Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The 10 Best Poker Starting Hands Finally Revealed

Best Poker Starting Hands
Do you have a favorite hand in poker? How about a lucky hand that you always seem to win with? Many people have superstitions like this about what is the best poker starting hand.

However, the truth is that there are clear winners and losers in terms of the profitability of certain hands. In other words, some poker starting hands tend to win much more often than others.

So in this article I am going to break down the top 10 best poker starting hands so that you can finally start playing in the most profitable way. 

The Two Absolute Best Poker Starting Hands

Now despite what some people might think there are actually two poker starting hands that tower above all others in terms of profitability. 

I know this because I have checked my own database of millions of hands many times over the years. If you use a program like PokerTracker this is very simple to do. 

And again, this might be a big shocker to some but the two hands that are far more profitable over the long run than any others are, AA and KK. 

From my personal experience as much as half of all my winnings come from these two hands alone. Which is completely insane.

Go ahead and check it for yourself right now and let me know your results in the comments! 

The problem with these two hands though is that many people almost expect them to win every single time and this is frankly just not reasonable. 

In fact even the very worst hand in poker (72 offsuit) has nearly 13% equity versus AA before the flop.

lucky poker hand pocket aces

And when you start adding a few more people into the mix with a few random suited connectors, you can see that your equity with pocket aces drops dramatically, all the way down to nearly 50%.

Yes, a virtual coinflip!

best poker starting hand pocket aces

However, what many people fail to realize is that these two hands hands (AA and KK) still have a much higher chance of winning the pot than all the others. 

Also, the chance to cooler someone (they have a really good 2nd best hand like QQ or JJ) is very high with pocket aces and pocket kings.

So for all these reasons I think you will almost certainly find that these are the two best poker starting hands in the game. And by that I mean the most profitable!

These 3 Poker Hands are Also Hugely Profitable

The next three most profitable poker starting hands are as follows:

  • QQ, JJ and AK

In my experience (once again checking my own database of millions of hands) these are always the next 3 most profitable hands for me. 

And it only makes sense.

Pocket queens and pocket jacks, again despite what some might think, are actually extremely easy to play and among the very best poker starting hands that you can be dealt. 

Just like with AA and KK, they are going to lose frequently though especially in large pots with multiple players. But your chances of making an overpair or coolering someone are still very high.

best poker starting hand ace king

And ace-king is another excellent hand as well. While it is true that you will only flop an ace or a king 1 in 3 times, you need to remember that those times when you do hit, you often win a big pot. 

This is especially the case when another ace hand is involved such as:

  • AQ, AJ or AT

These hands are in big trouble versus AK when the ace comes on the flop.

favorite poker hand ace king

So once again it is important not to be fooled by short term results with these hands. Yes, sometimes you will lose the pot with QQ, JJ and AK several times in a row. 

And believe me I know, it sucks. But overall these hands are still absolute killers in the long run. 

These are the 5 Next Best Poker Starting Hands

The final 5 top poker starting hands are as follows:

  • TT, 99, 88, 77 and AQ

Here's the thing. Pocket pairs rule in No Limit Hold'em.

This is a simple fact. You can once again go load up your poker tracking program and double check this for yourself right now.

If you are a winning poker player then it is very likely that you are showing a profit with every single one of them. 

And the middle pocket pairs like TT, 99, 88 and 77 are some of the best.

Now of course, you are going to lose with these hands even more often. In fact with a hand like 77 or 88, the board on the flop is going to really suck at least 50% of the time. 

Many times with these hands you will simply be forced to check and fold. There really is nothing that you can do with 88 for instance when the flop comes:

  • AQT

And the guy starts betting or raising you.

However, the power of hitting a set with these hands is so important in a game like No Limit Hold'em where the stacks in a cash game are often 100 big blinds deep.

Just imagine what happens when you have 88 versus a bad poker player with AK and the flop comes:

  • A83

Ya, he is going to lose all of his money to you.

This is especially true if you are betting and fast-playing your hand correctly as I talk about at length in Crushing the Microstakes. 

And lastly, AQ is also a very good hand that will win you a lot of money over the long run. You can make a very strong top pair with it. 

But also, and like with all of the hands on this list, you need to remember that you will almost always be raising (or re-raising) preflop with them. 

Therefore you can often take down the pot on the flop with just a simple CBet. In other words, you don't always have to connect with the board in order to win the pot with a hand like AQ.

Suited Connectors are Bad Poker Hands (But You Should Still Play Them)

You may have noticed that everybody's favorite (suited connectors) are nowhere to be found on my list of the top 10 best poker starting hands.

By the way these are hands like:

  • 65s, 76s, 87s, 98s, T9s and JTs

What's the deal with this you might be asking? Well, they aren't mentioned because they absolutely suck! 

