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3 Easily Understood Poker Tactics That Will Make You Money in 2024

If you want to add a few money-making poker tactics to your game, read on.

Poker strategy has advanced a lot in the past 8 years (thanks to the widespread use of solvers). It’s simply never been easier to gain a deep understanding of the mechanics of the game.

But working with tools like solvers can be incredibly tedious, and even the associated terminology can be tough to understand.

I’m going to share 3 poker strategy heuristics that will help you win in 2024 and beyond. To help you truly digest the advice, I’ll favor using simple language over “nerdy” poker terms that tend to confuse people.

I’ll prove the validity of each heuristic with screenshots from the Lucid GTO Trainer, a new easy-to-use tool coming out this Thursday on Upswing Poker.

Note: Lucid GTO is amazing for coming up with strategies you can take to the table. You can use it to practice against “perfect” opponents and get instant feedback on your play. Or you can browse entire strategies for any common spot. Join the waitlist to get half off your first month when Lucid GTO comes out next week!

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1. Slow-play Pocket Aces when you actually want your opponent to catch up

I’ve noticed a tendency among poker players who aren’t super familiar with solver-based strategies…

When they get strong pocket pairs like Pocket Aces, they tend to always play fast and reach for bigger-than-usual bets/raises.

I believe this tendency is motivated by fear. The fear that their Aces will be cracked if they dare to make a tricky play. The fear that they’ll miss out on value with the strong hand they’ve been waiting for.

Funnily enough, that fear often leads them to the right play. You should usually play your strong hands fast because that will usually make you more money.

But there are some situations in which mixing in a cagey slow-play with Pocket Aces will make you much more money on average.

Example: You’re playing $1/$2 and your stack is $200

The player on the Button raises and you 3-bet from the Small Blind with .

The Button calls and the flop comes .

In this situation, checking on the flop with your Aces is heavily favored over betting. Take a look at how Lucid GTO’s built-in solver-based strategy plays this situation:

lucid gto strategy for aces on 7-4-2 flush draw

Lucid GTO’s preferred strategy with Aces on this flop is to check (around 70% of the time)

This check has 3 major benefits:

  1. You allow your opponent to catch up just enough to pay you off.
    If your opponent has and the turn is a dreamy turn card like the , you’ll be in great shape to win a big pot.
  2. Checking gives your opponent the chance to bluff.
    It’s really nice when your opponent reads your check as weak and tries to make a move with a missed hand like .
  3. You protect the rest of your checking range.
    Sometimes you’re going to have a hand that missed like . By checking when you have Aces as well, you bolster your checking range so you can’t always be read for Ace-high or worse when you check.

If you’re thinking “but Mike, I want to protect against draws! What if a diamond comes on the turn?”

I would push back by saying “would your opponent fold a diamond flush draw if you bet on the flop?” The answer is no, of course not.

Your Aces don’t get much meaningful protection by betting. But they do get those 3 major benefits by checking.

So, when you find yourself with Pocket Aces in a situation where you actually want your opponent to catch up (or have a chance to bluff), mix in some checks.

2. Bet (really) big when the flop is much better for you than your opponent

Example: Suppose you raise before the flop and a player calls in the big blind. The flop falls and your opponent checks.

When you bet in this situation, it should be a big bet.

You’re the only player who can have the nuts (a set of Aces), the second nuts (a set of Kings) and the fourth nuts (top two pair). After all, your opponent would have re-raised preflop with any of those hands (AA, KK or AK). The best they can have is the third nuts (a set of Twos) and that hand is probably in your range too!

This is referred to as having a nut advantage, which is a key factor that drives bet sizing.

Take a look at how Lucid GTO’s builds the betting range in this spot:

big bet range AK2r

When the solver bets on this A-K-2 flop, it prefers an overbet

There are 3 major benefits to betting big on this flop:

  1. You force more money into the pot.
    This is obviously good when you’re the only player who can have all the really good stuff.
  2. It puts your opponent in a brutal spot right away.
    Imagine having a hand like or against a big bet on this flop. It would already start feeling pretty dicey!
  3. Your bluffs make more money.
    Notice that the solver bluffs on this flop not only with draws (like QJ) but also total airballs and low pocket pairs.

I want to expand on benefit #3 a little bit.

The solver really likes bluffing on the flop with low cards like and because of how the opponent is supposed to respond to the big bet.

With 1 click in Lucid GTO, you can see the big blind’s GTO response to this big bet:

big blind response vs big bet AK2

The big bet forces immediate folds from hands as strong as . Even weak Aces like fold at some frequency!

That means, as the bettor, we are absolutely printing money with those low hands. Imagine betting with and forcing a fold from a King. You were basically drawing dead, and yet here you are dragging the pot.

Of course, your human opponents may be stickier than the solver. They may always call with any Ace and any King on the flop. But that just means you’ll be making WAY more money when you actually have a value hand like , , or .

If you use a big bet and build your range close to how the solver does, you will find yourself in this desirable win-win situation.

Note: Other flops that warrant this type of big bet include , , and . This trend is quite common on flops with two high cards and one low card.

3. Check a lot when you’re out of position, even if you’re the player who raised before the flop

You probably already know to always “check to the raiser” when you’re out of position, but did you know you should often check as the raiser as well?

Example: Suppose you raise and a player who has position on you calls. The flop is .

This flop is quite favorable for the player who called you in position. You are more likely to have a strong overpair like , but you also have way more missed high card hands like and .

Meanwhile, the opponent’s range has a high proportion of sets, two pairs, pairs, and flush draws with much fewer missed high cards.

Accounting for these factors, Lucid GTO takes the extreme measure of checking the entire range as the out of position player on this flop:

lucid gto hj vs btn 7-6-4

Checking with your good hands (sets, two pairs, overpairs and flush draws) protects your weaker hands (gutshots and overcards) and makes you much tougher to play against.

But just because we’re checking doesn’t mean we’re giving up on the pot. Far from it. Take a look at how Lucid GTO responds to a small bet after checking on this flop:

check-raise on 7-6-4 as preflop raiser

Lucid folds just 34% of the time against this small bet from the opponent.

More importantly, it check-raises a whopping 21% of the time. That check-raising range (light green) consists of mainly strong hands (top pairs, overpairs, sets) and draws (gutshots and flush draws) along with a few random bluffs.

This was, admittedly, an extreme example. is one of the worst possible flops for the out of position preflop raiser.

But Lucid GTO also checks at a fairly high frequency on more favorable flops. Here are some examples along with their checking frequency:

  • – 58% check
  • – 92% check
  • – 94% check*

*This one really surprised me!

If you were the type of player to c-bet out of position very often because you were the preflop aggressor, hopefully this section has convinced you to check much more often.

It’s also worth noting that checking with a protected range becomes even more important in multiway pots. When you have multiple players’ condensed ranges to worry about, you shouldn’t be unleashing bets willy nilly!

So, if you play in those splashy live cash games where 3+ players tend to see every flop, get ready to do a lot of checking as the preflop raiser — and then stick it in their face with an aggressive check-raising strategy!

Any questions?

Let me know in the comments below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

If you want to build your own poker skills without spending countless hours doing tedious solver work, sign up for the Lucid GTO waitlist and get the tool when it drops this Thursday.

COMING THIS THURSDAY (March 7th)
The Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer

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Want to get 50% off your first month of Upswing Poker’s new training tool?

Join the waitlist here and move quickly when Lucid GTO comes out next Thursday.

Everyone who gets Lucid GTO within the first 4 days of launch (March 7th – March 11th) will get 50% off.

Note: Supported game types at launch include cash games and heads-up. Tournaments and spin and gos are coming soon.

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