Poker is a game of skill with very little luck involved. If you work hard and study the game, there’s no doubt that you’ll end up winning money in the long run.
However, your results also depend on the quality of other players at the table. There are good and bad poker players, and your chances of winning often are higher when you’re playing against weaker opponents.
While many relish the challenge of only playing against top poker players, others are more interested in winning money.
If you’re good at poker, you can win fairly easily if your opponents are weaker. However, you need to know how to exploit and profit off of their weaknesses.
Identify Their Tendencies
The first thing you ought to do is to identify other players’ tendencies. Observe their gameplay: do they play aggressively or tend to be passive? Are they playing too much? What do they do with their strong hands?
Figuring these things out will help you determine if you’re up against a weak player.
Their behavior or habits can also give away what kind of player they are. If you see someone playing casino games before sitting down at the poker table or taking some free spins and playing slots on their phone, you can assume they are not a professional player and are just looking to have some fun.
Of course, take this with a grain of salt, as some very good poker players like to blow off some steam playing casino games as well.
Weaker opponents tend to make bad moves, which often puts them in trouble. For example, they might rush to call a big bet without taking enough time to think about the hand.
They also rarely know how to bluff. Bluff is the ace in the sleeve of good poker players. A bad bluff can be seen from a mile away – that’s one of the signs you’re playing against weaker opponents.
Their body language also speaks volumes. In more cases than not, they will sweat profusely when they’re in trouble and be restless.
If they get anxious or nervous, you’ll have an advantage over them.
Bad poker players are often impatient, and that causes them to lose against good players who know how to bluff even if they have a weaker hand.
Adjust Your Strategy Based on Their Observations
Once you know how they play, it’s time to create and implement an action plan.
Based on your observations, you will need to adjust your strategy. If someone plays passively, you need to be very careful when they start betting big on all streets.
If they are overly aggressive, you need to be patient and let them make a costly mistake in a bad spot. It is almost certain to happen.
While bad poker players are hard to “read,” you can adjust your strategy and beat them fairly easily.
You don’t want to be making any complex moves or huge bluffs against weak players. If they can’t understand what it is that you’re trying to represent, your play won’t work. Keep it straightforward and stick to good, old ABC poker.
Don’t Bluff if Your Opponent Hates Folding
Bluffing is one of the worst ideas at a poker table with bad but loose players. This type of opponent will call you down with a wide range of poker hands.
Even when they have a poor hand, they will call because they don’t have a clear strategy – bad players only think about the money in the pot and their fear of being shown a bluff.
Bluffing is an art that needs to be mastered and one that might backfire against players weaker than yourself.
Semi-bluffs might work, but once again, it’s impossible to predict what bad players will do.
You should stick to betting your best hands and keeping a close eye on the opponents. The moment they make a mistake, you should be ready to pounce on it.
If they continue to call and hate folding, there’s a good chance that they’ll bury themselves. In this case, you don’t have to do a lot more than stay patient, play smart, and charge them when you make big hands.
Bluff Very Tight Players
If you want to bluff and you’re playing a table of bad poker players, you should only do it against very tight opponents.
These players are more prone to folding. They will often fold, even with a decent hand that they should look you up with.
But, even against weak players, you need to make sure your bluffs make sense.
If you are just betting big without a real plan in place, even a weak-tight player might smell the rat and look you up.
On the other hand, if you do get caught bluffing, it’s not the end of the world. It also means that those loose players will be even more eager to look you up with all sorts of nonsense holdings.
Your table image is always important, but it's particularly important at a table full of weak players because they'll allow their image of you to influence their decisions much more than they should.
Trap Aggressive Players with Your Strong Hands
While playing aggressively is a good idea in general, blind aggression doesn’t make much sense. However, bad players don’t really know the difference.
They’ll often take weird lines and make huge bets to try and “muscle” you out of the pot. When you identify this kind of a player, you need to try and get involved with them with your very strong hands.
Against these players, you’ll want to play tricky and trap them. You need to let them do the betting and believe they’re in control until it’s too late.
The important thing here is that you need to be able to stand your ground when push comes to shove.
It’s never easy when you face a massive bet and don’t have the absolute nuts. But, against players who play too aggressively, you’ll be leaving money at the table if you’re just waiting for the nuts.
As long as you have good bankroll management and your reads are correct, looking up these players with reasonably strong hands will be massively profitable.
Summary – Stick to Your Plan
Playing against weaker opponents can sometimes be trickier than playing against pros. Against good poker players, you'll know you need to bring your A-game to win.
When you play against bad opponents, you might underestimate them, which can put you in bad spots.
While playing against bad players will be far more profitable, you can’t afford to let your guard down at any point.
Rely on your knowledge of poker positions, always give yourself enough time to think about important decisions, and don’t do anything stupid. It’s all it takes to win against weak players, but it sounds easier than it really is.