The Melting Ice-Caps of the Poker Community

Have you heard the saying that roughly 10-15% of the poker population are considered ‘winners’ with 2-3% of those being the big winners? While the rest of the players are small winners/losers and break-even players (making up around 20% of the pool) and the last 65% will be the losers. The existence of rake will be making up for the non 50/50 split of winners/losers you would expect in a zero-sum game.

Now think of the poker community like an iceberg with the winners section being the part that you can visibly see above the waters surface and the vast majority of the break-even players.

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This ratio of exposed surface to submerged surface is consistent to the entire volume of the iceberg. If we reduce the volume of the iceberg the part we can see above the water will also reduce.

Have you worked out where I’m going with this yet?

The more poker players there are in the population (volume) then greater the amount of winners will be in the game! (exposed surface).

Our logical job as players looking to make a profit should not only be seeking constant improvement in our strategy but also to be recruiting new players to the game and even more important is to make sure that the recreational players that are coming over to have fun- HAVE FUN.

If there is one thing that I cannot stand for when I’m playing it is someone being rude, berating (randomly coaching wtf!?!) or otherwise criticising a player for simply getting lucky and beating them in a pot because they suck the enjoyment out of the game for everyone.

After all it is a game, it’s meant to be fun! If you can’t handle it you shouldn’t be playing full stop. All that will happen is the weaker player will feel embarrassed, leave and probably never come back again… good result huh?

There is a place for ego in poker but it’s not when you are playing against someone who is ignorant of the games strategy because clearly they are going to make mistakes. If they didn’t make those mistakes the game would become extinct.

Do you think the owner of a casino cares when people come into their establishment put down their money and win or lose? They couldn’t care less, they are just happy to have an edge in the game and the more people that play the better. Think of the bad-beats in poker like when a punter wins a chunk off the casino on the roulette table and gets up and leaves. It’s going to happen sometimes so just think of it like a marketing budget.

The majority of poker punters come in to have some entertainment a few drinks, chat and have fun and leave. Winning is a bonus they aren’t particularly attached to the money and they won’t mind losing it as that’s what they expect to happen. I make a huge effort to make the game fun and if you see someone ruining the experience then make it your business to do whatever you can to tilt the hell out of the guy who is making the faux pas.

“So you called off half your stack with pocket 4’s preflop and cracked my aces, well done you massive fish”

The rec player will usually respond by shrugging their shoulders and looking embarrassed while the loser of the pot continues…

“How stupid can you be? This always happens to me against the shit players”

This is your cue to come in…

“Hahah oh man, not this again- you gonna cry mate? why don’t you grow up- at least this guys got the balls to get his money in!”

Then proceed to high-five the rec player (they love that and the tilters hate it)

At the minimum this will make the loser-reg think twice about what he says next time and whats even better is sometimes they go on crazy-tilt- SWEET

I give you my permission, no my complete endorsement to stop this happening whenever you see it. If you sit there quietly while this kind of stuff goes on then you failed your mission miserably. They deserve it! Just make sure you don’t get into a physical altercation over it! Not worth getting hurt or banned for.

If you approach this game with the mindset of the casino-owner then the correct response to being on the receiving end of a bad beat is a smile and a simple “nice hand mate”

EASY PEASY!

JoeyCraigProTip: Don’t participate in overfishing, its bad for the environment

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Poker in London 

Hippodrome


The Hippodrome in Leicester Square is the PokerStars Live venue for London so everytime there is a badbeat someone says ‘LOL pokerstars FML’You get free soft drinks whilst you play so you can drink your own weight in caffeine while you sit motionless for the next 12 hours as well as 65p/hour comps (RAKEBACK) which you can use towards food and stuff. You can leave deposits at the main desk and it’s very quick to access funds there using this method.

They host the UKIPT so there’s usually a decent tournament there once a month or so in the £250-500 range and sometimes higher stakes too.

The vast majority of cash games are £1/£2 and £2/£5 games usually open once a day towards the late evening- especially on weekends.

The games here are 99% Hold’em it’s very rare to see anything else.

The dealers and floor staff are exceptional.

Home to such regulars as:

  1. The guy who tells everyone they are playing too tight when they are the tightest player at the table/ in London
  2. That Chinese guy
  3. All of the dealers from the other London Casinos
  4. Kelly Saxby

Did I miss any? Leave in the comments!

JoeyCraigProTip: I saw Jack Salter playing £1/£2 there once. I stole his bb (literally took it home) it has a current retail value of £25,000.   PLEASE BUY IT OFF ME DMDMDM

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Prop Bets

If you want to open up a debate a live poker table is the perfect time to do it. You got 8-9 other people (including the dealer) who can offer their thoughts on a subject and you all got money in front of you to bet on who’s right!

