World Championship Poker: Walkthrough/FAQ Version 1.01 (created 02/24/06, updated 03/05/06, US date convention) by Matthew A. Peeler firstname.lastname@example.org This document is copyrighted 2006 by Matthew A. Peeler, and is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes only. This document should not be reprinted, in whole or in part, without the express consent of the author. The author has authorized this guide to be posted on the website: http://www.gamefaqs.com +++++++++++++++++ Table Of Contents +++++++++++++++++ [0.1] Version Update [0.2] Introduction/Purpose [0.3] General Notices About The Guide [0.4] Vocabulary [1.0] Basics [1.1] Types of Games [1.2] Limits [1.3] Format (Sit and Go vs. Tournament) [2.0] Earning Money [2.1] Buy-ins [2.2] Sit and Go Structures [2.3] Tournament Structures [2.4] Tournament Listing [2.5] Tournament Payout Tables [3.0] Strategy for Playing World Championship Poker [3.1] Break Even Points and Earning Money [3.2] Sit and Go Strategy [3.3] Tournament Strategy [3.4] Off-table Eliminations [4.0] Opponent Betting Strategies [4.1] Exploiting the Opponents [4.2] Semi-bluffing [4.3] The "Bait and Reel" [5.0] Basic Strategy: Texas Hold'Em [5.1] Preflop Initial Hands [5.2] Postflop Betting [5.3] Modifications for Hold'Em Variations [5.4] Omaha Strategy [5.5] 7-card Stud Strategy [6.0] Other Observations [6.1] Pot Odds for Texas Hold'Em [6.2] Cheating [6.3] The M Statistic [7.0] Acknowledgements Searching by topic can be done by using Ctrl-F (Find) on the section number enclosed in brackets by each section. ++++++++++++++++++++ [0.1] Version Update ++++++++++++++++++++ Version 1.00 (02/24/06): Initial version Version 1.01 (03/05/06): Added M statistic and Harrington's Zone information. Found better estimates for 200+ player tournament payouts. Cleaned up minor typographical and table formatting problems. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [0.2] Introduction/Purpose ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ This guide is a basic FAQ/Walkthrough for the game World Championship Poker, intended to aid the player in opening the games many tournaments, and achieving the highest return for the player in playing the various forms of poker available in the game. Enclosed is a description of the various types of games and tournaments available, with their types, buy-ins, payout structure, and some basic strategies. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [0.3] General Notices About The Guide +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Note 1: I based this guide on the North American Playstation 2 version of the game, so some particular strategies given here may not necessarily work for other versions. Note 2: A basic strategy for how to play hands is enclosed, however, it should be noted that this is mainly designed to defeat the computer opponents in the game. Therefore, the strategies may not work as well on human opponents (such as in online play, other poker games, or in real life). This strategy is not mine alone, rather it is an amalgamation of strategies from several source books (given in the Acknowledgement section) modified to this particular game. Players interested in these strategies are highly encouraged to get the books stated there. Note 3: There is also some information (such as pot odds) that requires a basic understanding in algebra and statistics. I have tried to keep such mathematical terminology to a minimum, however, it is necessary to truly understand the material. ++++++++++++++++ [0.4] Vocabulary ++++++++++++++++ Poker Terms: Board: The community cards placed face up on the table that all players can use. Quads: 4 of a kind Trips: 3 of a kind Boat/Full Boat: Full house Kicker(s): The highest unpaired card(s). Often used to break ties, they are quite important in a lot of hands. Wheel: Lowest possible straight (5,4,3,2,A, with the ace low). Card Symbolism: Ranks: A : Ace K : King Q : Queen J : Jack T : Ten (10) 9-2 Suits: s : Suited Cards Mathematical Terms: Operational Symbols: + : Addition - : Subtraction * : Multiplication / : Division ^ : Exponents Numerical shortcuts: K : (kilo-) Thousand M : (mega-) Million ++++++++++++ [1.0] Basics ++++++++++++ Here is some basic information on poker. +++++++++++++++++++ [1.1] Rank of Hands +++++++++++++++++++ In descending order, the ranks of hands are as follows: Royal Flush : A,K,Q,J,T all of the same suit. Straight Flush : 5 cards in order, all of the same suit. 4 of a Kind (Quads) : 4 cards of the same rank. Full House (Full Boat): 3 cards of one rank, and 2 of another rank. Flush : 5 cards of the same suit. Straight : 5 cards in order. 3 of a Kind (Trips) : 3 cards of the same rank. Two Pair : 2 cards of one rank, and 2 of another rank. Pair : 2 cards of the same rank. High Card : None of the above hands Ties are broken by the rank of the cards used in the hand, with A counting as highest (except in a straight or straight flush, where A can count as highest or lowest, so 5,4,3,2,A is a straight (the "wheel")). For a full house, the 3 of a kind is compared first, then the pair. For identical quads, trips, two pair, and pairs, extra cards (kickers) are then compared, up to the maximum of five cards per hand. If all five cards in a hand are identical in rank, the hands are considered tied, so... 9,9,9,K,Q,8,2 is tied with 9,9,9,K,Q,7,4 (last 2 cards not counted) These ranks are used for all varieties of poker in the game. ++++++++++++++++++++ [1.1] Types of Games ++++++++++++++++++++ World Championship Poker contains several varieties of poker, listed below. Texas Hold'Em: The most popular form in the tournaments, it involves each player receiving two hole cards, with five community cards distributed 3-1-1 (flop, turn, and river). Small and big blinds are posted, and players may bet 4 times, before the flop, and after the flop, turn, and river. Players can then use any or all of their hole cards with the community cards (the "board") to make the best hand. Tahoe: A variation of Texas Hold'Em with 3 hole cards to each player and the same 3-1-1 board. Betting is as in Hold'Em, but players may only use up to 2 of their hole cards with the board. Super Hold'Em: Another variation with 3 hole cards to each player, but the player can use all 3 hole cards with the board. Pineapple: Another variation with 3 hole cards, but the players are forced to discard one card after the first round of betting, but before the flop. Action then proceeds as in Texas Hold'Em. Crazy Pineapple: As in Pineapple, but the discarding takes place after the second round of betting (between the flop and turn). Double Flop Hold'Em: As in Texas Hold'Em, with 2 hole cards, however, two boards (complete with flop, turn, and river) are dealt. The players cards are compared on each board separately, and the winner on each board wins half the pot. Omaha: 4 hole cards are dealt, with the board distributed 3-1-1 as in Hold'Em. Players are required to use exactly 2 of their hole cards with the board to make their best hand. Shanghai: 3 hole cards are dealt as in Tahoe, but the board distribution is changed to 2-2-1. Again, as in Tahoe, players can only use up to 2 hole cards with the board. Billabong: Players are dealt 4 hole cards, with the last face up on the table. Board is distributed 3-1-1 as in Hold'Em. Players must use either 3 or all 4 hole cards to make their hand. 7 Card Stud: Players are dealt 3 cards to begin, 2 face down and 1 face up. After the first round of betting, players are dealt one card each round until they have seven cards, with all cards but the last face up. A round of betting occurs after each round of cards is dealt. Draw Poker: Players are dealt 5 cards. After a round