Dealing with maniac players. What is a ‘setup play’?

This style of playing poker is often met at low-stake tables especially at new players. It is very important to know how to take advantage of them in order to build your bankroll.

The maniac makes a lot of raises and re-raises despite the position in the hand, the cards he holds, or the number of players that called before him. He is very active so you want to sit at the table at their left to take advantage of the position and the information provided by their actions.

They are long-term losers but on short instances they can leave you broke. Against them you should forget about all the creativity and fancy play and start playing by the book. ABC poker gives the best results against them. When you have position, you’d better lead with strong hands because they usually call if they hit the flop, and if you don’t have position you’d better check/raise because maniacs are usually bluffing and betting on almost every flop. Try to trap them with strong hands on dangerous flops. Never engage with them out of position with medium hands. Never chase flushes and straight draws out of position because maniacs tend to bet the pot or over-bet so you never have the right price to call. When you are in the big blind, don’t re-raise preflop because you can’t throw them out of the pot (you should re-raise with top pairs). When you are in BB lead when you hit ( bet the flop, strategy which doesn’t work against smart aggressive players) because they usually call if they have small or medium pair on flop.

Maniacs are usually pot addicted so try to put all in when you are sure you have the best hand (only if they seem to have something big too, otherwise you should just consider betting). Don’t go all in with top pair on flop because when they have medium pair they fold but when they have 2 pairs or better they call and you will end up losing big pots and winning small pots. That’s the way they can leave you broke.

“Setup play” is a play you make at the beginning of a game in order to create a false image of your playing style and leave them the impression that you are a maniac player. Consequently, if someone raises from first position you make a re-raise from last position with any two cards looking for a show down. For example: someone raises from first position with A-Q, you re-raise in cut off with 7-5, he calls. The flop comes 9,7,3. He puts a continuation bet, you call. The turn comes a 2; he checks, you check. On the river comes a 6; he checks, you check, or he bets to try stealing and once more you call. When he will see the hand with which you made this type of play, he will think you are a maniac and play accordingly. However, you adjust your game and hope that this move will pay off later in the game.

Another kind of setup is when you play hyper-aggressively at the beginning of the game. Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen have a playing style involving a lot of aggression at the start and when their opponents tend to react they adjust their game. The problem is that the opponents remain with the image of aggression in their heads for a long time and find it difficult to trap the abusive player.

PokerStars new VIP programme for 2011

PokerStars is planning some changes to their VIP Programme for 2011. These changes may come in response to a recent bug at their VIP programme that modified the value of the loyalty points and some players have taken advantage of the situation.

The new VIP programme establishes that the Reward Bonuses purchased from the VIP Store are instantly transfered to the player’s account. This promo is actually active since October 1st, 2010, and the announcement confirms it also for 2011. The other changes that are supposed to become active from January 1st, 2011 are:

The standard gain rate for VPPs is still 6x for cash tables with 8 or more seats, and 5.5x for the rest of the games, except for certain micro-stakes games. Depending on the stake at No Limit and Pot Limit No Limit Holdem, some changes will increase the VPP multiplier, making them quickly earnable:

$0.01/$0.02: 10x
$0.02/$0.05: 8.5x
$0.05/$0.10: 7x
€0.01/€0.02: 12.5x
€0.02/€0.05: 10.5x
€0.05/€0.10: 9x

This change is not just a promotion, it will be permanent. PokerStars mentions that “some older tables awarding the previous VPP rates may still exist until the first server restart of 2011.”

Further changes will be applied to the Supernova Elite programme as well. If a player earns the SNE status in 2011, he/she will receive numerous significant discounts through the VIP Store on packages to many of PokerStars’ sponsored main events such as EPT, NAPT, LAPT and APPT tours. The most important discounts are available for the Grand Finale packages at PCA or EPT. Players who have already earned SNE status, will still receive rewards as presented above. Supernova Elite VIPs will continue to receive 5 FPP per VPP if they have the SNE status, plus a free entry to the WCOOP Main Event.

Another change is applied to the Milestone Cash Credits whose prices will be reduced from 50,000 FPP to only 1 FPP, putting it in line with VIP Stellar Rewards. In order to simplify the programme, each Milestone Cash Credit is now $800 smaller but this doesn’t mean a change in value.

The new 100,000 VPP VIP Stellar Reward (valuing $200), will replace the 100,000 VIP Milestone Cash Credit. In addition, the first Milestone Cash Credit will be awarded at 200,000 VIPs and all the 20 VIP Stellar Rewards will total $1200.

Below is a list of Miles Stone Cash Credits available to Supernova VIP players for 1 FPP each:
$2,600 at 200,000 VPPs
$2,800 at 300,000 VPPs
$3,000 at 400,000 VPPs
$3,200 at 500,000 VPPs
$3,600 at 600,000 VPPs
$3,800 at 700,000 VPPs
$4,200 at 800,000 VPPs

Next, the Milestone Cash Credits for Supernova Elite players cost also 1 FPP each as you can see below:
$20,000 at 1,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,750,000 VPPs
$19,200 at 2,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,750,000 VPPs

$19,200 at 3,000,000 VPPs

Online gambling is now prohibited in South Africa

Following the decision of the South African court on 20 August, online poker and all forms of gambling on Internet are now illegal and strictly prohibited in South Africa.

