In this article, we’ll be detailing three proven tactics to improve your chances at the poker felt in 2024. From bluffing like a champ to using position like a boss and reading your opponents, we’re here to help you conquer your poker opponents in the next 12 months.

1. Slow-Play Pocket Aces

Pocket Aces can be tricky to play. There are ‘ace crackers’ out there in the form of suited connectors, your opponents could always fold to you if you go too big too soon and if you’ve already won big with premium hands like kings or queens, then your opponents will find it easier to read your style with ‘monster’ hands unless you mix it up.

Playing pocket aces slowly in order to trap your opponent is, therefore, fraught with danger. Play them correctly, though, and you can scoop the big pots, whether it’s playing tournament poker or crushing at cash. For now, let’s assume that you’re playing $2/$5 cash and your stack is $500.

Here are some quick rules to playing aces slowly:

  1. Don’t Be Scared – playing pocket aces in any tricky way is scary. You can lose big pots and in order to make maximum value, you may need to fall behind on the board before retaking the lead and making them pay. Slow-playing aces requires some serious stones, and you’ll need to have a pokerface like the grill of a car.
  2. Play Faster – many players slow down when they get a nice hand to look at, even checking their cards multiple times if they’re playing live poker. Don’t bet like you’re holding a monster or your opponents might get scared themselves and toss away middle-ranking hands. If you bet quickly with nine-ten suited, don’t start tanking with premium pairs, the results won’t be great.
  3. Play All the Streets – it’s really tempting to go big with aces both pre-flop and post. So many players do this and again it’s based on the fear of someone catching cards that toppled your beautiful aces later in the streets. You’ve got to hold your nerve and if you’ve bet for value on the flop, don’t simply get timid on turn or reticent on the river. Changing your style dramatically mid-hand if like standing up and doing a circuit of the poker table while holding a placard that says ‘I HAVE POCKET ACES’.

Many times with pocket aces, if you get a call pre-flop, a flop such as 8-5-3 with two cards in the same suit can lead to a check from your opponent. Now your strategy here could easily be to bet in order to protect your hand from flushes or straights. That’s understandable. If someone has called your pockets rockets with ‘ace crackers’ like seven-six suited, you could be in trouble.

But if you know your opponents’ ranges and put them on a bigger hand like king-queen offsuit, then you’re going to scare them off. Instead, you want to check and give your opponent a chance to a) bluff or b) catch one of their cards later on, such as a queen on the turn. If they do this, the letting them take the betting lead will disguise your aces brilliantly.

In the 2006 movie “Casino Royale,” James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, demonstrates the art of slow playing pocket aces during a high-stakes poker game. With a calm demeanor and strategic finesse, Bond opts to underplay his hand, allowing his opponents to underestimate his strength. This tactical maneuver not only maximizes his potential winnings but also adds a touch of sophistication to Bond’s already legendary poker prowess.

You don’t always want to check pocket aces on the flop. But if you’ve got good reasons to do so and you’re playing against your regular intentions, then it can be an extremely smart way of winning big pots against certain opponents.

2. Bet Big When You Hit a Great Flop

Continuation betting, or ‘c-betting’, is one of the most crucial phases of play at the poker table. Back in the 1970s, players simply didn’t c-bet unless they caught some of the flop. If they did, then those c-bets were frequently too low and risked too many players coming along for the ride to the turn and, often, the river.

In 2024, betting post-flop when the flop is really good for you is often the right play. Let’s look at a common example of you raising pre-flop with a premium hand and the flop lands A-Q-4 with three different suits. This is now a great flop for you and has hit your hand. In the past, a small c-bet designed to tease players into seeing another street might have been preferred. Today, advice is very different.

In 2024, betting big on this flop works better and for several good reasons. Firstly, you’re bumping the pot when you’re likely to have the best hand and bigger bets are being called more often these days in this position.

If your opponent has queen-ten or ace-eight, for example, they are already in a really horrible spot despite having hit their hand. While you can make this move with ace-jack or king-queen and might be dominating them, you can just as easily make this move with low pairs or suite connectors that didn’t and get a fold by bluffing, as long as your opponent’s range is such that you know they’re unlikely to call if faced with the situation above.

The secondary benefit of playing really strong holdings like ace-king or ace-queen strongly in this position is that some opponents will be reluctant to fold weaker paired hands, such as ace-jack or ace-ten when the flop lands like this. When there are two high cards and one low card, if you’re holding the goods then betting big is far more likely to  pay you off bigger in 2024.

3. Check a Lot When You’re Out of Position

We’ve spoken about trapping with aces and betting big with a top pair on a double high-card flop, but our third money-making quick tip is to check. When you think of the action of checking, who do you think of? Perhaps it’s the local rock at your casino who never bets big even if he’s got it. Maybe its Mike McDermott in the 1998 poker movie Rounders, who famously got the better of Teddy KGB After ‘check, check, checking’ in the late stages of their heads-up battle.

Checking when you’re out of position is often the right move, even if you were the pre-flop aggressor. In 2024, plenty of players will be more than happy to try to take betting control of the pot away from you post-flop, and if you have strong hole cards, this can play right into your hands.

On a low flop of 5-3-2 with two suits, you might often make money with an overpair of pocket queens against drawing hands or weaker pairs such as pocket sevens through tens. In this situation, many players simply bet with the queens, get a fold or a call and have less idea where they are in the hand. By checking, you can often get your opponent to bet, where many GTO solvers recommend that you check-raise over 20% of the time.

On flops such as 9-9-8 or A-5-3, solvers suggest that you should check over 90% of the time rather than betting if you have an overpair. This is despite the natural tendency to want to protect against drawing hands in this situation. In 2024, looking for value often means checking in these spots rather than revealing the strength of your hand or simply following standard c-betting strategy.

While this tactic actively applies to heads-up tournament poker, it is worth remembering that checking with a stronger hand in pots against multiple opponents is going to benefit you too. In cash games, you’ll often see players chasing draws to turn or river, so checking your cards with a protected range gives you even more chance of winning big and can often lead to you taking down inflated pots on the flop after you’ve check-raised on later on in the board when you represent your strength and push weaker holdings off the pot.

These three tips, working alongside a study path and practiced proven strategy, could help make you more money in 2024.

Paul seaton

Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He’s not just a spectator; he’s been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker. Paul’s poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he’s interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton’s expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.
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