Bodog Ari

I'm Ari Engel and am also known as BodogAri online. I've played poker for a living for virtually my entire post-college life. In the last few years I have started teaching people my style and philosophy on poker tournaments. Many of them have done very well. If you are interested in getting my help, email:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Unorganized Thoughts on Live Poker

"Floor" should be one of your favorite words. Do not become intimidated by other players or the dealer, if you feel something has not been dealt with correctly, simply repeat the word "floor." Do not become upset, and certainly don't escalate your voice as that cannot lead to anything good for you. Simply repeat what you believe to be the full story in a calm and concise manner.

Many dealers simply do not have the experience or knowledge necessary to be a good dealer. Accept it, and go with the flow, or you will be tilty about 50% of the time. In a cash game, reward a good dealer through the tipping mechanism, unfortunately there is not much we can do in tournaments...

Patience is so big. Even if every casino was running at optimal speed (which they most definitely are not), with only one table, dealer shuffles, etc. you are seeing way less hands per hour. This must play a big part in your decision making.

In online poker, you have 30 seconds to make each decision (and maybe a 2 minute "timebank" to be used for extra time). In live poker, you can literally take forever to make your decision. Do not allow other players to rush you into a decision. Most of the time, the "clock" will not be called, until you have been thinking for a while, so use that time, and think clearly before you act.

Image is everything, manage it carefully, and then play accordingly.

The following is a true story from the recent $300 Wsopc that I won. With about 10 people to go till money, my table was broken, and I was moved to a new table. Shortly after I arrived, the 7 seat whispered something to the 6 seat and then to the 8 seat, and said aloud, pass it on. I received the message and it was, "It is not nice to knock out short stacks so close to the money, let's not knock out any on our table." Lol, I thought, but remained silent, as he went on with his talk about karma.

Basically, if you like abusing an online bubble, you're gonna love the live variation. People truly do not want to spend hours (and in some cases days) playing poker, and go home empty handed. Use this to your advantage.

There is no "tourney lobby" in live poker, so it is up to you to keep track of the statistics. I tend to view the lobby as a luxury online, and other than average stack, I don't really keep track of much else, but it is something to consider.

One of the most difficult adjustments to me is the lack of a marker in front of each person labeled with their stack size. Often, I will push allin thinking that an opponent has X, when in fact they have X/2-2X. I am working on guesstimating stack sizes, but there is nothing wrong with constantly asking for a chip count of your opponents.

Above all though, tournament strategy does not change between live and online poker, and that should be for the most part how you make your decisions. If anything, the fundementals of the average player at your table is going to be weaker compared to the same stake table online, so even if it is your first live tournament, you should feel confident going in. Of course - in my mind - it doesn't make too much sense going directly from $200 online tourneys to 10k live ones, but making the jump to 500-1K live should be fine.

Many poker "pundits" make the claim, that the slower blind structures in the bigger buy ins live allow for the skill to win out. I do agree with that claim, but not with what it implies: namely, that the faster blind structures do not allow skill to win out. They most definitely do, its just a different kind of skill, and I believe one that many online players are familiar with from stars tournaments. It's kinda comical that many of the people playing a 300 or 500 buy in tourney live won't have any idea how to play shallow stacked and may even laugh at you if you attempt to play properly.


Blogger Ben H said...

good stuff as always, u should get this posted as a p5s article

7:06 PM  
Blogger mouse-in-the-house said...

Ari, i read a lot of poker in A LOT...and yours and shaniac's are by far the best out there...please don't stop posting! GL TY!

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