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Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: Apr 17, 2013


February 22 – In tight games you should raise smaller preflop with value hands to keep people in. 3x or even 2x induces blinds to call.

As you get more comfortable playing post flop in no-limit hold’em cash games you start to realize that you do not mind people calling your raises when you hold strong hands.  I actually want to see multiple callers when I raise with a hand like A-A because I feel like I am going to make the right types of decisions after the flop.

Oftentimes you will see players raise their premium hands to some absurd amount preflop — like something like ten times — because they are scared to play after the flop and because they do not want to take a bad beat. If you find yourself falling into the category of this type of player, you have to start to realize how much future value you are losing by blowing players with inferior holdings out of the pot. Why would I not want players to call me with hands like K-J or Q-10 and then pay me off for three streets with top pair?

If you find yourself playing in a game that is tight, which usually happens in your typical weekday daytime lineups, how can we encourage people to call our value raises? The answer is simple — raise smaller preflop. Especially when opening from late position you want to encourage the blinds to call with weaker holdings.

Let us take a look at an example. Say we hold K-K in the cutoff, in a tight no-limit hold’em $2-$5 game. The action gets folded around to us and instead of making our standard four times raise we raise to $15. It gets folded through to the big blind who calls. The board comes out QDiamond Suit 6Club Suit 2Heart Suit. The big blind checks and we bet $20. The big blind quickly calls. The turn brings the 2Club Suit and your opponent checks again. This time we bet $45 and he calls. The river is the 4Diamond Suit and he checks again. We are pretty sure that he has a queen and we bet $120. We are snapped called by the big blind who tables QSpade Suit 8Spade Suit. Even though this hand seems relatively easy to play, it was set up by our small sizing preflop inducing the out of position player to make multiple mistakes postflop.

We can use this same strategy if we notice that the table is tight and not many raises are being called. Instead of opening normal you can actually open smaller from up front to induce players to come in. You have to realize however, that this advice is extremely table dependent. Often times on weekend nights raises are called in multiple spots for as much as five or six times the big blind. Raising small preflop on those types of tables is just losing value. 

February 19 – In general your opponents won’t bet/fold top pair that is high like an ace, king or queen after they donk bet into you. Take them to Valuetown.

Often times, at the lower levels, players are not advanced enough to lead with big hands. And, if they do happen to lead with a monster, they are too scared of getting drawn out on, telegraphing their hand and making it easy for you to fold. When an
opponent donk bets into you after you have raised preflop on a board where the high card hits your raising range normally they are leading with some sort of draw or top pair. If I have raised with a hand like A-Q and an opponent donk leads into me on a high, two-flush board, more often than not, this represents top pair or a flush draw. 

Therefore, if I feel like I am ahead of most aces, I may raise the flop with a hand as thin as A-10 or A-J as most players are not capable of bet/folding top pair. Those types of players who lead are not going to just toss their hands for a small raise. So not only do we build a bigger pot up against a weaker made hand but we also get value from the draws.

Recently, there has been a great fear amongst better players of never making an action that gets weaker hands to fold and only better ones to continue on. While this approach to a hand is good, people underestimate what their opponents will call with and overestimate what their opponents will fold. Let us look at an example. Say we raise in a $5-$5 no-limit hold’em game with $800 effective stacks to $20 with ASpade Suit QSpade Suit. A field player in the middle calls and the big blind calls. The flop comes out QClub Suit 5Diamond Suit 2Diamond Suit and the blind leads out for $35. Against better players it is sometimes best to flat here to protect your stack and disguise the strength of your hand. However, against your typical live opponent at $5-$5, if you bump it up to say $85, not only are you going to get a call from K-Q or Q-J, but you do not price your opponent in behind you with a draw. This is even more true when there are several callers behind you. If you just flat a donk lead from the out of position player, opponents behind can sometimes get an incredible price to peel. 

Now, what happens if the player from out of position now three-bets your raise? Since most players at this level do not play their draws fast in a lot of situations, we can actually fold our hands. Are we turning our hand into a bluff then you may ask? No, we are raise/folding for value as we feel that we can definitely be called by worse — but once we get reraised, we realize that our hand is no longer best. 

February 15 – It is very rare that you run into a good, nitty player. Most are nitty preflop but play so few hands they won’t fold post. 

We’ve all seen these types of players before. They show up to the casino early, grab a newspaper and drink a cup of coffee at the table. Usually they are older players that have much more patience than their younger brethren. They are not at the casino to make big laydowns because they do not play many hands. Their preflop statistics may be similar to an online full ring player except that they limp a ton of their hands.

Now there is nothing wrong with playing a tighter style, especially in full ring games. But if you want to be a consistent winner you sometimes have to find your fold button. These types of bad nits never do. These are the guys that you can set mine or call with suited connectors when deep enough because you can be rest assured that they are going to pay you off. To take a quote from the great Limon on 2+2, these players think that certain hands are “through tickets” and will rarely fold no matter what the action is in front of them. 

These are the guys that I want to play against and if you can find them in deeper staked $5 blind games they can be absolute gold mines. There is a reason why players like this will never be much more than breakeven or slightly losing. So the next time you want to walk away from what you feel to be a nitty table, remember, if you have patience, all you have to do is wait to make a hand because these types of players just will not fold. ♠

Want Card Player and Bart to provide analysis on a cash game hand you played? Send full hand details (blinds, stacks, street-by-street action) to @CardPlayerMedia. If we choose your hand, we’ll send you a Card Player subscription.

Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on twitter @barthanson. Check out his podcast “The Seat Open Podcast” on and his video training site specifically for live No Limit players ­— He also hosts Live at the Bike every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 pm ET at