Go ahead and fire up PokerTracker once again and check it for yourself. I am willing to bet that even if you are a winning poker player, you are still losing with all of your suited connectors.

suited connectors are bad poker hands

The reason why is that these hands really only win a big pot when you connect with the board extremely hard such as making two pair, a straight or a flush. 

And of course, these hands do not come around very often at all. 

What's worse is that many people will hit top pair with a hand like T9s and end up paying off one of the better hands that I already listed above such as QQ when the flop comes:

  • T62

Now ironically though, this doesn't mean that you should stop playing suited connectors. They do still have a very key function. And that is that they give your starting hand range a lot more depth. 

You see logically many people would conclude, well if only around 10 hands are really big winners in poker, then I will just play those 10 hands only. 

And yes, logically that argument seems to follow. 

But in practice this is a recipe for disaster. The reason why is because these top 10 hands come around so rarely that even the drunk fish will be able to tell that you are just sitting around waiting for the nuts all day.

Therefore, he won't pay you off when you hit like he will against the other players who are much more active. 

So what these hands like suited connectors (and also suited aces) do for you is add depth to your poker starting hand selection.

They essentially make you a much harder player to play against. And that is because it makes it that much harder for them to put you on a hand.

What this does is make sure that you get lot's of action when you do finally get one of the best poker starting hands that I talked about above. 

Should You Have a Lucky Poker Hand?

What about having a lucky poker hand or a favorite poker hand though? Some people will swear that they always win with some wacky holding like 85 suited. 

Heck, I am guilty of this too!

I go by the screen name "BlackRain79" in online poker. So you can probably already guess what my favorite poker starting hand is.

lucky poker hand

However, once again the evidence just doesn't support the idea that having a lucky hand like this in poker is a good idea. 

85 suited and 79 suited are both going to be losing hands for you in the long run. And I don't care if your name is Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey. 

So when people ask me what my favorite poker hand is I alway say it is AA. Because while I don't win every time with it, I seem to get a lot more "lucky" with pocket aces than any other hand. 

Final Thoughts

So here are the top 10 best poker starting hands.

1. AA

2. KK

3. QQ

4. JJ

5. AK

6. TT

7. 99

8. 88

9. 77

10. AQ

Does this mean that these are the only profitable poker starting hands though? Absolutely not. 

As a winning poker player you should also be showing a profit with many more hands like small pairs, worse aces and many broadways as well.

And there will also be many other hands like suited connectors and suited aces which are not winning hands. However you should still play them in order to add depth to your starting hand selection range.

You need to make sure that you are playing these hands from the right positions at the poker table though. The "Starting Hands Cheat Sheet" which comes as a free bonus with any of my poker strategy books can help you out with that. 

Let me know your favorite poker hands in the comments below. Do you have a lucky poker hand?

Lastly, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker guide if you want to know my complete strategy for crushing the micro stakes games.

Best Poker Starting Hands

Friday, July 13, 2018

Tournament Master Class Review: A Complete Walkthrough

Tournament Master Class Review
It is really hard to find good information on how to beat poker tournaments these days. Most of the best poker educational material available is for cash games.

So when I heard that Upswing Poker had launched it's own poker tournament course with Doug Polk and Pratyush Buddiga I knew I had to check it out.

Buddiga is a well known tournament pro with a vast knowledge of this format and Polk is a 3-time WSOP bracelet winner with millions of dollars in winnings both online and live.

So I have recently spent the last few weeks studying all the material in their Tournament Master Class. And in this article I will be giving you my complete Tournament Master Class review.

You will get a complete walkthrough of what you are going to learn in each section of the course including an insider's look at the dozens of videos included.

Before I get started though I need to warn you that this is a high level poker tournament course taught by world class professionals. Tournament Master Class is therefore not for poker hobbyists.

This poker course is for serious poker tournament players only. With all that said, let's dive in!

1. Tournament Master Class Preflop Section Review

Anyone who has ever played poker tournaments before at any level knows just how important the preflop stage of the hand is.

Since the stacks in a tournament are often considerably less than in a cash game, your decisions on this street are much more important.

That is why I was happy to see that the Tournament Master Class begins with a comprehensive breakdown of poker tournament preflop strategy.

In the very first video in fact Pratyush provides a complete analysis of what hands to RFI (raise first in) with from every single position at the the poker table.

Tournament Master Class Review

And what I liked even more is that below the video there are links to download all of the ranges that he talks about.

Therefore, you can study them again in your spare time and make sure that you are implementing these ranges correctly every time you play.

The preflop section of Tournament Master Class continues on with many more videos analyzing every situation possible before the flop.

This includes:
  • How to adjust RFI for various stack sizes and player types
  • When to flat call 3Bets (complete ranges from every position)
  • How to react versus a 3Bet
  • How to re-steal from the big blind
  • When to put in the 4Bet
  • Adjustments versus short stacks

And much more.

