Tougher Poker

  1. I'm very surprised to find out and read a lot about how online poker is actually tougher than live poker nowadays (or was is always like Up your game with free cardschat membership Discuss Poker.
  2. Nov 17, 2008 Most high stake winning poker players would succeed in most professions. So online poker is becoming a tougher game due to educational tools, yes, but only to a certain degree. It means that the AVG. Joe becomes a a decent player.
  3. Toker Poker launched in 2013 and quickly became the most necessary tool in your kit. Our products are extremely simple, highly functional and designed to last. We back it up with killer customer service and it turns out, people really appreciate that.
  4. Poker is Tougher Than 5 or 10 Years Ago There is no question that the games today are simply harder to beat than they were 5 or 10 years ago. Many fish have either gone broke or quit. And many people have simply learned to play better.

Here are the top 10 most heartbreaking moments in poker history of incredible tough luck and bad beats caught on video: Connor Drinan Loses $1 Million Pot After an Incredible Bad Beat. Poker players Connor Drinan and Cary Katz go all in pre-flop at the World Series of Poker $1 million buy-in tournament.

Tony Dunst is a dual-threat in poker, having achieved great success both as a player, and as a member of the poker media. The 35-year-old has been a part of the tournament scene for nearly two decades now, starting first as a grinder online.

Dunst began working for the World Poker Tour in 2010, hosting a new segment called the ‘Raw Deal’ in which he broke down interesting hands with a combination of strategy analysis and humor. After a few years of splitting his time between playing and media work, Dunst secured his first major live tournament title by winning the 2013 WPT Caribbean $3,500 buy-in main event. Three years later he earned his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet by taking down a $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. Dunst topped a field of 2,452 entries in that event to secure the hardware and the top prize of $339,254.

With that bracelet win and a runner-up finish in the Aussie Millions main event for $700,000, 2016 proved to be Dunst’s best year ever on the tournament circuit. While he was thriving on the felt, he also continued to find success in his role as a media member. In 2017, longtime WPT commentator Mike Sexton stepped down and Dunst was selected to replace him in the booth alongside Vince Van Patten.

This year Dunst managed to put together a string of deep runs in online events during the live circuit shutdown, cashing 16 times in online WSOP Circuit and WSOP bracelet events since the start of March. The crowning achievement of Dunst’s run in recent months came when he defeated a field of 1,361 total entries in the WSOP Online $777 buy-in six-max no-limit hold’em event. Dunst earned his second bracelet and $168,342 for the win.

Card Player recently caught up with Dunst to discuss the victory, his work with the WPT, and much more.

Card Player: Can you talk about the experience of winning your second bracelet by beating out a huge field online?

Tony Dunst: Well, it was a six-max event, which has always been a favorite format of mine, both live and online. I just love the short-handed action and how much it forces you out of your comfort zone if you’re a nine-handed player.

It felt great to win. Honestly, I came into the final table with a massive chip lead, so I got my hopes up right away. And then the two first players that got knocked out at the final table busted to me. It just really could not have gone smoother. During three-handed play, I put a vicious beat on somebody. It just really all fell my way.

CP: It did seem that you had a lot of great situations at the final table. Can you tell me about your smooth sailing ride to the final six?

TD: Smooth sailing in the sense that I was running really good, that I caught the perfect streak of cards at the exact right time when all of a sudden there was this really strong disincentive on my opponent to take any risks. If you look at surviving from ninth to second, there were some very significant pay jumps. Having such an enormous lead over the field allowed me the freedom to play very loose-aggressive, and there’s just not much that my opponents could do. That’s just kind of tournament poker, the way it’s structured.

CP: Did your awareness of this advantage result in any extra pressure to convert the lead into a victory? Or were you able to just acknowledge the edge and freely wield the lead against the middling stacks and really put pressure on them, from an Independent Chip Model (ICM) standpoint?

TD: More so the latter, in that I had been studying a lot of final table reviews recently because I felt like my final table and ICM game was not as sharp as my normal mid-tournament chip accumulation game. So, trying to be very aware of those dynamics at the final table was very helpful. Plus, I believe that for most of the players at the final table, the money was meaningful enough for them that they were being more risk-averse than they might have been in a smaller event.

