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A Quick Guide to Poker Formats (part 1)

Ever feel overwhelmed by choice? The modern online poker player really does suffer from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to game choice in the online scene, and we're here to help you narrow down your options (as well as your opponent's range). In this instalment in the guide series we'll walk you through all of the most popular forms of poker being played today, and indicate which of these are available across multiple types of poker beyond No Limit Hold'em. We'll also dip into some variants within each format, where applicable. Our aim in this piece is to give you the very best start in choosing which formats to settle on for your own grind, so in each case we'll try to give you a thorough sense of the pros and cons of each one for your average grinder. Cash Game Poker Let's start as simple as it comes with cash games. These are the original deal, games where you can sit down and stand up as you wish, there's a minimum and maximum buy-in, blinds are fixed and chips is chips, what you sit down with is what you play with. Typically players will sit with 100bbs, so for a $1/$2 blinds cash game, you'd usually sit with $200. This is the max at many cash game tables. The minimum buy-in for cash tables tends to range from 20-50bbs, and short stackers are often frowned upon as they will often "hit and run” a table by doubling up and then leaving. Deepstack cash game (200bb+) is the most complex form of poker out there, and is available on some sites, as are capped tables where only short-stacks may play. A popular format within cash is zoom, or fast-fold poker, in which players are entered into pools and reseated on a new table with players from that pool as soon as they've folded their hand. This makes for much faster play and many more hands per hour. Zoom tables are often capped at 4 maximum, but grinders of regular speed cash tables have been known to play anywhere between 6-24 cash games at a time. Rake is an important consideration in cash game poker, and rakeback is a big component of regulars' income at the tougher games (rake is also generally higher in the lowest stakes). See our poker sites review page for more info on how we can help secure the best rakeback deals. Six-max is now surely the most popular form of cash game online, although you will also find games running Heads-up (2-handed), 8-handed, and 9-handed. Cash games available online span a huge range of buy-ins, from $0.01/$0.02 games where you would sit with $2 for 100bbs, up to $5/$10 where you'd sit with $1,000 for 100bbs and even higher stakes running at times on certain sites. Cash games are available on certain sites in almost any format including 8-game, but the most popular by far is NLHE, followed by PLO. You can also find various variants, in particular Omaha Hi-Lo and NL 6+ are somewhat popular on certain sites. Another twist you might find on certain apps is a straddle, which is a third blind (twice the size of the big blind), or certain games running with antes of different sizes. This tends to boost the aggression of the action in-game, since there's more to be won in the middle. Cash game play is well-suited to anyone who likes to study the intricacies of postflop poker, who wants to work with a bankroll of around 50 buy-ins, who likes the prospect of putting in hundreds of thousands of hands of play as they progress up the stakes, who wants to play against tougher opponents as they progress and who prefers to play poker in instalments of a few hours at a time. The main benefits of cash game poker are the low variance relative to other formats, the significance of rakeback for your bottom line, and the convenience of the flexible hours it offers. The main downside is that it is relatively tough compared to some other formats, and that some players find it less engaging due to always playing at the same stack depth. Tournament Poker Tournament poker subdivides into several formats, but first a word about the overall grouping. Tournaments are essentially any game into which you enter with a fixed buy-in amount for which you receive chips, and then cannot exchange these chips for real money again until you place in the tournament. The blinds go up in fixed increments at fixed time intervals, forcing players to elimination as stacks become shorter in big blinds. outs usually go to roughly the top 12-18% of finishers, or up to 30% in the case of small sit and go tournaments (SNGs) of 6-9 players. In big field multi-table tournaments (MTTs), the lion's share of the payouts goes to the top three finishers, making for a game format with extremely high variance but potentially life-changing reward. Multi-table Tournaments (MTTs) Because of the huge prize money on offer tournament poker, particularly big field MTTs, have remained one of the softest poker formats in existence online, and will likely be the softest remaining format in the future, aside from new formats which may emerge which no-one yet knows how to play or study. ICM is a model used to estimate the relative value of different stack sizes in terms of their potential to cash for different amounts in the payout structure. Multi-table tournament (MTT) poker is well-suited to anyone who loves the thrill of a deep run and attempting to come out on top despite the long odds, who is interested in studying different ranges needed for different stack depths, is interested in how the payouts affect ranges, who is prepared to play for long sessions of 8-10 hours or more and who is able to stand the psychological pressure of huge variance and big down and up swings. The main benefits of MTT poker are the softness of the games, the interest value of the dynamic nature, with stack depths changing often, and the sheer fun of taking a big title in a headline event. Naturally the big payouts on offer for the top spots are a major draw as well. The main downsides of MTT poker are the crushing swings possible in a format with very high variance, and the sheer time outlay required. MTTs tend to run for NLHE and PLO, but rarely for other formats except during major series. Some MTTs are freezeouts, meaning you cannot re-enter if you bust out. Some are re-entry, and allow either a fixed or unlimited number of re-entries within the late registration period. Others are rebuys, meaning usually that you can buy in for multiple stacks at the start, and at several points during the late registration period, as well as adding on chips at the end of that period, for an additional fee. Now you're well equipped to play almost anything, what will you choose? Let us know over at our PokerDeals Discord ! by Lucky Luke

