The world is playing poker online—learn how to play with the best and win a fortune.
Make a Million from Online Poker: The Surefire Way to Profit from the Internet's Coolest Gameby Nigel Goldman
Every year, billions of dollars are up for grabs in online poker rooms, and the number of people playing on the internet is growing at an astonishing rate. But for many, it’s a struggle to keep up with more experienced players; all too often, the money ends up going the wrong way. Whether you’re a complete novice or an old hand, this book will show you
Every year, billions of dollars are up for grabs in online poker rooms, and the number of people playing on the internet is growing at an astonishing rate. But for many, it’s a struggle to keep up with more experienced players; all too often, the money ends up going the wrong way. Whether you’re a complete novice or an old hand, this book will show you how to succeed at the game that has swept the nation. From understanding poker terminology, probability, odds, raising, and bluffing, to developing strategic skills, the author guides you through every stage of the game, equipping you with the know-how to confidently “boss” a table anywhere.
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Make a Million from Online Poker
The Surefire Way to Profit from the Internet's Coolest Game
By Neil Goldman
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2006 Nigel Goldman
All rights reserved.
THE GAME OF POKER
POKER is one of the oldest and easiest of all card games to understand. Texas Hold'em, due to its place at the heart of the current Internet boom, is rapidly becoming the most popular form, replacing others such as Five-card Draw and Seven-card Stud. The deal rotates clockwise, hand by hand, the two players to the left of the dealer placing specified 'blinds' – usually a small blind, and a big blind (double the small blind) of a predetermined amount of money. In competitions, the blinds go up in value as the competition progresses, making it more and more difficult to accumulate chips.
Each player at the table receives two cards face-down. These are known as 'pocket cards'. There is then a round of betting. Players may fold (put down their hand and take no further part in the round), check-raise (waive the right to bet until a bet has been made by an opponent) and re-raise (equal the amount of the current bet and then increase it) bets during betting rounds. Three cards (known as community cards) are then dealt face-up in the centre of the table. This is called the 'flop'. Players bet again, and then a fourth community card is dealt (the turn). Another round of betting takes place, and then the fifth and final community card is dealt (the river). A final betting round takes place. The player who out-bets his opponents, forcing them to fold, or who has the best hand (made up of his pocket cards and three of the community cards) wins the pot. It is vital to learn which pocket cards are valuable – worth betting and raising on – and equally important to appreciate the importance of knowing when to bet and raise. These skills are best acquired as early as possible, but often can take years to master. If you are playing Internet poker for the first time, choose a low blinds table (.05/.10 cents) and only progress to higher blind and pot tables when you are confident you have mastered the basic strategies and have digested all the information in this book. Do not make the costly mistake of initially running up your winnings to ever bigger games. You will inevitably come a cropper when your winning streak evaporates. Keep to sensible levels, and wait until your bankroll has increased sufficiently before taking on the additional risk of playing in a higher-level game or tournament.CHAPTER 2
TRUE-LIFE INTERNET PLAYERS PROFILED
SPENCER CARRINGTON – THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Spencer Carrington is 32 years old and lives in Spain. Formerly a greengrocer in the UK, he has moved from potatoes to poker chips, having been playing online for just over twelve months now. His favourite site is Ladbrokes. I asked him why. 'Good satellite competitions, I know all the players on this site from all over the world, all lads like me. We get on well and send messages to each other during play.' Another reason he favours the Ladbroke site is the tens of thousands of dollars he has deposited there, the rewards from an afternoon's play in a satellite competition which resulted in him winning a place on the Ladbroke Poker Cruise.
Spencer's handle (the nickname by which all players are known online) is sportsmanspain. It's too long to fit in the name-box provided online, so, should you fancy watching him in action one evening, you'll find it's been abbreviated there to 'sportsmanspa'.
Spencer favours playing in multi-tournaments and always tries to qualify via satellites. He also plays in cash games on the smaller tables ($1/$2) and, like most professionals, plays on four tables at once, using state-of-the-art wireless technology and a 20-inch monitor. 'The best hours to play are on Friday and Saturday evenings. Only European players are allowed to play on the Ladbrokes site, and Friday is usually when most of them have just got paid, been out drinking, come home drunk and logged on. The best time to make a killing is between midnight and 6am on those evenings, when the drunks and inexperienced players are at their most vulnerable.' Unlike a real casino, there is no doorman online to ensure you are of the correct age and sober enough to be admitted.
'But what about a social life?' I asked him innocently.
'You don't have one if you play poker for a living.' The lack of social life is made up for by the huge amount of money Spencer has accumulated in a short period of time, and the glitzy competitions he qualifies for all over the world, which, for him, are better than a holiday.
