A lot of the strategy you see featured on the internet revolves around online poker. And what’s been lost in all of this is poker strategy for home games. Yes, people still gather with friends around home poker tables to play the game casually. Of course, nobody’s taking the money involved casually, so it’s definitely worth examining how you can beat your friends.
The first thing to understand with typical home poker game strategy is that you’ll see a lot of absolutes. For instance, some people will play overly-tight and totally disregard the blinds while waiting for premium hands. On the other hand, you’ll also see a lot of home game players make huge raises pre-flop with garbage hands in hopes of pulling off a bluff; many of these players will have a wide range of hands that makes it profitable to call or raise.
Whatever the case may be, home poker games usually present a lot of favorable situations because the players aren’t as experienced. So as long as you’re steadily learning poker strategy and observing your opponents, you have a solid chance to make money long-term. But you also have to consider the variance involved with poker, so don’t expect to win every time – no matter how bad your friends are.
One thing to consider is that a lot of players want to see the flop in home games. So if you have a great pre-flop hand (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK), protect it by trying to isolate one player so you can take advantage of them post-flop. If your pre-flop raises are too small, you’ll encourage 2 or 3 callers, which negates any advantage you have post-flop; if your raises are too big, nobody will call, and you’ve merely stolen a small pre-flop pot with the great hand. So try to size your pre-flop raise to where only one person will call your good hands.
Another thing to be aware of in home poker games are limpers, or those who call the big blind in hopes of seeing the flop. If you are in late position against limpers, you can steal their bets with a big raise no matter what cards you hold. Keep in mind that these players are saying ‘my hand is good enough to see the flop with, but not good enough to raise.’ When you raise though, make sure not to put your stack at serious risk by over-betting in order to steal a hand. After all, skilled home players might attempt a limp bluff.
Overall, just study your opponents’ playing styles, and try to counteract them with skilled play of your own.