5 Things You Will Never See a Poker Pro Do

5 Things You Will NEVER See a Poker Pro Do

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

When you see your favourite poker pro pulling off a huge river bluff or making an insane hero call, it’s natural to get inspired and try to emulate it in your next playing session.

However, it also may be worthwhile to flip the script and think about what the poker pros are NOT doing.

It’s easier to not do something than to do something, so with that in mind, here are 5 things you will (almost) never see from professional poker players.

1. Poker Pros Will Never Open Limp

Open limping is one of the telltale signs of recreational poker players, and it’s something you will never see from a professional poker player.

Open limping means just paying the big blind instead of open-raising when you are the first player to enter the pot.

For Example:

You have A♥️J♦️ in a $/1$2 cash game and you decide to just call the $2 blind.

Please never do this!

If you are the first player to enter the pot, you should always do so with an open raise.

Here’s a few reasons why you should never open-limp:

A) You can’t win the pot outright preflop when open-limping

If you open-limp, you’re not giving the players in the blinds any reasons to fold. If you open-raise instead, you can sometimes win the flop outright preflop by making everybody else fold.

This means you can pick up a few pots even without a particularly strong hand.

B) You are inviting in multiway pots

A multiway pot is a pot with more than two players involved. The more opponents in the pot, the harder it is for you to win the hands, because it’s more likely that at least one player will have a stronger hand than you.

By open-raising instead, you are thinning the field preflop, so you are much more likely to win the pot post flop.

C) You are failing to extract value with your strong hands

If you have a strong hand, your best bet is to build up the pot with it as soon as possible.

The bigger the pot preflop, the easier it is for you to ship the rest of your stack in the middle post flop.

This has to do with pot geometry; a seemingly small adjustment to your preflop bet sizing can balloon to a big difference on future streets.

D) You are playing without the initiative

The player who open-raises preflop is perceived to have the strongest hand. This gives them the opportunity to make a continuation bet (or c-bet for short) on the flop.

C-bets are usually profitable, and you should be inclined to make one unless there’s a very specific reason not to.

When you open-limp, however, you can’t make a continuation bet, which puts you at a disadvantage.

E) You risk getting raised yourself

Finally, trying to see a cheap flop with open-limping often doesn’t work simply because another player can open-raise instead of you.

This means you need to call an additional bet to see the flop, when you could have just open-raised yourself (and probably paid less in the process).

Unlike open-limping, limping behind can work in some cases.

Limping behind means limping when another player or players have limped in before you.

If you have a speculative hand that wants to see a cheap flop, limping behind can be a viable strategy.

That’s because you are getting favourable pot odds on a call, and you are getting good implied odds.

In other words, you are getting a favourable risk-to-reward ratio.

Alternatively, you can use an isolation raise (or iso-raise for short) if you see a player open-limp in front of you.

The goal of the isolation raise is to play a heads-up pot (preferably in position) against a recreational player.

This way, you can take advantage of their mistakes post flop, and try to take away their stack before the other players.

The standard iso-raise size is 3 BB + 1 BB per limper.

So 4 big blinds for one limper, 5 big blinds for two limpers and so on.

Check out my preflop bet sizing cheat cheat for a much deeper dive on preflop bet sizing.

Also, check out my recent video for the 7 beginner poker tips you absolutely need to know.

Never miss my latest poker videos. Join 85,000+ who are already subscribed.

2. Poker Pros Will Never Play Passively

Another thing virtually all professional poker players have in common is playing aggressively.

Whether they play a tight and aggressive (TAG) or a loose and aggressive (LAG) strategy, professional poker players know that winning poker is all about aggression.

In practice, this means that they get to most flops as preflop aggressors.

If you are the preflop aggressor, you have an opportunity to make a continuation bet (or c-bet for short) on the flop.

As mentioned, this means avoiding open-limping altogether, and calling preflop only as an exception.

1) If you are the first player to enter the pot, you should do it with an open-raise.

2) If another player open-raised before you, you should either 3-bet (re-raise them) or fold.

3) If none of these options work, you can consider flat calling.

So as a general rule:

Calling is the last option to consider preflop.

That’s because it’s statistically more profitable to see the flop as the preflop aggressor.

If you're using a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4, you can check these stats yourself in your own database.

The preflop aggressor is the one that’s perceived to have the strongest hand.