One of the best prop bets I ever seen was at Caesars in Vegas. This young Chinese lady was on the $2/$5 on Friday night straddling, drinking and chatting loads. She points to an entrance into the cardroom and says ‘I bet you guys 4-1 that the next person who walks through that entrance is a woman’ and everyone is thinking well there’s loads more poker players who are guys than who are women that’s a crazy bet! Some people bet $1 some bet $5 some bet $10 and it looked like she was about to pay out a big load of money. Everyone had their eye on the entrance waiting to see who came through next.

And a waitress walks through! Oh yeah they come through the doors quite frequently don’t they- genius! No-one saw that coming.

At the Hippodrome cardroom in London someone was talking about prescriptions and I said that if you are a doctor you can write a prescription for someone on any bit of paper sign it and the patient can take it to any pharmacy. One of the weekend regulars I know really well explains that you can write a cheque on anything-even a napkin and take it to the bank they will have to accept it as well.

Hmm I wasn’t sure about that one but he is so CERTAIN about this right so I say to him that if he writes out a cheque on a napkin and I’ll put in my details on it and sign it that he can keep the money if it goes into his account. If it don’t go in then he owes ME the amount of the cheque.


Nothings left my account yet…

He’s probably going to pay me back in postage stamps.

JoeyCraigProTip: You can use postage stamps as currency, be sure to report anyone who wont accept your wads of stamps as payment!

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Seoul Food

If you’ve never been to Asia and you are white Caucasian then you are going to get stared at A LOT. There was this group of them that enveloped us- all smiles and that, and one of them whipped out a big camera so I was thinking ‘oh they want me to take a picture of them’ but NO that was not what they wanted… They started to link arms with us and say something in Chinese that I assume must’ve been ‘CHEESEEEE’ and that was the first time I was abused by an Asian person holding a camera on my holiday.

They have these wierd ATM’s that look like fruit machines which was a gamble really because the odds of not getting your money out of it was about 3:1

 

And the actual fruit was ridiculously expensive….

2 melons, 3 apples and some grapes £135. The same value as Aces in a £1/£1 No-Limit Cash Game.

 

There are two poker rooms in Seoul, the one I played at was called Walker-Hill Paradise Casino and it is set inside a big shopping centre up a massive hill. The first thing I noticed about this casino was that I was the only white guy in the entire place and the second thing was that there was lots of ice-cream about.

 

 Evidence of ice-cream

 

If you want to pretend to be a baller then this is the game for you because you can buy in for 1 Million!……. Korean Won… (it’s still a million though right!?) The Game was the equivalent of £1/£1 stakes but you could buy in for £600 so it was the deepest £1/£1 I’ve ever come across!

  2.4 Million!!!….. (in Korean Won)

-fin

JoeyCraigProTip: Play poker in Korea! Eat vast amounts of ice-cream and become a millionaire!

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Climbing Mt. Micro

The training ground for beating the live casino games. Like you use a batting cage for learning how to hit baseballs the online poker arena is where you learn the correct strategy for playing your hands and opponents.

There is no substitute for learning how to play strategically sound poker if your goal is to make money from this game.

The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle

Yesterday I fired up some tables of $10NL games because I’m a sadist it is the nearest equivalent in terms of skill level to the £1-1, £1-£2, and £1-3 games that are commonly played in the casinos of the UK today.

Players have a general tendency to:

  1. Play too loose pre-flop
  2. Call too much post-flop
  3. Go on tilt

There are also far fewer strong players in these games so you will also fair much better against the competition.

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$10NL on PokerStars with Hold’em Manager 2

If you are wondering why my poker client looks like a cockpit HUD from Flight Simulator ’97  its because I’m using Hold’em Manager 2 which tracks information on opponents in your game that you have played hands against. Stat-Tracking software comes in very handy when you want to multi-table as it means you can concentrate on the action but it is not necessary to be able to beat the live games just a useful tool we can use to obtain reads and tracks our sessions.

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Hold’em Manager 2 Session Stats

These stats from that session are pretty accurate to how I usually play online and in live casino games 20/16/5 (VPIP/PFR/3bet).

If you can beat the Micro’s you have the fundamental skill needed to beat the live games but there are some subtle differences that can land you in trouble if you play them exactly the same way and that’s where I can help.

I have played millions of hands online since 2002 and  when I started playing live casino games regularly in 2014 I couldn’t believe the gap in skill-level between the two for the amount of money at stake.

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Timehop back to 2006

I made it my purpose to adapt the knowledge I had to beat the live poker scene.

JoeyCraigProTip: Ladies love a solid 3bet%, keep studying

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Gran Casino Barcelona

Went to check out the tapas and poker in Barcelona this December.

 

Gran Casino Barcelona AKA Casino Barcelona is the only card room around so it was fairly easy to decide where to play. I had to wake up at 09.30 to get to hotel breakfast before it closed and I didn’t fancy scouting randomly around Barcelona looking for Nutella and Monster Ripper  the precise assortment of fruits and croissants that I had become accustomed to during my stay.

