Wednesday, June 24, 2009


In the original Casino Royale (both Ian Fleming’s novel as well as the 1953 film), James Bond is seen to be playing Baccarat. In fact, he is seen playing the game in subsequent novels as well, and it has been said that it is 007’s favourite game.

Baccarat is believed to have originated in Italy, and then introduced in France by the then-king, Charles VIII. It is mostly played in casinos, and as with most casino games, has several variations. There are 3 main variants of baccarat in existence today, chemin-de-fer, banque, and banco punto.

Players of the game rely on luck, and there isn’t much skill involved. For this reason, it is a popular game in casinos, each player hoping to “strike it big” that night. The highest score a player can receive is 9. Number cards are scored at face value, while tens and face cards are worth zero points. In hands where the total of the cards is higher than ten, the tens place is ignored, giving a final total of 9 or less. A zero hand is known as Baccarat, and as such this game is the only one of its kind to be named after its lowest hand.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Online Casino

I woke up a little early yesterday, with a lot of time on hand to read the daily papers with my cuppa tea. The brushing and bathing could wait. Well, what do we have? An entire page of the local paper is screaming about how the local cops have sealed the lids on gambling addas (read kiosks) in a city in Goa. The cops are now basking in the glory of the media glare, on their way to become the next Scotland Yard.

Social activists say that there is nothing unusual in the police raiding the small time matka (read betting) houses and so on, they usually do it when they don’t get a share of the booty. Small time gambling and betting is usually considered illegal by administrations and public alike. In that light, how would you describe gambling at a casino? The only differences here are the ambience and the kind of people who visit these places. Rich businessmen cruising around in their swanky cars, spending their money at a hip casino gives you a picture of an upwardly mobile, “uber- cool” guy. Matka houses are visited by men from the lower strata of society. A group of such people huddled up in a small cubicle is usually eyed with suspicion by the public. For most of us living the good life, anything that comes from the streets and its by-lanes is scum.

Offshore casinos have come under a lot of flak lately. It seems that they pollute our culture and attract a lot of other evils. You never know, you’re next trip to the casino could land you in a cell. Don’t fret; you can always play your casino games online. Poker, baccarat, blackjack, they’re all there…waiting for you….to be played in the privacy of your home. No other smartasses around you, telling you how to play your game…and the money just pouring in.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

National Heads-Up Poker Championship

With Poker being ever popular, there has been a flood of events being aired by television networks in the US. The WSOP airs on ESPN, the world poker tour, a worldwide series of poker tournaments broadcast on the Travel Channel. The National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC is one such made for TV event .It is a $20,000 buy-in invitation-only tournament centered around no limit Texas hold 'em.

The participants include many of the world's best poker players. The 2009 edition was a three day event with 64 poker players facing off at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Out of these 64, six spots were reserved for qualifiers – four from online competitions and two from tournaments at Caesars.

There is a slight difference in the way the NHPC is conducted over other poker tournaments. In the NHPC, players are seeded randomly in the first round with players divided in four brackets – Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades. Players winning a match advance to the next round. Here winner of the spades bracket plays the one leading the clubs bracket. The same holds for the remaining two .A best of three final then decides the champion who takes home the $500,000 check. This year Huck Seed emerged victorious taking the event from Vanessa Rousso.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Strategy tips to play Omaha hi low

Play to Win: The spirit of the game is in winning it, so after the flop, if your high hand is not a sure winner and might have to split with the low, or even if you are playing for low but don’t stand a decent shot at the high hand, it’s a good idea to check/fold and get out early.

Slow play most Omaha hands: Early raises are risky unless you know you can't lose.

Avoid playing middle suited connectors. Hands like 8h 9h spell bad news in high-low split. In order to make the high end of a straight, you need to catch the cards that will also qualify low hands. To play these you also need a suited ace or an A2.

Do not overbet A2, A3 and 2 3 nut lows. You could end up getting quartered as these are often shared with another player. If there are two playing the same nut low and one going high, every bet you make contributes 1/3 to the pot that will only pay you 1/4 back. It makes sense to check around. Fast play, here will make you money if there are three or more other players with either high or losing low hands.

Beware of uniform flops, like 8 7 6, they could easily turn into straights that can overtake your high pair trips, or other good hand.

