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Poker Tips

Welcome to 888.com Tips

1. Game and Seat Selection
2. Mental Preparation & Hand Selection
3. The Art of Bluffing
4. The Dos and Don'ts
5. Seven-Card Stud
6. The Importance of Seat Position
7. Opponent Observation
8. Calling and Raising Before The Flop
9. Betting or Raising on the Flop
10. Betting on the Turn and River
11. Tournament Play 1
12. Tournament Play 2
14. No Limit and Pot Limit
15. No Limit Hold
16. Sizing up the opposition
17. Knowing When to Fold and When To Hold
18. Location, Location, Location
19. Early betting
21. Finishing
25. Pot Odds (2)
31. Satellite Tournaments
32. Poker School!
33. Holding vs Folding
34. 'Slow Play' the right way
35. Let The Chips Fall Where They May
36. Adapt your game
37. Multi-hand Hints
38. Bad Beats & How to Still Win $$$
39. Double your wins with Omaha
40. The Good, the Bad and the Omaha
41. Learn to mix it up
42. Multi-Table Tournaments (MTT)
43. Stack up the odds
44. Drawing Hands

Welcome to 888.com Tips

First of all, you can get all information you need about our games and rules on our Game Info page.

Once you are familiar with the basics we can start the first course off with a little food for thought. To be successful at Poker, no doubt, great Poker Skills are required. To begin improving your skills it is best to concentrate on them individually. What are some of these skills? They include, mental preparation, hand selection, reading hands, knowing when to quit and much more.

In our next session, we will begin our classes by breaking these skills down! Don't forget to bring your pen and pad, you're sure to want to jot down some notes!

Good Luck and have fun!

1. Game and Seat Selection

Are you ready for your first lesson? Today we will begin working on developing your skills. We will start off this month's lesson with Game and Seat Selection.

When entering a Poker Room, Game and Seat Selection should be forefront in your mind. In selecting a game, you want to go where you have a handicap. In other words, if you are rated number 8 on the world's list of best Poker players, sitting at a table with the top 7 Poker players will put you at the bottom of ladder; as you will undoubtedly be the worst poker player on that table. If its money you want to win, play at a table that you know you can beat.

Once you have chosen your game and table, you must select a seat where you will get the most value for your money. How? Poker is played in a clockwise direction, and the money will flow likewise. Therefore, try to identify the big Bankroll players with loose attitudes. Very important, always ensurethat they are seated to your immediate right. This way, all the betting and raising will be completed by the time the action reaches you.

Good Luck and have fun!

2. Mental Preparation & Hand Selection

I hope that you went over our last lesson and is now ready to improve the Skills you need in order to WIN! As we proceed, we will prepare you mentally and give you pointers on your hand selection.

The Game has begun. You have received your cards and now it's time to make your hand selection. This is the most critical part of your game, as this will determine your game outcome.

When making this decision do not think only of the highest overall winning combination: instead, use your cards to assist in deciding your highest valued hand using the most practical winning combination. I find it necessary to point out that Bluffing and Semi-Bluffing also pays a vital role in Poker but we will discuss this further in our next lesson.

We have reached the end of this month's session. For lesson 3, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember to always keep abreast on the Games Theory. Exchange new information with players, and read Poker related literature, it helps!

Good Luck and have fun!

3. The Art of Bluffing

Are now ready for this issue's lesson!

As we proceed, we will touch on the Topic of Bluffing. Remember that if you were to play with your best hands only you would have no action when you play.

In order to benefit from bluffing in poker, you must know when and when not to Bluff, as doing so can sometimes harm your game. Bluffing in Poker is a simple matter of mathematics coupled with an elementary understanding of how to read Tells (opponents hands). Let's say, for example, that there is a $50 pot and you bet $5 to try and steal the pot when you have basically no chance of winning. This will give you 10-1 on your money. As a result, you need a 10 - 1 chance of winning the pot. Even if you are unsuccessful on the tenth attempt, you will need an eleventh to break even. I have given you an example of a worst-case scenario in order to show that your bluffs need to be successful only a small percentage of the time in order to show a profit from bluffing. Even with the above information, there are suggested guidelines to follow when bluffing.

In our next lesson, we will begin to discuss the dos and don'ts of Bluffing and go through each point in detail.

Okay Class, we have reached the end of this month's session. For Lesson IV, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember to always keep abreast of Games Theory. Exchange new information with players, and read Poker related literature - it helps!

Good Luck and have fun!

4. The Dos and Don'ts

"You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But you can't fool all of the people all of the time." So said President Abraham Lincoln. Maybe he liked to play poker!

The reason we're reminding you of that famous quote is because this month we're looking again at the one of the things that makes poker so unique. The Great Art of Bluffing.

We touched on Bluffing briefly in our previous lesson but now we are ready to step it up a little with a few 'dos and don'ts'.

Some players consider Bluffing to be more important in poker than the actual deal and there is a lot of truth in this. Look at some of the legends who have famously won with hands that look more like feet and you'll see how important it is.

First, some 'dos':

DO bluff when the pot is big. You don't need as big a chance of winning as when the pot is smaller.

DO bluff against good players. They will appreciate the opportunity to joust whereas bad players will simply call you because it's in their mentality to be impatient and want to see the next card.

DO bluff when an opponent is not bluffing. This happens when the pot is huge and the other player knows it will take only one card to beat him. He's unlikely to be bluffing if he's been first to bet in a game with five or more players and expects to be called.

Now, some 'don'ts':

DON'T bluff when there is only one opponent and a small pot. If you check and he then bets, there is a greater than average chance that he's bluffing himself.

