Tuesday, November 1, 2016

7 Advanced Strategies You Can Use To Crush Bad Poker Players

Crush the bad poker players
Ah bad poker players, you gotta love them. These are the guys who play way too many hands, call you down with anything and ultimately just give away their money in the long run.

But many people do not know how to get the maximum value out of them when they finally get a good hand. They leave serious amounts of money on the table by trying to get fancy with slowplay, under betting the pot and so on. 

Since these players are often rare in today's games this is a seriously terrible blow to your winrate. The top winners know that you absolutely have to take full advantage of the situation when these players are at your table. 

In this article I am going to provide you with 7 actionable strategies that you can use right now to start crushing the bad poker players.


1. Get Involved


One of the biggest reasons why a lot of regulars in today's games do not get full value from the fish actually has nothing to do with any technical poker ability. 

It is because they simply do not play enough hands when the bad poker player is at the table!

It is fine to nit it up if you are grinding a ton of tables against the regs. I mean, I don't really suggest this strategy these days if having a big winrate is what you are after. But fine, I get it. Wait for the nuts, just grind. 

But once you find the big fish it is a serious mistake to keep folding so many hands. The only way that you are going to win a big pot is by getting involved with the bad players. 

If you need to wait until you have aces, kings or a set every time before you play a big pot with them guess what is going to happen? Another reg like me who is actively targeting the fish will have busted them long before you ever get a chance.

If a bad poker player is at your table, and especially if you have position on them, you should start opening up your game by playing a lot more hands and isolating them with a wide range. 


2. Adjust Your Bet Sizing Upwards


Another huge mistake that people make when playing against the recreational players these days is using cute little GTO style 50% of the pot bets. 

Again, this is a totally fine strategy if you are playing at a table full of regs. But if you have a fish at the table you are costing yourself a fortune by continuing to under bet the pot. 

As I talk about in my first book, I will bet at least 75% of the pot with a good hand versus the bad players and often I will just pot it. 

Now some people are actually afraid to do this with a good hand because they think they will "scare the fish away." This is a mistake in thinking because recreational players love to call if they have anything. 

If they like their hand they are going to call a 50% of the pot bet just as readily as 75% or 100%. But sometimes they simply won't have anything at all and they will fold. There is nothing that you can do about this. 

Don't make the mistake of thinking that you somehow scared them away. Two people have to have something in poker for big pots to happen. Just the way the game works.


3. Do Not Slowplay


Another way that regs routinely leave huge amounts of money on the table versus the bad players is by slowplaying their big hands. 

This is a serious mistake because once again they are not adjusting for how a recreational player thinks about the game. The fish is thinking about his hand only. If he likes his hand, he will call. That simple.

Therefore, you do not need to ever get tricky against players like this. In fact you are only costing yourself money by doing so because you missed a bet that they would have called. 

Versus a table full of regs, once again it is a totally different story. You should absolutely mix things up and balance your ranges in all situations in order to keep them guessing. But against a level #1 thinking recreational player slowplay is just suicide for your winrate.

Just bet every street against them. Make the totally, ridiculously, obvious play and profit more.


4.  Check/Raise or Check/Call the Aggro Fish


Most recreational players at the micros are passive as heck. They will show up with stats like this on your HUD:
  • 44/6/1 (VPIP/PFR/AF)

However, once in awhile you will encounter an aggro fish or a maniac with stats like this:
  • 44/34/4

Getting max value out of this type of player requires a totally different strategy. At the risk of totally contradicting what I just said, you can get a little tricky against a bad player like this sometimes.

Why?

Because unlike the standard fish, this type of recreational player loves to bluff at the pot if you show any sign of weakness. Therefore, instead of taking the ridiculously obvious bet, bet, shove line with your good hands like you should against most fish, often against the maniacs you should either check/raise or check/call.

The main reason why is that lines like this allow them to toss dead money in the pot with their bluffs. If you just constantly mash the pot button when you make a hand, you take this play away from them. 

Aggro fish are extremely rare at the micros. But they will show up sometimes especially on the weekends (often drunk) and it is pretty hard to miss them.


But be on the lookout for wild stats on your HUD like:
  • High VPIP (40+)
  • High PFR (30+)
  • High AF (3+)
  • High 3Bet (8+)

If you encounter a player like this and you have a good hand give them a little bit of rope to hang themselves sometimes by taking check/raise or check/call lines. And never ever try to bluff a player like this. 


5. Tilt Them Until They Are Your Personal ATM


One of my truly all-time favorite strategies to crush the fish is to tilt the crap out of them until they become my personal ATM machine. 

