In live poker, especially at the low stakes, the real money is made maximally exploitingthe numerous fundamental mistakes the vast majority of players are making on a regular basis. The hard part is, though, that unless you’re a regular at a particular location, you often only have a few hours or a few hands to best estimate both how a relatively unknown player will play and how to best exploit those mistakes. The best live players are great at truly zeroing in during hands in which they aren’t involved and are able to accurately extrapolate tons of information based on a single hand.
Personally, I think that this is one of my strengths as a player. For example, this was a read I was very comfortable making in Maryland just based off one hand:
I was playing at the table for two hours, I had roughly $1400 at the $600 max buy in $2/5 No Limit game at Maryland Live!. I had only showed down one semibluff thus far and had been playing quite aggressively, and as per normal, I’ve had a few joking comments from people that they don’t want to mess around in a pot with me. The player in question had me covered and seemed to be a loose calling station who would limp call a fairly wide range, likely between 35-45% of hands. At this point, he had not opened a pot.
He limped in EP, there were two limpers in MP, and I had pocket aces (no diamond) on the button and made it 40. The BB flatted, the first limper called, and a MP limper called.
It was checked to me and I bet 110. The BB folded, the first limper quickly called, and the second limper folded.
In the hands I’d observed thus far, he had check called or called in position on flops and turns and then shown down non-nut flush draws and gutshots where he hadn’t considered betting those hands when they missed. So after he smooth called in this hand, I’m planning on betting any non diamond to a large sizing, and a 6 or a J to a half pot sizing for value.
The villain checked and I opted to bet 320 thinking that this was the biggest sizing he’s likely to call with the majority of his 89, non nut flush draw combos, and pairs of tens. He again quickly called.
The villain checked again and I’m left with the decision of whether to value bet or not. I think that most of his range is going to have a really hard time calling me, as there aren’t many pairs in his missed draw combos. But I can likely get a small amount of value from 89, pairs of tens, and several of his diamond flush draws that have a 9. I choose to bet 225 to value target this range as well as the occasional missed nut flush draw that just has ace hi.
He quickly calls and I confidently turn over my hand and he looks relieved and tables bottom set.
After seeing the hand I joke around with him and say, “You were that afraid I had pocket 10s?”
He responds, “With the way you’ve been playing, you can never know...”
This is a hand where given the extreme passivity of his line, one can now assume a lot of things about his play. This player is likely to play his whole range, not just draws but strong hands too, passively, even on draw heavy boards: a type of strategy that’s fairly uncommon amongst the $2/5 player pool. Given some of the previous hands where I saw him opt not to semibluff with good candidates like flush draws or straight draws when checked to in position, I think I’m planning on making a lot of exploitable folds if he takes aggressive action anywhere postflop in a future hand with me.
Given my prior information that he’s playing a very wide range of hands and playing them passively, that generally means one has license to value bet thinly and often get three streets of value with top pair top kicker and better. But because he plays a high percentage of his range exactly the same regardless of board texture, I can’t value bet as thinly as I would have had I not observed his play in this hand.
Luckily for me, I saved a few hundred dollars later a few hours later given this read, opting to check back two pair on the turn in a spot where I generally bet for value against most players.
What are some spots where you have been able to gain information that you turned around and used to profit?