Tournament Master Class Review

This section is one of the most comprehensive preflop strategy analyses that I have ever seen. I think it covers what to do in nearly every situation imaginable.

I particularly liked the fact that you can just download the hand range suggestions that Pratyush and Doug suggest.

This is especially helpful for newer poker players who want some guidance on exactly what hands to play in each situation.

2. Tournament Master Class Flop Section Review

The postflop section is where we get into the real heart of the Tournament Master Class poker course. And once again the material is comprehensive.

In fact this section of the course contains so much high level information that it is broken down into strategy specifically for the flop, turn and river.

The flop section begins with an explanation of exactly how we should approach this street in tournament poker. It is very different from a cash game.

There are then 8 more videos explaining what to do in every conceivable flop situation in a poker tournament.

Tournament Master Class Review

I really liked how it is broken down into what to do various board textures: high boards, low boards, paired boards, monotone flops and so on.

Tournament Master Class Review

The flop section concludes with a complete breakdown of how to approach facing a CBet, a donk bet and a check/raise.

Overall the flop section of this course provides a solid explanation of how to play like a world class pro in all situations for both new and advanced players.

3. Tournament Master Class Turn Section Review

The Tournament Master Class continues on the turn with a comprehensive breakdown of how to react to every situation on 4th street in a poker tournament.

You will learn:
  • When to turn CBet
  • When to make a probe bet
  • When to delay CBet the turn
  • How to float the turn effectively
  • When to check/call the turn
  • When to check/raise the turn

Once again there are close to 10 videos with a thorough discussion of what to do in each of these situations.

Dozens of example hands are also provided to explain what to do versus various player types, stack sizes and board textures.

Tournament Master Class Review

You can also download all of the ranges provided once again which I think is particularly helpful for newer poker players.

4. Tournament Master Class River Section Review

The final strategy section of Tournament Master Class covers how MTT pro's play the river. And this is especially important since everybody knows how much this street matters in poker tournaments.

This section of the course is extremely example heavy because tournament river situations are so often specific to the specific player and situation you are in.

So there are dozens of examples of what to do in various spots when facing a river CBet, when to CBet yourself, what to do versus a stop and go river bet and so on.

Tournament Master Class Review

Overall I felt that this section provided a solid gameplan for how to approach nearly all river situations that you will face in a poker tournament.

It takes out a lot of the guesswork so that you know exactly when to make the big call, raise or when to lay it down.

5. Tournament Dynamics Review

The next section of the Tournament Master Class is arguably the most important in the entire course in my opinion. And that is because it covers so many common issues that are specifically related to poker tournaments.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I have not been able to find in most other poker courses or books online even if they cover MTTs.

So for example, how to approach the bubble, what to do against stallers, ICM math, live adjustments and dealing with tournament downswings and variance.

Tournament Master Class Review

These are all extremely important topics that only poker tournament players face.

The bubble and dealing with downswings sections in particular should really help a lot of newer poker tournament players. Because they often struggle the most in these two areas.

6. Play and Explains Review

The next section in this poker course is one of my personal favorites because you get to see the actual decisions that a world class tournament pro makes.

Over roughly 10 more videos Pratyush talks about important hands that he has played in 3Bet pots, bubble situations and of course, the final table.

And perhaps most interestingly of all, he goes over all of the most important hands that he played in a 2nd place finish in the Party $5000.

Tournament Master Class Review

Being able to essentially look over the shoulder of an experienced tournament pro as he explains all of his decision making is invaluable in my opinion.

And that is why I think this is one of the most important sections of this poker course especially for beginner and novice poker players.

7. WCOOP $10,000 Runner Up Finish

The final section of the Tournament Master Class is kind of the cherry on top in my opinion.

It closes with a 12 part video series featuring every important poker hand that Doug Polk plays in the WCOOP high roller 10k buyin tournament.

This is the same guy who won the 2017 One Drop for $3 million USD by the way. And he has 3 WSOP bracelets to sport display his dominance as well.

In this particular poker tournament (covered in this course) he took 2nd place for $455,000.

Tournament Master Class Review

I think for any aspiring poker tournament pros out there, it doesn't really get much better than this.

You get to watch the decision making of one of the best high stakes tournament poker players in the world with hole cards revealed.

Final Thoughts

The Tournament Master Class is one of the best poker tournament courses that I have ever seen. From preflop to the final river raise, the instruction is top notch and thorough.

The specific information for tournament players on stuff like bubble play, dealing with short stacks, final table play and so on was really helpful as well.

And lastly, the ability to look over the shoulder of two world class pros like Pratyush Buddiga and Doug Polk while they explain their decisions is worth the price of admission for this course alone in my opinion.

