Top 10 Poker Tips to Beat LLSNL
As with anything in life, especially poker, nothing is exactly black and white. In a vacuum, these are a few helpful poker tips that have helped us here at 9to5poker beat Live Low Stakes No-Limit Hold’em at a pretty good clip over a large sample size. We don’t claim for this strategy to be free of faults and without holes, but at these stakes, namely 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, and 2/5, these tips have been rather effective for us.
It is important that you are honest with your current skill level, and slowly add these tricks to your arsenal over time, at your own pace, as you learn how to implement them correctly.
I ordered this list from 1-10, in no specific order, as they are all important fundamentals. It is essential to be able to recognize and pick the right spots to use some of these tips, otherwise you will just be lighting money on fire. In other words, it is probably not optimal to 3bet light vs the nit at the table whom just opened for the first time in 3 hours from UTG. Or c-betting wet boards in multi-way pots with no equity just for the sake of c-betting.
If you find yourself unfamiliar with some of the terms in this article, we recommend using your best friend Google, and do a simple search.
Now you will often hear that beating LLSNL simply requires discipline, patience, and in general an ABC strategy. I definitely can’t argue with this sentiment. No doubt this strategy will be profitable at these stakes, but your ceiling and hourly will not be as high.
If you have a more conservative personality at the poker table, it may be best to stick with this strategy. The issue with this style of play and approach in general is that it will be harder to jump up and adjust to the next stakes, as you are not training yourself to be the next Andrew Neeme and think at the higher levels required to beat those games.
It is all a matter of what your goals are, a matter of opinion, and how much variance you are comfortable dealing with, as you are bound to experience some growing pains as you learn how, and where to implement these tips correctly. Poker is all about pushing edges, and it is up to you to determine how big of an edge you are willing to push.
1. Construct your pre-flop range and game plan going into each session and stick to it!
- When I have looked back on my downswings, the big pots I have lost haven’t so much been due to my post flop play, but due to getting myself in tricky spots that I shouldn’t have been in the first place. Hence opening too wide in early position. Or open limp/calling a raise OOP with marginal holdings because my ego is too big and I think I can still profitably outplay my opponents postflop. You will just be bleeding chips doing this
- You need to construct your range with hands you are comfortable playing post flop. This is going to vary based on your confidence and skill level. And as you improve, you can start opening up your range a little more.
- Crush Live Poker actually has a great video on this at length, titled Introduction to Preflop Fundamentals, which you can check out by signing up for a 1 MONTH FREE! In this video they will provide you with an exact strategy and guideline on opening ranges from every position.
- For example.. if you raise from the C/O with AKo vs open limpers who call and you see a flop of..
4 6 7dd
- In general a board this wet is going to be a terrible board texture to c-bet even though you have overcards and are in position. Especially against more than one opponent. There are so many straight/two pair/sets/flush combos in their range it is best to check back when checked to and reassess the action on the turn.
- By c-betting on a board like this you are more often than not just burning money as you are rarely going to get it through, and you have no backdoor equity with picking up any potential flush draws. When your opponents do call and you improve on the turn, you are still going to find yourself in a tough spot.
- A limpers range in LLSNL is likely to be small pocket pairs, suited connectors, broadway type hands J10/Q10/K10/A10, and all the suited Ax hands.
- That board texure smacks their range and likely holdings much more than yours.
3. Have a mental checklist you go through on every street. Pre and post flop. And consider all options before making a decision, and then consider the most optimal one vs your opponent type and your holdings vs their most likely holdings (range)
- Ask yourself this question pre flop.. Is this starting hand in the pre flop range I constructed from this position?
- Should I check/call/raise or fold. And why is that the best decision?
- No Limit Holdem is all about denying your opponents their equity by sizing your bets to give them improper pot odds to continue with their draw heavy type hands, getting opponents to fold out their equity when you may have the worst hand, and semi bluffing in spots where you don’t necessarily mind getting called, but also don’t yet have showdown value therefore maximizing your fold equity.
- And when possible, get to showdown cheaply with your one pair/middling type hands
4. Complete more in the BB
- Since you are closing the action and don’t have to worry about anyone re-popping you pre, you are often getting the odds to profitably call a wider range and see a flop. Another opportunity to see a cheap flop, flop the nuts, and stack your opponent
5. Never open limp!!!
- This one speaks for itself. Open limping is one of the weakest plays in poker. It caps your range, and often you are going to limp/call or limp/fold which is simply burning money.
- Overcalling on the other hand is ok. If you aren’t familiar with the term, overcalling is calling behind a few limpers. The best spots to do this from are in LP when passive players whom rarely raise are in the blinds. A lot of your value in these LLSNL games is going to come from seeing flops and getting max value with your nutted hands where you can stack your opponents.
