Preflop Strategy Coaching

Pre-flop Strategy for Fishy Games [video]

It couldn’t have happened to a better person. Well maybe you’re thinking: it could’ve happened to me! Tom was the lucky winner of last month’s Weekly Challenge series that we ran on the Facebook page.

The reason I say that is because Tom had just written me a heartfelt email about how he deeply yearns to become a professional poker player. He’s been taking the game seriously for a couple years, determined to make it more than just a hobby, but unfortunately he hasn’t been getting a lot of support from his immediate circle. Well I’m glad he’s joined our crew here at Pokerinabox, and I sincerely hope we can make his dream come true! Here’s a clip from the free poker coaching session he won.

Pre-flop Starting Hands

In the video, we figure out that Tom has adopted a pretty nitty style of play: pre-flop at least. While this strategy can win, it isn’t going to win the most! And my objective with all of my students is always to help them maximize their hourly rate.

One way to evaluate whether or not to include a hand in your starting hand strategy is to compare the value of playing the hand (e.g. opening for a raise) to the value of folding the hand. Folding a hand (outside of the blinds) is worth nothing, so raising hand must have a positive expectation.

You can test hands over very large samples, by simply looking them up in your database to see if they show a profit. However you will likely need 100s of thousands of total hands played to get meaningful positional data on a single hand. Better is to group hands. For example, you could evaluate how you do with 22-55 in early and middle position. Grouping them this way will give you a larger total sample size.

Another approach is to simply trust me. 🙂 I have done the above analysis myself, and I have heard from many other coaching and players who have also done such analysis. The fact is that we almost all of us seem to show a profit in early position with AJo and KQo. The weaker broadways however tend to drop below zero in expectation.

The Best Pre-flop Strategy for Super-fishy Games

Tom’s game (WSOP in New Jersey) is a very juicy one. And while he generally has the right idea to play tight and not get out of line, he’s still folding some hands that would clearly show a profit versus his opponents playing much wider ranges.

This is most evident on the button where he was only opening 36% of hands. When you’re guaranteed to have position in the hand, you must really open it up. There are so many ways that you can profit versus weak players even when you’re holding more speculative hands as long as you have position:

  1. You can cash in on huge value when you flop big.
  2. You can pot control when you miss.
  3. You can bluff super dry boards.
  4. You can induce the maniacs to spazz.

The list goes on. I know it can be frustrating playing against fish who can be very unpredictable and have massive ranges that are easy to read, but you as long as you keep it under control, you are bound to come out ahead when you play more hands than they do in position and with a stronger range.

If you’re still looking for more ideas, then I suggest you read my strategy article: 10 poker tips on how to beat the fish.

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