How to beat a pretty soft, and slow, tournament game?

legonick

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How to beat a pretty soft, and slow, tournament game?

You know, like most people's home games?

Early tournament, it's tons of limping, and then weak betting after that...4 limp in, mid-position min. bets, 2 fold, 1 call, mid-position min. bets again, call, min. again, call, caller has 2 pair.

But when you try to raise, people just call! A min. bet is as good as a 3x, or 1/2 pot bet - it just gets called! So it's easy if you make a hand.... BUT, you don't, because a few people have no idea what they are doing, if the action is on them, etc., so you aren't getting in a good amount of hands per hour.

Blinds continue to raise, lots of air, a few KQ hands that you raise, which gets no respect, then flop completely misses and someone leads into you, you have to let it go.

Next thing you know it's all in with pocket 10s into a bunch of limpers. You get folds all the way around, but the SB decides to call it off with K3 suited, and binks 2 pair on the first 2 cards of the flop, LOL. Now you are left with 1 chip of the smallest denomination. But you were on the button, so you wait for others to bust, just hoping to make the money. But the last 4 guys actually know what they are doing, and tighten up to make sure you get blinded out, and you don't make any hands along the way to toss in your 1 chip, so you get blinded out, LOL.

Anyways...I guess it's just limp a lot especially when the blinds are low? I hate that play because, with everyone else limping too, and people not knowing how to raise, it's like permanent-trappage! What hands are good enough to hold up when in a pot with 5 other people? Does someone always have 2 pair? How do you know your K7 kicker is good enough? With faster hands you can tighten up against these passive calling stations and make good money, but when the game gets slow and blinds keep going up, it's hard to drive the action because people just call with any 2.

Thoughts from those far better than I at crushing home games?
 

Legend5555

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Don't raise to try and win the blinds. Just raise your really good hands and good Broadways. Don't raise small pocket pairs as they function best as a raise when you know the pot is likely to get heads up. Limp more often and just use the good odds they lay you too try and hit hands then take them to value town. If they give you significant pressure, one pair is never good. Once the blinds are so high that everyone is at 25bb or less and there are no antes, you can actually do some weird stuff. You can min raise decent hands when folded to you even with 15bb. If they want to call with K3 though, just jam most good hands when folded to and hope to hold.

Basically... If people aren't folding. Only raise your legit value hands, strong Broadways and pairs. If they are letting everyone limp, limp along with smaller pairs and suited connectors etc. When you hit boards with those just fire away and profit.
 
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Shaggy

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Raise your premiums preflop. Limp damn near anything in later position... limp most hands in earlier position. See flops cheap. Outplay your opponents after the flop. Can you grossly overbet the flop with top two pair and will they still call? If so, that's what you want to do. Slowdown, shutdown, and fold if you are behind. Outplaying your opponents doesn't always mean pushing them off better hands... its checking when you thinnk you are behind and you know if they bet... it will be smaller than your bet. Get to showdown cheap.

You still want to raise your premiums pre because you want to build a pot and maybe limit the field. Perhaps raise your premiums even more... not 3x... try 10x.

I have played in a few charity tournaments with total noobs. No concept of betting or calling relative to the pot.
 

Legend5555

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I played a 70 person $20 tournament just like this last weekend. I wouldn't even 3 bet AQ or TT against these players because for most of them, that was the bottom of their raising range. And they would never fold pre.

Couple example hands:

I had 15k, one limp to me in MP at 200/400 with :ks::qs:. I raise to 2k because no one folds and they will call with all kinds of junk. I get 4 callers. Flop :qh::kh::kd:. SB bets 5k, I call, button calls. Turn :7h:. She jams for 5.8k. I rejam for 8k. Button calls. SB has 52o. Button has :ah::6h:.

A hand where I should have folded as crazy as its going to sound. Older lady in CO opens for 3bb with only 12bb left behind. I call from BB with :ad::jd:. Flop :as::tc::5c:. I check. She jams. I cry call, she had AQ.