DON'T bluff when you've recently been caught bluffing. You've been labeled as a poor bluffer already. Let them forget that hand and start rebuilding a reputation as a straight player - you'll get another chance soon!

DON'T bluff against lots of players. Chances are that someone has something that they'll stick with. From an odds perspective, this is never worth it.

Good Luck and have fun!

5. Seven-Card Stud

This month, I'm going to look at the much underrated Seven-Card Stud. Sometimes overlooked in favor of faster, quicker games, this game is still the epitome of classic poker - a challenge of skill, patience and endurance, but with simple game rules.

Betting in Seven-Card Stud consists of an initial Ante, preceded by 5 Betting Rounds. Throughout the game each player receives 3 face-down cards and 4 face-up cards. Each player then creates the highest valued hand, using any combination of 5 from the total of 7 cards.

It's is a distinct advantage to be able to watch other players' hands develop. This helps when considering strategy.

For example, watch for 'dead' cards. You may have two aces in the hole after the initial deal, and you'd normally consider betting aggressively but NOT if you can see those other two aces sitting face up in the other players' hands.

Another thing to remember is that the first three cards are more important in Seven-Card Stud than in Five-Card Stud.

Most players, even some good ones, believe that they should enter the betting round with a lower ranking hand than they would in Five-Card Stud on the basis that they have four more cards with which to improve their hand. But this applies to other players too and the betting hasn't started yet!

It must also be remembered that Seven-Card Stud is generally a high card game (10 thru Ace) meaning most games are decided on a high pair or the best of two high pairs.

Therefore, it's better to fold early if you don't have at least two high cards (10 thru Ace) or at least one card that is higher than a nything showing on the board in your starting hand unless you are playing a 'draw' hand (a high straight, high flush or a straight flush).

Remember let them beat you, don't try to beat them!

Ok class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 6, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember to always keep abreast of Games Theory. Exchange new information with players, and read Poker related literature - it helps!

Good Luck and have fun!

6. The Importance of Seat Position

This month, I'm going to look at the importance of 'Position' and how where you sit during a game can seriously effect the outcome.

The importance of position can not be stressed enough. Even the same cards turning out in the same order will throw up vastly different results depending on where you're sitting. Hands that are playable and in winning combinations in late positions will often be unplayable in earlier positions.

So how does it work? Well, if you are first, second or third to play after the dealer you are said to be in 'early' position (also known as 'up front'). If you are the dealer (also known as 'playing the button') or are one or two seats to the right of the dealer you are in 'late' position. All players in-between (and normally facing the dealer across the table) are in 'middle' position.

If you are in 'early' position, the type of hands you're forced to play are restricted to high cards as, of course, you have no way of knowing what other later players are holding.

While playing in 'middle' position, you'll have callers waiting behind you and some who have already played. The chance of a raise is slightly reduced and there are already several players in the pot so you will get better odds playing somewhat weaker hands than normal.

When you are in 'late' position you have the advantage of having seen almost every play so far and will at least know how other players feel about their hands by the way they have checked, bet, raised or re-raised.

If you are 'playing the button' (i.e. the dealer) you are last to act in each betting round of that hand which is a major advantage. As with 'late' positions, you can play a much weaker hand than normal and can optimize the use of bluffs, particularly as the game progresses.

So next time you're playing take a look at where you're sitting in relation to the dealer and think twice about your hand. It could make all the difference!

Ok class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 7, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember to always keep abreast of Games Theory. Exchange new information with players, and read Poker related literature - it helps!

Good Luck and have fun!

7. Opponent Observation

This month, I'm going to look at analyzing your opponents and picking up on styles and patterns of play that can make all the difference when the game really gets going?

Firstly, observing how other players are betting, even when you are not involved in the pot, is a must.

The most common faults, especially amongst inexperienced low-limit players, is that they will see the 'flop' in Hold 'Em, for example, with hands they should have folded, they will call when they should fold and they play their hands long after it's clear they're beat. In short, they play too loose.

You will hardly ever see a beginner low-limit Hold 'Em player play too conservatively or too tight. If they have the option of either calling or folding they will almost always decide to call. They came to play and it's no fun for them to fold without calling one last final bet to see what you have.

The major difference between inexperienced low-limit players and medium/high-limit players is that the latter do a lot more raising pre-flop. If you ever find yourself in a game where there is an excessive amount of raising going on even the flimsiest of cards, that's a sure sign you're up against a talented player and it's worth thinking about getting out!

One last tip, always assume your opponent is better than you until you have clear evidence to the contrary. Over confidence is a crime in this game!

Ok class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 8, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember to always keep abreast of Games Theory. Exchange new information with players, and read Poker related literature - it helps!

Good Luck and have fun!

8. Calling and Raising Before The Flop

This month I'm looking at when you should call and when you should raise prior to the flop. This is an important aspect of your game as you will have to make this decision many times in each session you play.

Calling before the Flop

Calling that first bet is the one of the most important decisions you will make during a hand of poker, as when you do decide to call you will almost always have to put more money in the pot after that.

The cost of voluntarily calling the blind when you don't have a premium hand adds up over the course of a game. Remember, a dollar saved is worth just as much to you as any dollar you could win.

In late positions you can call with average to good hands but in early positions you will need a very good hand to call. For long term success, the trick is to consistently play the hands that you think have the most chance of improving to the best hand by the showdown.

Raising before the Flop

In a lot of cases a good thing that you can do to immediately improve your game is to not routinely call pre-flop raises unless you have a genuine raising hand. This will impact on your game as there is usually a lot of pre-flop raising, especially in the average low limit game.

When you do raise, you should do so only with genuinely premium hands and not with hands that you figure to be already beaten before the flop. This is especially true when you are in a very late position as very few players will throw away their hands when they know they only have to call one bet to see the flop.

