All of this discussion about the site being rigged has lead me to think about how frustrating it is to be a losing player, so I wanted to put out a few ideas about how to win on Replay specifically and to encourage strategy discussion.
If you have a real hand, bet big!
a. The chips are free so most players are happy to see a flop with any hand that looks pretty (“Sure, I’ll call a raise with QTs; I might flop a flush or broadway!”). You can win a lot in the long run by making them overpay to see the flop. Sure, sometimes they will hit a set against you, so don’t necessarily go crazy when you flop an overpair, but for the most part it will pay off.
b. By a real hand, I am talking about QQ+, AK with some TT, JJ, AQ, and don’t forget to throw in some bluffs (but only against better, higher stakes opponents who might actually fold).
Always assume your opponent is a fish
a. Let’s face it, 99.5% of players are not playing even good ABC poker, so it’s a pretty safe bet that they aren’t always making logical decisions and that they are leaving lots of chips on the table through bad calls (mostly) and bad bluffs.
b. For example, if you hit top pair of jacks with AJ on a dry board, you might think it would seem too obvious to bet the flop, turn, and river, but plenty of players will pay you off with medium pairs and even small pairs or rag aces.
Be happy when you get your chips in while ahead (even if you lose to a bad beat)
a. Many players on Replay are willing to overpay for a draw or overplay medium strength hands. That often gives you the opportunity to get your stack in while ahead. Sometimes these players will hit a flush or trips on the river, and that’s just poker.
b. If you can get your stack in with an 80% chance to win, you will still lose a considerable amount of the time (which hurts and many players seem to feel it is unfair), but you are still making a profitable and correct decision.
But, don’t be too quick to go all-in preflop even with premium hands
a. If you are playing in a tournament or risking a large portion of your bankroll, going all in pre-flop, even when you are quite certain you have the best hand, is a losing proposition in the long run. I get tempted at times in MTTs to go all in preflop with hands like TT or AQ because I know that opponents will call with weaker hands. But tournament poker is all about survival and the chance of winning multiple races when you are 65% favorite each time is not high.
b. Examples: AA all in preflop against 76s will lose 23% of the time. ATs all in preflop against K4o will lose 33% of the time. AKs all in preflop against 33 will lose >50% of the time.
Almost never min-bet or min-raise
a. Players on Replay seem to love either betting the minimum (e.g., 60 chips into a pot of 300), which makes it obvious that they are either drawing or not confident in their hand. Many times I have been able to call these bets with nothing and then bluff the river when no draws hit because it is obvious that the opponent either had a weak pair or a busted draw.
b. Also, when players have strong hands they like to min re-raise (e.g., if your opponent bets 150 chips, you raise it to 300). This play makes no sense. If you opponent was bluffing or very weak, they will immediately fold; if they are extremely strong then you have re-opened the betting for them to raise even bigger; and if they are drawing, it gives them an extremely good price even with weak draws (e.g., an overcard and a gutshot). For example, I might bet a flush draw from early position, get min raised and then obviously call the raise. If the draw hits, I am now going to check to my opponent; they will commit more chips to the pot and then end up in a really tough situation when I check-raise.
Almost never slow play
a. The chips are free, so players love to call, and you need to punish them for it. This goes along with #1. If you have the best hand, don’t worry about being a little obvious because you will often still get paid off. If your opponents fold, oh well; you actualized your equity and won the pot without having to worry about draws or bad beats.
b. The only times to slow play are when you completely dominate the board (e.g., flop a full house) or if your opponent is an aggro-fish (the type of player who always bets, but folds when you bet into them). There are plenty of those on Replay. To beat an aggro-fish just always let them be the aggressor, never bet into them. Sure, you can fold to them over and over and over, but they will be small pots, and when you get an actual hand you can crush them.
Range balancing is only necessary against good players who have played against you before (i.e., very few players on Replay)
a. “Range balancing is where you play the exact same way with a wide range of hands in certain situations”. (Greg Walker, from ThePokerBank.com). Most players on Replay will not remember your previous actions or bet sizes well enough to ascertain what you are holding in a given situation. If you have been playing at the same table for a long time or against skilled opponents, range balancing becomes more important, but it is often possible on Replay to earn more value by playing most hands in a pretty “obvious” way.
Don’t call so wide
a. The chips are free and it’s just for fun, so lots of players like to see flops. Personally, I think it is more fun to win, so I will not call raises with such a wide range of hands. Maybe you have gone through a long dry spell and are very happy to see KJs, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea to call a raise out of position with it.
b. In poker you need to have a plan for how you are going to win the pot, and the fact is that most of the time you will miss the flop. Calling raise with a wide range of hands can leave you with some very difficult decisions on the flop. About 2/3 of the time you will end up with no pair (unless you had pockets) and then you pretty much have to fold to aggression, or you could end with top or middle pair and not be sure if you are up against KK+.
Position is king (This is really rule #1 in poker)
a. Going along with #8 about having a plan, playing from out of position is tough. Nothing is worse than raising big with AA, getting a caller with position on you who calls both streets and then raises the river. They could have top pair, a busted draw, or a monster.
b. Always think twice about calling raises when you will be out of position. If you are the aggressor you need to be decisive in your betting (don’t overbet your hand strength and don’t be afraid to fold).
Don’t try to bluff too much
a. There are two reasons not to bluff on Replay. 1) most players are calling stations, and 2) a bluff actually has to make sense.
b. It is simply throwing chips away to try to bluff when you know your opponent can’t find the fold button. Many times I am in a situation where I know my opponent is weak, and I feel like I have represented enough strength that they should know to fold to my bet (even though it is a bluff), but I will still not bluff because I can tell that they will call anyway. After the hand they will then show a mediocre middle pair that they had no business calling with in the first place, which helps me realize I made the correct decision.
c. Against a good player, bluffing has to actually make sense. If I have top pair with a decent kicker and my opponent keeps calling a draw heavy board but no draw hits and then they make an overbet on the river, guess what, I am going to call. If your opponent’s bet makes no sense, it is probably a bluff. Successful bluffing is about consistently showing strength or making it look like you hit a particular card, not just about firing wildly. One final caveat is that fish love to overbet. If a really bad player shows a ton of strength in a hand, they are probably extremely strong because they are only thinking about their own hand strength and not a logical action in the situation.
I am sure that some people will say that these tips are obvious or textbook, but since 99% of players don’t seem to follow them, it seems worth putting it out there. Since the chips are free anyway, it would be more fun to play against more competent opponents. I also don’t want to talk too much about specific ranges because I still want to be able to win at the tables!
This site is a great free resource for basic poker strategy, and they also have a great YouTube channel: