Poker players - give me some advice on how to dominate a very casual game

I play hold-em every month or so with a group of friends. It is extremely casual, very loose, and for very low stakes. If someone has a horrible night they’ll lose maybe five bucks.

That said, I want to be the ‘big’ winner every month. Bragging rights and all that.

I do pretty well playing aggressively, but I wonder if I am maximizing my potential.

To give an idea on the climate, it is unusual for someone to fold pre-flop. However, many opponents can repeatedly be bullied into folding post-flop with a modest raise. Even though the game is loose, a few play an ultra conservative style (you can pretty much tell what they have by how they bet). Oh yeah, the drinks flow, and there are a few who can get pretty careless as the night unfolds.

So, what is my best strategy in such a game? Any specific tips?

I should mention that it is not a tournament setup, just an ongoing hold-em game.

It actually sounds like you’ve pretty much figured out how to work the table. Casual games basically break down into tight players you play carefully, people you can bully off even decent hands, and drunks. And then the occasional decent player, and the aggressive player you try to hit a good hand against.

Bullying generally pays off best, particularly with selective shoves of your stack, but it’s not very fun if you like the other players.

Spike their drinks. I’m not suggesting going full-on Cosbying (although it WOULD be easy to rob them once they are out cold), but maybe just add a bit of extra booze in their drinks. Or push drinks on them faster than they normally drink.

Absolutely stay sober. I don’t gamble. I play poker against drunk salesmen. Candy from a bunch of babies, it is, in that they cry but give you their candy. Not even close to gambling.

The first thing I want to know is if this the respondents here think this group is so easy, then there has to be a real reason why you haven’t yet been a ‘big winner.’ I’m guessing they get sick of your aggression and call you down if they have hit any part of the board. If this is so, then learn how to let them bet into you, instead of them becoming sick of your aggression. Let them trap themselves instead of your aggression leading you bluff off your stack.

Playing a cold and calculated, politely aloof game is a fairly good strategy – study up on odds, get good at remembering all the cards that have been played – and it won’t lose you any friends.

If you master an aggressive, bullying style of play, be prepared for a lot of solitaire.

I dunno, teetotaling the whole evening with your buddies in order to win $5 off a friend seems like the OP is losing. Do you really have bragging rights cause you beat a drunk person who would rather enjoy the evening?

I guess I gave the wrong impression. I don’t abstain from drinking, but I do bear in mind that I’ll be driving myself home at the end of the night so I take it easy. Nobody gets sloppy drunk, but there are one or two who aren’t thinking as clearly as the evening progresses.

And I love playing, so yeah, it’s always a good time.

Sounds mean to me. Five bucks is a cheap buy in to have a good time with friends, not a cheap way to score points. Anyone using a get together to maximize their potential gets short shift in most groups.

Kick over the table and pull a gun.

No, I don’t play poker. Why do you ask?

Clearly I gave the wrong impression. Let me try again.

It is a super-friendly game, everyone looks forward to it, everyone has a good time.

But folks do want to win. This is the definition of ‘friendly competition’.

If you think trying to win - or even dominate - is ‘mean’, I don’t think we’re ever going to understand each other.

Reported for forum change.

I think you’ve largely answered your own question.

For example, it’s well-known that most people play too many hands. You should only play strong hands pre-flop (depending on how many players there are), only occasionally limping in to keep people guessing.
Playing like this is extremely boring, which is why casual players rarely do this.
So it’s a matter of whether winning, or playing more hands, is more important to you.

Then you say some players are so conservative you can basically tell what their hand is. Good. So your payday comes when they land a good hand but you’ve got better.

Good post. I guess the dilemma is to choose between the smart way to play and the fun way. If you play the smart way you do a whole lot more watching than playing.

Moving to the Game Room.`

Just stick to high hands. Pair of 9s and better, suited pairs, 8+9 and above. Only bet THOSE lower types of hands late in the pocket, but if you have say AA, KK, KA and your the first caller, go aggressive.

If its a casual game, fold when the flop doesn’t seem to pay off as anything great.

Stick with the good hands, and pay attention to table position so you don’t re-raised with a marginal hand, and you’ll win.

This kind of reminds me of the story about the kid who keeps being offered either a nickel or a dime by a group of older kids, and he always takes the nickel, because as soon as he takes the dime they’ll stop offering. In other words, if they start to notice you are dominating the game and/or always going home a winner, they might stop inviting you, or at least stop enjoying themselves.

My friends and I occasionally organise a similar-sounding game. Among them I have a (largely unjustified) reputation for being a strong player; it is true I am one of the most experienced. Regardless, I have fun by changing things up and switching from very loose to very tight play throughout the evening. Sometimes this means I’ll bust out first hand, sometimes I’ll win. If I played tight-aggressive the whole time I would get bored and so would everyone else.

As a fairly successful penny-ante poker player in my youth, the keys to my game were:

[li]Don’t get too drunk.[/li][li]Pay attention to the other players. You’ll fairly quickly figure out who enjoys the bluster/bluffing aspects of the game, who’s “playing to win” (conservative), and the people who just don’t quite know what they’re doing.[/li][li]Switch it up; don’t be predictable- occasionally bet up when you have shit cards, and fold early other times.[/li][li]Cultivate an image of paying more attention to the socializing than the game itself. Your opponents will assume you’re not paying attention and/or aren’t playing seriously.[/li][/ul]

Ultimately this strategy isn’t how to play the game, but how to play the players. You’re looking to try and figure out who is likely to bluff and when they’re bluffing, and who’s likely to only bet big when they have a winning hand, while you stay unpredictable so that they can’t get the same handle on you, and then you can bet up or not based on your own cards.

Check-raise 'em on the flop. One will usually bet out trying to “steal the pot” if no one else does.

Develop a fake tell.