Three devastating poker moves to add to your game today

The pros have a few secret weapons in their arsenal – add these poker moves to your game and start winning with the best of them

1. The re-steal

What is it? 
In the last few years tournament poker has become more aggressive, as players have embraced the concept of raising in late position with an increasingly wider range of hands. This means many players are raising with far from premium hands, which in turn has led to the adoption of the ‘re-steal’ move. It’s become more than a sophisticated weapon to have in your no-limit tournament arsenal – it’s now standard practice to attack many late position raises with big re-raises.
 
Why did it become so popular?
Most tournament structures rely on a constant accumulation of chips, with the majority of online MTTs ending in all-in-fests. Therefore it’s vital you continually put pressure on opponents by attacking their raises and taking down pots preflop when you think you can force players to fold. If you suspect that someone has been raising with far too many hands you can take the educated risk of re-raising or shoving all-in (with decent and premium hands) and brushing them to one side. It does have some risk attached to it if someone has a genuine monster, but in most situations this powerful semi-bluff will get through because your opponents’ raising range is much wider than their calling range. Punish them!
 
How to defend against it
There are a couple of ways to combat late position re-steals. Either stop stealing in late position with hands that can’t stand a re-raise, or be prepared to call or shove with a much wider range. Assuming that you haven’t got a genuine hand against loose-aggressive players who you suspect to be re-stealing, you’ll have to weigh up whether you have the right pot equity against their range and how it will affect you if you win or lose the pot.
 

2. Inducing the squeeze

What is it? 
Everyone loves Aces, but you’re only going to get them once every 221 hands. Understandably, many players don’t want to ‘waste’ them by simply raising and taking down the blinds or re-raising and scooping a small pot. Instead, players have started to flat-call a raise with the hope an aggressive player will attempt a ‘squeeze’ play, either with or without a hand. And, worst case scenario, if no-one bites the Aces are still going to be good on a lot of flops. Indeed, by under-representing your hand you can often force a mistake from someone overplaying an underpair or top pair on the board.
 
Why did it become so popular?
Two words, Dan Harrington. His Harrington on Hold’em series of books championed the squeeze play after he highlighted his famous move with 6-2 at the 2004 WSOP final table. And, as everyone started squeezing at every opportunity, ‘clever’ players began flat-calling with their monster hands.
 
How to defend against it
The warning signs should flash if a player with less than 20BBs flat-calls an early position raise, and they should really go off if that player is aggressive. A flat-call of an early position raise by someone in mid-to-late position is much more likely to be a trap than if someone flat-calls from the blinds. Even with a monster hand, most players aren’t comfortable playing out of position.
 

3. Overbetting with monsters

What is it? 
In the not-so-distant past, when players made a monstrous hand they would often put out a small ‘value’ bet in order to ensure they got paid. And usually they got called and picked up some extra chips. Then some bright spark thought, ‘Hey, maybe I should get paid more when I make a big hand? After all, anyone who has called my bets to the river will often have a very good second best hand and be forced to call.’ And so good players, especially in cash games, started betting more with their monsters (and bluffing occasionally with a pot-sized bet so they were hard to read) in order to get more value. And now it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is catching on.
 
Why did it become so popular?
As poker strategy becomes ever more mature, certain concepts become more and more evident. Betting for value on the river is one of those strategies. Because a big bet used to be seen as a bluff, it now works as a value move. And then there’s the maths. Betting the pot has to work a lot less frequently than a small bet to produce the same expectation.
 
How to defend against it
You need to have a solid read on an opponent before assuming that, because there are two Aces on board and he’s betting the pot, he must be bluffing. You need to get used to reconstructing the hand to make sure their betting pattern makes sense. As for exploiting it, you need to mix up your play and not size your bets based purely on hand strength. If you’ve been seen taking an opponent to value town with the nuts, bet the pot next time you have it.

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