Don't forget - a raise in an early position will tend to narrow the field while a raise in a late position will tend to build the pot.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 9, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember that an educated player is a better player, and better players tend to win more.

Good Luck and have fun!

9. Betting or Raising on the Flop

Last month I gave you all some tips for actions before the Flop, this month I'm looking at some tactics for betting and raising on the Flop itself.

Betting on the Flop

If you see the Flop and you are genuinely undecided between checking and betting you should usually choose to bet. By betting you won't give away any free cards so you won't get beat on the River by a player who would have folded, also the pot will be bigger if you do win.

If you Flop a good hand your decision to bet depends on a number of things: the strength of your hand, how many players are left in the hand, the chances of getting an over card on the turn or River and of course, your estimation of what your opponents are holding. Your decision should be based an all these factors.

You should bet your good hands for value but you should also occasionally check to vary your play and to keep your opponents guessing.

Raising on the Flop

The first thing you should remember about raising on the Flop, especially in a low limit game, is that it will rarely force out any player who Flopped any kind of hand at all or any kind of flush or straight draw. When you do raise on the Flop what you are doing is building a pot and making your opponents pay to draw out on you.

You should raise and re-raise if you Flop top pair with top kicker and think you have the best hand at that point. You are the favorite to win the hand against any single straight or flush draw, and also against any other player with top pair and a weaker kicker.

A side benefit to playing your hand in this way is that when there is also a flush draw on the board your opponents won't know which of the two hands you have; the top pair or the flush draw. This doubt helps you as you will be called more often on the River when the flush card does not come.

Always play with caution however. If there is a lot of raising and re-raising all on the Flop, it is likely that someone has flopped a set or two pair and already has you beat. You also have to be careful if one of the raisers is in the blind. They could have anything in the pocket, got a miracle Flop and are now betting to protect it.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 9, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember that improving your poker skills is a constant task, always analyze your game to see where you could improve.

Good Luck and have fun!

10. Betting on the Turn and River

Hello Class,

Last month I gave you all some tips for betting and raising on the flop, this month I will finish the hand by looking at some tactics for the turn and the river cards. Betting on the Turn

The turn card is the first big opportunity to bet more, raise when the bets have doubled and make the draws pay to beat you. If you have decided to see the turn card, you must be quite sure of what you need to win and what the odds of making it are.

If you have top pair or make two pair on the turn you should usually bet and raise to protect your hand and make the draws pay.

You should also consider raising on the turn if you have a medium strength hand with a chance of improving on the river. Since you were going to put two big bets in the pot anyway, you can put it all in on the turn, giving the impression that you have a great hand and possibly win the pot right there.

Betting on the River

There are two main reasons to bet on the river, when all the cards are out and you are the first to bet. The first is to induce a weaker hand to put more money into a pot that you think you are going to win. The other is to get a better hand to fold when you have the second best hand.

Another time to bet on the river is when you missed your straight or flush draw and you feel that your opponent did also, but holds two big cards. If you feel that your AJ will lose to his AQ you should consider betting. Your opponent will be hard pressed to call with only an Ace-high and you could steal the pot.

Also, if you make the nuts on the river and you have to call a bet in early position, you might make more money if you call rather than raise. Better to have five players call behind you than to raise and only get one or two.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. For Lesson 11, be sure to read next month's edition of 888.com's Newsletter and remember that improving your poker skills is a constant task, it is always a good idea to keep notes of your playing sessions so that you can track and analyze your game.

Good Luck and have fun!

11. Tournament Play 1

Hello Class,

Last month I finished off the basic strategies for a hand of Texas Hold 'em with some tactics for the Turn and River cards. This month, to coincide with our new tournaments, I will give you some tips for tournament play focusing on the early stages of the tournament.

The Basics

Tournaments differ greatly from ring games in terms of the strategies and skills required to succeed. Where ring game play requires steadiness, precision and the ability to surrender a hand, tournament play requires the ability to win a high percentage of the pots you bet into. To be a successful tournament player you must understand these differences and adapt your game to suit them.

In the beginning

Before you take your seat make sure you are aware of the Blinds structure and how the Prize Pool is to be divided. This information is available in our Tournament FAQ pages.

The next thing to consider about tournament play on 888.com is that it is fast. The blinds go up every 10-15 minutes so you need to keep a close eye on how many blinds are left in your stack, and how long it is before the blinds increase again.

While the cost of the blinds is relatively low compared to your stack size, you can play much more marginal hands than normal. It can often be worth risking a small part of your stack to see the flop with small pairs, suited connectors and other marginal hands to have the chance to double your stack if you hit big on the flop.

By the same token it can be right to play good hands relatively conservatively pre-flop. If you hold AK in late position and there are several callers it is often better just to call. This minimizes your loss if the flop is not to your liking and you have the added benefit of disguise if you hit a monster hand on the flop.

There are two ways to play the early stages. You can try and build a substantial stack by playing aggressively, or you could try for a steady accumulation of chips by playing more tightly. Both these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages; you should play the way that more closely fits your natural style.

Finally in the early stages do not be concerned with eliminating other players. You are too far from the prize list to worry about how many players are left, and it is more important to concentrate on keeping your stack in good condition. You should also remember that players on the brink of elimination are bound to go all the way, so if you do have a good hand it is an excellent opportunity to increase your stack.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 12 I will be continuing the strategies you need to succeed through the middle stages of our tournaments. Remember that in poker, like anything else, practice makes perfect.

Good luck and have fun!

12. Tournament Play 2

Hello Class,

Last month I gave you all some pointers for the early stages of tournament play. As the tournament progresses, the nature of the game shifts and you must adjust your play accordingly, so this month I will continue with tactics for the critical stages of a tournament.