Spencer can tell who the drunk or high players are at any table online by the way they bluff. He writes copious notes about all the players he meets and plays against. Electronic notepads are provided for this on all the major poker sites. 'Get to know your opponents,' Spencer muses. 'They all have methods and "tells" online which you need to be aware of and use to your maximum advantage.' Spencer is obviously taking his online gaming very seriously. His longest session so far is fourteen hours without a break. He regularly makes $1,000–$2,000 during such marathons, with his biggest win for an evening being around $5,000. He's had his setbacks, too, of course. They are known as 'bad beats' in the trade. 'I was playing in the European Championships in the spring of 2005 and was lying in twelfth place out of 480 entries, and was sitting there with around 100,000 chips. I went all-in with pocket Kings, and got called by pocket Tens. My opponent hit a Ten on the river to knock me out.'
By far the most important point in his poker career to date has been qualifying for the Ladbroke's Poker cruise. Satellites had been running for twenty weeks on ladbrokespoker.com. Spencer played repeatedly to qualify for this valuable place that was on offer, and his persistence paid off when he won it. He got a free seat on the Poker cruise, worth $7,500 in entry fees alone – a major achievement given that thousands of players had tried and failed to win this coveted prize.
Spencer was now the new kid on the block. The tournament itself followed a unique format devised by Ladbrokes Head of Poker, David Tarbet. The field was to be split into four groups, with each group playing down to nine players. The final nine from each group carried their chips forward to the semi-final stages of thirty-six players. These thirty-six then played down to a final table of six and again carried their chips forward. The structure was slow throughout, with about ten hours of play in the group stages and reduced blinds at the last thirty-six and final table to allow a greater amount of play. Many players commented on how fair the structure was, and the tournament ran like clockwork under the expert supervision of Thomas Kremser of the IPF. The first night of the cruise saw a welcome cocktail party and grand draw ceremony almost as elaborate as a football World Cup draw. Just as there almost always seems to be a 'group of death' in the World Cup so it proved here, with pre-tournament favourites Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott, Poker Million Champ Donnacha O'Dea, and Lucy Rokach – fresh from a $50,000 win at the Vic – all thrown into Group A.
The 'group of death' tag rang true for both O'Dea and Ulliott, who both headed for the nearest cash game, but not so for Rokach, who carried a very healthy stack of 28,300 through to the last thirty-six. Also through from group A was Brian 'cresta' Medley, who was the older half of a father-and-son team that had qualified for the cruise. Ireland's Paddy O'Connor, who finished thirty-eighth in this year's WSOP main event, also made the semi-finals on day one.
Back home in Spain, Spencer's friends, family and admirers had been busy mopping up the 150/1 each way on Spencer offered by Ladbrokes – odds that soon started to look generous. Though nothing much happened for him during the first hour or so of the competition, Spencer then started getting some good hands, played well and wound up with $37,000 in chips and in the running. Ladbrokes weren't slow to notice the quality of his play either, and quickly slashed his odds to 80/1.
Day two, and Spencer got his chips up to 300,000 twice. After nipping out for a cigarette, he came back to pocket Aces, followed this with a re-raise from an AK and, after a few near misses, he wound up with 135,000 at the end of play to go into day three in second position. Ladbrokes slashed his odds again, this time to 11/4. On day three, he played tight and finished the day with 145,000, a ten-grand improvement, going into the final on day four still in second place and with everything to play for. Participants on the cruise were invited to bid for the winning player by betting on who they thought would win the competition, and Spencer, having made many good friends on the boat, proved his popularity receiving more bids than anyone else.
Then, as he walked into the poker lounge for the final, the magnitude of the task ahead hit him. For the first time he felt nervous. On the table in front of him was 700,000 in US dollars (at that stage, he didn't know it was moody money for the cameras!). And worse, a huge projector screen was right in his face broadcasting every hand. The famous TV player Dave Ulliott (Devilfish) wished Spencer luck with the words: 'any hand can win'.
This was Spencer's first live tournament, and, sensibly, he decided to do a deal with the chip leader, Londoner Eric 'Lowball' Dalby, arranging to save some of the prize money for the winner who came second. At 74, Eric was the oldest player in the field, but he outlasted 208 of his peers, some of whom were over fifty years younger, to capture the $250,000 first prize. Who said poker's a young man's game? Spencer bagged $160,000, $135,000 from Messrs Ladbrokes and Co., and $25,000 saved with the finalist, who Spencer confirmed 'wouldn't have done a deal with anyone else'. Good work if you can get it.
Online, Spencer continues to progress. Often playing in Sunday-lunchtime competitions, he anticipates playing poker for a living within the next five years. And his advice to would-be poker professionals – play lots of small games, treat it as a business, keep 100 times what you are playing for in your poker bank and only play good hands. Spencer has invested his money wisely, using some of it to start his own poker website and opening a swish private members poker club in Spain.
