from the Daniel Negreanu Poker Newsletter

If someone describes your playing style as weak, you’re in lots of trouble. You’d better make changes to your game quickly to shed that reputation.

If you want to win at the poker table, focus on the weak players. Rather than duke it out with stronger, aggressive players, you’ll risk less and win more by playing against timid, passive players.

In order to pound on the shaky players properly, the first thing you’ll need to do is identify them. There are generally a few clues that you can look for, that while not always accurate, could be signs nonetheless.

  1. How he dresses. A player who dresses extremely conservatively will generally play poker that way. If he dresses loudly, he’ll more likely play aggressively or flamboyantly.
  2. How he talks. This is in line with the previous clue. If a player is quiet or timid in the way he speaks, chances are that’s how he’ll play poker. Conversely, if you’re dealing with a boisterous talker, he’ll probably be an aggressive player.
  3. Does he raise before the flop or just call? If he likes to limp in on a regular basis, you might be dealing with a weak player.
  4. Does he like to bet, or check and call? An aggressive player is a bettor, while a weaker player tends to check or call.

Once you’ve identified the weak players at your table, it’s time to strategize against them. Playing against a weak player is without a doubt the easiest type of opponent to face. In fact, your cards often don’t even matter since your inferior foe plays so predictably.

The key principle to think about is to basically pound him like an anvil! Do it repeatedly — like the school bully who steals his target’s lunch money — until he starts to stick up for himself. If he keeps giving it up, you keep taking it.

Hey, no one said poker was supposed to be fair!

When you have position on an ineffective player, you’re task is much easier. What you really want to look for are opportunities to get the weak opponent heads-up. How do you do that? Well, when the helpless one limps into a pot, try to isolate him with a decent sized raise. That will often knock everyone out but the timid player. Now you’ve got him where you want him.

Remember, it doesn’t even matter if you have a 2-7 in your hand. You aren’t really playing your hand, you’re playing the player.

If you are able to get the weak player heads-up with position, let his actions, or lack thereof, dictate what you should do. If he bets the flop, you can be pretty sure he has a good hand. If you don’t flop a good hand, well, now would be an excellent time to fold. Yes, you might be playing the player, but you can’t ignore his bet entirely.

If he checks the flop, you should bet regardless of what you have. If, however, your inept opponent check-raises you, run and hide, unless, of course, you have the nuts yourself!

The tricky decision comes when the weak player decides to just call, which he’ll often do. At that point, you have to make a game time decision as to whether he’s flopped a drawing hand or a made hand.

Since your opponent is weak, he won’t give you much information about his hand by the way he plays it. Generally, he’ll check and call with either a made hand like top pair or a flush draw.

As a rule, proceed cautiously if a weak player calls you on the flop. If you have a good hand, by all means, bet! But if you are bluffing, lean towards checking on the turn since the weak player has already shown some interest.

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