of betting, players can discard up to 4 cards (4 card discards are only allowed if the kept card is an Ace), or can choose not to discard. A second round of betting then ensues, and then the hands are compared. Triple Draw (2-7): As in draw poker, but 3 separate drawings are allowed, which can be from none to all 5 cards for each drawing. The object here is to get the lowest possible hand (2-7, no flush). ++++++++++++ [1.2] Limits ++++++++++++ Each of the varieties of poker can be played with the following betting limits. Limit: Betting is limited to specific amounts, depending on whether it is pre- flop, on the flop, turn, or river. These limits are listed as #/#, where the first number is usually half of the second (i.e. 5/10, 25/50, etc.). The first is the size of bets on pre-flop and flop, and the second for turn and river. (Note: In most games, raises are capped at 4 bets). The blinds are usually set by these limits, with the big blind betting the minimum amount and the small blind usually half of the big blind. These usually increase each time the dealer button goes around the table. Half-Pot Limit: The betting minimums are as in limit poker, but players may raise up to half the size of the pot (on top of their bet). Pot Limit: Players can raise up to the size of the pot. No Limit: Players can raise up to their entire chip stack. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [1.3] Format (Sit and Go vs. Tournament) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A Sit and Go game is played with the player and up to 5 opponents (making 6 possible players total) all at one table with identical stacks of $1000. The object is to eliminate all of your opponents. A Tournament is played with many more players (from 40 to 200+), all starting with identical stacks. The player is put at the table with 5 other opponents, and as players are eliminated, new players are put at the table. There is no "splitting the table" as is the case in real life tournaments, which can be to the player's disadvantage. The players at the other tables are simulated by the game (somewhat poorly), and a count of how many players remain is provided at each blind increase. The object is, again, to eliminate all of your opponents. +++++++++++++++++++ [2.0] Earning Money +++++++++++++++++++ A newly created character is given $1000 in off-line money and $1000 in on-line money. Obviously, the goal is to earn as much money as possible. To understand how to accomplish this, you need to look at the reward structure (how much money you earn for placing in which position) of the various games. +++++++++++++ [2.1] Buy-ins +++++++++++++ Each game has a cost for playing that is deducted from the player's bankroll. This is composed of two parts, the part "in the pot" that goes to the prizes given in the game, and the "entry fee", which simulates the house's percentage. For Sit and Go games, this is explicitly stated (such as a $30+$3 game, where $30 goes to the pot and $3 to the house). For the tournaments, it is hidden in the buy-in (a $22 buy-in is actually $20+$2, a $2700 buy-in is actually $2500+$200, and so on). This affects the amount awarded for each place (the tournament structure), and so we have to take this into account in calculating how much we can win in each tournament. As the cost of Sit and Gos and Tournaments increase, the entry fee percentage gets smaller, starting at 10% and decreasing to around 7% for the highest buy- ins. Therefore, as the player earns more money, they should go for the higher buy-ins. A smaller percentage going to the house is more that is in the pot and available to win. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [2.2] Sit and Go Structures +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The structure of a game is the amount of the buy-in, the type of game, number of players, and the rewards given for placing. Sit and Go games can have 2,4, or 6 players, all varieties of poker listed above, and all limits (all of these are the player's choice). The buy-ins are as follows (listed as pot+fee, with fee percentage): $20+$2 (fee=10%) $30+$3 (fee=10%) $50+$5 (fee=10%) $100+$9 (fee=9%) $200+$15 (fee=8.5%) $500+$40 (fee=8%) $1000+$80 (fee=8%) $1500+$120 (fee=8%) $2000+$160 (fee=8%) $2500+$200 (fee=8%) $5000+$400 (fee=8%) $10K+$700 (fee=7%) $15K+$1050 (fee=7%) $20K+$1400 (fee=7%) $25K+$1750 (fee=7%) $30K+$2100 (fee=7%) $35K+$2450 (fee=7%) $40K+$2800 (fee=7%) $50K+$3500 (fee=7%) $100K+$7000 (fee=7%) Based on the number of players, placing in a certain position pays according to the following tables, given as percentages of the pot. Also included in the table is the break-even point (BEP), which is the point where the player will have earned an amount at least equal to the buy-in (i.e. they will at least "break even"). For 2 players: 1st: 100% (BEP) 2nd: 0 For 4 players: 1st: 70% 2nd: 30% (BEP) 3rd+: 0 For 6 players: 1st: 50% 2nd: 30% 3rd: 20% (BEP) 4th+: 0 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [2.3] Tournament Structures +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Tournament structure is a little different. The name, type, buy-in and possible prize (for winning) are listed, and the number of players are randomly selected within a certain range. Limit is also fixed, and is given on the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen. The payout table is determined based on the number of players. Placing and/or winning certain tournaments opens up new tournaments to compete in, generally with higher buy-ins and prizes. At the highest level, free invitationals are opened, which have no buy-in at all. Some important things to note: The fee is hidden in the buy-in, but again, generally falls between 7-10% as in Sit and Go, with higher buy-ins having lower percentages. This information is given in the charts below. The prizes given for winning are not correct. They vary based on the number of players, and are usually (but not always) higher than listed. This is also listed in the charts, as a range of values. Some tournaments can have a range of number of players that allows it two possible structures (say, a 60-120 player tournament, which has one structure for 60-100 and another for 100-120 players). Usually, you can tell by how many remain in the tournament after the first hand. ++++++++++++++++++++++++ [2.4] Tournament Listing ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Here is a list of all the available tournaments, with type, buy-in, number of players, a range of first place prizes, starting chip count, and tournament opening information (which tournaments open and are opened by this tournament): (Note: In a lot of instances, the game's information on the tournament entry screen is incomplete, if not completely wrong. Thus, I have listed all of the correct information below.) Daily Limit Tournament: Limit Texas Hold'Em $20+$2 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $320-$800 first place Available: At start Opens: None Daily Limit Omaha: Limit Omaha $20+$2 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $320-$800 first place Available: At start Opens: None Daily Limit Pineapple: Limit Pineapple $20+$2 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $320-$800 first place Available: At start Opens: Pineapple Cavalcade (place) Daily Limit Tahoe: Limit Tahoe $20+$2 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $320-$800 first place Available: At start Opens: Tahoe Pot (place) Daily 7-card Stud: No Limit 7-card Stud $20+$2 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $320-$800 first place Available: At start Opens: King of the Cards (place) Weekly Tournament: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $100+$9 