The differences between live poker with your friends and playing poker online are so vast that sometimes it could look like a different game. If you have experience playing on the internet but want to get some live action, you will have to adjust your strategy if you want to see good results.
This article will show you the basic principles of low-level live games in casinos and poker home games with your friends. These two formats have many similarities and are an excellent place to start if you want to learn how to crush live poker.
Live Poker Games Are Way Looser
One of the most significant differences of Texas Holdem games compared to online poker is that live games are much looser. You will see people limping, calling raises preflop and chasing draws postflop at a much higher rate.
When you play online, there are like up to 100-150 hands per hour on a single table. If you launch 6 of them, you can be playing like 700-800 hands per hour. In comparison, this number is about 30 or so in live games. People are simply unwilling to spend most of the time just folding and waiting for a good opportunity to play.
When becomes way too boring, they end up making bad decisions only because they desire more action and this gives you the opportunity to crush live poker games without doing much yourself. Therefore, I recommend you making some of the following adjustments.
Adjust Your Ranges
You should certainly adjust your ranges in poker home games and any live games for that matter. There are a couple of ways to do so and improve your results almost at once.
To start, you should be playing more hands. Of course, you should not go too far with this. But a proper adjustment would be to see more flops with speculative hands like suited A-highs, suited connectors or gapers from late position. You will often have the chance to do so cheaply and against multiple opponents. As a result, when you hit big, you will usually get a good reward and will take down the big pot.
Adjust Your Betting Size
Another substantial change would be to play your stronger hands more aggressively, especially preflop and on the flop. People are more than willing to call hefty raises, so you should protect hands like strong pocket pairs or AK, for example. The same goes on the flop. If you have a made hand and there are some possible draws, do not be afraid to bet big. Many people will chase their draws despite the bad odds, and you will get tons of value in the long run.
Much Bigger Stacks
Another huge difference between live and online poker is in the stack sizes in cash games. Online, they usually revolve around the 100 big blinds mark. Yeah, sometimes you will see double or even triple stacks, but that is rarely the case. The situation is entirely different when you play live and home poker games. Most of the time, the initial buy-in will be much bigger and could even go all the way up to 300 big blinds or more.
On top of that, people are prepared to make a rebuy all the time. You will see many guys busting and reloading. It is not uncommon to see a home or live poker game where the average stack is about 500 big blinds after a couple of hours on the table.
You should make this work in your favor. If you manage to get someone in an all-in spot, you could make a little fortune in only a single hand. Of course, this also means you should not be carried away and risk too much of your stack without a reasonable holding. If you are going to invest a couple of hundred big blinds on a single hand, make sure it is the right one.
People Makes Big Mistakes in Live Poker Games
In online poker, you usually fight for the tiny margins. Punishing small mistakes is the way to go, as most players avoid crazy moves like calling an all-in with ATo preflop or pushing all of their chips in the middle with a top pair and a weak kicker on the flop. You will be surprised how often that happens in live games, especially if they are home poker games.
This is why you should try to capitalize on such stupid plays by your opponents. Do not overthink by trying to get only little value now and then, aim big. Chances are, someone will pay you off with a weak hand. However, you should observe your opponents carefully so that you could identify such players without using poker tools and software that are available online.
Recreational Players in Home Poker Games
This one is related to our last point, but once again, there usually are very weak players at the tables when it comes to live poker games. Most of the time, there is a player or two who barely knows the rules, is drunk, or is merely having fun and does not care about the money. You will quickly recognize this person by the way he is spilling chips all the time. Once you know your target, try to make the kill. Isolate him from a position with any decent hand you might have, so you have good spots to take his chips.
You should always be careful with the other players, though. Often, people are chasing the fish and miss the signs of someone else hitting big at the same time. Be careful about that and try to avoid tunnel vision situations where you donate your money to another player because you too concentrated on ripping off someone else and miss valuable information on the table.
Look For Obvious Tells
Another advantage of live poker is that you see the face and body language of your opponents. Often people will not be able to control their emotions and will have many poker tells that reveals a lot. Follow the other players at the table carefully, and you may notice something useful. If you do, it is easy to get the job done later on.
According to most studies of poker psychology, untrained people follow certain patterns. For example, they act strong when they have a weak hand and vice versa. Always have that in mind, as its true more often than you would think. However, you should not concentrate on just one tell and should be looking for at least a few signs that could help you make the decision.
Of course, the key here is inexperienced and untrained opponents. If you are facing someone decent, he probably will not be doing the same.
Finally, you should always be careful yourself. Try to control your emotions, voice, and gestures, so you do not give away any tells.
Learn To Count Stacks, Pots, And Bets
If you mostly played online, you are used to precisely see, what the stack sizes, the pot, and the bets are at any given moment. The poker rooms do that for you, and it is very convenient. However, this is not the case when you play home poker games. You should try to create a habit of staying aware of this information at any given moment. Knowing how many chips, you can take and how much you got is crucial for stuff like pot odds, implied odds, and being able to make the right decisions.
In the beginning, it could be quite hard, and you will often be missing the count. However, if you put enough effort, it should come naturally at some point. It is an enormous advantage, as most players do not care too much about that, especially in home games. This disciplined approach will also be helpful when you play in casinos and will help you crush live poker games much easier.
Unlike online poker where you cannot break the rules or be careless, you could quickly get in trouble in live poker games. Verbal announcements count as actions when you throw chips in and there is no coming back. Therefore, learn the flow of the game and make sure you do not make stupid mistakes that can cost you a lot of money.
Crushing Live Poker Games
Obviously, reading a single article will not be enough to make you an instant winner in live poker and home games. However, the tips mentioned here are probably the way to go if you want to improve your strategy and start crushing live poker games at some point. Read and reread them carefully and put the necessary effort to turn the theoretical advice into actions on the table. On top of that, you can find many more of the best poker tips and continue improving further your cash game and poker MTT strategies.
You will be surprised how easy live poker and home games could be when you master these simple rules. The players there are weaker and careless compared to the online world, where most people have a decent idea of what they are doing. Once you adjust, you could genuinely make tons of money from live and home poker games.