Heads Up Poker Strategy & Tips

Heads Up Poker Online

One of the purest and most enjoyable forms of poker, heads up poker is fantastic to play online. It pits you against another person in a duel of the mind. It’s poker psychology at its best and combining it with all the complexities of Texas Hold’em makes it all the better. In this article I’m going to share some strategy and tips on how to beat low stakes heads up SNGs and cash games online. If you use the heads up poker strategy in this article, you should have fun playing and hopefully win too.

Steal the nothing pots

In case you didn’t know, it’s hard to make a hand heads up, particularly when you’re playing all manner of junky hands. A lot of pots would be one with one pair or high card. To take advantage of this fact and generate a good win rate, I recommend stealing as many “nothing pots” as possible. These are the hands where it’s evident nobody has anything. It’s those pots where your opponent has no interest in it. For instance, if your opponent completes the small blind and you’ve caught a rainbow flop – take a shot at it. A bet of around 30-40% of the pot is all that’s needed to take it down.

Continuation bet a lot…

Continuation betting in 6 max or even full ring games can be tricky, particularly when multiway or out of position. Our complete continuation bet course handles this in detail. But heads up cash games, particularly at low stakes, is a different matter altogether. You can have a high c-bet frequency and expect to do well still.  Your opponent won’t make a second pair or better hand very often, and truthfully, it’s not until you hit NL $100 and above where players are adjusting correctly enough.

C-betting a lot goes hand in hand with opening frequently from the small blind. You want to be staying active, bullying your opponent into submission. Ideally, you put them in a bind until they get stubborn and overplay a hand when you are actually strong. That’s the best scenario and the rewards for effective heads up poker strategy.

Open up your 3 betting

Even the most basic of heads-up cash players in micro and low stakes games recognise you need to open raise frequently. Where they go wrong is their inability to handle 3-bets. To exploit this, I recommend opening up your 3 betting to a wider range of hands than usual. This allows you to take control of the pot or win it outright before the flop.

Both of these are favourable scenarios when you are out of position. You either want to be the one with the aggression or take the pot before a flop is dealt. You can 3 bet with a variety of hands; suited connectors, gapped suited connectors, complete junk and premium hands too. But factoring in some non-premium hands, you will be able to win pots without contest and also have some deception post-flop. This makes you harder to play against and therefore a problem to your opponents. This is advanced poker strategy that works well in low stakes games.

Watch for tendencies and exploit them

Heads up poker is raw, primal and a combat of hand reading. You are in the thick of it every hand. The player who is attentive to their opponent’s behaviour, adapting and exploiting weaknesses will win.  There is not enough time to make hand written notes as you play so it requires you to watch for tendencies and make mental notes. Tendencies can be as simple as the list below:

  1. Limping weak, raising strong
  2. Checking back open-ended straight draws and flush draws
  3. Min re-raising on the flop with second pair
  4. Value betting half pot on river with top pair and ¾ pot with nut hands

A lot of players make the same types of plays throughout sessions. Few are smart enough to change gears and use their past profitably in the present, at least not at the micro and low stakes games. So, you just need to pay attention and find ways to exploit them. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got them beat. Exploitative poker is perfect for low stakes games, particularly heads up.

Value bet thin

Strong heads up poker strategy isn’t just about winning as many pots as possible. It’s also about recognizing when your hand is best and finding ways to extract the maximum. Strong hands are relatively easy to value bet but the weaker hands can be more problematic. You can’t afford to be checking back and giving free showdowns heads up when you have the best hand. You’ll need to quickly recognize when your hand, whilst mediocre, is best and thus requires a value bet. This might be second or third pair or even ace high on a double paired board.

Few players in low stakes games online are savvy enough to slow play to rivers with the nuts or have the patience to check-raise river. So you can safely value bet thinly in these games if your opponent has shown weakness throughout. The amount to value bet will vary from one opponent to another. If your opponent is a nit, a small bet is more likely to call get called. Conversely, if your opponent is a calling station, increase your sizing a bit to get the max from them. Even if they fold you won’t disclose your cards which also has advantages.

Conclusion

There are plenty of forms of cash games around that sometimes heads up is overlooked. But it might be the best form to play in the current era. With just one opponent in front of you and most heads up cash playing 100 big blinds or more, it’s a great opportunity to learn and improve as a player.

I recently produced a short lecture on heads up games that echoes some of the tips in this article. If this interests you why not join as a video member? We offer a free trial so you can access our videos without paying.

