Don’t focus too much on just one poker player

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As a player who has made his living playing cash, I’ve never been a fan of “targeting one player” during a session. I am, however, a fan of “targeting three players” during a session.
When you go after only one player, you restrict your ability to make money and players realize what you’re doing and where your game is headed.

Let’s examine how to determine who to target and when to play against them.
The first player I look for in cash games is the tight player. This player has an easy playing style to identify. They only play big cards and will raise preflop with big pairs. They tend to limp with medium or low pairs preflop. After the flop, they won’t bet if there’s an overcard to their pair and will always bet with top pair. They seldom change or deviate from this style of play and are easy to play against. I find raising this player’s bet will ensure if he calls I’ll see several free cards and will be able to play more drawing hands for no bets. If I bet or raise his bet after the turn, he’ll often fold.

The second player I look for is, of course, the loose player. My strategy is to be selective in my betting and ability to read the board. I often will lead out with a bet or I’ll raise bets from this player, usually min-raise to keep the pot small and under my control. Remember the loose player can’t have a hand every time. Once I beat them, their aggression diminishes significantly. The loose player won’t be forcing other players out of hands preflop (the average players) who contribute to the pot size and seldom win in the session.

Last, I look for the “best player” at the table. This player has a large stack and shows down the best hand often. Other players tend to stay away from him and he commands respect when he bets. This player won’t call a bet if the pot odds aren’t correct for the hand he’s playing and hands where he doesn’t have control. He also will respect my bet and seldom play draws against me.

Every player wants to play hands against the worst player in the game; I let other players have this honor. This is simply redistribution of cash, which always keeps the game going. So, target ’em and slam ’em in each session and go home with the cash.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.