ABC Poker: The Simple Strategy

The concept of ABC poker is often times misunderstood. Many players think ABC poker is playing some super exploitable and dumified strategy that makes about 0bb/100. However, ABC poker is really just a term to describe a simple strategy that focuses on good fundamental play and veers away from FPS (fancy play syndrome).

In full disclosure, I use an ABC strategy quite often, especially in live games and micro stakes online games. But if Im fully capable of using a LAG strategy, why would I use such a simplified strategy?

Imagine playing in a brand-new game. Every player is unknown to you, you have zero information on any opponent, and it folds to you with T 8 in middle position. An ABC player would just fold here. T8o isnt a default open-raise from middle position and thus its an easy fold.

But if I had information, such as everyone behind me is tight, then Im going to break away from ABC and raise to try and steal the blinds from a non-steal spot. This is how I would play as a default too. With information Im going to raise and try to pick up the pot preflop…but without information I would resort to a default strategy of just folding my weak hand because I dont have information on the other players.

This, in essence, is ABC poker.

This same concept can be applied to postflop poker. With information, you may continuation bet more, size your value bets more perfectly, and even run double barrels and overbets more often. But without information, or even with super minimal information like a sample size of 14, you will oftentimes have to revert back to default lines.

The ABC Poker Playbook

Since ABC poker boils down to simpler play, their playbook is usually easy. They typically use a small ball poker strategy and utilize an easy bet sizing strategy that prioritizes a single size over multiple. They also avoid mixed strategies and instead use a binary approach when building their ranges.

So what are some ABC lines that players use?

  1. Raise only good hands from EP/MP
  2. Only 3-bet value hands like QQ+ and AK preflop
  3. Dont bluff continuation bet in a multi-way pot
  4. Keep turn/river bets for value
  5. Keep bet sizes around 2/3rd pot

These ideas, along with many others, are simply fundamental and basic starting points. The ideas is to keep your ranges strong so you can value bet more often and be forced to bluff less often.

The issue in unknown poker games and dynamics is that you arent sure if a bluff will work. Even though a 1/2 pot double barrel on the turn only needs to work 33% of the time to breakeven…without info you cant really know if your bluff will create that many folds. So rather than throw out an expensive bet with no concept on the profitability, you could pass on the opportunity and just check/fold instead.

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An ABC strategy is thus a good idea in unknown environments…and then once you have info on one or many players you should veer away from ABC and begin using a more exploitative strategy to maximize profit in each spot.

I think this is why ABC is so misunderstood. Players think ABC means to just use a totally dumb and overly simplistic strategy…which is true…but its true in situations where you dont have the information to do something more exploitative. If you are playing a super basic strategy when you have good sample sizes on villains or in spots where you know you could veer away from a default play (like light 3betting A7o rather than just folding it) you are passing up valuable opportunities.

3 Tips For Playing Better ABC Poker

While there are piles of things you can do to improve your poker strategy, I find focusing on just a few things can minimize getting overwhelmed. So if nothing else, look to implement these three things into your game over the next week and see how things feel in your next session.

1. Know Your Preflop Ranges Super Well

To be honest, I m not a huge fan of hand charts. I think they are limiting and miss the bigger picture of poker being dynamic and fluid to each situation. But, ABC poker requires that you have a fall-back range you can use when you don t have better information to use so a basic hand chart is useful.

The exact ranges you open-raise with, call with, and 3bet with will vary from game to game. For instance, I open all pocket pairs from UTG in a 6max game but typically only open 66+ from UTG in a full ring online game. This is the starting hand chart I suggest using for full ring and live players. And for 6max players I suggest this one.

And remember that hand charts are useful for preflop ranges and are NOT used postflop. Hand strengths, lines, and bluffing frequencies are texture-dependent and a postflop hand chart would leave heaps of money on the table.

So spend a few minutes today writing down your ranges from each position what would you open-raise, raise over limpers, limp behind, call preflop raises, 3bet, and 4bet with. That way you always have ranges to fall back on if you don t have other information to help you craft an optimal range for the exact spot.

