Last December, a Connecticut lawmaker said that “You can bet on” sports betting becoming a legal activity in 2021. On Wednesday, the state’s governor echoed those sentiments and made it seem like all forms of online gambling would be legal as well.
Gov. Ned Lamont released his two-year state budget Wednesday and he allotted $47.3 million in tax revenue from the second year of expanded gambling, according to a report from the Hartford Courant.
Based on comments made by Lamont at the time of the release of his budget proposal, it appears expanded gambling includes both retail and online sports betting, as well as online casino gaming.
“Our neighboring states are moving forward with sports betting and iGaming, and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,” said Lamont. “My administration has been in active negotiations with our tribal partners to bring the state’s gaming economy into the digital age. And I am submitting legislation which reflects what I believe to be the best bet in ending this stalemate of inaction in a way which is in the best interest of the entire state.”
Both Rhode Island and New Hampshire already offer online and brick-and-mortar sports betting, and New York seems set to expand its sports betting market after recent comments made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Pennsylvania has also seen increased revenues after legalizing all forms of online gambling.
The tribal partners Lamont was referring to is the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which runs Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mohegan Tribe, which is in charge of Mohegan Sun. Currently, nearly all forms of gambling, outside of the lottery and off-track betting, runs through those two tribes.
The pandemic has hurt the brick-and-mortar revenue of those two tribes’ casinos, which in turn has put a dent in the state coffers. Connecticut is facing a $1 billion deficit at the time of Lamont’s budget proposal.
Lamont made comments in December that seemed like he was ready for Connecticut to mirror the models in place in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“If we found out anything in the course of this horrible COVID cycle, more and more of the world is going virtual,” said Lamont at the end of last year. “More and more of the world is going online. That’s tele-health and tele-learning, but it’s also iGaming and sports betting. And I don’t think you want Connecticut left behind.”
With any proposed gambling expansion, those two entities will be at the center of the negotiations. The Courant’s report says that the governor and the tribes have been in “long-running talks” about whether the tribes will have exclusive rights, like they currently do, for any form of gambling expansion.
Foxwoods announced a partnership with daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings at the end of 2020, which gives the Boston-based online sportsbook a track to the Connecticut market regardless of any pending agreements.
Arizona’s bill that would legalize online and retail sports betting hit a snag as a Senate committee failed to pass the proposed legislation Wednesday.
The Senate Committee on Commerce failed to advance the bill just a day after its identical companion bill passed a House committee by a 9-1 margin, according to a report from The Action Network.
The bill would allow for betting on professional and collegiate athletic events at the state’s tribal casinos and another 10 venues such as horse tracks and home arenas to professional sports franchises. Sportsbooks would be eligible to be built at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Gila River Arena, Chase Field and State Farm Stadium, which are home to the four major sports franchises based in Arizona. It would also legalize daily fantasy sports.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has been an outspoken supporter of legal sports betting and sign the bill if it got to his desk. Ducey’s lawyer, Anni Foster was at the House hearing of the bill. Foster said that passing it is necessary to legalize gambling taking place off the tribal reservations, which is likely going to be allowed as part of a new gaming compact that is still being negotiated, but agreed on in principle, according to reports.
A lobbyist representing major online sportsbooks said at the same hearing that she estimates the state would reap $42 million in annual tax revenue if the bill is passed.
With overwhelming support of the bill in the lower chamber, it seems likely that Arizona is a prime candidate to become one of the first states to legalize sports betting in 2021 if the Senate can come to an agreement on the legislation.
Efforts to legalize casino gambling in Texas has rapidly picked up support, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the projected $946 million budget deficit the state government is facing.
But the state’s Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t think there will be any progress on the issue, at least during this legislative session.
According to a local NBC affiliate, Patrick appeared on a Lubbock-based radio show and said that despite a majority of the state supporting expanded gambling, he doesn’t think it will go anywhere.
“It’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session,” said Patrick on the Chad Hasty Show on KFYO. “There may be a bill filed, but I doubt it.”
Patrick clearly isn’t aware of the handful of bills that have already been proposed by lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Deshotel filed a bill that would allow casino gambling in “certain coastal areas” and Sen. Roland Gutierrez proposed one that would allow a limited number of casinos in the state. Gutierrez also filed a constitutional amendment that would authorize 12 casinos in the Lone Star State.
Last month, Harold Dutton filed HB 1121, which would bring online sports betting to Texas. His bill mimics the infrastructure set up in Tennessee, which is currently the only online-only sports betting market in the country.