And that is one of the things I liked about this poker tournament course the most. You know you are learning from the very best in the world.

But that is why once again I also want to remind you that this is tournament poker course is for serious students of the game only.

If you are currently struggling to win in poker tournaments or you are looking to take your game to a world class level, then this is the poker course for you.

To enroll in Tournament Master Class today, click here.

Let me know your thoughts on this poker course in the comments below.

Note: The links in this article are affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you I may earn a commission if you choose to enroll in this course.

Tournament Master Class Review

Sunday, July 8, 2018

70% of Poker Players Lose. Here's How to Not Be One of Them.

Losing poker players
I have heard conservative estimates many times that at least 70% of poker players lose in the long run after the rake is taken out.

And I believe it. In fact, I think it might even be higher!

This is crazy though. Why do so many people lose at this silly little card game? How can it be so hard to beat incredibly low stakes like NL2 and NL5 online or $1/$2 live in particular?

Well, I am going to give you 5 reasons why (and how you can avoid repeating these same mistakes), in this article.

1. It's All in Your Head (Seriously)

I am going to let you in on a little secret right now that all of those 30% of winning poker players aready know. And that is that this game is almost all between your ears.

It's what you think, it's not even about the strategy so much anymore.

The reason why is because almost everybody plays at least "ok" these days. It is hard to find the completely clueless fish anymore playing way too many hands and calling with any two cards.

So this is why the edges are a lot smaller these days and what is now considered a good poker win rate is much lower than what it used to be.

So this is why the real battle these days is how you handle the never-ending ups and downs that poker will throw at you.

And here's the truth. Most people still handle it terrible. Yes, even in today's supposedly "tough" games.

Most people who you play poker with are complete and utter fish at handling bad beats, coolers and keeping themselves off tilt. This goes for many mid and even high stakes players as well.

A lot of them don't even realize it because much of it manifests as something I call "micro tilt." This is slowly bleeding away buyin after buyin with another bad river call for example.

If you can solve this one simple little aspect of your game, you win. It's all in your head.

2. Eliminate Fundamental Mistakes

Ok, let's be honest though, not everyone is exactly a world beater these days. Especially if we are talking about super low stakes online or live.

There are still many people at these limits who make fundamental errors that end up costing them big-time.

One of the most common spots where this shows up is preflop. And this is also one of the easiest to fix as well.

The reason why is that preflop is largely something that you should be able to memorize in No Limit Texas Hold'em. In other words, it should be automatic, you shouldn't even have to think about it.

You should never make fundamental preflop errors like in this video for instance. Because it creates what I call the "snowball effect."

This snowball effect of bad preflop decisions literally ensures that many people cannot win at this game. They beat themselves before they even begin.

If you need help knowing which hands to play from what positions, then I recommend checking out my free poker cheat sheet that I put out a few weeks back.

It tells you exactly which hands to play from every position at the poker table.

3. Do Not Play in Terrible Games

Poker is a game played between people. Sure, the house collects a small fixed "rake" from everybody but technically you are not in direct competition with them.

Your competition instead is everyone else that is seated at your poker table.

So this is why one of the absolute best things that you can do to start winning at poker consistently is to simply start playing in better poker games.

There should always be several players who play much worse than you and ideally everybody does.

Because here's the thing, if you choose to keep playing in games where everybody plays pretty good, then you don't have an edge.

And this in turn means that you won't win.

But the bad news doesn't stop there because even if you manage to break-even against all these good players, once the rake is taken out, yup you guessed it, you lose.

Once again, the vast majority of poker players today are absolutely complete fish when it comes to playing in good games. And it is a huge part of the reason why they lose.

Those 30% of poker players who are winning don't think like this though. They treat poker table selection like it is their job.

4. Teach Yourself to Play Consistently

The next reason why most people fail to win at poker is because they do not play consistently.

In fact, some people are so busy talking about the game (or gossiping about professional players) on places like 2+2 or Reddit, that they barely even play any poker at all!

Don't be like these guys.

Ya they all sound like geniuses when they are blabbing on about the latest "game theory optimal" way to play or whatever nonsense.

But the truth is that most of them have no actual poker results! They just waste time online trying to one up each other on how vast their poker knowledge is.

Last time I checked making thousands of posts on an internet message board or Reddit isn't paying so well these days either.

Look, the only way you are going to start making a real profit in this game is if you start playing poker consistently. And by that I mean every single day.

Losing poker player

This is how I and many other professional poker players cut our teeth in this game. We didn't get good results by endlessly talking about poker or studying the latest new fad "theory."

And don't get me wrong, I am not saying that studying poker isn't important to improve your poker game.

It absolutely is.

But the most important reason why we got good results was because we put in crazy amounts of hours at the poker tables. We learned by doing, not talking.

