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The Pain Barrier - Manipulating Your Opponent
Joe Beevers
Feb 9, 2007

Finding the Low Cards in Omaha Hi/Lo
Mike Matusow
Jan 15, 2007

Looking at the Long-Term
Erik Seidel
Jan 6, 2007

Playing Small and Medium Pairs in Seven-Card Stud
Perry Friedman
Dec 29, 2006

Playing Aces in PLO
Andrew Black
Dec 21, 2006

Playing in Australia
Mark Vos
Dec 15, 2006

Playing Mixed Games
Jennifer Harman
Dec 7, 2006

Pot-Size Manipulation
Gavin Smith
Nov 30, 2006

Betting out of Position
Gus Hansen
Nov 20, 2006

How a Pro Thinks Through a Hand
Team Full Tilt
Nov 13, 2006

Cash Equity at the Final Table
Rafe Furst
Nov 6, 2006

Getting Beyond Your Cards
Perry Friedman
Oct 30, 2006

The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Balancing Poker and Life
Clonie Gowen
Oct 16, 2006

Play More Pots
Erick Lindgren
Oct 9, 2006

Heads-Up vs Multi-Way Hands in Omaha Hi/Lo
Andy Bloch
Oct 3, 2006

Playing Big Slick in Deep Stack Tournaments
Paul Wolfe
Sept 25, 2006

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ben Roberts
Sept 18, 2006

Playing Cap Games
Howard Lederer
Sept 11, 2006

From No-Limit to Limit
Richard Brodie
Sept 4, 2006

Check-Raising on Draws
Steve Brecher
August 28, 2006

Betting the River with Marginal Hands
Andy Bloch
August 21, 2006

Learning from Allen Cunningham
Jay Greenspan
August 14, 2006

Acknowledging Mistakes
Team Full Tilt
August 7, 2006

Playing the Main Event
Gus Hansen
July 31, 2006

Managing the Short Stack
Mark Vos
July 24, 2006

Playing Pot-Limit Tournaments
Rafe Furst
July 17, 2006

Red for a Day
Brian Koppelman
July 10, 2006

A Big Stack Mistake at the 2006 WSOP
Phil Gordon
July 3, 2006

Winning Poker - It's About More Than Money
Ben Roberts
June 26, 2006

Seventh Street Decisions in Seven-Stud
Keith Sexton
June 19, 2006

Big Blind Play in Limit Hold 'em
Jennifer Harman
June 12, 2006

Firing the Second Bullet
Greg "FBT" Mueller
June 5, 2006

Fourth Street Decisions in Seven Stud
Keith Sexton
May 29, 2006

Finding Your Inner Maniac
Greg "FBT" Mueller
May 22, 2006

Beware the Min Raise
Phil Gordon
May 15, 2006

Playing Bottom Two Pair
Rafe Furst
May 8, 2006

The Other Danger in Slow Playing
Howard Lederer
May 1, 2006

Why I Prefer Cash Games to Tournaments
Huckleberry Seed
April 24, 2006

Early Tournament Play
David Grey
April 17, 2006

Bad Position, Decent Cards
Howard Lederer
April 3, 2006

Inducing a Bluff
Layne Flack
March 27, 2006

Back to Basics
David Grey
March 20, 2006

Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

When Passive Plays
Chris Ferguson
February 27, 2006

Book Smarts vs. Table Smarts
Erik Seidel
February 20, 2006

Playing with John D'Agostino
Jay Greenspan
February 13, 2006

On Cavemen and Poker Players
Ben Roberts
February 6, 2006

Small-Pot Poker
Gavin Smith
January 30, 2006

Tips From Tunica
Andy Bloch
January 23, 2006

How Big a Bankroll?
Team Full Tilt
January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Omaha-8
Jennifer Harman
January 09, 2006

In Defense of the Call
Gavin Smith
January 02, 2006

Stepping Up, Stepping Down
Kristy Gazes
December 26, 2005

Playing a Big Draw in Limit Hold 'em
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
December 19, 2005

Know Your (Table) Limits
Paul Wolfe
December 12, 2005

Getting Started in Stud-8
Jennifer Harman
December 05, 2005

What's Your Starting Hand Really Worth?
Steve Brecher
November 28, 2005

Big Slick: A Slippery Hand
Rafe Furst
November 21, 2005

Bad Cards or Bad Plays?
Team Full Tilt
November 14, 2005

Strategies for Short-Handed Limit Hold 'em
John D'Agostino
November 7, 2005

Taking on a Short-Handed No-Limit Game
John D'Agostino
October 31, 2005

What I learned at the WSOP
Jay Greenspan
October 24, 2005

Back to the Drawing Board
Perry Friedman
October 17, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green. Or Is It?
Team Full Tilt
October 10, 2005

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric
Phil Gordon
October 3, 2005

