

I was taken by surprise that night, and was determined to never again allow myself to stereotype people's poker-playing abilities by their looks. I wonder how much extra money Jennifer has made in her life because people have made the mistake I made and taken her lightly? Or, how about Chris Ferguson, with the big cowboy hat, long hair, and beard? You'd never guess that he is a math whiz, would you? You'd assume that he plays on hunches and feelings rather than a sound understanding of the mathematics of the game. Don't be fooled!

This advice applies regarding drunks, as well. Have you ever encountered a drunk who was giving away his money, yet, amazingly enough, he hardly ever lost?

When evaluating whether or not you are a favorite in any game you're playing, make your judgement based on the play of the hands. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of allowing your stereotypes to make these important decisions for you.

 

 

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Instructor: Bob Ciaffone

Introduction to No Limit Hold'em

What is your poker background? Bigbet poker (no-limit or pot-limit play) is the preferred betting structure in much of the world. But in the United States and Canada, it is normal to start out playing limit poker before venturing into the no-limit arena. We will assume for our discussion that you have followed the limit path to no-limit. We also assume that you are already familiar with holdem. (If not, you are urged to first familiarize yourself with that game's basics before trying to play it with no-limit betting).

There are some large differences between limit and no-limit play. Let's look at several of the most important distinguishing characteristics for no-limit.

(1) You select the bet size and can bet as much as you want.

The typical wager is between a third the size of the pot and a shade more than the full size. On occasion, you will want to overbet the pot size by a large margin because you wish to end the betting by going all-in. The most common newcomer mistake is to bet an amount too small to adequately protect his hand. The greenhorn is often outdrawn because his small-size bet allowed the opponent to draw at and help a hand that otherwise would have had to be folded. He also bets too small an amount on his very good hands, intent on gaining a little something on them, and failing to realize the large amount it costs him when such a hand is outdrawn. His bluffs don't work so well because he is a penny-pincher. You must adopt to your new medium by increasing the size of your wagers.

In a betting structure where the player can select his bet size, the amount he chooses to wager often imparts information about the nature of his hand. The meaning of an unusually large or small bet differs from player to player, and may well vary even with the same player at different times. For example, a small bet may show fear, or a big hand looking for action. A large bet is often a hand that thinks it is presently good, but is afraid of being overtaken, rather than being a rock-crusher. Nevertheless, there are many times where you can make a good decision by drawing an accurate conclusion based on the amount wagered by the opponent. It pays to be observant and remember what hands a player shows up with when his bet size is unusually small or large.

(2) Your position is a much more important factor at no-limit.

Play fewer hands up front and more hands in the back than is your custom at limit poker. At no-limit, if you have to act first and guess wrong, the result may well be losing a bet the size of the pot when someone else has a stronger hand, and failing to fire when someone else has a weaker hand. In back position, after seeing how your opponent reacts to a new card, you are more likely to make a correct guess what to do.

(3) The amount of chips in play is an important factor in many decisions.

In determining what hands to play in each position and how to play them, a major consideration is how many chips you have in your stack. We are not talking about the actual cash value of each chip. The difference between dollar chips and hundred-dollar chips is mainly psychological (aside from the competence of the players in the game). Rather, we are talking about the size of your stack relative to the blind structure. For example, if the big blind is a hundred dollars and you have only a thousand dollars, you are short-stacked (only 10 times the big blind). If the big blind is a dollar and you have forty dollars, you have a medium stack (forty times the big blind). If the big blind is five dollars and you have five hundred dollars, you have a big stack (100 times the big blind). Your stack size is critical to many decisions.

Of course, the amount of money actually in play on a hand when two players are dueling for the pot is the amount in the smaller of the two stacks. When John has $300 and Betty has $100, if they tangle heads-up, only $100 of John's money is in play. If he moves all -in and Betty is his only caller, John will get $200 of his $300 wager returned to him. When Betty lacks sufficient funds to cover the full amount bet, only in old movies would she be forced to either raise enough money somewhere to cover the bet, or otherwise give up the pot. Poker uses the table stakes rule, where only the amount on the table in front of you at the start of a hand is in play for each deal.

