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Lessons in Poker Bluffing: Part Two

This is the second part of a three part series of Poker Bluffing. The first part can be found here - Poker Bluffing Part One.

Knowing how and when to bluff in early position is also important to learn. An early position can be a great spot at the table when you want to manipulate the pace of a hand as much as possible and bluffing can obviously play a large part in this.

Take note of those players that fold right off of the flop regularly. These are usually the competitors that are only playing at a novice level of experience and they can be manipulated by pure bluffs more often than not. A frequent folder can be a goldmine when they’ve hit on a pair of cards that they believe will take them to the end of a hand. The particular lack of confidence that makes them fold on a regular basis is the same phenomena that will allow you to bluff them into folding when the heat is on, after they have already committed many bets in the endgame of a hand.

The early position will also allow you to identify stronger poker players so you can better gauge when to attempt bluffs or not. Aside from their more frequent winning of hands, solid competitors will often play cautiously and only strike hard occasionally in a typical tight-aggressive style. Having an early position allows you to test the waters of the entire table and note the better and worse players before attempting to bluff them unsuccessfully later on. Semi-bluffs are usually much more advisable than pure bluffs against better players who are more skilled at spotting tricks at the poker table.

Lessons in Poker Bluffing: Part One

Bluffing is an important part of your poker game but it is often misunderstood and used too often or not enough. Here are a few tips to get you started toward proper bluffing and good times to use it in your game. First off, remember your positions. Our first few tips here will focus on late position bluffing simply because it is the best opportunity to bluff successfully as well as the one time wherein most players make avoidable mistakes or miss chances.

Your goals in bluffing should be clear. When you’re in a late position you essentially control the pace of the hand. If you’ve taken note of those players that have folded out of a lack of confidence in the past then you’re ready to start forcing them out. When forcing out other players your bluffs should be more frequent and of a riskier nature, raising in large increments and made up of more pure bluffs than you might have gone in with otherwise. Late position allows you to pick off the weaker competitors noted by their tendency to have waited a long time before checking or folding directly off the flop often in the past.

If you’re only trying to bulk up the pot then forcing players out becomes unwise (except in tournament situations). A late position isn’t as good for early positions when it comes to “milking the table” but you still have the opportunity to see a great deal of action before it’s your turn to call or raise. Your notes come into play to a large degree and keeping concentration on the table is essential. You can look for patterns in weaker players then use your late position bluffing to force them into showdowns, betting them into constant raising before they are forced to fold.  

Preparing for a HORSE Tournament: Part Three

This is the third of a three part series on Preparing for a HORSE Tournament. The first part of this can be found here and the second part of this can be found here

There are a few basic strategies worth noting before putting money down on a cash HORSE tournament. Although players who specialize in HORSE games will be able to find a wealth of in-depth tutorials and tips, here are a few of the most important aspects to note.

Remember that HORSE is, at its core, a tournament like any other and that the basic rules of endurance and selective aggression remain as true here as any other long series. Memorize the best starting hands for each style of play and only act aggressively when you have a statistically sound backing for putting down any substantial amount of chips. Good HORSE players don’t contribute to a pot unless they know they can succeed in a given hand.

Bet and raise when you have the chance, just as you would in a fixed-style tournament. It’s important to seize any opportunity to eliminate your competition during every hand you receive worth playing.

Watch out for the Razz section. Razz almost always proves to be the fifth of a HORSE tournament where players simply flounder and make easy targets out of themselves. Consider it a welcome halfway point and take advantage of the weakest players quickly in order to up your bankroll. This is the proper time in the game to identify competitors comfortable with Stud games and learn their quirks before getting into the two final rounds of play.

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Preparing for a HORSE Tournament: Part Two

This is the second of a three part series on Preparing for a HORSE Tournament. The first part of this can be found here.

Now that we’ve established which poker styles make up a HORSE tournament it’s time to look into basic outlines of the series itself and how to succeed in it.

HORSE is always offered as a fixed-limit game (although some sites may offer pot-limit or no-limit mixed-style series that stray a little from the traditional HORSE format) with a rotation of the five aforementioned poker styles. Knowing how to approach a rotation tournament is essential for succeeding in HORSE.

Make your most aggressive moves during the games that include blinds — the first two styles (Hold ‘Em and Omaha) can help to knock down weaker players while increasing your bankroll going into the Stud section of HORSE. Betting and raising during the first two rounds (with appropriate cards) can be the key toward making this work. It’s often a good plan to consider the preliminary pair of games as a proving ground and a solid opportunity for eliminating the less qualified competitors.