The Middle Stages

The blinds are constantly increasing and therefore, will start to represent an increasing proportion of your stack. For this reason simply winning the blinds becomes important. If you are first into the pot you should consider entering with a raise, quite often you can steal the blinds as your opponents will be risking a large proportion of their stack by calling your raise.

The flip side of this is that you must tighten up your requirements for calling, and when you do bet into a pot you have to play aggressively. Unless you are winning pots with some regularity you will quickly find your stack shrinking, so try to win the blinds once per round. This way you can see another round of hands and increase your chance of hitting that premium hand.

Also at this stage of the tournament your stack size starts to become important. If your stack falls below roughly 4 times the upper limit, you can expect to be called a lot more often. This is because your stack is not large enough to seriously damage the larger stacks at the table, and they know that you are being forced into playing slightly more marginal hands. Combat this by raising only with premium hands and limping in with reasonable hands. You should also lower your calling requirements when you are short stacked as you never know if a better opportunity will come along.

If you have twice the average stack size or more you are in a strong position. However, this can change rapidly as the blinds quickly add up, so don't let your guard down. You need to keep playing aggressively, especially with the short stacks, but be careful of the other large stacks at the table as they can do you serious damage.

If you find yourself head to head with a player who is almost all-in you should force the other player to commit their last few chips at the first opportunity. If you would call a bet if they made one, you must bet in order to prevent them checking - knocking that player out will bring you one step closer to the money. However, as always, play with care as no matter how few chips a player has left they can quickly regain a commanding position in just a few hands if they hit a few fortunate draws.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 13 I will be continuing the strategies you need to succeed through to the late stages of our tournaments. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

14. No Limit and Pot Limit

Hello Class,

No-Limit Hold 'em is game of general strategy, basic tactical skills useful in all forms of poker and a game of intense psychology to boot.

No-Limit Poker

The range of skills involved in No-Limit games can be so eclectic and varied that even battle-hardened professionals admit that they still have a lot to learn about No-Limit Hold 'em. However, don't let this scare you off; No-Limit Hold 'em is still the most fun of all poker games as well as being potentially profitable even for absolute beginners.

The key to winning No-Limit games is not only your own knowledge of the game but your ability to adapt to your opponents' knowledge. Learn just how honed your own skills are and what your weak points are, then apply this to how badly others at your table are playing No-Limit.

Pot-Limit Poker

Pot-Limit is a popular offline game in Europe and in online gaming generally. It is very similar to No-Limit poker where the minimum bet is structured as in Limit Poker and the maximum bet is simply the amount of money in the pot.

Many people play Pot-Limit because they find this sort of Poker the most fun but think that Pot-Limit is less dangerous than No-Limit. Now, this is true in that it's slightly less dangerous because another player cannot put you all-in unless the pot has been building.

However, in reality, you are at a huge disadvantage if you are playing Pot-Limit scared. For example, if you fold because you don't want the pot to build, then you will fold winners!

And if you refuse to go in big when you have a good hand, then you are not being aggressive enough on your big winners. Ultimately, if you want a slightly less risky game than No-Limit, then playing Pot-Limit is fine, but you need to realize that you must still be prepared to bet your entire stack or you could lose your entire stack!

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 15 I will be continuing the strategies for No Limit and Pot Limit with some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

15. No Limit Hold

Hello Class,

No-Limit Hold'em is a strategic game utilizing basic tactical skills found in all forms of poker and a game of intense psychology to boot.

General No Limit Hold'em Tips

First of all, learning what the implied odds are as well as the odds for catching draws (straights, flushes, etc) will really help you to play No Limit Hold'em well.

Always try to be aware of how obvious your hand is when making these calculations. A flush draw, for example, is quite transparent so your opponent will need a very good hand, or be a bad player, to be calling all those raises.

It also helps to vary your play as playing in a predictable fashion will make you easier to read and you won't get any action when you do hit the good hands. Don't only raise pre-flop with AA, KK, AK, etc - mix it up a little and keep your opponents guessing. Varying your play also means that you can find out how tough your table is. For example, is it a tough game that requires you to play good cards or a weak passive game that allows you to play lower valued hands pre-flop?

Another essential skill is to avoid traps. Always bear in mind that after the flop anything can win and there is no need to chase those pocket aces all the way to the river. One thing you will notice is that better players are very unlikely to give lots of action after the flop with only one pair. They will call you, but to raise, re-raise and go all-in is rare (and if they do this often you'll be able to pick up on it). If you have AA and have some player going all-in against you after you have raised pre-flop, it is likely that you are beat. That doesn't mean fold every time but it does mean that you shouldn't consider AA or KK a hand that you'll always showdown.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 16 I will be continuing the strategies for No Limit and Pot Limit with some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it!

16.Sizing up the opposition

Hello Class,

Knowing your opponent is one of the key skills you need in order to beat your opponent so this month I am going to look at the most common 'types' of player. Also you need to bear in mind what type of player you are and the type of plays your opponent may make in order to beat you!!

For example, one of the clearest signs of a weaker player is the inability to fold certain pocket pairs after the flop.

Types of opponents:

Players are usually defined by, initially, the number of hands the person plays and, secondly, their betting style. So the four main types of players are: tight-passive, tight-aggressive, loose-passive, loose-aggressive. (E.g. Tight and loose are defined, respectively, as those who will play only a small number of hands and those who will play a lot).

Tight-passives: By playing only a small number of hands, these players do fine in a limit game, but they won't make much in a No-Limit game. The only way these players will win is when they pick off bluffs, otherwise they won't get the value out of their hands that they should. You should bluff at the flop a lot against these players and if they are betting heavily give them credit for a good hand and fold.