There is a strong relationship between the size of your stack and the importance of position. The deeper the money around the table, the more important your position becomes, because fewer deals are concluded early by someone getting all-in. Your advantage in acting last will be exercised at several different points as the deal develops. You want to act last on as many betting rounds as possible, especially on the later rounds. The later decisions are the more important ones, as they involve a larger pot, and there is greater information available about what the opponent may hold.

(4) The skill factor has been intensified.

Since you select the size of your bet, and the typical wager is a sufficiently large proportion of the pot that you can exert pressure, you have a lot to work with in your toolbox. You can bully, you can bluff, you can make a good read. At limit poker, the pot odds allow the playing of many longshots, either as correct poker or only mildly incorrect decisions. There are far more drawouts at limit holdem than no- limit. It gets frustrating after a while to not have any way of really punishing the drawout artists. It feels good to have more to fight with than a club of feathers. Once you have tasted "real full-contact poker," it is unlikely you will want to go back to the land of the outdraws (limit holdem).

How does one measure the amount of skill in a poker form? It is true that limit holdem is a difficult game to play correctly. So what? The reward for doing so is not nearly as great as the payoff for being a topflight no-limit holdem player. To compare, a top limit holdem player is supposed to be capable of earning one big bet per hour. That is twice the amount of the big blind. A top no-limit player would find such a meager wage unbearably low, and earns on the average many times the size of the big blind per hour. His decisions are much more meaningful, because he has many more weapons to fight with, and far greater control over his financial fate.

What traits make for a good no-limit holdem player? Some of the best ones are very aggressive, especially those who prefer tournament play to money play. Other top no-limit players are quite solid. Among successful players, there is a wide variance in style.

For a newcomer, keep in mind that an extremely aggressive style will place you in a lot of tight spots, where pressure will be on you to make accurate decisions. A player lacking in experience may well make poor decisions. Also, if you face other inexperienced players, they tend to call a lot, so you will not be picking up enough pots with an aggressive style as you would like. So you are recommended to get some seasoning before adopting an extremely aggressive style that involves playing a lot of marginal hands and doing a lot of preflop raising.

Even though you do not need to play a lot of pots, when you are involved, it pays to be a bettor rather than a caller. This gives you two chances to win. The opponent may fold, or you may get a winning hand to show down. Give yourself a chance to win the pot by applying pressure. Even a player who sticks to solid hands preflop is going to get into some tight spots. Once the flop comes down, riches can turn to rags. Ace-king suited often becomes simply no pair. So no matter how hard you try to stay out of trouble, it is necessary to learn how to gun your way out when the occasion allows.

The main drawbacks to being a no-limit holdem player used to be the scarcity of games and the tough competition. With the explosion of Internet poker and the rapidly rising popularity of no-limit holdem games on those sites, you now have a wide choice of arenas. There are so many games that there are not enough good players to come close to filling them. Also, you can learn as cheaply as you wish, at stakes so low that have never been seen in a brick-and-mortar cardroom, because they cannot be raked enough to cover the overhead of spreading them. As you might expect, the quality of play in these cheap games varies from mediocre to abysmal. A player with some talent who is a good student can expect to get paid for his on-the- job training.

If you have decided to learn no-limit holdem, you are going to find out two things. First, the game is a lot more fun to play than limit poker. Second, poker skills such as bluffing and reading opponents come into play much more strongly. You will soon feel you are progressing along a fine poker road to follow.

 

Instructor: Lou Krieger

A Beginner's Survival Guide

Some of my best ideas come from readers like you. Recently a reader's email suggested a column offering a survival guide to ease the transition for beginners who are about to take the plunge and play casino poker for the first time. This is an idea whose time has come, and it probably ought to come around about once a year, since there is a continuing influx of new players and new readers who may never have given a moment's thought to the differences between playing poker in a casino or cardroom, and playing in a home game or across the kitchen table with family and friends.

Start Small: Playing in a casino is not like playing in a home game or with family and friends. The game is faster, for one thing, and that takes some getting used to. And regardless of how many truly awful hands you're apt to find played in low-limit, "no fold'em" hold'em games, those games are usually a lot tighter than they are around the kitchen table when your opponents are Uncle Billy, your parents, and three or four of your cousins. Even if you are an experienced home game player, you will find the pace of casino poker substantially swifter than the home game variety.

