s e t a d
R II e K E sid P IV in L
stackedâ™ issue 4 | spring 2009 | luck, what luck?
BIG SHOT introducing the $500 tournament see p6
avatars sociation w i as
pages of advanced strategy
Learn how to: n Beat the big stack bully n Burn up the Omaha tables n Smash six-max sit-and-gos
Getting under the hood of PKR
spring 2009 | contents
Word on the Street Thin value betting or making hero calls - which is your favourite?
Red Hot Omaha Pot-Limit Omaha is a game for players that love a bit of gamble p18
Precarious Position Being first to act presents you with a potential minefield of mistakes
FEATURE | XXXXXXXX
PKR Live II PKR Live returns to London for number two following last November’s $75,000 guaranteed prize pool!
The Clinic Some say it’s tournaments for show and cash games for a pro. Do you agree with our resident experts?
The PKR Masters An early suckout at a final table can be demoralising but lfjAces proved that anything’s possible
14 Graham greig associates ltd, sbayram, Matthew Scherf, Danny bird, Dariusz Sas, andrew ridge
Stuff to buy
Community Card Jabba and Team PKR make their assault on the Asian Poker Tour Manila
Grudge Match There’s money on the table as kingkai84 and SoooSick square up
Road to Vegas There’s still plenty of WSOP seats to be won in PKR’s promotion features
Behind the Avatars Find out how PKR grew from a tearoom epiphany to a revolutionary 2.5m player online poker site
Ashley Hames PKR TV’s Ashley Hames finds the fairer sex are a mixed bag
The Biggest Game in Town The incredible story of the Texan billionaire that took on Vegas CASH STRATEGY
Player Focus dappadan777 may have had a chat ban or two in the past but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s a fish
Gear Keep your audio kit in tune
Mtt STRATEGY Player Focus Learn more about ovnis, the mystery MTT man from Norway p32
Rebuy Rumble Play super fast or take well judged shots, rebuys are a lot of fun
Beating the Bully Keep your slingshot fully loaded and ready to take down bullies SNG STRATEGY
Player Focus Swedish part-time grinder Uffe93 shows off his impressive ROI
The Joy of Six Six-max sit-and-gos are perfect for some major bubble abuse
Test Your Knowledge Think you know how to boss the button? We’ll be the judge of that back section
Tournament Diary Bigger guarantees and new tournaments
River Rage PKR TV host Colin Morris celebrates the guilt of being a Double Thru deviant!
welcome | ed’s letter
Breaking boundaries Keep pushing yourself to become faster, fitter and stronger
STACKED♠ Editor Rick Dacey, Art Director Graham Greig, Design Assistance Marc Southey, Subeditors Ben Sneath, Mark Stuart, Commercial Director
Tim Farthing, Project Manager Liz Moores, Snr Production Controller Kate Faulkner, Production Manager Mark Young, Reproduction by Mullis Morgan Imaging, Chief Executive James Tye, Chairman Felix Dennis pkr people Colin Morris Media Manager, Dan Grant Community Manager, James Bach Poker Operations Executive, Neil Wright Cardroom Manager, Simon Prodger Marketing Director, Malcolm Graham Chief Executive Officer, Dmitriy Shlyuger CRM Manager Published by Dennis Publishing Ltd, 30 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JD, a company registered in England number 1138891 Entire contents ©PKR ltd. Milennium House, Ollivier Street, St Anne, Alderney
laura cadenazzi, walik
Rick Dacey Editor
hen pushed we’d all admit to having had a daydream about ourselves in a Rocky style montage using bizarre training methods to beat overwhelming odds and become Champion of the World. If you’re anything like me then you even had the famous running-up-thestairs music ringing in your ears as you thought about it. It’s actually not a bad way in which to live your poker playing career. Always be willing to embrace a new facet of poker as it will only make you become a tougher and stronger performer at the table. Omaha, for instance, has become the new high stakes game of choice but everyone had to be dealt their first four-card hand and, like them, you’ll have to make some key adjustments when you start playing (p32. Red Hot Omaha). Trying out new formats and styles of play may not give you instant success but it will definitely pay dividends in the long run. Not only will it improve that specific area of your game but it will keep your poker brain well exercised and match-ready for any punches thrown at it. It might sound clichéd but anything worth achieving is worth striving for and if that means you’ve got to break some boundaries so be it. PKR revolutionised online gaming when it launched in 2005. While most sites have spun off from bricks and mortar bookmakers, PKR came into the market from a very different angle bringing with it a blank canvas on which they could paint a new face for online poker. Read how PKR became the fastest growing site in Europe (p18. Behind the Avatars). Never be afraid to try something new and never stop learning. It turns out getting to the top of those stairs is a lot of fun.
community | forum chat
What is your favourite thing in all of poker? giveyourcash Mine has to be
Using the min bet to induce a bluff... darthwoody29 I have seen many PKR
player put in the minimum bet to a big pot. Mainly this implies weakness such as bottom pair or a draw of some kind. The bet screams “please let us see the next card cheaply and don’t bet at me.” This is usually followed up by a big raise from the more aggressive players. Does anybody think reversing this concept on aggressive players is a worthwhile strategy? You flop a very strong hand, bet the min, expecting to be raised, then you can either come over the top or smooth call to try and induce a further bluff on the turn against the super aggressive players. Robbieweeza I think it works exceptionally well on the river. If an aggressive player bets every street and you underbet the river, they’ll often be too proud to fold and try to make a crazy play to save face. acestrad I’ve often considered this type of re-raise inducing bet on the river, but I never do it, ask yourselfdo you ever see profitable decent players make this move?? Hell no. Robbieweeza You don’t see a lot of pro players do this because the players to do this against often don’t make it to the tv. I’ve actually seen someone make this play on tv, he flat called the flop and turn and min bet the river, getting the maximum out of his opponent. This play really only works on hyperaggressive players, but if you pick the right spot it can work really well. wulfy How about the *check* to induce a bluff...? In spots where you feel your foe has missed their draw, I think checking opens the door to them... That said, there are a players whose turn/river bet sizing 100% tells you how to exploit them.
value betting super thin and getting called by worse. I love the think, think, think, call, muck and making Vondur wulfy mrsuspekt giveyourcash money in a spot you know 90+% of other players wouldn’t. have the nuts on the river, then Vondur The most satisfying move has your opponent puts you all-in. Also, to be the hero call. when it works, firing the third barrel on the river and your opponent wulfy I make more good hero calls folds and shows the better hand. than really good thin value bets. I once tapped my gf on the shoulder mrsuspekt Being a hero. I don’t care on an AK6AX board... and said if it’s a hero call, hero fold or hero ‘check this out’ before i bet about whatever, i just want to be a hero. 20bb with QQ which was met by a That is probably a bigger motivation call/muck... it is very satisfying. for me to play poker than the opportunity to make money. darthwoody29 Already a big pot, you
Use the forums at www.pkr.com to touch base with other players and improve your skills at the table
How to pass the bubble? lafoufe I’m always wondering
what’s the best strategy for negotiating a big-fiield tournament bubble… any comments on your strategies to go through it? lafoufe Milhouse100 poseidon1963 ScottyStarburst Milhouse1000 Poker ain’t easy. Only 10% of the starting bubble you will never go deep in a players will win money [and] big field tourney. Good cards are making it there is very hard. If you not enough so you will need to be are “in the zone” it is no problem creative to stay in touch… Rather to reach the money, you get good than tightening up as you approach cards, knock out one player after the bubble, loosen up by playing a the other. But what if you don’t? wider range of starting hands and There is no guarantee of making you should be able to steal a lot of the money. Tighten up your game chips and run deep. at the right time, is a good method ScottyStarburst Avoid the big stacks, to reach the money, wait for the attack the medium stacks, open premium hands to push and your calling range against short fold all the rest. No limping with stacks from late position and raise speculative hands like QJ or so. any two cards from late position to steal like an absolute b****. poseidon1963 If you are afraid of the
community | events & tournaments
Philip Conneller aka escalope won $20,000 at the first PKR Live
pkr Live II Will you be the second ever PKR Live champion?
ast year’s inaugural PKR Live tournament exceeded even the lofty expectations of stacked♠. Qualifiers, PKR high rollers and assorted hangers-on from around the world descended upon London’s Loose Cannon club for a weekend of poker mayhem that saw escalope aka Philip Conneller win $20,000 and, of course, lifetime glory. The poker festival runs from 17-19 April and will be following the same winning schedule as last time around. The $100 fast and frenzied Friday Warm-Up kicks off the action before the $500 main event shuffles up early on Saturday afternoon. Each tournaments has a 150-man capacity but sit-and-go and cash game side action will be open to all. At the last PKR Live the PKR Live II Schedule of events bar also took a lot of side Friday Warm-Up 17 April $15,000 bets as many long time rivals PKR Live Main Event 17-18 April $75,000 finally got to meet eye to eye Sunday Bounty Freeroll 18 April $10,000 for the first time! n
think you’re a big shot?
New $500 tournament firing up Saturday nights
KR has introduced a regular $500 six seater multi-table tournament into its schedule that will guarantee that Saturday nights will never be the same again. The Saturday Big Shot will feature some of the best short6
handed players at PKR who will battle it out over 20-minute levels and 10,000 starting stacks for some fantastic looking payouts. The most courageous, the most sneaky or simply those that run good will be rewarded with some hefty scores.
Play the Saturday Big Shot and you could win thousands if you bully your way to the top
community | pkr winners
James Sudworth stares down the photographer at the GUKPT final table
pkr sharks win big bucks The cream of PKR scores major final table success
You’ll be able to satellite into the Big Shot for just a handful of dollars for as little as $5.06 where you’ll be playing against a small field for thousands of dollars. This tournament is the ultimate bankroll booster. Don’t miss out! Also, due to a consistent overwhelming demand for seats the Sunday Classic has boosted its guarantee from $25,000 to a whopping $50,000. That means that every week you’ll have at least one chance to win a five-figure first prize like redmen06 who won $14,600 in the first week the Classic ran its doubled guarantee. n
photography: paul condron, Grosvenor UK Poker Tour
he Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Sudworth managed to claw his way back is becoming a rich hunting to equal stacks before being put to the ground for PKR sharks. James sword by Litman’s pocket Jacks despite Sudworth, who is better known as his pocket sevens flopping him a straight flush draw to set up an exciting turn and cash game aficionado james666, has become the most recent player to river. Two bricks ended James666’s take his skills out into the real world assault on the title. In fact, it could have by grabbing a very credible second easily been a PKR one-two with fellow place at the £1,000 main event at the cash grinder Craig ‘kickofff’ Brignall finishing in tenth for £3,520. GUKPT Brighton for £43,480. The tournament attracted 235 runners The big Brighton result was PKR’s and is proving to be one of the second bandstand finish on the British most exciting and well structured tournament circuit following Andrew tournaments around. ‘Golfpro669’ Teng’s victory at the On his way to the heads-up GUKPT Thanet in October 2008. James666 had ridden a bumpy Teng won £68,380 for his victory. n rollercoaster claiming and losing the chip lead in the just before the final table. He was then all-in several times for his tournament life most dramatically when he spiked a jack on the river with A J against EPT winner Andreas Hoivold’s A Q. Unfortunately he was on the wrong side of a chip deficit when he faced down eventual james666 may be a well known talent at PKR but he couldn’t winner Bernard Litman. quite manage to replicate Golfpro669’s GUKPT title success
community | apt manila
PKR’s Jabba bought himself in but lost to the chip leader with a nasty suckout
team pkr: on tour The boys head out to Manila to take on the locals in a steamy $2,500 Asian Poker Tour main event
hile most you were throwing snowballs and skiving off work as the big freeze hit Europe, the lucky members of Team PKR were busy sunbathing and preparing for the Asian Poker Tour main event in Manila. We had some mixed success in live events in 2008, but finished the year in fighting form with a second and tenth place at GUKPT Brighton courtesy of James666 and Kickofff and a win at the GUKPT Thanet thanks to Golfpro699. Hopes were understandably running high that we would be able to springboard that success into a big score and a final 8
rankings for January. Somebody call the fire brigade, the boy’s on fire! With the side events out of the way and players salivating about their prospects in the big one we were fuelled with excitement and anticipation. The whole team got together for the usual pre-event wining and dining ritual that has become synonymous with Team PKR excursions. Yes, everyone got very, very drunk and yes there are plenty of stories and photos that are entirely unrepeatable and unprintable. What goes to Manila stays in Manila - my lips are sealed… We certainly couldn’t have asked for a better team to give us a decent shot in the Philippines this year. The qualifier
table in the Philippines. Pokey85 aka Henrik Eklund got us off to a flyer in the PKR sponsored Terminator Bounty side event where the APT poker pack of Hands up if you’re Quinn Do, Nam Le and Chino going to have a hangover Rheem all took part as bounty at the poker table tomorrow players. Well done to Henrik for taking down first place along for over $6,000 USD and another $1,000 in bounty prizes. Pokey85 was also the second place finisher at PKR Live in November and top of the PKR Sharkscope
list read like a who’s who of PKR - with at least four full-time players joining their enthusiastic amateur counterparts to make up one of the strongest teams PKR have ever fielded! A total of thirteen players qualified via satellite and with Golfpro699 and myself buying in direct - making a grand total of fifteen PKR players in a starting field of 262. The PKR team all started on Day 1B with almost 190 runners while Day 1A had only started with 75! The main event got off to a rocky start for us when Jonas ‘Protection’ Mendoca made his exit on the very first hand with A♥ Q♦ on an A♦ Q♥ 6♠ flop. He led out big and found a call behind him. The turn brought a brick with the 4♠ and Jonas was confronted with a crazy local repopping his 2k bet all-in. He made the right call and found
The next seven hours were like a dream for us. As the field was cut in half PKR were going strong and all of us were flying high his opponent crushed with Q♠ J♠. An evil 3♠ on the river ended Protection’s tournament and sent him packing to a rail that was stunned into a quiet murmur by the speed of his exit. Ironically Jonas was the only person sensible enough to refuse alcohol the night before and now we were all tired and playing with a hang over while he sat feeling fresh and ready on the rail. The poker gods have a cruel sense of humour!
Getting off to a flying start The next seven hours were like a dream for us. As the field was cut in half PKR were going strong and all fourteen of us were flying high or at least surviving. Markymark2604 doubled up early when he flopped a set of nines and made the hero call when his opponent shoved on a three flush board. I was very proud of getting away from a top two flop with KJ vs A♠ T♠ and 33 on a K♦ J♠ 3♠ flop. It seemed like the poker gods were watching over us and wanted us to be champions by putting us on soft tables for such a big buy in live event.
Roll of honour Bazultra, BrasilianRaise, GiraffesAreTALL, johny8984, kingkai84, Markymark2604, megaprang, Pokey85, pokerkate88, protection, Sooosick, tigerwing, Waswini
At this point I was getting more than a little excited about our prospects and the chance for us to get more than one player to the final table.