2. Use Hand Reading Skills To Find C-Bets

Even though you don t have great information on your exact opponent, you can still find bluff CBs. Some flop textures lend themselves beautifully to bluffing while others make it quite difficult. Take a common situation where you open-raise from MP with A J and the SB calls. They check to you on a Q 7 3 flop. Should you fire?

With some basic hand reading skills, the answer becomes clear.

Say you think the SB called your preflop raise with 22-JJ/ATB (minus AK)/43s+/64s+/AXs. How often does that range hit a pair+ or decent draw on this flop?

Assuming you think they won t float the flop (and why would they OOP?), you can expect folds around 45% of the time meaning that any bet that is 2/3 pot or small is outright profitable. That means it doesn t matter if you have 22, AT, or 65 here you can fire a +EV continuation bet out there! (Of course, having some equity backdoor or otherwise is even better).

These situations are everywhere. With basic hand reading skills* and the knowledge of how common ranges hit common flop textures you can find extra continuation bets in every session with all parts of your own range. And this expands beyond the flop since you can use this same knowledge to find double barrels, triple barrels, bluff check-raises, etc.

The exact range you calculate wont always be correct (how could it without solid information about their playstyle?) but with experience and practice, you can get a great feel for spots where you should be firing way more often than just constantly checking.

* One of the best ways to break away from ABC is to improve your hand reading skills. With better hand reading you can find more spots to bluff, more ways to generate creative value, and more. Join my FREE 5-day email course and improve your hand reading skills this week!

3. Use Variable Bet Sizing

When in doubt, keeping your bet sizes to a default 2/3 pot is safe. It s easy to calculate, it s rarely the worst bet size you could use, and as such it s a staple in the ABC strategy. But I d like to make a simple suggestion for a simple reason: use variable bet sizing.

This means making bigger bets with your big hands and slightly smaller bets with your bluffs. It s simple to see that you stand to make more money when your hand is best and risk less when trying to get your opponent to fold.

Now is this something I want to do against regs and people I play against often? Of course not since such a bet sizing strategy would allow them to easily discern how strong my hand is and give them opportunities to play closer to perfect against me. But if a player is an unknown to me, I m almost certainly an unknown to them and they wouldn t have any idea what my bet sizing strategy says about the strength of my hand.

It would be easy to take this too far over-betting 1.5x pot with strong hands and 1/4th pot with weak hands. But I don t suggest taking it quite that far. Something closer to 90% pot with a strong hand that rates to beat the hands your opponent calls with and something closer to ?- pot when trying to bluff in your next poker session to solicit a fold. If you don t already know, a ?-pot bluff means your opponent only needs to fold 1/3 rd of the time for your bluff to make profit something that is reasonable in many situations.

Again, this is NOT something I suggest doing against regs. But when done correctly vs unknowns this can massively change the profitability of your ABC strategy!

My advice would be to strengthen your ABC strategy so that you always have a profitable strategy to fall back on…but also to work on improving your exploitative strategy so that you know how to attack players once you gather good information on them. A strong ABC game has its place…but keep learning and growing to ensure you can exploit poker regulars (regs) and generate more profit in the longrun.


My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 500+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

Short Handed in Poker

If you are someone who likes playing poker among small groups with more aggressive raises, poker short handed is the right game for you. This game comes in handy for players who know what they are good at, are confident about the same and who can use their skill to maximize their earnings within a couple of hours. This article takes you through the various advantages that one can reap from shorthanded poker and the risks associated with it.

What is short handed in poker?

Shorthanded in poker refers to a table which consists of 6 players or less. On the other hand, tables with more than 6 players and with a cap of 10 are called full ring tables. In poker short handed, 6-handed and 4-handed tables are the most common, however 3-handed and 5-handed are also available to play in the online poker sites. Shorthanded poker asks for you to have greater skill and focus than full ring tables to be able to win the games.

Why do you need to get on poker short handed ASAP?

