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? There’s a method to doing so. You need to be paying attention to trends in the players. You need to be working to realize where people are imbalanced, so you can exploit them while the money’s good.
Exploiting other players at No Limit Hold’em is an art form that takes a lifetime to master. But if we focus on brutalizing these four player types, we’ll start making serious headway when it comes to No Limit Hold’em tournaments.
Player Type #1: Literally Any Non-Nit In The Big Blind
Someone gets dealt a decent hand on the button. Let’s say K-T. He raises. The big blind calls. The board comes Q-T-5. The big blind checks.
What blows my mind here is to see how many people check this flop when the big blind player has shown NO indication of being aggressive or creative.
It’s almost like people get dealt what is most likely the best hand and they go, “okay, how can I keep this pot as small as possible?”
95% of players cannot turn a pair into a bluff, or bluff much at all. Out of position with a weaker range they call with their pairs, raise their two pair and better combinations, and fold their high cards. They tend to not raise draws.
Versus this extremely face-up blind YOU MUST go for extreme value with a hand that likely obliterates their wide range.
On that Q-T-5 board the big blind might authentically have all the T-6o combinations, because it’s now sacrilegious to fold the big blind to a raise.
You need to dig in and fire two if not three barrels. If you fire small enough and keep the pressure on, a lot of players want to look you up because possibly folding the winner hurts their feelings, and they’d rather not have an unsolved mystery playing in their head all night. “I have to see it,” they might even say, before they fling in the call. Pick up this free money!
Player Type #2: Loose/Passive Players
A lot of players will limp all of their mediocre and good hands. They’ll raise their great hands. They’ll fold their bad ones.
Don’t re-raise these players when they raise preflop. They want you to do that. They’re banking on that.
You can re-raise pretty much any American player and know that it’s likely a wide weak range you’re playing back at. But if you get into that rhythm without deliberately thinking through hands then you’ll accidentally threebet these loose passive players.
When they limp, don’t give them free flops when you’re in position. Raise it up and trap their weak capped range out of position. You’ll then be playing a big pot in position versus a weak capped range that will more or less play face-up. Anyone can make a profit there.
Player Type #3: Weak Cold Callers
People are infatuated with the cold call.
Someone raises in early position? They’re not folding a small pair or suited connector or suited-gapper or broadway cards. They never fold because it feels terrible to them to see they would have hit the flop. They don’t play poker to fold. They play poker to play!
When you spot these players (all it takes is one showdown where they flatted something weak) you need to start preparing your squeeze bluffs.
Look for the loose opener to open up again. When the weak cold caller calls, then there’s your spot! Squeeze with your good suited-gappers, suited connectors, big card combos, and medium pairs. You’ll be shocked how often only one player calls and check/folds the flop, especially if you three-bet bigger, perhaps 5X the initial open.
Player Type #4: Nitbox Players To Your Left
Sometimes you’ll be in this spot in a tournament.
You have Kc-2c.
You’re in the hijack.
This hand is a loser. But let’s say the big blind is loose/passive and calls down with everything. He’s throwing a party. We’ll do anything to play with that guy when he’s out of position.
But your hand is still a loser.
So when should you open?
When the button and cutoff are nits, go ahead and raise. They won’t adjust their play based on the table. If they have one of the best hands they’ll play, but if not, they’ll fold. They’ll even be afraid to three-bet, so you’ll get some free flops.
Ninety percent of the time you should fold this hand, but in this specialized situation you can get out of line.
If they call you, SHUT DOWN! They have it! Don’t give them a free continuation bet when they have mostly pairs.
I hope these tips have been beneficial to you and your game. Best of luck to all of you.