Crushing 6 max home game, so how do I get better?

JScott

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So I'm crushing our 6 max home game, I have ever since I started hosting it. There's a couple loose aggressive players in my game that used to give me trouble, but as I've figured them out they're slowly turning to fish. This isn't a problem for them as we're all more than financially able to handle the stakes, and no one cares that I win a lot of the time because I'm always the one buying chips, tables, cards and generally organizing it all. And at 25/25c or 25/50c the wins/losses aren't high either. No one (including me) wants to increase stakes as it's a friendly game, and we like to keep it friendly fun competition only.

That said, I'm not really progressing my game, and if I were to join a game with any of you, I'd get destroyed most likely. Because I'm just playing the people, not the ranges, not GTO etc. The players are so weak in the game that if someone 3 bets pre-flop there's surprise around the table. Any hand with a face card is a solid hand to these guys, which does pose a challenge on its own I'll admit, good luck finding ranges.

So my question is this, not how do I make this game more challenging, I like crushing it for the most part, and I do actually put all the money from poker into a fund for MOAR poker (2019 winnings paid for the leather rail and some other upgrades on my chanman :)). But I'm more interested in how to progress my game? I have no casinos nearby, and only one crap underground "poker room" that I'll never step foot in again.

Any books/videos/training you'd recommend? And if it does help my game, is today's game so much different that it actually becomes more challenging to exploit amateurs who don't know what a pre-flop range is?
 

RichMahogany

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If I were you, I’d use your game to try things that you might not be comfortable doing at higher stakes or in a cardroom.

Try 3 and 4 betting more, and 3 betting light especially in position. Squeeze more often, semi bluff raise big draws in position. 3 bet from the blinds more often. 3 barrel bluff too.

Good player reads and the ability to make plays like the above will allow to crush most low stakes casino players. They are truly terrible for the most part
 

Rhodeman77

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There are a few PCF member run online private games if you want to test yourself and learn the old fashioned way of getting your lunch handed to you in some low stakes games.

other than that read all you can. Everything has some value. Watch as much as you can to learn more of what not to do. But playing is always going to be your best form of education.
 

Rhodeman77

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If I were you, I’d use your game to try things that you might not be comfortable doing at higher stakes or in a cardroom.

Try 3 and 4 betting more, and 3 betting light especially in position. Squeeze more often, semi bluff raise big draws in position. 3 bet from the blinds more often. 3 barrel bluff too.

Good player reads and the ability to make plays like the above will allow to crush most low stakes casino players. They are truly terrible for the most part

I’d say be careful with advanced plays. You can never play more than 1 level above your competition. If they are all level 0 or 1 at the most players, trying level 3-4 moves on them is more likely to trap Hero when Villains calls with a weak top pair, well because he has too pair! He will not understand that he should fold it to 3 streets of betting most of the time.

I was much in the same boat when I first left my home game. I knew I was the best of our group, but I had no idea if I was just the best fish in my small pond or if I had real skills.

Playing with a wider range of players is essential.
 

RichMahogany

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I’d say be careful with advanced plays. You can never play more than 1 level above your competition. If they are all level 0 or 1 at the most players, trying level 3-4 moves on them is more likely to trap Hero when Villains calls with a weak top pair, well because he has too pair! He will not understand that he should fold it to 3 streets of betting most of the time.

I was much in the same boat when I first left my home game. I knew I was the best of our group, but I had no idea if I was just the best fish in my small pond or if I had real skills.

Playing with a wider range of players is essential.

Very true but I believe it’s a great opportunity to get comfortable making advanced plays like that while risking less at lower stakes.

They won’t always work against unaware players and also might give better reads later on, i.e. who can be bluffed off top pair on scary run outs, who the calling stations are, which players are the rocks, etc. etc.
 

Jimulacrum

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Yeah, I'm gonna recommend against making fancy "advanced" plays for the sake of trying out new stuff. You've got these guys clocked already. Best play there is to continue spraying the water pistol into the clown's mouth. So to speak.

