Your bankroll has you cornered into playing small-stakes games with some pretty shoddy players. You want to develop your game, but that’s hard to do when you’re surrounded by mice and fish.
It’s even harder to endure when the lack
of skill from these players makes for some loose, boneheaded plays – loose,
boneheaded plays that win. Cause
that’s just the way the game can work sometimes. Sure, these players aren’t
going to win consistently at their current skill level, but they can win enough
to really piss off more studious opponents.
So what to do when you’re pitted
against bad players?
You don’t want to quit playing, obviously,
but there are some measures you can take to take back control, and start
First, ask yourself why it bothers you
to play against less skilled opponents. I mean, it’s ultimately a good thing. The reason you’re pissed off
is usually because of one or a combination of these three things:
can’t stand losing to loose players. Fair enough, but it’s poker, and
you’re going to lose to some form of player. You can’t win ’em all.
hate getting drawn out on. Who doesn’t? But consider this: as much as it
sucks to watch someone you consider to be an inferior player make their hand on
the turn or river, you have to ask yourself what you were doing still in the
hand. Should you have really been there? Maybe, but also, maybe not. And in the
cases where the answer is clearly not, you were probably being driven by your
ego rather than reason. This is on you, not them.
hard to play against. Damn right they are. It can be like trying to win an
argument with a toddler about the merits of not eating their own boogers. And
it’s just as demeaning and frustrating. But much like that four year old, you
won’t be able to win against these sorts of opponents unless you change up your
strategy. You can’t reason with a four year old the way you’d reason with
another adult, and you can’t play a less skilled player the way you’d play
someone on your own level.
But with a few simple tweaks to your game,
you can rule the roost. Here’s what I mean:
Playing strong starting hands
isn’t always the best approach.
Especially with players who’ll give action
to just about any two cards. Playing TAG is a safe strategy, but it’s not
always going to make you the most money.
Something’s going to have to change.
If you don’t want to adjust your range, then adjust your bets. Maybe 15 to 20 BB to see how many callers you get. Maybe you should limp in. Maybe you should just suck it up and broaden your range, calling more raises and seeing more flops. In other words, focus on better post-flop play – which these ‘bad’ players probably haven’t developed.
Get inside their heads.
Their strategy may be flawed, but there’s
still method to their madness. Try to figure out what they’re thinking so you
can exploit it, and minimize your loses. If you know they regularly limp along,
banking on connecting, then an abrupt change from passive behavior (i.e.
checking, calling) to active play (i.e. betting, raising) may mean you should
fold your top pair to their sixes, because they probably got lucky.
Should you move up to higher stakes
for ‘better’ play?
Here’s the thing: just because the stakes
are higher doesn’t mean the game is better. Not only do you have to be
confident you can hold your own in a higher stake game if you want to actually
enjoy it, but you’ve also got to realize there are plenty of crappy players
flooding the higher limit tables too. They’re just crappy players with more
Bad Players = More Opportunity
As long as it’s a no-limit game, landing
yourself at a table replete with less skilled players is akin to finding
yourself in Shangri La. (Fixed limit doesn’t give you as much room to outthink
your opponent via strategic betting.) I understand that playing against better
players can make you a better player, but:
You can still develop some pretty savvy and creative strategy trying to
out-maneuver a bad player, and;
Your earning potential is a lot higher against a less skilled opponent. This is
why I love playing against ‘bad’ players: they’re good for business.
As long as you adjust your strategy accordingly when playing against your less skilled counterparts, you’re golden. After all, you should be able to beat the worst players before you can tackle the better.