No limit Texas hold'em is the game of choice for newbies drawn in by nail-biting televised games, and for experienced players who relish the thrilling roller coaster ride (and profit!) that only no limit can provide. No limit is poker at its purest--the only game where, with one move, you can instantly obliterate your opponents. . .or your stack.
In the first Killer Poker book devoted exclusively to no limit Hold'em, John Vorhaus, dubbed "the sage of poker of our time" by CNN, outlines a complete strategy that allows you to play smart, winning poker while relishing the rush of the game. Vorhaus explores no limit from the inside out, examining its appeal and the qualities it takes to go the distance as a player. He instructs readers in key no limit skills such as:
- Devising a plan for every hand
- Classifying your opponents' style of play--and your own
- Knowing the value of unpredictable and inconsistent play
- Ensuring you have the right bankroll--and the right motivation--before you play
- Having an exit strategy for every game
- Dominating and crushing no limit tournament fields
And much more!
With Killer Poker No Limit! you'll learn to see the game the way the pros do, and you'll gain the Killer confidence and insider knowledge that enable you to make the right moves at the right time. . .and reap the rewards.
John Vorhaus has been writing about poker since 1988. His prolific pen has yielded Killer Poker: Strategy and Tactics for Winning Poker Play, Killer Poker Online: Crushing the Internet Game, The Killer Poker Hold'em Handbook, Killer Poker Online/2, and Poker Night: Winning at Home, in Casinos, and Beyond. His approach to the game of poker is best summed up by the theme of his Killer Poker series, "Go big or go home!"
John is also News Ambassador for UltimateBet.com and poker color commentator for Fox Sports Net. He has been described by CNN as "the sage of poker of our time."
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Read an Excerpt
KILLER POKER NO LIMIT!A Winning Strategy for Cash Games and Tournaments
By John Vorhaus
LYLE STUART BOOKSCopyright © 2007 John Vorhaus
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHOW GREEN IS MY WALLY?
The first thing to consider about no limit hold'em (NLHE) is how many hundreds (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of people are coming into the game each day completely ill-equipped to play it correctly. Driven to a frenzy of enthusiasm by televised poker-now airing on every channel but Disney and the Home Shopping Network-inspired by dreams of easy money, and seduced by the ready availability of the online game, these Johnny-(Chan)-come-latelies think that a couple of sitngos and a quick skim of Super System 2 qualify them as rounders. They couldn't be more wrong-to the tune of pretty much every penny they put in play.
Right off the bat, then, you have to ask yourself if you have what it takes to go the distance. I'm not talking about money. Any jamoke with a day job can put together a bankroll. Nor am I talking about guts, though NLHE does challenge one's fortitude. No, what I'm talking about is ambition: the willingness to work hard in service of perfect poker. Simply put, if you won't bust your ass to play the game right, the game will bust your ass for you.
Let me show you what I mean.
A typical no limit newbie finds himself in Las Vegas for a haberdashers' convention. Late one night, his business done for the day, his intestines distended by a heavy meal, and his mind muddied by fine wine (or what passes for such in Vegas), he slopes into the poker room of the new and fabulous Insidion Hotel and Casino. Excited to try the game he's seen on TV and even played once or twice with friends in someone's rumpus room, he sits down at the first NLHE table he sees. This is of course a mistake in game selection, but game selection is yet to this pumpkin a concept as foreign as Zoroastrianism or the ancient mariner's art of macramé, so let's let that go for now.
A garden variety Wally (cally Wally; a weak, loose player), he fumbles his buy in a bit and eventually plunks down the table minimum. This is both good news and bad news for our Wally. Having bought in for the minimum, he stands to lose the least he can lose; however, having bought in for the minimum, he marks himself as either scared or green or both. He further reinforces his rookie image by immediately taking a hand under the gun (UTG), not waiting for his big blind or for the button to pass. He picks up pocket jacks, and blithely calls his way into the pot.
