Free Poker Strategy Articles

A collection of poker posts written by poker players for poker players

How To Play 2 Pair In A Multi-Way Pot

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In this hand, we’re in the big blind with T6s. There’s a limp, another limp, another limp. And hero decides to check his option. In the write-up, Jay says this: “People here know I play really tight. If I make a decent size raise, most fold. So I wanted to mix it up.” So keep that in mind as we’re going through the rest of the hand.

We started the hand with only 30 big blinds, definitely not something that I would suggest doing, unless you have a really super, super strong strategy at 30 big blinds and you think it’s more profitable for you to play 30 big blinds than it is for you to play a hundred or two hundred big blinds.

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Poker HUD Stats Glossary & Meanings

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Your poker HUD is an amazing tool – but with so many stats to choose from (and even more available in the popup) they can become quite confusing. In my 6max workbook you will find lots of stats – so many that I needed to create an entire glossary dedicated to them. So this is directly from the back of the book and it:

  • Shares the shorthand for the stat
  • A quick definition for that stat
  • And related stats when applicable

If you are brand-new to HUDs and don’t fully understand even the basic stats – please read my Getting Started With HUD Stats article first and it will clear things up nicely. And with that said, enjoy!

3BET: How often a player 3bets preflop. See the glossary for more information on 3bets.

4BET+: How often a player 4bets, 5bets, 6bets, etc. when given the opportunity preflop. Continue reading

Folding Huge Hands On The River. Should You?

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In this hand we flop top pair and end up improving to trips on the river. Knowing when to fold deceptively strong hands is an important skill that all players need – but is this the RIGHT time to fold? Let’s find out…

This is a hand from 200NL where Benjamin has KJo and has to make an interesting decision on the river. Here, we have KJ on the button. There’s a raise. Hero decides to call. And Benjamin describes Villain as “pretty loose.” And to be honest, I’m going to be calling this as well, using my position, going forward from there, and we end up going heads-up to it.

On the flop, we end up flopping top pair and we face a bet. Continue reading

Basic ABC Pokers

ABC Poker: The Simple Strategy

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The concept of ABC poker is often times misunderstood.  Many players think ABC poker is playing some super exploitable and dumified strategy that makes about 0bb/100.  However, ABC poker is really just a term to describe a simple strategy that focuses on good fundamental play and veers away from FPS (fancy play syndrome).  In full disclosure I use an ABC strategy quite often, especially in live games and micro stakes online games.  But if I’m fully capable of using a LAG strategy, why would I use a simplified strategy?

Imagine playing in a brand new game.  Every player is unknown to you, you have zero information on any villain, and it folds to your T8o in middle position.  An ABC player would just fold here.  T8o isn’t a default open-raise from middle position and thus it’s an easy fold.  Now if I had information, such as everyone behind me is tight, then I’m going to break away from ABC and raise to try and steal the blinds from a non-steal spot.  This is how I would play as a default too.  With information I’m going to raise and try to pick up the pot preflop…but without information I would resort to a default strategy of just folding my weakish hand because I don’t have information on the other players.  This, in essence, is ABC poker.

ABC Poker Folding

This same concept can be applied to postflop poker.  With information you may continuation bet more, size your value bets more perfectly, and even run double barrels and overbets more often.  But without information, or even with super minimal information like a sample size of 14, you will often times have to revert back to default lines.  So what are some ABC lines that players use?

1.   Raise only good hands from EP/MP

2.  Only 3-bet value hands like QQ+ and AK preflop

3.  Don’t bluff continuation bet in a multi-way pot

4.  Keep turn/river bets for value

5.  Keep bet sizes around 2/3rd pot

These ideas, along with many others, are simply fundamental and basic starting points.  The main thought is to keep your ranges strong so you can value bet more often and be forced to bluff less often.  The issue in unknown poker games and dynamics is that you aren’t sure if a bluff will work.  Even though a 1/2 pot double barrel on the turn  only needs to work 33% of the time to breakeven…without info you can’t really know if your bluff will create that many folds.  So rather than throw out an expensive bet with no concept on the profitability, you could pass on the opportunity and just check/fold instead.

