Friday, September 25, 2015

3 Powerful Ways to Get More Action With Your Big Hands in Poker

Get more action with big hands in poker
It is very common these days to hear people complaining about not getting any action with their big hands at the poker tables. It can be frustrating to wait around for a long time to finally get your AA, KK, set or flush and then as soon as you make a bet everybody runs for the hills.

This isn't the case for everybody though. Some people do get plenty of action with their big hands. There are some subtle ways in which they play the game which ensures that this is the case.

In this article I am going to help you understand why you are not getting as much action with your big hands as you would like and how to fix it. 


1. Play At Tables With Fish 


It is important to note firstly that in today's game (even at the very lowest stakes) there isn't always a massive whale ready to hand over his entire stack to you because he hit middle pair. This isn't to say that you can't find these players with a little bit of table selection. However it isn't the norm anymore. 

So what this means is that if you just sit down at a random table these days (live or online) it is likely that your opponents will play tighter overall and be able to make a few more disciplined folds. This will affect how much action you get with your big hands in a substantial way. 

The reason why is that tight disciplined players don't play anywhere near as many trashy hands in the first place. Also, they will be able to find the fold button more often when it is obvious that they are beat. Therefore, the only time you are likely to get any big action is when you cooler them. 

For instance:

AA vs KK, set over set or flush over flush.

So one of the biggest steps towards getting more action with your big hands that you can possibly make is to play in games with lots of big fish in them.

If you play online and you use a HUD then look for players with a VPIP of 40% or more. This means that they are playing 40% or more of the hands that are dealt to them.

If you do not use a HUD or you play live then take mental notes on which players seem to be playing too many hands. You can also look for the 5 common signs of bad poker players.  


2. Start Opening Up Your Game


There is an old saying in poker which you have probably heard before:

"You have to give action in order to get action"

One of the biggest reasons why people do not get enough action with their big hands is that they present the image of a rock at the poker tables. 

I often mention on this blog and elsewhere that at the lowest stakes nobody is paying much attention. Well this is true to an extent. They aren't paying attention to how well you balance your 3Bet calling range or postflop bet sizing for instance. 

But these people (even if they are total beginners) aren't completely oblivious either! A lot of recreational players in particular only play on 1 or 2 tables at the most. Believe me, they will notice if you haven't played a hand in 3 orbits. 

Also, more regs these days are using a HUD. This means that even if they are playing on 18 other tables they can see right away from your stats that you are sitting around waiting for the nuts. 

So if you want to improve your chances of getting more action when you get a good hand then you have to give some action sometimes in spots where you have a marginal hand or even nothing at all.

There are two ways to go about this:


A) Play More Hands Preflop

The first one is to start playing some more marginal or speculative hands preflop. By this I mean hands such as:
  • Suited connectors (98s, 87s, 76s)
  • Suited Aces (A7s, A6s, A5s)
  • Suited One Gappers (T8s, 97s, 86s)
  • Weaker Broadways (KT, QT, JT)
And on and on, they don't always have to be suited. But I think you catch my point. Play hands that aren't the nuts more often!

And by this I don't mean limping along or completing the small blind. You should almost never limp under any circumstance. What I mean is coming in for a raise if it is folded to you or raising up any limpers.

If the pot has been raised already then you can consider making a light 3Bet with some of these hands a little bit more often.

Look for these 3 conditions:
  • Player who opened plays a decent amount of hands (i.e., isn't a total rock)
  • Player who opened seems like a weak player. For instance he has a high Fold to 3Bet% (70% or more)
  • Player opened from a steal position such as the hijack, cutoff, button or the blinds where his range will likely be wider.

B) Get More Active Postflop

Opening up your game also means giving a little bit more action postflop as well. Again, even the non-HUD using fish can tell that you are only giving any significant action when you have top pair or better. 

The HUD using reg can refer to multiple stats such as Raise Flop CBet%, Total AF and Went to Showdown% to see how loose or tight you are postflop.

Here are 3 good ways to start giving more action postflop:
  • Start raising your draws or even two overs more often
  • Bluff more rivers against weak/tight regs
  • Float more flops and bet the turn when checked to
It is important not to go nuts with these strategies. You don't want to become a postflop maniac over night. Any time you make fundamental changes to your poker game it should be a gradual progression.

But simply ask yourself this question a little bit more often:

"Is there a more aggressive play that I could make in this situation which might win me the pot?"

Not only will making a few more bluffs or "plays" like this get you more action with your big hands but it will also help improve your non-showdown winnings which is a big key to your success as you move up the stakes. 


3. Put Your Opponents on Tilt


The final way to get more action with your big hands is to put people on tilt. The great thing about this strategy is that it will work in tight games just as well as loose ones.

As I have discussed before on this blog I try to go out of my way every single session to intentionally put one reg on tilt.

I look for a weaker reg who happens to be on my right on a bunch of tables and I just act like the world's biggest dick. I will 3Bet the crap out of him and raise or play back any time I get a chance.

It is very important to note that I only do it for that particular session though. I will make a note and revert to totally normal play versus them in all future sessions.

This strategy accomplishes two things:
  • They get pissed off at me and we have a little war during that particular session
  • They give me no credit in future sessions even though I have reverted my play back to normal against them
What this ultimately means is that they won't always be making those disciplined folds against me anymore. When I 4Bet them preflop they might spaz ship their AQ or TT versus my AK or JJ+.

When I hit my set against them they might shove their AA or KK even though I am giving them clear signals that they are beat. 

It pretty much just goes back to the whole idea that you get action in poker when you give action. I prefer to use this strategy of acting like a total maniac for one session versus a lot of the weaker micro stakes regs. 

This is because they often aren't able to see through my little ruse. All I have to do is play completely normal versus them in future sessions and often they will pay out like a slot machine to me. 


Final Thoughts


Hopefully this article gave you a few pointers on how you can start getting more action with your big hands at the micros.

Playing in games that have fish in them will always be the easiest way to go about this. We all know that these players tend to play far too many hands and have trouble finding the fold button.

But even in relatively tight games there are a couple of other ways to start improving your chances of getting paid off. The first way is to start giving a little bit more loose action in order to create the illusion that you are in there bluffing up a storm.

People will naturally want to give you more action if they notice that you are involved quite a bit or have the stats of an aggro reg on their HUD. The key is that when the big money goes in, you always have it.

The second way is to try and intentionally tilt your opponents. You don't have to do this every session. However, if you directly target a few regs from time to time this can have a big impact on the amount of action that they will give you in future hands.

Let me know in the comments what you think of these strategies. Do you have trouble getting action with you big hands?

If you found this article helpful then do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

Getting action with AA and KK

8 comments:

  1. I've found this article particularly interesting because this is one of the issues that I face with more often and you just gave me more ideas.

    Good job.

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    1. Ya, it is a common problem for a lot of people. Glad to help!

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  2. definitely have to play looser to get action from observant players.
    I remember sessions playing with a rock who vpip/pfr was like 4/4
    very easy to fold preflop with everything but hands w/ great implied odds.

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    1. Haha, love those guys. You still see them at NL2 sometimes for sure.

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  3. Hi Nathan, thanks for the post! Do you recommend playind deep stacks (250bb)? It could be more profitable? Do you need to take another strategy or you can continue with 15% of vpip? Thanks dude!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Juan! Yes, the deep-stack games on Stars in particular have always been really good at any limit. So I would suggest playing them for sure. Given that these games have an ante it is generally better to play a little bit looser whether it is full ring or 6max. You also want to make sure that you get the fish's money first anyways.

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