Best Strategy for Beating Bad Poker Players

It feels like bad poker players win more often than they should. While it may feel that way, they’re not winning players in the long run. It also may feel that way because there are tons of bad players out there. In his book, “The Theory of Poker” David Sklansky says we make money when our opponents make mistakes.

Bad players are bad in different ways. You have to find out what mistakes they’re making and adjust your play to exploit each flaw. There are a few techniques that work for combatting bad players (and all players for that matter) that we’ll go over here. Check out our guide on what to do if your opponent is aggressive and overbets. One thing that doesn’t work with a lot of bad players is bluffing. Again, this isn’t a blanket rule, but lots of amateur players don’t know enough about the game to be pushed off their hands. A lot of them will call anything to see what happens.

This brings us to one of the key skills to handling bad (or any) players. 

Determine a Hand Range

Learn how to play pocket kings profitably when playing Texas Hold'em

We’ve seen pros guess the exact hand their opponents have and it seems like magic. But it’s actually an acquired skill distilled from determining hand ranges. While it takes years to reach that point, you can start determining hand ranges today. 

The premise is simple, you try to determine what range of hands your opponent can have based on how they play. You can put them on a pocket pair, overcards, a draw or more. For example, you have pocket Aces or a big pocket pair preflop and raise gets called. You can have no clue what a bad player has, but you can learn more as the hand progresses. You want to bet and determine what your opponent has on almost every flop. If the flop has flush or straight cards and your opponent raises, they might have hit their hand. If they passively call a flush or straight draw, you can deduce they’re trying to hit their hand.

If they act aggressively on a mixed board, they might have hit a pair. This is dependent on each player, so see what hands they show at showdown and adjust accordingly. If they showed bad hands consistently, then you can deduce that they will most likely not have premium holdings. If they show good hands, then you can assume they only play big hands.

Important Tip: If a weak player misses the flop, they may bet the flop and check the turn. If you bet the turn then you can take down the pot. Weak players don’t bet twice at pots without having a big hand that often. Again there are always exceptions. 

Leaving a Game Filled with Bad Poker Players

Like anything else in life, you always need to know when to walk away. 

You should almost never leave a game with bad poker players. One exception would be if you’ve been having a few bad beats and are on tilt. It never pays to play on tilt, even against bad players. If you feel your emotions are getting the best of you and you’re making mistakes, it’s best to take some time to cool off.

The best scenario and the scenario poker players dream about is finding bad players scattered around their table. If the table around you is giving insane action, then you want to stay. You should look to maximize profit every day and minimize loss every day. Those two things should always be at the back of your mind, and it is easy to get carried away playing poker online.

To maximize profit you should sit in games with bad players as long as your mind can handle it. To minimize loss you should only play when you are completely locked in and focused. If this is for 3-4 hours or if it is for 12 hours or more, you should only play in games when you feel a level of comfort and security. This all depends on the types of poker games you are playing.


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