...and then crash landing
kingkai84, tigerwing, SoooSick and pokey85 do their bit for international relations
GiraffesAreTALL and johny8984get
ready for their assault Sadly tournament poker is on the APT main event cruel game and just as we were starting to get complacent the body count rose steeply. I was A soft field was the next man out when I ran a welcome sit for the PKR players into the chip leader with A♠ J♠ against his Q♦ J♦ -the lucky beggar stumbled into running queens on the turn and river to knock me out (honestly, I’m not bitter). Then the floodgates opened and in the final 2 hours we lost SoooSick, megaprang, GiraffesAreTALL, kingkai84, Johny8984, Pokey85 and Markymark2604!!! This was a disaster. Day 1 was only ten hours in total and we had done so well getting through the first eight that to lose more than half of the remaining team with two hours to go was really quite upsetting. The team members that were left were in good spirits and playing well. Pokerkate88 was our chip leader going into Day The woman on 2 with about 50k. Bazultra, the right tries to give BrasilianRaise, Tigerwing and Jabba a message Waswini all fought the good fight, but found their luck run out. Pokerkate88 was the last PKR player left in and hit the wall just before the bubble. It seems Manila 2009 was to be a story Win a PKR satellite and play in of fun and sun but alas not yet our time to big tournaments around the world take the title. I for one am looking forward to another shot in 2010! n Do you fancy joining Team PKR in competing for life-changing money at major tournaments all around the globe? James ‘Jabba’ Bach is a PKR Poker Operations We thought so. Satellites can start from as little as $1.65 so if you want to take down Executive. You can play a tournament such as the World Series of him in PKR’s bounty Poker, the Asian Poker Tour or Grosvenor tournaments online. UK Poker Tour you should immediately go to www.pkr.com/poker-promotions!
Join Team PKR
community | Your problems solved
THE CLINIC +
Doctors Jabba and Danski are on hand to dish out bitter medicine to the ill and sick
photography: christine balderas, Wesley Thornberry, Marcelo Poleze
The diagnosis: Doctor Danski The cash game arena is a funny place where a player can have pots of success but receive not an iota of glory, but it is also the place where the variance rollercoaster hits fewer bumps and players truly get what they deserve. The upsides are impressive. Choose when you play, who you play, where you sit and which style you employ. There are no outside pressures, no mounting blinds forcing you to adjust your game and govern your gear changes. Cash games give you as much freedom as you want and allow you to leverage your edge to maximum effect. You can decide to pass everything but Kings and Aces or you can opt to check-raise every time you have a distant backdoor draw. In my eyes adopting the cash game way of life is about regaining control of your play and being master of your own poker destiny. Intensive cash experience also leads to becoming a better player in deep stacked play. Your proficiency in playing a broad range of starting hands from a variety of positions quickly leads to a mastery of turn and river play. Neither of these come easy under the bright lights of tournament push-and-shove poker, but both are essential if you want to crush cash games and be able to regularly build chip leading stacks in glitzy MTTs. Skilled cash gamers share many winning traits but the
K player of the year Neil Channing cashed nine times at the 2008 World Series and won last year’s Irish Open but is still philosophical about tournaments, ‘Anyone who plays tournaments long enough will eventually win some championship... Then three years will go by - you’ll win nothing, lose all your money - and suddenly you’ll realise all you’ve got left is the delusion that you are a champion.’ So given the vagaries of tournament poker are you better focussing on your cash game play?
toughest areas are ones that don’t involve cards or chips and are often lacking in tournament players; emotional stability and shrewd game selection. These qualities will make a greater difference to your career than how good your A-game is. A player that plays well 90% of the time is going to do better than someone that swings between electrifying poker and rampantly tilting. Okay, I admit that cash players are unlikely to receive the same plaudits but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Why advertise yourself as a tough player when you can remain unnoticed and pick up buy-in after buy-in? Poker is about making the best return and solid players will do so. Cash players are the true deep-stack champions of the game relying on skill rather than running good in a coin-flipathon. My diagnosis is that you should focus your energy on cash games. n
The second opinion: Doctor Jabba Although it pains me to admit it, Danski makes some good points and I can’t argue with his common sense logic. The poker world doesn’t call tournaments ‘donkaments’ for nothing. Yes, you’ll often have to shove with any two cards and regularly engage in coinflips if you’re going to win but that is far from admitting that tournaments aren’t an art form that rewards the skilful player. The variety of formats and structures have fascinating strategy implications and that is what makes tournament poker so challenging and cash games just can’t compete with that kind of variety and meta-game complexity. Terminators, Satellites, Break
community | pkr cast
saturday wide Net
Catch every Saturday tournament on PKR TV and watch yourself stacking fish in televised cash games Thru’s, Speed Rebuys and Deep & Steeps… The list goes on and on. I find tournaments are thrilling and varied while cash games deaden me with their repetitive nature. Okay, I concede the point that ring games can more easily provide a steady source of income, but how can you not love the chance to bink a load of cash in one fell swoop? I think that’s what this argument really comes down to is the following question, ‘Why are you sitting at the table in the first place?’ Personally, I love poker. The money can be good, but because I have a full-time job I am free to play for enjoyment not just to grind a daily expectation of $280 at the $1/$2 tables. I want excitement and variety. I want the chance to spin $250 into $30,000 and celebrate like a madman when I do so. Does this mean that tournaments should be reserved for the hobby player? Certainly not! As Doctor Danski pointed out, tournament players get the fame. There are very few pro’s that command big sponsorship deals due to their cash game prowess so any serious player has to recognize that if they want to be sponsored they are going to have to master the art of tournament poker. Put simply, if you’re looking for entertainment and excitement, then you can’t beat opening the MTT lobby, picking your stake and facing off with the donkament field. Be lucky, folks! n
Do you need sick treatment? If you got yourself into a tricky situation and want the doctors to diagnose your poker problem send us the full details of the hand to us at email@example.com. Include a hand history if it took place on PKR
ash games will soon be on the broadcasting agenda at PKR TV pushes its innovating roster of programmes across the internet and airwaves. Programmes such as High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark and The Poker Den have created some awesome television poker moments and you’ll soon have the chance to hear how your own ring
Cash games are set to appear on cash PKR TV with you king as the star player Prove you’re the best around by looking out for the cash tables that are going to be on PKR TV. Not only can you show off your deep-stack skills but by flashing some crazy aggression you can advertise yourself off as a maniac fish and then clean up against viewers that think they have your number. Equally so, why not tighten up and then abuse your rock image when the forums spot you as a nit!
game moves are rated by the expert commentators of Team PKR, which includes PKR TV host Colin Morris, firebrand commentator Ashley Hames and PKR’s very own heavyweight poker tag-team, James ‘Jabba’ Bach and Dan ‘Danski’ Grant. Premium Saturday night events, the $100,000 guaranteed PKR Masters and $500 Saturday Big Shot, will continue to be broadcast every week. You can watch PKR TV at www.PKR.tv or by going to PKR’s private youtube channel at www.youtube.com/PKRTV. The brains behind the scenes at PKR TV are always looking to keep things creamy so check for up-to-date schedules of televised tournaments in the PKR lobby and at www.PKR.com. All tables that are due to be broadcast will be clearly marked in the lobby. n
The brains behind the scenes are always looking to keep things creamy so check for regular up-todate schedules in the lobby
PKR TV on satellite television and on the internet
community | tournament report
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Comeback Kid Down and out to $31,500 winner, British player ljfAces proves that you should never write yourself off even if you get your Kings cracked by the deadly 7-2!
maddieann calls all-in after ljfAces thinly value bets his top pair on the turn and river. maddieann's hero call knocks her out in third place 12
ljfAces celebrates a revenge suckout to win the PKR Masters – depite an early badbeat the Brit managed to grind his way back to chip leader
Lawrence Sawyer, ayzek
tonyfarrar snuck up the payout ladder but was forced all-in on the big blind with 7♦ 2♦ but there was no miracle flop and he was KO'd in eighth
EspenKR lost a huge race against the winner ljfAces to go out in fifth place – a tough blow to take – but took away $6,562 for his efforts
with 10♥ 3♥ and when lelabrador shoved here are many ways to judge a his ace on a flushing A♦ 2♥ Q♥ board poker player; how they conduct schoffeltje called all-in, paying only a little themselves at the table, the hands over the odds on his 38% to win. A heart that they can lay down or whether they hit the turn and that was it. can bounce back after suffering from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The suckout of the tournament then ljfAces proved himself to be a worthy took place when saritasarita12 shoved winner by doing just that. for over 13 big blinds with 9♦ 3♦ into 10th: JeyBee was the first out when ljfAces' pocket Kings. A 7♦ 4♦ 5♦ board forced all-in with Q♣ 10♥ against J♠ Q♠ knocked ljfAces down to a short stack. and J♥ 10♦. A miracle 19% outdraw 6th: jomasira lost a flip with K♠ 9♥ failed to arrive and he was first to leave. against maddieann’s small pair. 9th: fablecanibal then 5th: ljfAces then somehow just called maddieann’s clawed back the chip lead PKR Masters raise with A♥ K♥. A nineby racing his A♥ K♣ against Buy-in $250 high flop with two hearts EspenKR’s Q♠ Q♣. It was Entrants 525 saw them both move a major tournament turning Prize pool $131,250 all-in, the board brick out point for both players. Starting chips 5,000 and maddieann scoop 4th: schoffeltje decided to draw a line in the sand with the pot with pocket Tens. A♠ Q♠ when saritasarita12 three-bet allIt was an absolutely huge coin-flip for in with A♥ K♠. The Dutchman failed to hit fablecanibal to lose. 8th: tonyfarrar scraped into 8th but his much needed Queen and went out. was then forced to play for 7♦ 2♦ against 3rd: maddieann was sucked into lelabrador's pocket Kings. Ouch! calling a small raise from ljfAces with 5♦ 8♣. The flop caught both players and 7th: schoffeltje limped on the button
maddieann was value bet into oblivion. 2nd: The ensuing heads-up took a solid 15 minutes before ljfAces landed the killer blow when his K♣ 8♦ sucked out on A♦ 8♠, sweet revenge for the kings suckout. It was the right move to make and rewarded him with $31,500. n
The final table 1st
How to play in the Masters
This flop cracked ljfAces' pocket Kings after he called saritasarita12 13 big blind shove all-in pre-flop. saritasarita12 flopped big with 9♦ 3♦
There are several routes open to you if you want to play in the monthly PKR Masters $100,000 guaranteed. You can buy-in direct for $250, qualify through SNG and MTT satellites or even through PKR points freerolls. Go to www.PKR.com/ poker-promotions for a full list of qualifiers. You can watch the action at www.PKR.tv.
community | grudge match
Twenty-four year old Kai Paulsen is a professional poker player who finished fifth in the 2008 Irish Open for a chunky $275,856 payday. He has also twice taken down the $10,000 Grand Prix double chance at PKR.
Jamie Price aka SoooSick has been one of the reigning cash game kings since PKR opened its beta testing and has been a winning $5/$10 and $10/$20 player for several years.
kingkai84 Two of PKR’s heaviest hitters SoooSick
decide to man up and enter the Grudge Match arena - who blinks first?
e don’t ask for the Grudge Match players to play for cash, it’s all about pride and the public bragging rights, but when two players decide to ante up for $1,000 then who are we to argue? SoooSick and kingkai84 are among two of the biggest players at PKR so while we at stacked♠ had high expectations of the match we weren’t 100% sure what to expect. Would there be fireworks from the outset or a slow trappy game where the first to make a mistake would be the first to crash and burn? As it turns out the heads-up was down to a bit of both. The first pots were cautious affairs with very few chips being flung about; SoooSick check-called top pair down on a 4♠ 2♦ K♣ 7♥ 9♥ board. As the players went into the second level their stacks had barely changed. kingkai84 hit a diamond nut flush but couldn’t get anything out of SoooSick. Hardly a surprise given that he had no pair, no
the big hands were delivered. Kingkai84 picked up Q♦ J♠ on the button and made a standrad raise which SoooSick called with 10♣ 8♠. A fiery J♥ 9♣ Q♠ flop gave Should he have dropped both players huge hands lighting the fuse to a betting explosion of raises and the hand when SoooSick reraises (see Raising Wars, right). Should four-bet at the pot which kingkai84 have got it in all-in with top-two would have left him with pair? Should he have dropped the hand when SoooSick four-bet at the pot which 40% of the chips in play? would have left him with 40% of the chips in play? Would you have? kingkai84 has since posted a thread draw and not even a high card to bluff on the PKR forum throwing the hand catch with. A couple of hands later it was open so if you’d like to make your SoooSick’s turn to hit a monster thoughts known find the hand when he flopped a set ‘grudge match, interesting on a wet J♦ 8♠ 7♠ flop hand discussion’ thread in and he wasted no time the Tournaments section raising kingkai84 off Then send us an email at of the forum. any potential draw. firstname.lastname@example.org with your Here’s his explanation The players had screenname and the player of the hand, ‘I didn’t put just been sizing each you want to challenge, plus him on a set because he other and just 20 your reason for challenging would re-raise pre with minutes into the bout them to hand-to-hand
Do you wanna fight?
A monster flop fans the Grudge Match flames into an inferno if he’s betting a flush draw or has hit the flop with a big combo. 4
Blinds $10/$20 (top) Both players have 125 big blinds when kingkai84 makes a standard 3x raise with Q♦ J♠ from the button. SoooSick calls 10♣ 8♠. 99, JJ, QQ so I was left with KT, T8, QJ, J9, Q9, QT, JT, 9T and of these hands I really wanted to be up against Q9 or J9. Would he make the [same] play with these hands?? I don’t know him well enough to say really. Would he do it with a pair and straight draw? Yup, I’m pretty sure of it and compared to these hands I’m just a small favourite. And if he had a straight I’m a big dog. So with that in mind I should fold like 90% of the time. To be honest I would be all-in in a cash HU match 95% of the time, but since this is a SNG and I only have one chance to bust him its different. I should fold after his four-bet, because he’s really telling me that he is very strong and would never fold. I knew he wouldn’t fold so it was only a question if he already had the straight or not.’ Analysing your play after a big hand will always help your play long term and a willingness to adapt is what keeps the best players at the top of their game. n
kingkai reraises his two-pair to $1,120 knowing that SoooSick could be raising in position with a hand that he has beaten or with a monster draw on such a wet board. 5
Now knowing for sure that kingkai has some kind of hand SoooSick wastes no time in making it $3,040 to go with a raise. A juicy J♥ 9♣ Q♠ flops SoooSick the second nut straight and kingkai84 top two pair. kingkai84 bets $160 into $240.
SoooSick builds the pot by raising to $480 charging kingkai84
kingkai thinks through the hand and decides to go with his top two pair and gets it all-in. SoooSick calls, reveals the flopped straight and the board blanks out handing the match to SoooSick.
my pkr | road to vegas
For all the latest info and details check
THE road PKR’s $200,000 World Series giveaway still has some way to roll. It’s time to get your motor running!
e may be over halfway down the highway to Las Vegas but there’s still a trunk full of World Series freerolls to be won, including more of those coveted $10,000 Main Event packages.
