Archives for April2013

What is SAGE system about?

SAGE system
Below 10 big blinds you can only play in a push or fold mode (raise all-in or fold). The SAGE system is a very efficient method that enables you to take the most optimal decisions (but does not protect you from a bad beat for sure….).
The SAGE system enables you to know with hands you should go all-in or call an all-in from an opponent.
First calculate your ratio : (your stack) / (big blind + ante if any)
The SAGE method only applies to ratios inferior or equal to 7.
example : your stack is 10 000 and the BB is 2 000 your ratio is then 5
Second, calculate the strenghth of your starting hand:
  • each card is worth its facial value : 2 for 2, 13 for K and 15 for A
  • the value of the highest of the 2 card is doubled
  • if you have a pocket pair add 22 to the total
  • if you cards are suited add 2
example : say you hold 109 of heart the strength of your hand is 31.
Last you have to compare the strength of your hand to your ratio as per the table below :
  • If ratio is 1 : push with 17 and call with 0
  • If ratio is 2 : push with 21 and call with 17
  • If ratio is 3 : push with 22 and call with 24
  • If ratio is 4 : push with 23 and call with 26
  • If ratio is 5 : push with 24 and call with 28
  • If ratio is 6 : push with 25 and call with 29
  • If ratio is 7 : push with 26 and call with 30


Let’s steal the stealer

A re-steal consists in re-raising all-in an agression identified as being a bluff (a steal). Purpose is to steal the stealer and thus re-steal.

It is a very powerful move but also very risky. You must use it in a perfect context or it will be for sure EV- in the long run. You should not attempt a re-steal more than once per hour. The power of the re-steal is based on the fold equity over your opponent. So you need to have a really strong read on him.

You need to have identified a bluff. How do you that? First by identifying non bluffs. When can you suspect that someone is not bluffing?

  • This player plays tight
  • He does not have the position (UTG, UTG+1, UTG+2)
  • Blinds are small compared to his stack (no interest in stealing)
  • He raises limpers when blinds are high compared to the average stack (raising players which have a low fold equity shows strength)
  • The raiser raises to 2 or 3 BB with a stack of 9 BB
  • The raiser raises a small stack in the BB which is already committed

So how can you identify a bluff?

  • The players folded several times to a 3-bet
  • He is the cheapleader and always raises when first to speak
  • His M is inferior to 7
  • His M is superior to 12 (and he can afford to fold to re-steal)
  • ….

You detected a bluff. What should you do?

  • You should be in a position to place a raise at least equal to 25% of the stack of the aggressor and offer him a pot odds inferior to 2 to 1 with a raise at least equivalent to 4 times its initial raise : indeed before your re-steal the pot is made of the BB, the SB and 3BB raised by the aggressor so 4,5BB in total. In order to cut your opponent’s odds you need to raise at least to 12BB which will give a 7,5 against 16,5 odd (so 2,2:1)
  • A re-steal to 15BB is a good target

What are the advantages of a squeeze over a 3-bet?

Squeeze : the more the merrier


3-bets are increasingly mastered by regulars. The squeeze however which consists in raising following an opening of a player which got called by one or several others. The squeeze in bluff is a very efficient move. Compared to a 3-bet more chips are involved in the pot meaning a squeeze does not have to succeed as much as a 3-bet does on order for it to be profitable. Quite surprisingly several reasons can explain why a it is often more respected than a 3-bet.

  • First it is a less personal move (since you are not targeting just 1 player) which will make your bluff less obvious
  • Second it is a move which is more difficult to offset (considering that you are facing here again several players)
  • Third, a squeeze represents a more narrow range than a freebet (you will be confronted to more 3-bets than squeezes)
The strength of your hand does not matter much when you want to squeeze in bluff. Like Dan Harrington during the final table of the WSOP 2004 you can do it with 62o! But holding an A or a K as a blocker will limit the risk against a big pair or AK.
You can also squeeze for value. Do not overestimate implied odds of speculative hand (like T7s)  in a pot with several players. A squeeze can be a good option depending on the range of opponents. Also have no shame in winning the pot preflop with AA or KK after a squeeze considering that the strength of those hands decreases with the number of players involved.
If you squeeze do not make it too expensive. A lot of players raise at pot value when they squeeze but with effective stacks of 100BB when you squeeze you should not engage more than 4 times the initial raise.

What nickname do you give to your favorite poker hands?

Do not blush if you give your favorite poker hands a small name, we all do

hands opening 2






A lot of starting poker hands have their nickname (inherited mostly from American poker history). Here is a sample. You will be able to call them deep inside by their names when you will see them and have the feeling to meet again with a good friend or… an enemy.

10♠2♠  ‘’Doyle Brunson’s”

This poker hand, in theory very difficult to play, gave Doyle Brunson the victory during the WSOP in 1976 and 1977. Hands played with genious or with luck?

AA ‘’American Airlines’’

Scarce, powerful but a dangerous hand because it leads players to the worse bad beats.