Watch out for Suited Flops that can make a completed flush. Hold the nut in that suit, or have trips or two pair that can fill up.

Check the raisers chips. Players that are close to all-in often rush the betting just to get all their chips in a sink-or-swim last hand.

Study your opponents, especially when you are not playing hands and can pay careful attention. Look for any "tells" (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.

Get caught bluffing once in a while, as it varies your play. You win pots that you don't deserve when your bluff works. You lose a few chips when it doesn't work but it will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when you are really strong and need the action.

Pay very close attention to your cards. Omaha High Low hands can get confusing. You think you have a nut hand winner when you don't, or you have the best possible hand and not realize it. Avoid these costly mistakes.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Poker strategy

If you’ve just gotten into a game of poker and you’re in a mood to rake in big bucks, keep in mind you need to have a game plan. Simply put, you need to plan your strategy in such a way that you gain maximum leverage over the other players throughout the session.

Your play at the start of the game will determine the course of your game. You could either be aggressive and active and dominate the game or play it cool and avoid confrontation. However, being passive does not mean that you allow other players to dominate your play. Remember, you’re playing to win.

When you’ve just settled in at the poker table and play has just started, you’ll have around 9 to 10 players with you. These guys are usually very aggressive at the beginning of an online poker game. What they’re hoping to do is build up a big lead over the other players so they can play it cool in the middle of the game and save their energy to bounce back at the end of the game.

You can, in fact, use their strategy to your advantage. Use the continuation bet feature and turn the tables around. You could win yourself a few rewards towards the pot. A continuation bet is an ancient online poker strategy. This bet is made after a flop in online poker tournaments. The player will raise a hand during the game after which he has already gained control of the game.

Taking control of the hand together with a possible position will make your opponents check to you.

As the game continues on, the other players will have no idea whether you hold a monster card or not. At the end of the supposed last card hand and you lay out your bet, your opponents will rack their heads to decide, especially if the continuation bet is large enough.

Your opponents will push head on towards the end of the game, since it is their strategy to be aggressive.

If you are faced with the online poker strategy using continuation bet, an aggressive player must weigh his chances, but usually should not stop being aggressive and must be ready to risk all that he has. You need to see through the other player’s bluff and his continuation bet and dare him in the game. This way, you’ll earn rewards towards the top table and will in the end win the pot.

If you’re using the passive style of play, you’ll have to avoid confrontation. Wait it out and be patient till some of the players are knocked out of the game. You wait for one wrong move and then take them out. The advantage here is, you get to observe your opponents’ play and the pattern of their strategy. You then come up with ways to counter their strategies and win yourself rewards.

Remember that your strategy within the early stages will determine your play in succeeding rounds. You may want to win the game or just earn rewards, either case keeping up till the end of the game is essential.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Art of winning at a Poker Game

When does one win at poker? It does seem to be a very nice question to ask, but a very difficult one to crack. One way of explaining a win would be when you play poker, the way you would if you could see your opponent’s poker cards. Conversely you would also gain if your opponent plays his cards differently from the way he would have played them if he could see your cards.

This simply means that if you are successful in inducing your opponents to play the poker game differently than they would if they could see your cards than most of the time you would end up winning. Bluffing and slow play at a poker table are classic examples of this. Bluffing helps in masking your poker hand from that of the opponent and induces them to fold superior hands. However if a poker player observes that you never bluff then you have had it. They won’t call their bets unless they have very good hands.

Slow playing is just the converse of bluffing where you bet low even if you have a great hand. However if your opponents observe that you never slow play then they will pounce on any sign of weakness.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poker Mathematics

The very end objective of poker – that of wining the Pot , links Poker to mathematical probability and permutation combination rules. Betting and raising by players depend on their perception of the probability that his / her hand has a stronger ranking than that of the other players in the game as well as the various combinations possible with open cards on the table. The deck of 52 cards used in poker helps in restricting the number of permutation and combinations.

The poker variant being played also has a strong correlation with the mathematics of the game. For example in Texas Hold’em after the flop an individual player has 2 hole cards open along with the 3 community cards open on the desk .This means 5/7 or ~72% of the hand is defined in the first round itself .While in Omaha post the flop 7/9 or 78% of the players hand is defined .

