Home » Darren’s Den » 3 Poker Tips For Crushing Weak Competition

3 Poker Tips For Crushing Weak Competition

Home » Darren’s Den » 3 Poker Tips For Crushing Weak Competition

3 Poker Tips For Crushing Weak Competition

I’ve often heard poker players complain about battling unskilled players in lower-stakes games. “I can’t beat that guy, he plays any two cards!”, or “These players never fold, how am I supposed to beat this game?” And while these weaker players can certainly win in the short term in any given session, I’ve compiled some pointers to help beat these players in the long term.  We should welcome the chance to play against soft competition – not dread it! 

Most of the weaker players we will encounter in a $1/$2 cash game or $200 daily tournament will fall into the category of too loose and too passive. These players want to play as many hands as possible trying to connect with the board, and are content playing a bingo-style of poker from all positions. 

Open limping with a very wide range of hands is usually a big part of these players’ game, and they will often call an isolation raise as well with this range. Put a group of these players together at the same table and we quickly see the common dynamic of low-stakes poker where players are seeing tons of multi-way flops with very wide ranges. So how do we make the most money in these types of situations? 

1. Be Deliberate in Your Preflop Strategy

It’s easy to play down to the level of your competition if you are not deliberate. Facing a number of preflop limpers in front of you most hands will nullify the effectiveness of most preflop charts or study tools. So how do we proceed? I’ve always been a fan of keeping it simple in these situations. Look to raise and narrow the field with our strong value hands like big pocket pairs, big aces, and suited broadways. The fancy jargon for this strategy would be to use a “wide linear value range”. Choose a raise size that is towards the upper limit of what the limpers are willing to call preflop. Raising too small into a sea of limpers is a common mistake I’ve seen from beginner poker players. Oftentimes in these situations that upper limit can be as much as 7 or 8 times the big blind (BB). 

However, we’d like to play more hands than just the strong value hands in these situations. I like to see as many flops as possible (especially in later positions) in these types of games. We should be perfectly content building a “limp behind” range with hands that play well in multiway pots. Hands like small pocket pairs, lower-suited connectors, and even offsuit connectors make for good hands to limp behind and see a flop cheaply. These hands aren’t quite strong enough to start building a big pot right away, but have a lot of potential to win a big pot later given the right board texture. 

2. Pay Attention To Your Opponents’ Betting Patterns

Weaker players are almost always going to give away a lot of information about their hand with their betting patterns. However, we need to be watching and collecting this information before we can act on it. That’s why paying attention, even in hands we are not involved in, is very important in these types of games. Players will often choose different bet sizes with different hand strengths, and understanding this will help us win the most money from our opponents. 

For example, it is not uncommon for novice players to bet bigger with stronger hands, both preflop and after the flop. More seasoned players use a balanced strategy where they typically open to a standard size preflop regardless of their hand, and use a number of different post-flop bet sizes that are based on board texture, the positional situation, and range interaction. Weaker players tend to play a much simpler strategy that sometimes boils down to BIG HAND = BIG BET. Be weary when you are facing large wagers in these games, especially on the river. 

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Value Bet Wide

One of the outcomes of playing against these types of opponents is you will frequently reach a multi-way flop versus several weak hands. Mathematically these hands will usually miss the flop, and often flop some middling type hands like bottom pair, second pair, top pair with no kicker etc. It’s important to get money in against these hands when we do have a strong value hand and we find our opponents calling us down looking to improve. Oftentimes in these types of games, a hand like top pair-top kicker or top pair-second kicker is good enough to play for all the money right away. 

Obviously in poker it always depends, and this type of advice is dependent on the number of players to the flop, board texture, and stack-to-pot ratio. However, early in my career I remember winning a number of large pots (for me at the time!) at small stakes cash games with this sort of strategy. Things won’t get any easier later in these hands playing against multiple opponents while more cards roll off, and sometimes the best plan is to simplify the situation. In these games, simplifying the situation is done by narrowing the number of opponents and lowering the stack-to-pot ratio.  

Hopefully these tips can help prepare you for the next session against these types of players. Remember we should be looking forward to playing against weaker opponents!

To try these strategies online, register at BetMGM Poker.