An ABC strategy is a good idea in unknown environments

An ABC strategy is thus a good idea in unknown environments…and then once you have info on one or many players you should veer away from ABC and begin using a more exploitative strategy to maximize profit in each spot.

I think this is why ABC is so misunderstood.  Players think ABC means to just use a totally dumb and overly simplistic strategy…which is true…but it’s true in situations where you don’t have the information to do something more exploitative.  If you are playing a super basic strategy when you have good sample sizes on villains or in spots where you know you could veer away from a default play (like light 3betting A7o rather than just folding it) you are passing up valuable opportunities.

3 Tips For Improving Your ABC Strategy

1. Know your preflop ranges like the back of your hand

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of hand charts. I think they are limiting and miss the bigger picture of poker – being dynamic and fluid to each situation. But, ABC poker requires that you have a fall-back range you can use when you don’t have better information to use – so a basic hand chart is useful.

The exact ranges you open-raise with, call with, and 3bet with will vary from game to game. For instance, I open all pocket pairs from UTG in a 6max game but typically only open 66+ from UTG in a full ring online game. This is the starting hand chart I suggest using for full ring and live players. And for 6max players I suggest this one.

And remember that hand charts are useful for preflop ranges and are NOT used postflop. Hand strengths, lines, and bluffing frequencies are texture-dependent and a postflop hand chart would leave heaps of money on the table.

So spend a few minutes today writing down your ranges from each position – what would you open-raise, raise over limpers, limp behind, call preflop raises, 3bet, and 4bet with. That way you always have ranges to fall back on if you don’t have other information to help you craft an optimal range for the exact spot.

2. Use basic hand reading skills to find continuation bets

Even though you don’t have great information on your exact opponent, you can still find bluff CBs. Some flop textures lend themselves beautifully to bluffing – while others make it quite difficult. Take a common situation where you open-raise from MP with A♥ J♠ and the SB calls. They check to you on a Q♥ 7♥ 3♦ flop. Should you fire?

With some basic hand reading skills the answer is very simple. Say you think the SB called your preflop raise with 22-JJ/ATB (minus AK)/43s+/64s+/AXs. How often does that range hit a pair+ or decent draw on this flop?

Assuming you think they won’t float the flop (and why would they OOP?), you can expect folds around 45% of the time – meaning that any bet that is 2/3 pot or small is outright profitable. That means it doesn’t matter if you have 22, AT, or 65 here – you can fire a +EV continuation bet out there! (Of course, having some equity – backdoor or otherwise – is even better).

These situations are everywhere. With basic hand reading skills* and the knowledge of how common ranges hit common flop textures – you can find extra continuation bets in every session with all parts of your own range. And this expands beyond the flop since you can use this same knowledge to find double barrels, triple barrels, bluff check-raises, etc.

The exact range you build won’t always be correct (how could it without solid information about their play style?) – but with experience and practice you can get a great feel for spots where you should be firing way more often than just constantly checking.

* One of the best ways to break away from ABC is to improve your hand reading skills. With better hand reading you can find more spots to bluff, more ways to generate creative value, and more. Join my FREE 5-day email course and improve your hand reading skills this week!


3. Use variable bet sizing

When in doubt, keeping your bet sizes to a default 2/3 pot is safe. It’s easy to calculate, it’s rarely “the worst” bet size you could use, and as such it’s a staple in the ABC strategy. But I’d like to make a simple suggestion for a simple reason: use variable bet sizing.

This means making bigger bets with your big hands and slightly smaller bets with your bluffs. It’s simple to see that you stand to make more money when your hand is best and risk less when trying to get your opponent to fold.

Now is this something I want to do against regs and people I play against often? Of course not – since such a bet sizing strategy would allow them to easily discern how strong my hand is and give them opportunities to play closer to perfect against me. But if a player is an unknown to me, I’m almost certainly an unknown to them and they wouldn’t have any idea what my bet sizing strategy says about the strength of my hand.

