How To Improve Your Poker Betting Strategy

The betting strategy of poker is complex and it is simple. That is why poker is such a fun game for people of all ages. And, knowing a solid betting strategy is a great way to get the most out of the poker games you play.

Here are some helpful scenarios to help you improve your poker strategy:

When you are in the dealer’s position and only you and the blinds remain in the game, a raise in this position is called Blind Stealing. This is because the blinds may fold and if you raise then you can buy the blinds in this way. Just calling at this point allows the players who posted the blinds to just check. Failing to raise here is an opportunity missed.

If you are the last player to act and your opponents have checked, betting to limit the amount of players or to take the pot is called a Steal Raise. It is best to use this strategy when you are holding a drawing hand such as a flush. You shouldn’t use this move very often since better players will recognize the move and begin to Check Raise your hand.

A Check Raise is to get an insight into your opponent’s hand by checking, waiting for them to bet and then raising, which increases the pot.

The Opener is a move done by people who are bluffers; when they are in the position to act first, they raise, making the other players call two bets at once. This limits the amount of players in the pot. It is a sort of Backwards Steal Raise. This will usually force many players to fold. Any of the remaining players can be characterized as aggressive or as having an excellent hand. This technique is also known as betting for information.

Squeezing is a strategy that you can use. It is betting when you are holding a good hand and presume that another player may be on the draw.

Now, let’s talk about pre-flop strategy:

Before the flop you need to consider your hole cards, the number of players, your position at the table, your bankroll, the aggressive or passive players at the table and how much you are willing to risk.

The best strategy for Texas Hold’em is to play tight and aggressively. That means only betting on high ranking hands and then when you do bet, bet often.

If there are a lot of players in a hand, chances are high that one of them has a strong hand in their pocket. If there are fewer players, it is less likely that another player has a strong hand. In larger games, there is also a higher risk that someone else’s pre-flop hand will fit the flop. Also consider that players in earlier positions are more able to influence the size of the pot than players in later positions.

If you only have a couple dollars left, then you must play with extreme caution, with an even more tight strategy than usual. If you have more money, you can play more regularly.

If you have been playing in enough hands at a table to recognize a player that is raising every pre-flop, then you must play a much tighter game. That player will win the big blinds often, but you can hurt him or her later with a winning hand.

If you want to go for large pots but don’t mind loosing a few hands, you should raise pre-flop, especially if you are in a late position. If you prefer to be selective at pre-flop then you should patiently wait for a winning hand.

Poker Training By Jonathan Little -- Course Review

2-time World Poker Tour Champion and Las Vegas resident Jonathan Little has put together a poker training course for people serious about improving their poker game. Little has earned over $4 million dollars between live and online poker and is passionate about the game of poker and sharing it with others. The video series Little has put together has hours of footage of him playing various online tournaments, where you can see his hands and listen to him talk you through his decision-making process. Having access to these hundreds of poker situations (as approached by an actual poker professional) was really helpful and forced me to think outside the box and plug the leaks in my game. I highly recommend this video series for poker players of all skill and experience levels.

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Short Stacks in Poker

Every time a poker player sits down to play the cash game, whether it is in a Las Vegas casino, at home, or at an online poker room, a decision must be made on how much money or chips they want to bring to the table. Most card rooms will have a minimum buy-in amount, and certain games might have a maximum. When players decide to purchase the minimum, or only a small amount of chips (nicknamed 'short stacks'), it is considered to be an indication of weakness and a 'tell' on the players ability or recent fortune.

Players that start the game with a short chip stack are often considered by the others to be scared of losing, and consequently must play cards with a poor poker strategy. It has been observed that players not expecting to win often use a short-buy to limit their losses on playing mistakes, while good players maximize their potential wins by having a big stack at the table. The 'short stack' image of weakness holds true much more at no-limit games over other forms of poker.

Strategically, aggressive betting, semi-bluffing and blind stealing is usually considered correct strategy at no-limit games, and short stacks simply don't have the ammunition to make those bigger bets needed. Big stacks can make the occasional bluff with the confidence of staying in action if it goes wrong, and can use their calling ability to deter small stacks from risking a bluff against them. Using a big pile of chips as a psychological tool to induce or prevents bets from weaker opponents can be a very successful strategy when done properly, and good players will immediately recognize anyone not able to do the same as a potential target.

Your own mind-set should be considered when purchasing chips at a table as well. For example, a player that buys-in for $20, loses it, re-buys for $20, loses again and put another $20 on the table, will likely be in a much worse position mentally then a player that simply started with $140 and now has $100 on the table. These sense of losing multiple times will put players on tilt and make them lose focus much more than being down on chips 'temporarily'.