20 Jan
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Poker Celebs Clash on Cam: Doug Polk vs. Dan Bilzerian!

Crack out the popcorn and settle in for this one because this much-anticipated face-off did not disappoint. Unexpectedly, often chill and relaxed podcast host Doug Polk , though obviously enjoying some moments of the pod, found himself on the back foot for others. A pumped-up and caffeinated Bilzerian fired back somewhat coherently with accusations of misrepresentation by Polk . To be fair, Blitz ap peared to have a point , as it emerged Polk had clipped quotes of him to essentially state the opposite of what Bilzerian had said about his own sources of funds in poker. This, Blitz maintained, went beyond Polk 's pretty arguably weak defense of it having been " a joke ”. No stranger to controversy, many might view Bilzerian's social media offenses as far more egregious (his own favourite word in this podcast!). He has a history of outspoken misogyny , having referred to Vanessa Kade as a " hoe ” in response to her own innocuous Tweet, and being outspokenly sexist in multiple other high-profile interactions online on the daily. Whether this behaviour could possibly be defended as being merely an " online persona ” or not was another facet to a fascinating debate between these two larger-than-life characters. Hate to love or love to hate him, Blitz did argue his corner pretty well at times in debate with Polk , and at other times merely bewildered him with his bizarre attitudes, for one reason or the other leaving the usually cheery host a little lost for words at times. On the money front, who will ever know for sure, but Bilzerian's claim that he had action in some top players in extremely soft private games over the years, as well as his acknowledgement that his wealthy background, whilst not propping up his bankroll directly did help to get him in some amazing High Stakes games by dint of reputation , combine to go some way to explaining his explosive claim that he is up over $70 million from poker. This nosebleed-stakes live cash account is more believable than his claim to have been one of the best players online in his day (2005 upwards), but Bilzerian did invite Polk to check his online results, so perhaps we'll see a follow-up on this one. Other highlights include Bilzerian's claim that he once wagered $3.5 million by flipping a quarter . Come tell us what you made of it all in the PokerDeals Discord , where you can get the best on poker news, deals and entertainment every day. by Lucky Luke Original image from Doug Polk's podcast

14 Jan
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Phil Hellmuth vs. Tom Dwan: High Stakes Duel Rematch Dates Are Out!

Phil Hellmuth was on a sick run until he sat down opposite Tom Dwan back in August of 2021. This match was to be Hellmuth's first loss on the epic PokerGo show High Stakes Duel after a massive eight-match streak of wins, amongst which he bested Daniel Negranu and Antonio Esfandiari no less than three times each , as well as sports show host Nick Wright once. After Tom (durrrr) Dwan won $100,000 in their first match, Hellmuth accepted the rematch challenge at double-or-nothing. The pair will now contest a prize pool of $ 200,000 in this much anticipated rematch, set to take place live on PokerGO at 8pm EST on January 26th. The first round between these two huge characters from modern poker history was, according to commentators, a somewhat controlled and contained affair, with both players passing up some aggression opportunities and proceeding cautiously against one another. It should go without saying it was nonetheless utterly compelling viewing . Many will still surely be on the lookout for durrrr's career-defining aggression from his glory days at the online cash tables. Now, Heads Up Sit and Gos are another affair entirely, and you can only bust once in these matches! So, how will Dwan play in this one? Will we see another legendary blow-up from Phil Hellmuth? You'll just have to tune in to find out all these things, and you can join us on Discord to talk over the latest on this and all the best in poker, as it happens. By Lucky Luke mage courtesy of PokerGO.com

12 Jan
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England is Best in the World Again as Patrick “Pads” Leonard Takes Top Online Poker Spot for the Fifth Time!

No stranger to the very top of the leaderboard for PocketFives' Online Poker Rankings , Patrick Leonard has done it once again and retaken the top spot on the website's rankings for the fifth time in his career! Known as pads1161 on Pokerstars , Englishman Leonard's profile is pretty immense. He's in the top thousand worldwide on Hendon Mob , tracking live play (and 42nd all-time for England) but he truly excels online, where his $2.5 million in live winnings is dwarfed by an immense $15 million in online cashes in MTTs. Leonard's biggest score to date was $1.6 million for second place in the prestigious $25k buy-in WSOPC Ring Event #8: HR Championship $10 million guaranteed event which took place on GGPoker in May 2020. What a way to start that crazy summer! This means that Leonard, under his Pocketfive's screenname pleno1 , which combines his poker results from Pokerstars, PartyPoker, GGPoker, Bwin, 888, America's Cardroom and even now-defunct Full Tilt all under one scoreboard. Almost half of Leonard's winnings come from cashing in Pokerstars tourneys. The pivotal tournament which allowed him to retake the lead from Brazilian Pedro "pvigar” Gargnani however was his December 2021 win for first place in the GGMasters $1k High Roller, which was good for $141k. Leonard first topped the leaderboard on Pocketfives back in August 2014, and has been vying for the spot over and over ever since. Let's see how long the England champ can hold the top spot for this time! Good luck at the tables, pleno1 . by Lucky Luke Image courtesy of WPT.com

