Posts Tagged ‘value betting’

Playing against Loose Poker Opponents

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

One of the most common styles in poker is that of loose players. A loose poker player is somebody who plays a large number of hands preflop. There is an even greater distinction here because there are both loose-aggressive and loose-passive grinders.

A loose-aggressive (LAG) player not only plays lots of hands, but they enter pots with a big raise. Loose-passive players normally limp into pots and frequently call bets. It’s important to know the difference because each type of loose opponent requires a different strategy. That said, here’s a look at some general strategy for dealing with both types of loose players.

Playing Loose-Passive Opponents

The key to beating your loose-passive opponents is to see cards cheaply and keep players in the pot when you hit a strong hand. Since loose-passive players are defined by their willingness to call, you simply need a good knowledge of what bet sizes will keep them in the pot.

So you can enter a lot more pots with limps and small raises while hoping to hit sets, flushes and straights. Once the flop hits, you can use your pot odds and implied odds to continue chasing drawing hands. Value betting becomes your friend if you do get a strong hand, and previous observations of opponents will be really important here too.

Also remember that the pots will be much smaller when competing against a number of loose-passive players, so don’t expect to collect huge winnings.

Playing Loose-Aggressive Opponents

When pitted against LAG’s, you shouldn’t be playing too many hands. The reason why is because the majority of these grinders bet big and thin out the field. So it’s best if you can gain a preflop advantage and make large bets.

After the flop, many LAG’s will continue betting big, whether their hand connects or not. The idea here is to either force an opponent out of the pot, or build the pot if their hand does hit. Because of the nature in which these games go, you won’t have an opportunity to see many free cards.

However, you can often take control of hands by betting first when you feel that opponents are on a draw. By wagering enough, you’ll give these players bad odds to call, which is positive expected value for you.

Both kinds of loose grinders can put you up to some difficult situations. But with enough practice and observation, you have a solid shot at beating these players and making some money.

Traits of Good Postflop Poker Players

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

For many beginning poker players, it’s hard enough to get comfortable with the various preflop situations that will arise. But when you add postflop play into the mix, it almost seems like an overload to some players. Of course, this is no excuse to neglect postflop play because it’s extremely important for those who want to experience long-term success in poker. This being said, here are some common traits among good postflop poker players, and ones that you should try to improve upon:

Strong Value Betting – When you’re ahead in a hand, you need to extract maximum value from the situation by getting opponents to call your raises. Of course, there’s a fine line between getting people to call the maximum amount, and betting so much that they fold.

Good Bet Sizing when Bluffing – One pitfall of many beginning poker players is throwing too many chips out on a bluff. However, the key is to size your bluffs so that you’re only risking the minimum amount that would make an opponent fold; anything more puts you at a bigger risk if they call.

Ability to give up when you’re beat – It’s never easy folding on the turn or river – especially when you’ve put a lot of money into the pot. However, it doesn’t help your cause to call with a set when it’s obvious that your opponent rivered a flush.

Balancing Continuation Bets – If you were the initial preflop raiser, it’s often good to show aggression after the flop by firing out another raise (continuation bet). But you need to find the right mix between c-betting too much, and not doing it enough.

Adjusting to the Table – No two poker tables play exactly alike, and skilled postflop players are able to adjust to the situation. So if people are overplaying top pairs and two pairs postflop, you need to adjust to this and take advantage.

Value Bet Factors

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

If you’re still getting used to value betting in poker – which involves extracting the most value without making opponents fold when ahead – here are a few factors that will help you get the hang of this concept:

Opponent’s Hand Strength – By putting your opponent on a range during the hand in question, while also knowing something about their previous play, you’ll have a good idea about their hand strength. And the better you think this hand strength is, the higher the value bet you can place since they’ll be less likely to fold.

Opponent’s Assessment of your Hand – The amount of money you make from a hand will all depend on how the other player looks at your holdings. For example, if the other player thinks they have you beat, you can make much bigger value bets. To understand this factor, think about how the opponent would view you based on your previous play.

How Likely the Other Player is to fold – You can get even more value out of a great hand when the opponent is a calling station, or has a very difficult time putting something like top pair down.

Now that we’ve discussed the three big factors of value betting, it’s important to note just how important these factors are. After all, the amount of money you make off of value bets will go a long way to determining your success as a player. And assuming you play a lot of poker each month, your value betting edge could mean a difference of thousands of dollars!

Your experience with the stakes you normally play will be a huge factor in your value betting success, so just be patient and keep picking up on what you’re doing right and wrong when it comes to this concept.

Bet Sizing Tips

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

One intermediate concept that you learn about later in poker is bet sizing. As the name implies, bet sizing simply refers to the size of bet that you make in a given situation. For example, if you have pocket aces preflop and you shove your whole stack in, the bet size was your whole stack in this instance. Okay, that was a horrible example, and it’s exactly what you want to avoid with the bet sizing concept.

Instead, your goal should be to make appropriate bet sizes based on a given situation. Taking the aforementioned pocket aces preflop example, most people suggest raising just enough so that you isolate one opponent, yet not so much that you make everybody fold. This helps maximize your advantage with pocket aces, while keeping drawing hands out of the equation.

Depending on the stakes and dynamics of the table you’re at, this amount will differ in every instance. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll say that you are in a $0.25/$0.50 game, and a 4 times the big blind raise should isolate one player without encouraging others to call.

For another example, let’s say that you’re holding As-Qh on a flop of Ad-7h-Jd against one opponent; in this instance, you have top pair and a good kicker, but you are vulnerable to a flush draw (assuming you don’t already think your opponent has a set or two pair). This being the case, you don’t want the opponent to see cards for cheap if they’re on a flush draw, so you should size your bet to offer bad calling odds.

To do this, consider that the opponent has around 4:1 odds of hitting their assumed flush draw, so you need to raise enough to make this a profitable play for you in the long run. If $20 is in the pot, you need to make at least a $6 raise to give them worse pot odds (3.3:1 pot odds).

As you can see, sizing bets properly goes a long way to helping you reach a desired result on the poker table.