Our groundbreaking Road to Vegas promotion for this year’s WSOP runs until 17 May, at which point we will have given out an incredible $200,000 worth of World Series seats. So if you want to be flying to Vegas as part of the
PKR’s $200,000 WSOP 28 September 08
Event / Tournament
$10,000 Main Event
5 October 08
12 October 08 19 October 08 26 October 08
domi69 SitBooBooSit Retsina
$5,000 NLHE Shootout
$1,500 Six Handed
2 November 08
9 November 08
17 November 08
23 November 08
30 November 08
$1,500 Six Handed
7 December 08
$1,000 Ladies Event
14 December 08
21 December 08
28 December 08 18 January 09
$1,500 PLO $10,000 Heads-Up
18 January 09 25 January 09
$1,500 NLHE $10,000 Main Event
herb1 LilMatt mmmmG RebTevje
1 February 09
8 February 09
15 February 09
$5,000 NHLE Shootout
22 February 09
The Road to Vegas warrior LarsAx
Double Road to Vegas winner ‘I have never been to the USA so I’m really excited about playing the $5,000 and $1,500 events in Las Vegas. I won my seats in the ten-seater and six-seater promotions, where your starting stack equalled the amount you’d won in the promotion week. The poker gods gave me some help.’
image: 321photography /john eklund
to vegas PKR team this summer, and show the Americans who the new force in world poker is, then get involved in the final qualifiers this spring. And don’t forget, we’ll be following all our players when the WSOP kicks
off again this summer – who knows, there could be a picture of you wearing a prized gold bracelet on the cover of stacked♠ by the end of the year! n Check www.PKR.com now to find out how to qualify for a WSOP freeroll today!
feature | the history of pkr
Groundbreaking poker sites don’t appear overnight. stacked♠ looks at how PKR evolved into a 2.5m player site in just three years
rchimedes had his Eureka moment in a bath, but PKR founder Jez San had his epiphany at a Russian tearoom near London’s Primrose Hill. The games developer, who had been responsible for such classics as Star Fox for the Super Nintendo, had just been forced to close his sprawling 300-man video games company Argonaut and was in two minds which way to turn. In one direction there was the tried and tested video games development route, in which San had received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2002, the first ever awarded for services to the video games industry, or a second more risky venture that had become San’s other passion; poker. In the early 2000’s poker had become to the games industry what golf was to the business industry – a medium through which you could socialise and bond with important contacts. ‘If you wanted a meeting with the head of Sony or Microsoft you would u
feature | the history of pkr
New environments, such as the recent release of Chinatown, undergo a lot of research and development before the 3D artists start work on them and often focus in on emerging PKR markets. An advanced environment can take as long as ten weeks from initial concept to appearing in the PKR lobby be lucky to get five minutes. If you played poker you’d Mission possible get to sit with them for hours on end,’ says San, who soon It was over that cup of tea in Trojka that San decided to take started playing poker online and was surprised by what he a shot at poker. The first step was to assemble an elite team saw. ‘I began to realise that the online versions of poker were of ten of the brightest and most talented people that he knew not very good. They had the technical aspects without the fun from his games days. Together they spent around a year aspects of the game. The cards were depicted as little building a prototype that would shake the gaming industry. icons, the bets by numbers, the players by text and ‘i-gaming companies are not technology companies. if there was a picture it would be static with no Their forte is getting regulated and knowing how Did you to market effectively,’ explains San. ‘We’d never representation of what they were up to.’ know? The difference between online and live play done any gaming before and had no experience of was ‘enormous’ and there was little room to Your funds are 'ring-fenced' those two keys skills, but what we were good at enjoy the pure entertainment side, thought was gaming technology and innovation. Luckily at PKR. That means your San who regularly plays in two home games, it’s easier to learn about i-gaming and we hired money is 100% safe and one where an evening’s swing is £50 and the the likes of Malcolm Graham (Chief Executive) secure and is not used other where £1,000 can be won or lost. But he and Simon Prodger (Marketing Director).’ by the site swears he'd enjoy the game as much if it was for They were essential appointments for PKR to make £20. ‘I realised that using computer games know-how the transition from a pure technology company into a true I could make online poker that was like a real game with real poker operator but San’s key appointment was Leon Walters, players that have emotions and actions and are able to laugh, the studio manager at Argonaut, who was put in charge of cry and taunt each other like they do in real life. I thought we the overall direction of the fledgling site. Breaking into a new could really go to town with this,’ he recalls. industry is never a straightforward process, claims Walters, u
How to turn yourself 3d B ef o r e
Want to know how PKR puts your face onto a 3D avatar? We ask Mark Jones, PKR Senior Artist
aceGen is a piece of software that takes photos of real players and produces a 3D likeness for use on avatars within PKR. Anyone purchasing a PKR Face through the Club PKR shop needs to send in three quality photos of themselves; one clean shot from the front and two profile shots. Once you've ordered through we'll send you full guidelines with do's and don'ts for your snaps. Our artists import the photos and place markers on or around key facial features such
as the nose, mouth and eyes. The software then takes 45 minutes to calculate the 3D structure of the head and a detail texture for the skin's surface before we add some final tweaks and upload it your account. It's then up to you to show the world your real poker face! It’s worth noting that FaceGen can only work with what you supply, so it’s very important that any photos you send in conform to the supplied guidelines if you want to achieve the best possible results. n
The rise and rise of pkr
PKR has gone from strength to strength as more players have embraced playing 3D online poker
No of PKR players (millions)
$10k guaranteed on Saturday nights
reaches 2.5m users / Sunday Classic doubles guarantee
10,000 concurrent players
May 2007 1.5
First online festival takes place with Springfest
launch of the site
Sept 2007 1m users registered
1.5m users First PKR Masters $75k guaranteed – reaches $92k
Nov 2008 PKR Live takes place
Oct 2008 PKR TV is born
Sept 2008 2m users
af te r
It's important that the photos you send in conform to the guidelines if you want the best results
stacked♠ editor Rick Dacey goes through a Lex Luther moment during the process stacked♠
feature | the history of pkr
PKR uses state-of-the-art 3D technology to provide the most immersive and entertaining poker experience that you can find online
who are you?
‘We were coming at it from a pretty mainstream video games perspective and considered many innovations, such Where in the world is the opposition? as having the interface all within the game. We realised that there were some things we needed to keep familiar, like using stacked♠ plots the hot spots buttons for calling, checking and raising, but also provide of PKR players around the globe added levels that players could opt into if they’d want to.’ The Marmite moment in the development was the card mechanic. ‘There were a lot of discussions about whether to keep it in or not and it’s become quite a key feature for us. After months of intensive design and animation work PKR was I was always a major advocate. There were even arguments eventually opened to the public for beta testing in the summer that we weren’t going to bother with avatars but coming from of 2006 before finally releasing itself to the world on 17 August a design background I knew the emotional attachment of 2006. The face of online poker was changed forever but, as any personalisation and there’s almost a Sims (one of the biggest poker player can attest to, there are always unexpected events selling game series in the world) mentality.’ There are solid waiting for you round the next turn. plans in the pipeline for designated cash and sit-and-go tables to be played with up-facing hole cards to aid multi-tabling but, American Revolution Walters is keen to emphasise, the traditional click-and-look In October 2006 news from the States hit the wires; America, method will remain the mainstay method of the site. the largest and most lucrative poker market in the world, New releases, such as upcoming time banks and was closed for business. The Unlawful Internet Gaming break skipping, are constantly being assessed and Enforcement Act (UIGEA) had been snuck through developed as there’s a self-professed desire from Congress and even though it did not actually make Did you poker illegal in the states it barred American Walters and his team to keep things fresh by developing new environments and emotes. financial institutions from processing transactions know? Concepts and ideas are fully researched to online poker sites. Not only did the US hold PKR is regularly certified before anything is built in 3D and a basic the biggest pool of players it also has the biggest by the independent third environment can take six to eight weeks from computer games audience in the world. party Gaming Associated start to finish while a complex one can take ten. To a fledging 3D online poker site it was to ensure we remain the
? fairest site online
Key stats n 80% of PKR Customers are between 18 and 35 years old
n 90% of players are male
n 2% of PKR’s
audience are Swedes but make up 16% of Diamond players
Over 100,000 players
50,000 - 100, 000 players
10,000 - 50, 000 players
Less than 10,000 players
far from welcome news. ‘I think the first few months were touch and go as to whether we’d have the liquidity to have the momentum to continue,’ remembers San. ‘But after six months we knew that were on to something and by the first year we’d hit the million customer mark which was a relief. ‘We had been planning on going into America and I think we were very lucky we had the ability to watch what was happening. We never pressed the button to launch and we’re in a very fortuitous position that we never have to pay the US Department of Justice reparations money for having operated there. We are the squeakiest clean poker company that could be.’ PKR’s untainted image puts them in a very strong position to enter the US market should it open its doors. If it does then you can expect PKR to explode with plenty of new players as Walters believes the capacity would ‘pretty much double overnight.’ Some pundits believe that President Barack Obama’s arrival in office could signal poker being given the green light in the States. Only time will tell. Even with no Americans PKR has picked up 2,500,000
registered players, outstripping many of the traditional bricks and mortar bookmakers. More players means greater liquidity and that in turn makes for larger tournaments and bigger prize pools. And that’s great news for anyone playing on the site. ‘I’ve put a lot of my personal money into PKR. It’s a big bet but I’m not a gambler. I bet on things that I have a say in. Coming up with an idea and putting my money and other people’s money behind it is risky but you have control,’ reasons San. Now, that sounds a lot like a poker player to us. n
Even with no Americans PKR has picked up 2,500,000 registered players, outstripping many rivals stacked♠
World illustration by Will Evans. special thanks to Jaguar Jim & LIZ
feature | shoving all-in
ife at the poker table could never get better I thought, but thankfully I have been proved wrong. Over the last few years, the influx of female players has made life just that little bit sweeter for me. In what other sport could you spend endless hours in the uninterrupted company of some of the most gorgeous women in the universe? Forget football and all the rest of ‘em; poker is where it’s at. When I first started playing poker at London’s Victoria Casino about ten years ago, there was scarcely a lady in sight. The tables were populated with gnarled, grumpy old men, slouched in their seats looking faintly bored as they grinded out a living. Back then, sex-wise, the sight of pocket queens was pretty much the highlight of my evenings. It’s a different world now: Vanessa Rousso, Jennifer Tilly, Liz Lieu, and Isabelle
feigning interest in someone’s bad beats. This leaves me completely vulnerable for female players to take advantage of and exploit me. Emotionally, I lay my cards on the table – to the point where the real things may as well be face up. I give away far too much information, but I just can’t stop myself! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting there in a raincoat, leering across the table – that would run the risk of getting me kicked out of the casino if nothing else – but I end up being far more concerned with guessing bra sizes than measuring the strength of my hand. It may sound like fun (it is) but it really isn’t good for the bankroll. I’m utterly convinced that I’m being taken for a fool most of the time and considering that a flirtatious smile is usually enough to make me fold a winning hand I probably am. Poker is a people game played with cards and
Girls rock my poker world
Being sat with the fairer sex has mixed blessings for Ashley 400,000 years of evolution isn’t about to change so Mercier are just a few of the games's vixens. gentlemen I suggest that you think twice before you Poker is unique in that it is probably the only sport treat a female player as anything other than a worthy which gives both sexes a completely even playing field. opponent. Ladies, if you’re got it, exploit it and if you’re Unfortunately I, like many men, have the drawback of going to steal my chips, at least let a fragile male ego. I fancy myself as a bit of a ‘player’ me keep a little of my male and this bloated self-image finds itself getting constantly pride left intact. n battered when I play and when the beating comes from a female sparring partner the bruises feel that much deeper. Put me on a soccer pitch with the ladies and I end up feeling like Cristiano Ronaldo, all step-overs I fancy myself as a bit of and silky skills, but stick me in a a 'player' and this bloated mixed-sex poker tournament and self-image finds itself I’m pretty much dead money. Poker is a game of patience getting battered by females as much as skill, so when I’m ditching trash hands I simply need to do something to occupy my mind. Rather than focussing on the cards I concentrate on how best I can persuade the totty in Seat 3 to come to the bar for a drink during the break. Geez, I may as well just give my money away. Maybe all men are like this but at least I have the excuse of suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. It's my defence and I'm sticking to it. I’ve tried getting blind drunk but, not unexpectedly, that doesn’t improve my game. The more sensible option is to make conversation but given the option I find that chatting up women ranks higher than
andrew ridge, ernest king
feature | vegas tales
The biggest game in town illustration elements: Jamie Farrant, illustrious, Todd Harrison, Kativ
In 2001 billionaire Andy Beal began a series of multi-million dollar games against the world’s best. Could the money beat the talent?
hen you’re a billionaire business man, the world might seem like your oyster. Want to send yourself into outer space? Check. Fancy buying and running one of the world’s biggest football clubs? No problem. Okay then, how about buying yourself a place in the first team and not only rubbing shoulders with players like Drogba and Lampard, but playing them off the pitch? It’s not going to happen. not even in today’s cash-crazy game. Poker’s different. You can bring $10m to the table if that's your thing and that's exactly what the top professional cash players rely on. They flirt with each other at the felt until a big businessman or two decide to sit down. If you’ve got the bankroll, you’re welcome at these games, but the ticket price doesn't come cheap but you can walk away a winner. Most mega-rich whales with little poker experience or talent, know they’re buying an experience, and
don’t expect to win or even break-even in the game unless they get lucky. Andy Beal is a different class of whale. A self-made billionaire in the banking and aerospace industries, Beal was a man who had got rich by making the right decisions at the right time. Like buying up aircraft debt after 9/11, based on the correct assumption that the airlines would bounce back in the years to follow. They did, to the tune of $70 million per year for Beal’s company. A blackjack player in his youth, Beal started frequenting the high-stakes poker rooms in Las Vegas in 2001, and after a few modest wins, was convinced that he could return, take on poker’s elite – and win. Doyle Brunson acted as the go-between, linking Beal with a group of professional players. Unfortunately for him his first high-stakes encounters didn’t end too well, with Beal losing an estimated $4 million to Ted Forrest and Howard Lederer. For a man who had lived his life making prudent business decisions, this looked from the outside u
feature | vegas tales
like an ego project, but Beal didn’t see it that way.