So whether or not you connect with the flop, you can credibly represent more strong hands than the preflop caller.

In other words, aggression simply gives you more ways to win the pot.

You can either make a strong value hand post flop, or you can push your opponents out of pots with a well-timed bluff.

Knowing how to bluff effectively is a crucial part of any advanced poker strategy, but it’s worth mentioning that you should only bluff if your opponents are actually capable of folding.

That’s why bluffing recreational players is usually a bad idea.

Recreational players love to call a lot, so trying to bluff them is less likely to work.

Instead, you should wait for a strong hand and value bet it relentlessly.

To value bet means betting when you can get action from a lot of weaker hands.

So if you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this: winning poker is aggressive poker.

Playing aggressively gives you more ways to win the pot, and makes you a lot more difficult to play against.

If you are playing passively, you are only relying on your hand strength to win the pot.

And since strong value hands don’t come around often in no-limit hold’em, it’s not enough to rely on your hand strength alone to be a profitable long term winner.

If you want to learn how to play more aggressively, check out my how to play loose and aggressive (LAG) ultimate guide.

Learn to Play Like the Pros With My Free Poker "Cheat Sheet"

Are you struggling to create consistent profits in small stakes poker games? Would you like to make a nice part time income of at least $2000 per month in these games? 5 Things You Will Never See a Poker Pro Do 
If so, then I wrote this free poker cheat sheet for you. 

This is the best completely free poker strategy guide available online today. It shows you how to crush the small stakes games step by step. 

Learn exactly what hands to play and when to bet, raise and bluff all in! 

These are the proven strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro to create some of the highest winnings of all time in these games. 

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker "cheat sheet" to your inbox right now.


3. Poker Pros Will Never Min Bet

Min-betting, or betting a minimum amount into the pot is something you will never see from a professional poker player.

Betting a minimum amount into a pot makes zero mathematical or strategic sense.

For example:

Let’s say you are playing NL10 online (cash games with a $10 buyin and blinds of 5c/10c).

You have A♥️Q♥️ and the flop comes: Q♠️T♦️7♦️ 

Let’s say the pot size is $2 and you bet 10 cents.

In this example, you are giving your opponent 20:1 pot odds on a call, meaning they can call you profitably with virtually any two cards.

In poker, there are two main reasons to put money into the pot.

You can either bet for value or bet as a bluff.

You are value betting when you expect to get called by a lot of weaker hands.

You are bluffing when you expect to get stronger hands than yours to fold.

Min betting accomplishes none of the two, so you should avoid doing it altogether.

If you are betting for value, why would you only bet a minimum amount? And if you are bluffing, you won’t get anyone to fold, because you are offering them great pot odds on a call.

Some beginner poker players use min-betting as a sort of a “blocker bet.”

A blocker bet is a small bet out of position made with the intention of preventing your opponent from making an even bigger bet.

The goal of the blocker bet is to get a cheap next card, or to see a cheap showdown.

But min-betting doesn’t work as a blocker bet, either.

That’s because there’s nothing preventing your opponent from making a bigger bet anyway.

In fact, they may (correctly) perceive your min bet as a sign of weakness, and try to push you out of the pot with a bigger bet.

If you want to make a blocker bet, size it up to about 20% to 40% of the pot size instead.

If you want a systematic, step-by-step guide to take your game to the next level, enroll in Blackrain79 Elite Poker University.

You will learn all you need to know about crushing the game in today’s competitive environment, whether you’re a tournament or a cash game player.

The course covers each and every aspect of the game in extreme detail, along with hundreds of examples to illustrate the more advanced concepts.

Elite Poker University goes way beyond your standard online poker course. 

It takes a deep dive into a lot of difficult, marginal spots you’ll often encounter at the felt, and shows you how to play optimally in virtually every spot you find yourself in with confidence.

Aside from the detailed technical game strategy, you will also learn how to approach poker from a mental game perspective, and how to manage your poker career like a pro.

The course contains 17 hours of advanced poker training, hundreds of step by step example hands and downloadable "cheat sheets" below all 50 videos.

If you are serious about taking your poker game to the next level, enroll today.

Get $100 OFF Use Code: ELITE100

4. Poker Pros Will Never Rabbit Hunt

Rabbit hunting (also known as fox hunting) is usually a telltale sign of recreational poker players, and you’ll never see a poker pro doing this.

