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Poker Home Games Strategy

Home games are a slightly different kettle of fish. While many play home games to win money, they are also inherently social occasions, so there’s a fine line needed here if you want to keep getting an invite. Home games tend to be looser than cash games and tournament games by definition, as people are often playing for fun as well as for money.

That being said, there are still opportunities for you to be aggressive when the cards merit it, and you should still be strategic in your approach to these types of games.

Reading The Vibe Of Your Home Game

Some home games are a group of friends meeting for fun. Some home games are a group of more serious gamblers, looking to take money off each other in a battle of pure poker skill. In reality, most lie somewhere in between. It is incumbent on you to establish the makeup of any home game you’re invited to, to avoid alienating your friends and to secure that all-important second invite.

There’s nothing worse for a group playing for fun than to see a tight, aggressive player join their group. Folding all over the place is best strategy for tournament play, but while it might be sensible poker, it can suck out the fun element a little. Instead, it’s better to play a little looser in these scenarios than you normally would.

That doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind — on the contrary, you can and should still play your hands well. But by opening up your game a little, you stay on good social terms, as well as strategically positioning yourself to take account of others’ loose play.

Winning A Home Game Table

Now that the niceties are out of the way, it’s time to discuss how you should play to win. Home games by their very nature attract all types, usually paired up for social reasons rather than poker skill. This means, as an average player, you may be up against some weaker opponents and a couple of stronger ones, depending on the size of the game.

Different players exhibit different styles, and in home games these are often looser than you might expect. Look out for tight players — in many cases, they may be far too conservative for their own good, so you can pick them off on occasion when you have a strong hand. Positioning is important too — you don’t want to get embroiled with the big guns too early in the game, especially when there may be much easier fodder from your position in the hand.

Bluffing is not the name of the game here. It’s better to play ABC poker all the way and let your fundamentals take care of the rest. In most home games, the majority of players will have little insider knowledge or skill in the game — use this to your advantage, and play straight-down-the-line poker.

Patience Is A Virtue

Don’t get too tied up in betting regularly or playing through more hands. You can play ABC until your big hand comes up, preferably with a strong supporting flop. This is your moment to break free of the shackles and hunt down your opponents like a shark. Home game players often overbet the pot, and can be expected to put up more than their hands are worth. If you’re sitting with a strong or nuts hand, exploit this window of opportunity to your fullest advantage.

Obviously you want to keep the pot accruing, so don’t be too aggressive in your early betting rounds. But as the hands wears on, you want to keep upping your exposure to it to secure the biggest possible pot in your favour.

Every home game is different, and it usually depends on the people seated around the table with you and their relative poker experience as to whether you can expect a profitable time of it. With confidence in the fundamentals of your game and a careful strategy that’s not too tight and not too aggressive, you should be best placed to capitalize on opportunities when they do come along.