Loose-passives: By playing a lot of hands, these players have to hope that opponents continually bluff into them because this type will call frequently with the second best hand. This is a recipe for disaster at No-Limit. You don't see too many of these bad players at No-Limit games because they lose so quickly and move on to Limit games.

Loose-aggressive: These players come across like crazy maniacs, but in reality, they are a very dangerous form of opponent albeit with an Achilles Heel. They will buy a fair share of pots, but then will get themselves trapped by another aggressive player and can lose their stacks in one or two hands. What separates these from good 'loose-aggressive' players is that they lack discipline. They love the action of No-Limit so much that they get themselves trapped too easily.

Tight-aggressive: This is a very common style and in my opinion one of the most effective. The tight-aggressive player's main problems are that he may get chased out of a lot of flops too early and that he may be too easily read. You have to watch out for these players eating away at your bankroll bit by bit and thus throwing you off balance.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 17 I will be continuing the strategies for No Limit and Pot Limit with some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

17. Knowing When to Fold and When To Hold

Hello Class,

One of the most common errors in Hold 'em, much more so than other games, is to cling to hands that look good long after they turn bad.

For example, one of the clearest signs of a weaker player is the inability to fold certain pocket pairs after the flop.

Weaker players will often fold a King, Jack on an Ace, Jack, Eight flop but will bet all their money with a pair of Queens on an Ace, Ten, Nine flop.

When facing a bet, the difference in value between those two hands at that point is miniscule, but the somehow the 'prettier' pair of Queens forces players to act like TV Cowboys.

It's just so 'good looking' but sadly, you don't get any money for having 'pretty' hands in poker.

What you do get is a chance to force certain situations in each round and better players will often beat weaker players for a lot of chips even though the better player is holding worse cards than the weaker player.

Ok, in a way, this is the idea of most of the game but what makes one player better than another, in essence, is the ability to transform what should be negative situations into positive ones.

The factors at work are the better player's skills and the weaker player's idea of a good hand.

Another way to put it is - giving a weak player a good starting hand is sometimes the best thing for a more experienced player. Just because something starts out fine doesn't mean it will end that way. Starting hands are merely that, a start.

Clinging to good starting hands for too long, specifically putting in a bet on the bigger betting round on the turn, is an enormous hole in most players' game and players who rely on the most straightforward starting hands, particularly pocket pairs, will suffer most.

Remember, just because it looks 'good' doesn't mean it is.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 18 I will be continuing with strategies and some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

18. Location, Location, Location

Hello class,

This month we look at the importance of position.

A player's position at the table in relation to the "dealer's" is an important strategic factor in Texas Hold'em.

The players sitting directly to the left of the dealer, including the blinds, are in what's termed the 'early position'. Early position puts the player at a disadvantage, because he or she cannot observe how his opponents will act before playing his hand.

An 'early position' player who calls or bets on a weak hand may find themselves faced with a raise by another player, making it more expensive to play on with that hand. However, if the raiser does indeed have a strong hand, the early position player is likely to be beaten and has wasted the bet. Also, an early position player with a strong hand will find it harder to increase the pot by raising, unless other players feel strong enough to raise after him.

The players sitting to the right of the dealer, including the dealer himself, are in 'late position'. Late position gives the player a strategic advantage, since the player can observe how his opponents act before playing his hand.

A 'late position' player with a strong hand has more opportunity to increase the size of the pot by betting or raising. Late position gives the player an information advantage. By observing how the other players bet their hand, the late position player can make an informed decision on how to play their hand.

The dealer is in the strongest position (termed "on the button") because he or she has the advantage of acting last. The dealer can even decide to bluff with an incredibly weak hand if there have been no bets or raises before this.

Of course, a strong hand can be played in any position but a weaker or marginal hand should only be played in later position where a player, strategically speaking, is 'holding all the aces'!

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 19, I will be continuing with strategies and some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

19. Early betting

This month we look at early betting. With so many hands thrown in before the flop, pre-flop betting is as important a part of game as any. The blind positions and the player who has to bet first must be more selective with their hands as they don't have the privilege of watching other players betting and raising before they must decide if they want to stay in the game themselves. For example, let's assume you are first to play and have a Jack-Ten, unsuited. The player to bet after you raises and everyone else at the table folds except you. Now you have a big dilemma. The chances are fairly good that the other player has a better hand than you with at least an ace or a pocket pair. Unfortunately, you've already bet, because you had no idea or no way to tell what other players at the table were dealt. In addition, you will always, throughout the game, be acting before this player so this positional advantage will continue throughout this hand. Do you fold? or just call? A tough decision you have to make! OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 20, I will be continuing with strategies and some more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

21. Finishing

In this lesson, we're going to look at the fine art of 'finishing'.

The ability to 'finish' well is often overlooked because most average players, particularly in Texas Hold 'Em, focus almost obsessively on pre-flop play despite the obvious fact that there is more money at risk in the latter betting rounds.

Indeed, it's a common complaint of average players to lament some unorthodox or daring strategy another player has made late in the game where that player appeared to "get lucky" but the bitter truth is that average players fixate on the earlier parts of hands, whilst better players focus on the 'kill'.

For example, when an average player raises with a pair of sevens after no one opens the pot, they can't understand why a better player will often re-raise with a Jack-Ten suited. All they see is a fairly risky starting hand. They don't see that not only is the Jack-Ten suited profitable here because of the dead money of the blinds, but worse, they don't see how the better player is going to make them pay on later betting rounds and exploit the average player's desire to back-up his opening pair no matter how bad the cards turn out and no matter how close they are to dangerous 'bluffing' territory.