buy-in, 60-120 players $500 starting chips, $2400-$4200 first place Available: At start Opens: Weekly Super Hold'Em (place) Weekly Omaha: No Limit Omaha $100+$9 buy-in, 60-120 players $500 starting chips, $2400-$4200 first place Available: At start Opens: Kings of the Felt (place) Weekly Super Hold'Em: No Limit Super Hold'Em $100+$9 buy-in, 60-120 players $500 starting chips, $2400-$4200 first place Available: Weekly Tournament (place) Opens: None Crazy Weekly: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $100+$9 buy-in, 60-120 players $500 starting chips, $2400-$4200 first place Available: At start Opens: Crazy for the Felt (place) Poker Cavalcade: Limit Texas Hold'Em $500+$40 buy-in, 40-80 players $500 starting chips, $8K-$16K first place Available: At start Opens: Aces High Showdown (place) Pineapple Cavalcade: Limit Pineapple $500+$40 buy-in, 40-80 players $500 starting chips, $8K-$16K first place Available: Daily Limit Pineapple (place) Opens: None Shanghai Cavalcade: Limit Shanghai $500+$40 buy-in, 40-80 players $500 starting chips, $8K-$16K first place Available: At start Opens: None Kings of the Felt: No Limit Omaha $1000+$80 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $16K-$40K first place Available: Weekly Omaha (place) Opens: Aces High Omaha (place) Crazy for the Felt: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $1000+$80 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $16K-$40K first place Available: Crazy Weekly (place) Opens: Crazy Aces High (place) King of the Cards: No Limit 7-card Stud $1000+$80 buy-in, 40-100 players $200 starting chips, $16K-$40K first place Available: Daily 7-card Stud (place) Opens: Aces High Stud (place) Pot O'Gold: Pot Limit Texas Hold'Em $1500+$120 buy-in, 50-150 players $1000 starting chips, $30K-$78.75K first place Available: At start Opens: Best of the West 1 (place) Double Pot: Pot Limit Double Flop Hold'Em $1500+$120 buy-in, 50-150 players $1000 starting chips, $30K-$78.75K first place Available: At start Opens: None Tahoe Pot: Pot Limit Tahoe $1500+$120 buy-in, 50-150 players $1000 starting chips, $30K-$78.75K first place Available: Daily Limit Tahoe (place) Opens: Best of the West 2 (place) Aces High Showdown: Half-Pot Limit Texas Hold'Em $2500+$200 buy-in, 50-150 players $400 starting chips, $50K-$131.25K first place Available: Kings of the Felt (place) Opens: WCP Mini Championship (place) Crazy Aces High: Half-Pot Limit Crazy Pineapple $2500+$200 buy-in, 50-150 players $400 starting chips, $50K-$131.25K first place Available: Crazy for the Felt (place) Opens: Crazy 8 Open (place) Aces High Omaha: Half-Pot Limit Omaha $2500+$200 buy-in, 50-150 players $400 starting chips, $50K-$131.25K first place Available: Kings of the Felt (place) Opens: Omaha Open (place) Aces High Stud: Half-Pot Limit 7-card Stud $2500+$200 buy-in, 50-150 players $400 starting chips, $50K-$131.25K first place Available: King of the Cards (place) Opens: WCP Showdown 4 (win) Best of the West 1: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $5000+$400 buy-in, 100-200 players $500 starting chips, $175K-$350K first place Available: Aces High Showdown (place) Opens: None Best of the West 2: No Limit Tahoe $5000+$400 buy-in, 100-200 players $500 starting chips, $175K-$350K first place Available: Tahoe Pot (place) Opens: Tahoe Regional Finals (win) Best of the West 3: No Limit Billabong $5000+$400 buy-in, 100-200 players $500 starting chips, $175K-$350K first place Available: At start Opens: None Best of the West 4: No Limit Super Hold'Em $5000+$400 buy-in, 100-200 players $500 starting chips, $175K-$350K first place Available: At start Opens: WCP Best of the West 2 (place) Omaha Open: Pot Limit Omaha $5000+$400 buy-in, 120-250 players $1000 starting chips, $210K-$375K first place Available: Aces High Omaha (place) Opens: Omaha Open Invitational (win) Crazy 8 Open: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $5000+$400 buy-in, 80-160 players $1000 starting chips, $160K-$280K first place Available: Crazy Aces High (place) Opens: WCP Showdown 3 (win) Omaha Island Finale: No Limit Omaha $10K+$700 buy-in, 40-80 players $1000 starting chips, $160K-$320K first place Available: At start Opens: WCP Showdown 2 (place) Pineapple Champs: No Limit Pineapple $10K+$700 buy-in, 60-120 players $1000 starting chips, $240K-$420K first place Available: At start Opens: WCP Invitational 2 (win) Limit Hold'Em Heroes: Limit Texas Hold'Em $10K-$700 buy-in, 120-250 players $1000 starting chips, $420K-$750K first place Available: At start Opens: WCP Best of the West 1 (place) WCP Mini Championship: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $15K+$1050 buy-in, 60-120 players $1000 starting chips, $360K-$630K first place Available: Aces High Showdown (place) Opens: WCP Showdown 1 (place) Crazy Pineapple Finals: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $15K+$1050 buy-in, 80-160 players $1000 starting chips, $480K-$840K first place Available: At start Opens: Crazy Pineapple Invitational (win) Tahoe Regional Finals: No Limit Tahoe $15K+$1050 buy-in, 120-250 players $1000 starting chips, $630K-$1.125M first place Available: Best of the West 2 (place) Opens: WCP Invitational 1 (win) State Poker Finals (Hold'Em): No Limit Texas Hold'Em $25K+$1750 buy-in, 120-250 players $2000 starting chips, $1.05M-$1.875M first place Available: At start Opens: WCP World Championship (place) State Poker Finals (Omaha): No Limit Omaha $25K+$1750 buy-in, 100-200 players $2000 starting chips, $875K-$1.75M first place Available: At start Opens: Omaha World Championship (place) WCP Best of the West 1: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $50K+$3500 buy-in, 100-200 players $2000 starting chips, $1.75M-$3.5M first place Available: Limit Hold'Em Heroes (place) Opens: Big Slick Invitational (win) WCP Best of the West 2: No Limit Super Hold'Em $50K+$3500 buy-in, 100-200 players $2000 starting chips, $1.75M-$3.5M first place Available: Best of the West 4 (place) Opens: No Limit Invitational (win) WCP Showdown 1: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $100K+$7K buy-in, 30 players $5000 starting chips, $1.2M first place Available: WCP Mini Championship (place) Opens: WCP World Invitational (win) WCP Showdown 2: No Limit Omaha $100K+$7K buy-in, 30 players $5000 starting chips, $1.2M first place Available: Omaha Island Finale (place) Opens: WCP Aces Invitational (win) WCP Showdown 3: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $100K+$7K buy-in, 30 players $5000 starting chips, $1.2M first place Available: Crazy 8 Open (win) Opens: WCP National Invitational (win) WCP Showdown 4: No Limit 7-card Stud $100K+$7K buy-in, 30 players $5000 starting chips, $1.2M first place Available: Aces High Stud (win) Opens: WCP Invitational 3 (win) Omaha Champs Invitational: No Limit Omaha $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $25K first place Available: Omaha Open (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) Crazy Pineapple Invitational: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $25K first place Available: Crazy Pineapple Finals (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP Invitational 1: No Limit Tahoe $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $25K first place Available: Tahoe Regional Finals (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP Invitational 2: No Limit Pineapple $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $25K first place Available: Pineapple Champs (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP Invitational 3: No Limit 7-card Stud $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $50K first place Available: WCP Showdown (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) Big