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Poker Strategy With Alex Fitzgerald: 10 Essential Tips For Intermediate Players

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Alex Fitzgerald credit: PokerGO Get a Free Training Package at PokerHeadRush.com As you transition from intermediate to advanced, the complexity of poker unfolds, demanding more sophisticated strategies and a keener sense of the game. These 10 crucial tips are tailored to help intermediate players navigate this new landscape, improving both their tactical approach and mental game.

1. Three-Bet More

This is a fundamental, but it’s still worth repeating.

The biggest pots you will win in your life will come from big hands being played in position. If you have a solid hand in position, then raise it up. Play for big stakes when you get all the information position gives you. Play for big money when you can check back and take free cards with a weak hand, or bet to blow up the pot size when you have a great hand.

2. Squeeze Three-Bet More

This is the three-bet most people struggle with the most.

Some guy opens from middle position. This player has been opening frequently the whole day. A loose player calls him from the cutoff. You’re on the button with A-J offsuit. What do you do?

Many winning players will three-bet squeeze there. They know the initial opener could have a large number of weak hands, and the cold caller likely would have three-bet with A-Q+ and 10-10+. With position and a solid hand, they put pressure on both players with a large raise. Both opponents are stuck playing a large pot out of position with a capped range if they want to continue.

3. Call Down Less

Most of your opponents are afraid to bluff enough. Why? They feel embarrassed when they get caught bluffing. They also don’t value bet thinly enough because they worry about a raise that will force them to fold their hand.

If your low- to middle-stakes opponents triple barrel you, they generally have the goods. One of the hardest skills for most players to develop is the ability to triple barrel bluff.

4. Watch Your Cold Calls

With deep stacks, you can cold call preflop often. In games with loose players who go broke with one pair, you can speculate preflop.

If stacks are shorter or if the players are better, it’s harder to cold call profitably, especially from middle position. As you move up, players will be more willing to three-bet you in position. You won’t even get to see the flop a large percentage of the time. You’ll be bleeding chips off regularly.

Additionally, as you move up your implied odds will become less pronounced. At smaller stakes games, people go broke with one pair constantly. As you move up, people learn how to fold top pair, two pair, and other hands when they’re no longer good. This means less chips for your preflop investments, making more of them unprofitable.

5. Watch Your Early Position Raises

At lower limits where no one three-bets enough, you can get away with a lot of weak opens. You also won’t get hammered post-flop much by lower limit players when you’re out of position.

As you move up, people will start three-betting you more often. They also will know how to apply pressure on you when you’re out of position. This makes speculative opens unprofitable.

As you’re moving up in your games, watch your early position raises. Make sure you have a true edge before you start forcing the issue from those positions.

6. Watch Your Out-Of-Position Play

When you are playing lower limit games, you can call out of position frequently and not get punished. If there is a preflop raise and a cold call, you can call from the big blind often and not face true friction. Your opponents won’t know how to bluff you in key spots, and they won’t go for thin value as much as they should.

As you move up, calling out of position opens you up to get squashed. Your opponents will know when your range doesn’t contain solid hands and they’ll bet massively. They’ll go for thin value versus all the mediocre pairs you’re making. They’ll make your life a living hell.

The best way to not get exploited in these situations is to not call out of the big blind with any hand you feel like. Have some plan for the flop. How well does your hand flop? What do you know about your opponents?

7. Go For Thinner Value Bets

When you play lower stakes, you can get away with only value betting the best hands. Your opponents are often so weak they will give up all their chips with any kind of top pair.

Versus better players, you won’t have the luxury of being paid off in multiway pots every time you flop a set. They will understand that if you’re tight but are suddenly betting multiple times into a multiway pot, you likely have something. They’re giving you nothing.

To make up for this, you have to go for thin value in all the marginal spots others are afraid to play. Can you get another street with top pair? How about second pair? Is your opponent willing to call your overbet this time when the flush draw missed? You’ll need to start looking for all these thinner spots and more.

8. Always Observe Showdowns

Showdowns are a fountain of information. Does your opponent open too much from earlier position? Then three-bet them more. Does he bluff bet when he misses his flush draw? Then use that information on the next river you play with him.

When you play lower stakes, you can get away with not paying much attention. You can play solid ranges versus low-stakes players, and they’ll usually pay you off.

As you move up, the money won’t come as easily. You’ll have to look for profit in more marginal situations. Knowing your opponent’s tendencies with pairs, draws, monsters, misses, and everything in between will help you navigate complicated situations.

9. Adjust Your Strategy For Each Player

No one should be able to predict what you do at a table. You have to adjust for each player and table individually.

Are your opponents calling down too much? Wait for a hand better than theirs (it won’t take much) and value bet thinly.

Are your opponents nitty? Then bluff them more.

Are your opponents insane? Then pick a hand, put on your helmet, and call down.

10. Triple Barrel Bluff Select Players

Is there a player at your table who is solid? Does he or she believe you’re solid as well?

Many solid players get their reputation through not going broke in mediocre spots. When they’re confused, they fold. Exploit that.

Do you have reason to believe the solid player doesn’t have their best hands? Did they just call you out of the big blind with a wide range? Would they have raised post-flop if they had a set or two pair?

Then fire. Confuse the regulars. See if they buckle. If you get caught, you can value bet thinner in the next hand. ♠

Learn how to play A-K when it misses the flop!

Alexander Fitzgerald is a professional poker player and bestselling author who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a WPT and EPT final tablist, and has WCOOP and SCOOP wins online. His most recent win was the $250,000 Guaranteed on ACR Poker. He currently enjoys blasting bums away in Ignition tournaments while he listens to death metal. Free training packages of his are provided to new newsletter subscribers who sign up at PokerHeadRush.com