The player who finished fifth (Krista ‘Pollux’ Gifford) is a reg on the site, so we battle all the time and I’d guess that she’s probably not too concerned about the money, but on the other hand, the player that finished second had won their way into the event through a $25 satellite. So if that’s the kind of bankroll considerations you’re making, a pay jump that is five figures is likely really significant to you. So when you’re in those shoes, you really don’t want to call off your stack. And then you’re up against a pro who really ultimately doesn’t give a damn and is just going all-in every hand, it’s a very tough spot to be in.

CP: Were there any hands in particular from this event that stood out to you, whether it was because you liked your play or that you were dissatisfied with a line you took?

TD: Yeah, there was a hand that I lost that I might’ve messed up. I wasn’t sure in the moment, but as I watched that player continue at our table, I thought, ‘Well, I probably made a mistake.’ I had gotten moved to this table and we were playing four-handed. The player under the gun min-raised to 80,000 and I defended my big blind with the 83. The flop came down QJJ. We both checked and the turn brought the 9. I rolled the dice and I rolled an aggressive action, so I bet my hand. While my hand definitely had a lot of equity, I tend to suspect that they have some showdown value whenever people check back these Q-J-J type of boards that they’re supposed to be betting at a really high frequency. Anyway, I bet 80,000 and my opponent called. The river was the 5 and I bet 260,000 into the pot of 360,000, which is fine. But I honestly kind of wish that I had picked a larger sizing, because I thought my opponent had showdown value and that there was no chance that they would accidentally range-merge me and raise me off my hand. Because what actually ended up happening was my opponent raised me to 685,000 and I don’t know if it’s a normal fold. In that moment I just thought, ‘We’re deep in a World Series of Poker bracelet event, against a random opponent, and I just really just don’t think people are making very many creative river raises in these spots without a huge flush or a full house. I’m sure a computer might say that this hand is a call, but I’m going to fold.’

So I folded it and then I watched this guy play for a while and I started thinking, ‘Oh, that was probably a terrible fold.’ I really wished that I had sized up bigger on the river because I think that if he had trips or a lower flush that accidentally raised me for value and got me off my hand, that if I had gone really big, that would never happen.

CP: By winning your second bracelet, you became only the 230th player to win two or more bracelets. What are your thoughts about joining this smaller, more elite company?

TD: To me what is even more meaningful is winning a bracelet online. It’s weird. I saw all this kind of discussion and controversy over whether we should award bracelets online. Should we award WPT titles online? Should we award major titles online that we normally reserve for just live events? I’ve been playing online poker for almost 20 years, most of my peers came up playing online, and I believe that online poker is responsible for the revolution and evolution of the game that we have seen in that time period. I think it is ultimately the tougher form of poker. So winning my second bracelet online, that meant a lot to me, maybe more so than becoming a multiple bracelet winner. Getting my first was sweet, doing so was definitely a goal of mine, but getting an online bracelet… I don’t know how to put it, man. That’s where I’m actually from in the world of poker.

CP: You’ve made 16 cashes since the shutdown began in online WSOP Circuit and WSOP bracelet events. Has it been exciting for you to kind of get back to your roots and just be able to grind online tournaments every day that you feel like it?

TD: It has been great, but of course I miss the balance of what we’re missing because of the pandemic; the social distancing, and not having live poker available. I always felt that online poker was a great compliment to live poker. I love to see the synergy of being able to satellite online into a live event. That’s kind of how I got started in my whole poker career. And so we’re really missing that element right now. And I will say that there are some fairly clear drawbacks to online poker. Most notably, that it can feel antisocial just sitting behind your computer gambling all day.

CP: It’s been 10 years now that you’ve worked with the World Poker Tour. How do you think that your work with them has changed your approach to being a poker pro, given that you’re not solely focused on your play, but also with your work in the media?

TD: It’s certainly changed my mentality and perspective, first and foremost, about how the game is covered, how poker players are covered, and the relationship between poker media and players. I have a little more of an operator’s perspective at times. I’m happy that I still feel like I’m very authentically connected to both the player side and the operator side, because sometimes I’ll see things that players are really upset about and that will resonate with me. And I will want to have internal discussions with the operators and be like, ‘Look, the players are going to be really, really frustrated if we don’t make the following changes or if we don’t address this issue.’

Meanwhile, sometimes I think the players have a mentality that the operators with poker sites and companies have infinite resources and they should be on top of everything all times and that no mistake is forgivable. And oftentimes I’m like, ‘Guys, look, and a lot of these people are our peers, they’re hard-working and they mean well. If some mistake happens in an update, for example, I assure you it’s a minor oversight and not the poker company trying to slight you.’ So I like being a part of both sides of the poker culture. I feel very connected to both.

