4 Best Advanced Poker Tips for Serious Players

4 Best Advanced Poker Tips for Serious Players

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

In today’s competitive games, it takes more than waiting around for the nuts all day to be a successful long term winner.

The edges in poker are often razor-thin, meaning you need to constantly improve your game to stay ahead.

With that in mind, here are 4 advanced poker strategy tips that will take your game to the next level.

Fair warning: these tips may not be suitable for complete beginners.

You can check out my other article for more beginner-friendly poker tips.

Now, onto the advanced stuff. Let’s get right into it.

Advanced Poker Strategy #1: Abuse The Button

Most of the money you’ll make in poker will come from playing in position post flop.

This means that the button will be your most profitable seat by far, because you will always have the positional advantage post flop.

If you’re using a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4, you can check these stats yourself.

Chances are, you’d be surprised by how much more you earn from the button compared to other table positions.

With that in mind, a lot of players don’t realize the full potential from this seat.

In other words, they don’t play enough hands from this seat, which causes them to lose out on a lot of +EV spots.

When you’re playing on the button, you can often get away with playing an insanely wide range.

In fact, you can often play hands that would equate to EV suicide from other positions.

That’s because your hand strength (or lack thereof) is not a crucial factor when it comes to the button play.

Most of the time, you aren’t trying to get to showdown and win the pot with the best hand.

Instead, you’re using the positional advantage to apply maximum pressure on your opponents and push them out of pots.

Playing aggressively from the button is another way to improve your “red line”, aka your non-showdown winnings.

Check out my other article for a full guide on how to improve your red line.

The reason you can open-raise a very wide range from the button is the fact that you’ll often be able to pick up the pot preflop, i.e. to steal the blinds.

You are blind stealing when you are open-raising from the late positions (the cutoff, the button, and the small blind) with the intention of getting the blinds to fold preflop.

Stealing the blinds with a wider range is one of the techniques you can employ to switch from a tight and aggressive (TAG) to a loose and aggressive (LAG) playstyle.

Check out my full guide on how to play a LAG style for a much deeper dive.

When you’re blind stealing, your hand strength is often irrelevant. What matters more is the playing tendencies of the players left to act in the blinds.

For example, if the players in the blinds fold 8 out of 10 times to blind stealing attempts, you can try to steal their blinds with an insanely wide range.

Here are a few example hands you can try to blind steal with: 




You get the point.

While these hands may get you in some awkward post flop spots if played from other table positions, they're perfectly fine to open-raise on the button.

Of course, if the players in the blinds tend to 3-bet aggressively, you're better off playing a more conservative range, because these hands can't really stand the pressure of a 3-bet.

Check out my recent video for the 9 advanced poker strategies all serious players need to know.

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Advanced Poker Tip #2: Master The Light 3-Bet

When you’re playing in low stakes games with a lot of recreational players around, you should keep your 3-betting range value-heavy.

This means 3-betting almost exclusively with strong value hands, like premium pocket pairs and strong broadway hands.

(A 3-bet preflop is a re-raise against another player's open-raise).

However, as you start climbing up the stakes and encountering more difficult opposition, you run the risk of your 3-betting range becoming overly predictable.

Enter the light 3-bet.

A light 3-bet (or a bluff 3-bet) is a 3-bet made with the intention of getting your opponents to fold right away and take down the pot preflop.

Mastering a light 3-betting strategy is crucial when you’re adopting a loose and aggressive (LAG) play-style, and it can be extremely profitable if you do it the right way.

The beauty of a light 3-bet is that you don’t need to have particularly strong hands in order to pull it off successfully. 

This means you can rake in a few pots even if you’re not running particularly hot.

In fact, this can actually work to your advantage. 

If you’ve been card-dead for a while and suddenly blast out a 3-bet, your bet will get a lot more respect, meaning your opponents will be much more likely to fold.

Of course, the more often you 3-bet, the less fold equity you’re going to generate in the future, since your opponents will give less and less respect to your 3-bets.

Fold equity simply refers to the percentage chance of your opponents folding to your bets. The bigger the fold equity, the more often you can expect your opponent to fold and vice versa.

This brings us to the second benefit of adopting a light 3-betting strategy.

If you throw out an occasional light 3-bet, you are much more likely to get action once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

The reason for this is fairly obvious: the more often you 3-bet, the less credit  you get, so you’re more likely to get looked up by players who think you’re bluffing.

It’s worth pointing out that this only applies against players who are actually paying attention to your betting frequencies.

Against recreational players, you’re better off keeping your 3-betting range value-heavy, and keep your bluffs to a minimum.

So now that we know the benefits of adding light 3-betting to your arsenal, let’s examine how this looks in practice.

As a general rule, you should attack loose and weak open-raising ranges with your light 3-bets, and avoid light 3-betting against tight and strong open-raising ranges.