Know Your Opponent; Own Your Opponent
Paul Wolfe
September 26, 2005

How Bad are the Beats?
Steve Brecher
September 19, 2005

Third Street in Seven Stud
Perry Friedman
September 12, 2005

Flopping a Monster
Richard Brodie
September 6, 2005

Our Favorite Poker Books
Team Full Tilt
August 30, 2005

Holding On To Your Winnings
Aaron "GambleAB" Bartley
August 22, 2005

No-limit by the Numbers
Andy Bloch
August 15, 2005

Chip Sandwich
Phil Gordon
August 8, 2005

Sizing Up Your Opening Bet
Chris Ferguson
August 1, 2005

So You Wanna Go Pro
Rafe Furst
July 25, 2005

Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players.
Greg Mascio
July 18, 2005

Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon
July 11, 2005

Playing Two or More Tables at Once
Erick Lindgren
July 4, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 2
Chris Ferguson
June 27, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 1
Chris Ferguson
June 20, 2005

Specialize At Your Peril
Howard Lederer
June 13, 2005

Common Mistakes
Phil Gordon
June 6, 2005

Don't Play a Big Pot Unless You Have a Big Hand
John Juanda
May 30, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part II
Erick Lindgren
May 23, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part 1
Erick Lindgren
May 16, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Jennifer Harman
May 9, 2005

Keep Your Toolbox Well Stocked
Chris Ferguson
May 2, 2005

Why I Leave My Sunglasses And iPod At Home
Howard Lederer
April 25, 2005

In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

The Script
Phil Gordon
April 4, 2005

Just A Few Things When Playing Razz
Jennifer Harman
March 28, 2005

A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005

Sit N Goes Made Easy
Howard Lederer
March 14, 2005

Viewer Beware

Howard Lederer
March 6, 2006

Many of the people crowding the tournament circuit these days developed their interest in serious poker from watching broadcasts of the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. With hole cards shown as the hands are played out, viewers get to see how the best players in the world ply their craft. They can then apply the lessons they've learned in their own play.

In the last couple of years, I've noticed that some of the less experienced players who have entered $10,000 buy-in tournaments don't fully appreciate what they've seen on TV. Many are apt to misapply the techniques they've witnessed. As a result, these players find themselves on the rail early, wondering why a move that worked so well for Phil Ivey or Chris Ferguson had such disastrous results for them.

To avoid falling into this trap yourself, take note of two key pieces of information the next time you sit down to watch the WPT or WSOP: The number of players at the table and the stack sizes relative to the blinds.

World Poker Tour final-table broadcasts start when six players remain. Through the vast majority of tournaments, however, tables are nine or 10-handed. When 10 people are at the table, you always need to be concerned that someone holds a big pocket pair or Ace-King. As a result, most good players tend to be cautious at full tables. They won't get themselves in a lot of trouble with speculative hands like a middle pocket pair or Ace-10. At a short-handed table, however, the chances of running into a big hand are greatly diminished. When play is three- or four-handed, a pro will likely play a hand like pocket 9s very aggressively.

Usually, in the late stages of tournaments, the blinds are extremely high when compared to the size of the stacks. For example, in the recent WPT event from the Gold Strike in Tunica, when four players remained, the average stack had about 1.4 Million in chips. This may sound like a lot but, at that time, the blinds were 30,000 and 60,000 with a 10,000 ante. The short stacks, who had less than 1 Million each, couldn't afford to be patient. If they failed to play for a mere 20 hands, their stacks would be cut in half.

As blinds increase, good players get more aggressive, making frequent pre-flop raises while attempting to steal the blinds and antes. They know that if they sit and wait for top-quality hands, the blinds and antes will decimate their stacks. At these stages of tournaments, you'll see a lot of attempted steals with second-rate hands. Other good players, fully aware that their opponents may be raising with very little, might re-raise or fight back from the blinds with similarly modest holdings.

Short tables and high blinds create settings that necessitate near constant aggression and continual action. So, for example, when you see a pro re-raise all-in from the blinds with pocket 7s, it's likely he's properly considered the situation and has made the best available play. He's thought about the short table and high blinds, determined that he probably has the best hand and, most importantly, that his opponent likely can't call the re-raise. The same player would treat the same hand very differently at an earlier stage of the tournament.

The final factor to consider when watching televised poker is that the shows are highly edited. At this year's WSOP, it sometimes took 15 hours and hundreds of hands to determine a winner. On ESPN, they usually include about 20 hands in an hour-long broadcast. So, you can be sure that much of the context if missing from these telecasts. A call or re-raise that seemed odd on TV may have made perfect sense in the course of the event. For instance, if an aggressive player raised eight consecutive times on the button, the big blind may have decided that he had to fight back with rags, just to let his opponent know that he was willing to take a stand. It's not a play that person would normally make, and it may look strange on TV but, in context, the re-raise with 8-high made perfect sense.

I suggest that you TiVo the next poker event you plan to watch. Keep track of the number of players and the size of the blinds. By paying attention to the details, the big picture will likely become clearer.

Howard Lederer