In poker, a raise can serve a multitude of purposes. By far the two most common motives for raising are to get more money in, and to drive opponents out. The first is a pretty straightforward proposition. Any time you believe that you have the best of it, whether in the form of the strongest hand or the most promising draw, you want to build up a nice juicy pot. You are raising for value.
The number two incentive for raising is to eliminate opponents. If you’re holding a good-but-not-great hand such as top pair, your odds of victory are still looking iffy, but they increase as your number of opponents decreases. So you’d prefer to push opponents out of the hand sooner rather than later, before they have the chance to make a better hand.
Any time a full poker game dwindles down to just a few players, the character of the game changes dramatically. Because the blinds come around more often, every hand is more expensive to play. So hand values are substantially different than they would be in a full game. Strategy has to change.
Dominated hands are the bane of poker players everywhere. A classic example is when you hold K-J at the same time your opponent has A-K. If a king falls on the flop, you’re toast, because your opponent has you out-kicked and in all likelihood you are going to stick around to the river with top pair. And then there’s something called reverse domination, which is even nastier. Your hand is reverse-dominated when you have something like A-K and one of your opponents holds A-6 on a flop of 9-6-2 rainbow. Spiking an ace will now cost you dearly, because it gives your enemy two pair. So your only hope is to spike a king.
Re-buy tournaments come in all shapes, sizes, and payout structures, but the one thing they all share in common is that players can purchase more chips during the competition. Players who bust out—or drop below a certain level in chips—can simply buy more and continue to play.
After the first hour or so, the re-buy period ends and the remainder of the tourney plays out as a standard freeze-out. At the conclusion of the re-buy stage, most tourneys offer an add-on, which is basically a final, larger re-buy that you can purchase regardless of how many chips you’re sitting behind.
Of all the many ways that poker players have devised to bamboozle each other, chip dumping is one of the most unsophisticated. Practiced almost exclusively in the world of tournament poker, chip dumping usually works something like this: Two or more players enter the same tournament with a private agreement between them that one player will purposefully and deliberately lose all his chips to the other at some point during the tourney. The designated chip dumpee is effectively getting a free and illegal re-buy in the middle of the tourney. The ill-gotten chips give this player a distinct and very unfair advantage over the honest players in the competition, which is why anybody who is caught chip dumping can receive a severe penalty.
For anyone who plays tournament poker on a regular basis, making deals is a fact of life. While a few tournament players eschew them, most players who make the final table will find themselves at least discussing the possibility of negotiating a deal.
Of all the many calculations, estimations, and other mental gymnastics we must perform at the poker table, counting outs would seem to be the simplest. You figure out how many cards can help your hand and then contrast that with how many cards are left on the deck. For example: You call in late position with A-8 of diamonds and five of you see the flop come down K-9-2 with two diamonds. Now you have an excellent draw with nine outs (the nine remaining diamonds) to the absolute nuts, as long as the board does not pair on the turn or river.
Few things in poker are more exciting andintoxicating than a raising war. If you’reone of the combatants, at what point—if ever—do youfinally slow down and consider that your opponent mighthave you beaten? If you’re caught in the middle of thewar, is it best to let your hand go or stay in for what’ssure to be a bumpy ride and a huge pot?
Nowadays it’s almost de rigueur to multi-table online, with some players taking on as many as 20 tables at once. But is multi-tabling all that it’s cracked up to be? Is it a surefire path to poker riches, or are we toggling ourselves and our bankrolls into poker oblivion?
The shootout tournament is a mongrel, poker’s crossbreed between a multi-table tourney and a single-table sit ‘n’ go. Technically it’s a multi-table event, but for all practical purposes a shootout plays like a bunch of single table satellites.