Poker is a game of frequencies and exploitation. Sure, we want to have a solid strategy that our opponents can’t easily take advantage of, but our real win-rate comes from exploiting the weaknesses of others. If we can figure out what mistakes our opponents are making and how to use those mistakes to our advantage, we gain a huge edge.
So, how do we figure out how to exploit them? Well, poker is also a game of information. The first step is to constantly pay attention. You may find that you or others at your table become unengaged when not playing a hand and instead are spending time on a phone, chatting, or even just thinking about something else.
Stop tuning out and start paying attention to absolutely everything. You need to gather all the information that you can in the shortest amount of time. Don’t just pay attention to your own cards. Figure out your opponents.
The main thing that you need to pay attention to is frequencies. This refers to how often a player makes a given action if given the chance. For instance, how often do they 3-bet in a certain spot? How often do they fold to a continuation bet on the flop?
You don’t need to figure this out to an exact percentage, but if you can tell the difference between somebody who folds 30% of the time on the river to someone who folds 60% of the time, this is incredibly valuable information. The closer you can get to an exact percentage, the more edge you gain. This is because frequencies form the building blocks upon which we create our exploits.
Now that we’ve got a read on our opponent’s frequencies, we want to harness that knowledge and take their chips. We first need to ask ourselves: what is our opponent doing too often or not doing often enough? This let’s us build a player profile and find our exploits based upon those profiles.
For example, if we’re playing against a maniac, a loose-aggressive player whose playing tons of hands and pushing tons of chips around, we can exploit that by shifting our range to more value hands and even play hands with thinner value. AT isn’t a great hand when facing a 3-bet against a tight opponent, but we can exploit this person by playing a hand like this.
Conversely, let’s say that our opponent is a nit, a rock, a tight-passive player who hardly plays any hands and rarely bets. They 3-bet us, and we’re again holding AT or even something like AQ. This time we can fold as an exploit because we know that our opponent has a better hand since their 3-bet frequency is too low. Another way that we can exploit a nit is by aggressively betting at them since they’ll fold way too often.
Basically, exploiting frequencies is about making a logical reaction to our opponent’s gameplay. It’s about figuring out what your opponent wants you to do and then doing the opposite.