So the days getting on and there’s sure as hell nothing else to do in Barcelona so I get a taxi to the casino in jeans and a white t-shirt a little dubious about the ‘proper casual’ dresscode mentioned on the website. Proper casual… that’s how I would expect a young ragamuffin from East London  to describe to his mate what a nudey beach is like.

Well the driver said ‘fine luck’ to me (cheers?) and gestured ‘over there’ when we arrived at the beach pointing towards at least an entire 180° of my field of vision so I just kind of wandered off and rounded a corner- that’s when I saw it

 

Gran Casino Barcelona

 

I get in the main entrance and the lady there seemed to like the t-shirt and jeans so that was alright. She hands me a map of the casino (cheers?) and tells me the poker don’t start until 4pm (crap!). We’re not in Vegas anymore…

I return at 17:00 there’s surely got to be a game on now. The same lady nods me in to the security guard so I don’t have to give them my guest details again like- “Yeah that’s the div from earlier who wanted to play poker at noon LoL”.

The poker is all downstairs and there’s a few cash games running and a decent list for the €1/€2 & €2/€4 games. They also had a list for €5/€10 that was building up and some sort of electronic €0.50/€1.00 game that no-one was playing on.

I got my chips at the cash desk while I waited and did what I always forget to do when I’m playing poker in a foreign land- ask for bigger value chips. So I came away with at least €600 of my cash in dreaded €10 denomination chips in a rack (dreaded because I may have made my biggest ever mistake in poker playing $5/$10NL in Bellagio thinking my $10 chips were $5’s… it was horrible, still have nightmares about that) Now I got to carry round a massive rack of chips while I wait for a game.

So an hour and a half later I’m in this $2-$4 game where everyone was at least 200bb’s deep and I won’t pretend to remember any of the hands but it was weird because the dealer and players were speaking in Spanish and English. When bets were made the dealer announced in both languages and that made it really comfortable to play there. The game wasn’t particularly good and I only got to play there for about 90 minutes before I had to leave for dinner and I dropped €35 but I can say that the dealers and floor staff knew their stuff and the players were friendly.

I’m calling this one a draw, Spain 0 England 0

 

JoeyCraigProTip: The W Hotel Barcelona looks like a giant taco on the horizon

 

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2nd Vegas Trip 2015

Have you ever wished that there was a place where you can stay inside a giant casino that is completely surrounded by other giant casinos and you can never get a good nights sleep?

Well that place really does exist and its called Vegas.

You can stay in one of the resorts for a week and get a flight there for about the same price as parking your car in central London for 3 hours.

The game-plan here is basically to wake up in the afternoon (not hungover) and follow these simple steps:

  1. Get food
  2. Play poker
  3. Complete steps 1 & 2 simultaneously (note: professionals only)

Rinse and repeat for best results

People love buffets and Vegas loves giving people what they want. You can fill your plates with unlimited food and there’s no judgement from anyone if you fancy a plate of crab legs, pepperoni pizza and beef noodles with your root beer.

 

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The Buffet at Aria

One of the waitresses shook my hand after a dinner at Aria- that was weird… is that a normal thing to do now? Maybe she was impressed with my original selections.

 

The poker is fantastic in Vegas because everyone is having a good-time. The games are brilliant and the choice of venues is unrivalled. I spent most of the time playing the $2/$5 at Bellagio, Aria and Wynn as that was the best game for me but if you fancy a change of scenery its never more than a 5-10 minute walk to the next casino.

 

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Results from 1st half of the week (altered to £ values)

 

The biggest difference between playing poker in London and in Vegas is that when you get chips the cashier and chip-runners will try to drown you in small-value chips. I have a theory that this is done because the average person that watches poker sees those large chipstacks in the TV tournaments and want to be like those guys- so I guess its good for the game.

Also string-betting (betting with the chips in more than one motion) is allowed there so that’s another reason for wanting some more smaller chips. I’d suggest you don’t get too used to it though as when you get back to London you might make a mistake and get penalised by being forced to call or min-raise in a crucial pot. It is the poker equivalent of driving on the left-hand side of the road in Europe all holiday and then doing the same back home and causing a pile-up outside Heathrow.

 

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Final results for the week (again shown in £ value ~ $3500USD)

 

Lastly, regarding the flight… have you ever been bothered by the person sitting next to you on the plane for 10 hours straight? I have, but don’t worry because I have devised a solution!

Nothing says ‘I don’t need any friends’ with finesse quite like a set of Magic: The Gathering cards™. Bonus points awarded if you can lock in a fellow traveller with the dangerous weak bladder/ window seat combo. Also a copy of ALIVE by Piers Paul Read never fails to set the right tone. Just remember to tell the air hostess that you are ‘not done’ with your plastic cutlery when they take away your rubbish whilst looking your fellow passenger in the eye and licking your lips.

 

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JoeyCraigProTip: There are no baked-beans ANYWHERE in Vegas (sell Heinz on the strip to boost your bankroll $$$!)

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