Weekly Cash Game Thread, Week 1: Exploiting Opponent Types
Ok, inaugural post for the cash game discussion thread! The votes are in, and the selected topic is Exploiting Different Opponent Types.
This kickoff post isn’t trying to identify any specific exploitable opponent types or specific opportunities, I'm just introducing the topic. So ask questions, pick out situations you find interesting, identify behaviors you think are exploitable, identify behaviors you want to know how to defend against, and discuss!
(side note - if you’re uncomfortable posting in the thread because you’re worried you’re going to ask a “dumb” question, pls feel free to pm me)
Since this is the first thread for this discussion group, I'll mention a couple of tools you should be aware of if you’re not already:
This is a free app. If you don’t already have it, you have no excuse to not get it and play with it (www.pokerstove.com)
. It allows you to plug in hands and see how they do against other hands, or to plug in ranges of hands and see how they do against other ranges of hands. If you know someone is playing 30% of the hands they’re dealt, you can plug in “30%” and see what hands are in that range.
A HUD (Heads Up Display) will display statistics about the players at your table, based on hands you’ve played against those players. At it’s most basic, it’ll tell you how often they’ve voluntarily put money in the pot preflop (VPIP), how often they’re raising preflop (PFR), and what their Aggression Factor is (AF - this is the ratio between how often they initiate action by betting or raising, i.e., play aggressively, against how often they call, i.e. play passively).
The most common HUD’s in use are PokerTracker 3 and Holdem Manager (there are others, but I don’t remember what they’re called J
). PT3 and HEM also track all the hands you play so you can review your own play after your sessions. These are not free, but can be downloaded on a trial basis. If you don’t use one, but are interested enough in learning how to crush cash games to participate in this thread, you should give consideration to purchasing one or the other at some point in time.
At the simplest level, we generally classify players as being relatively loose (puts money in the pot preflop with lots of hands, which range from premium to junky) to relatively tight (puts money in the pot preflop with relatively few, presumably better, hands), and as being relatively passive (calls a lot, rarely takes initiative, rarely raises, rarely puts pressure on other players) to relatively aggressive (bets a lot, raises a lot, 3bets a lot, less likely to call).
You also want to recognize to a certain extent what motivates your opponents to play poker. As an example, regs are going to take the game more “seriously” than recreational players - which in some ways makes them easier to play against, since their actions are in some ways more predictable than recreational players. Recreational players, esp the fish, are a huge opportunity though, since they’ll frequently make “incorrect” decisions about when to put money in the pot.
At micro, the majority of players you'll play against are fish, you won't start seeing a lot of regs until 25nl or so.
If you use a HUD, you can be a lot more specific when profiling players than simply calling them LAG, TAG, Loose Passive (i.e., fish), or Tight Passive. You can get extremely detailed information very quickly about opponents whom you’ve played a lot of hands with, including how frequently they cbet, how often they fold to cbets, how often they 3bet, how often they fold to 3bets,… the list goes on and on. (side note - multitablers in particular will want to use a HUD because it’s difficult to keep notes on everyone playing on all your tables - the HUD’s a shortcut).
So, when we say we want to exploit opponent types, we’re really looking for general habits that types of players have and how to take advantage of those. As a really easy example, if you have position on a tight passive nit, putting pressure on him by betting/raising post flop will allow you to steal your share of small pots (nit’s will rarely call w mediocre draws or whiffed hands oop), and any show of strength from a passive player in response to your aggression is just not going to be a bluff often enough to bother calling.
Here's my personal favorite fish exploitable habit - they call too much. How to exploit it - bet frequently.
If you frequently use a particular habit or set of habits of your opponents for exploitation purposes, and you use a HUD, you can customize your HUD to add that statistic. For example, you’ve got a guy in front of you who’s playing a LAG style and opening a lot of hands pf from middle and late position. Since he’s opening so many hands, he can’t be strong all the time that he’s actually opening, right? It’d be great to know how often he folds to 3bets, and it’d be great to know how often he folds to flop cbets. You can 3bet light against a player who folds a lot to 3bets cuz he’ll fold a lot of the time. Even if he doesn’t fold a lot of the time, if he frequently folds to flop cbets, you can still 3bet him to death.
Note that it’s not necessary to have a HUD to be able to do this - it’s just easier to find these spots quickly w a HUD than without one. If you multitable a significant number of tables, you’ll find it difficult to pick out these spots without using a HUD, because you won‘t be able to pay enough attention to each and every action on each table to get a feel for, as an example, who folds to 3bets a lot.
BalugaWhale, for example, doesn't use a HUD (if you don't know who he is, he's responsible for the Baluga Theorem, see link in this excellent post http://www.cardschat.com/f49/ring-game-hand-analysis-required-reading-144488/), and has the simplest classification of villain types I can imagine - bad passive, bad aggressive, and good aggressive (note that he doesn't have a "good passive" category) - but he doesn't massively multitable either.
There are actually quite a few excellent threads on this topic already, and rather than re-hashing what others have written, I’ll just put a couple of links here:
Excellent guide to how to beat microstakes FR games. There's a section titled HUD Stats and Player Types
that's particularly relevant here.
Specific discussion of customizing a HUD configuration to be able to exploit specific villain behaviors.
OK, confession time - I cheated when I proposed this topic. A group of us discussed this topic last year. However, we never really finished it I don't think, and I see a lot of posts from newer members that make me think it's a topic that will continue to provide a lot of value to the forum.
dsvw56 did a fantastic job of putting together these posts, hoping we can put together another couple of profiles here - LAG and TAG are notably missing from the list...