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Technical Difficulties Late in an MTT Poker Tourney? Be Prepared!

AKA 'nuTTTz', Al McDonald is the newest member of Team High Roller.

AKA ‘nuTTTz’, Al McDonald is the newest member of Team High Roller.

Hey High Rollers, we’d like to introduce the newest member of Team High Roller Radio. Al McDonald, an avid gamer, poker player & Twitch poker moderator for ‘Gripsed’ & ‘Upswing Poker’. AKA ‘nuTTTz’. Al has a strong technical background and here talks about a gambling nightmare; you’re leading an MTT poker tournament and the power goes out. Help!!!!

Costly Crash Late in an MTT?

By: Al McDonald

It’s just past the 10PM, 5-minute online tournament break. Six hours into what you hope to be a twelve-or fourteen-hour session, you are feeling relaxed. Thinking back to the countless hours of study, the thousands and thousands of hands you played in order to give yourself a real chance to be profitable in online poker, your confidence is high.Seeing the thousands of dollars up for grabs in the top places feeds you energy. The mental game training kicks in, ensuring you stay on track. You continue making good decisions. You’ve got this bad boy! No-one is as prepared as you are to win. Every read is right. The hero calls are paying off. It is all going just as you planned.You hear the sound of a distant “POP!” and suddenly it is dark. A few seconds go by before you start to fully understand the gravity of the situation.
“I am deep in three, 6-figure-prize-pool tournaments and my computer and internet are off! What the hell do I do now? HELP!”

It only takes a few seconds longer to realize that the little generator on your bicycle front tire is not going to save the day. You are well and truly at the mercy of events and circumstances that are out of your control. But are you really? Could you have protected yourself? Yes. Absolutely, most certainly, yes! Taking into account the stakes at play, at some point it becomes necessary to make serious investment in technical variance reduction.

Avoid internet and power outages late in MTT poker tournament!

Avoid internet and power outages late in MTT poker tournament!

The first part of it, like anything, is knowing all the variables. In the case of technical variance, it is a short list of three things:

    1. Hardware failure

    2. Power outage

    3. Internet outage

Hardware Failure

This can be due to any one of a hundred different reasons, some preventable, others not. 

The most obvious factor is to buy a quality system that is up to the task. Going cheap here is like trying to race INDY in your family sedan. Make sure you get system that can handle the heaviest load you wish to put on it and then some. When buying a system, consider maxing out the RAM and upgrading to an SSD drive to improve both performance and reliability.

Regular system maintenance can go a long way towards keeping a system running at peak efficiency. (I’ll get back to that later.) Even the best due diligence on housecleaning, however, will not stop hardware from eventually failing. The key to insuring against losses due to failure is redundancy, even if that means something as simple as a backup laptop capable of running the software load you require. Are you a smartphone/tablet user? Consider having your sites’ apps installed in case of emergency.

Some users, many top Twitch streamers, for example, will put a very large investment into redundant hardware that is capable getting them back on-screen very quickly. Four-monitor setups with dual gaming PCs create the ability for one PC to take over should the other fail. This enables the session to be finished with only a slight interruption. The issue of the failure can then be addressed later when your tournament life isn’t at stake.

Whenever a hardware failure takes your system down, it will almost never be a quick fix. 
Repairs shouldn’t be attempted if also trying to play serious poker. Things such as replacing video cards or restoring data to a new hard drive are quite often day-long adventures.

Backup devices to login with are your best insurance against loss due to hardware failure.

Power Outages

When you have all the right equipment in place, this is one of the least troublesome issues you’ll face.

While dealing with power outages is relatively easy, it will not be cheap to do right. 
Take into account what relevant factors apply to you and determine just how much you need to invest in protection. Things to consider are: location, type of residence, service consistency (outages and fluctuations), expected power consumption, runtime and budget.
Dependant upon what type of dwelling you reside in, your options can be different. Home owners have one option others will not: an external, automatic switch-over, backup generator. While an expensive option costing several thousand dollars or more when combined with basic battery backup devices on modems and computers, it provides seamless uninterrupted power. Natural gas may also be an option that ensures your off-the-grid power never runs out of fuel.

When renting or living in a place where an exterior generator is not an option, battery backup is your only option. Also called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), these range from inexpensive units that provide mere minutes of power to serious boxes that can provide many hours of backup power. The greater the wattage and longer the power duration possible, the greater the price of entry.

Service consistency will often go hand in hand with location. Rural residents, who may have to contend with things like trees falling on power lines, will naturally be coupled with more frequent outages and longer downtimes. When an external generator is not an option and downtimes will be longer than most, getting proper backup power will be expensive.

How many devices you wish to run on emergency power is a critical consideration. Runtime costs money. Expect any battery backup that will provide power to multiple devices for an hour or more to start at the four figure price range. For multiple monitors, PCs, modems etc, expecting to last for several hours can easily land you in five-figure territory.