Three-betting light is only an advanced play when you're doing it specifically against someone who opens light or folds too easily. Doing it with players who don't specifically call for it is just throwing money away.

You need a new game, and I'm sorry to say, that's a little tough to come by these days. The PCF tourneys might be a good place to start, though. Small stakes, and a decent mix of games and players. I especially recommend (as I usually do) trying some non-Hold'em variants. There's no better way to advance your poker education IMO.
 

Coyote

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Make a study group with your players (if they 're willing to get any better themselves, that is) and read together Harrington's (and other) books.
Try to do to each other what you "ll have read.
The game would get a lot more interesting. :)
 

Rhodeman77

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Make a study group with your players (if they 're willing to get any better themselves, that is) and read together Harrington's (and other) books.
Try to do to each other what you "ll have read.
The game would get a lot more interesting. :)

great advice! If you help make your competition better it will in turn make you better. It may cost you some money, especially if you don’t get outside of this group.
But I have done it myself to help build PLO (and other games). If I didn’t help my players then we would only be playing hold’em and my edge would be much smaller anyways.
 

JScott

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I’d say be careful with advanced plays. You can never play more than 1 level above your competition. If they are all level 0 or 1 at the most players, trying level 3-4 moves on them is more likely to trap Hero when Villains calls with a weak top pair, well because he has too pair! He will not understand that he should fold it to 3 streets of betting most of the time.
That's sometimes my concern with these guys, I find if I play a certain way, like more GTO and less exploitative (if I'm saying that correctly), I start to lose my edge. I play often with my gut and take advantage of their loose play (limps/over valuing hands), and then I can crush them. But it's so hard to get them to fold to a bluff when they are raising pre flop with a J2s thinking it's a strong hand. And they're not balancing their range either, they legitimately do this as a strong hand at times.
You need a new game, and I'm sorry to say, that's a little tough to come by these days. The PCF tourneys might be a good place to start, though. Small stakes, and a decent mix of games and players. I especially recommend (as I usually do) trying some non-Hold'em variants. There's no better way to advance your poker education IMO.
Tournaments are a definite weak spot in my game, but funny enough I have no desire to get better at them, I just don't like the format. I run them sometimes when I host, but not really a fan.

I have started to introduce them to PLO, bomb pots and pineapple, but beyond that I don't really know much more myself. PLO is especially easy to crush as they really start to over value hands.
Make a study group with your players (if they 're willing to get any better themselves, that is) and read together Harrington's (and other) books.
Try to do to each other what you "ll have read.
The game would get a lot more interesting. :)
I've hinted at this and don't get a lot of interest. I don't feel the group has the interest, it's just about the weekly game for them. I try to educate during the game but don't want to come across as arrogant. Only one guy knows what "position" is, and even then he had it backwards thinking first to act has advantage ;)
 

RoyalBluff

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I’d say be careful with advanced plays. You can never play more than 1 level above your competition. If they are all level 0 or 1 at the most players, trying level 3-4 moves on them is more likely to trap Hero when Villains calls with a weak top pair, well because he has too pair! He will not understand that he should fold it to 3 streets of betting most of the time.

I was much in the same boat when I first left my home game. I knew I was the best of our group, but I had no idea if I was just the best fish in my small pond or if I had real skills.

Playing with a wider range of players is essential.
100% agree with this. I learned this the hard way facing level 0-1 players.
 

LetsGoBroncos

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If you’re serious about getting better, I recommend utilizing online training sites. The game has changed so much that other than key fundamental math, not much can be used from most published books.

I personally recommend Raiseyouredge and the upswing lab!
 

Mojo1312

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So my question is this, not how do I make this game more challenging, I like crushing it for the most part, and I do actually put all the money from poker into a fund for MOAR poker (2019 winnings paid for the leather rail and some other upgrades on my chanman :)). But I'm more interested in how to progress my game? I have no casinos nearby, and only one crap underground "poker room" that I'll never step foot in again.

I get the void you feel by playing in a low stake game that poses no real challenge, but the fact of the matter is everyone is there to enjoy themselves over cards and none are interested in becoming the next face on Card Player magazine, so enjoy it.

