ONLINE POKER STRATEGY: Advice from PokerStars Streamer and Series Host Lex Veldhuis

As the Lex Not Live series continues at PokerStars, ambassador and streamer Lex Veldhuis offers some strategy advice for online players.

The “Lex Not Live” tournament series continues through the weekend at PokerStars with buy-ins ranging from $11 to $55. The series is hosted by site ambassador Lex Veldhuis and stresses a community aspect seen on Twitch streams.

One of the most popular Twitch Poker streamers, Veldhuis has almost $700,000 in live tournament winnings and more online. A poker pro for 16 years, he’s been streaming his action for the last five years. He spends about $60,000 a month competing in online tournaments.

As Lex Not Live continues, the PokerStars ambassador spoke with PokerScout this week to offer some strategy advice for online players.

♠♠♠ For a complete preview and schedule of the Lex Not Live series, click here. ♠♠♠

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Transitioning to online poker

Online poker exploded over the last year and a half. That has included new players jumping in the game. What are some concepts new and intermediate players should keep in mind when adjusting to online poker?

Veldhuis says live poker is an information game and the same is true for online poker. But the online version features a different sense of information.

“You don’t see people and you don’t have the social aspects,” he says. “In online poker, you try to look much more for betting patterns, for instance, or how quickly somebody acts. So it’s a little bit more of a ‘numbers information’ stream.”

Online poker players can get in the action with PokerStars streamer Lex Veldhuis in the “Lex Not Live” series from May 18-23.

Online poker also features much more action than live poker. Hands move faster and some live players may get caught out of their comfort zone. It’s important not to take on more than a player can handle.

“I think that live players can sometimes be caught out in online poker as they can play too many tables when they play online,” Veldhuis says, “because they get super excited and then all of a sudden they’re playing six tournaments, and they’re not playing their best on all of them. So, I think that’s something they should take into account.”

Avoiding common bankroll mistakes

As players go online, some may be tempted to play bigger buy-in events hoping for a large score. Veldhuis recommends avoiding this pitfall. Stay within your bankroll to gradually move up as a player finds success.

“I think that a lot of people jump in a bit too high because you can play more games and can play games at the same time,” he says. “It’s easier to play a little bit lower and better.

“If you go to a live tournament, you may normally play a $200 tournament. You travel to a live tournament so that’s worth it, right. But if you play online and play a similar buy-in, you don’t get that whole trip for it and you can play multiple ones at the same time for that buy-in.”

Players who may be accustomed to playing $200 events in a live setting may not be at the same level online. Multiple buy-ins at that level may sink a bankroll because the action moves so quickly. A few quick eliminations can deplete those poker funds.

“It’s a new beast that you’re trying to approach, so if I was a new player online, I would definitely step down a few levels,” he says. “See what it’s like, play a few tournaments at the same time and not too many. Online and live are two different games, and I think it’s good to approach that with care.”

Lex Veldhuis battling it out at the live tables of the European Poker Tour.

Strategy advice for playing new games

Lex Not Live features some unique games many players may not have played, such as Fusion and 6+ Hold’em. How should players who have never played them before approach these games?

Veldhuis says many players jumping in these events during Lex Note Live will actually be in the same boat.

“The good thing about these games and these tournaments specifically is that a lot of the players that are playing will be community players that watch Twitch a lot and that go to Lex Live,” he says. “So that means that you’re not going to play against people that grind Six-Card PLO or play Fusion a lot.

“There’s a lot of people in these tournaments that are discovering the game for the first time, so that makes it a little bit more of a level playing field.”

For those completely new, Veldhuis suggests reading through the rules thoroughly. Consider some possible strategies as you adjust to the new format.

“Don’t play too many tables and just play and pay attention to what happens on the table,” he says. “See how other people do and what their strategies are, and see if you can pick up something interesting from that.”

Lex Not Live also features lower buy-in levels with most events priced at $11. This offers players a chance to try something new without breaking the bank.

“Also, new games give you a pretty cool perspective on a different way a poker game can be played,” Veldhuis says, “which sometimes gives you also some inspiration for a No Limit Hold’em game, for instance.”

Moving from No Limit Hold’em to PLO

A few events in Veldhuis’s series feature Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). The game continues to grow in popularity and he offered some advice for Hold’em players looking to play. 

“It’s a completely different game, a lot of people go into PLO with a No Limit Hold’em mindset,” he says. “They check to the raiser a lot or to the person who bet the previous street. But PLO’s a very dynamic game. The board changes a lot. The board favors different players throughout the whole hand.

