Ed Miller on Bluffing; Google Glass and Poker; A Poker Life – Steven Silverman

youre bluffing
Poker Strategy With Ed Miller: Bluffing In Multiway Pots

Miller Discusses An Often Missed Bluffing Opportunity

by Ed Miller

A lot of people don’t bluff in multiway pots. I do it all the time. And it works. Here’s a hand I played recently.

It’s a daytime $2-$5 game in Las Vegas. I’m playing a relatively shallow $420 stack. The game was playing very typically for this time of day — most players were too loose preflop and too willing to fold on the turn and river.

I open to $15 from under the gun (UTG) with 8 (h) 7 (h). This hand is the weakest one that I, as a general rule, will open UTG. Six players (including both blinds) call. Seven players see the flop in a $105 pot, and I have $405 behind.

The flop comes Q (h) 10 (cl) 3 (h), giving me a small flush draw with weak backdoor-straight possibilities. The blind checks, and I bet $55. Two players call behind me, and the blinds fold. The pot is $270, and I have $350 left.

The turn is the 5 (cl). I bet $110, and only one player calls. There is $490 in the pot, and I have $240 remaining.

The river is the A (sp). I shove, and my opponent thinks for 15 seconds and folds.

I triple-barreled with a shallow starting stack into a field that started with seven players. It worked. I wasn’t particularly surprised about it either.

In fact, I play hands like this one with regular frequency. I think they add a lot to my $2-$5 win rate. I’ll break down the thought process.

Preflop, as I wrote above, 8-7 suited is the exact worst hand that I almost never fold UTG. Therefore I played it, not because I believe it has a big edge, but because some hand has to be my worst one, and for me this one is it.

If you’ve read my columns for a while now, you know that I view suited connectors as primarily bluffing hands. It’s difficult to hit a board hard and stack someone with a suited connector. This is doubly so when you are playing against opponents whose tendency is to get stacks in only with near-lock hands. Furthermore, my stack was so shallow to start that even if I did stack someone, it would be no particular thing.

I’m playing the hand primarily for its bluffing potential. It’s in my range so that you can’t just fold every ace-high or king-high flop against me after I raise UTG.

I’ll grant that bluffing into six players can seem a little crazy at first. But against the nitty folks who clog up $2-$5 games these days, it’s not so nuts.

Sure, I’m not going to bet that all six of my opponents missed a Q-10-3 flop. Those top two cards are right in the range of what many of my opponents are likely playing. Out of my six opponents, at least one likely has a pair of tens or queens. There’s probably another draw out there also.

But hitting the flop is something very different from stacking off. Sure, there could be a Q-J or a J-10 out there. But many of my opponents will fold such a hand by the river if I keep firing. After all, I raised preflop UTG. I bet the flop into six people. Then I bet the turn into whoever called, and I shoved the river. I have to have at least pocket aces, right?

Players at $2-$5 in Las Vegas routinely fold lesser pairs with lesser kickers to three streets of pressure in hands like this one.

So while I fully expect to get called on the flop (often in two or three places), I like the situation just fine. Of course I hold a flush draw, so I could make a big hand. But beyond that, I can effortlessly represent pocket aces and, depending on the turn and river cards, force folds from a wide range of hands.

This particular turn card, an offsuit rag, is great for me. If my opponents feel as though they are likely drawing to beat me, this card is of no help to them. They will still have just the weak pair or draw that they flopped.

I bet the turn with the hope that one of three good things happens:

My opponents both fold immediately.

I get called, and then I make my hand on the river.

I get called, and another card unlikely to improve my opponent hits the river.

In my experience, while it was unlikely for my flop bet to take it down, this turn bet has a better chance. If I’m up against a ten and a gutshot, for instance, I could easily win it now. Or a queen with a weak kicker. Or possibly even an open-ender (some players are loathe to “chase” hands on the turn, even with juicy pot odds like I’ve offered here).

The offsuit ace on the river is not ideal, but it’s a good enough card for me to take a shot. It makes hands like K-J, A-10, A-K, A-J, and A-x of hearts, but it might also be the final straw (along with my shove) that scares away K-Q and Q-J. (It’s also not a lock that my opponent calls the river with a hand like A (h) 6 (h).)

The key point is that there’s $490 in the pot, and my shove is only for $240. I’m getting slightly better than 2-to-1 on my bluff, so it needs to work only one-third of the time to be preferable to giving up. In my experience, bets like these get folds in $2-$5 games far more frequently than just a third of the time. I think it’s clearly profitable.

