One of the greatest features of poker is that the game is constantly evolving. Fail to keep up with the current trends and your opponents will leave you behind in their wake. Get left behind and you will start to lose money. It is as simple as that.
By three-betting an under the gun raiser you are portraying huge strength and unless that particular raiser is opening an extremely narrow range, your three-bet will often be met with a fold – or at the very most a call then a check to you on the flop, which hands you valuable momentum in the hand.
There was a time when it was possible to beat the lower stakes with a rigid "ABC" style of poker, which is keeping matters simple and not having to think outside of the box very often. However, the average online poker player is much more skilled these days and as a result, you do have to be more creative at the virtual felt.
The five moves described during the rest of this article are not ground-breaking, in fact some have been around and employed for what seems like an absolute age, but if you do not have them in your locker then you are going to be at a disadvantage to those who do.
Three-Betting The Under The Gun Raiser With Less Than Premium Holdings
The majority of poker players are now more than aware of the importance of positional play and you can use this to your advantage. Raises from under the gun - or early position - are meant to convey strength and are often only done with premium hands, so it seems ludicrous to think about three-betting an under the gun raiser without a massive hand doesn't it?
By three-betting an under the gun raiser you are portraying huge strength and unless that particular raiser is opening an extremely narrow range, your three-bet will often be met with a fold - or at the very most a call then a check to you on the flop, which hands you valuable momentum in the hand. Obviously, you should not employ this move against the rock who has played one hand in the last 250 dealt to him, but against a looser opponent it can often be a great way to pick up some chips, especially if you have not been too active yourself.
Re-Isolating With Air
As the concentration of weak players at your table falls, you will notice the stronger players pouncing on the remaining "fish" whenever they can. They will do this by raising the weak players when they limp into a pot and by three-betting them when they open with a raise. Sometimes the stronger player will be doing this with a solid hand, but more often than not they will be isolating the weak player with a sub-premium hand and will attempt to outplay them post-flop.
With this in mind, you should be have it in you to re-isolate these thinking players whenever you suspect they have attempted to isolate a bad player. Doing this with a solid hand is a no-brainer, but you also need to be able to do this with a much wider range if the need arises and the situation seems ripe to help yourself to some free chips.
Playing Draws Fast
The default line many poker players take when they are drawing to a straight or flush is to check-call until they hit their hand, then either lead out or check-raise when they have the goods. Sometimes this line will work and is necessary, but by taking it each time you have a draw you are making yourself extremely easy to read.
Instead of playing your draws passively, you should also bet them or even raise them. This will not only build a pot when you do hit your hand, but it will also disguise your hand better because players expect you to take a passive line when they are facing a drawing player. Furthermore, by playing draws aggressively you give yourself more options if your draw does not come in.
Folding Big Pairs To Resistance
Nobody likes to fold and they especially do not like to fold strong one-pair hands such as queens, kings and aces but there will be plenty of times where folding these monsters is necessary. People find queen, kings and aces and do not want to let them go. They know they are very strong preflop, but they are also vulnerable once the first set of community cards are dealt.
While I am not advocating folding your pocket aces every time you face resistance, you should be able to lay them down without much thought if you believe you are beaten. This sounds obvious but you will be surprised at how many times people have said they knew they were beaten but had aces and had to call - myself included in that. Ah-As may look amazing preflop but in a three-way pot where you have been check-called on the flop and then check-raised on a board reading 10d-8d-6c-Qc they are probably not so amazing anymore!
Knowing When You Are Out Of Your Depth
There is no point being the sixth best poker player in the world if you are going to play with opponents ranked first-through-fifth on a regular basis. Poker players make most of their money when their opponents make mistakes and good players make less mistakes than bad ones; that is why they are good players!
You will sometimes sit down in a cash game and after 50 or so hands realise that you have somehow managed to surround yourselves with solid opponents. Unless there is a really bad player who is feeding the game or you have reason to believe you have an edge on the majority of the table, then you should simply wait until the big blind reaches you and then leave.
There is no prize given for those players choosing to grind out a profit by battling with tough players and there is no real reason to either when online poker has weak players in abundance. Yes, from time-to-time it is worth playing in a tough game to hone your skills and improve as a player, but to sit with better players on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster. Leave your ego at the door and if you are the mark at the table get up and leave and become the hunter rather than the hunted.