Slick Invitational: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $50K first place Available: WCP Best of the West 1 (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) No Limit Invitational: No Limit Super Hold'Em $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $100K first place Available: WCP Best of the West 2 (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP National Invitational: No Limit Crazy Pineapple $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $250K first place Available: WCP Showdown 3 (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP Aces Invitational: No Limit Omaha $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $500K first place Available: WCP Showdown 2 (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) WCP World Invitational: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $0 buy-in, 6 players $5000 starting chips, $500K first place Available: WCP Showdown 1 (win) Opens: None (closes one tournament) Omaha World Championship: No Limit Omaha $40K+$2800 buy-in, 60-120 players $4000 starting chips, $960K-$1.68M first place Available: State Poker Finals (Omaha) (place) Opens: None WCP World Championship: No Limit Texas Hold'Em $50K+$3500 buy-in, 150-300 players $5000 starting chips, $2.625M-$4.5M first place Available: State Poker Finals (Hold'Em) (place) Opens: None Note: Invitationals open by winning the appropriate tournament, and close once they are participated in. Entering an invitational also closes one other tournament, starting at Poker Cavalcade and working downward in the listing. These tournaments, and the invitationals themselves, can be reopened by fulfilling the requirements again, with the exception of tournaments available at the start (such as Shanghai Cavalcade, or Double Pot). These are permanently closed and cannot be reopened. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [2.5] Tournament Payout Table +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ There are 4 payouts for tournaments, based on the number of players, given here as percentages of the pot with BEP listed. For 30-60 players: 1st: 40% 2nd: 22% 3rd: 10% 4th: 7% 5th: 6% 6th: 5% 7th: 4% 8th: 3% (BEP) 9th: 2% 10th: 1% 11th+: 0 For 60-100 players: 1st: 40% 2nd: 20% 3rd: 10% 4th: 5% 5th: 4% 6th-9th: 3% 10th-12th: 2% (BEP) 13th-15th: 1% 16th+: 0 For 100-200 players: 1st: 35% 2nd: 20% 3rd: 10% 4th: 7% 5th: 5% 6th-10th: 2% 11th-14th: 1.6% 15th-20th: 1.1% (BEP) 21st+: 0 For 200+ players (* places are estimated): 1st: 30% 2nd: 17.5% 3rd: 12% 4th: 6.5% 5th: 5% 6th: 4% 7th: 3% 8th: 2% 9th-12th: 1% 13th-16th: 0.9% 17th-23rd: 0.7% (*) 24th-31st: 0.5% (*) (BEP) 32nd-45th: 0.25% (*) 46th+: 0 The last couple of places in the 200+ tournament are estimates. In that large a tournament, players drop out so quickly (see Section 3.4) in those places that ensuring that an accurate payout amount for any particular place is difficult, especially since other players not at the current table (and thus invisible to the player) may have gone out at the same time, leading to split payouts. However, in a strategic sense, those values are of little importance. You should have little trouble finishing 16th or better a majority of the time in those tournaments. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [3.0] Strategy for Playing World Championship Poker +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ In these sections, we'll look at a basic strategy for playing World Championship Poker. First, note that while Sit and Gos are quick, generally a better return can be gained through the tournaments, especially since the player can take advantage of several tendencies in the game more easily in the tournament structure than in Sit and Gos. Also, the tournaments are more lucrative given the amount of money invested (a $20+$2 Sit and Go earns $50 for first place, but a $20+$2 tournament can earn from $320-$800, given the number or players involved). However, in the early going, Sit and Gos are a reliable way to earn money for the tournament buy-ins. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [3.1] Break Even Points and Earning Money +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Whether you are playing Sit and Go or Tournament, take note of the payout structure, especially the break even points (noted as BEP). This is where you have to place to earn your money back. For Sit and Gos with 6 players (which is probably the best structure for Sit and Go), it's third place. For tournaments, it varies based on the number of players, as listed in the tables above. +++++++++++++++++++++++++ [3.2] Sit and Go Strategy +++++++++++++++++++++++++ Sit and Go playing should usually be played with the maximum 6 opponents, making the break-even point third place. This is because the computer opponents' strategies are relatively easy to exploit at novice level (less so at higher difficulty, though they are still present). Fairly solid, tight play should ensure a player places at least third (and thus, makes money), at least 70-80% of the time (if not more), especially at a high limit (pot- or no- limit). This is a great way to earn entry fees for the tournaments. As for choosing an amount to buy-in, you want to take into account your current bankroll. While you are learning, I suggest playing for close to the minimum (say $20-$50) and at a limit game so that mistakes do not cost you much in the way of chips, or money. After some experience, go for the largest amount that you can reasonably afford, keeping in mind your bankroll and the possibility of losing. There is always a possibility that you will go broke, due to luck or the randomness of the cards (unless you cheat). Mathematicians call this the "possibility of ruin" or "possibility of absorbsion" (in gambling chain analysis, $0 is called an "absorbsion point", because once you are broke, you can't earn any more money). With the high possibility that you will earn money, this possibility of ruin is not likely, but it should be taken into account. A good safeguard against ruin is to always play Sit and Go games where the buy-in is less than a quarter (1/4) of your current bankroll. This will reduce your chances of ruin in 4 tries at that buy-in to less than 1% (given 70+% possibility of winning money). As your bankroll gets higher, you should probably look to tournaments to gain money, and use a max buy-in Sit and Go ($100K+$7000) to replenish your bankroll, or just as a change of pace. These tend to be games where you will "grind" your opponents down using superior tactics and pot-odds. When you are the superior player at the table (and after you learn basic strategy for these games, you will be), you should seek to slowly exploit the weakness of the computer players, and gain your chips a little at a time. This is not to say that you shouldn't take the opportunity to bust one of your opponents (which you have vastly outplayed in a hand), but you shouldn't be actively seeking an all-or-nothing proposition with them where you feel that you have only a marginal advantage. When in doubt, check the pot down or fold, and wait for a better hand. After winning a few of the lower level limit games, start experimenting with higher limit games at low cost. The strategies there are a little different, due mainly to a higher "variance" at these games, by which I mean that the risks and rewards are higher. Proper play earns more money, but mistakes cost more at higher limits. The play goes much faster, but the strategy is still to grind your opponents down. +++++++++++++++++++++++++ [3.3] Tournament Strategy +++++++++++++++++++++++++ In tournaments, the number of opponents is randomly determined within a