CP: Did it change your mentality or take any pressure off in a way, just knowing that you had a gig in addition to playing for a living?

Tough Pocket Notebook

TD: Well, it does take a bit of pressure off financially because you have a steady income. And it’s one that is so well incorporated with playing serious tournament poker. So that was really nice. But then there was some added pressure from my specific role in that, if I’m going to be the guy who does these critical segments that evaluate the play and conduct of others, then I really need to be able to walk the walk.

Tougher poker tournaments

Since I had been elevated to Mike Sexton’s role in the booth with Vince, I felt that If I am going to be so central in the WPT broadcasts, I really want to feel like I am immersed in the game and can still bring it on the felt.

CP: It’s been three years since you took over for Sexton in the booth. Has that been a pretty seamless transition, and one that you’ve enjoyed?

TD: I love being in the booth with Vince. The WPT was the first show that really got me into poker, it was appointment television for me every week when I was growing up. So it’s kind of surreal to be in there with him almost 20 years later. And it’s a nice break from the… how do you put it? When you play tournament poker, you’re full of anxiety the whole time, because you’re terrified that something may go wrong, you’re going to screw up or you’re just going to lose a flip and then it’s all over and your emotions and your adrenaline spiking. Whereas when I’m in the booth, I’m very relaxed. And if I screw something up, well, that’s okay, we’re on camera. We can just do it again and we can even do it a fourth time if we want, it doesn’t really matter. It’s very relaxing. Being able to come to work and be around cool, fun, creative people is very healthy for me.

CP: Speaking of Mike Sexton, it was recently announced that the WPT Champion’s Cup is going to be renamed in his honor. What are your thoughts about that move?

TD: As soon as I heard it, I thought, ‘Yes, of course it should be the Mike Sexton Cup.’ That is our guy, that is our ambassador. To this day, when you use the term poker ambassador, the first name that jumps to mind for most of us is Mike Sexton. He’s just been a huge and permanent part of the poker culture. Having his name on the cup feels very appropriate.

CP: The WPT final tables, like the rest of the live tournament circuit, have been put on hold. There might be news on that front soon, but for the meantime what are your plans, both in your role at the WPT and as a player?

TD: For the time being we are waiting and evaluating to see when it is best to resume play on those final tables, because obviously there a lot of factors that are outside of our control right now. As for me personally, I am going to finish up this heavy stretch of online poker here in Vegas. I’m going to take one week off and just kind of relax and then I’m going to go see my family for the first time in six months. I really have been taking quarantine pretty seriously. I don’t really leave my house very much. I haven’t seen many friends, certainly not family in a long time and so that’s going to be important.

Then I have a decision to make because, with things so halted right now, there is not a high necessity on me being in Las Vegas. I need to make a decision about where I want to live. Right now, the focus for the WPT has shifted a little bit to Club WPT, which is our subscription-based site available in the vast majority of the United States. Matt Savage, Vince Van Patten, Lynn Gilmartin, and myself all stream as part of the Club WPT every single week and have built up a community of poker lovers there.

I’m also creating a lot of content for Learn WPT, where I’m very happy to say that our lead instructor, Nick Binger also took down his second bracelet recently. He’s mostly on the content and the production side of things, but he had a huge win this summer. Andrew ‘LuckyChewy’ Lichtenberger is an instructor there and he’s probably the guy that I’ve learned the most from in poker over the last few years. I’m also currently working on taking some of the hand histories from these tournaments I’ve been playing and turning them into videos. If people are interested, they can check out those out at Learn WPT.

Photo credits: World Poker Tour / Joe Giron.

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Assesses The Changing Poker Environment Which Might Contribute To Observations
That Sit N Goes Are Becoming Tougher… And Suggests Some Common Sense Remedies!

It’s a question that has been asked many times – and will undoubtedly continue to be asked for many years to come: Are Online SNG Tournaments Becoming Tougher?

There are several factors which are usually brought up in these discussions which might contribute to the toughening of the games. Here I'll go through them one by one assessing them as objectively as possible. While I'll agree that the games are not as easy as they once were, they are still very much beatable in 2020 (especially at the $22 and under level). The second half of this article looks at ways in which you can fine tune your games, and maybe you profit expectations, and get on with building that big poker bankroll.

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Are Sit N Go Tournaments Harder? Contributing Factors Assessed

Here are the factors put forward by people on forums / blogs as to why the games are getting harder.