You probably should figure on losing money the first few times you play in a casino, if for no other reason than your own unfamiliarity with the pace of the game and a few formalized procedures, rules, and points of etiquette that are new to you. Since you will, in essence, be paying for lessons the first few times you play poker in a casino, there's no reason to make them any more costly than necessary. My advice is simple: Play small at first. And stay small until you feel comfortable with the environment, are sure that you can outplay your opponents, and can afford a bigger game. Then move up.

Join the 'Good Hands' People: Playing marginal hands can be your undoing. Play few hands, but play aggressively when you are dealt a good hand. Actually, if you're going about it the right way, you'll gain as much or more by watching your opponents when you are not involved in a hand than you'll learn by vying for pots with them. Make sure you have some idea about the hands you will play from various starting positions before looking at your cards.

If you're playing hold'em, my books contain suggested starting hands that can be played from early, middle, and late position. Other authors have also promulgated starting standards for hold'em players, and most agree about the vast majority of starting hands. What matters most is that you need a basis for deciding which hands are playable and which ought to be folded. When you're really new to casino poker, playing fewer hands will probably mitigate your losses while affording you an opportunity to watch your opponents, observe and mentally catalogue the kinds of hands each of them plays from early, mid, and late position, and eventually use that knowledge to outplay them.

Don't Bluff: Low limit games are no place for bluffers. In these games, where you typically have a relatively large number of opponents seeing the flop and even continuing beyond it with all sorts of hands I can't imagine ever playing, a bluff is unlikely to work for two reasons. As a general rule, the more opponents you are confronting, the greater the chance that at least one of them has a hand. And he or she will call when you come out betting. In addition, low limit games are populated with players who sleep very well, thank you, knowing that no one, but no one, is stealing from them. Since bluffing is unlikely to work, don't try it unless you've identified some opponents who are actually willing to throw hands away when someone bets into them with what appears to be a big hand.

Don't be disappointed if you can't bluff. It's an overrated tactic anyway. What you have going for you instead is the certainty that you can expect to be called whenever you bet, and may of those callers really should have thrown their hands away a lot earlier. Moreover, whenever you make a big hand, like a full house, the nut flush, or nut straight, you can raise with the certainty that you will be called thereby winning additional bets that you could never count on winning in games where players will lay down marginal hands to a bluff.

In the low limit games you'll be starting out in, you'll probably have to showdown the winning hand to capture the pot. That makes for a somewhat mechanical, occasionally boring, but undeniably profitable strategy: If you got the goods, bet. If you don't, check. And if someone is betting into your hand and you know yours is better, go ahead and raise.

Keep Learning: You'll never know it all. There is always something more to learn about poker, and even when you think you know all there is to know, you won't. Moreover, much of what's learned about poker has to be relearned from time to time. Read books. All of them. Even if you get just one or two good ideas from a book, it's an investment that will pay for itself in a relatively short period of time. I have a large library of poker books, and I don't consider any of them to have cost me money. They are investments that have repaid the money spent to acquire them many times over.

Books aren't all there is, either. Watch videos, get yourself some software, like Wilson's Turbo Texas Hold'em, or Turbo 7-Card Stud (which not only lets you play against computerized opponents, it is a terrific tool for running simulations and conducting your own research about various hands and scenarios), discuss poker with knowledgeable players, and avail yourself of the advice proffered on the Internet newsgroup, Rec.Gambling.Poker.

This seems like a pathetically small measure of advice, particularly when there is so much to know before one morphs from newbie to skilled poker player. But there's a finite limit to the number of angels I can get on the head of this particular pin. If you take my advice, you'll get your feet wet gradually there's no real need to dive into the deep water head first and reinforce your experiences by thinking about what's transpired in your game and assessing it against the theories you've learned from books and software.

Don't expect too much at first. Setting the world on fire isn't important. Learning and improving is. Keep moving forward. Baby steps will do. As long as you're making progress, you'll reach that point when you realize you're a poker player - a real one too, not a pretender. Even then, you'll have to keep learning. But it's much more enjoyable when your winnings are underwriting your hobby and maybe even your lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

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