6. Always be aware of the pot size, and pot odds needed to continue with your flush/straight draws, and how to size your bets properly to deny opponents their equity by forcing them to make mistakes and getting max value when they do call
- Knowing when you are getting the right odds to call vs when you are being denied the proper odds to call separates the winning from losing players. Take a look at the charts below to get a better understanding of how these calculations work, and be sure to at least memorize the most common situations you will find yourself in which are highlighted in the bold print
- To elaborate on this concept a bit, learn your equities vs certain hands. Know what your equity is when holding a flush draw vs a set. Top pair top kicker vs a likely flush and/or straight draw for example. Two pair vs straight and flush draws ect. When you have an idea of what your opponents range looks like, determine how many outs you have vs that range and then determine the equity you need to continue..
A simple way to figure out your equity in hand is to use the 4 and 2 Rule..
- A flush draw for example is not going to have near as much equity on a paired board, as you have less clean outs. In comparison having a pair + flush draw, or flush draw + over cards on a non connected flop(potential straight draws) is going to be a much better scenario.
- It always helps with the tilt factor! Knowing your equities against your opponents range will help you get your money in good more often than not. You should never complain about bad beats when you get your money in good. And if you find you got your money in bad, learn from your mistake and quickly move on.
- Something I always do during my sessions is run my equity in all the pots I get involved in after the hand is over. I run equities for both what my perceived range of my opponent was, and what their actually holdings were. This is a great in game study tool, and over time you will go on autopilot when realizing your equity in hand and have these spots memorized
- Simply do a Google search for “Poker Equity Hand Calculators” and plug in some of these different scenarios. This is an excellent and simple, free study tool
- This concept is also known as “Realizing your equity.” It essentially understanding your Relative Hand Strength vs. your opponents likely holdings. And choosing the most +EV line by combining the power of fold equity, position, and your equity in the pot (or pot equity).
7. Learn to pot control and don’t bloat pots OOP!
- When we say OOP, we mean anytime you have a player behind you
- Pot controlling is going to be essential to your winrates. You rarely want to bloat a pot OOP because you will often end up in tricky spots when facing raises with marginal/top pair type holdings. In general proceed with caution in these spots, and don’t be afraid to check some streets, as often with marginal/top pair holdings you won’t be able to get more than 2 streets of value vs worse hands on dry boards anyways. Of course when you have a monster, pot controlling goes out the window as you want to take the most optimal line to get stacks in by the river
- Playing from the SB is the exception here, as we recommend having a higher 3bet percentage out of the SB
8. Know what board textures to c-bet
- The consensus optimal c-bet percentage over the years has decreased. In the mid 2000’s players were c-betting most flops regardless of board texture. Poker strategy/theory has evolved quite a bit since then, and some of the top players including Doug Polk now advocate for a lower cbet percentage.
- When c-betting, it is very important to recognize good/bad spots to do it in. The example included in Tip 2 is one of those bad spots to do it in.
- Let’s take a look at what I would consider a good spot to cbet..
Someone open limps and it folds to you on the BTN where you open with AKdd. It folds back around and your opponent calls. You see a flop of:
8 4 2xxd
Your opponent checks…
Now IMO this is a great flop to c-bet as it is a very dry flop, you have overcards, a backdoor flush draw, and if he calls you can double barrel any diamond/J+/A or K.
With a diamond you pick up equity, and if you whiff the river you can still set up a triple barrel where it is going to be hard for him to call with any of his marginal holdings that include a bare 8, or a hand like 77 or 99.
Any J+ is going to be a scare card with his likely holdings that called you on the flop because there are hardly ever any combos of J4 and J2 in his range. While your opponent does have sets and some J8s in their range, a larger part of their range is going to look like this:
8 10, 7 8, 6 8, 3 5, 55 – 77, J 8, 9 8, A 5, A 4, A 3, A 8, and 99’s
As you can see you are doing fairly well against that range in general, and there are lots of good cards you can barrel on the turn and river that can get those type of hands to fold. This comes back full circle to Tip 2 in knowing what cards are good/bad for your hand. And if your opponent does have a set, you will likely hear about it and easily be able to bet/fold. Once again Crush Live Poker has some excellent videos going into great depth on boards that are good/bad to double/triple barrel.
9. Learn how to hand read and apply it in game by making some hero calls on the river
- Sometimes your opponents stories just don’t make sense, and to play exploitively and not be exploited yourself, you are going to have to make some tough calls on the river.
