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It appears that some of the subtleties of the game of poker are actually counterproductive against weak players. For example, raising is better than calling in many situations because it provides you with two different ways to win. However weak players are more likely to call indiscriminately. You can also play very tight against them and not fear that they will be wary when you go for a hand.

I would say that it is actually disadvantageous to play anything other than a, b, c poker against weak players, and thus the player who simply gauges his odds the best is the one who can maximise his profit.

I am also assuming that the set of weak players, loose players and low stakes players very much overlap.

In your experience / knowledge are my assumptions correct?

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7 Answers 7

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Many years ago I struggled to play at micro stakes level because the level of the players was so bad... Anyway, once you adapt to it, it's actually really really really easy to win at those micro stakes. If you want to play ABC poker, then go play on low stakes, just outside the micro stake region. Remember, at any level there will be fishes, and one does not bluff a fish!

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I have always followed the Sam Farha mantra:

Against a good player I can outplay him, but against a poor player I need a hand.

Good player recognize a situation in which they may not have the best likely hood of winning a hand. It could be argued it costs them pots, but on the long run it would be a profitable situation.

Weaker players don't recognize these situations and so will play on in poor spots. This allows you to simply play hands. You would use your knowledge of their showdown hands to adapt the range of hands you would go to showdown with.

One thing I have come across following the poker explosion is weaker players brash nature. There is more willing to try bluffing and attempting clever plays. I tried to adapt to this, but soon recognized the ABC strategy works perfectly well against this in that they won't win much from you when you don't have a hand and may bluff their stack when you have a hand.

With these players I stand by my mantra: Making money is easy while being good is hard.

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ABC poker at low stakes is the best way to play. I used to play 10-12 tables at a time on the $0.10/$0.25 tables. Really just folded until I got a strong hand (AA KK AK QQ JJ) and would raise pretty strong if in early positions or just go all in if there were limpers or raises. Maybe not so much with QQ and JJ.

You can't focus on an individual table too much because a new hand was constantly being dealt on another table. Plus it eliminated the urge to get "cute" and try to bluff a fish because I was bored which happens when you play 1 table.

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I definitely disagree that it is disadvantageous to play loose or "non standard" at the micro stakes. If you are an experienced midle/high stakes loose player you will have the skill to adjust your palystyle to the opponents. The problem is that if you dont know what you are doing you might often find yourself in bad situations and loose overall.

On the other hand playing tight will get you in trouble way less and at the micro stakes players exploit it way less(though many still try). So as always "Tight is right".

I also want to point out that the sets of loose players and weak players do not overlap. Sometimes it might feel that way because the loose players are a lot more active and you will find yourself in a hand with them more often. Here is a beginners video about the diferent palyer types you will encounter at the micro limits - http://www.pokerstrategy.com/video/11551/

As you can see the EV maximizing strategy is to vary you playstile from opponent to opponent.

Lastly I want to stress that the effort minimizing strategy for profitable play is definitely playing tight and that is something you should definitely take into account since multi tableing is a must.

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In lower stakes games I tend to not try the ticks to win the hand, i've found that if I just play my cards the weaker players will just knock each other out at which point I can usually win heads up (6-9 max SNG).

Players at lower stakes tend to be quite predictable so if you're the aggressor driving the hand you've probably got the best hand, if they are wanting to raise and whatnot I tend to think twice.

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Low stakes poker is otherwise known as "no fold 'em" poker. Most players for low stakes are "calling stations." This causes you to alter your strategy in two ways:

First, when you raise with your big hands (big pairs and AK), as you should, realize that you will raise people in rather than out. That is, you will occasionally win with hands that have a 20-30 percent chance to win ten=handed, which still beats others' "statistical" 10 percent chance, instead of chasing people out and taking the pot.

The other thing to do is to play more suited connected hands. "No fold 'em" players will often play any two suited cards. You shouldn't do this, but should play hands that are suited AND connected down to about 6-5 or 5-4, and higher suited hands that are barely connected (A-T, K-9, maybe down to Q-8, Q-9, Q-T). Essentially, you want to play a "better" version of the game everyone else is playing.

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"...thus the player who simply gauges his odds the best is the one who can maximise his profit."

This is always the case.

Edit: Jubbat, right. There are many odds in poker (it should be obvious). Of particular importance are the odds your opponent will have a certain range based on their betting line. Also the odds they may react some way to your decisions yet to made, which obviously relies on your accurate assumption about their range (i.e., you will inaccurately assess these odds if you inaccurately assess their range). The small stakes "rules of thumb" are based on common generalizations of weak players, but actually their tendencies vary widely (there are obviously many ways to play poorly). You can exploit them much more (maximize your profit), by paying closer attention to their play and more accurately assessing these "odds."

Clearly in your original post, you were talking about immediately pot odds and perhaps also implied odds. The thing is, this only works when you're drawing to the nuts, and your hand has 0 showdown value otherwise AND you cannot possibly bluff successfully... Well, to know that, you also have to assess the odds that your opponent has a particular range given their betting line! And this is even in the most basic example! Indeed, the line between solid maths and these heuristics/psychology are blurred.

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It depends on how you interpret the term 'odds', but I meant it as the most basic mathematical aspect of the game where you estimate pot odds and compare them to your hand's odds. Admittedly, the line where maths end and heuristics, rules of thumb and psychology begin is quite blurred. –  Jubbat Apr 1 '14 at 7:11
This is not really a useful answer. Please edit it to make it meaningful or delete it. –  Gaz Winter Apr 1 '14 at 7:54
You know what happens when everyone is guageing their odds correctly? Poker. –  Andrew Brennan Apr 1 '14 at 9:38

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