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Top 10 strategies to beat poker regulars

14 September 2020

By Narciso Baldo

If you’re a strong, winning player, you already know how to beat “fishes” and maybe even intermediate players, too. But, lurking at most poker tables are “regs,” those players who sit and grind hours on end.

The general consensus among winning poker players is that these are not the players you will make lots of money playing against. A “reg,” or regular, is not necessarily a great player, but they are often one of the tougher players to extract money from. They might be 10 tabling a small hourly rate, which suits them fine, from Thailand. Let’s take a look at the top 10 ways you can beat these players.

Players are more observant playing one table rather than two.

Players are more observant playing one table rather than two. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

10. Play less tables
Most regs are playing lots of tables. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but it’s proven that the fewer tables you play, the more focus you are able to give. It’s logical, right? You are more observant playing one table rather than two, as your attention is divided between fewer tables. I am not advocating single tabling, but playing a few tables less is more likely to give you a technical edge over a player that is playing more.

9. Three-bet them in position
Regs hate being three-bet, or re-raised, particularly if they are out of position. It’s a very effective way to beat them down. They are well aware that flat calling three-bets out of position is not a good idea. This leads to them giving up a lot of blinds pre-flop to you. Give it a while and they will either give up their steals from the cut-off, or four-bet you lightly. Both of which are fine by you as you are risking less than them to win! Over the course of time, these three-bets will amount to a lot of money.

8. Triple barrel bluff more
I’m not recommending triple barrelling (bluffing on the flop, turn and river) every hand against regulars, but you can certainly increase the frequency of these bluffs. Regs are winners, in part, due to the fact they consistently make solid folds. When you fire three streets, it says to your opponent you have a very strong hand. This will usually get a lot of respect from an advanced player. A turn call doesn’t necessarily mean they are calling the river anymore. This isn’t 10 years ago when that happened all the time. Trust your gut and look out for spots where triple barrel bluffs are likely to work. You’ll be surprised how often they are effective against regs.

7. Steal their blinds
Regs are not very protective of their blinds in cash games. Tournaments are a different animal, but cash games – you can steal their blinds relentlessly. Regs are not keen to play pots out of position when deep stacked. They know they can’t pot control or extract value as easy when they are first to act. This makes perfect sense, but also means their blinds are there for the taking most of the time.

6. Check-raise continuation bets
Regs rake it in when they continuation bet online. They understand that continuation bets do not need a high success rate to yield favorable returns. If you are out of position and called one of their raise’s pre-flop, throw in a check-raise and it will work a decent amount of the time. It is more likely to work on a dry board where they are unlikely to have top pair or better. If they continue after your check-raise, review the situation on the turn. Most regs give up steals to a check-raise, so don’t go gung-ho on later streets.

5. Three-bet their raise over limper(s)
You see this all the time. Regs raising over a limper or two. Most other regulars get out the way and let them battle it out. Don’t be like them! This is a great opportunity to win the pot pre-flop. Next time you play, watch out for showdowns in hands where they raise over limpers, they are doing it with suited aces, suited connectors, off-suit paint cards and worse. A three-bet over their iso-raises (raising pre-flop to create a heads up pot) will work and significantly help your hourly win rate. Your cards are not that important – as long as you are doing it against a reg who has shown propensity to raise lightly, it will work.

4. Be awkward and unpredictable
There’s nothing worse than being easy to read, is there? A sure-fire way to confuse and beat regulars is to throw in unorthodox plays. This might mean raising 5x from the small blind, or min three-betting from the button. By being awkward and difficult, you are making yourself harder to read and more likely to elicit mistakes from regs who are unsure what to do. As soon as you have them out of their comfort zone, you have the upper hand.

Take a little time to find the right games.

Take a little time to find the right games. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

3. Table select better
Another way to beat regs is to pick your games better. Some are selecting based on high average pot and fewer fishes, but a lot aren’t. Instead of joining any game that is free, take a little time to find the right games. There are loads of fishes online, don’t let the other regs get to them before you though.

2. Don’t play for the sake of it
Poker is fun and challenging but it’s mentally exhausting too. You want to play your best game as often as possible. It’s possible that you can win on your C game but how much and is it worth it? I see lots of regs playing way too many hours and playing for the sake of it. Don’t play if you are not rested, prepared and focused. The games are not going anywhere. Play when you are at your best and you will earn more.

1. Work harder away from the table
There’s always room for improvement. The day you stop learning and getting better is the day you are being overtaken by rivals. In poker, as in life, you reap what you sow. Those who work hard will get results. Those who are lazy, are less likely to. Dedicate time every week to developing as a player and your bankroll will grow because of it. You can read poker books, listen to podcasts or invest in poker training. These are just a few of the tools available to help you take your game to the next level and beat those pesky regs.

 
Narciso Baldo
Narciso Baldo was a professional poker player for many years with over $700,000 in online MTT cashes and undocumented success in live cash games.

More about Narciso Baldo
More articles by Narciso Baldo

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