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Where poker tilt is concerned, prevention is always better than cure. You’ll save yourself a lot of wasted time, squandered money, and unnecessary grief if you can spot the warning signs ahead of time. To do this, you must learn to recognize your triggers – those things in the game that, for whatever reason, are so upsetting and offensive to you that they have the power to put you on tilt.

Tilt triggers generally fall into one of two categories: things that happen within the game itself, and external factors that are technically not part of a poker game, but which make you more vulnerable to tilt.
External Factors (Pre-Triggers)

Let’s look at the latter category first. Think of them as pre-triggers. Any number of outside influences – stress at home, financial worries, lack of adequate sleep, alcohol, drugs, etc – can leave you much more susceptible to tilt than you would be otherwise. While these outside factors won’t be the final catalyst that actually kicks off your tilt, pre-triggers still share a large part of the blame. If you come to the poker table already feeling out of sorts over problems at work or a fight with your spouse, and then you decide to unwind by having a few drinks while you play, you are setting yourself up to go on tilt the moment something goes wrong in the game.

Think of pre-triggers as creating a kind of “perfect storm” for tilt to occur. When you combine stress and alcohol in a poker game, it’s like you’ve got a cold high-pressure system moving in from the north, colliding with a tropical low-pressure system from the south. Now all it takes one nasty gust of wind – one bad beat – and you’ll have a full-blown nor’easter on your hands. Without those pre-triggers, the bad beat might have blown over harmlessly.
Now for the Actual Triggers

You’re in the game, playing well, perhaps having to work a bit at managing your emotions when the cards go against you, but you’re doing it. You’re in control. Then something goes wrong. Tilt triggers are different for everybody but the common denominator for all triggers is that they run deeply contrary to your notions of how the game is supposed to be. The end result is that the rational, thinking part of your brain takes a powder, leaving your pride and emotions in charge of the decision-making.
Bad Beats

The usual culprit for this ugly transformation is a bad beat. From the lowliest fish to the loftiest pros, from the mundane “that’s poker” beats to the soul-crushing, two-outer suckouts, bad beats are an inescapable part of the game. Which is precisely why they are such a common tilt trigger and why you must be able to deal with them emotionally.
Bad Cards

The second-most common tilt trigger is being card-dead for a long time. After an endless procession of lousy starting hands, missed flops, and draws that never come in, even the most patient of poker players would be tempted to snap. This is a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back type of trigger, as the frustration just keeps piling on higher and higher with each successive fold, until it’s finally too much to bear.

Online, where games moves at the speed of light and multi-tabling is commonplace, tilt-by-cold-cards is rare. But that’s more than compensated for by the excessive number of bad beats you’ll encounter in the online games. Between the sheer volume of hands and the fact that online opponents tend to play looser, it’s not a question of if you will take bad beats, but when and how many. Add in the fact that your entire online bankroll is only a few mouse-clicks away and the ability to cope with suckouts becomes more crucial than ever.

Anything that gets your emotions flowing in as poker game has the potential to cause tilt. Excessive winning can do it. If you’re playing poker online and you lose a big pot because of a poor connection or an accidental mis-click, that can do it too. Offensive opponents also deserve an honorable mention as potential tilt triggers. But as a rule, obnoxious trash-talking opponents won’t really get under your skin unless they’re winning and you’re losing. Which brings us back to bad beats and bad cards. In one form or another, those are main triggers you need to watch out for.
Part Two: Prevention

By far, the most effective way to combat tilt is to never go on it in the first place. Easier said than done of course, but it all goes back to that old axiom: knowledge is power. To protect yourself against tilt, you must know yourself and know the game.

This can be difficult and slippery, if only because we humans have an incredible gift for deceiving ourselves. That’s why it’s so vital to know your triggers. Of all the things that can go wrong during a poker game, what do you find the most disturbing? So disturbing that it can prompt you to fling all your hard-earned poker knowledge out the window? Only you can truly answer that, although a coach or a poker-playing friend might be able to help you find some tilt-weaknesses from observing your play. Once you know your tilt triggers, this will put you in a much stronger position to side-step tilt before it has a chance to overtake you.
Know the Game

The more you know correct poker strategy, the harder it will be for you to stray away from it. The more you get in the habit of reviewing the hand and considering all angles – position, stack sizes, pot size, pot odds, betting patterns, playing styles, etc – before making any important decision, the more it becomes second nature for you to think this way, even during times of stress. By no means will this knowledge give you any kind of foolproof protection against tilt, but it does act as a very effective buffer.
Know the Probabilities

Remember, the number one tilt trigger is a bad beat. But what’s really sick about bad-beat-induced tilt is that many if not most of those beats were never all that bad to begin with. Poker players have a natural tendency to over-estimate the chances of their good hands holding up, which in turn makes it feel more “unfair” when another player draws out and rakes in the pot.

