02Sep
Stealing The Pot

In the last article the concept of poker equity was introduced. Steal equity was discussed and defined as the the potential to win money before showdown by forcing your opponents to fold. You can steal on any street by either being the first to raise or by re raising another players’ bet. There are two common mistakes that poker players make when stealing. They either do not steal enough or they steal too much.

You cannot beat poker if you sit around and wait until you make a hand. Whilst you will make a lot of money at showdown when you hit, you will lose too much money folding in the pots that do not go to showdown. The best you can hope for is to be a small winner.

Some players understand this but then start stealing too much. The problem with this is that your opponents will notice! They will stop folding to your bluffs and start calling you down lighter or raising. It is important to always be aware of your table image – the way the other players think you play. Usually if you have an image of a tight player then you will find that your steals have a higher success rate.

Besides your table image, there are other factors that you should consider when thinking about whether you should try to steal a pot. The most important of these is your table position. When you have position over your opponent then you have a major advantage in that you will know your opponents move before you have to make your move.

The fewer players there are the less likely you will be facing an opponent with a good hand. For example, if you raise from the button preflop then you will only be up against two other players. The chance that they have a hand that they will reraise or call you with is smaller than if there are more opponents and you make your raise from under the gun. Therefore, the fewer players remaining the more likely your steal will succeed.

How are your players playing? Are they aggressive and often raising you when you make a play? Are they loose and passive, calling you down lightly? If so then reduce your stealing! You will make money from these players by waiting for a big hand and winning a big pot. Alternatively, if the other players at your table are not aggressive or are playing tight then you can steal more. These players are easy to read. You know that when they call or raise you then they have something and you can shutdown your raising.

Another factor to take into account when assessing whether to steal or not is effective stack sizes. If your opponent only has less than 50 big blinds then he is likely to be willing to go all in post flop with only one pair. However, if your opponent has over 100 big blinds then he is likely to be unwilling to commit his whole stack with only one pair. You can exploit this to your advantage. The bigger a players stack, the more you can steal.

These are some basic concepts about stealing but they are not rules that you should completely adhere to. For example, we said that often if the other players perceive you to be a tight player than you will be able to steal more but there will be other table images that can also help. Or against certain types of opponent, they will be more likely to raise you because you have been playing tight.

Every time you sit at a poker table know that you need to steal because if you sit around and wait for a big hand you will lose money and also know that you should not start stealing too much. Use the factors above to help you come to a decision about what play to make and you are well on your way to becoming an excellent stealer.

In the last article the concept of poker equity was introduced. Steal equity was discussed and defined as the the potential to win money before showdown by forcing your opponents to fold. You can steal on any street by either being the first to raise or by re raising another players’ bet. There are two common mistakes that poker players make when stealing. They either do not steal enough or they steal too much.

You cannot beat poker if you sit around and wait until you make a hand. Whilst you will make a lot of money at showdown when you hit, you will lose too much money folding in the pots that do not go to showdown. The best you can hope for is to be a small winner.

Some players understand this but then start stealing too much. The problem with this is that your opponents will notice! They will stop folding to your bluffs and start calling you down lighter or raising. It is important to always be aware of your table image – the way the other players think you play. Usually if you have an image of a tight player then you will find that your steals have a higher success rate.

Besides your table image, there are other factors that you should consider when thinking about whether you should try to steal a pot. The most important of these is your table position. When you have position over your opponent then you have a major advantage in that you will know your opponents move before you have to make your move.
The fewer players there are the less likely you will be facing an opponent with a good hand. For example, if you raise from the button preflop then you will only be up against two other players. The chance that they have a hand that they will reraise or call you with is smaller than if there are more opponents and you make your raise from under the gun. Therefore, the fewer players remaining the more likely your steal will succeed.

How are your players playing? Are they aggressive and often raising you when you make a play? Are they loose and passive, calling you down lightly? If so then reduce your stealing! You will make money from these players by waiting for a big hand and winning a big pot. Alternatively, if the other players at your table are not aggressive or are playing tight then you can steal more. These players are easy to read. You know that when they call or raise you then they have something and you can shutdown your raising.

Another factor to take into account when assessing whether to steal or not is effective stack sizes. If your opponent only has less than 50 big blinds then he is likely to be willing to go all in post flop with only one pair. However, if your opponent has over 100 big blinds then he is likely to be unwilling to commit his whole stack with only one pair. You can exploit this to your advantage. The bigger a players stack, the more you can steal.

These are some basic concepts about stealing but they are not rules that you should completely adhere to. For example, we said that often if the other players perceive you to be a tight player than you will be able to steal more but there will be other table images that can also help. Or against certain types of opponent, they will be more likely to raise you because you have been playing tight.

Every time you sit at a poker table know that you need to steal because if you sit around and wait for a big hand you will lose money and also know that you should not start stealing too much. Use the factors above to help you come to a decision about what play to make and you are well on your way to becoming an excellent stealer.

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