7 Simple Tips to CRUSH the Holiday Season Poker Games

7 Simple Tips to CRUSH the Soft Holiday Season Poker Games

The holidays are upon us and that means soft (easy) poker games. Because this is the time of year when people are inside more often and ready to gamble it up!

With Covid this year the games have actually already been amazing throughout most of 2020, as most of you already know.

This is because many newer and inexperienced players have taken up the game during the various lockdowns.

During the holiday season of a normal year, the games are always good, so this year in particular should be incredible.

In this article I am going to give you 7 simple ways to crush the soft holiday poker games this Christmas season and into the New Year.

Let's get started!

1. Play at the Easy Poker Sites With Lots of Fish

It doesn't matter if you play online poker or live poker, playing against weak beginner level players is going to help skyrocket your winnings faster than anything else.

So this is why it is important that you are playing at the easy poker sites or card rooms which tend to attract more gamblers and big whales.

It is usually pretty easy to locate the bad players pretty quickly. 

All you have to do is open a couple tables and watch for all the common signs of fishy players such as:
  • Open limping preflop
  • Min betting the flop
  • Buying in with a short stack/not refilling
  • Chasing every draw
  • Playing out of position too much
  • Calling you down with any pair

This is all the kind of stuff that I talk about avoiding all the time here on my poker blog, in my poker books and in my YouTube poker videos.

But hey, if you are still unable to spot the fish at the poker tables online even with all of these super obvious tells, there is an even easier way still.

Just load up a tracking program like PokerTracker and look for all of the players with a VPIP that is 40 or higher. 

VPIP Definition:

"VPIP" by the way stands for voluntarily put money in the pot. It is basically a fancy term for the percentage of hands that someone decides to play preflop. 

It tells you who the tight regulars are and who the recreational players are.
  • A VPIP of 20 or less is almost always a tight regular (decent/good player)
  • A VPIP of 20-30 is a bit tricky. It can go either way
  • A VPIP of 30-40 is very likely to be a bad recreational player
  • A VPIP of 40+ is pretty much always recreational player, AKA a fish

As you can see below, you can get all this information (and much more) placed directly on your screen at your online poker table by using a program like PokerTracker. 

Beat holiday season christmas poker games HUD

In fact, in my 10+ million hands of experience playing online poker I can literally count on one hand how many players I have seen that can maintain a 40+ VPIP and actually win over the long term.

It basically never happens. 

And it doesn't matter if you play 6max, Full Ring or Zoom. 

VPIP of 40+ = FISH. 

Plain and simple. You never have to guess again.

By the way, to get HUD stats like VPIP on your screen at the online poker tables, you can get the free trial version of PokerTracker right here.

2. Put the Holiday Poker Players on Tilt

Something that I often recommend is putting other people on tilt. 

It still totally baffles me why I so rarely hear other poker coaches/authors/streamers mention this incredibly effective poker strategy.

This has been one of the absolute biggest keys to my success at the poker tables in recent years and I have discussed this strategy several times before on this blog.

To put it simply, I actively target the weaker players in particular to get them off their game mentally.

I want them to be mad at me, pissed off that I keep raising them so much, so that when I finally catch the big hand against them, they are going to pay me off big.

Compare this to the quiet tight guy who only makes a bet or a raise with the absolute nuts. Even the fish will notice this and they won't pay you off.

So it is very important that you try to get the seat to the direct left of the recreational players if possible and raise them up every time they limp into the pot.

Then when they call you can go ahead and make a continuation bet on the flop as well. This will put a lot of pressure on them and force them to fold a lot of hands to you at first.

They will start fighting back eventually though and so you will want to switch gears then and tone it down a bit. Lay off the gas a bit with the bluffs. Let them have a few.

But this in a nutshell is how you "butter up" the weaker players to pay you off. You actively target the weaker players on your right.

Start making a concerted effort to get in their head and under their skin. Be the "bully" in their eyes and watch them start to play even more poorly against you!

3. Over-Bet Jam the River Versus the Recreational Players

Something that I have also talked about a lot is over-bet shoving the river in particular versus the weak recreational holiday players.

I even dedicated an entire section in my book Crushing the Microstakes to when to over-bet jam versus the fish, on what river cards and so on.

And the reason why is because this is a highly effective strategy against them. This is especially the case if you are on their left and you are already in their head, like I just mentioned above.

Here is an example of a good over-bet jam hand that I reviewed recently:

While this one is on the turn, it is still ok, because you can plainly see what hand the fish here showed up with and the incredibly value that we got.

Basically with this over-betting versus the recreational players strategy, you want to be looking for situations where there is a strong possibility that they have a very good second best hand.

This is why the absolute best boards to overbet jam the river are ones like:


And you have something like 66

Because the one thing that we absolutely know about fish is that they don't fold straights, flushes or really anything that looks pretty to them.

So when you catch a board runout like this, and you have an absolute monster hand like a full house, it often makes sense to just over-bet jam the river.

They are 100% going to call ANYTHING if they have a 5x hand or the heart flush on the board above. So why on earth would you ever bet small here?

Don't throw away money like most regs do here by betting small. This is the situation where the best play by far is to over-bet jam and win an absolute monster pot.

Making plays like this and winning the absolute maximum is how I was able to create some of the highest winnings of all time in the micro stakes games online starting with just $60.

Learn My Most Valuable Strategies to Crush the Soft Holiday Season Poker Games

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These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. 