Waiting to act next is a cagey, experienced player we'll call Sandi Seabed. She studies him carefully. She can tell by the way Wally fumbled his buy in, by the way he handles his chips, by the way he didn't wait for the optimum time to jump in, and by his overall fretful demeanor that he's out of his element and depth. She makes a big raise, immediately putting Wally's feet to the fire. Wally doesn't much like that. He knows enough about hold'em to know that big pocket pairs are good cards, but not enough to know that-big pocket pairs notwithstanding-Sandi has a plan to outplay him on the flop. Further, he's not comfortable having to commit so many chips so early. Heck, his seat isn't even warm yet; his free drink hasn't even arrived.
But pocket jacks are pocket jacks, so Wally calls. The flop comes A-Q-3, and Wally is lost in the hand. Fearing those over-cards, he meekly checks. Of course, Sandi bets; she puts Wally all in. Poor Wally. He knows too little about card odds to judge whether it's likely that Sandi has an ace or a queen. And he knows nothing about his opponent, so he can't gauge whether she'd bluff here or not. All he knows is that if he calls here and loses, he'll have lost his entire buy in on the first hand. He will be miserable.
In the name of not being miserable, he folds.
In the name of messing with Wally's head, Sandi shows the 8[??]-7[??] with which she drove him off the hand. Now Wally really feels lousy.
And his night just gets worse from there. Stung by the hurt and humiliation of having been bluffed off a big pot, desperate to ease the psychic pain he feels, Wally buys in again and immediately starts overplaying his hands. Soon he's hemorrhaging at the wallet, pouring buy in after buy in into the game until, finally financially flatlined, he staggers away from the table and stumbles off to find the other haberdashers or possibly a slot machine where even if he loses at least he won't feel so punked.
Now, at this point all Wally has going against him is lack of experience. To be fair, he probably doesn't know enough about NLHE to be aware of the many mistakes he's made, and that's fine. But if he comes back tomorrow night and the night after that and plays the same way, then that's not fine. If he thinks he lost by luck that first time-those darn pocket jacks, why didn't they hold up?!-and counts on luck to see him through the next time, then he's just compounding his mistakes and dooming himself to a long, unsatisfactory relationship with the game. He stands at a crossroads. He can either assign himself the task of learning the game properly or assign himself the role of permanent loser.
Not a pretty picture, eh? Not one I'd want for myself nor, I know, one you'd want for yourself. So let me ask you a question: Considering your level of knowledge and experience, are you at this moment closer to Wally or to Sandi in ability, aptitude, and approach to the game? If you care to amplify your answer, list the ways in which you're like each. (If you care to amply your answer elsewhere, you'll find some blank lined pages at the back of the book.)
If you have even a modest history in poker, you probably consider yourself to be well past the sort of green gaffes a Wally would make. And probably you are. But in fact you're much closer to Wally than to Sandi-I am, we all are-for the simple reason that Sandi doesn't actually exist. Wallies exist; Wallies abound. But Sandi is an ideal, a paragon of poker who plays powerfully and correctly hand after hand, hour after hour, day after week after month after year. She's the end of our rainbow, the goal we aspire to but will never attain. No matter where we are in our poker journey, the first thing we must do is acknowledge that we're much closer to the beginning than to the end, because the beginning is clear and present but the end remains, like the end of the rainbow, always out of reach. That's not a problem, nor any cause for dismay for, as Robert Browning said, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?" In other words,
IT'S PROCESS NOT PRODUCT THAT COUNTS.
