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Why You Want to Play with Bad Players in Poker

One of the most familiar laments new players make is that if they only played against better players, they wouldn't get sucked out on so much.

Correspondingly, if they didn't get sucked out on by bad players so much, they'd be able to make more money.

This is pretty flawed thinking. And the flaw in this thinking should be fairly obvious.

Bad poker players make a lot of mistakes; and mistakes in poker equal money.

Your Money in Poker Comes From Bad Players

Top hat

When you're playing poker you're hoping to make money. But where does this "money" come from?

From your opponent making mistakes - i.e. he calls too much before the flop, draws without getting the required odds, bluffs too often, etc.

These are all blunders that directly equate to more money for you.

Conversely, of course, if you screw up less often on average than your opponents, you are also going to be making money and soon become a very rich man or woman.

What's a Fish Thinking? Who Cares?

  • "Good players are easier to read; you never know what a fish is thinking"

This is another one you hear all the time. If the players are really all that good, then you really shouldn't be able to read them anyway - but that discussion is for another day.

Although you might be able to understand a good player's thinking with greater ease than you can read a fish's thoughts, that really doesn't matter.

Fish are going to make errors so often that you really don't need to "get into their minds." Instead, just wait for the nuts and value bet the crap out of them.

Players who just call all the time are the easiest in the world to beat

Dan Harrington
The adage is true: you can't get blood from a stone.

The adage is true: you can't get blood from a stone.

When you play versus a competent opponent, things aren't quite that easy. They are only going to put money in when they think they have an edge.

Thus, you need to read them because you need to know how they are playing against you.

The old adage is true: it's impossible to get blood from a stone. So why would you wish to play against a bunch of stones?

Remember, the more mistakes your opponents make the more money you are going to make.

While fish may win pots in the short term with various bonehead plays, in the long run those same bonehead plays are going to be what make them losing players.

Don't worry about the short term; yes, playing with more bad players may increase your variance. But ultimately those are the most profitable games you can play in.

More beginner strategy articles from Dan Skolovy:

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2012-03-17 19:29:46

“Which begs the question: Why would you want to play against good opponents?”

Depends what you define as a good opponent — personally I would much rather play agaist an”ABC” player or a tight weak player that a LAG.

Part of the reason is that when playing agaist “good” players who acutally fold you have fold equity.

2010-03-25 14:49:13

Article is spot on.

I started on play-money tables where the bank dishes 1000 chips every time you flush your bankroll… welcome to buy-in city. It is possible for just about every player at the table to leave up because of the donkeys dumping free cash on the table ad infinitum.

What I learned were bad habbits… I used to sit there as tight as a nuns unmentionables, playing fold’em and looking for monsters against a table of the ridiculous maniacs on the planet.

They all took way more money than I did till I realised that getting nitty doesnt pay, you have to open up not tighten up… and after opening up learn the discipline enough to pay their antics when I don’t have +EV on them.

I don’t play such tables anymore, but before I left I was playing them WAY more profitably. I am now much happier at microstakes and can use a more varied set of playing styles against a more varied set of opponents.

But the simple truth is, a bad LAG is an open wallet … and while they will suck out on you, bad beat you, and even preflop-All-In regularly with junk … if you don’t dwell on the results of the current hand you WILL bag their bankroll.

Once you get better players you won’t see such annoying suckouts so often, but you’ll find that the money roll to your end of the table so easily either.

But yeah, the article is 100% on the money … if you can’t yet see maniac LAGs as a fat mealticket you definitely don’t have the right mindset yet for moving up in stakes.

Funny thing is that it all comes full circle. Later in live games you will find yourself playing strong LAG on a table of TAGs profitably. I’m serious! LAGging the TAGs and milking their fold equity even on apparently -EV playes is incredibly profitable once you have first mastered yourself, dropped the emotional plays and per-pot ‘result-driven’ thinking, and have the self discipline down cold.

But while you’re still whining about bad players cutting you out of your game… well… you just have to face the fact that you ain’t actually found your game yet.

Hope that helps you Thomas H. It’s a bitter pill to take but take it you must : ) See you on the tables : )

phil ivey
2009-06-08 01:02:00


You are one of the fish that this article is talking about. Come sit at my table.



thomas h
2009-05-23 16:28:00


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