Remember, the goal of the light 3-bet is to get your opponents to fold right away, so it doesn’t make sense to attack ranges that aren’t likely to fold in the first place.

This means you’re usually better off attacking open-raising ranges from the late positions, and avoid 3-betting against open-raises from early positions.

Early position open-raises have a bigger concentration of strong value hands that aren’t likely to fold to your 3-bet, like premium pocket pairs, strong broadways and so on.

Conversely, a lot of hands in late position open-raising range aren’t strong enough to stand the pressure of a 3-bet.

You should also consider the player type you’re up against when trying to light 3-bet.

You’re better off light 3-betting against weak and timid players than overly aggressive ones.

As for the best cards to light 3-bet with, you obviously don’t want to do it with any two random cards, even if other factors are working in your favour.

You want to choose hands that have decent playability post flop in case your light 3-bet gets called.

Some of the best cards to 3-bet light with are suited Aces, especially small suited Aces (A2s through A5s).

Here’s why suited Aces are great light 3-betting hands:

a) suited Aces have great playability post flop

Suited Aces have more than one way to connect with the flop, meaning you have a ton of hand equity to fall back on in case your light 3-bet gets called. 

You will often flop a top pair, meaning you’ll be able to make a value c-bet on the flop.

Even if you miss the flop, you’ll still have an overcard at the very least, meaning you can make a light c-bet and potentially improve on future streets.

b) suited Aces have great nuts potential

Suited Aces have an insane nuts potential, with the ability to make nut flushes. This means you don’t have to worry about the reverse implied odds when you flop a flush draw.

Implied odds refer to the amount of money you can potentially earn on future streets if your draw completes. 

Reverse implied odds refer to the amount of money you stand to lose if your draw completes, but your opponent ends up with an even stronger hand.

Small suited Aces can also make straights, which further bolsters their nuts potential.

c) Suited Aces have blocker power

A blocker is a card in your hand that reduces the number of strong combinations from your opponent’s range.

For example, if you have an Ace in your hand, it’s less likely for your opponent to have strong combinations like pocket Aces, Ace-King, Ace-Queen and so on.

This makes it more likely for them to fold to your light 3-bet.

Let’s see how the blocker power works in practice.

In no-limit hold’em, there are 6 combinations (combos) of any pocket pair, and 16 combos of unpaired hands (4 suited combos and 12 offsuit combos).

To clarify, a combo refers to a combination of hole cards, so AA and AA are the same combo, for example.

Now, let’s say that you are dealt A2

Since you have an Ace of hearts in your hand, this makes it impossible for your opponent to have any combo of Ax hands with a heart.

This reduces the number of combos of pocket Aces from 6 to only 3, and the number of combos of Ace-King from 16 to 12.

The same thing goes for other Ax hands like Ace-Queen and so on.

For more info on how to use combos and card removal to read your opponent's hand, check out The Microstakes Playbook.

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Advanced Poker Tip #3: Throw Out a Few Light 4-Bets, As Well

A light 4-bet is another advanced poker strategy that is often underused, especially at the lower stakes.

To 4-bet means to re-raise against another player’s 3-bet. To 4-bet light means to 4-bet with the intention of getting the 3-bettor to fold.

Most players at the lower stakes 4-bet exclusively for value, meaning they 4-bet with only the very strongest cards.

This 4-betting range usually consists of pocket Queens, pocket Kings, and pocket Aces, and maybe Ace-King.

The problem is the fact that this range can become extremely predictable to any opponent who is paying attention to your betting frequencies.

This means that it can become increasingly difficult to extract max value with your strongest hands, because every time you make a 4-bet, your opponents will simply fold, assuming you have the goods.

While this isn’t a problem when you’re playing against a bunch of recreational players who don’t pay attention to your betting frequencies, it definitely is if you’re up against more skilled competition.

The solution to this problem may be to slowplay your strongest hands and protect your preflop calling range.

This way, you can “trap” your opponents who are likely to keep barrelling into you post flop and potentially stack them.

However, slowplaying your pocket Aces preflop comes with its own set of problems, namely the fact that you’re inviting in a lot of multiway pots which decrease your overall equity.

The more players involved in the pot, the less hand equity you have, because each additional player will have some chunk of equity against you.

This brings us to another problem with slowplaying strong hands preflop, and that is the fact that you’re allowing your opponents to realize their hand equity for cheaper.

Check out my other article for the 5 common spots where you absolutely must slowplay.

So instead of slowplaying your big hands, you’re usually better off building a light 4-betting range for balance.

To have a balanced range means to have a range that’s not vulnerable to getting exploited, either by overcalling or overfolding.

For example, if you 4-bet exclusively with a strong range like the one outlined above (QQ+, AK), you have an unbalanced range, meaning your opponents can adjust by simply folding every time you 4-bet (unless they happen to have pocket Aces or pocket Kings themselves).

