Many players overlook the importance of a situation when they have a chance to c-bet.
That’s a shame, as it’s truthfully one of the first things you ought to master in poker because you will play most of your hands as a pre-flop aggressor, so you will often find yourself in these situations. If you leave money on the table in common spots, you will have a very hard time squeezing any profit from the game at the end of the month.
So, if making a profit playing poker is your goal, you should learn which hands to continuation bet, how to adjust for different boards, and what sizing to use to get the most EV in every situation. While these are very extensive topics, this article will give you three simple tips that will help you make better decisions in general and hopefully begin winning more pots and stacking more chips.
Make proper adjustments OOP
One of the most common holes players have in their game is the inability to distinguish effective strategies when in position (IP) and out of position (OOP). Being OOP is a significant disadvantage for several reasons:
- You do not get to see what your opponent does before acting
- You have more streets to try and bluff catch if you check
- It is much harder to realize your equity
Thus, the best adjustment to make in these situations is to bet a much tighter range. In general, you should be checking way more strong holdings when OOP vs. being IP.
If you do not have any reasonable holdings in your checking range OOP, you will be very quickly punished by any competent opponent. You should check many hands OOP to protect your range and let your opponent bluff.
For example. Let’s say you open from the cutoff position. The player in the BB position calls your raise, and you see a flop of T85 rainbow. The BB check and PokerSnowie suggests you should be betting 44% of your range, while in the same situation against a player in the Button position instead of BB, you should only bet 14% of the time.
So even if that does not seem very intuitive, learn to check more hands when OOP and give yourself a chance against aggressive opponents by being able to bluff-catch all three streets and not over-folding in most situations.
Learn to check some strong holdings
Just because I highlighted the importance of checking strong hands when you are OOP, doesn’t mean you should not check any reasonable holdings when you are IP.
Naturally, most of the time, you will be betting your strongest hands, but you also need to check part of your range. Here are a few factors to consider that will help you decide whether you should check with a particular hand or not:
- You hit a huge hand, but the board completely missed another player’s range
- You block the majority of hands that your opponent could continue with
- There are no scary cards for your hand
Of course, in theory, you should use a mixed/balanced strategy with most of your hands, but it is very hard to implement it when you’re first starting out. These guidelines can help you understand when you can check to get more value with your strong hands.
In such situations, you let your opponent improve to the second-best hand and give him a chance to bluff where he would just fold to your bet without risking much.
Take advantage of exploitative strategies
If you want to compete in poker games in 2020, there is no way you can avoid learning at least the basics of Game Theory Optimal strategies. That being said, there are many ways to take advantage of and exploit your opponents in order to increase your win rate even further.
The first thing you need is to identify the mistakes you’re making. If you are playing online, you can use poker statistics on your HUD to quickly see what mistakes your opponents are making. However, if you play in live games or even online at poker rooms where no HUD is allowed, it does not mean that you can’t observe your opponents and learn what they are doing.
Quite the contrary, by doing so, you will gain a huge advantage. In online games where everyone is allowed a HUD, almost everyone uses one, but in games where you do not have stats at your disposal, you can quickly gain an edge over the players who are simply clicking buttons and not paying any attention.
Try to see the showdowns and learn how your opponents are playing in various situations. Here are a few things you should observe to take advantage later on:
- How often do they c-bet?
- Do they change strategy IP vs. OOP?
- Are they playing differently on dry and wet boards?
- Do they check strong hands or often check/fold after missing a bet?
- How they are proceeding on future streets after a c-bet?
When you know this info, the adjustments you’ll need to make are self-explanatory. If your opponents almost always fold after missing a c-bet, bet all your bluffs and check strong hands to trap. If they bet once and give up without a hand, you should call a lot on the flop, and so on.
When you know how they are playing, it is easy to make profitable adjustments, so always be looking to get all available information in your games, and this will lead to a bigger win rate.