Don't Play Weak Poker

Posted:April 2013

One of the biggest factors that lead to players losing money in online poker or recycling money is poor non-showdown winnings. These refer to the amount of money that is won or lost in the pots that you play that do not lead to showdown. Most competent poker players at sites like have decent showdown earnings. All that you have to do to make sure that you have good showdown earnings is to play big pots with big hands and only go into escalating pots with very good equity and very strong holdings.

Poker Leakage!However this is a part of the game that you will be able to correct very quickly. One area that is often difficult to correct or to notice in the first place is non-showdown earnings. It often takes the use of tracking software like PokerTracker or Holdem Manager to spot this. You may or may not have heard of the now famous “red line”. This is a line that reflects how much money you win or lose in pots that do not go to showdown. If your red line is sloping downwards then you are losing money in pots that do not go to showdown.

This is a major leak in the games of many poker players but we now need to examine why you are not making money before the showdown. So what are the reasons for players not making money before the showdown in games like no limit Texas Hold’em? Well you may not be stealing your fair share of blinds, which could be one reason. Another big and powerful reason could be that you are relying too much on implied odds in situations where they are very low. For example calling a raise with a small pocket pair and relying on hitting a set is one such example.

If your opponent isn’t weak enough to stack off and the game is too tight meaning that each pot tends to be heads up then the implied odds will be very low. Not striving for fold equity is another reason and failing to bluff your fair share of pots also leads to non-showdown earnings being poor. Fundamentally then there is only one reason as to why your non-showdown earnings are poor and that is by constantly placing money into the pot and then leaving it there by folding.

This is a leak that would totally wipe out any advantage that you have in showdown pots. To make sure that you don’t play weak poker in the modern game then you need to forget about implied odds and fit or fold poker. There are two key areas that you need to focus on and these are equity and especially fold equity and maintaining a mental equilibrium at all times. If I call a raise with a small pocket pair then it is never with just the intention of making a set.

For example if it has been folded around to the cut-off seat that makes it 3.5bb to go and I am on the button with pocket fours then I will call the raise. I am calling because I have position, a semi-decent hand and an opponent with a relatively wide range. If the pot is heads up and the flop is 7c-7d-3s then I am certainly calling the c-bet because I expect my opponent to c-bet most of their range. If I sense any sort of weakness on the turn then I am going to attack that weakness. That could be them either checking or betting a lesser percentage of the pot that they did on the flop.

Article by Carl Sampson - a professional poker player who plays online at

If you are new to poker, read our guide on how to play poker or visit our listings of the best online poker rooms.


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