Poker Skills You Can Use for Sports Betting

Most poker players have several other interests around gambling. I know a lot of live poker players can’t help but try the blackjack tables or a flutter on roulette but sports betting is possibly the best alternative to poker. Why? Well, there’s skills a winning poker player can use to give them a better chance in the long run. In this article I’m going to share a few. If you already possess them perhaps you will give sports betting a try too.

Mental Toughness

Any form of gambling has a mental aspect we can’t ignore. Having a thick skin and an ability to handle losses well is a trademark among professional poker players. This toughness will put you in good stead when trying other gambling forms like sports betting. Being strong mentally is a requirement as it will prevent you from making foolish bets. You know the types I mean, haphazard bets that are long shots and for more of your bankroll than you should really be betting.

Recognizing a Good Bet

Decent poker players know the importance of betting and what it accomplishes. They recognise what a solid bet is, whether it’s for bluffing or value, they appreciate what a bet does. Being able to see a good bet i.e., favourable odds, is what might separate you from the millions of gamblers who regularly lose. This ability to recognise the positive odds and more importantly, take advantage is essential to winning really.

Taking Advantage of Resources

All the best poker players are using tools and resources to maximise their win rate. They’re not resting on their laurels or just assuming they have the game solved. Any poker player not making use of some accessible resources are missing a big part of what winning poker is about in the 2020s. Like online poker, sports betting has resources to help gamblers improve their odds. A poker player trying sports betting will almost certainly look at expert tipping sites. These sites are proficient in knowing the best odds around and where the best bets are on a given day.  

Forward Thinking

In order to win consistently and become expert in gambling, you need to think forward and of the long term. Poker players do this all the time. When facing a bet on the river and considering if it’s profitable, they are thinking of the long term i.e. Is calling this bet profitable in the long run? This knack for ignoring the immediate consequence and focusing on the long term is a great skill to possess. Transferring it to sports betting is fantastic and you won’t fixate on the short-term fluctuations in variance.

Summary

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for serious poker players give sports betting a shot. If you are tough mentally, know a good bet when you see one, are regularly taking advantage of available tools and think for the long term – you’re on the right track for winning at sports better. I recommend you stick with sports you know well first and start of small too. As always, gamble sensibly and use cautious bankroll management.

Softest Poker Sites: Play With Fishes

Soft Poker Sites

Everyone who is interested in poker training wants to increase their win rate or start winning. One of the easiest ways to accommodate this is by playing weaker opponents than you. It’s simple but that is it. The problem a lot of players have is that they tie themselves to one poker site, not looking for the softest poker sites to play on.

To improve your win rate, I highly recommend you ensure you are playing on a soft poker site. With so many sites available it’s crazy not to look around. That’s why in this article, I’m going to share three of the softest poker sites I’ve found online. Additionally, I am offering generous incentive for signing up via Texas Hold’em Questions. For anyone that signs up to these soft poker sites via the banners in this article, you’ll get 75% off training video membership.

To take advantage is easy:

  1. Click one of the banners in this article
  2. Register an account and make a deposit
  3. Email your player ID to marketing@texasholdemquestions.com
  4. We will verify it and send you a 75% discount code for poker training video membership
  5. Use your code in our store

As we’re an affiliate of these three sites, we will get a kickback in some of the rake generated which helps pay for our ongoing website costs.

Unibet Poker

There’s no doubt about, Unibet Poker is one of the softest poker sites around today that has reasonable traffic levels. A few months ago, I conducted a Unibet poker review and found the calibre of player very low. This is music to the ears of low stakes players wanting to improve their overall earnings.

The site has their own network and software which is original. They also ban HUDs which is another reason there are less professionals around. I think the competition is low due to the fact the site is primarily aimed at sports betting with poker a side project. This is a common theme in this article as you’ll see later…

Please note that the cash games are not like your normal lobby where you can cherry pick. This can be disadvantageous for those who like to take ages to pick games but fortunately the games are soft so it’s not a problem. I recommend downloading our 6 max strategy guide to familiarise yourself with key concepts.

Finally, the site has both downloadable client and instant play, another neat feature that attracts recreational players. Not having to download the software is an incentive for impatient social players. Check out my brief review in the video below.

888 Poker

888 has been a major poker site for a number of years. They have built a great reputation and continue to cater to part-time players. There’s a few more grinders than at the other two sites in this article but the traffic makes up for it.

The site has a lot of traffic for the fast fold poker form known as Snap. I recommend reading our snap poker strategy article before playing. It gives a good overview on how to beat beginners and how to beat regulars too. Armed with this, you can be well prepared for both of the most common types of opponents you face in these games.

888 Poker is also unique in that they offer a no deposit bonus. Almost no poker sites offer these in 2021.

Read our 888 poker review for more information or click below to register today.

