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Playing In Tough Poker Games

A concept that many players struggle with is how to play against a tough table or a loose-aggressive player that knows what they’re doing. You learn a lot, gain experience and pad your bankroll when you’re seated at a tough table. It can help expose shortcomings in your game, maximize your long run earning potential and help you improve your strategy.

How To Win The Preflop War In Aggressive Games

Playing poker in this day in age is no longer a straight walk into the money; not with so many people trying to improve their game. With such stiff competition, how can you take on aggressive players while keeping up your win rate?

Adjustments To Aggressive 3-Bettors

The first player to identify which of the three available options to use against an aggressive 3-bettor for that particular game, will have the edge.

Open Fewer Hands – 4-Bet More Often 

By starting with a narrower range of holdings, say top 50% of hands instead of 30%, if you continue to 4-bet the same range, then you’ll end up 4-betting more often. 

Call 3-Bets With More Hands – Play Aggressively Post-flop

Call 3-bets with more hands to widen your value range against players who don’t have strong holdings, they’re 3-betting aggressively to pressure you out. This widens your value hands, especially if the players are overly aggressive or play poorly post-flop. Go to flop town with these guys, call multiple bets because all you need is to catch a piece and hold on. 

You Don’t Have To Open 30% Of Cutoffs And 50% Of Buttons

Don’t be predictable. It’s basic strategy and profitable to open wide – 50% of buttons, 30% of cutoffs. The problem is people know to 3-bet a lot to counteract this strategy. Poker is about adjustments. You need to have different gears and different styles and be willing to deviate from your default strategy if you want to win this game of exploitation. 

Winning The 4-Bet And 5-Betting War

The 4 or 5-betting war, that’s the shark’s strong point and puts the newbies into awkward and unprofitable positions. Don’t get into the 4-5 betting wars because of your ego; do it for your bankroll.

Identify If The Player 3-Bet Folds A Lot

The guy who 3-bet folds a lot is the guy you want to 4-bet against at a higher-frequency. Isolate and play back at an uncomfortable 3-bettor that’s only using this technique because he heard it was the best move. They likely don’t have a plan, and the chances are even greater they’ll make a costly mistake.

Identify What Hands They Will 5-Bet All In With

As a student of the game, your job is to spot the player who has a plan. Which hands will he 5-bet with preflop; this could mean a wider value range than what’s considered normal. Your job is to identify which hands they will 5-bet all-in with and to construct an appropriate range of hands that you will 4-bet to call off and gain value from their 5-betting range.

Focus On Game Flow, Personal And All-Around

The biggest thing that isn’t taught is that you’ll need to learn from experience is spotting when someone is tilting, at breaking point or is about to do something stupid. If you can adjust your game to anticipate their emotional shift in strategy, you’ll be the benefactor of a light stack off.

Look Forward To Winning The Big Pot

Don’t get caught up in short-term thinking. To win the war, you want to land the big pot. It’s not about having the highest pot frequency or getting hung up on your opponent winning a lot of the small pots; it’s about long-term planning and winning the big pot.

All Your Folds To 3-Bets Can Be Recovered With A Successful 4-Bet

It’s okay to let your opponents take the small ones. If you’re successfully 4-betting them more than 25% of the time, you’ll recover your losses and make money. 

If Your Opponent Thinks They Can Run You Over, Expect A Stack

When your opponent wins at a high-frequency regardless of pot size, he’s likely to get overconfident and apply pressure if he thinks you’re a pushover. But, if you plan a trap and execute it properly, you’ll earn a huge donation in a high equity spot.

You Can’t Expect To Win Right Away Or Every Time

The key to aggressive games, especially with high variance preflops is thinking long term. If you get caught up in the short run or you don’t see yourself winning you’re going to make a mistake. Develop your plan before the session starts and create a strategy for each opponent you’ve played against (you should be keeping notes on players), so you can find holes in their pre-and post-flop game to win the war. Remember, even though you’ve prepared for the session, it doesn’t mean that you won’t lose or have a rough start. Think big picture. Overall if you’re on the winning side what does it matter if your opponent wins a few battles if it keeps them coming back for more.

Playing Tough Tables

Improve not only your bankroll but your game by spending some of your session time playing at tough tables. A lot of quality learning happens when you’re experimenting and going up against aggressive or hard players. So don’t be afraid to lose a few battles if it means you’ll come out the victor at the end of the war.

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