How to Beat a Poker Bully

How to Beat a Poker Bully

One of the most frustrating opponents you will face on a table is a Poker Bully and Replay has a few of them.

A Poker Bully is a player that throws up big pre-flop bet and then no matter what the flop is they they go big on the flop and turn bets to drive their opponent in to a fold.

That is different than a loose aggressive player because the bully better doesn’t even need to see their cards and they are not trying to beat you with better cards and their entire goal is to scare and bully you into a fold regardless of what cards they have or what is flopped.

The usual reaction of people facing a Poker Bully is to fold even good cards because they know the bully will raise and reraise all bets driving you to the brink of an all in every time and the bully preys on that fear knowing most players are risk averse and will fold.

The bully likes to join tables where players limp in pre-flop bets and the stacks are low and they go for quantity not quality. They don’t care if they get beat a few times when they bully with a bad hand because they make it up and more on the players that fold.

So here is the strategy I use with Poker Bullies:

1- Avoid the impulse to bully the bully. They are not going to be scared off if you raise their bet and if you show strong on the flop they will fold and look for a new sucker or drive up with raise after raise until you are in an all in situation. Remember they are after quantity and they won’t change their style just because you win a hand from them.

2- Check, call and slow play. This is best done from a position to the left or following the Poker Bully so they can’t raise the pre-flop bet again which they like to do.

Check their pre-flop bet and call them on the flop if you hit good cards or a solid two or 3 way possible. Always expect them to raise the flop bet and turn bet. That is their strategy to see if you hit or you are fishing to scare you off.

By slow playing and check and calling you take away the Poker Bullies ability to drive you in to an all in situation until you see enough cards to know if you hold a winner and you will get more money out of the bully in the pot if you decide to go big on the river.

3- You don’t have to change your range of cards and getting too tight with your range will signal the bully to fold when you go head to head and hit the flop. Just play smart cards and let the bully take the lead until the river.

Now playing a Poker Bully has more risks and they will occasionally hit a good hand so you need to have a stack big enough to survive those bets and you should always expect they will bully the bet on the flop and turn before getting in to a heads up with them.

Here is a good article that goes in to more detail on dealing with a Poker Bully:


Excellent article. I recommend following the link to read both Caro’s original and the commentator’s thoughts.

If they are being aggressive on every street, just wait till you have a good hand and call down. Let them pick up the blinds 1 at a time until you stack them.


I saw this happen a few days ago in a tournament. A guy was calling my 2.5-3BB opens, and then jamming 50+ BB on any flop. I caught a strong pocket pair that became a set and collected his bounty.

Make them look for softer targets by playing back a few times and then you will be able to pick your spots. Do not try to out-bully the bully with nothing but play back your quality hands. Most LAG’s aren’t very good and you should be able to tear apart their wide ranges. First you need to buy time and I find that making myself the least appealing morsel on the table helps do that.

They usually break themselves sooner or later anyway. At a full table, odds are good that in 3-4 hands someone will have a hand that can cripple them, and once they’ve lost most of their stack, they can’t bully anyone anymore. You don’t have to be the one who picks them off. You can if you have the cards, or you can stay out of their way until they run into someone who does have the cards. When they’re gone, then the table calms down and you can get back to playing the way you like to play.

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The more pertinent question is “how do you beat a luckbox?” - OMG, the crap hands people call with are obscene. Hey, they’re suited so I guess flatting J2, 9/5 and Q5 makes sense when facing a 3x open and you’re out of position. LMAO. Please send some of these people over to the cash sites.

If they are calling a 3x open with total junk then you can make it bigger with your strong hands. Will they still call a 5x open? How about 10x or 15x?

They will still sometimes draw out on you but in the long run if they keep calling your strong hands then they will give you their chips.


In ring games you’d be printing against them. In tournaments/SnG’s where stacks are short, it increases variance by a ton. If you have more than 2 or 3 calling stations/luckboxes, it gets trickier. I’ll still play my strong hands strong but it can get frustrating in the short term. I mean the hands I busted with vs the hands that called me tonight are insane. If I would have held anywhere close to the percentage of hands I should have, it would have been a totally different story this evening. Oh well - its free poker. People will tell you straight-up that they would never make those types of calls for money.

Big bullies are generally handled. Like many people said here, one of the good hands will out bet them. But what do you do with the luck boxes, luck boxes also big bullies, one example here:

Nothing. Wait for them to take all they can, and take whatever left or get taken over by them.

I should have added that if you think being a Poker Bully is a good strategy- it really isn’t.

Yes a Poker Bully can get away with it in the short term and make some fast pots but over time people will get a read on you and you will lose respect for your bet and get called and all in’s on your weak hands until you lose anything you might have gained.

AND you will drive the money off the table as people will just fold and likely leave when you join a table. That means less people you have to play and you will lose respect of other players and in the long run having respect for your skills and bet is more important than any short term gains from being a Poker Bully.

So don’t be a Poker Bully!

I treat a bully like I would a fish on the table. I usually play slow in the start to learn about other players on the table

Like I always say - If you can’t beat em join em. LMAO

No you dont call a bully down, you dont really have to have a good hand. You just have to find his range and make sure your range is better. you dont call you raise. Every body else will fold to the bully leaving you and him lone. just be tuffer than the bully. I dont have problem with them at all. I welcome them at the table.

Might want to take a look at the article link in the OP.

Bullying a bully is not recommended.

Not recommended by who? I’m not afraid to play back at bullies. It’s way better than sitting there like a toadstool and getting run over.

Most bullies have betting patterns that let you have a pretty good idea of where they are. If you see weakness, lower the boom and show them how the game is played.


When I recognize, by its game, some player of this type … I expect a good hand from the flop and I command the all in. Until throw it off the table.

I am a poker bully sometimes, but bullying is just one form of bluffing. I only play tournaments and sitngos, but my main way of winning chips is to raise high preflop with good hands to narrow the number of opponents, then slam in a large flop bet if it looks like the flop missed everyone *including me, as most loose preflop callers will give up if they miss the flop. However sometimes I will execute the exact same ploy with rags if I need chips and am not getting hands that are good in a 1 on 1 situation. If you have a large stack, you are entitled to be a bully, but of course you need to mix it up.

Recommended in the link in the OP SPG.

Now, my question then becomes, if they have used another of your strategies, such as the " ( table presense ) this guy will play any 2 cards", the pattern is well he has 2 cards, hmmmm … so how do you lower the boom on them ?? How is this affected by SnG vs MTT ??

Recently, I seem to run across many ppl that could benefit from this thread. I think there are multiple situations where different approaches work best @ dealing with a bully. All of them unfortunatly mean at some point you must take shots at them and win. Yes, that does involve risk and hopefully you have minimized it as much as possible. I’m a person that may gripe when see’n constant pre-flop raises, but truthfully its outta frustration because I can’t get cards to get that person to stop raise’n so much. Because poker is partially a psychological endeavor, some bullies actually advertize “free chips here”.

My last question @SunPowerGuru is … Which will cost you more, or will make you more … a bully or a very agressive player ??? or are those 2 the same thing ???