above-mentioned professional players have substantial overall individual net losses after having played many hours against The billionaire had a strong talent for mathematics and was me. I concede that I am a net overall loser in the Bellagio convinced that if he worked at his game, especially to rid games, although the extent of my losses is often exaggerated." himself of any physical tells, that he would be able to take He closed by challenging The Corporation to another series of the pros out of their cash comfort zones and walk away from matches, but this time in Dallas and with a set of conditions the game on top. that The Corporation didn’t agree to. Back in his office in Dallas, Beal installed a professional In response, Doyle Brunson fired off a letter of his own to poker table and tried to replicate conditions at the Bellagio Card Player saying, "I’m very surprised at the hostile tone in by modifying his lighting and ordering in Bellagio cards, dealer which you wrote this open letter to us. It doesn’t reflect the true button and bottled water. He used a device on his leg to buzz character of the man all of us have learned every eight seconds which is the moment to respect and admire." Brunson explained that he would make his move, whether that The Corporation wouldn’t play on the it was to bet, call or fold. He also used a terms that Beal wanted, but suggested an watch to randomise his actions in coin-flip situations, watched heads-up videos and Who were The Corporation? alternative. What was clear was that both sides were eager to play again, probably hired a poker pro to teach him more with very different motives. about the game. ndy Beal posed a unique It was another year and a half before When he finally decided he was ready problem to the highAndy Beal vs. The Corporation 2. The again he started re-negotiations with stakes Vegas poker second series of games was scheduled to Brunson, and on May 10, 2004, it was players. They all believed they had take place at the Wynn with a $10 million agreed that Beal would return to play a an edge against the businessman, buy-in for each side. Beal was adamant series of matches against a group of players but they also knew that he had that he had the edge. He admitted he was selected by Brunson, and called The the bankroll to bankrupt any of down financially, but pointed out he’d Corporation. Brunson sure didn’t mess them individually. won more sessions than he’d lost. Barry about, calling in players of the calibre of To counter this, Doyle Brunson Greenstein, a member of The Corporation, Phil Ivey, Chau Giang, Johnny Chan, Chip selected a team of pros to play saw this in a different light. "Wealthy Reese, Jennifer Harmon, Ted Forrest, Gus against him. The Corporation, people focus on the number of sessions Hansen and Todd Brunson, to play Beal as it was christened, would they win because for them, the money is heads-up at limit Hold’em for dizzying pool their wins and losses, and all the same", he said. "In the Larry Flynt stakes starting at $50,000/$100,000. represents the toughest group game, I won only 50% of the time, but still of players ever to play together. made a handsome living from it." Game of two halves They are Doyle Brunson, Starting on February 1 and over The first of the infamous series of games Phil Ivey, Chip Reese, Jennifer the course of five days, with blinds of began at the Bellagio, with Beal taking Harman, Howard Lederer, $50,000-$100,000, Beal played against on Chau Giang. Beal won $1.3 million, Gus Hansen, Chau Giang, Barry Todd Brunson, Jennifer Harman, David before losing this and another $5 million Greenstein, Ted Forrest, John Grey and Ted Forrest. But there were no to Howard Lederer. There are varying Hennigan, David Grey, Hamid massive swings, with Beal having switched accounts of Beal’s subsequent losses, but Dastmalchi, Todd Brunson, his aggressive game for a more solid, what’s not under dispute is that he was up Lyle Berman, Ming La, Lee conservative style. Ted Forrest said that this around $7 million against Todd Brunson Salem and Johnny Chan. made it harder for The Corporation to win before the son of the legendary Doyle money off him, and the series ended with battled back to record a modest profit The Corporation around $3 million up. A result that Forrest saw of $1.3 million. The next morning he then took Chip Reese as a draw of sorts, saying, "Of course, if you’re going to push, – arguably then the world’s best player – for $8 million, Gus you’d rather do it by winning $3 million than losing $3 million." Hansen for $2 million and Jennifer Harman for $1.5 million. But then things took a turn for the worse for the In one day, Beal had won over $11 million, still the highest professionals. A week later Andy Beal returned and took a recorded single day win in the history of the game, and was over $6 million up for the trip. Later in May 2004, he returned, staggering $5 million from Jennifer Harman and another and lost an alleged $14 million to Todd Brunson and Howard Lederer before returning to Dallas seemingly finished with poker. That wasn’t to be the end game though. Stories started circulating that angered Beal and in September 2004 he wrote an open letter to the US magazine Card Player. In it he said, In just one day, Beal had won over "I recently read a story in the New York Daily News that is an unfair mischaracterization of my recent poker experience in $11 million – still the highest single the “Big Game” played at Bellagio. No mention was made day win in the history of the game that I won more than $10 million in the largest game ever played… No mention was made of the fact that most of the
$1 million from Todd Brunson, before Ted Forrest was sent into battle again. He went on a complete heater, taking Beal for $7 million, before Beal swung back and won everything he’d lost, plus another $900,000. Things were looking bleak for The Corporation. They had about $3.1 million left in their kitty and Beal came back the next day and took that as well. If he’d left at that point, Beal would have achieved everything he set out to do but he couldn’t help himself and offered to come back and play The Corporation again one last time – if the Corporation re-loaded to the tune of $10 million. They agreed and decided to put Beal up against their banker, Phil Ivey. The stakes started off lower ($30,000-$60,000) and Ivey won $2 million on the first day and $4.6 million on the second. Chasing his losses, the blinds were raised to $50,000$100,000 and Ivey took the last $10 million that Beal had. From ending the experiment with a massive win, the Texan had lost everything he’d earned and more. Ivey single-handedly saved The Corporation from a massive and embarrassing loss, and Beal left Vegas stating that he was quitting the game for good. To date, he’s been good to his word. ■
The world's best? Online phenomenon opens up juicy $1.5m challenge to the high stakes poker players
here’s a new high-stakes challenge in town, and this time Andy Beal is nowhere in sight. In January 2009, Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan challenged the entire world (with the exception of his best mate Phil Galfond) to an epic heads-up match online, four-tabling at either NLHE or PLO for 50,000 hands at a minimum table stakes of $200/$400. On top of this there’s a side bet, with Durrrr laying $1.5 million to $500,000 he’ll end up in profit. The side money is also there if either party wants to ‘buy-out’ of the challenge partway through. To date, Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey have accepted and there’s talk that Frenchman David Benyamine is interested. When we asked why he felt he could lay 3-1 odds against the best players in the world, he said, ‘If I gave them even money, we would have to play when they want to, or play the games they prefer. By risking $1.5 million to their $500,000, I can come up with the terms. I’m pretty sure that if I offered even money nobody would have accepted.’
Words: dave woods, illustration: graham greig, Elements: Jamie Farrant, illustrious, Todd Harrison, kativww
Beal couldn’t help himself and offered to come back and play The Corporation again one last time
ca$h strategy | player focus
dappadan777 Name Daniel Moosah Location London, UK Age 27 Joined PKR April 2006
Meeting a Cash King
PKR regular dappadan777 is your classic Jekyll and Hyde character – a gent in person and a monster at the table…
ad you been present at PKR Live last November you might have got to meet and speak to a very likeable guy by the name of Dan Moosah. Despite the fact he kept taking other players’ chips on his way to a third-place finish for $8,500, the laidback guy was a pleasure to play with. But if you’ve only ever met Dan’s online alias, dappadan777, you may have an entirely different view of him. For while his real world persona is that of a mild-mannered chap, dappadan777 is notorious for his controversial online chat, which has resulted in him being issued a chat ban on more than one occasion. Repentant after having his hand slapped for his chat dappadan777 is back to focussing on winning sessions, which is what he has consistently been doing ever since PKR launched, and has even dabbled in the occasional tournament or two. When not playing online he can often be found playing at London’s Old Vic casino, where he’s happy to put his online skills to use in the live arena. PKR_jabba
Stacked♠ You’ve been playing at PKR’s biggest tables since we opened our doors for action, but how did you get playing in the first place? I’ve got family friends involved in the horses so I’ve always been around gambling. I started playing poker when I was about 20 and I’ve been playing professionally for about three or four years. I was working in a property real estate company but left to start my own company which flopped, but I’ve always made a living on the side playing poker. Poker gives me the freedom to try out other business ventures that won’t necessarily pay a salary immediately. Plus it gave me a much needed distraction from the other forms of gambling, which I suppose was a blessing in disguise. We’re lauding your cash game achievements, but you managed to come third at PKR Live, so why don’t you play more tournaments? I’ve only ever really played cash games, and although I feel very comfortable playing tournaments, I don’t always have the patience to sit there for hours and then bubble the final table. It tilts me! I’ve probably had more success staking other players in tournaments than my own – although I have had some nice five-figure wins. I just prefer playing cash games. What’s your approach to the ring game? Focused or multi-table? I’m not one of those guys that sits and plays 80 tables at once for a set amount of time aiming to win x amount an hour. I jump around in stakes and games quite a bit, probably averaging around four to five hours a day playing.
photography: sbayram, Matthew Scherf, charlie bishop
red-hot omaha p32-35
Precarious position p36-39
Omaha is the game that is setting the high stakes world alight. Find out how to make the most money when you’re running hot with four cards.
Position is important, but that doesn’t mean you should fold every hand except the button. Punish the opposition even when you’re first to act.
I’ll play anything up to $25/$50 no-limit Hold’em if I know that there are some fish in the game. So is it all about the money or are you out to prove a point? A lot of players have egos but I’m not an egotistical person when it comes to poker. If you read my chat back you might think otherwise, as it can come across as extremely arrogant, but that’s part of how I play. I’m not interested in playing heads-up with someone for our bankrolls just to prove a point – I’m in it to make money. I’ve got lots of friends that play professionally and most of the ones that have taken the ego route have either gone broke, are no longer playing, or have moved down limits. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game but those high stakes heads-up battles don’t hold an attraction for me. What counts as a good day at the tables for you? It’s probably nothing compared to some of the other cash players, the likes of 1KevBoy and HoldemGosu. I’ve probably won in excess of $8,000 in a day before, but I’m not the kind of player that goes on $15,000 swings. That’s not my kind of game. I don’t particularly like getting it all-in with Ace-King against 9-9 pre-flop. I prefer to grind it out than gamble constantly. Do you find that turning other players’ aggression against them works best? Many players will raise every single button regardless of what cards they have, so I prefer to trap rather
than three-bet and then be forced to bluff at the pot when I’m probably behind. Ultra-aggressive players will raise the button, make a continuation bet 100% of the time and then lead the turn 90%. If you have a hand in that kind of situation they’re going broke. Controlling the pot doesn’t necessarily mean that I get maximum value out of every single hand but it does reduce the amount of times where I’m forced to gamble and increase the frequency that I’m getting it in ahead.
You seem pretty disciplined but you must have some weaknesses that dent your bankroll? My biggest indulgence is collecting watches. I like them all, from a simple stainless steel Rolex to very expensive executive-type watches by the likes of Hublot and Audemars Piguet. I’ve got to say that I’m not impartial to a bit of bling either. Apart from watches, I like to party, go to nice restaurants, buy clothes, and make the odd sports bet or two! ■
Check-calling for value
Learn when to slow play marginal hands on the driest boards position on him. When everyone else has folded and he knows that his call will cap the action, dappadan777 calls for $35.
Flop 10♥ 2♠ 5♣ dappadan777 Pokagogo
dappadan777 checks his top pair to the raiser. Pokagogo duly bets $80 into the $105 pot and dappadan777 calls, knowing that he is either way ahead or way behind on this kind of dry flop.
Turn 10♥ 2♠ 5♣ 2♦
veryone can win a big pot when they flop set over set, but winning the maximum with just top pair is a skill that the top players use ruthlessly. In this $5/$10 full ring game the action starts eighthanded. dappadan777 limps in early position with J♦ 10♦ – a hand that loves to see a flop – and calls a single raise to $45 from Pokagogo who is sat directly to his left with
The turn pairs the board giving dappadan777 two pair, and he checks again. A bet from him here is liable to fold out the majority of hands that he’s beating and only give him action on the hands that have him crushed. Pokagogo bets again – $265 of his remaining $302 – and dappadan777 pushes all-in. Pokagogo has to call with his pocket nines and the river fails to deliver either of his two outs leaving dappadan777 to pick up a very tidy $870 pot. ■
ca$h strategy | four king hell
H t o h d e r omaha Omaha is a fast-paced, high-octane format of poker where the nuts usually changes on each and every street. Isn’t it about time that you learnt how to burn up the new action game of choice?
ave you ever played Omaha? If the answer is no then you’ve got a whole new world of poker to explore. Omaha is a fiery game that can see you getting it all-in against the nuts and yet still being favourite to win! Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) has taken the online high stakes world by storm with pots regularly busting the $500,000 mark. Although you may not be playing those stakes quite yet, here are some key pointers that will let you come in at full throttle and blast through the opposition. If you’ve been buried under a Hold’em rock for your entire poker career here’s
how likely it is that multiple players have hit the flop with made hands or draws. Relative hand strengths are far closer pre-flop and therefore you’ll be justified seeing more flops with hands that could hit the board hard. Your four starting cards actually give you six two-card combinations which is an attractive proposition for any poker player. If you have a pair in your hand that can drop your effective combinations down to four starting hands if you have a dangler, and if you are double paired that can give you just three (unless they are double suited). For example, after being dealt K♠ K♥
J♥ J♦ you can play Kx Kx, Jx Jx or K♥ J♥. If both your paired hole cards were double-suited it would open your flush opportunities with a fourth hand, K♠ J♠. It should be fairly obvious then that the best kind of hands are the ones that can hit the flop in multiple ways, such 8♠ 9♥ 10♠ J♥, or give you solid nut possibilities, such as A♦ A♣ K♦ K♣. Because you’re never that far behind pre-flop and because there are so many starting hand combinations when you see the flop, you’ll soon understand why it’s said that Omaha is a game of the nuts. Slow playing anything but the stone u
sbayram, Matthew Scherf
a quick surmise of the game. First, it’s incredibly similar to Hold’em in that you’re aiming to make the best five card hand by combining your hole cards with the five community cards. That’s where the likeness ends. In Omaha you are dealt four cards, exactly two of which you must use alongside three community cards. It can lead to some early confusion but it will soon become second nature. The other key difference from Hold’em is that Omaha is usually played Pot-Limit which, rather than keeping the pots small, actually promotes greater action post-flop, especially when one considers
ca$h strategy | four king hell
cold nuts is ill-advised as it’s likely that other players will have outs to their own draws. On a board of 7♠ Q♦ 10♠ a bet from an opponent could equate to any set, top two pair, a huge straight draw with something like 8x 9x Jx Qx (17 outs for the straight with any 6, 8, 9, J or K) or a nut club draw with paired cards and/ or straight possibilities. If someone bets into you it must be assumed that they either have the nuts or are drawing to it.
If you have a big nut draw it is worth leading the betting as you’ll fold out hands that are currently ahead of you Of course, that’s what they might want you to think but cold bluffing is infrequent. You’ll have to really develop your reading skills and study how opponents play made or drawing hands and then apply that to how your hand has hit the flop, the possibilities that the board offers and how the table dynamic has been playing out. If you have a big nut draw it is usually worth leading the betting and/ or raising as you’ll often fold out made hands that are currently ahead of you, such as the humble top pair or weak two-pairs, as well as getting action from drawing hands that will be crushed if they hit. As in Hold’em it’s always good to take down pots unopposed so don’t
Pot Limit betting
You’ll find the pile of chips in the middle rapidly grows in PLO
hen you’re playing NoLimit you may bet any amount at any point, in Pot-Limit the amount that you may bet is determined by the size of (somewhat obviously) the current pot. If you are the first to bet on any street post-flop you may only bet as much as the pot currently contains. If a bet has already been made, or the blinds have been posted, then the amount that you may raise is the size of the pot after you have called. If a pot is 300 and a player before you bets a pot-sized 300 you could raise
hold back from applying pressure. If you’re holding the A♥ on a heart flushed unpaired board, but don’t have a second heart in your hand, you need to decide whether you have enough fold equity against a given opponent to make them fold a flush that isn’t the nuts (you hold the A♥ remember?). This kind of move is great but shouldn’t be used lightly. If you think it’s likely they have the flush but don’t have the ability to pass you’re
to 1200 (300 to call makes the pot 900 which is the amount that can then be raised for a total of 1200). In turn, the player behind you could raise to 4200. Thankfully all betting is calculated automatically for you at PKR’s Omaha tables!
probably best off retreating. Omaha gives you so many chances to connect with the board that it can become intoxicating but that shuldn’t excuse you to play every hand. Actually you should aim to play fewer hands from early and mid-position than you might in Hold’em as you’ll almost certainly have players coming in behind you with position. And that is really not good. Position is probably the most significant
Position is probably the most siginificant factor to take into account if you want to be a winning player
Six Simple Mistakes Avoid these schoolboy errors to get off to a flying Omaha start
Three in the hole You can only use two cards from your hand so being dealt three Aces is not a good thing. Suddenly you’re looking at just one out to hit a set as well as reducing the combination of hands you have on the flop. Throw it away. Now.
