Top Tips for Middle-Stakes Ring Games
Here are some tips for beating middle-stakes ring games (higher than $1-2):
1. Be patient. The players in the mid-stakes games are more aggressive than you would expect, so don’t get caught up in trying to win lots of small pots.
2. Push, push, push. Many of the players that you will encounter at these limits are going to be very ego-driven. You will be able to push them around for awhile, but they will quickly lose their cool and come back at you. Use this to your advantage by pushing around all the players early and making exaggerated bets when you have good hands. If you bet more than needed (“over bet”), the ego-players will assume you are bullying them and come back at you and you’ll get paid off.
3. Bluff on the river. Since so many of the players at these levels are going to be egodriven, they are going to be tough to bluff out of pots. The best time to bluff is with big bets on the river.
4. Watch for traps. A lot of the players in mid-stakes games try to trap you when they are holding good cards. They will check
and slow play monster hands. Don’t get fooled. Never try to bluff at small pots and use feeler bets throughout the hand that way you can avoid the traps.
Note: One of the funny things that I noticed about players at these stakes is their tendency to jump at the idea that they slow played a hand to perfection.
Make sure you throw out feeler bets to avoid getting slow played that way you get a read on your opponents and know when to muck your cards.
5. Watch out for marginal bets on marginal hands. One of the defining characteristics of the player that you find at middle-stakes tables is that they love to catch bluffers.
I’ll admit that re-raising a bluffing player feels great, but these players look for bluffers just so they can get that feeling. So if you are on a mediocre hand and you try to bluff, but you don’t bluff enough because you’re scared of your opponents, there is a good chance that you will be called or re-raised.
The point is this: If you are going to bluff, make sure that you bluff strong. Period.
6. Tilt-Alert. Look for the following “tilt tells” so you can spot the players going on tilt instantly. These will prove to be golden opportunities for picking up some quick profits:
- Loss of a big hand because of bad luck. Say that a player has A-A and loses to J-J on the river. They are going to be pissed and there’s a good chance they’ll be tilting.
- Chatting. When players are getting frustrated or start losing control, they tend to start chatting more.
- Losing a hand after losing a big hand. Say that someone doubles up another player and then gets involved in the next hand and doesn’t win (even if it is a small, unimportant pot). This is a major tell that: 1) the player isn’t experienced or he would know the importance of sitting out hands after bad beats and 2) he is probably going on tilt because his emotions are running his play, not his mind.
At middle-stakes games, the players who have the most success are the players who stick to the “tight-aggressive squared”
playing style. This means you should only play the best starting hands, but when you do enter a pot, make sure that you bet
If you are having trouble focusing on the tight-aggrieve playing mentality, you should try setting a quota for your hands. Sit down at a low-stakes game and tell yourself that you can only play three out of the next fifteen hands. You will (at first) find it hard to pass up hands like K-9, but you’ll quickly learn what hands are the best to play.
Take this knowledge to the middle-stakes games, mix in some aggressive play, and you will definitely take down these tables.