Final two tables. I have just 13bb and I'm in BB. We go 4 ways to a flop and I have 69o. By river, no one has bet. Board is like AJ583. I bet 20% pot and everyone just snap folds

In these types of tourneys, a lot of people just play super face up. They limp too much at all points. Call too many raises pre. Call jams too tight in the late stages (obvious exceptions). Don't fold draws. Don't fold TP. BUT... they won't bet one pair on the river. And don't bluff with draws almost ever. They will check back in position hands like AK on A44T8 or T8 on T568K on river if they have gotten called on flop and turn. Basically, if any straight or flush is possible by river, even if they are checked to, they won't value bet stuff like 2 pair or trips. Sometimes even sets.
 

Moxie Mike

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OK there's a lot to unpack here. No disrespect intended, but if you're asking how to beat a soft game like you described (with a bad beat rant thrown in for good measure), you're probably not a super experienced player. I'll leave the task of offering tactical advice to others. I'd like to offer you something a little different than what you asked for. Hope it helps.

Master these concepts and you'll be well on your way to crushing soft games.

1) A loose passive game is a dream come true. This provides the opportunity to play a lot more speculative hands than when almost every pot is raised. A 'get in cheap/get out cheap' strategy should be deployed. Flop strong and bet your hand or check/fold.

2) Improve your hand reading and post-flop play. All your money will be won by exploiting weak opponents' tendencies.

3) Observe your opponents and watch for patterns. When hands go to showdown, pay attention to what they show and then replay the entire hand in your mind from their perspective. This will give you an idea of how they think. Play a game with yourself when you're not involved in a hand and try to predict what they will show down. Get good at that and the rest will fall into place.

4) Learn the basic percentages that are situationally significant. I'm not just talking about your odds of making a given draw or the preflop equities of one starting hand over another... those are important but understanding concepts like the fact that an unpaired preflop holding won't make a pair on the flop 70% of the time. This is applicable when ranging an opponent's holdings.

5) Study the concept of card removal and figure out how to apply it.

6) Suckouts and bad beats are not only inevitable, they HAVE to occur. The math dictates that if you're a 75% favorite, the opposite result MUST happen 25% of the time. Don't harbor a sense of entitlement to always run on the positive side of variance.

7) Read the strategy threads on this and other forums and participate in the discussions.

8) Play as often as you can. There's no teacher like experience. Playing against the same opponents is also advantageous.
 
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grebe

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Try your best to find the inflection points in the game.

Early on, everybody wants to play cards. Lots of limping, lots of calling small raises...the usual crap. Don't get sucked in to playing this way. Play tight and charge people to play against you the MAXIMUM they will pay to play their rags (you will have to vary your bets to find this number). Stay tight, stay aggressive.

Middle stages: Identify the weak players that are excited to be still in it and are just trying to hang on. Your image should be very good right now...raise these weak players every time they limp. Find opportunities to be aggressive. People are trying to make the final table...attack weakness! Middle stacks are your targets, beware the shorter stacks that are looking to double up or go home. Also, avoid that one fish that is on fire and has no business with the massive stack he has...he will call you down.

Late stages: When the bubble looms, this is time to take the training wheels off and start firing. Steal, Steal Steal. Min. raises will generally get the job done here...people want to make that money. You should be looking for any opportunity to take the blinds....if you have a comfortable stack, it will be super easy. If you fall into the trap of hoping to just make the money and start folding like the rest of them, you will not do much better.

End game: Short stack: rip it in with anything that looks good. Big cards, any pair, suited connectors, etc. You need chips. If you get knocked out, you gave it a good go. Big stack: PUNISH! Middle stacks are your target. Middle stack: Decide what you are playing for...best money you can get, or win. If best money you can get, tighten up, pick your spots and look to chop. If you want the brass ring, target the big stacks.
 

legonick

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[...]
1) A loose passive game is a dream come true. This provides the opportunity to play a lot more speculative hands than when almost every pot is raised. A 'get in cheap/get out cheap' strategy should be deployed. Flop strong and bet your hand or check/fold.

