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Talking Poker: ABC Poker

Talking Poker: ABC Poker 0001

Each week, the Talking Poker series will highlight a particular poker term. We’ll give you a clear, to-the-point definition of the term and an example of the strategic concept to which it refers, so that you can start using the term and implementing the related strategy into your game. This week we discuss what it means when a playing style is described as “ABC poker.”


“ABC poker” means playing a "by the book"-style that is straightforward and avoids fancy play. 


If someone is playing “ABC poker” or is considered an “ABC player,” then that player is only raising and reraising preflop with good hands and only betting after the flop when he or she has hit the board. If the “ABC player” misses the flop, he or she is primarily checking and playing passively. 

Strategic Considerations

When playing in soft games, ABC poker can be very effective. However, in more skilled games, ABC poker players run the risk of getting taken advantage of by experienced players who pick up on that player's straightforward play. It is important to recognize when it is appropriate to play ABC poker and when it to mix it up. 

Read and Learn

To learn more about how to use ABC poker as an effective way to play, read Matthew Pitt’s article “ABC Poker: It’s As Easy as 1-2-3 and Highly Effective.”  

Illustration detail from title page of A. B. C. Trim, alphabet enchanté (1861) by Louis-Gustave-Fortuné Ratisbonne (public domain).

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