Depending on the stakes involved, you may potentially lose more with an outage than a solid battery backup system would have cost. Backup solutions are your poker insurance policy against losses.

Internet Outage

Our modern age worst nightmare. More angry calls have been made because people have email they can’t get than any other reason in telephone history. As a Twitch streamer, a lost internet connection is a show stopper. As a stakes player, it can make you lose your mind and your chance of winning. This is where it gets all ‘good news, bad news’.

For most, the good news is that insurance is fairly easy to obtain. Salvation lay in cell phone service. Urban areas and many rural areas have full data and internet coverage as part of the cell service. Consisting of nothing more than a 4G- or 3G USB dongle and a service agreement, this option is the fastest way back to the interwebs should your main provider suffer a major outage. Switching to a mobile device for play can be an option here as well. Unfortunately, most mobile devices do not support multi-tabling. As such, a 4G dongle on a monthly contract can be a very worthwhile investment.

The bad news: If alternate cell service or a backup internet provider are not options, you are screwed. Blinding out. GG, us. Thank you for playing. Go pour yourself some of your favourite beverage and try to not toss your monitors against the wall. Breaking stuff is -EV.

To this point, we have discussed those things that are random and unpredictable. From here we will go into the preventable.

System Maintenance and Due Diligence

The software on your computer is 1000 times more complicated than the hardware it runs on.
Left to its own devices, the software will, for lack of a more fitting description, over time go insane. Not a little loopy, either; completely batshit crazy. A machine exposed to the internet is at even more risk. Exposure to the internet creates a ‘not if, but when’ certainty for trouble.

Maintenance items that are required for continued good performance are:

    Defrag: Untangles the ones and zeroes that got mixed together during HDD use. Note: Don’t enable defragmentation on SSD devices. Windows does know better here. On mechanical HDDs, this should be run weekly during your non-grinding hours. (No defrag on Macs.)
     Scandisk- Scans system for errors and drive defects. I recommend running scans on your HDDs and SSDs weekly on all critical-uptime systems. (Mac users run Disk Utility.)
    Antivirus/malware scan- Up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software is a must. Run weekly scans and have on-access, real-time scanning enabled. Running a PC on the internet without this protection is only inviting disaster.

Backup, Backup, Backup

One of the most important aspects of keeping your data intact is to have a backup. Windows and Macs offer native backup solutions that are free. Purchase a USB drive that is at least three times larger than your main HDD and schedule daily full backups of your system. In a worst-case scenario of a HDD crash or SSD failure, you can install your operating system on a fresh drive and then restore all your apps and data from last night’s backup. Don’t be That Guy who loses years of hand histories and player stats to a lack of preparation.


As for due diligence, it is like any insurance and maintenance.
When you assess how much is as stake for you, that is your opportunity to consider how much you are willing to invest to protect it. If a four-figure investment can prevent you from a five- or six-figure loss, you should call. 
Every single time.

Be Well.
Be Prepared.


Costly Crash & Burn Late in an MTT
January 4, 2017

It’s just past the 10PM, 5-minute online tournament break. Six hours into what you hope to be a twelve-or fourteen-hour session, you are feeling relaxed. Thinking back to the countless hours of study, the thousands and thousands of hands you played in order to give yourself a real chance to be profitable in online poker, your confidence is high.

Follow Al McDonald @nuTTTbar on twitter & read his articles HERE


Reasons to Call or Raise? Hand Reading

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Reasons to Raise


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Unlike the ‘Call’, the ‘Raise’ can win the pot in two ways instead of one.  When you call you must have the best hand at the river to claim the pot.  However, raising gives you to opportunities to win; the other player may fold, in which case you stack the chips, and if he/she calls you, you can still win with the best hand at showdown. An opening bet is considered a ‘Raise’ for strategy purposes here.  If an opening bet is raised that is called a “Re-Raise” or ‘3-bet.’

Why Raising is Crucial:

• To get more money in the pot when you have the best hand.  Bet-sizing is important because in many cases you are ‘Raising’ for value.  Bumping the bet is vital because you obviously want to have more chips in the middle when you have the goods.

• To drive out opponents!  If you have the best hand but it is vulnerable due to a variety of possible draws on the board you may consider bumping it large to protect your hand.  If you have made a hand ‘Raising’ may protect your hand by driving out opponents, enticing them to fold drawinmg hands that may improve on turn or river.

• To bluff or semi-bluff!  Raising the pot may cause better hands to fold.  This is a good thing.  Make them believe you have ‘The Nuts.’  In the case of semi-bluff, if you are called you may still make your hand and in.  Always leave yourself an out!  Semi-bluffs often lead to winning or losing large pots.  If your opponent has the best hand, many times you can entice a fold by making a large ‘Raise’, effectively making them believe you have the goods.

• To get a free card: If you flop a flush draw and are in position it might be worthwhile ‘Raising’ a bet fired at you because many times your opponent will check to you on the turn, respecting the strength you’ve just shown.  If you miss your flush card you can simply check behind and get a FREE river card.

