One of the most respected names in tournament poker is Annie Duke’s who professional poker champ, Phill Hellmuth describes thus: “Annie is the best all-around woman poker player in the world today” and this is a statement that even her detractors (there wouldn’t be many, we are sure) cannot deny.
Considering her rather conventional upbringing and slant towards educational fields, this Concord, New Hampshire born lady poker champ went to school at St. Paul and thereafter graduated from Columbia University with a double major in English and Psychology. One would be hard pressed to understand the shift in her career focus to pro poker when all her educational life pointed to more academic pursuits and a job in lines more suited to subjects she dedicated a good 3-4 years of her life to.
Yes, Annie even went in for a doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania where she chose psycholinguistics for her higher studies but once the poker bug bit her, Annie ditched her study program in pursuit of more entertaining and rewarding aspects of a truly thrilling card game.
Her brother, Howard Lederer, had been playing pro poker for some time and he introduced her to the game; from that moment onwards, Annie went on to play in higher-limit tournament poker sessions and many other Las Vegas based events.
She has 4 children and is a devoted family person, a fact that distinguishes Annie from other poker stars who would be in a fix to choose attending a child’s play or going to a poker tournament – but for Annie that’s a no-brainer because her kids will always have a priority over her career choice of pro poker no matter what.
But, warm family sentiments don’t stop Annie from continuing to play tough poker games or even sharing her knowledge of the game with other players, like actor Ben Affleck who had been training under Amir Vahedi but was happy to receive poker tutoring from Annie. He proved to be a darn good student too: Affleck won the $10,000 California State Poker Championship for the No Limit Hold’em event hosted at the Commerce Casino in June 2004, making Annie proud of her poker tutelage since Affleck raked in $356,000 as the first prize!!
Annie’s 10th place during the WSOP $10,000 main event even as she was in her 8th month of pregnancy (her third child) only goes to show that having a family and playing pro poker don’t have to be two different things. Annie’s first WSOP bracelet came to her for her $2000 Omaha High-Lo tournament win in 2004, which proved to be a good year for her because she also won first prize at the ESPN WSOP tournament titled ‘Champions Invitational’ – a solid two million dollars!!
That was certainly welcome progress from her 2nd place in the 1999 Limit Hold’em event and the 2003 WSOP besides another second position in the Bellagio World Poker Classic for Omaha High Low.
Annie Duke’s most recent win is the 2010 title win at the NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship and continues to bring more glory to the game by also partnering with social service organizations to raise funds for humanitarian projects, like ‘Ante Up For Africa’ – a joint effort with Don Cheadle and Norman Epstein to help Darfur victims receive more than $400,000 from a WSOP event they jointly organized for their welfare.
Bluffing is a great tactic to winning a game of poker. By studying the faces and actions of your opponents, you can strategically plan on bluffing them. But what if you are the one being bluffed and are being forced to fold secretly? The perfect way to have a very high chance to winning the pot is to bluff and make yourself “unreadable”.
What is “unreadable” in poker? This character ability, when mastered, will make the opponents hard to know your next move. Will you be raising? Or betting? Or checking? They will don’t know. So how will you make yourself unreadable?
First, you must change your betting actions. Don’t raise too often or call often. Consider betting a little or folding sometimes. If you have raised a lot of times during the previous rounds but have won only a few times, an opponent may have profiled you already.
Second, be aggressive. Just be sure that you are on the right table. If you are in a table that is full of aggressive, every player may have read each other entirely. Being in this kind of table is dangerous since there would be a lot of pre-flop raises and bets. Later, in the showdown, the entire big pot may be going to somebody making the others lose their entire chips. If you are a newbie, this table is too advanced for you.
Third, don’t show your cards. If you do show your cards when your cards are strong, they know that you play your games only when you are strong and that you have no ability in bluffing. Since you have to also bluff in games of poker, don’t show your cards. Doing this will make your style mysterious and unreachable.
Fourth, memorize your card. If you tend to check your cards every time a new card is laid on the table, don’t make a mistake doing this only when you are nervous about your starting cards. Assuming that you hold a three and a five card of hearts and you predict a straight or a flush. The flop shows a four of hearts or a seven of hearts, don’t check your cards and make sure you hold a couple of hearts. This gesture will make your opponent conceive an idea that you have a chance or that you hold a couple of cards that are not garbage. Keep your cards facing down.
Fifth, know your opponents. If you know how your opponent plays or if you have studied your opponents carefully, you will know when you can fold and avoid being bluffed. The game play will be slight predictable so you have to keep your guard. It will be your great defense when you are threatened.
Sixth, master the art of bluffing. If you don’t know how to bluff, you won’t know when you are being bluffed. Know the right time of bluffing and who to bluff. If you keep on bluffing, even with a straight face, your opponents will already know who you are. Soon you will be seeing yourself trapped in your opponent’s bluff-back strategy.
If you are planning to participate in an online poker tournament, there is a simple plan that you can follow. Winning in poker can actually be very different than live tournaments. There is one easy way to handle a tournament online- patience. If you really want to win a poker tournament you will have to be patient. Quite a lot of players tend to think that to be patient is boring which can actually be true. However, most players who win the tournaments regularly would tell you that you would have to be ready to be patient to wait for good hands. Allow the remaining players to battle against themselves and let them knock each other out of the tournament.
Pick the FullTiltPoker table well- At most online poker tournaments on websites like Absolute Poker, Poker Room and Party Poker, you would find a lot of players participating in the tournament at any given time. You would find action there no matter what time you enter the tournament and the tables tend to get filled up quite quickly which can be a very good thing. Not all the players would be good so pick a table where you see a lot of action happening.
Pick the stake level wisely- Another thing to remember is to pick the stake level wisely. Do not head for the $50 tables when you have never played at such stakes before. You will have to start small and then slowly move to the higher stake levels when you are ready for it. It would be important to pick the level that you are comfortable playing with currently.
Fold most hands- This can be very tough to follow, especially for the new players. They would only fold very few hands and when they see that they folded a hand which could have won the pot, their cautious approach would be gone. You will have to remember that each hand that you could have won there are more hands that you couldn’t have. You will have to be very cautious and stick to your strategy.
Bet aggressively on good hands- If you follow this strategy, you will need to win pots when you do get monster hands. For this reason, you will have to bet very aggressively. Do not play slow and do not try to lay any traps unless you know what you are doing. Bet strong when you have good hands so that the opponents would be out of the game.
Change your strategies- As the tournament progresses; you will also have to change your strategies accordingly. By this stage in the tournament, your opponents would have recognized your betting patterns so you should take advantage of it and just change your betting patterns for the late tournament stage.
Avoid all ins- Your main goal would be to get in the final table so that you would be in money. Avoid going all in unless you really know that you have the best possible hand. However, if a short stacked opponent goes all in, take advantage of the opportunity.