How to Beat Habitual Reraisers

Have you sometimes sit to the right of an aggressive player who reraises you often?

If you play a lot of online poker at PokerStars or at another poker room with good action, you have been in such situation before and it is difficult to make the necessary adjustment to stop donating to him.

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Getting bullied by an usual reraiser

It can be quite frustrating to play NLHE with an aggressive player to your left, who makes it a habit to reraise you often.

How to counter his strategy and avoid letting him win some of your money on a persistent basis?

This article applies both to tournaments and ring games. In a tournament you would need to stay at the table long enough so that you and your opponent start to know each other well. This is not always so as in modern online poker tournaments players move from table to table quite frequently. But if not, the same logic applies.

The point here is to understand the source of the profits of the usual reraiser. It is his folding equity stemming from a skillful use of his positional advantage.

As poker pros say, the source of your poker profits at the table are the players to your right, so you cannot expect to make too much money, if any, from an aggressive player at your left, but you should at least try to cut down on his strategy.

Adjusting to an habitual reraiser to your left

Clearly you need to adjust your pre flop range in response to his reraises. This is determined by how often you raise, you often you call his raises and how often you 4-bet him. By tightening up your opening range and loosening up your calling/4-betting range, you can change the parameters of the equation.

Imagine that you are playing in a ten-handed online poker tournament, with blinds 400/200 and ante 75. If you raise to 1200 when first in the pot from the cutoff with 20% of your hands, the pot is 2550 and he will reraise to 4000. If you fold 80% of the time, he has an immediate win of 2550.

For argument sake, if he always lose his 4000 when you do not fold, his EV is +(80%*2550)-(20%*4000)=+1240. In this example, you fold too often. If instead you only fold 60% of the time, EV=-70. This is just an approximation as it assumes that he always loses if you do not fold, for example if you 4-bet he would fold. But it shows that the secret is to decrease your folding frequency.

The best way to achieve this is to tighten up your raising range while loosening up your calling/4-betting range.

Counterattacking the Reraiser

You must be ready to see an increase in variance when you start this type of play. It is a leak to be afraid of variance and to avoid confrontation too much, and it is part of the strategy of the habitual reraiser to identify timid players and to bully them. So if you cannot take it, do not play poker.

There will be more variance because you will need to 4-bet more often, risking more chips at once. But tightening up your opening range while loosening your 4-betting range will make a huge difference in the profitability of the habitual reraiser.

Open less hands and call/reraise with a higher frequency will have the reraiser not show a systematic profit against you.

Use this poker lesson to develop the reverse strategy. If you can spot a player at the table who plays many hands but often folds to pressure, you can selectively reraise him to exploit his leak until he adjusts.


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