Indeed, I think this hand demonstrates exactly the sort of errors many $2-$5 players are prone to make. First, they play way too many hands preflop. It’s ridiculous that six people could find hands preflop they felt worthy of calling my UTG raise. With this many calls, we’re looking at hands like K-8 offsuit, A-5 offsuit, 8-5 suited, and the like. These calls are all terrible.

Because they play too many hands, they are too often caught with weak hands on the turn and river. There are three things you can do with weak hands: fold them, bluff with them, or call down with them. My opponents in Las Vegas overwhelmingly choose to fold them. This tendency makes my turn and river bluffs highly profitable.

You may think my bet sizes seem small. I know many players would be tempted with a flush draw to bet slightly bigger on the flop and then shove the turn. But in my experience, I want to leave at least $200 behind for the river. I prefer to bet three streets to two, as it gives my opponents one extra chance to make a weak fold.

I often say my strategy is to build pots preflop and then steal them on the turn. In this hand I had to plough through six opponents, and it took me until the river, but ultimately the plan worked. It usually does. ?

Ed’s newest book, Playing The Player: Moving Beyond ABC Poker To Dominate Your Opponents, is on sale at notedpokerauthority.com. Find Ed on Facebook at facebook.com/edmillerauthor and on Twitter @EdMillerPoker.


google glass bN

Google Glass Could Help Poker Cheats

As Esquire Article Highlighted, Technology Not Welcome At Card Table
by Brian Pempus

Google Glass is still in its infancy, but some have found a use for the product at the poker table. As a recent piece by Esquire pointed out, it could give less experienced players the ability to obtain advice from others. In other words, totally defy the one-player-to-a-hand rule.

That rule is pretty sacred in the game of poker.

In the piece, the author described how he was able to let his professional poker-playing cousin observe his cards at a home game, as well as the table itself, thanks to Google Glass’ ability to record live video and have it streamed to anywhere.

In this case, all the way to a skilled player in Las Vegas.

The technology has had Nevada gaming regulators a bit worried. In June, the state issued a recommendation to its casinos, saying that they should ban Google Glass:

Regulators wrote: “While there is nothing specifically illegal regarding the possession and/or general use of these devices, the potential for inappropriate and/or illegal use in a casino does exist. For example, these devices could be used to share card information between players in poker and other table games, which could give those players an unfair advantage or allow them to cheat, in violation of NRS 465.075 and 083. In addition, the use of these devices in the casino area or on gaming tables could potentially undermine the public’s confidence that gaming in Nevada is “conducted honestly, competitively and free of criminal and corruptive elements.”

Nevada ultimately decided to let casinos make their own policies for the technology.

So, don’t worry about Google Glass affecting the integrity of the World Series of Poker.


steven silverman

Steven Silverman

Silverman Quits Poker At Height Of Career To Finish College Education
by Julio Rodriguez

www. cardplayer.com

For every story you’ve heard about the college dropout who turned a modest online poker bankroll into millions, there are dozens more about the college dropout who failed to make it as a professional and regretted his decision.

However, one story you probably haven’t heard is the one about a guy who quit school, won millions and then dropped out of poker, opting instead to return to academia and finish his education.

That guy is Steven Silverman, a former online juggernaut playing under the name “zugwat” who tore up high-stakes online cash games before abruptly deciding he’d had enough and needed a major lifestyle change.

Now 25, the Maryland native is back on the tournament circuit and proving to his opponents that he hasn’t lost a step.

Poker Beginnings

Steven Silverman was born and raised in Derwood, a suburb of Rockville, Maryland about 40 minutes from Washington D.C. The younger of two boys, Silverman was influenced by the strong work ethic of his parents, who both work for the government. Mark Silverman works in computer security for the National Institute of Health and his wife Phyllis works in biostatistics, approving new medical devices for the Food and Drug Administration.

Steven, however, didn’t quite apply that work ethic to his studies, choosing instead to pour himself into poker, which he discovered at age 14.

“I picked up poker in camp the summer before 10th grade,” Silverman recalled. “A friend introduced our group to the game, but we didn’t really understand the rules. I remember that there was no preflop or flop action, just two rounds of betting with no check-raises. When I got home, my brother Aaron signed me up for an online account and I started playing freerolls and clearing deposit bonuses.”

Silverman ran up his first modest bankroll and already had a lot of experience under his belt entering his freshman year at the University of Maryland, where he chose to major in mathematics.

“I really wasn’t putting to much effort into anything other than poker and I wound up getting smashed by my classes,” he admitted.

Dropping Out

Much to his parents’ dismay, Silverman dropped out of college and focused on trying to make it as a professional poker player. He befriended and subsequently moved in with fellow College Park resident Greg Merson and the two began grinding the local underground $1-$2 cash games. Silverman even dealt at a few of the games, but two robberies and an unsuccessful run of cards made him turn to more traditional games.