Coral Poker

Like Unibet Poker, Coral is a sports betting site. These sites are a goldmine for experienced poker players. You get to play online poker with crossovers from other forms of gambling that are playing for fun or barely know the rules.

Coral has been around a long time, one of the oldest sites today, having being launched in 1999. It’s software and gameplay aren’t going to rival the biggest poker sites but who cares? We’re here to make money and this site is awesome for low stakes cash games and tournaments too.

You can play Coral poker on your phone, withdrawals are processed fast and they also offer free tickets worth up to $30/£30 when you register and deposit.

I’ve not yet completed a full review of Coral Poker but you can register an account and take advantage of welcome bonus by clicking below.

Casino to Poker: Making the Jump

Casino to Poker

I know a lot of readers are gamblers in other forms exploring what poker has to offer. The gambling industry in general is booming at the moment with more players than ever trying their hand at the popular casino games. This is also an opportunity for online poker to attract new players.

Many casino gamblers are unsure of poker, sceptical as to the profitability and investment required to become proficient. That’s why we’re going to highlight some advantages to giving online poker a chance.

Online Poker is Stimulating

Playing Texas Hold’em online is a lot of fun and mentally challenging. Many of the casino games thrive on adrenaline and that’s what players strive for (in addition to money). Moving all in, catching a lucky card or making the nuts are all feelings that can give the player these feelings. They are arguably more valuable in Texas Hold’em where you can decide the value of the bet you’re placing. This is not the case in many casino games where you invest before seeing what’s happened.

Online poker is a complex game that stimulates the mind. It gets you thinking more than casino games and can appeal to those that may be tired of the monotonous nature of online casinos. If so, read our blog and guides and learn the strategy behind poker.

Some Online Casinos Offer Poker

Crossing from casino to poker doesn’t have to be a taxing activity. Many a new online casino will offer poker on the side. This is very handy as most casino players only know the basics of poker. More importantly, the professionals stay away from sites that don’t offer poker as their primary function. This means you will be playing against players of low calibre. That’s perfect as it means you can generate a decent win rate if you put in some study and hard work on a regular basis.

Play Freerolls to Learn

Another good idea when moving from casino to poker is to play for free. Who says you have to invest lots of money or play for real money? You can start off playing freerolls without investing anything. Most online poker sites have freerolls running daily. The majority offer cash prizes for the top places too so you may be able to build a bankroll without even depositing.   

Freerolls are a great way to learn the basics and how the game works. Don’t expect to see advanced poker play here though as the players are often just playing ABC or moving all in. Either way, it’s a practical way to dip your toe into the online poker scene.

Use Our Cheat Sheet

Finally, a plug for our poker cheat sheet. Before playing you need to have a cursory understanding of how poker works. Our cheat sheet is focused on Texas Hold’em – the most popular format played around the world. It gives a breakdown on basic concepts like what hands to play, basic odds, post flop poker tips and tools for finding the best sites. All these tips can give you a helping hand when starting out playing. Download our cheat sheet from the page below.

Conclusion

Crossing over from casino to poker doesn’t have to be a tedious process. If you like to think about strategy, already on some casino sites offering poker and are willing to study to learn the rules, you can be playing in no time. As always, we recommend being cautious and gambling responsibly.

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Texas Hold’Em Logic: Why Your Position Matters

Position in Poker

Players often think that poker is easy to play, but difficult to master. They think it’s just too complicated, that you need to be some sort of genius to reach the ‘next level’ play. Their (wrong) solution? Taking a gung-ho approach to their gambling, going with their gut, or following a strategy with no real basis. 

But playing poker without a strategy, without thinking about your position, is a big mistake. And potentially a very expensive one. 

Even though many people think poker is very daunting, ArabianBetting explains that anyone wanting to play Texas Hold’em should know it’s actually a very simple variation, and can be learned by following a few simple tips. For example, as you can read on the website, there are two ways to win a pot: by having the best hand, or by making all other players fold. However, and what is especially emphasized, to win and make money, you also need to understand betting odds, types of bets, hand values, player positions, as well as to set proper goals. So to say, Poker is layered, yes, but ultimately something you can master with the right education, practice, and time investment.

In this article, I’ll explain why your position matters.

What is ‘Playing in Position’?

So for those of you who don’t quite know what I mean by position, let’s go over the basics. Position in poker essentially refers to where you’re sitting at a poker table, it’s that simple. Your individual position is always relative to the dealer, as it determines when it’s your turn in the game. 

Should a player have what’s called “position on you”, it means they are to your left, i.e., their turn is after yours. The dealer moves from player to player to ensure everyone is given equal time at each slot. 