“A four-card hand in PLO from the big blind covers completely the lower part of the board, so there’s a lot of possibilities there to lead at a pot on the turn or the river if straights get to the board. That’s just a specific example where you normally would check to a raiser in No Limit Hold’em.”

In PLO, bet sizes should also be a lot bigger, he says. Hands have a higher percentage to beat another PLO hand than a random Hold’em hand against a random Hold’em hand. 

“You’re almost never drawing dead,” Veldhuis says. “You have a big percentage to win hands. That also means that when you have a good hand you have to protect those hands. Try to look at the game not with a Hold’em mindset but be open minded.

“Again, look at what you see around you. A lot of times when you’re discovering a new game, if someone does something super annoying to you, that means that you can also try to employ that strategy.”

For example, a player may bet the pot every time there’s a straight on the board on the turn. You continue to fold two pairs in spots like this. That’s something to consider doing yourself.

Veldhuis stresses to play with an open mind and don’t think too much with a No Limit Hold’em brain.

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Advantages of playing online and watching Twitch streams

Obviously Veldhuis is a fan of online poker. Those new to the game have a chance to get more experience at a quicker pace.

Players can see more hands, and it’s simpler to just sit down and play immediately. There’s also no need or cost to travel.

Twitch viewers can also learn while watching others play. Watching a stream like Veldhuis’s offers players some new perspectives on the game. Many of the more popular streamers are winning players with experience and have a lot to offer.

“One thing that I think will teach you a lot more when you watch is to try and look at a hand and think to yourself, ‘what would I do here before the streamer explains it?’” Veldhuisa says. “You see a turn card, ‘what would I do? Would I bet here?’

“And be honest to yourself. I think if the Twitch streamer is talking and you’re just listening to the words and you’re like, ‘well, yeah, super logical to bet this turn,’ even though you wouldn’t really be able to form an opinion about that on your own or to come up with a strategy.”

The process can be very interactive. Players should be amenable to new perspectives and strategies, Veldhuis says.

“I think one of the most important things in poker learning is keeping an open mind and not trying to put a label on something immediately if you think something’s good or bad just because you’re not familiar with it,” Veldhuis says. “From an educational point of view, I think that’s a really important thing to keep in mind.”

He believes that advice includes being open to new games. Seeing some strategies and some games may inspire a player to branch out with new ideas in other games.

“If you like to explore new things in poker, going back to No Limit Hold’em after that will kind of reignite your passion for it and your interest in it,” he says. “It’s just fun because there are so many different forms of poker.

“You know the basic rules, you know the hand strengths, and there’s more than one game, and I think it’s important to keep discovering that. And that’s fun with smaller tournament series as well.”

*** Photos courtesy PokerStars/Neil Stoddart

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Ba Da Bing: Nick Binger Talks Solvers, Poker Strategy, and Becoming a Better Player

LearnWPT lead instructor recently spoke with PokerScout about solvers, strategy, and some of his current projects.

The poker film The Cincinnati Kid features a quick scene where the main character is preparing for the big game. Steve McQueen’s character Eric Stoner is studying a handwritten statistical chart and packs it in his bag.

Advanced knowledge like this was held close to the vest among top players of the time. However, today information, data, and charts flow freely online. There are countless YouTube videos, articles, and books to help poker players better their skills.

Poker strategies are constantly changing as the game continues to evolve. Top players currently use programs called “solvers” to help figure out the best optimal outcomes when in certain difficult spots. 

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Poker pro Nick Binger knows the ins and outs of solvers and the evolution of poker strategy firsthand. He’s currently the lead instructor at LearnWPT, the official training site of the World Poker Tour. Binger recently spoke with PokerScout about solvers, strategy, and some of his current projects.

Learning the online poker ropes in Europe

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Binger first jumped into poker while traveling through Europe after college. He began his instruction background by teaching English in a small town in Austria.

However, Binger later needed extra ways to make money after he couldn’t secure a work visa. His brother introduced him to online poker and the game seemed like a nice way to score some funds. Binger found some success and never looked back.

“My brother convinced me that I should get into online poker even though I had never really played poker before, since the boom was just starting,” he says. “This was the end of 2004, so the timing was perfect.” 

Since the days of teaching in Austria, Binger has more than $2.3 million in live tournament winnings. This includes multiple final tables and two World Series of Poker bracelets. He’s one of only a handful of players to win a bracelet online and live. 

Those early days teaching have served him well. Binger now creates content for LearnWPT, helping to instruct the site’s students.

LearnWPT lead instructor Nick Binger with WPT commentator Vince Van Patten.