When Phil Ivey was first coming up in poker they used to call him "No Home Jerome" because he would literally sleep at the casino!

Enough said.

5. A Disciplined Poker Player is a Winning Poker Player

The final reason why at least 70% of people do not win at poker in the long run is because they lack the most important trait necessary to succeed in this game, discipline.

Give me discipline and work ethic over natural born talent all day long.

Because if you can't learn to keep your composure at the poker tables, put in the hours and stick to the program no matter what, then it doesn't even matter how much of a phenom you are.

The best poker players in the world have incredible amounts of skill, gamble and natural talent, don't get me wrong. But they also know when to hit the brakes.

They know when they are in a fight that they cannot win. They know that you cannot win every pot in this game.

If you want to be in that 30% of long term winning poker players then you need to start working on becoming a more disciplined poker player right now at the micro stakes in particular.

Losing poker player

Because this is the truth that the rest of them won't tell you. But you all know that I keep it real on this website.

And here is that ugly little truth once again:

Most of the time poker is incredibly boring, tedious, monotonous and feels eerily similar to a job. This is if you want to win of course.

If you just want to be a fish and lose all your money, then poker is a fun and exciting thrill ride just like the heavily edited million dollar final tables that they show you on TV.

Go ahead and makes all kinds of wild bluffs and loose calls. Play all sorts of garbage hands out of position and tilt like crazy whenever you want! Let me know how this strategy works out for you as well!

Real (winning) poker by comparison is about making yet another sick fold with your overpair, even when you are getting absolutely crushed, because you know that the nit is never bluffing.

It is about being patient enough to wait for the right hand only to get bounced out just before the final table, yet again.

Lastly, it is about calling it quits when it clearly isn't your day. And it is about showing up again tomorrow (and the next day and the next day) with the same attitude of discipline and ultimately, success.

This is what real poker players do and it is anything but glamorous.

Final Thoughts

At least 70% of people who play poker will walk away with less money than they started with in the end.

And that is pretty crazy when you think about it. Roulette and blackjack players typically win more often than this!

But the beautiful thing about poker is that it is always within your control to change your fate. You can absolutely decide to be in that 30% of people who actually turn a profit in this game.

Heck, you can be in that even more elite subset of 10% or so who win big and build a career out of this game and travel the world like I do.

You need to always remember though that the whole game is in your head. They will all go on tilt eventually. But you won't. And that is why you will win.

Furthermore, fundamental preflop mistakes need to be removed from your game completely. This stuff should be automatic, no exceptions.

Lastly, you also need to be playing in the right games with people who are clearly worse than you, playing consistently every day and having the discipline to see it all through to the end.

Let me know your thoughts below on why so many people lose at poker.

Thanks for reading and if you found this article helpful give it a quick "Like" or "Tweet" below!

70% of Poker Players Lose. Here's How to Not Be One of Them.

Monday, July 2, 2018

How to Make $500 a Month Playing Poker

How to Make $500 a Month Playing Poker
Could you use an extra $500 a month playing poker? Most people would probably answer yes to that question. And luckily it actually isn't as difficult as you might think.

In fact, even for a mediocre poker player, with consistent play, this amount can be made fairly easily at the lowest stakes online like NL2, NL5 or NL10 or in a live poker cash game like $1/$2.

I know because I have done it countless times myself.

You need to know what you are doing though or you will probably fail like most people do. The key to consistently making $500 a month playing poker is having the right strategy, game selection and mindset.

I am going to explain it all in this article.

1. The Best Strategy to Make $500 a Month Playing Poker

Now I need to warn you right away, the best strategy for making $500 a month playing poker is not going to be exciting or even that interesting. In fact, it might even be downright boring at times.

But this is because it wins!

Losing poker players love to splash the chips around and make all kinds of big bluffs and hero calls. This isn't the way that a winning poker player approaches the game though.

Playing winning poker at the lower stakes online, or in a small stakes live game, is all about having a tight and disciplined poker strategy.

So whether you decide to play 6max or full ring, the strategy is very similar.
  • You will only play good to strong hands preflop (no exceptions)
  • You will make a bet on the flop most of the time and then give up a lot if they call and you have nothing
  • You will value bet them relentlessly on all postflop streets when you have a decent to good hand

These are the basics. If you want to know exactly which hands to play and which hands to bet I suggest grabbing a copy of my free poker strategy guide.

Study the charts in this short little guide, pin them to your wall. Do whatever you need to do.

The bottom line is this. The correct strategy to make $500 a month at the lower limits requires a lot of discipline and patience. 

It isn't flashy or exciting. It isn't like the poker games you see on TV. There will be no wild bluffs or hero calls. 

As a 10+ year professional poker player myself we refer to this as a "grind." Because this is exactly what it is. We grind it out.

