There appears to be a disagreement between what actually constitutes ABC poker. But most agree that ABC poker is good to know, either to use or fall back on, and is a profitable way to play poker.

All beginners should start out by learning ABC poker, and most certainly before they try to learn more advanced concepts like balancing ranges, reverse implied odds or any other form of fancy play syndrome (FPS).

ABC poker will be the focus of this article. Read on to learn more about what ABC poker consists of, the benefits and if there is ever a time to stray from this strategy.

What Exactly is ABC Poker?

The ABC, in ABC poker, refers to the ABCs that we learned in grade school. The basics or fundamentals of reading and writing that you need to progress through school, work and life.

It means the same thing for poker players too. It means basic poker strategy. The foundation for everything else you’ll learn.

More specifically, ABC poker strategy means that you’ll:

  • Bet or raise when you have a hand.
  • Check or fold when you don’t have a hand.
  • Calculate pot and cards odds to determine whether or not you should draw to a better hand.
  • Play in position
  • Slow play, check-raise, donk-bet, and use any other fancy play, little, if at all.
  • Bluff little, if not at all. That means continuation bets, too.
  • Make bets relative to the size of the pot.

That’s the basic idea. It’s merely playing poker in a straightforward manner, instead of getting fancy and going all Tom Dwan or Phil Ivey on your opponents.

That’s not to say that you can’t get fancy, just that in many situations, especially at the lower stakes, ABC poker strategy is more than enough to beat the games. In fact, if you’re a beginner, trying to make complicated plays can hurt you more than it can help. And why would you want to hinder your progress, especially if it means making more money and moving up in stakes?

Are There Any Benefits to ABC Poker?


For one thing, ABC poker is simple to learn. It’s really just one style of play, and you use it often regardless of the opponents you’re up against.

Another benefit is that ABC poker strategy will make you money. It’s hard to argue against betting when you have it and folding when you don’t. That strategy works, especially against fish.

ABC poker gives you a good foundation to work from. If you’re not sure what to do or how to play your hand, there’s nothing wrong with going back to the basics.

ABC poker keeps you out of trouble, too. When you’re not trying to get fancy and 3-bet, donk-check-raise the flop, you’re not putting yourself in any awkward situations. It’s as simple as you have it or you don’t, and bet or don’t bet accordingly.

ABC poker strategy is more consistent with less variance. Most of the plays you make are profitable in the long run, to the best of your knowledge. You only draw when it’s profitable, only setmine when you have the correct odds, bet when you’re most likely to have the best hand and check when you don’t know or aren’t sure. You essentially maximize your wins and minimize your losses.

Should You Ever Stray From ABC Poker? Is ABC Poker Ever NOT Effective?

If you’re up against better players then you might consider upping your game. ABC poker won’t be nearly as effective against good players since they will quickly figure out what you’re doing, and will try to take creative lines to throw you off. Without the occasional steal, bluff or c-bet, you might have a hard time getting value for your good hands, too. So you may need to mix your play up once you’re comfortable if you want to improve your game and play against better players.

You just don’t need to rush to get there.

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