The in-position seat is so powerful that it’s nicknamed the “Jesus Seat”. That should tell you just how important it is. Playing in position means you’re the last to move, which gives you a huge advantage, as you’re able to react to other players. For example, if the players don’t want to bet their respective hands, you have the intel that something is up.

Playing in position gives you the power to decide what the size of the bet is. You can also make a call on whether you want to give the free card. Or not. You are the one who is in control. Playing in position is preferable no matter what poker variant you’re playing, but it’s especially important in no-limit hold’em, as the player in position has the greatest control over the pot size.

How to Manage Playing Out of Position

Compare that to someone who is not playing in position. They’re playing with absolutely no inside knowledge, no advantage, no angle. But that doesn’t mean there’s no strategy you can employ. 

Playing under the gun”, or first after the dealer, is a precarious position and should be played very tight. This means limiting your play to very solid hands only. Play a conservative game, be selective. Just don’t let that strategy bleed into your other positions; some players struggle with transitioning their passive game once they’ve left the out of position slot. Another thing you can do is to place what some players call “feelers”. This is a tactical play, designed to figure out how your opponent reacts to you. Just don’t overdo it. Also, be very careful about decent hands like K and 10, which rank above most starting hands, but can get you into trouble post-flop.

Think About Your Opponents

There is one famous quote by Mary Hunter Austin found at BrainyQuotes: “People would be surprised to know how much I learned about prayer from playing poker.”

Therefore, if you join a table where you know someone is a particularly aggressive or weak player, always try and grab the seat to their left. This will ensure you maximize the time spent in position versus that player. 

Sure, it’s a little cruel to pinpoint a friend as a weak player and to take advantage of the fact. But if you’re playing for serious money, it’s all about the tight margins.

Conclusion: Position is Key to a Profitable Bankroll

If there’s one message I want you to leave with, it’s the crucial point that your position is key to the decision-making process. Ignoring your position will stack the odds further against you, and as any professional poker player knows, winning is all about the smallest of margins. 

Sure, ignore your position, and you may win a hand. Or two. But in the long term, you’ll fall to the disadvantages posed by playing without position in mind. If your goal is to have a good time with your buddies, fair enough. But if you want to make money, position matters.

Poker Goals: A Complete Guide for the Serious Poker Player

Poker Goals

When I first started playing I just went through the poker aimlessly. Goals seemed pointless because poker was just a game, one that you didn’t have loads of control over the outcome of. But, as you gain experience and take poker seriously, you’ll realise that goals are a useful thing to have in place. They can give you focus, motivation and drive. In this post, I’m going to discuss poker goals, what kind of goals to set, how to set them, how often to refer to them and how to meet your goals.

Types of Goals You Can Set

There’s several types of poker goals you can set. It is important to recognise that what’s important to one person is irrelevant to another. We all have priorities, and they will probably change throughout your poker career too. No goal is more important than any other in this article. So, here’s a list of different poker goals that can be set. As you read through them, single out one or two that might be appropriate for you.

Moving Up Stakes

One goal a cash game player can set is to move up stakes by a certain point. Having this as a goal can be something to strive for when putting in loads of hours online.

Increasing Hourly Win Rate

This is one of my favourite goals to set as it is tangible and shows the extra value. It’s tangible as what you earn extra per hour is a measurement of your success and also valuable to your bankroll.

Hitting a Specific ITM or ROI

For tournament players, success is measured in their ROI or in the money rate. Setting a specific target is a decent goal for tournament players. Most serious tournament poker players will want to measure one or both of these metrics so setting a goal to hit one is great e.g. 20% ITM rate or 40% ROI.

Winning a Seat into a Tournament

Playing a major tournament is a dream for many. Setting this as a goal is a nice way to strive for something special as you’ll never forget it. I was fortunate enough to win seats into a few WSOPE and WPT events and the experience of playing them are amazing, not to mention you get the opportunity to play for life changing money.

To Play X Number of Hours

A lot of poker players struggle to put in the time they want to play. Setting a goal to play X amount of hours a week or month is a good goal to set as you have that frequent reminder.

Master a Certain Strategy or Concept

If you are a beginner or intermediate poker player, working on a certain area of your game can be a great goal to set. It’s impossible to conquer a complex game like Texas Hold’em quickly. That’s why picking specific areas to focus on and master can be a brilliant idea. This is true for poker games at live casinos too.

How to Set Poker Goals

How you set them is up to you. There a few ways you can go about it. I liked to write them up, print it off and stick them somewhere that I can see. Others like to set goals on their mobiles as a list. Then, when you hit them you can tick them off (very satisfying!). You could also write them on your calendar or notepad – whatever works for you.