If you want lots of excitement and entertainment go play Fortnite.

Winning poker is much more like a job. You want to win? Then you need to stick with the program and grind it out no matter what.

2. Game Selection in Low Stakes Poker Games

The next key to making $500 a month in small stakes poker games is picking the right games to play in. Now luckily this still isn't that difficult at the stakes I am discussing in this article (1c/2c, 2c/5c and 5c/10c online, $1/$2 live).

If you sit down at a random table in these games your chances are usually reasonable of having one (or more) bad poker players at the table.

What do I mean by a bad poker player?

I mean somebody who is:
  • Playing too many hands (40% or more of the hands dealt to them)
  • Limping a lot
  • Min-betting the pot
  • Calling with way too many hands
  • Making tons of dumb bluffs

And so on. I am sure you know the type. 

These aren't winning poker players. While I know that sometimes they can be frustrating to play against in the moment, especially if they are hitting all their lucky cards, believe me, these guys are losing big-time in the long run.

They are literally giving away their money over the long run when the math takes over and punishes them for continually sticking their money in the middle as a big underdog.

This is why it is so imperative that you consistently play against these guys. In fact I would go so far as to say that poker table selection is one of the absolute most important "skills" to have in today's poker games.

You just can't ignore this crucial aspect of the game and expect to consistently make $500 a month playing poker. Because most of that money will end up coming from the bad players.

So this is another area where you have to be disciplined as well. If there isn't a player at the table who fits the "bad player" criteria that I outlined above, then you need to leave that table.

And at the lower stakes online there are often dozens of other tables available so there really is no excuse anyways. Even in a live poker game, if you find that you are in a particularly tough $1/$2 game, there is no reason why you should continue playing in that poker game. 

If making money in poker is your goal (which I assume it is since you are reading this article), then you have to always be acutely aware of the players who are seated at your table. 

Don't ever forget the main reason why you are there. It isn't to try and outwit a bunch of other decent poker players. No, it is to get the fish's money!

3. Making $500 a Month Playing Poker Requires a Strong Mindset

The last piece of the puzzle for consistently making $500 a month in small stakes poker games is having the right mindset. 

One of the biggest hurdles that you are going to encounter at these stakes is dealing with the legions of terrible poker players and all the bad beats they are going to give you. 

Believe me, I know this very well as someone who has arguably played more hands than anyone in history at these limits and made over $44,000 in the process.

These guys are really going to test your patience!

Some of them just don't even have a fold button at all. They will chase every draw. They will call you down the whole way with bottom pair, make totally ridiculous bluffs and on and on.

Example Video of a Bad Poker Player Giving Away All His Money

Now while these are all terrible poker strategies and they will pay dearly for it in the long run, the bottom line is that they are going to hit their miracle cards once in awhile. And you need to be prepared for that.

For instance, if they chase an inside straight draw (4 outs) from the flop to the river, they will hit it roughly 16% of the time. 

Is it a smart idea to stick all your money in the middle with 16% equity? No of course not. But at the same time you still can't deny them their 16% equity.

Fish get to make good hands sometimes too. 

So yes, they will hit that ridiculous draw 16% of the time. Sometimes in fact they will get really lucky and hit it several times in a row. And believe me, it will sting, badly. 

It is frustrating to play against these players sometimes when they are hitting all their miracle river cards but you always have to remember that this is what keeps them playing and re-depositing their money again and again. 

If they didn't get a chance to get lucky sometimes, like in a game like chess for instance, then they would just quit. That 16% "tax" that you and I have to pay every once in awhile is a tax that helps keep the games profitable. 

Because this is what keeps the bad players coming back again and again.

So you need to recognize this and not allow yourself to get overly frustrated and go on tilt when they get lucky and hit their ridiculous river card. And yes, even if they hit it several times in a row. 

You need to be prepared for the fact that this will happen sometimes. And in the lower stakes poker games it will happen even more often because you find more players who love to chase every draw and garbage hand.

This is always a good thing for you in the long run though. 

4. Semi-Pro Poker Requires Consistent Play

The last thing that I want to mention is that if you want to make a good side income playing poker, such as $500 a month, then you are going to have to play somewhat consistently. And by that I mean at least a few days a week.

In fact at the lower stakes like I am talking about in this article it would be ideal if you simply got into the habit of playing every single day even if you only have a little bit of time. 

And the reason why is because the amounts of money that is typically involved in these games is small. This is especially true online where I am talking about the $2, $5 and $10 buyin games. 

If you want to make $500 a month at these limits that is a lot of stacks to earn!

So this is why I would highly recommend playing consistently which is easier to do online because of the convenience that it offers. 

But I would also suggest learning how to multi-table online poker games as well. I would suggest learning how to play a minimum of 4 regular tables at a time but more is always better. 