set range at the beginning of the tournament. You will generally not know how many players there were at the start of the tournament, but will see a number of players remaining after the first hand is over. This is not the actual starting amount, as we will see in the next section, but we can estimate the starting number from this. If you make it to the last table (6 players left), the actual amount of players can also be estimated by the chip count, or by the payouts when players are eliminated. It is actually to the player's benefit to have as many players in the tournament as possible, both to increase the payouts and, somewhat paradoxically, to also increase the likelihood of earning money. This is due to an easily exploitable flaw in the game in regards to off-table eliminations (detailed in the next section). In general, the strategy for tournaments is similar to Sit and Go, with a few exceptions. The general strategy it to grind the opponents down, but also to avoid gambling in cases where waiting a hand or two is likely to move the player up in "real" money (to a position with a higher payout). For example, it is best not to go all-in on a good, but not great, hand when you have an opponent extremely short stacked with 11 players left in a tournament that started with 100-200 players. The reason is 11th place pays 1.6% (which is what you will earn if you go all-in and lose), whereas if you fold the hand and wait, the odds are that the short stack will be eliminated soon, moving you to at least 10th place (which pays 2%). The difference of 0.4% doesn't sound like much, but for a $5000+$400 buy-in tournament, it's $2000- 3000 (about half of the buy-in). The computer opponents do not alter their basic strategy for these cases, so you certainly should. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [3.4] Off-table Eliminations ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Easily the player's greatest advantage to the tournament structure is the generally passive way that the opponents play at the player's table, compared to the hyper-aggressive algorithm for off-table play. Computer opponents literally give their money away off-table, leading to an inordinate amount of off-table eliminations. Here's a quick example from my own game. I bought in to the State Poker Finals (Omaha) tournament (100-200 players), and was given the usual $2000 in chips. I saw after the first hand there were 112 players remaining. In this particular tournament, I started watching the payouts as players were eliminated and found them to be a little high, so when I made it to the final table, I did a quick chip count of all the players at the table and the blinds and antes. It totaled close to $250K in chips (since the game uses the same K notation for thousands as I do here, it suffers some round-off error). That means 125 players started the tournament ($250K/$2K per player). Payouts (from the payout table above) confirmed my calculation that there were 125 players at the start. That means that 13 players (over 10% of the field) were eliminated IN ONE HAND! I later confirmed that for all tournaments, around 7-12% of the field is eliminated in that first hand, and it stays pretty high throughout the rest of the tournament. This means that a rather tight approach is best with the tournament structure. Since a lot of your competition is getting eliminated off-camera, there's little need to gamble early. You still want to get a pot now and then, and maybe double up once or twice, but most of the time you can quietly fold marginal-to-poor hands, and watch the number of players remaining (given every time the dealer button goes completely around the table) drop lower and lower. Off-table eliminations abruptly stop at exactly 16 players remaining, every time. That means every player from 16th position on must be eliminated at your table (by you or another opponent). That's actually to the player's disadvantage (you can't wait players out as much), but 16th position is usually close to or past the break-even point (for large tournaments), so this makes tournaments quite lucrative, money wise. There is one other minor drawback to this. To determine the chip count for new players sitting at your table, the game calculates a random amount based on the chips remaining (off-table) and the number of players remaining (off-table). With the high amount of eliminations off-table, the off-table chip count will be quite high and the number of players off-table low. This means that players entering your table often have very high chip counts (when compared to yours), so that you will be playing short stacked a lot of the time. Fortunately, the strategy algorithm is not very adept at exploiting it's large stack, whereas there are ways to exploit your short stack, so it's not an overwhelming disadvantage. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [4.0] Opponent Betting Strategies +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Here, we discuss the betting strategies of the computer opponents. For the most part, the strategies of the computer opponents remain the same regardless of difficulty level. The real difference in difficulty comes from the change in betting style. Novice opponents are typically callers or folders before the flop (often chasing with very little), raise very rarely preflop (and usually have a high pair when they do so, typically AA-JJ), and are usually content to check a hand down to the river. They are rather quick to abandon a hand when confronted with a bet/raise, except for the last player, who calls quite often (so, don't expect to win with a weak bluff all the time). They tend to "school" together to defeat the player, meaning they tend to hang around in hands together, leading to a high amount of beats at the turn/river (since there's more players, there's more likelihood that someone will draw out). They tend to bet tightly, only when they have something (say, a high pair, top or middle, or better). There is almost no bluffing (it does happen, but rarely, so don't call if all you can beat is a bluff). Amateur players bet a little more before the flop, so you might see a few more raises (usually they could have pairs through 88, or AK/AQ suited or unsuited). They chase with trash hands less often. They are still content to check down a hand, release a made hand a little less often when confronted by a bet. Betting is more aggressive, but still fairly measured, making it a little harder to put them on a hand. Schooling is still present, though less prevalent. Bluffs start showing up more frequently, usually as late blind steals or on the river in checked-down pots (but still rare). Professional players are like amateur players, only moreso. Since this is a guide for beginning players, if you have advanced to this level of difficulty, you should be more than equipped for the challenge. