Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gone Huntin'... for Fish

Over the years I have had the opportunity to go fishing with family and friends and I even have some good stories to tell, one in particular that my youngest brother and I will never forget... he carries a scar as proof of the story and a constant reminder of our very first fishing trip. But today I want to talk about the "fish" you will undoubtedly run into on the felt. And hopefully with a little patience, observational skills and a little luck on the river for yourself you will be able to hook, reel and gut their stack!

In poker, a "fish" is the term used to describe bad players. Whether you are playing in a tournament or (preferably) a cash game you want some fish at your table! And in most cases you want them to be seated to your right so you can capitalize on thier mistakes! However, when playing with unknown players you will want to be cautious early on until you can recognize the fish at the table and categorize them. Categorize them!?! Yep... just as the fish in the river, there are different types of fish you will see on the river!

There are basically three types of fish in poker.
The first and usually the easiest to play with/against are commonly known as "calling stations". These players just hate to fold! They will play any two cards, draw for farfetched opportunities and will call your flop bet with any pair, draw or even Ace high. For the most part, position, betting and any other strategy that is applied by good players is not relevant because in most cases it is not even recognized by the fish. So, continue to play your game against them, but don't get crazy with it... fish are bad players, but they do have winning sessions! The only bullet you may want to refrain from using against the "calling station" is any kind of bluffing strategy. Remeber, these players hate to fold, thus leaving your bluffs with a minimal profitability rating! The best thing to do against any calling station is to stick to your game plan, control the pot size and maximixe your profits by exploiting their obvious mistakes! Keep in mind that they will win some pots, but don't get discouraged or berate the players decisions or abilities at the table... you do not want to scare the fish away!! 
The second type you want to be aware of are referred to as a/the "rock". These players are complete opposites from the calling stations. The "rock" is an extremely tight player who folds a lot. They have a tight range of hands usually waiting for premium hands (AA,KK,AK,AQ or suited face connectors etc.) regardless of their position. It's usually easy to steal their blinds and post flop pots from late position, especially the button, with a well calculated bet/raise. Pre-flop they will fold to the raise and post flop they will usually fold even their premium hand if they didn't hit the flop. Drawing is not what they want to do. It is very difficult to get money out of these players. While bluffing was not recommended against the calling station, slow playing your hand is something you want to avoid against the rock. Giving the opportunity to see free cards to a rock is never a good thing, make a reasonable raise pre-flop and a c-bet post flop to find out where you are. Most of the time the c-bet will end the hand, but if it doesn't... beware! Control the size of the pot or just lay it down, getting money/chips out of these players is like squeezing blood from a rock (thus the name!). So, if you end up in a big pot and have to shove or call a shove it's in your best interest to have the nuts! 
And now we come to.... the "maniac". These players deserve the reference as maniacs!! These players, like the calling stations, want to be in every hand and usually play extremely aggressive (from any position). Of the three types of fish you definitely want the maniac on your immediate right! Any sign of weakness from their opponents will entice extreme aggression. These players will force the action, overplay there cards and donk off chips left and right. The maniacs are the hardest to contend with because you never know what they might be playing. Ace-rag, suited-connector there's really no telling. But if you are patient, stick to your game and bait them well when you have a strong (made) hand, just sit back and let the fireworks begin!
 As mentioned before, these are bad players... but even bad players have winning sessions. My advice... PlaySmart.BePatient.StayFocused

chapel out..........GetSome.GIVEBACK.GetHome............

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Become a Better Poker Player

After countless hours of research on this topic I have come to the conclusion that you can read as many books, blogs, articles... watch as many dvd's, videos or television events... and study as many local, pro or televised players as you want/can. But the only real opportunity to actually becoming a better player is to...     

Play as much poker as you can!