2) Improve your hand reading and post-flop play. All your money will be won by exploiting weak opponents' tendencies.
[...]

I want to go back in time and re-play that night! And limp a lot more, especially early game! And possibly call min. bets more post-flop as well. There were a few times where it was limped pre-flop, board was all trash, and I had 2 overs. Then another min. raise by someone. I know I'm beat by probably top pair or better, which is maybe 9 or so. And the bet to pot ratio is probably crying for a call. But with no made hand, knowing that I'm currently beat, I'd let it go, then both my cards would hit on the turn and river. Argh! I should have called that tiny min. bet knowing I had overs, maybe?
 

legonick

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Try your best to find the inflection points in the game.

Early on, everybody wants to play cards. Lots of limping, lots of calling small raises...the usual crap. Don't get sucked in to playing this way. Play tight and charge people to play against you the MAXIMUM they will pay to play their rags (you will have to vary your bets to find this number). Stay tight, stay aggressive.

Middle stages: Identify the weak players that are excited to be still in it and are just trying to hang on. Your image should be very good right now...raise these weak players every time they limp. Find opportunities to be aggressive. People are trying to make the final table...attack weakness! Middle stacks are your targets, beware the shorter stacks that are looking to double up or go home. Also, avoid that one fish that is on fire and has no business with the massive stack he has...he will call you down.

Late stages: When the bubble looms, this is time to take the training wheels off and start firing. Steal, Steal Steal. Min. raises will generally get the job done here...people want to make that money. You should be looking for any opportunity to take the blinds....if you have a comfortable stack, it will be super easy. If you fall into the trap of hoping to just make the money and start folding like the rest of them, you will not do much better.

End game: Short stack: rip it in with anything that looks good. Big cards, any pair, suited connectors, etc. You need chips. If you get knocked out, you gave it a good go. Big stack: PUNISH! Middle stacks are your target. Middle stack: Decide what you are playing for...best money you can get, or win. If best money you can get, tighten up, pick your spots and look to chop. If you want the brass ring, target the big stacks.

I like this and that's how I strive to play normally. But it felt like, between being a little card dead (best hole cards of the night were TT, followed by AT suited, and A9 suited), and the game being very slow due to inexperienced players, there wasn't enough time to play tight. You have to limp in and out-play/out-hit, especially early. Which I didn't and hence my run ended at 4th, and even that was only in title - I was effectively dead after an all-in where I barely had the other guy covered.
 
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Against these types of players you can be sure to see a lot of free/cheap flops, turn, and river. Throw out all poker knowledge and just play donkey as well because they will likely call you with just mid pair lol. At the end of the night, you're at the mercy of the poker Gods because when you're card dead.... you're card dead...and your AAs will surely get cracked by K6 off-suit...
 

JMC9389

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Definitely would only be raising premium hands, especially in early position. Everyone to respond here so far pretty much nailed it on the head. Fold your garbage in early to mid position but I'd take the line of limping anything marginal in late position.

Let the other players play bingo for the first couple of hours and knock each other out if you're card dead and then apply the pressure when the average stack is down to 10-15 BB's.
 

grebe

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I want to go back in time and re-play that night! And limp a lot more, especially early game! And possibly call min. bets more post-flop as well. There were a few times where it was limped pre-flop, board was all trash, and I had 2 overs. Then another min. raise by someone. I know I'm beat by probably top pair or better, which is maybe 9 or so. And the bet to pot ratio is probably crying for a call. But with no made hand, knowing that I'm currently beat, I'd let it go, then both my cards would hit on the turn and river. Argh! I should have called that tiny min. bet knowing I had overs, maybe?

You can ignore everything I said. If limp more is in your dream scenario, trying to play aggressive will not work.
 