If you play a fast-fold game like Zoom, Snap or Fast-Forward, then you don't want to be playing this many tables because the hands are dealt way faster in these games. But still, you should aim to play 2 tables of Zoom style games. 

Because at the end of the day, it is really just all about the grind at these stakes. In fact, it is essentially one big numbers game at these limits.

The more hands that you play, the more chances you have to win. There will be numerous set backs every month like I mentioned before. 

But this is all about the long run. You need to forget about what happens on individual days or even weeks sometime. Your profit at the end of the month is the only thing that matters.

Play consistently and multi-table if you play online poker and you will give yourself the best chance of consistently turning a nice profit every month at the poker tables. 

Final Thoughts

Making $500 a month playing poker is something that a lot of people dream about. It isn't exactly "going pro" kind of money in most western countries. But it is still a nice side income that many people could use. 

And the good news is that it really isn't that difficult to achieve this if you stick to a solid fundamental strategy, play in the right games and play consistently. 

I don't want to make it sound overly easy though either. After all, if poker were such an easy game where you could just sit down and print money, then everybody would be doing it. 

The facts are that most people lose at poker over the long run. And one of the biggest reasons why is because they go on tilt and blow all their winnings every time the bad players get lucky against them.

This is why it is absolutely crucial that you understand how this thing works going in. You are going to take countless bad beats at these stakes in particular. Depend on it and expect it.

But as I always say, the one thing you can't do in this game is fight the math and expect to win in the long run. Play the right strategy and keep your cool when they get lucky, and you will win when it matters.

Make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker ebook to learn the complete strategy I use to consistently make money playing low limit poker.

Let me know your thoughts below on all this. Do you consistently make $500 a month playing poker?

How to make $500 a month playing poker

Monday, June 25, 2018

Is PokerStars Rigged? Here Are the Facts

Is PokerStars Rigged?
People still ask me all the time if PokerStars is rigged. Or if online poker in general is rigged.

And I have never written an article about it before because I think this just legitimizes what to me seems like a pretty ridiculous question.

But I know that the emails and the comments about online poker being rigged won't stop. And therefore hopefully this article will solve the Great Debate once and for all!

Is online poker rigged? Are we being invaded by Russian bots? Are there mysterious ninjas hired to create another rigged river card just for you right before the final table?

I gotta be honest. I can't possibly answer all of these earth shattering questions in a tiny little blog post like this.

However, a little bit of common sense should tell us that of course there is some nefarious behaviour going on when anything important (such as money) is on the line.

Humans rig the stock market, they rig elections, they lie on their resumes and they cheat on their high school exams as well. Heck a decent chunk of them even end up cheating on the person that they swore their wedding vows to!

So in short, yes of course there are certain poker sites and individuals out there who are trying to rig the system in their favor when it comes to online poker. You would have to be incredibly naive not to realize this.

But is there widespread cheating going on across the entire industry, and specifically at the biggest online poker site in the world, PokerStars?

Probably not. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. PokerStars is a Money Making Machine

The first and most highly obvious reason why PokerStars is probably not rigged is because they are an absolute money making machine.

As I have said many times before on this blog the house is always by far the biggest winner in poker. And PokerStars takes this to an entirely new level.

They are estimated to be bringing in 500 million dollars in pure profit each year. And therefore god only knows how much they were hauling in 5-10 years ago when poker was really booming.

So common sense should once again beg the question: Why on earth would you possibly want to screw that up?

When you are already making absurd amounts of money and dominating the entire industry what possible incentive could you have to want to rig something?

PokerStars is one of the most successful and profitable brands the industry has ever seen. And no matter what you think of their new ownership, they continue to crush it in every possible way from a business point of view.

So there is simply no plausible motive here.

In fact they have every reason in the world NOT to rig it and just keep playing a winning hand over and over again.

2. You Can Simply Go Check it For Yourself

The second most important reason why PokerStars is probably not rigged is kind of a biggie as well. And that is that you can actually just go and check it for yourself!

PokerStars is one of the few poker sites out there who are very open about what they do. They will in fact actually send you every single hand history that you have ever played on their site.

I know this because I did it myself once. I requested close to 8 million hands that I had played on PokerStars from them. Within 24 hours I had the links to download them all.

This means that I could then go stick those 8 million hands in a tracking program like PokerTracker and run extensive analysis and tests looking for statistical anomalies.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I am not a big fan of a recent trend in online poker towards anonymous poker sites and/or those who do not provide hand histories.

"Open source" poker sites like PokerStars are much better for the industry in my opinion because they allow us to essentially police the games for ourselves.

3. There is No Actual Evidence that PokerStars is Rigged

So given the fact that we can actually run our own tests and search for statical anomalies over massive sample sizes you would think that all the people who are so certain that PokerStars is rigged would have overwhelming evidence to support their claims.

