No limit hold’em has exploded in recent times. This has been good for the poker industry generally, but is rather unfortunate for those who were exploding explosions in other forms of poker as well.
Now no limit poker is a difficult game to play well. However, the current field usually consists of players whose games seem somewhat “incomplete” – simply because they learnt no limit from television and started playing no limit without cutting their teeth on small limit games.
So this strategy section is a few pointers on how to beat the weaker, television-taught player that you often find in the modern day no limit game.
PLAY STRAIGHT FORWARD
Doyle Brunson likes to raise all-in against an opponent with a good draw, even though he knows that he is behind if he is called. The whole point was to pressure his opponent into folding and he’ll pick up a small-medium pot. If he is called, he’s still got outs!
Now this is a rather fancy move, but it will work with a fair degree of reliability against good, experienced opposition. The problem with attempting this against a weaker player is that they will call too often for you to show profitability. I remember seeing one weak player who called all-in raises three times with A-K unimproved on the flop. In the first hand, he caught an ace on the turn and in the other two hands, he won unimproved, simply because his opponents tried to run him over with a draw or two overcards.
Similarly, bluffing for the purposes of “advertising” is of virtually no value against the weaker player, simply because “they don’t get it!!!” If you haven’t played a hand for one hour and then you move all-in before the flop is AA and they have 10-10, it is highly unlikely that they will fold on the basis that you haven’t played a hand for an hour. They are not that perceptive, so don’t throw money around trying to give yourself a good table image. That works against good players, but not weak ones!
Simply wait for the strong hands and put your money in when you know that you are a favourite. Weaker players are more likely to make a mistake by calling your all-in when they’re an underdog.
BE VERY AGGRESSIVE WITH OVER-PAIRS ON THE FLOP
Let’s say your in a game where the blinds are $3-$6 and a weaker player raises to $20 before the flop. You have pocket queens and you raise to $40, everyone else folds and he calls. In my view, you have the opponent beat as they would probably have enough sense to move all-in before the flop with either KK or AA.
The flop comes 9-5-5 and he checks to you. In my view, you should probably move all-in right there and then or at least make a very large bet. If they have a hand like A-K, they will call a mediocre sized bet on the flop (even though they shouldn’t). So straight all-in and remove any doubt in their mind. Even weaker players will throw away AK if the flop is 9-5-5 and they are challenged for their entire stack. If they don’t – and they call – you will be a considerable favourite to double up (you survive the turn and river 76% of the time). Never under-bet your hand with an overpair – including pocket aces. Better to move all-in (provided that you are certain that you are in front) and if they really want to call you, they will, irrespective of whether you bet $100 or move all-in for $220 on the flop.
BEWARE OF THE QUIET CALLER
Some hands will occasionally feature a player that I call the “quiet caller.” Let’s say that X tripled the blinds preflop, Y doubles that raise and the “quiet caller” calls both bets cold.
Now at first glance, if appears as though X and Y are going to go to war in this hand. But in actual fact, it is often this quiet caller that holds the goods. Otherwise, what would he be calling with? I see a lot of newbies to no limit hold’em do this for two reasons. First, they may not be very confident and they are still at the check-and-call stage, even with a big hand. Second, they may do this as a slowplay, under the impression that it will make them look like a cunning top-class player.
So the best recommendation I can make about the quiet caller is this: if you have a quiet caller in your pot, you should be very reluctant to bet into him, even if your hand is reasonably good. For example, if you have JJ and the flop is 10-7-5, don’t be surprised if the quiet caller who called a bet and raise cold preflop has AA. Conversely, you should always be inclined to bet strongly with a monster, because the chances are that he will call you on the assumption that either you under-estimated the strength of his hand or that he is lowering you into a trap.
For example, if you have 8-8 and the flop is 8-3-3, this would appear to be a very safe flop to call an all-in bet if he has a hand like KK or AA. So challenge him for his stack. If you slowplay, a card may fall to scare him. For example, if the above flop was 8c-3c-3d, you both checked and the turn card is a 5c, he may strongly reconsider calling if you move all-in, mainly because you inadvertently are representing a flush – a hand that he can’t beat.
So to some degree, it almost comes back to this concept (discussed above) of straight-forward play. Don’t get fancy with inexperienced players because it is usually way to sophisticated for them. Better to play straight-forward. Most of the time, inexperienced players assume that you will try to do something fancy with them – so when you move all-in, they may call because they think you are trying to take advantage of them by bulldozing through with big bluffs.