Every poker player has leaks. Some are more obvious than others – but we all have them. Yes, even Phil Ivey has leaks in his game. He just leaks in more refined ways than the fishy calling station at your local card room.
A leak is an area in a poker players game that consistently leaves money on the table. Leaks can be aggressive or passive, but ultimately they are -EV plays that negatively impact a player’s winrate.
Today I want to discuss three of the most common leaks that I see today. These are issues that you can see at just about every table you sit down at. It doesn’t matter if you play cash games or tournaments, live or online.
If you pay attention, you’ll spot these leaks.
But the honest truth is that 98% of players who read this will have some-all of these leaks in their game. Maybe slightly, but they are there.
While reading this, think about the last time you made one of the mistakes. Think about the pots you’ve been giving up on due to these mistakes. And focus on ‘The Fix’ at the end of each leak for a clear way to patch that leak using my new course The One Percent.
Let’s get patching…
Playing Too Fit-Or-Fold
How many players do you know who play poker like a slot machine?
They buy-in, they try to see some flops, and their goal is to hit a monster hand and get paid off.
The issue is that poker is NOT a slot machine. There are no fixed payouts in poker, but more importantly, there are no guarantees that you’ll actually get paid off. When playing video poker if you hit a flush you get paid out 6x. When you hit a flush in NLHE, you could win 24x, zero because no one else hit strong enough to pay you off, or even end up losing money due to a cooler.
And truth be told, there are fish that do this, nits, TAGs, etc. All player types have the possibility to implement this kind of flawed strategy.
What does this have to do with fit-or-fold players though?
The most extreme ‘slot machine’ type players try to see a ton of flops in an effort to spike a monster (or at least a big draw). They miss often (because that’s what hands do), and then they end up folding a ton if they face any aggression.
Even strong hands like AK only flop a pair+ or solid draw about 1/3 of the time. And if a player is folding the other 2/3 of the time – they are simply folding far too often.
But the issue doesn’t stop there.
Think about the players who raise preflop, CB the flop, and then only continues firing on the turn when they have TPTK or better. This person has a few huge issues:
1. They won’t have TPTK a ton of the time
2. They aren’t barreling the turn often enough
3. Their checking range is SUPER easy to bluff against
Or the player who calls a preflop raise, gives a flop CB action with middle pair+ and decent draws, but then only gives the turn barrel action with TP+ and draws with 8+ outs.
Seeing the pattern?
Whether a player is too fit-or-fold facing 3bets, facing CBs, CBing the flop, barreling, giving a turn XR action, etc. – they are very easy to beat. Chances are they are folding too often and leaving themselves wide open to exploitation.
Rule #649: Don’t ever allow your opponent to exploit you with 2 blank cards.
In The One Percent we layout some clear rules and a powerful framework for continuing often enough (both when calling and betting). The issue with NLHE is that strong hands are rare and monster hands are a unicorn – so building a strategy that solely revolves around absolute hand strength is not a strong foundation.
The One Percent gives you a frequency-first approach that keeps you away from focusing on your absolute hand strength and instead focuses on frequencies and pressure. Playing fit-or-fold leaves you folding too often, and that’s a huge no-no if you are preparing to play against tougher opponents.
Raising Bluffs On Turns & Rivers
Simply put, most players don’t raise often enough on turns or rivers.
Players tend to raise turns & rivers:
☑ With value hands exclusively
Whenever you find a player who only raises nutty hands, how do you respond when they raise?
Of course, you fold unless you have proper odds with a draw or if you happen to have a nutty hand yourself. Your fold with marginal hands exploits the fact that he raises a very predictable (and strong) range.
If most players tend to give turn or river raises a ton of respect, even going so far as to fold hands like top pair, how are you adjusting to that?
Most players do nothing with that information.
Smart players start looking to raise more turns and rivers with air.
You likely noticed that this leak pairs well with the previous fit-or-fold leak. Whenever a player is only willing to give action with nutty hands, it’s super easy to bluff them with impunity.
And think about how many hands could be raised more profitably than just trying to call down? How many times do you call a preflop raise with 87, call a flop CB on A83, and are deciding if you want to bluff catch when they bet half-pot on a turned 6?
