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How do you tell who the bad players are?

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  • How do you tell who the bad players are?

    Lately I have read from more than one coach that the way you accumulate chips in a small stakes MTT is to exploit the mistakes of bad players. So my question is, How do you identify the bad players BEFORE they give all their chips to someone else? What specific things do you look for that tells you someone at your table is bad at poker?
    I only play live MTT's $100-600 range.

  • #2
    I think rather than just label someone good or bad, I would focus on how each player can be exploited, and then exploit them in the way that they, in particular, can be exploited. The good news is that luck is such a huge factor in the game you can often find that one or two of the worst players build up big stacks in the first hour or two, often knocking out better players with the lucky guy just playing stupid hands. So you don't have to rush to judgment.

    I look at the players with the most chips, and then I try to imagine the scenario (other than just having the nuts) in which I can take a lot of their chips. Some players, of course, just never give up many chips without a very strong hand.

    Back when this forum was first getting going, I posted a list of typical ways to exploit players in tournaments like the ones you and I play. I don't know how to go back and find it, and chances are in hindsight it might look pretty lame, as I think I have learned a lot since then. But the basic point is simple--most players at this level have leaks in their game that are obvious and predictable. For example, they always overplay top pair even with a bad kicker, or they always call a preflop raise and then fold to a c-bet, or they always call the c-bet but fold to a double barrel unless they have the nuts. Or they always draw to a flush on the turn no matter how big you make your bet, or they think that you always hit your draw when the board is wet. Whatever it is, you identify the player and the leak, and then you exploit them.

    The "game" is to figure out how you can take chips from each player, and then try to get into a position in which you can do it.

    It seems like it is equally, or perhaps even more important, to stay away from players if you can't identify any leaks, and you don't have a big hand. Identifying the best players is at least as valuable as identifying the worst, because while you are trying to exploit others, they are exploiting you.

    I once played in a 6 max with Matt Affleck two seats to my left shortly after he put out the video with JL on deepstack tournament play. I thought that it was a great video for tournaments of this type. But after about two hours it seemed like he would get into every hand with me and then just own me. I needed to learn to get away from those hands early, and live to fight another day. But I didn't so he exploited me and busted me.


    • #3
      I look in the mirror, and see the fish.

      beyond that I look for:

      who pasively calls down with just a pair?
      who calls to the river and folds?
      who folds to a preflop three bet?
      who does nor defend their blinds?
      who chases straights and flushes?

      those seem to me to be the easiest folks to isolate.

      the hard part for me is that I cannot get heads up because someone else recognizes the same thing and jumps in. I end up either three way, or head’s up with the villain I was not looking to play.


      • #4
        I'll give you the low hanging fruit.

        1) look for players who are not value betting.
        2) look for improper bet sizes
        3) look for hands a showdown, relative to position, that should not have reasonably gotten to showdown.
        4) sitting in low SPR stacks and limping

        I play the same stakes tourneys and do ok. I use good and bad as categories to organize thoughts. For example, there are a lot of players I call BAD REG BAD LAG or BAD PRO that are very good players. The BAD modifier helps me qualify someone's betting as bad or range as bad, relative to optimal. Not a character assassination.
        Last edited by XBobLove; 11-22-2017, 10:51 PM.


        • #5
          Good suggestions all. As I thought about it, I agree that sometimes it's easier to spot the GOOD players and try to stay out of their way. Although at these low stakes tournaments "good" often means simply having some awareness of current ideas as opposed to completely clueless. And these folks can become the easiest to exploit because they stand out and are more predictable than the clueless bunch. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts. I'll be putting them to use in the $580 NLH at MGM National Harbor on Saturday. Anyone else going to be there?


          • #6
            @ start of tournament, I see weak players as over raisers... limp calling 3bets as passive players ..i find these typically easy to play position /aggressive against them.


            • #7
              Originally posted by dmakf View Post
              @ start of tournament, I see weak players as over raisers... limp calling 3bets as passive players ..i find these typically easy to play position /aggressive against them.
              I have survived to day two of the $580 tournament. I've seen a lot of what you mention. Someone will raise to 3.5x and get 3 or 4 callers! And this went on deep into the day.
              There was also a lot of preflop limping. I did a lot of folding. I had KK six(!) times and they held up every time, even when there was an Ace on the board.
              Disciplined position and aggression have been the keys for me. Except at the end. Guy on my left bought me a beer going into the last level (I don't drink alcohol when I'm playing) and I proceeded to spew off 30,000 chips.


              • #8
                what is your definition of bad player, mine definition of bad player are player has alot of mistake that is easily found out and can easily exploit . if player A is opening 100% of hs range and only defend 10% of his range i will 3 bet with any two card to make auto profit, player A is a bad player, if player B is opening 100% of his range and defend 66% of the time i going to almost 3 bet value light with any Broadway card and middle-high pair hand. player B is a bad player. if player c is shoving 100% of his range , i will call down most of the time and most of the time i call down i will be ahead, player c is also a bad player. Basically when a player is doing something that is not optimal% action (bet,fold , raise , call) and you manage to notice it and you know how to exploit it , you can consider him a bad player.

                Good player has unbalance spot and also non optimal move, but most likely no one is exploiting him , or we are not capable to notice it.