Bullington: Shuffle Up and Deal III – Five Things to Know

By: Bruce Bullington, GreensboroSports.com staff writer  

It’s been a few weeks since my last column. I told the brass at greensborosports.com that I had nothing to share except bad-beat stories and that everyone hates bad-beat stories (I don’t, but apparently other people do). They said that they would stop bankrolling me and giving me all the whiz-bang greensborosports.com gear to wear at all the big buy-in tournaments around the world. I almost told them to take their cheap foam-hats and cram it, but I have become accustomed to the lifestyle of frustrated poker player/ mediocre writer, so we’ll press on.

It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about. The poker world is more active than ever before. The fallout from the UIGA continues, with Doyle’s Room and Mansion Poker announcing that they would drop from the US market. World Series of Poker satellites have started running at PokerStars. Harrah’s announced that they are preparing for 10,000 entrants in the Main Event even though many believe the number will shrink to pre-2003 levels.

While this is still an uncertain time for us who live in an area where the game is still played in the shadows, I want to focus on some good things that we players can do.

#5 – Learn to play different games:  It’s a good mental exercise to experiment with different poker disciplines. Full Tilt offers HORSE sit ‘n’ gos for as little as a dollar which are terrific practice for games like Razz, Omaha split and seven card stud. Don’t worry about not playing enough hands. You’re more likely to play too many. The players in these events are so bad that you can easily make the money by simply nut-peddling.

#4 – Use poker tracker: One of the worst enemies of the gambler is denial. How many players have you spoken to over the years who say they are “about even” for the year? With poker tracker, there is no deluding yourself. The numbers are all there in black and white. How much money are you losing playing weak hands up front? Are you lapsing into weak-tight play? Do you defend your blinds too much? Too little? It’s all there in your poker tracker. Go to pokertracker.com and download it. You get your first 1000 hands free to fiddle with the software before you have to pay for it.

#3 – Learn shorthanded no-limit cash: This is the game where the money is right now. The swings can be agonizing, but the players in these games are terrible and are dying to hand over their money. Tournaments are fun, but play them with the money the fish are giving away at the no-limit cash tables. Make sure you have enough of a bankroll to deal with the variance and that you find a max buy-in that you can play comfortably in. If the max buy-in is too low you’ll play as if the money doesn’t matter and if it’s too high you’ll play scared.

#2 – Watch High Stakes Poker: Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch a WSOP re-run on ESPN no matter how many times I’ve seen it, but HSP on the Game Show Network is the best poker show on television. It’s a tremendous opportunity to watch the best in the world playing the game that really made them their money. You’ll never see AK vs. 99 all-in preflop on this show. You can see what guys like Brunson, Ivey and Farha do when the money they are bluffing off is real cash and not monopoly money. The program airs new episodes every Monday at 9pm with repeat episodes flanking it at 8pm and 10pm.

 #1 – Get a rakeback deal: I’m always surprised when I’m talking to people in my regular home game that not only are most of them playing online without a rakeback deal, they have no idea what one is. You need to research sites for the best deal based on what limits you play, you can generally expect to get back 25-30% of the rake you pay once you have signed up. When you look in your poker tracker, you’ll see exactly how much you pay in rake each month. It’s your money, you might as well get some of it back.

Good luck and I hope to see all of you at the final table. Write me with your poker stories at bruce@greensborohockey.com