Growing the world of poker education

LearnWPT works to bring quality training content for online and live players. The subscription-based service offers content to those of all levels.

The platform also partners with the partypoker US Network. Players on the network in New Jersey and Michigan can access exclusive content to work on their skills.

The site sponsored the partypoker Online Series Main Event in NJ on March 28. The final table streamed live on the new LearnWPT Twitch channel.

That included offering strategy advice and commentary from bracelet winners Tony Dunst (also a WPT commentator)  and Andrew Lichtenberger. Both also coach at LearnWPT. The training site tries to be a one-stop shop for becoming a better player.

“You can watch strategy episodes from top players, get coaching, play on the WPT GTO Trainer, and can run your own simulations on a solver,” Binger says.

As far as solvers go, Binger puts the GTO Trainer against any on the market.

“Learn WPT has the largest database of solved hands in the world,” he says. “Students can simply play through hands on the trainer and get instant feedback on every decision they make. We’ve done the work of building the game trees, ranges, and processing the solutions for over four billion decision points.

Binger uses solvers for his own skills and has seen his own gains. These high-tech programs have become a major part of poker education.

“Solvers have absolutely improved my game and the way we teach poker at LearnWPT,” he says. “They allow you to explore strategy at a level not possible before solvers. This is especially true for the concept of range versus range play.”

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Perfecting the game via technology

Players have been trying to put opponents “on hands” since the game’s early days. But Binger explains how solvers took a large network of hands and put them into ranges.

“A long time ago, people played poker hand versus hand, meaning they knew their hand and guessed their opponent’s hand, then played accordingly,” he says. “That’s a very basic way to play and will result in you losing to more advanced players.”

All this also applies to online poker players as well. An online rounder can gauge an opponent’s strength by taking into consideration what that player is likely to have.

“After the beginning of the Moneymaker era, the idea of playing your specific hand against an opponent’s range of hands became prevalent among professionals,” Binger says. “This improved play significantly and good players had a significant edge simply by applying this concept.

“After the advent of solvers a few years ago, tough players now consider their range against the range of the other player and how the board interacts with both in every hand they play. This would not have been possible to truly explore without solvers.

Binger continues to study the game and produce content to help teach up-and-coming players. He considers solvers and GTO as musts for players looking to get to the next level. 

“I think learning the concepts and principles that underpin GTO strategy are a must for any serious poker player that wants to win in the long term.“

* photos courtesy WPT

Partypoker MyGame ‘Whiz’ Aims to Help Players Improve, Attract New Players to Game

Partypoker is hoping to help online poker players make fewer mistakes and improve their game with the recent release of MyGame Whiz.

What player hasn’t made a mistake at the table and wished things had gone differently? Partypoker is hoping to help online poker players make fewer mistakes and improve their game with the recent release of MyGame Whiz.

The new feature is an enhancement of the MyGame tool with the goal of helping players boost their poker skills. MyGame Whiz is a poker personal trainer, helping players to hopefully reach a higher level and avoid common errors.

That includes one-on-one communication for a truly personalized experience. Partypoker developers hope this gives players the chance to have more fun and find more success.

“Whiz studies your game style, including each hand and how you play,” partypoker marketing director Vadim Soloveychik told PokerScout.

“Whiz will only assess your own hand history and will not study hands played by opponents. It then uses your personal hand history to create tips and suggestions on how to improve and the overall strategy the player needs to consider.”

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How does partypoker’s MyGame Whiz work?

Whiz simplifies MyGame into a small, clean, intuitive package, offering key pieces of advice and targeted messages in real time at the end of a hand after important moments; both winning and losing.

Players receive messages targeted specifically at them based on actions at the table. Not all players will be sent the same messages. Whiz also offers interactive commentary as a player competes. 

The feature also allows players to replay, save, and share hands. The more hands played, the better the advice Whiz can give based on a wider range of situations.

Players can ask MyGame Whiz questions as well. It’s an easy platform for working on skills and learning how to maximize a player’s style.

“Whether a player likes to play aggressively or play tight, whether they are starting with a large or small bankroll,” Soloveychik says, “or even if they are still trying to work out the basics of the game, Whiz will be able to work out the right strategy for that individual player.”

Reachomg out to new online players with personalized learning experience

In recent years, partypoker has worked to increase the number of recreational players entering the online poker player pool. That’s ranged from numerous low-cost major tournament qualifiers to more mobile and social gaming aspects in the platform.

Party now hopes MyGame Whiz adds to those efforts. Major barriers to entry for new players, the company notes, is fear of not understanding the game, losing to pros, and underperforming. 

