This is a multi-part article in which Egor, creator of the hottest poker bot on the web, explains what it takes to derive an income from playing online poker.
In our last installment, we started building Fred, a successful online poker player. We envisioned what the final Fred will be like: A good, skilled poker player who has access to all the latest online toys, and who insists on always playing in the juiciest game available (even if that means leaving a pretty good game where he is winning and having fun at). Fred will always hop tables to where his highest expectation is.
“Highest expectation” will be measured by the presence of bad opponents. The worse they play the better. However there are different ways that they can play bad, so a hierarchy of desirable targets must be established.
Fred will be armed with a database of bad players. He will gather these statistics by using the latest poker-stat software, such as Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker. He will use different methods of keeping a valuable up-to-date database at his chosen poker room, including purchasing databases when feasible and data-mining the tables when he is not playing. (Data-mining is accomplished by having the poker-stat software watch as many tables as possible and record information on the players for many hours.)
Since there will often be multiple good games to choose from, Fred will use the following hierarchy to decide on what tables to join:
1. Presence of a maniac. A maniac is the easiest type of bad player to beat, so they always take precedence. While many players do not like playing against maniacs because they increase your variance (that means they make your swings higher due to higher short-term risk), Fred knows that they offer the highest expectation. You only need one of these at the table for it to be your best spot. The strategy is to play very timidly and check and call the maniac down with any decent hand, regardless of how much they bet.
2. Multiple high losers at the table. The second best table, and the most common type that Fred will find, is where you have two or more opponents that are losing way more than the average player (the poker-stats software locates these for you). These bad opponents may or may not include a maniac.
The ones who are not maniacs will simply be players who are too loose and make bad calls for big bets with mediocre hands. The classic example is somebody who will call their stack off after the flop while holding only one pair; usually top-pair-best-kicker or an overpair like AA. The strategy is to play tight and mine for sets. When you flop a set or two-pair against one of these players, simply bet or raise big hoping they have a decent hand – because when they do they will pay you off.
3. High $VPIP / low PFR% tables. The third table-type target in our hierarchy will not target individual players, but rather a table where most of the players are playing loose and passively. That means there are a high average number of players on the flop, and few raises preflop and on the flop. The strategy here is simple ABC tight-aggressive poker. You simply wait for good hands, and when you get one bet and raise aggressively. You have to be pretty unlucky to lose at this type of table.
If none of these table-types are available, Fred will be content to play heads up SNG’s until one appears. This keeps him sharp and helps develop the finer points of his game, and if he sticks to low and medium stakes they are always profitable. Fred knows to always play where he has a positive expectation, and he is content to wait for the best opportunities and only move when a better one presents itself. This hierarchy always keeps him aligned with that purpose.
Next time we will start to dissect Fred’s basic playing style and see how he adjusts it to different situations. In other words, now that we have the important stuff out of the way – that is, locating bad players and adjusting our strategy based on the type of bad player they are – we will look at the less important aspect of actually playing our own cards.