Live Poker Strategy

Playing live cash games is the ultimate thrill when it comes to poker games. You are not limited to time restraints, as in tournament play, and you’ll be able to observe every twitch, fidget and other poker tells from your opponents, as opposed to playing online poker opponents.

Whether you have experience or not playing live poker, strategy is the key to winning. If you have failed to walk away with a hefty bankroll in the past, applying a solid live poker strategy can change the way you look at the game, as well as the profitability of leaving a table.

Live Poker Strategy – Establish Player Types
Before you can decide what type of live poker strategy you should be using, you’ll first want to determine what types of players you are up against. For the first few hands, unless you are dealt a premium starting hand – Pocket Aces or Kings, A-K suited or off-suited – simply fold out and pay very close attention to the betting habits of your opponents.

If one player is folding every hand, they are playing a very tight game. If another player is calling to see every flop, they are playing a loose game. See if these probable loose players have a good hand to back up their reasons, or if they are simply a calling station that can’t bare to fold without seeing the flop.

Note other betting habits, such as slow playing monsters, bluffing, semi-bluffing, stealing blinds from late position, etc. Once you can peg the patterns of your opponents, you can determine exactly how each should be dealt with.

Live Poker Strategy – Loose Players
If you’re up against a number of loose players, you’ll want to apply a fairly tight poker strategy. Loose players are notorious for getting lucky flops and draws, but the consistency of their bad decisions will catch up to them once you are dealt a proper hand to contend with.

Live Poker Strategy – Tight Players
The best way to deal with a tight player is to bet aggressively on decent hands. A tight player will not compete with you unless he has a great hand to back it up, making them exceptionally easy to steal pots from most of the time. If they challenge your aggression, beware.

Live Poker Strategy – Poker Tells
We touched on this topic above, in the “Establish Player Types” section, but in live poker play, it warrants a much more detailed description. Poker Tells are the signs a player makes that relate to his hand strength. Most players do not even realize they giving away poker tells, but if you’re up against a pro, be careful that you are not baited.

A common poker tell would be raising of the eyebrows, or widening of the eyes, upon seeing their hole cards. This usually means they have a great hand. Note the hand they end up with (if possible) so you’ll know what it means the next time you see it.

Another common poker tell is when a player touches their face. This could be as obvious as scratching the chin, or as subtle as a finger tap on the temple. They may adjust their hat, straighten their collar, or run their fingers through their hair. These are common, subconscious reactions to situations, often relating to a bad hand that they intend to play anyhow. Again, note the reaction, the betting that follows, and the resulting hand strength when possible.

All of these poker tells can help you to predict the future game play and hand strength of your opponents. In the same token, do not let yourself become predictable. Any moderately experienced live poker player knows – the watcher becomes the watched…

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