The legislation comes on the heels of a University of Houston survey that showed the majority of Texans support expanding gambling. The survey reported that 70% of the respondents were in favor of legalizing casino gambling.
Aside from the report, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been pushing for casino gambling as well. Last November, former CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson hired a team of lobbyists to sway the legislative momentum in his direction. Adelson passed away in January, but it appears his company is still moving forward with the plans.
Gambling could also be a boon for struggling state coffers, but Patrick also said that the projected estimates wouldn’t even put a dent in the shortfall.
“Every year I tell them the same thing,” said Patrick. “Don’t talk about revenues, because the sports gaming, for example, that teams are trying to push this session… that generates, by their numbers $150 million a year. That’s a lot of money, but it pays for about a half of a day of our year.”
The first piece of actual legislation that would bring expanded gambling to Alabama unanimously passed through a Senate committee vote, according to a report from Bhamnow, a local media outlet.
SB 214, sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh, would create a ballot initiative to allow voters to amend the state constitution and allow the creation of a state lottery, legalize sports betting and bring five casinos to the state.
The bill unanimously passed through the Senate Tourism Committee by an 11-0 margin. It will head to the Senate for a floor vote. If it passes the Senate, it will head to the House. Since the bill would amend the state constitution, it needs a 60% approval in both chambers of the legislature in order to get on the ballot.
If it achieves the nearly two-thirds necessary to pass, the question will be on the ballot for voters in November 2022.
Over the last several years, there have been a handful of attempts at bringing more gambling to Alabama, including a sports betting bill that was filed in 2019, but died in the legislature. But efforts ramped up in 2020 once the Poarch Band of Creek Indians began pushing for a gaming compact with the state.
In February 2020, Gov. Kay Ivey said that she wouldn’t enter into a compact with the tribe until a study on the effects of gambling was completed. That study was completed at the end of last year which concluded that its legalization would bring $700 million in tax revenue and another 19,000 jobs to the state economy.
A week ago, Ivey said that expanded gambling would require voter approval. Marsh’s bill would satisfy Ivey’s requirement.
The bill outlines the locations of all five casinos, four of which are already existing race tracks. Birmingham Race Course, VictoryLand in Macon County, GreenTrack in Greene County, Mobile Greyhound Park and a fifth location to be named later in either DeKalb or Jackson County.
It is well known that if you are not constantly improving your poker skills, you are falling behind. In this blog post., I will share with you 3 steps you can follow that will immediately help you improve your poker skills.
Record your play.
You can do this in live poker by carrying around a notebook and writing down all relevant and interesting hands you play. I make a point to write down every single hand I play in major live poker tournaments any time the hand consists of more than a raise and continuation bet. This leads to a lot of writing but once you get used to it, it will become second nature. I also make a point to note my opponents’ tendencies so I know which adjustments I should make. Be sure to write down your hand, the effective stack, the blinds and your position as well as all of your opponents’ actions. Writing down “I had A-Q, he raised, I reraised, he went all-in, I called and lost to A-J” will not be useful to learning as you are missing numerous important details.
Online, you can download various poker tracking programs, such as Hold’em Manager, to record your hands and your results. This makes for extraordinarily simple hand reviewing, making your job much easier.
Review your play.
In order to discover your mistakes, you must review your hands after you have played them with a clear mindset. Quite often, you will not be thinking soundly at the poker table which will cause you to make errors. Very few people commit major blunders at the poker table on purpose. After you are finished playing and are no longer actively involved in the game, you should review your hands and think about all of your possible decisions. Try to figure out if the outcome could have been better if you played the key hands differently.
You must realize that quite often, when you bust or lose a large pot, you did nothing wrong. Some players think that if they get A-K all-in and lose against their opponent’s Q-Q, they made a mistake. Most of the time, that situation is unavoidable. You should not be worried about the fairly standard spots and bad beats where everyone goes broke. You have to be concerned with the situation where some people go broke and others do not.
For example, one situation where amateur players go broke frequently when professionals do not is when both players have top pair but you have the worst kicker. Amateur players typically raise and reraise the flop only to find out they are crushed when all the money goes in. Professionals call their opponent’s continuation bet on the flop and then evaluate the bets on the later streets, electing to either fold or call down, losing a small pot. Sometimes what appears to be a standard set up is easily avoidable.
I suggest you not only review the large hands you lose but also the somewhat mundane pots. Quite often, players will discover they are butchering a standard situation that comes up frequently, such as not continuation betting enough or always calling with a draw on the flop instead of occasionally raising. Make a point to review all of your play. You must understand this will not be a quick process. I would estimate I spend about an hour per day reviewing my play. I suspect most players would be much better off if they study and review their play an amount of time equal to the amount of time they actually spend at the poker table.
