Going pro?

Editor's note: Send your poker questions to the ESPN Poker Club. We will answer as many as we can each week.

Atlanta: In your most recent mailbag, a reader asked how casinos handle a situation where all eight players in a stud game are in until the end, and the deck would run empty. You offered a complete non-answer, that did nothing to address the reader's question. Now I'm curious too, so I'm hoping you could take another shot at it. Thanks.

Feldman: If this situation were to occur, the seventh and final card would be placed in the center of the table and used as a community card.


Brian from Chicago: Is there any way to find out which specific events ESPN will be televising from the 2006 WSOP? Thanks.

Feldman: You'll find all that information on our WSOP schedule and results page.


Josh from Morgantown: I want to play poker for a living, my 21st birthday is in a month and a half and I've always told myself if I'm not doing anything else with my life, I'm gonna get up and go do it. I know this sounds like a terrible strategy, but can I get some advice on what I can expect and what I can do to avoid most of the early mistakes in becoming a poker player?

Feldman: First off, good luck. Jumping into the shark tank will probably result in you going broke, but you're going to have to accept that fact as almost every professional poker player goes broke at one time or another. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid mistakes at the poker table is to gain as much experience as possible. Play as much as you can to learn everything you can about each possible situation. Study the game to the point where you are confident that this is what you are destined for, not just because you think, "I'm not doing anything else with my life."


Steve in Texas: Tip: Capitalize on your opponent showing weakness. I just read this article and was looking to see if this would apply to online poker play. I must be doing something wrong with this tactic. It seems like when I am on the button, small blind or big blind and there are limpers before me. When I raise, I either get someone who goes all-in or they all fold. Any suggestions would be helpful for playing online. It appears it is very difficult to get someone to fold a hand.

Feldman: This probably applies to online play more than live play because your reads are based completely on bet size and action, not how your opponents compose themselves at the table. If you are in position and raising with limpers ahead of you, they could be thinking a multitude of things. Maybe they're thinking you've got nothing and you're trying to steal, which would result in them pushing all-in and forcing you to a decision. Maybe they've got the goods and limped to trap and their reraise was something they were hoping for from the start. Maybe they believe your raise and fold.

In any of these situations, the most important characteristic is your table image. If you don't feel that you've got a strong enough image to pull this off, maybe it's not the best play.

Remember that players online are looser than live players. When you're ready to make this move, if there are weaker players in the pot, make sure you're ready for any consequence.

One last thing: It's OK to fold. Let the hand go. You've cost yourself a couple of chips, but you're still in the game. Regroup and get yourself ready for the next hand.


John from Cleveland: I play in a regular home game where the hands are routinely called to the river. I consider myself a decent player (tight/aggressive) but get thrown off my game as these people call Jack-three to the river just because they're suited. Any suggestions on how to handle a table like this?

Feldman: Being in a home game where hands are routinely called to the river should mean you'd get paid off more often than not. If you are facing a group of calling stations, understand that your hand selection needs to be tighter than normal. The good thing is that when you pick up these good hands, you'll get paid off on them with much larger pots. The bad: You'll get outdrawn by the occasional J-3. But if your approach is solid enough, you're controlling the pot size and can limit your losses.

If you know the players in the home game that will play any two suited cards and you pick up a good hand, make them pay with larger-than-usual preflop raises. Force them to a decision early and make them lay down their junk hands with hopes that you'll win a small pot now instead of losing a larger pot later.


Wil from Tallahassee: Where can a player find good online material about HORSE games, hold 'em advice is plentiful but Omaha and Stud are generally less written about. I don't have $50 to drop on a book but I've also read everything at Mike Caro U (a great site) and am looking to improve at these other games.

Feldman: There is plenty of online material about H.O.R.S.E., all you need is Google. However, if you want more in-depth information, I would register with a message board that discusses poker strategy. There are plenty of players out there that would love to share their poker knowledge with you and bring ideas to you that you wouldn't have thought about. Also, if you don't think you can't make $50 back playing poker after reading a book, maybe you should think about playing a different game. The $50 should be seen as an investment and will (hopefully) only result in an increase in your bankroll.


JR in Columbus, Ohio: Do you know of any online guide/list of live poker rooms? I'm doing a lot of travel, and I'm trying to find an easy way to find the closest room. Every online search I do just gives me a bunch of online junk. I want to play live, please help!

Feldman: The best way to find the closest room is to check out the Cardplayer Web site, and in their tools section, click on the room locator.