1. Training Sites: There are an increasing number of training sites catering for SNG Players. While these vary hugely in quality, what they will do is quickly plug the main leaks of losing / breakeven players and turn them into ‘super-tight early, push-late’ players. There is little doubt that a certain percentage of fish are becoming small winners, what I can not say is how long these trained players last at the tables. One thing I feel this contributes to is the amount of players who 'partially' understand strategy, but get lost when anything non-standard apprears. For example, people who know they should be raising the button when folded to, but still manage to make major errors when one of the blinds 3-bets. As sub-niche of this category are the staked players in stables who receieve training in how to grind and share their winnings with their coach / backers. At the lower buy-in levels you will find a lot of players with a very 'robotic' strategy in the 9, 18 and 180 SNGs particularly - along with some better players who have 'graduated' from the real grind.

2. Popularity Of ‘Grinding’: Go back a few years and the players with 12 or 16 tables were the exceptions. With improved computers and bigger monitors, learning to grind SNGs for a small profit from many tables is within the reach of more players. While the ‘burn out’ from this form of the game is higher, it only takes a few grinders to soak up the value from a lot of SNG tournaments. This is the key reason for me that the games are less profitable, there the same number of winning and losing players - only the winners are playing 12 games at once and the losers 1 or 2. This means the proportion of winners is higher, and the dead money in the prize pool smaller. One counter argument is that grinders play a fairly robotic strategy in order to get their volume high, if you are observant and take notes you will be able to exploit many of them. Of course, the obvious way to counteract the growth in grinding is to accept that the profit per game is smaller than it used to be, and learn to play more games yourself to make up for it.

Key to Big Profits: Finding the Softest Games: If you are playing at sites full of Eastern Euro nits, or recognise the same players grinding the games just like you - then you have problem!

Key to profitable poker is finding the softest opponents. Some sites (Stars for example), are 'regular heavy'. Sure, you can win, though with multiple profitable opponents in the same games, your hourly rate is always going to suffer.

I have two recommendations for where to find the softest Sit N Goes in 2020. One is for US players, and the other an international site. Don't take my word for it, check out the standard of play, and decide for yourself how much money you are leaving on the table by not jumping right in.

International Players: Party Poker are crushing it when it comes to soft games in all formats. I love their SNGs. This is the only site where more than half the field have yet to discover ICM or basic positional strategy. Party now offer up to 40% cashback (based on your volume, paid automatically every Monday). This makes Monday the ideal time to check out the games, since the fish get some cash back too! Use bonus code SNGPLANET, grab $40 in tokens (varies by country) and a 100% bonus, and start profiting from those soft games right now. See for yourself!

US Based Players: Bovada have grown into the giant of offshore action. They have a unique 'recreational player model', which keeps the balance between grinders and fish. Once you see the SNGs, you'll wonder why you have been playing anywhere else. What I like about Bovada is that the bad players can be found right up to the mid-stakes ($20+ games). You'll play anonymously and with a solid game, your bankroll will move up fast. Check out the softest US SNGs by far for yourself now at

3. Books, Forums and Websites: The sheer amount of information aimed at varying experience levels is huge. Again, quality varies and is consumed at the reader’ risk. However, anyone seeking a solid education can find one! I agree with this to an extent, though you need to be aware that only around 20% of players will ever read a poker forum, and even fewer than this will contribute. Again, those who do read books / websites will often clean up their biggest leaks (aka, stop spewing chips!), this kind of education requires work on top though - and for me the majority of players will not put in the required effort.

4. Tools, Particularly ICM Calculators: While the original – and now horribly dated – SNG Power Tools was used by the elite few 6 or 7 years ago, now you are not considered serious about the game unless you regularly analyze your hand histories in ICMIZER 2. Even those who do not use ICM directly understand it – meaning the ‘huge’ bubble mistakes which used to provide much of the cash are fewer (though thankfully still there at the lower to mid limits at least). HUDs like Holdem Manager, which also keep databases of your own hands, make up for the lack of reads multi-tabling grinders have while stacking those 16 games. What these do is quickly highlight the fish (via their 'crazy' stats), those new players then become targets - which unfortunately often leaves them broke and trying a new hobby before they learn the basics of online poker - oh well!

Combined these factors have lead to the mid levels ($15 through to $55) at the larger poker sites becoming filled with grinders who are sharing the cash donated by an ever-shrinking pool of less experienced opponents. Fortunately there is still a lot of dead money in the lower limits - my personal belief is that you really only need to start serious table selection at the Pokerstars $15 Turbos and Full Tilt $26's. Below this level and at some of the softer sites the amount of recreational players trying out these games keeps them plenty profitable enough.