I am in NO WAY implying or suggesting that you cannot learn, improve and as a result become a better poker player from the options listed above. All I am saying is... you can do all those things, know all the rules, objectives, strategies and be the most informed player at the table, but if you are not out there on the felt applying what you know and gaining the experience at the tables it is going to be a rude awakening to expect what should happen to what will happen against actual players!

chapel out... GetSome.GIVEBACK.GetHome

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hoyt BRICKEN Corkins

It's been a while since I have continued my posts about some of my favorite poker players, so... today I will throw another one out in the mix.
Hoyt CorkinsYep! Hoyt Bricken Corkins. Personally, I like his middle name and if I ever get to meet him personally I may even throw it out there at him (maybe!). I enjoy watching Hoyt play because of his table presence that is quickly established when he sits down at the table. Even if he had not already established himself as a world class champion I think his table talk, demeanor and especially his strategic aggression would certainly get everyone's attention rather quickly!  
Hoyt is also known and recognized by several nicknames. "Cowboy", "Mr. move All-In" and on the WPT..."Nightmare!"

In May of 1989 Hoyt established himself as a competitor to  be reckoned with when he entered the 20th WSOP and finished 4th in the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event. Between 1989 and 1992 Hoyt became a well known fixture the poker tables and especially at final tables. His first WSOP bracelet came in May 2002 during the 23rd WSOP  in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. 
After the 1992 WSOP Hoyt took some time off from poker to take care of some family issues. After 11 years Hoyt returned to the competition and played in a 2003 WPT event. He registered for the 2003 World Poker Finals. Played his game as if he had never gone anywhere, and took down the title and a record payout of $1,089,200. Since then Hoyt has once again established himself as a world class champion. He now has 2 WSOP Titles and 2 WPT Titles and too many cashes to list here. Follow this link  
to check out Hoyts complete tournament profile from Hendon Mob Poker Stats.
As a tournament competitor myself I look forward to the day to meet Mr. Corkins, and hopefully it's not as I sit down and look to my left! Even if it is I will cherish the moment and make the best of the opportunity to play with, in my mind, a legend of the game. But until then I will look forward to railing or watching him on tv.
Thanks Hoyt for being a true and well respected gentleman of the game and Keep the Faith my friend! Hope to see you on the felt soon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tough Way to Make an Easy Living

We've all heard the saying..."playing poker is a tough way to make an easy living."
Most people who have played the game seriously and have had a reasonable amount of success have probably thought about or maybe even considered making that next step ( more like a well calculated triple jump) to playing full-time for a living.
poker holdem cards gamble gamblingIf that thought or consideration has ever crossed your mind, been suggested to you, or has been a dream that has slowly resinated into an extremely motivated "can do" attitude... you might want to consider some important questions before you commit to that decision.

Do You Love to Play Poker?... If you are going to make the decision to play poker for a living, you better LOVE to play poker and LOVE to play for long periods of time. Playing once or twice a week for six, eight, ten hour sessions is one thing. Are you ready to play ten, twelve, even fourteen hours a day... for three,  four maybe even  five or six days (nights) a week? Poker now becomes a (your) business, and it's your JOB to see that it is successful. It's no longer a hobby, a supplement to your income, or just something to help you "get away". It won't take long for the fun, excitement and overall enjoyable experience you once had for the game to turn into a daily grind just as it was during your previous job. Even if you are good at it and are successful, if you don't love to play... you will soon begin to hate it!

Can You Handle the Pressure?... Depending on the circumstances of.... whether you are single or married (with children) is going to present quite a bit of pressue for you to be successful. The mortgage payments, car payments, insurance payments and ALL the other monthly bills are still going to keep coming in whether you are successful or not. You are no longer punching a clock each day and collecting a paycheck every week for that time invested. As a poker player you may invest forty, fifty, even sixty plus hours a week and have nothing to show for it. For several weeks! Remember, this is a return on your investment business. Your investment is not just your time anymore... it's your money as well. Before, you could invest forty to fifty-five hours at a job and knew there was a paycheck coming. Now it's up to you to insure there is a return on that investment. Keep in mind that you can't, you don't and you won't win evry time. No one will!! Losing is never fun, especially when others depend on your success.  

