It’s important that you specifically target the weaker poker players at the table, as this is where you will make the majority of your money. A weak poker player will usually do lots of limping and calling and not much, if any, raising pre-flop. If you were to continue with your normal tight aggressive poker strategy you would still wind up winning more often than not, but by making some adjustments you can maximize the amount you can win when playing against weak players.
There are two main types of players you want to try to isolate in hands:
- The tight weak player, who will fold easily
- The donkey, who calls down with a wide range of weak hands
Isolating the Donkey Caller
The key in cash games is to wait until you have a good starting hand, and isolate the weak poker players. You make money from weak players by making them pay for limping in and calling a raise with weak hands. For example, if the fish has T7s, the fish will call the raise because they want to see a flop with two suited cards. If you tighten up your starting hand requirements, you will often be ahead of their calling range, and so the chances are fairly good you will have the best hand on the flop.
Be sure to keep a careful eye on the rest of the table, and pick your spots to try to isolate a player in poker. Your aim is to isolate so it’s only you and the donkey player in the pot. Isolation plays best work where there’s a minimal number of players in the hand and you believe a good raise will bump the rest of the players off their hand preflop. Table position will also be an important factor on when you can isolate. After observing the table you should get a feel for which players will fold out easily preflop. From that you should be able to work out when isolating raises preflop are most likely to work. E.g a spot like this – tight player limps, the donkey calls – are usually good spots to try to isolate the donkey player. You know the tight player in early position will most likely fold to a good raise, and the donkey will almost certainly call, making it highly likely that a raise here will isolate just you and the donkey in the pot.
The Weak Tight Player
If you find that the weak poker players are folding to your raises preflop, then you should be able to steal extra pots by opening up your game even more in late position when the weak player limps in early position, so make some strong raises with additional hands such as KT, QT, Axs, etc. If players behind you are calling you when you try and steal the dead money preflop, then you may need to adjust and raise for value more.
On the flop you need to follow up with a continuation bet of 1/2 to 3/4 of the pot, whether you hit or not. A weak tight player will fold unless they have something. The will often play fit or fold poker, so even when you miss the flop a continuation bet will take down the pot. And because you have taken initiative in the hand by raising preflop, they will always think you have a hand. If you find that they are calling stations post flop, then you need to adjust your play, and only bet for value.
The important concept to keep in mind is that you make the majority of your money against weak players who limp/call too much by winning lots of small pots, which adds up over the course of a long session. If they stick around after the flop they will have a hand, and you shouldn’t look to play back at them unless you have a strong hand yourself.
You’re not trying to win big pots against weak players, you’re trying to force them out and win small/medium sized pots. If you’re involved in a large pot with a weak/passive player you better watch out. They have the goods!
In addition to stealing pots, weak players will allow you to limp into many pots. It allows you to play additional hands in late position or the blinds when two or more people have entered the pot behind you, such as suited connectors or suited one-gappers or low pocket pairs. Don’t make the mistake of speculating with hands like KJ and Q8 in limped pots, which can get you into awkward spots with kicker issues. If the hand is not good enough to raise then just fold!
Adopt a tight aggressive strategy when playing against fish whom limp/call by raising your good hands. If you have a strong starting hand like TT or AQ, make them pay for trying to play weak hands against you. Always remember that controlled aggression is what makes the most money playing poker.