Two other things to consider about poker goals is time and difficulty. Firstly, goals need a time limit on them, otherwise you’ll have the same goal for 10 years. There’s nothing wrong with setting multiple goals within a larger goal though. For instance, if you want to move up from NL $25, you may set goal 1 to be move to NL $50 in 3 months and a second goal to reach NL $100 in 12 months.

Secondly, the difficulty of a goal needs to strike a balance between challenging but realistic. Winning the WSOP is not a realistic goal when it costs lots of money and you have to face against 10,000 players. Conversely, winning a SNG with 9 players is too easy. A goal of making a top 3 within the next 50 tournaments is a more realistic but also challenging goal to set.

Example of how to set poker goals.

Changing Your Goals

It’s good practice to refer to your goals every once in a while. I recommend doing this once a month, pick a date like end of month or first of month, and see how you’re doing. If the goal is unrealistic or too easily completed, you are free to change your goal(s). There’s no law saying once you have set a goal, you must keep it. Perhaps you change the format or game you play, then you can add or change your current poker goals to more appropriate ones.

How to Meet Your Poker Goals

It’s all well and good setting challenging, motivating poker goals but it’s another thing to actually hit them. Meeting goals, in life and in poker, requires dedication and hard work. If you’ve set decent goals, they won’t be easy to hit so you will be pushed to reach them. But that’s brilliant as it will make the prize more satisfying and rewarding.

Ultimately, it depends on the goals you’ve set how you will meet them. Below are a few tips based on the types of goals mentioned earlier.

Goal How to Reach it
Moving up stakes Track your win rate, pick your games carefully and ensure you are playing the optimum amount of tables. Set stop loss limits so you protect your bank roll when you run bad too and exercise proper bankroll management.
Increasing your hourly win rateTo improve your win rate is similar to moving up stakes except you need to work harder away from the table too. Improve your knowledge by reading poker books, working on your leaks and discussing poker hands. We offer hand history review service for players to identify potential leaks and suggest improvements.
Hitting a specific ITM or ROI You need to take mtts seriously, pick the right games, play on soft sites and have patience and emotional control. Tournaments are mental warfare and you need to be mentally strong to secure a decent ITM rate.
Winning a seat into a tournamentIf you’re keen to satellite into a major live tournament, you need to do some research online. Find the best satellites and spend some money and time finding out which satellites to play.
To play X number of hoursTo meet this type of goal requires freeing up time in your week and setting priorities. It might mean sacrificing football on a Saturday or a Friday night drink with friends.
Master a certain strategy or conceptTo fully grasp a key poker strategy is not easy. You can spend countless hours online reading material or watching YouTube content but how do you know the content is correct? I recommend discussing with a poker coach or taking a course. We offer two poker courses, one on bluffing and one on continuation betting. These courses took me months to create and a labour of love for players wanting to fully grasp these fundamental aspects of poker. Go to our poker courses page for more information.

Conclusion on Poker Goals

As you can see, setting goals is a practical thing to use for a poker player. It keeps us motivated and something to aspire to. Its also something to measure against. By setting goals, we can see how close or far away we are from reaching where we want to be. I’m a big fan of them and highly recommend you start setting goals. You can expect to reap benefits of them just by thinking and writing them down.

If you are not very organised and want to start tracking your performance, we offer a unique reporting service. We use poker spreadsheets to enter your data and produce monthly reports specific for you. Click below if this is of interest and take advantage of our free quote too.

Why No Poker HUDs is a Good Thing

No Poker HUDs

In recent years there has been an increased movement of poker sites opposing the use of HUDs (heads up displays). This has been met with opposition from grinders and the much of the poker community. The HUD is an essential tool for a regular. When playing multi-tabling, the HUD reveals facts about opponents that the naked eye cannot possibly detect if someone is playing lots of tables.

Poker HUDs are not “bad”

First of all, let me preface my argument by saying HUDs are not inherently bad. If the player pool was infinite and recreational players didn’t care, I’d be pro HUDs. They’re an awesome tool for winning players to use. However, there’s more to it than that. I am interested in the poker industry thriving, traffic increasing, prize-pools high and recreational players at least having a decent time. I think this is more likely to occur if HUDs were not permitted.

Unfair playing field

 The HUD gives the better poker player an even-greater edge than they already have. The edge is primarily on those players who don’t know of a HUDs existence or are playing on a device that doesn’t even facilitate the use of a HUD. How big is the edge? Pretty big! If we assume that most people using a HUD are at least semi-serious, they are likely to have a strategical edge on their opponents anyway, now they have even more with instant access to relevant stats. 

