In this article, a famous mid-stakes poker pro Saulo Costa will tell you how he managed to earn more than $100k playing Zoom NL200 games online, and what changes to your strategy can help you skyrocket your effectiveness in such a tough game as poker.
Next - in his words.
Over a sample of almost 1 million hands, I won $96,900 by playing NL200 Zoom games online. This was only possible because I was able to achieve a winrate of over 5 bb/100 in a game where most people cannot get past 3 bb/100.
In this article, I'm going to share with you all the secrets that have helped me achieve these results as well as tips on how you can use them for yourself in your own games. Let's go.
A high winrate allows us to make more money per hour which allows us to work fewer hours. It also decreases the chance you going through long periods of losses, which can significantly impact our capacity to perform.
But how do we do it? What explains the difference between the one who makes 2 bb/100 and someone who makes 5 bb/100?
In my experience, higher winrates come down to 3 major factors. Let's talk about each of those factors separately.
Factor #1: Avoid battling with equal or better regs
The first thing you must do to achieve a higher winrate is to avoid spewing money against the better regs.
On every limit, there will be a handful of regs that are really good and who actually might be significantly better than you. These guys will be capable of exploiting you when you're imbalanced and they'll also be quicker to adjust if you try to enter into metagame wars against them.
So if you want to guarantee your chance of achieving a high winrate you must play a solid game against these guys. A solid game consists of never making a huge mistake, and never making substantial deviations based on extreme assumptions you can’t prove.
To play a very solid game you must become good at understanding poker theory. It's very hard to have a very solid game without having a very good knowledge of GTO concepts and unexploitable behavior. So if you want to develop a very high winrate, you must work on your theoretical fundamentals and most importantly, your heuristics.
Heuristics are mental shortcuts that allow you to quickly arrive at the solution to a complex problem.
Heuristics are precisely what drives your behavior at the tables. You look down at a K72 rainbow board, and you know you're supposed to bet small with high frequency. You don’t think about any ranges, equities or blockers - you just know that this is the correct strategy for this scenario.
Becoming a very solid player is about acquiring more heuristics and refining your current ones. Perhaps your mental shortcuts for playing ace-high boards for example are too simplistic. It's very common for regulars to c-bet the entire range on a lot of those even though many ace-high boards are actually supposed to be checked very often.
The best way to acquire more in refining your current heuristics is by practicing with drills. Drills allow you to repeatedly and quickly access new information and signal to your brain which heuristics need to be improved or which ones you currently don't possess. By practicing postflop with drills every working day you maximize the pace of learning heuristics which makes you a better, much more solid player.
Factor #2: Learn to crush recreationals
The second major factor that is required to achieve a high winrate is to crush the recreational players.
It's 2024, and yet most regulars still don't know how to maximally exploit the recs. These players represent the bulk of money you can like playing poker.
So you should make it your top priority to study and understand how you can make more money from them.
These players will make bizarre plays every now and then without you needing to do anything as their technical level is extremely low. However, it is possible to make much more money against them by actively exploiting their strategy instead of just waiting for them to punt. If you can understand and predict their behavior, then you can adjust your strategy to extract more EV from the many mistakes they make throughout the game tree.
Stop overfolding on rivers against recreationals
The most important thing you can do to make more money against recreational players is to never fold on rivers against them. When I say this it's almost like I can see your face being like «What is he talking about?» so let me tell you something.
All those people that ever told you to fold against recreational players because they never bluff they were wrong. In fact they were not just wrong they were terribly wrong.
Recreational players bluff more than regs - let that sink in for a moment
Amateurs are in a lot of ways more aggressive than professionals
And before you say anything, this is not just my opinion - that's just facts. Now let’s dig into my H2N database - and what can we see here?
You can see the standard population tendencies by getting data on your opponents and loading that into Hand 2 Note. Now you can see that recs almost always will bluff the river when they have the chance and that their raising frequencies on various post-flop lines are actually higher than the raising frequencies of pros.
This is why those almost one million hands I showed you in a graph at the beginning of this video contain many hands of me refusing to fold against recreational players on the river like this one, where I called a third pair all the way against raise-bet-bet-All-In in a 3-bet-pot.
Or this one, where I call an Ace-high on the river against a rec that decided to bet turn and go All-In on a similar line.
I have done this over and over and over and over again on the sample with much success so I recommend you do it too.
Factor #3: Destroy the weaker regs
The third and final major factor to achieve a high winrate is destroying the weaker regs.
There's no way to make more money than other regs if you're not beating lots of them. If every reg has similar skills against recreational players then the only difference between one reg winrate and the other is how much they can exploit each other.
You won't be able to beat all the regs in your games because was discussed in Factor #1 - some of them might actually be better than you. - Your goal against them though is to just play as solid as you can.
However, there will be some sets of regs that play worse than you
- They are slower to adjust
- They don't understand the theory as well as you do
- Perhaps their strategy is more exploitable than yours
Your job against these guys is to make their lives hell
The typical tendencies of most regs are pretty much universal. It doesn't matter what the stake is or what the poker site is, it doesn't even matter what the poker format is.
Weaker regulars are passive both with the betting lead and without it. But the sweet is that
- They will fold more often than they should when facing bets
- They also raise less frequently than solvers when it's necessary
- And they'll also not put as much pressure as they should when it's time to be aggressive - they would just check a lot and play small bets instead.
Your job as a poker player if you truly want to achieve a high winrate is to sit down to play with the mind of a hunter. Every weak reg in the pools are just potential prey you're eager to attack. And every time they come near you - it’s a new opportunity to capitalize.
I bombed here 2x the pot. Now see what they folded.
You must make all the regs uncomfortable when seeing you at the table because it's that way that you're going to make more money.
Mindset, not the Techniques
Realize that this is much more of a mindset correction than a technical correction.
Because of the modern day community obsession with GTO strategies most poker players have become excessively passive versions of professionals where all they care about is their own pseudo-balance strategy and heuristics whereas
The good old hand-reading
have not just taken a secondary place but have been pretty much forgotten and neglected.
If you want to become a great player and achieve a high winrate you must face your opponents by understanding that they're exactly what separates you from the money you want to make and the glory that you want.
It’s either You or them