A Couch Potato’s Guide to Poker on TV!

I love Poker. I love to play it. I love to read about it. I love to watch other people play it, especially on TV. It’s an inexpensive way to learn from the pros. You can see what they do in real-world situations, not just what they say they would do in their books. Watching Poker helps improve your game. You can learn pot odds, combinations, order of hands and many other basics as well as advanced, psychological strategy such as tells.

I watch a lot of Poker on TV. Yes, I do. Apparently, the networks are taking notice of the TV-viewing public. A lot of us are crazy for Poker. In this article, I’m going to discuss several, TV series that are still running now, that I highly recommend and regularly watch.

1) Celebrity Poker Showdown. This is on Bravo, usually on Thursday nights. Poker Pro Phil Gordon and comedian Dave Foley (Kids in The Hall, News Radio) are the moderators for this light, fluffy show featuring celebrities such as Alex Trebek, Ben Affleck, Rosie O’Donnell and Camryn Manheim. Some of the celebs are really very good. Of course, there is also that wonderfully evil moment when you can watch someone on the D-List or above sink on the river.

Phil gives expert commentary. There’s a short film each week in which the basics of No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em and the betting rules are explained. It’s entertaining TV even for newbies, pros and the star-struck alike.

2) The World Series of Poker. ESPN is currently showing episodes of the 2005 WSOP. The other night, I saw Johnny Chan win his record 10th WSOP bracelet in the Pot Limit Hold ‘Em event. It was awesome. He beat out Phil ‘Unabomber’ Laak to take the lead against Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth, who were both present during the match, for the all-time record bracelet wins. Hey, don’t feel too bad for Mr. Laak. His girlfriend, the beautiful Hollywood actress, Jennifer Tilly, won the Ladies’ Event at the WSOP this year.

A week or two prior to that, I got to see Josh Arieh, a very good player who doesn’t get too much airtime (yet), play – and win – the Omaha tourney. It was great to see Omaha Hold ‘Em played on TV for a change. I loved it.

Even if you’re not a poker junkie like I am, you can appreciate the epic nature of the World Series of Poker with its international field featuring the best of the best – and a few Cinderella stories thrown in for good measure.

3) World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. Travel the world from your chair and watch pros play in the World Poker Tour. They play in exotic locales such as Aruba and Paris. Host Mike Sexton is so knowledgeable about the game that he makes up for his co-host Vince Van Patten’s shtick. The man tries to give nicknames to any hand combination possible. Some of his groaners include:

QQ – Siegfried & Roy or Paris & Nikki (Hilton)

55 – Sammy Hagar (after the song, ‘I Can’t Drive 55’)

Rounding out the commentator group is the lovely Shana Hiatt. She interviews the pros and showcases different aspects of the poker-playing lifestyle on each episode. The WPT hosts names like Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer and more. It’s a veritable who’s who of Poker and it comes fresh and new into your home each week.

These aren’t the only Poker shows on TV. ESPN has a drama called TILT starring Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) and Eddie Cibrian (Third Watch) which is a fictionalized version of a poker pro’s dirty and dangerous life.

E! Entertainment Network, beginning on St. Patty’s Day 2005, aired several episodes of E!’s Hollywood Hold ‘Em Game. Laura Prepon, of That 70s Show, produced the show and starred in one of the episodes with her live-in love Chris Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle) and some friends, including Chris’ brother and That 70’s show star, Danny Masterson (Hyde). Other episodes had Mila Kunis (Family Guy, That 70s Show), Macauley Culkin – yes, that Macauley Culkin. He’s Mila’s beau – and Shannon Elizabeth. I haven’t seen it on recently; but, I desperately hope that it comes back. It was pretty good poker and Phil Laak was the dealer/mentor/host.

The Game Show Network has Poker Royale. This is a 6-person tournament that runs for several weeks. There are several elimination rounds, then a finale. The first had all pros. It was men vs. women. The men won each individual match; but, the ladies, led by Kathy Liebert, Jennifer Harmon and Cyndy Violette took the final – and decisive match. The second installment had Celebrities vs. Poker Pros. I found it to be a watered-down version of Celebrity Poker Showdown. I missed Phil Gordon and Dave Foley, gotta admit. The third installment, which is currently airing, is the Comedians vs. Poker Pros. I didn’t find this one too fun or funny; but, I’ve had other things to do lately.

Actually, I dropped watching that because the Fall Season picked up; and, well, I’d rather watch the Poker Superstars Invitational on FSN! This is awesome. It’s a turbo tourney – the blinds go up really quick and the play is fast – featuring Johnny Chan, Carlos Mortensen and other luminaries. It’s action-packed, high-stakes poker that goes by in the blink of eye.

If you can’t find a good online or home game, why not sit down and watch one on TV? Chances are – there’s one on the television right now. Go. Watch!

MIT Holdem Poker Count System Review

Are you looking to improve your Texas Holdem game? I know I am, and after reading many holdem poker guides on the internet, I’ve realized that many of them are very similar and are not very helpful. One very interesting poker system I’ve tried is the MIT Holdem Point Count System. In this review article, I plan to preview the contents of this system and tell you about my experience with this product.

