Saturday, May 11, 2019

Be AGGRESIVE!

Go to : http://jonathanlittlepoker.com/  for all his coaching content.

If you only win pots when you have the best hand, you will not win significant money in poker. The idea of playing tight and straightforward only works if your opponents are really bad. To become a consistent winner, you must steal pots that don’t belong to you while developing an aggressive image that will actually get you paid off when you have the nuts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Do Not use a card protector?

One of the first things I tell my new poker students is to not use card protectors, which comes as a shock to some of them. They vividly recall a time when the dealer mistakenly mucked their hand, costing them a ton of money, and a card protector would have saved them. While it is obviously a disaster to get your hand mucked, a card protector is not the only solution to protecting your hand.

I have never had my cards mucked when using the following method. Simply put your arms on both sides of your cards (with your chips and cards in between of your arms). It is essentially impossible for the dealer to accidentally muck your hand without reaching well into your space that is clearly designated with your arms. Of course, this requires you to stay in your seat while you have cards in front of you.

The reason I am adamantly against using card protectors is because they introduce one more physical element that can give off information about the strength of your hand. I have spotted countless tells due to people using their card protectors in different manners based on their hand’s strength.

The most extreme example of this that I have ever seen took place at a final table I was commentating on. One of the players would put one chip on top of his hand if it was bad, a few chips if it was decent, and a stack of 20 chips if it was premium. I couldn’t believe it. Eventually, one of his opponents figured out what was going on and picked him apart. Poker is an easy game when your opponent announces the rough value of his hand.

A much more common example that I see on a regular basis is when the player puts the card protector on top of his cards with different motions based on their hand’s strength. They may slam it on strong hands while placing it softly on junk, or the other way around. They may only use the card protector for premium hands, or only for marginal hands. They may place it on different parts of the cards. It is amazing how many different ways there are to put a card protector on top of cards.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to give off tells due to the subconscious way the card protector is used. I am sure many of you reading this who use card protectors are thinking “no way I give off tells like that”. While you may be the exception that just so happens to use the card protector exactly the same way every time, you almost certainly are not. In general, you should strive to be as methodical as you can when you are in a pot, keeping an especially close watch on any motions you make, such as how you place your chips in the pot (which is an unavoidable part of the game). Using a card protector gives you one more way to mess up. If you minimize the number of things you can mess up, you will mess up less often.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. If you want to continue working on your poker skills, be sure to sign up for your free 7-day trial to my interactive training site, PokerCoaching.com.

Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Facing A Lead on All Three Streets

I was recently told about a hand from a $500 buy-in live tournament that illustrates an important concept that many amateur poker players fail to fully understand. With blinds at 500/1,000 with a 100 ante, our Hero raised to 2,500 out of his 50,000 effective stack on the button with Kh-Qc. Only the big blind, a generally tight and extremely straightforward 50 year old man called.

The flop came Qd-9c-5c. The opponent led for 3,600 into the 6,400 pot.

As always, you should strive to figure out your opponent’s strategy. Once you have a decently strong read on him, you should consider adjusting away from a fundamentally sound strategy to take advantage of his tendencies. Given Hero thinks this specific opponent is very straightforward, Hero should assume he is playing in an honest manner, meaning his lead indicates a hand that he thinks is worthy of betting for value. So, which hands do most straightforward players think are worthy of a lead on this flop?

Most straightforward players view any Queen or better as a decent made hand, and a flush draw or open-ended straight draw as a strong draw (although many straightforward players do not lead with their draws). This means that Hero is either in great or marginal shape, depending on how likely the opponent has Q-9, Q-5, and 9-5. If the opponent plays tightly before the flop, Hero can essentially rule out Q-5 and 9-5 (although he may then have to worry about A-Q), but if he is splashy, Hero should proceed with a bit more caution.

Hero called with his top pair.

I like this call. If Hero raises, most tight, straightforward players will at least consider folding their worse top pairs, and if Hero gets reraised, he should probably fold K-Q, which is near the top of his range. By calling, Hero will get outdrawn some portion of the time in exchange for keeping the opponent in with all his inferior made hands and draws.

The turn was the (Qd-9c-5c)-Kd, improving Hero to top two pair. The opponent bet 5,000 into the 13,600 pot and Hero called.

I again like this call, although there is now much more merit to raising if the opponent will blindly put his stack in with all his worse two pairs (assuming those hands are in his preflop range). However, the obvious straight draw arrived and the straightforward opponent is still betting, so Hero should consider proceeding cautiously, especially if he thinks the opponent will fold two pair to a raise. The main reason I would consider raising to about 13,000 is the opponent’s 5,000 bet size into the 13,600 pot doesn’t indicate a hand he is trying to maximize value from, but is instead trying to squeeze a bit of value from, meaning he likely has a non-nut hand. That said, many amateurs simply choose an amount they think is “a lot” and bet that amount (whether or not it is a lot in proportion to the pot or the stacks), so this default read could be way off.