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [4.1] Exploiting the Opponents ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ For novice players, aggressive betting works wonders at getting opponents to fold, but there will usually be one left, so don't go all-in on a cold bluff trying to run everyone out. When you're betting, have something. This should be balanced with tight requirements for getting in a hand, since you can usually wait out around 16th position in a tournament. There is usually not a need to steal blinds (make high raises in late position to get the blinds and antes) until very late in the tournament, and maybe not even then if you are winning pots often. Similarly, you should usually let the blinds go when raised in late position (they usually have a high pair, and are not stealing). Amateur players don't always fold to aggressive betting, so be more measured in your bets/raises. However, they do fold on occasion if they think they're beat, so bluffing is actually a little more effective, but still should be done very rarely. You should defend your blinds to a steal attempt with a good hand, but otherwise play relatively tight (again, you can wait out 16th place). These same things, but more of them, apply to the professional level. Here are a few other strategies that seem to work well on the computer opponents. +++++++++++++++++++ [4.2] Semi-bluffing +++++++++++++++++++ Semi-bluffing is betting with a hand that is generally weaker than needed to win (so, you are not the best hand), however, contains strong draws to the best. It is usually done after the flop when the flop did not give you a pair (or maybe a weak pair), but you have either a flush draw (4 to a flush), an open-end straight draw (4 to a straight, all together), a high inside straight draw (4 to a straight, with the missing card inside, with a lot of high cards), or, occasionally, two overcards (two cards in your hand higher than the board). It attempts to take the pot immediately by forcing all opponents to fold (the bluff), but, if called, still has outs to any made hand. Semi-bluffing usually drives out opponents fairly well (especially at novice difficulty), but usually leaves you heads up with 1 player, rather than winning the pot immediately. The last player just can't seem to give up the hand, so you will likely be drawing against a fair hand (probably top or middle pair). This is still not quite as bad as it seems, because, had you checked, you would be drawing against 2 or more opponents, therefore increasing your winning chances dramatically. For novice players, the lowest postflop bet of the big blind is generally enough, so it can be done cheaply. You may be raised back, which then requires a pot odds analysis to see if you should call. Higher difficulty players at higher limits require a little higher bet (say, 1/4 the size of the pot) to get it to work. The best part about the semi-bluff is that it can be used in combination with the "bait and reel" to give great profits if you draw out, but relatively inexpensive losses when you do not. +++++++++++++++++++++++++ [4.3] The "Bait and Reel" +++++++++++++++++++++++++ The "Bait and Reel" is one of the most lucrative strategies for flop betting, and, once it is mastered, will be one of your best money winners. It is based on a simple observation of the opponent player's reaction to a re-raise. When an opponent player bets a pot, and the player raises back to him, he almost always calls, no matter the size of the raise or pot, and often re- raises, if possible. This also seems to work if the player bets, and the opponent raises him back. The opponent, again, seems to call any re-raise. An actual example from a hand played at the end of a tournament, me versus 1 computer opponent, heads up: After blinds and antes: around $1500 in pot Player has $80K chips, dealt Q7, with small blind $500 Opponent has $74K chips, dealt K2s, with big blind $1000 After a call of the big blind and a check, pot holds around $2K. Flop: 7K7, one 7 of opponent's suit (player has trip 7's, opponent has pair+2 card "backdoor" flush draw) Player: Bets minimum $1K (pot has $3K) (the "bait") Opponent: Raises $5K (pot has $9K) Player: Re-raise all-in $79K (pot has $88K) (the "reel") Opponent: Calls all-in $69K (pot has $150K: $6K back to Player) And the trip 7's hold up to win me the tournament. Most human opponents, faced with the all-in re-raise, would fold all but the best hands, but the computer opponents have evidently decided that once they raise, they are pot-committed, and call all re-raises. This tendency gives rise to the "Bait and Reel" which works as follows: After the flop if you have a great hand or an excellent draw (such as a flush draw or high open-end straight draw), bet the minimum (or a quarter of the pot). This will drive out opponents, usually leaving 1 left. That opponent may raise immediately, in which case if your hand is made, go all-in (or the maximum allowed). If not, or you only have a draw, see the turn and/or river. If you have at any time made a hand, bet the minimum again, look for a raise, and re-raise all-in. If your draw doesn't come, check-fold at the river. If you are first to act, you can also check/re-raise all-in with the same results. Since you generally have only one opponent, outdraws are rare, and you will usually either double up (if you were the short stack) or eliminate the opponent (if he was). Note 1: Obviously, in limited games, you may not be able to go all-in, but even if you re-raise the maximum, the opponent often just re-raises you again, allowing you to again re-raise the max. It can also often be repeated on the turn and river if the opponent still has a good, but second-best hand. Note 2: Also, obviously, make sure you have the best hand or draw when you do this. It's a bad feeling when you "bait and reel" on a straight draw, make the straight, go all-in, then lose to a flush/full house. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [5.0] Basic Strategy: Texas Hold'Em +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Here is a basic, semi-aggressive betting strategy for Texas Hold'Em. This strategy can be modified for the other variations of Hold'Em that the game has. Omaha and 7-card stud are somewhat different from regular Texas Hold'Em, so require a little different strategy, and so have separate sections. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [5.1] Preflop Initial Hands +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ For most beginners, the main error in pre-flop strategy is to play too many hands. The computer opponents tend to be this way as well, often calling and checking to the end with utter trash hands (especially at novice difficulty). This, combined with high attrition off-table, suggests rather tight requirements for staying in a hand pre-flop. This assures that once you are in a hand, the odds are that you are the favorite. Note that this is often NOT the case in live tournaments, although a tight strategy can sometimes be helpful there as well. So, to call or raise a hand before the flop, the following tables can be used to serve as a basic guideline for beginners. Hands are rated here on an "aggression index", indicating how strong a hand is in a given position, from 0 (worst, and should almost always be folded) to 10 (best, and should almost always be raised), and a suggested strategy, which can (and should) be modified for the specific situation: 10: Raise, and re-raise 9: Raise, and call if raised 8: Marginal raise/call hand, may call if re-raised 7: Call, but might raise if desperate 6: Call 5: Call 4: Call 3: Marginal call/fold 2: Call if desperate, otherwise fold 1: Fold, call only if extremely short stacked 0: Fold So, here are the aggression indices for starting hands (s means same suit): Pos. 1 & 2 Pos. 3 & 4 Sm. & Big Blind Pairs: AA-QQ 10 AA-TT 10 AA-TT 10 JJ-TT 9 99 9 99 9 99 8 88 8 88 8 88-77 6 77-66 7 77-55 7 66-55 4 55-44 6 44 6 44 3 33-22 4 33-22 5 33-22 2 Suited: AKs 10 AKs-AQs 10 AKs-AQs 10 AQs 9 AJs-ATs 9 AJs-ATs 9 AJs-ATs 8 A9s-A8s 7 A9s-A2s 7 A9s 6 A7s-A6s 5 KQs 10 A8s 5 A5s-A2s 4 KJs 9 A7s 4 KQs 10 KTs 8 A6s-A2s 3 KJs-KTs 8 K9s-K8s 6 KQs 9 K9s 6 K7s-K2s 5 KJs 8 K8s-K6s 2 QJs 8 KTs 5 K5s-K2s 1 QTs-Q9s 7 K9s 2 QJs 8 Q8s 5 K8s-K7s 1 QTs 6 Q7s 3 QJs 6 Q9s 5 Q6s-Q5s 2 QTs 5 Q8s 2 Q4s-Q2s 1 Q9s 3 JTs 8 JTs 8 JTs 6 J9s 5 J9s 7 J9s 3 J8s 2 J8s-J7s 2 T9s 4 T9s 7 J6s-J2s 1 T8s 1 T8s 3 T9s 7 98s 3 T7s 1 T8s 3 97s 1 98s 5 98s-32s 6 87s 1 97s 2 97s-42s 2 76s 1 