Playing in Loose Games

An Adjustment Based on Player’s Skill

There is another concept that we want to mention which is very important in good, loose poker games. Suppose a tough player to your right bets and there is a bad player to your left. If the situation is close between raising and calling,even with the scale normally tipping towards raising, you should not raise. This concept comes up on all poker betting rounds.

Having the bad player on your left should turn some raises into calls if you think that the raise will knock him out. In other words, on a close decision, be less likely to knock out a bad player behind you, especially if your raise is likely to leave you heads-up with a good player.

This idea is especially obvious on the last betting round. Let’s say a good player bets and you have close to the nuts, but not the nuts. It’s mistake to raise him if your raise will shut a player out because the good player may now flod (or raraise). You have a better chance than normal for the opponent on your left? You have a better chance than normal for the ovrcall, so go for it.

This concept is generally true on other rounds as well. There are some exceptions where you happen to have the kind of hand that really needs to get heads-up,but in general most players raise too often in these situations, thus not giving the weak poker player behind them a chance to call.

Again, if it is very important to get heads-up, then definitely try to do it. But if you have a hand that could be played either way, and you are leaning towards raising, if there is a bad player to your left (and even more so if the original bettor is a good player), just call and keep the bad player in.

There are two reasons for doing this. The obvious one is that when you get to play against a bad player. He’s going to make mistakes against you.

There is also a second reason which very few players know to take into account. It has to do with what is known as a protected pot. When you keep a bad player in on a close decision, you won’t have to guess as much when a good player bets. He is far less likely to bluff because he knows that even if you fold, the other guy will call. This will have the effect of slowing him down, and you should take advantage of that.

You can sometimes reverse this poker concept when a bad player is in the hand. Suppose in an unraised multiway pot you have


and you are the bring-in, and on fourth street you catch the

You check, a good player who has caught either a king or a queen bets, and a bad player calls. You should check-raise because it will be difficult for the good player to put you on a bluff since you are check raising not only him, but the bad player as well. And, you both know that the bad player will call you all the way.

By making this check-raise the good player won’t try to get fancy with you. Not only will he throw away a pair smaller than your jacks (on fifth street), he might even amuck a hand like


on fifth poker street and allow you to play the bad player heads-up. So by reversing this process you can sometimes take advantage of those times when the good player knows that you’re not going to bluff the bad player.