Many reasonably knowledgeable players play poorly because they are too predictable. It’s not that their strategy is invalid; it’s that their opponents know their tactics and have successfully adjusted.
To play poker well, you must recognize the correct base strategy for your current situation, not allow your opponent’s to read you effectively and know when to adjust due to situational changes, such as when your opponent’s have picked up on your strategy. You should vary your play not only because the texture of the game has changed, but also to keep your opponents’ in doubt. Determining those strategies requires both knowledge and concentration.
Additionally, you have to know when to adjust your strategies. Sometimes the game changes, someone goes on tilt, players come and go; sometimes it’s just that your opponents have figured your strategy. Whatever the reason, a different line of play is needed.
It’s important to continuously follow the action, always think about how your opponents are thinking and develop lines of play based on their thoughts. Keep in mind that your opponents’ thinking changes over the course of the game. Also, keep in mind that many players never modify. They’re predictable, easy to read, and to counter. It’s not where you want to be.
So, think about what strategies will work best against this set of opponents when you first sit down. Think about how they think. Are they aggressive or scared? Patient or not? Understand position? Love suited cards? Call 3-bets with wired pairs? The questions are almost endless. Closely observe any changes to the game’s texture, your opponents’ emotional state or their rational thought process. Think about how any plays you have shown might affect how they will play you in the future. Then contemplate how you can effectively adjust to those changes.
If you continuously make those adjustments accurately, you’ll be one step ahead of your competition and render yourself unpredictable without having to make any –EV plays to throw you opponents off. It’s much better to randomize your play without cost than to utilize losing strategies to achieve the same effect.
Yes, this is short and sweet, and the details are incredibly demanding. But many players seem to overlook the big picture.
Don’t let yourself become too predictable. Do continuously pay attention and adjust your strategies to the current situation. Learn different styles of play so that you can successfully adapt to any game changes. Complacency is not the way to winning at poker.
And if you do all this effectively, poker will become both more profitable and more interesting.