Why make the game less profitable?
 
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Jimulacrum

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I get the void you feel by playing in a low stake game that poses no real challenge, but the fact of the matter is everyone is there to enjoy themselves over cards and none are interested in becoming the next face on Card Player magazine, so enjoy it.

Why make the game less profitable?
Yup, this is a great point.

If you're serious about improving your game, it's great to have a profitable lower-stakes game on your schedule.

Why? Because to improve, you'll need to dip your feet in some new, tougher games, and that will require some investment. You may or may not come out of these tougher games a winner every time, so having a consistent source of funding will be important.

I've been in this spot before, absolutely crushing my $0.25/0.25 home game, but then not doing quite as well in bigger games with tougher opponents that I couldn't just run over. The wins at the smaller game were crucial in letting me try my hand at the bigger games.
 

JScott

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I get the void you feel by playing in a low stake game that poses no real challenge, but the fact of the matter is everyone is there to enjoy themselves over cards and none are interested in becoming the next face on Card Player magazine, so enjoy it.

Why make the game less profitable?
You and @Jimulacrum make a good point.

I guess part of it is I want to make sure I'm getting better for when I do up the stakes. I don't want to get crushed in my own game when I start hosting .50/$1 or $1/2. I'm building a pretty state of the art poker room in my house, and with that might attract higher stakes, which may lead to better players... and I like winning.

And that's kinda the point of this thread, I want to up my game, and the current one isn't allowing me to do so. I'll never stop playing it, so I don't want to make that game harder.

I guess the answer is just this, play that game the same exploitative way, and then read, read, read and study so I'm ready for the higher stakes?
 

JScott

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If you’re serious about getting better, I recommend utilizing online training sites. The game has changed so much that other than key fundamental math, not much can be used from most published books.

I personally recommend Raiseyouredge and the upswing lab!
What about tells, I'm pretty good at this, but it seems like these days reading the players has stopped being a thing due to all the online poker.

I want to find ways to recognize my own tells and mask them. There are a couple of guys in the group that I can read like a book, others I'm learning.
 

Rhodeman77

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What about tells, I'm pretty good at this, but it seems like these days reading the players has stopped being a thing due to all the online poker.

I want to find ways to recognize my own tells and mask them. There are a couple of guys in the group that I can read like a book, others I'm learning.

tells that are more reliable are usually things like bet sizing. Betting the same amount on the flop and then again on the turn. Betting very fast on the river even though the board texture changed a lot. Looking for patterns in the sizes of bets is going to be a strong indication of hand strength.

Body language tells are much less reliable overall. Especially when people know you are looking at them. Talking can be a tell one way or another. But it needs to be correlated to be of any value.
 
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DrStrange

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Is Hero having fun? The money involved seems to be pretty modest, so the question of fun, yes or no, is critical.

How much is "fun" worth?

Is there more fun to be had playing a more challenging game? What if the tougher game was a net money loss?

Could the issue be that Hero doesn't much like his/her friends as much as before?

What are Hero's priorities?

DrStrange

PS GTO poker has little to no place in this sort of game. Well except for fun maybe - Hero will be leaving behind all sorts of value switching from exploitive play to GTO play. But it would be fun to watch the guys calling Hero down with second pair pick off all the GTO bluffs. They would be thinking "I knew that Hero was always full of it, and tonight I caught him!" That might be good for the game.
 
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JScott

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Is Hero having fun? The money involved seems to be pretty modest, so the question of fun, yes or no, is critical.

How much is "fun" worth?

Is there more fun to be had playing a more challenging game? What if the tougher game was a net money loss?

Could the issue be that Hero doesn't much like his/her friends as much as before?

What are Hero's priorities?

DrStrange

PS GTO poker has little to no place in this sort of game. Well except for fun maybe - Hero will be leaving behind all sorts of value switching from exploitive play to GTO play. But it would be fun to watch the guys calling Hero down with second pair pick off all the GTO bluffs. They would be thinking "I knew that Hero was always full of it, and tonight I caught him!" That might be good for the game.
Yes, having fun

Fun is the most important part imo

It's not that I want a more challenging game. I do want to be competitive in a more challenging game.