MARK DOUGLAS GRIFFIN
Mark is 44 years old and from Weston-super-Mare. In his previous life in the UK, he was a manager/partner at Kentucky Fried Chicken, before buying a couple of pubs. He moved to Spain in 1999, and opened a bar in the fashionable area of Benalmadena. He used to be a punter, but soon realised that when betting on horses the odds were stacked against him, so about three years ago he decided to become a bookmaker, bought an existing sports lounge and has never looked back. Having successfully played poker, brag, backgammon and casino games for reasonable stakes, he first discovered live poker in 2000, when he and a few friends would get together after racing in a bar called the Winning Post where they would play reasonable-stakes games. 'After about six weeks, nobody would play me for money,' he commented wryly.
In 2003, the Winning Post boys invited him back to play the new version of Texas Hold'em. He played five or six games and won those, too. Then another bar started running proper poker competitions. Mark got involved, kept winning and was hooked, going on to discover Internet poker in November 2004. Although he's explored various sites, including Pacific, Party Poker, William Hill and Ladbrokes, his favourite is Paradise Poker, not only because they have good games and excellent satellites, but also because he finds the people on that site friendly – he has made many friends online, and even met one of his oppos in person when he turned up at Mark's sports lounge in Spain. Mark's handle on Paradise, by the way, is 'Betdempseys'.
When he started playing in November 2004, Mark didn't even have a credit card in Spain, so he got together with his son Robin and racing-odds compiler and form student Craig Cairnes to play on Paradise's free ten-man competitions. The first of three to win received a tenner from the other two! Naturally, Mark cleaned up, again. He started playing for real money online in January 2005. Commencing with $5 ten-man tournaments, with $25 going to the winner, he very quickly went to the front, and was soon playing in $10, then $20, competitions, always at ten-man tables. In February, he discovered satellite qualifiers for big competitions. Beginning with a $6 satellite, he won a $200 WPT seat as a late qualifier from 100 players. He ended up in a competition with 600 players, the top five finishers winning a $25,000 WPT seat. Mark finished sixth, got $1,000 for his trouble, but was still gutted. He then went on to win a $1,200 turbo competition and an $800 hammock, putting him a couple of thousand up in cash games.
By now, Mark was convinced that his play was sufficiently tight and skilled for him to win something substantial any minute. He obtained a seat cheaply via satellite for an online $100,000 competition being staged that March on the Paradise site and finished 200 out of 600 players, having hugely enjoyed the experience. The following Sunday, he managed to qualify for a seat in another $100,000+ competition for a mere $5 entry fee. The tournament commenced at 11pm, and Mark had already made up his mind to play tight. 'The early parts of these competitions are when one mustn't get tempted to play loose.' After the first hour, there was no change in his chip stack, and by the end of the second hour he had seen a couple of hands and was lying 150th out of the 300 players remaining, the other 300 having dropped out. During the third hour, he continued to maintain his chip position and, by the start of the fourth, another 150 players having been knocked out, he was in seventy-fifth place. 'Throughout this tournament, I always seemed to be lying in the middle of the pack,' Mark recalls. Just after the fifth hour, he made it to the final table, by which time it was 4am in the morning. There were now only ten players left and Mark, amazingly, was sitting in fifth place – still in the middle of the pack. He was going well, to say the least, with something in the region of $70,000–80,000 in chips in front of him, the table chip leader sitting with 200,000. Three more players went out, leaving just seven. Mark, now on the big blind, got dealt AK spades and, understandably, was becoming increasingly excited. Of the remaining players, all folded except one – a Swede called Johan (handle Dubbletommate) – who committed all-in. Mark called the all-in bet, knowing that if the worst came to the worst and he was out he would still finish seventh and pick up $4,000. The cards were exposed, and to Mark's dismay Johan has pocket Aces, which gave Mark just a 22 per cent chance of winning.
The situation didn't look good, and it was clear that he needed a hefty slice of luck. The flop came: spade, spade, nothing. Then the turn: nothing. Finally, the river: spade. Mark has made a nuts flush on the river and went straight into second place on the leaderboard. Left short-stacked, Johan was soon out, whereupon Mark decided to play like granite, and wait for monsters. Soon there were only two players left: Mark, sitting with 290,000, and 'Billybob' with 600,000. The blinds were going up, and Mark was desperate to double up to put himself in the running. His chance came when he saw A8 clubs in the hole – referred to as 'dead man's hand'. His opponent had K10. The flop, turn and river produced nothing for either player, and Mark's A8 held up. The positions were thus reversed, Mark now sitting with 600,000 while Billybob's stack had been reduced to 290,000. After a couple more hands, Billybob went all-in with K10, which Mark called, quite correctly, with A6 off-suit. The flop brought 10xx (ragrag), the turn an Ace; and the river nothing. Game over. Mark had won, and walked away with a cheque for a cool $38,650.
Excerpted from Make a Million from Online Poker by Neil Goldman. Copyright © 2006 Nigel Goldman. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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