MIT Holdem Point Count System

This system is written into a 7 chapter downloadable ebook, by Ray Seakan, a professional poker player with 18 years of experience. In the introduction, the author starts off by talking about himself and how he had firstly developed a blackjack system, before finally developing this poker point count system. I was personally quite impressed with the author, given the amount of work he had put into creating his system.

The guide then goes on to explain his system, and why it works fundamentally. After reading the explanation of why the system works, I became quite excited and convinced with this in-depth system. It decides for you your course of action based on mathematical percentages of each 2 card hand winning against a table of opponents. It is adjusted for table position, number of players and how many opponents fold ahead of you.

After taking all the above factors into consideration, you will arrive at a number of points. The points addition process is fully explained in the guide. It is 100% mechanical and requires no discretion on the user’s part. You do need to memorize the point count system if you do not play the e-book open.

Chapter 3 is the system counting rules. This is exactly where you’ll learn how to add points based on your table position, and then your hand strength. With your derived number of points, if it is below a certain number, you’ll fold. There are 3 other ranges of points that would determine whether you call or raise. Then it goes on to run through several useful examples to help you understand the system better.

Chapter 4 explains how to apply the point count system to blind hands. It provides very good rules to keep you out of trouble in blind positions. The rest of the chapters talk about advanced concepts of the MIT Holdem Point Count System.

Conclusion

After using the MIT Holdem Point Count System for several days, I would say that it has certainly helped me get more success with poker. Using the point count system, I have been stopped from playing hands that I might have played otherwise and lost in the end. It is also highly recommended that you do not adjust the point system, as I’ve had experiences whereby I adjusted the point system just to try and play more hands. Over the long run, I’ve concluded that it does not pay to do so.

Discipline is extremely vital to this system. The author clearly stresses this point in the final few chapters of the e-book.

Poker Mathematics – Part 9 – The Bluff Formula Explained

We need to start with the standard B/E Formula.

B/E Formula for Fold Equity

The basic B/E Formula is Win Value = Lose Value or Win Value – Lose Value = 0

If you introduce b, where b = B/E Fold Equity %, the formula changes to

Win Value x b – Lose Value x ( 1 – b ) = 0

AND

Lose Value x ( 1 – b ) = Lose Value – ( Lose Value x b )

Therefore the formula Win Value x b – Lose Value x ( 1 – b) = 0 can be expressed differently and converted to the formula for both a Cold and warm Bluff.

Win Value x b – Lose Value x ( 1 – b )

equals

Win Valuex b – (Lose Value – (Lose Valuex b))

equals

Win Value x b + Lose Value x b – Lose Value

equals

b x ( Win Value + Lose Value ) – Lose Value

Therefore

b x ( Win Value + Lose Value ) = Lose Value

And

b = Lose Value / (Win Value + Lose Value) where b = B/E Fold Equity

If we consider the pot and a bet to try and win it, the win value = money in the pot and the lose value = the bet cost (cost of bluff).

We use this to build our formula for both Cold and Warm B/E Fold Equity

B/E Fold Equity = Cost of Bluff / (Money in Pot + Cost of Bluff) (This is the Cold Bluff Formula)

B/E Fold Equity = Average Loss / (Money in Pot + Average Loss) (This is the (warm) Semi Bluff Formula)

Average Loss

If we go back to basics and the standard B/E formula for the fold % in a Cold Bluff

Money in pot is Cost of Bluff = Cost of bluff / (Money in pot + Cost of bluff)

If we move to the Warm or Semi Bluff formula for the fold %, the Cost of Bluff is replaced by Average Loss (our true bet cost or EV when called), but what is Average Loss?

Average Loss is equal to our (winning) equity in the current pot and (winning) equity in villain calling cost, less the losing equity of our bet cost

(Current Pot x Equity) + (Calling Cost x Equity) – (BC x (100% – Equity))

However the (BC x (100% – Equity)) can be expressed as

BC – (BC x Equity)

Therefore the Warm or Semi-Bluff Formula can now be expressed as

(Current Pot x Equity) + (Calling Cost x Equity) – (BC – (BC x Equity))

OR

(Current Pot x Equity) + (Calling Cost x Equity) – BC + (BC x Equity)

The equity figure is a constant, amending the formula

Equity (Current Pot + Calling Cost + Bet Cost) – Bet Cost

The Current Pot + Calling Cost + Bet Cost is equal to the Final Pot and this reduces the Average Loss formula to

(Final Pot x Equity) – Bet Cost

Therefore if we replace the Cost of Bluff in a Cold Bluff with the Average Loss in a Warm or Semi-Bluff, our Ratio and Formula to determine the villain fold % is

Money in Pot: Average Loss equals Average Loss / (Money in Pot + Average Loss)

OR

Money in Pot is ((Final Pot x Equity) – Bet Cost) equals ((Final Pot x Equity) – Bet Cost) / (Money in Pot + (Final Pot x Equity) – Bet Cost)

We have hero covered after calling a squeeze bet preflop – how often does villain need to fold on the flop to make a bluff profitable?

