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Coronavirus Lockdown Poker Strategies Part Four: Playing Online in a Softer Player Pool

1,099 Views on 12/6/20

With slightly bigger player pools than what we are used to, the games are going to change quite a bit

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After nine years of online poker traffic dropping steadily, we find ourselves in the peculiar situation of being one of the industries to benefit from the coronavirus pandemic.

With over four billion people under lockdown worldwide, it would seem that anybody who has any kind of an interest in poker has been logging on to give it a try again. Recently it was reported that traffic hit a five year high, that really is saying something.

But how will it affect the games?

With slightly bigger player pools than what we are used to, the games are going to change quite a bit. For example, you can expect to be running into many more players than usual that you have no history with.

The difference here is that you can expect their mindset to be different than normal after being cooped up all day.

So, your goal is not just to play good poker according to the strategies that you already know, you must now start to look into the mind of a player who is likely to be bursting with frustration.

Over Calling

There’s no doubt that when poker players get frustrated they make terrible calls that they wouldn’t usually do under normal circumstances.

For this reason you must be prepared to keep an eye on opponents who are playing out of character. After being stuck staring at the same four walls for the last month they are not going to be the same person.

You will save tons of win rate by walking away from standard bluff spots that you might normally autopilot into against a reg.

Rage Jams

On the opposite end of the spectrum we will also see players making ridiculous jams with hands that do not warrant it.

Luckily when players get into this mode they usually start doing this in spots where it makes no sense. So, you can at least look to make hero calls in these spots before automatically assuming that because they’re tilting they must be doing it against you.

Feed yourself into this slowly and gradually widen your calling ranges against players who are showing signs of frustration. Don’t jump in head first.

Triple Barrel Bluffs

This is another great sign that a player is frustrated. Below mid stakes, this line is a lot rarer than you might think. If you see a player you have pegged as a standard reg without aggressive tendencies then pay closer attention.

This is really just a mirror of the over calling player. Frustration has built up and they can’t let the pot go. They don’t care one jot if they have the initiative or not, they’re just not going to let you steal the pot from them with a worse hand and are prepared to lose a big pot just to make sure this doesn’t happen.

If you’re playing many tables it can be difficult to keep track of who has played this line, but do your best and consider using the coloured tag option alongside your HUD.

As above, don’t start calling down super light as a default against a player you think *might* be frustrated, work your way into calling down lighter gradually.

Blind Vs Blind Dynamics

There is no better place to really get a handle on how an opponent is playing than observing how they play in small blind versus big blind situations

There are two sides to this, depending on which seat you are in.

Firstly, it is hyper important that you do not fight back too hard when in the small blind due to the positional disadvantage. This really is crucial. Position is king in cash games when stacks are deep.

If you find yourself getting three bet a ton, by all means widen your four bet value range and your calling range, but don’t start calling junk to play a hand out of position in a bloated pot. 

Also don’t go bananas four bet bluffing a frustrated player because this is a thin play as it is, don’t start donating EV back to a player who is making all the mistakes himself.

If you are in the big blind and feel a stressed out, frustrated guy is opening into you way too often then you can definitely start calling much wider. Calling ranges for big blind versus small blind opens in 2020 are around 50% anyway. 

Use your position against them in a controlled manner and just let them donate chips with their poorly aimed aggression.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More

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