Big pairs are powerful but usually need flop support
ouble pairs look great and they often are, but they’ll need to flop a set. But that’s only going to happen around one-in-four times so don’t get married to a powerful looking starting hand like A♠ A♦ Q♦ Q♥ unless it improves postflop or the board is particularly dry. Try to get in as many chips as possible pre-flop with these big hands with pot-sized raises.
There’s an easy way to play hands like 5♦ 5♣ 2♥ 2♦. You throw them away. If you hit a set with any low pair you’re going to put yourself in a lot of hard situations. You could be up against a bigger set or you might fold to a draw. Both are bad.
to hammer in a huge raise that can force your opponent to decide whether he wants to play for his entire stack or not. Play tight, play loose, just make sure you’re feeling brave because this is not for the faint-hearted. Get involved post-flop with made hands and monster draws, and you’ll be the one smiling. n
Four suited cards
This should be quite obvious. Four suited cards greatly reduces the chance you have of flopping a flush draw or completing a flush if you’re hoarding unnecessary suited cards. It looks really pretty but it’s actually very ugly.
Don’t go low
If you’ve got low connected cards they may well be tempting to play but they’re liable to get you in hot water. If you make a low straight or flush cards that potentially make higher straights, flushes or full houses will almost always appear.
Blinded by the flush
A single flush draw is not enough to justify playing a hand. A♥ 7♥ J♣ 9♦ hasn’t got a lot going for it and hoping to flop a flush draw is a long term losing proposition – particularly out of position. You’ll only get rivered by a straight flush!
Drop the dangler
A dangler is a card unconnected to the others which greatly reduces the effectiveness of your hand. J♦ 10♥ 8♦ 4♣ has the makings of a good hand but the 4♣ dangler strangles your hand. Drop the dangler… and the rest of the hand with it.
sbayram, Matthew Scherf, alessandra chila
factor to take into account if you want to be a winning player. As the dynamics of each hand shift so significantly from flop to turn to river, more so than Hold’em, getting to see what everyone else is doing is that much more vital. Put simply, playing big pots out of position can be suicidal for your bankroll. One way to combat being out of position, if you weren’t the player leading the hand, is to auto-check any hand allowing you the choice to call, raise or fold. Serial continuation bettors will soon realise that a check from you does not automatically imply weakness. You’ll either get more free cards or more chances to check-raise with made hands and big draws. Check-raising is superstrong as most bets made are pot-sized – including c-bets – and this will allow you
CA$H strategy | Being first to act
Playing out of position may be a situation you want to avoid but sometimes you just can’t avoid entering the minefield. Keep your eyes open and mind your step!
e live in an imperfect world where bad things happen to good people so unless you fold everything but Aces and Kings on the button you’re going to have to play some hands out of position. Being first to act is not good as you’re forced to reval your intentions before anyone else. Let’s see how you can ease the pain of being precariously positioned post-flop. First of all it’s worth considering why
you end up playing hands out of position. If you’ve open-raised the pot and that raise has been cold called behind you there’s little you can do. However, too many players play hands out of position voluntarily. They do this by open-raising too frequently from early position, calling when re-raised pre-flop and calling raises from the big and small blind. You’re probably aware that you shouldn’t open-raise lots of hands under
the gun but if temptation gets the better of you it will only get you in trouble. Don’t be seduced into playing every single medium-strength hands in early position, especially if you’re sat at loose or aggressive table. Cold calling re-raises pre-flop out of position – in general – is a really bad idea. It can sometimes be done to trap with a monster hand or with the intention of ‘stop going’ and shoving on any flop. However, doing it with lots of u
37 Words: Nick Wealthall, photography: charlie bishop
CA$H strategy | Being first to act
Big slick, big problem
Playing Ace King can be a major headache out of position
he good news is you’ve got Ace King! The bad news is that you’re out of position and two times out of three you’ll have missed the flop and be left holding Ace high! When you do hit you will always have at least top pair top kicker and unless the board gets scary you can often bet three streets for value. But when you miss you have some decisions to make. You can often c-bet as it’s unlikely the opposition has been
t money behind and a medium-strength hand is just giving chips to your opponent – after all, what do you do when you’ve been re-raised, have flat called with 88 and the flop comes K-10-2 – answers on a postcard, please! You should look at these situations as re-raise (four bet as either a bluff or for value) or fold – your hand will play far easier post-flop compared to flat calling.
Pole-position So you may want to minimise the amount of times you’re out of position but, of course, it will still happen a lot. The first way to defend yourself is the continuation bet. It’s vital in Hold’em to ‘have the lead’ in the hand. So hopefully you’ve arrived at the flop as either the raiser or the re-raiser pre-flop and hold the initiative. This allows us to bet the flop whether it helps us or not, as it’s unlikely to have helped our opponent, and you’ll win a lot of pots immediately. This is why re-raising
The most important tool to add to your armoury is the ‘double-barrel’ aka the follow up continuation bet made on the turn 38
helped by the flop either. Don’t do this on autopilot if the board is very wet or if you’re in a multi-way pot. If you’re called and you also miss the turn you will often have to give up the hand. If the turn brings a card that looks scary to your opponent or if you think they’re floating a high percentage of the time you should often fire a second barrel. Remember when doing this with Ace King it’s really a semi-bluff as you’ll often have outs on the river.
from the blinds rather than calling can be very strong because you win so many more hands with a bet on the flop. A lot of players get into the habit of autocontinuation betting and this can be a leak. For example, if you re-raise upfront with A♣ K♠ and a decent opponent calls you and you both take a 8♦ 7♦ 6♥ flop betting is probably a mistake and check/folding is often the best option. Of course, you can make a delayed continuation bet in spots like these. So let’s say the same flop arrives and you check having given up but then your
opponent checks too. The turn brings the Q♠. This might be a point to make a delayed continuation bet as you figure your opponent missed the board as well and you can convincingly represent Ace Queen or King Queen.
Keep firing Perhaps the most important tool to add to your armoury is the ‘double barrel,’ aka the follow up continuation bet on the turn. As poker has evolved continuation betting has become more and more widely known and as such your opponents will be calling more on the flop because either they believe their okay hand is best or because they assume you’re betting with not much and they can win the pot on a later street. The defence against this is to fire again on the turn a greater amount of the time. So let’s assume you have A♣ Q♥ and have been called pre-flop by one solid opponent. This time the flop has come J♥ 6♣ 2♠ . You bet and are called. The turn brings King Diamonds. Here you can fire a second barrel and represent a hand like Ace King giving us a good chance to get your opponents pocket pair type hands or even weak Jacks to fold. Make your bet credible – it will be harder to get the folds you need if the turn is a card like 6♦ pairing the board. Here your opponent is unlikely to believe he’s beat and may well call again with a hand such as eights. The next level of this play-out of position is to fire again on the river. Some
Flushed down the river Play flush draws with lots of aggression out of position
hen you flop a flush draw you have a good amount of equity in the pot (assuming that your draw is clean). If you have the nut flush draw with a live ace you have a great hand that is at least coin-flipping against everything but the best of hands. Unfortunately, you’ll frequently miss your draw on the turn and an aggressive opponent will price you out of the river so
check/calling is not often the best way to go. One option is to lead with a small bet which gives you the right price for your draw. Strong players may attack these bets though so betting and three-betting all-in can look super-strong as if you led with a set. Check-raising the flop can put you in a spot if the villain calls and you miss the turn but it will also fold out a lot of hands that are beating you on the flop.
caution needs to be exercised with this play as you are putting big bets into the pot but, when successful, it can be a big money winner. For example, in the same situation as you just discussed with the 6♦ arriving on the turn you bet and again our opponent calls. You’re now certain he holds a pocket pair or a Jack. If the river is a scare card like a Queen you could bet again or even if it’s a low card you could bet again on the basis that our opponent will assume you wouldn’t do this without a big hand that has him crushed. It’s vital to know your villains in these spots, how they’ll perceive your river bet and how stubborn they’ll be.
Trapping and bluffing Finally, when playing out of position you must have check-raising as part of your game, which you should be doing with both made hands and bluffs. This will keep your opponents off balance, preventing them from calling you on the flop and putting pressure on you later as they’ll fear being raised. It will also win you free chips when you’re bluffing and make you extra chips when you’re strong. You should be check-raising against opponents who continuation bet too much as a bluff. You should sometimes check-raise on the turn against aggressive opponents to trap them for as many chips as possible. Let’s say you hold pocket Aces and your raise has been called by one player. The flop has arrived a very decent 6♥ 2♠ 2♣. You bet and are quickly called. The turn is 7♦. Depending on the opponent you need to choose between firing again or opting for a check-raise. If aggressive he will often commit chips when he’s behind as a bluff. Additionally, it may convince
Barry Greenstein’s play shows exactly why you need to introduce the check-raise bluff into your range of moves is unlikely to connect with his opponents hands. Eli is not calling on the strength of his hand, though Ace high will be good sometimes, but to take the pot away later if Barry has missed.
acing one limper Barry Greenstein takes the lead by squeezing from the small blind with J♣ 6♣ only to be called by two LAG players; Eli Elezra in the big blind with A♦ 6♦ and Jamie Gold the limper with Q♣ 8♦.
Flop 2♣ 3♦ 3♠ Barry makes his continuation bet for $9,000 and is called by Eli as Jamie folds the pot is $37,600. Barry is going to bet almost every flop but especially one which
Keep your play aggressive in order to get through the out of position minefield
Turn 2♣ 3♦ 3♠ K♦ Barry checks and Eli bets $22,000. Here Barry looks to have given up – maybe he had two high cards and missed. Eli’s floating plan appears to have worked and he would probably bet with any card. Although he’s picked up the nut flush draw he opts to bet as he thinks he can win the hand here and now, rather than checking. Barry knows his opponent well and check-raises all in to $88,000 as he realises that Eli will bet any turn when checked to. Now his check-raise represents a really big hand such as Ace King, Aces or Kings. Eli has to fold his draw. Playing against an opponent who can make this kind of bluff can give you a real headache!
him his medium-strength hand is good. In addition, you can also check-raise some of your drawing hands. This is a great way to semi-bluff and is hard for your opponents to exploit. Playing draws aggressively for all your chips means that you’ll force your opponent to fold a better hand and when called you’ll get full value for your draw as you can’t be bet off it. Most of the tools looked at so far are aggressive plays and if you’re going to play out of position beyond the flop this should be your preferred type of plan, rather than going into a weak check/call mode. You should be actively thinking through your situation, considering the specific opponent you’re in the hand with, the nature of the board, what it might mean for your opponent’s holding and how he’ll view your hand. Good luck with your out of position pots – you’re going to need it! n stacked ♠
You should be checkraising with both made hands and bluffs. This will keep your opponents off balance and win you chips
The check-raise bluff
gear | sounds good
Images courtesy of www.igizmo.co.uk, soundwave: dizzo
From the affordable to the unbelievable stacked♠ takes a look at the audio experiences that can get you through your marathon sessions
Sony Sountina Sony is often on the cutting edge of design and the Sony Sountina, which is yet to be released, should have no problem continuing that tradition. The futuristic tube speaker is designed to blast out tunes as a stylish centrepiece to the your front room. Starting from $10,000 / www.sony.com
AKG K 330 If you’ve qualified for a big live tournament and are planning to i-pod up you need to make sure that you have earphones that are going to be comfortable and quality. The affordable K 330’s tick both boxes. Starting from £40 / www.akg.com 40
Atomic Floyd Air Jax Apart from the fact that they’re made by a team of designers from Adidas, Nike and Philips, these earphones offer premium audio with 24k gold performance and distortion free bass technology. Not cheap but worth a splash for the connoisseur. Starting from £120 www.atomicfloyd.com
Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2 These are the Ferrari of the speaker world and at prices of around £120,000 a pair would make even a WSOP Main Event winner think twice before stumping up the cash. These speakers are the real deal – electric blue colour is optional! Starting from £120,000 a pair / www.wilsonaudio.com stacked♠
MTT strategy | player focus
ovnis Name Undisclosed Location Norway Age 26 Joined PKR July 2008
Meeting a tournament titan Few players have made as much impact as this Norwegian power house who celebrated his arrival by winning the PKR Masters
s final table and first-place finishes go, new arrival ovnis has an incredible record. Since joining the site in July last year ovnis has entered 193 multi-table tournaments, making 31 final tables and taking down eight of them outright. And before you start thinking that maybe he’s just crushing low buy-in tournaments take a look at some of his victories: first place in the $100,000 PKR Masters, three $7,500 Grand Prix wins and top spot in three $12,500 PKR Opens. Within weeks of anteing up at PKR the young Norwegian had been awarded a Tournament Player of the Week award and hasn’t looked back since. Although he failed to make a score at the first PKR Live event, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he goes deep at the next one. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to see at a final table, it’s a Norwegian with chips! PKR_Danski
Stacked♠ ovnis, you’ve asked for your name not to be used – why the need for secrecy? ovnis: It’s no big secret really, I just treasure my privacy. I love the glory of winning, but the fame is something that I can do without! And you’ve been doing a lot of winning! Since joining PKR last year you’ve taken down a Masters event, three Opens and three Grand Prix tournaments – what do you think makes you such a winning player? I have a lot of online experience and I know how play all stages of multi-table tournaments. Also, by playing a lot of SNGs I’ve learnt a lot about how to play final tables, and that has helped me win a few PKR tournaments. Are you playing full-time? I play poker part-time and work part-time too. Up until now I’ve been studying, but I’m taking six months off to play! I usually play a couple of tournaments each night and a bit in the local poker club as well. I’ve also played in three major events: the WSOP Main Event, the APPT Seoul and APPT Main Event in Sydney. I’ve qualified to all three via online satellites but haven’t quite made it into the money yet. What’s been your biggest accomplishment in poker? I think it has to be qualifying for the WSOP Main Event in a really tough field. There were about 200 runners and the final table was full of sharks. I went to Las Vegas to play my first big live event in 2007. I ended up finishing around 1000th out of 6500 runners, but unfortunately there was
Rebuy Rumble p44-47
Beating the bully p48-51
photography: danny bird, Dariusz Sas
Rebuy tournaments can offer some great value, but first you have to decide what approach you’re going to take in the frenzied early stages.
still a long way to go to the money, which was for the last 650 players. I learned tons about poker during the event and I recommend anyone who loves poker to go and play the World Series if they get the opportunity. How long have you been playing poker, how did you learn how to play and who got you involved? I learned how to play Draw poker when I was just a kid, and I started playing no-limit Hold’em with my buddies about six or seven years ago. I’ve been playing online for around three years now. What are your favourite tournaments? I like all the majors on PKR, but the Grand Prix is probably the tourney with the best players on average, so I guess that’s my favourite to play. What is the biggest mistake made by tournament fish? It has to be being too passive. I see so many players limp-check-folding all their chips away. Who do you most respect at PKR? Ineedurchips, Thomasinder, Northern15 and Zeorbok. I havent played here for much more than six months, but of those I’ve played against I think these four players are the best. I also played some cash games with James666, kickofff and SoooSick in London, and they were all really strong players. What do you want to achieve by the end of the year? There is a Norwegian Championship that is going to be held in Nottingham, UK, in April, which I’d like to win. I’m also looking to play some interesting tournaments in Europe. Away from the poker table what other
Knowing how to tame the table bully is a priority for players looking to move up through the levels.
