Patrick "Pads1161" Leonard
When I first played poker I played with 6 guys, all who knew I was the fish, the dead money and they knew exactly how to beat me. I never ever folded so when they had a good hand they just bet huge amounts. 10 years later, $4m in earnings later, I sat down with the same guys at a 0.10/0.20p cash game. Obviously with a lot more experience I can see things a little bit clearer, during one hand I remembered thinking, "I wish I could know these things 10 years ago.
1- How much does the money mean to each player? Are they here to gamble or not?
I think this is the most important one. Some guys come prepared to fire 10+ buy ins, so early on they will be unlikely to make anything like a hero fold. Other guys want to be more cautious at the start and then gamble a little bit later if things go "tits up" so putting these guys to the test early on can be a good strategy. Be careful though, you should really be confident in your read before making very out of the box reckless plays. Fortunately if you ask people to show their hand, because it's friendly they often will, if there's a crucial hand where seeing their hand will get you a lot of valuable information you should always ask, the worst they can say is no and the best is they tell you their whole game plan. Knowing which hand strengths guys pot cbet and which hands guys 1/3 pot Cbet is one of the most important informations you can get when playing with friends, it opens all sorts of profitable doors.
2- Check the profit pile!
Other guys aren't gamblers at heart and won't want to fire multiple bullets. Having a night out with friends and winning £20-30 is really great for them, Friday's (especially in London!) often cost hundreds of pounds, so a really good night where you nick £20 is a bonus. Players like this are usually very conscious about their status in the game and will likely even keep their initial buy in on one side and then the profit on another pile. If somebody has £20 in one pile and £6.70 in another pile maybe it's time to bet £7
3- Fight for the small pots
Players are usually going to be very passive about the small pots, they're prepared to play lots of pots, but they aren't really interested in fighting for the 422 with their J7bdfd. When there's something interesting on TV happening or there's a discussion between the guys just slip in a 50% Cbet when checked to and you will win the pot way more than you need for it to be profitable.
4- 3bet linear
At least in my home game I have never seen a 4bet bluff pre flop (unless the one time that guy 4bet KK and then folded to a jam) this means that we should definitely 3bet a linear range for value. The only reason we don't 3bet kqs normally is because we don't want to be 4bet and faced with a tough decision, if their 4betting range is qq+ we don't have to worry about that. We can be in charge of the size of the pot and build the pot for when we hit a big hand.
5- Steal with big sizes pre flop
Often people won't slow play pre flop. If there is a raise and 4 calls it's likely these calls are weak hands that won't continue. Let's say the open is to 0.50 and there's 4 calls, if you make it 3.80 (an overly large sizing) it's usually going to just force everybody out of the pot. People aren't going to read into it, they will just look at their hand and realize that when they put in 3.80 it's a lot stronger than the hand they have.