For this article I’m going to draw on my vast knowledge of how low/mid stakes cash games run and point out some common mistakes I see low stakes poker players make every single day.
1) Positionally unaware: Most people are aware that position is important but are deceived into believing its not as important as it really is. Its impossible to combat people who play lots of hands in position, both calling and raising. Obviously everything depends in poker, but against tight blinds you should be opening maybe 50%+ buttons when folded to you in a 6max game. Against loose defenders and 3-bettors from the blind you can do a number of things to combat them. Remember, you have position, you have the advantage. It doesn’t matter if your Durrr, Phil Ivey or Patrick Antonius. If they had to play every hand out of position, they wouldn’t win. Position position position. Open lots of hands, 3bet lots of hands and generally own people in position. Start out incredibly aggressive and when people start dicking with you, make your adjustments.
2) Robotting: When I say robotting or auto piloting I’m not saying that all grinders who play a ton of tables are bad. That is simply not the case. There are players at mid stakes who routinely play 16+ tables and crush the games for a huge winrate. However, these players are few and far between. They have done the work off the table to figure out the most effective default plays and have an incredible amount of experience. The trouble most grinders have is that they use a “default” line that isn’t the most optimal and then repeat their errors/leaks over and over. Often they don’t know they have these leaks. If these players spent some time away from the table examining the “why” they do certain things at the table then they would have allot more success. Imagine going from a 0.5pt winner to a 3pt winner whilst 16 tabling. Do the work off the table and you can thank me later.
3) Adjusting to your opponents: This is almost a repeat of the last point but far to many regulars have inflexible opening ranges and opening sizes. Its important to look at the players at the table before you open any hand preflop. Do you have calling stations with position on you? Are all the players nits? Do you have an aggressive 3bettor on the button? Are there short stacks in the blind? Is there a fish in the big blind? All of these things affect your opening frequency and opening sizes. Use your brain to figure out how.
4) Be unpredictable: In poker you often want to be doing the opposite of what your opponent are expecting you do. There are certain spots preflop/postflop that look incredibly strong where you can integrate bluffs when you normally have nut hands. What spots are these, well im not going to lay them all out for you. Preflop spots could be 3-betting an UTG raiser light, 3betting an EP raiser from the sb/bb. Postflop spots could be turning made hands into a bluff, for example check calling twice with a medium pair then deciding to check raise the river to represent a different subset of hands.
Whenever your opponent thinks that your hand range looks strong, its a good spot to bluff. Naturally, this will integrate well with your nut hand ranges and if called down can get you called lighter in future spots. Just make sure you can represent hands and make sure there’s balance against good players.
5) Paying off passive players: I’m somewhat known as a station but its something I have been eliminating from my game. (Its just so fun to call) Whenever your about to hero call someone, just ask yourself one thing. Is this person passive or aggressive? If the answer is unknown or passive, you should most likely fold to his big bet.
6) Preflop spew: Some players (me too at times, more tilt though not spew) do things emotionally, instead of logically. Sometimes people will go, “Hes got to be 3betting me light this time” and then decide to 4-bet based on an emotional response of not liking getting 3-bet for the 3rd time in 2 rounds. This is totally the wrong way to go about things. Yes, 4-betting is an ok adjustment to someone 3-betting you too much but there are also other adjustments (Opening less/4-betting wide for value/Flatting and check raise/shove flops) . And your decision to 4-bet shouldn’t be based on your emotional need to get back at someone.
I can count dozens of times where I just knew someone was getting agitated with me 3-betting them. I would feel the 4-bet coming, so what is my adjustment? I will 3bet hands I can shove over a 4-bet (Usually small pairs and suited aces). I will shove over there 4-bet and get an absurd amount of folds because I just knew it was coming. A correct adjustment in this spot would be to 4-bet lighter for value.
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