I love this group, they're a lot of fun and some of my best friends.

Priorities are this: Continue having fun with this game, continue crushing this game, while also improving AT the game.

I think you may have misunderstood the post, which probably was because the question isn't clear from my end. I want this game to stay the same, I want to continue to crush it, but I want to get better as well so I can play different stakes and with different players. I hosted one game with some new guys and it was 25/50 and played like $1/$2, I felt out of my league for the first hour until I realized they were playing higher stakes, but similar play to my core group, which is poor poker. I don't like that feeling that I had at the start, I don't want to be the fish. I'm competitive, and while I can have fun with great people while losing, I'd still rather win. ;)
 

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But it would be fun to watch the guys calling Hero down with second pair pick off all the GTO bluffs. They would be thinking "I knew that Hero was always full of it, and tonight I caught him!" That might be good for the game.
LOL! No doubt!
 

JScott

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In that case you 'll need another crew, which is going to be a long process.
Just don't mix the two crews.
Honestly, that's not a bad idea.

I was thinking of running a micro stakes (5c/10c) game for newbies, a .25/.25 or .25/50 for my regular crew, and maybe a 50c/$1 game for some new guys. I have a feeling they'll just be richer and not 'better" though.
 

JustinInMN

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And remember, GTO is fundamentally a defensive strategy designed to counteract the advantage observant players may have if they pick up on patterns. The broadest explanation I have of GTO from my limited reading is to ensure you have a balance of hands for every "line" you take in a given situation. This does require that you give up some exploitive plays for the benefit of balance and deception.

If your opponents are not that observant, then this is a bad trade off and keep playing exploitively until they adjust.
 

JScott

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And remember, GTO is fundamentally a defensive strategy designed to counteract the advantage observant players may have if they pick up on patterns. The broadest explanation I have of GTO from my limited reading is to ensure you have a balance of hands for every "line" you take in a given situation. This does require that you give up some exploitive plays for the benefit of balance and deception.

If your opponents are not that observant, then this is a bad trade off and keep playing exploitively until they adjust.

Learn something new every day.

see, I’m not that good, everyone else is just bad.


63145E22-B7ED-4C5D-B3EC-4356887BCA6F.jpeg
 

JScott

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Either way leads to profit.
Netted $2200 since I started tracking my poker winning playing 25¢/50¢

spent $1800 on chips,
Ordering custom cpc’s (another $1500)
Chanman ($5k)
And... admittedly, this new addition on my house is mostly only happening for my poker room.

so I’m actually down about $451,000. Haha
 

legonick

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Interesting post!

How good are you at the math side? It seems like you are pretty good at reading your players over time! But are you doing all the poker math on every hand? Are you so practiced that it feels natural?

If it's not 2nd nature, maybe that's something you could focus on. Honing that game. Then taking that to a more competitive environment - maybe a weekend at a casino or card room somewhere else. Then maybe you get your butt spanked, but try to record to your hands. Maybe review your plays, see where you could have done better. Make sure all the math works for the spots you think you were in.

It sounds like you just aren't going to get better with that group of friends you play with. If you want to host a more competitive game, then maybe run a 2nd game as others have mentioned. Make the 2nd game higher-stakes and try to find and keep players who are very good. I'd probably lean towards keeping it separate...you don't want your "friendly" game people coming and getting crushed week after week at the "hard" game if it's going to put them off of the friendly game. At the same time, weigh that against not telling them, as they'll probably find out somehow and you don't want them "butt hurt" you left them out. Maybe frame it up as a more serious game, they are welcome to come and play, but assure them it won't impact the friendly game schedule.
 
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Moxie Mike

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I especially recommend (as I usually do) trying some non-Hold'em variants. There's no better way to advance your poker education IMO.
+1 on this. You don't need to be an expert, but if you can get decent at Stud and PLO, NLHE almost becomes formulaic. The challenge is finding enough players willing to play non-Holdem games. If you figure that out, let me know :)
 
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