Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Omaha Rules: How to Play Omaha Poker

Omaha poker is starting to become almost as popular as Texas Holdem poker in casino poker rooms, online poker sites and live poker tournaments. Omaha poker rules are similar to Texas Holdem rules. In both poker variations the dealers deals community cards, which can be shared by all the players.

However, Omaha poker and Texas Holdem poker are different games and they certainly require using different strategy. Omaha poker can be played as fixed limit, no limit or pot limit. In addition, Omaha poker can be played as high or high low split. Here you can find introduction to both Omaha high and Omaha high low rules.

Omaha High Rules
The play begins with the player to the dealers immediate left who posts the small blind, usually the amount of half of the minimum bet. For example, in a 4/8 dollars limit game, the small blind will be 2 dollars. Then, the player to the left of the small blind posts the big blind, which is the size of the minimum bet, 4 dollars according to this example.

After the blinds are posted, the dealer deals each player four face down cards, starting from the small blind and continuing clockwise. The first round of betting begins with the player to the big blind left who can choose between calling, raising or folding. If he chooses to call, he has to place a bet equal to the size of the minimum bet, if he raises, he places a bet double the amount of the minimum bet, and if he chooses to fold, he forfeits his hand.

The first round of betting continues until it gets to the player who posted the small blind. If he chooses to call, he can place only half of the minimum bet, which together with the small blind will complete the amount of the minimum bet. Afterwards, the round of betting gets to the big blind who can either raise or check.

After the first round of betting is complete, the dealer places three face up cards in the center of the table. These are known as community cards and this stage of the game is called the flop. After the flop, the second round of betting begins with the player to the dealers left. The minimum bet remains 4 dollars.

When the second round of betting is done, the dealer places a fourth community card in the center of the casino table, known as the turn. Then, begins another round of betting in which the minimum bet raises to 8 dollars. This round of betting starts with the player to the dealers left. After this betting round, the dealer will place the last community card in the center of the table, which is called the river. The river is followed by the final round of betting with a minimum bet of 8 dollars.

After the last round of betting, all the remaining players are exposing their hands, known as the showdown. Each player has to use two cards of his four cards and three of the five community cards to form the highest possible five cards hand. In an Omaha high game, the player whose five card hand is the highest wins the pot.

Omaha High Low Rules:
Omaha high low is played exactly like Omaha high until the showdown. In Omaha high low, the pot is split between two winners: the player who had formed the highest hand and the player who has the best low hand. If none of the players has a qualifying low hand, the player who holds the highest hand wins the entire pot.

Omaha high low is also referred to as Omaha 8 or better. It means that in order to qualify as low hand, the hand cannot contain any 8s or cards of higher value. The best possible low hand is called the wheel. A, 2, 3, 4, 5. Ace value can be either high or low and flushes and straights are disregarded.

It sometimes occurs in Omaha high low poker game that the pot splits between more than two players. It can also happen that one player, who holds both high and low hands at the same five card poker hand, wins the entire pot.

Understanding Blinds In Texas Hold'em Poker

Posting blinds is a very important aspect of the betting structure of Texas Hold’em poker. It keeps the action in a poker game moving and influences the way people play the game, including whether or not they will fold, check or increase their bets. As the blinds increase, they can also make the game more exciting.

In Texas Hold’em there are two types of blind bets: the small blind and the big blind. These blinds are forced bets, which must be made by players who are participating in a hand. In Texas Hold’em, the dealer button indicates the position of the dealer and the dealing schedule; the button moves around the table to keep track of the dealer position. The small blind is always posted by the person to the left of the dealer. The big blind is always posted by the person to the left of the small blind. So, the onus for posting these bets is rotated as the dealer button moves around the table.

The small and big blinds are posted before the pocket hands are dealt, before the community cards are dealt and before the players have a clue as to the outcome of the dealing or the hand. Because they have made an initial investment in the hand, these players are then motivated to stay in the hand, even if they don’t like their cards, in order to get a return. This becomes especially risky as the game progresses, others are eliminated and the blinds increase incrementally. At some point, the blinds will be so high, that paying them can break a player.

Normally, the small blind is half of the big blind and the big blind is the same amount as the minimum bet. In a Texas Hold’em tournament, these amounts are pre-determined. At the beginning of the tournament, the blinds will be a lower amount and will begin to increase as the tournament moves forward. The blinds are either increased after a pre-determined set period of time or after a pre-determined set number of hands. This increases the action of the game and eliminates any low-ranking players from the game.

Another forced bet that can be applied is called an ante. This can be used in addition to bets in a Texas Hold’em tournament. The ante is a pre-determined amount that each player must post before the cards are dealt. This can increase the action of the game and considerably increases the winnings in the pot before a hand has even begun. For instance, if the small blind is $20 and the big blind is $40 and the ante is $10 in a five player game, the pot already contains $110 before the cards are even dealt.

As you can see, forced bets are an important part of the betting schedule in Texas Hold’em style poker, needed to keep the game moving, eliminate straggling opponents and motivate betting.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Poker and the WSOP

The World Series of Poker first started in 1970 at Binion's Casino in Las Vegas and today is considered the most prestige's poker tournament held any where in the world. In the last few years the field of players has been enormous in number and the prize money has been several million dollars to the winner of the tournament.  They have been showing the poker tournaments on TV and the camera view of what each player is holding has helped to gain a huge TV audience.  Three factors have attracted the large number of players to tournament poker.   The many televised tournaments that are now shown on TV are one factor of the growth.  Another factor is the many satellite tournaments where a player can pay a small entry fee and win the entry into the tournaments.   The final factor is the popularity of Internet poker and the many tournaments that offered daily at these online poker casinos, there are literally thousands of them to choose from.  This has allowed many young players to gain experience and they now make the final table at many tournaments that are shown on TV.

