What does our opponent think you’re thinking? That thought, mostly generated by your actions at the poker table, hugely determines how your opponent is going to read you, and more importantly, play you.

You need to be aware of what image you’re projecting at the poker table. Generally speaking, your opponents will have stronger impressions from recent events or unusual incidents. What have you projected in your last couple of hours at the poker table? What memorable hands have you previously played with this particular opponent? Have you played a lot of hands, maybe even some questionable ones? Are your current opponents aware of this? If so, your opponent’s are likely to think you are playing a wide range of hands? Having a loose image is beneficial when you are trying to win your opponent’s chips by getting them to call in more situations where they should fold. It’s challenging to get calls when your image is tight.

Conversely, if you haven’t picked up a hand in a while and the few you’ve showed down have been strong holdings, you’re opponents are likely to think you’re playing a tight, narrow range of hands. Having a tight image is helpful when you’re strategizing to win your opponents money by making them fold more often when they should call, more commonly known as bluffing. Your bluffs will have more value when you have a tight image, less value with a loose image.

Creating an image conducive to the strategy you’re looking to implement strengthens your strategy. You can often do this by making a few “deception” plays early in a session when your opponent’s first impressions will be lasting. This can be by playing loosely for a few hands, or showing a tight fold. Throwing in a few choice words, like “I’m just here for fun, not to play for a living” or “You must have this easily beat” when showing a tight fold will draw additional attention to the image you’re trying to create.
You also create your image with your non-poker actions. Players who are attentive and quiet tend to be viewed tighter than players who are interactive, talkative and friendly. If you’re looking for action, get rid of the headset and baseball cap.

When you first sit down at a table think about how you wish to be perceived. Are you going to bluff your way to victory or are you looking to make hands and get them paid off. Whichever your choice, establish the corresponding image. By manipulating your image, you’ll increase the odds of success for your correlating plays.

And always be aware of your image. Sometimes it’s the cards you’ve been dealt that sets your image. But whether you’ve fashioned the image yourself or it was crafted by other circumstances, think about your image is and how that will affect your opponents.

And adjust your play of marginal situations based on that image! Then when they’ve caught on, change it up!