Silverman would make the occasional trip to Turning Stone Casino in New York and there he ran into young pros like Christian Harder and Randal Flowers.

“They were on a completely different level and made me realize that I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time, especially when it came to online poker,” he said. “I learned that I wasn’t ready. In a way, they kind of intimidated me into going back to school.”

His first hiatus from school was deemed a failure, but his second was far from it. Just one semester after returning to classes, Silverman racked up a number of big scores online and once again left the University of Maryland.

A Successful Run

Still not 21 years old, Silverman focused on his online play with the occasional international poker trip. At his first ever live tournament at the WPT North American Poker Championship in Niagara Falls, he finished in 10th place, earning $66,395. In San Jose, Costa Rica on the Latin American Poker Tour, he finished third in the main event, scoring $106,167.

At the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) he won a $1,000 event for a whopping $350,450. He followed that up with a deep run at the EPT Grand Final main event in Monte Carlo for another $126,100.

Even with his tournament play improving, Silverman strived to improve his overall game by delving into cash games.

“At some point, I transitioned into heads-up sit-n-gos and that was going well, but then I spent a summer living in a beach house in New Jersey with Dan Smith and Andrew Lichtenberger. That’s when I started playing more cash games and really learned a lot.”

“A lot” was an understatement. Silverman began jumping into some of the biggest cash games online, playing $50-$100 and $100-$200 no-limit games regularly, taking on the world’s best and winning.

Going Back

By mid-2009, Silverman had become one of the most feared players online. He had become a millionaire and was on top of the game at the high point of his career, but instead of pressing forward, he decided to pump the brakes and return to the University of Maryland to finish his degree.

“I saw it as something to do in the meantime,” he admitted. “It wasn’t really a way out of poker and I didn’t really do it for my parents. I just figured that I might as well finish it up while I was still young.”

His decision baffled his peers. Why would anybody quit poker after such a successful run? The truth is that Silverman never intended to quit poker. He figured he could do both simultaneously, but soon realized that his classes would need his full attention.
“I guess I’ve always had an all or nothing mentality, so when I went back to school, I jumped in head first. I was completely focused on getting my degree. One year, I even skipped the WSOP main event for some summer classes.”

Silverman was double majoring in biochemistry and nutritional science. His sleep schedule was normal for the first time in years and he spent his free time working his poker body into gym shape. But when it came time to play cards, Silverman showed that he hadn’t allowed his skills to become rusty.

Riding A Heater

In the summer of 2012, a break during his senior year, Silverman started a run that included four final tables and more than $425,000 in earnings. He made final tables at the Five Star World Poker Classic, EPT Barcelona, Bellagio Cup VIII and highlighted it all with a third-place finish in the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha Championship.

Despite the run, Silverman quickly returned back to Maryland to finish his final semester. After graduating in December, he picked right back up where he left off with a fourth-place finish in a $5,000 event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $69,040. A month later, he took sixth in the EPT Deauville High Roller for another $64,786.

Then in May, he headed back to Monaco for the EPT Grand Final High Roller and came out on top, banking $1,016,745, the largest score of his career. When asked what the money meant to him, Silverman answered in typical high-roller fashion.

“I’m already used to insane swings, but it was a nice bankroll boost,” he admitted. “If anything, it gave me a little more security and peace of mind when it comes to scheduling more big tournaments. Honestly, it’s not really $1 million to me, it’s just money I will use as ammunition to win more money.”

Silverman went on to explain that a disregard for money is essential to becoming a successful high-stakes player.

“Occasionally after a big loss, you’ll start to think about what the money could’ve bought you, but that’s not a healthy way of thinking. You have to have a disconnect between the money you are wagering and what that money is actually worth. It’s a game and money is the way we keep score.”

Moving Forward

At the 2013 WSOP, Silverman continued to add to the pile, scoring an additional $123,202 for a third-place showing in a $3,000 event. Then in August, he entered the $100,000 buy-in Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open High Roller and won his second title of the year, along with $891,660.

At just 25-years-old, he has already racked up more than $3 million in tournament earnings and an undisclosed sum in the biggest online cash games in the world. When he’s not traveling the tournament circuit, Silverman splits time between Toronto for online poker and his girlfriend’s home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Furthermore, his parents are now fully supportive and in his corner.

“They weren’t really interested in the high-stakes cash games, but they love tournaments because of the excitement and the press coverage,” he explained. “I gave them a lot to worry about early on, but I think I have done a good job of reassuring them I’ll be fine.” ?

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