Recognizing Weak Player Tips

poker donkey fishYou can greatly increase your winrate by learning to spot weak players and soft tables. If you take a few minutes before each session to look for soft tables or particularly bad players you will see an increase in your big blinds per hour over time.

There are two ways to approach this. One way is to look for statistical anomalies at tables such as a very high percentage of players to each flop or a very high average pot. Another way is to keep a notepad document with the names of terrible players who play frequently and search for these players at the start of each play session. Most poker sites have a ‘search for player’ function built into the software.

Ideally you should look for both soft tables and soft players when you are selecting tables at the beginning of your sessions. Here is a description of other player types.

Top 5 Tips for Recognizing Weak Players and Soft Tables

1. Posting Blinds Out of Position and Playing Out of Position

The power of position is a pretty well understood concept in the poker world. If you’d like to read more about position poker then check out our top 5 tips for playing in position. Because the power of position is so well understood, if you notice that someone is frequently playing pots out of position, then it is probably that the player is bad at poker. Take notice of the player and look for spots to engage with him or her.

An even larger red flag is posting out of position. If you notice a player posts the big blind out of position, you should immediately begin looking for signs of weakness and opportunities to play a pot against the player. Posting out of position is a very negative EV (expected value) play. It is unlikely that the player posting OOP has even a basic understanding of expected value.

2. Limping in Frequently

Limping into pots with frequency is usually a sign of a weakness. Although some skilled players may limp into pots with some frequency, as a general rule it is a bad play and is a sign of weakness.

Limping into a pot fails to define your opponent’s hand range, fails to push players behind you out of the pot thereby decreasing your chances of being in position for the rest of the hand, and fails to build the pot. Additionally it is usually indicative of a weak to medium strength hand as even passive calling stations will usually raise their very best hands.

Most strong players will look to “isolate” limpers with a raise. This type of play is known as an “isolation raise,” because the player who is raising wants to push everyone else out of the pot. Isolating weak players who frequently limp in is a very profitable play and you should look for every opportunity to isolate a weak player in this fashion.

3. Calling and Playing Passively

If you notice that a player always plays his hands passively, draws, made hands, and everything in between, then you have probably spotted a calling station. Beating a calling station is one of the easiest things to do in the game of poker. If you make a somewhat reasonable hand on a relatively dry board, then you can value bet your hand thinly and aggressively and expect to get paid.

Calling stations are “sheriffs” who are unlikely to punish you when they suck out. Play them aggressively for value.

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4. Raising Maniacally and Playing too Fast

On the other hand, some weak players are big bet bluffers who don’t know how to balance their bluffing range. This means that they bluff almost every time the pot gets big regardless of what they are holding.

Because pots rarely get large enough and rarely go to showdown often enough for a big bet bluffer to be enticed to make a play at the pot, it can be difficult to spot one. There are a couple of different ways to spot a big bet bluffer:

  • A player makes an aggressive play in a spot where it is obvious he is getting called
  • A player makes aggressive plays at several pots in a row
  • A player gets caught bluffing with a hand that is in no way respectable

Set traps for big bet bluffers, check raise them, or check check raise them. The bluffer wants to do the work of building the pot, generally you should let him. Do not be afraid to call down lightly.

5. High Average Pot and Players to Flop

If you don’t have a running list of donkeys stored in a text file on your computer, another easy way to find juicy tables is to just scan the poker lobby for tables with a higher than normal players to flop percentage and/or a higher than normal average pot size.

Generally speaking these two statistics indicate juicier tables with loose maniacal type players ripe for the picking. A tight aggressive game plan is a good default strategy going into these games. Adapt your play style as you learn more about the players at the table.

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