But realistically, good hands get sucked out on all the time and oftentimes the “favorite” hand is favored only by a small margin. An awareness of common poker probabilities certainly helps.  For example: against four random hands preflop, pocket Aces will hold up to win the pot about 56 percent of the time. Roughly translated, that means the best starting hand in hold’em is slated to lose about two out of every five hands when facing off against four opponents. Even if you reduce the number of opponents to two, pocket aces will still lose about a fourth of the time. Upsetting yes, but hardly cause for a tilt-provoking, god-I’m-so-unlucky pity party.

As senseless and wasteful as tilt can be, the sheer stupidity of tilt increases exponentially if the trigger that caused it in the first place is a run-of-the-mill loss the player should have seen coming. Worse still, some of these bad beats are self-inflicted hurts brought about by poor play, typically when the player is not aggressive enough and gives his opponents free/cheap cards to outdraw him.

But you can avoid this ignominious trap by educating yourself. If you know ahead of time that your hand will fall victim to a suckout every so often, you won’t be surprised or upset when it happens – let alone have a meltdown. If you realize that you made a mistake in the way you played the hand, you can acknowledge the mistake and learn from it, instead of railing against the poker gods because one of your opponents walked right through an opening that you yourself created.
How to Avoid Tilt

And so finally, how do you combat against tilt when it has already sunk its toxic little claws into you? If you have the insight and presence of mind to realize that you’re playing on tilt, that in itself puts you far ahead of most tilt victims. But you’re still left with the problem of what to do about it at that moment.
Two Words: Stop Playing

That’s it, really. The moment you become aware that you’re on tilt, get up and walk away from the table or turn off the computer. Your only defence is to stop the train from derailing. You need to regain your composure and that takes time. If you have extraordinary discipline, you might be able to cool down after a break of five or ten minutes away from the poker table.

What you do at this point will determine the overall outcome of your poker session and it is critical that you do not lose control. If you do have the discipline to take a short break then the following are helpful tactics for controlling your emotions:

    First, get up from the poker table (or computer) and take a walk or go to the bathroom to cool off.
    Don’t use your break to call someone to discuss a bad beat – this will further tilt you, not calm you down.
    Don’t try to chat with your opponent and open the door for defensive comments that may fuel an argument.
    If you cannot get in the right frame of mind, cash in and do not keep playing – you may need a long break in order to get back to your best game state.

Much depends on your individual personality and the severity of the tilt. If you have a mild case of frustration tilt – say, you caught yourself making a loose call or two – ten minutes might be enough time to get your head screwed back on straight. But if you’ve got a full-blown case of berserker tilt, no way is a ten-minute break going to do the trick. You’ll need at least a day away from the game, preferably longer.

Again it comes down to self-knowledge. This is a judgment call, made by you and about you. When you do return to the game, you must be brutally honest with yourself in assessing that you’re indeed ready to play again. If you’re not 100 percent sure, wait awhile longer. The game isn’t going anywhere.
Your Table Image

Another reason you should get up and stop playing is that your table image is almost certainly compromised. When you’re on tilt, any halfway-decent opponent is going to recognize your lopsided playing style and exploit it. Even if you do manage to un-tilt yourself with a short break, you’ll have a table-image problem to contend with when you return to the game. If you’re playing online, you might want to consider changing tables.
When a Long Break Isn’t An Option

Of course if you’re in the middle of playing a poker tournament, anything more than a short break isn’t really an option. But as long as you can afford to lose a few blinds, go ahead and take a break. Getting off tilt and back to your A-game is more important than playing your blinds. Take a walk. Get your mind off of whatever it was that was upsetting you so. Give yourself a pep talk, remind yourself that the players who sucked out on you were putting their money in with the worst of it. Whatever works to clear your mind and restore your sense of poker equilibrium.
A Stop-Loss Can be a Useful Tool

For some poker players, a stop-loss can be a useful tool in the fight against tilt. In theory, stop-losses shouldn’t be necessary since poker players aren’t supposed to be results-oriented. But realistically, if you’ve lost three buy-ins in a row you probably are on tilt at least a little bit – or tilt is lurking right around the corner, just waiting for one more loss. So until and unless you have the discipline to recognize the signs of tilt and stop playing on your own, a stop-loss can provide at least a modicum of protection.