So, why does this matter? The poker industry is not just for those that win regularly is it? It’s for the weekend players too, those that want to have fun. This pool of players is occupied by many that are long-term losers. That’s not a dig at anyone who loses. For someone to win, someone has to lose… These players won’t want to play if they are being completely beaten up on. If you play squash for fun once a week with someone 10x better, would you want to return? What if that player was not only technically better but also had better racket and trainers? How about if you play someone similar level or perhaps a little better? You’ll probably return right? It’s enjoyable yet challenging.

The online poker sites recognise they need to cater to social players just as much as grinders and have started fighting back in recent years. I am definitely in the pro ban HUD. The reason is simple, a good poker player can win without a HUD and there should be more money available and easier games around if HUDs are banned.

Mobile players at huge disadvantage

Playing poker on mobile has became a huge thing in recent years. All the major sites have an app that allows you to play online poker within moments. This has been a great way to bring in new players who wouldn’t otherwise play poker. Whether they know it or not, app users are at a huge disadvantage to a grinder on a desktop. Why? Apps do not allow for a HUD to run. You only have the your eyes and memory to rely on. Worse than that, if you play a couple of tables on an app, you can’t even watch both tables as the action flips between the two.

In a game where information is power, the desktop user with a HUD is going to dominate a similar level player on an app, against a weaker player they are just destroying them. Everyone was a “fish” or “donkey” at some point in their poker journey but the odds were not stacked up like this in the early poker days. If you did get pounded on every session, you might have quit before you really started.

What are poker sites doing about HUDs?

There’s an inconsistency across the poker sites at the moment. Some sites are banning use of HUD completely. Sites like Unibet have a couple of effective deterrents. One way of preventing HUD usage is the identities and avatars that can be changed at will. There is no limit to how often you can change them. They take a hard stance on HUD developers saying Unibet won’t permit any HUD software at all. Furthermore, anyone caught trying to use a HUD will be banned outright. They are a site clearly dedicated to recreational players. If you’re interested in knowing more about Unibet, read my Unibet poker review, you can also get 75% training video membership.

Other sites like Pokerstars are trying a soft approach. They clearly don’t want to upset their grinders. This is the biggest site in the world and they are aware any strong action they take will be met with criticism. As such, their permitted software is almost as long as their prohibited! See below for software that can be used on Pokerstars.

What is the future of poker HUDs?

It’s hard to predict how long poker HUDs will be around for. Look, they’re a fantastic tool and significantly help a player’s ROI if used correctly. If you are interested in poker training, I would recommend using poker software to increase your edge. But, that doesn’t mean it’s great for the online poker industry overall.

I imagine the clampdown on HUDs will continue in the future. As recreational players become more and more familiar with their existence, player retention will drop at sites. The poker sites will have no choice but to meet the demand of their customers which will mean taking a tough stance on HUD software.

Just as the strategy side of online poker is continuously evolving, so is the technical and software associated with it. As long as some sites permit the use of HUDs there will still be a demand for them. The online poker professionals will worry that their edge will diminish once the HUD is banned. But the increase in traffic, fishes and cash injection into the community will cover this. A decent win-rate will still be attainable as the playing field will be levelled, they may not be able to use HUDs against opponents, but opponents can’t use it against them either.

I want to conclude by saying whilst poker software is permitted on most sites, you absolutely have every right to use them to your advantage. My position on HUDs is not a criticism of them or their developers. They’ve helped make players earn lots of money. If you want to see our recommended poker software, click below.



Why Do Poker Players Love Online Casinos?

Poker & Online Casinos

I’ve never been a lover of online casino games. As someone that found poker before any other gambling game, I have been accustomed to complexity and strategy. The other casino games never had the same appeal to me. Countless times in casinos I’ve seen very strong poker players have a penchant for other games like slots, blackjack and roulette. But what is it about the other games that poker players love? I will try to answer that mystery in this article.

Stress relief and relaxation

As stated before, I used to see poker players spend time at roulette and blackjack tables. The house loves a tournament break as many poker players flock to the tables to wager. I get the feeling a lot of poker players do this for stress relief. Poker playing is a mentally and physically exhausting activity. They may see other casino games as a form of stress relief and a way to relax. After all, if they’re wagering small amounts, what’s the harm? They may take their poker stress out on the blackjack table. Better to avoid tilting at the poker table and gamble a few quid at the blackjack instead perhaps? If a poker player gets bluffed out of a big pot, they may relieve some stress by betting on roulette for a few minutes instead of blowing up on at the poker table.

Flexible banking options

If you look at any online casino, they all have countless options to deposit and cash out. To poker players who have money here there and everywhere, it’s an appealing way to gamble. Most online casinos accept PayPal, Bitcoin and other crypto-currency so it’s very easy to get money to and from them. I remember years ago you had to have credit card or Neteller otherwise you couldn’t get money online. Those days are long gone now!