Whiz seeks to combat these issues with instant feedback. The application is a dynamic tool that works for each player in their own individual way.

“Even the most experienced and successful players had to start somewhere, and we want poker to be an inclusive game,” Soloveychik says.

“That’s why we decided to create something that would help players at the beginning of their poker journey, when they are less familiar with the experience of playing online poker. We want to remove any fear new players may have regarding their skill level and knowledge.”

In essence, Whiz functions as a poker tutor. There are even report cards to help a player track his or her progress.

Soloveychik said the application can help inexperienced players who may have less time to study to improve. New players can gain confidence in the early stages of their poker journey by seeing real analysis by actually playing.

“This is based on extensive player feedback, where players have often told us they feel they might be out of their comfort zone when they first start to play the game,” Soloveychik says.

“Whiz changes that with easy to use, bespoke poker training, eliminating the uncertainty and helping you learn the game and strategy behind it in a faster and easier way.”

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A long term partypoker learning tool

With so many bells and whistles, party developers hope players can utilize the feature over a lengthy period of time. Whiz allows players to continually gauge their own play and adjust accordingly.

The MyGame feature already allowed players to see their rankings based on game theory optimization (GTO) in the form of seven levels:

  • Rookie
  • Social
  • Intermediate
  • Solid
  • Advanced
  • Pro
  • Elite Pro

The addition of Whiz is meant to build on that component. The company already has plans to add new features, including social sharing and additional missions. So far, the feature is only available on the software client and not on mobile.

Soloveychik says the company received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” during Whiz’s testing phase. Party plans to continually improve and expand the tips and learning as well as add more animations.

“There are no limits to how players can continue to test themselves, complete missions, and learn tips and tricks, all based on their own gameplay,” Soloveychik says. “This is no ordinary one-size-fits-all tutor; this is bespoke poker tutor training straight from the Whiz to you.

“This ensures the player strides into their next poker game with their head held high and they will be ready to play. We can’t wait for players all over the world to try Whiz for themselves and become the poker player they were born to be.”

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ONLINE POKER QUICK TIPS: Working on Your Game With GGPoker’s Kevin Martin

Some online poker strategy tips from GGPoker rep and Big Brother winner Kevin Martin.

Poker streamer Kevin Martin manned the microphone for the first week of action between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk. Providing “play by play” on the GGPoker YouTube channel, he brings some nice pipes and an excellent feel for the game.

That comes after many years at the live and online tables. His resumé also includes two appearances on the Canadian version of Big Brother.

Coming out on top brought a $100,000 payday and a new car. The longtime poker streamer is now a member of the GGSquad streaming team. No stranger to online poker, he brings some big skills to the virtual tables.

Martin recently spoke with PokerScout to offer some strategy advice for the new Online Poker Quick Tips feature.

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Playing the mental game

Online poker can be a pastime that some players take part in while doing other things. A click here to call, a click there to raise – with some other things in the mix.

Players might be on social media, online shopping, or cooking dinner between hands. Martin says this isn’t a great idea and hinders a player’s focus. For best results, he suggests putting away the phone and closing all other tabs on the laptop or tablet.

“One of the best mental tips I was ever told is that when I’m in a poker tournament,” he says, “I need to treat it as if it is the most important thing happening in my life.”

Hitting the books to rake some chips

Those hoping to improve their poker game and see nice results need to take it seriously, Martin says. There are numerous online resources to check out and work on skills and situations.

Even just small articles and quick concepts (like this column) can help in that regard.

“Work on your game,” he says. “Poker, like life, will give you what you put into it. Actively seek out resources to make yourself better. That’s the attitude I always have.”

That said, Martin says players should go at their own pace and everyone’s game and situation is different. Do what works for you.

“If you want to play five tournaments a month and you don’t really care how you do I respect that as well,” he says. “Everyone is going to have a unique relationship with the game.”

Players who put in less volume can still work on some of their skills. Taking in a few new concepts here and there can pay dividends. Like everything, learning new things and studying can help.

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Adjusting to online poker

Some players new to the online game may need to make a few adjustments when making the transition. Those thinking there are only loose players and “donks” online may be surprised at the experience.

There’s a good chance a new online player will find better players than he might experience in a casino. Online players have a chance to see so many more hands and can improve quickly.

“People really do not account for improvement of the quality in play,” Martin says. “Internet players are good. There is a lot of talent and determination out there.

“When I made the transition to online back in 2015, I got smoked but it was a great lesson to learn. It was a wakeup call that I had to improve myself to compete. I recommitted and because of that I transformed myself into a winning player.”

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