What you don’t want to do is chase your losses. Ever. The poker graveyard is littered with bones of players who went broke trying to “get back even.” Even more foolhardy is the idea of temporarily moving up in limits to win your money back faster. This is exactly how a moderate loss turns into a bankroll-busting catastrophe.
Final Thoughts

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: It’s all one long session. This bit of poker wisdom is key to overcoming tilt. If you can keep your focus on the big picture – the long term – it will be much easier to let the short-term misfortunes of the game roll off your back. It will be much easier to take a break from poker when you’re tilting, confident that you’ll win your money back later after you’ve gotten your head screwed back on straight, instead of getting trapped in the desperate compulsion to get even again right now. Keeping good records and even graphing your long-term results is one effective way to accomplish this. Because if you don’t learn to control tilt, it’s only a matter of time before tilt will control you.

By Barbara Connors

Even first-time players knows that poker is a game of odds, and while newbies might not be able to figure them, at least they realize that there’s a relationship between the chances of making a winning hand and how much money is in the pot. But they probably don’t know much about the concept of implied odds (and reverse implied odds) – which sounds complex and foreboding but is really nothing more than the opposite side of a slightly more sophisticated way of thinking about risk and reward at the poker table.
Estimating What You Think You’ll Win

Implied odds offer a comparison of what you think you’ll win – including all the money in the pot right now along with any additional money that figures to come into the pot through bets and calls on future wagering rounds – compared to the cost of a current bet. If this sounds somewhat less than a precise measure, you’re right. Unlike mathematical odds, implied odds involves estimating – or guessing – about the future action of your opponents. When you base a bet or a call on implied odds, you’re wagering not only on the odds related to making your hand, but also on your ability to forecast your opponents’ behavior when your hand comes in.

Let’s look at some examples to clarify this. Suppose you flopped a flush draw, and with two cards to come, the odds against completing it are 1.86-to-1 against you. But without knowing how much money you figure to win if you have to call a bet to draw to your flush, you can’t tell whether it pays to stick around or not. After all, with the odds at nearly 2-to-1 against you, if the all the pot offered was even money – you’d win as much as you contributed – it wouldn’t pay to keep drawing.

In poker, whenever the pot odds exceed the odds against making your hand, it pays to keep playing. When the odds against your hand coming in exceed the reward associated with it, it’s usually a bad deal. A simple way to think about this is that whenever the prize exceeds the cost of the game, keep playing. When the cost to play is more than the money you figure to win, you should fold.

But implied odds can change that equation, and here’s why. While the current size of the pot might not be sufficient to make it worthwhile to take another card or two, if you reckon that the pot will grow substantially on future wagering rounds, your decision might be a different one.
Implied Odds are Best with Hidden Hands

If you’re going to use implied odds as justification to call an opponent, then be aware that some draws have greater implied odds than others. Flush draws are pretty obvious, and most opponents will at least stop and ponder when an opponent who has been calling all along comes out betting when a third suited card hits the board. In other words, unless your opponent is very loose or figures you for a bluff, implied odds with flush draws tend to be smallish, because that third suited card can put a serious damper on any forthcoming action.

Things are different when your hand is hidden. Because hidden hands are more deceptive, your opponent might not realize the strength of it and pay you off with a second-best hand. The best implied odds draw is a double belly buster straight because of its stealth nature.

An example of this type of hand would be a flop of AJ8 while holding QT. While the board looks somewhat disjointed you have eight outs (four Kings and four nines) to hit your straight.

The odds of hitting your straight on the turn are just over 4-to-1 against. The pot odds in this example are just over 3-to-1, so you are not getting the right price to call based only on pot odds. However, the implied odds are favourable with such a hidden hand. An additional upside to a hand like this is that an opponent may have a hand like AK and if a King hits the board he will give you plenty of action and many times never see your stealth nut straight coming.
Betting Structures and Playing Styles

Pot-limit and no-limit games offer larger implied odds than fixed-limit games because of the potential for bigger wagers on subsequent betting rounds. But structure alone is meaningless without an understanding the playing style of your opponents. Passive opponents – the kind of players who call but rarely raise – increase your implied odds because you can draw inexpensively against them and count on getting paid off handsomely whenever you make your hand.

Players have to guard against self-deception when figuring implied odds. Because there’s a certain amount of subjectivity associated with them, some players get into trouble when they use implied odds to justify weak calls. Here’s what we mean.

Suppose you have a flush draw on the turn and with $20 in the pot your opponent bets $10 (as shown in figure 2). Your immediate odds are 3-to-1 plus whatever implied odds you assign to the final betting round on the river.