11 Jan
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High Stakes Poker Controversy!

A very interesting discussion took place in Fedor Holz's Twitter this week concerning possible cheating by Brazilian high stakes pros Rodrigo Seiji & Rodrigo Seriuan . Fedor is not known for calling players out on such matters, so he must certainly have had his reasons for believing that the spot was clear-cut, however after an investigation, the host of the $1k event , 888poker , cleared the pair of any wrong-doing, which the 9Tales stable in which both players currently grind was quick to note. The 888poker Operations Team wrote that " ...after an in-depth analysis, we found that, apart from the hand we received complaints about, there is no evidence of foul play on your part. Your accounts are being reopened and we hope to see you back at our tables soon. We regret any inconvenience that the imposition of these restrictions may have caused, and we wish you the best of luck at the tables.” Whilst this email clearly doesn't specifically note that the hand in question was not collusion, it absolves the players, giving them the benefit of the doubt. It is of course very hard to demonstrate with 100% certainty, collusion from one single hand. 9Tales' response in a comment within the debate was that "it is far from an "obvious call” as anyone with access to an ICM assessment program will identify”. While we take no sides in this debate currently, we do love a good ICM analysis, so let's take a quick look at the hand in question. In this $1k event, 5 players remained at the time of the hand in question, and seiouan1991 3bet shoved 7.1bbs f rom the BTN with A ♥ 9 ♥ into a min-open from seijistar1 in the HJ who held A ♣ J ♥ and folded. At the time Seriouan was shortest, Selji had 27bbs and the three other players had 25bb, 10bb and 14bbs. We don't have exact payouts for this event to hand but let's assume a smaller field event with 180 runners, then the top five would pay 30%, 20%, 11.5%, 7.5%, 6% or something of that order. Let's also assume HJ is raising around the top 20% of hands. Assuming BTN shoves around 8%, so ATs+, 77+ AJo+ and KQs, this makes AJo a +EV call in ICM for Selji, netting him around 0.3% of the the prize pool in profit vs. folding. ATo however, is still a fold. We've doubtless got more to hear from the poker community on this one, in the meantime hop onto our Discord server to give us your thoughts on the matter! Lucky Luke

7 Jan
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Let’s Spin up a Huge 2022! Making Poker Resolutions

As the year winds to a close and we look ahead to 2022 I wanted to put down on paper my own poker resolutions for 2022, as well as some life resolutions, since the two go together somewhat when you're playing at a professional level. I hope these might help inspire you towards a fantastic 2022 as well. Happy New Year! Note: the spirit of my own poker resolutions, as you'll see below, is that with the right mindset we can achieve anything. Focus on being extraordinarily consistent with the mental state and behaviours you wish to foster for the year ahead. Don't worry about results, they will take care of themselves once we establish the right attitude. Here's looking forward to a fantastic 2022! Poker Resolutions Be at peace with variance . Since it's built into poker, I know logically that it's simply a part of the mechanics - unavoidable. Logically then, there's no reason to let the swings associated with variance bother me (indeed, I'll have positive variance as well as negative!). Knowing, however, is different from living. Keeping deeply in touch with this truth on an intuitive level and genuinely, authentically having swings of fortune slide over me like water off a duck's back, that's my aim for 2022. 2. Play in balance always . This means having life set up in such a way that I choose to play an MTT session at an optimal frequency and in balance with all the other aspects of my life. That includes my relationships with my family, with friends, my physical exercise routine, my time spent in nature, doing art, doing work that helps others… all these aspects which are so important to me, must have the right balance with time spent playing or studying, or coaching poker. That balance might be elusive, it is of course always a challenge with any passion, and with any profession, to keep that work / life or calling / life balance in good shape. Doing so is the best way to sustainable, successful existence. That's my aim for 2022. Life Resolutions I'm doing Dry January again. I'm also planning to restart my HIIT workout routine, daily from the same date, and go for a daily walk of at least 30 minutes. I'm also changing my consumption . I'm planning to limit my meat consumption to red meat maximum once a week, white meat maximum once a week, and to cut down on fatty and processed foods. It has been a crazy year and fun to write something more personal as well for you guys as we turn into a New Year full of new surprises and opportunities! What are your resolutions for 2022? We want to know about what you have planned both in and out of poker! Let us know in our new Discord channel , which you are welcome to join! Have a fantastic 2022, from all the team here at PokerDeals . by Lucky Luke

31 Dec

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