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Did you ever think that 3-betting AJ off-suit versus the BTN could be the best play, versus one player and a mistake versus another one? It’s true, and you have to learn the ins and outs of adjustments you need to make versus different players to make the best decisions. Today we will discuss how to achieve the correct pre-flop strategy, and how it can skyrocket your results.

Building the solid game plan

It is not enough to know poker hand rankings or opening ranges to develop a solid strategy. You need to spend some time building unexploitable ranges and have a good understanding of game theory optimal play to compete in higher games.

Even though it is not an easy task, you should devote some time to master this area. When you are playing in tough games or against strong players, you have no better option than to balance your ranges and play GTO poker. Obviously, you will not be able to play this strategy perfectly—no one can except a computer—but you should try to get as close as possible.

This way, you will be able to play against anyone and in any game that you want, because no one will be able to exploit you. It works like a charm, and there is no better way to build a solid, winning strategy as your starting point.

Adjusting against weaker players

When you are up against weaker players, you should not be concerned about balancing your ranges and can win much more by simply exploiting their mistakes. It is the beauty of the game—you practically print money by changing your strategy versus different players. Thus, today I want to touch two of the most significant adjustments you should make pre-flop to gain an additional edge.

Changing your opening ranges

As I said before, having balanced and unexploitable ranges is the way to go in tough games, but surely not the best strategy against weaker players. When you are up against them, you should be looking to play more hands and apply as much pressure as you possibly can.

The most significant area in which you can implement this adjustment is when you have a weaker player in the big blind. When this is the case, you can open more hands and expect your opponent to make huge mistakes pre-flop and post-flop as well. It enables you to play more pots versus weaker players when you are in position, and that is the best way to increase your win rate.

Different 3-bet strategies

You can drastically exploit poor players by changing your 3-bet strategy as well, and this is the second point you should never forget. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, 3-betting AJ could be good and bad at the same time depending on your opponent.

Weak players can be divided into two categories: those who fold way too much to 3-bets and those who call too many hands. Obviously, by playing the same strategy against both groups, you would just be burning money.

Therefore, if your opponent is not willing to fold, AJ becomes a mandatory 3-bet because he is going to call you with many hands that you dominate and will pay you off post-flop. However, if your opponent folds the vast majority of his opening range to 3-bets, it is wise just to flat with this holding and keep all his bluffs. If you choose to 3-bet in this spot, he is going to fold all weaker hands and continue with holdings, which dominate your AJ and can lead you to many dangerous situations post-flop.

Thus, the same hand should be played differently against different players, and you need to incorporate this in your pre-flop strategy to reach great results.

Summing it up

By now you should be fully aware of how to increase your win rate by adjusting to your competition. The truth is that you should use both strategies all the time and change your approach according to the players who are in the pot with you. That being said, you still need a good starting point, and my poker cheat sheet will help you out. You can simply get my opening ranges and recommendations for 6-max cash games and MTTs and start building your winning strategy! Do that and see you at the tables!

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Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author of the free poker book “Play ‘A’ Game and be the Boss at Your Poker Table," and poker coach at He is also a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students and deeply enjoys it.