To gain information: You may consider Raising to see what your opponent does, to see how they react to your raise.  You are trying to determine the strength of your opponent’s holdings.  Again, they may fold in this spot and you win.  If they ‘Re-Raise’ you, you can safely assume a fold is correct.

• To drive out better hands when a ‘Come’ hand bets:  If your opponent is betting an apparent drawing hand and another player Raises, you can ‘Re-Raise’ and players behind you yet to act will fold decent holdings.  This is a form of ‘Isolation’ play and ‘Squeeze’ play.

Reasons to Call

There are several reasons for calling a bet or raise:

To see more cards: With a drawing hand, you want to see that next card, potentially a winner for you, and you want to do it as cheaply as possible.  Calculate your pot odds and if you are receiving the right price make the call.

• To limit loss in equity: Calling may be appropriate when you think you’re beat but the pot odds suggest a call is correct in the long-term.

• To avoid a re-raise: Calling denies the original bettor the opportunity of re-raising a monster holding.

• To conceal the strength of your hand: If you flop a monster or are holding pocket aces, sometimes a smooth call may be appropriate, not only to mix up your play but to extract maximum value as well.  A smooth call hides your strength and may set you up to win more money on later streets.  Slow playing folks!

To manipulate pot odds: By calling (not raising), a player offers other opponents yet to act behind you more favorable pot odds to also call. They get the ‘Right Price.’  For example, if you flop a monster, or ‘The Nuts’, a smooth call may entice others to put money in then pot.  Build the pot baby.

To set up a bluff on a later streets: Sometimes for a long-time referred to as a long-ball bluff but these days it’s called ‘Floating’, calling on an earlier betting round to set up a bluff (or semi-bluff) on a later betting round.


Hand Reading & Tells

‘Hand Reading’ is a crucial skill in the game of poker; the process of making educated guesses about the possible cards an opponent may be holding based on the sequence of actions in the pot.  A ‘Tell’ is a detectable change in an opponent’s behavior or demeanor giving clues about his hand.  Educated guesses about an opponent’s cards can help you avoid mistakes in your own play, induce mistakes by opponent(s), or  influence you to take actions he would normally not take under the circumstances.

For example;  a body language ‘Tell’ might suggest your opponent has missed a draw and holds a weak hand but you also missed a draw and believe your hand is even weaker.  In this case, using the tell to your advantage, you may decide bluff would be more effective than usual.


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Poker Tips for Beginners

Poker Tips for Beginners


The worst starting hand in poker (if unsuited, lol)

The worst starting hand in poker (if unsuited, lol)

• Fold Fold Fold!

–          Do NOT be afraid to fold.  As we have stressed before, “we would rather make a bad fold than a bad call” because it saves you money in the long run.

–          Feel free to fold frequently. It is better to sacrifice your small early bets than roping yourself into an expensive call later in the hand.

–          As a general rule, if you have a marginal hand it tends not to improve.  Don’t go chasing draws unless the price is right!

• Do not fall in love!

–          Even though Pocket Aces is the best hand to start with, they may not be good anymore after at 7, 8, 9, all diamonds flop.

–          The board has killed many a powerful hand before!

–          If you suspect what your gut is telling you – that you’re BEAT, you probably are.

• Practice, Practice, Practice!

–          Learn the game by playing the game.

–          Watch your opponents learn what to do and what not to do from them.

–          Try new things and try to ‘find’ profitable situations.

–          Ask better players questions, do not be afraid to get their opinion on how you played a hand.

• Study your opponents’ !

–          When you are not in the hand pay attention to those who are!  Pay attention and it will prove worthwhile in later situations.

–          Do they find more hands to play than fold?  Do they bluff?  Can they be bluffed?  Do they have any “tells” (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.

• Get caught bluffing once in a while!

–          This is a good way to ’Advertise’ that you are unpredictable.  It will pay off in later action.

–          There is an old saying, “If you never get caught bluffing you are most certainly not bluffing enough.

–          When you’re bluff doesn’t work you lose only a few chips but you gain some long-term equity.



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Photo: Killer shirt, Killer story, Killer GIVEAWAY!!!  Next facebook draw will be for a High Roller Radio t-shirt, which comes with two designs' Royal Flush diamonds with an American flag in background and the old Jack, 8 of clubs with a Canadian flag in background.  One shirt even has both designs on it...the designs have special meaning and were actually tattooed on prosthetic legs by an excellent artist in Southern California, from a shop called INKED ADDICTS...his name is YEB1.  Thank-you YEB1...we will get you on the show, I promise. Stay tuned for draw details.</p> <p>TO ENTER: simply LIKE our facebook page...if you already have you're in....SHARE this post and your name goes in the hat 5 times.</p> <p>Good luck and good gambling.  www.highrollerradio.net
Nice shirt eh?