Isolation in the real world means being alone, but what is the isolation in poker?

In poker, “isolating” an opponent means creating a one-on-one situation, usually with a raise.

Let’s say a few players have limped into the pot (called the big blind amount preflop). Instead of playing against all of them, you can make a raise and play against just one. A weaker player with a loose style might be tempted to continue.

Daniel Negreanu isolates David Benyamine in a live poker game

Your hand strength increases when you isolate and play against fewer players, plus, your overall equity increases. (equity = way to show your chance of winning the hand)

For example, in a matchup between A♥ A♣ and K♠ K♦, the aces win around 4 out of 5 times. Let’s add another player with Q♠ Q♦ into our hand. Now pocket aces win just over 3 out of 5 times. You get the idea.

The more players in the hand, the more diluted your equity becomes.

Isolation plays are designed to put you heads up against players you have an advantage over. That means loose players who call too often and will continue with weak hands.

But wait, isn’t it better to play against more opponents and get more chips from everyone?

In general, the more players you see a flop with, the lower your equity is. Even if you hold pocket Aces, more players means less equity for your hand. That’s why, isolating raises are so important in poker.

So instead of seeing a flop with 5 other players, experienced pokers will take a more aggressive stance. By thinning the field, they play against fewer opponents and also add a few big blinds to the pot from the players who fold.

Jamie isolates the players in the blind positions

Jamie Staples of the partypoker team isolates the small and big blind players in this Daily Legends tournament.

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Remember your goal. The isolation raise should get you heads-up with one of the looser players at your table. Think about these steps and create a strategy before clicking the raise button.

Какой вид покера предпочитаешь?

1. Decide Which Player You Will Isolate

It’s time to find your targets at the table. Look for “limpers”, meaning they passively enter pots by calling the big blind amount preflop. You can also target players who have loose-aggressive and loose-passive styles, as they will be inclined to call your raise.

It’s common to isolate the players in the small and big blind positions. If you are in a later position, you can incentivize the players in the blind to call your isolation raise. They’ll have a positional disadvantage if they continue in the hand, but your sizing might be too attractive for them to fold to.

Important note: Try to anticipate limpers who are planning to trap you and re-raise. This move is more common among inexperienced players. Watch out for anything uncharacteristic, such as a player limping who usually doesn’t.

In general, you should always have a plan when you make an isolation raise. What will you do if someone 3-bets you?

2. Think About Your Position

We can play a wider range of hands when in a late position. Sure, you can make isolation raises from out of position, but you will have a more difficult time making a profit postflop. Try to make the majority of your isolating plays from in position, as close to the button as possible.

A simple diagram of poker positions

Making isolation raises from an early position is going to be difficult. Lots of players that are acting after you have the attractive option to call your raise and play against you from a better position.

3. Choose Your Isolation Range

You can make isolation raises with a wider range of hands from a later position. When we say a wider range, we are meaning all of the hands you would usually raise with (AK, AQ, AJ, A10, and all premium pocket pairs) plus a few more middle-strength hands.

This all depends on your table and the players around you. You can isolate with some suited connectors and rely on your skill advantage over weaker players. It all depends.

It’s important to understand that hole cards do not always reflect your range. You might be able to run profitable bluffs against the players you isolate.

Find out more about the players around you by using a HUD, just like almost every successful online poker player. This kind of real-time information could be the difference between making an isolation play based on solid reasoning – and making one based on an assumption.

Poker Tools To Boost Your Skill With Best HUDs

4. Choose Your Raise Sizing

If your isolation raise is too small, you won’t be isolating. Instead, you’ll invite a few players to play in a larger pot. Your isolation raise needs to make the other limpers fold, while targeting the specific player you want to face.

Let’s say you are playing some $0.50/$.1 online poker. If you have limpers in front of you and you want to isolate one of the looser players, you might choose a sizing like 2.5x-3x the big blind (or more). If you suspect that you will get more than one caller with a 3x raise, increase the size slightly.

ACR is one of the best places online to start testing these isolation raises. If you play at lower stakes (between $0.01/$0.02 and $0.10/$0.25), you’re going to be sitting with lots of casual opponents.

Start using a HUD, if you haven’t got one already. This tool will display vital information about the players you want to isolate. Knowing how many hands a player is investing in (VPIP) is one of the things you must know about your opponents. It will help you decide when to make profitable isolation plays.

An example of a basic HUD on ACR

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Americas Cardroom is a popular poker room with over twenty years of history. Since 2011, it has been part of the Winning network, known for its soft fields with americans and canadians.