What is ABC poker?

ABC poker strategy refers to a straightforward strategy in poker that typically uses the fundamentals of the game. It’s a term used to describe play that is predictably simple and by-the-book.

In ABC poker, you typically play strong hands, fold weak ones, and seldom bluff. This strategy is often recommended for beginners because it provides a strong foundation of poker strategy and helps to limit losses that can result from trying to execute more complex plays without a deep understanding of the game.

The key concepts involved in ABC poker:

Pre-flop play

In ABC poker, players tend to play tight and aggressive before the flop. This means only playing strong starting hands (like high pairs or high-suited connectors) and folding weaker ones.

Typical starting hands that ABC poker players often play:

High Pairs High Suited Connectors High Unsuited Connectors Other Strong Hands
Aces (AA) Ace-King suited (AKs) Ace-King offsuit (AKo) Ace-Queen suited (AQs)
Kings (KK) King-Queen suited (KQs) Ace-Jack suited (AJs)
Queens (QQ) Queen-Jack suited (QJs) King-Jack suited (KJs)
Jacks (JJ) Jack-Ten suited (JTs)

Post-flop play

After the flop, an ABC player will usually only continue if they have a strong hand. If they hit the flop well, they’ll bet or raise; if they didn’t, they’ll typically check or fold.

Hand Strength Action Description
Strong Bet/Raise If they hit a strong hand on the flop (like a set, straight, flush, or top pair), they will bet or raise to build the pot and protect their hand.
Moderate Check/Call or Bet With a moderate hand (like a second pair or a draw), they might opt to check and call to see further cards more cheaply, or bet if they believe they have the best hand.
Weak Check/Fold If they miss the flop or have a low-value hand, they will usually check with the intention of folding to any significant bets.

Limited bluffing

ABC poker players seldom bluff. While bluffing can be a powerful tool in poker, it requires a good understanding of the other players at the table, which beginners might not have.


A key aspect of ABC poker is that it’s quite predictable. Skilled players can take advantage of this predictability. Therefore, while ABC poker can be a good starting point for beginners, more advanced strategies will likely need to be learned and used as a player’s skill level increases.


ABC poker also emphasizes the importance of position. Generally, ABC players will play more hands when they are in a late position, which means they are one of the last to act. This is because having more information about what other players have done can be a significant advantage.

It’s important to note that while ABC poker can be effective at lower-stakes tables and against less-experienced players, more advanced players often need to use more nuanced and complex strategies to win consistently.

scenarios where ABC poker might come into play

Playing from Early Position

Suppose you’re dealt a strong hand such as pocket Kings in an early position. Following ABC poker strategy, you would likely raise to start building the pot and eliminate players with weaker hands. However, if you were dealt a weak hand, say, a 4-7 off-suit, you would simply fold, avoiding unnecessary risk.

Playing from Late Position

If you’re in a late position and have been dealt a reasonably good hand like A-10 suited, and there have been a few limpers into the pot (players who’ve simply called the big blind), you might decide to raise, utilizing your advantageous position. This aims to put pressure on players to fold, thereby increasing your chances of taking the pot.

Post-flop Play

Let’s say you’ve made a pre-flop raise with a hand like A-K, and the flop comes K-7-2 with two cards of your suit. With top pair and a high kicker, you have a strong hand according to your ABC poker strategy and should make a decent-sized bet. This approach asserts your dominance and forces anyone with weaker holdings to make a difficult decision.

Facing an Aggressive Player

Against a highly aggressive player who often bluffs, ABC poker advocates a strategy of waiting for a strong hand and then playing it aggressively. So, if you are dealt pocket Aces and an aggressive player makes a large bet, instead of simply calling, an ABC player would re-raise, forcing the aggressive player to make a difficult decision.

Facing a Loose-Passive Player

Against a player who plays a lot of hands but often just calls bets (loose-passive), you can use ABC poker to exploit their tendencies. For example, with a hand like a Q-J suited, if the flop comes Q-7-2, you can make a strong bet knowing that this type of player might call with a weaker hand, thus maximizing your profit.

ABC-Poker strategy generally works well against the following types of players

Loose-Aggressive Players

Also known as “maniacs,” these players play a wide range of hands and aren’t afraid to make large bets or raises, regardless of the strength of their hand. ABC poker can often counter this unpredictability by patiently waiting for a strong combination and then playing it aggressively. This can capitalize on the tendency of loose-aggressive players to overextend themselves with weaker hands.

Loose-Passive Players

Often referred to as “calling stations,” these players are likely to play too many hands and stick around too long, often just checking or calling rather than taking control with bets or raises. ABC poker exploits this by playing tight and aggressive, which often leads to winning pots due to the superior strength of cards played.

Inexperienced Players

Beginners or less skilled players may not fully understand all the complexities of the game. They might misjudge the strength of their hands, fail to use position effectively, or not recognize when they’re likely beaten. ABC poker’s straightforward strategy can often win against these players by sticking to solid, fundamental poker.

Tilted Players

A player “on tilt” is one who’s letting their emotions dictate their play, often as a result of a bad beat or a series of losses. They may play recklessly, make poor decisions, and chase losses. An ABC poker player can take advantage of this by sticking to their disciplined approach and exploiting the mistakes a tilted player is likely to make.

Types of Bets & Raises in ABC Poker

Pre-flop Raise

In ABC poker, players with strong starting hands often raise before the flop. Typically, you’d raise 3-5 times the big blind with combinations like Queens, Kings, Aces, or suited connectors like Ace-King.