Great players understand that they are not trying to win every pot they play. They repeatedly try to set up situations where, at worst, they give up small edges so they can get a huge return less often. This is particularly prevalent in No Limit Hold 'Em tournaments. Great players want to see a lot of flops and aren't afraid to lose small pots with hands like Six-Five suited. What they are waiting for is to 'finish' in those rare situations when it really matters.

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 22, I will be continuing with strategies and more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it.

Good luck and have fun!

25. Pot Odds (2)

Hello Class,

In this lesson, we're going to look once more at Pot Odds.

One of the most overlooked skills in modern poker is the ability to calculate the pot odds, particularly after the flop. Pot odds, implied odds, reverse implied odds and the possibility of a redraw.

A poker pot is very similar to a raffle. However, your 'ticket' is actually a bet. If the pot is $100 and you must call $20, you will in fact be winning $120 if you win (the pot plus your bet - much as a horse bet would work).

Thus, you need at least a 20/120 chance to win which is actually 16.7%.

Knowing pot odds alone can win you a lot of pots simply because other players will not have had the time or skill to work them out but the problem with just basing your decision solely on pot odds is that it neglects bet possibilities in future rounds.

It also fails to take into account the possibility that you may already have the best hand and it assumes that the opponent won't draw out against you.

More importantly, it doesn't legislate for the fact that you could be drawing dead, meaning that the hand you are trying to hit will still not beat the hand an opponent currently holds!

More on Pot Odds next month!

OK class, that's a wrap for this month's session. In Lesson 26, I will be continuing with strategies and more advanced tips. Remember that poker is a learning experience, so if you make a mistake make sure you learn from it and don't forget that the only way to get better is to play more!

Good Luck and have fun!

31. Satellite Tournaments

An important tip is how to recognize a Satellite tournament often called simply 'satellites'.

A Satellite tournament is a smaller, less expensive (and can even be free if it is a super satellite) buy-in tournament where one or more of the prizes consists of a seat in a more expensive and/or larger buy-in tournament as the next level up in the tournament structure.

Let's take our $50,000 guaranteed tournament for instance. If you play in a super satellite ($0 +$0) at no cost and finish in the top 10, then you will automatically receive a free seat to a $7 + $0.70 Sub-Satellite tournament at 13:15 PPT/12:15 PM ET on Saturday.

So, instead of paying $7.70 to get into that Sub-Satellite tournament, you can earn your way in for FREE - you can literally say that we are paying you to play!

Remember! These are just tips and there are no sure fire ways to win except by playing more and getting better!

In our next edition we will give you a tip on how to improve your winning percentage in satellite tournaments!

Good luck in the meantime and have fun!

32. Poker School!

This Poker Tip is that you should go back to school! Poker School that is!

Whether you're new to poker and need some help starting out or an old expert wanting some advice to improve your game, our Poker School has got it for you.

Here you'll find everything from money management, to bluffing out your opponents, to the psychology of poker, right down to how to play and how to win, all in a fun and interactive environment.

Click on the 'Poker School' icon at the top of the page to learn in a way you never thought could be so fun!

Good Luck and have fun!

33. Holding vs Folding

A suited hand is a sure flush draw, right? Not necessarily.

If you're dealt a suited hand you need to know when to hold and when to fold. A pair is a good hand to hold, but if your hand is not a pair but suited, make sure your cards are connected in some way.

After all, the chance of flopping a flush or a flush draw with two suited cards is just under 12%, so don't rely on the hand just because it is suited!

34. 'Slow Play' the right way

'Slow Play' the right way So you think you're holding a definite winner, but how do you boost the pot so you can take a stack of cash with your killer hand?

'Slow play' is a tactic used by many skilled players when they know they have an almost unbeatable hand early on, for example, a Full House on the Flop.

Sometimes it's best to play subtly before launching a full scale betting and raising attack at the Turn or even the River. You don't want to scare off your opponents too soon with massive bets as you'll want them to bet into the hand as much as possible, boosting the pot that you're sure is yours.

Then stake your claim by making a bet that will scare the opposition out of the water, and hopefully bring the pot home to you.

35. Let The Chips Fall Where They May

In this issue we talk about 'lady luck'. The truth is that over the long run, all players will be dealt the same cards, giving them the same chance of winning. What makes the difference? It's how you play it; your poker skills!

Every now and then it's natural that you may feel you're having a bad run, but think of the long term. Some suggest taking a break or changing your game style. Observing and taking notes on other players can also help to improve your strategy by learning what to

Blaming the poker hall for a bad run may make you feel better but will not do anything to improve your game. The house has nothing to gain from your bad luck and in fact would like to see you winning and playing more at their tables, as the more you play, the better it is for the house.

And remember, for all the times you feel things aren't going your way, there will be as many times when they do. Make sure you capitalize on them!

Good Luck and have fun!

36. Adapt your game

To be a good player you must be able to adapt.

Poker is a mental game and as you play against different opponents, occasionally with the same cards and in the same position, various strategies are required so that your game is adaptable and unreadable. The best players make a variety of decisions in identical situations, adapting to the play around them.

Play with common sense and be flexible according to the circumstances. Every bet, every hand, every table, is another story; another chance to win. You can win with different tactics as there is no correct way to play a game all the time..

Adapt your mentality or you may go 'tourna-mental'!

Good Luck and have fun!

37. Multi-hand Hints

If you are the type of player who likes a lot of action, you'll be glad to know that 888.com is giving you the opportunity to play in multiple games at once.

However, although playing in more games at a time provides a higher possibility of increasing your earnings, playing on multiple tables can also increase your chances of making mistakes..

For example, particular tournaments will offer you less time to make crucial decisions, especially our 'Fast Tournaments' with increased blind level ups and shorter decision times per hand, so make sure you choose what games to play carefully..