Holding firm on wet boards ovnis uses his position to prevent a weak bluff from winning Flop 9♦ 6♦ A♦ The flop is far from ideal for either player but Dospairos in the big blind relinquishes his chance to steal the pot away by failing to make a continuation bet; ovnis checks behind. ovnis
Blinds $10,000/$20,000 ($2,000 ante)
vnis is at the final table of the PKR Masters and the action is five-handed. He opens for $47,525 on the button with 7♠ 6♠ looking to scoop a tidy $40,000 unopposed, or build a pot from a position of strength. The small blind calls but the big blind raises to $75,050, which gives ovnis a great price to call with a decent hand on the button. The small blind folds despite getting odds of 7/1 on his money to call.
activities are you into? I have a dog that requires a lot of exercise, so I spend a lot of time outside. I’m interested in other kinds of skill games too, like chess, backgammon and other card games. And, of course, I like going out with my friends to party or watch a movie. What tip would you
Turn 9♦ 6♦ A♦ K♠ Dospairos is now desperate to either see the river card or try and steal the pot with a bluff. Seemingly in two minds he makes a very weak minimum bet; ovnis peels one off knowing he’ll get to act last on the river and can then decide whether to check, fold or make a move if he sees weakness.
River 9♦ 6♦ A♦ K♠ 5♠ A blank falls on the river and a deflated Dospairos checks to ovnis; he also checks knowing that he’s unlikely to make a better hand fold without risking an unhealthy amount of chips. His paired six takes the pot and propels him into the chip lead, which he manages to convert into a first-place finish for a massive $29,560.
give to someone who’s looking to improve their game? Take your time with every decision – I see way too many insta-calls. Even though you might think you’re ahead in a hand, there’s always a lot of information to be sorted out. By making quick decisions you might give your opponents some kind of read on you – and giving away free information is never a good thing. ■ stacked♠
u words: nick wright, photography: danny bird
MTT strategy | reload poker
ebuy tournaments are exciting, sometimes infuriating but can always be profitable as long as you understand how they differ from a standard freezeout tournament. The key difference is that for a set period of time, usually until the first break, should you lose all your chips you can rebuy for the initial buy-in, chip up and start over. On most tournaments on PKR you don’t actually need to lose all your chips, should you be equal or below your starting stack you’re able to rebuy, and no matter how many chips you have you’ll also have the option to add-on at the end of the rebuy period. An add-on allows you to purchase another set amount of chips for the price of a buy-in.
Bingo poker Many players initially dismiss rebuys as ‘bingo poker’ but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst you can choose to approach a rebuy like a freezeout it’s far from the optimal strategy. In fact, it’s better to think of a rebuy tournament as two separate tournaments as the nature of the first hour, when you can rebuy, and the freeze out stage are markedly different. Before you hit the register button you must consider what rebuy suits your bankroll. As a rough guide for an initial budget take a look at the initial entry fee and multiply it by five. This amount is a good starting point because, when allowed, you should immediately rebuy before the first hand is dealt (this option is available on almost all PKR rebuy tournaments) and you should almost always add-on (see Should I addon, p46). If all goes well that’s all you’ll spend but should you bust during the first hour or find yourself in a spot where
you need to ’gamble’ near the end of the rebuy period you can burn through a few buy-ins if you put your mind to it.
Maniac or rock? There are two main schools of thought when it comes to the best way to approach the rebuy period, the loose aggressive way (LAG) and the tight aggressive model (TAG), ground breaking I know! Whilst the fundamental tenets of LAG and TAG play don’t differ markedly between a freezout and a rebuy there are some subtle shifts. Also I should add the caveat that neither is the right or wrong approach, table conditions and personal preference should be taken into consideration and it’s also very possible to take both approaches during the same rebuy period. Whichever style you play you should always immediately rebuy at the beginning so that if you double up you build as big a stack as possible. Also double rebuy whenever you go bust.
Playing loose aggressive The LAG approach means that you are willing to take some calculated risks in order to try and not only build a big stack for yourself but also to get chips on the table you are at. Both are very beneficial during the freezeout stage, although in large field tournaments your table may get broken. If you’re looking to go down the LAG route then you need to let the table know quickly! One strategy to loosen up your table is to simply open shove all-in with any two cards on the first hand of the rebuy period. If you are uncalled proudly show your rags and then do it again, just with a better hand. It may not be pretty poker, but boy can it be effective. It’s amazing how one or u
rebuy rumble Play like a maniac or rock it up, there’s no right or wrong way to shop for chips when you play a rebuy tournament as long as you fill your trolley 44
MTT strategy | reload poker
t two maniacs on a table can really loosen up the rest of the players into chip dumpers who an orbit ago were seemingly made of granite and now are getting full stacks in with marginal holdings. Playing a hyper-aggressive style doesn’t mean you should be sticking it all-in pre-flop every other hand but understand that if the table sees you shoving with six high you’re going to get called wider, which means you can afford to call re-raises lighter too. The LAG style can be costly, you can get tables where a player simply open-shoves all-in every hand and on about the second orbit manages to win a five-way pot to give
Avoid committing yourself against short stacks without a premium hand while dodging the big stacks that can raise you him a huge stack. The aggression is then toned down as he decides to protect his stack, and that’s something you need to think about. Once you’ve got enough chips to put you in good shape when the freezeout period begins you can simply pull down the shutters and be more 46
selective. Seemingly crazy maniac usually do and next time they get it all-in they’ll show the goods because other players haven’t noticed he’s switched to playing premium hands only.
Playing tight aggressive The TAG approach is simple, you play better starting hands than anyone employing the LAG approach and let the law of probability do the rest. Obviously
hand selection and position should still factor heavily in your decision to enter a pot, the ability to rebuy gives the solid TAG some extra options. One clear advantage during the rebuy period is that you can speculate to accumulate more often as there is no fear of busting out. With deeper stacks from the off you can actually raise and call with a wider hand range pre-flop in an attempt to connect with the board. Playing hands that flop well and don’t make you the second best hand are best. In a freezeout you may only play suited connectors or ace-face cards but in a rebuy you can open up to include suited and offsuit one and two gappers and even take the odd ‘flyer’ with hands that you’d never play for a raise in a freezeout. If you flop a big draw or even say a pair and a gutshot you can also be much more inclined to get your chips in the middle due to the rebuy safety net. Slowplaying in rebuys is generally a bad idea as many players are more willing to stack off in the early stages so if you have a big hand it’s almost always correct to bet it hard. One exception might be if you’ve got a huge hand and there’s a maniac at the table, checking and letting him bet can be just as effective, although you can argue that if you bet, they’ll raise anyway and the end result will be the same. If towards the end of the rebuy stage you find yourself markedly below average stack and in
Should I add-on?
An add-on typically gets you around 33% more than a rebuy
hen players do not take the add-on in a re-buy tournament it is usually a grade A mistake. Your general rule (with one exception) should be to always add-on. The second hour of a re-buy tournament (first freezeout hour) is usually deepstacked and the extra chips that the add-on provide can be a great buffer in a number of ways. On PKR the add-on is generally 2000 chips, so should you take it and double off against a stack that covers you that’s 4000
extra chips in you stack if you’d skipped the add-on.And if things go bad then the add-on will cover you for a mis-timed re-raise, a steal attempt gone wrong or a run of cold cards. There is only one situation where taking the add-on isn’t needed and that condition is as follows; at the end of the rebuy period your stack must be large enough that it is so big that it will be an average stack or more when the money bubble bursts and that is a rare, rare occurrence. So always add-on!
Deepstacked poker Often people ask, how many chips should I have at the end of the rebuy period? The simple answer is, the most at your table! The more comprehensive answer is to take a look at what the blinds and antes will be at the start of the freezeout period and work around a figure based on that number. Anything above 30 big blinds will mean you are in no rush but the average stack can be around 50 big blinds or more. Getting a big stack can mean you can endure a
Getting a big stack means you can endure a bad beat, a cold run of cards, some mis-timed steals and still be in contention bad beat, a cold run of cards, some mistimed steals and still be in contention. One of the advantages of a rebuy is that this would not be the case in a regular freezeout. Whatever your stack is the average stack at the one hour mark in a rebuy tournament will be far deeper than in a freezeout tournament. For instance a quick glance through the PKR lobby shows you that at the start of the second hour of a regular freezeout tournament the average stack is around 2.5x the starting stack and around 20 big blinds deep. In a rebuy MTT the average stack will be closer to 5x the starting stack and about 40 big blinds deep. Not so much bingo poker now is it! This deeper stack gives good players an edge and as mentioned can keep you alive when cards and situations run cold. Whilst some dismiss rebuys as going against the great leveller of tournament poker because players with deep pockets can effectively buy a stack, rebuy tournaments can provide great value if you take a shot. One thing is for sure, they are a whole lot of fun to play. n
You’re sat at a full table with an average stack of 3,500 and blinds at a growing 50/100. You are sat in mid-position holding a tricky 8♣ 8♠. It’s around 30 minutes into the rebuy period, you’ve been playing fairly loose raising a lot of pots preflop and while you haven’t shown down total muck it’s safe to say all your cards haven’t been premium! A player in early position playing 2,500 limps in, you make it 450 to go, the loose button jams all-in for 4,000 and the early position limper also crams. Back to you… Do you a) call or b) fold?
uAnswer In a freezeout facing elimination or the prospect of losing most of your stack this is a fairly standard fold as you’re likely facing at least two over cards and your best case scernario would be that you were up against an underpair and a hand such as A-K. However at this stage of a re-buy (30 minutes left) using the same logic this is a fairly easy call. The ability to rebuy aligned with the chance of chipping up to a stack of nearly 10,000 with your image means that this is a gamble worth taking.
Call or fold in the rebuy period?
Nine handed you have a stack of 14,000, wellabove the 6,500 average, there’s just five minutes left of the rebuy period and the blinds are 100/200. You hold J♠ J♦ in early position and raise it up to 600. A player in middle position playing 3,000 and looking to gamble shoves all-in. It folds to the big blind who’s playing 10,000 and he re-raises all-in. Do you a) call or b) fold?
uAnswer The middle position player is a bit of a red-herring as even if you lost the main pot, winning the side pot would see you turn a profit on the hand. So you need to think about the big blind’s range here. He too has a good stack which he’d be looking to protect at this point. Whilst an underpair such as tens are possible it’s unlikely. The best case scenario is that he holds A-K and you’re flipping but you may be crushed by QQ, KK or AA. You have a great stack right now, and little time to build a new one. You stand to lose more by dropping to 4,000 than you do to gain by increasing to 27,000 or 18,000. Even if the big blind told you he had A-K a fold would still be correct here.
words: nick wright, photography: danny bird
danger of having a short stack for the freezeout it may be time to loosen up. If you bust on the last hand you can double rebuy and add-on and you’ll still have a playable stack come freezeout time!
MTT strategy | fighting big stacks
beating the bully There are bullies in every walk of life and youâ€™ll find plenty at the poker table. So get ready to load your slingshot, aim between their eyes, and take the villains downâ€Ś
from young, outrageous and rude, to old, outspoken and charming. Their single common denominator, however, is that they have learnt to play poker well and should not be engaged on the same level as a weak ABC player that can’t properly read a board. Whether you like it or not, aggressive poker is winning poker in tournaments, and while a decent amount
Bullies will use their stack size optimally, as a sword and a shield, knowing when to exert pressure and when to walk away of aggression is always present with the bully, the other skills are not always there. Some play a super-aggressive style pre-flop, three-betting and four-betting liberally. These bullies can accumulate vast chipstacks quickly but are not particularly tough to beat. The answer is to find a solid hand, re-raise an amount that they think they have some fold equity over if they shove, then put one hand in the air as you hit ‘Call’! More refined bullies will play a very
open pre-flop game, making smaller raises, usually in position to take full advantage of their post-flop skills. These players will use their stack size optimally, both as a sword and a shield, knowing when to exert pressure and when to walk away. It’s this type of bully that will cause you the most headaches and the one we’ll focus on the most. Different bullies demand different strategies, but a common trait is that they possess an above average stack, which they look to grow significantly in the later game, after 60-70% of the field has fallen by the wayside. They leverage fear and pressure to propel themselves towards the final table, while weaker players will fold their way to a better spot waiting for a big hand to catch the bully. Unfortunately, this fits right into the bully’s masterplan. The chips that he can make around the bubble and in short-handed play near payout jumps, makes the pots lost in an overzealous bluff pale into insignificance over many tournaments.
Sizing up Goliath So how should you go about tackling the bully? Well, most of the time your stack size should dictate how you approach the table captain. If you have 14-18 big blinds or less you often don’t have a big enough stack to force the bully to fold. Let’s say the average stack is 30,000 at your seven-handed table and the blinds are 800/1600 with a 150 ante; if the villain (60,000) opens to 4400 from the button your 16,000 stack doesn’t have much fold equity. The villain may have a wide u
photography: Dariusz Sas
ne of the most memorable experiences (for all the wrong reasons) in a poker player’s career is getting owned for the very first time. That initial embarrassed feeling you got when you were totally schooled in a hand or session can be painful to remember, but it should fire you up to improve your game. More often than not, the object of that earliest frustration will be the table captain, a player through whom all the action moves. The table captain, aka The Bully, is very often the best and most experienced player at the table and usually has the biggest stack. The first time you come up against someone like this it’s hard to combat them – the bully applies pressure on every street in what seems like every hand, and it can be very hard to cope with. But there comes a point in every poker player’s life when, with a little more experience under your belt, you have to stand up to the aggressor – to put some real effort into nullifying the big dog – otherwise your tournament poker career is going to be brutal. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes,
MTT strategy | Fighting big stacks
In most situations your decision should be whether to fold or shove all-in pre-flop, only calling if you’re trying to set a trap t range but if you shove all-in with 7-6 suited an intelligent bully will calculate that calling 11,600 to win 22,250 is pretty much spot on the magic 2/1 ratio. At this stage, especially with your stack size and need to gamble, the villain should call with most reasonable holdings as he knows his equity against your range can never be that bad. Of course, your hand won’t automatically lose, but you no longer have the ability to win chips without going to showdown. If the bully suspects others might do the same if he doesn’t draw a line here and now, he might even call getting a much worse price, just to stop the table
Between a rock and a hard place
Use the board and other players to strike fear into a bully
bully’s hand range is often weak, but that doesn’t stop a player from making smart decisions. Here’s an example of how you can use that information to your advantage. You have in the region of 70 big blinds and the bully, who covers you, makes a small raise in mid position. A weak-tight player with a similar stack calls. You’re on the button with J♥ 10♣ and call. The flop is A♣ 9♥ 7♥. The bully bets half the pot and the weaktight player calls. This is a lovely
opportunity to float in position. The turn brings the 6♥. Both bully and weak-tight player check and you make a decent bet; both players fold. This play will work a high proportion of the time because the bully cannot double-barrel out of position into a tight player and a solid player when a scare card arrives. The implied threat and risk to his large stack will force him to fold. Your play has an even greater chance of success given that the weak-tight player will play his hand face-up on the turn/river and rarely slow-play.
