Online poker is very different from the games you can find in local casinos or in home games with your friends. With that in mind, to crush live poker games you need to adjust your strategy and take a different approach versus what you do online. You can quickly improve your live poker game by avoiding some common pitfalls. In this article, I’ll be going over five of them.
1. Do not get distracted while playing
Many players love to read something on their phones, listen to music or even watch a movie while playing. However, doing those sorts of things practically guarantees that you will be missing out on lots of valuable information (unless you’re actively using your device to take poker notes).
If you turn your attention from the game to your mobile phone or tablet, you will likely not see how your opponents are playing or what kind of mistakes they keep making repeatedly. On top of that, you will probably miss the size of the pot or even stacks in play, which will complicate your decision making.
Moreover, seeing a showdown while you are not in the hand can give you plenty of information about your opponents and help you understand how they play. Therefore, players who observe all the action are usually ones who take it down at the end of the day.
2. Do not play the same range of hands
In most cases, live poker games are much looser compared to online, and you should take advantage of that. Therefore, trying to balance your ranges and sticking with the same holdings as online does not make much sense while playing in a casino or even in your home games.
Your ultimate goal should be to play more speculative hands, which could flop huge and win large pots at the end. Obviously, you will need advanced poker training to build a complete winning strategy. But to start, you can play more suited connectors, gappers, Ax hands, and small pocket pairs, which will help you win big pots when you improve.
Especially when in any of the late positions, you will have many chances to see cheap flops in live games, so take advantage of that and put your opponents to the test.
3. Do not overthink bet sizing
Your bet sizing should be very straightforward in live poker games. Many players do not see sizes in relation to the pot, so you can easily get away with value betting big when you have a hand. This is especially the case if there are any possible draws on the board, as your opponents will not be looking to lay down their hands and will chase those draws even without getting right odds. Thus, it is your job to choose big sizing and make them pay for their mistakes.
People do this all the time w/o headphones anyways
— Kevin MacPhee (@KevinMacphee) December 17, 2017
On the other hand, bluffing with smaller sizing can often mean that you’ll get almost the same amount of folds from your opponents (compared to bigger bets), so this could be another reasonable adjustment. Obviously, these strategies work best against recreational players, and you should not end up using them versus regulars in your game.
4. Do not overplay your weak hands
Overplaying weak hands is one of the biggest mistakes in live games. As I mentioned before, players tend to play quite loose, so you should not be surprised to see a hand such as 54o at showdown, something you would not need to take into consideration while playing online.
Therefore, when your opponent starts raising you out of nowhere, he could have more strong hands such as random two pairs, and you need to consider those. Often, if you face a raise and hold only a pair, folding is a standard play if you are not playing against ultra-aggressive opponents.
Learning to lay down those medium strength holdings can turn you into a winning player faster than anything else.
5. Do not leave poker tells behind
Poker tells can give you a lot of information in any live game, but if you are playing with your friends, it could become a gold mine. In most home games, you will be facing same players over and over again, so you have opportunity to build some serious stacks if you’ve got good reads on them.
I’d love to play poker with these guys. So many tells.
— Wishful Thinker (@wiseoldwoman) December 20, 2017
This is a topic that many books have been written about, so it’s impossible and perhaps unnecessary to try and cover everything here. However, as a rule of thumb, many weak players act strong when they are weak and vice versa, which could translate into many different tells.
Therefore, make sure to observe how your opponents play and reacts at the table. If you are lucky enough to notice something more than once, this could indicate a tell, which will help you make lots of money.