87s 5 65s 1 86s 2 76s 4 65s 4 54s 2 43s 1 Unsuited: AK 9 AK 10 AK 10 AQ-AJ 8 AQ-AT 8 AQ 9 AT 4 A9-A6 2 AJ-AT 8 A9-A8 1 A5-A4 1 A9 3 KQ 7 KQ-KJ 8 A8-A2 2 KJ 6 KT 3 KQ 9 KT 1 K9-K7 1 KJ 7 QJ 3 QJ 3 KT 5 JT 2 QT-Q7 1 K9 3 T9 1 JT 3 K8-K2 2 J9 1 QJ 6 T9 2 QT 5 98 1 Q9 3 Q8-Q5 2 Q4-Q2 1 JT 3 J9-J8 2 98-32 1 After you have become accustomed to which cards are worth playing, this aggression index can be modified for different playing conditions. Some suggested modifications are: Limpers: after the first limper, subtract 0.5-1 from index for each limper Short Handed: Add 0.5-1 per each seat empty Blind Steals: If raised by button or small blind, call on an index of 5-6 or more (rather than 7-8) Move toward more aggression as you are short stacked (see the M statistic in section 6.3) ++++++++++++++++++++++ [5.2] Postflop Betting ++++++++++++++++++++++ After the flop, remember that the computer players rarely bluff, so it is same to assume that they are betting with top to middle pair or better. You need to beat that by the river to have a chance to win. Semi-bluffing works well immediately after the flop if you have a flush or open straight draw (see above). If bet into, use the pot odds tables given in section 6.1 to see if you should continue. Remember that you may be raised on a high middle pair, so adjust your outs accordingly. Computer players (mostly at the novice difficulty) have a tendency to sit on certain strong hands (like a small pocket pair improving to trips). This can be extremely frustrating if you flop top pair and they meekly call all the way. It happens rarely, but often enough that you should make note of it. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [5.3] Modifications for Hold'Em Variations ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ In the Pineapple and Crazy Pineapple games, you will be dealt 3 cards and forced to discard one later. You should play these only if you have a good opening hand in the three cards (and it should be slightly better than normal). The computer players here tend toward having higher cards, or pairs, so yours should be higher as well. In Tahoe and Super Hold'Em, you get to keep all 3 cards. Again, you need a good opening hand in these, again slightly stronger than normal. In Tahoe, you can only use 2 cards in your hand, so a set of trips, 3-straight or 3-flush is not as good a hand as it looks (it's actually weaker than just two and another card). In Super, you can use all three cards, so those hands are much more powerful. Billabong is a little different. You must use at least 3 cards of your 4, so you need cards that work together (connected, suited, or paired) to keep going with the hand before the flop. Shanghai is like Tahoe, only the board card distribution changes (to 2-2-1). It can be played with similar opening hands as Tahoe. 2-flop Hold'Em is probably the most frustrating game of the bunch. Use the same opening requirements, but don't bet into a hand unless you are fairly sure of winning one flop and may win the other. Many, many hands will be split (especially if only 2 handed at the river), and the end result for much of your hard work will be only to get back the money you started with (plus maybe half the blinds and antes). ++++++++++++++++++++ [5.4] Omaha Strategy ++++++++++++++++++++ With Omaha, you need cards that work well in pairs. The best hands are hands that have one or more of the following: Pairs (but not 3 or 4 of a kind) Two cards (no more) of the same suit (the higher the better) to make flushes Two or more cards close in rank to make straights Double suited (two cards in each of two suits) Omaha is more a "drawing" game (getting the best draw to a flush, straight, trips/quads or full house). A good opening system for Omaha was developed by Edward Hutchison and tested/modified by Mike Caro and is available online at the sites listed in the Acknowledgements. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [5.5] 7-card Stud Strategy ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ For 7-card stud, the best opening hands have: 3 of a kind A high 3-flush or straight A pocket pair (in the hidden cards) A pair with the up card Two overcards to the board Again, a good detailed opening system for 7-card stud can be found on the sites listed in the Acknowledgements. ++++++++++++++++++++++++ [6.0] Other Observations ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Here is some other useful information relating to the game. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ [6.1] Pot Odds for Texas Hold'Em ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The pot odds for Texas Hold'Em are based on the fact that of the 52 cards in the deck, after the flop 5 are known to the player (the 2 hole cards and the 3 on the flop), thus leaving 47 unknown. Probabilities can then be calculated based on how many cards produce a winning hand (called outs) versus the 2162 possible combination of turn/river cards. The formula for the probability of drawing an out card on the turn/river where p is the number of out cards in the remaining deck is then: Prob. = (93*p - p^2) / 2162 The following table gives the outs, probability, and odds calculation of that probability (pot odds) after the flop: Outs Probability Pot Odds 0 0 Infinite 0.5 0.0213922 45.75 to 1 1 0.0425532 22.5 to 1 1.5 0.0634829 14.75 to 1 2 0.0841813 10.88 to 1 2.5 0.1046485 8.56 to 1 3 0.1248844 7.01 to 1 3.5 0.1448890 5.9 to 1 4 0.1646624 5.07 to 1 4.5 0.1842044 4.43 to 1 5 0.2035153 3.91 to 1 5.5 0.2225948 3.49 to 1 6 0.2414431 3.14 to 1 6.5 0.2600601 2.85 to 1 7 0.2784459 2.59 to 1 7.5 0.2966004 2.37 to 1 8 0.3145236 2.18 to 1 8.5 0.3322155 2.01 to 1 9 0.3496762 1.86 to 1 9.5 0.3669056 1.73 to 1 10 0.3839038 1.6 to 1 10.5 0.4006707 1.5 to 1 11 0.4172063 1.4 to 1 11.5 0.4335839 1.31 to 1 12 0.4495839 1.22 to 1 12.5 0.4654255 1.15 to 1 13 0.4810361 1.08 to 1 13.5 0.4964154 1.01 to 1 14 0.5115634 0.95 to 1 (favored) From 14 outs on, the player is the favorite, and should call. Half outs are used when a card may or may not give the player the best hand (such as a middle pair, or a high pair but causes straight or flush possibilities), or when adding backdoor draws (draws which require both turn and river cards). In general: Backdoor Flush draw = about 1.5 outs Backdoor Open-End Straight Draw (ex. 5,6,7) = about 1.5 outs Backdoor 1-gap Straight Draw (ex. 5,6,8) = about 1 out Backdoor 2-gap Straight Draw (ex. 5,7,9) = about 0.5 outs You may also take into account the future betting if you hit your draw, using what is called "implied odds". This can add more to the pot in later rounds, making it profitable to continue if the odds are close. This addition requires some amount of estimation based on experience, but for limit games around 1-1.5 the bet size on the turn/river works well. For higher limits, it may be much higher (up to a percentage of the size of the smaller stack in no-limit). The interested player should consult the sources in the Acknowledgement section and their own experiences in calculating these implied odds. After the turn, the calculation is much simpler. For p outs, the probability is: Prob. = p / 46 Giving a calculated pot odds of: Odds = (46 - p) / p to 1 There is also no need of backdoors (and not much need of half outs, either), so the odds are: Outs Probability Pot Odds 0 0 Infinite 1 0.0217391 45 to 1 2 0.0434783 22 to 1 3 0.0652174 14.33 to 1 4 0.0869565 10.5 to 1 5 0.1086957 8.2 to 1 6 0.1304348 6.67 to 1 7 0.1521739 5.57 to 1 8 0.1739130 4.75 to 1 9 0.1956522 4.11 to 1 10 0.2173913 3.6 to 1 11 0.2391304 3.18 to 1 12 0.2608696 2.83 to 1 13 0.2826087 2.54 to 1 14 0.3043478 2.29 to 1 15 0.3260870 2.06 to 1 16 0.3478261 1.88 to 1 17 