But does this mean that every Poker player needs to be a mathematical nerd. I sincerely don’t think so. A bit of luck and common sense may well suffice.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Brief History of Poker

As has been the case with many games, the origins of poker are unclear. Poker may have had its origins from the 18th century games of brag (England), pochen (“to bluff” in German), and poque (French for “pocket”) all of which had bluffing, betting and poker hand ranking as part of their poker game play.

Poker reached American shores in the 1700s, where it spread and acquired its modern name. Poker was a popular game on Mississippi River steamboats and in the saloons of the Western frontier during the gold rush. The 18-1900s saw newer variants of poker being adopted, the 52-card deck becoming standard and official rules being drawn up.

Modern poker tournament play became popular in American casinos after the World Series of Poker began in 1970. Starting with just a handful of players, the tournament grew into one of the largest poker events in the world. Notable champions from these early WSOP tournaments include Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim, Bobby Baldwin, Doyle Brunson, and Puggy Pearson.

A spot in the WSOP today costs each entrant $10,000. However many players can avoid the entry fee by winning smaller satellite tournaments to get in. The 2003 and 2004 WSOP champions, Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, respectively, won their seats to the main event by winning online satellites. When Late Night Poker first appeared on Channel 4 in 1999, it revolutionized people's perception of poker. Poker in the 21st century has also moved into the E-domain as well with online game rooms filled with whales and newbie’s alike. Great media and internet coverage has invariably led to poker becoming a spectator sport with a huge following worldwide.

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Online poker

Online poker is the game of poker played virtually over the internet. Online poker rooms have contributed greatly to the increasing popularity of the game all over the world. Traditional brick and mortar casinos generally hesitate to promote poker as they feel that other games of chance such as slot machines are far more profitable.

Even though the rake of a traditional casino is quite high the cost of running the poker room is even higher. Online casinos, on the contrary attract lower overhead costs. Players are allowed to play for low stakes and freeroll tournaments offered on most of the poker sites are a major attraction to beginners as it allows them to play and win at the game without paying any entry fee.

This, however, does not mean that online poker rooms run a loss. The rake is collected from most real money ring game pots, calculated as a percentage of the pot based on a sliding scale and capped at some maximum fee. Every online poker room has its own rake structure.

Multi-table and imprompt sit-and-go tournaments are charged an entry fee around five to ten percent of the tournament entry fee is added to the cost of the tournament.

Online poker sites sometimes offer games like blackjack or side bets on poker hands where players play against “the house” for real money, where the odds are usually in favor of the house.

Online poker sites invest the money that players deposit. This is a good source of revenue as the sites do not have to pay interest on players’ bankrolls.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Playing poker with players who write poker articles

Most poker players would think that it is a bad idea to play with a poker player who has more education than you do in the game of poker, I'm the direct opposite. I like and enjoy sitting and watching these players put their skills to work. You can learn many different tips and secrets that it would take you years to learn on your own, cut time off on your learning stages of poker game.

It is a great resource and a great way to improve your poker game in short period of time. Look at them as virtual mentors and they can teach you what to do and when. Learn from those who have been there and done that, why recreate the wheel?

If you don't have the money to sit with these particular players, you can sit and watch their poker table instead. Learn for free, there is no other better way to improve your game of poker.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Brushing up on your poker skills!

Experience is the key to success for it comes from doing and involves taking risks.  This is especially true in poker for you are playing with your own money; brushing up on your skills is of immediate importance.

Understanding the poker odds on each hand dealt, knowing how your opponent’s moves require hands - on involvement.  Listening to your own instincts and being able to exercise its own vision and creativity is a major joy of playing poker.  Don’t disagree as yet, because I would like to tell you one thing for the record: Instincts executed intelligently in a poker hand are the products of poker analysis, reviewing previous hands you played could make the difference of winning or losing in the long run.

These are just some of the skills one has to master when he is into poker and he can only transcend them through hands- on experiences. If you really wish to become a master of an art like “The Art of Playing Poker”, technical knowledge gained through reading poker books, watching poker tournaments & TV poker shows aren’t enough. Man, you have to put your time on the poker table, effort, and money on it. My point is kept on brushing up your poker plays for this is the blueprints for success.

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