A-B-C poker works well at lower-stakes tables, but as you progress to higher levels and face more skilled and experienced players, you’ll need to take your strategy to the next level.
By doing so, you’ll not only have more tactics in your arsenal but also gain a better understanding of how to counteract advanced concepts and moves that may be used against you.
In this unit, we’ll only touch upon the basics of advanced poker strategy. Remember, poker is a continuous learning process, and we’ll cover more advanced topics in other courses once you’ve completed this one.
Advanced Poker Techniques
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#1 3-Bet Resteal
Those familiar with basic poker strategy understand the importance of stealing the blinds. Winning poker players know that playing as the preflop aggressor from a favorable position generates most of their earnings. On the other hand, playing from the blinds results in expected long-term losses, regardless of skill level. It’s simply how the game functions, and there’s no real way around it.
Therefore, when playing in the blinds, the primary objective should be to minimize losses. The easiest approach is to fold all hands 100% of the time in the blinds. By doing so, you’ll only lose 1.5 big blinds per orbit or approximately 25 big blinds per hundred hands in a 6-max game, for example. Clearly, folding all the time is far from an optimal strategy.
One way to mitigate this negative outcome is to occasionally employ light 3-bets to counter steal attempts. In this context, stealing attempts refer to open-raising from the cutoff, button, or small blind. By the way, you can assess your opponents’ stealing tendencies by checking their Attempt to Steal stat in PokerTracker 4.
#2 Abuse The Button
Playing in position post-flop will contribute significantly to your poker earnings. The button, in particular, offers the most profitability due to the constant advantage it provides post-flop. If you use software like PokerTracker 4, you can verify these statistics yourself and be pleasantly surprised by the disparity of earnings between the button and other positions. Unfortunately, many players fail to fully exploit the potential of this seat by not playing enough hands from it, resulting in missed profitable opportunities.
#3 Use Non-Made Hands With Backdoor Flush Draws to Bluff
If you possess an unpaired hand with a backdoor flush draw and have the betting initiative, it is highly advisable to consider placing a substantial bet. This holds particularly true when you hold a positional advantage over your adversary.
For instance, consider the hand 8♥7♥ on a flop of K♣Q♣6♥ – it presents a superb opportunity for a bluff. Betting with such backdoor flush draw hands frequently proves profitable as they transform into effective bluffs on the turn under specific circumstances:
- When the turn grants you a flush draw. You obtain increased equity; hence, maintaining aggression with a double-barrel bet is generally recommended. Moreover, you stand the chance to win a generous pot if you achieve a flush on the river.
- When the turn completes numerous draws. Placing bets on particularly menacing cards that complete draws (such as the 9♣ in the aforementioned example) may cause your opponent to over-fold. Often, these adversaries erroneously assume that “all semi-bluffs have connected,” leading them to believe that your bluff is improbable.
#4 Check-Raise More Frequently From The Big Blind
If you want to prevent your opponents from profiting too much from their bets, it is crucial to pressure them with check-raises. This strategy becomes even more important when facing a player who frequently bets recklessly with numerous weak hands. Despite their weakness, these hands still hold some equity.
By neglecting check-raising, you are allowing your opponent to capitalize on that equity. So, which hands should you consider for check-raising?
When it comes to value, focus on check-raising with strong hands like two-pair or better. On boards with low cards, it can also be beneficial to check-raise with top pair top kicker (e.g., A9 on a 9-3-2 flop). However, don’t stop there. Once you have identified the hands you want to raise for value, you should then select your bluffs. But remember the main rule – account security. Chrome extension or other forms of VPN will help you with this. Otherwise, any game format can lead to serious losses.
#5 Responding to a Raise
When participating in a pot and faced with an opponent’s raise, determining the best course of action is no easy task. The decision depends on various factors, including the size of the raise and the table’s dynamics.
There are no rigid rules dictating whether you should call a raise, but you can follow a logical thought process to guide your decision-making:
- Consider your hand – Did you start with a strong hand or a marginal one?
- Evaluate the number of players in the pot when the raise occurred – A raise against one player indicates less strength compared to a raise against multiple opponents.
- Take note of the players yet to act – A raise from the dealer button or blinds might be an attempt to protect blinds or disrupt a steal, whereas a raise from an early or middle position suggests greater strength.
- Assess whether you will have a position on the raiser after the flop. If the raiser is one of the blinds, you will have a position after the flop, allowing you to call with a slightly weaker hand.
- Consider the aggressiveness of the raiser – A conservative player’s raise warrants more respect than that of an aggressive player. However, be cautious not to assume that an aggressive player is bluffing, as they may have a strong hand too.
- Analyze the pot odds – You should be more inclined to call a raise with favorable pot odds rather than unfavorable ones.
- Take into account your stack size – Are you approaching a short stack? Do you have the option to decline this opportunity and wait for a better one? Alternatively, are you in a situation where folding now would force you to make a weaker play due to your short stack shortly?
All these plays share one common trait: aggression. It is an essential element in any advanced poker strategy. To win at poker, you must play aggressively. Whenever you are involved in a hand, ask yourself: can I bet, raise, or raise? You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do it every time, but being aware of the possibility will help you identify profitable opportunities that you might have missed before.