How do you do this?

Well first off, you really need to make sure that you get on their left. This makes isolating them and CBetting a ton much easier. 

But secondly, like I mentioned in point #1 above, you just have to get involved with them a lot more often.

You want the bad player to view you as a bully, as pushing them around. You simply can't do that if you are sitting around like a little mouse waiting for your aces.


So any time I see them limp I am in there raising it up with all sorts of ridiculous hands like:
  • Q7
  • J8
  • 75
  • K2

Preferably suited of course but often unsuited as well. But how can you play all these terrible hands you might ask? Maybe it is me who is actually the fish?

The reason why you can get away with this is because they are playing all sorts of crap as well. And secondly, since you have position on them, and a huge skill edge, you are actually a big favorite to win most hands anyways. 

But most importantly, I am trying to put them on tilt by relentlessly raising and betting them. And maybe occasionally getting lucky against them too. 

So even if I am giving up a little bit of equity right now with some questionable starting hand selection, this is likely to pay off for me big time down the line when I finally catch a big hand.


6. Shove Action Rivers


One of my all-time favorite tactics to stack the fish is to shove action rivers. I mentioned this several years ago in Crushing the Microstakes and I displayed it in action several times in my recent video series. 

There was one particular fish in those videos who I stacked again and again by getting him on tilt and then shoving every action river. This is why my winrate was something ridiculous like 34bb/100. 

But hang on, what do I actually mean here by an "action river"? I mean a board that looks something like this:

34678

or 

6678T

The river card on both of these boards completes an enormous amount of draws like straights and flushes.

Let me let you in on a little secret here. Bad poker players do not fold any straights or flushes. You can literally bet any amount on earth, they will re-mortgage their house to call you down. 

So this is why when I happen to have a monster on these boards such as a full house, the nut flush or the nut straight, I will always just over shove the river.

The pot might only have $5 in it. I am shoving $50, $100 or whatever I have in front of me into that pot. That is what I mean by "over shove."

This allows me to win an absolutely massive pot out of nowhere. This is a huge amount of big blinds that most regs miss out on by the way. This is one of the biggest reasons why my winrates are elite whereas most regs struggle to get by.

I make the recreational player pay the absolute maximum every single time in situations like this. Fish don't fold straights, flushes or even two pair sometimes. If you have the nuts or close to it, it's all-in on these rivers every time.


7. Chase the Fish Around


This last tactic to crush the bad players is frowned upon by some as "predatory" but I disagree. My goal in poker is always to win at the absolute highest winrate possible. So I am going to use whatever strategies possible, which are within the rules, to achieve that.

If I bust a fish and he leaves the table (or even if somebody else busts him), the first thing I am going to do is pull up the search feature that most sites have and find out what other table he joined. I will then immediately join that table. 

You see most fish live in a fairytale world of make believe where some tables are "lucky" for them and other tables are "unlucky." If they are doing poorly at a certain table, they will often go join another more lucky one. 

I personally don't live in this make believe world though. So I am happy to keep chasing them around and busting them all day on whatever table they want.

In today's tighter games table selection is more crucial to your winrate than ever. Not only should you always be playing with at least one fish at the table but after you bust them, you should actively go chase them around as well. 


Final Thoughts


Bad poker players bankroll the entire poker industry. You can't have a bunch of people (and the poker sites themselves) constantly taking money out, if a bunch of other people aren't putting money back in. 

This is where the bad poker players come in. They play the game for fun, make all sorts of ridiculously awful plays, get lucky on occasion but mostly just lose their money at a frantic pace. 

Because of this they regularly have to deposit more funds into their accounts and this is the money that the winning poker players and the poker sites make a profit from. 

So it makes no sense to sit in bad games full of regs. If you are having a hard time finding the fish at the poker room that you play on, then go play on one of the soft poker sites.

But just as important, once you get on the same table as them, you absolutely have to be getting the maximum value out of them. 

More specifically you need to play plenty of hands against the fish by isolating them in position, CBetting and hopefully tilting them. You should also be betting big and frequently anytime you make a good hand. 

And lastly, you should even chase the bad poker players around and keeping busting them up so long as they have more money in front of them. This is what all the top pros have long known because they know where the money comes from in this game. 

Let me know your thoughts below about how you crush the bad poker players. Do you have any tips for stacking them faster?

crush the poker fish

18 comments:

  1. Nice set of strategies Nathan, happy to say that I've learnt my lesson and been applying most of them for a while now with my fair share of success :P best of lucks to you, take care!