Hero Hand 9d8d

Villain Squeeze Range 10%

Flop 2d5h6h

Effective Stacks 58.05

Current Pot 23.50

Final Pot 139.60 (23.50 + 58.05 + 58.05)

Bet Cost 58.05 (This is also the calling cost)

Equity 33%

(The flop equity is from Poker Stove and increases by 1% if you ignore the flop cards).

Average Loss is (139.60 x 33%) – 58.05 = 46.07 – 58.05 or – 11.98

Fold % is 23.50: 11.98 equals 11.98 / 35.48 or 33.76%

Therefore the opponent needs to fold more than 33.76% to make the semi bluff profitable and the true bet cost is 11.98 to win 23.50

Texas Hold Em Poker Hands Explained

The different Texas Hold Em Poker hands are exactly the same as normal poker hands. If you don’t know these don’t worry because I am going to explain them all. There are ten different hands that you can have. In order from worst to best, they are: low, 1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, full house, 4 of a kind, straight flush and royal flush. I will explain each of these in detail. The person with the highest hand wins.

When people talk about cards in text they will type the number of the card, and also a letter denoting the suit. H=hearts, D=diamonds, S=spades, C=clubs. Jack is J, Queen is Q, King is K and Ace is A. So for example a nine of clubs is 9C and a queen of hearts is QH. Some people put a hyphen ‘-‘ in between, some not. For multiple cards in a hand some people will just use a space i.e. 7D 8D 9D 10D JD or some people will use a hyphen i.e. 7D-8D-9D-10D-JD. Sometimes people wont put anything and this is usually hard to read. It takes a little getting used to but you should be able to decode most peoples explanations with little effort.

Now for all of the Texas Hold Em Poker Hands:

Low: This hand is very bad. A low hand is essentially nothing. You have no good hands. An example would be 7D-5S-4C-3C-2H. Its nothing. Although for the most part this hand is very bad, if two people have a low hand the person with the single highest card wins.

1 Pair: This is the first hand you will usually make. A pair is having a single pair of a type of card. The number must match and obviously the suit won’t be able to. An example would be 2H-6H-10C-JC-JS. So in this example the player has a pair of jacks. When two more more players have a pair the person with the highest pair will win.

2 Pair: This is a fairly good hand you can usually get quite easily. 2 pair is just like have a pair two times. An example would be AC-7H-7D-QC-QH. So in this example the player has a pair of 7’s and a pair of Queen’s. When two players both have 2 pair the player with the single highest pair out of all of them wins. It doesn’t matter if his second pair is lower then the other players.

3 of a kind: This is a good hand that you can make quite easily if you start with a pair in the hole. This hand is simply having three cards all of the same, like JH-5S-8C-8S-8D. This player has three 8’s so has 3 of a kind. If multiple players have 3 of a kind the player with the highest wins.

Straight: Here we deviate from the standard number matching. A straight is any five consecutively numbered cards. It doesn’t matter what suit just the numbers must be consecutive. For example 7D-8H-9S-10C-JH. If more then one player has a straight the player with the highest overall card at the end of the straight wins. An Ace can be used as either a low ace, like 12345, or a high ace, like 10JQKA. It cannot be used in the middle. QKA23 is not a valid hand and would be considered a low hand.

Flush: A flush is simply any five cards with the same suit. It doesn’t matter the number of the cards they just all have to be the same suit. An example would be AS-2S-6S-JS-9S. See how they are all spades? That is a flush. If two or more players both have a flush the person with the highest overall card will win. So having just one Ace, King or Queen in your flush tends to pay off.

Full House: A full house is a 3 of a kind plus a pair. An example is KD-KH-3S-3C-3D. See the 3 of a kind of three’s and the pair of king’s. This hand is very good but harder to get. The more important numbered card is the one in the 3 of a kind. If there is a showdown the player with the higher number in their 3 of a kind will win.

4 of a kind: As the name suggests, this hand is having 4 of the same kind of card. Like QC-QD-QH-QS-10C. Four queens makes 4 of a kind. Like with all the other hands, if two players have a four of a kind the player with the highest numbered card in their 4 of a kind will win.

Straight Flush: This hand is extremely hard to get and is a combination of the straight and the flush. So the numbers of the cards must be consecutive and all the suits must be the same. James Bond wins with a straight flush in Casino Royal. An example is 4S-5S-6S-7S-8S. Consecutive numbers plus all spades. If more then one player has a straight flush the player with the highest numbered card on the end of their’s will win.

Royal Flush: This is just a straight flush but at the top end. Its essentially the highest straight flush you can get. Its the ultimate: 10H-JH-QH-KH-AH. Nothing beats this hand. This is the best hand you can get.

Still with me?

So I have explained all of the different Texas Hold Em Poker hands that you can get. I put them in order from worst to best. Of course, each better one beats any one under it. So a 3 of a kind beats a pair automatically, and a flush beats that easily. Take the time to read through them again to remember them better. Its worth memorizing these so you immediately know who has won a poker hand, without having to refer to anything. Always remember, when two people have the same hand the winner is the person with the highest overall card making that hand.