Best for Grinding SNGs In 2020!!

Are SNG Tournaments Getting Tougher? Planet Mark's View!

My view is that the above reasons for the games toughening up are partially true, but that the natural turnover of players and ‘market forces’ actually created a balance – the games got tougher in the late 2000’s… but have now reached an equilibrium in which the motivated individual can easily rise above the competition..if (and this is my key point) they are prepared to work hard on their own game and not blame 'the donks' or 'bad luck'.

Players burn out from SNGs surprisingly fast, those who stop enjoying online poker are just part of the equation… most others move to the challenges of cash and / or MTTs after building a bankroll in 1-table tournaments, in my experience grinding SNGs for more than 18 months is very rare indeed.

The equilibrium model hypothesizes that ‘too many grinders spoil the game’ and that some will naturally move on to other games or stop playing… which makes the games profitable again – attracting more grinders (and so on). This can result in temporary ‘waves’ of too many grinders, along with easier periods – over time there is a natural balance.

Still Think Sit N Goes Are Too Tough? Here Are Some Simple Solutions!

Here is where the profitable players and the rest diverge… talking about a problem is only useful if you plan on considering solutions – and then acting on them. Here are some common-sense ways in which you can counteract the toughening games and grab yourself a slice of the big profits still available in this form of the game!

1. Table Selection: Sharing a SNG with 7 grinders and 1 fish is never going to be as profitable as playing a big group of inexperienced opponents. Even if you can beat the grinders it will not be for too much return, and will rarely make up for the positive expectation that they have against the worst players. Simply monitoring the winners, making notes on them (color coding where possible) and then actively avoiding them can make a difference to your ROI at the end of the session. Really, if you see 4 regulars signed up for the next 8 games waiting for fish, then go make a coffee and work on your hand histories for 15 minutes - waiting for session with a better balance of players will more than pay for your lost time.

2. Site Selection:This amazes me, it surprises me and to be honest it also frustrates me.. We all love Stars and Tilt right? Great software, loads of games and, well, just about every pro SNG grinder out there too! Moving away from the forum herds can be very profitable, with many sites offering growing player bases and much softer games… if you can not find enough games at Intertops, BetOnline or Red Kings to fill your screen – how about thinking outside of the box and playing at 2 of these simultaneously?? Party Poker is amazingly soft compared to other Non-US sites. For US players the games at are crazy compared to the big international sites.. yet people still keep sitting with a bunch of other grinders and wondering why they can barely do better than breaking even!

Tougher Poker Meaning

3. Training: If you do not yet have the bankroll to join Cardrunners or Tournament Poker Edge, then there are plenty of free alternatives around. There are more than 200 SNG strategy articles right here at SNG Planet (and not forgetting my Blueprint course!), forums and books available too. For some players, the faster you start looking at your own leaks and stop blaming others for your 'bad variance' the quicker you will become profitable.. and once you have the cash to invest in software tools and training, you can quickly move your game to the next level.

Tougher Poker Tips


3. Invest In Software: Many of the poker software tools available give players a large profitable edge at the tables. These work in various ways, such as keeping stats on opponent tendencies, giving you real-time odds information and even by analyzing your hand histories after you play looking for leaks. If you are serious about profits then tools should be seen as an investment, and not an expense! We have a categorized section dedicated to the Best Poker Software Tools – check it out now - in 2020 you will not make a long term profit in Sit N Goes without learning the bubble math, ICMIZER 2 is the best tool by far for this, and will pay it's monthly subscription many times over.. see for info.

I rate Party Poker as a clear number #1 for international players. The big brand attracts new players all the time, and the standard of opposition is mind-blowingly bad! Check out for yourself and see what a difference it can make to your bankroll!

  1. ACR Poker SNGs Review (A lot of games, progressive leaderboards, more regs than other US sites)
  2. Bovada Poker Review (Here is where you will find the softest games for US players)
  3. Party Poker Review (my international pick, now with up to 40% cashback)
  4. Party Poker Bonus Info (how the cashback works, tokens + payments + matched welcome bonus)
  5. Titan Poker SNGs Review (Big Network With Plenty Of Sports-Betting Traffic Keeping The Games Soft!)
  6. 888 Poker Review ($88 Free, No Deposit Required + Tons Of Hobby Players)