What About Other Expenses?... If you are looking at only the entry expenses of your adventure you are not going to last very long. Unless you live near a casino or plan to uproot the family and move closer to a casino there are going to be travel, food, lodging and supplementary spendings while you are on the road. These expenses can and will eat away at your bankroll for entries if you are not careful and prepared. Sure, the thought of enjoying the free breakfast at the hotel, stocking and making sandwiches from the hotel fridge in your room and staying within walking distance of the events is a good idea, to start out. But you will soon find out that the breakfast (if you get there) is not as good as the picture shown, those sandwiches you pulled out of your back pack are not as good six to eight and a half hours later, and the walk to and from the event was decided upon on a clear sunny day!

 Your Bankroll and the Consequences?... If you are strictly a tournament competitor you should have a good idea of the entry level you want to play and have at least... one hundred and fifty to two hundred entry fees available.
 No one goes into professional poker thinking that they are going to fail, but plenty of people who try just don't  make enough money to survive and provide. If  you are supporting a family you should  think about what the consequences will be for them above all. If your poker adventure does not go as well as you may have planned you should always have a backup plan in place. Jobs are difficult to come come by these days, so have a plan in place to return to a job if at all possible. There is no shame in making the effort and falling short of the expected goal you have set. Keep in mind that there will be plenty of opportunities to pursue the goal again, if you prepare for those opportunities. If you bust out, you can always rebuild your bankroll and try again somewhere down the road. But don't put yourself, or your family, in a position where you cannot recover just because you can’t accept you are not good enough. Get back in the game at a lower level, work hard on your game and when you have established the confidence and the bankroll again, give it another shot.

Understanding Cash Transfer in Online Poker   You HAVE TO PAY Your Taxes!... I understand that this is not a question to consider. It is a must, there is NO option...unless you just want to be charged with a felony and spend an unreasonable amount of time in a jail cell with someone who, well we won't go there, and you should not have to if you are prepared in advance to take care of your responsibilities!!

I understand that these are NOT the only questions you should consider before pursuing a career in poker. Each persons opportunity is going to require specific questions, comments, suggestions, complaints and obstacles to hurdle before the commitment is made to follow their dream, pursue their goal or just give it their best shot. You will never know the outcome if you never try, all I'm saying is... hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst! And if you are prepared, it won't be sooo bad!

...chapelout...   GetSome.GIVEBACK.GetHome...
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

.... Backing ... Staking ... Sponsors ...

