Bad poker players are frustrating to play against. They play every hand they’re dealt. They never respect your raises. They hit their draws every hand they play against you.
Every. Single. Time.
Simply put – bad poker players are just too difficult to beat. So it only makes sense to move up to limits where the players are better.
7 Dumb Things Bad Poker Players Do (and How to Exploit Them)
I wish the solution was to move up in limits.
The truth of the matter is that if you can’t beat a bad player, you stand no chance of beating someone who’s any good. And you don’t make (much of) your money from good players anyway. Your money comes from exploiting the dumb things that bad poker players do.
So your objective is to figure out what these dumb things are. Then exploit those dumb things and take the bad players’ money. To get you on the right path, I’ve created a list of 10 dumb things I’ve seen bad players do time and time again, and what I’ve done to beat them.
1. Bad Poker Players Play Too Many Hands
Bad poker players play too many hands. Some play every hand. Then when they catch a piece of the flop they feel compelled to see their hand through. So they slowly bleed chips chasing draws, or lose their shirt altogether because their hand was crushed from the beginning.
How to beat it. Since bad players play too many hands, you can safely assume that most of their hands they hold are weak. So to beat them you need to play more hands yourself (don’t overdo it though), and be sure to raise/bet these hands as if they were stronger. Bad players will call with worse.
2. Bad Players Open-Limp Pre-Flop
Open limping pre-flop (instead of raising) is a big weakness. It makes it hard to build a pot with your strong hands. Limping also gives other players the odds to over-limp with draw-y type hands that can outdraw you post-flop.
How to beat it. The best way to beat players who like to open limp a lot is to either put in a raise to isolate them (which they’ll often call) in position. Then, depending on your hand, opponent, stack sizes and the flop, either c-bet to take the pot down or try to build a pot with your strong hand. Either way, make those limpers pay to see a flop.
3. Bad Poker Players Call Too Much
Bad poker players like to call. They don’t like to raise or re-raise. That makes it a little harder to determine what type of hand they could have. It also means that they’ll suck out on you more often.
How to beat it. Beating a bad player who calls too much is easy. When you have a made hand, bet it. It doesn’t make sense to slow play your hand if your opponent is willing to call all 3-streets with worse. Not to mention they can suck out on you.
When you don’t have a hand, don’t bet/bluff. The logic is the same — if they’re going to call you the majority of the time, a bluff simply won’t work. So why waste chips?
4. Bad (Aggressive) Players Bet/Raise Too Much
Bad aggressive players like to bet and raise a lot. From my experience their sizing is horrible too, but that’s besides the point.
There are several reasons why this style of play is bad. It all comes down to losing a lot of money. If you raise and fold pre-flop, raise and fold on the flop or just lose the pot, it’s expensive. But bad players don’t care.
How to beat it. Try to see flops for cheap, and when you hit the flop, let the aggressive players do the betting for you. You’ll have to call with what seems to be weak hands, just because bad players will have a worse hand, or nothing at all, and they’ll still bet (bluff).
5. Bad Poker Players Pay No Attention to Table Position
Table position is an important part of a winning players’ poker strategy. Acting last means more information and the ability to control the size of the pot. Despite the clear benefits, bad poker players still choose to ignore their table position..
How to beat it. The best way to beat these guys is to isolate them (or sometimes over-limp) in position. You can outplay them post-flop.
6. Bad Players Bluff Too Much or In Bad Spots
Bad poker players fail to think beyond their own two cards. So they don’t think about their actions and how others perceive them, let alone the board and how it hits their opponents’ ranges. This leads to (a lot) of badly timed bluffs.
How to beat it. One way to beat these bluffs is to make thinner calls. Calls with hands like 2nd or 3rd pair, or with trips on a board that has 4 cards to a flush.
You can also induce bluffs. For example, say you have top pair on a two-tone flop. You bet (out of position) and your opponent calls the flop and the turn. You think he might be on a flush draw. The river bricks the flush draw. Instead of betting, you check. This gives your opponent the opportunity to bluff and you the opportunity to get a little extra value for your hand. To induce bluffs you’ll need to be ok with hand reading and assigning ranges, though.
7. Bet Huge or Shove All-In With Vulnerable Hands
A common leak amongst bad players / beginners is to make huge bets/raises or all-in shoves with vulnerable hands. Hands like smaller pocket pairs (22s through JJs) and AK/AQ. They don’t want to get out flopped, so they’ll bet huge to just take down the flop pre-flop.
How to beat it. The only thing you can do here is figure out their range as close as possible and re-raise them (all-in). You’ll want to stick to hands like TTs+ and AK. Depending on stack sizes you can call and play a pot in position. A lot of times these guys can’t let go of a pair of 99s, even on a flop like A-K-2, so you should get paid if you hit.