Early position strategy
If you observe most low to middle stakes online poker games, good players tend to play ABC poker. In other words some clear early position betting patterns are noticeable.
In particular players only raise pre-flop from early position with premium hands. If they limp in, most chances are they hold a marginal hand such as small connectors, mid to low pocket pairs or a suite aced.
This approach is of course highly predictable, and predictability is the nemesis of poker players.
As the players still to act will get a good clue of how strong the early position players' hands are, the stronger players will use this as an opportunity to steal the pot with a good raise, knowing that are likely to get a fold.
How to play from early position
You need a specific early position strategy in order to not be so predictable.
First of all you can consider playing a bet or fold strategy, which consists in raising with your good hands and folding the rest.
If you are sitting at a very aggressive table, it is tempting to always fold your weak hands from early position, faced with a certain attack of you limp. But if you occasionally raise your marginal hands from EP, you can reverse this condition upside down, as the late position players may hesitate to call or raise you.
This will reduce the players in the pot post-flop, whether you have connected with the board or not. By decreasing the number of players in the hand, you have more chances to win the pot.
Say for example you are sitting at a full ring table. Raising from UTG with 77 is not a common play, as it is not strong enough a hand to warrant such action. But knowing that such a raise has a good chance to lead to a heads up engagement with a late player like the cutoff, it is a great technique to use to mix up your game and become more unpredictable.
The reverse strategy is to sometimes limp with your stronger hands. In fact one of Johnny Chan's favorite moves (1987-1988 world chmapion), is to limp from under the gun with pocket rockets.
In this scenario you want to be raised and you will 3-bet or 4-bet when the action is back to you. The downside of this type of move is that if no one raises you, you are likely to be in a multi-way pot, where top starting hands lose their expected value.
The upside is that it makes you less predictable, your opponents always wondering the strength of your hands. They will know that you do not always play straightforward and will be more circumspect when you raise in the future.
Use this two tactics with parsimony, while maintaining your overall tight-aggressive game. Of course as you go higher in stakes, good players will be well aware of these tips and will have counter-measures and more deceptive tricks to try to trap you. They will be even harder to predict and it is by observing them that you will move your game to the next level.
One of the many benefits of playing at Party Poker is that their games are known to be looser than Pokerstars. So using such a strategy as described above will work particularly well at Party Poker.
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