ABC poker is a term used to describe basic, fundamental poker strategy. A lot of people define ABC poker as playing just tight and not bluffing much, however in my opinion it’s much more than that. ABC poker is the collection of basic poker concepts that are needed to become a winning poker player in any game.
Tight Aggressive Poker Play
The first concept of ABC poker is that it’s better to bet and raise than it is to check and call. By being aggressive you give yourself multiple ways to win the pot, by being passive you only give yourself one.
Many of the subtopics in this article will be based around aggression. Aggression is a fundamental poker concept with many applications on virtually every street.
The Power Of Position in Poker
The button is the most profitable position in poker. It allows you to act last post flop. The crucial advantage of acting last is that you simply have more information at your disposal. For that reason, you can raise many more hands from late position and from the button when it is folded to you.
From early position you will want to do the opposite, to negate your positional advantage you will want to only play strong hands from early position.
Pre Flop Raising Strategy
The next concept of ABC poker is that you want to be raising your hands pre flop instead of checking and calling. This falls under the aggression umbrella also. The abc poker strategy involves playing a tight range of hands pre flop and when you do decide to play a hand, you decide to come in for a raise instead of a limp.
There are of course exceptions to this where you will want to over limp your hand, but as a blanket rule, it is much better to raise pre flop than it is to call pre flop.
Continuation Betting Strategy
Because the ABC poker player is playing tight and aggressive pre flop, this player will also get a lot of respect when they bet on the flop. Against most opponents you will want to make a continuation bet on the flop. You will want to bet with both your weak hands, strong hands and semi bluff hands.
Often you will want to check behind your medium strength hands but sometimes you will even want to bet those as well.
The tight player will get lots of respect on the flop, so you will want to bet your bluffs often.
Turn and River Betting – Aggression Wins!
The ABC poker player will want to bet on the turn and river frequently when their opponent is capable of making folds. Your tight pre flop image will give you lots of post flop credibility. Bet your strong hands big, your semi bluffs big and bet pure bluffs when you think your opponent will fold.
Don’t Bluff the Fish in Poker
The fish are the one type of player who will not adjust to your tightness. In fact, the fish will not even notice that you are playing tight and aggressive. The extent of the fishes thinking is that he has a pair and that he is going to call you down.
Against the fish you will just want to bet your strong hands big against them. When you have a weak hand you will just want to give up and let them take the pot.
Don’t Call With Weak Hands
If you are playing the tight aggressive poker style, other players will realise that you are playing tight (With the exception of the fish). By playing so few hands you do have the unique advantage of that you will not get bluffed much by your opponents. This is simply because your opponents will always assume you have a strong hand and will pretty much stay out of your way.
People Bluff Less Than You Think
A big mistake I see beginner poker players making is that they call down with too many weak hands. When a tight player bets in to you for 3 streets, chances are they have a very strong hand. Unless you have a hand better than top pair, you should virtually always consider folding your hand.
Of course there are exceptions and that is why I advise you to try and get better at hand reading and weighting your opponents range. That being said, as a blanket rule of thumb: People will bluff you much less than you think.
Naturally humans are curious and this is what makes poker so profitable. You will get an edge on your opponent by value betting them with your big hands and them calling you down because they are curious. If in the reverse situation (When they have a big hand and you have a medium strength hand), if you manage to fold, this will be a great source of poker profits for you.
Practice Bankroll Management
Smart players play with a large bankroll. Poker is a game with a lot of variance. In short: It’s possible to get unlucky for a large period of time. If you have a big enough bankroll to withstand the swings, you will come out on the other side smelling of roses.