Rabbit hunting means revealing (or asking the dealer to reveal) the next card that would have been dealt if the hand continued.

For example, let’s say you have a straight draw and your opponent bets. 

You fold your hand, but ask the dealer to reveal the next card to see whether or not your draw would have completed.

Some online poker sites allow rabbit hunting by incorporating the rabbit hunting feature in the software.

For example, you can pay some virtual currency to reveal the next card(s) if the hand doesn’t go to showdown.

Some sites even offer the option to pay a very small amount of real money to reveal the cards.

This is a gimmick that’s meant to attract recreational players, and a poker pro will never rabbit hunt, even if they have the option to do so.

There are two main reasons why poker pros never rabbit hunt, and neither should you.

The first reason is the fact that poker is a game based on math and probabilities. 

In order to win at poker, you need to consistently make sound decisions based on math and logic.

In other words, you need to make decisions that have a positive expected value (+EV decisions) and avoid plays with negative expected value.

So whether or not you decide to continue playing a certain hand will depend on the expected value of each play.

For example:

If you have a drawing hand, you can calculate how often your draw completes based on the number of outs you have.

An out is a card that improves your hand combination. The more outs you have, the stronger your draw.

By the way, you can quickly calculate the percentage chance of your draw completing by using the so-called rule of fours.

Rule of fours: simply multiply the number of outs you have by 4 to get a rough percentage chance of your draw competing from flop to river.

The rule of fours gets slightly less accurate the more outs you have, but it works well in most in-game situations.

If you want to know the chance of your draw completing on the next street (flop to turn or turn to river), you simply multiply the number of outs by 2 instead of 4.

Then, you compare the chance of your draw completing with the pot odds you are getting on a call.

5 Things You Will Never See a Poker Pros Do

If you are getting favourable odds on a call, you should continue the hand, and if not, you should fold.

Check out my ultimate pot odds cheat sheet for a much deeper dive.

This is an overly simplistic example, of course.

It assumes that you will always win the hand if you complete your draw, and it doesn’t take the (reverse) implied odds into account.

But this is just to illustrate that you should base your decisions on the expected value, so it shouldn’t concern you whether or not your hand would have improved.

What matters is that you’re making +EV decisions. The individual outcome of hands is irrelevant.

This brings us to the second reason why you shouldn’t rabbit hunt.

And that’s the fact that whether or not your hand would have improved doesn’t dictate if you made a good decision.

Amateur poker players think that they played well if their hand wouldn’t have improved and vice versa.

This is a completely wrong line of thinking.

Thinking in this terms means being results oriented, meaning you judge the validity of your plays based on the outcome.

For example, if you call an all-in bet preflop with Jack-Three suited and manage to hit a flush and win the hand, it doesn’t mean you played correctly.

It just means that you got lucky one time. But you still made a play with negative expected value.

Poker pros think in terms of expected value, not the individual outcomes of certain hands.

Some people would argue that they would rather be lucky than good, and fair enough.

Luck does play a role in the short run, but it’s also fickle.

You can only be lucky for so long until variance inevitably swings the other way.

Bottom line: after you have folded your hand, it doesn’t matter how the rest of the hand would have played out.

Getting worked up about it only announces to the whole table that you’re a fish, and it will put a huge target on your back.

Instead, have the confidence that you’ve made the right decision, and move on to the next hand.

5. Poker Pros Will Never Complain About Bad Beats

This one doesn’t have to do with the strategy aspect of poker, but it’s important nonetheless.

Poker has a short term luck element involved, meaning you will often lose despite playing perfectly.

This is true for professional poker players and recreational players alike.

Poker pros have a deep understanding of the strategy aspect of poker and are more skilled than their competition. But this still doesn’t mean they can win all the time.

In other competitive sports, the more skilled players win close to 100% of the time, because luck doesn’t make as much impact on the outcomes of the games.

This is not the case with poker, though.

Even if you are the most skilled player at your table, you will still lose from time to time due to variance.

Simply put, variance is the difference between your expected results and your actual results.

The bigger the difference between the two, the bigger the variance.

For example, let’s say you bet on the outcome of a coin flip 10 times.

You expect to win 5 times out of 10, since the chance of winning a coin flip is 50%.

If you win more than 5 out of 10 times, you are experiencing positive variance. If you win less than 5 times, you are experiencing negative variance.