If we're working hard and evolving in poker, it doesn't matter how endless the road ahead may be. We're moving forward, growing in the game. That's all that matters. I like this approach to growth, for while perfection is an unattainable goal, improvement can be had every day. By constantly growing in poker we have reason to feel proud of our efforts even when outcomes let us down. And while it may dismay you to suffer bad beats with nothing but the cold comfort of "improvement" as solace, I put it to you that keeping your eyes on this prize offers not just psychic benefits but cash ones as well. Every mistake you stop making puts money in your pocket in the long run-even if it didn't this time. Every edge you exploit increases your expected value-even if it didn't this time. Every situation you correctly analyze improves your bottom line-even if it didn't this time. Look past outcomes, then, and focus instead on the fundamental question: Am I playing better now than I did before? Good news: With this as your focus, you get the twin satisfactions of strengthening your play and of seeing tangible results from the changes you've made over time.
More good news: You are playing better now than you did before, and you can prove it to yourself through a simple test. Casting your mind back to when you started playing NLHE (whether last year or last week), take a moment and list ten things you do better now than then. Since ten is a large number, I'll generate my list first and invite you to borrow what's also true for you.
Get correct odds for my drawing hands.
Attack blinds with appropriate frequency.
Play A-K with proper bold caution.
Get away from dominated holdings.
Leave games when I'm beat and can't compete.
Track results religiously.
Take bad beats in stride.
Compute pot odds on the fly.
Pay attention to tendencies and tells.
Protect big pocket pairs.
Interesting, isn't it? By using the modest little tool of the list, we can peer back in time and accurately measure our present selves against who we once were. Even more interesting, by using this tool we can likewise peer into the future and measure our present selves against who we will become, for if we're better players today than we were yesterday (last week, last year) and if we're dedicated to a course of constant improvement and growth, then it stands to reason that we're not as good at the game now as we will be one day. With this in mind, please draw up a list of ten ways you predict your game will grow. As before, I'll go first; and no, I'm not trying to hog all the revelations, I'm just trying to model honesty. So here are ten things I'd like to (and plan to) do better than I do right now.
Play A-Q correctly.
Make good laydowns.
Think before I act.
Pick off bluffs.
Trust my reads.
Know when I'm beat.
Stop getting trapped.
Improve my math and memory.
I am aware that some of the items on my list trigger a real twinge of regret, even recrimination. You moron! Why do you still get stuck on A-Q? I honor these feelings, because they're real, but I don't let them get me down. If this seems like a delicate dance, it is, but part of becoming a better player is mastering the art of simultaneously hanging on and letting go. We have to hang on to our mistakes long enough to learn from them, for to let go without learning is to put us in the pit of Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But when we're done learning, we have to let go; otherwise, we'll never play poker with confidence and joy, and even if we could play well without confidence and joy (an open question, that) we'd never play happy, and that would be sad.
So, with head held high, holding regret at bay, list ten things in poker you'll do better later than you do right now.
Did anyone say anything about taking control of the table? Because that's something we could all stand to do more of, and something Sandi showed us how to do against Wally. Note that her method was measured, not maniacal. First she observed the several mistakes Wally made in entering the game. Then, based on available information, she formed a hypothesis: I can take this green guy. Next she made and executed the plan of raising his flat call and betting any flop. Finally, having gotten him to fold, she pushed his tilt button by showing her naked bluff. We could argue whether this reveal was sporting, or even strategically sound (since it betrayed something of her mind-set to others at the table) but there's no arguing that it achieved the desired result of making a bad player play even worse.
And yes, the hand could have gone the other way. Wally could have spiked a jack on the flop, or simply not believed that Sandi had him beat. Or his fumbly entrance into the game could have been image, an act. But we have to commend Sandi's play-and, folks, emulate Sandi's play-because she saw an opportunity and she seized it. The opportunity had little to do with the cards she held and much to do with the foe she faced. After all, against most opponents Sandi will fold that 8-7 suited, and that's the sensible thing to do. Against a rare few, she'll push all in because she knows they can't call. Against yet others, she'll just call along and hope to catch a trapping hand. In all events, Sandi is not playing just her cards. She's playing the intersection of her cards and her opponents. Where these streets meet ...
... is where quality poker lives.