Free bonuses

Poker players don’t often get the opportunity to gamble for free. Ok, you can try a freeroll but it takes hours and you can’t win much. Unlike poker sites who seldom offer a no deposit bonus, most casinos online offer a bonus simply for registering. Naturally, there are terms and conditions and you need to wager a certain amount to qualify for withdrawal but it’s still free. This is definitely reason poker players love online casinos. A quick google search or checking out a review site like veritop.com is all that is needed to find sites that offer lucrative bonuses.

Casino games are easy to play

With no disrespect to casino aficionados, the other casino games are very simple to play aren’t they? It requires practically no input from the player. The rules are usually basic and can be learnt in a matter of minutes. This accessibility has got to be a big factor for a poker player giving most games a try.

Unlike poker that is layered and can take years to master, casino games like slots or craps can be understood and played in minutes. This must be a nice respite for a poker player that doesn’t have to worry about learning strategy, reading books or investing in poker training!

They love to gamble…

Finally, many poker players just love to gamble. This is evident through the table chat you casually hear, the wagers they make and even the way they play Texas Hold’em. A spewy LAG poker player is almost certainly more likely to love the other gambling forms. There’s nothing wrong with this, the other casino games provide fun, adrenaline and a nice break from poker.

Exploitative Poker Play: Why It’s Perfect for Low Stakes

Exploitative Poker

GTO or “Game Theory Optimal” poker strategy is a popular way of approaching poker for advanced players in 2021. It is a strategy that involves making mathematically perfect decisions in every situation. For low stakes poker players that are trying to crush games though, I advocate the exploitative strategy instead.

Exploitative poker strategy is looking for mistakes and imbalances in other poker players game and adopting a strategy that “exploits” them. This method has been around a long time and whilst it may not have been articulated as well as it is now, it was very much what low and mid stakes experts were doing in the past.

In this article, I’m going to set out a few reasons why I firmly believe a more exploitative poker strategy is better for players in low stakes cash games and tournaments.

Low stakes players have lots of leaks

Whilst some players still spout “poker is dead” in forums, the low stakes games continue to stay popular. Fire up any major poker site lobby and play for one hour and see the calibre around.

Yes, the fish are not as fishy as they were fifteen years ago but it’s still pretty poor showing. This shows that players in the NL $50 games and below games have many leaks. This is not a big surprise is it? After all, if they didn’t have many leaks, they’d be grinding higher stakes games.

There’s nothing wrong with this by the way. Most of the players I mentor are playing NL $100 and below. They are acutely aware of the fact they have leaks. The more leaks and errors you make, the more vulnerable you are to being exploited. We try to eliminate leaks the best we can to generate a better win rate but perfect poker is almost impossible to achieve.

To highlight my point that leaks are common in the low stakes game, below are some examples of errors being made in low stakes games and simple ways to exploit.

Folding to 3 bets too often

This is a common one. A regular in the low stake’s games may be open-raising a nice range from middle position but only continuing with pocket jacks or better.

Exploit: 3 bet them with a wider range.

This is a simple and effective way to beat up on someone opening a wide range but folding loads when facing a re-raise.

Continuation betting 100% of flops heads up

Some people seem to think you must c-bet every flop if its heads up. To be fair, against certain opponents this isn’t the worst mentality, but it’s very exploitable to a competent player.

Exploit: Check raise flops more and float. By not giving up to flop c-bets you can take pots away later. Alternatively, you can check-rase bluff with a high degree of success.

Playing too tight from the big blind

This is a common mistake in tournament poker. Most experts recognise that defending the big blind is a necessity when facing small raises. This concept is lost on many players in low stakes mtts, they fold too many hands because it looks weak, not correctly accounting for pot odds.

Exploit: Open raise wider and steal their blinds. By opening your range up you can profitably raise any two cards. This is perfect from the cutoff, button and small blind. With fewer opponents behind you comes less chance of resistance.

Players calling down too much

Another leak from some low stakes poker players is to call down too much. They refuse to fold second pair or better and will call you down.

Exploit: We can easily exploit this trait by bluffing less and value betting thinner. If we know our opponent is a stubborn so and so who is calling down too light, we can extract more value.

Now we have some common leaks out the way, let’s look at an overriding aspect that needs to be covered…

Players don’t think about GTO or Exploitative Poker Strategy

Another thing worth remembering is the mindset of a low stake’s poker player. The vast majority are there to play a basic form of poker. They are basically playing their cards and waiting for good hands. Only a small percentage are thinking of advanced concepts like GTO or “is my strategy exploitable?” Therefore, we do not need to worry ourselves with becoming exploitable ourselves. It’s unnecessary mental baggage that won’t do you any favours.