0.3695652 1.71 to 1 18 0.3913043 1.56 to 1 19 0.4130435 1.42 to 1 20 0.4347826 1.3 to 1 21 0.4565217 1.19 to 1 22 0.4782609 1.09 to 1 23 0.5 1 to 1 (even) After 23 outs, the player is the favorite, and should call. To illustrate how to use these tables, here's an example: Say you have K8 of clubs, and you have check/called all the way to the turn with one opponent left. The pot has $600. The board shows: Ac,9s,Td,4c (two clubs on board) You believe that your opponent has at least top pair (so, pair of aces or better). Your opponent bets $100. Should you call? To win over the long term, you need odds of less than 7 to 1 (the $700 now in the pot versus your $100 to call). You cannot win the hand unless you hit your club flush, so you need one of the 9 clubs left (you have 4, and the deck has 13 total, so 9 remain). Therefore, you have 9 outs. The table for the river cards has 9 outs at 4.11 to 1, which is less than the 7 to 1 in the pot, so you should call. If the opponent had raised $300 instead, you would need odds less than 3 to 1 ($900 in pot verses $300 to call = 3 to 1), so in that case, the pot odds say to fold. ++++++++++++++ [6.2] Cheating ++++++++++++++ The player does have a cheat, of sorts, based on the random number generation techniques used in the game. At the start of a hand, before the cards are dealt, the console randomly determines the entire deck of cards, then starts dealing to the players. Therefore, if the player saves the game at this point (at the start of the hand), the cards dealt to each player, and on the board, are fixed in sequence. So, if you bet on a pot, but are drawn out on, you can quit the game, reload, and the cards will be dealt in exactly the same way (in the Hold'Em varieties), allowing you to fold it early. Or, if you folded a marginal hand that would have won, you can reload and stay in to win the pot. The players involved in the hand may change slightly (some may stay in that would have folded, or vice versa), and they may bet differently, but everything regarding the cards is the same. This is even more useful in 7-card stud, since by manipulating the number of players left (by betting a lot to remove players or checking to keep them in), you can try to force certain cards to yourself. For example, say you are dealt 3 clubs. You call the bring-in with 3 other players, and see that a lot of clubs are dealt to them early, but not to you, so you end up losing the hand. If you saved at the beginning of the hand, you can replay the hand, but bet out to remove players. Now, instead of dealing cards to 4 players, you may have only 2 or 3, which means that, since the deck order is set, you may get those early clubs, winning with a flush when you otherwise would have lost. If you wish to cheat using these save techniques, I suggest saving on marginal hands and/or after every large pot win. You will find it most useful when you are required to win a tournament to open another one. Placing is easy enough to not really need a lot of help, provided you are being measured in your aggression. +++++++++++++++++++++ [6.3] The M Statistic +++++++++++++++++++++ Magriel's M statistic is a measure of how aggressive you need to be at a given point in a tournament, and is calculated by dividing your current stack by the total of the blinds and antes put in the pot. For example: If you have $3000 and the blinds are $50/$100 (no ante), your M statistic is: 3000 / (50 + 100) = 20 If you have $3000 and blinds are $150/$300 with an ante of $25, your M statistic is (assuming you have all 6 players at the table): 3000 / (150 + 300 + 25*6) = 5 The lower the M is, the sooner the blinds and antes will break you, and therefore the more aggressive you have to play. In our first example, the M was 20, which is quite high, so you should not feel the need to vary much from basic tight strategy. Our second example has an M of 5, which means that you need to double up fairly soon, so should start looking for a fairly promising hand to push all the way. To determine how aggressive you need to be with a given M, Dan Harrington has developed the "Zone System" for his books (listed in the Acknowledgements), which is summarized below: Green Zone (M = 20+): No need to vary from basic strategy Yellow Zone (M = 10-20): Start to be a little more aggressive with some hands (particularly high cards). Be ready to make a large (or all-in) bet on a good flop/turn. Orange Zone (M = 5-10): Need to become really aggressive on high index hands (7 or above), re-raising all-in if raised before the flop. Your basic options are see a flop cheaply, going all-in if it hit, or go all-in before the flop to steal the blinds and antes. Red Zone (M = 1-5): Probably need to look to go all-in on any calling hand (index 4 or better), especially if your M is 3 or lower. Otherwise try to steal the blinds. Dead Zone (M < 1): Find any hand with an index 1-2 or higher and go all-in (especially if the blind is coming up), and hope for a good board, or everyone folds. For World Championship Poker, the players are often so passive, and aggressive betting so often rewarded, it is possible to modify this down somewhat (perhaps to 12+/6-12/3-6/1-3/<1), especially in limited games (Dan Harrington was writing specifically about no limit tournaments). The main point here is to avoid having the blinds eat away your stack waiting for good cards. If you are extremely short stacked, the best course of action is to find a decent hand and push it. ++++++++++++++++++++++ [7.0] Acknowledgements ++++++++++++++++++++++ The following books are recommended by the author and were used compiling this guide. Getting Started in Hold'Em, by Ed Miller. Two Plus Two Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 1-880685-34-5 A good beginner's guide to the world of Texas Hold'Em. Advocates a fairly tight, conservative betting strategy. Small Stakes Hold'Em, by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, & Mason Malmuth. Two Plus Two Publishing, 2005. IBSN: 1-880685-32-9 The intermediate guide, to be read after the previous book. Expands on the previous book, with pot odds analysis, semi-bluffing, backdoor draws, etc. Focuses on limit Texas Hold'Em. Hold'Em Poker For Advanced Players, by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. Two Plus Two Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 1-880685-22-1 The third in the series. More tactic oriented, with post-flop concepts. Advocates a little more aggression than the previous books. Harrington on Hold'Em, Vol. 1-2, by Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie. Two Plus Two Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 1-880685-33-7/1-880685-35-3 These no limit series books are excellent reads, but written above beginner level. Once a person has some experience, they are invaluable. Come complete with hand strategies, tactics, and an extensive problem set. With a lot of books by Two Plus Two dominating my strategies, I felt it might be best to try some other sources for comparison, so I added the following: The Complete Book of Hold'Em Poker, by Gary Carson. Kensington Publishing, 2001. ISBN:0-8184-0605-4 Advocates a more loose, aggressive style than the previous books. Has some good sections on advanced concepts, theories of poker, and game theoretic approaches. Also, Edward Hutchison has published a guide to opening hands in Hold'Em and Omaha, available online, which I also referenced. Other online poker strategy sites that were used: www.pokerlistings.com www.pokersyte.com Thanks is also in order to Crave Entertainment, Coresoft, Inc., Renderware, and Gamespy Industries for producing the game, and CjayC and the entire crew at GameFAQs for hosting this guide.