There is a significant difference between tournament poker and cash game poker.  When you lose all of your chips in a cash game, you can purchase more.   In a tournament when your stack is gone, you are over in that tournament.  So the secret is to maintain your chip total at a good level and try to make the final table where the prize money is the highest.  When the blinds are low, the player can take some flyers with suited connectors and lower pairs.  When the blinds get really big, the better hands may not come and you need to be more aggressive or you will be blinded out of the tournament.  It is easier said than done to wait for really concrete starting hands in tournament play.   Aggression is rewarded and the art of the bluff is a big part of the way the game is played.  Calling significant raises in tournaments must be done only when you have a solid hand or have many outs that can give you a winning hand.  Gambling early on in the tournament on marginal hands is a sure way to get eliminated from the tournament.  Of course if the cards are running over you, then you can play almost any two cards in Holdem. For new players the budget tournaments that are held daily on virtually all the sites are a superb place to learn to play tournaments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Poker Training And The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza Main Event by David "The Maven" Chicotsky

The 2008 World Series of Poker had just ended and, after having several very deep runs in poker tournaments with massive fields of entrants, I decided to take one last swing at things and enter the Venetian Deep Stack Main Event.  In addition to the WSOP, I had just come off several unbelievably profitable months of playing poker online so, needless to say, I was super confident and very sure of myself going into the Venetian event.

On July 2, 2008, the Venetian Deep Stack Main Event began with 228 entrants.  The very first day of this tournament I had a very difficult table draw (relative to the $2500 buy-in), stacked with both live and online professional poker players.  First and foremost, I had the recent winner of the Aussie Millions, Alexander Kostritsyn, directly to my left.  This slowed me down from being able to open up as much as I would normally pre-flop.  Hence, I used a counter-punch strategy of re-raising other players to my left and in doing so, managed to successfully accumulate chips in this manner. 

On the bubble of the tournament, I looked at the table next to mine and saw that it contained my poker mentor Ari "BodogAri" Engel and Justin Bonomo.  Every pot was a raise and a re-raise...and Ari ended up doubling up Bonomo with 22 against AA, which was unfortunate for him.  At this point in the tournament, the trend was pretty much “kill or be killed”- only the strong were going to survive and I knew I had to pull myself up by my boot-laces and make this happen. 

 As I already mentioned, there were mega-pros all around, though I knew I had what it would take to beat them. Finishing day one, I had an average chip stack but, more importantly, a clear and motivated mind.  I went into day two looking to play my best and making sure not to make any critical errors.  Day two was interesting in the sense that they broke up our table, but at the new table I continued to have Kostritsyn seated directly to my left.  From there, they broke the table again and I had the adverse experience of having Bonomo seated directly to my left.  Again, I employed a counter-punch (3-bet and fold and/or 3-bet all-in) strategy.  Definitely one of the stronger points of my game and something I am quick to impart on my students at ArisTrainingCenter.com poker training center.

The most crucial hand that led me to the final table was a very aggressive re-raise all-in for about 30 blinds (stretching things a bit, I know!).  Keep in mind I had already literally re-raised this loose player maybe five or six times up to this point and won the vast majority of those pots.  He tanked forever and finally called with AJ off-suit. I kind of laughed, said “nice call sir” and flipped over my Q7 of clubs.  Wouldn't you know it, I hit a flush!!! 
So, now going into the final table I had about 65 big blinds and was in the top three or four in chips.  Now Bonomo was seated two to my right and I was able to start effectively re-raising him (rather than playing possum sitting to his right).  Overall, I played very “middle of the road” and carefully; won a pot, lost a pot, but slowly accumulated chips. 

Fast forward to 4 handed play, where I raise UTG with KK, the small blind calls (who later tanked forever and claimed to have folded pocket tens) and Bonomo pushed the remainder of his stack in with AQ suited.  I turned away - at this point, being relatively new to live poker tournaments, I couldn't even bear to watch.  I knew if I heard loud cheering that it would mean I'd have lost the pot (as Bonomo had fans and friends on the rail).  I didn’t hear said crowd noise, so I looked back to find that the board had blanked, and I had just scooped a massive pot for the majority of the chips in play. 

The rest is history. The win was worth over $200,000 and best of all I had prevailed over a field of more than 200 very skilled poker players. I want to thank Ari Engel for encouraging me to play - I wanted to back out at the last minute and Ari was my proverbial back-bone by insisting, "No way Maven, you're playing it!"  I also want to thank my friends, family, and fans along the way.  Winning the main event of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza poker tournament series definitely changed my life for the better and it's a fond memory upon which I'll always reminisce. I can’t stress enough the fact that I likely would have never been in those shoes had it not been for being a serious student of the game and participating in intensive poker training.  If you are interested in taking your game up to the next level, training is essential.  You can reach me by email at Info@TheMavenVT.com and feel free to join my forum at www.TheMavenVT.com.  You can also reach me via www.ArisTrainingCenter.com.