Remember, your cards are only one source of available information. Your opponents are always streaming data at you, giving you important clues about how to defeat them. If they're weak and straightforward, you can use that. If they're tricky and creative, you can use that. If you've never played a single hand against them before, you can use that, too (because they've never played a hand against you, either). The Wallies of this world ask only, "How do I play these cards?" The Killer Poker player asks, "How do I play these cards against these foes?" It makes all the difference in the world.
Forget what you think you know about NLHE. Forget all your start charts and your odds computations. Well, all right, don't forget them, but set them aside for now. That information is useful, but it's only half useful because it doesn't put your cards in the context of the other players at the table. Sure, some hands play themselves: the hammer (2-7) gets folded; pocket aces get raised. But those hands are the ends of the spectrum. It's the hands in between hands, like 6-6, J-T suited, and my dreaded A-Q, that we have to know how to play correctly. And we can't know how to play them correctly unless we know who we're playing them against. What we need, then, is a quick and dirty system for parsing our foes reasonably accurately into categories.
I happen to have one here....
Chapter Two"TYPE" CASTING
Multiple choice question:
In a $5-$10 blind no limit game, you're on the button holding K[??]-9[??] and it's folded around to you. You have about $1,000 in front of you, as do the small blind and the big blind. Do you ...
c. Raise a little?
d. Raise a lot?
Some of you may declare shenanigans on this question, because didn't I just get done saying that you can't intelligently attack the hand without knowing your foes? Okay, then, given that the small blind is extremely loose and the big blind is extremely tight, tell me what you'll do-and, while you're at it, why?
Your answer to this question tells you a lot about the type of player you are right now. If you could get all your foes to answer this question truthfully, it would tell you a lot about them, too. Since they're not likely to be so genially forthcoming with such critical strategic information, you need to make deductions based upon their play, and then compile these deductions into some sort of unified picture of them. We'll get to that in a moment, but first let's get back to you, and the answer you just gave.
If you folded. If you folded this hand, you missed out on an opportunity to attack the blinds in favorable position with a better than average holding. Since the small blind is ultra loose and you expect him to call, it may be that you're just not looking for a fight, even though there's a good chance you'll be going to war with the best hand. There's nothing wrong with folding here, especially if you don't trust your postflop play, but it's not what you'd call a bold choice, so let's classify you as wary.
If you called. There are two reasons for calling here. Either you feel you can extract extra value from your out-of-position foes after the flop or you're just timid. The trouble with, essentially, slow playing an only okay hand is that the small blind will call with anything and the big blind gets a free ride with a random hand, so you won't know where you're at on the flop, and you'll probably need to hit to win. Since the strategy for flat calling is thus problematic, we'll characterize this play as lax.
If you raised a little. This is the standard blind steal in a standard blind stealing situation. It's not particularly creative, but it is effective, as it invites the small blind to err on the side of looseness while simultaneously defining the big blind's hand: A call (or raise) from this ultra tight player confirms a quality holding. To raise here, then, is to use the power of the bet to win the pot or, at worst, to glean useful information. That's what bets are for! If you chose this path, identify yourself as sturdy.
If you raised a lot. Overbetting the pot here might drive out even the loosest player in the small blind, and winning the blinds without a fight is never a bad thing. However, you'll only get a call from the big blind when she has a better hand than yours-which would be the case with your small raise, too. While you'll know where you're at in the hand, you're paying more than you need to for that information. If you choose to make the grandstand raise here, tab yourself as epic.
Excerpted from KILLER POKER NO LIMIT! by John Vorhaus Copyright © 2007 by John Vorhaus. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found this very helpful for those who hsve bad luck i n poker games and tend to lose money although i found that It truly needed other card games for because i am an old fart who sits around sipping weak tea and tortures monkeys. I smoke cigars while sleeping and i amyelled at because go nude when i go out and hump dead animals. Feels great as i realease my male jelly into a dead animals ass.