What moves are pro poker players using to beat you? James “SplitSuit” Sweeney joins us to discuss three of eight moves he’s assembled into a new ‘Professional Poker Plays’ free email course, available at redchippoker.com/plays. Classic poker pro moves like bombing over limpers and attacking raisers are only profitable if one understands the strategies behind them, and that’s what this podcast delves into.
Tactics vs. Strategies
Before digging into three specific moves poker pros use to beat weaker players, SplitSuit warns of the importance of learning the strategies behind the plays (tactics) described in this episode. It is not enough to know the move, one must learn the skills and concepts behind why the move is profitable. Knowing under what circumstances the move is profitable, and understanding when it costs us chips — this critical intuition can only be built by developing strategic skills.
The moves in this podcast therefore are labeled “handle with care”. Learning these plays is a great way to get enthusiastic about studying the concepts behind the plays. Try implementing these at your table without understanding the underlying strategies, and you may have issues.
Bombing Over Limpers
We discussed the concept of attacking limpers in a podcast a couple weeks ago, and here SplitSuit offers a bit more detail on the strategies behind why this works.
He recommends using a range of cards that perform decently when called, not any two cards. Your exact range will depend on how you think your limping opponents will react. If you expect to be called with any sort of significant frequency, you’ll need to look for better hole card combos than if the limpers would fold to most well-sized raises.
The one area where SplitSuit could rationalize limping behind with everyone else would be when the raise leaves us in an SPR quandary, when effective stacks are short. However, if one has superior postflop skills, one can be dropping a big bet bomb on a string of limpers like clockwork.
Host Zac Shaw gives an example of a hand he played where he raised a table full of limpers to a huge amount, only to show down 46s as a losing hand. Yet this created a table image where everyone began calling his pre-flop raises of any size inelastically, and in turn it was a very profitable situation for him to tighten up and get paid off.
The moral of the story is that table image is very important when bombing over limpers, and eventually people will get pissed off and fight back.
3-betting… why do we do it?
According to SplitSuit, there are many hands that people choose to call a raise with that would be better to be 3-bet. Most players are not 3-betting enough, choosing only to be this aggressive with the top of their range, often queens or kings and better.
We should be expanding our 3-betting practice and getting more re-raises in, even when we don’t have the nuts. Disregarding hole cards completely is not advised. Hands like Ax and Kx suited play well because they have blockers to the better hands, but you don’t want to go overboard 3-betting these all the time either.
- How many folds can I expect?
- What are they opening with?
- What are they giving my 3-bet action with?
By pegging your opponent to a specific range, you can often see quite transparently what types of holdings they’re going to be playing back at you with.
You are going to want to study hand reading and range construction before you amp up your 3-betting, or else you will lack the post-flop skills to attack raisers profitably.
This is a good place to employ poker strategy software like Flopzilla to run through different flop possibilities and build an intuition about common spots that you can continue to show strength after 3-betting, and where you might need to be more cautious.
Raising a Weak Multiway Donk Bet
This move is all about exploiting the player who makes a weak (half-pot or less) donk bet into a multiway pot. SplitSuit says this often telegraphs that the player likes their hand, but it is not necessarily the nuts or super-strong. it’s something of a “see where you’re at” type of bet that is just asking to get punished. While there may be a time to donk bet profitably, most players are not sophisticated enough to understand the nuance around such a play.
SplitSuit has noticed that oftentimes a raise on the flop will get called by the donk betting player, but they really melt on the turn if double-barreled. Following through on your aggression on the turn is key to making this move work.
If they continue to donk into you, you should be more careful, because they have now told you they like their hand multiple times. However, if they call your flop bet and check to you on the turn, you should often be prepared to continue to apply pressure. Doing this with hands that have some sort of equity is an even stronger play, but often times this donk bet is so transparent, your actual holding matters less than you might think.