The GGB Committee – Gauteng Gambling Board – who has been struggling to ban online casinos for some time, was finally successful.

Besides, the Committee also said that any poker room or online casino offering its services in the country would be indictable.

The General Counsel of the GGB took charge of warning the operators: “If they carry on their activities, we will arrest and convict them”.

As a further deterrent to illegal gambling, authorities have insisted that any company violating the court order, would be excluded to apply for a licence in case the government decides to regulate the market.

The online gaming operators and players in South-Africa are now punishable by fines up to 10 million rands (1.36 million dollars), 10 years’ imprisonment or both.

The gambling actors who operate in the country are determined to appeal the decision.

PartyGaming signed an agreement with French bookmaker PMU

The British company PartyGaming, worldwide renowned in the online gambling field, has signed a multi-year agreement with French traditional bookmaker PMU (Pari Mutuel Urbain). The latter is the monopolistic operator who organizes horse races betting in France. Now, the new deal enables PMU to operate online poker as well.

“This agreement will come into effect once the PMU and PartyGaming have each received a license allowing them to offer online poker in France”, says a statement from PMU.

Both parts hope this agreement will bring them mutual benefits. PartyGaming, which runs the largest online poker room – PartyPoker – is the first online gambling company listed on London Stock Exchange. The agreement provides that “the PMU will benefit from the PartyGaming poker platform services and will ensure the commercialization of its poker offering and the management of its customers”. However, PartyGaming retains the possibility of getting a French license under its own name.

The main objective of the arrangement, as put forward by the PartyGaming’s Chief Executive Jim Ryan, is “to have the largest poker liquidity pool in France”. Similar B2B agreements have been signed in Italy and Denmark.

“Today’s agreement with PMU is consistent with our stated strategy of securing a small number of high value partners in regulated markets”, said Jim Ryan. “PMU is widely recognized as one of Europe’s leading betting businesses and we look forward to providing them with a world class poker service”, concluded Ryan.

The news on the PartyGaming-PMU partnership was nevertheless quite surprising. Firstly, because the partner chosen by the PMU was PartyGaming while Paddy Power seemed better placed. Indeed, the Irish operator has an online poker platform which could have been added to the existing agreement between the two companies. Secondly, because, as we remarked, this new agreement with PartyGaming is not exclusive, meaning that PartyGaming will have the right to enter the French market with a concurrent offer.

As a result of its recent agreements, PartyGaming is expected to improve its fiscal performances. The takeover of the WPT brand gives more reason to believe in a brilliant future for the company.

Chinese Government tightens its anti-gambling policy

On June 9th, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an important announcement: the Government was “hoping” to work with China’s neighbors for more effective border controls and notably for putting a limit on the gambling development along its borders.

According to recent reports, several citizens of the northern province of Shanxi have been kidnapped and held in wait for a ransom, after being lured to casinos located in Myanmar (ex Burma) and the Yunnan Province.

“The Chinse Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked our embassy in Myanmar to verify this information, and requested the Government of Myanmar to investigate the matter and to take measures to ensure freedom and security of Chinese citizens”, spokesman Qin Gand said.

In China, casinos and games like poker, blackjack, slot machines or bingo, are prohibited. Nevertheless, the Chinese Government is forced to accept the extraordinary growth of gambling industry in the independent Province of Macau. In this part of Asia, Macau is the gaming capital, a paradise for both players and investors.

The online casino field doesn’t submit to a better regime. Online casinos are also prohibited in China; moreover, as from July 1st, all personal computers sold in China will be endowed with software blocking web surfers’ access to gambling sites and other sites designated by the authorities.

Harrah’s Entertainment, soon on the online gaming market

Rumours on the possible arrival of Harrah’s Entertainment group on the online gambling market were eventually confirmed. Such an expansion for this prestigious group organizing the largest series of poker tournaments in the world – the WSOP- could prove particularly gainful. The decision is also significant for anticipating somehow the much awaited regularization of online casinos in USA. With a new administration at Washington, the legalization is from now on only a matter of time and Harrah’s casinos will be among the “conquerors” of the virtual. Therefore, they started to provide themselves with the means for dealing with the challenges once the U.S. market will reopen.

The former CEO of PartyGaming has therefore been chosen as the leader of Harrah’s new department. From the beginning, hiring Garber was meant to set up the arrival of Harrah’s on the market of online poker. Garber previously served as CEO of PartyGaming after the company had been drawn out of the U.S. market, following the guidelines of the UIGEA. Garber managed to keep his company afloat, despite a considerable loss of income, and his intensive experience in the industry of online gambling is a rich asset for Harrah’s in its attempt to conquer a new market.

PartyGaming, which has plead guilty to having illegally provided online gambling services in U.S. and accepted to pay a colossal $ 105 million penalty, is now back in the good graces of the U.S government and, in the event that the Republicam Barney Frank succeeded in imposing a legislation favorable to the online casino industry, Garber would be in the ideal position to negotiate with the government the entry in this market of the prestigious Harrah’s Entertainment.

Gary Loveman, chairman of the Harrah’s, has never hidden his desire to see the online gambling legalized and regulated in U.S. However, the news that Harrah’s is about to launch an online version of its casinos has been welcomed by many in the industry. With a strong image and an excellent notoriety, the use of the “WSOP” label will allow Harrah’s to reach and occupy a dominant position in the field.