It would be easy to take this too far – over-betting 1.5x pot with strong hands and 1/4th pot with weak hands. But I don’t suggest taking it quite that far. Something closer to 90% pot with a strong hand that rates to beat the hands your opponent calls with and something closer to ½ pot when bluffing and trying to solicit a fold. If you don’t already know, a ½ pot bluff means your opponent only needs to fold 1/3rd of the time for your bluff to make profit – something that is reasonable in many situations.

Again, this is NOT something I suggest doing against regs. But when done correctly vs unknowns – this can massively change the profitability of your ABC strategy!

My advice would be to strength your ABC strategy so that you always have a profitable strategy to fall back on…but also to work on improving your exploitative strategy so that you know how to attack players once you gather good information on them.  A strong ABC game has its place…but keep learning and growing to ensure you can exploit poker regulars (regs) and generate more profit in the longrun.

What To Do On The Worst River Card?

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In this $1/$2 hand hero gets a free-play from the blinds and has to figure out what the best play is on one of the worst river cards. Getting counterfeited on the turn/river always sucks – but we still need to make a decision and this video will help you choose the best line in these spots.

Our Hero, Fundiver , has 43. There are a bunch of limpers to us and we decided knock our option. Totally standard so far. This is very, very common of course when you’re playing live poker that you’re going to get a bunch of limpers like this. This is a very, very common situation.

And Fundiver said in his write-up that he didn’t exactly remember stack sizes, so he just gave everyone on average 100 big blinds just to make it easier to illustrate the point.

There’s a check. We decide to bet. And in this kind of situation, there’s so many different options that you have. One of course is to just fire it out, go forward from there. Number two is to look for a check-raise opportunity. And, oftentimes, in live games, I’m looking for a check-raise opportunity because it’s one of those where I think if there’s a bet, there’s going to be a cascade of callers. And I can check-raise nice and large, get a nice, big pot brewing and really punish someone who’s going to get sticky with AX or 45 or any of those kind of hands. Continue reading

How To Beat Super-Tight Poker Players

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Nits can be found in every single poker game you might play. And it’s important that we at least have some semblance of an idea on how to beat these people more easily and more regularly, and what exactly we should be looking for when it comes to crafting our lines against these players.

First and foremost, what are nits? Well, nits are super-tight players and they’re even tighter than TAGs, which are tight, aggressive individuals. Nits have the discipline to play tight, but they take it way too far, like, egregiously tight when they’re playing. And the honest truth is you can find everywhere and at any single limit. Live and online, they’re there. 6-max versus full ring, they’re there.

You can also find them at any game. You can find them at Omaha and stud. It doesn’t matter, nits can be found everywhere. And it’s important because they’re all over the place that you know how to beat them and you have some easy plays you can slip right into your play book. Continue reading

How Should I Play The Nuts?

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Today we’re going to review a hand sent in by Matthew. This is a hand from 100NL 6max online where Matthew has AQ and finds himself in a pretty interesting spot because he picks a pretty a-typical line. This hand is from Bovada Zone Poker, so there are no HUDs. And he said players are a bit fishy when calling you on these tables. And he just wants us all to know that he does not normally play like this, but he just wants a quick line check on an odd line that he took.

He opens AQs, gets called, gets called, goes three-way to it, goes here, check, and hero decides to check instead of taking a normal see bet line. Matthew says, “I absolutely smashed the flop. Unfortunately, my range is way, way ahead of my opponents. And the hands I would really only get value from are things like weaker Aces, maybe asdf few small flush draws.” Continue reading

How To Play A Turned Top Pair

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In today’s spot we’re playing 4-handed. We have AJ in the big blind. There’s a steal from the button, call from the small blind, and the Hero decides to 3bet.

Alastair in the write-up says this: “I wanted to send this hand because I’m working on expanding my 3bet range and quickly realizing that you do get into tricky spots, especially with a deep SPR such as this.

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