Poker Skills: Exploit Weak Players and Bad Players
Grinderschool Free Poker Strategy Articles
As winning poker players, we rarely think about where our winnings come from. We assume it is from the weaker players, which is correct; how can we identify and exploit these weak players? Remember, in poker we are constantly looking to maximize wins and minimize losses so it is crucial that we think about these things in depth.
First of all, let's define what a weak player is. A weak player is someone who is generally loose/passive and has a low aggression factor. You can tell who these players are as they generally limp/call preflop, check/call postflop, and just overall don't raise or bet much. Their traits are the combination of always having a really wide range along with not folding easily (at least preflop). Generally these players call down really light and won't go away easily with any piece of the board.
The easiest way to exploit them is to make the fold button your best friend when a weak player starts taking strong lines. Remember those times when you get min-raised on the river by a weak player? Well, even though it is just a raise to the minimum amount, it is still a raise and you should fold unless you have the nuts or near the nuts. Remember, these players check/call down with the majority of their range. When they raise, it is a polarized range. Since they are never raising, we can assume their range is basically the very top of their value range and confidently fold strong hands such as top pair top kicker.
The other side to the coin is that these weak players call too much with weak hands. If a player is calling down with middle pair or top pair when the board runs out three flush or four straight, we can exploit these players all day! We should be value betting a lot wider and we should rarely if ever be bluffing these players. This means that your preflop stealing range should be tighter and your continuation betting range should not include pure bluffs. If you are value betting lighter, then you may start betting on the small side with hands such as second pair top kicker on a wet board for value. You should also consider betting just less than a pot-size bet with hands like two pair or sets because these players are not calling or folding based on your bet size. If they are calling anyway, might as well get maximum value with the very top of your range.
Weaker players come in two categories when it comes to the river: Those who call down way too light with their weak range and those who fold a majority of their hands by the river because their range is really wide and weak. If we have several thousand hands on an opponent, we can start looking at their Went-to-Show-Down(WTSD) stat and see what type of player they are. If their WTSD% is between 24-27%, then they are in a normal range. If it is much lower than 24%, then you should be bluffing more especially on scare cards (even consider the overbet bluff). When a villain's WTSD% is much greater than 27%, they are big calling stations and don't fold any piece of the board so we should only be betting for value and NEVER bluffing.
When thinking about weak preflop play, we can consider ways to exploit these players as they are generally limping. If players are limping a wide range, we can start isolating fish very wide for value. The formula is simple: raise preflop and c-bet the flop if they happen to call preflop. The one disadvantage to isolating wide is that other good players might pick up on what you are doing and play back at you in position. To counter this, we need to make sure we are mostly isolating our weaker value range from the cutoff or button so long as there isn't a good aggressive player in position to our left.
Another weaker tendency players might have is that they react poorly to 3bets. If you notice that a weak player opens really wide then calls 3-bets out of position with a wide range, we can start 3-betting weak villains for value with a wider range of hands. Other weak villains will fold too much to 3-bets. If this is the case, we want to be 3-betting a polarized range where we can profitably put a ton of pressure on the villain and take down a lot of pots preflop.
Ultimately, everyone at the micro stakes has weak tendencies, which is usually why they are at the micros in the first place. It is important to look for these weak tendencies in players and constantly be thinking about ways to exploit these tendencies. Try some stuff out. If it doesn't work or you see the villain adjusting, then you should adjust as well and exploit them even further. Once you start thinking about exploiting people and go away from robotic ABC poker I guarantee you will become one of the most feared players at your limits and your win rate will go through the roof!