Catapulting your chips If you have 20-35 big blinds you’ve got a few more options, as long as you remember that most pots you play are going to be for a significant chunk of your stack. In most situations your decision should be whether to fold or shove pre-flop, only calling if you’re trying to set a trap. In the previous scenario if you had 20 big blinds (32,000) a shove is a very different proposition for the bully. Now he has to call 27,600 to win 35,100 and needs a real hand to look you up; you are augmenting your stack by nearly 25% and telling the bully to back off. This middling stack also allows you to slow-play against aggressive opponents. If you pick up A-A or K-K it’s the perfect opportunity to flat-call – you’re not deep enough for him to bluff if you three-bet, and he can’t call a shove with anything but the very top of his range. It’s best not to slow-play more marginal hands like A-K, Q-Q and J-J though – just raise.
Bullies three-bet often, both for value and as a bluff, and if you get the opportunity to play them in position try a raise or float When you’ve got 40+ big blinds your options are wider with a need for some good post-flop play. This is where you really need to know your bully as most good players will appreciate the importance of position. So if you both have deep stacks, avoid going up against an intelligent bully out of position with all but the strongest hands. If you’re in position, be cautious, but make sure you put him to the test by reading his hand and trying to push him off the pot. Make sure you avoid the trap of always thinking the bully has nothing. Bullies do make well-disguised hands on the flop
and often tilt other players into snapping and overvaluing one pair-type hands. Remember, bullies read players well and know how far to push opponents before they make a mistake. Having said all that, a bully’s main weakness lies in his starting hand strength. Because they open with a wider range of hands they’ll often be involved in pots with weak holdings. With that in mind you should take the initiative and keep them off balance. You should three-bet them often, both for value and as a bluff, and if you get the opportunity to play them in position, try a well-placed raise or float. Being unpredictable will make you hard to read and any bully will think twice about tangling with you, so throwing in the occasional check-raise on a dry
board will give the bully a bitter taste of his own betting medicine Finally, when playing very astute and aggressive bullies, it’s important you’re prepared to gamble. It’s tough to combat aggression when you don’t have a big hand, which in no-limit Hold’em, is about 90% of the time. If your image is clean and the bully doesn’t know what you’re capable of, you can abuse his thought process. But if you’re going to run a big bluff remember to tell a believable story. Check-raises on the turn, followed by big river bets on scary boards, have a high success rate online and should be used against a bully. Keep an eye on stack sizes, though, because winning a pot often comes down to who puts in the last, and often largest, bet. n
Big stack versus big bully can be the time for a big bluff
ften in tournament poker, the right line to take is not dictated by history or table dynamics, but by stack sizes. Having a big stack allows you to put your opponents’ stacks at risk without jeopardising your own. Deep in a tournament, especially when the payout jumps are chunky, is when some of the biggest moves can be made. You and the table bully both have large 200,000 stacks in the PKR Masters with just four tables left. The average chip stack is 60,000 and blinds are 1000/2000 with a 200 ante. The payout jumps are beginning to get significant and the short stack has just 25,000. You raise with K♠ 8♠ to 5000 and the bully three-bets you (again) to 15,000. You call, planning to make a big play in the hand and take control of the final stages. The flop comes 6♠ 9♥ 10♣
giving you a gutshot draw and one overcard. You check and the bully bets 24,000; you call. The turn is the A♦; you check and the villain fires out 55,000. You decide to make a big, but calculated risk, and move all-in. The villain angrily times out. You are now on 300k with a virtual lock on the final table, if not a podium finish. The play works for a few reasons. First, he is still above average if he folds and feels his skill will allow him to reach the final table. Second, the hands he can call with after the strength you have shown are minimal – he’d have a tough job calling with a hand like A-J. Third, the payout jumps mean he’s more likely to pass and let some other players get KO’d before he puts his neck on the line. Stone-cold bluffs can make a lot of chips provided the bluff is made in the right spot and not against a complete maniac!
photography: Dariusz Sas, Laura cadenazzi
from shoving on him pre-flop. In this case you don’t need much of a hand to go to war but you want something with decent showdown value; any pair, any Ace and QJ+ is a decent range to move in with as a calculated gamble if he’s very active.
SNG strategy | player focus
Uffe93 Name Jonas Cederulf Location Orebro, Sweden Age 33 Joined PKR November 2006
Meeting a Sit-and-go superstar Swedish six-max specialist proves that consistency and a fierce willingness to learn can take you all the way to the top of the game
wedish players love aggressive poker and that will get you a long way, nowhere more so than in six-max sit-and-gos! It turns out that Uffe93 is more than just your average Swede though and has finished in the Top Ten of the SNG rankings five times, which shows he’s no flash in the pan (although everyone can and will go through the occasional downswing!). Uffe93’s six-max sit-and-go return on investment (ROI) of 11% over 2,300 games is rock solid. Uffe93 like many winning players has transferred his successful sit-and-go skills into the tournament world with great success. Wins in the Grand Prix and the $10,000 guaranteed and a runner-up finish in the 2007 Super Series bounty event have led to an incredible 107% ROI over 189 scheduled MTTs. It’s a small sample size but it proves that Uffe93 is a player to watch for. PKR_danski
Stacked♠ Congratulations on being selected as the stacked♠ sit-and-go superstar. Jonas: I have to thank you for this sign of appreciation after having a pretty long run of bad plays and bad beats! It’s lifted my motivation a lot. Did you make a conscious effort to focus on SNGs? No, not really. When I began playing poker seven or eight years ago I was totally focused on multi-table tournaments and SNGs were just for fun. After a while I realised that my style of play suited SNG’s better. And have you been tempted to make poker a full time pursuit? I work at a compulsory school and I’m also a football trainer for a team in the Swedish 4th division. That makes two jobs, which combined with my two kids (one- and three-years old) makes my poker career perhaps my 5th or 6th priority. I don’t like to set my goals too high but if my play has earned me an extra Krona or two I’m satisfied. So what counts as a satisfactory Krona or two? My best day on PKR was when I won about $4,500, which included a tournament win and some good sit-and-go cashes. My profit isn’t that big compared to some of the big cash game players but I’ve probably made about $15,000 or so. Every single win that is $1,000 or more I split with my missus. Other winnings I think I’ve probably just used to gamble! Do you only gamble online or do you like to stare people down in the flesh? We have only 4 casinos in Sweden but I try to get to a poker room about five
THE JOY OF SIX p56-59
test your knowledge p60-63
illustrations: blackred, FMNG
Six-max sit-and-gos are fast and furious and have major jumps in their payout structure. Build a big stack and abuse the short stacks.
or six times a year to play tournaments and cash games. The stakes variy from place to place but it’s probably anything above $100 or so. Whether its live play or online what do you think rubs you up the wrong way the most? When you’re playing well and staying disciplined but get hit by several bad beats in a row it is really frustrating. But I guess I’m not alone on that one! Bad behaviour and rudeness is another thing that is annoying, of course. Who do you most respect at the PKR tables and why? There are many players I truly respect but can’t mention them all. Tovarsky, LarsAx, Damocles68, Mesna, Trymean77 are very good players and MRM1983 is one of the best players that I’ve met ever at the SNG tables. I have a positive result in heads up matches against him, which is something that I’m truly proud of. What tip would you give to someone looking to improve their game? And why focus on that area? The most simple tip to give is to play as much as you can. Watching poker, having friends to discuss hands with and reading strategy books are very helpful but nothing beats practising and playing. After any session try to figure out what it was that made that session a losing or winning one. Find the mistakes in your game so you know what you should focus on in the future. Unfortunately I don’t practice what I preach and tend to make the same mistakes over again! Was there a point where everythig clicked and position, reading and hand selection
Fancy yourself as a sit-andgo master? Check your decisions on the button and see if you make the grade.
Taking the lead pre-flop and betting danger cards wins pots Flop 8♠ 7♦ 5♠ Both the big blind and YANNLUNA check to the raiser but Uffe93 decides to check his open-ended straight draw, deciding against making a continuation bet that could see him raised off the hand. Uffe93
ix-max sit-and-goes reward aggression but there still needs to be a method to your madness. There are five players left in a $50 six-max sitand-go when Uffe93 is dealt K♣ 6♣ on the button. He first tries to punish YANNLUNA’s limp by raising to $240 but is called in two spots. He may not have taken down an the pot pre-flop but now has position and the initiative.
became second nature? Well, of course there are concepts in the game that take a year or two to understand and apply to one’s own game but I can’t say I’ve cracked it yet. Certain pieces of the puzzle are starting to be clearer me but there are a lot of aspects that I certainly have not fully absorbed. What do you think is the most important skill to have when
Turn 8♠ 7♦ 5♠ A♣ The action is checked to Uffe93 for a second time and thinking it unlikely that either player would slow play a big hand or top pair on such a dangerous flop bets $240 into the $750 pot representing that he has hit the ace – he raised preflop after all. YANNLUNA calls.
River 8♠ 7♦ 5♠ A♣ J♣ YANNLUNA checks again and without a pair Uffe93 knows that he’s almost certainly behind in the hand and that the only way to win is to bet. He opts to continue his story of strength and make a $480 bet into the $1,230 pot. YANNLUNA has just $940 left and folds to preserve her damaged stack Uffe93 goes on to win first prize.
you are grinding SNGs? Being able to understand who you are playing against is the most important skill to have. If you can figure out what type of player you’re facing you can adjust your own play to exploit their weaknesses. Otherwise you’re simply a tight player or a loose player and that will put you at a disadvantage depending on who you’re playing. You’ll only develop that skill by practising and playing a lot. ■ stacked♠
SNG strategy | six-max action
the joy of six
Six max sit-and-gos combine two of the most popular formats in internet poker, but players often fail to make the correct strategy adjustments. Don’t be one of them
he dominant format of sit-and-gos has always been the nine or ten-handed one but as internet poker evolved new formats have been introduced, of which the six-max has been far and away the most successful. Combining the action and intensity of shorthanded cash games with the complexity of the sit-and-go structure, six-max SNGs are a great alternative for anyone looking to branch out or experiment with a game where there are fewer regulars than normal. The six-max operates on a similar basis to normal with games starting as soon as they are filled (which is often
much quicker because of the reduced number of players required). However, because of this only two players are usually paid and this is typically on a 65%/35% basis. The bubble therefore takes place three-handed, making for much more intense competition and giving the chip leader a vast advantage over the other players who will secure more for making the leap from third to second than they will for going on to win it afterwards. Because of this, sixmax sit-and-go strategy is quite a bit different to that of a normal game. If you can make a few adjustments it's likely you can turn yourself into a big six-max winner.
The early game
words: phil shaw, illustration: blackred
few prerequisites are important if you are going to make the leap from full-table sit-and-gos. You are going to make some key changes. First of all, you will need to be comfortable playing more hands that you would in a full-ring game where you can afford to sit back and wait for the blinds to increase. With players getting involved in more pots and being eliminated quicker in this format, you are likely to lose too many of your chips if you don’t get involved in the early stages. Also, because having a chip lead on the bubble in a six-max sit-and-go is very powerful, you should be willing to get involved a little more than usual to try and maximise your chances of building a big stack. If you start with 1500 chips, losing a few early pots and going down to somewhere around 1000 isn’t a massive problem as you will be able to start playing big pot push or fold poker at the 50/100 levl. If, instead, you make it up to 2500 or more this lead can be leveraged 56
significantly as you progress. For this reason you should be willing to loosen up in the early stages, opening hands like pairs, good aces and good suited connectors from most positions and try to get in pots with players that you feel you have an edge on. In late position open up a little more and even consider raising with hands like low or gapped suited connectors, weak aces and face cards. Notice however, that because you cannot re-buy you still want to play tighter than you would in a
Losing a few chips isn't a massive problem as you will be able to start playing push or fold poker earlier
six-max cash game where you can stay seated for as long as you want. Be careful of re-raising out of position or with medium-strength hands like 88 or AT when you have 50-75 big blinds as too often you'll find yourself in awkward spots on the flop. Look to play smaller pots in position while the blinds are low, or until you build up a small lead. On the other hand, when you do flop a hand like a good draw in the six-max format you should play it more aggressively than you would in a full-ring sit-and-go. This is because, as already mentioned, a chip lead is so beneficial to you in the six-max format which means that gambling all-in isn’t as problematic as normal according to ICM calculations (Independent Chip Model). Also, players tend to have wider hand ranges giving you greater fold equity and allowing you to grab the bull by the horns. With only five other stacks to rival you it’s even easier to build a dominating stack. u
SNG strategy | six-max action
level where you can play all-in or fold poker to avoid bleeding any further chips, but if you have developed a larger stack you can start to play a bit more aggressively by stealing from shorter stacked players who are worried about their tournament life. As players are knocked out and
If a single big stack develops, you can often sit back and hope to squeak into second place
The middle game
s the blinds go up, players are eliminated and the stack sizes start to diversify, you will need to adapt a strategy based on the new situation and the size of the blinds relative to your stack. Typically you
should play fewer speculative hands as your pot-odds will be reduced and think more about stack sizes when re-raising. If you have lost chips early on your best strategy is usually to play very tight until you reach a
the game develops you should get an idea of what the end game around the bubble will look like and what you will need to do to make the money. If a single big stack develops you can often sit back and hope to squeak into the money, but if a couple of players double up you will likely have to manoeuvre yourself into a position where you challenge on the bubble. You’ll need to play more hands in the middle game if you need to catch up.
Fold, call or raise?
illustration: blackred, kaisphotow
When should you fire and when should you fold?
You have 5000 chips on the bubble of a $20 game against two stacks of 2000 chips who are playing tight. You get dealt 8♥ 7♣ first to act with blinds of 100/200/a25.
You have 1000 chips on the bubble of a $50 game with blinds of 100/200 and the big stack of 6000 folds leaving you against the big blind, who has 2000 chips, with 6♠ 3♠.
Do you a) fold, b) raise to 500 or c) move all-in?
Do you a) fold or b) move all-in?
Do you a) fold, b) raise to 250, c) raise to 400 or d) move all-in?
b) Move all-in. You are in a desperate spot where if you fold the big blind will have 2100 and you will be left with only 900. It's imperative you try to win the blinds or double through the second place player immediately. Even if he calls here you still are likely to have decent equity and at least winning will put you in second place.
a) Fold. You are comfortably in second and should not be looking to risk chips here, particularly when the small stack may try to attack you to close the gap, or the big stack may leverage his stack by re-raising. Fold and let the short stack make the running until you have a hand you want to play or can sensibly move all-in with.
uAnswer c) Move all-in. Your opponents are unlikely to find a hand they can call with so you will usually pick up 375 chips and even if you are called you still have some equity. If you're called and win the hand you will have a dominating lead and will be be on the home straight to winning outright.
On the bubble of a $100 game you have 2500 chips against stacks of 1500 and 5000 in the small and big blinds and are first to act with A♣ 4♦ at 50/100.
