Standard Play?

“Show me somebody who makes a lot of ‘standard plays’ and I will show you a mediocre winner or a breakeven player. The standard play is a myth. Poker is always changing and those who truly crush the games are riding the crest of that wave.”
–Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams (in How to be a Poker Shark - Strategies of the Pros [2022]

My question for my fellow Replay Poker players: Is he right?


lol–Rich discussion right there!

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I thoink this is a very interesting topic. As I understand it, as a very ordinary Replay player, standard play means betting and raising what you think your hand is worth in relation to the bets of your opponents. Rather than a yes or no answer to is he right, I hope some people with more experience than me would explain whether he is right and if so, would his game help on Replay. (Asking for a “friend” who cannot seem to do anything right at the moment!)

Of course he’s right.

We can replace the word “standard” with “expected” or “predictable.” Relying too much on the expected plays makes life easy for your opponents. My best wins are when nobody expects me to have what I have or bet the way I’m betting.


Standard is a word that gets overused and I’m guilty of this myself. In reality there is no “standard” as there is no widely agreed upon poker authority to defer to.

The closest you could get to a “standard” is a scenario where no reasonable person could disagree on what the correct decision is. Folding 27o preflop UTG 9 handed is the “standard play.” Opening AA from the small blind after 5 limps is the “standard play.” Most scenarios are not this black and white and are open to debate and subject to individual preference.

What counts as standard gets even more confusing in classic Doug Polk scenarios where “All three options are on the table.” There can’t be a standard play because every decision has its own merits. And sometimes the right play is a carefully weighted randomized decision between multiple options to play in a balanced manner.


He’s right !!

The bottom line is that if you focus all of your attention on trying to beat the toughest opponents then you are simply trying to deny the fundamental rule of poker that nearly all of the profit comes from the weaker players.

Crush them all !!!

This is a great statement right here :+1:t2:


I have found playing tournaments with full tables and small blinds. I play different than with half a table and big blinds. there never is a standard.


Any time you enter a pot, you can win it one of three ways.

  1. Opponent folds preflop.
  2. Opponent folds before river, or folds to river bet.
  3. It goes to river and you either bet or call, and it turns out you have the best hand.

There are standard plays, for example you want to raise preflop from UTG with AA, because you really don’t want to limp and invite several other players to get into the pot with suited connectors. You want one opponent, or two at the most.

Also one has to take into account probabilities on the fly. You have noticed a tight player who puts in large preflop raises even when the blinds are low. You are in the BB. You probably don’t want to call a raise with a dominated hand, because your KT is a huge underdog to his AK.

I would say that it is standard to never make a play without knowing probabilities and taking pot odds and relative stack sizes into account. Why would one ever call a raise unless the odds were favorable, because you have no chance of winning the pot preflop, and you already know that opponent is going to try to claim this pot if you call?

For example–now postflop-- calling a pot size bet with a simple draw to the nut flush is a losing proposition, but you might still do it if you had a small stack and needed to gamble to double up, or if you had a very large stack, and could afford to call to put opponent all-in if you hit your card on a later street.

Now add in the possibility of the draw to the nut flush plus a pair, or a gut-shot draw, or an open ended draw, or a draw to a straight flush and the probabilities of hitting an out that will win the pot are constantly changing.

Sometimes good players will make outrageous plays simply to confuse opponents. If you opponent knows that he cannot completely rule out that you raised preflop with a 3 in your hand, it creates uncertainty when a 3 comes on the flop (could you have made 2 pairs with 3x?) , but if you raise preflop EVERY time you have a 3 in your hand, then you are doomed as your hand will nearly always be dominated.

So I would say that top players must vary their strategies according to the situation and their opponents. Although you are playing both the cards and the opponents, in the end the more profitable players are surely playing on the weakness of opponents, more-so than relying on getting good cards.

I have often wondered whether there is an area in poker math that considers not just the ranking of two cards in a match-up against two other cards, but in terms of the size of the pots that they potentially could win.