To help you effectively manage more than one game, 888.com will alert you when it is your turn to act. In 'Game Settings' you can choose between having the game window pop up or flash in your task bar (or both!). Play around and see which option suits you best. If you are fast with the mouse you can manually switch back and forth between the tables and never miss a beat! Remember that you can also take advantage of the pre-action buttons where you make the decision to fold, call, or check before it's your turn to act. For example, you can pre-select to fold a bad hand, giving you more time to concentrate on another game with a stronger hand.

Keep these tips in mind and ease yourself into this new feature. Once you feel comfortable with your play you can progress to play more tables and hopefully increase your winnings!

Don't forget, you no longer need to wait for that one hand where you will bet big. By playing in 2 or more tables you effectively multiply the likelihood of landing a strong hand, thus giving you a greater chance to increase your earnings. You are also playing more hands, getting more experience and making your game more solid.

38. Bad Beats & How to Still Win $$$

A 'Bad Beat' is no longer so bad with the launch of our Bad Beat Jackpots! Don't get upset, get the jackpot!

A 'Bad Beat' is when a very strong hand is beaten by an even stronger hand, in a lucky draw. Sometimes your opponent will play a not-so-great hand when you are clearly in command but then suddenly, at the 'River', they get a miracle card that beats you! That's called a Bad Beat.

When you play against beginners or loose players Bad Beats happen much more often because these players will chase the river, so there are often more chances for them to get that lucky card at the end and beat you.

Bad Beats might get you upset, but you must not let it affect your game. That's poker, it can happen.

Now, with the introduction of 888.com's Bad Beat Jackpots and a starting pot of $5,000, if you're getting unlucky on a Bad Beat Jackpot table, you just might score some top dollars! Playing on 888.com's Bad Beat Jackpot tables will give you the insurance to win BIG if you lose a hand with Four-of-a-kind 8s or better.

Good Luck and have fun!

39. Double your wins with Omaha

If you've always wondered what it would be like to try Omaha but never had the courage to venture away from the trusty Texas Hold 'em, there's never been a better time than now to take the leap as 888.com launches Omaha Pot and No-limit games!!

There are a few fundamental differences between Omaha and Texas Hold 'em:

  • First and foremost, in Omaha 9 cards are used instead of 7 (four hole cards and five community cards).
  • Each player is dealt their 4 hole cards face down, and players must use 2 of these plus 3 of the 5 community cards in order to make the best 5 card poker hand. The beauty of Omaha is that it is similar to Hold 'em, therefore allowing novice players to easily grasp the concept, and the choice of 9 cards to play with rather than 7 (as in Hold 'em) makes it highly action-packed.

This is evident in Omaha Hi-Lo, a variation of Omaha commonly referred as "8s or better" where the pot is split between the highest and lowest ranking poker hands. Having two pots to play for and more cards available to win makes the game more competitive, with players remaining in the hand longer, as they play each hand differently in an attempt to win either of the pots - and it's even possible to win both pots!

So, each pot may have two winners, and let's face it: the more chances to win the better the game!

Omaha Hold'em is a lot of fun to play and now made even more thrilling with Pot Limit and No Limit games, so what are you waiting for?

40. The Good, the Bad and the Omaha

After last month's poker tip you probably have a good idea of how Omaha is played and what constitutes a good hand in Omaha H/L. So imagine you're sitting at a table and your cards come down: AA - wait for it, there's two more to come! - A, and another A!!...

WOW! Can it be true that you've just been dealt quad Aces! Well unfortunately it is more of a dream than a reality!

Although you have indeed been dealt 4 of a Kind Aces in the Hole, this hand is of about as much use to you as 7,2 is in a game of Hold'em, with the board coming down A,A,K,10,6.

Remember our tip last month? In Omaha you can only use 2 of your hole cards, and 3 of the board cards! This means that the best possible hand you can create will be made from a pair of Aces and the community cards. Usually you'll find that this will make a better hand for your opponent. For example, if you make two pairs on the flop, more likely than not your opponent will have hit trips. You also have to remember that Straights and Flushes are both an impossibility with this hand. So, what should you do with this hand? Ask any professional Omaha player and the answer will almost definitely be "Lay them down", but different circumstances will lead to different ways of playing the hand, for example if you were BB, the button or SB you may give the hand a go.

So if Quad Aces is a bad hand, then what constitutes a good hand? A good hand in Omaha, in particular H/L, are hands that can make multiple hands, for example, A,K,2,3. Why 2,3 when surely A,K,Q,10 would be better? In Omaha High this is probably the case but in Omaha Hi/Lo, or O8 as it can be known, you need to make both the best high hand and the best low hand.

Therefore if the board comes Q,3,4,5,K, for example, you have the nuts on the low hand plus a killer high hand with a straight.

Each person has their very own style and favorite hands in Omaha, as with any other poker game, but just be sure to remember the golden rule: you must use 2 of your pocket cards and 3 from the board! Please don't think you've got the flush and throw all your chips in the pot when you actually only have one of the suit in your hand!!

Omaha is one of the most exciting yet complex games in poker, made all the more thrilling with the launch of our Pot Limit ring games, so good luck and have fun!

41. Learn to mix it up

Are you a maniac? Or tight-aggressive? Do you have a set way to play or do you mix and match? It pays in the long run to mix up your play and alter your tactics throughout the game because it will make it especially hard for your opponents to get a read on you.

In live poker it is much easier to read your opponents, especially if your opponent is a weak, inexperienced player. Weaker players tend to make the same bet for the same cards each time, especially if this bet works the first couple of times that they do it.

