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You are a serious Texas Holdem player.  You move to a higher stakes level which is a challenge for your skill level and bankroll.  At higher stakes, you still have to play against recreational players.  What advice does Juicy Stakes Poker give to non-recreational players in this situation?

What is a Recreational Player?

This can be a broad category of player.  We might have a player who is totally out of his depth; the kind of player uncourteous players might call a fish.  A recreational player might be someone who can afford to lose at the poker table but likes to play against players who are equal or better than they are.

In this latter group, we find many celebrities who can easily afford to enter tournaments knowing full well that they will end up out of the money.  They like the excitement of playing against people who have a genuine chance of winning money in the tournament.

A recreational player could also be someone who would like to study the game and improve their skill level but doesn’t have the time to study, has too many outside interests, or has too many outside responsibilities.  These recreational players pay close attention to every hand.  They may take notes.  They may show improvement over time.  But they are still in the recreational player category because they can’t improve enough to get out of that designation.

Given that they are serious players in their own right, they pose a serious challenge to non-recreational players.

Close Observation is the First Key

At the beginning of a poker session, you might not be able to easily identify the recreational players and the non-recreational players.  Players might fold before you have a chance to categorize them.  A player might get a big hand in early position not allowing you to make general statements to yourself about their play in early position.

There are many things that can happen in the first ten hands that make it difficult to impossible to identify the good players from the weak ones.

Over time, however, you will be able to make these important observations if you pay close attention to every hand.  Obviously, if you are not paying close attention on every hand, you will quickly be identified as a recreational player yourself!

After Ten Hands, What Do We Know?

We might know if a player plays too many hands or, conversely, if they play too few hands.  Are they prone to quickly folding or are they what we deem a “calling station”?

Advice on How to Play against a Player Who Plays Too Many Hands

A player who plays too many hands is also likely to call with a poor hand after the flop. As long as you keep your own bets in the moderate range, you probably won’t scare away a player of this type.  Also remember that everything you know about bluffing is irrelevant against a player who has a hard time folding.

You will have to play as if on eggshells against a player who will fold only if you have scared them away.  Take your time making a bet that is plainly obvious to you.  They will misread your delay in deciding and will probably call.

They might also raise if they think you have a weak hand.  It is also important to remember that, even though they are not very good poker players, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get a really good hand from time to time!

How to Play against Players Who Play Very Few Hands

Here you need to take position into account.  A player who folds too often and calls or raises from early position is very likely to have a strong hand.  This is the exact opposite of the player who has a hard time folding, especially before the flop.

You can expect a player who most commonly folds even with moderately strong cards to have very strong cards if they call or raise early.  If such a player raises from late position or three bets a raise when they are a blind, you should expect an even stronger hand than if they make these plays in early position.

Some Players are Aggressive and Some Players are Passive

We have to take into account the range of player types as commonly recognized:

  1. Passive tight
  2. Passive loose
  3. Aggressive tight
  4. Aggressive loose

What is Normal May Not be Normal

Tight players usually play too few hands.  Aggressive players usually play too many hands.  But these designations are somewhat inaccurate when they describe recreational players.  That’s simply because recreational players so often don’t know what they are doing!

A normally passive player may decide that his or her very low suited cards are worth “taking a chance on” and will bet like an aggressive player from early position with a holding such as that!  In other words, the overlap between passive and aggressive and between tight and loose is much larger and broader among recreational players than it is among non-recreational players.

Some Players Play Strictly for Fun

Fun is good and poker is a great game when we play for fun as well as profit.  Players who play strictly for fun almost always can afford to lose whatever bankroll they brought to the game.  Thus, when you sense that you are up against such a player, you need to be especially careful since they are totally unpredictable.

In some cases, the best strategy for playing against players who are just out to have fun is to leave the game!  This is especially true if you have moved to a higher stakes level at which you feel some trepidation.

In other words, if you can’t afford to lose your stake and you are playing against a player who can afford to lose her stake and doesn’t care if she does lose it all, the best strategy move could very well be to leave the game!

The Idea of Hand Ranges with Recreational Players

Since these players usually don’t know what they are doing, they will have a much larger range of hands that they are willing to play at least until they fail to hit anything on the flop.  That means that you have to put them on a leger than normal range of hands.

You might increase your own hand range or decrease it based on your close observation of their poker tendencies. It is safe to say, however, that along with so many other areas of poker strategy, in the esoteric area of hand ranges, recreational player throws a monkey wrench into the best laid plans of serious poker players.

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