The GTO approach is ideal if you are playing the same few opponents, in heads up games or 6 max games. It is not going to make you the most money possible in low cash games and tournaments.

Low stakes games occupy a far greater player pool too. The chances of meeting the same opponents again are rarer so we do not have to be concerned about a player exploiting us later. Poker is about adapting to your surroundings and finding profitable spots to make money.

Tools for exploiting opponents

Now I’ve covered why an exploitative strategy is better, we should look at tools to help us exploit opponents.  I recommend visiting our poker software page to see some recommended tools, many of which can help with things like range analysis.

Beyond that, we can take notes on our opponents detailing their short-comings. This is a nifty way to remember what they are doing wrong and ensure we can exploit their weaknesses. Colour coding players is also an effective way of tagging players. This can be very simplistic but consider tagging them as calling station, donkey and nit. These kind of colour tags will make you quickly realise the type of opponent you are up against and what strategy is likely to yield positive results.

Conclusion on Exploitative Poker Strategy

Exploitative poker strategy is just a fancy way of saying adapt to your opponents. It’s something we’ve been doing for years but now has a name and some meat behind it. I’ve only briefly touched upon exploitative poker strategy in this article. There are other elements to be considered like calculating break even thresholds and the differences in using it online vs live. If you are interested in learning more on exploitative play, you can book in a call with me below.


What Other Card Games Do Poker Players Enjoy?

Card Games for Poker Players

The poker playing community don’t just restrict themselves to Texas Hold’em. Despite our site primarily offering this, we appreciate there are other games around that many of you enjoy. Some of you may only play one or two forms of poker or not know of the other popular card game variants. That’s why in this article I’m going to provide a brief introduction into some other card games that poker players enjoy. I’ll also give some reasons why they are popular with poker players.

Video Poker

Probably the easiest transition for a poker player to make when moving to other card games is video poker. This card game has the exact same hand rankings but is very different to regular Texas Hold’em. The object of the game is to beat the house.  Most live, online and LTC casinos play the jacks or better rule. In other words, if you make a pair of jacks or better, you win.

Video poker pays outs based on the hand strength. The stronger your hand, the more lucrative the pay-out. This appeals to poker players as we’re used to putting in a bet and if it gets called, we win the same amount we put in.

They will also find the player input attractive to them. Many forms of gambling require no player input, something poker players are not accustomed to. Video poker offers some input from the player. The key to solid video poker strategy comes from the drawing. You need to know which cards to discard. Fortunately, most decisions are relatively straight forward e.g., if you are dealt two queens and random low cards, discard the three low cards.

Blackjack

Otherwise known as pontoon or 21s, blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Walk into any casino and you will see blackjack tables. Countless times I’ve been in a casino on a tournament break and seen poker players enjoying themselves at the blackjack tables.

The appeal of blackjack lies in the speed the game is played and the simplicity of the rules. Poker players like games to run quickly which is why they multi-table. It’s very easy to understand, beat the dealer in anyway and you win. Unlike video poker where your pay increases in line with the strength of your hand, you can only win what you wager in blackjack. However, in blackjack, you can win with a very low ranking. Remember, the dealer draws at 16 so if they bust, and you haven’t, you win the bet.

There are many strategies involving blackjack, too many for me to detail in this overview but suffice to say it’s a game many poker players enjoy. As with any form of gambling, we recommend responsible gambling at all times.

Five-Card Draw

Before learning Texas Hold’em, five card draw was the default poker game. For me, it’s the original poker form. It is often played in home games among friends and is an easy transition for a poker player to make. After all, the betting, action and hand rankings are all the same as regular poker.

The rules are very simple; players are dealt five cards face down, not to be shown to other players. A round of action proceeds where players can “draw” and replace existing cards. This is usually restricted to four cards, although some places allow all five. A second “after the draw” round then happens where players still in get the opportunity to draw one more time. After that, players bet and the showdown occurs (if required) where the best hand wins all the money in the pot.

It’s seamless for a poker player to try this card game as there are many similarities between regular Texas Hold’em. Five-card draw has lost some popularity in recent years and almost never played online or in casinos. This is due to other variants becoming mainstream and more popular.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are other cool card games around to try. If you are exclusively playing poker and suffering burn out or running bad, feel free to try a new form for a little while. It may give you the necessary respite you need and give you renewed energy and enthusiasm when you return. Give video poker, blackjack or five-card draw a try and you may find a new love in these popular card games.