Occasionally short stack players are actually good players that are broke for reasons outside of the game, and other times a short stack that is seen may not have necessarily started that way earlier in the day. Although these incidents aren't an indication of the players' ability, it may at least be a tell on their current state of mind. A player facing problems away from the game never seems to play their best poker and players on a bad run, no matter how good they can be, often go on tilt and play differently or poorly when losing.

The 'short stack' tell is one of the few behavioral tells that seems to hold true online as well as in real life, however it seems to have more accuracy in actual brick and mortar casinos. Winning players should be looking to exploit any players presenting this remarkably reliable tell, mostly by raising and betting aggressively against these shorter stacks. It is important to avoid this situation yourself by consistently sitting down with one of the larger stacks at the table and remaining adequately funded for any poker game you play.

Again, that is just one of MANY small tells that experience players use. To learn about this and many other tips, you need to check this out --> Click here!

Poker Training, The Venetian Deep Stack, and $206K - By David “The Maven” Chicotsky

The 2008 World Series of Poker had just ended and, after having several very deep runs in poker tournaments with massive fields of entrants, I decided to take one last swing at things and enter the Venetian Deep Stack Main Event. In addition to the WSOP, I had just come off several unbelievably profitable months of playing poker online so, needless to say, I was super confident and very sure of myself going into the Venetian event.

On July 2, 2008, the Venetian Deep Stack Main Event began with 228 entrants. The very first day of this tournament I had a very difficult table draw (relative to the $2500 buy-in), stacked with both live and online professional poker players. First and foremost, I had the recent winner of the Aussie Millions, Alexander Kostritsyn, directly to my left. This slowed me down from being able to open up as much as I would normally pre-flop. Hence, I used a counter-punch strategy of re-raising other players to my left and in doing so, managed to successfully accumulate chips in this manner.

On the bubble of the tournament, I looked at the table next to mine and saw that it contained my poker mentor Ari "BodogAri" Engel and Justin Bonomo. Every pot was a raise and a re-raise...and Ari ended up doubling up Bonomo with 22 against AA, which was unfortunate for him. At this point in the tournament, the trend was pretty much “kill or be killed”- only the strong were going to survive and I knew I had to pull myself up by my boot-laces and make this happen.

As I already mentioned, there were mega-pros all around, though I knew I had what it would take to beat them. Finishing day one, I had an average chip stack but, more importantly, a clear and motivated mind. I went into day two looking to play my best and making sure not to make any critical errors. Day two was interesting in the sense that they broke up our table, but at the new table I continued to have Kostritsyn seated directly to my left. From there, they broke the table again and I had the adverse experience of having Bonomo seated directly to my left. Again, I employed a counter-punch (3-bet and fold and/or 3-bet all-in) strategy. Definitely one of the stronger points of my game and something I am quick to impart on my students at poker training center.

The most crucial hand that led me to the final table was a very aggressive re-raise all-in for about 30 blinds (stretching things a bit, I know!). Keep in mind I had already literally re-raised this loose player maybe five or six times up to this point and won the vast majority of those pots. He tanked forever and finally called with AJ off-suit. I kind of laughed, said “nice call sir” and flipped over my Q7 of clubs. Wouldn't you know it, I hit a flush!!!

So, now going into the final table I had about 65 big blinds and was in the top three or four in chips. Now Bonomo was seated two to my right and I was able to start effectively re-raising him (rather than playing possum sitting to his right). Overall, I played very “middle of the road” and carefully; won a pot, lost a pot, but slowly accumulated chips.

Fast forward to 4 handed play, where I raise UTG with KK, the small blind calls (who later tanked forever and claimed to have folded pocket tens) and Bonomo pushed the remainder of his stack in with AQ suited. I turned away - at this point, being relatively new to live poker tournaments, I couldn't even bear to watch. I knew if I heard loud cheering that it would mean I'd have lost the pot (as Bonomo had fans and friends on the rail). I didn’t hear said crowd noise, so I looked back to find that the board had blanked, and I had just scooped a massive pot for the majority of the chips in play.

The rest is history. The win was worth over $206k and best of all I had prevailed over a field of more than 200 very skilled poker players. I want to thank Ari Engel for encouraging me to play - I wanted to back out at the last minute and Ari was my proverbial back-bone by insisting, "No way Maven, you're playing it!" I also want to thank my friends, family, and fans along the way. Winning the main event of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza poker tournament series definitely changed my life for the better and it's a fond memory upon which I'll always reminisce. I can’t stress enough the fact that I likely would have never been in those shoes had it not been for being a serious student of the game and participating in intensive poker training. If you are interested in taking your game up to the next level, training is essential. You can reach me by email at and feel free to visit my forum at