For example, your opponent is under the gun and raises 4 times the big blind. Everybody folds and he shows he had pocket Aces, then several hands later he does the same and it once again turns out he had pocket Aces, and later the same move again! So, if your opponent now bets two times the big blind what do we know? Well, we now know that he doesn't have AA as he has not bet 4 times!

So you can see how representing a good hand when you may have a weak hand would be very profitable! But don't forget other players can get good hands too so you have to be prepared to fold every once in a while.

The rule of thumb is not to be predicable. Mix your play a bit to keep your opponents guessing. It never hurts to play tight one minute and maniac the next so put some mix into your play!

42. Multi-Table Tournaments (MTT)

Multi-table tournaments (MTT) are one of the most popular types of games amongst poker players, both online and offline. This is perhaps mostly due to the high possibilities of winning big prizes for only a small buy-in.

For example, many online poker sites - including 888.com! - offer the chance to win a share of thousands of dollars, or even millions, in tournaments such as the WSOP, where a prize pool is generated by the mass of participating players and buy-ins can cost as little as just a few dollars.

Of course, there are differences between the best strategy to use when playing in multi-table tournaments versus other types of poker games.

For example, in cash games you need to rely on discipline to avoid delving deeper and deeper into your bankroll in times of low stacks and you can therefore afford to be more patient when waiting for big, playable hands. Furthermore, the blinds do not increase so you don?t have to push with weak hands to stay in the game or to bet on flops that may not have hit.

In a tournament however, you are allocated a set amount of chips and the blind levels increase periodically, forcing players into hands that they may not have or want, in an effort to increase their stack or stay alive in the tournament.

This can also mean that players don't play hands that they would normally. For example, if an opponent's stack is only a few times the blinds, in order to be in the hand they must commit a big percentage and probably don't have enough chips for the next hand to fold (when pot committed). In this situation they may need to fold semi-strong hands.

This is where someone with a big stack can use it to their advantage. They can push players off hands with raises, steal blinds (which can be very profitable in the later stages of a MTT), and play weaker hands in order to catch the cards to take out that player.

If you can recognize these opportunities, then you have the chance to be a successful MTT player!!

43. Stack up the odds

How many of you sit down at a Cash/Ring table and can't decide what amount is best to sit down with?

A short stack has many advantages, the main and most obvious one being that you can't lose as much money if you get a bad
beat. However, this equally can be a disadvantage if you
reverse the situation and do win - you don't win as much!

Some players like to sit down with the maximum at a table in order to:

a. Maximise their wins
b. Intimidate their opponents with the strength of a big stack

It can be uncomfortable being short stacked against a player with a lot of money, as they can easily push you off pots and make you commit to hands that you may not want to.

But, likewise, with a small stack you may be more inclined to see weaker hands as there is less for you to lose.

You may also find with a short stack that you get more action on your strong hands, because a player with a bigger stack will have less to lose by chasing the cards he wants.

For example, if he has $300 and you have $50 the maximum he can lose is $50; that for the chance to win the pot can be very tempting. Whereas if you had a bigger stack, say $300 as well, he may have to commit a lot more to see his hand and it is a much bigger risk to the player.

Also remember, if you can't afford to sit at a table with the maximum buy-in then you are probably playing the wrong stakes. Experts say that generally you should sit down with at least 50 to 100 times the big blind in order to maximize your profits and safe-guard you from a quick exit.

So how do you decide whether to buy-in with a big stack or a short stack? Try out both and see which one best suits your playing style and remember, with our multi-hand option you can play several tables at once and truly increase your chances of winning!!

44. Drawing Hands

Everyone has their favorite starting hands. Apart from the obvious AA and KK, suited connectors like J,10 and 7,8 etc certainly have their benefits. How you rate your pocket cards depends on what type of player you are: whether you're aggressive or loose and how many flops you like to see.

So you stick with your pocket cards and see the flop. You then need to decide what to do once the flop comes down.

Obviously if you flop the nuts - a Straight, Flush, Full House etc - the decision couldn't be easier and the only dilemma is how much to bet or whether to just call (unless you're the check-raising type!) but what happens if you hit a drawing hand* with your connecting cards? How do you proceed?

For this you need to know the likelihood of getting the card that you need to make your hand into the winning one. We'll cover specific odds in a later tip but for now here is how you should make the calculation. It's imperative that you know how much money is in the pot, after that it's simple arithmetic. All you have to do is divide the pot by the amount of the bet you have to call.

Eg. If you've worked out that you have a 1 in 5 chance of getting the card that you need to win your hand on the turn, you'll need to make sure that you're not calling any bet that's more than one fifth of the pot, so you simply divide the pot by the amount of the bet you have to call. If the answer is more than 5 you should call the bet, if the answer is less than 5 you should fold!

When broken down Poker is a game of chance and likelihood, as well as skill, and just like everything else in life if the odds make sense you should go for it, if they are not just throw away your hand and wait for a better chance later in the game.

So you think your cards won't hit and you fold. "What was I holding again?" you say as the next card comes out. 888.com have the answer so that you can better track and analyze your game.... Ghost Cards!

By enabling the new Ghost Card feature you have the luxury of seeing what you folded all the way through the hand. See what you would have flopped, turned and rivered! Would you have won? Now you know!

How many times have you wondered - was that ace I folded a heart or a diamond and would I have had the nuts Flush....try it out now and find out if your fold was a good one. If it wasn't such a good fold and you're now reeling at the fact you would have won the hand, use these experiences to loosen up your game and adapt so that you win as many hands as possible.

To enable this feature simply click on the 'Settings' button in the Lobby and tick the 'Show Ghost Cards' box.

*A presently relatively worthless hand, yet with the potential to become a strong hand, eg. four card straights and four card flushes.