What about raising the turn?
If V would only give you action with AK, two pair, and sets – how much of their turn barreling range does that really make up?
Sure you could try and bluff-catch. Or you could apply pressure, get hands like QQ to fold, get them to relinquish their equity with KJ, you block hands like A8, 88, and 86, and still have some outs when he just calls with AK.
The next time you find yourself in a bluff-catching situation on the turn or river, ask yourself if a raise would be more profitable. Would V fold too often and give your raise too much respect?
In The One Percent we discuss this from both points of view; you facing turn & river raises, and you raising turns & rivers yourself. You will learn how to continue properly when facing raises, which is a vital skillset especially when you don’t have tons of information on your opponent.
You will also learn how to construct solid raising ranges yourself. Which combos bluff the best, how many bluffs to actually use on each street, and you’ll always have this information to fall back upon.
Folding Vs. Small Sizes
Greg is playing a hand. He raises preflop, gets 2 callers, and decides to CB on K95. 1 player folds and the other min-raises. Now Greg has a decision to make.
How often does this kind of spot come up? Maybe it’s not an exact min-raise, but it’s a damn small raise. Maybe it’s not that exact texture, but it’s close enough. Maybe it’s on a different street…
The fact of the matter is, the smaller a bet or raise you are facing, the less often you should fold.
This should be obvious since you are getting great pot odds. When facing a 1/3-pot sized bet you are getting 4:1 on a call. If you face a min-raise postflop, you typically get even better odds. Since you don’t need to win the pot that often in order to justify continuing – it’s easy to see that folding too often is going to be a huge mistake.
Honestly, folding too often against smaller raise sizes is an even bigger issue earlier in the hand. I see way too many people giving small 3bets tons of respect – all the while folding hands like AQ, JTo, etc.
Especially preflop, these hands have heaps of equity! And given the great pot odds, it’s criminal to fold that equity and just concede the pot then and there.
But this same issue arises on the flop too.
Think about the number of times Greg folds JJ or 88 on that K95 flop because “V just has to have a stronger hand.” Or Greg wants to avoid getting roped along by 55 and thus he ‘outsmarts’ his opponent by folding to his small raise.
It’s easy for Greg to tell himself the story that V has to have a strong hand. But there are very few combos of strong hands, and this could easily be a bluff. And if it’s a bluff – I want to force V to fire that next shell. It’s far easier for me to tell myself a story that I’m behind than it is for the average player to continue bluffing on the next street.
Rule #157: Force players to actually show up with something. Don’t just take their word for it when they whisper it with a single bet/raise.
In The One Percent you are given a very simple number that guides you through the question “how often should I give this bet/raise action?” Against smaller bets/raises, you actually continue a bit more.
For some players this will be uncomfortable – but what’s the alternative?
Folding more is NOT a strategy. It’s a cheap bandaid.
Continuing more, forcing your opponent to show up with something, and actualizing more equity along the way is a far better strategy.
In The One Percent you’ll learn how often to continue in these spots and how to prioritize continuance combos. Adding in more marginal hands may be scary at first – but it’s vital that you don’t allow players to blow you off the pot easily and too often.
If you are super astute, you likely noticed that all of these leaks fit hand-in-hand. Playing fit-or-fold against small bets/raises is a huge issue. Bluffing rarely on the turn/river (due to being fit-or-fold) is a huge issue. And while you can implement a strategy that contains these leaks and still profit nicely against fish – you are not prepared to move up and play against tougher players.
Over the next few sessions, be very aware of these leaks in your own game. If you find yourself only giving action on turns & rivers with nuttish hands, note it. If you find yourself folding a ton vs. small raises, note it.
Review all of the hands you note and see if the folds and passive plays were really as solid as you thought in real-time.
Often times, you’ll find they were just nitty folds, not really good ones.
If you find yourself constantly making these errors and you want to patch them once and for all – pick up your copy of The One Percent and rebuild your poker strategy from the frequencies-up.
Real poker isn’t about flopping monsters and sick reads. It’s about having a +EV strategy and exploiting the frequency issues in your opponents. It’s 100% doable & usable – you just have to know what to look for.