Over the years I have had the opportunity to aquire several "backers" for tournaments, some fellow players who have "staked" me in cash games, and have signed on with a few sponsorships that provided them with advertising opportunities for monetary and/or bartering compensation
(comped meals/lodging/transportation/clothing, etc.) for me in return. Each opportunity had it's own arrangements and details that were discussed BEFORE any final agreement of terms for all parties involved. The only contracts that were involved were with the sponsorships, and there was only one that I can recall that required me to sign a contractual agreement. From 2007 until the present time I have had the opportunity to be backed in thirty-two events, cashing in nineteen of them. There were six different backers involved, each backing five events with the exception of two who had six. The only time I had a make-up agreement was with one of the backers of six events, we had initially agreed upon nine events but he has since passed. And yes he was paid, payment was arranged after every event. The cashes for my backers went 3/6, 2/5, 4/5, 5/6, 2/5, 3/5.  Back to the subject of the post...
A backing agreement is when a person... whether it be a friend, family member, business associate or another player... invests their money into a player by providing partial or complete entry fee costs into events for the player. Some investors may even provide other arrangements for transportation, lodging and meals during the event with a make-up agreement, but most investments are for entries only.
Each arrangement is determined between the two parties involved. Most of the time the investor is going to back (pay for) players entry fees for a percentage of the players winnings. If it's a one time deal the arrangements may be made to the investors benefit with a higher percentage to the investor due to the financial risk he/she is making. For one time investments the player may be looking at collecting only 25%-40% and the investor collecting the 60%-75% of the winnings. All arrangements are different though.  If it is a long term agreement it is usually going to be a 50/50 split. These terms should be discussed and agreed upon beforehand!
There are other factors that can and should be considered by both sides before any arrangements are decided upon. If as mentioned earlier there is an agreement for any other incidentals that are provided there needs to be an arrangement as to where and when that money is collected (re-imbursed). Where does not mean a location, and when is not what time! Where is in reference to where is the money coming from, off the top of the winnings, from the players portion of the split, before or after taxes are deducted. When comes into play when it's a long term agreement. Does investor want payment after every cash/win or at the end of an agreed upon time frame (every 90 days or every 3 events maybe). There is also the option to the parties involved to be under a "make-up" agreement. That is when the investor agrees to a long term partnership with the adventure and expects that all previous entries paid and any other incidentals will be re-imbursed when the player has a substantial cash/win. Here is an example of a "make-up" agreement: 
Player enters into agreement with Investor to be backed for four stops on the WSOP Circuit, with a 50/50 term and a "make-up" agreement. Of the eighteen events at each stop (total of 72 events) that are available Player is able to compete in five or six events during each stop (20-24 events total). Investor expects payment after each cash/win. At the first stop Player registers for five events with a total cost of  $1935.00, which is an average of $387 per event. Player does well but does not cash/win. Player moves on to next stop, registers for six events at a cost of $2490.00, an average of $415 per event. Player again plays well during the first three events but does not cash. In the fourth event of the second stop Player makes the final table and finishes 3rd cashing for $24,700.00. Great news for Player and Investor. Here's where the arrangement needs to be covered in detail before agreement on the terms of payout. Option #1- With the 50/50 terms (only) Player pays Investor $12,350.00 and keeps $12,350.00. If there is a make-up agreement in place there is Option #2 or Option #3. Option #2- Player pays investor the 50/50 $12,350.00 for each. Then Player pays investor for the 5x$387 events= $1,935.00 and the 4x$415events= $1,660. That's a total of $3,595 paid out from Players winnings and is now left with $8,755.00. Option #3- Investor allows Player to take the $3595 make-up out of the $24,700 leaving $21,105 and then the 50/50 provides each $10,552.50, BIG DIFFERENCE for both parties involved! Most Investors want the biggest return on their investment but understand that by allowing Player to take it off the top it is a way to say Thank You for the time, mental, physical, and emotional investment grinding out for their return of investment. 
Where backing is a term used for tournament events, staking is basically the same but in reference to providing a bankroll for a player in cash games. The stakes in the game are usually gonna determine how much the player will be staked for. If it is a $1/$2 cash game the investor will probably want to make sure that the player has an initial buy-in of at least 100 big blinds ($200) and possibly additional monies of the same amount to provide a re-load opportunity. The higher the blind structure for the game the higher the stake for the player will be. Some investors will do a 50/50. Player invests, in the same $1/$2 scenario, $200 and Investor puts up $200. In the later case the two would absorb the loss, or split the profit 50/50. In the first scenario where the investor has all the money there should be terms agreed upon beforehand as to the payout of any profits. Normally the investor will expect at least a 60/40 split due to the investment. It could go several ways just as the backing scenarios were explained. Some investors may just say give me my investment back and 25% of the profit. Here's an example and several payout scenarios:
Investor stakes Player 100% in a $1/$2 cash game with a $200 buy-in and a $200 re-load. Player grinds out on the initial $200 for a profit of $1,100.  Option#1- Player returns to Investor with $1,500. With a 50/50 split both leave with $750. Option #2- Player returns to investor with $1,500. Player re-imburses the $400 investment from Investor and leaves $1,100 to split 50/50 for $550 each. Option #3- Player returns to Investor with $1,500 there's no initial reimbursement of the investment ($400) for the session but there is a make-up agreement, as explained before. Player lost $400 in a previous session and now has returned from this session with $1,500. Player pays investor $400, leaving $1,100 to split 50/50 for $550 each. 
There are soooo many ways to make arrangements of terms to agree upon, just be sure that all of those agreements are in place beforehand! Over the years I have played in ten times more tournaments than cash game sessions and with each cash game session staked there were always different arrangements for payout. The only option I never encountered was the make-up scenario in reference to cash game sessions, the option is there mainly to secure the investors interest and investment for a long term arrangement, but I never had to agree to those terms.

 I've had this post in draft mode for quite some time now, so I'm gonna go ahead and publish this part and provide a PartII to finish up with the Sponsor/Sponsorship aspect real soon!
.......chapel out!........GetSome.GIVEBACK.GetHome.....