By Alex Fitzgerald, featured coach
So, you’re playing No Limit Hold’em tournaments, and you want to make more money. Don’t we all? It can be done, but there is a method to doing so. You need to be current with the times. Pay attention to trends. Work hard to realize where people are imbalanced so you can implement exploitative plays to get an edge.
Exploiting other players at No Limit Hold’em is an art form that takes a lifetime to master. But if we muster a few successful offensive plays to start, we can gain motivation to keep pursuing new angles.
I humbly submit to you five exploitative plays to help you make more money at NL Hold’em tournaments.
Bomb Multiway Pots
This has been my new toy lately. It is one of my favorite exploitative plays.
I had a tournament hand recently where I had A-K on an A-6-2 board versus two other players. They were shorter than I. I was about to bet half pot. Then it hit me.
“What the f*** am I doing?”
My opponent’s ranges were literally nothing but weaker aces I was destroying, and they were NEVER folding them. I wasn’t even sure a six was folding if I bet 80% pot.
I went ahead and bet huge. Both players called as if it was their obligation. No one folds pairs on the flop. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that?
On the turn, they were stuck. The pot was too big to fold. I shoved and got A-10 to pay off a huge amount. The other guy got away, but such is life.
The only danger I’ve had with this play is that it’s true, people REALLY never fold.
I had A-J once with a total whale in the pot and a total nit in the big blind. The board came A-10-5. I didn’t think the whale was folding even a 5-6. So I bet huge. The whale called. Yes! I was ready to go for three barrels.
The nit went into the tank. He used thirty seconds on his timebank. He eventually shoved. I went “damn it, nice hand,” and folded, assuming I ran into A-5 or A-T.
The whale then called with A-9, because he wasn’t folding any ace. The nit had A-2o. What?!
I’ll given him credit. Possibly, he thought I had the capability to fold a big hand and he thought the whale would call a ten.
But it’s also possible he just had top pair and couldn’t even consider a fold.
The more I have played with this bet…the more I’m realizing it’s most likely the latter. No one folds pairs. I’ve been cashing in on this for months.
If you use this play, EXPECT action, not folds, especially when dealing with American players who hate folding. Learn to tame the fire and you can profit big too.
Stop Firing Into Tight Players As A Bluff
For the love of God, stop firing into nits.
If you open from early position and have a tight player cold call you, THE END! The pot is over.
A true reg is calling about 6% of hands. It’s pretty much all pairs. They’re not folding those hands on the flop. Stop firing continuation bets into that and giving up on the turn. Save your money. Show people your continuation bets mean something.
Three-bet Horrible Late Position Openers From The Big Blind
This one is dangerous but also profitable.
If you’re in the big blind and the hand is folded to the cutoff or button, don’t give a late opener credit.
Most people will open from late positions with 40% of hands if they’re in low stakes, or even some middle stakes games. They feel like they’re not even playing to win if they don’t open there.
If the player is generally passive and calling preflop, then he isn’t used to playing in aggression-filled raise/re-raise pots. Put him to the test. If you’ve seen him fold to some continuation bets, then you MUST counter with a three-bet and see what happens when you’re both heads-up.
If he raises and he has no experience playing aggressively and it’s folded to you? Blast him. If the board is dry, then fire to pick it up. Most passive players have no plan beyond “see if I hit the board.”
If you flop a weak pair, check and let him fire at it. Most inexperienced players don’t have a triple barrel bluff in their arsenal. Check/call and watch them wilt on later streets. Trust them if they suddenly find their nerve.
Quit Re-raising Nits
If you’re on some weaker sites, you’ll see truly passive players with no ability to bluff.
These players limp their good and mediocre hands.
Therefore, when they raise, they can only logically have bad or great hands.
They’re most likely not raising 9-3o, so that leaves the great hands being raised.
Don’t re-raise versus great hands. That’s what they want.
Most poker players don’t want to fold anything preflop that might hit the flop, because it hurts their feelings when they see they folded the winner. So, they try to find ways to get to that flop. Some people raise because they feel that’s the easiest way to get to the flop. Some people limp. On different sites, different plays are more popular. It’s your job to differentiate these players and not re-raise the loose/passive players who limp their mediocre hands and raise their great hands.
Look For The Flourish Open
The last of my five exploitative plays is this: when playing live poker, look for the flourish open.
In tournaments there is typically one guy who is opening more often than he should. He’s trying to be the “table captain.”
For some reason, some of these players love to add a little flourish when they raise. I’m not sure why they do this, but you’ll notice some players will get dealt a bigger hand and they won’t raise with that same crashing-of-the-chips that draws attention to them. People tend to quiet their body language down with AA or KK. It’s like a tiger waiting in the bushes. They don’t want to alert their prey. I’ve encountered a number of players like this lately.
If this is you, there’s a way around it. Throw your chips down like a gauntlet in every hand or cut them in quietly on every deal. Just don’t mix it. Unless you know a guy to your left reacts a certain way to certain inputs.
I hope these exploitative plays are beneficial to you and your game. Best of luck to all of you.
Love Alex Fitzgerald’s work? Check out his last post for APT on Exploiting your opponents.