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4. Don't Be So Results Orientated

One of the biggest things to be aware of when you are playing in the soft holiday poker games is that the wild players are going to hit their miracle cards sometimes.

And quite frankly, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

So your results are going to be up and down a lot. Some days you are going to be winning a lot, and some days you will be losing.

It is important not the get too high on your winning days and not get too low on your losing days.

As much as it would be nice to be able to consistently make say $50 per day playing poker in your spare time at the micro stakes online, it rarely works this way in reality.

In fact, if you play tournaments, you could easily go weeks without any kind of a significant score at all. Although, with cash games your results will usually be a lot more stable.

So it is really important that you learn to view your results with a much wider lens. 

You need to be prepared for a few rough weeks or even months sometimes in poker. The most important thing to remember is stay focused on the long term end goal of total profit.

As I always say, poker is a long term game. Individual days or weeks rarely matter at all. Only your results over months and years tell the real story.

There will be all sorts of terrible hills and valleys on the path to long term poker success. This is a brutal game sometimes, I won't sugar coat it for you. 

But if you consistently play a proven winning poker strategy against bad players, then you will profit big time over the long run.

And let's face it, isn't that the only thing that really matters?

5. Study the Latest Advanced Poker Strategy

Something else you want to be focused on this holiday season is staying up to date with all the latest cutting edge poker strategy.

Poker is a game that is always changing and that is why it is important that you are always upgrading your skills and learning from the very best.

I just released my brand new BlackRain79 Elite Poker University which offers some of the most cutting edge poker training available today.

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If you want to take your game to the next level, enroll today.

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6. Play Poker When the Fish Play Poker

This is another biggie for me that a lot of people tend to overlook. 

It is really important that you are playing poker when the biggest fish are most likely to be online or at the casino.

I tend to play absolutely monster sessions when I know that lots of my best customers (fish) are playing a lot.

7 Simple Tips to CRUSH the Soft Holiday Season Poker Games

Now, during the the holiday season, there tends to be tons of huge whales and fish playing at most hours of the day, but some times are still clearly better than others.

Firstly, weekends are almost always better for you to play poker because this is when the recreational players often tend to be off from work.

They are bored at home during the cold winter months (or continued Covid lockdowns) and ready to try their hand at some online poker!

This is also when the drunken Friday/Saturday night lunatics come out to play!

I have made a killing off these guys over the years...and gotten destroyed by them a few times as well :/ 

Secondly, you want to play more poker during the evening and late hours in North America and Europe. 

And the reason why is very simple. 

Let's face it, the vast majority of really bad poker players that you will find come from the wealthier Western countries like the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France etc.

They have money to burn especially in small stakes games online where the money in play is unlikely to be a significant amount for them.

So you want to be playing at the times when it is evening or late at night in North America or Europe and preferably on the weekend as well.

Bottom Line:

Play poker when your best customers are most likely to be playing poker and you will win more.

7. Play the Fish Filled Small Stakes Poker Tournaments

As much as I talk about cash games mostly on this blog, I would really encourage you to also try some small stakes tournaments this holiday season.

On most online poker sites these days you can enter a big tournament for as little as $2.

If you run really good and end up winning the tournament, you can easily turn this into $500 or $1000, which is a pretty decent ROI!

And while the cash games will definitely have more bad recreational players than normal during the holiday season, the tournaments will have even more.

This is because fish are naturally drawn to tournaments due to the chance at the big score. All of their biggest poker heroes like Daniel Negreanu also tend to play poker tournaments.

So this means that even during normal times, tournaments do tend to be a fair bit softer than cash games.

By the way, if you are brand new to tournaments, you don't have to worry because I already got you covered. 

I have a complete step by step guide to crushing small stakes poker tournaments on my blog right here.

Final Thoughts

So what are some of the best strategies to crush the soft holiday poker games during Christmas and New Years?

Well first off, you always want to make things easy on yourself by playing at the soft online poker rooms to begin with.

This will ensure that you are playing on the sites that already tend to attract the most fishy bad players. And you can also use a program like PokerTracker to make sure there are fishy players at your table.

Just look for anyone with a VPIP of 40 or more.

Once you have found the weaker players, and hopefully gotten the seat directly to their left as well, I would highly recommend that you start raising and re-raising them every chance you get.

This is going to put them on tilt and make it much more likely that they give you big action at the wrong time later on.

Always remember that you have to give action to get action in poker. Get under the skin of the fish, be the "bully" that they despise.

This will put them on tilt and get them focused directly on YOU. Then they will literally become like your personal ATM machine.

Another way to get the maximum amount out of the bad players is to overbet jam the river when you have a monster hand on a board with a ton of potential great second best hands.

The classic example here is when you have a full house and there are tons of straight and flush possibilities. Fish simply don't fold straights or flushes.

So make them pay the absolute maximum every time!

Next, make sure that you aren't getting too bogged down in your day to day results as they will sometimes be all over the place. Remember that the long run (months, years) is the only thing that matters in poker.

But to ensure better results, make sure you are studying all the latest advanced poker strategy and using the best poker software in order to crush the good players too.

Lastly, make sure you are playing the most when all the fish are playing (usually evenings and late at night in North America and Europe). And on the weekends in particular.

And also, try playing some low stakes tournaments during the holiday season. They tend to be ultra soft with tons of bad recreational players just looking to hit a big score.

Finally, if you want to know the complete strategy that I have used as a 10+ year online poker pro, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

7 Simple Tips to CRUSH the Soft Holiday Poker Games