Again, having an unbalanced range is not necessarily bad if you’re playing against recreational players who simply don’t pay attention to this stuff.

But against more skilled opponents, having a balanced range will allow you to always keep them guessing at your hand strength.

In other words, you are preventing them from playing perfectly against you.

This will allow you to get action once you actually do get a strong hand like pocket Aces or pocket Kings.

So how do you make a balanced 4-bet range?

This is not overly difficult, since you don’t have to add a bunch of hands in order for your range to be balanced.

For example the range of QQ+, AK equates to only 2.56% of all starting hands in no-limit hold’em.

This means you only need to add a few bluffing hands in order to balance your range.

Like with light 3-betting, you want to add hands that have decent playability post flop in case your light 4-bet gets called.

In this regard, small suited Aces are arguably the best light 4-betting hands.

As discussed before, they have great playability post flop, great nuts potential, as well as blocker power.

For example, a hand like A5s has 30% equity against the range of Queens or better and Ace-King.

And this is only the hand equity against the very top of your opponent’s range.

If your opponent is 3-betting with a wider range (as most players usually do), your hand equity is likely even greater than 30%.

Of course, you don’t want to go overboard with light 4-betting, because your opponents may adjust by just calling you down more frequently, or by playing back at you with a 5-bet.

This defeats the purpose of having a balanced range, so you should 4-bet light only sparingly.

Light 4-betting only once or twice in a session is more than enough to achieve the desired effect.

As for the best players to target with a light 4-bet, find the players that tend to 3-bet too liberally.

The more often a player 3-bets, the weaker their 3-betting range is likely to be, meaning they will be more likely to fold to your 4-bet.

Bottom line: a light 4-bet is a great play to pick up a few easy pots in a session, but it also allows you to extract more value with your strong hands down the line.

By adding a few bluffs to your 4-betting range, you will constantly keep your opponents guessing, which makes it more likely for them to pay you off once you actually do wake up with pocket Aces.

Advanced Poker Example Hand #1

Cash Game, Effective Stack Size: 100 BB 

You are dealt A3 in the CO (cutoff). You open-raise to 2.5 BB. A loose and aggressive (LAG player 3-bets to 10 BB.

You: ???

You should 4-bet to 25 BB.

In this spot, calling may very well be an acceptable play, but you can also consider 4-betting instead.

You’re attacking what seems to be a wide 3-betting range from a loose and aggressive opponent.

LAG players will often defend their blinds by 3-betting light, meaning their range is likely to contain a lot of weaker hands besides purely premium pairs.

If you 4-bet here, you’re putting a tremendous amount of pressure on your opponent.

They will have a really hard time calling here, since they’ll be playing the rest of the hand out of position.

They will also be unlikely to 5-bet as a bluff, since you’ve displayed a lot of strength in the hand so far.

So if they do 5-bet shove, you can be quite sure that they actually have you beat and you simply fold.

But even in that most unfavourable scenario, you’ll still get the benefit of appearing aggressive, meaning your opponent will have to think twice about 3-betting against you next time.

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Advanced Poker Strategy #4: Stab at The Pot After Your Opponent Checks

This advanced play can also help you improve your “red line”, aka your non-showdown winnings.

In poker, most of the money you’ll earn will come from your strong value hands, where your opponent has a hand that’s strong enough to pay you off.

This means that the most of your winnings will come from your showdown hands.

So your red line, i.e. your non-showdown winnings are a result of spots where you manage to win the pot by making other players fold.

Improving your non-showdown winning is important because you can’t always rely on your hand strength alone to have profitable sessions.

That’s because there are bound to be some “cold streaks” where the cards simply aren’t falling your way.

During these times, it’s important to find a way to pick up a few pots here and there, even without a particularly strong hand.

This is where stabbing at the pot comes into play.

To stab at the pot means to bet where other players don’t seem to be particularly interested in the pot. 

This is usually done on later streets (turn and river) when every player checked on the previous street.

For example, you call a bet preflop out of position and see a heads-up flop.

You check, and the villain also checks, failing to make a c-bet.

You lead out with a bet on the turn and the villain folds. Congratulations, you have successfully stabbed at the pot.

It’s worth pointing out that stabbing out of position is different from donk betting.

Donk betting means betting out of position into the previous street’s aggressor.

For example, you call a flop c-bet, then lead out with a bet on the turn.

Stabbing is different because there is no previous street’s aggressor, because the villain didn’t make a c-bet when they had the chance.

Donk betting is usually a bad play done by amateur players, so you should leave it out of your post flop arsenal.

Check out my other article on the 5 bad poker plays most amateurs still make these days.

Stabbing the pot, on the other hand, is a great way to pick up a few uncontested pots, because it involves picking a lot of dead money nobody seems to be particularly interested in.

