Arts & Entertainment

Beating Up on the Weak Player

If someone describes your playing style as weak, you’re in lots of trouble. You’d better make changes to your game quickly to shed that reputation.

If you want to win at the poker table, focus on the weak players. Rather than duke it out with strong, aggressive players, you’ll risk less and win more, in the long run, playing against timid, passive players.

In order to pound on the shaky players properly, the first thing you’ll need to do is identify them. There are generally a few clues that you can look for, that, while not always accurate, could be signs nonetheless.

1) How he dresses. A player who dresses extremely conservatively

will generally play poker that way. If he dresses loudly, he’ll more than likely play aggressively or flamboyantly.

2) How he talks. This is in line with the previous clue. If a player is quiet or timid in the way he speaks, chances are that’s how he’ll play poker. Conversely, if you’re dealing with a boisterous or overexcited talker he’ll probably be an aggressive player.

3) Does he raise before the flop or just call? If he likes to limp in on a regular basis, you might be dealing with a weak player.

4) Does he like to bet, or check and call? An aggressive player is a bettor, while a weaker player tends to check or just call others’ bets.

Once you’ve identified the weak players at your table, it’s time to strategize against them. Playing against a weak player is without a doubt, the easiest type of opponent to face. In fact, your cards often don’t even matter since your inferior foe plays so predictably.

The key principle to think about is to basically pound him like an anvil! Do it repeatedly – like the school bully who steals his target’s lunch money – until he starts to stick up for himself. If he keeps giving it up, you keep taking it. Hey, no one said poker was supposed to be fair.

When you have position on an ineffective player it makes it that much easier. What you really want to look for are opportunities to get the weak opponent heads up. How do you do that? Well, when the helpless one limps into a pot you try to isolate him with a decent sized raise. That will often knock everyone out but the timid player. Now you’ve got him where you want him. If the player is extremely weak, it doesn’t even matter if you have a 2-7 in your hand.

You really aren’t playing your hand anyway, you’re playing the player.

If you are able to get the weak player heads up, with position,

you’ll let his actions, or lack of them, dictate what you should do. If he bets the flop, you can be pretty sure he has a good hand. If you don’t flop a very good hand, now would be an excellent time to fold. You might be playing the player, but you can’t ignore his bet entirely.

If he checks the flop, then you should bet, regardless of what you have. If, however, your inept opponent check-raises you, run and hide! Unless, of course, you flop a strong hand yourself. The only time you may want to check is if you flop the nuts and want to give him a free card. Otherwise, you should always bet the flop and look to win the pot right there.

The tricky decision comes when the weak player decides to just call, which he will often do. At that point you have to make a game time decision as to whether your opponent flopped a drawing hand or a made hand.

Since your opponent is weak, he won’t give you much information about his hand by the way he plays it. Generally, an inadequate player will check and call with either a made hand (like top pair) or a flush draw.

As a rule, proceed cautiously if a weak player calls you on the flop. If you have a good hand, by all means, bet. But if you are bluffing, lean towards checking on the turn card since the weak player has shown some interest.

There is an old adage in poker that I think sums up that last point; "If you bluff a bad player you then become one." Stay aggressive against weak players, but don’t get caught running without the ball when they show interest in the flop.