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StrategyFixed Limit

Opponent Profiles: How to Play Against Rocks

Introduction

In this article
  • Play aggressively
  • Bluff and steal his blind more often
  • Fold weak and marginal hands when a rock becomes active

Rocks are the exact opposite of maniacs. It usually takes longer to spot on at the table, as well. They can be identified by their tight, passive playing style. They play very few hands, and only raise when they have something big. You will rarely see a rock take his hand to the showdown or try a bluff. This makes them an easy opponent to play, since you always know what kind of hand they are on and can make the right decision.

Typical stats for a rock look something like: 15/ 10/ 1,5 / 35 (VPIP / PFR / AF / WTS). You can play against weak TAGs with similar stats the same way as you play against a rock.

You can make a lot of profit out of a rock's conservative playing style. They simply fold too often. The simple fact that he folds a lot of relatively strong hands before the flop benefits everyone at the table. And the fact that he takes too few hands to the showdown is a leak you can exploit.

You can also take advantage of his 'honesty': When a rock raises, he is telling you the truth about the strength of your hand. You don't have to worry about making an incorrect fold, the only mistake would be staying in the hand without the nuts.

How do you play against rocks?

Rocks make several typical mistakes that you can take advantage of.

The four basic rules for playing against a rock are:

  • Attack his blind.
  • Isolate him before the flop.
  • Bluff when he doesn't seem to have a strong hand.
  • Fold weak and marginal hands when he becomes active.
1. Attack his blinds

Rocks play too few starting hands. This makes them very vulnerable to blind steals. A rock will fold his Big Blind too often to a pre-flop raise. The more a rock under defends his blind, the more you can attack his blinds.

Even if he calls your steal raise, he will probably fold to a contibet. If he is folding his BB to a steal raise more than 60% of the time, his open ranging range is too tight.

But before you start adjusting your own open raising range, you need to take a look at the opponents between you and the rock. If you have LAGs, who are likely to 3-bet, between you, you shouldn't start making loose open raises. If you only have TAGs or fish between you, you can definitely loosen up your range a bit and raise with hands not found in the Open Raising Chart (ORC).

You can raise 1-2 positions looser than prescribed by the ORC, for example, with 67s from the CO or Q8 on the BU. You could even steal from the BU 100% of the time profitably if the rock in the BB folds to a steal 70%+ of the time and the SB is tight, as well. Of course, you won't find yourself in such a scenario very often, and even rocks can surprise you by doing a half way decent job of defending their blinds.

2. Isolate the rock before the flop

Another weakness you can exploit is the rock's tendency to give up his hand too easily after the flop. This means you can target them with loose isolation raises with hands that have little showdown value.

EXAMPLE

CO: 20 / 10 / 1 / 31
Blinds: Tight

Pre-flop: Hero is BU with 89
2 folds, CO calls, Hero raises, 2 folds, CO calls.

This opponent will raise before the flop when he has a good starting hand. His range can't include many strong hands after he calls. You can try to isolate the rock, even though you don't have an equity edge against his range. You can usually then buy the pot with a contibet. And regardless of what you have, you know where you stand with your hand after the flop: the rock isn't going to bluff you; if he bets, he has you beat.

And even if your isolation raise doesn't succeed and the blinds stay in the hand, you will be in position with a strong drawing hand in a 3 or 4 handed pot, which isn't a bad situation to be in.

3. Bluff

Folding the best hand too often can be just as costly as calling down with a weak hand too often. This is the rock's greatest weakness. They give up their hand too easily after the flop and are a prime target for bluffs and semi-bluffs.

Always pay attention to the rock. Even if he has a very low WTS, any raise is a sign that he has a good hand and that you should not try bluffing him.

Keep in mind that even a rock can make a contibet. You shouldn't automatically assume he has hit when he contibets and can consider a bluff raise. This, however, should only be done when the cards in the flop are not likely to have any hands in his very tight range.

EXAMPLE 1

BU: 17 / 10 / 1,5 / 31

Pre-flop: Hero is BB with T9
2 folds, BU (Rock) raises, 1 folds, Hero calls.

Flop:(4,5 SB) 2, 5, 8
Hero checks, BU bets, Hero raises, BU calls.

Turn:(4,25 BB) 3
Hero bets, BU folds

You see the rock raise from the button, which means his range is composed of pocket pairs and overcards (15% Range: 77+, A7s+, K9s+, QTs+, JTs, ATo+, KTo+, QJo). These are all hands he will fold if you bet on the turn, which means you can make a profitable bluff with any two cards. You can read more in the article on pure bluffs.

EXAMPLE 2
Pre-flop: Hero is CO with AT
2 folds, Hero raises, BU (Rock) 3-bets, 1 folds, BB (Maniac) caps, Hero calls, BU calls.

Flop:(12,5 SB) 2, 3, 9
BB bets, Hero calls, BU calls.

Turn:(7,75 BB) 3
BB bets, Hero raises

You may be asking yourself why you would play your hand in this manner. This is, however, a good spot for a bluff against the rock. He 3-bet before the flop, which means his range will be very narrow and limited to hands like: AQ+, AJs+ and 99+. Then the maniac comes over the top, which he is capable of doing with a very loose range. You are ahead against a lot of the hands in your opponents' ranges with ATs.

You assume the rock will raise the flop with AA or KK, but only call with anything less. You call on the flop, because the pot is large enough for a call with a backdoor flush draw and other outs. You also call for information, because you want to see what the rock does, as this will tell you how strong his hand is.

The rock calls, which means he will usually have AK, AQ or AJs. He will fold most of his overcards if a blankd is revealed on the turn and you raise. You will succeed at forcing a better hand out of the pot and should be ahead against the maniac, as well.

4. Fold weak and marginal hands when the rock becomes active

Rocks play passive, straightforward poker. When the bet, you can be sure that they have a very good hand. This helps you fold relatively strong hands that you would have a hard time folding to a different opponent. You should even slow down with a hand like top pair middle kicker if a rock raises and only proceed by calling down.

EXAMPLE 1

Pre-flop: Hero is BU with 9T
2 folds, Hero raises, 1 folds, BB (Rock) calls.

Flop:(4,5 SB) 3, 8, K
BB checks, Hero bets, BB calls.

Turn:(3,25 BB) 9
BB checks, Hero bets, BB raises, Hero folds.

The rock's call on the flop tells you he didn't miss completely. You bet on the turn, since he could have an 8 or a flush draw. You would have an easy call down if any other opponent raised, since you could be up against the 9, a draw or a bluff. When the rock raises, however, you should get out of the way. He will usually have a hand like two pair or a set.

EXAMPLE 2

Pre-flop: Hero is BU with KJ
2 folds, Hero raises, 1 folds, BB (Rock) calls.

Flop:(4,5 SB) 3, 8, K
BB checks, Hero bets, BB raises, Hero calls down.

You could play a standard call flop, raise turn line against a normal opponent, but your hand is too weak to try this against a rock, since you are behind too often. Your hand is too weak too fold, though, so you call down (he could have a weaker K).

 

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