I also suggest you find a group of peers to review your hands with. You will find that discussing concepts with other players will help all of you grow as poker players much faster than if you only study alone. If you want to post hands for me and other players to review, check out the forums at FloatTheTurn.com.
Recognize your flaws.
Once you have figured out what you are doing incorrectly, you must make a point to not commit the same errors in the future. It can be quite difficult to force yourself to change your default playing style once it has become ingrained into your mind. You must realize that every time you make an error, you are giving your hard earned money to someone else. Since most people want to hold on to their money, this should be motivation enough to improve. To help me focus on correcting my leaks, I carry around a list that outlines them.
For example, I tend to not give players enough credit when they are willing to put a lot of money in the pot in an overly aggressive manner. While I think their play is only good as a bluff, because why else would you put in so much money that their opponent must have a premium hand to call, they are putting their stack in because they are afraid of getting outdrawn. Once you know your leaks, you can constantly think about them and recognize the situations you typically mess up before they occur, allowing you to make the correct decision in the heat of battle.
I hope this blog post helps motivate you to take your game to the next level. Becoming excellent at poker demands a lot of hard work and dedication. If you have any questions about this process, feel free to ask in the comments section below or on twitter @JonathanLittle. Thanks for reading!
If you ever hope to become an excellent poker player, you must embrace the fact that you do not know the answers to numerous questions that constantly come up in poker. If you do not know something, as an active, engaged learner striving to improve your game, you should try your best to find the answer.
Most people simply read articles, books and poker forums, hoping to stumble upon the answers. While this is a reasonable initial step, it will not take you too far. In order to actually improve, you must find a group of like-minded peers who genuinely want to discuss your thoughts and questions. You should also hire a poker coach who can give you concrete answers to your problems. Once you figure out how excellent poker players tackle a problem, you should be able to notice where you lack knowledge and also learn how to figure out the answer. What makes an excellent poker player is not someone who thinks they know everything, but someone who has a broad base of knowledge coupled with the ability to solve almost any problem they encounter.
While it is true that the knowledge base in poker is constantly growing at a startling rate as we discover more about topics ranging from optimal strategy to exploiting specific player types to psychology, if we are practicing conscious ignorance, we also learn what we do not know. The absolute best players are constantly challenging even the most basic assumptions about the game and improving at a much faster rate than their peers.
Take, for instance, the simple act of figuring out how much to raise before the flop when the action folds to you before the flop with a 50 big blind stack in the middle levels of a poker tournament against reasonable competition. As far as I know, the initial open raises of the 1970’s tended to be between 3 and 5 big blinds. Players eventually adopted the assumption that raising to 3 big blinds before the flop was both standard and good. I know this to be the case because when I first started playing poker, every book I read said, as if it was a fact, that any raise size before the flop other than to 3 big blinds was suboptimal. In today’s game, most world class players raise to between 2 and 2.25 big blinds, although they mix it up based on the effective stack size and opponent tendencies.
How and why did this change occur? What probably happened was the best players realized they could raise with a wider range with the intention of folding to any sort of aggression from their overly tight, passive opponents if they raised to a smaller amount. They also noticed that if they minraised, they would induce more calls from the players in the blinds, which is an excellent result, as taking a flop in position against an opponent’s wide range is a favorable situation to be in.
While the best players in the world tend to be innovators, everyone else simply follows the leaders. A few years ago, I noticed the biggest winners online minraising as their standard opening raise once the stacks became somewhat shallow. Sadly, I was a touch slow to adopt this adjustment. Once I experimented with a bit, I realized how this simple adjustment can instantly raise your win rate as well as force you to learn how to play well after the flop.
While I like to think of myself as an innovator in today’s game, I still look to my peers for inspiration. Current strategic adjustments you will likely see in the near future, if you haven’t already encountered them, are smaller 3bet and 4bet sizes, which in turn will result in smaller bets on the flop and turn. These small postflop bets will lead to both smaller and larger river bets with wider ranges than you are probably used to seeing. I suspect you will soon begin to see many players leading into the preflop raiser, both in single-raised and reraised pots. You will also see a greater awareness of the psychological aspects of poker.
