What are some simple winning poker strategies? A common goal of poker players is the idea of having an unexploitable range. This theory is sound, but sometimes its important to remember that it is ok to be exploitable. Just remember that if the Villain is not exploiting you then you are effectively unexploitable to them. We don’t want to pass up on opportunities to exploit our opponents just because doing so might make us exploitable against a skilled Villain.
1) 3-betting Exploitively
I’ve talked at length about 3betting in the past because it is a key simple winning poker strategy. Actually, its a tactic that should fit within a larger strategy, but we’ll call it a strategy for now :).
Ex. We are 3-betting a really high % of the time like 20% because our opponent folds 90% of hands to 3-bets. Doing so makes us exploitable, but also makes us a lot of money. It doesn’t matter if we are exploitable if our opponent is not exploiting you! Make sure you don’t level yourself against this kind of opponent and think that maybe they are spazz 4betting against you.
How do we find and exploit a Villains leak? In the scenario above it was very easy, but often that is not the case. In more complex cases we need a good grasp of what an unexploitable range looks like, and then if the Villain is deviating too far from that we know they have a leak. It is important to realize that some players may not have a significant leak until they begin to tilt. This is why game flow and psychology are still a very important part of the game. I think many players do not focus enough on game flow and psychology in determining their Villains ranges. Players that understand game flow and psychology better tend to be the higher stakes players. Ultimately, to be successful at any level we should have a strong understanding of how to construct an unexploitable range (to combat/break even vrs highly skilled regs), and have a good strategy for exploiting the leaks of weaker opponents.
With time and experience we can become experts at anticipating how a poker player will react in a variety of different situations.
A skilled Villain raises 50% of buttons (663 combos) and enters a min raise on the button. You proceed to 3bet him to 7 BB from the Small Blind and he folds. Normally he folds to 3-Bets 66% of the time. The very next hand he raises the cut-off (Villain is first in from the cutoff PFR=25%=331 combos) to 3BB and you 3-Bet from the button to 9BB. How frequently do you expect him to fold to your 3bet?
4 Betting is a simple poker strategy that can help your winrate significantly. It is particularly helpful against opponents who are three betting an exploitively high percentage of hands. Here is an example.
A skilled villain raises the button 50% (.5*1326=663 Combos) of the time to steal the blinds when he is first in the pot. The first time he raises the button you 3-Bet from the small blind and he folds. 20 hands later a similar scenario develops where he is first in on the button and raises. Again you 3-Bet from the SB. When he 4-Bets do you perceive his range as wider or tighter? Lets assume he generally 4-Bets 20% of his raising range 663/5=132 Combos of hands.
Against opponents that fold to a lot of 3-Bets we should be 3-Betting a ton. Against opponents that 4Bet a ton of hands, and fold to 5Bets we should be 5Betting small pockets, KQs, AXs etc. Against opponents that 4-Bet a ton of hands, and don’t fold to 5-Bets we can weigh our 3bets heavily in the direction of value hands. What I am trying to illustrate is the importance of being versatile and adjusting in real time to our opponents. Reading how our opponents react and shift the number of combos in their range is what will ultimately make you a big winner in this game.
One little trick to keep in mind is generally if you are significant off the 60-65% level for fold to 3bet, 4bet or 5bet you probably have a leak. When you are structuring your ranges start with 1326 and figure out how you can fold no more than 60-65% versus 3-Bets, 4-Bets, and 5-Bets. Whether or not your opponents recognize your weaknesses is an entirely different question. If your opponents don’t have a good sample on you it could be difficult for them to detect leaks. When studying spend some time thinking about how game flow will lead your opponent to shift their ranges.
Good luck at the tables and be sure to check out my book Exploitive No Limit Holdem.
P.S. Good luck at the tables.