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    1. Awesome Jorge, glad to hear that you are doing well at the tables!

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  2. I'm afraid that's too spewy for me. Employing crap-raising tactic requires second to none postflop abilities, hand reading skills and whatnot. Especially when you get chain-called or 3-bet by some fishbull in the blinds given that you iso-raise in position

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  3. Great tips Nate! Going a bit off topic but could I ask you a question about making more money in poker in a general sence.
    Would you say the number 1 way of earning yourself a better win rate is becoming an awesome card/range reader?
    Obviously finding the bad players is right up the top at improving your winrate just wondered what your thorghts on that were.
    All the best nath and gl

    Matt

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    1. Thanks Matt!

      Sure, hand reading and understanding ranges is something that all top players are very good at. It is just one part of the equation though. Work ethic, tilt control, discipline and logical decision making are just a few other areas that are extremely important.

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  4. Good day Mr BlackRain

    Once again thank you very much for your blog. I look forward to it every week.

    I have 2 questions I would like a response on if possible:

    1. Do you think software like Leakbuster, Pokersnowie etc will add enough value to a micro stakes player to justify the cost? Or would you suggest free software like Equilab and a proper session/database review session would work fine for these type of stakes?
    2. Would it be possible to contact you privately regarding some "sweat sessions"/training? I'm not sure if you are a coach at a training site or if you even coach privately?

    Thank you in advance.

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    1. Thanks Johann!

      1. I don't know enough about these programs (haven't used them) to comment.

      2. Sorry but I don't coach anymore.

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  5. Getting your emails and reading information on your site have improved my game TREMENDOUSLY. Thanks a lot. Um...taking a more disparaging attitude towards other players is the first tip that helped, and now here the idea of chase them down, hunt 'em down at other tables they may move to. (Seriously). Now I'm much more of a bully...esp. if I get ahead with a little cash to throw around, and I'm winning much more and having much more fun too. -- Before people had to step on my toes before such an attitude would click in; now I'm more of a bastard, out for blood from first hand --- and this topic so helpful because it was really annoying me to see the crap hands many players had; which really pissed me off more. Now I'll expand my range when as you suggested and be even a badder ass bastard. Thank you again. (Seriously; now I enjoy the game)....You really put out solid and real-world ideas without having to read a 400-page book....Signed/from 'No More Mister Nice Guy' (as song by Alice Cooper).

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    1. Thanks CYI! I am glad that my articles and emails have helped you out :)

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  6. Nathan, would you say that NL10, NL25 and NL50 on PS is just too dry these days when compared to other sites like 888, Titan, etc? Or is it still possible to have huge winrates on PS? I'm highly discouraged to play on other sites mainly due to the VPPs and such. Is it worth it?

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    1. Hey Dema,

      There are still plenty of fish at these stakes on Stars due to the massive amount of tables. You have to look a lot harder to find them than on other sites like 888 though. Also, you will probably have more competition to get in pots with the recs once you find them.

      I still play on Stars from time to time especially on the weekends when the action is a bit better. But overall, for me, it's worth it to move the majority of my play to other sites where the games are consistently softer.

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    2. I want to send congrats to TWOPLUSTWO Forums for banning a poster who is a plus 13 bb/100 player after 50K hands for No reason.

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  7. Sound advice as ever Nathan.

    Out of curiosity, do you play as 'blackrain79' on 888 or do you have a different screen name there? If the latter, is your sn public knowledge? Most of my volume is on 888 and I was just wondering whether I've ever locked horns with my poker equivalent of Mr Miyagi :-)

    All the best.

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    1. Thanks Chris! I don't play as BlackRain79 on 888 and ya I keep it private. Funny enough, sometimes when I sign up at a poker site the name is already taken anyways lol.

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    2. I can't say I blame you for keeping your screen name private these days considering all the info you share on here. I guess I'll just keep an eye out for a Canadian relentlessly isolating fishes - you shouldn't be too hard to spot given how the average Canadian plays ;-)

      Oh, and in case that sounds too mean, this is coming from a Brit - probably the biggest net donating country of them all!

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    3. Haha, definitely a toss up between the two countries for some of the worst players!

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  8. whats your favorite part of poker ? Mine is Busting guys talking a big game.
    It happens SO SO MUCH...NOT JUST me doing the busting other players too.
    I have seen the movie a 100 times.....the guy who is yack yack yack and and hour later he is rail side.
    It reminds me of a lot of guys on the two plus two forum They know SO SO MUCH...Yea Right !!!

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