While we are essentially playing the same game both live and online, poker can be very different in the live-setting. If you are playing in a home game or visiting a casino, you are likely to face weaker competition and can win more by turning to exploitative play to maximize your results.
While you still can use the same strategy and push fold chart for the end-game, everything else is quite different, so you rather make some adjustments if you want to succeed. You can drastically increase your win rate by deviating from a balanced strategy and avoiding common mistakes, which is what I want to cover today.
Avoid Angle Shooters
If you are used to playing online, there are not many risks you are facing since that environment is strictly controlled, and a lot of actions are made automatically by the software. You always see the pot size, everyone stacks, and the action they made, there are no back and forth about that. However, that is not the case in live games.
While most poker players are completely honest, you can find someone trying to take advantage of less experienced opponents at the table in some questionable ways. If a player is trying to get an unfair advantage, it is often called angle shooting in poker, and knowing what to expect can help you a lot.
Here is a couple of common examples:
- Hiding chips – players hide their high nominal chips under the stack of lower ones to make an impression of the smaller stack.
- Ambiguous check – they tap something and pretend to check to see your reaction and then argues that they did not check in the first place, but already have the info on how you react.
- Misrepresenting hand – verbally saying that they have a strong hand and naming it without tabling the cards with the hope that you much your hand and they take the pot.
- Fake folding – moving the hands in a way to pretend to fold to see your reaction, and then make a decision based on that.
Most of these plays are designed to get additional information, so you should always be careful not to give it.
It is also worth mentioning that some players can accidentally do something like that, but as long as it is an honest mistake, you should not be mad about it. That being said, this perfectly illustrates why you should be avoiding all of the distractions and concentrating on the game that you play. This is your best chance to notice anything suspicious and protect your chips.
Avoid giving away tells
Poker tells can give you a lot of information about your opponent’s tendencies and the strength of their hands. Moreover, if you keep playing the same player over and over again, it can be one of the most important things to consider.
That being said, it also goes the other way around and can be equally costly if you leave the information on the table yourself.
To avoid this, never try to act in one way or another to deceive your opponents and just stick to doing everything in the same manner, no matter what you have.
Always take the same amount of time when making decisions, place your chips in the same manner, sit in the same way, and so on.
If you will act just the same when you are bluffing and value betting, no one will be able to use that information against you, and that is a big victory on its own.
The same goes for talking. Even if you think you are just casually chatting, you are most likely giving away some information, and observant players will be quick to notice this. Of course, this does not mean that you can’t be chatting with your friends and fellow poker players, but do it between hands or when you are not playing.
When you make sure you are not leaving any information on the table, you can start observing others to see how you can exploit them regarding their tells and add another weapon in your arsenal.
Avoid overplaying your hands
Live games tend to be quite loose and passive at the same time, so players end up with all types of hands at the showdown. While you are not likely to see many random holdings in an online setting, well maybe apart from very loose recreational players, you will constantly see hands like 86o, Q3s, and similar ones in live games, so you need to take that into consideration.
This leads to the point that you can expect all kinds of holdings in your opponent’s range, so you should be extra careful when you face a big raise. Players in live games can easily have two pair hands on a Q73 rainbow board, which is not very likely to happen online. Also, it is even more so if you are playing in a multiway pot, which is also very common in a live setting.
So, when you face aggression from a passive player, folding your medium-strength hands should be your primary option – even top pair hand is very unlikely to be any good if you face a raise on the river from someone who’s been only calling for the last couple of hours, and overplaying such hands will cost you immensely.
Since you play way fewer hands in a live setting, you might be tempted to see the showdown, but learning to fold these medium-strength hands will pay big dividends to your win rate. It is one of the fastest ways to improve your bottom line, and luckily one of the easiest ones as well.