When talking about negative variance in poker, we are usually referring to bad beats, coolers, setups and so on.

For example, let’s say you go all-in preflop with pocket Aces, the strongest starting hand in no-limit hold’em. Your opponent calls and shows pocket Jacks.

A Jack comes on the board and your pocket Aces get cracked. This is an example of a bad beat: a spot where you put the money in with a mathematical advantage, then lose in an unlikely and frustrating fashion.

In this spot, your hand equity is about 80%, meaning you expect to win 4 out of 5 times.

If you lose the hand in a situation like this, it may be an example of “bad luck”, but in reality, it’s just standard variance.

In poker, it’s very rare that your opponent will be drawing completely dead, meaning there’s no chance of an inferior hand catching up.

Your opponents will almost always have a certain chunk of equity against you, and sometimes they will realize that equity in the worst possible times.

But it’s just the reality of poker, and there’s nothing to do about it save for accepting it.

In the example above, you still made the correct play, and that’s all that matters. 

The individual outcome of hands is totally irrelevant.

All the poker pros know this, so they never complain about how badly they’re running.

That’s not to say that situations like these aren’t frustrating, especially when they keep happening over and over again.

But complaining about it only makes things worse.

Bad beats and suckouts often cause players to tilt, which negatively impacts their decision making.

In other words, tilt can often lead to making irrational decisions and bad plays because you’re emotionally compromised.

This can create a vicious cycle where bad results lead to bad play, which causes even worse results and down the rabbit hole we go.

This is why emotional resilience (aka the mental game) is just as important in today’s games as the technical game knowledge.

These days, everyone can learn the winning poker strategy with a little bit of effort.

But not everyone can keep playing their best when said strategy is not producing the results you may be hoping for.

So it’s often not the lack of knowledge, but the lack of emotional control that keeps holding a lot of players back.

There’s no panacea to fixing your tilting problems. This is something even the pros have to wrestle with all the time.

We’re all humans, and poker can be quite frustrating even at the best of times.

So the best you can do is accept negative variance for what it really is: a slight setback on an otherwise profitable journey.

Variance keeps bad players coming back for more.

Without variance, a superior player would win 100% of the time, and the recreational players would simply stop playing the game altogether.

And since most of the money you’ll make in this game will come from recreational players, it’s only fair to let them win from time to time.

Bottom line: bad beats suck, but they make the game of poker profitable in the first place.

If you still have a hard time coming to terms with bad beats, check out my other article on how to deal with poker variance.

5 Things You Will Never See a Poker Pro Do - Summary

You don’t need to be a professional poker player to make money in this game. But you can try to emulate some of their habits in order to improve your game. 

This means learning the latest advanced poker strategy, but it also means avoiding some common mistakes you will never see from the pros.

To sum up, here are 5 things you will never see from a professional poker (for the most part, anyway).

1. Open-limping

If you open-limp, you can’t win the pot outright preflop, you are playing without the initiative, you risk getting raised, and you’re failing to build up the pot with your strong hands.

If you’re the first player to enter the pot, do so with an open-raise instead.

2. Playing poker passively

Whether you play a tight and aggressive (TAG) or a loose and aggressive (LAG) poker style, winning poker is all about aggression.

Playing aggressively gives you more ways to win the pot, and makes you more difficult to play against. If you take only one thing from this article, let it be this: winning poker is aggressive poker.

3. Min-raising

Nobody is ever going to fold to a min bet, and if you’re betting for value, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table. If you are trying to make a blocker bet, go for a bigger bet size (20-40% of the pot should do the trick).

4. Rabbit hunting

If you fold your hand, it doesn’t matter which card would have come next. If you made a correct fold, there’s no point in ruminating about what would happen if you haven’t.

5. Complaining about bad beats

Some poker pros will in fact, complain about bad beats, and it’s undoubtedly hilarious. But as a general rule, all the pros know that bad beats are a natural part of the game, and it’s what makes poker profitable in the first place.

So instead of complaining about them, take bad beats as a signal that you are actually playing in profitable games.


This article was written by Fran Ferlan
Poker player, writer and coach
Specializing in live and online cash games

For coaching enquiries, contact Fran at email@franferlan.com
Or apply directly for poker coaching with Fran, right here

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in small/mid stakes games, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

5 Things You Will Never See a Poker Pro Do