A♠K♥  ‘’Big Slick’’

A statue should be dedicated to this hand which has ruined a lot of players

A♥K♥ ‘’Anna Kournikova’’

Beautiful does not win a lot…that’s mean.

KK ‘’Cow-boys or king kong’’

KK is a strong hand like king kong but quite often it engages in deadly shootouts just like 2 cowboys

QQ ‘’Ladies, Twin sisters or Cow-girls’’

Seducing due to their rank but versatile due to their intermediary status : beware of the charm of the two twins.

JJ ‘’Hooks or Fishooks’’

Nice hooks to fish for big pots, but beware as the string can break.

1010  ‘’Dimes or Binary”

Binary is an allusion to the binary code formed by 1010. Dimes are a tenth of a dollar. This pair can generate much more than that.

99 ‘’German Virgins’’

Why german virgins? Because they always say ‘’nein nein’’.

88  ‘’Snowman’’

Surely because 8 are like 2 snowballs on top of one another to resemble a snowman. But where is the carrot? The carrot lies in winning with this medium pair which starts to be a bit dubious…

77 ‘’Sunset Strip’’

The most famous part of Sunset boulevard in Hollywood. But the nickname comes mostly from a series called ‘’77 sunset strip’’ which witnessed great success in the USA from 1958 to 1964

66  ‘’Road 66”

The famous Road 66 crossing the USA. This hand is sometimes called the devil. But it is wrong as the devil number is 666. Lets pray that the flop corrects this mistake.

55 ‘’Speed Limit’’

55 miles/hour, ordinary speed limitation n the USA

44 “Magnum or Sail boat’’

Refers to the size (in feets) of some specific boats or to a famous weapon (the 44 magnum). A hand to be manipulated cautiously.

33 ‘’Crabs’’

Because 3 looks like claws? Maybe…but beware these claws are not always made of gold.

22 ‘’Ducks’’

In your hands (or in your opponents hands) be careful as they can bite you quite strongly.

J♠5♦ ‘’Motown’’

As Jackson Five record label. No easy to play, just for artists…

7♥2♠ ‘’Hammer’’

Not high, not suited, not close. A hammer shot for your big blinds

J♦10♠ ‘’Launch Pad’’

Ideal for a flush, a straight or a straight flush. You will need to see the flop to check if the rocket lifts c

K♣J♥  ‘’Kojak’’

By the name of a famous bold cop from a 70-80s series. For sure he only needs a queen to reach its full potential.

2♥3♠ “Jordan’’

The shirt number or Michael Jordan. In holdem does not fly that high.

Q♥J♥ “Love’’

Lets hope that the board does not break up those two and lets wish them a lot of small chips.

8♣9♣ ‘’Clover Fields’’

The promise of a club flush.

A♦8♠ “Dead man or wild bill’’

A pair of A and a pair of 8. The classical poker hand that Wild Bill Hickock was holding when he was shot on August, 2nd 1876. In NLH we will satisfy with A8 only trying not to kill anyone please.

A♠4♣ “The devil”

A saying has it that an A always comes with a 4 to bring you bad luck. Do not believe it and go all in!

Q♠10♦  ‘’Quick time’’

An allusion to Apple video format and to the random and often quick unveiling of this hand. Tempting but tricky and not easy to read post flop.

What nickmanes do you give to your favorite hands?

Let us know here.!

Heads up strategy applied to MTTs

Heads up in MTT

All advices provided in the heads up section do apply. The only problem is that when you reach a heads up in a MTT fighting for the first seat, blinds are usually so high that you have little room to manoeuvre. Hands selection, aggression and luck are key.  But a key idea must be kept in mind : no starting hand has less than 30% chance to win against a random hand. Considering this a simple rule arises : when the sum of blinds + antes reach 10% of one of the two stacks it would be suicidal to pass any hand but really the worst ones. If you reach a situation where you have 10% of one of the two stacks in the pot pre-flop and you see that your opponent is not making the correct adjustments by witnessing that he is giving away the SB…you have an opportunity to seize and should go all-in for all coming hands. If you have equal stacks when you start doing this, you just need to succeed 2 or 3 times to get a decisive advantage. Its not pretty but it is how finales are won.

Pre-flop and post-flop game in heads up NLH

In heads-up the player in the small blind (SB) has the initiative pre-flop but is second to speak post-flop. This offers new tactical options (vs short handed full ring games). The player in the big blind (BB) is able to have the initiative post-flop even after having faced a raise pre-flop.

Strength and weaknesses of opening hands in heads up become very relative. If you plan on folding Q8, J7 or K3 you do not stand a chance against an aggressive player. Imagine that you are in the BB (BB=10) and the the SB raises you systematically to 30. Every time you fold the SB wins 20 and has risked 25. Even if you win the hand everytime you call you still need to win 40% of hands played which means opening up your range to hands like K4. If you are then passive on the flop, it only gets worse.