Continuation Bet (C-Bet)

A continuation bet occurs when the pre-flop raiser bets again after the flop. In ABC poker, this is common if the flop improves your hand or if starting strong. C-bets are usually half to two-thirds the pot size.

Value Bet

Players use value bets when they believe their hand is superior. In ABC poker, this is frequent on the turn or river. It’s typically 50-75% of the pot size.

Defensive Bet

Defensive bets are smaller, meant to see another card inexpensively or reach a showdown without facing a big opponent’s bet. Use this when you have a decent hand but fear an opponent’s strength.


Though less common in ABC poker, check-raise is a tactic used with strong cards to encourage an opponent’s bet. After the flop, a player checks, planning to raise if the opponent bets.

Adjust ABC Strategy with Experience in Games

While ABC poker is foundational, it’s essential to adapt as you advance, especially against skilled opponents who can foresee ABC strategies. Here’s how to refine your approach:

Incorporate Bluffs

While bluffing is rare in ABC poker, experience teaches effective bluffing, especially against opponents likely to fold decent hands.

Play Diverse Hands in Position

Positional advantage in poker is crucial. With experience, play more diverse hands late in the game.

Adapt to Opponent Tendencies

ABC poker suits predictable opponents, but skilled players vary. Tailor your strategy by observing opponents, playing aggressively against tight ones and cautiously against aggressive ones.

Flexible Bet Sizing

While ABC poker promotes consistent bet sizes, experience enables adjusting bets for the situation. This includes betting more with potent hands or less to induce bluffs.

Spot and Use Patterns

Skilled players exhibit intricate betting patterns. Enhancing your strategy involves identifying and capitalizing on these patterns.

Maintain Balanced Ranges

Facing adept opponents requires balancing ranges, ensuring varied bets and checks, making your gameplay unpredictable.

Does it really work in live and online poker?

ABC poker yields good results against novices with many recreational players succeeding at micro stakes. It’s adaptable for higher stakes, but risks predictability against adept players. However, rather than ditching it, use ABC as foundational blocks, expanding with more intricate strategies over time.

Bluffing Tactics Against Conservative Players

Bluff more in small-medium pots. Conservative players often fold early, fearing larger pots. This paves the way for more continuation bets, additional barreling, and occasional overbets when they seem to have a weak one-pair hand.

When to Fold Against Conservative Players

If a conservative player amps up aggression, especially with check-raises, it indicates a strong hand. Without a solid hand or draw, it’s best to fold.


  1. Against Overly Aggressive Players: If faced with an excessively aggressive player, ABC poker advises patience. Wait for a strong hand, then re-raise significantly. For instance, with pocket Queens and a large raise from such a player, re-raise substantially, making them decide, often resulting in their fold or mistake.
  2. In Early Position: In an early spot with J-10 offsuit, ABC poker usually suggests folding. This hand is riskier early on, despite being stronger later or with a loose table.
  3. Handling Bad Beats: Bad beats occur when a better hand loses to a lucky draw. ABC poker emphasizes discipline, not emotional, reckless play. For example, with pocket Aces and potential straight on the board, don’t chase losses; play wisely and fold when necessary.
  4. From the Blinds: In the big blind, if only the small blind calls, raise with strong hands (like A-J). If your hand is weak (e.g., 7-2), just check.

  1. Balancing Ranges: Balancing your range ensures unpredictability. For instance, occasionally raising pre-flop in late position with an average hand makes you less readable. If you only raise with strong hands, keen opponents pick up on this, engaging you cautiously. Raising occasionally with weaker hands disguises your strong hands.
  2. Recognizing Patterns: With more poker experience, you’ll spot patterns in others’ gameplay. Maybe someone always bluffs late or plays safe with a low chip stack. Spotting these tendencies helps you react better. If someone bluffs often late, you might call their bet with an average hand. Against a cautious player with fewer chips, raising can pressure them into tough choices.
  3. Pot Odds & EV: Advanced players value pot odds and EV. Pot odds compare the pot size to a potential call’s cost. EV indicates a play’s average outcome over many repetitions. For instance, with a flush draw post-flop, 9 out of 47 cards complete your flush, a 19% chance. If an opponent bets half the pot, you get 3:1 pot odds, making a call profitable over time.

  1. Exploit Player Tendencies: Observe opponents to spot habits. Adjust your strategy based on their playstyle. For example, call more against frequent bluffers or be selective against those raising only with top hands.
  2. Loosen Up in Position: Beyond the tight ABC poker approach, play more hands when you’re in a later betting position. Having more info on others’ actions lets you control the pot with a wider hand range.
  3. Learn to Float: Floating means calling with plans to steal the pot later. It counters players who often continuation bet. Use it wisely.
  4. Incorporate Pot Control: Not every hand should grow the pot. With good, but not excellent hands, sometimes it’s better to check or call, keeping the pot small to limit losses.
  5. Vary Your Bet Sizes: Instead of consistent bet sizes, adjust based on context. Smaller bets can work as effectively as larger ones, while bigger bets might deter chasers.
  6. Bluff More Effectively: Beyond ABC poker’s limited bluffing, bluffing is crucial against skilled players. Ensure bluffs seem real and pick the right opponents. Some fold easily, others call regardless.
Author: YPD
last updated 19.11.2023