This game is best fitted for aggressive players to come forward in comparison to the other variants. Since these games involve a smaller number of hands, the value of the hands rises accordingly. This allows the players to raise and re-raise multiple times throughout the game. In poker short handed, you are also required to be much more versatile with your hands. If you happen to be in the same hand range, it is a recipe for disaster.

This is probably the best game for experienced and expert players to take advantage of the amateur opponents who tend to be over-enthusiastic with their hands and value them way too high for them to recover from the loss.

Poker bonuses offered by the online poker sites are an obvious added benefit. Most of the poker sites supporting shorthanded poker follow the dealt method by which players get points when they deal a hand in the game. This could be used by the players at a later point of the game or in another game to their advantage.

Poker short handed allows more hands per hour which makes it an attractive deal for players who crave for action in their games with a higher hourly rate than full ring tables.

This game also proves to improve the learning curve of mediocre players and beginners as they get to experience a lot more aggressive hand dealing in this. They also get to play different hand ranges, bluff effectively and beneficially, and read multiple hands.

What are the risks of playing poker short handed?

As discussed earlier, this game is suitable for expert players to milk money out of beginners. However, the same cannot be said for the beginners as are in danger of losing more money if they aren t as proficient in the game as the others.

Shorthanded poker comes with higher variance and more pay-ups by the amateur players. Since this game has aggressive raising, you have to be prepared to handle all the different swings throughout the game.

Now that you know what poker shorthanded means, it is time to register yourself on the GetMega Poker app to play such poker games and more.

Short handed poker abc poker

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Short-Deck Poker: Rules, Hand Rankings and Strategies

Poker has a problem.
Short-Deck is the answer.
Also known as, Triton Hold em, Short-Deck has its roots in Asia, where successful businessmen, and poker lovers, Paul Phua and Richard Yong, experimented by removing a few cards from the standard 52-card deck, increasing the likelihood of strong pre-flop hands.
Out went the 2s.
Then the 3s.
Then the 4s.
Finally, the 5s.
The net result, was a 36-card deck a Short-Deck and the outcome was incredible.
One of the problems that amateurs have when playing superior players, especially professionals, is they play with a broad range of starting hands because their primary focus in the game is to enjoy themselves, and you can t do that if you fold. The better player begins with a narrower range of hands, and this disparity means the amateur ends up with the worst of it more often than the pro.
Folding isn t fun.
Neither is losing all the time.
Paul and Richard found that by removing the lower half of the cards, they increased the likelihood that an amateur would receive two very playable starting hands.
As the former World Series of Poker (WSOP), Player of the Year, Ben Lamb, mentions during his first experience of Short-Deck during a 2018 Triton Poker Series in Jeju, South Korea.

Ben Lamb at Triton Poker Series Jeju, South Korea (July 2018)

The first thing you notice when you sit down to play Short-Deck is the equities run much closer than No-Limit Hold em.

And the closer you get, the more often a weaker player wins, and the more likely he or she is to remain in the game. At a time when poker s ecosystem is under pressure from advancements in technology and available poker resources, with players getting improving at a rate never before witnessed, Short-Deck is fixing a leak that is in danger of drowning the game.

The Rules of Short-Deck Poker

The variant featured in Triton Poker Series events is called Short-Deck, Ante-Only. There is no small or big blind, and instead everyone has to post an ante that increases each level in the same way blinds do in a standard game of No-Limit Hold em. The player on the button posts a double ante.
Each player begins with three bullets.
Stack sizes can vary, but in the early events at Montenegro and Jeju in South Korea, each bullet was worth 100,000 in chips. And loading these three bullets into the chamber is important, as Ben Lamb explains.

You have to put your stack in more often than the other games. That s why they give you three bullets, that s smart.

Like No-Limit Hold em, the player to the left of the button begins the action by calling the size of the double ante, raising or folding. The action continues in sequence as per No-Limit Hold em rules. Post flops actions plays the same.
Here s Ben Lamb again to give you a few tips.

You need to see a lot of flops. There are more passive ways to play the game, like limping, but this an action game. Stay away from dominated hands. Recognise the difference between shallow and deep-stacked play.