My opponent opened to 8 in MP. I 3bet to 22 on the btn with JJ. He calls. Heads up to the flop
Flop 10 9 5cc
He leads out for 60 I call
Now his donk bet is pretty strange especially considering his sizing. Often times at these stakes a pot sized bet on the flop is going to be a protection bet by our opponent with a top pair type holding.. Since he just flatted me pre, I think his range is capped and we can discount QQ+ from his range. His range should look a little more like this..
He has more flush draws in his range than mine, but I also block..
KJcc/QJcc/AJcc/J10cc/J8cc as I am also holding the Jc
Since I have blockers to all of his holdings with a J in it I think his more likely holdings here are:
9 10/K 10/ Q 10/A 10/and maybe some 7 8
I deduced 9 10 from his range, and potential sets as I think he check/raises those type of hands vs my perceived range of overpairs, as he would expect me to c-bet this flop with most of my holdings after 3betting pre.
If he hit a 9 or 10 on the flop, there is also no possible way he can have a flush draw with his 910s holdings as both the 9 and 10 on the board are clubs
He bets 100 I call
At this point the only hands I really need to be worried about are Q10/QJ/78. And if I am behind a hand like 9 10 I have 8 outs with 2 J’s, 3 Q’s, and 3 5’s, all of which would improve my hand to a better 2 pair
River is a 6s
He shoves for around 300 and has me slightly covered
Now his sizing here is super polarized. He is either nutted, has complete air, or is just trying to buy the pot with a marginal pair/missed draw type hand. He also looked very weak on his shove and did not seem too happy about having to get it in. In general I don’t give live reads too much credit as opponents often use reverse tells, but this guy looked genuinely nervous. Along with my deductions and what I ranged him on the turn, combined with my live read, this river doesn’t change much unless he has 78. As played vs this opponent I think that is the least likely of his holdings. So I end up making the call and we were good.
Now this isn’t a brag by any means. Or the sickest call you will ever see by far. But I thought this was a good example of hand reading and how to implement it in game. You can’t always win with the nuts after all, so be prepared to make some tough calls when facing pressure from your opponents. And in turn it will make it much harder for them to exploit you, as they may think twice when going for that river bluff allowing you to get to showdown with your marginal holdings.
This is a situation and spot where I see recreational players overfold way too often. Instead of assessing the spot correctly, they instantly freeze up to scare cards. So next time you find yourself in this spot, take an extra 30 seconds and really think it through. You just might find a call and be right! For a more in depth look and study at Hand Reading, check out The Hand Reading Lab over at SplitSuit Poker
AQ, KQo, KJo, QJo, A10o, AJo, Axs
- You are going to either want to 3bet or fold these hands from the SB most of the time. As Andrew Neeme likes to say, both of these options have merit.
- Occasionally you can make a case for flatting with some hands, but your flatting range in the SB should be very small.
- The benefit to 3betting from the SB is that you will sometimes pick up the dead money in the pot and take it down pre (also known as a squeeze)
- Instead of flatting and seeing a flop 3 to 4 ways out of the SB with a marginal hand where you often will be check/folding, you now have a 50/50 chance to win the pot give or take a few percent dependent on your opponents 3bet calling range and also immediately take initiative in the hand OOP
- It is good to mix a variety of hands into your SB 3bet range along with your premium holdings, as it will benefit your image and keep you balanced when you pick up premiums
- A great example of the effectiveness of this play is in a straddled pot with multiple limpers. Often you can pick up the dead money already in the pot, and if you do get a caller you are often ahead of their flatting ranges. Their ranges are going to be capped, whereas despite having a marginal holding and being towards the bottom of your range, you appear to be at the top of your range, so it is going to be easy to c-bet most safe board textures on the flop and take down the pot right there. Essentially printing $$$.
- Now at the higher stakes your opponents are going to have more awareness that you are capable of 3betting light, but in Live Low Stakes No Limit 3bets look very strong and in general will get respect
Crush Live Poker does a great job of covering the 3bet from the small blind in depth. It is very important to understand the difference between a Linear vs Polarized 3betting range, when and why to use them, and how to construct these ranges. You can sign up for the a 1 MONTH FREE TRIAL today if you’d like to learn how to correctly apply this incredibly powerful tool.
Poker Vlogs duh! Ok so this is actually the easiest on this list. But I decided to save the best for last! As a visual learner myself, I have found poker vlogs to be one of the best current mediums for learning. You can learn from their mistakes, and more often from their strengths. I recommend watching the following vloggers whom we host right here at 9to5poker! Check out Andrew Neeme, Brad Owen, Jeff Boski, for the best hand analysis in the game among poker vloggers.