The maths behind six-max sit-and-gos
Before All-in when the stacks are equal
Player 1 3000
Player 2 3000
Player 3 3000
Short stack doubles through big stack Stack size
Player 1 6000
Player 2 1500
Player 3 1500
Player 1 6000
Player 2 1500
Player 3 1500
Short stack survives bubble
Third place doubles through second place Stack size
the big stack is passive and you are able to overtake them with well-timed moves, or if there are three even stacks and the play is tight or passive. The further you get in front the more aggressive you can afford to be until you have enough chips that it's unlikely you'll ever bubble. Then you can really bully the table! For example, if you have a stack of 6000 against two stacks of 1500 you are in an utterly dominant position and even if you were to double one up you would still be able to attack it remorselessly as it would need to play for second. With the second place stack, as this situation suggests, you should play very few hands when there is an aggressive big stack. Being knocked out would be disastrous and you should use your chip lead over the third place player as a buffer and force them to risk an all-in
e have seen before how ICM can be applied to sit-and-gos to come up with correct strategies and this is no different in six-max play. Just consider the following diagrams which demonstrate how your equity changes in various bubble situations (for the sake of simplicity we will assume all sit-and-gos are $100 buy-in):
You should aim to use aggressive strategy anytime you have a slight lead or if the play is tight
Shove and fold for value around the bubble
hen you get down to three players in a six-max sit-and-go the game flow will be dictated by stack sizes even more than on a full-ring bubble. This is because with only two opponents a big stack can dominate more easily as there's less chance of running into a hand, and because the payout structure makes playing for the money much more appealing if there are two short stacks. Therefore, if you are the big stack you should be making frequent small raises if your opponents have more than 15 big blind stacks and moving all-in most of the time if they have less and you are able to open, assuming your opponents are competent players who will understand correct bubble strategy. If not, you need to adjust slightly and push a few less hands and also watch out for players who are becoming frustrated, which happens more during the intense six-max bubble. You should aim to use this aggressive strategy anytime you have a slight lead, if
Player 1 4500
Player 2 3000
Player 3 1500
before you do. For example, with stacks of 4500, 3000 and 1500, where you have 3000, losing 500 chips in blinds is only a sixth of your stack but it's third for the shortest stack and will leave you with 2.5 times the amount of chips if you both fold through the blinds to the big stack. With the shortest stack it's imperative that you play aggressively. Never drop to less than half the second place stack. Move all-in or fold and attack the big blind of the second place player as much
as possible. Try to get it all-in with him over the big stack, since it will reverse chip positions and put you in second. Above all, bubble strategy should be defined by your stack size, and that when you are not the chip leader you should be focusing your attention on the other rival stack by outlasting them or attacking them. This is by far the most important adjustment to six-max play, and if you do it successfully you will likely profit against more foolhardy opponents. n stacked♠
sng strategy | sng tests
test your knowledge
How well can you play these five sit-and-go situations when on the button?
s any competent poker player knows, the button is the most powerful position at the table. When you’re last to act you get more information than any other player in the hand, you can control the size of the pot better and play a wider range of hands more profitably. Combine all three and you should realise just how important the button is to your successes in deep-stacked pots but as the stacks get shallower and the blind levels start cranking up single-table sit-and-gos begin to pose a whole different set of problems. In SNGs a lot of decisions are made pre-flop, and chip preservation is more essential to success than chip accumulation. That’s not to say you
shouldn’t play position well, though, and there are definitely opportunities and situations you can exploit from the button to enhance your chances of cashing. Do you know when to push and when to pass? Also, we are throwing one question open to the forums where we’ll be putting all the best – and correct – answers into a hat and giving one lucky forumite a free PKR Face. The 3D rendered head normally costs 15,000 points in the PKR Club shop. See p20 for a full explanation of how you can get your very own PKR Face and how you should go about taking your snaps at home. Now, test your sit-and-go skills to see if you’re up to the challenge! n
1 Semi-bluff? Players 10 / Chips 1940 / Blinds 20/40 / Your hand The actionAn early position raiser The action makes it 120 to go and the action folds to you on the button holding A♣-Q♣. You call, the blinds fold and you see a flop of 2♣-6♠-6♥. The villain checks and you check behind. The turn is the K♣ and your opponent checks again. Do you? a) check, b) bet 80, c) bet 150, d) bet 220 Answer
c) bet 150. Your opponent has now shown weakness on both streets and seems to be a very passive player. There was no c-bet, and no delayed bet on the turn after you checked. He may be hoping to get to showdown with a worse Ace than yours or some sort of suited connectors. Anyway, the K♣ is a great card for you to represent hitting, and it also puts a nut flush draw
out for you too, so you should bet it as it doubles as a steal or value bet. But how much to bet? Well, 80 might not be enough to steal the pot away, while 220 is too much to risk, just in case he’s slowplaying a monster. You should take it with
a bet of approximately half the pot. If you answered… a) check, score 1 point b) bet 80, score 0 points c) bet 150, score 3 points d) bet 220, score 1 point
man 2 Ladies Players 6 / Chips 1880 / Blinds 30/60 / Your hand The action
You’re playing in a short-handed sit-and-go with a bunch of loosepassive call stations. You, however, have only played one hand and have a very tight image. In this hand there are three limpers and you pick up Q-Q on the button. What do you do? a) call, b) raise to 120, c) raise to 240, d) raise to 360
SB $2420 limpers. If they are bad players you will get value from at least one of them and if not you’ll pick up an easy pot. Don’t be afraid to put in the big raise, because you think all of them will chain-call your bet – just get the chips in when you’re well
words: mark stuart, illustration: FMNG
d) raise to 360. You have a premium hand and it’s likely to be way ahead of the other loose players’ hands, but it is still vulnerable to overcards. Therefore, you should charge these call stations a heavy price to call. You want to get the pot heads-up so a pot-sized raise to 360 should clear out most of the pack. Don’t think about it as being a 6x raise – it’s pot-sized because of all the
You $1880 ahead and get value for your big hand. If you answered… a) call, or b) raise to 120, score 0 points c) raise to 240, score 1 point d) raise to 360, score 3 points
sng strategy | sng tests
theft 3 Blind Players 4 / Chips 3900 / Blinds 150/300 / Your hand The action
It’s the bubble of a 10-man SNG and you’re the third biggest stack with 3,900 chips; the short-stack UTG has 2,200 and folds. You have blinded down to an awkward stack of 13 big blinds. The big blind (9,850) is loose aggressive and aware of good bubble strategy. What do you do with your A♦ 9♠? a) call, b) raise to 600, c) raise to 1200, d) move all-in, e) fold
e) fold. Although you have a decent hand on the button in an unopened pot raising could be a mistake. Because it’s the bubble and you have a precarious stack, you should look for either the right situation or hand. If you raise the big stack, who is a smart, aggressive player, they can simply
move all-in and force you to fold all but the biggest pairs, for fear of bubbling. Shoving isn’t the worst move but you don’t really want to be all-in against the chip leader. Fold and wait for the blinds to go through the short stack, who will
then be in real trouble of bubbling. If you answered… a) call, or b) raise to 600, or c) raise to 1200, score 0 points d) all-in, score 1 point e) fold, score 3 points
pair, top kicker 4 Top Players 9 / Chips 2240 / Blinds 10/20 / Your hand The action
Action folds to you on the button with A♥-K♦ and you raise to 60; the big blind re-raises to 180 and you call. The flop comes A♣-9♥-T♥. The BB bets 240 into a pot of 370, and you raise to 700. The BB thinks for a second before shoving all-in for an additional 1,300 chips. What do you do? a) fold, b) call Answer
b) call. This is just one of those hands where he’s either got it or he hasn’t, and you should be reasonably happy to go risk going broke. If you get it all-in with top pair, top kicker, having already put over a third of your stack in it’s not a mistake. You’re ahead of every other Ace except A-T and A-9 (which is an unlikely holding for him given his three-bet out of position pre-flop) and
$2000 POT $370
$2280 You $1360
are a favourite against a straight or a flush draw. If he’s got a set it’s just unlucky but how likely is it he would have led out after flopping such a big hand? Isn’t it more likely that he’d check to you in position? You also have backdoor nut straight and
$2640 nut flush draws which help to make this call a profitable one. If you answered… a) fold, score 0 point b) call, score 3 points
What’s your score?
Is it onwards and upwards or back to basics for you and your PKR sit-and-go career?
Crunch time Players 5 / Chips 4,550 / Blinds 100/200 / Your hand You $4050
Go back to the basics You have some major errors in your stra0tegy and that equates to losing leaks in your game. That will not do! Get hold of some strategy books and get on the PKR forums to fill in the gaps of your SNG know how.
$2500 POT $2100
5-8 Go back to the drawing board You’re on the right path and, depending upon your level, you’re probably a winning player. Continue studying if you want to move or improve your understanding of sitand-go and bubble theory.
What are you doing sitting there reading this? You should be a winning player with decision making like that so log back into the sit-and-go lobby and register for some tables immediately! Keep making the right choice and watch your bankroll grow.
9-12 Go back to the tables
he situation is nearing the instantly pushes his remaining business end of a 10-man stack in (2,500), and the chip SNG and you’re in second leader and original raiser then position with an above average shoves all-in over the top. The stack. All the stacks are fairly cut-off folds, leaving you with even, though, with none of the a big decision. You’ve flopped remaining five players in any middle set – a great hand – and danger of becoming imperilled. this could catapult you into the You are keen to keep it tight as money and with a great chance you have played against these of winning, but equally it could four opponents before and rate see you go bust and end up as them all as decent players. the bubble boy. The UTG player (5,150) raises to 500 and is called by the cutoff What do you do? (3,950). You find 10♥-10♦ on the button and make a conservative call as an all-in re-raise for over 20 big blinds seems too drastic and one which would only get called by a better hand. Equally though, you don’t want to PKR gives you the fold such a strong holding most realistic poker short-handed for such a experience of any site small pre-flop raise. The online – and now you can small blind folds but the take it a step further by big blind calls the extra getting your own face in 300 taking the pot to 3D. If you are able to post 2,100. The flop comes the correct answer (with your reasoning) at the PKR Forum your name will go into the 9♣ 10♣ J♠. The big blind
Win your very own
prize draw for a free PKR Face. This prize is open to everyone on the PKR Forum.
photography: Marcel Mooij
sng strategy | competition
what’s on | pkr biggies
big time payouts
As PKR continues to grow our guaranteed tournaments just get bigger and better. Not only has the Sunday Classic’s guarantee doubled to $50,000 but we’ve introduced a major $500 buy-in weekly tournament
Guaranteed PKR Masters
Buy-in: $250 When: Last Saturday of the month 19:00 GMT
given that you can satellite into the $250 event buy-in for a lot less this tournament should be marked in as a regular feature for every serious player playing their trade at PKR.
A huge $100,000 guaranteed prize pool means that the monthly winner of the Masters is always going to walk away with a big score and
See a cheap flop Satellites starting from $1.28 run all year round for the Masters. Both tournament and sit-and-go routes are available for qualification.
Roll of honour
he holidays have passed and the long winter nights have given way to the early joys of spring (in the Northern hemisphere anyway). It looks like some of you have used the last few months to good effect by racking up some really solid tournament scores including a couple of wins in the recently bumped up guarantee of the Sunday Classic.
PKR Masters Winners Amsterdemon ljfAces
Sunday Classic Winners ASTRALIS JonnyPenders ganach0n IceSound BigGav1978 ZeroSchatz Humvee redmen06 Sickoh
$7,363 $8,065 $8,112 $8,081 $7,200 $7,500 $8,548 $14,600 $12,055
BIG SHOT Guaranteed
rivaspider VienMLameTTre JERONIMOOX bebel13 space311 Amsterdemon pitchek67 davybaby83 shivash2 Danaki22 carltiger
$1,200 $1,800 $1,108 $1,846 $3,491 $29,820 $2,185 $1,410 $2,189 $1,451 $228
The TV Showdown Sunday Classic The Saturday Big Shot has just opened its doors for business but we expect it to become a long running fixture at PKR with some of the biggest players taking on the up and coming tournament sharks in a deep stacked slow structure event. See a cheap flop Satellite your way into the Big Shot for as little as $5.06. It is replaced by the $100,000 PKR Masters on the final Saturday of each month.
Buy-in: $65 When: Every Sunday 19:00 GMT
The Sunday Classic has proved to be so succesful that we’ve doubled its guarantee to an incredible $50,000! The $65 buy-in can return you over $14,000 if you make it all the way to the final table and reign victorious heads-up. See a cheap flop Qualifiers run all week but at 21:15 GMT on Saturday and 14:45 GMT on Sunday there 30 and 50 seat guaranteed satellites running which cost a mere $14.30 to sit down in.
Buy-in: $500 When: Every Saturday, 20:00 GMT (except for when the PKR Masters is on)
ljfAces was the big winner picking up $31,500 in the January PKR Masters
river rage | confession time
Double thru deviations
onday morning, and as I creep into my desk at PKR Towers I have to admit to feeling a bit dirty. Why the dark mood? For those of you prepared to believe the worst about me, I can assure you it wasn’t some lost weekend where I was forced to contemplate chewing my arm off as the morning sun burnt through a shoddy pair of beer goggles. No, it’s nothing like that. But then, I would probably take less abuse from my colleagues if this was some sordid tale of debauchery. After all, PKR is chock full of inveterate gamblers – each with their own uniquely skewed moral compass. And in their bloodshot eyes it’s one thing to abuse your mind and body with all manner of degradations, but another, much more vile thing, to defile the holy game of poker. And I know that for
The guardians of all that is right and good in poker will see my recent obsession with Double Thru sit-and-gos as a descent into the dark side
Colin Morris is the host of PKR TV. Watch at www.PKR.tv 66
these self-appointed guardians of all that is right and good on the felt my recent obsession with the Double Thru sit-and-go will represent an unseemly descent into the dark side. For those of you not in the know, Double Thru SNGs are single-table tournaments where half the players in the field double their money when the other half has been knocked out. In that respect they work a lot like satellite tournaments, with a flat payout structure from first to fifth. They are the moped of poker – fun to ride, but you wouldn’t want your mates to see you on one. Sitting opposite the Community and Cardroom Management team at PKR means there’s a lot of poker debate flying back and forth. But the possibility that Double Thrus could be taken seriously as a topic of civilised poker conversation is picking up zero traction despite my efforts. ‘It’s not real poker,’ ‘the donk’s last refuge’ and ‘sit and fold’ are all I’m getting when I broach the subject. Even James
Bach, who flies the flag for tournament poker in The Clinic (see p10), piled in with such sharp-tongued abuse that decency (and obscenity laws) prevent me from repeating here. But that’s okay. While I respect the energy and enthusiasm of my colleagues, they know not of what they speak – and there is more to these games than meets the eye. Plus, I’m having trouble hearing them over the sound of my steadily increasing bankroll. Most of the vitriol comes from the (mistaken) belief that the structure of these tournaments makes them too formulaic. I’m not going to get into strategy here – there are already plenty of resources out there that map out the optimal play for these games (including a vibrant thread on the PKR forum that’s well worth checking out). What I will say is this – when one style of play dominates a poker format then the conditions are ripe for players who can find a way to cash in on their opponents’ predictability. And finding my own edge in these games means getting a huge kick out of playing them – especially when observing other players and looking for opportunities to take advantage of overly tight play (and revelling in my newfound fondness for the fold button). But my Double Thru journey hasn’t just been about profit – for a player like me they’ve been the perfect antidote to a game which I’ve allowed to get flabby and out of shape. I haven’t been a consistently winning player in months and that needed to be addressed by finding a way to shed unprofitable moves from my game. Most important of all, I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy playing them. Poker’s a lot of fun when you’re winning. n
photography: lise gagne
Colin hangs his head in shame as the dollars start rolling in