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Isolating In Poker

In the old days of online poker, the money flowed like wine and it was like having a money tree in your back yard. If you’re old enough to remember those times, you know what I’m talking about. Players knew nothing about poker and the games were as easy as they ever were. There will no doubt, be a better time to have played poker than back in the late 90s – early 2000’s.


Fast forward just a few short years, and the games have gotten so tough that making money is not so easy anymore. The wealth of information out there is just absurd and you can become a solid player in no time just by reading a few forums and sites. The learning curve is greatly diminished in poker.

Some say that there’s no money to be made in poker anymore, I highly disagree. While it is much more difficult and you can’t go out back and shake that money tree anymore, you can still find loads of dead money at the tables.

One of the best ways I like to exploit this dead money is by using the isolation play. It’s become a staple in my arsenal and I use it with great frequency. Some say I overdo it to an extreme, but I always say, “If aint broke, don’t fix it.” Yes I’m a southerner, hillbilly who uses the word aint.


What is the isolation?

Isolating is basically raising someone who limps in. For example – You are playing 9 handed animagesd a weak player limps in from early position. It’s folded around to you and you raise it up because you want to win that limped money.

Some players make this play unintentionally when they have a good hand. But, I do it regardless of my hand if the spot is right.


The Goal

When you isolate, you are trying to do 1 of 2 things.

Steal the dead money form the player limping.

Get the pot heads up against the limper.


Why it’s so effective

Generally when a player limps, they are weaker than usual. Both in hand strength and playing ability. Not many good players will limp often if at all. Limping is a sign of weakness almost always. You still need to be wary of strong hands form any limper, but the majority of the time, when someone limps, they are a bad player.

It’s easy to tell who the bad player is and who you can use this play on simply by paying attention to past hands. If a player has limped more than once, this is enough for me to decide that I am going to isolate them whenever I can.


Why it works so well

A good percentage of the time, you will steal that limped money from the weak player as they fold. However, what I actually prefer is when they call. Love going to a flop with weak players as I feel I have the potential to win more money. I am happy to steal their limped money of course, but the potential to win even more money by playing a fish heads up, is where I really get my rocks off.

When you are isolating, you will be in position against the bad player, they will have a weaker than average hand a majority of the time and you will be heads up with them quite often. There’s not a much better way to play poker in my opinion.

This play will not work all the time and you need to be careful not to overdo it as good players will begin to re-isolate you if they catch you doing it too often. Even bad players will wise up and trap you every so often.

But, in low stakes poker games, you should be able to sue this play quite often with no regard to anyone playing back at you that often. As with any poker game, you need to be aware who’s paying attention and if your jig is up. Simple observation will let you know when you can proceed with this play.

My theory on it is: do it until they don’t let you do it anymore.



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  • Ivan Y

    When I first learned playing Limit Texas Hold’em – “isolating” was the biggest weapon I used when playing.

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