The river was the (Qd-9c-5c-Kd)-2d. The opponent bet 5,000 into the 23,600 pot.

As on the turn, Hero should again consider raising because a 5,000 bet into a 23,600 pot usually indicates a marginal made hand. Since Hero beats essentially all marginal made hands, I think a raise to about 15,000 would be quite nice. The only time calling is superior to raising is when the opponent will likely make a big fold with most worse hands when raised. That said, when the obvious flush draw misses, many players (even tight ones) will make a crying call if they think their opponent is capable of bluffing. If Hero raises and gets pushed on, he should reluctantly fold, expecting to be against a straight or an unexpected backdoor flush. Pot odds don’t matter if you are crushed every time!

Hero called and lost to 9d-5d, for two pair that rivered a backdoor flush. This time the passive approach worked out well for Hero, although on average, his line may have left some money on the table.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. If you want to continue working on your poker skills, be sure to sign up for your free 7-day trial to my interactive training site, PokerCoaching.com.

Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top 5 Posts

2018 is coming to a close. Congrats on surviving it! Today I wanted to share my top 5 posts of 2018. If you enjoyed them, please share them with your friends!

My 10 Most Influential Poker Players


No one is an island. Without stumbling into these 10 players, I would not be the person I am today.

My Pokerography Episode


PokerGo gave me the immense honor of having a Pokerography episode made about my life, and then was kind enough to make it free for everyone to watch. Thanks PokerGo!



When to Continuation Bet and How Much


When players used to fold too often, I would continuation bet 100% of the time and print money. That stopped working, so I had to figure out the optimal strategy. A simple set of guidelines to have you continuation betting well is outlined in this video.



The Bankroll Bible


I get tons of questions about bankroll management, so I loaded all my advice into this one epic blog post.

Watch Once You Have Won $1,000,000 – Featuring Mike Sexton


Mike Sexton and I explain numerous tips to help you hold onto your money that we wish we knew when we first came into it.


Thank you for your continued support throughout 2018. Without you, I would not be living the life of my dreams. I hope 2019 is your best year yet! Love life and run hot!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

When Not to Check Raise

Recently I have been reviewing hands from small stakes poker tournaments for some of my private students and it seems like their opponents (amateur small stakes players) check-raise in exactly the wrong spots. In general, you want to check-raise the flop when you can extract value from many inferior made hands, when you can make many superior hands fold, or when your marginal value hand plays poorly on future betting rounds, usually because your opponent is overly aggressive and the board will significantly change.

Instead of check-raising for these reasons, many amateur players check-raise because they want to protect what they assume is the best hand at the moment.  For example, a tight, straightforward player raises to 3 big blinds out of his 50 big blind effective stack from middle position and you call in the big blind with 9c-8c. The flop comes 9h-4s-3d. You check and your opponent bets 4 big blinds into the 6.5 big blind pot.

This is a horrible spot to check-raise because when your check-raise gets called, you will usually be against a range that contains almost entirely better made hands. Assuming your straightforward opponent will only call your check-raise with top pair and better made hands, you will have about 17% equity when called. If you elect to check-call instead, you will have 62% equity against your opponent’s range (this assumes your opponent will continuation bet 100% of the time on this uncoordinated flop, which may or may not be the case).

In order to profitably check-raise in this spot for value, you have to expect your opponent to raise preflop with an incredibly wide range and be willing to stack off with hands like A-J and 5-4 on the 9-4-3 flop, which is almost never the case. The correct play by far is to check-call because having 62% equity in a small pot is vastly superior to having 18% equity in a large pot.

The reason many amateur players check-raise in this spot is because they don’t want to get outdrawn by various overcards. They assume that any overcard drastically decreases their hand’s equity. While all overcards on the turn could improve your opponent to the best hand, it is important to realize that many of them do not. If your opponent has Q-J, an Ace, King, and Ten do not help. This means that when an overcard comes (it won’t come every time) it will help your opponent less than half of the time when they hold overcards. Of course, when they don’t hold overcards, the overcard will not help.

You must become comfortable with not knowing exactly where you stand if you want to succeed at poker. The desire to always have clear information is the downfall of almost all small stakes no-limit hold’em players and is one of the main reasons they never move up to medium and high stakes. Keeping your opponent’s range wide by check-calling the flop will lead to you playing many more turn and river situations, which is another thing many amateurs do everything in their power to avoid.

Keeping your opponent’s range wide is the key to maximizing value with marginal value hands. Just be aware that by check-calling, you will get outdrawn more often. Losing medium-sized pots is not the end of the world (many amateurs hate losing any pot, let alone a medium-sized pot). If you learn to navigate the turn and river successfully, you will see an immediate increase to your win rate, allowing you to win more money in the long run and move up to larger buy-in games.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. If you want to continue working on your poker skills, be sure to sign up for your free 7-day trial to my interactive training site, PokerCoaching.com.