This post is inspired by a conversation with a poker friend last week. In addition to the usual umming and ahhing about the games getting tougher, the talk moved to the effectiveness of specific ‘moves’ at the tables. Now we can all look back fondly to the ‘golden age’ when continuation betting actually worked and 3-betting was only done with aces or kings – but I was interested enough to make a mental note to blog about the subject.
Here are 5 poker moves which are less effective in 2013 than they would have been 5 years ago! To make this an all-round more positive post, I have included my thoughts on counter-strategy for the modern game in each instance.
2016 Update: Looking through these old articles is entertaining, the thing is that all of these still work to some extent even now. It really depends on where you play, with some sites (PokerStars in particular) home to 10000's of pro grinders, and other sites far more recreational in nature. To keep up to date with where to find the fish, check out my Fish-O-Meter tool, which finds the softest poker sites for your bankroll, location and favourite games.
#1 – Stealing Blinds:
Yes, there was a time when buttons, cut-off’s and highjacks would raise only with good starting hands. You could fold your blind safe in the knowledge that playing out of position and with a hand which was not in great shape was an unprofitable play. Nowadays people see failing to raise the button when folded to as some kind of admission of weakness!
Counter: Fortunately those same people who know it is a ‘good’ play to auto-raise that button make huge mistakes when they are re-raised by the blinds, calling too often and defending too light on later streets. Identify who will be willing to build a big pot with junk to ‘defend’ their button and punish them when you have the goods!
#2 – Continuation Betting:
These really were the golden goose of online poker back in the day. Almost everyone would play fit-or-fold on the flop, maybe calling with mid-strength hands which would fold to pressure on the turn. Now a continuation bet is expected, in fact people expect you are trying to check-raise if you do not make them on certain flop textures. The float is so popular (particularly as a good excuse by calling stations) that it has almost expected that you call at least one c-bet.
Counter: You need to know how often your opponents fold to c-bets - either by taking notes of using a HUD Tool whether this is high or low makes it super-easy to determine whether you should go ahead and bluff, or stick to a value range. If someone is ‘float happy’ then check your value hands on the turn after they call your flop bet, they will bet and help you build a nice big pot.
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#3 – Slowplaying:
What, he did not continuation bet? Must have a monster! Since these bets are expected, someone not making them raises all sorts of alarms, especially if they usually make this bet as a matter of course. Combined with your pre-flop 3-bet people spot your slowplayed aces while the stacks are deep, and *boom* take that free card to try and beat them – ever wondered why you always lose the big pots with rockets yet win the small ones?
Counter: Bet anyway, since everyone calls continuation bets you might as well build the pot for yourself – anyway, it disguises the fact that next time you will probably be bluffing.
#4 – Semi-Bluff All-In:
Ah, those were the days, when an all-in over someone’s flop c-bet got the respect it deserved. Nowadays it gets a snap call from almost any made hand, since nobody does this without a flush draw, like, ever. Not to mention that tendency (at least in tournaments) to overshove those Ace-King / Ace-Queen hands rather than face missing the flop against 5 opponents.
Counter: Since people now expect this to be a bad draw, surprise them now and again by doing just that with the stone-cold nuts – it will have your opponents making notes on you very quickly indeed!
#5 – Limp Re-Raise:
Believe it or not, you used to be able to limp those monsters, wait for a bet, re-raise and still get called by hands which you dominated. Try this in 2013 and all the ace-jack hands will fold, leaving those with suited connectors and small pairs looking for a flop which will take your entire buy-in. Remember, if you raise almost all hands you play, then suddenly limp from early position, players in 2013 will know exactly what you have and will happily limp behind looking to eat your lunch when the situation comes right.
Counter: Just raise aces like any other hand, your best disguise is to play these hands like any other holding.
I’m sure there are several more (raising 3x and 4x pre springs to mind), this is long enough for one blog post though.
GL at the tables, Mark
Submitted by Planet Mark on Tue, 08/20/2013 - 11:27