It’s also a great strategy to employ because the opportunities to stab at the pot are likely to be plentiful in any given session, especially if you’re playing in weak and passive games.

For example, you may find a lot of players who tend to play very straightforwardly post flop, meaning they only bet when they have a strong hand, and rarely go out of line with bluffing.

These players may only c-bet the flop with strong made hands, which don’t come around often in no-limit hold’em.

In fact, hands miss the flop completely 2 out of 3 times.

So every time this type of player fails to make a c-bet on the flop, you can try to take away the pot on the turn with a stab.

Similarly, you may find a lot of players who tend to be “turn honest”, meaning they might c-bet the flop with a high frequency, but only bet the turn if they happen to have a very strong hand.

Against these players, you can call the flop with a wider range, then stab at the river after the turn goes check-check.

This is a great line to take when you can’t win the pot at showdown, and your opponent isn’t likely to have made a strong hand, either.

For example, if a lot of draws have missed and the river is a brick card.

A brick card on the river is the one that’s unlikely to have changed the hand strength of the players involved in the pot, and is probably inconsequential to the outcome of the hand.

If your hand has decent showdown value, on the other hand, you may go for a check-calling option instead.

This gives your opponent the opportunity to bluff with all their missed draws, Ace-high hands and so on.

Advanced Poker Example Hand #2

You are dealt 76in the BB (big blind). A loose and aggressive (LAG) player open-raises to 2.5x from the BU (button). You call.

Pot: 6.5 BB 

Flop: K84

You check. Villain bets 3 BB. You call.

Pot: 12.5 BB.

Turn: J

You check. Villain checks.

Pot: 12.5 BB

River: 2

You: ??? 

You should bet 6.5 BB.

This is a good spot to take a stab at the pot and try to win the hand with complete air. Let’s break down the action street by street.

Preflop you have a standard call against the blind stealing attempt from a loose and aggressive opponent.

Not much to be said here. Your hand strength is decent enough to defend against the steal, and your opponent’s range is likely to be quite loose, based on the player type.

You don’t get the best flop in the world, but you still have plenty of equity with an inside straight draw and a backdoor flush draw.

A backdoor draw means you need both turn and river cards to complete your draw.

You can certainly consider check-raising here as well, but it would certainly suck if the villain comes back at you with another raise, in which case you would either need to fold and give up a ton of equity, or chase a weak draw.

The turn card doesn’t help you much, but the villain doesn’t double barrel, so you get a free card.

The river is a complete brick, meaning it doesn’t change the board runout and is unlikely to have helped either player.

In this spot, you’re not likely to win at showdown, since your hand has very little showdown value.

This means you can’t win the pot by checking here. If the villain checks back, they will likely have a better hand than Seven-high, and if they bet, you can’t really bluff catch against them.

You could consider check-raising as a bluff, but this won’t work unless the villain decides to take another stab at the pot instead of checking back.

So the best (and only) option to win the hand is to take a stab at the pot yourself.

The villain doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in winning the pot judging by the fact they checked the turn when given the opportunity to double barrel.

This means you can probably exclude all the Kx hands from their range, because they would more than likely double barrel with those.

You can also probably exclude broadway hands like AT or AQ, because these hands would have double barrelled since they picked up a lot of equity on the turn.

Also, the river is a complete brick, meaning there aren’t any completed draws on the board.

This means that your opponent will have a lot of air in their range, and will simply fold to your bet.

Check out my recent video on how to bluff when you're card-dead for much more on this.

Best ADVANCED Poker Tips for Serious Poker Players - Summary

To be a winning poker player these days, it’s not enough to just wait around for the nuts all day. 

You also need to be able to pick up a few pots even without a particularly strong hand.

To help you with that, here are 4 advanced poker strategy tips you need to know to start crushing the game.

1. Abuse the button

The button is going the be the most profitable seat for you by far, but a lot of players don’t get the most out of this seat.

The button often allows you to play an insanely wide range, since you will always have positional advantage post flop. 

This allows you to put maximum pressure on your opponents, even without a particularly strong hand.

2. Master the light 3-bet

Light 3-betting (or 3-bet bluffing) will help you pick up a few easy pots preflop. 

Also, by balancing your 3-betting range, you’ll be able to extract more value once you actually do get dealt pocket Aces or pocket Kings.

3. Throw out a few light 4-bets, as well

Most players at the lower stakes tend to 4-bet exclusively with strong value hands, so if you throw out an occasional light 4-bet, you’ll be able to generate a ton of folds.

Also, you will discourage other aggressive players from 3-betting you, and they’ll have to think twice before getting involved in the pot with you.

4. Stab at the pot more often

If no player seems to be particularly interested in winning the pot, go ahead and take a stab at it yourself!

Consider stabbing at the pot after a player fails to make a continuation bet when given the opportunity.


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.

4 Best Advanced Poker Tips for Serious Players