Moxie Mike

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I want to go back in time and re-play that night! And limp a lot more, especially early game! And possibly call min. bets more post-flop as well. There were a few times where it was limped pre-flop, board was all trash, and I had 2 overs. Then another min. raise by someone. I know I'm beat by probably top pair or better, which is maybe 9 or so. And the bet to pot ratio is probably crying for a call. But with no made hand, knowing that I'm currently beat, I'd let it go, then both my cards would hit on the turn and river. Argh! I should have called that tiny min. bet knowing I had overs, maybe?
There's too much missing information to dispense advice on how a specific hand should have been played. But it's generally wrong to continue in a hand against multiple opponents when there's been a bet AND a raise - regardless of sizing.

Think of it this way... say you've got KJ on a 9-high flop and it goes bet-raise in front of you. Do you think it's a good idea to cold call while 1) not knowing if the original bettor will re-raise; 2) knowing your 6-outer will miss ~85% of the time; 3) not knowing how your outs could improve your opponents' hand strength; and 4) hoping that even if your one-pair hand at showdown will be good enough to defeat two opponents?

Good players look for reasons to fold. Bad players look for reasons to justify a call.

I suggest you post a strategy thread for hands you've struggled with. Be sure to include all the relevant info like stack sizes, blind levels, level length, position information, relevant reads, the stakes your playing, etc.
 

legonick

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You can ignore everything I said. If limp more is in your dream scenario, trying to play aggressive will not work.
Not at all my dream scenario...I like to play tight, and that's what I did. But with the amount of pre-flop limping, I agree with those here who said I should have adjusted my game for more limping. Limping begets limping.

[...]
I suggest you post a strategy thread for hands you've struggled with. Be sure to include all the relevant info like stack sizes, blind levels, level length, position information, relevant reads, the stakes your playing, etc.
I've been doing that with my online stuff some - recording the game so I capture all the relevant information. But I haven't figured out a way to do that live while still keeping my head in the game etc. It makes me appreciate poker vloggers more. But it also makes me question their information - I wonder how much they fib the cards because they didn't have time to record all the data and play the hand.
 

Moxie Mike

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But I haven't figured out a way to do that live while still keeping my head in the game etc.
Most of the relevant info (stack sizes, position, etc.) are all things you should be paying attention to anyway. Chances are there's only going to be one or two hands in a given night that might be worth discussing... so just use the notes app on your phone to discretely jot a few things down so you'll remember.
 

Josh Kifer

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Our game can be like this. When you have fish at the table willing to pay anything to see a flop, use your knowledge of this as an advantage. Make them pay for cards, use the flop as leverage them during these positions. We have some players who will play anything, so if I hit my pair, I'm going to drain them down every street and squeeze as hard as I can.

Yes, it will fail sometimes by them hitting an out, but if you drain them 75% of the time, eventually they will bust and you will be comfortable.

Don't let donkeys hitting change your methods, use your methods to punish the donkeys.
 

chicubs1988

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My simple advice, similar to what others have said, is to play tight, "ABC" poker early in the tournament. Play premier starting hands and when in position play good trapping hands where you can stack off someone who is overplaying their hand (ex: suited connectors in late position). Most casual poker players don't really understand staring hand strength/strategy, nor do they understand pot odds, implied odds, etc....As a result, they play way too many hands, they don't raise enough, and once they get in a hand the will call way too often and will only give up on a draw once it misses on the river. Because of this you don't want to try any complex plays or bluffs early, because those concepts are way above their head. They are solely focused on their cards and aren't paying attention to what other people might have. If they get a suited ace and pick up a flush draw they are going to chase it until the river 99% of the time no matter how bad the odds or how obvious it is they could be drawing dead.

Once you get into the later portion of the tournament where blinds start to get large in comparison to stack sizes, this is where you will open up your hand ranges and bluff more. Most casual players won't adjust their play and will become too tight because they will focus on the blinds numerical size instead of its size in relation to their stack. This will allow you steal blinds and stay afloat until you hopefully get some hands that can win you the tournament.
 
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