Nope, nada, none.

There has never been one conclusive study that I have ever seen, based on a statistically relevant sample size, which actually proves that there is any rigging going on at PokerStars.

Their standard arguments instead usually go something like this:

"OMG...My AA got cracked 3 times in a row by some stupid fish!!!...I told you JOKERSTARS is rigged, rigged rigged!!!"

The main problem with these "arguments" is that they fail to account for even the most basic variance in poker and they are completely lacking in a statistically significant sample size.

A sample size of 3 hands is completely meaningless in poker. And so is a sample size of 300 hands, 3,000 hands or even 30,000 hands.

You need to be working with millions and millions of hands in order to get to the point where you can mathematically rule out variance. Anyone who has actually played this many hands of poker knows exactly what I mean by this.

I have never seen a real legit study based on this many hands which conclusively proves that there are widespread statistical anomalies going on with the RNG on PokerStars.

Because if such a study like this actually did exist, believe me you would have heard about it by now. And it would be an absolute bombshell within the poker industry.

4. Human Bias and Defence Mechanism

The next reason why many people are convinced that online poker is rigged is because most people lose at this game. And that unfortunate little reality isn't likely to change any time soon.

Once the poker sites and the winning poker players take their cut there just isn't much left over for everybody else. In fact I would estimate (conservatively) that 70% of poker players lose over the long run.

And the other thing that we know about poker players is that virtually all of them think they are pretty good, or at least above average. Poker is kind of like driving, nobody will ever admit they are bad at it.

So this naturally leads to a situation where many losing poker players will look to either repress this reality or simply shift the blame to something else for their lack of success.

In fact, Sigmund Freud (the father of modern psychology), even created a name for this very common unconscious process. He called it a defence mechanism.

When you aren't winning at poker the easy solution is just to blame it all on your bad luck or convince yourself that the whole game is rigged against you.

This is an absolutely crucial reason why poker continues to be so profitable.

Losing poker players have an easy out. They can just continually convince themselves that their lack of success is due to some outside force beyond their control.

And therefore, they never even think to address the real reason why they keep losing, which is their own lack of skill and lack of tilt control among other things.

There is no other game on earth that I have ever seen that inspires such incredible levels of self delusion. And quite frankly, it is an absolutely beautiful thing.

5. Variance and the Speed of Online Poker

The final reason why many people swear that online poker is rigged is because they don't realize how the speed of the online game changes everything.

A lot of the people who claim that online poker is rigged come from a live poker background. Or they have played a statistically insignificant amount of hands online (less than 100k).

Therefore, they simply do not understand that the speed of online dealing (often 3 times as fast as a live game), coupled with the ability to multi-table, means that bad beats and coolers are simply bound to happen far more often than what they are used to.

This doesn't mean that anything is actually rigged. It just means that you are now experiencing the acceleration of a Ferrari instead of your old Toyota.

Yes it is going to feel weird at first. It won't even seem believable at times in fact.

And if you try your hand at something like Zoom Poker (which deals hands upwards of 10 times as fast as a live poker game), it might just blow your mind completely!

You really have to understand that online poker is a completely different experience from live poker. Yes it is the same game with the same rules, but all of the similarities end there.

The speed at which the online version of the game is dealt means that you are going to get to the long run far quicker than you are used to. This also means that you will see the true depths of statistical variance much more vividly.

And when you add in the ability to multi-table into the mix as well, you better buckle up. Because it is going to be downright crazy and quite simply not believable at times.

Final Thoughts

The debate about online poker being rigged or not will rage on no matter what I say here.

And I know a few people will probably even accuse me of being a "shill" for PokerStars even though anyone who reads this blog knows that I have actually been recommending that you DON'T PLAY there for many, many years now.

And that is not because I think there is any rigging going on at PokerStars. It is simply because there are many far easier poker sites (softer games) available to play at in my opinion.

But hopefully some of the points discussed in this article will help bring some sanity back to the discussion. Obviously online poker faces many challenges and the integrity of the games will always be questioned as well.

Humans like to cheat at stuff after all. The sky is blue as well!

But the idea that there is any widespread rigging going on at PokerStars in particular is pretty absurd in my opinion. I have won a lot of money on that site over the years by simply playing a solid fundamental strategy.

Furthermore, they have absolutely no reason whatsoever to risk their enormous cash cow. When you are already making money hand over fist the legit way, you have absolutely no incentive to ever screw that up.

Lastly, since PokerStars is one of the most open and transparent poker sites out there in my experience, you can simply just request the data and determine how rigged they are for yourself!

I want to know your thoughts though. Is PokerStars rigged or do you think it is safe to play there?

Is Pokerstars rigged?