For example, JT is valued as a hand, because it can make so many straights, but what about 4 5 which can make the same number of straights? Of course the odds of getting the bottom end of a straight with 4 5 plus the extreme unlikelihood of flopping top pair devalue the hand, but perhaps when you do get the top endof the straight , you will win much bigger pots than JT which is there for everyone to see.

We all know that huge pots have been won with T 2.


Focus on beating the weak. Predators generally don’t go after the strongest prey, unless it’s the only option.


@unskilld Yeah, it can be hard to pin down what play is “standard.” And yes, mixed strategies just muddy the waters more.

But I see an awful lot of people making the same exact plays in a given situation. There are de facto “standard” plays, even if they aren’t theoretically optimal.

The benefit is that such players will respond to various actions in predictable ways, and this can be exploited.


its a lil complanate but if he say’s play your passion and the bet…and the table… oio think he is right


i play with passion .


some times you know your going to hit and do… and some times you know your going to his… and have too bluff


Once again sunpowerguru has hit on the most important issue, in this case, correctly defining terms. Some players “are playing with their cards face up” by playing the same hand the same way so often, and as the OP suggests this is not maximizing profits, but is likely quite profitable long term.

I quit working and moved to Las Vegas to play poker decades ago and intentionally played at a specific Bellagio game when the most semi pro’s were in the game. I did this because they all played from the same playbook and allowed me to avoid many traps and also maximize profits often. On the other side of the coin I also take issue with statements like “never show your cards unless they pay”. Rather than trying play perfectly according to some game theory or beat the best in the world why not use game selection to play against people you can regularly beat. Of course that portion of advice is for cash games and people who’s ego requires a big stack of fake chips online.



But I think there’s something else going on too. People who play like that often project those standards onto others. For example, if they would only lead for half pot on the flop with at least top pair/strong kicker, they assume your lead means you have the same.

If you take advantage of this often enough, representing standard holdings with non-standard cards can become your standard. And people wonder why we love this silly game?


Good observation, and I think that’s true.

Common example. You have a player on your right, who likes to limp from out of position in a small blind with trash hands when it is folded to him

You start raising him three out of four times with any hand. You know he will raise from the Small Blind if he has an ace, so anytime he limps and an ace comes on the flop, you can take down the raised pot.

Because he plays his cards and not the man, he assumes that you are doing the same thing.

He sees that you raise pre flop, and suspects you may have a Ace, and then when a Ace comes on the flop and you bet, his suspicions are confirmed, so he folds, and is happy that he made the right play. So he keeps on doing the same thing.


I often see this player who has a very high ranking, but is the nittiest player I’ve played with. He limps, checks, folds, and plays only very strong cards. So, if you play him often enough, you know exactly how, when, and where to play against him. He folds to any raise unless he has a hand. It’s rare that I don’t do well when he’s in a game because of his predictability. However, sometimes when I’m looking thru the lobby I’ll see that he’s at a table with about 4 times the buyin, just cleaning the clocks of the ones that didn’t pay any attention to his playing style. It obviously works for him against the weakest at the tables. He’s a really savvy predator, but don’t know that anyone would call his methods standard.

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As described, it sounds pretty standard for a nit.

A large percentage of the players I see have “A Poker Strategy,” that they use at all stages of a tournament and in all situations. If you’ve seen players with 6 BB limp into a pot, you’ve seen the type, just not at many final tables.

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Funny that. There are some players with distinctive styles, like one player who frequently shoves preflop or on the flop with any two face cards or any flush or straight draw. I don’t remember seeing him/her on any final tables.

Another player once told me in the chat box that he/she never bluffs and I have often seen this player and it appears that this is actually true and not a bluff as he/she invariably turns over his/her cards after winning a pot and failing to get paid off on the river. I have very rarely seen this player on final tables either and have never played them heads up at the finale of an MTT.


There are quite a few like that even in the top 100 (only enter the pot preflop with fairly premium hands, bets post flop are tilted heavily towards value). I wouldn’t describe nitty play like this as the most common style among the top ranked players here, but it is also not rare.

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