Dr. Patricia Cardner and I recently wrote Positive Poker: A Modern Psychological Approach to Mastering your Mental Game, which I think will become a classic in poker literature. Ten years ago, I was totally ignorant of the fact that being in shape and staying mentally sharp could help my poker game. I was an overweight kid who sat in a chair and played online poker all day. I don’t quite know how mental and physical fitness got on my radar, but once they did, my life totally changed for the better. I am now in great shape and can think clearly for many more hours than before. I imagine many poker players are still oblivious to the fact that many aspects of poker take place beyond the felt.
Dr. Cardner and I will be sharing with our students many skills that must mastered if you want to have a strong mental game in a FREE upcoming webinar on 4/25/2016 at 7pm EST, which you can sign up for here.
Once you know how to go about figuring out what you do not know, you will be well on your way to becoming an excellent poker player. I suggest you push the boundaries and do not accept conventional wisdom as the undeniable truth. As your skills and knowledge base improve, make a point to look further and see which questions remain unanswered. You will likely find that the more you know, the more you don’t know.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, please share it with your friends. Also be sure to sign up for the FREE webinar Dr. Cardner and I will be hosting on 4/25. I’ll be back next week with another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!
If you are already winning at poker, this blog post probably will not be too useful to you. If you are losing or breaking even, it will be immensely beneficial. It goes without saying that you must be honest with yourself about your results. If you lie to yourself, or do not keep accurate records of your results, odds are you will not make it in the long run.
Once you know that you are a losing or break-even player, you have to accept that you almost certainly do not know what you are doing wrong. If you cannot beat the small stakes, you likely have huge flaws in your strategy. If you struggle in the middle or high stakes, perhaps you have lots of little flaws, or just a few large ones. Even if you are an excellent player, you must realize that there is always room for improvement. If you think you are amazing and refuse to listen to the advice of players who are better than you, you are certain to fail.
The interesting thing about trying to improve at poker is that it is often difficult to know what you are doing wrong. By talking about poker with people who are beating the game you are trying to beat, you will often be able to spot differences in your strategies. If you really want to speed up the learning curve, hire a qualified coach who will look through your hand histories and point out each little thing he or she thinks you are doing incorrectly.
Do not be the guy who thinks he is great at everything he does. While having confidence is a useful trait for a poker player, if it is not grounded in reality it will get in the way of improving your game. Understanding and accepting that you have a lot to learn is the first step toward success. There is no room for your ego at the poker table.
Many losing players only think about their exact hand. This implies they never think about their entire range. Your range is all hands you would play in a specific manner. For example, this may be your strategy from early position when the action is folded to you:
When you raise, you have one of the hands in red and when you limp, you have one of the hands in blue. If your opponents pay attention and figure out your strategy, they will know that when you raise, you have a strong hand and when you limp, you have marginal hand. You never want your opponents to be able to easily narrow your range, so instead, you should usually raise with your entire playable hand range before the flop when the action is folded to you. This will conceal the strength of your hand and make you more difficult to play against.
Whenever you have multiple options, if you take different lines with various hands, you split your range. In order to be difficult to play against, you should play different types of hands in the exact same manner. For example, after the flop you should often bet or raise with your best hands as well as your draws. By playing both your strong hands and semi-bluffs the same way, your opponent will have no idea whether you are value betting or bluffing.
Many amateurs instead play each part of their range in an obviously different way. For example, on the flop with a $10 pot, an amateur may bet $10 with his premium made hands, $7 with his draws, $4 with his marginal made hands, and check with his junk. Playing in this manner essentially turns his hand face-up. Instead, he should consider betting $8 with his premium made hands and draws, and checking with his marginal made hands and junk. This will make him much more difficult to play against.
Once you understand what a range is, it is important that you develop a default strategy of playing reasonable ranges. If your default strategy is too tight, your opponents will know to not give you action without a premium holding. If you play too loosely, your opponents will figure out that you often have junk and will stop folding their decent and marginal hands to your aggression. That said, it is important to understand that your strategy should frequently adjust based on your opponents’ tendencies and what they think about your strategy.
While it is somewhat easy to define a simple preflop strategy that will work well enough, in order to remain concise, here are a few charts to help you get started when playing with stacks larger than roughly 50 big blinds.
From early position when everyone folds to you, use this strategy:
From middle position when everyone folds to you, use this strategy:
From the hijack seat when everyone folds to you, use this strategy:
From the button when everyone folds to you, use this strategy:
As your position improves, you should raise with a wider range because there are fewer players yet to act who can wake up with a strong hand. As stacks get shorter, you should tighten up a bit, often folding the drawing hands, due to the lack of implied odds.