So the button is the first to speak pre-flop and will benefit from the position post-flop. In other words the button can represent a strong hand preflop and follow up with his agression post-flop, on the turn and on the river. This influences a lot your opening range. Some players raise 100% of their hands from the button! And i am quite a fan of this move. But would recommend to be a bit more conservative and raise only 70% of your opening hands and adapt depending on your opponent reaction. He is passive make that 100%. He re-raises you a lot, calm down that %. This involves:

  • all Aces
  • all broadways (KQ, QJ and KJ suited or not)
  • almost all connectors above 76 and up to J10 (suited or not)
  • all Kx with x>2, all Qx with x>2, all Jx with x>5 and all Tx with x>7

From the small blind pre-flop: never limp, always raise (or fold). Among the 3 options that the BB has (check, raise, fold) one only can be an issue (raise). If she checks, you will play the hand with the position. Always raise with the same amount (3BB works best as long as it does not represent less than 1/3 of your stack because then you will need to shove all chips in the middle).

From the BB you will have to be more conservative (depending on your own game style, your opponent’s agressivness and the size of your stack) but you can consider calling with can call with 30% to 50% of your best hands (and adapt also depending on how the SB will vary from its strategy). You should also re-raise quite a lot (say with top 50% of the hands with which you will check). If SB limps, punish her with a 5BB raise.

  • all pairs
  • all Aces
  • broadways (KQ and KJ suited or not)
  • all connectors above 76 and up to J10 (suited or not)
  • all Kx with x>7, all Qx with x>6


Post-flop :  remember ‘’most hands miss most flops’’. If you raised from the SB pre-flop or called from the BB pre-flop, you should also be aggressive (and adapt to the flop texture).  Always open with 2/3 or Pot raise and stand to this amount. Don’t get dominated. A lot of players are aggressive on the flop but a lot less on the turn. If it is the case use it and bet on the turn.

On the turn having the position becomes highly valuable but it is a complex spot.  You have to understand how your opponent usually plays this spot.

The river is easier to manage. Two basic rules : if you are the last one to speak and if your opponent has checked do not raise with average hands (its unlikely that your opponent will pass with a stronger hand and he might be in an ambush). If you are the first to speak, it is very risky to check because it can induce a bluff.

Heads up : it all comes down to this

heads up

Heads up is the most violent form of poker. Tired of waiting long minutes before playing a hand? You love tension at the table? Heads up is for you. Being profitable in heads up makes a difference between small winners and true killer. Heads up is the essence of poker : a brutal and direct confrontation. All MTTs and Sit & Go’s end up this way and even at a cash table you very often find yourself in such a spot.

Winning attitude

Aggression is not needed but essential and psychology plays a bigger role than ever. You need to make most of the adjustments that your opponent will fail to make to his game. The 3 main qualities in heads up game are : aggression – psychology (because you will need to bluff quite a lot which means understanding the betting pattern of your opponent) and creativity.


A 40 buy-in bankroll is a good starting point for heads up cash games.

Am I good enough to start multi tabling?

You can quite soon consider multi tabling

multi tabling






Ever thought about multitabling? Probably. You do not need to be a pro to multitable, but you need to follow a few instructions in order not to multiply your losses exponentially.

Why could you consider multi tabling ?

  • in order to multiply your hourly winnings
  • because you happen to get bored playing at a unique table and you start to lose your focus
  • or to shorten significantly the duration needed to free a bonus

If you regularly beat the limit at which you are playing, if you are quick in your decision making process in standard situations and if you master the basics of the strategy then you should consider multi tabling. If you do not meet those conditions, then  you will be digging the grave of your bankroll.

All bankroll management principles still apply when you multi table.

The appropriate number of tables is for you to define (some poker sites offer 24 simultaneous tables). Start with 2, then 3 and 4. Playing on 12 tables does not mean you will multiply your winnings by 12. For sure no. As you will have less information on each table to make the right calls. Do not expect to play your ultimate poker in those conditions. The right number of tables is for you to define based on your comfort and your capacity to remain profitable over the long run. Start multi tabling slowly and do not burn the next steps. Would you try running before having learnt to walk? Obvious but…

You should at any time be able to prioritize your actions as sometimes you will need to take several decisions at the same time. Always be aware of which table/hand could require a deeper thinking investment from you.

Also keep selecting your table with great attention. Do you really want to multi table on a table where you find a LAG (large-aggressive) player on your left that will systematically 3-bet your openings? Or if you are surrounded by knits?

You will get tired more quickly and you should to help you configure the 4 colors cards option, deactivate the chat, deactivate all animations/pop-ups, configure a light and contrasted lay-out. Once you climb up the limits you can consider purchasing a bigger screen, maybe two. You can also use a poker tracker to help you.

Define some limits : have a 6 minutes break every 90 minutes and decide to close your session if you reach losses of -200 BB.

Have fun and do not get dazzled.

Let us know what is your optimal multitabling configuration (number of tables, equipment…)