But unless your adversary is completely transparent or you have a terrific read on him, it’s all too easy to be overly optimistic – and therefore self-deceptive – about how much more money your opponent will be willing to invest in the pot if you make your hand. You might complete your hand on the river and try for a check raise only to have your opponent check behind you. You’ll probably win the showdown, but you would have won more if you wagered an amount your opponent would call.

So the check raise failed. Next time you’re in this situation suppose you bet a large amount instead of trying for a check raise. You’re hoping your opponent thinks you’re bluffing and will call. But instead, he ponders for a moment and then releases his hand. Would a smaller bet – presumably one sized to easily attract a call – have worked better? Or would this have been the time to try for a check raise? You just can’t be certain, and this is the part of poker that’s an art, not a science.
Predicting What Your Opponent Will Do

Let’s back this up a bit. Before you decide to play your draw on those earlier betting rounds, you need to have some idea about what your opponent will do when you complete your hand.

If your opponent is willing to call big bets on the river, you can take a short price on the turn because you know that when you make your hand, the payoff will more than exceed all those times you drew, failed to get there, and either folded or bluffed the river only to have your opponent call and win the pot. But if your opponent is the kind who hunkers down whenever a scare card hits the board, a better play might be to eschew the draw, and bet for value against him whenever you have what you believe to be a better hand.
Warning: The Fast Path to Self-Deception

For some players, the idea of implied odds is a fast path to self-deception at the poker table. You’ll see players calling bets with far the worst of it and if you asked them why, they’ll tell you that implied odds made it a worthwhile bet. While implied odds are a bit of a guess, those guesses need to be fairly accurate to pay off in the long run. Otherwise it’s just self deception – a way of talking oneself into playing hands that really should be folded.

Players who do this are savvy enough to know they shouldn’t play hunches at the poker table, but they still lack the requisite self-discipline to ensure they’ll beat the game. In order to sound like they are smarter than hunch players and any-two-cards-can-win maniacs, they’ll cloak their desire for action – even when the price is clearly wrong – in the mantle of implied odds.

By Lou Krieger

There are many young players who have not realized something about a playing bankroll. Many of them don't separate their playing cash from their regular expenses. That makes their playing bankroll fluctuate because they need money to live. This creates a difficult situation because the player never really knows what their true progress has been.

If you keep your playing money separate you can calculate where your weaker points are and fix them. If you have to keep pulling money out of the bankroll to live your life you won't be able to climb up the blind levels like you should be. You'll also have to keep adjusting the game you're playing in because your bankroll shrinks and climbs at a wider rate than normal.
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There are so many forms of the game that it can be tricky choosing exactly what to do particularly when you want to play poker online for real money. Considering two of the most popular versions of poker, should you choose Texas Hold’Em or Omaha Hold’Em?
Of course, the basic game is the same in both versions – Build the best five-card hand that you can and hope to beat your opponents. The major difference is that in Texas Hold’Em, often known as just plain Hold’em, you can choose any five cards from your hand and the community boards. In Omaha Hold’em, which is generally known as just plain Omaha, two cards must come from your hand. As a result, the potential card combinations are far greater with Texas Hold’Em.
The result of this is significant. For a start, in Omaha you either have the best hand or you don’t, there is not as much room for movement. So trying to deceive your opponent when you have low scoring cards is not usually as effective as it is when you play Hold’Em. The flexibility of Hold’Em also means that there tends to be more action in the game than there is with Omaha. This may impact your enjoyment of the game.
Omaha tends to be more of a tactical game and so where Hold’Em players tend to raise and re-raise, this can be problematic when playing Omaha. Another factor to consider is that Hold’Em is a quicker game, so when you play online you will get more action.

Pretty much every online poker player starts at the low-stakes tables when they decide to move into real-money games, and the reasons are pretty obvious. A lot of players will tell you that low-stakes games aren't profitable, but that's generally because low-stakes players find themselves in on way more hands than the should be. It's possible and in fact practical to play low-stakes poker for profit if you are comfortable with a longer, slower burn at the table with less action. Think Tight Aggressive and crank it up to about 10% past your usual play.

Preflop Strategies

As with any hold ‘em game, position plays a huge factor in low-stakes online poker games. Early position preflop players want to restrict their play to only the absolute best hands: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AQ and AK. Limp in with a pocket pair of TT or lower and AJ is always more tempting than it should be. You're better off folding everything else when playing from the blinds or immediately after.
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Much like the fields of crypto zoology and psychic studies, poker is full of myths that have become inflated to the point where they're accepted as fact by many people who aren't familiar with the game, and by a shocking number that are. We're going to do a blow-by-blow look at three of the most popular ones and explain why they are myths and not based on fact. Read more…

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