You should spend some time away from the table developing default ranges for all situations, such as when there are limpers, when someone raises before you, when you raise and get 3-bet, and when someone raises, you 3-bet, and they 4-bet.
For example, when you raise from middle position and the button 3-bets, you should perhaps use this strategy:
By thinking about common situations you are likely to encounter before you take a seat at the table, you will be able to implement your strategy with ease, instead of trying to figure out the right answer to each situation on the fly.
You should also develop rough ideas for how to play after the flop. In general, you should bet with your premium made hands and draws while checking with your marginal made hands and junk. The main time you should bet with most of your hands is when the board should connect well with your preflop range and should not connect too well with your opponent’s range, such as when you raise from under the gun, the big blind calls, and the flop comes A-7-3. Conversely, you should check with most of your range when the board should not connect well with your range and should connect well with your opponent’s range, such as when you raise from under the gun, the big blind calls, and the flop comes 8c-7c-6d.
Once you have developed strong default strategies, you should adjust them to take advantage of the mistakes that your specific opponent is prone to make. Before the flop, if everyone folds to you on the button, if the players in the blinds are incredibly tight, you should usually raise with any two cards. This is because your opponents will not defend their blinds often enough, allowing you to immediately profit by stealing the blinds way more often than is required to show a profit.
To determine how often a total bluff needs to succeed in order to profit, you take the amount you are risking and divide it by the pot you will win plus your bet. So, when everyone folds to you before the flop, you are risking 2.5 big blinds to win the 1.5 big blind pot, meaning if you steal the pot more than 62.5% of the time, you will immediately profit (2.5/(2.5 + 1.5) = 62.5%). Even when you get called, you will win the pot sometimes. If both players in the blinds will only play the top 15% of hands (most of the hands traditionally thought to be “strong”), raising the button with any two cards will be incredibly profitable.
If everyone folds to you on the button and the players in the blinds are world-class, or if they will generally play in an aggressive manner with a wide range, perhaps you should use this strategy:
While this range would normally be much too tight, if you expect to frequently get 3-bet, tightening up is often a wise adjustment.
After the flop, if you expect your opponent to fold unless he improved to a pair or a strong draw, you should continuation bet almost every time, regardless of your hand’s strength. This is because you will steal the pot about 60% of the time and even if you make a large pot-sized bet, you only need to win the pot 50% of the time to show a profit (1/(1+1) = 50%).
If instead, your opponent is a maniac who will never fold and will often respond in an aggressive manner, you should adjust by betting your premium made hands and draws what can withstand a raise and checking with most of your decent and marginal hands that cannot withstand a raise. If your opponent is a calling station who will call with an incredibly wide range and will only raise with his best hands, you should continuation bet with your premium made hands, draws, and marginal made hands, and check your junk.
It is important that you develop a sound default strategy, but if you want to succeed in the long run against competent opponents, you have to learn to identify and take advantage of their individual tendencies.
While it is far from sexy, you must understand that a penny saved really is a penny earned. When playing in the small stakes, it is quite common for the casino to rake a huge amount of the pot. At $1/$2, it is common for the casino rake 10% of the pot, up to $4. This means that most of the time, you are losing 10% of every pot you win. This may not sound like much, but when you realize that the best players in the world tend to win at a rate of 15 big blinds per hour, if you pay 10 big blinds per hour in rake, you are barely beating the game. This 10% rake up to $4 is actually quite low compared to what many casinos charge. If your $1/$2 game rakes $6 per hand and also takes $1 each hand for a bad beat jackpot, even the best players will have a difficult time winning in the long run.
Many small stakes tournaments are equally rough. A world-class player may have a 40% return on investment in a fast-paced live tournament. If the casino rakes 25%, which is common in many small stakes tournaments, the world-class player will barely have a positive win rate. Clearly if a world-class player will barely win, if you are merely decent, you will either break even or lose.
While I understand that your options for small stakes games may be limited, I strongly suggest you shop around and find games that are beatable. Understand that if the only games available to you rake a huge amount, you do not have to play (assuming you care about having the potential to profit in the long run). In order to succeed, you must be disciplined and only invest your money when you expect to have a positive expectation. Even if the players in a game are clearly bad, if the rake is too high no one will win except the house.
I hope you learned something from this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. If you want to take the next step to improving your poker skills, check out my interactive training site PokerCoaching.com. There are lots of quizzes available there for you to hone your skills and I also present a homework review webinar each month. Yes, I assign homework and grade it. It is like I am a professor. If you want to take your game to the next level, check out PokerCoaching.com.