During the early action, you can be forgiven for thinking you have walked into a game of deuces wild. All-in and calls are common, the action is crazy fast, and there is a lot of laughing and joking around the tables. But once the game gets deep, you need to switch gears, and this is why the game suits both skilled and weaker players alike.
And the best thing about Short-Deck is it s a new game. It s perfect for local home games where you can experiment with the rules and formats, while keeping an eye on the Triton Livestream to see how the Godfathers of the game continue to evolve.

Short-Deck Poker Hand Ranking (Best to Worst)

Royal flush
Straight flush
Four of a kind
Full house
Three of a kind
Two pair
One pair
High card
It s important to remember that a flush beats a full house. That s the only hand ranking difference when compared to No-Limit Hold em.
One of the features of Short-Deck, is unlike Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) where players have to learn to use four hole cards, Short-Deck is more suitable for people who have grown up playing the more familiar No-Limit Hold em.
A few things to note:
Pocket aces come along 1 in 105 hands, not one in 220, but they are cracked way more often.
Straight draws arrive on the flop 48% of the time, not 31%.
The odds of flopping a set are 18%, and not 12%.
The other change to be aware of is the role of the ace. As in No-Limit Holdem the ace plays both low and high when creating straights, meaning it becomes a five when 6,7,8,9 is on the board.

Triton Poker Series Spearheads Short-Deck Poker Trend

After playing Short-Deck in their local home game, and seeing the improvements in sociability and joy firsthand, both Paul and Richard decided to test the new variant at a professional level.
The Triton Poker Series was born.
Taking place in some of the most salubrious destinations around the world, the Triton Poker Series is a high stakes series that pits some of the wealthiest amateurs against the very best professionals in the game.
In 2018, at the Triton Poker Series at the Maestral Resort Casino in Montenegro, Paul and Richard hosted a HKD 250,000 (USD 32,000) and a HKD 1,000,000 (USD 127,000) buy-in Short-Deck, Ante-Only event, put the word out, and hoped they would come.
Come they did.
The most feared and respected poker player in the modern game, Phil Ivey, beat 61 entrants to win the HKD 4,749,200 (USD 604,992) first prize in the HKD 250,000 (USD 32,000) version, and Jason Koon defeated 103 entrants to bank the HKD 28,102,000 (USD 3,579,836) in the HKD 1,000,000 (USD 127,000) version, in only his second ever Short-Deck event.
Not only did the amateurs love the game, so did the pros, and so did the poker community, who tuned in to watch the livestream in their droves. There had not been this much buzz over a format of poker since the Texas Road Gamblers decided to add the words All-In to the game of Limit Hold em.
Paul Phua and Richard Yong had achieved the remarkable.
Short Deck became the antidote to a game that was in danger of turning into a robotic, emotionless, and dull experience.
People who fold too much are going to get eaten up, you have to be prepared to gamble, Ben Lamb.
But how do you play this game?

The Future of Short-Deck Poker

The Triton Poker Series Livestream numbers show that this is a variant of the game that the poker community adores. It turns quite a boring spectator sport into one of the most illuminating.
All sports and games have their magic moments.
The goal.
The punch.
The all-in and call.
There are more swings than a kid s playground, and for this reason, Short-Deck poker is going to be here to stay, but where does it take it s seat in poker s landscape.
Back to Ben Lamb.
It will grow, especially in America. I am going to try and help that happen by running games at ARIA and my local game in LA, says Lamb, who played the variant in Jeju, for the first time, and fell in love with it. It fits a niche. Amateurs want to enjoy themselves. Pot Limit Omaha cash games tend to be more fun for amateur players, but Short-Deck takes it to another level. More gambling. More fun. The edges are smaller, and that s a great thing for the long term ecosystem of poker. Just because your a pro it doesn t mean you don t like to gamble. I love to flip and gamble.
Poker s purpose is to enthrall, enlighten and entertain.
Somewhere along the way we forgot that.
Short-Deck won t let us make the same mistake twice.
Suddenly, it feels like poker has no problem at all.

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