Practice each one of the HORSE styles and concentrate on those formats that you’re least experienced in. Making money in low-stakes HORSE tournaments is often as easy as picking off the weaker players during Razz or Hi-Lo Stud but insufficient practice in these less popular games can make you the victim of a well-rounded competitor. Without proper knowledge of each style it will not matter how good you are at any one or two of the other games so it’s definitely worth the time to practice on low-stakes or virtual chip tables before entering a HORSE tournament.

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Preparing For a HORSE Tournament: Part One

HORSE tournaments can be a great way to improve your overall ability in poker through its demanding play and requirement of multi-style aptitude. While many are put off by the different styles the tournament goes through, those enticed by the constant game changes owe it to themselves to learn the basics of the popular tournament format.

The first step for learning how to become a contender in HORSE involves knowing what the tournament itself constitutes. HORSE is an acronym that stands for the different styles that make up the game play. Here is a brief note on each one.

Hold ‘Em is a style well known by poker players and should be familiar to any fan of the game. These articles will assume a basic knowledge of Hold ‘Em rules and play.

Omaha is another form of poker that is quickly growing in popularity. Proper HORSE tournaments offer the Hi-Lo Omaha style.

Razz is the first of the three final stages of Stud play and is the only part of HORSE that is sometimes knocked out of the proceedings (players may be familiar with HOSE games where Razz is removed).

Seven-card Stud High is a return to the formerly popular style of poker and makes up the second-last stage of play.

Seven-card Stud Hi-Lo (Eight or better) is the last stage of a HORSE tournament and is a variation of the rules set by the previous round.

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Basic Strategy in Razz Poker

Razz poker is undoubtedly unique for players familiar with the usual goal of achieving high value cards in order to succeed. After figuring out the basic flow and objectives of the style there are still other important aspects of the game to keep in mind. Here are a few of them.

Quality starting hands in
Razz poker are important to learn and remember so you know when to play and when to fold or take it easy on betting. Luckily they’re fairly easy to recognize and memorize in Razz. Base the starting hands you enter the pot with on their low value and try to push away your urge to fold on a traditionally “bad” deal.

Look for and remember the importance of “dead” cards that you are dealt or see at the table. While other games focus on using “live” cards (those that typically improve your chances at a win such as face cards), ignore your instinct to flop on low cards. Dead cards are good to receive and important to note in a
Razz poker game.

Be vigilant with watching the entire table and the visible cards. Quality stud players are always monitoring the other cards on the table and are able to gauge their own actions based on the information available from their competitor’s up cards.

Many of the same strategies that lead to successful stud games can also be applied to similar effect with Razz. Perhaps the most significant aspect of solid
Razz poker play is based on memorization and comfort however, so it’s well worth playing many practice games before staking anything substantial in a game of this style.

Looking at the Rules of Razz Poker

After becoming comfortable with the goal and ideal hands of
Razz poker it’s important to understand the rules and table action of the game.

Razz poker functions in a similar fashion to other stud games. Each player must post the ante before they are dealt three cards, one face up and two faces down (hole cards). The first betting round is carried out at this point. The dealer then continues to carry out this process in the usual, clockwise fashion common in other poker styles. Betting action occurs after every new card is provided by the dealer based on new information revealed by visible cards and player action.

After the seventh card is dealt each player still in the game will have three hole cards along with four cards that are face up for competitors to see. The final stage of play is carried out with a final chance at betting and raising based on psychological didactics and visible cards (as in other forms of stud) before the faces are revealed and the winner determined.

Players do not get to see any common cards and each of the competitors can make use of the best five out of their seven cards to make their final hand. Determining the best strategy to successfully reach this stage is, obviously, quite significant and will form the focus of our final article on Razz poker basics.

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An Introduction to Razz Poker

Razz poker is one of the most confusing styles of play but is well worth learning for the serious poker enthusiast. It is a subversive take on the traditional goal of stud games, aiming to reward the lowest, rather than highest hand possible.

Razz poker is a stud style poker game that is heavily reminiscent of Seven-card Stud. The style focuses on making the ‘worst’ (or lowest) hand possible in order to win however and is thus likely to confuse many novices to the style.

By the end of the game every player that doesn’t fold will hold seven cards and the potential to show their five ‘best’ cards. Razz poker differs again from other stud games in that, contrary to expectations, a flush or straight does not negatively affect the hand ranking. Low cards are good but having a run in numbers or same suits (as demonstrated below) is not a bad thing in Razz poker.

Aces are always the lowest card in Razz poker and the best possible hand to hold is A-2-3-4-5. The easiest way to read and understand low hands can be found in taking the face values literally as a whole number. The five cards above (A2345) can be read as “twelve thousand, three hundred and forty five” and a similar straight such as A-3-4-5-6 would be read as “thirteen thousand, four hundred and fifty six). The lowest numerical amount is the best hand to hold.

The next article will detail the table action that constitutes the rules of a Razz poker game.

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